Friday, November 30, 2007

Nifty Fifty

I celebrated my 50th birthday on Sunday--waking up to breakfast in bed and singing by Andrea and Dave. When Dave asked what I would like this year, I had a couple things in mind that required construction and installation. Besides the fact that it was my birthday, he had a 4-day holiday weekend to devote to projects I had in mind. :) It was great to shop with him for a chandelier-type light for our kitchen and have him install that the next day. He hung a heavy mirror for me and some other odd jobs.

The best project was our joint design/jointly constructed headboard. I had recently worked on a fabric headboard, but it needed some help. Dave brought up some old kitchen cabinet doors that we had saved for such a use. I painted the wood and constructed the fabric panels while Dave attached the appropriate boards to the panels and wall and voila! we have a new headboard. (While the design shows would have you think it just takes a few minutes to create furniture with power tools, it actually took most of Saturday.) Here's our finished creation:

By the way, (BTW as Julia says) the comforter and drapes were my Grandma Nita's and made probably 40 years ago. I just added a section for height.)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And the Envelope, Please

Today was a red-letter day for our family. THE LETTER arrived from Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet and President of the church, telling James where he has been called to serve his mission. We called James, and he asked that we read it rather than mail it for him to open. He and Erika went to Kara and Luke's place and called us from there. When we were all together on the speaker-phone, David read it.

It said,in part:

"Dear Elder Meiners:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the California Riverside Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

You should report to the Missionary Training Center at Provo, Utah on Wednesday, 9 January 2008. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language."

We are so excited for James, and proud of all he has done to prepare himself throughout his life for this selfless opportunity.

Here are a few highlights and memories:

Wuxi, China

Erika will be taking next semester off of school and has just received her assignment for her winter job. She will be going to Wuxi, China--about a half-hour north of Shanghai. She will be teaching English to kindergarten age children. It sounds very exciting. She is going with a program based in Rexburg, where BYU-Idaho is located, though it's not officially associated with the school. She'll be going with a friend, and several other young people from BYU-Idaho and BYU-Provo will be nearby.

She'll have her own apartment and will be assigned to a school where she will teach English classes. She writes her own curriculum. She is taking Chinese this semester, which should help her somewhat in teaching children who don't know any any English. She will eat lunch at the school, and will prepare her own dinners. For her birthday (in 3 days) she has asked for money to spend on her trip. She's already thinking about the great things she's planning to buy and fun places she will travel. She would like to visit Hong Kong by train before going home. She'll be gone from mid-February to early July.

Penny the Pig

Andrea has a piggy bank. She has aptly named the pig Penny. She goes around the house with soulful eyes saying, "Feed my pig". Some people actually do.

Last Jump

Thanksgiving was a beautiful, relaxed, warm day. Dave and Andrea jumped a last jump before putting the trampoline away for the winter.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fall Color

I love all the vibrant fall colors. It's later than normal to be seeing the leaves change, but it's spectacular. These views are all from our yard.

I crave the orange and red colors in the fall. They make me feel warmer. It's my decorating dilemma because the creams, yellows and soft greens that I love in the spring and summer look pale in my house now.

I have towels, pillows and blankets in the fiery colors that I throw on things at this time of year to warm it up, but just looking out the window or going outside is the most amazing way to enjoy the colors.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tied for Fourth Place

Daniel and Julia performed today at the Baltimore M & T Bank (Raven's) stadium at the US Scholastic Band Association National Championship. Participants came from 12 states. Reservoir is in the 4A Division which had 18 bands performing. They scored a 94.475, and TIED for FOURTH PLACE! It was their best performance ever--and the best for their school.

This morning Daniel went and auditioned for All-State Choir while Julia went to practice at the school. Dave is on the 'pit crew' managing their equipment, and was also at the school at 6:00am to help start loading up equipment. Andrea and I drove up on our own a little later.

Andrea and I saw lots of bands rehearsing all over the large parking lot outside the stadium. We were lucky enough to see the Reservoir band before they performed and wish Daniel and Julia 'good luck'.

Their performance was awesome! They had a theme of being stranded on an island. We first saw passengers on a plane, the crash, the passengers wandering around and then mourning those who died, clashing with the natives, and then rallying to get off the island with an SOS spelled out at the end. They were very precise and clean, had lots of energy and a very dynamic theme. Everything went off well. It was a great end to another fun (and challenging) marching band season.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Heartwarming Note

At the Halloween party where Kara student teaches, a girl in her class had been reading one of my books, which is on top of her desk. Yesterday I received a kind email from a woman I've never met. Since I am leaving it anonymous I think it's OK to share part of it.

"I want to reach out and thank you for your books. We LOVE them in our house and they have been tremendously valuable to me 3-year old daughter who adores and devours each one. She is 3 and at this point has a diagnosis of autism. But your books have opened a window to the kind of knowledge that simply does not come naturally to her, and provides it within a framework that is warm, supportive, loving, inclusive, natural, and most importantly, instructive.

I have already watched how the lessons contained within them seamlessly flow into her daily conversation and life. My words cannot adequately express the gratitude I feel for the work you have done and if you are ever in my area for a reading I would love to be able to thank you in person.

As a mother of a child with special needs, I feel as though your books are a critically important piece of the therapeutic work my daughter does on a daily basis. You are a partner to our efforts and in particular I feel as though your work supports me in my quest to help my daughter navigate and integrate into the world. I simply could not do it without you.

So, from one mother to another, please accept my heartfelt gratitude.

Kindest and warmest regards"

Responses like this make me feel that all my work has been worthwhile! I really appreciate her taking the time to tell me. And I think I understand how she feels--because there have also been people in my life who similarly have been a great blessing to my children and me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Positive Parenting

I love this book. In our Relief Society (church women's organization) I started a Parenting Group several months ago using this as a text to introduce this approach to others. David and I were introduced to it 6 or 7 years ago and have found the principles in it to be very sound and helpful.
I have added the link on the right, (Positive Parenting Prescriptions). Besides the book itself, the website gives lots of good information from Dr. Latham.
I wrote to Dr. Latham a couple years ago and received a kind letter from his wife saying that he had recently passed away. He was from Logan, Utah-- where I taught an elementary education class at Utah State--so I feel close to him though I did not know him personally.
click here for Parent RX


Our Halloween celebration started last Saturday with a party at our church building. Daniel, on the right, is helping set up a donut eating game for the kids.

Here's Daniel with his pumpkin--Marshie from Homestar Runner.

Here's Andrea's scary, toothy jack-o-lantern.

Dan, Dave and Andrea pose with pumpkins carved by Daniel, myself (using a drill), Andrea and Julia.

Andrea was Pippi Longsticking. Here she is at her school parade that day.
That night the pumpkins were lighted by the bewitching hour, 6 pm, but it was still light out this year.

Julia was a cute ladybug.

I sewed Andrea's Pippi costume, but the most authentic part came from spraying her head red, and some tricky wire.

This year only Andrea went out trick-or-treating with her Dad (and another friend). Julia went to a friend's house and went out with her, Daniel went to a friend's house for a small party.

Kara, out in Idano, wore an old dress of mine for her costume.

Erika, at her college Halloween party, getting in the part for China next semester.

Halloween 2007
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