Wednesday, September 30, 2015

a few happy things

I spent most of my Tuesday working on my projects at home while doing laundry.  I did take a break for a quick lunch with Natalie and Ruth, then came home and got right back to it.  Later in the afternoon, Carol and I did some grocery shopping and a quick Sonic run together.  The kids had YM/YW and Doug had things to do on his own, so I pretty much had a very "chill day".

The kids came home from YM/YW with a bunch of kids and they hung out in the front yard for quite some time, then worked their way into Layne and Julie's home.  It was after ten before they came in.  Doug and Carol and I were in the hottub.  They were still having a ball and going on and on about how much fun the whole night had been.  I love that they feel like a part of the ward youth and have made good friends!  I posted on Facebook last night that my three favorite sounds have always been a nursing baby cooing, the sound of the ocean waves and thunderstorms.  BUT. I add to that list, now, the sound of teenagers laughing outside my window and asking, "Can we hang out longer?"  It means that they are content!  Happy teens = Happy moms!

I have been enjoying my new desk area and spending a lot of my time sitting right here.  Doug teases me because I say that everyplace that I am in the house is my favorite place to be.  I love our bedroom and my new little office space!  Here's a few pix...

At the end of our bedroom is a walk-in closet and this little dressing area, which I wasn't quite sure what to do with when we bought the home, so I put this hutch in the space and a chair for Doug to sit and put his shoes on in the mornings, but I didn't like it because it became a "catch all" for mail and papers.  I hate papers just stacked around!  

 This is our first home without an office/craftroom, so when I had the idea to make this my little personal space, I was a happy camper!  Laptop or not, I need a desk to spread out my books and papers when I'm studying! With car repairs and back to school expenses, this had to be a "Use it up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without" project. So, this is what I came up with, without spending money on anything except the fun wreathe and the "S".

 So, now, I can sit at my desk, work and enjoy our bedroom all at the same time.  So far, it's worked.  Doug can even sleep if I only turn on the lamp and not the overhead light.  Happiness!  My own little office space, designed on a dime... well, actually on a Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon and a trip to Tai Pan.  I'm loving it!

 And I love love love my polka-dot pillows!  They are a conversation piece!  Doug still thinks they are funky and that I've lost it, but he admits that they make the room more "me".

Our first YSA Home Evening dinner is next Monday and I will be preparing a simple meal for 41 college students and my own family.  That also happens to fall on my birthday, I'll be celebrating it a bit different than ever before... in the kitchen and prepping for it.  When we realized that they were on the same day, Doug asked, "Babe, are you sure that you're okay with that?"  I didn't have to even think about it.  "I can't think of anything better to do!"

It gives me a chance to do something that I love doing...entertaining, feeding people, sharing the love in our home!  This is a GREAT birthday gift!  I'm thrilled! I'm planning menu number three now, completely changing it again last night.  We're supposed to "keep it simple" and that's a stretch for me!  Soup was recommended.  We'll see what ends up happening. 

Aside from our "family classes", it will be the first real "entertaining" that we've done in our new home!  I'm very excited...excited to entertain, excited to have a more personal experience with these kids, excited for Doug and I and our kids to get to know them better! It will be a birthday "party" from me instead of for me and that works!

I can't believe October is almost here!  Halloween decorating is happening at our house tonight!  YES!  Life is good!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

start spreading the news... a minor rant

Carol and I had a spontaneous moment and decided to go to the matinee movie yesterday.  I packed some tuna sandwiches since we didn't take time for lunch before hand and THEY.WERE.GROSS!!!!  The bread got so soggy by the time we got there that there was no eating them.  I literally got up and walked them down to the trash and we feasted on our popcorn for the rest of the movie.

The movie... The Intern.  This is the cutest movie that I've seen in a lonnnnnnng, lonnnnnng time!  It's not quite a romantic comedy like You've got Mail, but it feels good like it.  Oh my!  You just want to hug Robert DeNiro through the whole movie and Anne Hathaway is wonderful.  I LOVE this movie and will buy it the day it comes out, in January supposedly.  I can't wait to see it again!  It's long.  Very long.  But, it's just a delight to watch.  The previews make it appear to be a slapstick comedy.  Not at all. It's warm and endearing.  AND it takes place in my favorite city in the world, NYC!!!  So many great shots of the beautiful brownstones.  I loved it!  See this show!  Oh, and it's clean!

It was one year ago tonight that Katie and I boarded that jet and headed to New York City to check off the number one thing on my bucket list! I want to be there again tonight!  I seriously, literally, ACHE to go again!  Last night, I reread and looked at all of my pictures from the trip!  WHAT A THRILL!!  I love NEW YORK!

I feel so happy in life at this moment.  Life still has it's challenges on a daily basis, but I'm happy!  I love almost everything about my life right now!!  I think that's why I've been feeling my mojo... being so creative... working on all sorts of projects.  A few of my latest projects in the works...

  • finally creating a wall arrangement in the den on the big almost bare wall.  I need to exchange one item at Hobby Lobby and it will be done!
  • I'm creating a silly, simple "arsty" journal... sort of like my conference notes, with doodles and quotes and whatever flips my trigger at the moment.  It's full of lists and just a "We did this today" type fact or two about each day.  It's only just begun on September 1, but it's been fun and gives me something to do when I do sit down.  I can't watch tv or a movie without something in my hands to keep me busy.  Call it OCD, I'm okay with that.
  • I'm also collecting and printing hundreds of photos from the past ten years since I stopped scrapbooking.  I'm having them printed,and putting them into scrapbooks with sleeves.  I'll journal to my hearts content and include the journaling along with the photos. NO fancy pages.  NO embellishments.  My focus will be the journaling and capturing the stories.
  • I'm going through all of my ten years of blogging, selecting the entries that I want to keep forever and will have them printed into books.  I'll not be printing every trivial detail, but the important things in life and the ones that meant the most to us.  Maybe when I'm gone, someone will read them.  We have Doug's grandmother's life story and a few others in hardbound volumes and I love them!!!
  • I'm reading a lot!  Reading several different books at one time... some are serious, a novel, some are spiritual, some are motivating.  
Although, at this time, most of my time is spent running from one fire to the next, haul kids around and keep the family in order, I need to be filling my own bucket.  Lately, this is how I'm doing it...whenever I have a moment, I'm doing one of the above and it's keeping me happy!

I was chatting with a friend recently about how sometimes, as women/mothers/wives, we do things for ourselves and then we feel a bit guilty.  We "could have" used that time to read to a child, talk with a teen, walk with a spouse.  We feel guilty or embarrassed to admit that we did something for ourselves. WHY do we do this to ourselves?!?!?  Why do we worry about being judged for "playing" and taking "me time"? We need "ME TIME!"

I recently ran into a "friend" (note the airquotes).  We chatted a bit and she commented about how much time I "play". I'll spare the details, but, I could feel the judgement in their voice and see it in their brow.  My inner thoughts were, "Look, "friend", my house is clean and organized, my laundry is done, my family eats healthy and nutritious meals, we are keeping the commandments and following the prophets, I study and I serve, my marriage is fantastic!  DON'T JUDGE ME for having friendships and fun (or for the gallons of diet coke I consume!)  IT FILLS MY BUCKET!!!!" (Not the coke, the fun... well... the coke does too.) Instead, I was polite and said, "I know!  I'm so blessed!  Doug encourages it! And I have such great friends!  Life really is good, isn't it!?" 

I am a firm believer that all work and no play makes for a very unhappy woman!  "If Mama ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!"  So, "playing", whether it's going to lunch or a movie with a friend, crafting, memory keeping, or knitting, or pinning on Pinterest is healthy!!!  Once the work is done, play and make the moments count... the ones with the family annnnnnd the ones that you need for yourself!  It's good for the soul!  It's good for the family to see Mom happy! ZJ mentioned the other day that she loves it that I always laugh when I'm with my friends and she continued, "I love to see you laugh!"  My kids can see it!  They know that it's good for us all!

Anyway, that's what's on my mind this morning.  I took a break from my journaling to say so.  Laundry's done.  House is clean.  Dinner's started.  I'm off to lunch with Natalie!  Life is good!

Monday, September 28, 2015

more weekend fun

On Saturday night, Doug was very nervous at bedtime, thinking about his first time conducting Sacrament Meeting.  When he woke up yesterday morning, it was the same thing.  He was lying in bed, eyes wide open, thinking about it.  He is not one for being the center of attention and being the person who conducts a meeting with 180 people in it, sort of, makes you, the center of attention.  It was Fast and Testimony Meeting.  He had several people who's names were to be read as he sustained them to new callings.  And then, he had to bear his own personal testimony after the Sacrament was administered.  The kids and I sat on the back row, with Mary Ann.  We were all so nervous for him...having faith that he'd do fine, but just knowing that he was soooooo out of his comfort zone! He did a wonderful job, taking it very slowly, making sure that he said each person's name correctly, giving them each time to be recognized.  I was holding my breath and praying for him the whole time!  He did great!

Then, after the Sacrament, he bore his testimony.  This man.  He's perfect for me.  I just adore him and his strength and his faith!  He's such an example to our kids.  And I loved that we were sitting on the back row and could see all of the students.  Andy, one of the boys, was sitting with a girl that he's just met and now is dating, just in front of us.  They were holding hands and his arm was around her throughout the meeting.  I watched as they were literally "cheering him on", silently.  When Doug finished, he turned around and said, "He did great, for his first time!"  I could, literally, feel everyone's support, because they all knew it was his first time.

Doug expressed his love for each of the students/members in the ward and his desire to learn each of their names.  He said that he was working hard to learn their names!  (He is... he sits and studies their pix in his directory on his iPhone every spare moment.)  He went on, "I'm working so hard to learn your names, BUT, you keep changing clothes!"  He mentioned a Sister Rudd, who was wearing RED the first time they met.  That was his association to remember her name. He went on, "I don't even know what she's wearing today."  It got a laugh.  He went on to express his love for the Savior and said, "I need the Savior's support in my life!  I'm depending  on His support in this calling."  He's such a humble man.  I do love this husband of mine!   Oh!  He finished his testimony with ease, then, the nerves of "I'm conducting" picked back up. He said, "The time is now yours to stand and share your testimonies.  We'll conclude the meeting at 2:35."  Then her just turned and took a step toward his seat, remembered and turned back to the microphone, and said, very quickly, "OH!  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."   Everyone just cracked up.  His humor and his humility... two of Doug's best qualities!

After the meeting, the kids and I left and came back to our home ward, so that they could be where they were supposed to be.  We looked for Doug in the crowded hallways to tell him good job and goodbye, but he was no place to be found.  As I was pulling into our home ward church parking lot, my phone rang.  It was Doug calling to say that he'd given a quick interview the moment the meeting had ended.  I told him I was proud of him and he was off to his next meeting!

Another thing that he mentioned in his testimony was his love for his family and his appreciation of our support in his new calling.  It's been so interesting.  I absolutely love seeing him serving and loving what he's doing.  I'm amazed at how quickly he is bonding with these young adults and the leaders that he is serving with.  Honestly, it's just an awesome experience!  I hope that the newness never wears off and that we can just continue to grow and love every minute of it!

 After church, I made chicken enchiladas, which could be heated and served anytime later in the afternoon because Doug had meetings later and would only be home for an hour before he had to go back.  We ate and visited and he was out the door.  We'd invited Layne and Julie and the boys over for a movie and treats, but the movie part never happened.  The kids were outside having a blast while Julie, Layne and I visited until Doug came back in from his meeting and then we visited some more!  We all went outside and watched the lunar eclipse.  It was pretty cloudy and we didn't get much of a show.  But, the evening was absolutely perfect.  Lots of laughs.  Lots of stories. Chocolate-peanutbutter cake and icecream.  A great way to end a wonderful Sabbath day!

The photo is a blur, but that's because they were having so much fun!  They literally have a blast together and Layne is ZJ's hero!  Such great neighbors!

I didn't go to bed last night with Doug.  He was so exhausted and I was wide open and wanting to talk.  I knew that we'd end up chatting forever, so we said goodnight and I worked on my journal for a while... I didn't realize it was 1:30 until I climbed into bed.  Oops! This morning, my alarm didn't go off. I had turned it off because there was no school on Friday.  Oops again!  The kids were ready and came upstairs, just as it was time to go!  We literally prayed in the car, then pulled up to the bus stop at the same time the bus did!

I grabbed this photo of the moon before it set this morning.  It was huge!  Blurry pic, fabulous moon!

Life is good!  So are Sundays!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

weekend fun

The kids and I slept in on Friday morning until almost 8, because there was no school.  We woke up and watched the last few episodes of Drop Dead Diva, which we had never even heard of until recently.  It's all we have watched for weeks.  Like most shows, it started out with three seasons of clean and decent then it started to deteriorate in the later episodes, but it one of the best series we've seen in years.  Why can't something just be good and stay that way!?  ANYWAY.  I made Cracker Barrel Pecan Pancakes for brunch, which we all have become addicted to!  We finished cleaning up, got dressed and headed to town to run a few errands and then to the movies to see Everest!

Everest.  WOW.  All I can say is WOW.  We all sat, holding our breath, watching the movie, but the more I watched, the more my blood pressure went up.  I've read Into Thin Air and Left for Dead.  We've watched every National Geographic and Planet Earth type story about this experience through the years.  BUT.  I can never get past the fact that these men risking their lives, leaving their wives and children to do something that is so high risk.  I realize that every day we wake up not knowing if this is our last, but seriously, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to put your life in danger, to risk never seeing your family again, for bragging rights?  It doesn't make sense to me.  It makes me angry over and over.  That said, it's an amazing film.  A MUST SEE on the big screen.  It's incredible photography and effects.  But, dang those men! (and the women.)  Dang them all! 

Well, Doug is now "officially" into the new shift... he worked overtime on Saturday.  This is lovely on pay day,  but it means a six day work week for him now.   This later bedtime and not getting up at 3:53 is so sweet!!!  And going to bed at the same time is even sweeter!  I love praying together, kissing goodnight and I unwind with Pinterest after he starts snoring! *My body clock will take a while to adjust to 10PM bedtime.  Doug sleeps anytime his head hits the pillow!

When we moved, I carefully packed all of the old gallery/craftroom myself.  I've now spent the past few weeks searching and searching for the cord to my external harddrive and to my Cricut.  I finally borrowed Natalie's cord to make the banners that I made last week, but this is making me crazy.  I tossed an entire bin of old cables and cords during the move,but, I know that I didn't put these two important cords in with a miscellaneous bunch.  So, where they are, I have no clue. I have spent hours looking and am finally just to the point of ordering new ones. I'm sure that the minute I open the new ones, the old ones will magically appear on my desk.  GRRRRRR. 

In the meantime, I spent a bit of time last week making fun banners for fall.  Here's a few....

Mine is in the den over the fireplace...

This was Denise's birthday gift.  She picked out exactly what she wanted.

This was for our sweet dental assistant, Nicole, on her last day.  She was leaving Brett's offices and moving to an ortho surgeon's office.  She's been our favorite!

Carol came over one afternoon and she chose, "Give Thanks".  My photo isn't very good, but it looks so cute in her home!  I hung it on the mantle here to take a picture and you can't read the letters.

Our weekend was busy, busy, busy.  A few highlights...

Mary Ann hosted a beautiful shower at the Riverwoods for her granddaughter/friend Jamie's daughter/Carol's niece, Rachel, who is getting married in a few weeks.  The luncheon was lovely.  Of course, Mary Ann's tables were fabulous.  The company couldn't have been any better.  We played a few very fun "fill in the answer" type paper games during the meal while waiting for our orders to be taken, waiting for salads and then desserts.  Very fun!  It was just perfect.  My favorite part of the shower was visiting with these wonderful women.  Rachel was uber impressively gracious!  (I love good manners!)  She was very specific and personal about each gift.  Rachel has served an LDS mission and her maturity is obvious.  What a lovely girl! What a lovely afternoon!  I love the many connections that I have with Carol's family and was thinking about it later, I love that I can now call Mary Ann, my friend,  not just Carol's sister.  These women are all an amazing family!

On Saturday afternoon, the girls put on dresses and we went out for dinner before the LDS General Womens Broadcast.  Dressing up is part of the experience. ZJ chose this time...Black Pearl for sushi and wonton soup, her favorites. After dinner, we came home, put on our PJs, made brownies and watched the conference on TV in comfort.  It's one of my favorite traditions since Liza and I began.  My only requirement, being that many of the women are at the church having a little dinner together and then watching it in the chapel, is that everyone takes notes in their "Conference Journals".  I'm adamant about this because at home, it's easy to be distracted.  This way, we are all focused on what is being said and we discuss our notes afterward.

Not that I'm biased, but, these are two of the most beautiful girls I've ever known... and I'm not talking about the curls and long lashes and beautiful smiles.  Just sayin'.

President Uchtdorf told a story about a little girl and her Aunt Rose that, surely, will become a forever classic.  It was as though he had the children's book in his hand, reading it to his own granddaughters in his living room at home.  So personal, so intimate, so poignant.  Honestly, I listened to it five more times that night and on Sunday, with Doug, then Quayd and ZJ and myself twice.  I can see the book on the shelves at Deseret Book already and I would stand in line to buy one.  It was a remarkable talk about life.  Listen to it, please.  It will be twenty-one of your best spent moments ever.  This is truly a life-changing story. OH, how I love President Uchtdorf's joyful spirit!

After the broadcast, the girls and I invited the guys to join us for brownies and icecream, with plans to hottub.  However, they ran a plate of brownies over to Layne and Julie's.  Their German exchange student, Lasse, pronounced Las-sa, had come home early and was alone.  Within moment's the entire evening shifted gears!  Lasse came over and the guys all joined us in the den to watch the new DVD "The Cokeville Miracle" and all of it's extras. This is based on the true story, (we actually know two of the victims) of the school takeover in Wyoming, in 1984, by a lunatic man and his wife.  It's a fabulous story to watch and definitely gives you goosebumps!  Watch it!  It's out on DVD and probably will be available on Netflix soon.)  It was a very sobering, but uplifting, movie to watch.

The mood didn't last long because, afterward, we were out of control laughing at ZJ's new screensaver, an ape that does a funky dance to the beat of whatever music you play.  We laughed uncontrollably for over an hour, playing everything from Michael Jackson's Thriller and Bad, to Christmas music to Addams Family Groove to The Lion Sleeps tonight and Put Da Lime in Da Coconut. Even slow songs.  Oh my heck, we could have been heard laughing a block away.  SO funny!  It was midnight before we called it a night!

Life is good... so are fun weekends!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


It's been a while since I've done a ten list...and the first time in the new site... we'll see how it goes.

Ten things I'm excited about right now:

  1. Carol comes home from"our trip" to Arizona tomorrow!!
  2. LDS General Conference is just a week away!
  3. The LDS General Womens Broadcast is in two days! I'm excited for a girls' night out with ZJ and hopefully, Grace, if she gets the night off!
  4. The movie, "Everest" comes out tomorrow!  Can. NOT. Wait!
  5. The new season of "Survivor" begins tonight.  We've not watched live tv, other than the news, since it's Finale last spring.
  6. The leaves are turning! The canyon is splendid!  We need to take a drive and get some pix!
  7. We are planning a trip to visit Liza's and fam!
  8. We're making chow-chow this weekend!  It will be interesting to start canning in a new kitchen!
  9. I'm anxious to watch Aylabelle watch the Ball in the new Cinderella movie this weekend!  She's loving all things "Princess" right now!  What a gift Facetime is in our lives!
  10. I've been really looking into different planners and organizing systems... I want to try something new this next year.  There's a lot of them out there and that was news to me since I've been such a faithful Franklin Planner fan for decades!
Nine things that make me happy these days!

  1. General Conference
  2. cooler weather
  3. hottubbing in the cooker weather
  4. Facetiming with Aylabelle
  5. the Young Single Adult Ward activities
  6. decorating for fall
  7. Soup
  8. Our fireplace
  9. Doug's new schedule!
 Eight things happening in my kitchen:

  1. chowchow!
  2. homemade bread
  3. catalina chicken
  4. almond joy cookies
  5. taco soup
  6. chicken noodle soup
  7. waffles
  8. a "must-goes" recipe from Liza
Seven people I've been spending time with and loving it!

  1. Doug
  2. Carol
  3. Denise
  4.  Mary Ann
  5. Aylabelle and Liza (on Facetime)
  6. Carol's mother, Mary
  7. my girls
Six things we're doing this weekend:  (there's no school tomorrow, so we have a long one!)

  1. Seeing Everest!
  2. Going to the LDS Womens Broadcast
  3. making chow-chow!
  4. Going to the YSA ward as a family
  5. Taking a drive up the canyon to see the changing leaves and take some pix
  6.  Going to a fun Bridal Shower!
Five things I've been up to:

  1. Creating Fall banners and a wedding banner
  2. Reading a lot
  3. Creating a new journal
  4.  decorating and moving furniture (well... directing furniture moving)
  5.  Making lists and more lists for the holidays
Four words I'm feeling right now:

  1. content
  2. hopeful
  3. excited
  4. blessed

 Three things in the news today:
  1. Elder Richard G. Scott, one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has passed away this week.
  2. Watching the news this morning about the visit of the Pope to America.  How exciting for the members of the Catholic Church! I can not imagine the security involved...the Pope and the President in the same spot.  WOW! 
  3. The Race for President is huge news right now. It looks like Hilary Clinton is heading toward the White House on the Democrat ticket, but the Republicans are a mess!  The Republicans have got to get it together!  Donald Trump?  Seriously?  An ego is not what America needs!  Oh, this will be an interest race, but why does it have to begin so soon!  We're barely relaxing after the last election!

Two things on my mind:

  1.  ZJ stayed home today for an eye doctor appointment.  She's been having the worst headaches and her eyes hurt all the time.  We're praying for some answers.  She has an astigmatism and will be getting some cute new glasses.  Contacts won't help, dangit.  We made a day of it with lunch and a drive up Logan Canyon to see how much the leaves turning!  There's no school tomorrow, so she got an extra long weekend!  It was a special day.
  2. Three members of the Quorum of the  Twelve have passed away in the past few months. General Conference is next weekend.  The members of the church anxiously await announcement of three new General Leaders of the Church!  Exciting times!
One thing I'm thankful for today:

  1. I know that I say it all the time, but today, again, I'm thankful for our new home.  ZJ told me, as we were driving up the canyon today, that she is really thankful for our move to our new home.  She shared her reasons, which were personal, but they were good reasons and it was a good thing to hear.  I'm so grateful for our lovely home, in our wonderful new ward, with wonderful new neighbors and friends!  I still love the old, but I'm thankful for the changes in our lives since the move!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

manners matter

I posted a little reminder to parents of kids going to Homecoming on Facebook last week.  It probably didn't go far since I just deleted most local people on my friends list, but still....  I posted a reminder to parents to teach their teens to tip since it's Homecoming Dance tonight.  Years ago, when I was working in a restaurant as office manager and as a hostess, I witnessed the same thing happen over and over on the nights of prom, homecoming dances and other big nights for high school age kids, and even college kids sometimes.  They would come into the restaurant, in groups of eight, ten, twelve, all dressed up in their formals and tuxes, enjoy a wonderful steak dinner, trash their seating area and vanish without leaving a dime for the server who prepped, served and then cleaned up behind them.  It happened more often than not!  SADLY.

I remember when I was a teenager, we went to IHOP for breakfast one morning, after I'd had a sleepover with my friend.  She was one of eight kids and, back then, families didn't dine out very often... especially families of that size.  We were served our pancakes and my friend, who had literally never been out for breakfast in her life, picked up her fork, sliced into the scoop of butter on top and took a huge bite, thinking it was ice cream.  Her face!  She was stunned.  And embarrassed! It was at that moment that I decided that my kids would have dining out experiences and be taught restaurant manners.

Here's a family home evening idea.  Set a pretty table and pretend you are dining out. Help your kids learn how to order, how to treat a server, what not to do and what to do while dining out.  Teach them well, then take them out for a real dining experience the next week and let them practice what they learned.  It doesn't have to be a fancy, expensive meal.  Lots of places even have "kids eat free" days, if money is an issue.

Here's a few rules that should be taught to kids about dining out...whether it's a McDonalds or Applebees or the best steak house in town.  And remember, manners apply to the parents, just as much as kids!

  • NUMERO UNO RULE FOR DINING OUT:  Treat the servers/hostesses/bussers/anyone who is helping your experience be pleasurable as YOU would like to be treated.  Be respectful!  Don't be demanding.  Be polite.  Use your manners.  Say Thank you and PLEASE every time they come to your table! And Doug is really good about always asking their name, and calling them by name everytime they come to the table.  If you are personal and friendly, they will return that friendliness!
  • When ordering...make up your mind before you order. If you aren't ready to order, ask for another few minutes. Then, be patient until the server comes back to you.  Don't change your mind a dozen times.  Know what your kids want before you order.  Make sure that they understand what they are ordering so that they don't get upset when it's not what they expected. Don't be afraid to ask questions about it.
  • Make sure to place your napkin on your lap before eating. And use it while dining!
  • Place straw wrappers and any other items of waste in one place on the table, not all over the floor and in the seats.
  • Utensils, chopsticks, salt and pepper shakers, menus, signage are not toys.  Don't let your kids play with the things that are on the table for the guests' use.  Would you want to clean up a tablespoon of spilled salt from every corner of your own dining room after each meal?  Do you want your table dinged up from knives being "drummed" on the table?  Do you want to hear drumming at the table next to you?  No one else wants to either.  Shhhh.  Use your inside voices and sounds in a restaurant.
  • If your child is screaming or throwing a fit, take them out.  People pay for sitters, for the meal, to get a night out and away from their own kids.  Its not fair for other guests to have to sit and listen to your screaming/whining/cranky child when they've paid not to hear their own.  One of my favorite BrighamYoung quotes:  "Crying children are like good intentions... they should be carried out."
  • Teach your kids not to reach across the table for things out of their reach.  Teach them to ask, "Please pass the salt" instead of standing up and spilling four things or dragging their sleeves through food before they reach what they need.  "Please pass..." love those words!
  • Chew with your mouth closed!!!!  Period!!!!  ALWAYS!!!!!
  • Elbows, books, cellphones in use, toys do not belong on the table.  Kids should learn early that the table is the place for dining and visiting, not being entertained by "Stuff". 
  • The general rule of thumb is that for eight or less people at the table, everyone should be served before anyone begins eating.  With little children, this is harder because they are hungry and bored by the time the food arrives.  BUT, if they don't eat until everyone else is eating, they don't finish as soon and aren't ready to leave and getting cranky before you've eaten your salad.  For very young children, who aren't old enough to understand this yet, it might be helpful to ask for a bowl of fruit or a roll.  NEVER ASK FOR CRACKERS... kids never really eat them and they make the biggest mess possible everywhere... all that mess for nothing.  Just sayin'.
  • KEEP KIDS IN THEIR SEATS!  A restaurant is the worst place possible to let a child run around.  There are people running around with hot food on trays or plates, not expecting a short person to be under their feet.  Also, KEEP THEM IN THEIR SEATS!  Not standing, not crawling over the back of a booth seat, not crawling under and out and back into a booth.  IN THEIR SEATS.  There's nothing worse than being kicked in the head or sitting in a booth that is continually being kicked and knocked by a child sitting behind you.
  • Speaking of sitting, teach them to sit up, not lie on the table with their arms all over, or feet in the seats or legs all over.  Teach them to keep within their own personal space and to keep their food and place setting within their personal space.
  • If the food is not prepared properly or not what you expected, let the server know.  Their goal is for you to have a positive dining experience so that you will return.  They do not want you to walk away disappointed and never come back.   They'd much rather you let them know that the meat isn't cooked enough, the potato was cold... than have you unhappy.  There's nothing wrong, at all, with letting them know, but do it nicely! 
  • If your kids spill or make a mess, clean it up, as best as possible.  Ask for extra napkins, wipe up any spills.  Don't just sit there and expect someone to do it for you.  If you drop a utensil, make sure it's not going to get stepped on where someone could slip.  Leave it on the floor, but out of traffic.  But, spilled liquids should be cleaned up immediately, calmly and quietly. No need to "freak out" on your child for spilling and ruining the experience for everyone.  99% chance that it was an accident!  Treat it as such, calmly.  Don't embarrass the child. They are already embarrassed enough without your adding to it.  And don't be embarrassed yourself, as most people have kids or were kids at one point and understand.  Over-reacting only makes the situation worse!
  • Have a reward for good behavior in a restaurant.  Let the kids know upfront, "This place has the best_____ for dessert!  If you use your best manners, we'll get one!"  Even if you have to split it five ways because money is an issue, a few bites of something wonderful is better than nothing and it encourages great behavior!
  • TIP THE SERVER accordingly!  Twenty percent is the average today.  I feel strongly that if you can't afford to tip the server, on top of paying for your meal, eat someplace more affordable to your budget.  Servers generally get paid about $3 an hour or less.  They depend on tips!  Consider the fact that you come in with a few kids, make a larger mess, take the table space for longer than a couple without children and then leave more cleanup.  Servers who serve families should be paid even more than the norm!  Especially servers that really try to make your dining pleasure as a family more pleasurable!
  • Don't stay forever.  Kids can only tolerate so much for so long.  Enjoy your meal and be on the way before the kids get bored and start acting up. Thank the server one last time!  Keep it a positive experience!
Our kids have been raised eating out as a regular family activity.  Even still, with three teens, sometimes they have to be reminded of these manners.  Texting is an issue today while dining out.  I'm guilty myself, at times, but I justify it "because it might be one of the kids or Doug"!  I have a friend who shared that her father-in-law takes all the married kids/couples out for dinner once a month.  When they arrive at the restaurant, all cellphones go in the center of the table.  No matter who dings or beeps, no one touches their phones during the meal.  If they do, they buy!  I love this!  Our kids are not allowed to text or play with their phones at the table... at home or out!  It's the rule.

Bottom line is that if we teach our kids good manners at home, they'll have better manners when out.  AND if we teach them by example, we are already ahead of the game.  Grace is going out to her first semi-formal dinner and dance tonight.  I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about these things, wondering if there was anything I needed to remind her of, and it was a great feeling to know that she already knows them!  BUT... These are basic people skills that we all can use the reminder of every once in a while!

Life is good!

Monday, September 21, 2015

service project and fun

We had the best Home Evening with the YSA!  The plan was a service project, a barbecue and a contest.... each activity gets more and more fun!

We arrived out at the American West Heritage Center at 5:30, an hour before the kids did.  Once there, we quickly set up the barbecue and food tables, the stuff for the contest and organized the service project.

The kids that arrived at our end of the farm first were put to work on the Scarecrow Contest.  The kids that arrived at the other end first were put to work digging up potatoes and harvesting gourds.  Some of the kids helped with the meal.  Everyone was busy and having a great time working together!

When all of the potatoes were dug, gourds harvested and scarecrows finished, the kids all took corn off the stalks, then tied six stalks together in bundles and tied them to the fencing all around the farm, to be seen by all who drive past the farm on the highway as they enter the valley.  The kids worked fast and hard and impressed the groundskeepers at the farm.  I was amazed at how seriously they got to work and participated!  They are a very impressive group of kids!

This beautiful gal made a friend with this sweet milk cow!

They were seriously right to work and getting the job done!  There were a lot of man hours!

By the time they were done tying them to the fenceposts, it was too dark for me to take any pix.

Following the work, the burgers were cooked and kids ate everything in sight.  So much that Mary Ann went back to town and bought more hamburgers!  All in all, there were about 75 kids there for the meal and service. 

Doug called the short-legged scarecrow, "Lieutenant Dan".  (Forrest Gump fans will get that.)

We were happy to have two female scarecrows, too!  (Thanks, Denise, for the donation.)

I can't get over how much gratitude these kids show for every treat, meal or act of service that we do.  They are really and truly impressively gracious!

 Really, with all these great kids, how could we not love this calling!?!?

After dinner, the kids all cheered/voted for the best scarecrow.  Clean up and then home!

I can't believe we have been missing out on all of this fun for all these years!  While we were home having our quiet little home evenings, there were student wards doing major projects and fun every week!  We've been missing out bigtime!  The kids always love it!  They are getting to know some of the college kids.  We're looking forward to feeding them in our home beginning in two weeks! 

Here's a few more pix of the evening... my personal favorites!

My two sweet sister/best friend/daughters!

These two have a ball together!

 Here's the soul of my soul!

...and the heart of my heart!  (Thank you, Michael Bolton, for that song!)

I tried to get a cute pic of the four of them, but someone blinked in everyone... well, except the one that Quayd was pulling THE weirdest face on purpose, so this will have to do.  As is obvious, they love joining in on the fun of these YSA activities!

We stopped at Mickey Dee's for a yogurt parfait on the way home and, after a quick dip in the hottub for Doug and I, everyone headed straight to bed when we got home.

Life is good!!!
Doug had bought the clothes for the contest last week.  We brought a few extra things, thankfully, and they were needed!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Homecoming Day Date - Skittle Bowling and Pizza

Grace and I went shopping Saturday morning to find her a cute pair of shoes and a few other things for the Homecoming Dance.  She was back and ready by noon for Kendall to pick her up for their "day date".  Both were as cute as could be when he picked her up.  I love that he had no problem with me taking a few pix before they left.

They went "Skittle Bowling", which means that they bowled with a "twist".  Before each bowl, you'd draw a skittle from the bag and follow the designated instructions.  Orange means you bowl with the opposite hand.  Green means you bowl "Grannie style", between the legs, Red means you do a spin in the lane before letting go of the ball and so forth.  Grace said it was hysterical!  After they bowled, they ordered pizza.  She said the guy took to bring the pizza.  When he returned with it, he brought a Dominoes box of pizza.  Dominoes is right next door!  The guy charged them twice the Dominoes price for pizza that they could have walked over and gotten themselves. They thought that was pretty funny!

She came home in time to run to town and pick up a few other last minute items that she needed for the dance and then back home to start curling her hair and make-up.   Grace was so excited all afternoon!  I loved her enthusiasm!  She and Kendall are friends, neighbors, ward members, so they are totally comfortable together, which makes it nice...none of the jitters seemed apparent!  It was a great way to attend her first semi-formal.  Grace opted for a short dress instead of a formal for this dance.  I've already bought her formal for a winter dance, so I hope she gets asked!  ;)

When Kendall picked her up, he came in with a beautiful fresh lei from Hawaii.  His dad had, literally, gotten off the plane two hours before and brought it fresh that morning.  It smelled divine!  I knew that this was his plan, so I ordered a boutonniere with a blue and purple orchid in it.  They looked smashing together!  I think that they were both a more nervous about putting on the boutonniere than any other factor in the evening.  They were troopers and let us take tons of pix before they left for dinner.

Here's a few of the pix... the first, I took with my phone, before Kendell arrived.  I texted it to my mother and to Liza.  Liza had been on Facetime while we did hair and makeup, giving her big sisterly advice.  Mom immediately called and left a message:  "Put Gracie in the bedroom and LOCK THE DOOR!  Do not let her go on a date!  She's too beautiful!"

We had a little sit-down visit about being gracious...not that Grace would ever need that, but we talked about dating etiquette, about showing appreciation for every little thing and making every moment count before she got dressed.  It was funny because she was telling me what mattered.  Love this girl's manners and, as Doug said, "She got the right name.  "Grace" fits her to a tee!"

I love the dark blue tulle layers of slip, but it doesn't show in any of the pix!  Barely in this one.

"Scootching" down for Kendall to put on her lei.  Oh, it smelled divine!  Seriously, like heaven!

Putting on his boutonniere.  (Truth be told, we had Julie, his mom, help!)

My favorite!

Could she be any cuter!?

The other cute!  Love the bow-ties, boys!

And we had to have a silly one!

"I can't believe I'm really a Junior and I'm going to a dance!" were probably Grace's most repeated words all day! 

They came home as soon as the dance ended and Grace floated in!  She was so excited and loved every minute of the day!  She could hardly stop talking to go to bed!  It was a hugely successful day!  Julie and Layne said that Kendall was just as happy with things.  Score for Homecoming!  What a wonderful memory she will have!

She was excited to wear her lovely blue dress to church this morning.  I had to grin when I noticed Kendall and Grace sharing a hymn book, as we all sat on the same row in church.  She was blushing, but it was so cute.  They really are good friends!

It was a harried afternoon of going from our home ward to the student ward.  As soon as the meetings ended, we had our first "Linger Longer", which is a full-fledged meal for the students, where they can linger and get to know each other.  Since the committees are not all totally in place yet, the Bishopric wives prepared the meal for 150 hungry college kids... hawaiian haystacks.  They were a huge hit, followed by Ward Prayer and then icecream and cookies.  We are loving getting to know these kids more and more each week!  I realized a few days ago that our first Home Evening in our home will be on my birthday!  So, for my birthday, this year, I'll be cooking a meal for 47 college students!  I'm so excited for it!

After all of the meetings and festivities, we all came home and the kids were right out the door to a Bishop's fireside at his home.  We were getting ready for bed and realized that it was almost ten, and where were the kids?  Doug opened the front door and half the ward kids were out in the front yard talking still.  A good night and lots of "That was awesome!" as they came inside.

Doug and I climbed into bed together after family prayer, for the first time in five years on a work night!  At 10PM!  HAPPINESS!  And now, he's snoring and I'm back up blogging because it will take my body a few weeks to adjust to the earlier bedtime.  BUT, it was so fun to crawl into bed together and talk for a few minutes before he was out!  I'm so excited about this shift change!

We have had both vehicles down for the past few weeks.  We got the tranny fixed in the van and on the way home from picking it up, something with the radiator in the Expedition died.  So, we've been using Doug's mom's Subaru for several weeks now.  The van will be ready to pick up in the morning.  Having one car this past week has been a nightmare!  Five people, four with jobs at all different hours, school, church and life in general... it will be great to get the van back tomorrow...and to take the Expedition in next.  Help!  Talk about emergency fund!

Life is good!  Even with broken cars!

Saturday, September 19, 2015