Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 30

Next to the last day of the month!  How quickly it has gone.

Lisa, the kids, and I went out to do a little shopping today and to have lunch.  It was a nice break.  Later, I stayed at home with Brooks while Lisa and Ashby had some time together.  They went to see Daddy for a little bit, since Ashby was missing him big time.  They also did some more shopping.  It was good for everyone.  Brooks was really good and he and I had a lot of fun.

I just about finished getting all the tree decorations down.  Hopefully the tree will be out the door by Saturday.  It will be really nice to get the house back in order.  With Lisa and the kids here, plus all the Christmas boxes stacked everywhere, it has been pretty chaotic.  I do not do well when it gets that way!

So the Christmas season is winding down and I am thinking about next year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 29

So why is it that almost every year, the final "Christmas" present of the year is a cold?  I haven't felt good all day - terrible headache - stuffy nose - you know the routine.  I am hoping it is just a little sinus congestion and will clear up quickly.

Lisa and the kids have been here all week while David does some work at their house - messy stuff, like sanding and painting.  Poor Brooks had to go to the doctor with an ear infection and also has a cold.

I could do without this!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 28

Well, started taking down Christmas decorations.  I haven't touched the tree yet, but most everything else is down and packed into storage boxes.  I will probably tackle the tree over the weekend - or whenever I can't stand it any longer!  It is amazing how decorations are so fun and festive when they are first put up, but once Christmas is over, they seem messy and irritating.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 27

Well, actually Christmas is over - but I thought I would follow on through to the end of the month.  This has been an "ordinary" day - or at least it was until Lisa and kids came over.  David is doing sanding, painting, and other messy things at the house, so they came over to get out of the way and to spend the night.

How fun to have them here.  Ashby and Brooks are so entertaining that you don't need anything else!  Having little children around certainly helps keep the happy spirit of Christmas around.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 26

Letdown day after.  But, didn't really turn out that way.  I straightened the house a little, worked on some genealogy for my friend who is in hospice and got it printed for her, worked on some Relief Society things, took a nap - turned out to be a relaxed day.

Got a phone call from friends from when we lived in Florida.  We had last seen them about 16 years ago or so when they made a trip through Atlanta.  They had gotten the Christmas letter and looked up our phone number and called.  It was fun talking to them and catching up on everything.

Lisa, David and kids came over and had pizza with us so they could leave their car.  It needs a repair and that is part of their Christmas present.  They took our car for the day.  Hopefully it will only take the one day.

I went to bed early, finished the book I have been reading, and fell asleep happy.  It was a good day. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Journal - December - Christmas Day!

What a wonderful Christmas Day!  With no children to wake us up, we were able to sleep in.  I fixed a sausage, cream cheese, and crescent rolls dough breakfast thingy, which we love.  Church was delayed until 11:00, so we had a nice relaxed morning.

Church was great.  We combined with the other ward in the building, so it was like a stake conference!  Attendance was much larger than they had expected.  The program was music with two speakers and was wonderful.  What better way to celebrate the birth of the Savior than to be in church.

In the afternoon, Lisa, David, Ashby and Brooks came over.  We had a honey-baked ham, potato salad, green beans, jello salad dinner.  Lisa added sweet potatoes and fruit salad.  It was very yummy.  Then we opened presents.  Ashby was so excited.  She helped pass out the gifts and then helped everyone open them, too.  She loved everything!

Later, we fixed chocolate fondue for a late dessert.  As always, we loved it.

It has been a good Christmas Day and a good Christmas season.  Trying to simplify and make things more Christ centered has made it even more so.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 24 - Christmas Eve!

We had our annual family dinner and gift exchange at my nephew David's house.  His wife Nancy did a beautiful job of planning everything.  There were about 24 people and four dogs in attendance!  The traditional dinner is homemade tacos.  My assignment was to bring my Tex-Mex dip.  Everything was really good - and there was more than we could possibly have eaten!

Then we did a gift exchange.  Each person had brought a gift in the $10-$15 range and all the gifts were put in the middle of the room.  We then drew numbers to determine the order in which gifts would be drawn.  The next person could either take a gift that had already been opened or open a new one.  It is a common game.  We had a fun time.  My gift was a box of four beautiful Christmas ornaments.  I am delighted.

We then finished off with desserts.  Nancy had made a cheesecake.  Julie had made a chocolate bundt cake.  Plus, there were homemade candies and cookies.  It was all a very nice evening.

Brooks was definitely the hit.  At one year old, we never know what mood he will be in, but he had the best time ever.  He absolutely loved the dogs and followed them around everywhere.  He didn't show the least bit of fear or hesitation at all.  He kept laughing and signing "dog" and trying to say it, as well.  There is one step from the kitchen to the living room and he negotiated it dozens of times.  A few times, he tumbled, but he would just rub his head and then keep moving.  As David said, "Brooks was the best entertainment of the evening."

Ashby totally loved being with her cousins, especially Lizzie.  There were pretty tight!

It is nice to have family traditions and we enjoyed being with all the Atlanta family who were in town for Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 23

Well, the day of finishing everything......  I got the last of the grocery shopping done - just the fresh stuff since I had everything else done earlier.......   I got the rest of the gifts wrapped, except for the two little ones to take to the family party........ It is looking like Christmas will come with no problems!

We had the ward Christmas party this evening.  It was called a night in Bethlehem and it started by having to pay our "taxes" (canned food for the local food pantry).  Everyone got a bag with gold chocolate coins for buying things. It progressed through a couple of games, like fishing in the Sea of Galilee for goldfish crackers, tossing a ring to get a bottle of water, etc.  Then came potato soup and rolls for dinner.  There was also a cookie table and a toy store - not sure what else.

After everyone had eaten, we had the nativity play.  It went well and everyone seemed to have a really good time.  Turnout was much more than expected - probably 170 or so people.  It was a nice way to get into the Christmas weekend.

Lisa and kids came, too, until Brooks got just too tired.  Ashby was so excited to see the baby Jesus and Mary.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 22

Practiced for the ward Christmas play this evening.  I am playing the piano.  Bill and the rest of the bishopric are the wise men.  The play is cute - just the Christmas story, but fun to see ward members play all the parts.  It should help add to the Christmas spirit.

I was pleased that everyone was there for the rehearsal and that most everyone had their lines pretty much memorized.  This was only the second practice, but they knew what they were supposed to do.  It has been a long time since the ward did a Christmas play and I think it is a great idea.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 21

First day of winter - Christmas in a few days - and the weather is warm, in the 60's, with rain.  Growing up in Iowa, there was virtually always snow for Christmas.  Having lived so many years in Florida, we got used to no snow at all.  Here in Atlanta, it is a surprise every year.

Our first year back, temp was in the single digits, but no snow.  The next year, it was almost 80 and the kids were playing basketball in the driveway in short sleeve shirts.  One of the things I like about Atlanta is that it doesn't get too cold, we have a little snow most years, but it doesn't last more than a day or two, and it is all totally unpredictable.

Having said all that, I still love snow at Christmas.  At least, I love the snow in pictures.  It does feel more "Christmasy" somehow.  I am not sure I want it to snow here, though.  I think I will get my "snow fix" from Christmas cards and pictures.  That works for me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 20

Well, today I went out and tried to finish up most of the little shopping that was left.  I made stops at several stores, looking for stocking suffers, and a few other little odds and ends.  It was really the first day that I had actually done any shopping.  I did most of the big stuff online earlier.  It was just enough to get the spirit of Christmas without getting overwhelmed.

I have one more gift to pick up - already bought and paid for - and some grocery shopping to do.  Then wrapping everything and getting the gifts under the tree.  Knowing me, there will be something that I forgot and I will have to run out one more time.  That seems to be the way it always works!

I also sent out the Christmas letter today.  I decided to keep that simple, too.  I had already written up the letter and attached some pictures.  I went through and emailed it to everyone that I could.  That left about 18 or 20 that I actually mailed out.  I had already received some responses back before bedtime. 

This has been a good Christmas shopping season, as we have tried to keep things much simpler.  It has meant that I have enjoyed it much more.  I have also concentrated more on the other things, besides gifts, that make this season special.  Doing this daily Christmas journal has really helped with that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 19

Flash mobs at malls have become fairly common - although I still think it is neat.  Today, a friend sent a video of a flash mob done by Journey of Faith.  It is the best one I have seen yet.  The music is beautiful and well-done.  They did several songs for a nice variety.  The ending had Mary, Joseph, and the baby walk in.  Very powerful - brought tears, for sure.

I love these kinds of special reminders of the birth of Christ.  It helps to push the hustle,bustle stuff to the back, even if for just a few minutes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 18

We spent most of the day traveling back home from Las Vegas.  Glad it was a wonderful trip and that everyone arrived home safely.  Now I am looking to this last week before Christmas and wondering how I am going to get everything done.

It is so easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of Christmas and forget the pleasures.  I think I have done pretty well, so far.  So now my challenge is to find a way to complete the rest of the things I want to do without becoming overwhelmed.  That will start with making a list of what I want to do, whittling it down to what I really need to do, and then scheduling it out so it gets done without becoming a burden. 

I have a calendar from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir by my computer.  This month's picture is the Christmas concert in 2008.  Every time I look at it, I am reminded of the reason for Christmas.  I will need to look it at often as I plan out my week.  I am determined not to get caught up in any frenzy!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 17

The wedding at the temple was this morning.  I can't begin to express how wonderful that was.  Margaret Ann is such a wonderful person, and to have finally found someone worthy of her, and to get to see them married in the temple, was beyond description!

For the reception that evening, she wore a red suit and the hall was decorated beautifully with Christmas trees and candles and other seasonal decorations.  Everything was so well done.

My Christmas thoughts today go to the Savior and the blessings of the restoration, especially the blessings of the temple.

Christmas Journal - December 16

I am playing a little catchup here, since we were out of town.

On Friday, we flew to Las Vegas for a wedding.  We spent the evening with a couple of my college roommates and their husbands.  We went down to the strip, to the Bellagio, and toured the conservatory.  It was gorgeous - tons of flowers and Christmas decorations. It really made me feel "Christmasy."

Then we went out front to watch the fountains.  The first performance was to The Hallelujah Chorus and it was magnificent!  Wow!  That's all there is to say.  Any of the music from The Messiah is stirring, but the Chorus and the fountains was a whole new - and wonderful - experience!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 15

We will be out of town attending a wedding this weekend, so my day has mostly revolved around laundry, packing, and other last minute things.  When that happens, it is easy to completely forget that it is Christmas season.

I did have an experience that made me grateful for blessings, though.  I discovered at the last minute that my temple recommend had expired at the end of November - I thought it was good until February!  A few hasty phone calls and it was all taken care of - thanks to the priesthood brethren who are so kind and loving!

Anyway, it made me remember how much I appreciate the blessings of the temple.  It is why the Savior came to earth in the first place - so that we would have a way to return to Him.  I am so grateful for the Atonement and all the blessings that brings.  When all is said and done, it wasn't the birth that mattered so much as what He did while He was here.  I needed to remember that during this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 14

This was a busy, but not particularly "Christmasy" day.  However, one thing that happened turned my thoughts to service at Christmas.  In our Relief Society presidency meeting, we were discussing which families were struggling to provide a nice Christmas, especially for their children.  One of the families we discussed touched me with a particular impact.

Some people live with such dignity and work so hard to take care of themselves.  They often are the first on the line when someone needs something, yet they can barely make ends meet themselves.  Such is the family that touched me.  This is a family that I have always loved and respected, but I gained a new insight into just how much they are carrying.  My thoughts are going in circles as I am trying to figure out a way to offer some extra Christmas cheer to them.

There is nothing like thinking of the needs of others to turn your thoughts away from yourself.  I am still looking forward to what I am going to figure out!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 13

I met up with Lisa and kids for lunch at Atlanta Bread Company.  Then they came over to the house and I kept the kids so Lisa could get a haircut and run some errands - all by herself!  We had a lot of fun - they are both so good!

While Brooks was taking a nap, Ashby and I made an ornament out of popsicle sticks.  She colored four popsicle sticks with a red marker.  Then she put fake red and green jewels on the end of each stick.  Then we glued them together in the centers, fanning them out into the shape of a star.  When the glue had dried, she added more Jewels across the top stick.  It turned out really cute and she loved it.

So, making our first Christmas ornament together - now that is what Christmas is all about!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 12

We hosted the monthly Empty Nesters Family Home Evening this evening.  I spent the day getting the rest of the decorating done.  Lisa, Ashby, and Brooks came over and got the tree decorated (the lights were on, but that was all!)  So the place looked pretty good, if I do say so myself!  Even a humble home is beautiful when it is all decorated for Christmas.

We had a smaller turnout than usual, since we had several who have health problems and were unable to come.  Our activity was to put together a care package for the missionary from our ward who is serving in Argentine.  (He won't get it until January, but missionaries love a package anytime!)  Some of the group forgot to bring their items, so we will finalize the package on Sunday.  It was still good to focus on someone else for a little while.

We also shared stories of Christmas memories - some poignant, many funny, all bringing forth more memories.  We finally had to call a stop since it was getting late.  Such evenings are fun.  We enjoy socializing.  We all bring something for refreshment (and we had some really good stuff this time!)  We laugh and we share.  This time, we also felt the Christmas spirit as we focused on someone else.  I love Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 11

Sundays are always good days with attending church meetings and being touched by spiritual talks and lessons and interacting with wonderful people.  It was also my father's 84th birthday and I talked to him briefly.  He was in the middle of a big birthday party, so it was a short conversation.

What brought the special Christmas spirit for the day was the social at the bishop's home.  He and his wife always invite the members of the ward council and their families to enjoy an evening together during the Christmas season.  There was food and socializing.  Their home was decorated beautifully, which added to the special spirit.  It was a nice evening and I left feeling the wonderful spirit of Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 10

We went to the Sugar Hill Stake Choir concert this evening.  Our daughter Lisa is in the choir.  They always do an excellent job and the Christmas concert is particularly nice.  It was all sacred music, some familiar songs, some new, at least to me.

We went with David and Ashby.  Brooks stayed home with a babysitter.  Ashby was so enthralled as we walked in and she saw the decorations.  She is totally into the baby Jesus story and Christmas lights.  She found her mommy in the choir and then cuddled up with her daddy to listen.  Partway through, she moved over to Grandpa and then to Grandma, so everyone got a little cuddle time.

There is nothing better than being surrounded by incredibly beautiful Christmas music and cuddling with a cute granddaughter!  Yes, I do believe I caught some of the real spirit of Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 9

We went to dinner at the home of some friends and then helped her get set up on doing some family history.  It was a nice evening.  We drove different routes over to their house and then back home.  The number of homes that are decorated with lots of lights and other decorations seems to be more than it has been in recent years.  I hope that is a sign that people are feeling better about everything.

At one point, we missed the turn so had to turn around.  The neighborhood we drove into to turn around had the house with the best decorations we saw all evening.  Just goes to show that all mistakes are not bad ones!

Seeing all the homes so brightly decorated is really a great way to feel the Christmas spirit!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 8

Well, this morning we finally got the Christmas decorations out of the attic.  I know, most people decorate right after Thanksgiving.  I am just a little slow - I don't like to rush things.  Anyway, I got about half of the house stuff out and it is looking good.  I plan to finish the rest on Friday and then we will get the tree on Saturday.  Bill plans to put up some outside lights, too.

I got the mantle done - that's Christmas stockings and Santa Clauses.  I also got most of the nativity sets out.  Those are my favorite decorations.  I think I have six out right now and there are still a couple of small ones somewhere.  Today, I will get the flower pot soldiers, the nutcrackers, the village, and a few other odds and ends.

Putting out the decorations does bring a spirit of Christmas into the home.  I love that feeling.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 7

Anniversary of Pearl Harbor - had me thinking a lot about all the lives lost that day and in the days and years that followed.  Led me to thinking about all those soldiers serving today and their families who are missing them, especially during the Christmas season. 

One of the community service projects I found to share with our Relief Society sisters was that of a young 12 year old girl who is collecting socks to send to soldiers.  One of the families is doing a service project every day for this month.  She told me the other night that they had gotten socks and donated to that project.  I thought that was wonderful.

I can't bring the soldiers home for Christmas, but I am happy that some soldier will get some new socks and will know that people care.  That is the true Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 6

We had our Relief Society Christmas social this evening.  It was deliberately designed to be low-key, relaxing, and inspiring.  It was held in a home, instead of at the church, so that helped create that kind of atmosphere.

One of the young adults, who is about to head out to BYU-Idaho, played a solo on her violin.  It was the Janice Kapp Perry song about "The Least of These."  The words were read prior to her playing, so everyone's thoughts were focused on the message, as well as the beauty of the music.  I remember Lisa singing that song several times, so I enjoyed it very much.

The Compassionate Service leader then spoke about service, loving and supporting one another, and choosing good, better, best.  She did a marvelous job of bringing such a wonderful spirit into the room.  Her closing remarks about her grandmother who recently passed away were especially poignant.  Her grandmother was blind from the age of four and lived such a full life, serving others.  It was a wonderful message for the Christmas season.

The rest of the evening was just socializing.  There was a hot chocolate bar with lots of goodies to add to the hot chocolate and snickerdoodle cookies, my favorite kind!  It was really nice to see sisters getting better acquainted.  There were several sisters who are new and I know they felt more a part of the group.  No one was in a hurry to leave, so I know they were enjoying that special sister-hood feeling.

As everyone left, they were invited to take an ornament from the Relief Society.  These were purchased last year from Israel and are made of olive wood and are intricately carved holiday scenes.  They were also given out last year, but everyone loved finding just the right one to take home this time.

It was a wonderful evening that accomplished its purpose - another great reminder of what the Christmas season is about.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 5

Ashby didn't want to go home Sunday evening, so she spent the night with us.  I don't have most of the Christmas decorations out yet, but there was a Melissa and Doug wooden nativity for children, plus a couple of other special nativity displays that I had out.  She spent most of her time Sunday playing with them.  That continued the next morning, so most of her play time at Grandma's was all about "baby Jesus."  She is totally captivated with the story.

Later in the morning, we drug out the dress up stuff and had to act out the story.  The cutest was when she dressed up as Mary.  She had her baby doll wrapped in "swaddling clothes" and used a little basket for the manger.  When I took a picture, she would not look up or smile.  All the nativity figures show Mary kneeling by the baby Jesus, and looking down at him with a face full of love.  She stayed in character.  Here is the picture:

This totally made my day!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 4

The highlight of the first Sunday of December is always the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.  And that was true again this evening.  The Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square were fabulous - they can do a standard Christmas hymn and make it so incredibly beautiful.

I enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf's sharing of the story when he started a fire at Christmas as a child.  And, to his surprise, it did not ruin Christmas.  He then talked about the real meaning of Christmas.

Elder Eyring shared the Christmas story and then introduced the new video vignettes about the birth of Christ.  They were beautiful and very touching.

President Monson closed with his expression of love for all and reminding us to keep Christ in our hearts as that is the way we keep Christmas.

This is a wonderful way to start the Christmas season with the right attitude.  I certainly felt the spirit.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 3

I wasn't feeling well all day - woke up with a terrific sore throat and a terrible headache.  I didn't accomplish much and even took a long nap.  I think it is probably just a sinus thing and should be gone in the next day or two.  Needless to say, I wasn't in the mood to do any decorating for Christmas.  I did turn on the Holiday music on Sirius and that was nice.

One of the blogs I follow is called keepacpitchinin and is mostly about things from church history.  For December, she is posting a short story each day.  The stories all come from old church magazines, especially the old Relief Society magazine.  I did have enough energy to read yesterday's story and thought it was really cute.  The message was that everyone just needs love.  Even grouchy old men have smiles and respond to children who befriend them.  In the end, he joined the family for Christmas Eve and everyone was happy.  A little trite, perhaps, and sappy, too, but a good message to remember as we get into the Christmas season.  We need to learn to accept people where they are and as they are and just love them.  Sometimes, it will make all the difference in their lives.  So, it is time to put on the smile and speak loving words to everyone I meet.  I hope I do that all the time, but I will make a bigger effort to make sure that a little Christmas spirit comes into the life of everyone I meet this season.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 2

I saw in the paper that thieves had stolen one of the kettles from a Salvation Army collection stand.  I couldn't believe it - how could anyone do that?

It reminded me of when my children were all small.  In those days, the bell ringer was always dressed as Santa.  We had a tradition to put coins in every kettle we saw.  I kept plenty in my purse and whenever the children saw the Santa, they would take some coins and each would drop them in the kettle.  They were always so excited and would grin from ear to ear.  It was one of the things that made each of them so willing to give to help others.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Journal - December 1

At church last Sunday, one of the speakers was talking about having the real Christmas spirit.  One of the things she mentioned was to keep a Christmas Journal.  Since I enjoyed doing my Gratitude Journal last month, I thought I would try it.  I hope to post something each day about Christmas.  I am not putting any restrictions on what I notice, but it will be something about Christmas each day.

So, the first day of December is Brooks' birthday.  We had dinner with Lisa and family and some birthday cake.  He had had his birthday party a few days ago.  It was the first time we had been to their house since they put up the trees and other decorations.

Ashby was so excited to show us everything they had done.  In the living room, there is a small artificial tree that had lights, but just a few ornaments.  That will be the preschool tree and as they make ornaments, the children will hang them on the tree and will then take theirs home on the day of the Christmas party.  What ornaments are on the tree are figures of the nativity.  They are very small and precious.  Ashby was quick to find the one with "the baby Jesus."  As we toured the rest of the house, she made a point to always point out every baby Jesus.

Their family home evening lesson on Monday had been the story of the birth of baby Jesus and she seems to have really caught that spirit.  What a wonderful way to start the season - by remembering about baby Jesus.  After all, that is the only reason there is a Christmas season.  She certainly seems to have the vision.  I hope we all keep it through the whole month!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 30

Wow!  The end of the month already!  I thought I would get tired of posting a daily thought about gratitude, but I have enjoyed it.  Each evening, I have thought carefully about what special event that day would be the source of giving thanks.  I had many days when I had several choices and just had to pick one.  (Rules I set for myself when I started.)

So for my last post, I am feeling gratitude for all the things I didn't mention.  I am grateful that my life is so full of blessings that picking 30 was so easy.  Or hard, if you consider that I had to skip so many.  In spite of struggles, heartaches, problems, and the general burden of life, I find that I have been blessed beyond measure.  I have family that I love and that love me.  I have material blessings that allow me to live comfortably.  I have the Gospel in my life which lets me know where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going.  Most of all, I have a Savior, who loved me and the rest of the world so much that He came to earth to teach us, set the example for living, suffer for our sins and pains, die for us, and then overcome death through resurrection.

I have a heart full of gratitude!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 29

The first Sunday in November, I gave the Relief Society lesson on service, especially how doing service as a family will strengthen the bonds between family members.  I gave some examples of easy service ideas to do with children, as well as some ideas of local community organizations that would benefit from service.

Today I got an email from one of the sisters who has three children.  She had been praying about finding a way to do more giving with her family for December and that lesson really inspired her.  With the help of her children, they have made up a calendar for the month and will do some service every day.  She had a couple of questions, particularly about one of the organizations I had mentioned.

There is nothing more exciting as a teacher than to know that your message touched someone and made a difference.  Her email totally made my day!   I am grateful for the opportunity to teach, and even more grateful that this lesson made a difference in one family's life!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 28

My visiting teacher came by and we had the nicest visit.  I also work with her in Relief Society, so we have way too much to talk about!  I appreciated the message she shared from the conference talks and we had a nice discussion about that.  I know I could call on her if I had a need.  Mostly, I appreciate the visiting teaching program where every sister is to be cared for and loved.  I wish it always worked - when it does, it is a wonderful thing.  I am grateful for visiting teaching.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 27

Well, the holiday weekend is really over.  Billy left early this morning and has called to say that he is safely back at home in Cedar Rapids.  He had to drive through rain a good bit of the way and traffic was heavy, but fortunately it was moving.  It has been a quick visit, but we had a great time.  I am so glad that he made it down - made our family complete.  I am grateful that he was able to come and that he arrived back home safely.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 26

Brooks turns one year old on Dec 1st, but he had his birthday party on Saturday.  Lisa said it was because Ashby was expecting a birthday party for Brooks ever since she had her own birthday party in July.  Personally, I think it was because Mommy wanted to do it!  At any rate, it was a great party.

The theme was Sesame Street and there were several almost life-size characters hanging on the walls - Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster.  There were hats, treat bags, food, games, and everything else.  Everything coordinated with the theme and it was all too cute.  There were three guests for Ashby to play with, plus Uncle Billy, Grandma Vanett, Grandpa and me.

We didn't expect Brooks to know what was happening, but he had a ball.  There were big colored poof balls made from tissue paper handing from the ceilings and he was fascinated with them.  He kept pointing and talking about them.  But, I think the biggest hit for him was fishing for the rubber duckies in the little pool.  He couldn't get enough of playing around that water - to the point that he finally got his shirt wet.  Good thing the weather was warm enough to be outside without a shirt!

What a fun birthday party!  I am so grateful for Brooks and how fun he is.  I love his smile and big laugh.  I love how quick he can crawl from place to place and how much fun he has with the smallest things.  It is such an adventure being one year old!  And, I am grateful for his big sister Ashby, who looks after him so well and had so much fun at the party.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 25

This was a quiet after-Thanksgiving day - eating leftovers (yum!), taking a nap (so nice!), doing some genealogy (my favorite hobby!), reading (of course!), and babysitting the grandchildren (what life is all about!).  Sometimes the quiet days, which might seem somewhat pointless, are the ones to enjoy the most.  After the pressure of getting a great dinner ready for Thanksgiving, there was no cooking at all.  The resting and relaxing help rejuvenate the mind and body.  Spending time with the grandchildren adds the laughter and joy.  I am grateful for such full, wonderful, nothing days!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 24

Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!  This is an easy gratitude day - it is all about giving thanks.  We had a wonderful day.  Billy is here from Iowa.  Lisa, David, Ashby and Brooks came over around noon.  Turkey was in the oven about 6:30 and everything else ready to go.  Billy made an apple pie.  I made a peanut-butter trifle.  Lisa brought 3 more pies and some snacks for waiting.  We watched football, grandkids and just talked and enjoyed.  Dinner was wonderful.  We used the good china and sterling.  All the food turned out perfect.

The rest of the afternoon was just plain lazy.  Ashby had fun playing in the big piles of leaves that Grandpa had raked up for her the day before.  Brooks loved going on a long walk around the neighborhood.  Weather was perfect.  Most of us managed to get a short nap in sometime during the afternoon.  All in all, it was everything that makes Thanksgiving the best of the holidays - food, family, and relaxation.

I am grateful for a day to give thanks.  The best ending to the day - when I hugged Ashby goodbye, I said, "I am thankful for Ashby."  She gave me a big smile, a hug back, and then said, "I am thankful for Grandma."  Need I add anything further?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 23

Billy finally made it.  He drove from Iowa and it was a tough trip.  He is on a schedule where he works until 1:00 am or later, so doesn't sleep well at night.  It made it hard to get an early start, so fortunately he decided to make it a two day trip.  (I always make it two days - 13+ hours is just too much for one day.)  Add to that, the Thanksgiving traffic and it made for a long trip.  He even had the stop and go stuff for over an hour - probably due to an accident that was gone by the time he came by.  Going through Nashville, you don't have a lot of options to get off and try another route!  Anyway, he arrived and all is well.  It is good to see him.  He was last here to visit last June.  I was up to his place in August.  We got the turkey stuffed and ready to stick in the oven early in the morning.  He bought supplies to make an apple pie in the morning.  I am very grateful that he arrived safely and look forward to these few days.  Now we can bring on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 22

It was clean up the house day.  Billy is driving down from Iowa to be here for Thanksgiving Day.  He will get in on Wednesday.  So, I got the guest room cleaned up, clean sheets, etc, and the bathroom ready, too.  Add in a little dusting, straightening, etc, and the house looks OK.  I don't clean like I used to, but I do like the feel of a clean house.  I am grateful that we have a comfortable home - not fancy, but nice.  The size is just right - not too big for taking care of, but enough space for everything we need or want.  We don't have fancy or expensive furniture, but everything looks good.  I am not an interior decorator, but our home is nicely done and has a homey feeling.  I think people feel at home here.  When I read about so many with no home at all, I am particularly grateful to have these luxuries and to be warm and safe.  Today I feel grateful for my home!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 21

I went to the mall for a little while with Lisa and the kids.  Ashby finally got up enough nerve to sit on Santa's lap.  She even talked to him, although it was so soft, he couldn't hear her!  We had lunch, too, and played at the playground.  The mall is all set up for Christmas, of course, and there is music playing everywhere.  Even though it is a little early for me (I really like Thanksgiving and hate to see it skipped!), the music is delightful.  Ashby is also singing Christmas songs - full volume! - and I am loving that.  I am grateful for music, especially Christmas music.  It makes me feel good and I just want to sing along!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 20

One of the speakers at church was a 19-year-old young man who has just received a call to be a missionary in the Argentina Rosario Mission.  He gave a great talk and will be a wonderful missionary.  His father is our stake president and he is very much like his father.  My nephew is currently serving in that same mission, so hopefully they will cross paths in the few months that their missions overlap.

This all reminded me of the missionaries who knocked on our door when I was eleven.  My parents invited them in and thus began our journey to joining the church.  I was 12 at that point, and I have been active ever since.

I am so grateful for the missionaries who take time out of their lives to devote themselves fully to serving God.  Having an understanding of the Gospel has made all the difference.  My life has been blessed every day because of missionaries.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 19

I saw on the news in the morning that Iowa State had beaten the #2 ranked football team.  I don't have any interest in football, but I still read this story.  After all, at heart I am still an Iowa girl!

That got me to thinking about growing up in Iowa and I have felt grateful for being raised in a small town in northeast Iowa during the 50's and early 60's.  It couldn't have been a better time or place.  We were free to wander almost anywhere we wanted.  We played pick up games of baseball.  We spent most of the time outdoors.  Since it was a small town, almost everyone knew almost everyone else.  Also, because it was a small town, anything we did was a big deal.  High school sports, plays, concerts were all community events.  Parents didn't worry about their kids, because they knew there was always someone watching and no one was afraid to discipline.

I haven't lived in Iowa since I graduated high school, other than for a few months at a time.  Even so, I am still an Iowa girl.  The farm background is in my blood.  I am grateful for the great state of Iowa, where the tall corn still grows!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 18

I had to go grocery shopping.  I am not a big shopper and groceries are near the top of the "I would rather not" list.  However, we do love to eat and it was time; plus, there is Thanksgiving coming up next week and I needed to get supplied for that.  Once I got there, it wasn't all that bad and I made my rounds and filled my cart.  A problem writing a check at check-out was resolved and I took my trunk load of groceries home to unload and put away.

As I was putting all this food away - in my two pantries, refrigerator or freezer - I realized how blessed I really am.  I have a supply of food a few minutes from my house; I can get almost anything imaginable when I get to the store; I don't have to fight with others over a limited supply of popular items; I have money to pay for it; I have a nice home with plenty of storage for all the food I buy; I don't have to go hungry; and, thankfully, I don't have to go out and shoot something so the family doesn't starve!  Even more than that, some of the items I bought are for the food boxes for the needy and I was glad to be able to buy a great big turkey to donate.

That is a lot to be grateful for - food, convenience, comfort, plenty, and charity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 17

The next lesson I teach in Relief Society will be the first Sunday in January, but I have been doing some early preparation for it.  The course of study next year is Teachings of the Prophet George Albert Smith, so I have read a biography and a number of other things.  My lesson will be the overall story of his life.  I didn't know a lot of the details of his life and I have really enjoyed studying it.  He struggled with physical illness most of his life, not finally getting a diagnosis of lupus until late in life.  He also damaged his eyesight in the desert and struggled with that.  And yet, he pushed himself as much as he could to always do what the Lord wanted.  He was incredibly compassionate and always saw the individual's needs.  And he had an unshakable testimony of the Savior.  I love studying about the prophets and I am grateful that there has been a prophet at the head of the church since Joseph Smith.  I know that Thomas S Monson in the prophet today and I am grateful for him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 16

We had some rain - not all that bad at my house.  I love a good storm, as long as there isn't a lot of damage done.  It was pretty bad northwest of Atlanta, but in our area, it just threatened.  Dark skies, wind, rain.  Love it all.  There was a tornado warning so some schools delayed release, but fortunately nothing happened.  I am grateful for changing weather.  One of the reasons I love Atlanta is that there is a variety of weather and seasons.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 15

I had a couple of things happen that made me grateful for service and those who are willing to serve.  First of all, I was reading the local paper and the front page story was about an 11-year-old girl who was trying to get 10,000 pairs of socks to send to soldiers and to others in need around the country.  Her emphasis was on the soldiers and how they can't get more socks when they get holes in the ones they have.  What impressed me was that this young girl was doing this mostly on her own, with support from her mother.  It is wonderful to know that young people care about others and are willing to do something.

The other thing involved the women at church.  I work in the leadership for the women and we have at least four things going on right now involving service.  We are trying to put together food boxes for Thanksgiving and need all the items to make dinner.  Secondly, the children are trying to gather items to put into Christmas bags to give to needy children in the area.  Thirdly, a community organization has requested lap blankets or shawls to be given to women who have been beaten or raped.  When these women get to the hospital, their clothes have to be taken for evidence and they are given scrubs to wear, but they are not warm, so blankets or shawls will help these women feel warm and also safe.  Fourth, Gladys Knight has a choir called Saints Unified Voices, who will be performing free in our area.  We needed some people to volunteer to pick up food for them and to be there to help with lunch and snacks for the choir.

Some of these things came up with very little notice.  We announced the needs on Sunday, and I was so excited to find out that the Thanksgiving boxes are complete, items are coming in already for the children's bags, blankets are already being donated, and all the volunteers are set for the choir.

I am so grateful for opportunities to serve and even more grateful to know that there are so many people who are willing to serve.  It just makes me feel good all over!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 14

We had Empty Nesters Family Home Evening at our home.  We have a small, but fun, group of empty nesters from church who get together once a month.  Everyone brings something for refreshments and we visit and then have a spiritual lesson or discussion.  This time we each brought a favorite quote from the recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in October.  What a special time it was as we discussed the quotes and what we could learn from them.  I am grateful for these friends and the fun we have when we get together each month.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 13

We have had a tradition develop since Lisa got married.  As often as possible, which is almost every Sunday, they come over after church to have dinner with us.  It had been a couple of weeks with conflicts, so we enjoyed this Sunday's dinner more than usual.  It is a relaxing time - we eat, we rest, we talk, sometimes we even take naps.  But, most of all, we watch the grandchildren play or play with them.  I am so grateful for our Sunday family dinner tradition.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 12

I spent two days attending a Family History Expo.  Genealogy is my favorite hobby and I was so excited to attend my first such event.  I went alone, but figured that didn't really matter.  I absolutely loved it!  The keynote speaker on Friday was M. Bridget Cook, an author and speaker.  (The new word I learned from her was genshai - which basically means to hold no one small, including yourself.  In other words, treat everyone as though they have worth.)  Over the course of the two days, I was able to attend eight classes on a variety of subjects.  I learned a lot and I am really excited to start putting some of my new knowledge into practice.

I also met up with with four other women who were at the conference alone and we became friends.  It was really fun!  We would meet up during breaks and share about the classes we had each attended.  Having the genealogy common thread made it easy to bond really quickly.  We have already exchanged emails and a picture of the group of us.  We also promised to meet up again next year at the Expo.

I am grateful for having participated in this Expo and for the fun and new friends that I enjoyed!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 11

Being Veterans Day, I have felt a special connection to all those who have served in the military.  They fought to make us free, they have fought to keep us free, and they have stood guard to see that those freedoms are not lost.

I need to go back in my genealogy and do a careful study to see how many of my ancestors have served in the military.  I know some of them: my husband Bill served in Viet Nam, my uncle Harold Nelson served in WWII, my grandfather Bill Nelson served in WWI, my great-great grandfather Henry Cleary served in the Civil War.  There are others, going back to the time of the Revolutionary War.  I am grateful for all of them.

I wore my red, white and blue scarf to let the world know how grateful I am for those who serve in harm's way.  Thank you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 10

I went to visit my good friend Judith, who is now in a hospice with lung cancer.  We met as co-workers about 15 years ago or so.  Over the years, we have often talked about genealogy and she expressed interest in learning about her family, but just never had the time.  The other day I asked her if she would like me to see what I could find.  She gave me the names of her parents and their births and I went from there.  In two days, I was able to take her father's line back to her ancestor Zachariah Butler, who served in the Revolutionary War.  So when I visited her, I took her a notebook of everything I had found.  As we looked at the generations, I was able to point out her Civil War ancestor - of course a Confederate, these are loyal Georgia people, after all.  She was so excited.  He only served a month or so before he became sick with typhoid fever, sent home to recover, and died.  Two months later, his wife gave birth to their fourth child.  A great story of a courageous woman, who lived to be 92!

We then moved further down the line until we came to Zachariah.  When I told her that he had fought in the Revolutionary War, her eyes glowed - yes, with tears!  I said, "You are DAR."  And she repeated, "I am DAR!"  I couldn't have given her a better gift.  We spent at least an hour talking about her ancestors.

I am going to work on her mother's line this week.  As long as I can provide a service that brings her excitement, I will do so.  

I am grateful for precious friends who have enriched my life - for the opportunities that sometimes come to really give a special gift to someone - and for the many men and women who have served in the military, from the Revolution to today.  What precious freedoms they have gained and preserved for all of us!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 9

With the holidays coming, I am again facing the task of getting gifts for everyone.  I love giving gifts, but I don't much like shopping - and I really hate crowds!  So I am grateful that I can do a lot of my shopping online.  I have been making some orders and a few things have begun to arrive.  I get the fun without the parts I don't enjoy.  One or two trips for a few things is just about right.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 8

I attended book group and had such a great time!  I love to read - I usually have 3 or 4 books going at a time.  This group of women is so fun.  We discuss the books we read, love to disagree about interpretations, etc., and laugh a lot.  Oh, yeah, and we manage to talk about a ton of other things, too.  Throw in some refreshments - always random, whatever shows up - and it is a great night out.  I am grateful for books and being able to read (and friends who add a little extra fun!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 7

I went with the Relief Society president to visit a sister who recently moved into our ward.  She is a young married, with a 15 month old son.  Her husband is not a member, but often attends with her.  I really enjoy visiting with the sisters in the ward - it is one of the fun parts of working in the RS presidency.  I am grateful for my calling and the blessings I receive from serving.  I hope that someone else will be blessed because of my service.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 6

It was my turn to teach the Relief Society lesson on Sunday.  Our goal for the month is service, so that is what the lesson was about.  I like to teach, but I especially like preparing a lesson.  I get to read and look up talks and search for stories and think about my own life experiences and then pull it all together in a lesson.  The sisters in our ward are so willing to share and participate in the lessons, so that makes the teaching even more fun.  I am grateful for being able to teach.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 5

It was such a beautiful day today!  The sun was shining - the temperature was cool, but not cold - and the leaves are at their peak.  I saw some trees that had the reddest leaves I have ever seen!  I am sure that is because the sun was shining on them just right.  Today I am grateful for the beautiful fall weather and the glorious beauty of nature.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 4

I babysat with the grandchildren for a few hours so Lisa could get some time away while David was out of town for the night.  We had tons of fun.  I am so thankful for Ashby and Brooks!  They get cuter everyday.  The cutest playtime was Ashby pushing Brooks around in the little car.  He loved it!  Every time she laughs, he laughs, too.  When Mommy got home, Brooks was so excited, he was kissing her over and over again - with his trademark "mouth wide open" kiss.  He was so excited that Grandma got some kisses, too!  Love those grandkids!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 3

Bill rarely has to be out of town for work, but last night he was in Hoover, Alabama, where he had a two-day job.  Having him gone, reminded me of how grateful I am for such a great husband.  He works hard to provide for us; he serves willingly in his church calling; he loves our children; he dotes on our grandchildren; and mostly, he puts up with me!  We recently had our 44th wedding anniversary, and I am grateful for him.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Journal - November 2

I spent most of yesterday working on genealogy.  I had gotten into something the night before and I was compelled to work all day!  I am grateful for my ancestors.  They were interesting people who left home, crossed an ocean, and started life anew in America.  I have been greatly blessed because of it.  The most recent immigrants were both of my grandfathers - one came from Denmark about 1903, the other from Sweden shortly after that.  The earliest immigrants are on the Bacon line and I have them in Connecticut in the late 1600's - still looking for the jump over the "pond."  The other line came from Ireland in the early 1800's.  What wonderful people!  I am also grateful for the modern technology that lets me sit at my desk in my home and work from my computer.  It is so much easier and more productive than in the old days when I had to send letters everywhere, or order microfilm and wait for it to come in, or visit the places myself.  I still like visiting places, but that is now for fun and to find little details I can't get on the computer.  Genealogy - my favorite hobby!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Nov 1

I decided to try to post each day this month.  I am hoping I can find at least one thing I am grateful for every day.  It shouldn't be hard - except maybe just getting my thoughts posted!  So.........

Tuesday, November 1 - My lifelong best friend Paula called yesterday morning to tell me that she had just learned that another of our friends had passed away on Sunday night.  Jan was one of our classmates.  Going to a small school, we were all close friends.  Jan had married another classmate the summer after graduation.  They had up and down years.  For the most part, they had a great deal of material wealth, but they struggled in other ways.  The last several years had been very difficult, though, as they declared bankruptcy and were divorced.  Jan had several health problems, including hips that had deteriorated to the point of her living in constant pain.  She also fought an alcohol addiction.  Local friends, including Paula, had been trying to reach out to her and give her what support they could.  In fact, a group of them was getting together yesterday and she had called Jan the night before, hoping to get her to come with them at the last minute.  The phone went to voice mail and she just left a message saying to call.  Another friend Peggy called Jan's brother to see if he knew anything about her and left a message on his voicemail.  He immediately returned the call to say that she had passed away, probably Sunday evening.  There was no clear word yet on exactly what the cause of death was, but it appeared to be natural causes.  Also, no plans on a service were yet available.

All of this was on my mind most of the day.  I am so saddened by Jan's passing, knowing how hard things had been for her.  She was a lovely, fun person and she will be missed by those of us who knew her.  At the same time, I have felt gratitude for having grown up in a place and time when we had such wonderful and enduring friendships.  I have felt gratitude that these have become lifelong friendships that I treasure.  I have also felt gratitude for life itself and have been reminded to enjoy each day as it comes.  Life is precious and can be over so quickly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Genealogy Day

Had a fun day yesterday. While Billy was at work, I drove over to Poweshiek County, about an hour from Cedar Rapids. I went to the courthouse in Montezuma to look for some records - found a couple. Then I went out into the country north of Grinnell looking for the Chester Township Cemetery. I eventually found it.

This is the area of Iowa where my great-grandparents was born. My great-grandmother was Cora Bell Wesco and her parents (Reuben Wesco and Nancy Jane Wilson) were both born in Ohio, moved to Iowa, and were married there. My great-grandfather was Hiram Joshua Bacon and his parents (Joshua Crane Bacon and Mary Jane Humphrey) were born in Vermont and New York, respectively. They also moved to Iowa and were married there.

I already had some death records that I had gotten years ago, so I was looking for some other things. I was able to find my great-grandparents marriage record. I have struggled with finding the name of the mother of Nancy Jane Wilson. I have found some clues that it may have been Elizabeth J., unknown maiden name. I found a death record for her, as well. I still need to make a clear connection, however.

At the cemetery, I found the graves of the Wesco's and the Bacon's (my great great-grandparents), as well as some of their children. I took pictures and notes.

As usually happens, I ran out of time before I ran out of places to go. All in all, though, it was a fun day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Random Thoughts of a Chaotic Mind

I noticed that I haven't posted anything on the blog since about April. So what does that say about me? I have been wondering that. I finally decided it just says that I have not been interested in posting anything on the blog. And that is OK - there isn't anything that says I have to be writing things on a regular basis.

However, when I started this, I thought it might be a way to do better about keeping a journal. So, now I have learned that I can't keep a journal regardless of the method I try to use. My life is not all that exciting, and I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to be all that interested in following my daily events. Even so, what happens in my life is interesting to me - so why can't I get myself to record those little things? It must be my chaotic mind!

Today I will write a little. Tomorrow I will do whatever happens to interest me - write or not - doesn't matter. In other words, no big resolutions here! I will do whatever I happen to do and that will be good enough.

Actually, I have had a good time since April. In May my three college roommates came to Atlanta for a week and we had such a ball. When the four of us get together, we start acting just like college freshmen again. It is so fun and so silly that we totally look forward to these get togethers. Bill thinks we are all nuts, but he loved having a houseful of silly girls. (Of course, he stayed away as much as he could.)

They arrived on a Monday, MA's birthday (that is our nickname for roommate #1), so we all went to Provinos for dinner (free meal on your birthday with ID). Lisa and David and kids joined us as well, so we had a great time. Then we squished into the car and Bill drove us out to Stone Mountain. (Joyce aka Joyous and Connie aka Connetra are the other two.) It is beautiful there in the early evening and they had never been there.

On Tuesday, we went up to Helen, walked around, shopped, and had a great lunch (loved teasing our very nice waiter Brad) right on the river. Then we went down to Cleveland to Babyland General Hospital. We had way too much fun there - watched the birth of a baby girl from the cabbage patch and got to name her - Ashbee Brook. (After the grandchildren, you know.) That night Bill grilled plank salmon for dinner - and he did a great job!

Wednesday we went to the temple together. That is always the highlight of our reunions. It is wonderful to all be there in the temple together. We have all had our difficulties in life and it is reassuring to know that at this point in our lives, we are still on the right path. That was followed by lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. Then we had a quiet rest of the day. Joyce had brought all her pictures from the mission that she and her husband had recently completed to Russia. We had loved her weekly emails, but enjoyed the stories and pictures told directly by her even more.

Thursday we headed for Savannah. We were able to stay right in the historic district so we were close to everything. We walked around a little, including along River Street, where we got a light lunch. We had reservations at Lady and Sons Restaurant for a late dinner.

On Friday, we started with a trolley tour, went out to Bona Venture Cemetery, ate at the Pirate House, walked River Street, and had a great time. We were exhausted and spent the evening relaxing.

Saturday morning, we drove out to Tybee Island, so we could put our feet in the Atlantic. On our last reunion, we had been in California, and had put our feet in the Pacific. This somehow made it complete. We took a cute picture of our feet in the waves. That became our trip memorial when we found a cute frame at Old County Buffet that said "Georgia Memories" on it. Then we headed back to Atlanta. It was on the trip home that we found the frame when we stopped at who knows how many Old County Buffets to find them. (Actually, we had found something else, but nobody had four in stock. At the last stop, Joyce found the frames and they were way better than what we had been looking for!)

Sunday, we went to church and enjoyed our final day together. Monday they all went back home. SAD!!! But it was a wonderful week with so many fun memories and laughs and serious talks and everything.

Since then, we have had our annual two week vacation in St. Augustine - great, as always. Now I am in Iowa by myself for a week to visit with Billy and Dad. So it has been a good summer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter - and the Temple

I have seem to have lost interest in writing on the blog. Perhaps it is because things get busy and it is the easiest thing to let go. In any case, I do want to write a thought or two about what has been keeping me so busy the last while.

After almost two years of renovations, the Atlanta Temple is about to be rededicated - next Sunday May 1st, to be exact. The openhouse ended yesterday. With my public affairs calling, I have been busy with temple openhouse related things since January. The biggest time consumer was preparing for the VIP portion of the openhouse. I had to give some presentations in wards to let the members know what was going to happen. I had to work with the wards in my stake to make sure their special guests were on the mailing list to receive the special invitations. There was a lot of follow-up, etc., as well as worry over whether it was all going to come together.

I felt considerable frustration at times, as things kept changing. I remember saying several times that I knew it would all work out, because it was the Lord's work and He would make it happen in the right way. And -- it did. The VIP openhouse and the general openhouse were both successful, with large turnouts for both. The power of the spirit of the temple touched all.

Bill and I were asked to help out as tour guides on the day our stake had the assignment. We were on the morning shift, so arrived at the temple at 7:00 am. After final training, we were given the chance to take three groups through the temple. It was a wonderful experience to share our love of the temple with others. Many were members, but there were also many who were visitors. All were impressed. The most touching moment came during our first tour. It was early in the morning, so the group was small, about eight people. All were members, except one man who had come as a guest with a member. In the Celestial room, the room meant to most represent heaven and being in the presence of God, no words were spoken. Everyone was given the chance to contemplate on their own personal relationship with God. That man had tears. The power of the Spirit was remarkable.

This past Friday, we had the chance to help out again at the temple. This time we worked in the Glendridge chapel, helping to get the visitors onto tours. It was busy the entire day. Everyone who came was excited to be there - and we noticed that large numbers of the guests were not members. How wonderful to get to share something so sacred to us with others and to have them feel the spirit in a special way!

During the preparation meeting before starting our shift, I was asked at the last minute to offer a spiritual thought. I am not very good at spontaneous utterances - but a thought did come to me. I have been working on a presentation for my ward's Relief Society evening meeting in a couple of weeks. It is about the doctrine of the family, based on Julie Beck's talk to CES last fall. She reminded us that the sealing ordinance in the temple is a requirement for returning to the presence of God. We will enter the Celestial Kingdom, if we have proven worthy, as family units, not as individuals. How exciting to share how important families are and how we believe that families are eternal!

So, now it is Easter morning and I am feeling particularly grateful for the power of the Atonement. That Jesus Christ would come to earth, suffer our burdens, die on the cross, and be resurrected for our sakes, is almost unbelievable. And yet, that is exactly what happened. I am so grateful that He did those things for me - for all of us. I have felt the power of His love - at times so strongly that I could almost touch it.

I know He suffered for my sins. I know He suffered to help lift all my burdens in life. I know He died for me. I know He was resurrected. I know He lives!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is it spring yet?

My last post was in the middle of our week of ice and snow - and now it is looking like spring! The daffodils broke ground a week or so ago and yesterday there were two in full bloom. Today, the whole row is blooming! I love it. I hope it means an early spring - but we still have to get through March.

It has been a busy couple of months. Billy came down from Iowa and was here for 3 1/2 weeks. He is still looking for a job and decided that his favorite toy, his 2001 BMW, was too much cash just sitting in the garage. He did a few repairs and then came to Atlanta to sell it, thinking it would be a better market. Turned out his cousin fell in love with the car and they worked out a deal that seems to have them both happy. Part of the deal, was that David traded him the old van, so Billy drove that back to Iowa and is now getting it ready to sell it up there.

Lisa and the kids stayed with us a week, too, while Billy was here. Her husband, David, has quit his job and is planning to start his own business, possibly in Charlotte. That means they needed to finish the work on the house so they could put it on the market. It was a lot easier to work if the family moved out - so they were here. We loved it! David's mother and a friend came in to help him that week; then Lisa and the kids flew back to Grand Junction with them. They have been out there all month. David is going out this weekend and they will be there another 10 days or so before they all come back. The house is not going to be finished, but they should have the upstairs mostly done. The big work there was gutting two bathrooms and redoing them.

I have really missed Lisa and the kids - I don't know how I will survive if they move. Thank goodness, they are planning to stay in the south! Ashby gets cuter everyday. She talks up a blue streak and loves to read. She reads to Brooks, too, so he is getting an early education from her. She is loving being with her cousins in Colorado and will probably be bored when she comes back home! Brooks is growing like a weed - literally! Last week, he weighed in at 15 lb. 8 ozs. That is at 2 1/2 months old! He has been gaining almost a pound a week. Hopefully, that will slow down soon. The real problem is that he gets hungry and can't make it through the night yet. Otherwise, he is the sweetest baby - just cooing and smiling and looking around.

I have been really busy with the Atlanta Temple being rededicated this spring. My work with public affairs means I am right in the middle of a lot of the openhouse planning - lots of meetings, emails, conference calls, etc. We are excited to have the temple open again. The openhouse is April 9th to 23rd. The dedication will be May 1.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow and Birthday

We don't get much snow in Atlanta so it is always a big deal, even when it is just forecast. This time, we actually got it!

Sunday, I had a public affairs meeting about the rededication of the Atlanta Temple, so I had Bill go with me, just in case the snow arrived early - and also because it is getting hard for me to see very well at night and I don't like to drive if I don't have to. It was a good meeting. No dates have been set yet, but it should be in April. The hold up is finding a venue for the cultural celebration. Once that is set, everything will work from that date back.

Late Sunday night, the snow started coming and we had the ground lightly covered by the time we went to bed. Over night, we got probably 5 or 6 inches, so it has been a big storm for Atlanta. My office was closed, so it turned out to be a holiday for me. It was also my birthday, so I got snow for my birthday. We had a lazy day, since we obviously weren't going anywhere.

The usual course of snow storms here is that by the afternoon, the temp has risen and the sun is shining, so most of the snow melts away. However, it never got enough above freezing, and there was no sunshine, so the snow stayed. There was some sleet and freezing rain that came on top of the snow, so it is pretty slippery everywhere. My office has closed again for Tuesday morning and will make a decision by late morning about the afternoon.

So, my birthday turned out to be a little different that normal. Lisa and Ashby had baked a cake, but couldn't get over here to deliver it. She posted some pictures on Facebook. They called and sang Happy Birthday over the phone. Ashby was so bashful, Lisa had a hard time getting her to sing. She finally would say the last word of each line, so I heard her sing "you, "you," Gamma," and "you." It was too cute! Bill fixed a nice brunch for us - waffles and bacon. I spent much of the day on the computer - doing some public affairs things, family history, and playing on Facebook where I got a ton of birthday messages that I enjoyed responding to.

What an eventful way to start a week!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week One of the New Year

Well, the first week of the new year has passed - and it seemed to be a busy one! New Year's Day, Lisa and family came over late in the day and we had a pork roast dinner that I fixed in the crock pot. They stayed through the evening.

Sunday, our meeting times changed to 9 am. I like church at this time better than in the afternoon. It was nice to get up, get ready, and go straight to church. It was fast Sunday. I bore my testimony in Relief Society.

Monday, I had a work holiday. David and Lisa had appointments to check their eyes for possible lasik surgery, so we kept Ashby and Brooks. It is always fun to have them over. Ashby loves playing with Grandpa and they went outside for a long time. Part of the time, they played in his truck - something Ashby loves to do! After their appointments, Lisa dropped David off at home and then came over to get the children. She stayed a while and we ordered pizza for dinner.

Tuesday, it was back to work for me. I took a long nap in the afternoon, as I am still trying to get rid of the last of the cold that had me down over Christmas.

Wednesday and Thursday I worked. Otherwise, they were pretty ordinary days.

Friday, David had his eye surgery, so they dropped Ashby off around 9:00. Bill was home, so he took care of her until I got off work. When I walked in, they were on the floor playing with the Lego blocks and had built a big house, using every block in the box. After lunch, Ashby took a nap. When she woke up, we made some cookies. She is always getting the egg slicer from the cupboard and playing it like a harp, so it dawned on me that she might enjoy the Music Maker. I found it upstairs in storage and she enjoyed strumming it and singing. She loves taking a bubble bath in our big tub, so she did that after dinner. She also spent the night with us. I lay down with her when she went to bed and she chattered away for a while. She wanted to know where "baby brudder Brooks" was, as well as Mommy and Daddy. I told her they were at home, but Ashby got to spend the night at Grandma's. Then I asked her what we would do in the morning and she said she would play with the toys with Grandpa. She then danced a little jig, giving the sign for "excited," and said she was excited to play with Grandpa.

Saturday, we had more play time with Ashby. David had a follow-up exam with the eye doctor and then they came over and spent the rest of the day with us. We picked up food at Johnny's for our lunch. Lisa was so exhausted that she took a nice long nap while she had lots of help watching the children. After Ashby's nap and Brooks eating one more time, they went on home. Brooks is now over 11 lbs. He has really filled out and is so cute. He can't seem to get enough to eat!

So the first week of the new year is finished. It is already going too fast!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year 2011

So - a new year has arrived and it is customary to review the old and plan ahead for the new.

As I think back on 2010, it was a good year for the most part. The highlight was the birth of Brooks Hamilton Pulsipher - #2 grandchild and #1 grandson - on December 1st. There is absolutely nothing better than grandchildren. Ashby is now 2 1/2 and is more fun every day. Brooks is so sweet and cuddly. Those two make the whole of life worthwhile!

We did a little traveling during the year. The two weeks in St. Augustine in July were the best. We are already looking forward to this year. I made it up to Iowa for my 45th class reunion and spent another week visiting with Billy and my dad. That was a lot of fun. We took a long weekend over Labor Day and went to the mountains in North Carolina with David, Lisa, and Ashby. That is always a relaxing trip.

We had some visits from friends that added some fun to our year: Connie & Jack (my college roommate) came through and spent a night with us. They were back in November for a conference and Connie and I got to spend a day together. Susan Allen and some of her kids were here in the spring and we spent an afternoon at St. Mountain with them; then she and David were back in the fall and we all went out to dinner. Billy spent the winter in Key West, so we had him before and after his trip down there. He also made it down for Thanksgiving and the birth of Brooks.

Church callings have kept us busy as well. Bill is serving in the bishopric so seems to be going to meetings all the time! I am still Stake Director of Public Affairs. I have had some busy times with that - day of service, news articles, community meetings, etc. I have felt discouraged with the calling, but am hanging in there. Maybe this will be the year that things really happen like they are supposed to. I have accepted and accomplished two different challenges to read the Book of Mormon this year - once in 90 days and once in 100 days. Next year, I am going to read the New Testament - slowly!

I haven't done much scrapbooking, but I did do some paintings for Brooks nursery. Lisa wanted four pictures of a train. Other than that, my only hobbies have been reading and genealogy. I have read or listened to 71 books in 2010. There were a lot that I really like and I gave them four stars. Only one book rated 5 stars, though, A Magnificent Catastrophe by Edward R Larson. I have them all listed on my site on I spent several months working on a family history of my Smith-Cleary line for a family reunion in the summer. It turned out pretty good, but I still have a question about one link and I will have to keep working on that in the new year since I can't seem to find the right information.

2011 promises to be a good year, too. We will spend as much time with the grandchildren as possible. Most Sundays we all get together for dinner, which will continue. We are looking forward to our two weeks in Florida. Plus, I will be having a week with my college roommates in the spring here in Atlanta. I hope to go to Iowa for at least a week sometime during the year. We are also supposed to have our reunion with the old Atlanta group of friends this fall - but that may be delayed until the next spring since one of the couples in currently on a mission in England. We also hope for a week in North Carolina in the fall.

I seem to have an aversion to making New Year's resolutions, so I am not doing any - just the general "have a good year."