Monday, December 27, 2010

nothing random here, no siree.

In case you didn't get our Christmas Card this year* . . .

One dry warmish Saturday morning in November, I put on a little extra make-up, brought out some jaunty winter hats, and convinced Eric and Heather to put them on.  Then we marched out to the back patio in our Saturday morning finery, and took these uber-casual photos, which I was intending to use for our Christmas photo.

I have a theory on this--experience has taught me that those important family photos almost never turn out as beautifully as I want them to, and so for my Christmas card shots, I go casual.  That's because if it looks like we didn't take a lot of time on it, then I feel more comfortable with the imperfections (and if our clothes don't match, so much the better).  Besides, casual shots are easier, less stressful, more fun, and help me keep the Christmas spirit versus the for-heaven's-sake-why-doesn't-anyone-around-here-help-me-out-with-all-the-stuff-I-need-to-get-done-so-that-we-can-have-a-memorable-Holiday-Season spirit.

Getting back to our story--here are some outtakes of that fine morning:

(We used a tripod for these.)



Here's the one we sent out:

But wait! 

Some of you are saying, "That's not the photo you mailed me, Charlotte!  What are you trying to pull here?"

Too true, too true.  Some of you received a different photo this year.

See, the day after this balmy November morning, we received our first real snowfall of the year.  Two days after that, Heather and I went out to play in it.

(Yes, Heather picked out her scarf by herself.  No, it's not wrapped around her neck.  Yes, Heather is two.  Yes, I'm picking my battles.  In case you're wondering, there are a plethora of battles from which to pick.)

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Later that day, as I was going through the photos that I'd taken of the event, I loved one of them so much that I decided to make it Christmas Card worthy as well.

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Then, I couldn't decide which photo I really wanted to send out, so I got a bunch of copies made of both.  So, as I was sending out the cards, I sent whichever one struck my fancy at the moment. 

Looking back, I just have to say that it's a good thing that I'm so on top of things, that I always have a plan, and that I stick with it all the time, don't you think?  I mean, how awful would it be if something as important as our Christmas greeting was left up to chance and whim?  I shudder to imagine it.

*This year I did the old standby of sending out a Christmas Card the day after I got a Christmas Card.  Next year I'll probably go back to the old way of sending them out to the whole list.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

there were shepherds in the fields

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. . . keeping watch over their flocks by night.


Hope your Christmas is Merry, Merry, Merry.

If this looks familiar to you, that's because some of you have seen it before. Hey, cut me some slack!  We only do the nativity once a year. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Christmas Orange--(a little more irreverant than the tale you know)

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This picture (of me and my brother Bobby) doesn't really have all that much to do with the post, but I get a kick out of the expression on Santa's face.  Not all that thrilled to be there, is he? (Of course, to be fair, we're not exactly jumping out of our skins with excitement either)

The other day,  I was looking at our (now long gone) bag of Clementines, and I got thinking about how citrus fruits and Christmas are often in bounteous supply in my home (and many other homes) at the same time, and how that's a little bit odd.

And that got me thinking about how, when I was little, my Grandpa and Grandma Corry used to give us a case of Sunkist oranges at Christmas every year, and how my mom would put the case under the tree, since it was a rare treat to get Sunkist oranges, and they were a Christmas present after all.

And that got me thinking about a certain December evening when my mom was out somewhere, and my dad was taking care of us, and somehow we got him juggling for us, and then we got him to start teaching us to juggle, right there in the living room.  Only, there weren't enough balls or beanbags, or whatever we were using for all of us to juggle at the same time.  So, he (thinking of the oranges) told us that there was something else in the room that we could use, but that we probably shouldn't, but if we could figure out what it was, then he'd let us use them.  So, eventually we figured out that he was talking about the oranges, and we got him to open them up and then we had a grand old time tossing oranges in the air and trying to catch them and juggle them, and it turned into one of my favorite (though admittedly, not always at the front of my mind) holiday memories.

And that got me thinking about my mom's living room, and wondering if she ever knew about that night (and the few others that followed it over the years), and realizing that if she did, she probably had her priorities more where I would like mine to be, since right now the thought of Eric and an eight-year old Heather juggling oranges (or Clementines) in our living room when I'm out for the evening gives me an uneasy feeling in my stomach, and we don't even have carpet that is worth saving.

And that made me remember that Eric's not a juggler.


(Incidentally, now that I've posted this here, my guess is that either my dad is going to be in (a little bit of) trouble for something he did 25+ years ago, or my mom will tell me that she knew all along, and was "picking her battles.")

(I can hardly wait to find out which.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

He teases me in person too.

Subject: temple sitter
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 18:31:23 +0000

My dearest darlingest lovely love . . .

I just talked with Keli (last name withheld), and they are free and thrilled to tend Heather this Saturday while we go and strengthen our family, our testimonies, and the church in general at the temple. Does 11 o'clock sound good to you?

I love you more than I can possibly express, and I hope you're having a good day.



Subject: RE: temple sitter
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 14:06:10 -0700

Yes, 11 sounds good.

So you love me more than you can possibly express huh? Hmm, so how about if you tell me all the different ways that I make it so hard to express, and you have to be serious.

I love you too.
Love Eric


Subject: RE: temple sitter
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 21:08:56 +0000

No one makes me laugh like you do. 



Subject: RE: temple sitter
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 14:09:46 -0700

That wasn't serious enough.

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That's my man.  

Some background info:
  •  Sometimes I get a little cheeky about arranging our temple visits.
  •  If you haven't read this  lately, you may want to do so, or you could get the impression that Eric is the most overly sensitive-high-maintenance man on earth, and really, nothing could be further from the truth.

Monday, December 13, 2010

expecting the best of each other

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For the past few months, I've been thinking about judging, as in unrighteous judgment. Specifically, I've been pondering what it means to judge, different ways in which one can judge another, and most importantly, the areas where I could stand to do a little improving on this front. 

All this thinking has led me to make a few changes in the way I deal with a few of the people that I encounter.  I still have a ways to go, but it feels good to be a little more forgiving, a little more tolerant, a little less critical.

Along those lines, I really like this quote:

"Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don't judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone's differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn't handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other" (Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, May 1992, 18).
Reading over the quote, I think the areas that are of particular application to me are remaining quiet (although I don't consider myself one who engages in illicit gossip, I must admit that it can't be said of me that I never say an unkind thing about another person.), and having patience with someone who has let me down.

A few nights ago, Eric and I were talking over this and that, and the conversation turned to a particular situation involving some people I've known. Long story short, there's been an extra-marital affair, and the couple are working on getting a divorce.  I was reminded other occurrences where the facts had been similar, and how it had all played out in those situations with those people. 

As I thought of this, I opened my mouth to share my opinion on all the situations, what I thought about them, what I thought should be done, and how I thought it should all fall out.  I felt a twinge of guilt, but I set that aside, reasoning that nothing that I said would leave the walls of our home, and so it was okay for me to have and share my oh-so-erudite thoughts.

I started out, saying; "You know . . . " and then I stopped.  I think my voice knew what it took my mind a little while longer to grasp, which was that although what I said would be kept in our home, the fact still remained that sharing my opinion would do no good, and would probably cheapen us both, and so it was better to just keep my mouth shut.

So (for once) I did just that.  I shut my mouth, and I opened my heart and mind.  I realized that I had no idea what any of these people had experienced or were experiencing, and that I had no right to even have an opinion, much less share it with anyone at all.  Even Eric.

Doing that was liberating.  It felt free. It felt good.  It felt right.

It felt like something I want to do again.

photo courtesy of SweetOnVeg

Friday, December 10, 2010


If it were still random video week, I would definitely be posting this:

Every year since 2008, the Fosters have put one of these together instead of sending out a Christmas Card.  I love it.  I don't even know the Fosters, but this little number is enough to make me want to add them to my friend circle.

(Too bad they live in Arizona.)

To see the 2009 and 2008 offerings, click here and follow the links. 

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

He Just Had to be a Part of the Fun

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Salt Lake City

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So,  when Heidi and I were roommates (for several years), it seemed like every few weeks we were organizing or hosting some project or party or just general silliness.  We had theme parties (like the year Heidi put together a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers party, where everyone (guys included) made and wore aprons) and did service (like the year we got about four other people and put together a Sub for Santa, including the making of a quilt), and just random outings, (like the time I dragged everyone out to Preston, Idaho for the Napoleon Dynamite Celebration), and did about thirty other occasions that I don't really have the energy to post about just now. 

Looking back on that, I realize now that our most frequent (if not always most enthusiastic) participant in all this random fun was a certain guy named Phillip Kesler.  

So, it's only fitting that Phil should be part of this new crop of silliness, even posthumously.  

Recently Heidi was looking through some old pictures on the computer, and found these in Phil's files.  I'm not sure when the Salt Lake City lion was captured, but the Switzerland lions were photographed long before I started blogging, which probably makes Phil the first USoSL Member. 

Once again, we can count on Phil to join in on the fun.  Isn't it comforting to find that some things never (as in really never) change?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

if wishes were fishes . . .

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I've never had good penmanship.

I come by this naturally.  My mother's penmanship, while readable isn't exactly calligraphy, and as to my father's . . . well, back in high school, I could (and did) forge his signature with ease by taking a pen and making a few connected jagged lines.

When I was in elementary, my mother used to reward my younger brother (who was more of a math genius and less of a language genius) with treats based on the number of books he read.  A born reader, I felt this was unfair and wanted in on some of that action.  However, when I approached my mom about it, she came up with a different deal.  Instead of getting rewards for reading books, I would be compensated for notes that I brought home from my teacher--specifically notes saying that my penmanship was improving. 

I still have one of the papers that my mother brought home from a 5th grade parent-teacher conference.  It's about three pages, full of checks and notations about my math level, my social studies, level, my reading level, etc.  There are places for notes all along the way, but the only note I really remember is next to "penmanship".  There, my teacher had written "much improved".  (She knew about my deal with my mom, and she liked me, so although I had been striving to improve the penmanship, samples of my handwriting from that time pretty much confirm that she was having mercy on me with this note.)

(Follow all that?)

Now, my handwriting is probably even worse than it was when I was a child.  I think it's because I don't get a whole lot of practice writing, and I don't get a whole lot of practice writing because I'm fast at typing.  Because I'm fast at typing, whenever I write something I get impatient because the words aren't coming out of my pen as fast as I want them to come, so I write them more quickly.  Then the handwriting gets more messy, I get discouraged, and come up with more ways to let typing replace writing.  And it circles around and around and around.

But, I would dearly love to have beautiful penmanship.  Unfortunately, not dearly enough to invest the kind of time that would be necessary to develop that gift, as for someone with my native (lack of)ability, it would probably take an extraordinary amount of time.

Still, no one has ever accused me of having writing that looks like hen tracks, so perhaps I shouldn't give up hope yet.


(Note to my Willis and Cannon family--did you know that someone has created a typeface from Heber J. Grant's handwriting?  How cool is that?)
(photo courtesy of tikurion)

Friday, December 03, 2010

a post that was going to be succint and helpful, but then started going all over the place before I could control it (sorry about that)

I love Christmas music, but I'm picky about it.  I like what I call classic Christmas music.  Meaning, I like instrumental Christmas music, I like choral Christmas music, I like individual singers or small groups singing traditional carols, and even newer carols if they are thoughtful with beautiful melodies.

I'm not a big fan of many of the Christmas albums put out by popular singers.  I love Neil Diamond eleven months out of the year, but I absolutely don't want to listen to him in December.  I have a Manhattan Transfer Christmas CD that some years doesn't even make it out of the case.  Same for my Glen Miller Christmas album.  I'm a die hard Peter Breinholt fan, and own all of his albums but one.  Any guesses on what one that might be?  (here's a pretty broad hint). Last year, on a whim, I bought a CD of popular Christmas songs that was sold by the post office.  It took me only one listen to remember that this was not my thing.  I don't even know where that CD is now. 

So, when I heard that the Mormon Church had set up a stream of Christmas Music, I gave it a listen.

Love it.

It's all Mormon Tabernacle Choir (as nearly as I can tell), along with different soloists (probably from the Christmas Concerts that they've been doing over the years).

If you want to try it out, go here.

And, as long as we're talking about Christmas Music, I want to give a quick shout out for my new Christmas CD for 2010.  It's the Voice Male Christmas Live 2 CD set.  In addition to having sentimental value for me (it's Phil Kesler's last CD), I like it for its merits.  I like the songs they chose (although I wish they would have included the Heidi/Phil duet of I'll be Home for Christmas.  Obviously I wasn't consulted on that-- again.)  I think the selections strike a near perfect balance between the sacred spiritual side and joyful playful side of the season.  Best of all, since it's a live recording, there are lots of jokes and sillinesses between the songs that just crack me up.

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And now, just to end this all, I'm just going to list just a few of my favorite Christmas songs/albums. 

A Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas (The arrangement of The First Noel sometimes makes me cry)
Amahl and the Night Vistors
Handel's Messiah
Celtic Woman - A Christmas Celebration
Pretty Much Any Christmas Music by Kurt Bestor
Amy Grant's 2003 Christmas Album (I always skip over "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree)

. . . also, in spite of what I just wrote about my Christmas Music snobbery, I freely admit that anytime I hear any version of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, I bust up laughing.  Hey, we all have our guilty pleasures, right?

So, what about you?  Any Christmas music you particularly like?

(Don't worry--Like Planet Fitness, this post is a Judgement Free Zone.)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A new seeker!

It is my delighted pleasure to welcome Jeri (who recently returned from a fabulous vacation from Hawaii--sound familiar?) as the newest member of USoSL!

Here's the proof:

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Thanks for playing, Jeri!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

how we roll (or don't roll, as the case may be)

Just for kicks, I thought I'd post some pictures here of some of the scenes you might see at our home on a typical run-of-the-mill day.  Hold on to your hats, it's sure to be a thrilling ride.

* * *

"Puppy" (a/k/a "Dog") and "Bear" take naps on the couch and floor respectively.  
Puppy is covered by Heather's beloved "pink blankie."
(Of all Heather's toys, only Bert has his own name.  Baby, Doll, Gorilla, Hippo, Puppy, Bear, White Bear, Mommy Bear, and Bert.  That's Heather's collection, all named by her little highness.)


Our fridge. 
That $10 magnet has been there over a year now. 
I don't even remember what we'll get $10 off anymore.  
It's probably time to get rid of it.
Heather likes to rearrange the letters on the fridge.  Her current favorites are "D" (for doggie and daddy), "M" (for mommy), and "X" (who knows why). 
As evidenced by the two halves on the fridge, "Z" is not a favored letter.

Laundry day.  
Notice the towel.  
Eric was finding serial numbers for the customer support rep on the telephone when an errant bleach bottle jumped off the shelf and poured itself all over the floor. 
Thinking quickly, Eric grabbed one of our navy blue towels and averted sheer disaster.  
(Fortunately, we received about 25 navy blue towels (no lying there) for our wedding, so the loss of this one is not a family tragedy.)

Everyone in this family carries his or her weight musically.  Heather sees to that.  
(Alternatively, they have found a high perch from which to stand guard.  I'm not sure which is actually the case.)
The whole gang.

Eric gave me this picture for Christmas four years ago.  
We had just gotten engaged.  
I love it.  
I mean, who wouldn't want a Kung Pao Rooster?  
I can't think of a single person.
(Can you?)

Kitty and Puppy take their turns on guard duty. 
Candle garden courtesy of Heather.

The candle garden morphs into a candle sculpture.

Whiteboard in the kitchen.
Notice the bottom left corner.  That is the list I keep of people who have said, "If you ever want someone to tend Heather, let me know."  (not in any particular order, so those of you who are fourth or fifth (or eighth) down can rest in absolute assurance that you aren't our fourth or fifth (or eighth) pick.)

The 4 and 5 are leftover from the last time I made French Bread.  You have to let it rise for an hour, punching it down every 10 minutes.  I find that I lose track, so I mark what "punch" I'm on with the whiteboard.  
This particular countdown has been up for at least four weeks old though. 
Our menu.  
(This is also a few weeks old.  Now I'm back into the old "dinner on the fly" mode.  Hopefully I'll get back to actual menu planning soon.)

You know how kids in Primary sometimes make little doo-dads to tell someone "thanks" for serving?  I got this little bundle of cheer earlier in the week.  It made my day.  
Heck, it made my week!

My favorite thing about our kitchen.  
The tops of our cabinets are lined with pictures of our nieces and nephews (and Heather) in various random shots.  Our goal is to get the wacky-est shots we can.  
(The selection here isn't as wacky as some of the other pics we have up, but I really like it all the same.)

And finally . . . 

The breakfast dishes that I left sitting on the table while I took the vast majority of these pictures.  
Mother/Wife of the year right here!

(Feeling better about your own home right about now?)


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