Monday, November 30, 2009

Ten Days of Giving Thanks...Day Six

This will sound like I'm making fun of this gratitude exercise, but honestly! I'm not.

I am very thankful for heating, air conditioning, and plumbing.

Grandpa told us that when he was a child, in the winters each family member had a rock that they would place in the fire. When it was bedtime, his mother or father would bank the fire for the night, and each person got their rock out. The rock was placed in bed. Everyone would run out to the outhouse for one last trip, then climb into bed with their rock (and usually, 3 or 4 other children). He said that in the winter you did NOT venture out to the outhouse at night because you just might freeze to death if you did.

I hate to get out of bed at night, because I think it's cold (even in the summer) AND because nothing (and I mean NOTHING) should interrupt my sleep. But if I need to get up and use the bathroom for any reason, I have no need to worry about freezing to death.

Yesterday I was cold. This is nothing new--I will stay cold till April (if I'm lucky) or May. It's winter. That's just the way it is. Spencer tucked me into my nice, warm bed with my thick, cozy down comforter. Then he turned up the heat in the house a couple of degrees. There I drank my nice, warm hot chocolate, which I'd made from tap water and a few seconds in the microwave.

When it was time to leave for my concert, I bundled up into my coat and ran out to the car, which was warm within just a few minutes.

When the summertime comes, we will turn on the A/C in house and cars, where we will live and drive in cool comfort. We are most blessed!

Our House Smells Like a Casino

We had Thanksgiving dinner at our house, and we cooked the turkey in the kitchen (because it was HUGE and HEAVY and we didn't want to have to lug it up the stairs from the preschool). It made a mess in the oven, which (I think) is really to be expected.

So Saturday I put the oven in lockdown and turned it onto "clean" mode. In case you don't know, this means that the oven heats up to about 9,000 degrees, and it just turns everything in the oven to ash. You wipe out the ashes and voila! your oven is clean.

Within moments of beginning the cleaning process, our upstairs was full of smoke. We opened every door and window (did you know it's REALLY cold outside right now?) and turned on every fan we could find. But too late.

In case you were wondering, turkey ashes smell like cigarette smoke. And if you try to use Febreze or other air fresheners, it smells like Febreze cigarette smoke.

Ugh. Our house stinks.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ten Days of Giving Thanks...Day Five

I'm thankful for work.

My daddy says, "We work to become, not to acquire." This is one of his sayings that I have had to think about a lot, and frankly, I'm not 100% sure I have a testimony of this concept--I am employed because I HAVE to be, so we can pay the mortgage and buy our clothes and pay our bills. However, I do believe that God intended for us to work, so I guess I'm on the path to testimony. :)

That said, let me tell you that I love my job. (Have I ever mentioned that before?) I work with wonderful, talented, exceptionally good people. We have plenty to do at work (thank goodness! There's nothing worse than not having enough to do!). I like the work that I do, and I think I'm good at it. And I make a decent living, especially since mine is a second income in our family.

I'm also so grateful for Spencer's work. He, too, has plenty to do, and he likes the things that he does.

During this difficult economic time, I am especially thankful for good employment.

I'm also thankful for the chance to work in arenas other than our employment. I'm glad to serve in our ward. I'm glad to have children, with all their needs. I'm glad to have different skills and talents that I can share with others. I'm grateful for our home (which, frankly, needs a LOT of work!).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ten Days of Giving Thanks...Day Four

Today I'm thankful for a happy attitude.

My parents were always "The glass is half full" kinds of people (still are, actually). We didn't have a lot of money, but I didn't know that. There were rules about bringing people home without asking first, but I don't remember ever being told, "No, that person cannot come over." We were always encouraged to share our opinions, even if we disagreed. Sometimes we had to agree to disagree. One morning I awoke to my mother laughing hysterically at my 14(ish)-year-old brother pitching a fit. We could be mad for a while, but we had no choice but to get over it.

When changes occurred, we were encouraged to look for the opportunities in the changes. (Anybody out there remember when we changed to the consolidated Sunday schedule at church?) :)

There have been a number of times, just this week, when I have caught myself thinking, "Well, at least we can..." or "This will not matter in ___ years" or "I'm so glad __________ happened" or "K, that's how it is. What can I do to change the situation?"

I consider myself a happy person. I consider myself a blessed person. I think it's because I had to practice that mentality through my childhood and youth.

Technically, I guess you could say I'm thankful for my parents, but family is coming later.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ten Days of Giving Thanks...Day Three

Today I'm very thankful for good friends.

Amy has a beautiful baby boy--have I mentioned that? :) Today she brought him to work so I could have some kisses. And yup, she lets me kiss and kiss and kiss. I'd probably kiss her cheeks, too, if it wasn't too weird. But I love her just that much.

My friend, Tahnee, said all the right things today when I was having a mini-meltdown. She is sarcastic and hilarious and sweet and good and spiritual--all within one wonderful conversation.

Over the past few weeks I've had some sweet, wonderful comments from nieces and "adopted" daughters and dear friends.

Tonight I pulled a meeting together to plan our ward Christmas party. The people who came to help were willing and happy and helpful. What more could I ask for?

I consider the ways that my friends have blessed my life, and this list could go on and on. Joanne taught me about being a safe harbor. Sylvia taught me about wearing your life out in service. Char taught me about listening and doing good just for the sake of doing good. Cathy taught me about loving someone the way the Savior would love them. Janet taught me about expecting the best from others. Charlotte taught me about being obedient. Sami taught me about sharing joy in everything. Mona taught me about loving with your whole heart. MaryAnn taught me about giving and giving and giving. Jen taught me about laughter in situations that might otherwise be very difficult. Stacy taught me about finding the good in everyone. Karleen taught me about living by faith. LouAnn taught me about accepting people just as they are. Brenda taught me about being comfortable in being confident. And this is just scratching the surface.

I have friends who are men, too, and they have blessed my life immeasurably, too.

The world is full of good people. Just keep your eyes open--they're probably standing right next to you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ten Days of Giving Thanks...Day Two

Today I'm really thankful for our home.

A couple of years ago, Em gave us a plaque that says "Our House Is Just a Little House, but God Knows Where We Live." Actually, we have quite a large home--larger than I want, really. But the sentiment is the same. Ours is a simple, humble home. I'm not a huge decorator (much to Ashtyn's chagrin), but we have some nice things. There is much work that needs to be done on our home (always!), but it is a good house. It is well-built. It is more than sufficient for our needs. And love is spoken here.

The times that I appreciate our home the most are during extreme weather. This morning we awoke to a beautiful marshmallow world. It was FREEZING outside. But the snow was on the individual tree limbs and the sun was peeking through the pink-tinged clouds. And THEN I got to work and found that some of the Christmas lights on the Plaza were on this morning. Glorious!

But it was freezing. Our heat kicked on automatically. There was hot water in the tank, all ready for our showers. The wind blew outside, but not inside.

I love home!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Ten Days of Giving Thanks...Day One

I have taken this idea from Jodi, who I have never met, but who continues to be an inspiration to me daily.

(She did the 10 days leading up to Thanksgiving. I figure that giving thanks is as appropriate for Christmas as it is for Thanksgiving, so my ten days will overlap both November and December.)

Day One: I'm thankful for my healthy body.

I know, it seems cliche to be thankful for my health, but there it is. In August of 1995 I was diagnosed with MS. It was a very stressful time. I lost hair by the handfuls. I didn't even think I was finished HAVING babies, and now here I was faced with the very real possibility that I wouldn't be well enough to see my babies grown, married, going on missions, having babies of their own. At that time, 10 years seemed a long ways away; and a lot can happen in 10 years. In one moment I went from talking to my brother to not being able to see him properly. What would 10 years bring? Or twenty? Would there be more than that?

MS effected the way we thought, felt, and planned. Our plans for five or six children were instantly whittled down. We knew we were taking a risk--because why have children if they cannot have a mother?--but we got Landon here.

A couple of years later we brought Spencer's grandmother into our home. It was just six months that she was with us, but those six months were a tremendous blessing. Landon and Grandma were great buddies. I had the blessing to be allowed to help Grandma in ways that few got to (and she hated every minute of it). There was little she could do for herself. I helped with hair washing, toileting, meals, laundry, illness, and falls. I once asked her if she would fold the towels for us. It took her all day to have the energy to fold a load of laundry.

I rarely fold towels without thinking of Grandma. Of course, folding towels means that there is other laundry to fold. And dishes to do. And meals to make. And rooms to dust. And weeds to pull. And errands to run. And gifts to work on. And kids to take to practices and games and performances and play dates. And meetings to attend. And activities to plan.

Sometimes it's just all so overwhelming that I want to curl up in a ball and just cry. (Last night I took a night off and watched TWO movies. In my bed.) But as soon as I think of Grandma I remember how glad I am that 14 1/2 years after being diagnosed with a horrible, rotten disease, I am able to fold towels and wash dishes and make meals and a million (sometimes literally) other things. I'm not blind, I can walk completely unaided (and even run!), I have control over my arms and hands, I can talk and type and read, my brain and my heart and my lungs all function on their own, I can stand up without assistance and without falling down.

And our beautiful children are quickly reaching adulthood. While there are no guarantees (nobody gets them, you know), it looks promising that I will see our "babies" being missionaries, brides, grooms, parents, and maybe even grandparents. It looks promising that I will grow old with Spencer, and he will not have to care for me for the entire last half of my life. We are planning to travel and serve a mission and build a little house and laugh and love for many, many years to come!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Decidedly NOT Feeling Bah, Humbug!

I admit it. The holidays stress me out. There are a million things that I need to do, but there are too many places I need to BE to get them done. And don't even get me started about the financial cares.

This year I am pulling a bit of a Scarlet: I'll worry about it later.

For now, we're looking forward to having all of Spencer's family over for Thanksgiving. The floors need to be mopped and the groceries need to be purchased and food fixed and the bathrooms need to be cleaned and the entire house could use a thorough dusting. Eh, it will all happen eventually. Probably on Thursday morning.

I finished making my Christmas ornaments today. They look stinkin' cute. I was thinking about a flower on them, but everyone thinks they're great the way they are. So I'm not gonna worry about it.

Some of our family gifts are finished: Bert and Ruth, Glenda, Tiff's kids. There's still a lot to do, and I'm not sure how we'll pay for it. But somehow it will all work out. I'm just glad to have as much finished as I do.

I've made a lot of cookie dough for neighbor gifts. I'm gonna make the kids get in an assembly line to put it all together. Maybe next weekend.

I'm not 100% sure we're going to have lights on our house this year. It's so stinkin' cold that I can't bear the thought of being on the roof. But when we clean up from Thanksgiving the tree is going UP!

We've already been listening to Christmas music for a month. This is generally a no-no at our house, but with so many of us singing in Christmas choirs, it was bound to happen.

And guess what? Spencer fixed the ballast in the kitchen, which we have been without for YEARS. Woot! It's light in our house!

Bring on the holidays!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dear Ann,

Dear Ann,

Saturday night I dreamed that I was at Sweet Tomatoes with my sweetheart (this is a leftover from the fact that we DID go to Sweet Tomatoes on Friday), and there was a lovely woman sitting right across from me (behind him). I kept thinking, "How do I know her?" And then (we're still in my dream here) this lovely woman walked up to me and said, "Are you Aundrea?" When I answered in the affirmative she said, "I'm Ann Cannon."

I was so excited! I proceeded to tell Spencer all the wonderful things I know about you. Of course, I don't really know that much. She writes all kinds of stuff, including novels and columns. She teaches and mentors other authors. And children. And she loves cupcakes. And she knows other authors. And she works at a fabulous bookstore.

I woke up thinking, "Poor Ann! -- She doesn't even know me, but I love her. Poor Ann! -- Someday I will walk up to her and treat her like she ought to know me, and she will be completely baffled. Poor Ann! -- She probably gets this all the time." Yikes! I'm a groupie (or something)!

And then you posted a comment on my last, very uninteresting blog. And you called me "Friend." So, the way I see it, you are either clueless or a real glutton for punishment. OR--maybe it would be OK for us to meet sometime. I'll let you know the next time I'm going to Sweet Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let's Discuss Friday the 13th

Nah, let's not. Let's just say that I was glad for the weekend to begin. Here's our weekend:

This is Taylor with his date, Lindsay Bird, as they are leaving for the Sadie Hawkins dance. Awww...!

Here is Spencer, who used amazing talent, skill, and positive energy to create this pot for one of his teachers.

This is the view out our front door this morning.

This is what I've looked like every Sunday for three weeks (except sometimes without the smile). My cold is better, but Bri had a terrible case of the flu Thursday and Friday. The bishop invited us to keep our family home today and get better. While I'm getting lots of little projects done, it sure doesn't feel like a Sunday. *sigh*

And tomorrow I will head back to work, where I will hope that Monday the 16th is better than Friday the 13th was.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Better Than Payday

I love my job. Have I ever mentioned that? I work with some of the greatest people ever.

When I REALLY love my job is when I get the little paybacks. Those of you who are parents will understand that sometimes the best things that happen are the little things, like spontaneous child hugs, or hearing from someone else about a wonderful choice your child made, or having your child give you some of the credit when they accomplish something. That is true at my work, too.

This morning has been crazy busy:

  • I've had a couple of different people come to my desk saying, "I know you will know the answer to this." I love it when I really do know the answer and can help them.
  • My boss called from off campus. He said, "You are the only one I can count on to work." (I laughed and said, "Yeah, if my kids aren't sick.")
  • After an emergency at one of the buildings last night, my boss needed a memo to the director within 10 minutes. I had the ICS people here working on my phone. I had someone here needing petty cash. I had a shop employee who needed direction on a project. The phone rang three times. I finished the memo, made a few adjustments, and printed it for his review. I answered the phone, took care of the petty cash, and placed my new headset on my ear. And Dave said, "Great! Send it. I don't know what I'd do without you."

It's almost better than payday to hear things like that. Almost.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day!

Click here.

And thank you, all you veterans and current soldiers. You are a blessing to all of us!

Monday, November 9, 2009

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

Last week Amy emailed me to say we was thinking about maybe going for a walk around Temple Square, maybe around 1:00 ish. Woot! Here I am with our Thomas. He and his mommy let me squeeze him and hug him and kiss him. They let me take off his socks and munch on his toes if I want to. This time I even got to babysit him while his mommy had a meeting with Karleen (our dear friend, pictured here with us). I love this boy! (Thanks for sharing, Amy!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beautiful, Happy Fall!

Briana got a hairCUT! Isn't it adorable? She loves it, too. AND she won't have to pull her hair up to give massages.
Spencer and Briana finished their first quarter of school with flying colors! We are thrilled with how smart Briana is. And finding her niche is a huge, wonderful thing.
Jenny and Heather came over for massages this week. Jenny pronounced Bri's massage as the best she's ever had. Woot!
This is National Novel Month (or something like that). Tay's only assignment for the month of November in his creative writing class is to write a 50,000 novel. Don't do that math--it's 100 pages. He's busy. He's also a very good writer, so I'm anxious to read the finished product.
West Jordan High School's production of "Aida" is in two weeks. Ashtyn is busy.
As a family, we spent two hours doing yard work yesterday. We mowed the back lawn; poop-scooped; put away the trampoline; cut back the irises, mum, and climatis; blew all the leaves out of the gutters and planters; raked and bagged the leaves; weeded out some areas; and washed three of the four cars (Bri did hers earlier this week). Spence and the kids took Bella across the street to play with the wolves (she was worn out the rest of the day). Then gave shaved her and gave her a bath. I got groceries at Macey's and "stuff" at Walmart (including some items to work on Christmas gifts). We did lots and lots of laundry. Since winter is scheduled to come on Thursday, it felt really good to get all of this done. However, more than half the leaves are still on the Hauptfleisch's oak tree, so we'll be doing more...
I have had one doozy of a cold. I feel OK, but my nose is running like crazy and I have a terrible, terrible cough. I opted to stay home from church again today (2 weeks in a row!). Jen called this morning to see if I could sub in the nursery. Bummer!
Briana and I are being sustained as new Relief Society teachers today. We will team teach once a month. Doesn't that sound fun? She is my visiting teaching companion, too--my favorite I've ever had!
It's a beautiful time of year!

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Favorite Holiday

Click here.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bitter. Sweet.

First thing this morning I had a conversation with a co-worker (keep in mind that I have worked with him for 2 1/2 years) about the time that we spent living in Peoa, Utah. His eyebrows went up, and he said, "My wife grew up in Peoa. I think she may be older than you." When he told me her name I screamed with joy. This woman was 2 years older than I, and she was WONDERFUL. We sang together in Tapestry. We marched together in drill team. We did stuff together in YW. And when she was a senior and I was a sophomore we became good friends. That was when I moved to California, and I haven't seen her since. That was 25 years ago.

Today I learned that she and her husband, who adores her, have 6 children and live in Riverton. Their home is paid off, and they bought a small home in Randolph, which they hope to move to someday. She has a huge garden, a wonderful family of 3 boys and 3 girls, and a husband who thinks she is as wonderful as they come.

I adore Pam, and I'm so, so grateful to learn that she has had a happy life (her husband mentioned that her younger sister--my age in school--has had it more difficult). It brought tears of joy to my eyes as he showed me pictures of her and their beautiful family through the years. Their oldest is an RM; they have a daughter in college. The other two girls are teenagers. The boys are 8 (almost) and 4. They are beautiful, and I swear, Pam has not changed a bit. I smiled for so long my cheeks ached! Life is wonderful, and I hope that I will hear from her in the near future.


At the end of the day my friend Karleen yelled "Noooo!" from her office. She came out to my desk, her head hanging down and said, "I just got an email from Amy. She's gotten another opportunity, and she is not coming back." While I was sort of prepared for this (because what new mommy doesn't look for something that will allow her to be home with her family?), my heart is breaking. Except this is my sister-friend who I love deeply, so I am so happy for her to have this wonderful opportunity. Except I feel completely abandoned. Except it's better that I'm abandoned than her son, right? Yeah, right. Except my heart hurts.

I called Spencer to have my little cry at work. He said (rightly, I might add), "Well, Babe, you have gotten a friend for life out of this." I know. But it still makes me sad. Does that make me a bad person?

Rotten. All the way around.

Then I came home and got dinner started when Bri called from school. They needed their holsters for their class finals. And then Spencer said his teacher was wondering if, when I came, I could stay and have a massage (cuz they have an odd number in their classes). Oh, twist my arm!

So I got a wonderful Swedish massage for 50 minutes. From Rianna. For free. Gotta love it.


Take a deep breath. Tomorrow is coming.

This is Fantastic

I dare you to try to watch this without grinning.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Best. Halloween. Ever

I do not like Halloween. Each year I resent having to buy stupid costumes (or at least accessories). I hate the creepy, scary teenagers who come trick or treating after I should be in bed. I hate the blood, guts, gore, and scariness. I hate the sugered-up kids (especially our own) who need no reason to inhale that much sugar in such a short amount of time. I seriously hate Halloween.

Now I am the activities committee chairman. Can you say "Simplify?"

We put orange plastic on the serving tables. We put purple plastic on the eating tables. We set out cups, bowls, spoons, knives, napkins, water, margarine, and salt and pepper. The young women set out a few scarecrows. People brought either chili or rolls. Not even any dessert, because really? Who needs more of something sweet on Halloween?

Then we played pop-the-balloon, crab walk, and fill-the-cup-with-candy-corn relays with the kids.

I wore Taylor's referee shirt and whistle, which was great for getting everyone's attention.

We threw everything away. Everyone took their dishes home. We put all the "stuff" back in the closet. We swept the gym floor thoroughly. We put tables and chairs back. We locked the church. We were home by 6:00.

Briana went to a friends' home. Taylor and Ashtyn went to a choir party. Landon and a friend went trick or treating. Spencer went to the temple.

I did not do makeup. I did not have to go out in the cold or snow (which we only have on my years to go trick-or-treating. This year, of course, warm and glorious). I answered the doorbell about 4 times. I didn't have to hide candy from our kids. At 8:00 I turned the lights out upstairs and went to the basement to read.

You can call me a humbug, and I won't even care. It was peaceful and lovely. And I didn't have to take anyone trick-or-treating for the first time in 18 years. It's a beautiful thing.