Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Could Have Danced All Night

As a parent, there are certain moments that are priceless.  The picture above memorializes one of those moments.  AFJROTC was important to all of my children, and they all went to the military ball.  My second daughter, Hannah, attended one year with this fine young man.  As you can tell by the smile on his face, he was thrilled to be her escort that night.  She towered over him, and he looked like he was ten years old, but they were good friends.  The weather that night was miserable, and our street was flooded when he came to pick her up.  The young man and his father put a blanket or tarp between the sidewalk and their car to protect Hannah's shoes from getting wet.  I don't remember the kid's name, but I will never forget the look of total joy on his face when he picked her up that night.  I'm sure Hannah has no idea how happy she made that kid!

Another dance -- and I believe this was also a military ball.  Molly will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure.  This is my oldest daughter, Molly, with her date.  At first glance, you would think this picture isn't quite as silly as Hannah's picture -- until you understand the facts.  The fine young man in this picture, John, has something in common with Molly.  They share the same half-brother.  John was kind enough to take Cinderella to the ball.  If you look closely at the top right, you'll see a picture of Matt, their half-brother.  Matt is the child of my husband Danny and his first wife, Gloria.  John is the child of Gloria and her second husband, Don.  John has always been one of my favorite kids.  He's married to a sweet gal now and they have beautiful children.  I have often thought about how sweet he was on that one special night.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunday Memories

First Church of Christ Scientist, Reno, Nevada
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
FSA/OWI Collection,
[reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF34-9058-C]

First Church of Christ Scientist, Reno, Nevada
Photograph courtesy of Sam Brackstone, 2010
Paul R. Williams Project

Images we receive as a child can stick with us for a lifetime.  One of those images for me is the First Church of Christ Scientist in Reno, Nevada (pictures above).  My father was raised as a Christian Scientist.  He read Bible verses to me from the time I could first sit still.  Occasionally, he would take me to the Christian Science Church for Sunday School.

As you can see from the pictures above, this was a gorgeous building!  I was very little (as evidenced below), and I can remember climbing up those massive stairs and feeling like I was climbing to heaven.

Little LaurieBee

There was a very large room (or at least it seemed very large to my 4-year-old mind) where several classes met.  Because several classes met in this large room, every class spoke in whispers so as not to disturb the other classes.  There was a feeling of reverence that was very special to me.  I often think about this on Sunday when I'm teaching the 3-year-olds in our Mormon Primary (the equivalent of Sunday School).  There is a vast difference in decibel levels between Mormon Primary and Christian Science Sunday School.  Some Sundays I long for that reverence!

My Sunday School teacher taught us to memorize the ten commandments.  Each week, as we memorized one of the commandments, she placed a gold star on the inside cover of our Bible, or Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.  I was using my Dad's Bible and Science and Health, and he kept them there until he died.  I now have them.  Two of the stars have fallen off and been lost, but eight of them still survive.

I learned things in Sunday School that have stayed with me all my life.  I learned the 5 G's:  God, Good, Guides, Guards, and Governs me.  About 15 years ago or so, I came out of the building where I worked very late at night.  The doors locked behind me, and I looked up to see three very large men sitting on the hood of my Honda.  I had this overwhelming feeling that if panic set it, I was dead.  I heard the words in my head:  God, Good, Guides, Guards, and Governs me.  I held up my head, walked to my car, got in, locked the doors, started the engine, and slowly drove off.  It was not until I put the car in gear that the men jumped off my hood.  I had not thought of the 5 G's in many years -- but I'll never forget them now!

I also learned this:  Thy kingdom come.  Let the reign of divine truth, light, and love be established in me and rule out of me all sin.  And may thy word enrich the affections of all mankind and govern them.  -- Mary Baker Eddy

As I grew older, sometimes Dad would take me to the adult Wednesday evening meetings.  It was a special time for the two of us.

Part of my Sunday School experience was Dad; part of it was the Sunday School teachers; and part of it was this "heavenly" building.  I did a little research on the building.  The architect was Paul Revere Williams, who was a 20th century designer.  He is the first documented African American member of the American Institute of Architects, and the first to become an AIA Fellow.  The building was sold in 1998 to Moya Lear, wife of Bill Lear, who built the Lear jets.  Mrs. Lear donated the building to the Reno-Sparks Theater Community Coalition for restoration.  (My sisters need to take me there the next time I'm in Reno.)

There is a website devoted to Williams' works, and it is certainly worth a look.  It's called the Paul Williams Project at the Art Museum, University of Memphis.  You can find more pictures of this beautiful building on the site here:

Many thanks to Deborah Brackstone and Lisa Francisco at the University of Memphis for their help in supplying Sam Brackstone's wonderful picture, as well as pointing me in the direction of the Library of Congress for the other picture.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guest Post: Trying to Be Like Daddy

My guest blogger today is my sweet daughter, Hannah.  She is a wife and mother with a beautiful family.  I was quite touched by this post, and I'm sure you will be too.


About a week ago I was going through a bag of hand-me-downs for my son, Joey, looking for some pants that might fit him better. I pulled out several long-sleeved, button-down, collared shirts in different colors. My son, who is 20 months old, picked one up and said, “Dada shirt, dada shirt!” Unable to contain his excitement at finding a shirt just like the ones daddy wears to work, he picked it up and clutched it to his chest. I asked him if he wanted to try it on and we spent the next few minutes with him in his “dada shirt” and diaper while I tried various pairs of pants on him. (I’m sneaky, in case you were wondering.)

His excitement amused me as he wears white shirts to church every Sunday, and I was reminded yet again how much he notices. Even at 20 months he knows that the shirts daddy wears to work are different from the white shirt and tie daddy wears to church.

Fast forward a few minutes and I am in the kids’ room changing my daughter’s diaper with my son looking on, still in his dada shirt and diaper. My husband comes home, and comes in to talk to us, leaning with one hand on the door frame, weight braced on one leg, with the other leg bent and crossed over in front. My son takes one look at his father, runs over to the doorway, puts one hand on the frame and stands just like my husband. I couldn’t help but laugh and frantically tried to take a picture on my husband’s phone, but Joey moved a little with all the fuss. You’ll have to take my word for it that originally his pose exactly mirrored my husband’s.

Since this incident I’ve been thinking about how much my son tries to be like his daddy. I am fortunate to have been blessed with a wonderful man to spend my life with and I have no fears about Joey mimicking him. If he grows up to be like his father he will be a wonderful man someday. But I know that I also had a hand in this; when dating, I always considered how the person I was with would be as a father.

What if teenage girls didn’t have babies because they are lonely and craving love but instead thought of what it would be like for their child, growing up trying to find someone to emulate, being influenced more by what they see on TV than a stable parent in their home. Think how much better the world would be if instead of looking at how much money someone makes or the kind of car they drive, we considered the example they will set for our future children. Is he helpful? Is he respectful and friendly to people and the things around him? Can he laugh at his own mistakes? Can he deal with disappointment and stress without becoming violent or relying on some kind of chemical dependency?

No one is perfect, but watching my son the other night reminded me that we have two little children who are always watching us, who see everything. My little boy in a “dada shirt” reminded me to try to be the kind of person I hope he will become someday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ten Things I'd Do If Alone for Seven Days

I like people -- to some degree.  Sometimes, however, it's nice to be alone.  If I had seven whole days all by myself, without seeing another soul, and with absolutely no interruptions--and no responsibilities, I would feel so rested!  These are the things I would do to entertain and pamper myself:

1)  Crochet an afghan just for me!  I've never done that before.  I've made them for family members and friends.  I've made afghans to display on my couches and the foot of my bed.  I've never made one just for me to curl up in -- one big enough to wrap around everything except my face to keep me warm and cozy.

2)  Read a book cover to cover without stopping -- maybe a good mystery, or a good historical novel.

3)  Play all the old music albums I never have time to listen to anymore.

4)  Sing favorite songs from my childhood and my children's childhood.

5)  Make a big pot of spaghetti and eat it every meal until it was gone.

6)  Pray meaningful prayers that go beyond the ceiling.

7)  Read the scriptures.

8)  Put together a jigsaw puzzle.

9)  Find a warm sunny spot and take a long nap.

10)  Take a hot bath by candlelight.

Okay, enough daydreaming for today -- because I'm not alone, and I do have responsibilities.  It was stress relief just to dream!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Guest Post: How To Make Pudding (This really isn't about cooking.)

Guest Blogger:  Today's, guest blogger is my younger sister, Colleen.  Colleen has a passion for life!  She loves to have a good time, she loves to laugh, she loves to travel, and she loves a good adventure.  I loved reading her "life's motto," and I hope you will too.


“Pudding!” has been my life’s motto. I took it from the film, “The Matchmaker,” where two young men, Barnaby and Cornelius, set out to have an adventure in New York City. They set up a code word as a way for Cornelius to let the less-worldly Barnaby know that they are in the middle of an adventure. They get in a bit of trouble, and Barnaby calls out, “Pudding, Cornelius?" and Cornelius replies, "Pudding, Barnaby!” It’s all great fun.

Seeing that film when I was very young convinced me that I wanted my life to be “Pudding.” I am pleased to say that I’ve had my fair share.

Want more pudding, but you aren’t quite sure where to find it? Try these:

• Roll out of bed and ask yourself what you can do that day that you’ve never done before. If you can’t think of anything, consult your local newspaper.

• Get out of your comfort zone whenever possible. If you’re used to going to a library, go to a pool hall. If you’re used to going to a pool hall, go to a library. (Just one example, there are many others.)

• Go down any road you’ve never been down before. You can only occupy one small spot on this earth at any given time. Try some new spots. Pudding often lurks just around an unknown bend in the road.

• If you’re used to being alone, find people. If you’re used to being with people, spend some time alone.

Pudding exists everywhere and each and every day, but it takes a trained and imaginative eye to see it. The smallest puddings are easily missed by the novice adventurist. Pudding is nothing more than a marvelous zest for life, Barnaby!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Guest Post: The Lord's Law of Health

My lovely daughter, Kaylonnie, is my guest blogger today.  She is waiting for her 21st birthday in May, and more importantly, will be submitting her papers shortly to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).  More than any other prospective missionary I've ever known, Kaylonnie as put everything on the table to become a missionary.  She had huge obstacles to overcome in order to be healthy enough to serve a mission.  She has worked very hard to overcome those obstacles, and this post is a testament to her hard work.  I'm sure you'll enjoy this thoughtful post as much as I did.


Growing up LDS (Mormon), I heard teachers say almost every Sunday that they were grateful for their opportunity to teach a lesson that Sunday because they had learned so much from their preparation and felt that the topic they were assigned to teach was exactly what they needed to carry them through the week or get them through a particular trial.  I often used to wonder if that is something that teachers just said, or if they really felt that way.  I have learned the last few months that very often, we need to teach certain gospel principles more than the students in the class need to hear them.  Heavenly Father knows us.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He knows what we are committed to, and how committed we are, to all of our thoughts and endeavors.  He knows how we learn and feel the Spirit, and what lessons we still need to learn.

Recently, I mentioned to one of my best friends that the next Relief Society lesson I have to teach is "The Lord's Law of Health."  He remarked about how simple that would be and began to list the do's and don'ts of the Word of Wisdom.  As Mormons, we do follow the Word of Wisdom and abstain from alcohol, tea, coffee, tobacco, and illegal substances.  We are also counseled to eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and to eat meat sparingly.  But, the Lord's law of health is so much more than a list of "forbidden fruits."  We have been given the Word of Wisdom and other good health guidelines to help protect one of the most precious gifts Heavenly Father has given us, our bodies.

Our bodies are literally the temples that house our spirits.  The Lord's law of health encourages our minds and bodies.  For the first two decades of my life, I did not truly live the Lord's law of health. I can honestly say that I had never had any desire to partake of coffee, alcohol, drugs, or anything of the sort.  But, by not exercising self control, overindulging, and completely ignoring my physical health, I was damaging my temple.

The Word of Wisdom was given for the weakest of Saints, and I am definitely one of them.  I now know that the Lord's law of health is more than a list of do's and don'ts.  It is a way of life that shows our commitment to the Lord.  Today, I commit to continue to protect, honor, and respect my body as a token of my affection for myself, my family, and my Heavenly Father.  I know that as we live the law of health, we are blessed with strong bodies, alert minds, and joyous lives.

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89

1.  A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—

2.  To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—

3.  Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.

4.  Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—

5.  That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

6.  And, behold, this should be wine, yea  pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

7.  And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

8.  And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

9.  And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

10.  And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

11.  Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

12.  Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

13.  And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

14.  All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

15.  And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

16.  All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—

17.  Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

18.  And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

19.  And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

20.  And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

21.  And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.  

Saturday, March 5, 2011


My children (especially my son Ezra) loved the He-Man/She-Ra cartoons when they were growing up.  Their cousins in Nevada didn't get that television channel.  We spent Christmas in Nevada every year at my sister's home.  It was a wonderful place to have Christmas!  My sister owned an old boarding house which was an historic building.  Christmas at Cheri and Dave's house was truly an old-fashioned Christmas.

As the years went on, however, it became time for us to stay home and have our own family traditions.  It was also getting to be quite a hassle to travel over Donner Summit with a car load of kids, gifts, and tubs of cookies fighting the weather.  I finally told my family that we wouldn't be going to Nevada for Christmas the next year.  Then my Dad died.  Cheri convinced me that we all needed to spend one last Christmas together.  So we made one last trek over Donner Summit to Dayton, Nevada.

The adults were all going through the motions for the kids, but we were really missing Dad.  Then two things happened:  1) The kids found the whoopee cushions that Santa left in their stockings (no other comment necessary); and 2) Ezra opened his inflatable He-Man sword.  Ezra's eyes became as big as baseballs.  He lifted the sword over his head yelling, "By the power of Grayskull, I HAVE THE POWER!"  His cousins looked at him like he was crazy nuts because they had no idea what he was doing -- and all we could do was laugh.

So I guess He-Man/She-Ra/Ezra/Whoopee Cushions saved Christmas that year.  In case you're wondering, my children did learn the following year that Christmas could be fun at our house too.

Recently, reruns of the old He-Man/She-Ra cartoons are being played on television.  Ezra is quite tickled that his little girls LOVE to watch them with him.  They love them as much as he did.