Gathering Graces 12/12/2017

*I woke up with a bad cough so I texted Nikki and told her I would not be walking this morning. I don’t think I would have made it one circle around our route at KHS.
*All morning at work I was feeling pretty lethargic, and coughing and not feeling great. I started feeling kind of achy, started getting the chills and kind of hot, too. I came home after lunch and slept all afternoon. That helped some. I did drag myself out of the house to attend our annual P.E.O. Christmas party at Michele Heyn Rauenhorst’s house. I picked up Christy and Dawn and we all had a nice time visiting over a delicious potluck dinner, then having a fun gift exchange, and then ending the evening being lead by MaryKay Lyons Hanson singing Christmas carols. I received a big white teddy bear and a musical snow globe to add to Paul’s collection.
*When I dropped her off after the party, Christy invited me in to see the progress on her shed in her backyard. Today they got electricity to it, so now it has heat and lights. It will be such a fun place to enjoy meals together once it is all finished.
*My “go-to” Christmas potluck item for the last few years had been a Mini Sausage Wreath. You take little smokie sausages and wrap them in crescent roll dough, and bake it in the shape of a wreath. The you make a dipping sauce with cranberry sauce and bbq sauce. It is always a big hit. Here is a link to the recipe here.

Mini Sausage Wreath


Gathering Graces 12/11/2017

*We had our final Christmas show performance tonight at 6 p.m. About 20-30 Elementary school and Middle School students and adults attended. It was a lot of fun.
*At school there was a potluck lunch in the library with the KHS staff. It was fun to gather together and visit and relax as we begin the final week of classes before Christmas break.
*One of the cast members, Emma, gave me a sweet little snowman charm after the show tonight. Her giving me that gift really touched my heart.


Gathering Graces 12/10/2017

*December 10 is a big day. On December 10, 1984, Paul proposed to me, and I said, “Of course”. Thirty three years ago. And my “of course” response was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life!!
*To celebrate, we decided to have lunch at Wah Hing before going up to Wallace for our show. I enjoyed my #10 Combo dinner with Hong Kong Lo Mein, Almond Chicken, BBQ Pork and Seeds and an Egg Roll. Paul has found a new favorite he enjoys ordering now, Hot Braised Shrimp.
*The show went really well this afternoon. It has been a long week, and cast members are tired, some are getting sick, but boy you wouldn’t know that on stage. They kept their energy up, not only through the show, but then the local nursing home in Silverton asked if we could come and sing some songs to the residents. So we piled in the car and headed to Silverton and sang our songs from the show. Then we had our cast party at The Pizza Factory in Wallace.
Caroling this afternoon for the residents of Good Samaritan Society--Silver Wood Village in Silverton.
*But the fun is not over...not quite yet. Our cast is presenting a special show tonight for the Pinehurst Elementary and Kellogg Middle School after school programs. So one more show tonight, and then we are done. Which is always bittersweet! This has been such a great cast, and I have really enjoyed working with each and every one of them.


Gathering Graces 12/9/2017

*We are starting to look a little bit like Christmas around our house today. Paul and I headed to ACE Hardware and purchased some lights to put on the house outside. We got once string of lights up, but ran out of the hangers you use to attach them to the gutters. This afternoon we returned to ACE and Paul got more hangers, and put the other string of lights up. I got Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus on his straw set up today, too.
*I decided to drag all of our Christmas stuff our of the basement storage area into the main area in the basement to assess what we had, what we had acquired from Mom, and what we will be using this year, and possibly tossing. It hope tomorrow I at least get lights on the Christmas tree. I keep going back and forth, whether to put white lights or colored lights on the tree. Since all the other lights in the living room area will be white, I think colored lights on the tree has won out.
*We headed up the the theater to perform in the afternoon matinee. One cast member thought the show was this evening, but fortunately they lived close to the theater, and arrived and got dressed in plenty of time. We had a nice crowd today, and it was fun having a few little kids in the audience. One little boy was beaming throughout the whole performance!!
*We got home and relaxed a bit before heading over to Christy and Everett’s house for family dinner, with Bill and Debbie. Christy prepared a delicious pork tenderloin with some cheesy potatoes and bread and stuffed celery, and some pretzel buttons for dessert. It was a nice gathering and meal. We stopped by Bill and Debbie’s house after we ate so Paul could see the transformation so far. I am so excited to see it all done.


Gathering Graces 12/8/2017

*Today was my book club’s Christmas gathering where we gather for a wonderful meal, share about the book we read, and then have a cookie and gift exchange. We all come home with five dozen Christmas goodies, and also some small gifts. I look forward to this gathering each Christmas season. We call ourselves the Huckleberry Book Club, and have been meeting monthly to talk about books for the past 13 or 14 years. (I will have to check to see the exact year we started). I think I have only missed 2 or 3 times over all these years. It is one of the highlights of my month.
*Sue, our host for today’s book club, said she would be making lasagna for lunch. To keep with the Italian theme, I said I would make a Panzanella Salad. I made one this last summer while in Italy, but found a different recipe, and I loved it. This was actually called a Caprese Panzanella Salad, made with cut up grape tomatoes, garlic, shallots, fresh basil, little mozzarella balls and cubes of sourdough bread toasted in a pan of butter. Then you toss them all together and drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, and add salt and pepper to taste. It was one of the best salads of this kind I have ever made. And the colors made it look very festive and Christmasy!!

Caprese Panzanella Salad

*Our cute little Christmas show opened tonight. We had a nice crowd, and it was fun being a part of this show with this great cast. For me, the highlight of this show and the one we performed last month is the ability to work with such wonderful people. Both casts have been so great, and I have enjoyed seeing people who haven’t acted on stage hardly at all just blossom!! We have two more shows this weekend, both at 2 p.m. It was nice having Christy, Everett and Debbie in the audience!
*I sent Paul off after school to get our Christmas tree. It is in the garage, and it has filled the garage with a wonderful pine scent. I hope to at least get the tree in the stand and in the living room tomorrow. Probably won’t be decorated until Sunday or Monday.


Gathering Graces 12/7/2017

*Shoshone Funeral Home here in Kellogg had a Candelight Memorial Service tonight, and invited people to come and remember loved ones who had passed away. It was a beautiful service. Pastor Ken Bartle shared some words about remembrance, and Paul and I were asked to sing. We sang the songs Heirloom and Softly and Tenderly. The director of the funeral home, Debbie Mikesell, shared about the candles that were being lit, and said, “As we light these five candles in memory of and in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, one for our love, and one for our hope.”
*We had a nice mix of people at our table at the service last night. Class of 1981 classmate Rayma Shields and her husband Jim sat next to us. Rayma’s mother also recently passed away. Rayma’s brother Dennis and his wife were also at our table, along with Patti Hei and her sister Julie Murchinson.
*Earlier in the year, Paul and I sang the song Heirloom at a memorial service, and members of that family attended last night. I gave the daughter a big hug, and we talked about grief, and how shedding tears through the grieving process is so good. I think the ability to sing last night and bring some comfort to others who have lost loved ones was quite a healing experience for me.
*I also got a laugh from another person who attended the service, Nancy Callaghan Kosonen. After the service she came up to me and said that all she could think of when I was up there singing was when I dressed up like Elvis Presley and sang for a P.E.O. event. I got a kick out of that comment!!
*After last night’s dress rehearsal, I am feeling good about tonight’s opening night. I look forward to a weekend of spreading Christmas cheer to members of our community. And it will be nice to finally have an audience to perform to!!
*I hope to get the house looking Christmasy this weekend. We need to go get a tree, and put it up, and start getting the inside and outside of the house decorated. It is going to be a busy weekend, but my goal is to get the house looking a lot like Christmas.


Gathering Graces 12/6/2017

*Today 268 poinsettias were delivered to Kellogg High School. Our National Honor Society members sold the plants as a fund-raiser. Today, with the help of some students, the plants were unloaded off the delivery truck, unloaded them the Library Conference Room, and then helped me deliver them throughout the school, and sort them into groups for students to pick up after school. It all went smoothly, and the flowers are very beautiful. And the students raised over $1100!!
*After work I came home and worked on some things to prepare for rehearsal. I had a craving for one of the deli sandwiches from Yoke’s Deli, so Paul went and got us each a sandwich and some chips. I had a toasted roast beef sandwich with horseradish sauce, and Paul had Pastrami. Boy, did those sandwiches hit the spot!!
*Paul and I went and picked up Drake and headed to the theater. Our first dress rehearsal went pretty well. One more on Thursday, then opening night Friday a 7 p.m., with other shows on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.


Gathering Graces 12/5/2017

*I was a bit tired. I was a bit grouchy. But I persevered and made it through the day. I think it was helped by the fact I was called the “Christmas Queen” when I arrived at work by some of my co-workers.
*Tomorrow is “Poinsettia Day” when the poinsettias the NHS members sold arrive and we organize and distribute them tomorrow. So I helped get that organized some today.
*One of the seniors and her parents came in after school to talk about her college plans, and to make sure she is getting everything done she needs done. She is actually doing really great, and it on top of everything she should be doing regarding college applications, FAFSA and scholarship applications. I have a couple of seniors who are the total opposite of being procrastinators, and it is rather refreshing working with students who get things done early, and not wait until the last minute.
*We added lights to the rehearsal tonight, and we should be good to go for our first dress rehearsal tomorrow night. Then another dress on Thursday, and opening night on Friday at 7.
*I have been getting my Aaron Sorkin fix lately by watching Studio 6o on the Sunset Strip. This show aired for one season in 2006-2007, and is about running a late night comedy show similar to Saturday Night Live, but this one is set in Los Angeles. I loved the show and I wish it could have gone longer. But, since it didn’t, I have it on DVD, and enjoy this one season every so often. I especially love the pairing of Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford as the shows head writer and producer. And it is fun to see other familiar faces from The West Wing show up throughout the season as well.


Gathering Graces 12/4/2017

*Eased into the work week today, getting ahead of the game on a few things, which felt good.
*I had a great conversation with co-worker Dan about the book he is reading, a novel based on the life of the Apostle Peter.  Then I shared with him what Paul and I discussed about the Apostle Paul from our Advent devotion this morning.  This morning the theme was Thanksgiving for Suffering, and the verses were 2 Corinthians 1: 8-11. The question posed at the end of the reading was “Have you ever reached the point where you felt like giving up?  How in those circumstances did you find your way back to God?”  Both Paul and I felt that talking to people have helped us in those situations, and asking people to pray for us.  As I then reflected on the Apostle Paul in this situation,  I realized he probably didn’t have anyone to talk to, because this was a new thing.  He was one of the first to suffer for the cause of Christ.  Plus he was the leader.  No one on earth could really relate to what he was going through.  So he couldn’t share his burden with anyone except to Jesus in prayer, as evidenced by these words he wrote in the passage in 2 Corinthians...”The load we had to carry was far too heavy for us; it got to to the point where we gave up on life itself. Yes, deep inside ourselves we received the death sentence. This was to stop us relying on ourselves and to make us rely on God who raises the dead.”  This was a good reminder for me.  I often tend to rely on myself when I should be relying on God.
*The Christmas show continues to come along nicely.  But I do admit, Paul and I are ready to be done with going to rehearsals for a while, and get our evenings back.


Gathering Graces 12/3/2017

*Today was a good day....a day filled with tiding of great comfort and joy.
*As I have mentioned, our cat Toby has diabetes, and we need to give him insulin shots twice a day. But you give the insulin shots around the time they eat. If they don’t eat, you can’t give them insulin. Toby didn’t eat much on Saturday night. He also threw up a few times, which isn’t that unusual for a cat to throw up, but, Sunday morning, he was not interested in eating his food. And that was very unusual. So I stayed home from church this morning to watch Toby and keep an eye on him. Fortunately, he got his appetite back later in the day. But I did enjoy snuggling with him all morning.
*The afternoon was filled with preparations for the family dinner we would be hosting this evening. Food preparation and house cleaning were on the afternoon agenda. I am slowly bring Christmas to my house. One of my coworkers, Robin, asked me if I would like some Christmas glasses, a Christmas platter and a pitcher and bowl she doesn’t use anymore. She said she knew I did a lot of entertaining around the holdays and may be able to use them. I said, “Yes, of course”, and the glasses added a festive touch to the top of the buffet.
*Bill, Christy and Everett arrived around 6 p.m., and Debbie following soon after. I served Hot Buttered Brandy to help take the chill off the gray, cold night we were having, and some cheese and crackers. It was a white cheese with cranberries in it that was delicious, especially paired with the Fig and Honey Triscuits I had purchased.
*For the main meal, we had a walnut salad, turkey noodle soup, maple oat bread and homemade chocolates. The turkey noodle soup was made from broth I made from the turkey bones from Thanksgiving. I let the bones cook in the crockpot for about five days. And I also made my first noodles for the first time ever, and they weren’t even that hard to make. I think I will shape them a bit differently next time, but they were delicious. I tried a new bread recipe, and made it in the breadmaker. Then I served some of the chocolates I had made the day before. It all turned out great.
*Some of the table conversation was spent planning what would be happening Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve we will be making Cuban food this year for our chosen country, and I have created the menu, and made assignments on who will be making what. Then we are changing things up on Christmas Day with a brunch around noon, then no big dinner later, just some appetizers to tide us over, and possibly leftover Cuban food.
*I can tell already that the year 2018 is going to be a year of change. Paul and I talked about the next year, and how things are going to change, and what we want to do, and started throwing ideas around. There will be much praying, discussing and planning ahead for us as we see what happens next.
*If you are at all familiar with the Christian calendar, today is the first Sunday of Advent. Paul and I enjoy an author named N.T. Wright, who recently wrote an advent devotional titled Advent for Everyone: A Journey With The Apostles. I love how he describes advent. “As we approach the darkest time of the year (in the northern hemisphere at least), Advent offers a gleam of light. And hope.” The readings focused on the first week are called A Time for Thanksgiving. Today’s reading was called Thankful for God’s Grace. Wright took the passage from I Corinthians 1:3-9 and talked about God’s grace and how God richly bestows His grace on us, even though we don’t deserve it. He ended today’s devotion with these words:
God has called them in the past, God equips them in the present, and God will complete the process in the future. World history, and the story of the Christian life, has a shape, and Jesus is its shaper at every point. There is coming a day--like ‘the day of the Lord’ in the Old Testament, only more so--when the hidden truth about the world will be unveiled; this truth will turn out to be a person, and the person will turn out to be Jesus. That’s why it’s the central Christian badge or sign to ‘call on him’, to pray to the father through him, to know his friendship and love, and to thank him for the wonderful grace he has given us--yesterday, today and for ever.
*I thank him for His Amazing Grace each and every day.


Gathering Graces 12/2/2017

*The day started out with breakfast at Best Shots with Christy. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and it was fun to visit. Then I went to her house and saw the work they are having done on their shed, and went next door to see the remodeling progress at Bill and Debbie’s house.
*When I returned home, I started baking. By day’s end I had 10 dozen baked goods and some chocolates infused with essential oils, orange and peppermint.
*Continuing with the Barbra Streisand theme from the day before, I rented A Star is Born on Amazon Videos, and watched it this afternoon. I had the soundtrack album growing up, so I could still sing every word to every song performed in the movie.
*I continued watching some Christmas specials. First was Frosty the Snowman’s Winter Wonderland. Then I found A Very Brady Christmas. As I began watching the Brady Christmas special, I had vivid memories of the original show’s Christmas episode when Carol Brady lost her voice, then in the end was able to sing O Come All Ye Faithful. This must have been a popular episode, because they incorporated this memory, and the song in this movie as well. It was a touching moment in a rather cheesy Christmas movie.
*Paul was due home around 2 a.m. from Pocatello, and I was wide awake around 11 p.m. So I found a Christmas movie I had never watched, The Holiday, and started it. What an absolutely delightful movie, starring Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Eli Wallach. I was very pleasantly surprised.
*It was wonderful having Paul home safe and sound. And he did find his phone. It was in the car door. I just didn’t see it there when I looked last Friday morning.


Gathering Graces 12/1/2017

*Today was nice because I got out of my regular routine and did some other things, which I needed for some reason.
*The day began at The Bean having coffee with my wonderful friend Stephanie Bauman Broaddus.  Stephanie lives in Oklahoma but comes back to Kellogg off and on for visits, and it is always such a pleasure to catch up.  I even ran into Bill and Debbie as I was leave The Bean.  They were going in to have some coffee as we were leaving.
*Then I drove to Pinehurst and picked up my friend Pam and we headed to Coeur d’Alene because I needed to pick up the Christmas cards I ordered, and buy a few things at the store.  We had lunch at Mod Pizza, and had such a great time catching up.
*By the time I returned home, I was tired.  So I laid down for a bit on the couch, and put Netflix on and wanted something on the TV I could listen to, and came across the new Barbra Streisand special The Music....The Memories.....The Magic!  What a wonderful show.  It was a trip down memory lane for me for sure.  I cried my way through it, and was transported back to different times in my life.  Some of these included the time Christina Curry and I sang the song Everything in the Freshman Talent Show at KJHS.  Paul, Laurie and I singing the song The Way We Were at the beginning of a presentation we did in a class in college.  Another college memory was listening to the soundtrack to Yentl over and over again my junior year in college.  And I had to look up how old Barbra Streisand is, and I hope I look as good as she does at the age of 75.
*One of the things I purchased at the store in CDA was hazelnuts.  In order to use them in the recipe tomorrow, I needed to roast them in the oven for 15 minutes, then put them in a kitchen towel and rub off the skin.  So that process took about an hour or more to do two batches of those nuts.  But now they are ready for use tomorrow when I start baking.  And I continued the Barbra Streisand theme in the kitchen by having Alexa shuffle Streisand tunes on the Echo Dot. 
*Paul was so proud of himself for initiating a Google Hangout with me last night from his Chromebook.  I was expecting to hear from him around 10 p.m., but about 9:15 I got the notification he was calling.  Then I realized he is in a different time zone, and for him it was 10 p.m.  It was so nice to finally talk to him.
*What a wonderful day, and so nice to have a change of pace to my normal routine. 


Gathering Graces 11/30/2017

*One cup of black coffee is the norm for me each day.  If it is a weekend, I will occasionally have two.  This morning, I had a bit of coffee overload.  I had my normal cup of coffee at home this morning, with a little dash of egg nog.  Then I had a meeting at the District Office, and Nancy Larsen offered my a Caramel Latte coffee drink.  It smelled wonderful and so I said yes. (And it was really good!!)  Then Thursday was Coffee Day at KHS, when the students make coffee and you order it and have it delivered to your office.  So then I had that coffee.  I was petty hyped up and buzzing around all afternoon!
*Paul ended up down in Pocatello and couldn’t find his phone.  His charger made it, but not his phone.  I got a few emails from him, but it wasn’t the same as being able to talk to him.  Cell phones have really spoiled us!  I remember when Paul and I were living apart the year before we were married, and we could only afford to talk on the phone once a week, because the long distance charges were so expensive. 
*I had feeling I wouldn’t be tired this evening, and I was right.  It was 11 p.m., and I was still wide awake.  But by the time I eventually made it to bed, I did fall asleep.  I saw a new show on Hulu this evening called There’s Johnny about a kid from Nebraska that takes a bus to Los Angeles and ends up working on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  I like the element of seeing old clips from the Johnny Carson show.  I don’t like, what I would describe, as the “HBO” feel of it.  I will give it a few more episodes, but it may be a bit too much for me.  As my daughters often say, “It is a really good show, Mom, but I don’t think you would like it.”
*This morning after I dropped Nikki off after we walked, I drove uptown. On both ends of McKinley Avenue, lights have been put up, and it was so peaceful driving through uptown Kellogg.  A truly beautiful sight.


Gathering Graces 11/29/2017

*Breakfast is probably one of my most favorite meals to eat.  But I have been really bad lately getting up and eating something for breakfast.  I have a cup of coffee, but often that is it.  My friend Diana had a Pampered Chef party this last month, and one of the newer items they sell is a Ceramic Egg Cooker.  I thought this might be a way to start cooking breakfast a bit easier.  So I put two eggs in the egg cooker, shook them up about 10 times, put it in the microwave for 1 minutes, a presto, just like that I had scrambled eggs.  They were really good.  You can also add meat and cheese and vegetables to them, too.  You can make poached eggs.  You can make instant oatmeal.  So all in all, I think it was a very good purchase.  I love my Pampered Chef items.  I was a consultant for a few years, and my kitchen is full of PC items.  Yes, they may seem a bit more expensive at first, but overall they are good quality, and last a long time.
*It was very satisfying working with seniors in their Government class today, helping them get caught up on the college going process.  I am very impressed with the majority of these seniors, and how they are getting through the application process, and submitting their FAFSA, and already many have started applying for scholarships.  This all helps them work toward their goal of attending and paying for college.
*The Christmas show rehearsals are in full swing, and there are six Wallace Junior/Senior High School students, along with four Kellogg students, and five adults in this show.  I am enjoying working with the KHS students I know, and I am enjoying getting to know and work with the Wallace students, too. And a couple of the adults are new to the Sixth Street stage as well.  It is working out to be a really fun show with a great cast.

Carolers from the Sixth Street Theater serenaded bystanders during the lighting festival.
*We were pictured in the local newspaper this morning!!  Thanks to Christina, Cosette, Paul Grant and Gordan for a fun time spreading Christmas cheer last Saturday!!


Gathering Graces 11/28/2017

*I love how our pets have such different personalities.  This evening, Clark was show his strong will by not coming in after dark when called.  Oh, he would come to the back porch, then just run off.  I think he was miffed that Archie was running around in the backyard while Clark was stuck up in the neighbors tree watching.  Here and I thought Clark was doing a great job of getting Archie to run!!  After we returned home from rehearsal, Clark finally came in the house.
*Bill came over and we went over the figures for Mom’s estate settlement.  Everything looks good.  This has not been an easy task for brother Bill, but he has handled it beautifully, and done a great job as executor of the will.
*Today I was thinking of Peny Benson, a wonderful family friend who passed away on November 26th.  I don’t think I remember life without Peny.  Her son Eric and I grew up together, and her husband Wayne was my band teacher from fifth grade through ninth grade.  She was in the same nursing home as Mom, and was a source of strength and love for not only us, but for employees and residents alike.  It was no surprise she was recently named Resident of the Year.  My heart goes out to her family.  A link to her obituary is here.


Gathering Graces 11/27/2017

*It was nice to get back to walking again this morning.  Nikki and I now go up and walk the halls of Kellogg High School for about 40 minutes, and it felt good to feel well enough to walk again this morning.
*And I was back to work.  A pretty good day, with lots of catching up done. 
*I was tired once I got back home.  So I napped a little.
*Cyber Monday was today, and I did take advantage of a few online deals today.
*Paul and I picked up Jesaray and headed to the theater to begin rehearsals for the upcoming Christmas show.  It was fun to meet all the people who are in the show, and to see what it is going to me like.  Paul will be Santa Claus in this show, and I will be playing Mrs. Claus.  It is a cute little script called Ho! Ho! Ho! The Santa Claus Chronicles.
*Paul is feeling better.  Not back to 100 percent, but he is doing better!
*We got back home and had some fish for dinner, and relaxed and then headed to bed.


Gathering Graces 11/26/2017

*I don’t think God minds when I picture my Mom and Dad doing the Foxtrot in Heaven when I was listening to the song I Can Only Imagine this morning before church.  And then the tears began to flow.  How cool to say, “Alexa, play Christian praise and worship music”, and she finds a playlist of great songs to play on the Echo Dot as I prepare to go to church.  The song talks about dancing for Jesus, and the only way I can imagine Mom and Dad dancing for Jesus is doing the Foxtrot.  Pert and Mary were pretty good dancers!!
*You can tell we have been on break this past week, because the process of getting to church was a little rusty.  I got a text from Simon Miller saying Paul needed his glasses.  He was using Simon’s phone, because he also forgot to take his phone.  As I was ready to head to church, neither set of keys was hanging up.  I called Paul and he had one set.  When we got into the car, the other set was on the seat of the car, probably left there by Cosette Roberts when she drove the car the day before.  After all that, we finally made it to church.
*The afternoon was very relaxing.  We had some leftovers (do they ever go away?), and settled in for a little Sunday afternoon nap.  Then I started a fire in the fireplace and spent some time getting ready for our first rehearsal of the Christmas show, which we will have Monday evening. 
*Paul shared a YouTube video with me that he wanted me to watch, so I sat down and watched David Brooks talk about The Road to Depth: Thinking About What Character Is.  If you want to listen to a great talk that really makes you think, you can go here to see the video.


Gathering Graces 11/25/2017

*I tackled a pile of bills first thing this morning, and worked on some financial things.  I sorted mail that I had piled in the drawer in the front entryway.  It felt good to get those things sorted.
*We bid adieu to Zoe this morning as she drove back to Caldwell, via Washington and Oregon.  She hasn’t been feeling good, but she ventured out anyway.  She texted when she arrived home, and when I asked her how she was feeling, she replied “Like I never want to make that drive by myself again.  Too boring.”  I am glad she made it safely home, despite the boring drive.
*Paul received some Amazon gift cards and money for his birthday last week, so we decided to use that money and purchase an Echo Dot.  This little machine is like a search engine that you can ask questions of, and “Alexa” will answer them.  She will tell you the weather, she will play songs, she will find the BSU Bronco football game and broadcast it for you. She will find and play the latest episode of Radiolab.  She will play any audiobook in my Audible library.  Those are just a few of the things Alexa did for us today. 
*Christina showed up this afternoon to see Archie and took him for a walk.  Around the same time, Christy showed up and we went over to Noah’s Loft at Silver Mountain to walk through their Craft Fair.  What a wonderful set up.  It was fun seeing Kaylene, Lee, Amy, Terri, Christina, and Jennifer, among many others, selling some of their crafts.  I found a cute little Christmas item and card.  I also bought some Elizabeth Park honey that Thad canned from his bee hives up in Elizabeth Park.  I love buying local honey!  It was a very nice event. 
*Today Silver Mountain was hosting Kellogg’s Christmas Lighting Festival.  The Sixth Street Melodrama was asked to provide some Christmas carols at the event tonight, so Paul, Cosette, Christina and I headed over to Silver Mountain, and were joined by Grant and Gordan Turner.  We sang for about 30 minutes as people watched the Christmas light parade and waited for Santa Claus to arrive.  It was lots of fun.  Later we watched the Fireworks display out of our living room window.
*When we got back home, it was time to bid adieu to the rest of the kids, as Travis, Molly and Cosette, along with the bunnies Dumblebunz and Booker packed up their stuff and headed back to Moscow tonight.  It was a wonderful week of being together, and I am looking forward to having everyone together again for Christmas.  As the girls get older and become more established in their own lives, these times together as a family become even more special.


Gathering Graces 11/24/2017

*Today was just what I wanted it to be...very relaxed.
*Christmas card photos were on the agenda for today.  I grabbed my tripod, and set up the camera, and we sat in front of the fireplace with our college gear on, (we had one Warrior, one Yote and four Vandals), and took some photos.  We found one we liked, and I order some cards from Staples.  They are ready for pick up whenever I get to Coeur d’Alene next.
*Cosette went to lunch with a friend, then headed to watch the Coeur d’Alene Lighting festival.  Molly and Travis went to Post Falls to visit his grandparents.  Paul headed to Coeur d’ Alene to get his haircut.  Zoe and I had some very important  business to take care of here at home.  We played the Lego Harry Potter game on the Wii all afternoon.
*Christy came over to pack up some leftovers for her and Everett, and Zoe and I had a nice visit with her. 
*When everyone got back home, we watched the movie Lion.  What an incredible movie.  If you have Netflix, and haven’t watched it yet, it is on Netflix.  I highly recommend it.
*The night was topped off with a couple episodes of The Golden Girls, then off to bed. All in all, a really wonderful day.


Gathering Graces 11/23/2017

*It was a day of cooking, eating, laughing, crying, sleeping, eating, drinking, playing, thanking.
*The day started out pretty early for me.  This wasn’t by choice.  This was because I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. 
*The turkey went into the oven early, and the potatoes were peeled and boiled, and things were looking good.  Debbie arrived around 10 a.m. to fix her vegetable dish, and later cleaned up the kitchen, which was such a godsend. 
*My emotions were all over the place today.  I guess that is to be expected as you gather as a family for Thanksgiving for the first time after the loss of a loved one.
*Paul knew I was struggling and told me he loved me.  He said, “I love you when you are happy.  When you are sad.  When you are angry.  When you are laughing.  I love you.”
*Dinner was delicious.  I always love when we eat a meal prepared by many hands. After dinner, we played a game that Debbie suggested called He Said, She Said.  It was really fun, and very funny.  After Bill, Debbie, Patrick, Christy and Everett left, the rest of us played a game of Go To The Head of the Class.  Paul was the big winner of the night!!
*At the end of the day, I fell into bed and cried.  Cried for loss, for potential loss, for the many emotions I experienced throughout the day.  But despite the roller coaster of emotions I experienced, I cannot help but be thankful for all the gifts God provides us each and every day, and I never lost sight of the wonder of being together as a family.