Wednesday, December 25, 2013

For Unto Us a Child is Born

Despite missing our star actor who always played the all-important roll of Caesar Augustus in the Christmas Eve nativity, the part was admirably played by his understudy, Rose.

A lovely angel proclaimed glad tidings of great joy.

The shepherds were convincingly afraid and awed.

And Mary was beautiful.

I don't know if it's because we have a missionary out, but the spirit of Christmas was felt especially strong this year.

Then we moved on to our decidedly un-reverant time of Christmas Eve: 
 The Christmas Jammie Pyramid.

It was the most calm, injury-free pyramid we've had in years.  
Once again, maybe it has something to do with a certain missing missionary.
We hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

And it's official!

Our son is in the MTC!

But let me back up.  
Since life-changing experiences shouldn't be attempted on an empty stomach, Lyle and the family send-off committee ate lunch at The Brick Oven, an italian restaurant from our college days.  Ah, the memories.

Then it was off to the Provo Temple for some family photos.  First, with Lyle's mom, AKA Granny.

Then a group shot.

Lovely cousins.

And of course, a proud Dad.

Then off to the Missionary Training Center,

where they unpacked his bags

and Lyle valiantly tried to hold it together,

which wasn't easy.

Not easy at all.  

But they were tears of joy.
Our son has worked hard to be here,

and there have been countless blessings from above.

Heavenly Father knows our son even better than we do.  He's in good hands.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Love you, Elder Bruder

Last night our son was set apart as a full-time missionary for 
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I get chills just typing it. 
 Even though he and Lyle weren't flying out until the afternoon, with the kids' school schedules, we knew that most of the good-byes would happen in the morning.  We did our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon, cinnamon rolls, and grapefruit with brown sugar and a maraschino cherry.  Six-thirty a.m. wasn't anything new for the big kids, but a tad early for the littles.

The first one out the door was our sweet Rose.  Rose is 12 years old and in 7th grade.  She'll be a 14 year-old high schooler when he gets back.  She didn't shed a tear, but told me on the way out to the car that she was feeling it.  Still, she said, she was so happy with his decision that she couldn't be too sad.

Next, it was time for the little ones. 

Cholita is 8 and in the 2nd grade.  In 2015 she'll be in the double digits and in the 4th grade.

She loves her brother quite a lot.  He recently taught her to play chess and it's been almost a daily occurrence ever since.

Cholita and XiXi really have no concept of how long he'll be gone.  Last night XiXi said, "So, he'll be back in 2 weeks, right?"

I'm guessing that six year-old XiXi will be a little harder to pick up in a couple of years.  But knowing his personality, he'll still be ready for a hug.

After Bruder was set apart last night, he's supposed to live by mission rules.  His sister, Lucy, gamely offered to be his full-time companion.   Last night, after a marathon packing session, they were lying on my bed and Bruder said, "Lucy, you're the best companion I've ever had."  It made us all laugh.

Not like having Lucy as a companion is a new thing.  That's been the case since the day she was born.  She even arranged with her teachers to skip her classes today so she could stay home and see him off.  She was a life-saver, keeping us organized and in good spirits.

She did lay down on the job right after breakfast though and Bruder chastised her with, 
"Hey, companion!  The field is white, all ready to harvest, and you're sleeping?"

She'll be 19 years old when he comes back, a high school graduate, home for Christmas after her first semester in college.  She'll most likely be working on her own mission paperwork.

I kept myself reasonably well pulled-together for our good-byes.

But this goodbye did me in.  
Poor elderly, cancer-ridden Charlie.
He slept at the foot of Bruder's bed for years and only moved when his boy had grown too tall for him to squeeze in.  I never imagined he'd live to see him off on a mission.

What a day of emotions.  
But most of all, I'm feeling so incredibly grateful.
Grateful that our son is worthy of this calling.
Grateful that he wants to serve.
And so grateful that he has a message worth sharing.

We love you, Bruder.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New York Weekend

It's not a quick jaunt by any stretch, but I was so excited to take the cross-country red-eye flight to New York on Halloween night for my younger brother's wedding.  The weather in NY couldn't have been more gorgeous and the fall leaves were at their finest.  It was the first time I've been with all of my siblings at one time in probably 2 decades--definitely a picture-worthy occasion!  But trying to get one decent picture felt like Christmas-card picture-taking of days gone by.

 In the photos, we're arranged youngest to oldest.  The baby of the family, my brother Paul, is the only red-head and took all of the height genes that clearly missed me.  My sister Anne is 4 years younger than me and despite being the only blonde, she's sporting new dark hair, which really threw me off when she walked into the airport!  My brother Dan is 18 months older than me and is about to retire from the military.  We live in NY, UT, WA, and TX, so clearly it's not every day that we get together.

It was a fantastic weekend and we're thrilled to have a new sister-in-law and aunt, Paul's new wife Janice and my kids can't wait to meet their new cousin, Lucy.

I'd made a bet with Lucy that my brother wouldn't cry during the ceremony.  I felt quite confident that I would win.  Then, during the vows, he went and got all choked up!  Lucy was standing right there with her mother and she made sure to catch my eye, tilt her head over to Paul, and let me know that I had indeed lost.  For payment, I played 5 extra games of hide and go seek with her that night.

Here, Janice and Paul are with my dad.   Note to self:  next time take the nice camera.
It was a tiring weekend, but I'm so, so glad I made it! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

llama llessons

No school today, so what better way to spend the afternoon than on a Mom and daughter date to a llama farm?  We learned about what to look for and what to avoid in a llama, how to feed and care for them, and here, we were getting a grooming lesson with Rosabella, an animal with fur so smooth and soft that I'm surprised Rose didn't shriek, "It's so fluffy I could DIE!"  We learned that there are "packer" llamas with short hair and "wooly" llamas who are fluff-balls.  We learned that llamas very rarely spit at people and those who do are not the type of llamas we want.  No thank you.  We learned that a female would be best for our purposes and that even though they're a herd animal, they can can also bond to other species--like our goats.

I haltered two different llamas and then Rosie took Flight for a walk

and even loaded her into a van.  I was told that many people transport their llamas via mini-van.  
I kid you not.

It was a very fun day and made me think that maybe we are capable of llearning llama.

We're lleaning that way.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A bad, bad, BAD day for our hen house. And what we're going to do about it.

When we built the hen house, safety for our chickens was a top priority.  We have an enclosed run with chicken wire buried into the ground.  Our split rail fence is reinforced with an inner layer of wire fencing.  We know we have predators all around us, but for nearly 3 years, we've been fortunate.

Then sometime Monday night, early Tuesday morning, something got through the barriers and all heck broke loose.   Where we once had 7 babies and 5 adults, we're left with only 1 sad little baby, 3 nervous-looking adults, and a pasture full of feathers.  It's very unsettling.  And totally unacceptable.   Thankfully the goats are just fine.

So, we've done some research and are considering a guard for our livestock.  We know there are certain dog breeds that are good flock guards, but we already have a food-obsessed golden retriever and an old-as-the-hills lab and that's all the canine companionship any girl would ever want.  At least this girl.

But did you know there are other livestock guardian options?  Oh yes, there are!  

How about a guard llama?!  
They guard chickens.

And they guard goats.

They can carry your gear for you when you go hiking.  Because you know I go hiking all the time.

They can go into hospitals and be therapy llamas. I could always use an excuse to rev up the car and take someone somewhere.  Don't do enough of that!

You can dress them up.  
Finding Halloween costumes for my children has become way too easy anyway.

Doesn't this woman look blissfully happy with her llama?  
She's put together.  She's wearing earrings and makeup.
Her llama looks groomed and smiley.
Her yard seems free of dung piles.

Does anyone else do this?
Imagine things as you think they might be when in reality they might be something else entirely?

Like I might have an ugly, mean, 6 foot tall animal in my pasture that makes me afraid every time I go out to get an egg.  

Or even worse scenario:  I have an ugly, mean, 6 foot tall animal in my pasture that makes me afraid every time I go out to get an......hey, wait.....where are all my chickens?  Some flock guard.

So tomorrow Rosie and I are taking a llama adventure where we'll meet and greet and decide if a llama is right for our barnyard.

An electric fence is also a possibility.

But can you dress up an electric fence?  Let it carry your pack when you go hiking?  Take it to a nursing home?  All things I most certainly would do?  
I think not.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

That's-a-some Sadie Hawkins

And this would be Tony....

owner of Tony's world famous restaurant and pizzeria,

where you need to book reservations months in advance,

or like Lucy and her Sadie's date, slip Tony a little cash-o-la

and a table for two might just open up.

Junior waiter Figaro will show you to your seats.

Because when you're here, you're family.


With Italian opera playing in the background,
goblets of vintage grape juice on the table,
and made-to-order pizzas cooking in Lyle's outdoor oven,
this bring-your-date-home-for-dinner tradition

is nothing short of delizioso!

A toast of "buona salute" to Sadie Hawkins!  

(Tony shaved to eat-a-some pizza.)