Teeny tiny people

Just wanted to share the cute pic of my mom and I, taken when I was up there visiting in May. Can't beat giant chairs to make you look (and feel) tiny!


Canadian and Proud

O Canada! This is the time of year when my Canadian pride resurfaces. I grew up in Alberta, Canada but married an American citizen (my mom's worst nightmare) and moved permanently to the USA many years ago. To be completely honest, I have lived in the US much longer than I ever lived in Canada. I became a US citizen at my parents' urging so that I could help my younger brother stay in the US after he finished college. I did all the paperwork and made all the trips to the consulate and paid all the fees they charged. I had to have friends who had known me more than 5 years (I think) show up in SLC (where we lived at the time and where all this took place) to vouch for my character. I had to provide police reports for all the places I had lived (which was a lot even back then -- I can't imagine doing that now -- too many moves) and I had to take the citzenship test. And I hated it all because inside, I wasn't ready to become a US citizen. When the big day came that we were sworn in as US citizens, I was not happy. I felt like I was losing part of me -- I hadn't learned yet that I will always be Canadian in my heart and that it's OK to love the USA as well. It's been a wonderful place to live and raise a family. Anyhow --- during the ceremony, there were a bunch of Laotian boat people becoming citizens and they were absolutely joyous and thrilled beyond belief, while I cried (not tears of joy) and crossed my fingers the whole time (mature, I know) hoping that maybe the naturalization wouldn't 'take' if I did that.

My attitude has changed over time. I live here, my family has been raised here, and it's important for me to feel like a US citizen, to participate in voting (I boycotted that for a long time), and to honor the US patriotism I feel. I love it here, I love it that we are free here, I love it that I raised my family of US citizens here -- but there is a big part of me (bigger than you might suspect, I think) that will always be Canadian. I love Canada and I love that being my heritage. The sight of that red maple leaf will always bring a lump to my throat. And I will probably always do the same thing when we cross from the US into Canada by car -- stick my head out the window, take a deep breath and say "Smell that good Canadian air!". That's home to me. That's where I go to remember who I really am. I need to go back home from time to time so that I can find myself again.


The Real Thing

Both Mason and I look a lot better today than we have done in the past! His hair is under control and mine is too! Gotta love Monica -- this is simple but it's something that I can deal with and there's a lot to be said for that.

I LOVE Monica!

I know this is how our stylist Monica has to feel when she sees me arrive for my hair visits. But she's so talented that she can make me over into someone presentable -- even cute! Who knew? There will be pics forthcoming, but rest assured that Monica did right by me as always. She's a genius! I think of myself as her challenge -- and she rose to the occasion, as usual. What a woman!


Cowgirl Maya

So yesterday while we were in Target, Maya spotted the same pink cowgirl boots she has had and loved for some time -- but she has pretty much outgrown them. She was thrilled because she wants another pair in a size that fits so she can be a "Hello Kitty" cowgirl and not have to wear boots that hurt her feet. We were all jazzed to find that they were on clearance -- around $7.00 -- and they even had her size. She was so excited that she wanted to go home and put on her cowgirl outfit. What a cutie! Gotta love those cowgirls.


Bad Hair Day (Life?)

Thursday is when I have a hair appt. and I am counting the minutes. My hair is never good -- it really isn't - -but sometimes it's better than others. I have naturally curly hair that I have never learned to deal with, grew up in the straight-straight hair era, and have fought it all the way. Obviously living in humid Austin doesn't help at all. I keep hearing that I need to give in and work with my hair but I have no skills -- none! So I just do what I've always done and it's been OK as long as I have a good cut. Two cuts ago (about 14 weeks ago, I guess) I got brave and told our stylist Monica at Maximum FX Salon (a great place and a really gifted stylist) to cut it short and do something cute and different. Since she's so great, I'm sure she did, but I could never make it look cute. It does look different for sure! So when I went back 7 weeks later, I told that I was giving up on different, and asked her to point it back towards where I've always had it -- at least that way I can make it behave. So she did but of course that will take time as she cut it all off the time before. Right now it's a mess. Very shaggy, all weird lengths, sticks up every which way and I hate it. I really do. Not sure what she can do about it but she's a magician so I know she will find something. And I can't wait. I need hair help. No pics because it's that bad! (ask Natalie -- she will report on the hairdo I sported in Port Aransas -- so bad I had to get a hat!) Hair is not my area for sure.


One More Thing

I don't seem to be able to shut up today -- but am finally getting thoughts on what to post about. So this weekend, Mark and I went to see "Evan Almighty" which hasn't gotten such red-hot reviews. We, however, tend to think pretty much opposite of the critics so we figured it was worth a shot -- and it was. We really liked it a lot. Fun actors (Steve Carrell from "The Office", Lauren Graham from "Gilmore Girls", Morgan Freeman who is probably my favorite actor, and lots of interesting animals. We are such cheapies that we refuse to go other than at the low-priced matinees because the movie snacks (that are a must!) cost more than the admission does. Anyhow -- two thumbs up from us. We recommend it as a great family movie. Lots of 'nice' moments, definite family values and you even get to see Evan build an ark. Not bad for a 2007 movie.

Pillow Issues

OK, I have pillow issues. I really do. If you look in my upstairs bedroom you will find a closet stuffed with countless brand new pillows. I can't seem to find one that I like, that when I wake up I don't have a headache or that I don't have to rearrange a zillion times in the night. Is there a perfect pillow? Not as far as I have discovered. But that doesn't keep me from buying and trying every pillow I come across -- and my closet reflects that quest. It's full of new (used one night) pillows that have been rejected and stored up there. If you need a pillow, you know where to come! So today Natalie handed me this ad clipped from SkyMall magazine (you know, the one you read on the plane) and I just had to laugh. Here's this lady, sound asleep on this massive pillow, HOLDING A ROSE and with rose petals scattered around her. Ah! Maybe that's what I need -- a rose to hold while I sleep on my gigantic body pillow. Hee hee!! Cracked me up.


To motivate myself this morning, the first thing I did when I got up was to put on my exercise clothes. (the theory being, of course, that if I'm dressed for the occasion, maybe I'll HAVE the occasion!) And it worked. I just finished my time on the elliptical machine and am now sitting under the ceiling fan in the office cooling down. I can't say enough about how much I am liking this machine. It's a Nordic Track and has lots of programs you can use. I do use an aerobic program but do a warm-up before I start it up. It feels so good to have my exercise done for the day, sweaty and gross or not! We got ours at Costco for $799 (with a coupon) -- but we saw a couple on the shelf there a week or so ago now marked at $599. A bargain!


Sundays are Great

I just read Kristi's post about how she loves her Sunbeams and really felt the spirit in her class today. That really makes my heart fill up -- I love teachers like that, especially when they are the steward over someone that I love as much as I love Maya. But it really doesn't matter who is in her class -- everyone of those little ones in our Primary is precious to me and to our Heavenly Father. I told them today that they were Jesus' favorite people. We know He loves all of us but we also know of the special love He has for the children.

I share that love for the children and am thankful every Sunday that I get to go be with them. What a gift! It's also fun to consider that if Jesus were here, I bet He'd be in Primary with us!


New Stuff

Well, the above post was definitely the spiritual and philosopical one -- this one is pretty much worldliness! I've talked about the new furniture we bought recently -- well, last night we went out and bought a new set for the patio as well. It looks great but we have an umbrella and base that makes it look even better. Check these out -- soon we'll have the patio done and ready for real pictures. The house is starting to look great!!

Great Quote

As Natalie and I were driving together today to the Popcorn Place (check her blog for specifics -- it was awesome!) we were listening to her soundtrack of Les Mis. I have never read the book, seen the play or really even know much about it but as we listened, I caught this line: "To love another person is to see the face of God" and it really struck me. I've been pondering on it ever since. What a great line and what a great thought. The love that I feel for my family and others is a small insight into really seeing the face of God. These people that are so beloved by me are a key to my vision of our Father in Heaven. If I can think of it that way, I can really feel a greater, closer connection to Him. I love my husband, children, and now little grandbabies so much and each one of them gives me a more open vision of a loving Father in Heaven. And when I have that vision, it's much easier to spend time on my knees in conversation with Him.
What a gift, then to find a wonderful insight into eternal things (a tender mercy, really) during the course of my day. I'm thankful.


Still Funny

A year or two back, I (and the rest of the country) was following Utah's Ken Jennings very closely as he continued with his months-long 'Jeopardy' run. I was always amazed when he could come up with an answer to a question that I never did understand -- one time the answer was 'The Venerable Bede' -- I still don't get what the question was. Anyhow, one of the things I liked most about him was that he had a funny sense of humor and seemed pretty humble (although who really knows, right?) about how well he was doing. Check out this clip and laugh.


Two Great Products

Today I noticed that my beautiful wood floor has multiple scratches that are no doubt my fault. Mark always tells me not to drag the furniture around but to lift it - which I can't do alone, so I drag it. I didn't think I was scratching the floor but I was wrong. So I whipped out my handy-dandy little Tibet Almond stick, rubbed it on the scratches, and presto, the scratches disappeared! Everyone needs one of these -- for floors, furniture, whatever. They are miracle workers. Where do you get a Tibet Almond stick? http://www.zcwinc.com/ They're cheap and easy to get. And they work. Can't beat that.

I also LOVE Bare Escentuals brand self-tanner. I used to be a real sunbather until I saw the error of my ways and ceased. I love the tanned look but I hate all the other self-tanners I've tried. I hate the streaks, the orangey-ness, the nasty chemical smell -- I hate it all. However -- this is great stuff. It goes on brown so you can actually see how it's going on, it doesn't turn orange, and it smells good -- like coconut! Great stuff. Not cheap, but worth it as far as I'm concerned. I bought it from QVC and I know they sell it at Ulta as well. It's called Faux tan and is the best product out there, I think. Check it out.


Life Really is Good!

As I was checking out lifeisgood.com I found a new t-shirt I hadn't seen in the men's shirts and thought it was so cute I couldn't resist sharing it. Loved the dad jogging behind the stroller -- and loved Jake with his happy smile, proclaiming once again that life IS good. Cute! Every young dad needs one of these!


While waiting in my dentist's office, I browsed through a couple of magazines and came across "Texas Highways" which had the best pictures of the Texas bluebonnets. I noticed they have a website so you can browse the pics and came across this one that I loved and will probably need to order. Love those bluebonnets! Check it out here: http://www.scenicstore.com/index.mhtml

Life is Good

I love the Life is Good t-shirt line. They have other stuff too but if you haven't seen it, check it out at http://www.lifeisgood.com/. I have probably too many of their t-shirts but I love them all. They are comfy, cute and offer the sentiment "Life is good". This is one that I ordered for each family member when we went off to the beach in May. I think it spoke to how it really was when we went -- everything was thrown into the cars but the family ties were there and life sure was good, especially at the beach. We all love Jake, the smiley guy featured on all the shirts.


I'm no Blogger, I"m Afraid

I just noticed that it's been a full week since I posted anything at all, and it caused me to ponder as to why that might be. I think the final answer is that I don't do much that I feel would be very interesting to anyone else. In an effort to feel interesting, I'm making a list of what is new since last Tuesday.

First, we got our new furniture delivered. It looks great, suits the room really well, and I"m happy with it. (OK, I'm really happy with it. I love it!) Also Mark has made more progress on the back yard project and we are now to the point where we need to find someone with a pickup truck so that we can go get some sod -- we don't need a lot but seeding would be dumb at this point and they want $65 to deliver a little bit of sod. Not happening. The yard will be done then and we'll get some pics taken so you can all see what I've been talking about. It's been a huge project and as I look at it, I think it would have cost thousands of dollars (on top of the thousands we spent for materials and plants etc.) to have it done. It's really beautiful.

I got several days with Maya and with Mason which is always fun. They really make my life happy. They always love me and are always glad to see me which is really good for the self-esteem. I love them and love every opportunity I have to spend time with them. Natalie had a great trip (as I know you've read) and was glad to see her kiddoes who were also thrilled to see her.

I think my biggest 'accomplishment' (if you can call it that) is that I have spent my time on the elliptical 5x a week for 3 weeks in a row -- and have upped my time each week as well. I"m now to the point where I can do nearly 45 minutes on it at a time which is good considering at first, 5 was hard. So that's good too.


My Package Arrived!! Yay Holly!!

I just finished opening my gift package from Holly - -and it's wonderful!! (you were worried? Why???) I am already a big fan of Sophie Kinsella and I haven't read this book ("Confessions of a Shopaholic") yet so I have a treat in store - I already know that. She also sent a "Real Simple" magazine (Natalie will want it -- and she can have it -- when I'm done!), her favorite Milano cookies (YUM!), lip gloss in the perfect shade for someone who is not a big red lip person (me!), her favorite candy bar (Take 5 -- never had one but I"m going to!), some absolutely perfect small hoop earrings ( LOVE them!), and a mix CD that I"m listening to as I type and am already loving.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Such a fun idea -- Holly, you made my day! Thank you!

The New Patio

Mark has been working on a new patio for our formerly barren back yard (literally two very small trees -- the house was a year old when we bought it and the builder obviously put the trees in) and I am now seeing what it's going to look like! After a bunch of money for new plants, trees and shrubs, time spent planting them, then more money for a zillion bricks, road base to put underneath the bricks, sand to go between them and time doing all of that in tiny steps, it looks wonderful. I'll have to get a picture taken and post it -- it's really amazing what a bunch of money and a bunch of time can do for a crummy back yard. There's still more to do as now we have to re-do some of the grass where things had been set (like the kids' climbing thing and playhouse etc.) but now I see what it's going to be like. I love it -- and Mark has lost 10 pounds working on it. I think it's been since April -- and like I said, it's not done yet - but it will be and now I can see it!! Yay!!


I love Sundays!

I do love Sundays. This is amazing, since for much of my life, I remember hating Sundays. I always felt they were days full of restrictions, not fun. I'm happy to say that now I love them and am so grateful for the chance to attend church. I play the organ every other month in our ward, and I"m playing this month -- and it makes me so happy to provide beautiful music for people to hear as they enter the chapel. It makes ME happy too -- music has a way of doing that, doesn't it? I love being with the Primary children too, although today the Jr. Primary was pretty much out of control (Kristi can attest to that!) and I wonder if anyone heard anything at all that was said in there. Sr. was much better but I love them both so much. It's a privilege to teach the gospel to the little ones, to have a Sunbeam who formerly only wanted to wail come up and whisper something unitelligible in my ear, to hug and love any of them who came near me, and to hear them all sing the songs of the gospel. I really felt the spirit in there today, despite the chaos in Jr. Primary.
I also love playing for the choir -- we're working on the MoTab version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" -- and it's a killer for the accompanist. I haven't mastered it yet and there is plenty of room for improvement -- so practice is on my list for this week. But I love being there with good people, good music and literal harmony.
I love having family over for dinner -- I took dinner to friends down the street (they have a new baby -- he is the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time!) and got ours ready to go as well and expect Chris, Natalie, Maya and Mason any time. I love that. Sundays are my favorite.


Natalie's New Post

My daughter has indicated that she is ready for a new post, so here goes. We just got back from spending way too much money on some new furniture -- and I"m so jazzed I"m about to bust! We went to Rooms To Go as a result of their ad in the paper this morning and checked out a nice-looking leather sofa that was on the front page of their ad. Sad to say, however, that it didn't look as nice in person and it sure didn't feel very nice. So we walked around the store and found something we liked a lot (and was it on sale too? of course not!!) and went ahead and bought not only the couch, but a big chair and ottoman as well. And we had to buy a funky chair for Mark too -- that seems to be family tradition. It's all really cute though and I'm happy and if I was as smart as Natalie is, I'd have pictures to show you. But I"m not, and I don't. (I actually looked at Rooms to Go's website and I don't see anything that even resembles what we bought - so who knows?) Anyhow, it was a good shopping trip and I love the stuff and they will even deliver this Thursday instead of making me wait forever. Then we went to Costco and bought a pedestal and a patio umbrella for the new patio Mark is finishing up (with Chris and Maya's help today) -- so now I feel broke. But happy.


I"m in Shock!

I just got back from a trip to the mall (alone, which is rare -- and I didn't like it!) and when I went into the kitchen to drop off my purse, there on the table was a vase with a dozen beautiful roses. Being married to Mr. "I don't like flowers because they die which makes them a waste of money", I was completely amazed. So I called him to see what the heck was up with that -- and he just said that he was thinking about me and wanted to surprise me. Boy, did he! They are beautiful, and I guess that just adds to my list of things that I'm thankful for. Roses for no good reason! Can't beat that. What a guy.

Things I"m Thankful For

I woke up this morning very early (like 4:45) because our son is heading out on an adventure (Montana) and we offered to drive him to the airport. OK, so actually Mark took him to the airport - - but I was awake to hug him goodbye and send him on his way. At that moment, I was so grateful for the fact that we are still close to him. He's got a big heart, is very creative, loving and kind, and is definitely a free spirit. We love him so much and while I know he will move on soon (he's still condo-hunting) I love having him here and will miss him more than he knows. So I'm thankful for that relationship with him.

I'm thankful that I still have both of my parents. They are getting older (Dad will be 84 in August and Mom is 82) and are not especially healthy, and they live far away (Southern Alberta, Canada, where I grew up) so I don't see them as often as I'd like. But they are there and I know they are there and I am thankful for that knowledge. I'm thankful for the way they raised me and loved me.

I'm thankful for my sister. She is the best. She too lives in the frozen north and I don't see her nearly as often as I'd like. She's funny, smart, motivated, warm and loving and I would like to be like her. She's someone I miss a lot and am so thankful for.

I'm thankful for my daughter. People always say there is something special about a mother/daughter relationship and I've been blessed to experience a great one. Natalie is wonderful in every way. She is giving, kind, funny, creative, organized and smart. And she doesn't seem to mind hanging out with me! It's wonderful to have a child turn into a friend.

I'm thankful for my oldest son Chris and his wife Tara. I wish we could see them more often than we do. Dallas isn't that far but with them having lives there and us having lives here, we don't get up there very often. They are a great couple -- motivated, spiritual, smart, funny and loving. They too have become friends and that's another thankful thing.

I'm thankful for my grandkids. They make my life happy. They really do. What else is there to say? The time I get with them really enriches my life and provides me with joy. I love them more than they understand now, or maybe ever will.

I'm thankful for friends. I have made friends through my calling in the Primary -- I work with 3 amazing women who are so steadfast, so organized, so dedicated and so loving and they are patient with me and my super-anal ways. I love them all. The teachers we work with are also super. We couldn't do what we do without them and I"m so thankful for them as well. And the kids! They are what we are all about -- I love each of them.

I'm thankful for Mark. He is the foundation of my life, I think. He's been so busy with our back yard project that I haven't seen much of him and I have missed that. He's funny, smart, patient, hard-working and would do anything for any of our family members and we all know that.

What a list! As I look back on it, I realize how blessed I am and how I ought always to be thankful. I'm grateful for you all as well -- you make my life happier! Thank you!


Pet Peeve

So today I stayed with Maya and Mason while Natalie got her hair done (she looks great -- I'm sure you've already seen the pics!) and when she returned we decided a fast trip to Sonic was in order. I always order a diet limeade and for some reason, that seems difficult for them. About half the time they bring a diet cherry limeade -- and if I'd wanted that, I'd have ordered that. They take it back and do it again and it's all good. But I get tired of that same screw-up all the time. Today they seemed really out of control. We ordered a couple of ice cream cones for the kids, small burgers for Natalie and myself, a blended root beer float for Natie and my diet limeade. It literally took forever and when they finally brought out the order it was all messed up-- so we sent the poor kid back in to make the changes. He came back with the cones for the kids, kids meals (which we did not order), Natie's blended float and (you guessed it!) a diet CHERRY limeade for me. Natalie tried to hand him the money and was told because of the time it took and the mess-ups, there was no charge (kudos to Sonic for that) -- and then gave them back the diet cherry limeade and asked for just a diet limeade. The poor kid looked devastated, but took the drink and then came back out and handed over another one. He scurried off quickly and I looked at my drink -- and it was STILL a cherry limeade. We didn't have the heart to call the poor guy back once more so I'm drinking it -- but it isn't as good as what I wanted. (I'm OK, I really am!) But it's definitely a pet peeve of mine -- just give me what I ordered and what I paid for (except this time I didn't have to pay for it! I suppose that's why we didn't send it back again!)



I'm amazed that so many of you are reading this! Call me naive (I'm sure I have been called that before) but I didn't figure there would be one person who would read it. Thanks for all the nice comments and welcomes. You guys are great. I've been quietly reading all your posts and comments along with your blogs and I already feel like I know you. Thank you for that.

Natalie has talked about using the elliptical trainer we have. Well, she has inspired me too. I don't have a weight problem (and I am NOT implying that she does either -- she doesn't!) but the older I get, the farther south everything is heading and I hate it. I used to be a runner. Before we moved to Austin, I would run anywhere from 5-7 miles probably 5 or 6 days a week and I loved it. I know how great the runner's high feels and I loved the feeling I got when I ran. And I was in GOOD shape! When we moved here, the humidity got to me and I discovered how easy it is to drop a good habit! Only took me a few days to just plain be lazy and not even want to exercise. I still don't really want to be out in the humidty although I'm considering getting up way early and walking (I learned how to be an early riser as a seminary teacher -- 15+ years) but I am proud to announce that because of Natalie's example and motivation (and how good she looks!) I too am using the elliptical trainer. I can't say I love it (I don't!) but I love the way I feel when I am done. And that's a good thing.

Here we go!

Well, this is already very uncomfortable! I have been convinced (compelled?) by my daughter Natalie that I 'need' to have a blog and she got me all set up. I tried to tell her that I don't have anything interesting to say or to share and she (who is a strong-minded girl) didn't agree so here we are.

Her suggestions were to share things that I love and things about myself and my family. Well, OK, I'm a mom to 3 grown kids (kids? adults? people?) who include Chris, living in Dallas with his family (wife and 2 beautiful boys), Natalie (the above-mentioned strong-minded daughter), who lives 5 minutes from us in Austin, with her husband and 2 beautiful children, and Matt, our single son who is living here at the moment but is condo-hunting and inevitably will find a place and move on. I have a great husband, Mark, who is always busy with projects, the current one being pretty much a complete back-yard renovation, the focus of which is a large, new brick patio. That's us.

The parts of my life that are my favorite would have to be the grandkids -- I LOVE being a Grandma. People told me it would be that way and I didn't get it -- but now I do. Grandma-hood is the best and is the greatest gift I've ever been given. Even better than mom-hood. Really. Just wait and see. My next favorite thing is that I get to be part of the Primary organization in our church. If you don't know what that is, I'll explain. It's the organization specifically for the children. I love the little ones (the bigger ones too) and I love being able to be with them, to teach them, to learn with them and from them, and to be able to love them. It's a real gift. I love reading. I will read pretty much anything and everything although I couldn't tell you the name of a specific 'favorite' book. I just love reading. I love music. I love to accompany singers and instrumentalists. I don't love to perform as a soloist but I love to make the performer look good. I especially love children and music together. (big surprise there, right?)

This is probably way too long so I'll stop for now. Look for more things I love soon.