Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Our Five Grandchildren

I thought it would be fun to show all five of our grandchildren. You didn't know that we have five? Well let me introduce them. Below is Katherine Elizabeth Jole, daughter of Helena and Doug. Kate, as she is known by, will be four years old in December. Helena made the sweater that Kate is wearing.And this little miss is Elizabeth Anne Ahlstrom, daughter of Peter and Karen. She was born January 14, and is currently 4 1/2 months old. Elizabeth is very observant and is trying her best to talk and to move around. She had her first taste of rice cereal today, and liked it! It's obvious that she loves her mom and dad and they love her right back.
And introducing "Munchkin" Mills. Below is a three-dimensional ultrasound picture of Barbie and Kyle's little one who will make an appearance around Halloween. Later pictures showed that the baby is probably a girl, but that picture wasn't as clear as this one, so I decided to post this one instead. If you look closely you can see that her head is to the left. You can also see short little arms and legs, and the umbilical cord. Needless to say we're all really excited.
And speaking of excited, Helena surprised everyone by posting the following announcement on her blog on May 6th. Their little one will be born around Kate's birthday in late December. Part of what makes this so exciting is that there will be three little cousins all born within the same year.
And last but definitely not least is Betsey's baby. What, you didn't know that Betsey even has a baby? She has blonde hair and brown eyes and is very cute, and also very obedient. She is fourteen years old, and her name is Angie. We love her a lot too. She has been a major asset to the family for a long time. She is fun and funny and loves vegetables. She gets very offended if we cut up carrots, or broccoli, or cauliflower, or green beans, etc., and don't "accidentally" drop some to her. She is very good at "barkuming" crumbs up off the floor.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Jim is 66 years old today. He was born on Lorna Hansen's 14th birthday. Lorna's family had a surprise birthday party for her yesterday in honor of her 80th birthday. In spite of weather forecasts for dire circumstances, everything went very well. Here are Lorna and Jim at Lorna's house yesterday. Jim thought the shirt he's wearing would be appropriate for Memorial Day. It says "I BLEED Red White and Blue." He got it one of the times he donated blood.

We took Jim out to eat at Olive Garden tonight. Betsey had the chicken scampi and really liked it. Jim and I had salmon and Kirsten had spaghetti. Kirsten and I gave Jim a DVD of the Court Jester, with Danny Kaye. I got that idea awhile back when my friend Jill mentioned on her blog how much her family enjoyed it.

Betsey bought him a new rain gauge. All the numbers were worn off the old one. I knew he was needing a change when the other day he threatened to take a ruler with him in order to see how much rain had really fallen. She also got him a $5 DVD set which she said was from Walmart’s reject pile. It has 20 old John Wayne movies that are black and white and about 1 hour long. We watched one tonight. It’s interesting to notice how films have evolved over time. Betsey finally figured out that something huge that was missing was music. There was no background music of any kind, and the acting left something to be desired. We just had to laugh at some of it.

We sang "Happy Birthday," to him, rather creatively, and all of the kids called too. We also bought a New York style cheesecake, and heated up some frozen berries to put on top. It was the ending of a very nice day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Our Trip to Illinois

Jim and Kirsten and I left on Friday, May 23 and drove to Illinois to attend a memorial service in honor of our Sister-in-Law Lynda's mother who passed away in December. On the way there we took a quick drive around the University of Illinois campus. Jim and I first met at the U of I in the cafeteria of the Illinois Street Residence Halls. We didn't get a picture of that building, but we did manage to snap pictures of our first dorms.
For the first three or four years that he was at the U of I, Jim lived on the second floor of Hopkins hall, shown above.For the first year or two that I was there, I lived on the third floor on this side of Van Doren Hall, which faced the football stadium. I remember several times when the night before a big game people came around to tell us to either have the light in our room on until midnight, or off all evening. The objective was to spell "GO ILLINI" in lights. I remember that it worked pretty well.

After taking a quick tour of the campus, we drove to Normal Illinois and checked into our hotel before driving to Eureka to visit Bob and Judy Hickok. We've known Bob since before Kirsten was born. His first wife, Lea, passed away a few years ago. He has since married Judy who was a long-time friend of the family. It was so fun meeting Judy and renewing our friendship with Bob. They showed us around Eureka, including a tour of Eureka College, alma mater of Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture.

The memorial service the following morning was held in the cemetery in Fairbury, Illinois. Jim and his brother Frank grew up in Fairbury, and so did Frank's wife, Lynda. Jim and Lynda were in the same class in high school. Frank was a year older. (Frank passed away in 1999 at age 58.)
Lynda's brother, Doug, gave the eulogy. Then we stood around and visited for awhile before going to the Fairbury Country Club for lunch. Lynda is in the above picture on the right. Her sister Peggy is in the middle, and brother Doug on the left. These two handsome fellows are Mike and Mark Ahlstrom, sons of Frank and Lynda. Below are Mike, Lynda and Mark. We then looked at some of the sights in Fairbury. Below is a picture of Aunt Mildred's house in town. She and Jim's mom were sisters. I used to love visiting in that house. Our last stop was the Old Homestead. It had changed quite a bit. The people who live there now have built a deck in the back of the house.And the front porch is gone. It apparently has been enclosed. The garage to the left in the picture below was added by Grandma Ahlstrom during the time she lived there alone after Jim's dad passed away.

And here's the barn. It appeared to be in great shape. The corn crib that Betsey once got stuck in is long gone.

And so we bid farewell to Fairbury. Who knows when we will pass this way again. It was a nice trip, but we were glad to get home later that night.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lee's Wedding

On May 3, Jim took an early flight to the Baltimore airport, rented a car and drove to his cousin Lee Ahlstrom's wedding. Lee and his bride, Marty, were married in a tent which was in a lovely setting at the home of a friend.Here are Lee and his son-in-law Preston, who was his best man, waiting for Marty and her dad to come down the aisle.The Happy Couple--Marty and Lee Ahlstrom

Lee's family. Front L to R Lee's daughter Caroline, Lee, Marty, daughter Christine, her husband Preston, and daughter Ananda. In the back row with Jim are Lee's cousins on his mom's side.
Lee's family is in the front row, and Marty's family is in the back.
The end of a perfect day. Lee's granddaughter, Ananda taking advantage of a comfortable spot. Jim arrived home late that night, a little tired, but very glad that he was able to go.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

This picture of Helena and Kate was taken on Mother's Day, so I decided to add it here. I really like it. Kate is not quite 3 1/2.
I received this lovely family portrait as a Mother's Day gift from Peter and Karen. It's gorgeous! This was taken April 18, so Elizabeth is 3 months old. I love it!
At school, Kirsten made this lovely Mother's Day decoration for me. We have it hanging on the doorknob in the kitchen, where I can see it easily. She also made a little clip-on flower which I wore to church today.

Betsey made a Mother's Day Dinner of roast beef, red-skin potatoes and yams. She asked what kind of vegetable I wanted to go with it. I told her that I really wanted asparagus, so Jim went out in our rather soggy back yard (we've had a lot of rain) and picked some in. YUM.

Barbie and Kyle called and sang "Happy Mother's Day To You," very creatively. Then she and I had a long telephone visit. They moved into their new house yesterday, so there was lots to talk about.

Helena and Doug called and also sang "Happy Mother's Day To You." They actually sounded quite normal. :-) I told her it was a fun tradition, and she said it was very adaptable. (We also sing "Happy Anniversary to You," etc.)

Peter called, but it was right while we were having Family Home Evening, so I asked if we could talk later. For FHE the family sang "Mother Dear, I Love You So." We then went over the calendar for the week. Betsey read my Mother's Day cards out loud, which was cute, and Jim read a story from the Friend magazine. Ordinarily for FHE we read more stories, and Jim also reads something from the Ensign, but this time, Kirsten was falling asleep so we stopped early.

When Peter called back we had a nice visit. He thanked me for being a really good mom. He also told me they saw the new movie "Iron Man" last night. He said it was very entertaining, had a great ending, and had only 20 seconds of objectionable material. That's quite an endorsement.

We'll, all in all, it's been a really nice day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What A Treat!-Savoring the Dawn Chorus

One week ago today, Jim got up at 4:00 a.m. to get ready to leave for cousin Lee’s wedding. Lee lives in the DC area so Jim flew there and back that day. In order for this to happen he definitely had to get up before breakfast! The least I could do was visit with him while he ate it. Not feeling quite up to making a trip of that magnitude I elected to stay home and keep the home fires burning while he made his marathon trek. My intent was to visit with him and then mercifully snuggle back in bed while he went on his way. Little did I realize what a treat was coming my way!

Savoring the Dawn Chorus

As I went to the door to lock it safely behind him,
My ears picked up on something I hadn’t heard
In our snug, well-insulated,
Apparently sound proof house.
It’s 5:30 a.m. by this time, and still quite dark
But by no means still.
The Dawn Chorus in full crescendo
Brought music to my ears.

One very enthusiastic robin
Sounded like he was cheering
Through a megaphone
Pointed directly at my ear.
SO glad for another day
And not afraid to
Tell the world about it!

What would the morning serenade be
Without robins? That’s all I could hear.
Perhaps they’re just the loudmouths
Of the feathered set,
Calling to each other from
Not-so-neighboring trees.
“Hey Fred, whatcha’ got planned for today?
Find any early worms yet?”

As Jim pulled out of the driveway
And onto the street,
I remembered to flash the
Yard light three times.
He flashed back three times-
Our signal for “I love you too.”

I stepped out onto the porch then
And stood there savoring,
Soaking it all in,
Just being there in my p.j’s,
Glad for the cover of darkness.
My eyes took in the view.
Amber rays of the yard light
Peeking through the
Still-bare branches
Of a Kousa dogwood
Were reflected off our sidewalk
Still wet from a gentle rain,
Giving everything a magical glow.

I love white flowers at night!
A carpet of candytuft
Fairly shined in the soft darkness,
Further enhanced by the
Huge blossoms
Of nearby dogwood trees.

It’s 6 O’clock by now.
I listened by the back door this time
And heard some very un-robin-like warbling
Before it was drowned out again.
I wonder.
What does the Dawn Chorus
Sound like in Maine, or Florida?
Is there such a thing in Alaska
During those times
When the sun doesn't sleep?
I don't know, but for now,
I decide to enjoy what I have,
And be content.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I so wanted to go with him to Lee & Marty's wedding, but it just wasn’t practical for me. Jim was very excited, and we decided he should go by himself. He even wore his wedding tie. When I commented about the tie, he said, "Of course! It's a wedding!" I thought that was cute. OK, so what's a wedding tie? It's the tie he wore when our youngest daughter, Barbie was married in December 2005. Here's our group that day. Left to Right: Doug, Helena and baby Kate Jole, Kathey & Jim, Barbie & Kyle Mills, Karen & Peter Ahlstrom, Betsey & Kirsten.

I tried taking pictures of the white flowers glowing in the darkness, but that didn't work. SO if you use your imagination just a wee bit…Here's part of our "Carpet of Candytuft." And a close up…
Those dogwood blossoms really do shine at night. Just pretend--Okay?
We're so glad he could go. It turned out to be a great day for both of us.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

To Weather the Storm

My friend Susan Sandberg, shared this with me today:

I have a big planter by my front porch that my daughter Wendy filled with perennials last summer—spider grass, some plant that has big dark-purple leaves, a pretty little round-leafed bright green vine, and a whole bunch of teeny little ragged bright-lavender flowers, about the size of a nickel. And some other stuff too (you can tell I don’t know the names of many plants!). Well this terrible winter piled a huge mountain of snow and ice on top of the planter, where it stayed frozen like a big round popsicle.

I said to Wendy: “Well, that’s the end of THEM. They were pretty but nothing will live through this, I’m sure.” (They also got drowned).

She smiled and said “Mom, you’d be surprised. When you have what it takes to weather even the worst storm, you will always come back bright and beautiful. You wait and see.”

And sure enough, to my utter surprise, that planter (without being TOUCHED) is now full of blooms and plants and healthy vines. Looking at it always makes me blink and shake my head. What a great analogy to our lives here on this earth! And yes, we will all come back “bright and beautiful”…

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Farewell to Phoebe

We had a surprise yesterday when a young man knocked on our door and asked if we wanted to sell our white Honda. Well, it hasn't worked very well for a long time and we had been thinking of donating it to Goodwill, so we took him up on it. He bought it for $100.

Why do I say "Phoebe" you ask? Well, we've had a tradition in our family of naming our cars. For me it started with my mom. She always called our cars "Betsy." (No we did not name our daughter Betsey after a car!) If ever the car was slow in starting, Mom would say "Come on, Betsy!" And it would usually start. Our family carried on the tradition. Especially when we had more than one car it was just easier to call it by name rather than saying "I'm going to take the Honda…"

The name of our first Honda was the most fun because we named it Fenry. (Fenry Honda, get it?) After that Jim had a little blue car that someone named "Bob." We also had another little white one that was "Max." Eventually Phoebe came into our lives, but I don't remember how she got her name. We have had some vans too over the years, but they usually were just "The Van." Well, Phoebe was/is a 1991 Honda and had given us good use over the years until her engine went on the fritz, and could only be driven about 45 mph. I finally got too nervous about Jim driving her to work, so I asked him to stop. Well, here's Phoebe in her usual parking place, and Jim and the new owner busy signing the title. (The lighting must have been just right that day. I'm very pleased with the way the pictures turned out.)
They had to use jumper cables to get her started, but she DID start. I was a bit surprised.
Pulling out of the driveway.
The young man was well prepared. He was even towing a flat-bed trailer. (Now that I think about it, that's a very good example of positive thinking!) So here's Phoebe driving up onto the trailer.
Getting ready for travel.
And there she goes…! Farewell Phoebe. You served us well. It feels strange that she's gone after all these years. It's interesting how inanimate objects can become part of the family. Jim feels that the young man got a pretty good deal. Well, he probably did, but we weren't doing anything with Phoebe, so why not?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wonderful Conference

Slowly but surely I'm starting to catch up. A week ago we had stake conference, the theme of which was "Coming to Christ." Our family sat in the front row so we could soak it all in. The Sunday morning session opened with a prelude by the choir of "He Shall Wipe Away All Tears," which was outstanding. My friend Jill sang a solo. I don't know if it was because of where we were sitting, or if the Spirit was just so strong, but during the opening hymn, "Redeemer of Israel," I sat there and cried buckets. It was that powerful. After the first couple of words, I couldn't sing again until several verses had gone by. (Whoever invented Kleenex did a good thing.) It was really neat.

Looking back over my notes there is so much I could say, but I think at this time I just want to capture a small, but very important, part: "Singing with children about Jesus before naps and before bed is a profound way to help them come unto Christ." I cannot think of a nicer way to fall asleep!

Our intermediate hymn captured the theme beautifully:

I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus
by Janice Kapp Perry

I'm trying to be like Jesus:
I'm following in his ways.
I'm trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice.
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

"Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught."

I'm trying to love my neighbor;
I'm learning to serve my friends.
I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.
I try to remember the lessons he taught.
Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:

"Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught."
What a wonderful way to fall asleep, or to start the day, or to refresh ourselves during the day.

A few other thoughts expressed were:

Mothers more than anyone portray the love of the Savior.
Prophets were first taught by their mothers.…

Fathers having monthly interviews with their children is a wonderful way to connect with them, and to help them to come unto Christ.…

One of the greatest attributes of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is forgiveness.…

Much more could be said, but that will suffice for now.

Love, Kathey

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Trimming the Trees

I heard some time ago that there was a man who worked for the church who was good at pruning trees. On April 21 & 22 I had a delightful experience because he and his wife came over and trimmed our silver maple trees in the back yard. They also trimmed and cabled the Norway Maple in the front yard.Bill McGee assured me that he was well-trained & experienced, licensed and bonded, had all the necessary safety equipment, and does NOT believe in topping trees. He is not only good at what he does, but he really loves his work. He said "Like Mark Twain says: I do this because I’m too lazy to work and too scared to steal."Our son Peter has done much of our tree trimming in the past. Peter would have loved watching Bro. McGee work. Peter would have loved doing what he did. The trouble is that when Peter got up in the trees to trim them in the past, he didn't have the safety equipment, so I got really nervous when Peter did it.
Bro. McGee not only worked hard, but he was very entertaining. He told me that there are only two kinds of people that trim trees: dead ones, and those who pray a lot! I was SURE glad that he had those good strong ropes attached to him.
It was fun for me to see how well he and his wife, Landa work together. She worked just as hard as he did, only she stayed on the ground. They were also very careful of each other's safety. If there was any danger of something falling on her, for instance, he would call out "HEADACHE," as a warning to get out of the way. (In other words she would probably get a headache if a branch fell on her head.)
The branch in the next picture was of particular concern because it stuck way out and carried a lot of weight on it. He trimmed off excess branches, and also shortened it quite a bit.
Like I said, I was so very glad he had those ropes!
Here he is standing on the railing with the pole saw, starting to trim the rest of that branch.
He didn't want the branch to fall by itself, because it was heavy and blunt on the end and would have made a hole in the ground. Instead he looped a rope over it so he could take it down slowly. He had obviously done this before.
Pulling it tight
In the process of taking down the small, but heavy branch.
Now that branch is lighter, and safer, but still gives us some shade.

Picking up the pieces. They didn't leave anything behind.This is how it looked before they started.
And below is the finished product. Peter asked for an after picture from the same angle as the before one. I tried. This is pretty close. The main problem is that the after picture has leaves. Sorry about that.

When we go out on the deck now, it feels so light and airy, yet there is adequate shade. It is very, very nice. I sincerely appreciate the McGees for the wonderful job they did. It was great fun to have them here.
Landa and Bill McGee having a well-earned rest at the end of a very busy day. Thank you for a job well done!