"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." ~Mother Teresa

Happy New Year to each one of my friends, in-person or blogging friends. It doesn't matter -- I do feel that we all belong to each other. My wish and hope is that we all remember that. We truly are all family.

Love you all!

** The above pic is exactly how I feel about New Year's Eve parties -- this year, we are doing a movie and dinner with family and early to bed. That's my idea of fun!


It's Christmas??

Holy cow, the time has flown [again!]. And in 2 days, it will be Christmas. I'm not sure how it happened. There has been plenty going on: we had Maya, Mason and Simon with us for 5 days while their mom and dad took a trip to Utah and we had a wonderful time. They were very glad to see mom and dad when they returned, but I like to think they felt pretty comfortable here too.

Our ward choir did a truly beautiful program on Sunday. I have the privilege of playing for the choir and privilege is the right word. Our director Becky is amazing. She gets things out of this volunteer ward choir that no one else could - and I will tell you that the program and the music were both touching and beautiful.

Then on to Primary, where I did Sharing Time. I wanted it to be so special, since it was the Sunday before Christmas. I got an inspiration and went with it and the spirit was so strong. Music makes such a difference, and I know the children feel it too. Again, the word 'privilege' is the one that comes to me -- it is such a gift to be with our precious Primary children every week. I love them all.

Then it was our anniversary -- a big one. I have no idea how we got to this point but on December 21, we celebrated our 35th [gulp!] anniversary. We have had such years of adventure together and I'm always grateful for the blessing that Mark is in my life. I love him so much and am so thankful that I got so lucky all those years ago. He's definitely a keeper. Add to that the family we have together, and again, I feel so blessed. We have wonderful children, in-laws and grandchildren who are the frosting on that cake for sure.

Dinner at Chuy's with the Primary presidency [minus Kristen, who was having her baby -- a little girl, as yet unnamed] is another wonderful tradition. I love these 3 women that I have the privilege [there's that word again] of working with. They are dedicated, dependable, creative, funny and loving -- and they put up with me. It doesn't get better than the 3 of them. Do you hear that word again? What a privilege it is to be with them.

So in the middle of all the shopping, celebrating, planning, preparing, I need to make sure I don't forget why we are doing all this. Because that baby was born so long ago, who came to live His life so we could follow Him. And then he willingly gave up that life so that we could live with Him again. I am so grateful.

No greater blessing than that. Merry Christmas, everyone!

[pic is our Senior Primary doing their nativity program several weeks ago]


The Love of a Child

"It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." ~Charles Dickens

The love of a child is a precious thing. I am thinking of the times I arrive at the homes of our grandchildren and am greeted at the door with a shining face and the world's biggest smile and a huge hug with "Grandma's here!" ringing in my ears. I am thinking of the times when I run into our Primary children somewhere other than church and see the light in their faces as someone says, "It's Sister Mason!" I am remembering the smiles of the neighbor children that I spend each weekday afternoon with. I am thinking of the sweetness of the feelings I have for each of those wonderful children that are such an important part of my life.

They are, even as they grow older, so much nearer to the presence of God than I, at my age am. I feel that divinity in them as I work with them, grow to know them and love them. It's such a blessing and gift to me to be able to be part of the lives of these precious little ones.

And it is surely not a slight thing to be loved by them.



"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." ~ Winston Churchill

I did Sharing Time yesterday in Primary and we talked about example: the fact that we are all examples, like it or not, aware of it or not. Someone is always watching, taking mental notes, and in many cases, doing what we do. It's a little frightening to me to think that someone somewhere is following, doing the things I do, simply because I'm the one doing them.

Made me think hard that it behooves [I do love that word!] all of us to make sure that the examples we set are good ones, and that if someone followed in our footsteps, they would be on a good path.

The lives we are building are important -- and especially at this time of year, our awareness of others and their needs should be at an all-time high. I want to make the best possible life that I can -- both for myself and for others.


Protection from Aging

Natalie and Simon

Chris -- who is eternally young too!

Maya, Chris and Daniel {boy in foreground is a stranger}

Mason, Maya and Daniel

Mason and the Rainforest Cafe frog


"Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age."
~Jeanne Moreau

So true. I may be in my mid-50s {OK, I am in my mid 50s!} but I feel young. I really do. I love to race, to chase, to tackle and tickle, and to do whatever it takes to keep up with our precious grandkiddoes. I do have some aches and pains, but they are minor in comparison to the joy I feel when spending time with family. The smiles I earn from the kiddoes are the best medicine for any ache or pain that might rear its ugly head. And it always brings a smile when I hear "Grandma, you're not old, you're new!" And I am new.

The love I feel for my children, their children, my parents and siblings, our Primary children, our dear friends -- is truly what keeps me young. That love makes me want to take good care of myself, to be fun to be with, to cherish every second I get with them, and is behind every prayer I pray for as much time with my family as possible.

If love is the measure, then I will always be young. Just look at the above pics -- oh, how I am blessed! {and young! ha!}



Melanie and I outside the Houston temple.

The happy bride and groom - Melanie and Ramon

Mr. Simon - -celebrating on his 1st birthday

"Praise to thee, oh Lord, for all creation;
Give us thankful hearts that we may see,
All the gifts we share and every blessing,
All things come of thee."
~ John Rutter

Holy cow, it's been that long since I have posted? Mark has been harrassing me about it and I've been ignoring him. Mostly, I guess, because I feel like I have nothing to say. And who wants to read the ramblings of someone who really has nothing on their mind?

It's been busy times here - we've had Halloween (including a fun trunk or treat), the Primary program (wonderful program -- great kids, and full of the spirit), Simon's BD., Natalie's BD., a wedding to attend in Houston (former seminary student and current friend Melanie and her new husband Ramon), and a bout with the flu. So there has been plenty going on.

And now, we are looking Thanksgiving in the face. There is so much to appreciate and be grateful for, and I am. I am so thankful for my family, for the dear friends that feel like family, and for the blessed life that I live. The above words come from a song that our choir sang yesterday and it was beautiful. Beautiful because of the lovely melody and harmonies, and beautiful because of the words. I want that thankful heart and that memory that all we have comes from our Heavenly Father.

Take a minute to reflect and to be grateful -- and happy Thanksgiving!



"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today." ~Stacia Tauscher

Isn't that a true statement? I remember when my children were small, worrying about how they would make it as adults, what they would do with their lives, trying to help shape the kind of people they would become. Duh. The reality was that they arrived in my life as someone. And those 3 someones were already smart, talented and unique.

That's another something I'm loving about grandma-hood. I don't work, worry and wonder, trying to fit these precious little people into some kind of mold -- I just enjoy them and love them. At the risk of becoming repetitive, grandma-hood is my favorite thing about this stage of my life.

It's a gift. The best one ever.

**Big thanks go to Daniel and Ben who gave Grandpa the fabulous marble roller-coaster-builder set for his birthday. Because I seem to be camera-challenged, I didn't think to take a pic of them enjoying it with him - with the roller coaster strewn all across their dining room and back. This is Maya and Mason enjoying the gift with Grandpa as well.


Primary Song Bakery

Our Primary chorister is wonderful. She has fun ideas and {even better} she lets me join in the fun. Every single time.

This past week, we reviewed the songs we've learned this year for the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation. There are a lot of them and there are a lot of words to remember. In the past, we've done a Song Hospital, where Joan and I wear our scrubs and decide if the songs need to stay in the hospital or if they are ready to be discharged. This year, however, Joan decided on a Song Bakery. She made little gingerbread men, each with the name of a song on it, brought a small toaster oven, and signs that said 'gooey', 'half baked' and 'ready to serve'.

The fun part {for me, anyhow - and I think the kids liked it too} was that Joan had her apron and chef hat on and I wore my chefs' coat and hat. We chose names from our choosing jar, and then the child chosen got to wear an apron, a chefs' hat and an oven mitt and helped direct the song. We had stirring spoons with smiley faces on them {because you always sing better when you are happy, right?!} and then we sang the song, listening to see if was 'ready to serve' or not.

The kids loved it, we now know what songs need a little work {not many! just the second verses of a couple of them could use a review} and Joan and I had a blast. I love it that she lets me play along with her every time.



"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me."~ C.S. Lewis

It's hard to get to the point in life where you realize that you really can't help yourself. I still struggle with this - - I was born independent and will no doubt die independent. I want to do everything myself and I don't want help. But to make full use of the atonement of Jesus Christ, I have to humble myself and admit to Him that I can't do it alone. I do need His help.

And in the end, the very act of praying, humbling myself and recognizing the need I have for Him in my life literally changes me. For the better.

Thank goodness.



"In childhood, we yearn to be grown-ups. In old age, we yearn to be kids. It just seems that all would be wonderful if we didn't have to celebrate our birthdays in chronological order." ~Robert Brault

Miss Maya celebrated her 6th birthday this week and it's got me thinking about age. The above quote really spoke to me -- isn't that the truth? I'm finding there really are some things I like about being older, but there are probably equally as many things that go along with it that are not so much to my liking. I like being able to look back and really see the hand of God in our lives, as He has moved us around. I like the perspective I have gained with time. I really like having a better understanding of myself. And grandchildren? The best gift I've ever received, since the original gift of my children.

The wrinkles? Not so much. Or the alarming downward slide of body parts that have always been up higher? Nope. And I really don't like the minor aches and pains that seem to creep in as time goes on. The gray hair is something that my hairdresser Jake takes care of so that's not so much a problem.

So does it even out? For sure. Time is something I have a little bit more of, time to play with little guys, to help our our grown children, and time to think. Time to serve in the church, both with children and with music. Time to reflect and to try to do better.

Old-er age is a gift -- especially since the way I feel inside has never changed. Inside, I'm still young. Really young!



Can't wait for Saturday and Sunday and lots of great insights, inspiration and words of wisdom from our General Authorities.

I LOVE General Conference, and am excited to see and hear Pres. Monson speak to us!!


Who We Really Are

"As children of God we are somebody. He will build us, mold us, and magnify us if we will but hold our head up, our arms out, and walk with Him." ~Marvin J. Ashton

I spent an hour in Miss Maya's classroom this week, and as I did, I got a little time with every kindergarten student in that class. It was so interesting to come away with a very specific feeling [in one way or another] about each child. I left wishing that every one of them could be sure of who they are. We teach in Primary that they are literally children of God, that He knows them, loves them, and will help them.

Each one of us is somebody and can be more than we could begin to imagine with God's help. I need to remember keep my head up, my arms out and to walk beside Him. Then maybe I can help someone else realize that they too are somebody.


Keeping Time

I'm such a freak. This is me to a T -- every clock in our house is different. Some of it is not my fault, like when the power flickers off and on and the clocks on the microwave and oven start flashing and have to be reset. I'm purely guessing at those when I do the resetting.

But honestly, I have such an inner need [is that the right word?] to be on time that the clocks in the bedroom are set probably close to 10 minutes ahead. Except, of course for the atomic clock that projects onto the ceiling -- it's accurate. Both my watches are 10 minutes fast too.

I'm not sure it makes any difference, because when I look at those clocks, I immediately know how fast they actually are and prepare accordingly. But I am pretty much always on time.

I'm a weirdo. You knew that already.


Happy Sunday!!

Here's hoping we can all find these three things - happy Sunday!


Have Patience

"Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable." ~Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Patience", Ensign, Oct. 1980, 28

Years ago, we had an old vinyl LP called "Music Machine" that our kids loved. I think Mark bought it from a door-to-door born-again hippie Christian [yes, really] and I remember being pretty mad at him for spending money on something as stupid as that [in my mind, anyhow] when we could barely afford food for our family. But I was surprised by how much we loved it and I have since tracked down the CD and have gotten a kick out of listening to the songs again.

But I digress. What does that have to do with the Maxwell quote? Well, there's a song on the CD entitled "Have Patience" that's sung by a snail named Herbert. That's where the quote took me.

Having patience isn't easy but I loved looking at it in the way that Elder Maxwell does -- that if I am impatient, I'm trying to tell the Lord that I know better than He does. And that's one thing I'm sure of -- He always knows better than I do.

So I will try to have patience, just like Herbert.


Refill, Please

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." ~Ray Bradbury

I've been reflecting on this thought -- especially since life has been pretty busy [I've even had the feeling of too busy] lately. But if I can view myself as a cup being constantly filled and refilled, it somehow feels less overwhelming and more along the lines of being an instrument in the Lord's hands. He knows what He wants of me and He is filling me in ways I never imagined.

So now I just need to tip over, let the good stuff out and get another refill.


Busy is Good

"The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more." ~Jonas Salk, M.D.

After a crazy busy[but really good!] Sunday, I figured things would just coast for a few days. Not true. Yesterday was more of the same. When I got home at about 8:45 last night, I told Mark that I had had a busy, busy day. He raised an eyebrow and said "But that's good, right?".

And it was good. I love being busy. It's all about being busy in a good way -- doing the things that make me happy, that help others, that at the end of the day, make me grateful for my busy, funny, tiring, wonderful life.

Yay for the opportunity to do more!


And Along the Same Lines . . .

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." ~Albert Schweitzer

Our lives are full of people who have lit a flame within each of us. My love of music goes back to my childhood. My love of reading came from parents who read to us and encouraged us to keep reading. One of my favorite memories is of finally being old enough to be able to ride the bus all the way downtown to the library by myself. I loved that old building. [and if you know Lethbridge, you'll know that it wasn't much of a trip but I thought it was wonderful!] How thankful I am for those [and many other] sparks that really set me alight.

And don't forget that sometimes it's our job to light the flame for others. We need to be aware of the opportunities we have be the spark for someone else. Whether we are conscious of it or not, there is always someone whose flame is flickering. Our job is to lend them our light and help build theirs back up.

And then they can be that spark.


Jumper Cables of the Heart

"We, more than others, should carry jumper and tow cables not only in our cars, but also in our hearts, by which means we can send the needed boost or charge of encouragement or the added momentum to mortal neighbors." ~Neal A. Maxwell

How true this is! We do have an added responsibility, I think -- to help, lift, inspire and recharge not only ourselves but our family, friends and neighbors. I loved this image of the birds huddled so close together -- keeping warm, supporting, encouraging and uplifting each other.

Lovely thought for today.


Check it Out!

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to find this in my mailbox yesterday: an amazing, handmade, personalized checkerboard. I was lucky enough to win it -- and here's where it gets fun. I even sort of know Britta and Clint -- but not really well. I just got lucky.

What I love most is that each checker has a picture of one of our precious grandkiddoes -- [I emailed the pics to Britta], and a handpainted crown [so that you can king yourself and/or your opponent] on the other side. The board itself is fabulous -- folds open and closed, stores the checkers inside and Britta even made a cute little bag to keep the checkers in.

Miss Maya and I broke it in this afternoon, and after a [very] little instruction and practice, she proceeded to understand the strategy perfectly and beat me 3 times running.

I just loved playing with her and seeing the pics of the kiddoes all the way through.

You should check them out here and take some time to browse around -- they have tons of fun stuff. You will see the checkerboard and a description if you scroll down just a little bit.

And they'd love to customize something just for you. Christmas is coming, and I can tell you that all grandparents would love a gift like this one!

Thanks, Clint and Britta! You guys are the best!


Happy Birthday to Me

"A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart." ~author unknown

I had a birthday this past week and I can truly say that my heart was touched by the genuine outpouring of love from both family and friends. I had friends bringing over warm monkey bread and warm cinnamon raisin bread, Diet Coke and beautiful jewelery. I had a wonderful lunch with Natalie, the kiddoes and Jessica [our new adoptive family member!], I had a great dinner with family and friends, and I even had a bundt cake [my all-time favorite - white chocolate raspberry!] that was not easy to procure and I know it.

I have had thoughtful gifts, cards, and flowers handed to me by friends and family who love me. I have coupons and gift cards to redeem. I had a trip to the Melting Pot with my wonderful Primary presidency, and I can't tell you how many loving hugs I received. I had gifts left on my doorstep and I had visits that included treats and more gifts. And don't forget cookies. Lots of yummy cookies! These family members and friends really know me. I am the most blessed, luckiest person I know.

Why? Not so much because of the gifts, but more because of the message of love those gifts sent. My heart has been touched. I know I am loved. And that truly is the greatest gift that anyone can receive. Thanks, everybody!! You made my day, my month and my year.

Love you all.

[notice one cookie missing? Yup. I ate it immediately].


The Best Example

"Life isn't a race. God isn't waiting at some mythical finishing line, tapping his foot, glancing at his stopwatch, and muttering, 'Hey, get a move on, will you?' . . . In fact, far from waiting at the finishing line, he's there, right beside us, encouraging us and sometimes even lifting us over the rough spots." ~Chieko N. Okazaki

What a beautiful thought! And there's a lesson for me in it as well. That's my job too, as a mom, as a grandma, as a Primary leader, as a wife, as a friend. It's not for me to be standing at the finishing line wishing everyone would hurry up and get things right -- it's for me to be beside them lifting them, encouraging them, helping them and loving them.

I love having the perfect example to follow. I just need to pay attention and make sure I follow perfectly.

picture by Greg Olsen


Ode to Tara

A truer statement was never written. And I am living proof.

We had Tara and the boys staying with us this week while Chris was in class down at UT. They had planned originally to all stay together in their hotel room very near campus - - but given some time and proximity, it seemed better for those of us not in school to be here and to let the student alone. [we did get time with him in the evenings!]

But since I wasn't expecting company, I didn't clean. Sigh. And Tara is the best housekeeper I know - she's amazing. And now I think she's more amazing because she never batted an eye at my tidy-ish but not very clean house.

Gotta love a daughter-in-law like that one. And I do.



"Childhood is a time of indelible impressions, mostly left by children on their parents."~ Robert Brault

Change is in the air, isn't it? School will be in session here in 2 weeks, and in our family, that will mean big changes for 2 precious grandkiddoes. Daniel and Maya will both be starting kindergarten and they are both so excited and so ready. The rest of us? Not so much.

For me, I'm taken back to the [very recent, it seems!] year when they both arrived in our family - -so wanted, so precious, and so loved. Now their parents will be sending them off to school every day, all day. And those of us who love them will miss them as part of our daily lives.

Daniel and Maya will do great as they both have great parents who love them and have prepared them well. For me, it's another of those bittersweet times where you're thrilled with their progress, excited for their new adventures, and sad for the changes that are on the way.

The indelible impressions spoken of above have been made not only on the parents of these two wonderful children but their grandparents too.


Hair Day

Just discovered to my amazement [it was on the calendar, but I didn't notice it till I found the phone message reminding me] that today is my hair appt. with my man Jake. He is a genius, but the above says it all.

Honestly? I don't think there is an ideal hairstyle, at least for me!! Sigh.


Be Happy

"Be of cheerful countenance, and the first thing you will notice is that people approaching you on the street are smiling."~Robert Brault

So true and so well put!

Here's wishes for a happy weekend.


I'm Thankful for Air Conditioning

It's hot here in Austin. And normally, I'm good with that. I'd much rather be hot than cold and I remind myself of that fact often -- especially often as the temps here have been over 100 for a zillion days in a row now.

So yesterday, I went down to set up the Primary room and realized it was HOT in there. Well, duh. I knew what to do about that. I went to the back of the room to turn on the AC and got nothing. No lights came one. No cool air. Nothing. My next thought was to grab Mark [who supervises the buildings and their maintenance in our stake] and have him come see what he could do - - which turned out to be nothing as well.

End result? A room full of Primary children [and teachers too!] from 3 - 5 p.m. on a sweltering Sunday in Austin, Texas. Hot, sweaty, lethargic -- all of us!!

We did OK though, really better than I thought we would. Our Primary kids and teachers are champs.

But I am now even more grateful for AC than ever before.



I'm as big a fan of Facebook as anyone, but in the past few days, I've been 'friended' by people I can barely remember. [barely being the operative term here]. As I rack my brain to try to remember who the heck they are/were and what they might have meant to me, it sort of takes away some of the joy and fun I've experienced as I've re-connected with some people from the past that really were my friends.

This one spoke to me today!



"In friendship . . . we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another. . . the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting -- any of these chances might have kept us apart. But for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciple "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding each another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of others." (C.S. Lewis)

I'm quite sure I have posted this quote before, but it was long ago and it has been on my mind again lately. As I muse about my life, there are so many things that seem to have happened by chance, whether it is the fact of meeting someone that the likelihood of it happening seems low, the actuality of living somewhere seemingly completely foreign to you and your experience in life, or being able to find common ground with someone that truly surprises you. It's pretty amazing to find someone either a fair bit older than you or younger and become great friends. You wonder why would that be - after all, with an age difference that great, it probably shouldn't have happened.

The concept of the "Master of Ceremonies" is a sweet one to me -- because that's exactly what is in place. He is our Master, He does know us and love us, and He puts us in places where we can learn to know and love others.

And I am grateful.

photo by Greg Olsen


If only . . .

Nothing more to add. I do wish!!



OK, so how often have I made a run to the grocery store and realized my list was still at home SITTING ON THE COUNTER!? So frustrating.

It definitely would be better to bring the list that I so painstakingly made.

Sigh. Someday. I comfort myself with the knowledge that at least I made the list.


Choosing People

"I may be justifying my pockets of chaos, but I will always choose people over perfection and the heart over task and tidy." ~Betsy C. Garman

Oh, how I love this statement. I definitely have pockets of chaos [more than pockets, I'm afraid!] in my life, and if you look at my house, it's clear that I do choose people over any kind of housekeeping perfection.

I think that's why I feel so strongly about children, both in my family and in Primary. They are people, individuals, and each has a place in my heart. The knowledge I have that God knows each one of us individually leads me to ponder the importance of knowing others as individuals as well. And knowing that, I can't even imagine choosing a task or tidying over a heart-felt feeling of love for someone.

Pockets of chaos? Sure. Many of them. But people and hearts always matter most.



Optimist: someone who isn't sure whether life is a tragedy or a comedy but is tickled silly just to be in the play.

Optimist: someone who believes that after the fat lady sings, the dead lovers do an encore duet.

Optimist: someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha. ~
Robert Brault

Speaking as a person who sometimes takes the most dire outlook on things [you know -- "oh, no! the world is coming to an end!"], I loved these. I want to be that optimist -- to have that positive, happy outlook on life.

The cha-cha! I love it!


Great Weekend

We were silly at the Rainforest cafe. [At least Mason was! Grandpa would have been proud to see this one].
Mason even sat on the frog's lap!

We rode ponies -- [Maya, with Uncle Wissy and Daniel at her left]

Maya loved her pony. Having some purple on there makes all the difference.

We rode scooters! [What? What's Uncle Wissy doing on that scooter?!]

And we rode trains [and not just any train - this is a Thomas train!] Mason, Maya and Daniel all loved it.

We had a lovely weekend in Grapevine, with Chris, Tara and their boys, and Chris, Natalie and their 3 kiddoes. What always amazes me is how these kids just jump back into their friendships, even though it's been months since they've seen each other. They love doing things together -- riding trains, scooters, bikes, carousels, and they love playing the Wii, playing with the Thomas train set, building with Legos, and bouncing on the trampoline. I think mostly they just like being together.

We loved spending the time with family - -thanks, Chris and Tara, for the fun time! It was a great 4th!