Monday, March 16, 2015

52 Blessings - Almost 15 pictures of Family for the 15th of March

Ty: Eliza and I trying to recover from a few busy days of traveling.

Michelle: I was a speaker in church today. My topic was this verse of scripture

Afton:  We talked about exercise in nursery today.  Afton and three other kids decided to be
selfless and sacrifice their own physical fitness in order to help Jermaine.

Eliza:  Got a little too excited to get in the bath and forgot something.
Or maybe she was too groggy.

Zeph: Went to Joe's Mom's house this afternoon.
He was fed a popsicle, Nutter Butters, gummy worms, chips,
a piece of ice cream cake, and sent home with a guitar in
the shape of a dog that has a "howl" setting. So. He's ecstatic. 

Ezra: This is how Ezra spent the evening. 
Conked out in his car seat with a soft blanket rubbing his cheek. 

Joe was gone from church today.
Ezra's pacifier kept everyone happy regardless.

Calvin: Put manure on the strawberries yesterday and they got rained
on today.  Perfect timing.

Jane:  One of the great things about Sunday is empty-ish streets in town.

Henry: It's 2230, and I'm still awake.
I'm a little punch drunk but having fun.

Abe and Grace: We enjoyed playing Cover Your Assets
with our friends, the Simmons, today.

Levin:  It's my dad's birthday and I'm in charge.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Life in Our World - A Picture a Day

Monday 3-2-15
Back to one shower head and empty fridge reality - a very good reality,
nevertheless real and not quite as colorful as Hawaii.

Tuesday 3-3-15
Calvin is in his happy place tonight stoking the fire,
working on a gun . . . and wearing his red vest.

Wednesday 3-4-15
I read Dr. Ben Katz's obituary today in my hometown newspaper.
He was 93 years old and still involved with medical projects.
He was our kids' pediatrician and carefully guided me as a mother through a hard situation.
He was no-nonsense.  He was smart.  He was firm.  He expected me to be, too.
I loved and respected him.  I hope he gives a little check-up to all of our unborn grandchildren
 before they come to earth and reminds Clara to get enough Vitamin D.

Thursday 3-5-15
Weekly Stake Relief Society Presidency meeting.
These women are inspiring, fun, and talented.
Kathy (center) made us darling matching aprons for future kitchen duty,
and delivered them today.
Friday 3-6-15
Such a great date tonight.  We loved the movie . . . and the popcorn.
I appreciate Calvin for continuing to take me out often through the yeaers.
I love to be with him.

Saturday 3-7-15
Some meals just need to be documented, so at Calvin's request this one is.
In Calvin's words, "Nothing better than a Saturday morning breakfast like this.
With the help of God we produced everything on the table - the eggs came from the chickens;
we made the sausage and bacon from our pigs we butchered last Fall;
the hashbrowns, applesauce, and bread are homemade;
and the raspberry jam comes from our patch in the garden."
(To be fair, we didn't grow or grind the wheat, nor did we make the dishes from our soil
or carve the utensils from the trees, BUT, that doesn't diminish the fact that we are
very blessed and we know it.)

Sunday 3-8-15
Just in case you wondered where you would sleep at our house if you came to visit.

Monday 3-9-15
Just in case you wondered what kind of ice cream is in our freezer.

Tuesday 3-10-15
Calvin and I had an interview in our home tonight.
Ever since I read that which chair you choose in a therapist's office says a lot about you,
I find seat selection rather interesting.
The two men interviewing us sat on the couch.
Can you guess which chair I sat in and which chair Calvin sat in?
(Hint: the softest chair did not produce the chattiest person.)

Wednesday 3-11-15
For Young Women's tonight, we took the girls to Mariah's Salon.
She was so gracious.  She found something beautiful about each girl,
taught them about affordable hair products, did a unique hair style on each girl,
and gave them their product.  Some of these girls can't even afford a blow dryer
so this was a big deal.

Thursday 3-12-15
Brandee (left) and I went visiting teaching tonight.
The lesson was on "Attributes of Jesus: Long-suffering and Patient."
Catalina (right) is 82, has lost two husbands and a daughter,
still grows a garden and cans food from it.
We just let her teach us the lesson
since she's about got that attribute perfected.

Friday 3-13-15
Judging from the pile of the manure, we're going to have a good garden this year.

Saturday 3-14-15
Saturday is a get-the-work-done-day.
Calvin worked outside spreading manure and starting seeds in cups;
I worked inside baking bread and cookies and making fruit leather.

Here are a few things the pictures didn't tell --

  • Two sweet little girls sold me a rock they'd colored with chalk for 38 cents.
  • Calvin and I attended two different funerals of great people who helped to build Moses Lake into what it is.  
  • I am teaching some pretty incredible classes of kids this year. This week one class made a special effort to do their very best to learn which made for a very positive outside observation. 
  • The look of grief when I realized that the new construction on a busy intersection in Moses Lake (where once lived a huge, beautiful lilac bush) is a pot greenhouse (as in marijuana).
  • Meeting up with friends to watch a college softball game of a new friend who is the daughter of old friends and the granddaughter of an even older friend.
  •  Fun mail received.  I got a pipe cleaner butterfly and Olaf jelly beans; Calvin got a pipe cleaner snail and a licorice snake.  Afton is pretty crafty. 
  • Speaking of gifts.  Our cats are mousers.  Good mousers.  They have brought us several dead ones as presents.  Try as I might, dead mice do not pose for pretty pictures.

Life is good.  Very good.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Life in Our World - The Aloha State

Last week Calvin and I went to Hawaii with the Folletts. . . . 


Atlas is sitting on Calvin and eating a taro roll in the top picture.  Initially he was not a fan of the water or the sand, but happily enduring that backpack for hours on end redeemed his standing in the Follett family.  I love Atlas and appreciate him because he's a fun little buddy and says the cutest little "Yup."  One of our best conversations was when we were out in the ocean.  I asked, "Atlas, do you see all the people?"  


"Do you see the water?"


"Do you see Levin?"


Atlas, are you having fun?"


I love him.  


Levin was determined to learn how to snorkel since he can't scuba dive until he can snorkel and his dad scuba dives. He worked and worked at snorkeling -- for hours.  It didn't matter that his mask filled with water and his eyes and nose smarted with salt.  When his swim trunks rubbed sores on his legs he left them in the sand and practiced in spiderman underwear.  It was pretty cute seeing him crawl along with his bottom poking up in the air. Next up: swimming.


Cali lived in and loved Hawaii for three years while she attended college.  It is one of her happy places that she has wanted to share with their boys.  I loved watching her teach them about the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Hawaii.  One of the things I appreciate about Cali is her thirst for knowledge, order, and beauty.  I also enjoy her friendship and was glad we got to visit for long periods of time. Her dad and I are proud of her and the little family she and Ray are building.

I love Cali.


Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku was a famous Hawaiian swimmer who is credited with spreading the sport of surfing.  Duke (1890 - 1968) was a 5 time Olympic medalist in swimming.  Even if you don't know Duke for his surfing or swimming, you soon know him for the Hula pie served at Duke restaurants.  I wouldn't be the neighbor if I didn't offer to share the recipe:

Hula Pie
1 ½ cups of ground Oreo cookies
¼ cup melted butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 half gallon of good quality vanilla ice cream (softened with ½ cups chopped macadamia nuts incorporated) 
6 ounces hot fudge topping
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (additional to nuts added to the ice cream)
Whipped cream

1. Mix together cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press mixture into pie pan.
2. Warm fudge topping to room temperature and drizzle two ounces over cookie crumb crust.
3. Scoop ice cream into prepared pie shell, doming it high.
4. Spread remaining hot fudge sauce over the ice cream.
5. Freeze until ready to serve.
6. Before serving, cover pie with whipped cream and chopped macadamia nuts.
7. Serve with a fork.
8. Feeds a lot of people.


Calvin, Tracy, and Cali were the food committee and, as you can see above, they planned incredible meals.  Maybe as impressive as the menu was that they planned the right amounts - they didn't over-buy or under-buy. We went shopping at Costco and Safeway the first morning, using their prepared meal plans, and ate well the rest of the week.  Food can make or break a trip and the food certainly helped make this one.

Follet, Raymond L.

Ray spearheaded the trip.  He negotiated the house deal, planned conference calls to gather input, reserved cars, organized us into committees (Calvin was on the food committee; I was on the meaningful activities committee), gathered receipts and kept expenses on a spreadsheet. It should also be noted that a wave took Ray out; it slammed him hard and not only did he sit in a chair the rest of the evening, he couldn't move his arm for a couple of days. First time I've ever seen him take Advil; however, it didn't keep him from scuba diving or snorkeling.  One of the things I appreciate about Ray is his ability to cut through all of the peripheral things and get to the heart of a matter . . . and the way he loves Calvin and me.

I love Ray and I love that his family calls him Raymond.

"Good morning.  It's time to get up.  We're in Hawaii," said Levin.

Every morning a little before 7:00, Calvin and I would hear Levin's feet pitter-patter across the bamboo floors downstairs.  Then we'd hear him climb the stairs and quietly turn the door knob into our room.  We'd play like we were still asleep and he'd climb on top of us and say, "Good morning! It's time to get up.  We're in Hawaii!" 

Home sweet home.

Ever since I went to college in Hawaii 35 years ago, I have wanted to come back as a real tourist - complete with a non-student budget and real accommodations. That wish has been granted. Neither Calvin nor I had ever stayed in a place as luxurious as this home. It was the last home on Anini Beach so a cliff was our neighbor on one side, and with little to no phone reception and spotty internet connection, it was very private.  And beautiful.  The house was one room deep with big windows facing the ocean, so nearly each room had a beautiful view.  There was also a guest house next to the big house. The grass was golf course quality and the kitchen was fitted with not only a big refrigerator, but three counter-top refrigerator drawers.  Even if we had never left the property we still would have had a wonderful vacation.    

Ice Cream

Salted Caramel.  Toasted Coconut.  Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut.  Blueberry Cheesecake. Tropical Dreams Ice Cream makes them all really good. 


Johnny is Ray's older brother, good, good friend, and fellow hunter.  Johnny looks out for people and serves them.  He works hard, sees what needs to be done, and does it.  One thing I appreciate about him is he is sincere and offers security to others.  

I love Johnny.


We stayed on the island of Kaua'i.  The land of Hanalei where Puff the Magic Dragon lives.  The land that has only 13 letters in the alphabet.  The land of lush.  The land of earth and sky.


Levin loved everything about the ocean.  It didn't matter if it was playing in little pools of water or in big waves, he laughed and begged for more. Sometimes the tide was really strong and we were afraid if we lost our grip on him he'd be swept out to sea, but he had very little fear as the waves pelted us. One wave sent Levin and me tumbling and all I could think was, "Don't lose your grip!"  We came up (my death grip on his wrist still in tact) and he wanted to do it again.     

I appreciate that Levin is curious and active.  He has a large capacity of energy and a strong desire to be a part of and experience everything.  I enjoy him very much.

I love Levin.  I had no idea experiencing Hawaii through a little boy's eyes could be so invigorating or fun.

Monk seal

Monk seals can lie very still for a very long time.  I saw him jiggle a flipper once in an hour.

Not good, not good at all.

Ray, Cali, Levin, Atlas, Tracy, Johnny, Calvin, and I were on the same flight.  After we'd heard the air bag instructions from the stewardess and the attendants had taken their seats, we began to taxi down the runway.  The airbags above Ray, Cali, and Levin spontaneously dropped before we'd left the ground. Ten-fifteen minutes later as the stewardess pushed the drink cart down the aisle she saw the dangling masks and bags and became very distressed.  She went to get the pilot. And, even though the bags had dropped on their own accord and Levin had been threatened strictly warned not to pull on them, in the commotion of upset stewardesses and a visit from the pilot asking Ray and Cali when the drop happened, the "what if" temptation became too strong and Levin pulled on one of the airbags.  Oxygen began to flow just like the stewardesses say it will in pre-flight instruction. 

Luckily there were three empty seats elsewhere on the plane so their row was evacuated and we didn't have to return to the airport (the other option).  The other good thing was Levin didn't yell, "We're all going to die!" like he did on the last flight when they hit turbulence.


"The cure for anything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea."  ~Isak Dinesen

Payne, Calvin & Jane

Calvin was bound and determined we were not going to get burned in Hawaii.  Knowing of my propensity to burn, a month ago he said, "I'm your coach.  You may be the quarterback, but I'm the coach and I'm telling you that you have to go tanning before you can play."  He went to the athletic club, paid for a month of tanning, and then took us there one night for Family Home Evening.  

I admit.  He is a fine coach.  Thanks to four weeks of prep, I didn't burn.  We were able to play in the waves day after day without blistering.    

I appreciate that his motto is Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance and he drags me along.  We had such a good time.

I love Calvin.   


It was great watching Levin track and catch a lizard. I'm not sure who was more surprised when he finally caught it: Levin, the lizard or me. Levin picked grass and force fed the lizard and called it his buddy. Finally, when the lizard played nearly dead, Cali convinced him to let it go back to his friends so they could help him get better.


Rob is Ray's youngest brother.  He is jovial, talented, and witty.  One of the things I appreciate about Rob is he is quick to join in and make a situation even better.  He is also a spiritual man.

I love Rob.


Not often does a shower get a letter of the alphabet all on its own, but this one was not your ordinary shower.  It was i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. - six heads, tropical spa products, an ocean view.  It was set far enough back in an upstairs room so no window coverings were necessary.  A warm breeze blew through the slatted windows and the sight was so beautiful and so was the smell.  It was an experience.


Tracy is a children's therapist, a caring sister, fun aunt, and good friend. One of the things I appreciate about her is how quickly people feel comfortable with her.  She is genuine.  She is also generous and supportive and accepting.  She is beautiful.

I love Tracy.

 Underwater synchronized swimming

Rob and Tracy spent a couple of hours sitting on the edge of the water visiting about life. Every now and then they'd get in the water to cool off and practice synchronized swimming moves. Kind of. 


One of the highlights of the trip was our conversations.  As part of the meaningful activities committee, it was my job to see that we had ample opportunities for important interaction.  Each night at the dinner table, or gathered in a sitting room, we discussed topics we had come prepared to share:
  • Bring a list of what beliefs/values/goals guide you in life and a quote that defines them and that you aspire to live by.
This was a most fascinating topic for me.  While we all hold the same religious beliefs and God, Family, and Freedom/Country top each list, it was interesting to see the individuality thereafter. Because it was a safe environment, we could share deep-held values recognizing that even though our behavior hadn't necessarily attained the level we were striving for, the belief nonetheless guided and prodded us. I'd never done this before and was a little surprised at my own list and how everything stacked up.  Now that I've done it, I  plan to refer to the list often and refine it as life continues.

I read the quotes aloud anonymously before values were shared and everyone tried to match the quote to the person. Here are a few of the quotes:

"You have to create the life you love."

"Although we recognize we are not perfect, we do not use that as an excuse to live below our expected privileges."

"What we do in life echoes in the eternities."

Other topics included:
  • Share 1-2 things you are trying to improve in 2015.
  • Share your high-light and low-light from the last year.
  • Come prepared to share one thing that you appreciate about each person.
All of the conversations were good.  I wish you could have heard Levin's list of things that he wants to improve in 2015.  He was so pleased to be a part.  One thing he wants to improve on this year is painting.  

Wow, what a view and whales

I have always hoped to see a whale in the wild.  Who knew it would happen on this trip?  They were distant. They were hard to see. They were numerous.  And, they were real.  It was exciting.

Often as I looked out over the ocean I would think, "And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good."  

Very good indeed.  

Several times I felt grateful that He created families and an incredibly beautiful earth for families to experience and enjoy.  No accommodations even come close to the one He prepared for us.  Not even six headed showers with a view. 

Xerophilous plants

Of all the plants, Calvin was most excited when he saw a cactus.  And then there were two.  And then there was a bouquet of them. (What are groups of cacti called?)  He even posted them on Instagram and he doesn't post very often.

Cali's response: "Where Cal goes, the cactus follow."

Ande's response:  "It's a sign you should live in Hawaii."

While he was capturing cacti, I was taking my own vegetation pictures.  The colors.  I just couldn't get over how well they complimented each other.  It was good.  Very good.


Calvin often says, "I'm livin' the life of Rylie." And truly we did.

Thanks to the Follett family for a wonderful trip.

We love you.

(*Thanks to Tracy and Ray for some of the pictures and to Cali for some of the dialogue.)