Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas is Coming

We entered December with high expectations.  At least I did.  There is so much I'd like to do to celebrate the season.  Then there are the usual pressures:  gifts for everyone, cards to friends, something special for neighbors and those in the Church we look out for.  For some reason all of these activities have worn me down a little bit.  I suppose I still worry that we will not provide the right experiences for Seth and Angelica.  I am relaxing a little bit, but worries still crowd my thoughts at times.  The kids are involved in their school choirs and so we will attend two school Christmas concerts.  It'll be fun and inspiring I imagine.  Angelica is supposed to wear a "Christmasy" top.  She chose a Santa style, and here she is with Seth modeling it.  She looks pretty cute in it.

There is plenty of horse play that goes on here.  Allegra is deep in the middle of it.

Allegra has been with us since September and has been such a help with the kids. They love her and will so miss her when she goes home for Christmas this coming weekend.  I feel blessed with this family of mine.  All of them are good people doing things that are productive and positive.  For the most part.  Allegra, our lovely redhead, will soon be gone.  She will be so missed!

My singing group, the Treble Clef Singers, are in the midst of our Christmas concert, repeated several times a day for two weeks.  Wow.  It is exhausting.  But it has been good for me; I've overcome much of my fear of singing in front of people.  Of course the folks in convalescent homes are appreciative no matter how we sing.  But I think we sound pretty good!  Our group still loves Layne.  He sings a solo in every one of our concert series.  He's good too!  Here's our group at one of our performances.

Time moves quickly on.  Our grandchildren are growing up and starting families of their own.  Sometimes I can't believe that I could be a seventy-something...already.  Our grandson Scott proposed to his girlfriend over Thanksgiving and they plan to marry this coming spring.  Along with grandson James and granddaughter Rayne.  Wow.  Imagine the possibilities for great-grandchildren they will bring.  How could this have happened so soon?  Here's Scott and his Jessica.  Jessica.  She will be our third Jessica in the immediate family.  Branching out, she becomes the fifth!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Giving Thanks

Son Ben and his Jessica offered to host a family Thanksgiving this year.  It promised to be a little bit special as almost all of our family planned to attend.  So our little group of Layne, me, Allegra, Seth and Angelica drove to California on Monday.  It was a lovely drive, even with the bay area traffic.  Except for a bit of white-knuckle driving over the me.  It was rainy and foggy the whole way.  But it all cleared up as we drove out of the mountains.  We stayed at Audrey and Cliff's, as we usually do. They are our kids with space, so it is fun to stay with them and enjoy a room of our own. 

I planned to see our foster daughter, Michelle, my cousin Judy and friend Lynn Hooker but all I managed to see was Lyn.  Returning from her home in San Leandro was a bit of a nightmare as it was bumper to bumper all the way home.  The Bay Area is a traffic nightmare just about any time you choose to join it.

But not on Thanksgiving.  We drove to Palo Alto, to Ben and Jessica's, with very little traffic.  When we are there and driving, this is a situation worth mentioning!  They had a beautiful set-up, with tables set with china and goblets for all.  Steamers kept the food warm and there was plenty of it. 

The joy of it was having so many of our family there.  Only Gerald and Frances were missing of our children and several grandchildren were not there.  But it was a bigger family group than we have had for awhile.  There was a good spirit there as well, as the kids all mingled together and got along well.

There were a couple of years when 4 grandchildren were born in the same year.  Here is one bunch:
Miles, Seth, Vincent and Jacqueline.

And here's another bunch:  Angelica, Alexis, Timothy and Peyton.  You might be able to tell that Timmy wasn't quite as keen on having his picture taken!

There was quite a bit of happy mixing of the adults too.  There was a sweet spirit throughout the day, it seemed to me.  Here is most of the family in attendance.  I love these people!

Jacqueline took a bunch of pictures which I don't have yet, but here are a couple more that I took.  Here are my girls, Jessica and Audrey.

Granddaughter Rayne and me, holding our latest great-grandson, Alex.

I do love Idaho but I miss being so close to family.  It was a dream for me to be with so many of them for one wonderful day.  Here's daughter-in-law Dorothy with her first grandchild and son of son James.  Dorothy and Alex:

Here's a close-up of Alex.  He's a gentle little soul with big brown eyes.  I love him already.

There are more pictures to come when I get Ben's.  We had a wonderful time.  We headed home on Friday and got the house cleaned up and all decorated for Christmas!  What a great time of year!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Time for a Temple

 Area youth in front of the new Meridian Temple.

For weeks Seth and Angelica have been attending practices for the youth Cultural Celebration for the upcoming Meridian Temple dedication.  The time for it has finally arrived.  The kids spent the day at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise yesterday practicing and performing in celebration of the new temple.  The whole event centered around the history and description of this Treasure Valley area.  Youth from many stakes nearby performed all sorts of dances and singing that lasted about an hour and a half.  President Uckhdorf and Elder Christofferson were our GA presence.  We saw it all on satellite.  We had the chance to see it in the flesh with two tickets awarded us, but, with Allegra, we were three. So Layne turned it down.  Perhaps we had a better view from the stake center anyhow.  But not good enough to spot either kid in the crowd of youth on stage for each performance. 

Seth sang with the choir in the bleachers.  He's somewhere in here, dressed in white shirt and blue tie.

Angelica danced with this group, depicting water and its blessing.  She's among the girls dressed in blue.  Somewhere.

Allegra and I made her dress...and four others.

President Uchtdorf and Elder Christofferson were our visiting authorities.  I think they loved the whole celebration.

I think the kids loved the experience too, once the practicing was over!  There is a special spirit that accompanies performance and I think they caught it.

Today was the temple dedication.  President Uchtdorf gave the dedication.  We saw it on satellite again.  It gave us a close view.  There was a marvelous spirit that we could feel even in our stake center.  I'm excited to have this new temple.  Imagine being just minutes away from a temple!  I've never been this close.  This is one more thing to be very grateful for.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another Great

This wonderful Holiday season is speeding by.  The beautiful leaves of Fall have...fallen.  It is getting almost cold enough for snow.  The land is without color and naked.  I miss the leaves.  Seth and Angelica are settling into American life.  I find myself reminding them of "American ways"; especially at the dinner table.  They are pure-hearted kids and open to our love and counsel.  It is beginning to feel a little more normal having them here.

 Our new Meridian Temple will be dedicated this coming Sunday.  The local kids will be performing in the Cultural Event on Saturday.  It looks like we will witness both via satellite.  I was hoping to witness it all in the flesh but there are too many of us to make that possible.  Still, it will no doubt be a very special experience.

We have another great-grandchild!  Grandson James sent us a picture of his sweet little boy, born on November 10th.  We finally have a family birthday in November.  His name is Alex.  He looks to be a beautiful baby.  I'm anxious to see him in the flesh!

Here is Alex.

Family is such a blessing, with all the good and bad news among them.  I'm grateful to be a part of such a nice one and to witness its endless increase.  This is the month for gratitude and I'm feeling it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Beautiful Fall

The joyous days of Fall are passing quickly.  The colorful leaves are falling, leaving naked branches; not nearly as lovely to look at as the leaves.  Here's a view of fall in part of our yard.  Look quickly; it will soon change.

We are slowly adjusting to having kids at home once again.  Wow are they busy.  Basketball rules for Angelica and soon it will be so for Seth.  Here is Angelica with her Basketball jersey.  She's pausing from Dish Duty.

Just about every evening is filled with some sort of kid activity.  Allegra, Seth and Angelica carved pumpkins last Monday.  It was fun even if our pumpkins are beginning to look a little sad for Trick or Treating.

We spent over 35 years in Fremont, CA and got to know lots of wonderful people.  Now, years after that, most of them have gone, like us, to other locations.  Once in awhile, we get to reconnect with some of them.  This past week Ron and Marlene Natali visited us, on the way to somewhere else, as is usually the case.  It was sweet to renew our friendship and catch up with their life, now in Utah.

It is interesting to see how youthful dreams morph over time.  Life has its surprises.   I never imagined in my younger years a life in Idaho, working with pornography addiction.  My prayers to be close to family have given us a surprising answer in the form of two grandchildren living here with us.  Yet it brings with it sweet family rewards.  And, perhaps, with a little more time, some more family. Life does not often turn out the way we hope or anticipate, but, sometimes, it turns out infinitely better.

Here are some sweet family rewards:

Rayne and her sweetheart Dominick will soon be married.  We will then have an Englishman in the family.

We have an adorable great-grandson, Hunter, who brings new light into the family circle.  He's one year old already!

Halloween has come and gone!  I was anticipating that Seth and Angelica would really get into it.  Seth was absolutely not interested.  But Angelica was.  While Seth stayed home with us, Angelica went trick or treating with a school friend and brought home quite a haul.  

There isn't much candy-eating in Taiwan, you know.  So, what to do with this pile of sweets?  Well, as you might be able to conclude from this photo, Seth was more than willing to help shrink the pile.  But since he didn't put any work into it, Angelica would only share one small bite.  That's what you get for taking someone else's earnings!  Since these kids don't have much of a taste for really sweet things, Angelica plans to take the goodies to school, a little at a time, and give them to friends.  No wonder she seems to be accumulating a growing number of them.

Halloween is a fun way to begin the holiday season, since, in my opinion, it is the least important.  We are moving on to thoughts of Thanksgiving and hoping that our plans to share it with California family will not be interrupted by...Basketball!

Friday, October 13, 2017

October Celebrations

I love the color red.  And I love red hair.  So I got a wild and crazy idea a week or so ago.  I decided that I would like to put just a touch of red in my hair.  Red hair is the ultimate wonderful hair color in my opinion, but it would not look good on me.  But why not just a stripe of red?  So I bought some auburn hair color, thinking it would be subtle.  I decided to put the stripes on the white part of my hair.  So I did it.  I was shocked to see splotches of brilliant red scattered in my hair.  Not subtle, more in your face.  Hum.  I had to cover it up...all but a little bit in the front.  So I covered it with brown.  So now the gray that I've been encouraging is now covered with brown.  I'm a little sad about that.  Here's a sample of the red.  It has faded slightly...see what you think.

This year I decided that I wanted more Halloween in the house.  It's because the kids are here and that makes such a difference for me.  So the house is filled with Halloween.  Orange lights fill the living room and beyond.  I even did a picture for the mantel.  

October holds several family birthdays, all the first week.  Reed, Dorothy and kids visited us that week, so we celebrated all three birthdays together.  It was so fun!  We began with Seth.  He turned 15.  We showered him with the meal of his choice, birthday wishes and, of course, birthday presents.  His treasure is a pair of custom made athletic shoes, made to his order.  Here he is with one of the shoes.

Layne turned 77 on October 5th.  "Don't get me anything!" is his yearly mantra.  But I always manage to find some little thing that I think he can use.  This year it was a pitch pipe.  I think he liked it but I'm not sure.  Our friends the Becks gave him a fruit bouquet.  We all loved that!

The kids gave him a sweet BD note and he loved that.

Our girl Dorothy also had a birthday on the 7th.  We celebrated it a couple of days early.  Dorothy has thyroid cancer, which has been a worry for all of us.  Prayers have flown to heaven in abundance for her.  Her surgery was this past Wednesday.  Reed confirmed that it went well.  It looks like the cancer was contained in the thyroid and now gone.  What a blessing!

Our days with Reed, Dorothy and the boys were especially tender and pleasant.  Bruce had fun going through my coin collection.  Timmy was open and friendly.  Vincent was his usual very pleasant and friendly self.  They are such a nice family and so great to have around.

Here's Vincent with his ever-present gallon of water.  He carries it everywhere, refilling as needed.  It just about never leaves his sight.

Here is the whole Reed-Dorothy family.  Or the ones that visited.  Here's Reed, Bruce, Dorothy, Vincent, Timmy and....Seth.

It has been a wonderful family time this month so far.  We are settling in with Seth and Angelica.  Seth was in a school concert this week and he loved it.  It was a fantastic production, due to the excellent work of the teacher whose first name happens to be...Seth!  The kids are still in what I would call a "honeymoon" stage being here, but they seem to be happy so far.  I hope we can do them justice.  It is beginning to be more relaxed and fun as we settle in to a new routine...having kids to care for.   

Sunday, October 1, 2017


For years Layne has kept track of two Navy friends.  Of all that he happily associated with, these two stand out as men of integrity.  They have been loyal friends through the years even though they have seen little of each other since their Navy days.  One of them, Larry Durbin, decided that the time had come for these three to meet and bond in person.  So, last spring, he arranged a week together and chose Charleston, South Carolina, as the place. Layne was excited to reunite with fellow pilots, Larry and Lonnie.  This past week was our scheduled meeting.

Heres Lonnie, Larry (always the shortest guy) and Layne, friends since their days of navy pilot school in Pensacola, Florida, in the 1960s.  Lonnie made a career in the navy and is still flying; Larry flew for United Air Lines, like Layne, after leaving the navy.

So we arranged for Allegra to care for Seth and Angelica.  Gerald flew home on Thursday.  We flew to Charleston Tuesday.  I've never been there before.  What a beautiful place!  It is a place where plants of all sorts really want to be there.  The issue is controlling them, not talking them into growing, as is often the case out here in the West.

Charleston is one of the oldest towns in the country.  It was organized in the 1600s.  It is a charming place, filled with signs of its past in buildings and grounds all throughout the area.  We enjoyed eating out each day at the many delicious restaurants and went on a boat ride that exposed us to more distant sights.  We were reminded that the Civil War began here.  

Larry and Lonnie talked about airplanes endlessly while we girls, Teddy and Audrey, did a bit of girl talk.  They are both lovely women, good at heart and nice to be with.  However I couldn't talk them into doing much looking around.  It was hot outside.  These women, Teddy from hot Florida and Audrey from hot Arizona, didn't want to go outside!  So I did a bit of shopping on my own.  There is always something interesting to see!  We all toured a plantation called the Magnolia Plantation with amazing grounds filled with trees, plants of all sorts and an abundance of water.  The grounds are the treat, but we spent what I thought to be a very short time only touring the house.  The group wanted to leave after that.  So we didn't get to see the gardens.  I was disappointed.  But, again, it was hot.

Here we all are:  Layne, me, Teddy and Larry Durbin, Audrey and Lonnie McClung.  All of us have been married for 50 plus years.  That's somewhat rare these days!

In spite of my disappointments,  we had fun together.  I'm glad to have spent time with these good people.  I believe Layne had a wonderful time.

The few days we had together passed quickly. Soon we were on our way home, arriving Friday night, just in time to share a Friday night movie with the kids.  Gerald got safely home and Allegra and the kids are happy and in good shape.  We've spent the weekend watching and enjoying General Conference; one of the best treats ever.