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Christmas 2019

30 Dec

Zeke and Skeeter as Rudolf. Skeeter says he is happy because his antlers are green.

This year I scaled back our Christmas activities and celebrations, because I was sewing a wedding dress for my niece, and because my husband begged me not to torture him by lots of dragging him places every night for “big productions.”

Despite the great reduction of my grand plans, I still:

Helped two friends with packing or cleaning their houses because they were moving.

Spent at least 48 hours working on the wedding dress. I drafted the bodice and sleeves myself because my niece wanted sleeves (good for her) and a sweetheart neckline–neither of which were available in the bridal store or in the big 4 patterns available at Jo-Ann’s. I’ve finished the bodice now, and it fits her perfectly. I’m so happy about it. Just 2 layers of organza left to sew up for the skirt, which already has 2 layers of satin and lining.


Skeeter helps mommy draft a body block

Kept homeschool going …kind of…math and history were not shirked.

Participated in our annual “Light the World” Christmas concert which required many many hours of practicing the organ and some hours practicing singing.

Recognized St. Nicolas Day and St. Lucia Day and Las Posadas with special food and treats.

Held a piano recital for my 25 students.

(They were fantastic. The biggest thing that went wrong is I was 5 minutes late and had to set up all the keyboards while the families of the students –who were all early– waited on me. Some of the parents jumped up and helped me, and we were ready to go in record time. I swallowed my embarrassment over being late and began. The recital was under 45 minutes, despite the number of students, and they all performed gracefully and well. After it was all over, my shame over being late began to well up again, but I told myself there was nothing I could do to change it, and refused to think on it any longer. I really have the best group of students and families ever.)

Attended my good and talented friend’s Family Christmas Concert.

Attended Tamale Pie’s violin recital, and accompanied her solo.  Dream come true.

Hosted my family for a Christmas party after Banana Cream Pie’s baptism. (And didn’t get a single picture)

Managed to have Christmas presents for all the children and the resident Captain despite this being such a small budget year, AND got all the presents wrapped before Christmas Eve so that we didn’t have to stay up until 2 am wrapping on Christmas Eve.

Made this felt nativity for my mom.

I drew up the pattern 11 years ago, and have intended every year since to make it for my mom. I can’t believe it’s really been that long. Last year I finally bought a new package of felt, so this year, I could make it! I altered the pattern some, including adding an angel, and I need to update it for my Etsy shop now.

I watched over half a season of Project Runway and a 4 hour movie while I worked on these cuties.

Puzzled on Christmas Eve with the girls, who love to put together puzzles while waiting for Santa just like their mother and mother’s mother before them. That Map of the World had 1500 pieces NOT fully interlocking. It was a beast.


Extra Christmas bonuses:

2 of the 3 cars we own broke down in December, but we were able to get them fixed (one new alternator, one new gizmo thingy) and get everyone to work, college classes, and music lessons without serious difficulty.

My dad came over and helped the resident Captain put a door on the Girls’ bedroom. I’m so glad they have a door!


My awesome sister, Mary, is going to make bookshelves to go in the hallway next to this door for me for Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Shelves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Father’s Day 2014

16 Jun


I have posted about my dad before, and this Fathers Day, I want to post about the father of my children. 


One reason I said, “Yes”  16 years ago was because I felt he would be a wonderful father for my future children.  The other reason was that I was totally in love with this handsome and very kempt man. 


He is a great dad.  Not only do some of his natural talents make him so, but he has also changed and made efforts to become better in some things that did not come naturally to him. He’s awesome, and I love him!


This  year, he isn’t home for Father’s Day.  He is gone for 2 weeks Annual Training with his Missouri National Guard Unit.  The kids and I love him and are very proud of him for his love for his country.  We feel like he loves us more because he loves his country as well.  Also, the kids did not mind eating his Father’s Day chocolate kisses since he couldn’t be here to eat them himself. 



We love you, Daddy!

Muddy Ditches

2 Mar

So I was thinking about my drama and I remembered this incident from a few years ago.  It made me chuckle to myself, so I thought I’d share:

Back then, my husband and I and 3 kids lived next door to my parents.  I don’t consider it “out in the country” because we lived on a paved road, but it was 18 acres and on a well, not city water.  So some of you all might consider that country.

I had just returned home from something breezy and fun.

My dad was knee deep in a muddy trench and water was spraying at him from a broken pipe like a fire hose.

The water finally slowed to a slow gush, and I walked closer.  I forget what the exact problem was he had been trying to fix.  In any case, there were 2 lines, a main trunk line bringing water from the well, and a spur line that was for just such a thing as adding a hydrant or adding a waterline to somewhere new.  Not having been the one who laid the original lines, my dad called the man who did to double check which was the main and which was the spur line.  The man told him backwards, so when dad cut what he thought was the spur, the geyser began.  Now he had a whole new problem an addition to the one that had required digging the ditch in the first place.

So there dad was, up to his knees and elbows in mud, in a ditch he had dug,  struggling against water spraying from a pipe that he, himself, had cut.  He kind of leaned against the side of the ditch and looked over at me and said something like,

“I know Lehi tells us that there is opposition in all things.  I have faith  in that principle.  I don’t need any more opposition to learn it.”

I think what he was trying to say was, “I think I’ve had enough opposition for today.  I’d like to be done with opposition now.”

Sometimes when I have a particularly hard day, that memory of dad in the ditch will flash through my mind and I’ll smile to myself.  And then I’ll remember how hard he always worked for our family, and that gives me the strength to cheerfully  keep on keepin’ on.


2Nephi 2:11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one;

Fathers’ Day

23 Jun
My daddy, he was somewhere between God and John Wayne.  ~Hank Williams, Jr.
Legend tells of a legendary warrior...

...whose skills were the stuff of legend.
That legendary guy is my dad.  I’ve blogged about him before once or twice.
He is 6 foot 6 and 3/4 inches  tall (that’s exactly 2 meters for those of you who understand metric) 
His hand can wrap around a basket ball the way a normal person’s hand wraps around a grapefruit.
He wears a size 14 quadruple wide shoe (same as Abraham Lincoln).
My brothers used to beg him to flex his muscles–his biceps were like large cantalopes.
He doesn’t even  excercise.

My Dad could eat a loaf of homemade bread and drink a gallon of milk in one sitting and not feel too full.
 My Dad was taller, bigger, stronger, and smarter than all the other kids’ dads.  

He could drive 19 hours without stopping across the country to take us out to the family reunion and recite all fifty states (in alphabetical order, size order, or population order, take your pick) with their capitals.  

He could quote poetry he had memorized for over 2 hours without stopping.

He had over 200 scriptures memorized and could find you anything you wanted in the scriptures or tell you which apostle said it and what year he said it in.  
Sometimes I felt sorry for those other kids whose dads weren’t actually the tallest, the smartest, and the strongest.
My dad used to say (when us kids were being crazy and wild or if we left his tools out laying around)
“Whaddo you think this is, a circus?”
Yes.  It was a circus.

 I’ve included this final quote because I think it’s funny and I’m pretty sure my dad will think it’s funny, too.

 ~Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968 

Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat.  Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound.  Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together.  Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again. 

Music and Spring

15 Mar

I grew up listening to Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. I think it was my dad’s goal to make sure we kids knew what good music was. I never really paid attention to exactly what we were listening to, I just listened to it. What I mean is, at the time, I couldn’t have told you whether I was listening to Mozart or Beethoven. I just knew I liked it. I do know that my favorite album he had was a collection of famous waltzes from ballets. I’ve searched for that collection for several years and not been able to find it. However, this post is not about that collection. This post is about a moment in my life and the power of music and how grateful I am.

So you, my faithful readers, may not know that I was in the National Guard for 8 years. Which means that I went to basic training for 10 weeks (they told me 8, but there was a week zero, plus a few extra days on the end) and then Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for 5 weeks. I was 19 and had never been away from my family for even half that amount of time. I plunged into an environment where swear words and anger were the majority of what I heard and saw. I was pushed well beyond what I had believed were the limits of my physical endurance. During the weeks of basic training, I learned to escape the anger and cussing by singing children’s songs from church in my head. On my own during KP duty, I dared to whisper the words under my breath.

When I got to AIT, things were a little different. We had more freedom and we were allowed to listen to walkmans in our free time. (Yes, this was before iPods.) Three of the four other girls who slept in my room had walkmans and their favorite music to listen to was this rap star, Tupok. I guess I’m lucky they didn’t let us have boomboxes, or I’d have had to actually listen to him too–as it was, I had to listen to them singing (does one sing rap?), and those girls did not edit his songs for cussing, maybe because they would have had to skip 2 out of every 3 words.

I was feeling more and more down all the time. I was missing my family and surrounded by all the anger and cussing and yuck. Also, because of training schedules and misinformation and bad luck, I hadn’t been able to attend church for 4 weeks. I was really getting desperate. One Saturday, we were allowed to go to the big Post Exchange. As I wandered around, I saw a stack of CD’s on sale. Right in front was one that read
Antonio Vivaldi
The Four Seasons

Across my mind flashed an image of a cassette tape with the words “The Four Seasons” printed on it. I knew this was music my dad owned. I knew I had listened to it before. The CD was on sale for $3.00. I am sure now it was there for me, at a price I would pay. (I rarely ever spent money back then. I didn’t even know how to use the debit card my credit union had sent me and most vendors don’t take checks from WAY out of state.) I bought that CD (they took my check), not even knowing what it would sound like. I think maybe I had a vague idea that “The Four Seasons” were like “The Mammas & The Papas.” I just knew my dad owned it and I needed something from home. I went back to the barracks, borrowed someone’s walkman, and snapped the CD in. It turns out I knew the music well; I just hadn’t known its name.

The first chord was as familiar to me as my own bones and my whole soul sang along with that beautiful music. It lifted me right out of the dark pit I had sunk into and gave me the strength to keep on. The next morning, I was finally able to catch the right bus at the right time and attend Sacrament Meeting. It was a miracle –two miracles sent just for me.

For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads. D&C 25:12

The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. Psalms 118:14


28 Feb


25 Apr

You could say I was raised on poetry. My Dad read poetry to my sisters and I instead of bedtime stories.
The Highway Man, The Pirate Don Dirk of Dowdee, Dilliki Dolliki Dinah, and Annabel Lee were my favorites. He memorized many poems and would recite them to us as we weeded the garden or on long car trips. He would sort of just burst into poetry like a musical. (He often burst into song too…) One night, he and I were driving home from Springfield, MO and he recited poetry for the entire hour and a half without ever repeating a poem or pausing to think of a new one. They just came rolling out of him. So I grew up loving poetry.

When I was in 6th grade, the local jr. college held a writing contest. Winners would be published in their magazine and poetry was one of the categories.

You must understand, I had never studied poetry in school –writing or reading. I was so excited to write my first poem. I was sure I would win and be published! The theme was “Enchantment” so I wrote a poem describing an enchanted lake in the middle of a forrest. I even used my parent’s typewriter to type up my poem. I turned it in to my reading teacher and waited with breathless anticipation for her response.

The next day, she placed my paper on my desk and walked away without a word. At the top was written,

“Punctuate this.”

I was crushed. I knew she hated it. I hadn’t even known that poetry needed punctuation. I knew it should rhyme and that the lines needed to have a rhythm that matched. I randomly added commas and periods and resubmitted my poem. She never said anything about it. I did not win the poetry anything. (Though my best friend won and was published.)

This experience effectively murdered my confidence with poetry. I continued to write poetry, but rarely showed it to anyone.

When I was 14 or so, I wrote a poem for my grandfather. He was undergoing bypass surgery for his heart. Seven- Bypass- Surgery. He had been writing family history stories and some creative fiction and trying to get published, but no one was interested. Except his grandkids, who loved to sit around him and listen. He was a magical storyteller. I wanted so much to tell Grandpa how much I loved him and that I liked his stories. So I wrote him this poem and snuck it on the table at his house–that was almost more than my courage could muster. I was pretty sure that it was overly sentimental and no good, and yet it was me and it was what I wanted to tell him. Grandpa loved my poem. He loved it so much, that he kept showing it to people, which embarrassed me deeply. I was certain that Grandpa only loved it because he loved me and everyone else who read it would see exactly how amateur-ish and unoriginal it was. I was almost rude to my Uncle Joe, who tried to talk to me about it. I was so afraid he was going to criticize my poetry that I ran away. Now with 20 years perspective I think he was just trying to encourage me.

I still have no confidence regarding my poetry and yet I can’t help writing it every now and then.

Funny the impact a teacher can have just by saying nothing. It is a lesson I try to remember with my piano students and my own children.

Incidentally, my DH wooed me with poetry. His love of great poetry, the poetry he wrote, and especially the poems he wrote about me stole my heart away. I had always dreamed of being one of those ladies who walk in beauty

And now I was.

I reminded him of that recently and wondered aloud if he might ever write me love poems again. I guess inspiration hasn’t struck recently… 😛