Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When Your Baby Turns 18

Here she is!! My baby girl!
I can't believe she is 18 already!!
Seriously, where did the years go?

She is a senior this year and will be leaving home next year--hopefully for BYU
We are going to miss her terribly!!
She is always so much fun and helpful, and keeps us laughing all the time.
So here are a few of my favorite recent pictures . . .
Co-captain of the varsity basketball team!
Go Michelle!!
Okay, so I am a bit ashamed of this picture. She just handed me her camera and told me to click. So I did. Then I told her she could never post that picture anywhere--so she promptly used it as her FB profile pic. (I never said she was obedient:-)
But since it is already posted on FB . . .
Letting off a little steam . . .

Ha ha! Good try Michelle.

Can you tell these girls are cousins?
Another "proud" moment. She challenged her male cousin to a pizza eating contest.
And won.
So last Saturday we celebrated her emergence into official adulthood with a Halloween/Birthday Party
Many of the kids came in costumes and they had a fun time playing games, eating, roasting marshmallows and talking around the fire.
Happy Birthday Michelle!!
We love you!

So you really don't have to go away to college next year, do you?:-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Blessings Come Incognito

I was visiting recently with a friend who asked why she was faced with so many challenges, and if perhaps God had abandoned her. It is true she has a lot of difficulties. She has gone though a nasty divorce, has struggles with her children and deals daily with severe physical limitations.

However, I have seen God's hand so often in the small details of my life, I know God will never abandon us during our biggest trials. And so I wondered how often our blessings might come incognito. They are there, we just aren't seeing them.

In thinking about this, the two following stories came to my mind:

When Lehi and his family (from the Book of Mormon) were told to leave Jerusalem in search of a promised land or be destroyed, they all left behind their riches and their comforts of home and headed off into the desert--where they lived for eight years.

Truthfully, camping one night for me is torture. Living for eight years wandering in the desert, sleeping in tents, being deprived of hot running water and eating raw meat (1 Ne 17:2) would be a HUGE trial! I totally get why Laman and Lemuel murmured!

Yet Nephi writes, "So great were the blessings of the Lord upon us . . . " In the midst of his affliction, he found the blessings. They may have been hidden (after all his brothers never found them) but they were there. They were strengthened, fed and guided by the Lord all through their journey. Their trials were numerous, as Lehi often referred to this time as the "wilderness of my affliction" but still, the Lord was there.

Never at any time were they abandoned, although there were times when some of them abandoned God.

Another story I have always gotten a chuckle from is the story of Elijah. He calls down a famine upon the people and then is told by the Lord to hide himself by a brook where he could obtain water and the Lord would provide the rest of his food.

So, then how did the prophet of the Lord eat? Did he eat off the "fat of the land" or in the style to which he was accustomed? No, he ate bread and meat delivered by the ravens morning and night. So I looked up what ravens would be most likely to bring and this is what I found.

"Most ravens eat the dead bodies of other animals. Ravens generally eat some fruit, berries and grains when they are available. They will eat any small animals, small birds and small reptiles that they can find. Ravens even eat maggots and animal poo. Ravens eat anything that is easy to catch!"

I am not sure if this is the type of food Elijah received or if the birds brought him something a bit more palatable, but the idea of living alone in the desert, eating road kill, once again does not sound like a blessing to me.

Yet, just like Nephi, Elijah was guided, nourished and protected until the Lord saw fit to send him elsewhere.

I wonder if perhaps we have the wrong idea about life. I know there are times when I think living the commandments entitles me immediately to the blessings I desire--a roof over my head, food to eat, health, and a happy family life. Yet, that is so often not the case for many righteous people. And when our worlds seem to fall apart, our health or families fail us, we cry out wondering why this has happened to us, and why God does not bless us with those things we deserve.

Raw meat and raven deliveries might not at first seem like great blessings for Nephi and Elijah as well, but they both were. Elijah would have starved with out the food the ravens brought and Nephi and his family were probably being protected by unsavory travelers who might have seen the smoke from the fire they used to cook their meat.

And so I have come to believe that during our darkest days, God will always nourish, strengthen and guide. We may just have to look a little harder to notice it.

And that thought brings great . . . joy to my journey.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Slithering Serpents! Oh my!

In the past couple weeks we have found four snakes in our house. Make that FOUR snakes!! They are little and harmless, but did I mention they are SNAKES!!

I hate snakes. With. A. Passion.

When I saw the first one, the sister missionaries were standing behind me (they live with us). I looked at them hoping one would step up and volunteer to be the murderer, but they both backed away. So I took a broom and said, "Don't worry sisters! I will protect you!" Then I beat the thing to death, while my ferocious guard dog hid behind the sister's legs.

A few days later, Michelle and I saw another snake in the exact same place!! A resurrection? I think not. We decided it was best not to tell the sisters. But then they came and told me they had killed a snake earlier that day.

So it was time to turn to the man of the house for protection. And he said, "Oh, I found one too. It was upstairs." Upstairs!! That is where I sleep!

Not a good thing to hear. Especially since the other three were all found downstairs by the back door. So if his snake entered the same way, it had to cross the entire house and climb the stairs.

How many more are in here?

I am pretty sure this qualifies as a plague.

I told my husband that he was the man of the house, that he needed to step up and kill these snakes for me. But he was not nearly as concerned as I was. He didn't see why I was upset over a few snakes and didn't think there was anything he could do about it.

So I called my neighbor. He is coming over on Monday to set some sticky traps.

And hopefully we will soon have an end to our slithering serpent plague!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I am a little behind everyone else in posting about conference weekend but as they say . . . better late than never, right?

First off I LOVED conference. I think I was touched by many of the same talks and quotes that others were. I really enjoyed Sister Dalton's talk, although it made me cry for all the young women who don't have a worthy father at home to love their mother and show them the way.

I also loved Elder Cook's talk about President Monson telling him it is better to look up. And Elder Callister's talk on the Book of Mormon was superb. I was also very touched by Elder Hales talk on trials and tribulations as he was trying to comfort others who were suffering as he is. Ahhh so many good things. So much to study and ponder in the next six months.

In addition to conference, however, my weekend was brightened and made special by three events.

1. The first was being able to spend time with my mother who is not doing very well, and all four of my daughters. We sent the men off to priesthood meeting and then stayed home and ate yummy food, watched a movie, made cinnamon rolls for Sunday morning and visited. My sister Becky came over as well with her four youngest children. What a sweet night that was.

Left to Right
My two SIL, my husband, nephew, brother and father

All the girls hanging out on the bed with Grandma (my mother)

2. Next I was thrilled and touched by the enthusiasm my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter has for the temple. Carly truly believes she is a princess and deserves to be married in a castle. But her mother explained that the best place for any princess to marry is in the temple and so Carly was so excited to see a real, live temple right outside my parent's front door!!

Don't you just love all the flowers!!
We went to the Salt Lake Temple grounds as well and were overwhelmed by the beautiful colors!

A close up
Between sessions on Sunday we took her up to walk around the grounds. She was very disappointed it was not open so she could go inside, but she still found joy in roaming the walk ways and telling us about how she was going to get married there. We asked who she would marry and she said, "I don't know, but he is my friend." Later when Wes pointed out to Carly the statue of the Angel Moroni, she said she would marry him. At least she has good taste in men.:-)

I tried to get her to let me take her picture but she said, "I can't. I have to spin." We laughed at that. Imagine giving that answer next time someone asks you to do something.

And third--the very best of all was being able to be there when my wonderful, sweet, handsome son in law gave his new little son a name and a blessing. In the circle was little Camden's father, grandfather and great grandfather-- three generations of faithful priesthood holders, all coming together to bless this new little boy. And my favorite part of the blessing was hearing Dave bless Camden to serve a mission and be married in the temple. How I look forward to the day this boy will continue the tradition of faithful missionary service and help bring others to the gospel in some part of the world.

Just before the blessing (which was given at my parent's house)
I appreciate they were willing to go there since there is no way my parents could travel to Colorado.

And a close up of our little man.

So for the grandmother in me this weekend was special, for the mother in me it was joyful, and for the daughter in me, it was tender.

How blessed I am to be surrounded by such honorable sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Just that thought brings great . . . joy to my journey.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fun Times and Tales From Uganda

Aren't these women beautiful?!!

All of these women have husbands who are either bishops or in the stake presidency in our area.
One of the highlights of my life is being able to spend a few hours with them every year having lunch and studying the gospel.

We met together a couple weeks ago and had wonderful time.
I always feel so strengthened after being with them.
They are women of honor, virtue and sacrifice.
And between them they have 44 children, which includes a set of triplets!
What a blessing it is for me to know them.

And speaking of wonderful women . . . I have loved reading the emails from my sister who is serving a mission with her husband in Uganda. Below is an excerpt from her most recent letter home.

Last week we lost another baby, the BP [Branch President] of Njeru's wife delivered a full-term still-born. Beautiful little girl which she was looking forward to after having two boys. They are devastated. The medical people I talked to believe it is a combination of the prevalence of Malaria, which the mother had when she delivered, or maybe just poor pre-natal care. It could just be poor nutrition which I think everyone suffers from. I had a misconception before I came here that people who live with a high mortality rate are used to it and don't suffer as much with death. That is completely wrong thinking, I have seen people devastated by the loved ones they lose. Just because it happens more often doesn't make it easier.

I also have learned that living on $70/mo is as hard here as it would be for us in the USA. You beg, steal, or dig up roots to stay alive. Nothing is cheaper here except what you can grow on your own. You make a hut with cow manure and dirt. (Same as we would do if we couldn't just move in with one of our kids.)ha ha

I spent some time Saturday making posters for the upcoming YSA dance for next week. I was one of 3 on the committee, but I was the only one that showed up. Then I entered all 600 names *(YES THERE REALLY ARE 600 YSA in Jinja District), into an excel spreadsheet and had a mass text sent out to them. Pres J wants them all married yesterday.

We also spent some time this week traveling to an area where someone told Pres J there were 27 members and no church. The roads were terrible, some members showed us around the area, and we saw some hospitals. Somehow we didn't feel it was ready to have missionaries come because of the roads. Travel here is dangerous and expensive, and our trip about killed our car. If we didn't have 4-wheel, we would still be in a ditch waiting for triple A - Ha Ha. not funny, but true.

To read more and see some great pictures, you can click on the link below to go to her blog at http://rockandterrifamily.blogspot.com/ She has some great pictures of the area and of when a General Authority came to visit. What an amazing time they are having!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Adventures in Babysitting . . .

So today I redeemed myself in the "grandma" department.

Last week I went over early in the morning to help K with her kids. Little twin boys were just added to her family, giving her six children in all. But I was not much help in the end. K had been up all night and was exhausted. All she really wanted was a shower (by herself) and a short nap. Not too much to ask, right?

One of the babies was totally zonked, but the other was fussy, so I told her I would take the fussy one out into the family room with me, along with Karly (who is two) and watch them while she slept. I got the baby quieted, and entertained Karly blowing bubbles for . . . oh all of maybe ten minutes . . . when the baby started to cry. Loudly.

I hurried to pick him up before K heard, but in that one moment of not having my undivided attention, Karly made a run for her mom's bedroom door. I ran after her (which the baby did not like:-) grabbing her arm just before she reached out for the doorknob. And so she let out a scream--which startled the baby and got him screaming. She was fighting to get away from me and I couldn't hold her with one hand, so I let go to put the baby down and she immediately started kicking the bedroom door--while continuing her screaming.

So basically within ten minutes I had both kids crying, one of which was throwing a temper tantrum.

K never got her nap. She didn't even get her private shower. The only way we could get Karly quieted down after that was for K to take her into the bathroom with her. And then she spent the rest of the morning giving me suspicious looks while clinging to her mother. Oh, and the baby? Well, I tried to calm him down and he peed all over the front of my shirt.

BUT . . . today was much better. I just went over in the afternoon when Karly was taking her nap, to watch the babies while K slept as well. It was total bliss. One baby slept the entire time but the other was a little fussy so I got to hold him. I loved it!! It helped me not miss my own little new grandbaby so much.
IN OTHER NEWS . . . Kathryn is on her way home tonight. She is driving through the night to get here and she is bringing a boy. (Just a friend) He has some business in Mesa so Kathryn thought it would be fun to drive down with him. Oh yea. I am having fun all right. I will be up all night worrying about her!
And I loved this . . . As many of you know, my sister is serving a mission in Uganda. She recently visited a school where the boys who lived there all called her "mama" --a term of respect. I love that a name for "mother" is a respected name. It should be of course, but there are those in power who are lobbying to remove the word "mother" from legal documents saying it is demeaning to women. Say what????

May I go on record now by saying that the best, most honorable, and elevating thing I have ever done is be a mother to five children. I love the title and I wear it proudly!
And lastly----I find it interesting--but also a bit odd-- that the majority of the people who get on my blog are looking for a picture of a cougar. And they are from all over the world. What is up with that? But I am thinking of posting a picture of an elephant or a giraffe next and see how many hit that gets. :-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Photo Random

I was going through my picture files and decided to post a few random ones.

This is where I was last year at this time--Vermont.
I dreamed for years about going there and was so glad to finally get the chance.
I certainly wouldn't mind being out of the heat again. We finally dropped below 100 degrees. This year was the hottest August on record. In honor of the heat wave, my dad sent me the below:

It is so hot in Arizona . . .
the birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the

....the trees are whistling for the dogs.

....hot water comes from both taps.

....you learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding

....you discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.

....you actually burn your hand opening the car door. (Been there. I also burned my hand opening the door to my house at 7:00 one morning)

....your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out
and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death"?

....you realize that asphalt has a liquid stage.

....the potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one
out and add butter.

....the cows are giving evaporated milk.

....farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from
laying boiled eggs

The sad thing is that some of those really aren't jokes.

This next picture just makes me laugh. It is vintage Michelle. My crazy child. She is so much fun all the time. It is so sad for me that she is a senior in high school this year and will be leaving me before too long. Where did all the time go? And how can I make it slow down?!

So my nieces probably won't be too happy with this picture. It was taken at Kristen's bridal shower in June. Since then, all three have given birth to beautiful baby girls. Truth be told I was really hoping Kristen would get married in June so I could take her picture on the temple steps in her wedding dress, surrounded by her pregnant cousins and sister, but due to a July wedding, that didn't happen. Camille couldn't come and two of my nieces gave birth within a week of Kristen's wedding. But . . . I am so happy for my nieces!! Congratulations to you all!
And speaking of the wedding . . . this picture was taken at the wedding dinner. I sure love these girls!! All three are my "daughters" one is just by marriage.
This is from our ward Christmas party last year. We did the Polar Express and I about killed myself putting it together. Thankfully I had a TON of help.
But guess what?! I have been asked to do this year's party as well.

The sad thing is that when I tell people I am in charge of the party again, they always say, "Oh, how are you going to out do last year?" And then they answer their question with, "But then you could never out do last year".
And that is probably true. I really don't think I want to ask anyone to put that much work into a party again.
But that said . . . I think this year's will also be great!! And I am getting very excited to start working on it.
(I am just a happier person when I have a project to work on.:-)

And lastly . . . look at this cute little guy--all ready for church!! (Other than needing his hair combed.)
I sure miss him!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Faith and Heaven's Revolving Door

Any minute now I expect to receive a telephone call telling me that a woman in our ward has given birth to two healthy baby boys. Ever since we got the news K was expecting and unexpectedly it was twins, we have been looking forward to this day. And since Michelle has been helping out with their other four children after school, and the father works with Wes, we have been particularly eager for the good news, and have already put in dibs to hold one of the babies during church.

But my excitement for this family has been dampened a bit by another call I received earlier today. "C", a good friend of my daughter Kristen and her mentor teacher last year, passed away this morning from cancer.  The disease was only recently diagnosed, giving a heartbroken husband and two children, a daughter recently married and a son preparing for a mission, barely time to adjust to the news before their dear sweet mother and wife was gone. (9/2/2011 Just heard from Kristen that the son entered the MTC the day after his mother passed away. )

Kristen was devastated. C had been her good friend and supporter all last year. Every day Kristen would go to her office to share the joys and challenges of her first year of teaching. C gave advice and provided a listening ear. She was also the friend Kristen went to excitedly to tell about meeting Peter, their first date, and their first kiss. And when I came into town and visited Kristen at school, C would come and tell me all about my wonderful daughter and how she was such an incredibly gifted teacher. So of course I liked hearing that.

But today she has left this world, much too soon and much too young.

Kristen's telephone call took me back several years to a time when a good friend of mine also passed away from cancer, after receiving several blessings promising health. I questioned for months how that could be and in my prayers I repeatedly uttered, "I don't understand." Then one day the impression came into my mind, "You don't have to understand. That is what faith is." And with those words came a rush of peace. I still don't understand, but I no longer worry about it. I am at peace with my friend's death and I pray that C's family and friends will someday find peace with her death as well.

But as I sit here at my computer still waiting to hear about the two little babies, I can't help but picture Heaven's revolving door.  As we mourn the loss of a good friend here, Heaven is celebrating her return. And as we will soon celebrate the birth of two little boys here, I am sure there are some heavy hearts in Heaven who have just said goodbye to two valiant sons.

3:20 p.m.  Just got news. They arrived about an hour ago--6 lbs 14 oz and 6 lbs 9 oz. All are doing well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Good Reason For a Party and Yummy Cake Recipes!

This past weekend we hosted a "Thank You Party" for many of the people who helped out the night of my daughter's wedding. It was fun to bring out the table cloths again and spruce them up with some very cool flowers I found at Costco.

For dinner we served Italian--which I loved, and then for dessert I found two recipes in the Better Crocker All-Time Best Recipe magazine. One was this very delicious and decadent chocolate cake. (Recipes will be at the bottom of the post) The other was a banana tres leches, that--amazingly enough--I think I liked even more. It was cool and refreshing, especially when topped with fresh raspberries.
Following dinner we played a couple games. The first was more of a "Get to Know You" activity, since we had 22 people from all over our stake. We had everyone write down one thing they have done that they didn't think anyone else had, and then we guessed who it was. We learned some pretty interesting things. Such as . . .

1. One man was part of a song and dance group that toured Europe. (Seriously, I didn't even know he could sing!)
2. Another man was part of a clown diving act where he would do 1 and 1/2 flips off a high dive and then flop into the water. (And this was fun?:-)
3. We had a woman who won a swimming relay while wearing a cast on her arm and another woman who earned six presidential fitness awards.
4. And everyone was impressed with the ex-marine (didn't know that about him either) who shot an M-60 while strapped to an H-1 that was flying 100 yards above the ground through a canyon. (Of course he had to explain what an M-60 and and H-1 was for some of us).
5. And then there was the man who admitted to belly dancing in Morocco while dressed in a skirt and a bra. (Shameful!:-)

Who knew we were such a diverse group with so many talents?!

The second game was the candy bar game. I heard about this one from my friend Lisa who played it at Doug and Shelly Kings, but when I told my kids about it, they said they played it their entire lives at our neighbor's the Purtymuns. Obviously I was missing out!
I read several different rules but here are a couple to choose from.
Give everyone an empty brown paper bag and place double the amount of candy bars as number of guests in the middle of the room. Using two dice, (you can use more than one set if you have a larger group like we did) everyone takes turns rolling the dice. If they get doubles they can either take a candy bar or trade sacks with another person.

That is the simple version.

Another way to play is to begin with every person having one candy bar in their bag and then have different instructions for each of the double numbers. For instance if you roll double 1's you put a candy bar in the bowl in the middle. If you roll 2's you take a candy bar out, 3's you trade with the person on your right, 4's you trade with the person on your left, 5's you can take a candy bar or trade with anyone, and 6's you take the whole bowl--no matter who might have it.

We actually played with a combination of the two rules, but I think you could make it up however you like.

You need to set a timer for 5, 8 or 10 minutes before you say "go" and then play until the buzzer goes off. Whatever candy bars you end up with is your prize. I set the timer for 12 minutes and it was too long. I think this game is better played for about 7 minutes. If everyone had a good time you can then dump it all in the middle and play again.

But it was a lot of fun and I appreciated all those who came. Thanks for being such great friends and for all your hours of service before, during and after the wedding!

Now for the recipes . . .
Chocolate Lover's Dream Cake
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist chocolate fudge cake mix.
3/4 cup chocolate milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 box (4 oz) chocolate fudge instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips (either semi-sweet or milk depending on preference)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease bundt cake pan with shortening (or cooking spray) and lightly flour.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredient except for chocolate chips for 2 minutes. Stir in chips and spoon into pan. Mix will be very thick. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool ten minutes and then turn cake upside down onto a serving plate.

Let cool completely--about 2 hours.

Ganache Glaze
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup whipping cream (not whipped)
Place chocolate chips in a small heatproof bowl. In a 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream to barely simmering. Pour over chips. Let stand 5 minutes and then stir until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cake.

Drizzle caramel topping over cake and top with toffee bits, chocolate chips and a cut up snicker's bar. We decided we liked the cake better warmed in the microwave for a few seconds (each slice). I also didn't like the chocolate chips on top so left those off. Since it is very chocolaty, ice cream or milk on the side is also a must.

Banana Tres Leches Cake
1 Box Betty Crocker SuperMoist White cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (two medium)

Place all the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees in a 9 by 13 inch pan for 33-38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool completely--about one hour.

Tres Leches
Mix together
1/2 cup coconut milk (not coconut cream)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
Using a toothpick or long pronged fork, poke holes in cake about every 1/2 inch. Then pour milk evenly over the cake. Refrigerate over night (it can be ready in about 2 hours but the longer it soaks the better).
Frost cake with whipped white frosting before serving and garnish with banana slices, toasted coconut or other fresh fruit. (We loved it with fresh raspberries!)

Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meeting Mania

For twelve years I worked in seminary, where, although it is a ton of work, most of the meetings I had to attend occurred between 6:00-7:30 in the morning. The rest of the day I could choose how to spend my time.

Then I was called to be the ward activities chairman. With that calling I attended the ward council once a month, but all other meetings (which were rare) were at my discretion.

Next I was called to be a Sunday School teacher. Okay, let's admit it. This is the easiest calling in the church. You prepare your lesson during your daily scripture study, so it requires no additional time at all and other than teaching your class, there are no more meetings to attend.

So yes, I have been spoiled. Totally. I know that. But still, imagine my shock when I was recently called to be the first counselor in our ward young women's organization.


There is presidency meeting, board meeting, meeting with a member of the bishopric, then there is mutual every week (along with the Sunday meeting) stake training meetings, firesides, more training (three times before the end of the year) youth baptisms, a youth conference, a Saturday fall activity, class presidency meetings . . . . In just nine days I will have attended SEVEN meetings!!

Truth be told, there have been times when I thought my husband was slacking on his church job by not attending a meeting or activity that I thought he should be at. Now I just look at Wes in wonder and ask, "How do you do it? How do you attend all your meetings every week and stay sane?"

I have new appreciation for everyone out there who has a church calling that requires a lot of meeting time!! You are truly amazing!!

And now when I head off to yet another meeting, Wes just looks at me and smiles.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Little Blue Bundle and Answered Prayers

He finally arrived!

Our newest little grandson (grandbaby #3 and second grandson) came into the world on Wednesday, August 10.
His birth was a rather long, traumatic ordeal and he was not at all very happy about it.
Just after being born, he was placed on his mother's tummy where he looked into her face and proceeded to tell her about his terrible experience.
It was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. He whimpered in a funny little tone as if trying to say, "I have had the most awful day!"

Below is Camille and Camden, both looking a little happier.
Camille became one of my heroes that day.
Her first delivery resulted in an emergency c-section so she desperately wanted to have this baby all natural to reduce the chances of ending up in surgery once again.
She knew it would be difficult but she and her sweet husband, Dave, did all they could to prepare.
Even so, Camille said it was a hundred times worse than she ever imagined.

Her contractions began the minute her water broke and continued pretty much nonstop for nearly 13 hours until the baby was born.
She was making slow progress, but at least there was some progress until she reached 9 1/2 centimeters and then it stopped.
For almost two hours (5:00-7:00) she dealt with transition contractions with no relief.
Finally the doctor arrived and helped out.

And then the pushing began.

Another two hour ordeal.

One of the people critical to her being able to do this was her doula, Dawn. Dawn was wonderful!! She massaged Camille's legs and feet during active labor, spent a couple hours helping Camille stay focused on breathing during transition, helped her change positions to get more comfortable, and during pushing earned a bruised hand.

Dave was also critical to the process. Camille never let go of his hand for pretty much the entire day. His love and support were essential to her staying focused and able to get through the long hours of labor.

I too was glad to be there.
Although Camille was a little reluctant to have me there.
After all, giving birth is a very personal thing,
so I was happy to accept her wishes and not be in attendance.
After all, her comfort was what was the most important to all of us.

But in the end she decided she could use her mom.

And so I was able to witness his birth.
The first birth I have seen of my three grandchildren.

And it was very hard for me.
I cried a lot.

It was so hard to see Camille suffer the way she did.
It gave me new appreciation for our Heavenly Father and what He must feel watching our pain and suffering in life.

We were so relieved when the baby finally made his appearance.
We joyfully celebrated his arrival.

And then my tears began to flow again as the doctor explained that the birth had caused some complications for Camille and she would have to be taken to the operating room and given general anesthesia while they corrected the problems.

She made it all the way through the birth without any outside interference or medication,
only to end up in the operating room for over an hour in surgery.

My heart ached for her.

The good news is that she is on the mend.
She is home from the hospital, and although it will be a while before she is back to normal, she has a great husband to help out.

We love them all!!

Post Script.
Before the birth I was getting so frustrated that it was taking so long for Camille to go into labor. I knew my prayers were being heard, but I wasn't sure they would be answered how I wanted them to.

But they were.
Not according to my time frame, but all our prayers were answered.
Camille was able to have a successful delivery following a c-section and she gave birth to a healthy little boy. She did not need any outside intervention for her labor to progress (i.e. pitocin), and before the baby came I was able to spend a week with my little granddaughter, (a big treat since I only get to see her a couple times a year).
Plus I had some fun times with Camille going to lunch, shopping in Denver, taking Carly to the park etc.

Dawn was also an answer to a prayer as she helped Camille a lot through the most difficult part.
While watching the two of them conquer the pain, the thought occurred to me that I had been wondering if my prayers were being answered, and yet, my meeting Dawn a couple years ago was the answer to a prayer (Camille getting through the labor) that hadn't even been offered yet.

Yes, God is very much aware of us and our troubles.
And He does hear and answer our prayers.
Sometimes in different ways than we would like,
And sometimes before we even have spoken the prayer.

And that thought brings great . . . joy to my journey.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Still Waiting For The Baby . . .

They say a watched pot never boils . . . and apparently a watched tummy doesn't contract. At least in labor.

We have tried every idea to start labor we know of, and walked all over Hobby Lobby (twice) Walmart (twice) Ikea (once, but it is a HUGE store!) Target, and out on the street. We have eaten Indian Food (just gave her indigestion, but no labor) Italian and Mexican.

We have grocery shopped for two weeks worth of food, cleaned the house and done the laundry.

And I finished reading my book.

So there isn't a lot left to do but sit and wait and wait and wait . . .

She is having a lot of contractions and they are fairly regular . . . until she lies down. And then it comes to a complete stop.

I was supposed to go home on Thursday but I changed my flight to Saturday, and then I have to go home baby or no baby. But not getting to hold this little boy and spend time helping Camille would really make me sad.

I have said more prayers than I can count and tomorrow is fast Sunday so you can just imagine what I will be fasting for. I sure hope and pray this baby comes soon, and both mother and baby are healthy and strong.

[Comments Turned Off]

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Waiting For A Baby. . .

About two and a half years ago, I flew to Colorado Springs to witness the birth of our first grandchild, Carly Amelia, who was born to our daughter Camille and her husband Dave. Last January, I was privileged to be at the hospital when our daughter in law gave birth to our second grand child, Enoch Wesley.

And tomorrow I am heading back to Colorado for the arrival of yet another grandbaby . . . a little boy yet to be named.

Camille isn't due until Saturday, so I was going to fly out on Thursday, but when I went to purchase my ticket, I had the feeling I should go on Monday, so I bought it for then. I guess now we will see if my inspiration is correct. :-)

I am very excited, and nervous, and worried.

Camille's last baby came via an emergency c-section. This time she is trying for an all natural birth so that makes me a little nervous. But on the other hand, I am so eager to meet this little guy I can hardly stand it!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wedding Reception Advice (Since Now Of Course I Am An Expert:-)

While still waiting for pictures from the photographer, I wanted to post some things I learned about wedding receptions this past month. Here is some of my best advice after two weddings.

1. Have a Theme
Of course this isn't necessary, but it does make decorating easier--or at least gives it direction. Since it was July in Arizona, being outside was not a possibility, so Kristen wanted to bring the outdoors inside with a garden theme. We collected a lot of plants and flowers from friends and neighbors to use and for the centerpieces we painted ceramic flower pots blue and filled them with fresh daisies. (This was just a picture where I was testing out the colors.)

We also incorporated the theme into the dessert bar. She wanted to have an ice cream sundae bar, so I covered a renovated cupcake stand in moss, and used plant pots to put the ice cream toppings. Her infamous cake sat on top. (Which we do not have a picture of right now.)

2. Make it Personal
I wanted there to be something about the reception that really made it personal to Kristen and Peter. True there were many things that reflected their personalities--we served Pizza and salad, (Kristen's favorite food) along with Peter's favorite punch and had a live string quartet instead of CD's and a disc jockey--but I wanted something more.

So incorporating the garden theme with Kristen's school teaching, we asked her third grade class for marriage advice (that you can read here). My friend Jenny then wrote the advice on canvas boards and another friend, Sonia, turned them into cute garden signs that we placed around the cultural hall. This turned out to be really fun as many guests walked around the room reading them all.

3. Have a Fun Exit Plan
I think it is nice to have a fun way to send off the newlyweds, plus give closure to the reception. My friend, Susan, removed the petals from fresh flowers and all the guests showered her daughter and husband with them as they left the wedding venue. I have also known people to light sparklers, and of course there is the throwing of rice or bird seed.

Being inside a church building, our options were limited. I also didn't want anything I would have to spend a lot of time cleaning up. In the end we chose to make luminaries for the guests.

We used small white paper bags that were trimmed down to about only four inches tall. We punched holes in each side and tied a ribbon through the holes to make a handle, decorated one side with paper daisies that we cut from yellow card stock and then taped a lit battery-powered tea candle to the bottom. (The batteries last for hours so you can turn them all on far in advance.)

At the end of the reception, we turned off the main lights and had all the guests line up in two columns, forming a path from the front of the cultural hall to the lobby. Each guest held up his or her luminary to make a lighted path for the bride and groom to pass as they began their life together. And then everyone cheered for them as they walked through the path.

I loved the symbolism of this. And clean up was easy.

4. Have a Wedding Coordinator for the Reception.
I asked a wedding coordinator what her best advice was and she told me to have a coordinator for at least the reception. I know that sounds exactly what you would expect a coordinator to say, but it turned out to truly be the best advice I received.

My friend Sonia accepted that responsibility. She is very detail oriented and a stickler for schedules so I was confident she would do a great job. And she did. In addition to handling any questions that came up from the many other wonderful friends helping out that night, and any problems that arose, Sonia got the musicians playing when it was time, made sure the young girls who were clearing tables stayed on top of their job, added more chairs when we ran out of tables, coordinated with the Emcee when it was time to cut the cake, etc., made sure Kristen had her tossing bouquet at the right time and handed out the luminaries at the end of the reception.

I didn't have to worry about anything. I just got to sit back and enjoy the reception. It was great!!

5. Looking for Material? There are many websites that sell ready made table cloths for a great price, but Kristen had her heart set on polka dots so I went on a search for fabric.(And then my good friend Lisa turned it into darling table cloths!) While searching, I found two wonderful websites for fabric. One is called www.fabric.com . Another is www.warehousefabricsinc.com . It really has just about anything you might want and you can search by color or pattern.

What I would Do Differently
1. We used the church cultural hall,which I am never excited about, but still it turned out beautifully. However, while at the reception I just saw the decorations, when I look at pictures afterward I just see the walls and that has been very disappointing to me. I think if I have to use the cultural hall again I will definitely tent it. Another option, that might be less expensive is to use all the partitions available and just drape gathered material over them and use them as backdrops all over the room. We did this in a couple places, but I wish I did more.

And since I still have two more weddings to go . . . I am interested in any advice anyone else out there might have to offer. Please, share!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Georgia On My Mind . . .

We just got back late last night from a quick trip to Georgia where we attended an open house in honor of Kristen and Peter's wedding.

Lucky for us, Wes has both a brother and a sister who live there, so we received the royal treatment during our stay and had a great time visiting family.

His sister lives in a wonderful neighborhood. Many of the houses look like they came straight from the story books of my childhood. And the thick woods surrounding the houses seem so magical during the day, and almost eerie when you drive through them at night.
(The loud sounds from the tree frogs don't help that eeriness, I must say)

Being from the Arizona desert, looking out her back window to this beautiful, lush view was quite a treat.
While in town, we wanted to soak up some of the local culture, so we made a quick stop at The Varsity, a very popular restaurant in downtown Atlanta, adjacent to Georgia Tech, that specializes in healthy foods like chili cheese dogs, onion rings and orange freezes. This is a really bad picture (my husband took it very quickly) but I got such a kick out of the "tables" which were actually school desks!
We also had to make a quick run by "The Flying Biscuit" for a snack. We got a buttermilk biscuit and apple butter that was delicious!! (The picture is of Wes and his sister, who served as our Tour Guide Extraordinaire)
And in case you were wondering . . . we also ate some southern fried chicken! (Of course)

But our trip wasn't all about the food. We also had a little adventure. We decided to take a tour around downtown Atlanta on segways!!

Here Wes is practicing before we headed out across town.

And here is the three of us near the end of our three hour tour. The segways were a lot of fun and much easier to ride than I had anticipated. You only use the handlebars for steering. To move forward you just gently move your weight to the balls of your feet, to move backward you put your weight on your heels and to stop, you center your weight. That is it!

But as we scurried up hills in the humidity and heat, we did have a lot of fellow tourists give us envious looks. Seriously--I would look for this kind of tour in any city from now on!

And then of course, we also attended the wedding celebration at Peter's parent's house. They have a beautiful home in northern Georgia and just getting there was an adventure--due to bad traffic and gorgeous scenery.

Here they are greeting some of their guests.
We had a good showing from our family as well. Below are two of my nieces who made the drive up. Brittany (r) also brought along her two little boys.
Wes' brother's family also came along with a surprise--Aunt Celeste and Uncle Vaughn. In this picture is Sunny, Lexie and their mother Dawn (who is Wes' brother's wife-and yes, I know she looks like one of the girls rather than their 40 plus mother!!) And also on the right is my husband's Aunt Celeste.
She and her husband Vaughn totally surprised us by driving over from Kentucky!! Following the open house we went to their hotel and visited for about another hour and half.

And then of course we also got to spend a little time (and I mean very little) with the bride and groom who still appear happily married--after one entire week!
I am hoping to soon get up pictures of the wedding and reception in Arizona but I am waiting on the photographer. As soon as I get some though, I will post them.

And now we are back to our heat. I will have a little time at home before I head off to Colorado for the birth of our third grandchild!!

Life is good. And definitely brings . . . joy to my journey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Salads--Spinach and Teriyaki Bow Tie Pasta

Need a delicious pasta salad for dinner or a party? Here is a very good one I recently found. I have now made it three times and it was a hit every time!

  • 1 1/4 cups Honey Teriyaki Marinade
  • 1 12 oz box Bowtie Pasta
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup White Vinegar
  • 1/4 cupGranulated Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 bag Baby Spinach
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 2 small cans or one large can Mandarin Oranges
  • 1/2 cup Cashews

Cook pasta the night before serving. Place in container with 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce and let marinate over night. This gives the pasta a lot of flavor.

30 minutes before serving . . .
Mix cooked, marinated pasta with craisins, nuts and oranges. In a separate container mix together remaining teriyaki sauce, oil, vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix well. Use sauce to lightly coat the pasta mixture. Just before serving, add spinach and toss. Add more sauce if needed.

It is possible to make everything else way ahead of time and then add the spinach just before serving. If you add it sooner, however, it will wilt.

VARIATION--if you want a heartier meal, marinate three chicken breasts in teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes. Grill and add to salad.

Serves 6-8