Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Will the real maple syrup please stand up?

March 20th will be our 39th wedding anniversary.  Time has been in fast forward mode for the last four decades.  I woke up one morning to find not only am I going grey along the temples, but I'm now the mother of five grown children and grandmother to 14 grandchildren.  "I don't remember growing older", even though my grandchildren remind me that I am.

Since I was a stay-at-home mom, I learned to be shrewd with limited finances.  So.....(here comes a true confession)...I have never bought maple syrup, EVER.  With all the endless meals I've prepared through the decades breakfast amounted to at least 1/3 of them....ya think? That's alot of buttermilk pancakes (made with real buttermilk) and alot of oatmeal waffles (made from scratch).  To top off those breakfast standbys, I always had homemade maple syrup on hand. Between my mother and Aunt Marion, I have a wonderful, basic recipe which only cost pennies to make.  Here it is:

1 cup water
2 cups sugar (yes 2 cups sugar)
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Add the water and sugar together in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil for about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add maple flavoring.  Done! Makes one cup.  So simple!  So quick! So easy! 

There are other recipes out there that use corn syrup, they are good too. but added ingredients add to the cost.  Through the years this recipe has saved us hundreds of dollars as I constantly skip the maple syrup section in the grocery store where you will pay allot for convenience.  You're welcome.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas of the Monkey Butt Powder

Christmas has become very complicated.  It used to be easy when I only had five children to buy for.  Now I have 28 people in my immediate family that require Christmas cheer.  Here's the break down:
1. 1 husband
2. 5 grown children + their 5 spouses/significant others + 1 ex-wife
3.  13 assorted grandchildren
4.  3 aging parents

Christmas occurs just after the end of fall semester, when I've been busy putting together portfolios for finals, etc. This leaves no time to celebrate the season in timely fashion.  My Christmas tree never gets decorated until one of my children takes pity on Christmas Eve.  This year the task fell to Austin who did his best.  I did find the Christmas door jingle bells on the tree.  I didn't say a word.  Last year Ashley came to my aid.  She wasn't available this year because she spent Christmas with Cody's parents... since she never gets to see them.

Anyway... feeling overwhelmed, I told Scott it's time he helped out.  I gave him the task of buying Christmas gifts for our sons (2) and our son-in-laws (3).  You do the math.  He surprised me and agreed.  What surprised me even more was he seemed happy about it.  Since he's a guy he doesn't waste time shopping in malls, he goes online.  Next thing I know suspicious packages start arriving.  Scott even wrapped them himself.  Fast forward to Christmas morning.  I get:
1.  a requested Great Course about the golden age of Dutch Masters (nice)
2. an Audubon bird caller (nice) now I can "tweet" ha ha
3. a log carrier (?)
4. a "Big Ass" bar of soap (?)

The sons/sons-in-law got more useful things, things to help them smell nice and not itch tender places in public.  They will someday thank him.  Merry Christmas.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Empty Nest

From my journal written on January 9, 2007:
She arrived in winter, 19 winters ago.  She left in winter.  Snow was on the ground and winter storms gave way to sunshine when she left, as if knowing it was time to leave.  How quickly those 19 winters were spent, sneaking away when I wasn't looking.  Didn't I have all the time in the world?  I thought so when I held her for the first time.  I acted as if she'd always be there.  Now she is gone and a strange silence reigns. 

She was always noisy and often disrespectful.  She took my things without asking and was not very good about returning them.  Her room was always a mess.  Always.  I would wait until she wanted to go with her friends to get the leverage needed to have her to clean her room .  "Yes, of course you can go...after you clean your room."  This was an ongoing conversation.

Now, it's too quiet.  Her abandoned room is always clean because she's no longer around to mess it up.  She cleaned it just before she left...without being asked, as if I wouldn't let her go to college with a dirty room.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I don't get it

It all started with a phone call this afternoon from son number two. The call came around 2:00 P.M. He was in Delta picking up his kids and wanted to know if I would be home since he was coming to Richfield. I was delighted at his unexpected visit and got busy getting things ready.

When I have guests, and my children are now "guests" when they visit, my husband thinks I go overboard with cleaning. I don't. I just think people will have a happier experience if they have clean bedding to sleep in, clean towels, and food to eat. Since the house elf ran away long ago, I'm the one who washes the sheets, blankets, towels, etc. I'm also the one who makes the beds. In others words, I'm the one who does all the cleaning. That takes a bit of doing for three people sleeping in three different beds in three different rooms. Since I have been busy with art projects that take insane amounts of time, It was necessary to do a few loads of towels to get caught up. As I was sorting the towels, I noticed the shower curtain was still in the laundry and needed to be washed as well.

Since my son's call I stopped working on my art project that was due Monday, I had been working on it since yesterday and it still wasn't done due to some difficulties I was running into. But since I had not seen my son and grandchildren for awhile, I put it on hold. After all... family comes first. So I hauled my ceramics project upstairs out of harm's reach. Wet clay + grandchildren = disaster. Somehow I'd find time to finish it.

I vacuumed the bedrooms, cleaned the bathroom, but more toilet paper on the holder, and cleaned the kitchen. After a couple of hours of cleaning and doing laundry, things were starting to look acceptable.

Finally, my most welcome guests arrived. I was so glad to see them! Unfortunately, they were only here for about five minutes before my son decided to take the kids to the park. No problem! I dashed to the grocery store after they left since I was out of milk and a bunch of other things my guests would be needing. I not only bought milk, I bought orange juice, thick sliced apple smoked bacon, hamburger for spaghetti, two different kinds of lunch meat, three kinds of cereal, and some things the grandchildren would like, like Oreo cookies, chips... Things quickly added up to almost $70.00. But hey, it's always a special occasion when I have guests.

Since my son had not returned from the park with the grandchildren when I got back from grocery shopping, I continued to tidy things up. Hubby suggested a trip to Capitol Reef in the morning. That sounded great! It had been a long time since I'd done fun. However, if I was to go, I had to get my art project done. I hauled it back downstairs to the kitchen table and spent at least another hour on it. When I noted the time it was time for dinner. Still no sign of my son and grandchildren. Should I start dinner? I had the feeling they had left the park long ago and were now at Jason's, my son's friend's house. A phone call proved me right. My son informed us he would be home with the children within the hour.

During all this hustle and bustle, my plans for the evening had changed. I had been waiting for over five months to see the movie "Hunger Games" and had planned to see it tonight. But since my son and grandchildren were coming, I decided to see it after their visit. Family comes first. The movie can wait. Later, when my son called to inform me that he and the children would be staying over at his friend's house after all, I realized it was too late to catch the last movie. I invited my son to join us at Capitol Reef in the morning. He replied, "I'm not sure about my plans tomorrow mom, we might be going with Jason to his mother's ranch."

Sadly, I realized that only some families come first.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies

Recently, due to some interesting family interactions, I was reminded of some conversations I had with my psychologist father. Even though he has been gone for over 14 years, his shared knowledge about psychology has lingered with me. One of the insights he shared with me was concerning what psychologists call "warm fuzzies and "cold pricklies." He defined warm fuzzies as things people say or do that are kind, uplifting, thoughtful. The impact of such interactions creates a "warm fuzzy" feeling. Examples include things like acts of kindness, sincere complements, thinking of others first, etc.

Cold pricklies are when someone says or does something that makes you feel bad. It includes destructive comments or behavior. Cold pricklies are often demeaning and always erodes a person's sense of self worth. Hence, it produces a "cold prickly" feeling in its intended victim. Warm fuzzies and cold pricklies boil down to how we communicate with others both verbally and non verbally.

Dad went on to explain that some people operate exclusively on the "warm fuzzy" level. These people are uplifting to be around and associate with. They are not constantly tripping over their egos, their ego allows others to shine, nor do they have to be the center of attention all the time. They are patient and tolerant of others.

Then there were those who operate on both levels . They communicate using both warm fuzzies and cold prickelies, often they camouflage cold prickelies as warm fuzzies. In other words, they use warm fuzzies to blanket the oncoming cold prickelies. They appear to be nice but aren't really. Here is one example of how it works:

Let's say a little six year old girl works very hard on a handcrafted valentine card for her father. It takes her at least an hour to make, a long time for a six year old. Finally she is done with her valentine and tries to present it to her father, but she can't because her father is taking a nap. The door to his room is locked so she politely knocks on it which wakes up her father. He is irritated at being woke up and tells his daughter to go away and stop bothering him. She stands rejected outside the door. This father just gave his daughter a cold prickly. He has interacted with his daughter peering though the lens of his own selfish desires. Obviously this type of behavior is caustic. Cold pricklies can be intentional or unintentional, often they are ractionary, but not always.

Dad worked at the Nebo school district until he died unexpectedly from complications of luekemia. His work took in children from ages five to eighteen. As a counselor for three schools, he worked with hundreds of troubled students. Often he confided that the children would be fine if they didn't have to go home. He told me that in reality it wasn't the children who needed a good spanking, it was their parents. Children just acted out the behavior they were taught, and were allowed to be indulged in, at home. Sadly, the majority of troubled children came from good Mormon families.

Dad...where are you when we need you?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

dance in the rain

Today, March 20, 2011, is our 36th wedding anniversary. The years have flown by and much has changed since March 20, 1975. For example, 36 years ago no one owned a computer, cell phone, dvd player, ipod, or digital camera. There was no such thing as the internet. Star Wars wasn't a household name yet. Aids was not a regular part of our vocabulary. There were no skateboarders, or snowboarders. "Goth" was something associated with cathedrals. Thongs were something you wore on your....feet.

There have been other changes that have taken place. Many family members who were at our wedding have passed on. Beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my father, are no longer here to love and guide us. New family members have been born. Little did we know that we would be become parents to five WONDERFUL people. Now we are the grandparents.

Life was full of hope and promise the day we married. It did not always turn out the way I envisioned. I never thought I would out live a grandchild. Ella Goodwin should have been five years old 10 days ago. I never thought one of my children would frequent the inside of a jail, or marry a tattoo artist in a drunken stupor in Vegas. However, in many ways, life has turned out more wonderful than I could imagine. I did not know then that we we would have a daughter grow up to become a civil engineer, or a daughter major in pre-law, or a son graduate from the Metropolitan Las Vegas Police Department. I did not know that the three daughters I would have would become my best friends, or that I would learn to love my son's wife, Racquel, so much. These wonderful, talented women have filled a long standing gap in my life because I never had a sister.

The man I married 36 years ago is no longer a young, skinny, youth. His hair is now white instead of the dreaded red color (I always liked the color of his hair). Through 36 years he has remained faithfully by my side, helping and comforting me, always working to support his family. He has proved to be the best husband and father. I chose well. We have weathered many trials and sorrows, but still laugh together. The past 36 years have taught me that life is not just learning to's learning to dance in the rain.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Keeping it good with God

I do my best to stay on God's good side. I have found it very beneficial to have an "in" with the Big Man upstairs. Why? Because I need alot of favors from Him. It's a tough life and I find the challenges are getting harder the older I get. Since I have the luxury of sleeping through the night for the first time in decades, I've become more aware of my surroundings. There's alot going on in this world and most of it's scary. Now, I not only worry for my children, but I worry for my grandchildren. So most of the favors I ask for are for my family and friends. I pray in my sleep.

When I slow down long enough to think about it, I realize God has always been there for us, protecting and guiding us in ways we are too distracted to notice. Like the time Aubrey was in a car accident with a semi. She and Larry should have been crushed like their car, but they walked away from the accident to the amazement of the police officers who reported it. Then there was the time Erin was coming back from a late night date and the young man she was with fell asleep at the wheel and their car somersaulted who knows how many times... and she wasn't hurt. Then there was the time when Aidan was the Sevier County fire warden and his engine got caught in a burn over...and he was spared. Then there's Austin....well he's worn out several guardian angels by now.

I think of the time I looked into the eyes of a serial killer and was warned to not accept the ride he was offering. He turned out to be Ted Bundy. I lived because I was guided by an unseen Force. When my husband, Scott, was on a mission in England, he was once riding his bike downhill at break-neck speed when a car door opened into him sending him somersaulting into the air. Like a cat he landed on his feet still holding the projector he was carrying... there wasn't even a scratch on him. Then there was the time his car stalled for no good reason at a stop light one foggy morning (we were newlyweds living in Logan). Had he proceeded into the intersection when the light turned green he would have been nailed by a semi sliding through the intersection unable to slow down or stop because of icy roads. It came unseen from his left and would have killed him. There are many other instances when our lives have been spared and we have been guided by the Divine.

So when God asks me to do keep the Sabbath Day holy... I obey. I've learned a few things about God. He loves all His children, but he favors the righteous ones... you know... the ones who love Him enough to keep His commandments.