Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy end-of-October to you!

We did Despicable Me 2 for costumes this year, and ended up with Gru, Lucy, Dr. Nefario, Agnes who would way rather wear a dress than short-alls and her fluffy unicorn, two minions, and a nerd-shadow.  A wha...?  Well, we have a black morph suit and he fit into it this year.  He just had to use it.  Welcome to junior high.  And yes, I had a lipstick taser in my pocket.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

No Pictures

I took the kids to the zoo today.  We.  Had.  A.  Blast.

We have a couple of days off school and Trent took the big boys camping.  The small fry were feeling left out as they watched Chris load up the four wheelers and David pack the tents and Eddie haul out sleeping bags.  They watched forlornly as the campers headed to the mountains.

Me, not so much.  I'm happy that they get to go four-wheeling and camp out in the mountains.  I'm happy they get to spend some good guy-time together.  And I'm glad I get to sleep in my own warm bed because it's gonna be cold up in them thar mountains tonight!

It's only fair, though, that we do something fun while the big boys are gone.  So we went to the zoo.  We grabbed a neighbor girl and headed out, playing "I spy" and the alphabet game all the way there.  They played at the splash pad and drenched themselves, then ran from one exhibit to another, laughing and giggling constantly.  It was so fun to see them have uninhibited fun.  If their older siblings had been around, there would have been plenty of shushing and telling them to grow up.  But not this time.  We were delightedly little kids.  We barked at the seals and growled at the bears and chirped at the birds.  And we ran and skipped and hopped and acted like a bunch of little kids, which we were... or most of us were.

At the beginning of the trip, I wished I had brought my camera to capture the look of terror on Freddie's face when he thought the water was going to splash on his dry tummy.  I wished I could catch the excitement of three little human eaglets perched in a nest.  I wished I could forever keep the long shadows following four children skipping along the path.  But then I remembered that when I spend my time taking pictures to save memories, I often forget to make them.  I don't have the time left over to do the doing when I'm doing the shooting.  I'm glad I left the camera at home so we could just play and enjoy... and be in the middle of the living.

On the way home, they kept busy in rush hour traffic by mimicking different animal sounds.  After they ran out of animals, Margaret piped up with, "Let's hear your very best singing voice!"  She began to serenade us with an impressively clear vibrato, and Angel joined in with her favorite operatic warble.  Freddy nearly broke down, crying that he couldn't think of anything to sing.  From the back-est backseat, Georgie joined in with an enthusiastic... pterodactyl.  It was anything but melodic, but so unexpectedly funny.  After a moment, when they changed to new sounds, he protested, "I haven't had my singing turn!"  As soon as he had our full attention, he began... beat boxing.

Never a dull moment with these children.  I'm so glad I have them and the smiles they constantly give me.  All's right in the world when you are in the middle of a child's hug - or two or three or four.  It makes me fell like I'm in the middle of the Lord's embrace.

We didn't get a single picture, and that's just fine by me.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mission Monday

This is what was in my email first thing this morning: 

Ben always thought it would be cool to have a baptism in the ocean, but they usually have fonts in their church buildings.  In his current area, they use a portable font that they unpack and fill up when they have a baptism.  But this week, the lock on the closet where they keep the font was broken and they couldn't get in.  Too bad!

To me, there are three wonderful things about this picture.  One, just look at that view!  I can't get over how gorgeous our world is - I keep turning around and seeing something even more amazing.  My heart is filled with awe and gratitude that the Lord would make something like this... for me.  Two, this is something Ben wanted to do and didn't think he could.  I'm just so happy for him.  And three, I'm glad that he could share something I hold so precious with these three people who have grown to love the Gospel, too.  I wish them every happiness and joy as they embark on this new journey.

Here is Ben's account of the baptism.  I love how things can be awesome and full of strong feelings and hilarious at the same time.  Aren't our hearts amazing that we can feel different things simultaneously?

From Madagascar:
My companion may have had to rebaptize someone 3 times because he kept mistiming the waves and going down at a low point... It was so funny! We were way out there because the beach is shallow and it was just me and the other witness from the branch and we were like "HURRY!!!" and he was rushing the prayer and then we'd get slammed by a couple big waves and the baptizee was thinking she was going to die and then he got hit by a big wave and dropped her in and then as he was pulling her out he got hit by another wave and got knocked over. So he took a little dip. And lost his badge... That's what you get for swimming Elder!!! I was dying laughing!

(And then) Elder Price and I are trying to pull Lala out of the water. He was halfway through his prayer and a wave hit so she thought it was time to go under. We were like NOOOO NOT YET!!! And trying to save her.  

Then I did it once and was done... Haha it was one of the funnest but most spiritual things I've done on my mission.

And here is the South Africa blog, too.  Love these boys, and I'm glad they get to make these kinds of memories.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


The pipe kind of organs, not the slimy guts kind of organ.  I know it's getting close to Halloween and all, but I'm not ready for that yet.

My mother played the organ.  Beautifully.  I think it was like breathing to her.  She and a friend used to do a little touring to different church congregations on Sundays and play piano and organ duets.  In high school!  

She was the organist in Sunday meetings for as long as I can remember.  In fact, for a while Dad was the clerk and Mom was the organist.  The organist sits at the organ on one site of the stand at the front of the chapel, while the clerk's desk is on the opposite side of the stand.  We took turns getting to sit beside Dad while he counted attendance in the meeting and took notes in his fine neat handwriting totally befitting a printer.  But for those of us not sitting by Dad... we sat in the back row of choir seats halfway between the clerk's desk and the organ.  I can only imagine that we wiggly kids were very entertaining to the congregation.  I'll try not to think about that.

Our organ was something like this - two manuals plus a full pedalboard.  And we had toys on the floor, so yes, this looks very familiar to me. 

We even had an organ at home.  Mom traded in the old, dark upright piano she had as a child for a newer piano and an organ.  They sat opposite each other for many years at home.  I loved to play on the organ (as opposed to actually playing and making music, mind you), making sounds with all the different stops.  And there was a percussion box - the best part!

When I was in high school my mother signed me and my brother up for group organ lessons.  We went once or twice before becoming intimidated by all the old ladies there.  After a few weeks of missing class, the instructor, a kind but austere man I knew in our neighborhood, called us up and arranged for us to have our own group lessons.  Drat.  Now we were stuck and had to go to class - and practice!  ..grumble, grumble, practicing...

I didn't know that our organ teacher, a man of quiet dignity, was a professor of organ studies at the university!  It was years later I learned had studied organ in Europe, won international awards for his performances, recorded CDs, and played on many continents.  I was lucky to have such a teacher.

I, along with the probably three other teenagers in the United States who played organ (it is a bit of a dying art), applied for organ scholarships.  The award money was not much, but it kept me in lessons at college (with another very gifted and accomplished organ teacher), and gave the opportunity to play on this amazing instrument:

It was pretty darn awesome.  When my roommate, a music major, unexpectedly lost her hearing, she would go into the hall and sit with me on the organ bench.  I'd play something wonderfully loud, like Phantom of the Opera, and she'd sigh happily, feeling the music of the organ when she was unable to hear it.  I loved, but did not very often dare, to crank it up loud and open all the stops.  That only happened on late weekend nights when everyone else was out - or just not in the music building.  My favorite stop was the wind chimes that went on in a steady silvery shimmer when their stop was pulled.  

At that point, I decided that there were two other organs, among the best west of the Mississippi, that I'd like to play one day.  And I wanted to play the organ in the temple.  What lofty ambitions we have in our youth.

As the years passed, I often played the organ for Sunday services at church.  I played the organ with toddlers on the bench and a 6-day-old baby in a sling.  I taught other pianists the nuances of organ technique.  I even arranged piano and organ duets.  But I never did take care of those three bucket list items.  

Until recently.  I'm tickled to have a regular shift in the temple now, where I play beautiful hymns to soothe the soul.  It's not loud, and it's not technically amazing, but it is pretty awesome.  I've never felt such peace between my heart and my fingers.  And I'm grateful for that sweet spirit that fills me, and even wafts home with me.

The temple is a wonderful place, and I feel it a great privilege to be able to serve a little bit there.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kitchen Messes

I've been learning some good things and wishing there were a few more things I knew as I've been cooking.  For as much time as I spend in the kitchen, you'd think I'd be an expert chef and baker by now!

* My father-in-law makes the best beef stew ever.  That is not superfluous.  I've tried a few times, and even the best of my soups don't have the richness of gravy that his does.  It's a pretty simple beef chunk/ground hamburger/tomato/potato/zucchini/carrot stew, but I could eat it all day and forever.  I'll have to go over and watch him make it someday.

*Sourdough bread is really, really good for you.  I've done a lot of research on why I can eat homemade sourdough bread just fine while anything with white flour or years gives me a decent stomachache.  It looks like I'm not unique there - sourdough is just a very nourishing food.  So I keep making sourdough... but I still don't like the tang.  It's a bummer to have food I can tolerate but I don't like the taste of.  And lately, my sourdough breads have been getting more and more sour.  I think I need to start over and read the directions again.

*Applesauce is sweeter when we make it together.  I watched Women's Conference (which was wonderfully encouraging here, here, here, and here) with a friend and cut up nearly 20 quarts of apples.  After they were cooked the lazy way in crockpots, these two minions spent the better part of an afternoon helping me to grind it into applesauce.  The bags of Golden Delicious apples my neighbor gave me, seasoned with a bit of cinnamon, didn't even need sugar.

*I am more grateful for delicious food.  For some reason, my digestive system has gone on a rebellion lately.  My doctor put me on a very restrictive diet in order to find out what the problem is.  For now, I can't eat white flour, yeast, sugar, dairy, or fat.  It seems like that wouldn't leave very much that I can eat, and that is true at a fast food joint.  But I have learned to appreciate the wholesomeness of natural foods.  And they taste better now.  I don't know what I am going to do over the upcoming feasting season (pecan pie and eggnog, I'm looking at you while trying not to.), but for now, I'm happy to be feeling better.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mission Monday

I had a nice, hot shower yesterday morning.  So did my husband and my big boys.  The little boys and the girl had a bubble bath Saturday night.  And this morning, I am counting that hot water as one more of the blessings I usually don't even realize.  I'm glad I have hot water and I can take a hot shower.  We have so much!

From Madagascar:
First I want to talk about showers. Showers are way important here. Because it's so humid and it's starting to get pretty warm in the day, if you don't wash off all of the grime you can get pretty nasty pretty quick. They're especially nice right before bed, so then you're nice and cool when you go to sleep. However... there's been a little bit of a problem with our hot water recently, and when I say a problem, I mean there is none...

I just want to go on record and say that I do not like hot showers. There's not much refreshing about being covered in hot water when you are covered with hot sweat all day. It's like the same. I really like cool showers, like slightly lower than room temperature kind of a deal. But the glacial water imported from the icy peaks of Russia that comes spraying out of the showerhead isn't quite what I have in mind when I say "cool."

News from South Africa is that his blog is now updated so you can see that he's been transferred to Queenstown (north of Port Alfred)!  Glad he's doing well.