Thursday, January 29, 2009

Great Parenting 101

Dear Mrs. Gallagher,

I am so happy that Scotty has you for Pre-Algebra, he is really enjoying the challenge of the class.
Now about that worksheet you gave them for homework.....
He finished it.
I want you to know Mrs. Gallagher, that Scotty is delusional.
We aren't as bad of parents as the worksheet may make us seem.


Byron and Jeni
(who you have known for years and years and know to be fabulous parents)

Look Carefully at this chart. What part do you think made me feel like a pond scum mother"

Monday, January 26, 2009

The recession has gone too far....

Today I ran across this article on the Internet. I am seeing the good and the bad in it. The good is less cookies for me to eat, the bad is less cookies for me to eat. I'm in a quandry, upset beyond belief...less thin mints ? That's a travesty.

"It's always seemed a little too effortless to finish off a box of Girl Scout cookies, but if they are a little easier to dust off this year, it's not just in your head.

To offset the cost increases of cookie ingredients, Girl Scouts of the USA made the decision to shrink its cookie boxes by a centimeter, package fewer cookies into boxes of Thin Mints, Do-si-dos, and Tagalongs, and reduce the size of its Lemon Chalet Crèmes.

According to the organization, the cost of flour rose by 30 percent, assorted cooking oils by 40 percent, and cocoa by at least 20 percent. The company felt this was the best method of dealing with increasing raw material prices. Alternatively, Girl Scouts could have used cheaper ingredients, or raised cookie prices from their current price of $3.50 per box.
This doesn't come as a surprise to me, since last year producers began rolling out shrunken products in reaction to the price of food on the rise. I'm secretly a bit excited — for once, the downsized box may be enough for me to stop short of a stomachache. "

Really, someone HAS JUST GOT to fix this economy. I could care less about the banks, the car manufacturers, Mervyn's ... but when the sweet little Girl Scouts are affected, somethings' got to give. Give them a bailout, reduce their flour and oil prices, outsource the baking to India....just don't mess with my Samoas. President Obama, you are the answer to ALL the world's problems...take care of this first thing will you? I guarantee you sir, it's a matter of national security.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Honeymoon is over

Mine and Barack's honeymoon lasted all of 2 1/2 days.

Two and a half days full of photo ops and speeches full of hope, and now, it's done.

Barack, Barack, Barack....why, why, why?

Why Mr. President, Why Mr. Democrat President that I was thinking I maybe should have voted for?

Why are you sending our tax dollars $ across the seas to foreign lands so that it can be used to perform abortions? They are innocent babies and there aren't many arguments that make this right. (mothers' health, rape and incest and that's it...)

It's morally wrong and it is beyond disappointing.

I'm sad and already disillusioned.

Oh Mr. President

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Friday struck down the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information — an inflammatory policy that has bounced in and out of law for the past quarter-century.

"For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate."

Family planning assistance? I could really go on a rant here.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., called it "morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans to promote abortion around the world."

"President Obama not long ago told the American people that he would support policies to reduce abortions, but today he is effectively guaranteeing more abortions by funding groups that promote abortion as a method of population control,"

My edit button is on overdrive and smoking.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Goddess of Do-A-lot

I have a staff assistant at school who is from India and is a practicing Hindi. She is beautiful, very thin,a vegetarian, and a very smart young lady with the most gorgeous hair past her rump. She TA'd for me last year and we have become very close. I share my religion, and she shares hers. This year for the winter break she went to India for three weeks to visit family and participate in some of her religions rituals. When she came back she told me that I am like the goddess DURGA.

Being compared to a goddess is quite cool. I hope she's not the goddess of bad luck or eternal chubbiness, I want her to be something GOOD... so I looked up Durga, she looks like this:

When I looked up in Wikipedia who Durga was, I found this definition:

In Hinduism, the goddess Durga ("the inaccessible"[1] or "the invincible"[2]) or Maa Durga (Mother Durga) "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress". Durga is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, a superheroine depicted as having 10 arms, riding a lion or a tiger, carrying weapons (including a Lotus flower), maintaining a meditative smile, and practicing mudras, or symbolic hand gestures.

An embodiment of creative feminine force (Shakti), Durga exists in a state of svātantrya (dependence on the universe and nothing/nobody else, i.e., self-sufficiency) and fierce compassion. Durga is considered by Hindus to be an aspect of Kali, and the mother of Ganesha, and Kartikeya.[3] She is thus considered the fiercer, demon-fighting form of Shiva's wife, goddess Parvati. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.


Thank you Shivani for that beautiful compliment. I especially like the part about the meditative smile, which I am not exactly sure what it is but it sounds Mona Lisa-ish so I'm good with it.

But you know what? You should "meet" my bloggy friends; they too are amazing goddesses! They juggle many tasks with a sense of humor, grace, intelligence , bravery, compassion, spirituality, creativity, faith, frugality, and generosity, thus needing all 10 of those arms.

They cook, they clean, they teach, they play, they comfort, they give, they discipline, they create, they pray, they love.

Is there a goddess with 20 arms?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A room with a view

After 3 1/2 days in the hospital, my mother in law has turned the corner, a good corner!! Today about 1:00, it was like someone had flipped a switch and the cylinders starting firing. We're not at full power, but my goodness, what a difference!! She recognizes people, she is talking a little bit, she is laughing! Her kidneys have also kicked in, who knew looking a catheter tube could be so exciting?!?! Thank you to everyone who remembered her and our family in your prayers. We really feel like she will be coming back to us soon. We are humbled as a family by the outpouring of love and concern on her behalf.

Now...., Dear Patient in Room 419...., I am so happy that you are feeling better. Your family was quite upset, we were worried about you. But my friend in Room 419, perhaps when the nurse tells you that you can't get up and walk around, she means it. You know those hospital gowns you are wearing? They don't close in the back. If you want to walk the halls you need to put TWO of them in the front and ANOTHER in the back...this prevents drafts that can make you sick. They also prevent you from mooning us as you walked by, which made us sick.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Facing your parents' mortality

This is one of those serious, 'for my posterity' posts.

I remember the first time I met Byron's mom, it was in my freshman year of high school; I was living in a foster home in Livermore and she was my new Seminary teacher. I was a little thing then, with bad glasses, crooked teeth and not a bit of self confidence. I blended into the walls of the classroom.

Seven years later I came home with my boyfriend Byron, his mom didn't remember me at all. That was really okay with me because by then I was a totally different person. Byron's mom and I got along really well from the start. Oh, we've had our ups and downs, bumps and bruises along the way, but all families do, don't they? Mom has treated me as a daughter all these years and I have truly learned much from my very talented, very generous, very kind mother in law.

Through the years she has loved my children fiercely. When I would get exasperated with them, she would love them more. She has prayed for them constantly. She has worried for us. When my mother was ill and dying, she and Dad got up at 6:00 am to drive me to Modesto because it was stormy and I was too upset to drive. We have eaten many, many a scrumptious dinner at her house, spent hours and hours in her yard, we have taken trips together, we have laughed together and she has provided a great legacy for our family by making a scrapbook for each grandchild as well as writing a 500 page Genealogy book of her family.

Yesterday morning I got a call from Dad. Mom had woken up very confused and couldn't seem to remember anything and speaking was difficult. He told me that he was taking her to the emergency room and he was just calling so I would know. As I hung up the phone I was overwhelmed with feelings of concern thnking it sounded like a stroke. I left work a few minutes later and went to the hospital. As I walked into the room his face lit up and Mom just smiled. As the day went on and one by one medical conditions such as a stroke or heart attack were ruled out, it became evident that she was getting worse and worse. Byron came, then his sister, then his brother and his wife, each of us whispering to each other our fears and worries. By the end of the evening we knew that she was in renal failure and very 'loopy'. A complete change in her body and mind in less than 24 hours, an acute onset of systems. What happened? It was difficult to leave and go home that night, none of us slept well.

Today it was confirmed that her kidneys have shut down and she will start dialysis tomorrow. But wasn't isn't clear at all is the fog in her head. She barely can speak and when she does, it is out of context. The kidneys can be managed, but what about her mind? We, her family, are all very worried about Dad. He is the most wonderful man any of us have ever known, unfailingly patient and kind. (He's been Bishop 3 times and Branch President also). But this is something we never thought of facing. What if she doesn't get better? What if the fog never lifts? How will he/they get along?

When my parents passed away, it was devastating for me. They were not my parents genetically, but of my heart. This is also a mother of my heart, the woman who loved and raised my husband and helped make him the man he is. It is difficult to see her so ill. Her blue eyes are brimming with tears as she cannot express herself. I worry about someone who baked 200 cookies on Thursday for her friends' funeral, not being able to take care of herself at all. Our hearts are heavy, our children's hearts are heavy as we all love Grandpa and Grandma so much.

I know there is a God who loves us, cares for us and mourns with us. I know that we each have a plan for our lives and it is for us to say "thy will be done". If this fog and this condition never lifts and we help take care for years to come, then that is what we will do and happily so.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Needing your help!!

Accra Ghana Temple

I realize there are those who are not of my faith who read my blog, please feel free to skip today! If you are of my faith (LDS) please read because I need you! (Another one of those educational seminary blogs).

Today and tomorrow in Seminary we have been talking about Acts 10-12. These aren't well known chapters of the New Testament and yet there is extremely powerful doctrine in them.

In this chapter a good, generous and righteous God fearing man named Cornelius prays to God and is visited by an angel who tells him to send some men to Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter. Meanwhile, Peter is praying on a roof top and receives a revelation that confuses him. The revelation has a sheet that is tied at the four corners that descends on the world. In it are all kinds of animals that, by Mosaic law are unclean. Peter is told to go and eat the unclean animals. He is shocked, for over 2,500 years these animals are deemed uneatable and NOW he is to break that tradition and eat them? Just then the men Cornelius had sent come to get Peter. He goes with them. Now another 2,500 year old tradition is that the Jews are not to mingle or teach to the Gentiles. And IF they do, the Gentile must convert to Judaism to be taught the correct ways and only then can they mingle amongst each other.

Peter, being God's prophet on earth, realizes that the dream means that he is to go among those who are different from him, the Gentiles. He understands that others need to hear of Jesus Christ (probably because they weren't have much missionary luck with the Jews). He realizes when God says something, even if it is a 2,500 year old tradition, it will happen. This lays the groundwork for the apostles to go to different countries to teach others.

This has a modern day application. June 8, 1978, an official proclamation came from the first presidency of the church, stating the the Priesthood which had for over 5,000 years been withheld from blacks, would be extended to every worthy male regardless of color or lineage. This would allow temple blessings to all the world. Since then, missionaries have been sent to Africa and are baptizing in phenomenal numbers. There are now three temples on the African continent, not a lot yet, but the number of African saints is exploding.

NOW...if you have read this far... I need your help. I would like to know how old you were when this proclamation was made. Do you remember it? Where were you? Did you understand it? Did your families discuss it? Now, as an adult how do you feel about it? I would like to take your responses and share them with my seminary class. We will be watching a video about it and doing a missionary activity in preparation to start teaching about Paul and his missionary travels. For me, as I read the proclamation to my class today, tears streamed down my face. What a blessing !
Can you help me out today? Thanks!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter has arrived

It's January...the depths of winter.

And, like everywhere in this grand nation, winter has arrived in Brentwood.
We have had this:

Frost on the lawn....

And then there's this:

Morning Fog.

But then,

It burns off...

And we have this....

Blue skies, not a cloud at all...


There's this...

Why, it's practically sweater weather!!

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The picture says it all...

Thanx Apple and AT& have effectively ended all communication in my family.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas, wrapped up!

It's been forever since I blogged!

Christmas, that wonderful, magical time of year.
We spend money, eat sugar, lose sleep, gain weight, complain, rejoice, feel the let down after and can't wait until next year.

Here's some of the highlights of the last three weeks:

We went to the Creche exhibit in Palo Alto. For over 20 years the members of our church put on an exhibit of creches from all over the world and from many different materials. Loved it, took pictures of a few I loved like this one made from Olive wood from Israel.
Then I saw this:

OOPS! Too bad I sneaked in a couple of more pictures.

I finished this Christmas tree skirt for the Newlyweds, got it to them just in time for them to leave for Texas.

Byron had two rounds of chemotherapy during break. The first went great, the second, not so great. Can you imagine getting hit by a semi-truck? That's how he felt, they gave him twice as much in half the time. Also, he has had very different side effects this time. But...whatever it takes!!!

We have an annual soup party. Usually the house is packed, 40 people, kids etc... this year it was the same night as Chemo. Only our very closest friends were invited and no kids and grandkids. It was quiet, peaceful and fun! These are five of my closest friends. They are amazing women with a whole heck of a lot of life experience between them. They are my reservoir of strength when I need it. (two wonderful friends are missing, they had the nerve to move far, far away...we missed you Rach & Kim!)

Marty, Vicki, Me, Pam, Margo & Maarti. Notice the tinsel on my tree!!!

This is the year that I let Jeffrey get on the roof and put up the Christmas lights. A rite of passage for my almost 15 year old. I am still recovering from my heart attack and meals would be welcome.

We went to the Oakland Temple to see the lights and an exhibit of bronze sculptures depicting scenes of the Savior's life. They were beautiful, (I followed the rules and didn't take pictures). The best part was that Jeff was excited that he knew the stories of the raising of Lazarus, the adulterous woman, Mary and Martha, Jesus walking on the water among others. The sculptures were awe inspiring. They leave here soon and will be on display at the Washington D.C. temple. GO and see them all you east coasters!!!

Our family loves Hanuakkah! This year we invited some friends and had a great time;
Celia wrote all about it for me!

Scotty was ordained a Deacon after turning twelve. Evil Jeni really wanted to take a picture of him passing the Sacrament, Good Jeni won this battle. Hate it when that happens.

This is my favorite part of my Christmas decorations, every one of them were handmade for me. One is Byron's dental office, one is Lolo's Cocoa Shop. This year they are really special as I won't be getting another, he had a stroke and is no longer able to make them. I love this little display.

Who wouldn't love this little Christmas Elf?

Happy Christmas present opening...

This is why I love my son-in-law, he loves Rachel.

We went to Bakersfield to see our cute little cousins (and Grammy, who I forgot to take a picture of)

One of the most exciting things that happened....

15" of hair gone, donated to Locks of Love.

Lauren looks adorable, we all love the haircut!!

Happy New Year!