Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Project ABC

Last night Cordelia and Elise were over and they had a project to do. I brought out an ABC floor puzzle and they got right down to business.

As you can see, Bode wanted to be helpful.

He really wasn't.

The girls persevered.

Bode continued supervising.

Elise brought the letters and Cordy put them together. With teamwork, even under questionable canine supervision, they did get the job done.  Bode was thankful as he thought they'd made him a new bed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Operation Christmas Child

Tonight was fun.  Our congregation pulled together for a very important purpose. We were packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child!  Click on that link to learn more about this project. It is BIG! Boxes are sent all over the world to give to children who likely would have no Christmas gifts otherwise. My friend, Nicole, is the driving force behind our church's efforts to contribute to this project.

She had a group of well organized helpers who had done a lot of prep work to have things ready. In fact, last week we had a pre-packing party where we used baggies to organize health kits, candy bags, school kits, etc. Those items were then included on the tables lined up with lots and lots of presents for children of various ages. Everything as so well organized!

These gift items were all donated by people from our church. We have a very, very generous congregation and they've been donating for this project now for some time.

We gathered for pizza while the last preparations were made. I particularly liked the taped arrows around the church building. It was set up so we could pick up a box, write a note and trace our hand on the inside lid of the box, add some tissue paper, a bag of candy, a bag of school supplies, a bag of hygiene items such as toothbrushes, cloth, soap,etc,  Once we hand those things in our box we got to choose if a path to go by tables sorted by items appropriate for either younger children, older children or those in between.

Before we ever began, though, we gathered to pray for those who would receive our boxes of gifts.  Once we started, it went pretty quickly because there were a lot of us there. Nicole had told us Sunday that she needed "all hands on deck" and that is exactly what she got! We just lined up and took a box past each station. It was fun to choose the toys or other items we added to our box. When complete, we took the to the table of helpers who added a label. They passed the boxes back to others who rubber banded them and put them into bigger boxes and eventually into our church van/trailer for transportation to the collection point. We just kept the line going, each of us doing several boxes.

It was kind of like shopping as we chose what items to put in our boxes.

I choose to not publish photos of the children there, but they ranged from about age 3 on up. Its was great!

In about an hour's time we had packed 335 boxes loaded with surprises for children all around the world!  Another congregation here in town helped with the effort and brought over 40 more boxes to add to our efforts. What a great project!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Family Time

I have a weird, quirky and fun family and I have photos to prove it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

25 Below

It has been a bit chilly here this week! Sunday night into Monday morning I believe the temperatures dropped about 60 degrees! This is not my favorite kind of weather.

It occurred to me this morning that not everyone knows what it is like at 25 degrees below zero so maybe I should share a few things with you.

At 25 degrees below zero you may wake up to frost on the INSIDE of your house. You leave full size blankets on the living room furniture because it just doesn't ever seem to get warm enough in your house. Still, I'm so very grateful to have a house and a furnace!

At 25 degrees below zero I crave hot baths. That's not necessarily good, though, as it robs your body of natural oils that keep your skin healthy. It is so hard to keep skin from cracking and bleeding when it is so cold. My hands can get pretty rough. It is really hard to pull on a pair of pantyhose as my fingers get so rough they catch on the pantyhose. Anyone know what I am talking about?

At 25 degrees below zero cars do not like to start. We used to have a heater attached to our car engine. You could tell who had them because there would be a cord dangling out from under the hood. What you would do is plug it in to an extension cord and your car was much more likely to start when needed. Some parking places even had little outlets on posts just for that purpose. Here's a funny side story. We had a Ford Taurus with the heater on the engine when we moved from Montana to New Mexico in 1995. I drove that car to class at college and one day, when I came out, there was a little crowd around my car. When I approached, they asked me if it was an electric car (that was before electric cars were common).

Anyway, our cars usually start now but this week has been a bit hard on mine. To ensure it starts at the end of the day I am going out in the cold halfway through the day and letting the engine run awhile. That isn't my favorite thing either, but it is better than not being able to drive it home at 5:00.

At 25 degrees below zero everything is crunchy and stiff.  The snow doesn't make soft swishy sounds as you walk through it but it makes painful crunching sounds. I crunched out to our mailbox this week to find that it was frozen shut. I worked and worked to get it open, only to find there was no mail. I expect the mail carrier had given up on opening it.

At 25 degrees below zero it hurts to breathe. Really. It also hurts to move my fingers. This weather can be so dangerous. I hate seeing children out waiting for the school bus. It doesn't take long for serious injury to occur.

Here's another story about cold weather. It occurred when we lived in Minnesota while Mike was going to seminary. There were quite a few families living in married student housing who were from other countries, countries with no snow. One family from Africa had a little boy named Moonga. One day I came out of our building and Moonga was stuck to a pole by his tongue. Apparently one of the kids had told him to lick the pole. In case you don't know, that is a very bad move when it is cold. He was frozen to it. I ran in and got a glass of warm water to pour on to melt him off. He started pulling and the first glass wasn't warm enough. I ran for a warmer glass of water and was able to get him detached but he was bleeding and left a bit of tongue on the pole. Teach your children about that danger!

Still, there are a lot of good things about 25 degrees below zero. Soup tastes really delicious. That is not always true in July. Freshly baked bread smells like heaven. OK, that IS true in July but still... There are no bugs bugging us right now.

25 degrees below can be quite beautiful. Yesterday, on my way to work, I saw the biggest sun dogs ever! If you don't live in cold country you may not know what I am talking about. I'm sure there is a scientific name for this phenomenon but I know it as sun dogs. When there are a lot of ice crystals in the air the sun reflects in a way that makes it seem as though you've been transported to a planet with three suns. I was in traffic when I saw them yesterday and couldn't find a good viewing spot to pull over but I found a lot of great sun dog photos at Google Images.

(credit to gopherboy2956)

The ones I saw had even more of the rainbow colors mixed in. They were absolutely gorgeous! 

At 25 degrees below zero you pray that there is no wind.  Luckily, it has been quite still here this week. That almost never happens! There is always something for which we can be grateful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jazzing Things Up

After hearing the Kid Symphony (see previous post) Cordelia was still interested in musical instruments. I got out my saxophone and let her give it a try. I really didn't expect her to be able to make much noise with it but she turned out to be a natural!

I really like saxophones and so was happy to see her enjoying it. Terry B., do you recognize that saxophone?

I've done all I could to save her parents from needing to buy the big harp that Cordy's so admired. I even told her she could have my saxophone if she still wants to play when she is a bit older. She seemed pretty happy with that plan!

I never became much of a musician myself. I started with the violin in 6th grade but when we moved to a small town in Minnesota, there was no orchestra and no violin teacher. I took 2 years of piano lessons after that. My teacher was a high school girl and I really enjoyed piano with her. When she graduated and went to college, I did not restart lessons with anyone else. I have only a few regrets in life and that is one of them.  

When my family moved to Turner, MT I decided I wanted to join band. The instruments were owned by the school and my first year I played the bass drum as that was what was available. It was a good place to start, especially as I had zero band experience.

My junior and senior year I got to play the baritone saxophone. I really liked that, but I didn't usually get to play very interesting musical parts.

Years later I purchased an alto saxophone from a dear friend. I was so excited to get to play it! By then, though, I was having some problems with my jaw, TMJ problems, and playing the saxophone became very painful. Now you know how I came to have a saxophone available. Maria played it awhile in her younger years but did not keep up with it either. She does look good with it, doesn't she?

Do you play an instrument? More than one? 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Kid Symphony

So I got to attend something fun this morning. The Wyoming Symphony put on a Kid Symphony. Maria wasn't able to attend with her family so I went in her place. My son-in-law, Eric, came to pick me up. We were there early enough to get comfortable.  The girls were excited! Cordelia entertained us by trying to look serious then giggling.

I finally got a decent photograph.

This Kid Symphony was a teaching experience designed to let kids have a chance to learn what was really going on with the music. All of the instruments were introduced as a group, such as woodwinds, then individually, such as the clarinet. The kids got to hear each one separately as well as all together. Cordelia quickly chose a favorite instrument. Do you want to guess what she wants to play? I will get back to that.

When they introduced the instruments they explained HOW each made music, such as by blowing air through or over a hole, running a bow across strings or plucking strings, etc.  They also showed how to make music by blowing over the top of a bottle or even through a garden hose with a funnel on one end.

Near the end of the concert the conductor called for four volunteers. Cordy was very disappointed to not be chosen but we weren't sitting close enough to the front. Anyway. They did kind of a cool deal. The first volunteer got to listen while they played three different melodies and then she was asked which she liked best. Then, they played three different versions of the harmony and the next little kid got to choose from those. They did the same with the percussion to find the preferred beat. They played the chosen mixture as a Walt, a March or a tango. Once the choices were made, one little boy got to be the conductor and the symphony played their new composition. 

I thought it was a clever way to teach a bit of what goes into composing. It probably meant more to the older kids. I noticed some kids were kind of tuned out by then.

So, did you make a guess regarding Cordelia's chosen instrument? She wants to play the harp!

I think we would all agree that music is important. There is so much work, years of practice, that goes into achieving something as simple as this concert for children.  I am so appreciative of dedicated musicians and I am grateful for these musicians today for sharing their work with these children. I hope some of those children will be inspired to learn to play an instrument as well. Maria and Eric, better start looking for a harp!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Big Bites

We're so messed up! We live in a world where little kids are dying from lack of food.  Every day. Dying. Little children. How can that be when so many of us are worrying about our waistlines growing?

What got me started on this topic, you ask? Well, it was our spoons. We still have the same silverware we have had since our wedding in 1978.  Additionally, I have purchased some newer silverware to fill in for some that seems to have disappeared. 

Since acquiring this newer silverware I keep getting confused when I am putting them away. We have one of those divider trays with slots for the knives, the serving spoons, the forks and the regular spoons. Our newer spoons are so much bigger than their 1970 version.

The spoon on the left is one of our newer spoons and the spoon on the right is the 1978 counterpart. Isn't that ridiculous?

This is my conclusion. We are taking bites that are too big. This madness has got to stop!  We need to pass some of those bites along to others, those not getting their share.

There are many good organizations that provide a way to share food around the world. We recently had a guest in our home who was representing Food for the Poor. It is one of many organizations who are trying to benefit the poor. You can check them out at foodforthepoor.org to learn more.  Mike and I also like to donate through Compassion International. You can read about them at compassion.com .  

Those are two of the places we know of to help those with lesser resources. Where do you like to donate?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

John Denver Tribute

Last night was fun! Mike recently received a sweet gift of two tickets to a John Denver tribute concert by singer, Jim Curry.  This man is not an impersonator but he did seem like he could have been a brother to John Denver. He sounded so much like him!

A special bonus to the evening was the addition of John Summers, who sang with John Denver in the past and was the songwriter of 5 songs recorded by John Denver. He is the one who wrote "Thank God I'm a Country Boy!"  

The best part for me was this smile! I realize this is a grainy photo but I took it on the sly, in the dark. It still makes me happy, grainy or not.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Leaves and Bees

Some bumblebees and some adults in gawky Halloween vests stopped this evening.

Wait! What is Grandpa doing!?

I am not sure what is going on!

Hey! Grandpa, you threw leaves on my Mommy! What would you do that?

It is ok? Really?

Oh! This could be fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting To Know Myself

I like to think I am a person who is pretty self aware.  I know that I like baths over showers. No matter what others think, wearing orange makes me feel happy ( I was once told I looked like one of those road construction barrels). I realized long ago that I can do the same thing over and over for quite a long time (think crochet). I know that I am a hard worker but deep down I really want to be lazy. I could go on and on but really, I also know that I am not a terribly fascinating person. I don't mean that in a bad way; I am ok with that.

So, I was surprised by myself this week. I was surprised that I had any surprises left in me! It was a pretty big shock, as a matter of fact. Something I had always known about myself turned out to be untrue.  For over 50 years I have known that I strongly prefer red Tootsie Roll Pops, with the brown ones coming in second. This week, I suddenly realized my favorite Tootsie Roll Pop is grape!

So, now I am trying to come to terms with this.  What does it mean? Am I even still me?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fighter Tree

In Wyoming I pretty much appreciate any tree with the gumption to grow. The cotton-less cottonwood in our front yard has charmed me now for eleven seasons. It is a lot older than that but this is our 11th Fall in this home.

Each Fall I look forward to that afternoon I walk down the hall and see the golden glow in our living room. That magnificent tree can really put on a show and the afternoon sun pushes all that beauty through our front window. It can be absolutely dazzling! This is how it looked two years ago, although the photo doesn't really give the dazzle effect quite as I remember it. Where you see leaves that look bigger, that is because they were falling and were closer to the camera. It does give you an idea of what it was like to stand under it during the showering of the leaves. They were raining down on me as I took this photo.

Last October, though, nature did a brutal pruning of that tree.

I think it must feel a bit embarrassed by it's diminished glowing capacity now. I try not to talk about it where the tree can hear me.

That tree is a fighter, though! It hasn't given up!

As I've been resting in bed quite a bit these last few days, I've enjoyed hearing big leaves whack into the window. Yes, the wind is blowing. It is Wyoming. Anyway, sometimes I look up and the wind is holding one of those big leaves against the window for me for a few seconds. I kind of like that; its a little treat for me.

I think there is a lesson in all that somewhere. One of the things about life is that nothing is constant. A person may be strong and healthy but we all age, we are all vulnerable to accidents and illnesses. I think we are still responsible to do the best we can with what we have left. That sounds kind of preachy, but it is Sunday and I am married to the pastor. What do you expect?