Thursday, December 30, 2010

December comes to an end...

As the year winds down, I find myself totally shocked that it has passed so quickly! Of course as far as school is concerned, I still have half a year left. But if I blink, the second half will be gone before I know it. To celebrate the coming new year, I decided to just post a few photographs of my latest crafts and my sweet grandchildren.

When I took the Christmas decorations down, the house seemed so bare. I thought I would try to come up with a couple of things to put on the desk in the entry way and on the fireplace mantle.
I decided to take some wooden blocks and glue on the letters for Happy New Year. In my mind's eye, these blocks looked a lot better. I still want to get some glitter spray and give them a coat of that, then find some sort of sparkly floral-type spray with stars on it. I figure I could drill a hole in the top of the H to stick the spray in. I think that might jazz them up a bit. Right now, they are a little drab.

My friend, Marilyn, suggested I put out some snowmen because they would be appropriate for the wintery months between Christmas and Valentine's Day. I saw one on Ucreate and copied the idea. Ron says they need hats, but I haven't figured out how to put them on. Until then, they are hatless snow people.

Several months ago, the girls and I had a craft day to make presents for the grandparents. Now that Christmas has come and gone, I am able to post a picture of my mother's set. We made another for Ron's mother in browns with sepia photos. Both sets turned out adorable.

Now to finish up recording Christmas 2010. Our Christmas dinner took a turn for the better this year. I really didn't look forward to yet another turkey after having 2 Thanksgiving dinners. And, ham didn't sound great either. One evening I asked Scott what he wanted for dinner and his standard reply came up, "Chicken enchiladas." Of course Ryan was sitting next to him and he second that request. G was sitting just down the table from the boys and he piped up with "Tamale's!" As a result, we ended up with a wonderful Mexican dinner on Christmas Eve. I had found some new place mats at Pier I and couldn't pass them up. I think the colors worked well with our Mexican fare.

Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without Christmas pictures of my sweet grandchildren. Sophie Lyn has turned into such a character. She found Ron's Cowboy's Santa hat and plopped it on her head. That led to a challenging hour trying to get some pictures of the girls. This was the cutest one of Sophie.
Maggie continues to be a ham in front of the camera; so, most of the time her pictures have a huge cheesy grin or a goofy face. This was the best shot I got of her this Christmas. She is the perfect age for Christmas. I think we all got a kick out of her response to each gift she opened.

And then there is my handsome guy Seth. Several months before Christmas, he had come over for the night. I asked him what he wanted and he told me he wanted a Star Wars Lego set. I had him go online to the Lego site and write down all of the ones he would like to have, with the understanding that I would get him one set. He ended up giving me a list that covered the front and back of a paper. I told him the list was a bit long, so I gave him a hi-lighter and told him to underline the ones he wanted most. That narrowed it down to around 20! He said he was please with the one I finally picked out.
Now that Christmas is over, Ron and I are looking forward to a quiet New Year's Eve. We usually get together with the kids and have a game night and shoot off fireworks. This year we are all in favor of staying at home and chilling out. However, knowing my kids, I think that might end up changing.
Happy New Year to you all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A very busy month... and it ain't over yet!

The month of December is often associated with hustle, bustle, and hectic schedules all culminating in a joyous celebration of our Savior's birth. My intent with this post is to record some of the more memorable hustle and bustle events; thereby, freeing up my final post of the year for more spiritual and meaningful reflections.
So, here we go!
For my first event, I will write about Maggie's birthday.

Maggie turned 4 this month. She had her first real birthday party where friends were invited, games were played, and cupcakes were devoured. The theme was Toy Story. Leslie was pretty creative in her decorations.

She took a rainbow colored donkey pinata and turned it into Bullseye using some brown tissue paper...

She used my Sillouete machine to make a cute Happy Birthday banner and cupcake toppers...

Maggie blew out her 4 candles...

Opened her presents... and had a great time.

The second even that was cause for celebration was the end of the first semester of school! It is so hard to believe how quickly the year is passing. On the last day of the semester, we had our Winter Party. As my cute newbie in the room next to me said, "I made out like a bandit!"

I am always amazed at the generosity shown by the parents of my students. Here are a couple of pictures of their gifts. The truly greatest joy I receive when opening their presents is the look of joy on their faces .
I usually end up with some things I will never use. This year, I donated all of those things to the 55 & up club in Harker Heights. Mom said they only have a budget of $1.00 per person for birthday gifts. Some of the things I got as gifts from my students will hopefully be used to extend their budget

The third event was Scott's graduation from the Fire Academy and starting his new job as a fire fighter in Temple.
Scott received his certificates from Chief Bell. He and one other graduate had already been hired by the TFD.

The TFD paid for Scott and Brad's training. However, the rest of these young men are still looking for a job. Hopefully, they will find spots quickly.

At family dinner this week, Scott brought in his fire fighting gear... the jacket (which weighs a ton!)...

Scott's helmet...

And a picture of his everyday uniform.....

So, those are the highlights of December so far. More to come later.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Three trees...

On December 3rd, Seth came over to spend the night. While he was here, Maggie and Sophie came over to take mini ornaments and treats out of the advent cabinet. Even though Leslie bought the cabinet for me years ago, I have never used the cabinet before because Seth hasn't lived close enough to come over every day to open a drawer and hang ornaments. Now that Maggie and Sophie live so close, I decided to fill the drawers of the cabinet with tiny ornaments and pieces of candy so that they could come up each day and take their surprise out. We had already added several ornaments to the mini tree by the time Seth came over, so I had to explain the process to him. I knew he would be visiting from time to time, so I already had 3 of everything in each drawer. On the days he isn't here, Maggie puts Seth's on the tree. As Seth helped put the ornaments on the tree and said, "Gee Mimi. You have a lot of trees!" I asked what he meant and he said, "Well, you have this tree, the one in the dining room, and the one by the door. Mom only put up 1 tree. How come you have 3?" So, I had to explain the three trees.

The first is our mini advent tree, which I had just explained to him. The cabinet was sold at Mervyns and Leslie got it when she worked there while she was in college. It is really adorable and I should have taken a picture of it with the doors open. There are 25 little drawers inside that are perfect for hiding candy and ornaments.
I then told Seth that the second tree is actually for Ryan and Scott. I explained that when the children were growing up, my mother and father gave each one of them an unusual ornament for Christmas. By the time they were grown, each of them had quite a collection of ornaments. When Becca and Leslie moved out, I gave them each their own box of ornaments. That left only Ryan and Scott's ornaments. Those ornaments now hang on a 5 ft. tree that sits in the corner of our dining room because they never put up a Christmas tree. When they finally settle down into homes of their own, they will get their ornaments.
I then explained the third tree; my tree. You see, once the girls' ornaments were gone, our family tree was pretty naked. For Christmas one year after the girls had moved out, I told Ron I wanted to buy my own Christmas tree and new ornaments as my present that year. I decided on a red and gold theme and have added some new ornaments each year. I don't like bows, garlands, ribbons, or tinsel. I usually keep the lights off unless it is evening, because I just like the way it looks when it is unlit. My favorite ornaments are the small, hand carved Santa heads that my father made a few years ago. He actually made them for the kids, but these will stay on my tree until I am gone. Then the kids can fight over them.
After I explained why we have 3 trees, Seth thought for a while and said, "That's cool!" It made me realize that there are often things I do each holiday that I never explain to the grandkids. I know that my children understand our little traditions, but I never actually explained things to Seth. Now that he is older, and Maggie is quickly catching up with him I need to do a better job of talking about the simple things we do as a family. Hopefully, these little things will become part of each of their lives.
Later that evening while Seth and I were watching television, I told him that I actually have a 4th tree that I forgot to tell him about. When he asked me where it was, I told him about the one in my classroom. It holds the many ornaments that I have been given throughout the years I have been teaching. It doesn't really mean as much to me as the ones at home, but it is amazing how much joy that tree brings into the lives of my "other" babies.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What you don't know can't hurt you...

It has been six months since the hip replacement. I am almost back to normal; still a bit of a wobble when I walk, and some stiffness in the mornings. But, one giant step in the right direction took place this week. I went in to see the head of the coagulation clinic to find out when I could stop blood thinners. Good news: I am now on aspirin therapy!! The strange thing about my visit, was finding out so many things that I didn't know. When I sat down with the doctor, his first words were, "So, you had quite a few clots there didn't you?" I was a bit taken aback because I thought I only had the one in my thigh and a few suspicious spots in one lung. After telling him what I knew, he pulled up my test results. Evidently, the DVT in my thigh actually started in my groin, ran down the length of my thigh, and continued around behind my knee. He said it was about 1 cm across. That was just the first of the surprises the test results had for me. The doctor then showed me the results of the test they ran on my lungs. Lo and behold, the lower 1/3 of my right lung was completely black because it was filled with clots. The left lung looked like a Chick-filet ad because of all the black spots. Evidently, there were clots there as well. My response to the news was, "Well, no wonder everyone at the hospital kept telling me I should be playing the lottery!" I told him that no one had even alluded to the severity of the clots and that I was quite surprised. I also told him that I was actually glad I didn't know, because it probably would have worried me the entire time I was in the hospital. He then told me that most people in my condition would have never made it to the hospital. What do I owe my own personal miracle to? Wonderful worthy priesthood holders who exercised that holy power and administered to me in my time of need, and my faith in the gift of healing.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving and Black Friday...

This Thanksgiving was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable I can remember in a very long time. Probably because I didn't cook the meal! It is wonderful to have adult children that willingly pitch in and share the burden of such a huge meal. I cooked a ham and a turkey breast, Leslie took care of the scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn casserole. Becca brought the spinach dip & bread bowl, cheese ball, and green bean casserole. Her friend Adrienne brought broccoli & cheese casserole and pineapple upside down cake. Scott baked homemade braided bread and rolls. Mom, Dad, and "Mrs. Smith" supplied the pumpkin and pecan pies. (Ed wasn't able to be with us because he is still in Iraq, and Ryan was still on the rig in Oklahoma.)
After a delicious meal, the kids sat down with the sales ads from the paper to map out our plan of attach for the Black Friday sales. I don't think any of us actually had intentions of buying Christmas presents. Leslie wanted a Shark steam mop, crock pot, sheets, towels, and pajamas for the girls. Becca wanted a new crock pot because she had to toss hers after her pumpkin chili dumped all over the back of the van (long story). Scott only wanted the sandwich maker at Target. I didn't have anything in mind, so I went back and forth all evening about whether or not I was even going to go. Anyway, the girls planned our shopping trip, then we played board games until the magic hour of midnight.
Once the time arrived, I decided to go along. I grabbed shotgun, Becca drove, and the rest of the gang piled into the back of the van.

The funny thing is, Scott hadn't intended to go at all. At the last minute he decided to tag along to Wal-Mart. He ended up staying for the long haul.
I think he actually had a blast. He and Leslie got in the line at Target (we got there around 2:00 am) while Becca, Adrienne and I sat in the car. Around 3:00, Becca decided to move the van closer to the exit so we called to let them know the van was being moved. They talked Adrienne into joining them in the line. Becca took a quick snooze in the van, and I watched the crazies camping out in tents in front of Target, Home Depot, and Best Buys. It was unusually cold so people were huddled together with blankets. It was amazing how jovial everyone was!
Anyway, I think the total list of purchases included the Shark, Rubbermaid storage containers for all of us, sheets, towels, pajamas, a couple of fuzzy blankets, a couple of crock pots, Paula Dean cookware, a sandwich maker, and a bag of chocolates. Did we collectively save enough to make it worth staying up all night? I think so; maybe not in monetary value, but we laughed and giggled all evening.
We ended up getting back home around 5:45 am and had such a good time that we are looking forward to next year. Scott says we need to wear matching outfits and plan even more stops.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family Dinner...

Every Wednesday evening, the family gathers at my parents' home for Family Dinner. It is one of the highlights of my week. Last week I remembered to take my camera! Here are a few random photographs.

This is my father...
Here is one of Scott and the grandkids feeding Red...

Leslie, Scott, and Rebecca hanging out...

Ron, Mom, Sophie, and Leslie...
Dad, Seth, and Ron...Sophie, Maggie, and Seth...

Sophie & Dad behind Seth; Maggie to the right...

and Sophie.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Listen to the still small voice...

Life sometimes has a way of getting so busy and hectic, that recognizing prompting of the Holy Ghost can easily be overlooked. But, when I do heed those promptings I am filled with wonder and gratitude. I feel like I need to share one recent event in which I did not ignore those promptings.
I usually leave for work at 6:15. This makes it possible for me to miss most of the heavy traffic that drives into Fort Hood. As I drive, I drink a travel mug of either juice or hot chocolate, and eat a couple of toaster waffles. On Tuesday morning, I started my normal routine of filling my travel mug and getting the toaster out, but as I reached for the toaster, I had a strong impression that I needed to go to the trouble of making breakfast and sitting down to eat it. I thought about the fact that I have hallway duty this week, the graded papers that needed to be filed, and almost talked myself into leaving at my normal time. But, the prompting came again and I put the toaster away, got out what was needed to sit and eat breakfast.
I ended up leaving the house at 6:35. I glanced at the clock on my dashboard as I drove out of the garage and instead of feeling a little concerned because I was getting such a late start, I felt unusually calm.
When I drive into school from Temple, I take a county road instead of driving on the state highway. This also helps me miss the majority of the post-bound traffic. At one point on the road, there is a steep down grade that ends in a blind curve. As I drove down the road, I notice that the oncoming traffic was flashing their lights. I was annoyed at first because I thought it was just a bunch of dummies that mistook my nifty VW headlights for high beams. But, as I rounded the curve at the bottom of the down grade, I saw the aftermath of a fairly bad accident. A utility truck, an SUV, and 2 sedan's were involved; scattered along the sides of the road. Shocked by the sudden appearance of so many wrecked vehicles and debris on the normally empty road, I realized that had I left at my normal time, I could easily have been one more vehicle crumpled at the side of the road. The joy that filled my heart and mind as I realized that the Holy Ghost had protected me from this accident was indescribable. I am so thankful for this precious gift.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Party and Trunk or Treat...

Tonight was the ward Halloween Party and Trunk or Treat. My youngest daughter, Leslie, is the activities chairman for our ward and has been working on this activity for over a month. She was pretty stressed out and super busy all week. But, when all was said and done, I think it turned out great. Because she was sooooo busy all evening, this is the only picture I managed to get with her in it! She is the cute cat lady on the right hand side, just above the ball cap with the huge Y.
Leslie made all of the costumes for her family. G was Woody from the movie series Toy Story....

and Maggie was dressed as the character Jessie. Sophie was a cute little lady bug. She was so good and kept her antennae on all night! Ron was very original. He wore one of his many umpire outfits.
I found the cutest clown costume on eBay. Ron picked up the face paint, wig, and nose for me today. I had to do a little alteration because it was pretty large. I added a hula hoop to the inside at the waist so it would stand out away from my body and lift some of the length. Next year, I think I will shorten the legs a bit. But, I love it. Do you see my nifty medal? I won first place in the adult category!
During the party, I was able to avoid the crowds and confusion by manning the prize table. My partner in crime was my super best friend Marilyn. She was so funny! She went estate sale shopping today and found the rattiest witch's hat. She said when she saw it she just had to have it. She didn't pay anything for it because she told the lady selling it that she should actually be paying her to carry it off for her. I think she made a cute witch.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And yet another October birthday...

October has always been a busy birthday month for my family. I was born on my father's birthday. Two years later, my brother Bob was born 1 day after Dad's birthday. Then a year later, my brother Larry was born 2 days before Dad's birthday. During the years that have passed, we have added a few grandchildren and an anniversary to the October occasions list.
Now, Leslie's husband, Gerson, has been included in that prestigious list.
Last Saturday, he celebrated his birthday. He and Leslie invited a few friends from college, work, and church over for dinner. Here are a few pictures taken that evening.

Leslie made G some yummy chocolate cupcakes. They had a creamy center and a thick dollop of icing on top. He tried to get Maggie to help him blow out the candles, but she wasn't interested in blowing, only eating!
One of the families from church has 2 little girls the same ages as Maggie and Sophie. They all sat together and munched on hot dogs, watermelon, baked beans and chips.
Then Sophie enjoyed a cupcake...
...very, very, much!
"Blow kisses, Sophie!"
Happy Birthday, Gerson!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


This month I turned 55 years old. To some, that may seem ancient; to others, it may seem quite young. To me it is just a number. I don't really think about age that much; but, at times I feel my age. In honor of my birthday, I figured I ought to post at least 1 picture of myself on this stupid blog. That was hard to do! I don't seem to have many pictures of me. I guess it is because I am always the one with the camera. Anyway, this one will have to do. Also, I thought now would also be a good time to list a few things that I see as accomplishments, sources of joy and happiness, as well as my dreams and goals.

First: the things that bring me joy...
1) Most importantly of all, I know who my Heavenly Father is. I love Him, I know that He loves me, I receive guidance from Him on a daily basis, and I know that I can always turn to Him for help. All of which are possible through the loving atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
2) I have managed to stay close, geographically and emotionally, to my parents. They are the greatest role models anyone could ever hope for. They are hard working, honest, talented, and supportive. I hope that I have given them joy and pride by the things I have done with my life.
3) I have stayed married to a wonderful man and weathered many storms with him. He drives me crazy at times, but is and always has been my sweetheart.
4) I have managed to become friends with my children. I will never, ever, ever say that I was a good mother. The whole time I was raising my kids, I felt like I was playing a continuous game of Roulette. I never knew how my decisions would turn out. I like my kids as adults, and I think they like me.
5) I have become a good teacher. Waiting until I was older to get my degree was mostly due to lack of confidence on my part. Going to college, doing well in college, and becoming the type of educator that others turn to for advice, or look to as a mentor, has been a complete surprise and joy to me.
6) I have had the privilege of living in, traveling to, and learning about many different places. In each place, I met people who had an impact on me. Some of the people who have stayed in my memory as examples include Phyllis Condie, Cindi Page, Barbara Becker, Rae Keck, Beth Jepson, Teddi Richardson, Joyce Rey, and LeAnn Wright. I am thankful for these people from my past and for the good they brought out in me.
7) My greatest joy of all; being a grandmother to 3 beautiful, bright, and healthy children.

Second, the things I hope to someday accomplish...
1) To always remain a source of love and comfort for my family, friends, and students.
2) To someday learn to manage my time so that I can sew, quilt, craft, garden, and travel.
3) To take a year off and hop in an RV with Ron and the grand kids, then travel to all the major ballparks & LDS temples throughout the continental United States.
4) To write a book.
5) To live my life in a way that people will know my beliefs by my works.
6) Be the kind of grandparent that is never thought of as "old".
7) And last, but not least, (I am stealing this one from Barbara), to design a bra that fits comfortably, has straps that don't slide off my shoulders, and feels as good as not wearing one!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fire!!! Fire!!!

Last night was Family Night for the fire academy. Family members were invited to watch the cadets as they went through the drills they have learned for putting out different types of fires. We arrived at twilight, in time to see Scott standing around with the other cadets as they waited to begin.

Once they suited up, we had a hard time distinguishing Scott from all the others. Luckily, his disproportionate "Porter" body helped. We just looked for the tall one with a large upper body and bowed legs. However, once they started wrangling the hoses and crawling on the ground, it was way to difficult to figure out which one was Scott. I thought this shot of the reflective tape was pretty cool.

Scott was on the first team to go out. They had to put out a "tree" fire first. I think this will probably be the main type of fire Killeen FDP will battle. Fort Hood is ALWAYS setting grass fires out on the ranges that result in massive cedar trees simply exploding. The cadets worked in teams of 3. In the picture below, Scott is the last one holding the hose.

The team had to slowly advance while the other cadets fed them the hose. I thought it was a little crazy that, at first, the water seemed to make the flames grow.

Once they got close enough, they had to drop to the ground and crawl in towards the "tree". They did this 3 times so that each member of the team was in a different position, performing different duties. In this shot, Scott is the one on the ground to the left. I don't have a clue what he is doing down there. Maybe turning off the gas line?

Anyway, next to the tree was a metal thing that looked like a water heater. They followed the same procedure of working in teams of 3, and rotating positions.

After they put out the water heater, they had to put out a dumpster fire. It was pretty scary because at one point, they had to use a metal bar to lift the lids on the dumpster and the flames just roared out! The next thing we knew, they were leaning over into the dumpster with the hoses and the flames were completely surrounding their upper bodies.

We were pretty far away from the dumpster, but we could still feel the heat from the fire. I didn't use the zoom on the shot above so that the distance would be a little more evident. The shot below shows the team advancing on the dumpster to lift the lid.

The next thing that was set on fire was a car. It was my favorite to watch because the flames were always in the background as the cadets walked around the car, spraying the flames. Once they got the outside under control, they had to move to the interior.

The last fire was a propane tank. It was fairly contained compared to the other fires, but the flames were much higher.

Each cadet had to take a turn feeding the hose to the team that was actually fighting the fire. In the shot below, Scott is the one to the left of the idiot without his helmet.

After the demonstration, Scott came over to talk to the family and, of course, I had to get a picture of my baby boy. We all had a blast, but I think Scott thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I guess all of those years of sending Scott out to cut down cedar and then burn them had more of an impact on him than I thought...
I created a fireman!