Monday, October 17, 2016

Surprising Jocelyn on her 39th Birthday

Friday, October 14, was NEOEA in Ohio.  Thus no school and then no Seminary.  As usual my body awoke as it normally does and as I lie in bed listening to Robert gently snore, the thought came into my mind that we should get up and go surprise Jocelyn whose birthday was the next day.  When Robert awoke, I rolled over and asked him if he would like to do that. And he agreed. He asked if we would call and tell them but I thought a surprise would be so much more fun.

Much as I love Niko I didn't want to take him along this time and decided to call PAWS and see if they had a vacancy.  They didn't have a quiet Queen but they did have a King so we made the arrangements.  Then it was fast breakfast, pack some clothes and off we went.  We dropped off Niko about 9:30 and were on our way.  The day was lovely and bright.  Travel was easy and I just kept getting more and more excited.  I knew they'd be home since poor Steve is still without a job, they'd just returned from a week of burying Steve's dad, and Steve had mentioned there would be an Ice Cream Party Saturday night.

We pulled into Fay Lane and Robert started the Hatch Honk.  Guy had a party of his own with so many boys playing Capture the Flag. They heard the horn and Guy came up the hill and gave me a hug but was more interested in continuing with his play.

So with my phone camera rolling, I walked up the path, up the stairs and tried the door. It was unlocked so I walked in and Scarlett came around from the kitchen and saw us but I think she was confused to see us there.  I shhhhushed her and she smiled and called into the kitchen,  "Mom there's someone at the door" while I was knocking on the glass stair wall.

Yes, Jocelyn was surprised.  She screamed and then cried.  She wondered if Steve knew about it and said he would never be able to keep this secret. But nope, Steve was also surprised and came out of the kitchen when he heard the exclamations and cries.  BEST SURPRISE EVER.

For me, I just wanted to get over the fear or worry or fussing about travel.  I have kids that live in different places and I want to be able to drop everything and go when I want to.  When I think about it.  And not fuss about anything.  So this may be a start.  And good start and certainly a fun start.

Here's Robert with Val.

So Jocelyn made some pizzas for Guys friends and then we went and picked up some Applebees much later.  It was just fun to be there.

Saturday was Jocelyn's birthday.  We joined the Christensens on Jocelyn's bed as is their tradition when she got her breakfast in bed.  After all was enjoyed and gifts opened, Steve brought up a game table he made for Jocelyn. It's round and is the last piece of wood that Steve bought when Hank and Robert were together.  

The fun, and secret, sports are actually UNDER the table.

                                               Here is a pinecone from their backyard:


                                               And here's a green leaf from their yard also:

We spent a lot of the daylight hours shopping, which included a stop at a HUGE barn sale.  The prices were wonderful and if I had a mind for it I could have bought a lot of things. They had platters to match my old, childhood Homer Laughlin set.  I had one original plate from my has lovely blue forget-me-nots in amongst the flowers.  I bought various pieces so I could have a setting for 4 people but no serving pieces but really, it was just fun to see them.

We stopped at a couple of Farmer Markets.  The day was a perfect fall day and so there were lots to see and do.  We bought some apples at one place, and peanut butter made on the spot from Honey Roasted Peanuts...warm and delicious.  At that place there were lots of activities for the kids.  The girls are in this tube and Guy is walking along the top as Robert rolled it down the yard.

Jocelyn had wanted to have lunch at The Country Cupboard (our favorite place to visit) but to feed us all it would have been pretty pricey.  So instead, Jocelyn, Robert and I looked around and since it was Sweetest Day for us in Ohio, Robert bought us this lovely nativity set...VERY tiny.  And yes, Joseph is holding an actual sewing needle.

Jocelyn bought one for herself also. Then I asked at their restaurant if we could just buy some of their broasted chicken and they said  we could. So we did.  We hurried home and I put together a dinner FAST because Steve had invited their friends to come for ice cream to celebrate.  I skipped the ice cream because, well, I don't like ice cream for one thing but more importantly, I had bought a huge cream puff that I wanted to share with Robert (and bought one for Jocelyn and Steve to share but they had their fill on all the ice cream and toppings).  The party was fun and loud, but all the kids were actually outside so the volume was really the adults.

Happily it finally was time to sit down and put my feet up...boy did they hurt.  BAD!  And then Robert didn't want to split the cream puff so it was all mine!

Sundays for the current year are pretty easy there.  Their church doesn't start til 11 so we had plenty of time to eat, get ready and for Robert and I to pack up our things and our car.  

Before we left Jocelyn opened her She-Ra box and allowed her kids to see her cool things from her childhood.  Personally I think this stuff ought to be in a glass case.  Kids are not gentle with things moms love.



                                                                 Here's Autumn:

                                                           And Scarlett wielding the sword:


                                                                    And Honor:

From the picture below I am sure you can see why Guy would not be interested in such things.
This is a young boy on the verge on manhood.  And he's such a cool kid.  Just way too much fun, very smart, so much wants to spend time on computers but is limited because it's the wisest thing to be.  He's the best big brother and I cannot wait til he can share a room with Val.  That's the time when Boys will Finally Rule and the girls will Drool!


Then it was time to head to church.  Robert and I only stayed for Sacrament Meeting and then started for home. Christensens, of course, stayed the full time PLUS they got to have a Linger Longer afterwards.  We walked in through the kitchen when we first arrived and I was very impressed that this ward knew how to bring amazing food and in quantities that our people don't understand.  Loved seeing it!  Below is the very full pew...all mine!

I miss the Linger Longers our ward used to have years ago.  Now we are too big, too rich, and way too lazy.  This makes me mad but, oh well, what are you going to do when you aren't in charge?  I'll tell you, just come home and eat.

Time to say goodbye to my 39 year old daughter and her kids, sniff sniff...

Good bye adorable Val...but we will see you in 3 short weeks for Autumn's baptism!  Cannot wait.

Remember me saying how lovely the drive to PA was?  Well, the ride home was even more spectacular!  The colors on the trees had deepened and it was breathtaking.  I kept rolling down the window and taking pictures as we sped by at 70 mpg.  Love the technology of my phone's camera...not bad, right?

Loved this one because of the barn and other buildings.

But combine this with the following pictures and you can see what a joy it was to drive home in God's majestic world. Oh yes!  Bonpapa would have been so proud...Proud and True Pennsylvanian that he the Christensens now are!

 The trees in Ohio weren't as plentiful nor as colored. But as we turned up Lake Breeze, happy to be home, we were again surprised to see the soy bean fields harvested in our absence.  Again.  It gets planted without us and harvested without us. No one can tell me the 3 Nephites aren't involved. No one!

And after a brief shower in the night, this morning we noticed this on our Daphne Plant (not the real name but since Daphne gave it to Robert for his retirement, this will have to do).  Love how its leaves are reddening up and how they caught the droplets of rain.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fancy Tall Cake

Last time I went to a Pampered Chef party I bought their new cake pan set (4). These are smaller in size and with 4 layers they would produce a great appearing cake.  Tomorrow I was going to a PC cooking class about cakes but today i just couldn't wait.

I had picked up a free dessert cookbook BAKE from last month's Domonkas Cookbook Bookclub and there was this amazing cake recipe...Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake. With Robert's help it took hours!  But it was so worth it.

The missionaries were coming to dinner and they enjoyed it.  So did our friends who received slices because we could not have eaten the remaining cake ourselves and maybe we should not have!  But most definitely will make it again.  Even the ganache was salted.  LOVE the salty flavor.

Monday, October 03, 2016

General Conference Failure

It was General Conference this past weekend.  We watched all the sessions here at home. But the weekend started with Friday date night.

Robert and I went out to dinner and then because I had slit open my thumb earlier in the day that wouldn't stop bleeding for 6 hours, we dropped in at Rite Aid to find some better bandages. As we walked in we noticed a sign telling all that they offered flu shots.  Robert said, "let's get our flu shots here and have a really funny date night."  So we did.

We watched the sessions on Saturday and then just around dinner time, I started to feel very flu-like.  It took a few minutes for me to remember that I had had a flu shot and this was the first time ever of getting the shots that I had a side effect...or effectS. So I went to bed and slept the clock through.

Twelve hours later I fussed about not being well enough to make the tradition conference cake we have had forever.  Since BYU days, in fact.  I asked Robert  if it would be OK if this season we could skip it.  He said "sure".  But then immediately made a comment about how we've never missed having one.

While he took the dog for a walk, I girded my loins and opted to put together Marissa's recipe from her middle school days.  And no matter how badly I felt,  I began to think how wonderful breakfast was going to be.  Altho my kids love our standard conference cake (made with Bisquick) I prefer Marissa's recipe. Actually I prefer when Marissa made it.

So I put the cake pan in the oven and was talking to someone on the phone when I realized I had neglected to set the time.  In hindsight I think I attempted to set the timer and instead of 'setting' the time, I hit the off oven button.  I stood around waiting for the cake to bake but it didn't.  When I looked up finally, I realized there was no temp, no timer.  Darts. So I turned the oven back on and thought it would be fine.

Suddenly...I could smell burnt conference cake. I raced to the stove and this is what I dragged out of the oven:

There would be no conference cake today!  As soon as I snapped this picture, I sprayed water on it so that the smell would stop invading the house.

It was a very sad day!  I guess I'll make it again on Wednesday when there is no Seminary.

Obviously I still need to be more watchful and careful as I learn the ins and outs of our wonderful new oven.

On a side note:  Yesterday, Jill Pavic's mom died and Steve Christensen's dad had a massage stroke which he will not recover from.  And so the deathwatch for Jill ended and began for Steve's family.  I went to Walmart to get a prescription and shop.  Working there at the pharmacy was a friend of Jordan's from high school.  I snapped a pix of Michael Jobe and messaged it to Jordan.  Jordan replied "Don't die.  My mom is looking for #3."  (that lead me to have to explain to Michael how people die in 3s ... yes, I know it's an old wives tale but I still count them).  After posting this entry, Jordan replied "#3. We are good now"  I'm going with Jordan's view.  Phew!  That was a close one.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nila teaches again

Our teacher in Relief Society today was my friend Nila Eddington who always gives us the most amazing real life experience but then  zings us with eternal implications.  Nila, as a review, was born in Indonesia.  Her parents joined the church when she was young.  Her dad was the first branch president and now he’s the first patriarch.  Summer 2015 Eddingtons took their whole family to Indonesia, first time Nila’s been back in 20 years.  They got permission for the grandpa to give a couple of the kids their patriarchal blessings.  Obviously it was in the Indonesian language and now Nila is working to translate the blessings into English, into a way her children would understand. But here’s the problem.  In her birth language of Indonesia, there is no verb tense. There’s no past, present, nor future.  So how oh how would her children understand.  (I wondered that too). But then here comes the ZINGER.  As she’s prayed and worked on this, the Lord reminded her that we were all children of Heavenly Father in our pre-earth state. That we are His children now in mortality and when we die and return to that realm we will still be children of Heavenly Father. So there is no past, present, future.  It’s one continual round.  Very interesting.    I think I’ll be reading my blessing again with that thought in mind.

But this also reminded me that our 'calendar' is linear whereas to the Jews it's cyclical.  How much nicer it is to think of life as an eternal round.

Nila finished her lesson with a poem she wrote on a day she couldn't take a nap.  She entitled it NAP on Sunday for: Nila's Attempt at Poetry.  Robert and I renamed it HUSH!


“Hush” I said to my little angel as I cradled him to sleep,
He smiled and opened his eyes briefly,
And I saw his fears and challenges in the world ahead.
My heart sank.

“Hush” I said to my little angel as I rocked my baby gently to sleep,
She smiled and opened her eyes a bit longer,
And I saw her faith, courage and perseverance within her soul.
My heart was comforted.

“Hush” I said to my little angel as I laid my baby back to sleep,
He smiled and stretched his arms with eyes opened wide but then fell fast asleep,
And I saw Kings, Queens, Priests and Priestesses 
With their power, dominion and principalities, even heavens without end.

Then I marvel and my heart rejoiced.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Unconquerable Spirits

I was watching the Churchill episode on Masterpiece Theater and this was read...I wanted to keep it and remind myself to be grateful for my own Unconquerable Spirit.

We all face challenges in our lives. What separates men of character from spineless wieners is the way they face those challenges. In the poem “Invictus,” British poet William Ernest Henley describes how a man should respond to challenges. “Invictus” is Latin for “unconquerable.” Every man should have an unconquerable spirit. When life kicks you in the gut, get back up and kick life’s butt.
The poet himself had the unconquerable spirit which he wrote about. When he was 12, Henley developed tuberculous in the bone. He had to have his leg amputated to the knee and doctors told him he would have to have the other one amputated if he were to survive. Henley told the docs that they were full of hogwash and let them amputate just one leg. He ended up keeping the other. He led an active life with one leg and had a successful career as a poet and literary critic. Henley was truly the captain of his soul.
“Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Earlier this summer I was chatting with Jane Koker next door.  Her husband, Mike,  does almost nothing around the house/yard.  There is a huge dead tree...totally dead and dry their yard but right next to our fence.  It's been a worry for me and Jordan has commented that it's so dead it would probably fall over into our home.  I mentioned the tree to Jane as she was talking about all that needed to be done. She looked at it as if she'd never seen it before and said another neighbor had commented on it and maybe in a month they'd have money for a tree cutter.

Mike came over to talk to dad about a phone number for the 2 men who stopped by when we were trying to take down our first tree ourselves and who did it for us.  Naturally I have no idea who those angels were so again, naturally, Robert said he would do it.  He got 2 missionaries to come help him.  It was really hot and by the time the elders had arrived Robert had the tree strung with the guide ropes and had started the cut.  The elders jumped right in after shaking hands with Mike, grabbed the ropes and yanked.

Robert had worried the dead thing would snap back on him or fall on him so he dogged the fall as did the elders when the things came down.   Robert sawed up the trunk into logs and the elders tossed them over the fence.  But at least that's done.  One less things to worry about.  Tomorrow Robert says he's going to cut down the 'weed' size tree (his words, not mine) that the cicadas killed this summer.  OH joy.

This is Elder Morris standing next to Robert.  Wish I had gotten a picture of the other elder as well.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Trip to Columbus Temple

The day finally came when we traveled to Columbus and met up with Uncle Johnny's nephew and we started Johnny back on his return trip to heaven. I had asked Ray Anderson for a favor ... to NOT do Johnny's work and he agreed as long as he could be there.  But it took til last night before he realized just how much Johnny had been a part of life as my godfather.

Another fun aspect of the day was that Sarah Fulton, Theresa Anderson's sister, was in town as well.  We had such a lovely time together both in the temple, at lunch and shopping.  Chatting all the while.

Next to me are the two Valderrama girls...Sarah and Theresa.

We went to BD Mongolian BBQ in Dublin, OH.  Ray had never been here before and declared it will now be their new stopping/eating place.

Between activities in the temple we went to Meijer, across Sawmill from Meijer, and bought OSU attire for NHB.  They are in in Michigan and cannot find anything OSU up there.  Tomorrow I will need to find one more shirt for Rob up our way.  The racks were pretty bare this time of year, as expected.

I am so grateful for the restored gospel and the power of the temple.  This event today filled me with great joy and peace, more than at any other time lately.  Maybe it was the break between. I don't know...but it was lovely.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Our trip to Livermore, CA and M2T2

This is the moon reflection on Half Moon Bay.
Teri picked us up and took us to the airport.  We flew into SFO on August 17 after about a 7 hour delay in Cleveland, Frontier of course.  It is a cheaper airlines and very affordable but the stories from the passengers are always filled with craziness.  At least this time the airlines figured out that when an airplane has issues, they bumped the people on the next flight and give the plane to us.  The rest of the flight was uneventful. We did get food vouchers so we had food...just hours and hours of waiting.  Hank picked us up and it was so good to see him and them all.

This sign met us as we walked in....They missed us and they have no idea how much we miss them every day.  Sad how much grandkids make the grandparents life!

We took things easy when we first awoke but then we hit a park.  It was a lovely park for sure. At one point, I lay on a 'hammock' that was warmed from the sun and really could have just stayed there for hours enjoying the warmth on my back from the plastic and the sun on my face.  I didn't tho.

While in the car we learned from Oskar that a fart is clear.  Funny boy

Handsome grown up in so many ways.

And adorable Simon loves to say STOP! when he wants you to stop talking.
One of the best part of this morning was getting in to see Marissa's chiropractor.  He uncrinked us in a matter of minutes.  He even unlocked my left ankle and foot.

We visited Carnegie Square for a Farmer's Market.  It was so very hot but i noticed the art and history museum.  We went inside just to get some coolness and they had very old office machines that children were able to play on.

Friday we were able to go visit Henry's school.  He is in the same building he was last year as TK, right next door, actually.  He has a wonderful teacher, sweet as could be.  The kids loved playing on the playground.

Saturday Robert built a 'bowling lane" for Henry and they had a fun time

But the best part of Saturday was Marissa asked me to go with her to JOANN FABRICS to buy the material to make Mr. Rickety Rack.  I had made these guys back with the kids were young.  And one for my mom.  Jordan and Jocelyn each got them when I got rid of them. Dawn wanted one and so did Marissa so Dawn found a pattern on eBay and then copied off the pieces for Marissa and Cara.  

We got all we needed but then Marissa found some Dr. Who fabric and decided to make Henry a quilt for his birthday.  I was just SO jazzed to have Marissa actually want me to take her to the fabric store. This girl can figure out how to do everything.  

Even Henry wanted to learn how to sew. No time like this....He's going to be able to do everything.

He was completed and I also finished a panel for them which I had brought from home.  And I guess I didn't realize that it glowed in the dark!  Marissa came out with it at night as she had just gone to bed and discovered it glowing!

Sunday was church.  Breakfast first.  Enough sugar, don't you think?  Marissa has a ward filled with the kindest talking women I've ever heard talk.  Maybe that's how they grow 'em in California.
Naturally Marissa needed a pianist for Primary and naturally Robert was just so willing to play.  Me? I lasted 1 hour in their and then ran to Relief Society, grateful to all the people who CAN do Primary so well, and for so long.

Breakfast before school on Monday.  Loved how the boys were both eating while resting the other hand on Robert's arm.

Monday was Henry's first day of Kindergarten. He was all set with his lunch box and snack container.  He is adorable.  Of course there was family pictures, minus Hank of course who was in Australia.  Sadly.

Walking to school, we pass Oskar's favorite tree and so we have to cross the street to talk to Cowan
the tree

Henry has his R2D2 lunch box as well as a snack container. He was so ready for school.
Walking down the cut through

Outside the fenced area.
All the children play on the playgrounds til the bell rings and then everyone and their parents line up by their classroom doors.

                                                    Oskar was great on the parallel bars.

                                   Henry on the hand over hand bars proved he is very strong 

 Oskar down the slide
                                                     And Henry follows right after him....

                           Hanging up his backpack unusual for those of us in Ohio..

Henry's cubby

The teacher greeted each child and put on a special name tag for the first few days.

After we saw Henry off we waited til noon and then drove out to Modesto to meet up with Debi and Kent.  We had gotten to this one AltaMount pass and I said, Isn't this the ugliest scene? and Robert laughed cuz he was just getting ready to say, Isn't this beautiful?  Funny how we both see things differently but of course he grew up in the desert.

                                       And then I saw this sign on the side of a store...oh joy.
We had a lovely time talking together, eating out at a lovely Italian restaurant and afterwards we met with Jeremy and Lizzy.  We used one of Hank's car to drive there and that was nice.

Tuesday was Oskar's first day of Preschool.  He goes to school from 1 to 6 pm...I found that really strange.  He seemed perfectly fine to have his mom leave him but when Marissa returned for him at 6 he asked her why she left him for so long.

After school, Henry and I made a lemon pound cake.  He really loves to bake and cook and is very efficient.  Plus he loves anything LEMON.

This is the shish kabob that Henry had in his Tuesday lunch.  Marissa is creative even in lunches.

Here's Monday's sandwich

I spent some time making and freezing meals for Marissa to use after we leave. I made 8 meals so she should be in good shape til Hank returns.  It is so strange to shop in Safeway...things are set up so differently for what I'm used to so I spend too much time finding things.  And then usually I forget to take Marissa's tote bags and don't like to pay for bags so we toss the purchases in the car and then get the totes from Marissa when we get back and then load the stuff into the totes, then into the house.  This happened several times.

Finally it was our last day in Livermore.  I managed to get Marissa to agree to take us to downtown and visit a few shops. It's a great city with super stores.  I went into a quilt store and they did have the Row by Row Experience but somehow the organization had lost their email so they were not listed as participating.  I chose to buy their last year panel because this year was about camping and well, let's face it, I'm not a camper.

There was a cowboy store and Robert got this wonderful straw will keep the sun off his neck and out of his eyes.  He also bought a beaded belt.
We ate lunch at the First Street Ale House and the burgers were HUGE! It was a lovely last meal out.

Henry and Oskar and I made cinnamon rolls before we left.  They are such great helpers.  I had been doing laundry in the garage and the garage was so nice and warm and the dough raised quite quickly.

And then it was time to order the Uber car.  I was all packed, laundry all done.  It seemed so hard to leave this group of family cuz they are so far away.  FaceTime does help but not enough. I so miss having them in Lakewood, OH.  I honestly don't know how Marissa will be able to do this on her own. These are wild Indian braves who need a lot of busy time and attention. It has to wear her out.  Hank did buy a Wii so that Henry and I could play tougher and I hope when he gets home he can sort out how we can play together across the continent. It is possible.

Our first Uber experience was wonderful.  Much easier on Marissa if we hired the car vs her taking us to the airport.  We took the redeye home with 2 toddlers who SCREAMED bloody murder just about the whole 5 hours. Jill met us at the airport and brought us home. That was so kind of her cuz it was like 6am and she had a full day ahead of her helping Teri pack up to move.

We came home, slept for 3 hours and got Niko from Paws and then just tried to get on east coast time. I stayed awake but Robert kept napping.

It was a wonderful week and I was very grateful to Hank for buying us the tickets and letting us come out while he was gone.

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