Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Love...

February 28th, 2010

It's the 28th, and it's late, and it's been a long, long day. I have new respect for those that "blog" on a regular basis! What I was going to write about just doesn't seem to want to come together tonight, so I better save it for another time. In the meantime just let me say...thanks for reading. But in reality the reason I was writing was rather selfish on my me something to focus on other than a dreary February. I think it helped a little. I am VERY excited for spring to get here asap!

I still have a lot of "loves" I could share and still have plenty to learn about love. That which I am grateful for would fill more than a 1000 blog entries. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Mostly, I'm thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and His Son, the Savior Jesus Christ. Hugs, Lisa

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Am Grateful for Tender Mercies!

February 27th, 2010

Our organization for the children in our church is called Primary. It is such a blessing to be called to serve with the young children. One of my favorite Primary songs is entitled, "I Feel My Savior's Love". A thought has gone through my mind several times in the last few days as I've thought about doing my blog posting for the day...what should I focus on...what do I love today...and the thought has been this, "I feel my Savior's love in all the world around me..." One of the ways that I feel like I can more fully understand His love for me is to recognize more often the tender mercies that occur each and every day. "Tender mercies" are just that..."tender". Sometimes they are very obvious, and sometimes you have to look a little closer to recognize that what at first may be somewhat common place is, indeed, a tender mercy.

Nephi tells us in the Book of Mormon, "...that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith..." Elder Bednar testifies that, "the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord's timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them." I LOVE that thought!

Like I said earlier, some tender mercies are obvious. Some you have to look a little more intensely for. And some you don't recognize until some time has gone by. There's a sweet one I wanted to share. Katie was in college and taking a calligraphy class. She needed to do a project and needed a poem, so she called me...surprise, surprise...Mom has nothing better to do...right? I remember when she called...I remember that I was very busy and wanted to point her in a direction and have her do her own searching. But I also remembered that I had recently bought a poetry book for a class and as I had thumbed through it earlier I had come across one of the very few poems that I had memorized way back when. And I said, "Katie, I think I know the perfect poem..." and went and retrieved this one. (Daffodils, the other poem I had memorized, was too long!)


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

It had the perfect number of lines/stanzas, etc. So she went right to work on her piece of calligraphy and I thought no more about it...just that I had once again done my job as mom and felt good that I had been able to help when needed. So often I think that's how us moms think about big deal, no one notices, just what we do, day in-day out. It's not that we're necessarily looking for recognition, but sometimes it helps.

Several months later Rich and I were celebrating our anniversary and found ourselves in the little town of Durango, Colorado. As I'm prone to do in cute little old-looking towns, I find the antique stores and encourage Rich along. So we walked into this little antique shop and sitting right there on a shelf, in an old gold leaf frame, was the above poem. At first I looked at it and smiled because I thought the frame was cute and the paper was cute...and then I saw the poem and it dawned on me what I was seeing. And I smiled some more, wondering just for a second about the thousands of poems in the world and the coincidence of finding just this one, this day, in this antique shop. I bought it as a gift for Katie...and as I reminder for me. It was just something very simple, but at the same time I knew that it definitely was not a coincidence. Just a tender reminder of His love for me. For which I am grateful.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I Love to Shop and Use Coupons!

February 26th, 2010

I Love, Love, Love to shop...and spend my husband's hard earned money...just kidding! He has such trust in my abilities to handle a huge chunk of our finances, and I certainly appreciate that. I'm sure that at times he thinks I'm over the top, continually asking him if used a coupon on a purchase. He dislikes shopping just about as much as I love shopping. That's's pretty much a girl-thing! I especially love getting a super, duper deal. Some days, like today, I hit a particularly good sale.

Wasn't necessarily planning on it, but just had a "feeling" that I should head over to Macy's today, since I was out that way. Totally worth it. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, and if that's the case, then I'm super strict with my personal rules. It has to already be marked down once or twice, there has to be an additional percentage off (preferably 50% more), and I have to have an additional coupon with at least another 20% off. Bingo, all three rules were in place today! I started out by getting a $70 pair of shoes for $18. And then I wandered through the women's department and picked up a few things, and then headed over to the children's department, and oh my, bargains were just sitting there to be had! All in all I left spending just over $100, with the full price (which, in reality, nobody pays) being about $750! I've got a ton of baby gifts stocked up, which I need for the near future. Thanks for making my day Macy's!

I've just about figured out that there are coupons/discounts for just about everything. Sometimes they are harder to find, but the internet sure makes this handy. Also, P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E is key when looking for bargains. And sure, sometimes if you wait too long then the item you're hoping to buy will be gone. This is definitely the case at Costco...if you see something at Costco that you really think you'd like to have, and even if it's something you've seen more than once, chances are if you don't buy it when you see it, then when you go back to get it, it will be gone. Does that make sense? I know whereof I's happened to me way too many times. Bargain hunting and coupons...part of my every day life...and I love it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Love My In-Law Kiddos!

February 25th, 2010

There are tons of momentous milestones that come along while raising children. They are born, they go to school, they join a team, they spend their first night away from home, they drive, they go away to college...and somewhere along the line, they choose to get married. And who they choose to marry is definitely their own choice, as it was mine, as it should be. But a parent, that part of the deal is pretty hard to swallow. There just isn't anything to prepare a mom for the day when a child says they are ready to give their heart to someone's pretty drastic. Very, very fortunately for me, Chris and Katie have chosen partners that seem to fit into our family perfectly. As hard as it is for me to admit, I could not have done a better job. It has been so fun to watch them begin their new families.
This is Holly! This pic is actually from the first weekend when we met Holly last spring. To say that we were impressssssssed would be such an understatement. We adore this girl and are so happy that she crossed paths with Chris, even if it was in cyberspace at first!
Holly is an RN and is currently finishing up just a tad more proud of that. She does hospice work...definitely an area of nursing that requires a special amount of love. She is just what Chris needs to push him through school. Geez, it's actually quite amazing to see how Chris is doing with an encouraging companion at his side. Great motivation.
Yep, Chris is a pretty happy man! They were married last November in the Bountiful Temple. Love it, love it! I look forward to getting to know and spend more time with my darling daughter-in-law.
Katie started talking about this guy named "Joe" She'd say things like, "I got mad at my roommate, so I talked to Joe about it...I needed to go to Wal-Mart, so I got Joe to take me...I had a terrible date, so I talked to Joe about it..." and this went on for awhile. And then it changed to, "So, Joe and I went on a, I'm kinda liking, when are you coming out here so that you can meet Joe?"
Needless to say, he became the love of her life. They are a great match. It's interesting to me that they are both the middle child in a family of five. I'm thinking that makes for a pretty easy-going marriage...both the "peacemaker" types.
Joseph makes me laugh! He has THE best smile. And he treats my daughter like the special woman that she is. They both have grand ambitions and dreams and I have no doubt that over time, with each other's support, they will achieve those dreams. Joseph is getting pretty close to finishing his degree at BYU and will go on to a Physical Therapy proud of him. I'm very glad that I'll have a family member who can help me with all my aches and pains that inevitably come with the aging process. Oh, and with Holly being a nurse, I'm set!
I knew when Katie and Joseph got married that children would not be too far off down the road...and that was just fine with this Grammy-in-waiting! Joseph is a wonderful dad. I know that much of Claire's personality comes from her dad! She just makes me laugh and smile and from all accounts, is quite the little dare-devil that her daddy was. Surprise, surprise.
And so the reason I'm writing about my daughter-law and son-in-law is to let them know how much I love them and how neat I think they are...AND it just happens to be Joseph's birthday! Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Joseph, Happy Birthday to you! Looking forward to being out there again soon. Hugs to you both!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Love Having a Living Prophet!

February 24th, 2010

My focus today is on prophets and apostles. I love the scriptures and reading what the prophets of old have taught and finding applications for our day. But, I am SO grateful for living prophets and apostles, that speak to us and teach us even more of what we need to know today. In our house General Conference, which occurs twice a year, is the best! We love the spiritual boost that comes from listening to those called of God to bless our lives. Our prophet today is President Thomas S. Monson. He is amazing. He has two counselors, President Henry Eyring, and President Dieter Uchtdorf. I love listening and learning from all three of them.
President Uchtdorf's life has always amazed me. He was born in Czechoslovakia in 1940. His early life was spent seeing the devastation of war brought about by World Ward II. He was the youngest in his family. His father had to serve in the German Army and left when young Dieter was four years old. His mother took her young family to Zwickau, Germany where his father rejoined them. Their lives were always in danger because of his father's political positions, and so they left Zwickau, once again with nothing, and made their way to Frankfurt. President Uchtdorf writes, "We were refugees with an uncertain future....I played in bombed-out houses and grew up with the ever-present consequences of a lost war and the awareness that my own country had inflicted terrible pain on many nations during the horrific World War II. After the war, my grandmother was standing in line for food when an elderly single sister with no family of her own invited her to sacrament meeting. My grandmother and my parents accepted the invitation. They went to church, felt the Spirit, were uplifted by the kindness of the members, and were edified by the hymns of the Restoration. How grateful I am for a spiritually sensitive grandmother, teachable parents, and a wise, white-haired, elderly single sister who had the sweet boldness to reach out and follow the Savior's example."

Young Dieter was always amazed by airplanes and has told many stories over the years about his passion for flying. He became a Captain for Lufthansa Airlines when he was a very young 29. 10 years later he became Chief Pilot and Head of Cockpit Crews, and then 2 years later he was Senior Vice President of Flight Operations for Lufthansa.

Something else that I love are the church magazines. Last June a message from President Uchtdorf was published in the Ensign magazine. I remember it well. And wanted to share parts of it. "One of the things I loved most about flying was departing from a dark and rainy airport, climbing through thick and threatening winter clouds, and then suddenly breaking through the dark mist and steeply gaining altitude into the bright sunshine and endless blue sky...
"...I think back on my days as a pilot and those times when thick clouds and threatening thunderstorms made all appear dark and gloomy. In spite of how bleak things looked from my earthly vantage point, I knew that above the clouds the sun beamed brightly like a dazzling jewel in an ocean of blue skies. I did not have faith that such was the case-I knew it. I knew it because I had experienced it for myself. I did not need to rely on other people's theories or beliefs. I knew. In the same way that aerodynamic lift can transport us above the outer storms of the world, I know that the principles of spiritual lift can take us above the inner storms of life. And I know something else. Although it was a breathtaking experience to break through the clouds and fly to the bright blue horizon, that is nothing compared to the wonders of what we all can experience as we lift up our hearts in humble and earnest prayer. Prayer helps us transcend the stormy times. It gives us a glimpse of that blue sky that we cannot see from our earthly vantage point, and it reveals to us another vista-a glorious spiritual horizon filled with hope and the assurance of the bright blessings the Lord has promised to those who love and follow Him."

I LOVE that message. February is a particularly difficult month for's just kind of super, duper depressing. It's cold and gray and dreary and the trees are sticks! But I know what's around the corner...spring...and everything comes back to LIFE! I, too, know that prayer is a powerful instrument given to us to bless our lives and help us through dreary, difficult times...and even as an instrument of thanksgiving when things are going particularly well. I feel so grateful for that knowledge! And thank goodness, March is just around the corner!!

(P.S. Thanks to Bethers for the picture!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Love Sweet Baby Claire!

February 23rd, 2010

OK, so we all knew this one was coming! I Love, Love, Love this little human being! I remember how I dreamed of having children one day...I was so excited to be a mommy! I'm quite sure that my desire to be a grandmother way exceeded my original dreams of motherhood. I've been waiting for November 3rd, 2009 and Claire Elizabeth Brewer's arrival for a very long time!
It was such a thrill to be with Katie and Joseph when we saw the first ultrasound and the tech said, "It's a girl!" Looking back at the situation, I so appreciate their willingness to let me enjoy what should probably have been a special moment between just the two of them. It was just all so amazing to me!
And then the arrival of this perfect little 9 lb. package of sweetness...more wonderful than there are words to express! Katie had to work her heart out to get Claire into this world and she had the unending support of a good husband at her side. So proud of both of them!I was super fortunate to see Claire a LOT her first year...and I know that! I remember when my kiddos were little and they were under two and they rode on the airplane free...good times! The pic above was taken at a niece's wedding when Claire was about 6 months old. I saved some of my kiddos clothes, and this sweet little dress had been Katie's. I have a particular fondness for smocking on little dresses - this was one of my favorite dresses that my sister Becky gave me (Katie).
I think that this one was when the kids surprised Rich for Father's Day last year. I found Miss Cabbage Patch at the Goodwill store, cleaned her up, washed her hair, and re-worked some of Sarah's doll clothes. I can't resist taking pictures of babies when they're sleeping...too sweet!
Claire has such a funny, funny personality. So outgoing and inquisitive and daring and determined and...I could go on and on!!
This was taken pretty close to her first birthday.
And so was this one! I found this little antique chair while I was in Pennsylvania with my sister in September. Thought it would be perfect for Claire's first birthday! These little jammies reminded me of the silky nightgowns and robes my girls loved when they were little.
Yep, Miss Personality Plus...her "fishy lips" look!
Katie and Claire came for a visit in! One day we headed to the mall to check out the merry-go-round. Katie wasn't sure Claire would like it. She LOVED it! There's not too much that she's afraid of.
Earlier we had run into Children's Place, just looking around for bargains. This outfit was not a bargain and so we left it behind, but it sure was fun and super cute. She's such a ham! And I love her more than life itself. I can hardly stand it that she lives so far away. How did my mom stand it to have all of her grandkids so far away in so many different places. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle it in the future. I do know that I'm so excited to welcome Baby Brewer #2 in August. Yahoo!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Love Water!

February 22nd, 2010

Several years ago Sarah and I participated in a Mother/Daughter Book Club. It was lots and lots of fun. One of the books we read together was Number The Stars, a book about the Holocaust. As part of our review one of the moms was able to arrange for a special visitor to come and visit with the girls. Her name is Noemi Ban and she was a Holocaust survivor. I believe at this time in her life she must have been close to her mid-70s. She spent well over and hour visiting with us and it was an experience I will never forget. To this day every time I'm particularly thirsty and guzzle down a bunch of water, I think of Noemi.
Noemi explained how there was no running water at Auschwitz. At times they washed their faces with coffee. When water did become available it was emptied into a small basin-more like a cement pond. They were given a small cup and told to go get a drink. Hundreds of thirsty people would push and shove their way to the basin in hopes of a cup of water. And while this was going on, the guards stood by ridiculing them for the way in which they acted, saying that they were worse than animals-making them feel as though they weren't even human beings. Noemi has written a short book (Sharing is Healing) about her experience. She explains, "An interesting thing happens to me since I became free. It happens when I talk or write about not having water. I get thirsty. I'm thirsty right now! This makes me want a drink of cold water in a hurry. To this day, the best drink in the whole world is a drink of clean, cool water. Next time you are thirsty think of me. And think of how lucky we are." Noemi, I totally agree and I think of you often!

It is amazing to me how so many survivors came through that experience and have such an optimistic outlook on life. Noemi was one of these. She talked about how happy she was to be alive and what a great gift it is. I know that I left her presence feeling entirely different about the small blessings we enjoy in life, that we take for granted. Things like a clean, refreshing glass of water. Go get yourself a drink right now and think of Noemi!!

Not to focus on such a terrible aspect of history, but our family very much enjoyed visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. It is an amazing experience. On one of the walls outside is this quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower. "The things I saw beggar description...the visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty, and bestiality were so overpowering...I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there developed a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda." I'm not sure why that quote had such a profound effect on me. Maybe it is because of the experience I had listening to Noemi and hearing of those that believe the Holocaust never happened. How could they possibly believe that way? I've gotten a little bit off the subject I suppose...again, I think of Noemi often, actually several times a day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Love Relief Society!

February 21st, 2010

Today was a kind of sad day for me. I shall explain the best I can. Our women's organization in the LDS church is called Relief Society. Every ward has a Relief Society...there are roughly 3 million + members of Relief Society throughout the world. It is among the largest of women's organizations. For the past three years I have been serving as the Relief Society President in the Edwardsville Ward. There are 100+ women that I have had responsibility for in one way or another. And it has been such a privilege that I am so grateful for. Today I was released from this calling and given another, which I am sure I will enjoy and learn to love just as much, but in the meantime...well, for today, I'm a little sad.
As you can see from the emblem, the motto of Relief Society is "Charity Never Faileth". I have learned so much from watching the women in our ward. They are SO charitable! So willing to help, so willing to lend a hand, so willing to take in a dinner, make a phone call, visit a friend, drive someone to the hospital, comfort one another, celebrate and mourn together, to participate in myriads of humanitarian projects, to just enjoy each other's company, to increase our talents, and to strengthen our faith together. It has been amazing to watch and take part in.

I remember as a child watching my mom participate in various Relief Society meetings. I watched her develop strong bonds of sisterhood that lasted her entire life. I watched her develop amazing talents. She had moved far, far away from her home in Salt Lake City, and the women at church literally became her sisters! When I was a young married mom-to-be, Rich and I moved to California. I knew no one and I was scared to death! I remember so well how I was welcomed and loved and cared for in the absence of family. I remember how I had visiting teachers, ladies that came to visit me monthly or more, who watched over me and gave me spiritual messages. They were not particularly friends that I would have naturally gravitated to, but I learned to love and appreciate them so much. When my sweet Amy was born and I had no family nearby, my visiting teacher showed up and pretended she was my literal "sister" in order to get in, see me, and comfort me. I'll never forget that! She is a dear friend to this day.

In our church we all have the opportunity to serve in various callings. Sometimes we work with the youth, sometimes we work with the children, sometimes we work on other activities, but once we're 18, women are members of the Relief Society...and it is such a blessing. What wisdom the Prophet Joseph had when he organized the women in 1842! Women have such a natural inclination to meet together, to learn from one another, to bless and lift each other. How wonderful is it that no matter where I go in the whole entire world that I will be able to walk into a Relief Society meeting and know that I am loved and valued and needed and that there are sisters waiting to bless my life. It truly is an amazing thought! I LOVE Relief Society and treasure my membership therein!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Love Good Health!

February 20th, 2010

When I woke up this morning, I immediately knew what I was going to write about much I love feeling good and how grateful I am for good health! Because I sure felt lousy this morning! And one can sure appreciate something when it isn't happening!

I've watched various family members and friends struggle with all sorts of ailments over the years...some things that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. (Not that I have any!) My lack of faith at times makes me wonder what will one day be given to me to deal with...something I try to put out of my mind as much as possible, but something which is a huge motivator at the same time. I plan on staying as healthy as possible, and as I approach the big 5-0 I truly hope that I have lots and lots of time to go still. Yep, lovin' good health and so glad I'm feeling a bit better tonight!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Love My Siblings!

February 19th, 2010

I have an amazing family...the one that I was born into in September of 1960! I am the baby of the Ralph and Betty Huber family. I was raised in College Park, Maryland. My oldest sister (3rd from the left) Sharon, was married with two children by the time this picture was taken. Sally (on the left) was also married. Mary and Becky were probably away at school by this time. I have some memories of my sister Trish being at home...till I was about 8. And, of course, there's my brother Lowell, who I remember being with quite a bit growing up. While my older sisters may not have been living at home while I was in my youth, their impact on my life is unmistakeable. I adored them. And often they would come home just when I needed it the very most. My sister Sharon stayed in Maryland and was very much like my second mother. I spent a lot of time in her home, always went to girls' camp in the summer with her, and grew up with her kids.
This picture is dated 1962. Doesn't my brother just have such a mischievious look on his face??!! He certainly fit that bill.
In 1985 my parents took all the siblings and spouses to Hawaii for two weeks - no children. It was the first time that we had all been together for any significant length of time. I love this picture of Mom and Dad in their respective wheelchairs. We had so much fun, in spite of those wheelchairs! I think it was very much a highlight of their lives.
The times that we have actually all been under the same roof have been very few and far between. That's just what happens when the family is spread across the country and have very busy families of their own. At the point when this picture was taken we were spread out from Virginia to Michigan to Arizona to California and to Utah. The last time we were all together was at my dad's funeral almost 11 years ago, which is kind of sad. Our families have all grown and changed so much. I feel like it is my calling in life, as the baby, to keep everyone connected. Sometimes I feel like I do a pretty good job, and at other times I feel like I'm failing miserably.
We do make efforts to try and reconnect at least yearly because we have such a good time. Our tastes are so similar...yep, we were all shopping at the same store, but didn't realize we had the same shirts until we got to the cash register. We love to relax, shop, eat, relax, visit, antique, relax, swim and visit some more.
They make me laugh! They help me to understand my kids are totally normal, that we all have family issues to deal with. We disagree on plenty of issues, but agree on more. We are getting older! They are each moving much slower...I'm trying to convince myself that I'm not too slow yet. They just all better stick around much longer, because I still have a lot to learn from them.
Yep, I love my siblings...even this bearded, pony-tailed one. He has chosen to not have so much to do with his family at the present time, which is very sad. I do my best to contact him several times a year, but am usually not successful. He's missing out.
One of my goals last year was to go visit my sister Mary in Michigan. Pulled it off! Sharon and I coordinated our schedules and showed up on her doorstep for her birthday. It was super fun, and after her initial shock, I think Mary was very happy about our visit. She loves bunnies!!
Like I previously mentioned, Sharon is more like a dear 2nd mother to me. I still can't believe that she'll be 72 this year. She's such a trooper...I don't know how she gets done what she does. She has so many amazing talents, such an eye for detail. I love being able to spend time with her. Last fall Lindsay and I visited for a week or so...this pic is taken on Monticello was so gorgeous!
And here's the most recent picture of a majority of us...taken at Chris' wedding. I am always so grateful that they make such efforts to be there for me, and be there for my kids when I'm not. I miss my mom and dad, but the "missing them" is often a little bit lessened when we are together as siblings. I look forward to seeing what "get-togethers" we can put together this year! I love each one of them tons!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Love My Boys!

February 18th, 2010

I Love My Boys! They have brought an entirely different perspective to my life. Chris was so much fun as a baby...and so good! He was such a boy...loved the trucks, loved to be outdoors. I'll never forget the huge sandbox that we built for him...and the tire swing...and the dogs we had. Marshall is way different than Chris. We had to basically "force" Marshall to try some sports, but he couldn't get enough books. He had an amazing attention span right from the beginning. When I needed an hour to get something done, I could put Marshall down in front of Peter Pan and he wouldn't move an 9 months old! Later on, entirely on his own, he took up wrestling, which for him was a huge step forward for his confidence and desire to stay physically fit.
Even with their different approaches to life, they have been very good friends. I think they just have this "brotherly" understanding of each other. I loved this picture! I tried to dress my girls alike quite often, but with boys it's a little bit more difficult. But I loved these shirts. Probably a little too big on Marshall, but oh well.
This is a funny picture, especially because baseball season was a miserable experience for Marshall. You wouldn't believe how we cheered for him the day he finally got a hit and got on base...simply amazing. Chris did well in sports, but it certainly wasn't his passion. He is Mr. Computer! And salesman extraordinaire. I am especially happy that both of them have continued to progress in their music skills. Marshall loves his sax and Chris loves the piano.
Love this pic of the boys! So good-looking! Chris has always had crazy straight hair, a funny spot in the front that is always out of control. But otherwise he looks so much like his dad. Marshall, on the other hand, has his dad's hair...pretty darn curly!
Chris worked very hard to prepare himself for a mission. He worked two jobs for quite some time to set aside his portion of the needed funds. He served in the Tennesse Knoxville mission. Chris also earned his Eagle Scout award...his project involved providing a computer system with voice recognition to an assisted living facility. It was an amazing experience for him. Chris started at ITT Tech almost a year ago and I am so proud of how well he is doing. Of course, having Holly at his side encouraging him along, is a huge motivator.
Marshall worked pretty hard at the MTC in Provo for just about his entire freshman year. It would have been pretty sweet to actually go back as a missionary, but instead Marshall headed straight to Brazil for his missionary training experience. Goodness, he's almost been gone 6 months already...hopefully it keeps going as fast as it already has. Marshall's Eagle Scout project involved providing emergency bags for a women's shelter nearby. Another great experience.
I love these guys. They are SO different and yet SO similar. They have such great potential. They love the Savior and were so ready and willing to serve when their calls came. They just make me smile!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Love My Girls!

February 17th, 2010

I love my girls...what else can I say?? When I was growing up I don't remember any overly grand ambitions, like wanting to be a doctor or scientist. I could see myself in an elementary school classroom. I loved my music, but knew that I would never be a performer. I knew I wanted to go to school and learn all I could, but more than anything I wanted to be Mom...and I wanted to have daughters that I could dress up and put curls and bows in their hair.
Our first pregnancy brought joy and sorrow. Amy Elizabeth was born on October 24th and we
buried her a couple of days later. How grateful I am for the knowledge and peace that the gospel brings, and I know without any doubt that Amy is part of our family...families are indeed forever. Our first son Chris came after Amy. I was just thrilled to have A baby! But in my heart of hearts I continued to wish for another daughter. And I got three! How lucky I am...and I know it! I can't even remember when this picture above was taken, but Sarah's hair doesn't look like it had been cut yet...she had one little curl that I hung on to forever. We must have been in Washington.
This is a much more recent picture...and Claire is one of the girls! (I'm also blessed with a wonderful daughter-in-law, but that comes later!) They are each so different and amazing in their own way. Lindsay is amazingly creative, Katie is my peace-maker and such a good mother, and Sarah is a confident and talented musician. They all love to learn and are wonderful students. And they have so many more incredible attributes. But this scripture defines my feelings best..."I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth...3 John 1:4" That they each have their own testimonies of the Savior and live their lives in accordance with that knowledge is such a blessing to this mother. I'm so glad that they are good friends - so much fun to be with. Love you girls!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Live in Mid-West...Gotta Love Custard!

February 16th, 2010

I currently live in the area of the country that is referred to as the "mid-west". If you live in the "mid-west" and like something akin to ice cream, you learn to like custard and concretes! Yep, kind of different...but YUMMY! Custard is nice and smooth and creamy and concretes are kind of like super thick shakes...but better. So, in our area we have choices! Annie's is a favorite if we want to go on a bike ride and end up with dessert on the way...cute, little joint that sits on a cute, little corner in cute, little Edwardsville...
And then there's the favorite of most of the Bowerman Family...Bobby's. Bobby's is worth the drive, I guess, and the place is so unbelievably busy from the end of February until some time in November I think. My personal favorite at Bobby's are actually their chocolate covered strawberries.
Last year for Father's Day our family pulled off a little surprise for Rich and most of the Utah group showed up as a Bobby's no less! Pretty sweet!
And I know I'm weird, but actually I believe I'm just easy to please. I'm happy with a Culvers custard, which is available all year long...thank goodness! Culvers is a mid-west chain of stores, so you might just be familiar with Culvers.
And my favorite, just in case anyone is wondering, is NOT what is pictured, although that's pretty darn good. I'm a chocolate/marshmallow gal 95% of the time. We used to have some friends that worked at Culvers and I really miss them being there. I could always say, "...and go heavy on the marshmallow creme...ok Alec??!!" And he would do just that!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Love Noah's Ark!

February 15th, 2010

I love lots and lots of different scripture stories...maybe I'll talk about that a little more on another day. But, in particular today, I wanted to mention Noah and his ark. It's a story that has always made me marvel. How amazing is it that Noah, with all the ridicule, persisted and did what he was told to do. How wicked the world truly must have been. How did all of those animals get along and how did for sure have enough food for everyone? So many issues to think about and logistically prepare for. Noah must have been quite a man and certainly had a good woman at his side. It was fun for me as Marshall seemed to take an interest in all things Noah's Ark and it became his theme, particularly in his bedroom. Hopefully some little grandchild of mine will like Noah's Ark as much as Marshall did, because I sure have a lot of "things" to decorate with!
I really had to smile when I came across this: "Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned From Noah's Ark"
Here you go...
One: Don't miss the boat.
Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
Three: Plan wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
Six: Build your future on high ground.
Seven: For safety sake, travel in pairs.
Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
Nine: When you're stressed, float a while.
Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Love Valentine's Day AND Beautiful Music!

February 14th, 2010

Valentine's Day is here! I love Valentine's Day. I remember so well what the day was like when I was in Elementary School. Decorating your box which acted like a mailbox for your valentines was SUCH a big deal. I spent hours decorating mine...way back when. I also love old-fashioned kinds of this greeting...
So glad that Rich is MY valentine!!

So last night Rich and I went on a REAL date...not just to dinner, but to dinner AND the symphony! There is music...and then there is REAL music - beautiful - take your breath away - amazing - how does she do that - absolutely stunning - inspiring music! We experienced the latter kind last night. I'm so grateful for the ability we have to have recordings and CDs, etc. They are wonderful. But to be there is something entirely different. To see energy and emotion, even from very far away, is just...can't think of the right words...

The first selection was the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture by Tchaikovsky. Way cool. And then this amazing violinist came out. Her name is Viviane Hagner...I didn't take this picture, but this is the dress she was wearing...
She was the featured soloist for Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64. It is a familiar piece...I'd hum the tune if I could! It went for 26 minutes. She had not one piece of music in front of her. It is an incredibly complicated piece. What amazing, God given talent! I can't even begin to fathom how many hours she has put into developing and mastering her talent. How many times has she listened to this piece of music...100, maybe 1000 be able to play it at such a high level of mastery? When you experience that 26 minutes and then it ends, you just kind of sit there in reverent silence before the audience erupts in applause. And then I felt like saying, "Oh, just play that part one more time...please, oh please, oh please!" I thought to myself, "Her arms, her fingers...they must just ache!" They were moving so fast!
I came away feeling immense gratitude for having had that experience, and perhaps a little more determined to work on the talents that I have been given. Clearly there are not many Viviane Hagner's in the world, and there are relatively few Olympic athletes. I guess one could find their own abilities a little depressing when measured against such a high standard, but I certainly don't think that is at all what our Heavenly Father intends to have happen. There are so many, many ways in which to excel...from being a good friend, to knowing just the right thing to say, to mastering an instrument, to being an excellent employee, to being organized, to being well-read, to being an excellent gardener, and on and on. How boring would life be if we all excelled in the same area, at the same thing? I, for one, am glad that is not the case. My life has been so enriched by others who, in more ways than I could ever enumerate, have blessed my life with their talents.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Love the Olympics!

February 13th, 2010

I LOVE the Olympics!
I can remember from being way little looking forward to being able to watch the Olympics. I am quite sure that my favorite winter sport to watch is ice skating. To be able to express your feelings on the ice with music must just be a thrill for the performer. To be able to get your body to do such amazing jumps and twists and turns...all I can think to say is "Wow!"

I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics last night. They were amazing. We were living in Bellingham, WA at the time that Vancouver was announced as the venue for 2010. Ah, we were so close had we stayed. I saw pictures of places that we were familiar with...such a beautiful, beautiful corner of this amazing planet. I pulled out my "Whistler" sweatshirt today...I'll have to wear it a whole bunch these next couple of weeks. I am so looking forward to watching all of the stories of hard work, competition, and ultimate joy unfold. Of course, my heart is sad because of the loss of the athlete yesterday. So sad. Hopefully it will inspire the small nation he was from, and actually all of the athletes, to do their very best.

Canada should be very proud of the production put on last night, but I'm here to say, "Go Team USA!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Love to Run!

February 12th, 2010

I came home this morning and I thought, "I need to get out and go for a run!" So I did, and it sure felt good. It's maybe 30 degrees outside right now, so I bundled up and hit the trail. I'm not sure what it is about running that makes it so appealing...I think it mostly has to do with how you feel afterwards. Unfortunately I am definitely not as young as I used to be and my knees make doing any long distance running out of the picture. However, a good 5 to 7 mile jog does wonders for the mind. I'm thinking the whole time and making mental lists of things I need to take care of when I get back home.

Today was my first experience running in the snow! Most of the trails I go on still had about 2 inches covering parts of the them. That was super fun and super soft...I felt like a little kiddo! However, on my ipod the Beach Boys were playing! Yikes, running in the snow and dreaming about being on the beach...I just kept thinking, "Something is definitely wrong with this picture!" I could definitely use a little beach time right about now!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Love Tennis!

February 11th, 2010

I love, love, love tennis. I love to watch...all levels. Even when I'm playing on one court I find myself losing my concentration because of a point that is going on on another court. So, yep, I love to watch in person and especially on DirectTV (Channel 217!) during the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. I don't claim the tv too much, but those weeks I get an overdose of watching tennis.

But it's most fun to actually play. For whatever reason, it is a major stress reliever for me. When I hit that ball just right, it feels so good. And for the most part it is a pretty good work out for me. Have to admit, though, that the best part of tennis is the social aspect. All the ladies that I play with are so much fun! Plenty of us have plenty in common and generally we are all pretty chatty. Is it possible to play some serious tennis, though, and have fun laughing our way through a match at the same time? Absolutely! I do it at least three times a week!

St. Louis has a professional tennis team that plays for about 6 weeks in the summer. Just read today that Lindsay Davenport is going to be part of the St. Louis Aces! Hey, that's fun information. Lindsay has always been a favorite player of mine to watch on the women's side. Who do I like to watch on the men's side...well, that has to be Roger. He's just SO good. I hope he has a great year. I thought at the end of the Australian how cool it would be to have Roger play Serena. Hmmmm...wonder if that would ever happen.

Anyways, tennis certainly helps to keep my spirits up during the dreary winter months here in Edwardsville. We are super blessed with a wonderful YMCA facility that has 5 beautiful indoor courts. I especially love the new paint job. The courts are blue and the surrounding area is now tan. We pretend we are at the ocean and on the sand...anything helps!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Love Walgreens!

February 10th, 2010

OK, this is kind of a weird one to say that I love, but I thought about it as I quickly ran in today...I LOVE
Why? you ask...well, I'll give just a couple of reasons. I have used coupons throughout our entire married life. It is just the way I am wired. If I can get something for less, I will play the game. It becomes a challenge to figure out how each particular store works their coupon policies. I like Walgreens. They'll take Manufacturer's coupons, Walgreens coupons, and Register Receipts...all in one. Just have to decide whether their sale price really is a good price to begin with. Obviously it is not a grocery store and their selection isn't always the greatest...but there's usually another one not too far away...and...

Reason #2 I LOVE Walgreens...they are all laid out the same! Love it. Having moved around the country just a little bit I have had lots of experiences with stores. It's one of the most frustrating things about moving - figuring out how to find things in yet another new store. But, go into just about any Walgreens, just about anywhere in the country, and the photo department is to the left, pharmacy towards the back left, baby aisle is about the third aisle from the right, but towards the back. Makes life so much easier!

And for the most part the clerks are happy to help. And to have someone be happy for you while you save money at their's just really nice!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Love Keeping in Touch!

February 9th, 2010

I've spent just about the WHOLE day keeping in touch. In other words...I'm finally sending out my Christmas cards...which are now almost Valentines! It's not quite as bad as it seems. I was actually waiting for a snow day, which we had today. My card said on it, "Let It Snow", and the letterhead was a snowman, so it only seemed appropriate to wait for the appropriate day to finally mail them out. Besides, I've been just a little busy!

But I really DO love staying in touch, and especially enjoy how easy it is to do that these days. I LOVE the internet and all the possibilities of connection that it provides. I have finally figured out the texting thing and for the most part I think it's great. It's one of those things that can seriously be misused, along with the internet. That will always be a challenge for all of us. I well remember those days early in our marriage when I had to carefully measure out when I would call home. While I was in Hawaii for a semester of school I made one collect phone call home...on my birthday. I was lucky to get a letter every other week or so. Amazing to think how much things have changed. And I, for one, am very happy about that change!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Love Chocolate!

February 8th, 2010

Surprise, surprise. I really do love chocolate - probably not as much as my friend, Dawn, in Bellingham does, but I sure think it is pretty darn good and I'm right up there in thinking it should be one of the main food groups! I'm more of a milk chocolate gal, rather than dark chocolate, but I'll certainly eat the dark chocolate variety. It's kind of a standing joke at our house that I pretty much have some chocolate hidden somewhere in the house. When you need chocolate, you NEED chocolate right then!

We have a Relief Society Chocolate Recipe night this week and so I've been looking at a few recipes in order to try something new. My goodness, there are tons and tons of internet recipe sites! Seriously could get lost and spend the whole day looking at recipes if one so desired! I found the following one at the Taste of Home recipe site and tried it tonight for Family Night...pretty good and very easy.

Lava Chocolate Cake
4 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
6 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Grease the bottom and sides of four 6-oz. ramekins; sprinkle each with 1 tsp. sugar. Place ramekins on a baking sheet; set aside.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate; stir until smooth. Stir in confectioners' sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt; spoon batter into prepared ramekins.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees and cake sides are set and centers are soft. (When I initially looked at 12 minutes they didn't look done enough and I left them in a little longer...should have taken them out then...but I guess it really comes down to how much of a gooey center that you like!)
Remove ramekins to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully run a small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert warm cakes onto serving plates. Lift ramekins off cakes. Serve warm with whipped cream (or ice cream!) or sprinkle with additional confectioners' sugar if desire.
Yield - 4 servings.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Love My Dishwasher!!

February 7th, 2010

We all have heroes. One of my heroes (and I'm not sure if it's a man or a woman) is the person that invented the dishwasher...tend to think it may have been a lady! I think in the next life I will track him/her down and thank them personally.

We've had one of those crazy/busy weekends and no one has taken the time to do the dishes and they were piling up. I haven't named my dishwasher yet, but as I was doing the dishes this evening I thought of the name "Betty"..."Betty Bosch"...what do you think? My mother's nickname was Betty. And I have a Bosch...and I. LOVE. IT. I think there is a disposal of sorts in there and some magical scrubbing element that comes out during the cycle. I can put stuff in there that has sat for days and it comes out clean. And the machine is super quiet, too...quietly goes about doing its business. One of those "behind the scenes" types. I'm sold forevermore! We are so lucky to live in this day and age, with such modern appliances and conveniences. I, for one, am convinced that I would never have made it had I been asked to be a pioneer and cross the plains. Quite sure of it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Love Listening to the Flute!

February 6th, 2010

I love the doubt about that. But right up there next to beautiful piano playing is beautiful flute playing. I always wanted to learn how to play the flute and tried my hand at it just a bit. Oh happy day when Sarah chose the flute to learn how to play in 5th grade.
She has stuck with it over the years. I LOVE to hear her does my heart good. I grew up in a home where good music was very much appreciated. I practiced for hours and for the most part enjoyed it quite a bit. However, the one thing that really bugged me (and I'm not sure why that was except for maybe just a little teenage rebellion) is when my mother would say, "Oh, that was so wonderful...please play it one more time!" For whatever reason, I would rarely comply. I would apologize today if I could for that severe lack of gratitude on my part. I now know of the joy that must have brought my parents, not to mention the funds spent on my behalf. Sarah, fortunately, is a little better at complying with requests than I am. It became time recently to upgrade Sarah's flute, and after trying several this is the one she settled holes, gold lip plate, added foot, etc. Oh, and it sounds wonderful, too! Many, many thanks to Heather for sticking with Sarah, in spite of her lack of practice at times...she's a wonderful friend, role model and teacher...and this is one grateful mom!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Love to Sew!

February 5th, 2010

My earliest childhood memories involve being at my mother's side while she worked away on her sewing machine. My mother was one amazingly creative woman! Heavens, she had five little girls right in a row! She could easily see a dress in the store, sketch it out and go home and create it. As grand-daughters started to come along I clearly remember multiple dresses, often made from the same pattern. At some point in time she must have found a killer deal on gingham. I remember a bodice of gingham and a skirt of gingham squares. At that point in time dressier dresses were to the floor. At least these were. Those dresses were passed around for quite some time. I think that even Lindsay wore one of them. And then there were also gingham quilts that seemed to go on and on.
And as a result, mostly from my mother's influence, I LOVE to sew! I loved my "Home Ec" classes in junior high and high school. My graduation present from high school was a Bernina sewing machine...thought I had gone to heaven!! Lindsay has since inherited that wonderful machine and I have a Bernina that does embroidery. I remember walking into the sewing lab at BYU and seeing a whole room full of Berninas...I was so amazed! I had some talented teachers while at BYU...loved my sewing classes and flat pattern design classes.

For now, my love of sewing translates to quilting. I melt when I go into certain quilt shops. I heart creative juices really start flowing. There just simply is not enough time in the day to do all the sewing I want to do. Every day (almost) for the past two weeks I have had a mental appointment with my sewing machine, but every day my best made plans have been rearranged for a zillion reasons. But not last night...Rich had a meeting and Sarah had a practice and I ignored several things I need to get to and went to town on this darling little dress for Sweet Baby Claire! Do you even know how long it has been since I've sewn a dress for a little girl??!! Way, way too long. And last night I kept thinking about my mother...I kept thinking I should be cutting out several of these at the same time, and that once I made this pattern the first time, it would be so easy the second time! As it is I really only did have material for just one, maybe two. I found this combination of prints at my currently favorite quilt shop in Utah, called Material Girls. I really need to prioritize my list of projects waiting in the wings, but I'm inspired now!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lovin' My Hubby!!

February 4th, 2010

I am a lucky lady...and I KNOW it! Rich and I are approaching our 30 year anniversary this year! Yikes, that seems like a long time, and yet it seems like just yesterday that I saw him for the first time. I clearly remember telling a roommate that I needed to find out more about him...I was very impressed. He was a natural leader and teacher. I loved, and still do, listening to him teach. Teaching seems to come so easily to him, and yet I know the hours that he spends reading, pondering, and praying for further understanding and insight.
30 years has taken us up and down the California coast, to the beautiful state of Washington, and then to the mid-west where we currently are residing in Illinois. He started his career with Unocal in 1981 after graduating from BYU. And has weathered being bought and sold and merged and is currently employed by ConocoPhillips. To say that he has put his heart into his employment is a severe understatement. I know that I have a slightly jaded perspective; however, I have watched him easily put in 60+ hours a week for more years than I care to remember. His current assignment has brought significant challenges beyond anything experienced previously. "Relief" and "Accomplishment" will have entirely different meanings when his current project is completed. But I sure am proud of him! Rich is SUCH a mechanical engineer. You have to know that just about any time he talks about work that such explanation comes with a diagram of sorts, usually on a napkin. It really is fun to drive past his site and see everything that is happening, especially the big, blue, humungous (?) crane.
Far more important than being an employee is the father that he has been to his children. They have their own way of expressing their gratitude to him and I enjoy watching the various ways they find to do so. Rich was raised pretty much without a father, but with an angel mother. Our children are very lucky. They have the benefit of having a pioneer heritage from my side of the family. From Rich they get the perspective that comes with realizing the difference that the gospel can bring into a family's life, as Rich joined the LDS Church while attending Vanderbilt University. As for me, I will be eternally grateful the he had lived his life in a way such that he was able to recognize the Spirit testifying to him of the truthfulness of the gospel when it was presented to him. We have been blessed with children that have developed strong testimonies of the gospel and I credit much of their understanding to the example of their father.
I love this man! And I'm proud to be by his side. I appreciate his willingness to see past my shortcomings and always wanting me to achieve whatever my heart desires. I look forward to seeing the many opportunities that will come our way in the next several years. International work, building a home, serving a mission, grandparenthood...endless list...we'll see!!