Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Little Dresses and Old Memories

The past few days have been really filled with work, play, and in between. I can't seem to do more than one project at a time, so it's get this done, and more this project, and so on. I know I should never use a "play-on-words", but so on should be sew-on. I've been doing that since the beginning of the year and lately every spare minute. I manage to have the Norwegian Bunad accomplished...well, except now my daughter in her Norwegian American community needs a new hat, because she's married. It's tradition. I think I'll figure that out later.

Me, Trying To Sew
Lately, my huge project was the humanitarian Church project with the little dresses for Sierra Leone. The project helps young girls to be able to attend school. Girls are required to wear dresses and I don't know if we are doing this with other Stakes, but I suppose we'll find-out more about it all at the Relief Society Broadcast. I am excited to know more about it even if it's just our area doing the dresses and we can hear about the needs in the country.

Now the reason my dresses were so hard were because first I decided on to make too many and because I didn't read the directions. I thought I knew what I was doing. I wanted to make one dress in honor for each of my daughters. That would be five. I prayed and I fasted and since I know how to sew, this seemed easy. This is exactly the same way I taught my girls to sew. Ta Da! Oops! Can't finish the blog, I need to go to the Broadcast at the Church.

Relief Society Broadcast: I found out that the poorest country in the world was Sierra Leone. Our dresses were going to travel to Africa. My brother has been there. I was very saddened by the pictures that were shown of the country both rural and urban. The place was the same country as featured in the movie, "Blood Diamonds". The pictures looked worse than the Christian Children's Fund commercials on TV. Yes, they needed little girl's dresses. I stepped into the Cultural Hall at the Church and lost my breath. Everywhere I looked were dresses hanging everywhere. There were so many that they were piled on top of each other on the stage. Hanging dressed adorned the walls and all across the stage. Rows and rows of dresses of every bright color  no one could imagine the sight. I brought my camera and was so overwhelmed I forgot to take pictures.
The humanitarian project was local and just for our Stake. The leaders were working with a local doctor and a member of another Church. He told us that these people were Muslim. I knew that our dresses were probably going to children of another religion because we were asked not to make the dresses apparent that they were from the United States. 

The community that he practices medicine is huge. He takes care of all the adults and 1500 children there, and assuming half of those our girls we met that goal because we had made together on the first count,  750 dresses. More dresses were arriving, more were being sewn, and I saw at least 25 or more being sewn-up before the meeting even started. Heavenly Father knows what is required and spurred us on to do more.  It was hard, but all of us went the extra mile and we didn't even know why. It was moving and brought so much happiness to be a part of sending these dresses to the girls that need them so much. We don't know what will happen with them, but I know for sure that the dresses will get there and no one will be asked to pay for any of them. What a blessing of service because of the smiles we had, as we looked upon all those hundreds and hundreds of hours of work.

 The dressmaking marathon for me to give, was not easy at all. It was hard, very hard. I need glasses so bad. Why did I decided to make so many? I labored days on them. I embellished each one as if I was making the dresses for them. I did appliques and cuffs to match each one of the ruffly-part of the bottom print.

Beverly Fabrics blessed the children. I went there on Saturday, missing the sale. I put my head down on my arms on the cutting table and sighed when I found out I had missed the sale. It was so hot in Santa Clarita, and to go away without the material was a real downer. The manager asked me what I was making and I explained. She asked me if I would buy the material at the sale price for the girls. Wow. They only charged me $1.44 a yard, downhearted me...I must has looked pathetic and so surprised at their generosity. That doesn't happen much, does it?

I taught this same sewing technique in 4-H to my girls and the girls in my sewing project group. That's why I was so familiar with doing the T-shirt dresses. It was just a matter of adding on the ruffled bottom. It teaches straight sewing, gathering, measuring, real fun picking out material and tops. I tried to get all the girls in the sewing project to recycle old blouses. One Christmas during our sewing years, we made matching flannel red plaid shirts with long red flannel skirts. The girls and I wore them at the Fireman Christmas Parade with Santa on the firetruck. We used it for our Christmas card and wore them to three different Christmas parties and even to Church.

Dustin, My Son, Was On His Mission.

My daughters continued to make a few dresses that way because it taught them a lot and I was willing to buy fabric if they were sewing. All the girls except Kiely (she was still a bitty-girl) did it. Bree was asked specifically to make a recycled blouse into a dress, so she choose her sister, Tressa's star blouse. Tress was happy to rid her closet of it and we found the greatest striped fabric, ever. It was the flag strips. It looked like it was waving, 3-D and it was off white and dark red. Larin loved the idea and made herself one, too. They both were going to look like the American Flag for The 4th of July. The girls wore them to Church just before The Fourth and we sang the Star Spangled Banner. I need to explain that all of us were together. Steve was just a few weeks released from being the Bishop and we went from sitting in the front row of the chapel for nine years, to the back row in the breezeway. You sit tight in the front row and it was time to be able to sit loose. All of us were together. Steve's parents, our family, his sisters and their families. It was really two rows-- plus.

When Steve was released as a Bishop, all the members of the Bishopric were bald and had shiny heads. The next Sunday all of us, the whole family, wore sunglasses on the back row, no one really saw us but them, and it was really hard for them to conduct the meeting.

Hahaha! Fun stuff, but it backfired. Back to the 4th of July...Little did we know that when the girls came in, four missionary Elders conspired with the whole breezeway area to turn around and sing to my daughters with their hands on their hearts as if they were the flags. My daughters were about 11 and maybe 14 or 15. They turned redder than the stripes on the flag. The Bishopric was giggling in "amens-to-that-action" When we got home off went the dresses never to touch them again. I did convince them to enter them in the county fair. I still have the ribbons and metals they won, but the dresses disappeared. I can only guess they are buried next to where the big blue hairbrush lies, the paddle board, and all the wooden spoons in the house. The kids confessed that all were buried in shallow graves in an undisclosed location. They said they said prayers that we would never find them. Sheesh! Those were our best "threat" weapons. Dustin still thinks he got paddled by one, but he didn't, it was gone before we even could take it outta' the drawer.

I just told that story to my grandchildren. I told them too, if they kept fighting over the window seat in the car, I would make them come in the house and sit in our front window until they pass-out. I did put my own children in our front window, but only twice. Both times were going to be trips to the beach. I was all packed-up with lunches and towels, and umbrellas. All of it. They didn't think in a million years that I would go through with my threat. HA! Yes, they ate their picnic on the back of the couch, looking out the north window of our living room.

My son, Dustin, was especially and continually annoyed at his sisters, and did cause me grief a bunch of times, the car. He hated sitting with them. But, my secret plan always worked. He would start his tirade against his sisters and "pop" went in the awesome cassette tape of: "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"  He would be the perfect angel and I would remove it. Dustin says he still hates that song!

The older I get, I've found that a camera/phone with different and fun applications will stop a child from crying almost instantly. It's my new best grandma/nanny buddy.

 All of the children don't like to see themselves crying. Suddenly, they are smiling and asking if I could take a special cartoon picture of them or "picture booth" pictures. Crazy ones to send their family. I even promise more if they stay good and they do! We always make the deal and I follow through. I feel that some technology advances like genealogy searchers and little fun apps can add so much and work to our benefit daily. I know even with my sewing machine that is pretty new, but w/o many features, was only $150. My mother had to pay over $500 to get less when she and my dad ran the dry cleaners in Fillmore and had to do alterations and tailoring. I am so blessed and this is a blessed time.

I made dresses for those that can't make them. I learned quickly, even though I prayed to do it right, that NOT reading the instructions make it very difficult. The sewing project was almost impossible to do the right way and have the dresses wearable. The lesson here is I can pray and worship all I want, but if I don't read the directions, living the Gospel will be almost impossible. Yes, I'm reading the scriptures, but it taught me to continue always because I need it, even though I may think I know.

The Directions Say: Sri Lanka, But This All Was For, Sierra Leone, Africa

Our stake project will remain anonymous to the country of little girls. Only the doctor will know where the dresses came. I thought of the girls while making them. How tall will they be? Would she like the pink? I dreamed of the girls all Saturday night and was so sad that they have to live as they do with so much responsibility on their young shoulders.
Our family may not have much, we live simply and we make enough to meet our needs. Steve and I have no phone, except our cell phones, we have no Internet... so I tether my phone and we have no TV. We eat simply and we don't go on vacations or buy many clothes. Steve works while we stay at the beach house, that's just thirty minutes away. I shiver to think of the comparison to those living in such 3rd world conditions. We live as kings and queens. This all made me feel so humbled by their plight, even my health...I walk in pain continually but it is no comparison to their pain. I feel blessed to walk, to see, to hear, and hold my grandchildren. I am able to go freely about my day. Do these children laugh? My prayers go with the little dresses.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time out! I'm In A Pickle Jar

They're On The Way To Heaven
Today I feel overwhelmed. Now, and ever since a week after the reception, I've worked on the wedding pictures. I'm trying to fix each one, as in lighting, cropping, shadows, and making sure all the color shows correctly. There's this impossible task I have to consider that most pictures were in the shade. It was so hot. The process of taking-out the shadows in the picture, results in a color change. This is my frustration, and here I am, trying to make it all look right. I should have all the time in the world, but I'm using a trial Photoshop and I have only 5 days left. I'm now using time to write on my blog. A break?

My Other Break
That Keeps Me Sane

I'm really working hard at reading the Book of Mormon. I committed myself to do it again not because I was asked, or even given the assignment. I am doing it on my own to change myself. I had a feeling inside that every time I was about to enter Mosiah and Alma, my insides froze. That is a blocking point for me and I was going to change that feeling, this time.

The missionaries that taught me tried to give me a summary of the Book of Mormon. The only contact I had with the missionaries was a total of six days. I didn't even have all the lessons. Nothing was mentioned about tithing or about the Word of Wisdom. The missionaries gave those lessons or teachings to me after I was baptized. It was fine, perfect, and increased my Testimony. I already knew the true Church would be that way. The reason this was a fast baptism was that both of the missionaries were being transferred. I knew it was true, all of it, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Prophets, everything. Why WAIT when I begged them to let me join the Church. Actually, the thought of having to wait was disheartening to me. The Bishop was worried, I could see that in his face. I hadn't read the Book of Mormon, but I knew it was true. How?

The summary of the Book of Mormon:

The missionaries had told me this part, (showing me the middle) were the books of the Book of Mormon that had most of the battles and wars between the people's that lived here, as in speaking of the Americas. I had been a history major in college and I was so done with battles. My stopping point, my mental block has been an obstacle my whole almost 41 years in the Church. Yes, I get through it and I'm not sure how. I decided I was, at this time, not letting the war let me stop or even pause.

First part of Mosiah:

Oh...King Benjamin. Yes, it was working. I forgot this all was in this book. I love it and discovering a new way. I am marking scriptures and I could go on and on about them. I'm finding really "treasures" between the battles. I developed a list of who is going where, and basically a character development as one maybe would do for a novel. I'm seeing the wars as human nature and the round of remembering and forgetting. I even have a map. I'll spare you my map. Ah ha! Found a map with a link that is way better than mine. Mine was a bit messed-up, but that's a given.

Note as of Oct. 3rd, 2010: This worked! Oh how it worked. I wrote all over it. Put arrows to where Ammon was going and Alma. Then the King Lamoni and the Ammonites. This was fun. I should have had more papers. I couldn't STOP reading these chapters. It was exciting and so many scriptures just popped-out at me. I so love The Book of Mormon it is truly a Testimony of Our Savior Jesus Christ. I read it and it testified to me. Best reading, ever.

Here's the link since it's hard to grab anything off my site:

And the two books:

Mosiah and Alma apply to my life right now. I was set-up to help at an emergency event for our town. This event used to be very popular just after 9-11 and after a few bomb scares at the local schools. Oh, how fast many people forget emergency preparedness! I couldn't hand-out flyers at Cruise Night/Ready Santa Paula, because everyone REALLY avoided me. I wasn't trying to convert them or hand-out Books of Mormon--I SHOULD HAVE! What I had, was information on wild-land fires and earthquakes. I heard every excuse as to why "they ... couldn't" take the ... information. Why? Because almost everyone is forgetting. People remember the sadness of 9-11 but no more getting ready for any kind of event to happen to them. I had to literally stand in front of people and beg.

Human nature is outlined in the Book of Mormon and it is so relevant to now and to me. I really know that it is helping me so much. It's different this time. I think I've said that before. Well ... I am enjoying my quiet moments out of some very hectic days.

Kiely and Matthew don't even know that I think of them everyday as I work on the pictures. I pray for them, I hope for them, and I pray for Steve and I to accept this new "us." I think Steve is already settled.

Sooooo happy!

It's time for me to get back to the  "Grind of Life" exercise at the pool or "Pool Hall" as I call it. Sounds a little off, but it's like the Cultural Hall, only water. The exercise is between Yoga, Ahi Chi, and hard aerobics. I'm going to get there, giggle lots, not drown, and come-out with tons of energy to work and finish my projects. Oh yes, I will.

I Love Orange and Brown! Fall...

Book of Mormon, Temple Marriage

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Open House for Kiely and Matthew's 2nd Reception In California

Okay, not in.... m-m-my (...a lil' stutter) dreams, did I think that that my unpainted, rusty, yard junk would be a part of my daughter's decorations for her "other" reception.

My dear friend from high school offered her yard and ranch for Kiely and Matthew's party. It was exactly one week from the day they were married in the Manti Utah Temple. Matthew's family was even blessed by Gail's offer to stay in her artist studio. She really is a famous artist and honestly, it was a gracious act of kindness that was beyond anything she could ever imagine. I wish I could adequately tell her and thank her somehow. The studio is a beautiful, secluded cottage near her home, just a jog-up the rows of lemon trees to the main house. Kiely dressed there in her wedding gown and lifted-up her dress with her cowboy boots showing. She literally and giggly, just ran up to the open house in those big 'ol boots. I had no idea she was wearing her cowboy boots. I guess she wanted comfy shoes.

Gail's back-yard is similar to ours, only in that it goes on forever. The main part of her yard is exceptionally lovely and when we first looked at it, none of us knew of the blossoms that would enhance the reception. Blooms of trees, flowers, and plants all joined in coming-out to decorate an already perfect place. The silk tree, front and back just greeted everyone with never-ending falling petals of that seemed to just take the place of any pretty rose pedals we could ever find. It all matched and looked wonderful.

Kiely is explaining that I had put little lights
in her bouquet. I'm so happy she liked it.

My dear sister, Lori Brown made the cupcakes for all the children and were a hit. Actually, when the cake ran-out everyone went for the special lemon cupcakes. I have to get the recipe from her. They were wonderful...that's what I heard because they were all gone at the end of the evening. She's in the next picture below with her friend and mine, sweet Janie.

We didn't paint anything, but used shoe polish to darken the wood on my old flower cart to match the brown accent color and that was it. It had to be a little special for the gorgeous cake it was to frame. None of my round tables, chairs, lamp stands, benches, were worked on at all. It was done rustically and oh, we did borrow my mom's gazebo for the presents. We call it the "bird cage" (my mom lives next door on our family ranch) and it is really rusty and just like Kiely wanted it. There was Grandma's bird cage! We put my old iron bench in there, sans cushions, and covered it with a cowhide and a glistening table cover and voila, a place for all the presents.

We had the "Kiely/Matthew growing-up program" in the breeze-way to the garden. Everyone that signed Tressa's, Kiely's sister, hand-made, beaded, guest book. And there everyone could see the "This is Your Life" program running projecting on the big screen. Many sat for a bit watching Matthew and Kiely growing-up or came back for the viewing later. That was the only music. We forgot the music player in Utah. No music again, but it was fun to visit and not worry about all the songs and their order, etc. Honestly, it was much more relaxing for me not to have to think about it, anyway.

Thankfully, almost every bit of the Sunkist Gems candy was eaten at the reception. I would have not liked to have left-over candy for months. It would have been like Halloween or Easter candy calling me. Wait, I could have stored it and given it out on Halloween to all the kids that come to our house. No, one comes to our house! Danger Ranch is scary, dark, has dogs, loud screaming donkeys, and big, hangy trees that grab at you at night. Nope. I'm glad the guests loved the candy.

We had all the tables from our family's gatherings covered with the dyed sheets and table covers and they went up against large corner of the patio with the curb, making a perfect place for Kiely's sister and cousins to help serve and set-up. They did so much, Gail did so much. Not only did she provide the place, but she was decorating as well.

She is most definitely, a dear, dear person. Me, I was clueless to everything going on around me. I can't really remember much, except a bunch of kids were locked in the "fancy", rented outhouse. They were pounding and yelling in the middle of the party. The little boys were teasing the little girls. Steve dispatched them from that joint, really fast! The teasing with children doesn't seem to last all that long. The teasing games of the young turn to dances, and dating, and courtship, and marriage, and gone.

My son made all the signs for the directions to the reception and the cute restroom sign. All of the signs were beautifully made in a great, large, and readable font. I wish I could peel them off the boards and give them to Kiely and Matt. Well, not the restroom one, but the others. They are there to stay! Dustin makes decals for fire trucks and engines. That is his hobby, labeling everything and of course, big engines need big signs. Dustin even made them a little "house saying" for their home as a wedding present.

Steve and I in the receiving line.

Above are Matthew's parents. They worked so hard setting-up and taking down at both receptions. So much work was done without me in Utah and I owe them a huge amount of thanks for taking on so much for us. Kiely married into a precious family and I'm glad and blessed we are a part of them.

Again, the theme was orange and brown and a little more yellow because of all the lemon trees that surrounded the ranch. The only "big" purchase here were the three very large umbrellas that matched Gail's umbrellas. They were at a recycling facility in Saticoy. The umbrellas were only $30.00 each and if you were to say, "Well, you can get those at Harbor Freight or Big Lots for the same price." They weren't "those kind" of umbrellas. These are re-matched from broken umbrellas that accidentally had something happen in a new shipment with the umbrella or pole and then recycled. The big difference is the quality. The umbrellas are used to decorate the store fronts of our local BIG supermarkets and last forever and they are very heavy. I love them and we are enjoying them in our yard now. The decorations around the center of each umbrella was from the Dollar Tree, again and really nice because most of it was orange-scented potpourri.

Oh, we did use the candles that came with the lanterns when we first bought them and scented with citronella for the creek gnats. They worked because there were no bugs, not a mosquito, a fly, or gnat anywhere. The dusk was just coming and the Open House was set at the time of the beautiful "pink moment" where everything in the canyon turns from orange to pink at the time the sun just starts to fall behind the canyons hills and mountains. It was a perfect evening and perfect weather. I know our new Utah family felt a little on the chilly-side, from our cool summer ocean breezes every afternoon.

Matthew and Kiely made their own favors with rope and a little saying attached. Very sweet thought, "Knot simply a thank you or a tasty treat, But a symbol of love, That is infinite and sweet." My mom bought some bubbles for the children. They were just little bubble containers from the Dollar Tree, again. We all bought the newlyweds a bunch of thank you notes from the same store, too.

It seemed the time flew by and Matthew's family left for home as did our new son-in-law and his bride. I kept telling myself, when we were preparing all this, "Only a few hours, total." "The time was a few hours up there, and a few here." "I could do it." I kept my swimming exercising-up until we left for Utah and started again when we returned and I know that helped make me feel less stressed, more relaxed, and able. Yes, able to walk quickly up the beautiful spiral staircase in the Manti Temple.


I love the blessings of women in the Temple and how Heavenly Father loves his daughter's with the honors of blessings above those of men. Truly, we are blessed with so much.

This is the long hallway after entering the Temple. There are offices, the bride's room and I think the turn that goes toward the foyer to wait to go up to the Sealing Room.

There is not a place in this world lovelier than our Sealing Rooms in the Temple. I will never, ever forget how these places affected me with their glorious decor and spiritual feeling there. The rooms really "take my breathe-away" with their sacredness and beauty. The sealing room at the Manti Utah Temple is indescribable. My mother-in-law and I, first to enter the room, we both paused and quickly took a breath, at the same time. I've tried to describe it and I just can't. I hope someday to be able to see that sealing room again.

Okay, I'm going to quote my husband. "No one even cares what anything looks like, tastes like, or where it's at." This was in regards to the reception and open house. Well, yes they will surely remember Peggy's "fat photo booth" application on her cell phone. A hit! And funny! But we will remember and have photography of it all. I'm so glad Christie, our friend, took such professional pictures. I look at all the pictures and think, "They were there?""That happened?" "Wow! I didn't see that!" Photographs are great, aren't they?

Oh, and what I do remember:

The cake will always be remembered, it was made by Christie's mother-in-law and the Bishop's wife. (it's the same person) This cake wasn't a fake one, it was real! The BEST ever! The cake really was the most beautiful and homemade cake. I still get compliments about how beautiful and yummy Kiely's cake was at her open house in Santa Paula. I hear about the falling silk tree blossoms and the beautiful Crape Myrtle that framed the bride and groom. I still hear about the sweet father-daughter dance with Brad Paisley's, *Then* And even though all the gossamer table covers puckered in the dryer when we cleaned them from the Utah reception, the table covers just sparkled with the dancing sunbeams off each dimple on the fabric. We won't forget some things and we do care. Maybe most guys just don't get it, right?

Do I want to do this again? Heck yes, and since we had most of our daughter's receptions here at our ranch, our home. I am aiming to get this place rounded-up, painted, the porch fixed, and my gardens back where they were just a few years ago. I'm pumped and I still have all the junk. Oh! I don't want my girls to get remarried...don't mean that. Just let me see? How 'bout a 40th-year marriage celebration for us on July 2, 2011? Bring it, I'm in! And, by golly, I'm having a bunch of music with a DJ! ....and Steve, too, of course.

Professional photos by Christie LaPointe. Thank you forever. We love you!