Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Between the holidays

Day before yesterday, Monday, Teresa got together with some girlfriends and David worked on figuring out his fix Mom's TV reception project.  I took off work an hour early to get gas before meeting up with the family at our house to go to Dovewood Court to see the Christmas lights. Fortunately, before we went David looked up their website and found out that unfortunately Sunday had been their last display day. So, everyone ate burritos and just hung out. The Wii was kept busy!

Yesterday, I took a half day. Teresa helped me work on my office present project. Which means she did most of the work. I had some marine colored stones that people put in flower vases, rub-ons and Crystal Effects (for the glue) from Stampin’Up, and little magnets. I had previously learned that I am not very good with rub-ons. Lucky for me, Teresa is. She put the pretties on the stones and I glued everything together. I look forward to giving the new in-out magnets to my co-workers when everyone gets back after New Years.
Today I am working a full day and Teresa is going to go visiting. David might go with her or, if the roof is dry enough, he might work on my TV reception. Tonight, I think everyone is planning on going to Ruth’s after dinner. The sisters want us to take our Wii.

Tomorrow I will work a half day again.  Then it's New Years and the Graduation Celebration on the 2nd.

And then David and Teresa go back to SLO. Teresa to finish her last quarter and David to work on finding a job. He needs a job for while she finishes school.  And he needs to start his career.  It would be nice, but is not highly likely that they will be one and the same. Job hunting can be tough, especially lately.  Keep him in your prayers. 

Christmas Day

………(posting before work Wednesday, December 30)

We (David, Teresa, Joseph, Benjamin and I) had a fairly leisurely Christmas morning opening the gifts under the tree. Some of us ate Shredded Wheat cereal because the shredded wheat looks a little like a bale of hay - hay > manger > you get it. The guys were thrilled with the ties and us gals with the glittery scarves (Teresa’s gold - Cal Poly, mine white - I plan to keep the gold one I had previously bought to use at the up coming Graduation Celebration) we found in their stockings (which I have on good authority elves found at the 99cent store - I am beginning to really like that place). I accidently gave Joseph the same book twice, having bought one for him and one for David, but forgetting which one I had wrapped the first one for when I wrapped the second. We got that straightened out. What book? The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Eight Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America by Jeff Benedict . I read a little bit before wrapping and look forward to borrowing the book from one of them.
Anna got a new rope tug toy. Within minutes she chewed off the comfy rubber handle. She loves it, frequently bringing it to us to play with and even taking it to bed with her sometimes.
Around 11 we went to Ruth’s where everyone was gathering for more gift opening, especially the highly anticipated gift exchanges between the siblings, most especially the homemade gift exchange which also includes Acadia, the oldest grandchild. Wow. She drew Benjamin and made him a beautiful wood pen (with the help of a nice woodcrafting neighbor) She also included a DVD of her making the pen. Awesome. Joseph was sent on a treasure hunt all through the house to eventually find the cat tree that Ryan made him. Benjamin made Miriam A Cookie of the Month calendar with pictures and recipes of the cookies he will make her each month for a year. Joseph gave Teresa charming pictures of a little frog and a shore bird which he shot, printed and framed. This is embarrassing. I do not remember all the home made gifts right now, but I do remember that each one was greeted with cries of delight and admiration.
   We opened gifts for an hour or so, then Andrew called with his contact information. I called him back and we took a gift opening break while we passed the phone around for just short of two hours. People snacked, enjoyed their already opened gifts, and visited. After the call, we went back to opening gifts. Which helped me not get the after phone call let down I sometimes feel. It is not that we get so many gifts, but there are a lot of us and we open each gift one at a time with everyone looking on. After the recipient has a moment or two to look at his/her gift, (s)he gets up and chooses the next gift to hand out. Most of us enjoy this relishing of the gift opening. Someone whose name starts with T gets a little tired of it. He kept saying, “It’s going to be dark soon.” I was wondering if, for some reason we could not open gifts after dark. We did, however, finish opening before darkness fell.
Then we made pizza. Ruth didn’t have any tomato sauce, so we made white sauce pizzas which were quite good. I think the favorite, certainly mine, was ground beef, spinach, and olives. OK, I confess, I didn’t even try the pepperoni or the ground beef with pineapple because I already knew which one I would like the best.

I don’t even remember how we spent the evening, except again, Joseph and I went home at a semi-decent time to see to the pets and get some rest while the others stayed up late.

Christmas is not all about presents, but presents are fun and I got some great gifts! Acadia gave me some nice rubber stamps. Sariah (et al) gave me a great knife set with block. Sharp knives and lots of them! And a nice photo wheel loaded with pictures of their family. David and Teresa are trying to fix my TV reception. (weather permitting) Miriam gave everyone a mug with homemade candy. She also gave me a lovely Nativity. Debi, who recently took up jewelry making, made me a pretty ornament. Joseph and Benjamin gave me the bicycle which simply amazes me. The planning, time and expense! So sweet! I may be forgetting some things.

Even more.
Joseph had been checking on-line and making phone calls, and we had been going to Office Depot in pursuit of some elusive thing. The day after Christmas we tried the Office Depot out by Costco where I bought pork roast for Sunday, but forgot to get gas. Then he confirmed and got reserved his quarry in Folsom. Out we drove. In he went. When he came back, successful, he told me it was for me. He bought me a Nextstar GPS to replace the Magellan that was stolen when my car was broken into. So cool. He started looking at it as we headed for home. Soon he said that he was starting to want one. Well, it was the last day they were on sale and it had been hard to find, so we turned around and went back just before the store closed. It is supposed to be good for car, bike and pedestrians (although it shows a shorter, but not really bike friendly route to my office.) You can choose from 4 voices. Right now, it’s Amy.

oops!  Work Time!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boy, oh, boy

      Christmas morning brought me a BIG surprise.  Normally, as Mom, there are not too many surprises for me.  Wow.  Not this time.  There was a brand new bicycle in front of the tree.  A girl’s bicycle.  for me, must be, I am the only girl that lives here.  A couple of elves, in the form of Joseph and Benjamin had been plotting together for months.  Discouraged me from buying new tires when I was having trouble with a series of flats.  One day, quite some time ago, Benjamin was playing with a measuring tape measuring all kinds of things around the house, including the people.  To figure out what size bike to get me.  The day they were to meet at the shop to pick it up, Joseph was not well.  Benjamin walked and light railed and walked to the bike shop and rode my bike home.  Without me finding out or suspecting a thing.  They hid it in the garage in an area Benjamin had cleared in his sorting and cleaning binges.  Apparently, Joseph was just covering it up with a tarp when I went into the garage to get a broom and dustpan.  Clueless,  I thought he was out there with his cat for some reason.

        It is a really nice bike.  A Trek, same brand as the one Joseph’s office surprised him with.  They put a nice cushy seat on it.  We need to get my rack for my bike bag transferred on to it and a kick stand.  Maybe adjust the handlebars a smidge.  We will probably take it to the bike shop for adjustments Friday. 

      I am eager to ride it to work, but a little concerned about leaving my nice bike in front of the building, even though I do use both a U lock and a cable lock.  Maybe I will reconsider renting space in the cage in the parking garage across the street.  I have been reluctant to do so because, 1) I am afraid of parking garages - this one was dark and scary when I visited it on lunch break, 2) it will had a few minutes to my commute time, locking and unlocking the cage, still locking my bike, and a bit of an extra walk to the building, and 3) (but not really) I am incredibly cheap and this will cost a couple of dollars a month.  Going down into the garage at 5 or 5:30 on a dark winter evening is daunting to me.  When I go out to the bike racks in front of the building in the evening, there are more lights than in the garage and either lots of other workers coming out or, if it is later, a security guard. But this is such a nice bike, I don’t want anything to happen to it.  Must think about it.

Christmas Eve

    Christmas Eve we went to Debi’s for our traditional supper of fresh baked bread, cheese, and fruit.  It was not an evening of hymns and reflection with quiet discussion of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus and our Savior's mission, but Esther could tell me why we were eating this particular meal and we did read Luke 2.

    We enjoyed visiting.  When it was time for the children to go to bed, there was a general migration to the Hinds home for some kind of fun.  Joseph and I came home to finish up our last bit of wrapping and help Santa with his deliveries.  His reindeer had just pulled away when David, Teresa and Benjamin came home.

    David and Teresa scored.  Santa gave them each a stocking for being my children in my house and another stocking for being married to each other. The DT elves also added to the candy that the home elves put in our stockings. 

All Creatures Testify

Another birthday present Sariah gave me was a rubber ducky Nativity.  I wrestle a little with whether this is taking things a little too lightly, but it is cute and certainly brings a smile, if not a laugh, from everyone who sees it.  Esther burst out laughing so loudly when she went in to use the bathroom that her parents thought she was up to something until I explained that, no, she had just suddenly seen the ducky Nativity, which led to a general rush on the bathroom and more outright laughs and chuckles.   I like it.

Santa Puzzle

    Sariah had given me for my birthday, among a couple of other things, a 1000 piece puzzle of Santa at the Manger. (she gave me another one for Christmas,but Ruth snatched that as quickly as I mentioned it was a repeat.). We have had it out since we put up our decorations. Benjamin worked for hours doing the edges and getting it started. We worked on it together a bit Monday. He is good! I mostly just sorted color groups. He could look at a smudge and say, “That’s the sheep’s eye.” or “That’s the donkey’s Biblical donkey.” (think about it.)

       When David and Teresa arrived sometime arrived midnight Wednesday, Benjamin and Teresa stayed up into the wee morning hours working on the puzzle.  While I was taking Joseph to work the next morning and doing some stocking stuffing shopping ( I got some good stuffers at the 99cent store including a green and gold Mustang Matchbox Car for David - green and gold are Cal Poly colors and the mustang (equine) is their mascot), they finished up the puzzle -  double locking the door to keep me from spoiling their surprise.  Benjamin now understands why so many people glue and frame their jig saw puzzles.  He does not want all that hard work undone and put back in the box for next year. 

    It is a pretty puzzle.  Some people think of Santa at the manger as the world bowing before Christ, kind of in a judgmental down on Santa and the commercialism of Christmas kind of way.  I think of it as one selfless giver of love worshiping and recognizing the Savior, the font of all love.  Personally, I think Christ probably likes Santa and what he represents to many of us. 

    I think Santa represents love, thinking of others, and caring especially for children. It is true I sometimes wonder why he brings more to rich children and  that I never quite liked the idea of this fellow taking credit for parents' sometimes great sacrifice, but in our house, Santa was always fairly low key and brought things for the family to enjoy together.  Lots of movies over the years!  (Oh, Santa, what we need is more shelves for the movies.)  This year he brought only one movie, "Up" which I hear is great, but haven't had time to watch yet.  He also brought  Super Mario (or something like that) for the Wii.  Very popular.  And a Presidential cookie recipe book.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

    Today, the last late meeting for a year, we were late. We barely got into the lobby for Sacrament. (no choir practice this week, as you may have guessed.)  Benjamin, as you may imagine, was irritated, but behaved with forebearance.  How will we manage 9am meetings?! We should manage to be pretty much on time. No more leisurely mornings, that's all.

   One most striking message during an excellent Sacrament Meeting.  High Councilman Daniel Hunt told of a conversation he had with a Christian friend who believes that we are saved by grace.  He asked why, if our actions do not affect our salvation, why does his friend obey the commandments so righteously.  His friend, astonished at such a question, answered, “Because I love Him and He asked me to.”  Profoundly beautiful.  Or maybe beautifully profound.  Brother Hunt pointed out that if we obey from fear of punishment or hope of reward, we are more prone to see how little we can get away with, but if we obey out of love, we will not want to fudge or take any short cuts, we will want to obey as completely as possible to show our love.  Doesn’t that just make you want to cry?  Deep and true.

   We are signed up to feed the missionaries tonight. The guys and I decided that it would be a good time to use a Big can of tomato sauce we inherited from Troop 40. We would have spaghetti. We invited your siblings. They were interested in coming for dinner, but Ruth said
spaghetti makes her sick and requested pork roast or chicken. Saturday, I went to Costco and bought pork roast.  That night, just before DT&B went over to play at Ruth's (9:30), the elders called and asked to eat at 7 (or is it 7:30?). Of course, we said yes. I sent word to the sibs via the party people, thinking that they would decide not to come after all. This morning I was taking it a little easier, thinking spaghetti at 7 when I finally thought to make sure the message was delivered. It was, but the response was that they would be here for pork roast at 5.  Now I am serving dinner twice!  Our Home Teacher, Bro. Hall, said the missionaries did the same thing to them. As Halls also have little children who go to bed about then, the missionaries had to eat alone. David, who scrubbed up a dozen spuds, said if any of the 5 o'clock people want seconds, they have to wait and eat with the missionaries.

........ later....... As we prepared the pork roast dinner for 5pm, I wondered if “the kids” (how old do you have to be before you stop being “the kids” to your parents?) were really coming.  David assured me they were and they did.  Every heartily enjoyed the dinner.  The young ladies retired to the front room to play Phase 10.  I understand there was some sort of grudge or revenge match going on.   The fellas and the younguns went to the family room to play with the Wii.  Santa had brought the new old Mario game that 4 people can play at a time either cooperatively or competitively. 

     In due course the missionaries arrived.  They may have enjoyed their dinner as well, but not with the raptures of my earlier guests.  At least one of my daughters really likes pork roast, but for some reason doesn’t make it. After the missionaries had dinner, we all had ice cream with cookies that Teresa had made.

    Good Sabbath

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Testimony

I am re-printing my testimony as I wrote it in December 2001.   It has not changed much since then, except to grow.  There is more I could say (you know my long windedness), but this will do for now.  (You also know me and my resource - especially time - management problems)

December 2001

Although in many ways my testimony is weak, and my living of it much weaker, it is the most precious thing I have and the gift I wish to share with you.

I believe in God. The wonderful beauty, variety, and forces of the earth testify to me daily. The changing seasons. The miracle of life. I believe in our Creator and the Father of our Spirits. Sometimes a simple moment brings a rush of joy that testifies that God is - the look of the sky, a child's smile, the flight of birds. I see greatness in people in grand deeds of courage or in the goodness and courage of daily living and I know they are His children and of wonderful potential. Sometimes I really believe as well as know that even I am His child. On occasions, I have felt His love for me and been amazed.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. At Christmas time we all think about the little baby in the manger. I am awed and amazed that the Creator of Worlds would come to earth as a helpless baby and live so humbly. I think of His life and teachings, so simple, so profound. I can hardly believe that He went to Gethsemane and the cross because he cares so much for each of us - for me! I can hardly to bear to imagine even part of what He suffered in body, mind, and spirit. I know I do not live nearly worthy of that love and sacrifice. But, I keep trying to do a little better. I know that He was resurrected, that He lives. I know that He has saved us from death and will save us from our sins, if we let Him.

I am amazed at my great good fortune to have been raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I hope and believe that had I not been so blessed that I would have found and accepted the Gospel. Fear that I might not have, makes me so grateful that Mom did and gave it to us. I believe, no, I really KNOW the church is true. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored through prophets and brought to us through the church, is the answer to every problem and question, if we will only learn to be humble and accept them. I am so grateful to live in a time of prophets. Their words delivered to my mailbox every month through the church magazines.  The opportunity to sit at their feet and hear the prophet's voice twice every year at General Conference.  Such incredible, unbelievable blessings!

I am grateful for the scriptures, though I have not yet learned to truly be at home with them as I ought. Do you realize that for centuries, they were just not available to people?! What scriptures that were on the earth, were available to only an elect few, who dispensed what pearls they chose among the masses. We have so many copies of scripture in our home! More than one per person. What a tremendous blessing! I am grateful that the Lord asks us to come to him about anything and everything. I love the verses in Alma 34:17-27 in the Book of Mormon that urge us to pray at all the times of the day and all the places we may be and all our endeavors and concerns. I am dumbfounded at my own hesitation to accept His wonderful invitation and command. I know that the Lord hears and answers honest prayers. I know He wants us to be open with Him. I know that we are safe with Him. I know that we can pray about every little thing and that despite world concerns, He listens, cares and answers. I like to think of a prophet's wife who said she never put a loaf of bread in the oven or bought a pair of shoes without a prayer. When I grow up, I will be like that.

I am thankful that the Lord let me live in modern times. I love the blessings of plumbing!!, hot water, and electricity. I love the postal service, the telephone, the computer to help shorten the distance between loved ones and bring a world of wonder and information into our homes. I am grateful for modern transportation and good roads. I like the comforts of modern living that are unimagined, impossible luxuries compared to the way most of humanity has lived and far too many still live. I am grateful the Lord lets me live in such comfort. Even more, I am grateful that when family members are separated by distance, we need not be cut off from each other. I so miss my children who are not close by! How grateful I am for frequent contact! What a great lesson it is too, of the love and home with Heavenly Father that misses us and wants us to talk to Him and to prepare to come back. I love my country and am so grateful to be American. I know that God inspired the foundation of this country. I am thankful for the great men who served as His instruments in founding, preserving and leading the United States of America. This land is so rich and beautiful. So diverse and wonderful. Physically and culturally so rich. We enjoy such freedom, such opportunity, such peace that comes from a strong nation with the rights of the people rigidly safeguarded. I realize as much as about anybody that the country and its people are far from perfect, but oh, they are wonderful, and there is or will be none greater, until the King of Kings establishes His perfect government. I am so grateful for those who have and do protect our country, its people and its freedoms. The Armed Forces, especially, but also the police, and firemen, doctors, true statesmen, and all those who choose lives of service and sacrifice. Who face dragons for it and us.

I am so grateful for my children. Besides my testimony, there is nothing more precious than they. I am so humble and thankful that the Lord loved me and trusted me enough to send them to me. I have been blessed with children beautiful inside and out. I enjoy their similarities and their differences. I am so pleased with their choices and the good lives they live. I enjoy being with them. Being with them in person or in spirit makes me feel rich. I am unbelievably blessed. I am thankful for so many friends, relatives, leaders and teachers, most especially in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who have and continue to help me raise my children. I am delighted and grateful for my "children"who have married into our family. Such wonderful people. Good, faithful, loving, kind, patient, fun. (and they're cute, too) I hope and pray that my other children will be as blessed in their choices and that we will all fit together as well.

I am grateful that throughout my life, I have been blessed with truly good friends. People who have loved and accepted me despite my many failings, and yet who also uplift me and make me want to be a better person. I am grateful for people I can trust, laugh with, cry with. That some of my best friends are family is indeed a rich double blessing.

Despite the evil and trouble in the world and personal difficulties, I know that God lives and loves us and that if we will trust Him, all will be well when it really counts. I give you my testimony with my love. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Letter to Andrew

Letter to Andrew
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Writing from SLO
Thursday I was scheduled at the BloodSource, but my pulse was too high  and I was deferred. I think in addition to hurrying from work, the worry about getting ready for the SLO trip had me pretty stressed. I
didn't really mind being deferred. I considered returning to work for an hour and a half, but decided against it.
    After a bit of trying to get things done at home, I took a break to join the Single Adult service project wrapping gifts for Christmas Promise. I met a couple of Miriam's friends. It was my first Single Adult activity. I don't expect to do many. I really don't have time, energy, or much interest. I am not "looking".
     We left home about 11 Friday morning, stopping at Costco for gas and Winco for snacking food (both of which were on the way, anyway) before truly hitting the road. It was raining pretty much all the way. We went straight to Costco SLO to replenish the gas (32 mpg) and buy pizza to take to D&T's.
     After eating, we helped a little with party preparations. Teresa had done tremendous amount of work. Friday night we helped make little chocolate graduation hats. She put Giradeli squares on top of truffles. And a little dot of frosting on top. Sounds simple They looked great! Everyone was very impressed.
     Debi and Miriam stayed in Sacramento for parties Friday night and drove to SLO together Saturday morning. Debi's party was a Harry Potter themed birthday party (for a 25 year old). Debi went as a
Death Eater. She had thought about being a Patronus, but that was too much work. She drew a Death Mark on her arm. She had a little trouble getting it the way she wanted it and rubbed part of her arm raw 'erasing'. Ouch!! One little boy at the party told her she was V's wife and expecting V 's baby. Who, of course, would be evil so he (the little boy) would have to kill it, but he wouldn't kill a baby, so he'll wait until it grows up a little. Apparently, Debi herself was not evil. (such is her charm) As they got on the freeway, Miriam & Debi saw a guy spin out and get stuck in the mud. They stopped and helped him get his car out.
Aren't you proud of them?! They knew it wasn't a trap because they saw it happen.
    Dad made a day trip to come to the Graduation, helped a little with party prep, and came to the party for a while before driving back. It's a good 5 hours each way, so he put in some effort to be there.
    It poured rain on and off - mostly on - all day Saturday. D&T dropped Dad off as close to the ceremony as they could, then the rest of us drove to the Institute for free parking. We had left the house
during a bit of nice weather so I left my rain jacket in my car. (We drove over in DT's &; Miriam's cars.) We scurried through pouring rain on sidewalks like streams as David directed as across campus, ducking in and out of buildings. Apparently Cal Poly has no security worries!
    We sat in the risers. Teresa directed Dad to her Dad, step-mom, &; sister Amy who sat on the main floor. Just a note - you can see better from the risers.
     The ceremony moved along fairly quickly. They held 3 ceremonies in that gym (the Mustang Maniac's Asylum). As we were leaving,  announcers were urging us to move along quickly as another ceremony
began in 40 minutes! I think we were seated 40 minutes before our ceremony.
    I liked that the speakers talked about qualities of character, service and life-long learning. Good speeches.
Of course, I was a bit teary watching all the graduates come in. When ours were up for their presentation, I was concentrating on trying (without great success) to get pictures with Teresa's camera. Poor Teresa! She was wearing cute, strappy sandal-like heels. Halfway through the ceremony the heel broke almost totally off one shoe and she had to walk across the stage like that. When we got to the cookie and punch reception area, she threw away her shoes. Most of us repeated the splash dash back to the cars and David drove back for Dad, Teresa, and Debi (who stayed 'to keep Teresa company').
    We had about an hour to get set up for the party. D&T had  originally hoped to have a BBQ party in the yard. Fortunately, when  they asked the landlord for permission, those nice people said they would have the house available in case of bad weather. Teresa put on quite a spread! I don't know if I will be able to equal it for the Sacramento Graduation Celebration Jan 2. Taquitos, mini tacos, empanadas, egg rolls, 7 layer dip & chips, the chocolate graduates, chocolate mints wrapped in green & gold (Cal Poly colors), peanuts, veggies, I don't know if I am remembering everything - and pineapple juice mixed with bubblies for a yellow-gold punch. It was all  impressive and delicious.

Continuing Monday, December 14, 2009 in Sacramento
Sunday we only went to Sacrament Meeting. Worse, we, and By that I mean mostly your sisters, convinced Teresa to cut out as well. (David was providing two-deep in Primary.) I made sandwiches and rested. The girls looked at Debi's Klutz Learn to Crochet book. Teresa went back to church for choir. We headed for home. Although we had not planned it ahead of time, our car and the girls followed each other all the way to Consumnes &Power Inn.  That was fun.
    When we started, the weather was partly sunny. We drove through sunshine and showers, more showers, and torrential rain. It eased up again s bit as we got to Sacramento. We found the house still standing and the animals all alive. Anna had had an accident in the kitchen and Atilla had pooped in Joseph's room. Probably AFTER Matt Welge had been over to take of Anna in the morning - and clean up some cocoa Anna had gotten into.
    Today we did some but not nearly all of our Saturday chores. Do we EVER do them all? We also went to see Whales and Dolphins in 3D at the Imax theater. Tonight we watched Star Trek which Joseph had rented at a Red Box while shopping at Raleys. Star Trek was the more enjoyable.
But we stayed up too late! Good night!

Sent from my iPod

Thursday, December 10, 2009

about comments

I am sorry that now I have to moderate comments before they are published.  I started getting spam comments.  Only a couple so far, but I don't want more.  I wish I could set a list of approved commenters, but I don't know how to to do that.

I do want to hear from my friends and family, so please don't be put off by the comment moderation!

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Letter

I do not write. I do not phone.
I tend to leave you quite alone.
But you’ve been kind and you’ve been good.
Uplifted me as good friends should.

I hoped to write and send a card,
But resource management is hard.
You certainly deserve much better,
But this, my friends, is my Christmas letter.

Many people have enriched my lfe and dwell forever in my heart.  I have been blessed by so many friends that I cannot manage the time or postage to send you all letters and cards as I would like!

2009 was fine.  Despite many months of worry and uncertainty, neither I nor my state worker children lost our jobs.  (yet?)   Although, we took almost a 15% pay cut in the form of Furlough Fridays, I think I benefit more from the time gained than I am hurt by the money lost- even though  we do feel it.  I never have quite enough of either!  Does anyone?

I continue unambitiously, but happily to work for California State Parks.  My boss is great, my co-workers pleasant, my job within my ability, and my office within biking distance and right off light rail convienient for non-biking days.  Buried in an office building , I can at least day-dream about the wonderful parks whose utility bills I process.

I would love to visit most of our State Parks and did visit a few this year.  In January, it was Natural Bridges State Park where Monarch Butterflies winter in a sheltered little gulch.  We camped a long weekend in September at MacKerricher, long one of my favorite places.  On Halloween, we took two grandkids trick-or-treating in mid-town including a visit to Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. Each park is a jewel.

Speaking of jewels, I am inordinately blessed in my children!  You want to know where they are? -

Sariah, husband Ryan, and beautiful daughters, Acadia and Aurora, enjoy living in Vancouver, WA

David and his wife Teresa are graduating from Cal Poly (!) in San Luis Obsipo and getting ready to begin life after university. 

The rest (save one) are (lucky for me!) in the greater Sacramento area.

Miriam works for California Department of Corrections, shares a house with friends, and seems to busy with friends and church activities

Debi shares her house with Chloe, her Great Dane. They often have friends over for dinner.  (No, not for Chloe's dinner!) She (Debi, not Chloe) is a valuable asset of The Lyle Company, a leading solutions partner of the wireless industry.

I have missed having Ruth and Tom and their family “almost next door” since they moved this year.  The good news is that they are now in a bigger house (near Debi) and soon their family will be bigger, too.  Esther and Jared are expecting a little sibling late next July!

Joseph works for the Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair.   Lucky for me, he is living at home.  I rely on his technical expertise, as well as enjoy his company. 

Andrew (the save one) is serving enthusiastically in the Canada Winnipeg Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His weekly emails home are posted at

Benjamin is a high school senior! ( I am getting old)  He is a major force in sorting and organizing our home.   He almost single-handedly unburied the family room and continues making and inspiring small improvements.  He is nice to have around, both for his helpfulness and his companionship.

My life is blessed.  I am so thankful for all that God has given me, especially a testimony of His love and wisdom and of his son, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate. 

Thank you for your influence in my life. May God bless you this Christmas season and throughout the coming year with love, joy, and peace.

As I wrote to Andrew about the last couple of days

Sunday December 6, 2009

it's Sunday again! and, again, no letter writing during choir time. First off we were late, but mainly I was meeting with the young & beautiful old building scheduler because I am the old and homely new building scheduler.

Oh, the rules! Personal/family events (except funerals and weddings) can be bumped by almost anything else. Stake trumps Ward. Never schedule the Primary room any time, any day. It must always be available for baptisms. Tuesday belongs to one ward's youth, Wednesdays to the other's. First Fridays belong to Young Single Adults. Second Fridays to Single Adults. Or maybe the other way around, but never schedule anyone else anywhere in the building those days. Don't schedule anyone on Saturday morning 9-10 am – cleaning time. Except on the second Saturday when cleaning time is 10:30-1 even though Stake baptisms are 2nd Saturday's at 10. Usually different activities may be held in different areas of the building at the same time, but not during Stake baptisms, funerals or weddings. I do not handle access or security and I do not loan out chairs and so forth. This may not be quite as simple as I anticipated.

We put up a curtain rod between the dining room and family room and hung up sheets. Now we can have the heater on low in the family room, keep it comfortable for the bird (and people), and not lose (much) heat. I was thinking we could have the kitchen/garage door partly open while we are at David & Teresa's graduation ceremony, but with the weather we're having lately, that won't work maybe even if we got actual curtains which isn't likely soon. Maybe if I did the same thing with the space between the kitchen and the dining room? – Probably we will borrow Debi’s doggie gate and block Anna from the hallway and bedrooms. We can put the cat food and cat boxes in that area. If the cats do get outside, they can get into the garage through their secret under the house passage, so we will have supplies there, too.

It is supposed to SNOW HERE tomorrow. During the early morning. Snow fall and accumulate according to the forecast. Benjamin says he wants to walk to Seminary so he can tell his children that he walked to Seminary in the snow. But he wants me to pick him up. I would like to either stay in bed all day or snuggle by the fireplace, but I suppose I will go to work. Sigh

Will he really get up early and walk to Seminary? Who knows? He is at least slightly crazy.

Tuesday December 8

Benjamin did not walk to Seminary Monday. He woke up at 4am and a couple of times after that to check the weather. Rain, no snow. Not quite the same appeal.  So I drove him, which turned out to be a good thing! Google maps said it would take about an hour and ten minutes to walk. He would have given himself an extra 20-30 minutes. We arrived at the church to find the teachers out in the parking lot. The code box had re-set itself and did not recognize their codes. Brother Beutler came to take care of it, but Seminary was half over by then and several students had left - including Bro. Beutler's daughter who did know he was coming.

We actually got home soon enough that I could have ridden my bike. But I didn't. Light Rail arrived on time. No seat, but not too crowded. (one of the riders asked about you – no one either of us ‘knows,’ just someone who rides the same train) Things were looking good. Not for long. The driver began making announcements we could not hear. The train sat and waited several minutes at 65th and again at a couple of other stops. At 29th and R or S, it was "Everybody off!". RT was sending buses. I have been through that - hundreds of people waiting and waiting for over-crowded buses. I walked in to 9th and N. I had thought I might pick up the Blue line at 16th, but there was a train stuck there. Both the Gold Line (from Folsom) and the Blue Line (from City College and points south) were out of service. – I found out later that co-workers on the Blue Line got ousted at Broadway. – Instead of being early to work, I was late, but only a few minutes. They had everything cleared up by mid-morning, so the home commute was fine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We never got any snow, but it’s been cold enough. Down in the 20’s overnight and highs struggling for the low 40’s. I suppose that sounds warm to Andrew now! Not to us. Benjamin and I have not been biking. Oh, well. It’s easier to do errands after work if I don’t have to go home to get the car. Monday, I had to gas the car and I looked (in vain) for curtain rods to block off the kitchen. I might get them another time, but no panic now as I am picking up Debi’s doggie gate tonight and will not have the garage door open.

Last night was the Relief Society Dinner. Women only. I guess they do that so single women don’t feel badly? Camellia City always allowed the sisters to have guests. (In my case whether they wanted to or not). The Young Men (including, Benjamin, of course) served. The sisters all thought they were wonderful. (of course. They were.) The program was an intermix of musical numbers and talks about service. The main speaker was a lady who runs Parker Family Resource Center under the auspices of the Sacramento Unified School District. They serve children through-out the district. The Relief Society collected toys for them for their Toys for Joy program and will be supporting them through various projects in 2010. Kathy Born (whose husband just received his endowments Saturday) talked about how her Visitng Teachers helped her through various health problems and surgery recoveries. Oh, her VT knew that she had had an heirloom pair of pearl earrings stolen and that she wished she had pearl earrings to wear to the temple as she had liked seeing them on other sisters and so her visiting teacher gave Becky her own earrings so she would have them when Jim was endowed. (She looked pretty happy in prayer circle. ) Sister Pesquera talked about helping Domingo’s family in the Philippines. Then Miriam called me and I left.

Now I am leaving you. Lunch break is over.

Ta Da!

Teresa emailed this at 2:33pm

NOW FINISHED WITH HIS BACHELORS DEGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanks for coming to my party

My good friends,
Thanks for your words of wisdom and caring.

Father of Five,
I have to laugh. When Catholics say "Saints" you mean individuals recognized by the church as exceptionally holy. When LDS say "Saints" we mean us. Not that we ARE exceptionally holy, but that we are supposedly striving to become such. In fact, you may or may not realize that the S in LDS is Saints. We are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
We do not pray to anyone other than God. Some people think we worship Moroni and/or Joseph Smith. We don't. We just respect them a lot, among others.   I have read brief accounts of the lives of some of the saints (Catholic definition) and truly admire them as well. 

I did include my lost Touch in my regular prayers and a couple of extras, and I found it the next morning. I wondered if maybe the Lord thought I was spending too much time with it and needed a little wake up call.  
Still on the Touch.  Today was foggy and I didn't want my boy biking in it unnecessarily, so I waited at the church for his early morning religion class.  After walking the dog around a couple of blocks, I let her loose in the back parking lot and started to organize my applications on my Touch.  We got home quickly enough that I had the option of biking anyway or taking light rail.  The fog was part of why I didn't want to bike, but really I wanted to keep 'working' on my Touch.  Except I put it down at home and forgot to pick it up.  Then the train was so crowded it was standing room only (not unusual) and so jerky that I was holding on with both hands to keep from falling on others.  We were all getting to know each other pretty well! Anyway, unTouchable. Great discussion about sci-fi books between several of the passengers, however.
I am glad that you worked your way out of your rut.  I am mostly out of mine, too.  Aspects of course remain, but they are dealt with or put in the background and ignored.  I know that I have a very blessed life.
Full Original Serenity Prayer

by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Oops. Late for work! bye!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You are invited to my pity party, but you might not want to come.

I was writing a pity party post, answered the phone, and somehow the whole thing just disappeared. Figures.
Here we go again:

My boss let me take off early yesterday because it was Benjamin’s birthday. Got outside and found my back tire was flat. Took it apart, could not find the leak, put it back, pumped it up and rode. This morning I found the leak, but not the cause which is worrisome, patched, pumped and rode. I wonder if I will have to pump before riding home tonight?

When I got to work yesterday, my iPod Touch was not in my purse. Not too alarmed, I expected to find it on my bed at home. Nope. Benjamin and I looked everywhere we could think of without success. I hadn’t been out and about with it at all between waking up and discovering it missing. Discouraging mystery. I was really sad and upset with myself. The mystery was solved when I found it this morning in my camel pack. ??? Glad to find it, but I don’t know why I put it there. That does not fit the usual pattern. Also, doesn’t still fit in the pity party, but it did yesterday.
I only had one small present for Benjamin. He calls it a puppet. It is a small wooden human model.

My ex dropped by unexpectedly. Oh well, unannounced saves us negative anticipation, right? Not exactly certain what his primary reason was. Joseph had emailed him a couple of weeks ago that he had mail at our house – probably junk, but we don’t know. Glen said that he was in the area getting a hair cut and thought he would see if we were home. He also told Ben Happy Birthday and asked him if he felt different now that he is 17. Also, he had left a Happy Birthday message on the answering machine for Benjamin. It was not a bad visit, but I do not desire his company.
Glen also told me about a neat present he is sending Andrew. Snap and use RE-USEABLE handwarmers! Very nice. They only last a couple of hours, but he is sending more than one pair. They get hard as they are used up, then you heat them in hot water and they liquefy and become useable again. Amazing. Great for Andrew! But now I feel bad. My ‘big gift’ was 40 pairs of regular single use handwarmers. They do last for several hours. But then they are done. Lame by comparison. At least Andrew, and probably his companion, will have warm hands. I also sent him a CD and a scarf. Oh the thrill of it all.

Continuing in the theme of ‘my ex continues to ruin my life and especially my future’ (my current life is pretty good except I don’t have enough time for it!) : I recently learned that my share of his retirement declines every year he continues to work. If he retires this year, I will get $1300 - $200 less than I get in spousal support (which will discontinue). On Benjamin’s next birthday, I naturally lose child support - $800. I have to figure out how to live on at least $1000/month less than I have now. Glen will retire, when he retires, at full pay which is currently nearly $6500/month. I earn little more than a third of what he makes. I have 2 years towards my retirement, so have to work into and possibly past my late. late 70s – if my health holds. That’s a long time. I could get promotions, but frankly, I am a little old and tired and don’t know how ambitious I can be. I don’t actually have an affinity for this accounting stuff and I do not want to go into management. I don’t think I will climb very far. If my health fails, let’s hope I die quickly, because I won’t have enough to live on even if there is no more inflation.
I have always said that my retirement plan is ‘I hope my children like me.’ I hoped that was a little joke, but it looks like my best hope. I am pretty sure that each of them (most of them?) would be willing to provide a corner and a crumb for a couple of months at a time. I am hoping to be able to cover my medical, and, I suppose, my bus trips between homes. I will have to give up all my things. My pets!!!! My nativity collection and my stamps – or I guess I can visit them as they are divided between the children. My books. Thank goodness for libraries! I hope I am not blind. I really hope I can have a laptop by then.
And what if I am not at all healthy? Will they be able/willing to pitch in enough for me to be in a decent old folks home?

As I Was Saying

Benjamin is:

Smart; funny; helpful; a self-starter; observant; trustworthy; kind to animals (even cats which he claims not to like), children, and his aged mother. He is prompt (almost to a fault); dependable; hard working; artistic; and knowledgeable about many things. He is faithful, an excellent student, a pleasant companion. Benjamin has been a major driving force and work horse in sorting and dejunking our house -he found the family room almost single handedly. Benjamin is a good cook, problem solver, hugger, among other things. Benjamin is a great guy. I think he will be a great man and a fantastic husband and father.

Anyone who knows him is probably thinking, “hey, you forgot to mention…”

And he’s cute, too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


My 'baby' turned 17 today.  There's a lot in that for me, but this is not about me, it's about him. 

Benjamin likes to tease me and say, "You know I'm a teenager and teenagers are supposed to......"   
All I can say, is there would be lot fewer grey haired parents if more teenagers were like Benjamin. 

Well, I was going to write about what a great guy he is, but instead, I am going to cut my break short, cut my work day short and go home and be with him.