Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Last Day in New York

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Pilgrimage with My Daughter

On Saturday these two:

Mother and Daughter

Went here:

Manhattan Temple

Then they walked here:

St. Patrick's Cathedral

And it's a pilgrimage because I really love both the temple and the cathedral; they are both holy places to me.

Then they took the subway here:


The Empire State Building through the mist

And they talked and laughed and shopped and drank Diet Dr. Pepper and ate yummy pizza and almond cookies and it was simply wonderful!

*Thanks for keeping the kids all day at home, Alan!

Puddle Jumpin'

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pajama Day in Tuckahoe

Wednesday we stayed home except for a lunchtime trip to McDonalds. The kids loved it and it was fun to get out of the house. Andrew is very serious about making sure that he gets the same and as much food as the other two by yelling "mine" over and over again. Andrew and Abby fell asleep on the way home and I successfully transferred them to their beds.

We also played in the yard and probably watched too much TV ~ but I'm the Nana so it's not my job to discipline, just entertain and keep everybody happy and alive.

Today has been sad. Connor starting throwing up at 5:30 in the morning and continued all morning; he couldn't even keep water down. So sad! But he's the bravest "thrower-upper" I've ever seen. No crying, just getting to the toilet or a bowl every time, leaving no messes for Nana. Thank you very much! He finally fell asleep and has slept most of the afternoon, but has a fever. He woke up starving and we're hoping the food stays put. He says his stomach feels better and I've given tylenol for the fever so hopefully the worst is over.

Needless to say, we all stayed in and haven't changed out of pajamas all day. Everybody needs a good pajama day once in while, however it's better if you don't have to be sick to get one.

Scientific Epiphanies

Sometime in the early 90's I was taking Physical Science 100 at BYU. I had gone back to school to pursue the degree I left to put my husband through law school and to mother six children. (I'm still technically pursuing that degree)

This is when I first heard of plate tectonics, a theory which describes the large scale motions of earth's lithosphere. When I was a child in school I was taught that even though it looked a lot like South America could fit into the side of Africa, that was completely impossible. It was just a coincidence that the coastline shapes matched.

I was so excited when I learned about plate tectonics; one day I enthusiastically told my grade school children about it. They looked at me incredulously and said, "Yeah, Mom, everybody knows that." It turned out that in the decades since I had taken a science class new things were discovered and understood about the earth's surface.

I had another such epiphany last night. Thanks to the fact that Laura and Alan don't have cable, I found myself watching a PBS special about this man:

His name is Benoit Mandelbrot. He pioneered a new mathematics called fractal geometry. A fractal is generally "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole," a property called self-similarity. Previous to Mandelbrot's theory mathematicians were all about lines and angles and numbers, and had no mathematical way to quantify curves and the patterns found in nature.

It makes sense that the patterns in nature would have some sort of mathematical nature; God is an orderly Creator. I felt close to Him as I learned about this and while the scientists were talking about natural selection, I just smiled to myself and thought that this new (to me) theory just reinforced my belief in the Creation. These beautiful patterns of fractal geometry could only be created by a loving Heavenly Father.

Perhaps I should take a science class or watch PBS more often!

*I apologize to any really smart people (my brother) who find my explanation simplistic and possibly wrong.
But I did have an epiphany nonetheless.

The Last First Day of School

I missed Michael's last first day of school as he began his senior year since I was in New York, but my dear husband dutifully took the all-important, traditional picture:

Ten years

(? I guess we're counting kindergarten?)
Our Senior

Note: My Laura started 1st grade in 1984, (she skipped kindergarten because she's so smart ~ later when she found out how fun kindergarten is, she regretted missing it) so this year is my 25th (and final) consecutive year of sending a child (or children) off to school. Maybe next year I'll send myself off to college:)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Days One and Two in Tuckahoe

I'm pleasantly surprised at how well things are going for my Nanajan Five-Day Retreat. The kids are remarkably well-behaved, (except the usual sibling bickering) and I'm feeling pretty good about myself (knock on wood).

My first big accomplishment was getting back home from LaGuardia Airport after dropping Laura and Alan off to catch their plane. Later that day we ventured to Costco and Stop-n-Shop for some vittles and made it back home from there as well. (I keep calling the grocery store "Stop-n-Go" which is very frustrating to Connor) We also walked to the park two blocks away in 91 degree/42% humidity and played until we were all red-faced and sweaty.

Today we stayed home until after Andrew's nap. In the morning we went out in the yard and played with balloons. My $5 investment in balloons and a pump returned 45 minutes of extreme fun!

I can't do balloon animals, but I did do balloon hats, or in Andrew's case it was more of a necklace. They really wore them most of the day!

In the afternoon we went to Old Navy where I had a return and we got bouncy balls - another great investment at $.75! Then we went to both Staples and Best Buy to get a card reader so I could load my pictures from my camera onto the computer. (I forgot my cord) Seriously, can you believe I found Staples, but then they didn't have one, so we found Best Buy. Both stops involving getting three children in and out of carseats and in and out of the stores. I'm amazing!

We planned to go to Sagamore park (thanks for the hint and the map , Alan!) to play with our bouncy balls, but when we got there, there was no place to park. Because of road construction there were big signs everywhere saying you couldn't park on the road and we couldn't find anywhere else to park. So we took Alan's other advice and had dinner at the:

How crazy am I? I took three kids by myself to a sit-down restaurant. It went amazingly well and we had yummy food and excellent service. In fact, the kids like it there because they get a "glow-in-the-dark" bracelet and crayons and a page to color. They shared a cheese quesadilla and had chocolate milk and lots of chips. I had delicious fish tacos that came with rice and black beans - Andrew ate most of the rice and black beans! Since we couldn't park on the street, we parked in a lot across the street with a meter. I didn't have a any quarters so I asked our server how serious they are about the meters at 5:30 at night. He said they're pretty serious and offered to make change for me and run across the street and feed the meter for me so I wouldn't have to take all the kids - and they say New Yorkers aren't nice! I beg to differ! (He got a nice tip)

After dinner the kids still insisted on some park time so we just went home and then walked to the neighborhood park we went to yesterday. Even at 6:30 pm it was still 88 degrees/66% humidity. We came home for baths and stories and bedtime.

Abby on the slide

Three kids on swings.
They all are constantly asking for "underdogs" - rather a trick for this Nana. Even Andrew pats the back of his swing and says "dog"

I'm amazed at how Andrew literally falls into his crib at bedtime and naptime, just thrilled to be there!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Floaters and Flashing

Friday afternoon while I was running around doing errands in preparation for my flight to New York that evening I suddenly noticed that I had a "floater" in my right eye. Actually, more than one. In fact, a couple of times I thought there were little black flies flying around and then realized that it was IN my eye.

Later as I was driving to the airport I kept seeing "flashes" of light in the peripheral vision of my right eye. I didn't really think much of it, just annoying.

Saturday evening at Laura's house I googled eye "floaters and flashing." I was a little distressed to read:

floaters + flashing + middle-age = see a doctor right away, danger of retinal tearing/detachment

So after sacrament meeting in the Westchester 1st Ward and getting Primary started, Laura dropped me off at the Westchester Medical Center ER. Surprisingly, they got me right in and I saw an opthamologist who dilated my eyes and shined very bright lights (not comfortable!) into my eyes and determined that my retina is just where it's supposed to be. The floater does mean there's a tear in the vitreous (the jelly-stuff inside your eye) which can be a precursor to a retinal tear, but there's no prevention or treatment.

I am grateful for the current healthcare system which allowed me to have a potentially scary situation ruled out for my ER co-pay of $100.

Rich says I should have claimed to be an illegal alien and saved the $100

And now on to this week with three cute children for five days

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Number Colors

Alan asked me one day what color a number was. Surprisingly, as we said what color we thought each number was, they were often the same!

Well, just for kicks, here's what colors the numbers are to me:


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Color Words

I like words.

I like colors.

Years ago I got this book and used the system described to mark my scriptures.

Basically these are the colors assigned to the scriptures:

Words of the Godhead
Any spiritual gifts
Parables, allegories, Isaiah quoted
Teaching of prophets, explanations
The storyline, chronology, action
The genealogy, births, deaths, marriages
Praise to God
Travel, geographical info
Words and deeds of Satan

I've used this system through two sets of scriptures and I really like it. I draw a square around each verse number and color it in the color that corresponds to what that verse is about. I like that I can just glance at a page and kind of know what's going on in those verses.

This system kind of expanded over the years to my assigning colors to words.
For example:


Recently My Dear Husband wrote a book. Actually he's written more than one. (One is a Christmas book which is coming out this year ~ there will definitely be more about that later) The most recent book is about "The Divine Nature," where he has written a chapter about each of the Christlike attributes found in the scriptures. It really is an inspiring book.

I was trying to remember all those wonderful words, and so I assigned each word a color, put them in rainbow order and I can recall them better this way:

Charity, Love, Mercy
Obedience, Submissiveness, Diligence
Hope, Virtue, Godliness, Holiness
Temperance, Knowledge
Faith, Patience, Long-suffering
Gratitude, Humility, Meekness
Brotherly Kindness, Gentleness, Easy to be Entreated

Then I just threw in some other words that I really like, like the YW values, and their colors:

Individual Worth
Fasting, Prayer, Choice & Accountability
Light, Good Works
Repent, Change, Grow
Divine Nature

So there you have it, my favorite words and their colors.

Compression and Expansion

Ever since I read cjane's post last week, I have been musing on Compression and Expansion.

I was reminded of words I read in a book entitled "House Thinking" by Winnifred Gallagher:

"The most important evolutionary elements of an appealing home are the paired features of prospect, or a big, bright space that has a broad, interesting view, and a refuge, or snug protected haven. . . Having the option of occupying either the snug or the expansive space while enjoying the contrast between them is the kind of simple yet important design feature that makes a house or apartment feel like home."

Interestingly, in Courtney's essay she is telling of visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's compound in Arizona and Gallagher also refers to Wright while explaining this concept in her book:

" . . . his skillful manipulation of refuge and prospect, which Wright called nesting and perching.

In my own home, I have seen this principle at work. We added on a beautiful great room 11 years ago. We felt the need for a more open space where all our family could gather. It's a large room (18 x 20'), with a cathedral ceiling. It has been a wonderful place for hosting family gatherings, parties, and meetings.

Since the room that was the family room became the new dining room, the room that used to be the dining room just off the kitchen became the "sitting room." Surprisingly, the sitting room was often full of people while the great room would remain empty. My Dear Husband would often sit alone in the great room while the rest of the family crowded into the sitting room and yell, "Hey you guys, come in here!" It has kind of become a family joke.

At first I just had a couple of chairs in the sitting room, but then upon realizing how much everyone enjoyed this cozy space, we got the corner sofa that allowed for more seating.

A side note: I have always been interested in interior design; making a room beautiful and functional is one of my gifts. A God-given gift, not anything I should take pride in (although I do) but should use and give freely. As I learn about design principles from classes and books, I realize that I naturally do things the right way, and it is fascinating to me to learn cognitively WHY it is correct, and understand the principle behind my natural choices.

Courtney asks the questions:

"In regards to Compression, Expansion, and Illumination, how do you experience the duality of trial and triumph? How do you find peace with the dark and hope in the light? In your life now, what ways do you feel compression, or expansion or even illumination?"

I have been musing on her last question this week.

For twenty years I had a preschooler by my side, and a home full of six wonderful children which I happily brought into this world. That was a compression; my schedule was tight, my home was full, my life often felt overwhelming. But I loved those years, feeling indispensable in their little lives.

In contrast, my schedule is now rather expansive. Less people I am responsible for on a daily basis. Less laundry. Less food. I have a choice about how I spend my days. It is expansive and lovely and I try not to be too giddy about how much I love it.

I realize now that the expansive part of those early mother years was that I had a cute, thin body. I had energy to do all that I needed to do. I felt good most of the time in spite of childbirth and nursing and the interrupted sleep. The amount of energy needed to be a mother of young children truly is incredible!

And the compression of my life now is not the demands on my time, but the fact that my body is getting older, plumper, "tireder," and often hurts somewhere. My friend, Heather, and I have come to recognize this as God's way of saying, "The physical body is temporary and you'd best be getting some character before this is over."

I'm thankful for learning about compression and expansion. It is a true principle in good design. It is a true principle in life. It is a spiritual principle taught in the Book of Mormon:

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things."

Speaking of Adam and Eve:
"And they would have had no children;wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

"But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things.

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have JOY."

(2 Nephi 2 11, 23-25)

And so I shall stop complaining about all the aches and pains of being 50. (People older than me tell me it will just get worse!)

I shall enjoy the expansiveness of my life now and I shall endure the compression and try to learn from it.

Friday, August 7, 2009


While we were in So Cal we were remembering different times that we'd been there before. I came home wanting to make a list of all the trips we've taken. So I spent some time with the scrapbooks and here's what I came up with:
(These are just the places we've been multiple times)

San Diego Trips
11/90 Hotel del Coronado R&J
10/91 & Disneyland
4/94 Seaworld
11/94 Business Dinner Cruise R&J
8/95 w/ Parsons
8/97 & Disneyland
4/99 Zoo
11/00 Hotel del Coronado R&J (24th anniversary)
7/06 Hotel del Coronado R&J Jenny & Michael
10/06 all - Coronado picture
7/09 Oceanside/Knotts

Disneyland Trips
6/86 from Korea
10/91 & Seaworld
4/96 w/ Clarks
8/97 & Seaworld
10/98 & Knotts
4/00 & Knotts
4/01 w/Parsons
10/04 Korea survivors (R&J, Todd, Jenny, Michael)
4/05 the whole family
4/07 the whole family
4/08 the whole family

New York Trips
11/91 overnight Les Miserables R&J (15th anniversary)
10/95 with Laura & Mary
10/96 Business trip R&J
7/97 dance Janet & Mary
7/99 NYC - Palmyra - Kirtland
11/03 NY for Connor Janet & Jenny & Mary
1/06 NY for Abby Janet
9/07 NY for Andrew Janet
12/07 Wicked R&J
1/09 NY for Abby's 3rd birthday Janet

Palmyra Trips
11/98 Palmyra - Kirtland R & J (22nd Anniversary)
7/99 NYC - Palmyra - Kirtland
10/05 Palmyra - Kirtland

Nauvoo Trips
7/07 with Jenny & Michael

Arches Trips
10/97 Michael was 5 and hiked to Delicate Arch and later asked me, "Mom, remember when we hiked to the license plate?"

Hawaii Trips

4/95 Oahu
8/98 Oahu
9/06 Big island R&J
9/07 Maui and Oahu R&J

Tahiti Trips
11/07 R&J
4/09 cruise R&J

A New Grandbaby Coming!

Mary and Logan announced on Tuesday that Little Hammer #3 is expected in March 2010! We're very happy about this news!

As a side note, Ayden kind of spilled the beans before we left on our vacation. The Hammers spent the night at our house the night before we left. Ayden was the only one up early when we were getting ready to leave for the airport. He said to Rich and me, "I have a secret about something in my Mommy's tummy, but I can't tell you." We just told him he should keep his secret and smiled to each other.

SoCal Vaca

I'm the third and final person to post about our Southern California vacation; Jenny and My Dear Husband already posted. But since this blog is our family scrapbook, I shall post as well.

Janet in her new sunhat and Jenny in her hippie headband at Seaport Village

Trevor, Michael, Jenny Rich

Rich in his new hat

We left on Saturday, July 25 and flew into San Diego. Since we couldn't check into our condo until 3 pm, we headed to Seaport Village for lunch and walking around the cute shops in the sunshine. Later we checked into our beach condo in Oceanside and got groceries and dinner and walked down to the beach.

The view from our condo

Sunday we attended sacrament meeting at the Oceanside 4th ward. It was nice for me to sit with My Dear Husband and sing hymns with him. Jenny commented that he has a nice voice and we don't often get to sit with him at church and hear it.

After Church we picked up Brian at the airport while the other kids went to the beach and then we drove up to Irvine and had a delicious meal and lovely evening with Rich's cousin Gerry, his wife Neena, their daughter Melissa, her husband Serge and baby boy Axel.

The cousins: Gerry and Richard

The whole group
(minus Trevor taking the picture)

Monday we headed to Seaworld and enjoyed all the shows and rides. The kids did the dolphin encounter where they got to feed and interact with the dolphins and their trainer. Rich and I did that in Tahiti and it is really a fun experience.

Tuesday we spent most of the day at the beach. Michael and Trevor were crazy on the boogie boards. Jenny and I got in the ocean for a while, but the waves were so powerful we decided to get out before we got hurt. We just love laying in the sun and listening to the waves the best anyway. Rich, of course, enjoyed sitting in a chair completely covered in sunblock reading his kindle. That night we went back to Seaworld to enjoy the nighttime shows and fireworks.

Rich "enjoying" the beach


Cute couple


Wednesday we headed north again to Knott's Berry Farm. This was Michael's vacation and that was his choice. We really love the rides there. Well, Rich doesn't enjoy rides so the Founder of our Fun just sat nearby and read his kindle. My favorite is "Montezooma's Revenge." The boys really like "Ghostrider," but I found it too jerky in my old age.

The Founder of our Fun

The highlight for me was when we got off the Ghostrider and joined Rich where he had been sitting waiting for us. There was a booth close by where a young girl, employee of Knott's Berry Farm was guessing ages and weights. Rich said she wasn't that good at it and since I look young I should give it a try. So we gave her $5 and she wrote down that I look 40 years old. Well, since I'm actually 51, she lost and I won a prize - a teddy bear. The best part was being told I look 11 years younger than I am!

Thursday we drove into San Diego and went to my favorite mall ~ Horton Plaza. I love that it's outside and on so many levels. Of course, the boys weren't too thrilled with shopping, while Jenny and I could have spent the day. We did do some quick shopping for Michael and school clothes before we met our friend, Amberlin Bodily Baxter at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. (Amber's parents live in our ward and she lives in San Diego with her husband, Paul)

Then we were off to our FAVORITE place ~ Coronado. We love the beach there, the charming small town, the Hotel del Coronado. It's just the best! We enjoyed walking in the hotel and showing it to Trevor ~ a first-timer to Coronado. We spent some time on the beach and then took Brian to the airport to catch his flight home. That evening we had a nice dinner and started packing so we'd be ready to fly home Friday morning.

We had a lovely vacation. As a mother, it was nice traveling with adults who all take care of their own belongings and are quite well-behaved in public places. Thanks to My Dear Husband for planning and funding such a great time.