Sunday, February 28, 2010

Heather's Book

On the first Sunday in February, our family's usual annual Valentine cookie decorating night, Heather arrived with a book she had written and illustrated for me. I had already experienced hospital visit #1 and was at the end of a very hard week. It would be just a matter of hours before I would embark on hospital visit #2. This book was one of the highlights of my month. It did make me feel better and very loved!

Monday, February 22, 2010

After the rain

After taking pictures of the rainbow for Heather, I continued to snap away as the sun came out from behind the clouds. All the flowers looked so refreshed as they clung to left over raindrops.

We had a pruning misstep last fall. Glen asked the Spanish speaking helpers to trim the Italian cypress trees up two feet. When he went to check on them, they had trimmed up two meters! What to do, what to do? He decided that we would fill in the planter with colorful annuals to draw attention away from the bare trunks. I think that it is working!

"Beautiful gardens are like small children or pets.
They're an ice breaker."
-- quote from "Better Homes and Garden"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A double blessing day

It was a good day, a very good day. First thing this morning we were at the temple to participate in the sealing of Julianna to her parents. It was a special, tender experience to watch Julianna become sealed to her eternal family. Her little eyes were so busy as she tried to process so many new things.

Her parents love her so much and it was an emotional experience for them as it was for all of us. TJ, Heather, and Toby enjoyed this opportunity to be in the temple. TJ expressed to me as we exited the front doors that it really did feel like heaven inside.

They are now a forever family!

This little girl has brought so much joy and happiness to her family during the last year.

Grandpa and Grandma Kennedy drove all the way from Washington state to be with us for this double special day.

We felt that the "poise on the stairs" was just as important today as it is for wedding celebrations. Susan felt privileged to be given use of the "bride's room." There were seven weddings scheduled for this morning as well.

You will notice that Janis and Sally took turns being the photographer.

Janis backed up close to the reflecting pool to get this shot including the special lettering over the entrance.

After a break, everyone congregated at Eric's and Susan's home for lunch before heading to their stake center for Heather's baptism. She wasn't too happy about the decision to have Grandma Laurel put her hair in a french braid. After a game of "hide and seek," (Heather instigated ;), she was found under the guest bed. Grandma was extra gentle with her "tender head" and a braid was so much easier to deal with when wet!

It was a special experience watching Heather take this next step in her eternal progression. Her cousins were thrilled to watch as her father lowered her into the font.

We had a rainy day today after a week of beautiful weather. There were eight children from the Red Mountain Stake who were baptized today. They listened to a wonderful talk reminding them of the importance of being baptized. The speaker referred to this Primary song which seemed so appropriate for this particular day when rainy days are few in Arizona.

When I Am Baptized
by Nita Dale Milner

I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain
And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.
I want my live to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away,
And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

Days like today bring a joy like no other as I watch those I love making steps which bring them ever closer to their full and true potential and to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 19, 2010

White dresses

Tomorrow morning we have a very special appointment at the temple. Miss Julianna Marie will be sealed to her family for time and all eternity.

Tomorrow afternoon we have another very special event to attend. Miss Heather Laurel, who turned "8" in January, will be baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

While my body recovers I have been working on a special white dress for each of them. Tonight, just after sunset, I hemmed the dresses and sent them on their way for the big day tomorrow. It will be a very special day, a double bonus day!

Julianna dress has big puffy sleeves. She looks like an angel in her dress.

I started hand smocking her dress way back in November, thinking that she might be going to the temple shortly after her first birthday. However, her adoption did not become final until the first week of February. Of course, that gave me permission to procrastinate sewing her dress together.

Heather's dress was hand smocked and sewed together this month of recovery. Her uncle Nate helped me put both the front and back fabric panels through the pleater.

Her dress has smocking all the way around. I used the same smocking design for both dresses.

I picked a pattern for Heather that looked older. It looks great on her. Both dresses have the same decorative edging with entreduex through which I wove floss for a special finished look.

It's been my pleasure to create white dresses for two special girls for their very special days!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raija's Obituary

Here is a link to Aunt Raija's obituary which was published on Feb. 13, 2010. Janis reports that it was a beautiful service with just family in attendance. This is how I remember her from my teenage years when we would visit, use the sauna, eat amazing Finnish food, and bask in the beauty of the ranch which Keith and Raija named Finlandia.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Sentiment

This is how it is for my special Valentine and I.
Thank you Glen for being with me "in every kind of weather."

Day after our engagement, December 1974

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A tale of two hospitals

Hospital #1
February 1, Enter ER at approximately 6:15pm with symptoms of heart attack (no baby aspirin offered). CT scan administered. Admitted to monitor heart and heart enzymes, both negative.
February 2, Discharged at approximately 6:30pm after waiting for seven hours for mystery doctor to make an appearance.
Diagnosis: "It's a mystery but I think you had food poisoning (even though I just barely made your acquaintance and did not see you while in pain and misery) and I recommend that you go home and throw away your peanut butter and honey."
Cost: More than you want to know. Let's just say that it cleared out our HSA account and BCBS of AZ chipped in over a grand, too.

Hospital #2
February 8, Enter ER at approximately 11:15am with symptoms of a heart attack (promptly given four baby aspirin). Staff seems seasoned, experienced, and helpful.
February 10, Discharged at approximately 11:30am by surgeon.
Diagnosis: Gallbladder stones and diseased gallbladder (which was removed on February 9 at 7:30am.)
Cost: I don't know yet, but worth every penny! However, I do feel that Hospital #1 should provide a refund towards Hospital #2 bill. I'm just saying!!

If you would like to know identities of Hospitals 1 & 2, just ask.

Thank you for the roses Janae and Andrew.
They continue to brighten my days.

To all of my children, Thank you! Your concern, visits, food, yummy soup, house cleaning, etc., have been so appreciated!

To my sisters and Glen, thanks for "watching my back."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Remembering Raija

My beautiful Finnish aunt, Raija, passed away on Tuesday. Her childhood was one of war and hardship but she also found the LDS church. She married my mother's brother, Keith. Uncle Keith had served as a missionary in Finland including Raija's home town. He also translated during the 1952 Olympics. He and Raija were married in the Idaho Falls Temple May 29, 1953 after Keith invited her to come to the United States some months later. (I have a copy of their love story as written by Raija if you would like to read it some time.)

During the Ronald Reagan Administration, Keith was appointed ambassador to Finland and he and Raija returned to live in the Embassy. The Finns loved them, these two who spoke their language and exuded dignity, grace, and love. They had a special gift for entertaining and making everyone feel welcome. Raija introduced them to Valentine's Day as celebrated in the United States. Guests who were served steak and Idaho baked potatoes at the embassy considered themselves lucky. Read more about them here.

Raija enjoying her "name day" on Febuary 9, 2004. In Finland, "name day" is celebrated much like a birthday and you celebrate with others who have your same name. Raija passed away on her "name day" this year which seems so appropriate as she loved to celebrate special days.

Aunt Raija introduced me to the presentation of food. She was not only a magnificent cook, but everything she prepared looked so beautiful. She would tell me, "We also taste with our eyes." Her artistic eye in cooking as well as decorating her home were an inspiration in my life.

She loved her native land of Finland and shortly after moving from Idaho to Tempe, Arizona my sixth grade teacher assigned world country reports and presentations. I quickly chose Finland and them wrote my Aunt Raija a letter. By return post, I not only received information but a cardboard box full of things from Finland. I was overwhelmed with her generosity and help. My teacher was also pretty impressed.

She has been ill for years with lupus and its side effects. She still continued to live with beauty and great grace as well as faith and hope. She was too ill to go with Keith when he was invited by President Hinckley to the dedication of the temple in Finland, but she was with him in spirit. She will always be an example to me of a beautiful person who lived a lovely life which she filled with beauty because she chose to and she also chose to share it with others. Well done lovely Raija!

Monday, February 8, 2010

On a lighter note

Ruby and Sadie came for a cheer up grandma visit.

We made popcorn and watched "The Wizard of Oz" on grandpa's new TV. See all those new instruction manuals, etc., on the new media cabinet? Gives me a headache.

Tomato loving Ruby participated in the yellow tomato taste test. Her review, "Tastes just like a tomato."

We didn't get a picture of Glen with his new flowering pear tree near his birthday this year.

A month later is good. Everyday there are even more of these delicate little flowers.

Spring has sprung in Arizona!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wear red today

The "Wear Red" campaign has suddenly reached my consciousness this year. The above picture is a pretty good representation of my week. Late Monday afternoon, this is what happened to me! As I tried to figure out what to do and how concerned I should be, Glen came home from work, googled "women heart attack symptoms" and decided that we were going to the ER now. After EKG's and a CT scan and multiple needle stabs to check my heart enzymes, I was given the all clear and discharged from the hospital with everyone from Glen, to the nurses, to the discharge doctor giving me their opinion. (The discharge doctor's opinion was the most bizarre and included the advice to dispose of all my peanut butter and honey :) Where is Dr. House when you really need him?

It could be a funny story if it hadn't been so scary and painful and distressing. Yes, I'm grateful that all tests were negative and that I was surrounded by family members who could give me a priesthood blessing, but it has given me pause. So ladies, remember that you only have one heart and that it is the leading killer of women; more die from heart disease than all forms of cancer each year.

To all of you who showed that you cared and enquired about me, I thank you. To my children who rushed to lend support, I thank you. To my sisters who surrounded me in person and by cell phone, I thank you. To my Relief Society sisters, including Becky and Emilia, who filled in for me on the night of a Stake Relief Society meeting, I thank you. To my sweet husband who supports me always, I thank you.

As my granddaughters, Ruby and Sadie rode up and down with me on my hospital bed, I realized that I am a blessed woman who has more blessings than I can truly enumerate.

Emilia took pictures of the RS meeting and the basil. Thanks Emilia for delivering the plants and documenting the evening for me! Don't smirk when you see the night's theme!