Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Rescuer

I have a daughter who has great compassion for "all creatures great and small". She has literally snatched mice from the cat jaws of death, and on one occasion was willing and eager to save a SNAKE from its feline clutches. Each creature was carefully escorted to the safety of the foothills a block from our home.

Varmints are not the only beneficiaries of her kindness. After high school soccer conditioning one early summer morning Kellie was driving home and saw what initially looked like a leaf in the road. As her little Honda CRX approached, she soon realized it was a bird! That tender heart of hers knew just what to do. She immediately pulled her car over, ran into the road, scooped up that birdie, and brought it to safety. There it sat ON HER LAP as she drove all the way home. She did, actually, stop first at the veterinarian to see if he could render aid, but, alas, the office was closed.


This was not the first time she had rescued a feathered friend. A few years prior a bird flew right into our picture window and lay alive, but motionless on our front walk. That time the veterinarian's office was open and Kellie insisted we take it in for a thorough evaluation. The doctor explained that the bird was just stunned--nothing broken.


Kellie patiently waited while both birds recovered nursing them back to health with a soft bed, water, and food. Within a few hours they were hopping about and soon released into a nearby park.

Kellie's most recent rescue effort has been with us for just over a week now. Meet Lucy. Girls in the duplex adjacent to Kellie's college home picked the little one up for free at a farmers market. After a few months the novelty had worn off and this energetic and loving kitten needed a new home.


Oh I resisted as best I could, and for good reason.

Reason number one:  I just couldn't bear another cat heartache. Our beloved cat, Niner, had been with us 11 years before his pancreas failed and he died in my arms just over a year ago. Brian was traveling, the older girls were at school, and the younger ones were in bed. I knew it would happen that night and it did. I cried and cried as he passed away. Too hard to bear.

Niner
 Two months later Kellie had us adopting another orange cat, Lyra. Her story still brings great sorrow.

Lyra
Reason number two:  We already had a cat! Linus came into our family one cold Winter day five years ago meowing so mournfully at our front door. "Don't feed it," we pleaded, but The Rescuer just couldn't ignore his cries and snuck him food. A trip to the vet made him ours with immunizations and a snip snip to his masculinity.

Linus with The Rescuer
I suppose I shouldn't completely blame The Rescuer. After all, her parents did give her that heart. Both of us are softies when it comes to feline companionship. It took all of two seconds for Lucy to win us over.


But that's it. Ok, Kellie? Really. That's it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Growing

My paperwhites are growing!

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Thanksgiving at our house was everything I could want it to be. I love when everyone contributes to the meal and family and friends share the day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Placemat to Pillow

Several months ago I ran across a tutorial of how to turn a placemat into a throw pillow. It fit my personal crafting requirements--quick, easy, and inexpensive with immediate gratification being a must. I've been searching for just the right placemat ever since.

Last week I found one at Target. It fits my style. It fits my decor, and was easily transformed into a fun Christmas lumbar type pillow.


This is what I did:


Start with a placemat that has a backing where two pieces of fabric have been sewn together and easily separated with a seam ripper.


Stuff the newly created pillow form. (I used leftover poly-fil I had on hand.)


Sew it back up. That's it! So easy.


Many thanks to Random Thoughts of a SUPERMOM for the great idea!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winners

I used a random number generator on random.org to pick the two winners of the sterling silver earrings.

Winner #1 is
and

Winner #2 is

Congratulations to Shauni and Sheri!

Shauni, please email me your address and the two pairs you choose. Sheri, please email me your address so I can get your package out asap.

Thank you to everyone for your sweet comments. I have entered so many giveaways lately and never win. It is much more satisfying to be on the giving end--makes me want to do this again.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Paperwhites

My Grandma Carlson taught me about paperwhites (narcissus) and how easy it is to force their blooms "in the bleak midwinter".


I love this method because no soil is involved and it is fun to see the roots meander through the stones when using a clear planter. I found this glass bowl at my local thrift store, but I found a second one at Walmart this week for $2. The stones are from the dollar store, and the paperwhites are from a nursery (10 for $7.99).


To assemble, simply fill the dish with pebbles, nestle the bulbs inside (I used five for this 7 1/2 inch container), and add water.

Place in a sunny location, maintain the water level, and watch nature go to work.


In several weeks the stems will grow tall resulting in beautiful fragrant white flowers, hopefully like this:

photo source

Remember, you have until midnight tonight to enter my "thank you giveaway".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Recital

If you are in Provo for the BYU Football game this Saturday, add some "culture" to your day by attending my daughter's graduate flute recital. Better yet, just come for the free performance. She is amazing!


She's been working on her "whale-speak" too.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A Thank You Giveaway

To celebrate 100 blog posts and to thank YOU for your blogging friendship, I am having a giveaway--just like a REAL blogger. 


I made these four pairs of sterling silver earrings just for the occasion and I want to give two pairs to TWO blog readers. (If they are not your style, remember gift-giving season is upon us, and perhaps someone on your list would enjoy them.)

For a chance to win these earrings, simply comment on this post.

Two winners will be chosen at random. The first winner chosen will get her/his pick of colors. You have until midnight on Friday, November 19 to enter. (I suspect you will have a very high probability of winning.)

Thank you for making blogging so much fun!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Musical Orbs

The recent chilly weather has my creative juices percolating again. All I feel like doing is staying home, staying warm, and getting crafty.

Have you noticed the decorating spheres that are all the rage as accessories these days? I don't happen to own any, but when I saw Miss Mustard Seed's sheet music spheres, I wanted to give them a try. They are inexpensive, easy, and fast--my kind of craft.


Supplies include old sheet music, a foam ball, and Mod Podge. I bought my sheet music at a local thrift store. (I couldn't bear to part with any of my own.)

To begin, cut the sheet music into strips (mine were about 1 1/2 inches wide).


Smear the Mod Podge onto the sphere and apply the strips of music.


Decoupage the entire ball, smoothing it out as you go.


It's a pretty messy job, but it spoke to my inner child.


I like them next to the picture of my dad as a young man playing the piano.

Miss Mustard Seed gets all the credit for this fun idea.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Postlude

I've been thinking a lot about my Dad lately. Actually I think about him every time I practice the organ, and I really miss him. I have only been learning the organ since January. I play once a month in Church and, luckily, I get to choose the hymns we sing that day.

The song that I prepared for the closing hymn last Sunday had been put off for two months. I just couldn't quite get my pedaling to coordinate with my hands, but I practiced and practiced and finally was ready. Of course, when it was time to play, I blew it. Of the four verses sung, maybe one was played accurately. Nerves. Those horrid nerves.

I knew I could play it perfectly. I had done it so many times before (when I was all alone.) The closing prayer was said, and instead of the postlude I had planned, I played that fickle hymn and I did it perfectly. Three times! No one in the congregation even noticed what I was trying to prove (and that really was OK), but my friend/teacher silently joined me on the stand and sat patiently until I was done. She smiled and understood exactly. Her quiet support that morning was the morale boost I needed. I am grateful she listened.

My dad had been a Church organist off and on for more than 50 years. This he did strictly on a volunteer basis because he loved good music and understood its power. He was a wonderful organist who truly blessed the congregation each time he played. He was meticulous in his practicing and in his playing. Finding the perfect registration for each song was always the goal and forgoing the pedals was NOT an option.

Often on Saturday mornings Dad would rise early and head to the meeting house to practice. In his early years it wasn't hard for him to practice four hours at a time. Playing the organ brought him great joy and even greater joy to those who were privileged to hear him.

Another reason my dad has been in my thoughts this week is that Tuesday marked the anniversary of his death from prostate cancer. (Yes, I have had WAY too much cancer in my life. I recently wrote about my brother here.)

The chemotherapy had resulted in neuropathy in Dad's feet which caused numbness, weakness, and nerve pain. The organ pedals became a very real challenge and there was NO WAY he would play the organ without the pedals. Eventually he asked to be released from this assignment. He had set a level of expectation for himself and it was just too hard not being able to reach that any more.

However, the leadership of his ward (congregation) wouldn't do it. They wanted him to play for as long as it was physically possible--a true tribute to my father.

My dad humbly acquiesced and began choosing songs that had a simpler pedal part. The last three or four Sundays in which he played Dad needed help getting in and out of the recessed floor where the organ stood. Yet, he was not deterred.

I don't know which hymns were sung on his final Sunday, but I do know what he played for the postlude. I know because a handful of friends sat and listened. They must have known it was his last time playing the beloved organ. He must have known. As he quietly played "God Be with You til We Meet Again," tears flowed freely. They knew. He knew. He was saying goodbye.

I wasn't there. I was 2100 miles away, but I can see it clearly.

Realistically, listening to the organ postlude is not always possible. The closing of an LDS Sacrament Meeting is a time to meet and greet neighbors and friends. It is a time to "scoot on out" to set up for Sunday School or Primary.

But. . . if you have a moment some Sabbath Day. . . listen. Just listen. There may be a story just waiting to be heard.

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If you aren't familiar with this farewell hymn, enjoy the video below:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kindness

My responsibility at Church each Sunday is to work with and teach the children. It is a special place full of energy, innocence, and often "wisdom beyond [their] years." Today I shared this short video. I thought you would enjoy it too. 



Friday, November 5, 2010

His Name is Berkeley

Actually, his middle name is Berkeley, but Berkeley it is nonetheless. His daddy insisted it would be so, thus, finding a first name that would be a suitable companion was a challenge. His older sisters called him "little boy," but after a few weeks I insisted they just call him Travis.

Long torso, long legs, with a distinctive masculine face, that was foreign to a household known only for girl babies. Diapering now required quick reflexes and his older sisters soon had a real life lesson in human anatomy. It had been five years since an infant graced our home and a male one was unique.

When explaining our two-tier family to others, Brian calls it the "graduate school gap", but we both know better. Those years were rough. I battled depression and other issues which were peeled away, examined, and then discarded layer by layer (like an onion) through several years of therapy. We heeded wise counsel and waited.


But, when I was ready, I was very ready. My other babies were loved and happily anticipated, but he coming into our home was a symbol of personal triumph. Berkeley. He will be named Berkeley after our sojourn of growth and experience in that place.


No longer a "little boy", at 15 he stands 6'2". I sometimes stare at this boy/man remembering the toddler who insisted each night that I sing the "choo choo train song" as I tucked him into bed. I look at his size 13 feet and man-sized calves and wonder how it ever came to be.

Luckily he sometimes still needs his mom--needs my reassurance. His life now is much more than Matchbox cars and Legos. It is rife with homework, percussion, basketball, friends, and girls--those strange complex creatures that even his sisters didn't prepare him for.

He is growing up and I soberly realize that I really only have him as my own for a few short years.

So, today, I will celebrate him--his subtle wit and his occasional unintentional displays of humor. (Yes, click on the link in case you missed it the first time.)

Happy Birthday, Travis Berkeley!
 Your momma loves you so!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Warm Milk with a Twist

My daughter introduced me to this warm and cozy snack that both comforts and satisfies when those late night cravings hit.


Fill a mug/cup with MILK and microwave until warm/hot (whatever works for your palette.)

Stir in:
  • 2 packets of Splenda (or sugar)
  • vanilla and/or almond extract
and any combination of the following:
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground allspice
  • ground cloves
  • ground cardamon
  • ground ginger

This recipe is very loose--suggestions really. Be adventurous and try all sorts of combinations.

My favorite is the Splenda, a drop or two of almond extract, and a pinch each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cardamon. (Cardamon was a delicious discovery.)

Give it a try and tell me what you think. What would YOUR recipe be?