Sunday, November 28, 2010


I think I mentioned in the last blog that Josh played his guitar non-stop while he was here.  
Tara, the 18-month old daughter of the family that is staying with us, came down and snuggled in with Josh to listen to him play.  Joseph captured the moment.  Having our friends here with us has made me think about how much we're missing not having little children anymore.  We're in an in-between stage where we don't have much interaction with young children, and it's a true loss.

On the other hand, there are many things we can do that would not otherwise be possible, so we are trying to taking full advantage of those opportunities.  And one of those this week was to do a "Harry Potter" marathon in anticipation of the 7th movie coming out.  We started on Tuesday night and watched the first two.  Harry, Hermione, and Ron looked so young!  I didn't get to see the movies because I had to do some shopping, but most everyone else did.  On Wednesday we watched the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth movies.  It lasted until midnight!  That was a lot of fun, as the kids had friends over, and Josh was with us, of course.

For Thanksgiving we went over to Paul and Karen's house.  Karen is my 2nd cousin on my Mom's side of the family.  We have become good friends over the years, with Cider Festivals, Thanksgivings, and through the piano teacher's group that I belong to.  The highlight of the day, besides the meal, of course, was the Talent Show.  When we had Thanksgiving with these guys a few years ago, we had an impromptu talent show that inspired my children so much, that I wanted to have it again.  Paul and Karen's children are talented in the extreme, so it's always fun to have a show with them.

Libby played her duet of Ode to Joy and Sakura.  Peter played Libiamo, from La Traviata.

Mary played a Clementi Sonatina, and Jesse played Consolation, by Franz Listz.  Joseph played his original composition entitled "A Bite of Sunshine".  Josh played the guitar and played "What Child is This" and "Hallelujah" (from the Shrek soundtrack), with Jesse providing backup harmony on the chorus. 
Jesse and Josh
Bruce even sang John Denver's "Rocky Top Tennessee".  I thoroughly enjoyed ever minute!

On Monday night, we had a Family Home Evening where we wrote down a list of what we were thankful for and then read them to the family.  Mary was lucky because she kept writing things down while others were reading their lists, and read hers last, so she had the best list of all!  She was pretty sick on Thursday and Friday, but her fever broke late Friday night, and she was OK after that.  When her fever broke, it was so funny - she was totally out of it.  She sat up on the couch and said, "It's cold. It's cold, it's cold, it's cold!"  I could tell she was not awake.  I got her up and tried to get her to bedroom.  On the way she had to sit down and started talking about swimming.  I started to get a bit nervous and called for Peter to bring some Frankincense, which I put on her head.  That seemed to bring her to her senses somewhat, and I was able to get her to her bed.  She slept well the rest of the night!

On Saturday morning, we got up to a delicious breakfast cooked by Dad!  Thanks Bruce!  We then put up the Christmas tree, which always involves a great deal of commotion.
Josh is sporting a very handsome "cowboy athlete" outfit.

Libby dancing on the tree stand
Mom, Libby, Dad, Joseph and Jesse setting up the tree
Josh (aka Superman, or "Master of the Universe", as he likes to call himself lately)
It's up!
 The tree is not decorated yet.  I wonder how long it will take to get to the actual decorating?!  I started to yesterday, but the first string of lights I plugged in had only half the bulbs working.  Does this frustrate anyone besides me?

After setting up the Christmas tree, we played the rest of the day.  Grandma and Grandpa (Bruce's parents) were here, and they took Bruce and I shopping for awhile.  That is always fun!  Later in the afternoon, we all went to see Harry Potter 7, the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  One time I looked over and Joseph had Libby curled up in his arms and comforting her during the scary part.  It was cute!  I thought it the movie was well-done, but I sure could have done with a few more happy moments.  But as Bruce said, it was a dark time, and they had to go through some hard things with Voldemort in power. 

Right after Harry Potter, we went to the Forgotten Carols, a musical production by Michael McLeane.   Jesse saw the DVD over at a friend's house, and loved it, so when I saw the tickets for sale, I decided I wanted this to be my present to her for Christmas.  But then I thought of everyone else that would want to go, and I ended up buying for everyone.  We don't do things like that very often because of the expense, so it was fun to go to a nice cultural event with the whole family.  I liked the singing at the end the best.  Even Peter said, "That was cool!" after the last strains of Silent Night died away.

We have snow on the ground!  If it's going to be winter and cold, I like there to be snow!  But I just heard from Bruce that Josh had to turn around and come home from going back to school this afternoon because the roads on the way there are blocked. Well, I can't say I'm very sad about that!

I figured out this astonishing fact this morning: this is likely the last time our family will be together - the eight of us - at Christsmas time without either somebody gone or somebody added to the family.  Here's how it all plays out:

2011 - Josh on a mission
2012 - Josh on a mission
2013 - Joseph on a mission
2014 - Joseph on a mission
2015 - Everybody home!  (But Josh will be 23, and possibly married - so we could have an addition, or he could be at the in-laws!)
2016 - Jesse on a mission
2017 - Jesse on a misison
2018 - Mary on  mission
2019 - Peter on a mission
2020 - Peter on a mission
2021 - Everybody home! (But Josh will be 29 and maybe starting to have their own Christmas?  And Joseph, Jesse and Mary possiby married.  Yikes!!)
2022 - Everybody home!  (The "buts" are an even more likely scenario than the year before)
2023 - Libby on a mission
2024 - Everybody home!

Those are some sobering numbers for me.  I don't know how people can stand it that don't know the Plan of Salvation.  If you are reading this and don't know what I'm talking about, look up the link, but also know that families can be together forever!  (We sang this last night all together at Forgotten Carols).  This brief mortal journey is a sliver in the eternities, and if we make choices that lead us there, our families can be together in the eternities, with glorified, resurrected bodies and infinite possibilities ahead of us.  While we may experience scarcity of time and location on this earth, abundance lies ahead of us and we will be TOGETHER forever someday.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Honor Choir and Other Happenings

Joseph and Jesse sang in the local "Honor Choir".  It was where all the smaller schools in the area had choir students audition to be in this Honor Choir.
All of the students from our high school that participated in the choir.  Jesse is on the bottom row on the left, and Joseph is near the top row on the left.
They rehearsed on three Monday nights, and all day on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then performed on Wednesday night.  For the concert they sang four songs, and they were very unique and beautifully done.  I loved that concert.  So did Joseph and Jesse.  Jesse said she was as happy singing up there as she had ever been in her life.  She does love to perform!  And Joseph - we had several friends comment that they couldn't keep their eyes away from Joseph because he look liked he was having so much fun.

During one of the songs, the conductor, unrehearsed, told the choir members to join hands.  Joseph never heard him say that.  The irony of it was that Joseph was standing right next to a really cute girl that he has had his eye on for awhile now.  When he found out that he could have held her hand for four minutes and fifty five seconds, he couldn't believe his bad luck!  Ha ha  Oh, we had a good laugh over that one. Jesse did hear the conductor say that, and got to hold the hand of one of her good friends who's a very handsome fellow.  She said that wasn't so bad.  :)

Josh is home again, and this time to stay for nine days for Thanksgiving.  He has been playing the guitar non-stop, and it's beautiful.  He told me that his roommate Stephen said, "Josh, you can play Silent Night a million times, but please play something in between."  Ha ha!  Uncle Craig was nice enough to let Josh borrow his guitar this semester.  I guess that will have to be a future purchase for Josh since he's getting so good.  Thanks Craig!  Speaking of Craig, he and Jennette went up to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and took a small side-trip over to visit Josh.  I wish we could have been there.  Thanks guys for taking the effort to go and see Josh!

Bruce and I spoke in Church today.  My talk was based on Elder Richard C. Edgley's talk "Faith - The Choice is Yours" from October Conference.  I chose to focus on faith over fear, and I told three different stories.  I told of when the missionaries were killed in Bolivia, when there was that trouble on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where Palestinians were killed, and then when that guy threatened Pres. Hunter in the Marriott Center at BYU during a devotional.  The parallel I drew between all of them was that when frightening things happen, the adversary attempts to distract us from our work and fulfilling our purpose by using fear as a tool.  Fear is immobilizing, and is the opposite of faith, which is motivating and gets us moving and working.

Bruce spoke on Elder Richard G. Scott's talk, also from General Conference.  One of the poignant images I had from the talk was when Bruce described our faith as fine pottery that we have worked very hard to create, and that has gone through the furnace of affliction.  Even so, it can be shattered in a moment by transgression.  Thus, we have to be ever-vigilent and careful to keep it safe.

As a follow-up on my eating too many calories trying to keep myself awake, I found this week that I could drink water and get a similar effect.  So I made sure I had a water bottle on hand all the time.  And I also realized that if I make sure I have vegetables on hand, I can eat all the veggies I want and that will help keep me awake without contributing to an overload of calories.  I also worked really hard on getting to bed on time this week!

This is a fun picture that I didn't add last week.  I think Josh is the coolest in this picture! I'm gonna get grief about that from all the other kids, including Bruce - ha ha.

It's been snowing today!  I like it when it snows.  If it's going to be cold, I like to see white instead of brown and gray.  I am so grateful to have a warm home and to be here with all my family in it, and another family as well!  We have been blessed, and continue, every day, to see the hand of the Lord in our lives.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Descending into Winter

We had our first hard frost this week, and dipped into the twenties.  For the first time this week I started to feel some of those winter blues.  When I realized this, I put on Bergamot, Joy and Valor, and right away I could feel a difference, as if my heart felt "lighter".  I was very grateful!

One of the reasons I got the winter blues is that I substituted four out of five days last week, which is just too much!  Thankfully Bruce helped a ton with keeping the kitchen clean, and Holli, my friend who is living here, worked organizing and cleaning too.  We have a clean playroom, a clean food storage room, and clean windows in the kitchen!!  You should come over to see it, Mom!

Last Friday I was at a high school in a neighboring school district.  I was the Boy's PE teacher, and that was a little wild!  I was shocked at the lack of fitness of some of these boys.  It was a good reminder that my boys, being soccer players, are in extraordinary shape and I shouldn't take that for granted!  I'm really grateful for what good shape they've kept themselves in.  The activity in PE was soccer, so when I put the soccer ball down at the halfway line in the gym, I announced that I was a certified soccer referee.  You should have see their faces!  "Are you really?", was the common question.  "I really am," I announced, and then proceeded to call fouls and handballs and all kinds of stuff that they weren't used to.  Ha ha  That was kind of fun.

Another two days I was a substitute for English Language Development classes.  I get a good reaction in these classes when I tell them that I speak Spanish, and that I was born in Mexico City.  "Are you really?", is again the common question.  I then start spewing off Spanish like a pro and it's really fun to see their faces. 

The other fun reaction I get is when I call them by name.  "How do you know my name?", they ask.  I just smile and say, "I know you're name!".  They forget that 1) I'm really good at names and a lot of times remember it from calling roll, and 2) I have a seating chart right in front of me, and 3) I listen to what the students call each other.  I get a certain satisfaction, I'll have to admit, out of them thinking I'm really smart!  Ha ha

Mary's basketball team is wracking up the wins!  The have been winning by at least 20 points in every game.  Mary even scored this week, and not on a free throw.  Good job Mary!  Oh, and speaking of Mary doing a good job - my, oh my - you should have seen her at the Ballroom Dance Class that we started on Friday night.  She was dancing around with the instructor with poise and her held high like she had been doing the dance for ages.  She has been asking for awhile now to take Ballroom dance classes, and I found an instructor that agreed to come for an hour on Friday nights.  We had about nine kids there, ages 12 to 17, and we had a great time learning the Lindy Hop, with more lessons to come on that dance.  We did it to the slow beat of "The Pink Panther" and it was fun!  I don't know how those boys felt about dancing with "Sis. Holmstead", but they were sure good sports about it.  If you want to make comments and ask where Bruce was, I'll forward them on to him for his perusal. Ha ha    I hope it will grow and we can get some more dancing skills going on.

I love to dance.  I hear a good beat and that's all she wrote.  Kevin, our instructor, turned on "Cotton-Eye Joe" after the official hour of instruction was over, and there we all were, Peter and Libby included now, doing the line dance.  That was followed by line dances to Men in Black, the Boot-Scootin' Boogie and others.  And then some country swing to boot.  Later in the evening we played games with some of our adult friends.

Saturday night, I went with Joseph over to the "Stake Prom".  All the Priests and Laurels, and their friends 16 and over, from our Stake were invited, and the purpose was to give the kids a prom-like experience, especially for those who may not get asked to dances.  Our Stake has a Youth Committee, which is one boy and one girl from each ward.  The Youth Committee planned the activities and put up the decorations.  Since my calling is that of Stake Dance Director, I went to help in any way I could.  We had a good DJ that actually got the kids to dance more than they do at Stake Dances, so it was fun to see that.  Joseph had a good time, and I think the others did too.

I have a big announcement about Jesse that I forgot to put in last week.  She played the organ for Sacrament meeting for the first time last week!  In our ward, we have three different organists, and they rotate months, so this month was Jesse's turn.  She played so well, and even played the pedals!  Our neighbors across the street have an organ in their home, and they have generously allowed Jesse to go over there and practice, so that has been a huge blessing.  Jesse is also the ward choir accompanist, and she's doing a fantastic job for that.  On top of all that, she is learning to play the Hallelujah Chorus for the Community Choir.  When you're in demand, you're in demand!  She is sometimes overwhelmed by all that she's doing, which puts me in a very tough position as a parent.  It is generally understood that a parent teaches a child because they are wiser and have "figured things out" because of their experiences.  Unfortunately, I have not figured out how NOT to be overwhelmed by responsibilities.  So when Jesse gets in that position, I am sadly lacking in how to counsel her, except that to say that it doesn't get any easier.

Josh came home this weekend!  One of his best friends from High School, Braiden, who was also his MAD Boys companion, spoke in Church in preparation for going on his mission on Wednesday. He gave a GREAT talk, testifying about the Holy Ghost.  It is strange to have Joshua's friends and peers start leaving for their missions.  Saturday morning Josh got up and started playing the piano.  "Ah," I thought, "Josh is home!"  I went in a gave him a hug and told him to keep playing.  It's great to hear my children tickle the keys.

Libby and Peter are having a ball with Dustin, Kyle and Brooke (children of the family that is living with us).  I'm not quite sure what they'll do when December comes and they move to their new home.  Peter and Libby are getting really used to having someone around that will do their jobs with them.  I'm going to miss them too!  They sang today in Church, with Jesse accompanying them, and I was just in tears because of how much we love this family.  We were friends before, but now there is this bond being created that is a special thing.  When you serve, you love; that is a true principle!

I had a revelation this week.  I realized that I am consuming extra calories that I don't need because I eat a lot to keep me awake.  I know you usually think of that when you're driving, and I do do that, but also just around the house, or at school when I'm subbing.  I eat to keep me awake because I'm so tired.  So even when I'm home, I find myself getting up and snacking on something if I start to feel drowsy.  The conclusion:  I need to sleep more!  I'm actually really grateful for this insight.

While Josh was here we were able to get a family picture taken, and the result is at the top!  We had a lot of fun taking it (not getting ready to take it - that was wild).  Hopefully this will go on Christmas cards soon!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Cool Down

That's what I feel like November is - the Cool Down after Soccer Season.  We're glad to have it here!  Not that we're not busy.  But I think a change is as good as a rest.  The Fall leaves have been beautiful.

Bruce and Joseph went elk hunting at the first of the week.  They took six llamas and hiked in.  As they were hiking, they took a wrong turn, and started going down the wrong canyon.  It was disastrous.  The vegetation was really thick, and there was no trail.  Besides, it was snowy, so they couldn't find the trail anyway.  By the time they figured out they were in the wrong canyon they were "deep in the heart o' Texas", so to speak.  So they said a prayer, and headed for a ridge to get a look at where they could go.  They ended up camping on that ridge. One of the things Joseph commented on was the silence at certain times of the day.  When there wasn't even a hint of a breeze, and the birds weren't singing, it was so silent that it was almost noise in itself.  He also said that being in the mountains felt like being in the Temple.  They didn't even see a bull elk, let alone get a shot at one.  Bummer.  They got home Wednesday night, and I was glad to see them.  One funny thing on Bruce:  Joseph said that one night Bruce said, "Joseph, if you get cold you can come and snuggle with me."  Joseph said, "I think I'm good Dad."  When do boys get to old to want to snuggle?

With Bruce gone, my adventures on Monday were compounded.  Monday morning at 5:30 am, I got up to read my scriptures.  I wanted to listen to a Conference talk, so I opened up my laptop.  On the screen, I saw that one of the kids had gotten me a Sub job (substitute teaching) for that day.  I had until 6:00 am to cancel the job or not.  I thought of all the things I had to do that day, and on the other hand, all the reasons I needed to go and earn an extra $70 to help out.  It was a dead even between the pro and con.  Finally, I decided to stay home, and prayed - asking Heavenly Father to confirm that decision, which He did.  Only later would I know just how good of a decision it was.

After getting the kids on the bus, I didn't go exercise because Jesse ended up being sick and staying home from school. (The first reason it was good I stayed home).  As I started checking my email, I glanced out and saw Buttercup (our dairy cow) on her side.  I wondered if something was wrong, but then I dismissed it thinking that she was just tired from having calved the day before.  Bad choice!  About an hour and a half later, I looked out and saw her still laying on her side.  Oh-oh.  I high-tailed it out to the field and found her head all twisted around, groaning, and looking awful.  Oh, man.  I'm not really an animal person, and although I care about our animals, I'm not too attached to any of them.  Except for Buttercup.  I guess it's the milking and taking care of her, but I really do care for Buttercup.  I called Lane, our friend who also has a dairy cow, and asked for the name of a vet.  The vet said he could come out in about two hours.

So then I had to figure out how to keep her alive until the vet got there.  Of course I took oils out there - Geranium, Frankincense, and Peppermint.  I tried giving her grain and water, but she wouldn't having anything to do with that.  I got Jesse out there to help me get her head around, and it took us awhile to figure that out.  I brought out a calf bottle and milked Buttercup and fed it to the calf.  He was mooing, and putting his nose up against her face. 

At long last the vet came and diagnosed her with hypo-calcemia (spelling?), also known as "milk fever".  It is a condition where the regulatory mechanism for blood-calcium levels is malfunctioning, and the body sends all the calcium to the milk instead of keeping it in the blood.  I have a new respect for calcium!  The vet gave her an IV of a calcium-magnesium solution.  But she didn't respond, she just stayed the same.  He then gave her a calcium paste in the back of her throat.  He didn't give me much hope when he left.  He said she was probably too far gone.

This was hard to hear.  I spent the next hour in mourning - feeling guilty that I had not checked on her the first time I saw her down, and just overall feeling bad.  It was sobering. I prayed for her, but not with much hope.

In an hour or so, the vet called me and said that in talking to a local university veterinary clinic, they had offered to do a blood test on her.  So he came back out and drew her blood, which I then drove down to the Veterinary Clinic.  They ran a test quickly and determined that his diagnosis was right - very low blood calcium.  They said to use another bag of solution, so he came out again and put another IV in her.  She was a little more alert, but still wouldn't get up.  He decided to put in the rest of the calcium paste in the back of her throat, but when she saw him coming with that white tube, she pushed herself up on her feet and got the heck out of there.  It was so funny!  She didn't want anything to do with that paste in her throat.  We were very relieved that she was up.  She fully recovered, and by Wednesday was being a Mama again and letting her calf nurse.  I am grateful for good vet care, and grateful that Buttercup did not die on my watch!

Even though this was just one of our animals, it gave me a perspective on how people feel when a loved one has health problems and their life is in danger.  It was very taxing emotionally.  I chalked that one of up for experience, and will be more empathetic in the future.  Oh, which brings me back to my decision at 5:30 am to stay home and not go in to sub.  If I had, Buttercup would have died, I'm pretty sure.  I'm grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and being able to be guided and directed by the hand of the Lord.

On Tuesday night, I had a Soccer Board Meeting.  At the end something came up that involved a close friend of ours, and I found myself in the tough position of defending actions that were thought to be indefensible by the rest of the board.  I had to do it, because I had to look my friend in the eye and tell her that I did my best to be loyal to her.  It caused me much reflection, because I was divided between my loyalty on the one hand to our Soccer Club, and on the other hand to a friend.  I feel satisfied that I handled it the best way I could, but it was a tough spot to be in.

On Wednesday, we had Young Women in Excellence.  The YW leaders in our ward are amazing, and I appreciate so much all they do for Jesse and Mary.  For her display, Jesse showed her Hymn book with the list of Hymns she is playing on the organ, and Mary showed the material and the skirt she is making for one of her projects.  I am very proud of the girls and how hard they work on Personal Progress!

On Friday night my friend Tauna texted and said that she was grateful that we had Wade & Holli at our house, and that she was bringing over a Lasagna dinner for us!  Wow!  So we had dinner with them and later played Ticket to Ride with Wade & Holli.  That was fun!  Bruce beat us all by a long ways.  It's a good thing I'm not too competitive when playing with Bruce because he almost always wins.  I need to play him in ping-pong and serve up some humble pie.

On Saturday morning, I told Bruce that we should go over to Rexburg and watch Josh's game.  He agreed to go, but only after naming off all the "projects" that he wanted to get done in this "work" Saturday, as he called it.  This was a big sacrifice for him.  There's almost nothing he loves more than to get a lot of things done on a Saturday.  But thankfully, he loves his children more than his projects, so we all loaded up in the van and went off to Rexburg.  We showed up on the very minute that the game started!  My Mom and Dad and Aunt Angie were there with Ethan and Alyssa.  Angie knew we were coming, but not Mom & Dad.  My Mom's reaction was just what every daughter wants to hear, "Lorena!", and then she wraps me in a big hug.  Dad grabbed my arms and with a big smile said, "What are YOU doing here?"  Ha ha  I told him it was my son that was playing and I wanted to see him play!

Josh was on the "Hurricanes", and his team made it to the championship.  They played a great game - very skilled players - and won 1-0.  It was fun to watch!  After the game, we went over to Josh's apartment for a bit and he played us some songs on his guitar.  We then took off to to another town to watch our high school football team play in State game.  They lost, but it was fun to be there with all the other people from out community.

We drove home after the game, each taking an hour to drive.  We got home at 1:20 am, but luckily we got to set our clocks back, so that helped us get up this morning.  I loved testimony meeting this morning.  How wonderful to hear each individual share the feelings of their heart and express their love for the gospel, for the Lord, and for their families and our ward members.

I just got done reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.  You'll have to see my review on Goodreads (see the link on this blog.).  Wow - it was a good book.