Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music to My Ears

I grew up with two older sisters. They were 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 years older than me. Needless to say, they had a pretty close relationship before I was born. One of my first memories of my sisters is them scolding me for playing with their Barbies and Lisa telling me, "Things were good until you came along!"

While they were taking dance lessons, I would watch with my mom and she would tell me I was too little to take dance. While they were practicing piano, I would ask my mom why I couldn't play the piano. Once again I was told I was too little. Well, that didn't stop me. My sisters finally got used to me and they even taught me a few things. One of them was to read and later they helped me learn the notes on the piano. Although I never took formal lessons I would plunk around on the keys almost every day. I love music! I love how it makes me feel and I love using it to express myself. I know it's not too late to take lessons but now is the boys time. They started a few years ago. Austin still takes piano lessons. Kyle found the guitar and really likes that. Josh plays the clarinet in the band and hopes to move on to saxophone next year.

The piano we have is not ours. Shortly after we were married, Jim's mom let us use one of her pianos. It is the piano her parents gave to her for her wedding. We have been so grateful to have it all these years! Austin uses it every day. I still sometimes plunk around on it. We have had it for 18 years and five moves but never had it tuned. Sometimes the boys would sit down to practice and thought they were playing their music wrong because it was so out of tune. They would complain, "That's not how it sounds on Fran's piano!" And they were right!

Well, one of Jim's co-workers has decided to get certified to tune pianos. He gave us a deal that was too good to pass up. He came over a few days ago and went to work. And, trust me, it was work. He had to go though every note twice and replace a couple of wires that were broken.

But when he was done and played a little tune I couldn't believe my ears. It sounded GREAT! Now I might be motivated to sit down more often. It does my heart good when the house is filled with music. The next step might possibly be to have Duane restore it to it's original beauty.

* If anyone needs a tune up you can find this wonderful person at or give him a call (801) 830-5858 *

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jacob Hamblin's Cotton

On our last visit to St George we were able to stay until Monday because of President's Day. We thought that a good Sunday activity would be to visit some of the Church History sights in the area. We started at the Jacob Hamblin Home. We took the little tour from the missionaries there. It is always interesting to be reminded of the sacrifice those early pioneers made so the rest of us might live (and visit) these wonderful areas of our state.

Brigham Young sent some families to the St George area to settle and to grow cotton. At that time, the Civil War was in full swing and it was really hard for anyone to get cotton from the South. St George has an ideal climate for growing cotton and they had much success. As we finished the tour we let the kids play on the big lawn and we wondered through Jacob's little orchard and garden. Being February, everything was brown and not looking very pretty but Jim looked at how the peach trees and grape vines were pruned and my eye went directly to the dormant cotton plants.

There were two or three rows that were about 40-50 feet long. The plants were brown and crunchy but there was a lot of cotton still left on the plants and some on the ground around them. All I could see was lots of fiber that could be cleaned, carded and spun up into something wonderful that I could knit.

I asked the Missionaries if it was OK if I gathered some up to take home with me. They looked at me like I was crazy and then told me it would be fine with them. I got an empty grocery bag that had been floating around the back of the car and went to work.

Most of it is this beautiful, white fluff, but a lot of it is dirty and has leaves in it. I got a couple of the kids to help me. (Thanks, Josh) It seamed like the more we picked the more there was. Kind of like eating pasta, you never get to the bottom of the bowl. We filled up the one bag I had and probably could have filled up another but I felt I had enough.

I really don't know the process I have to go through to get to where I can start knitting it. I am really excited to find out. I will post updates when I have them. As for now, I have a new niece coming in a few weeks so I will now go knit with the wonderfully soft yarn I already have.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One of My Happy Places

St George, UT has had a place in my heart for a very long time. Even before I left home, I would visit my sister who lived there. I met some friends and even went to the Senior Ball with a dear friend that went to Pine View High School. St George is the place that I went when I first left home. It is where I started college, learned a lot of life lessons and gained my independence. It is the magical place where I met my dear husband. We spent about a year together there before I moved up north to get ready for our marriage. His family has strong ties to the community. Jim's grandpa built one of the first houses in Bloomington. That house is still there and now his parents own it. My kids have affectionately named it "The Fun Place". We try to visit as often as possible and sometimes we take our friends with us.

One of our favorite times of year to visit is late February to early March. That's when it is still cold and snowy where we live, but, if you pick the right weekend, in St George it is sunny and warm. Right now, as I type this, it is about 60 degrees and the kids are running around on the rocks behind the house. Yesterday we went up on the "Red Hill" and let them climb around there. I think tomorrow, for our Sunday activities, we will take the kids to visit the Brigham Young Winter Home, the Jacob Hamblin Home and the Visitor's Center at the St George Temple.

The warmth and sunshine is something that has been needed for a long time. After lunch yesterday we all just sat on the deck and soaked it in. It was GLORIOUS!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mr. Austin's Wild Ride

When Austin turned 15 he had absolutely no desire to get his driving permit. When Austin turned 16 he had absolutely no desire to get his driving permit, let alone his driver’s license. He heard about too many of his friends getting into accidents and the thought of it made him really nervous.

Then Kyle turned 15. His birthday was on a Saturday and on Monday we were at the DMV taking the test. On the first try he got 76%; 80% is passing. He passed it the second time (in Utah you can take it up to three times before you have to pay the fee again). He wanted to drive home from the DMV, which I emphatically denied. I had let him drive home from church a time or two, about a block and a half, and I wasn’t about to let him loose on the freeway! He has been driving around a while and he’s much better. At least I don’t feel like my life is in immediate danger. I am sure we will be at the DMV again the day after his 16th birthday (he has already informed us that his birthday falls on a Sunday this year).

That put a little fire under Austin. That and the fact that I made him take Driver’s Ed this term and he needs a copy of his permit for the class. He has spent hours reading over the manual. For him, and his learning difficulties, it isn’t an easy task. He studied his little heart out and when he thought he was ready we went to the DMV. His first try he got 72%. His second and third try were also not passing. I felt really bad for him. We came home and he studied for another week or so and we went back. In the meantime, I heard from a friend that He might be able to have the test read to him. We asked when we got there and they gave us a head set so he could listen to the test. Still no luck! The worker was feeling really bad for him. She told us that if he took it again and got 76% or better, she would read him a couple of questions. If he got those questions right she would pass him. On his last try he got 74%. She decided to ask him three questions anyway and he got them! I was so happy for him. He was feeling so bad. He smiled pretty big for quite a few hours.

So now we have two practicing drivers in our house. I took Austin out for his first time behind the wheel yesterday. We went to the church parking lot. He has a ways to go! But he is persistent and he will get it sooner or later. Jim is out with him right now. Austin’s goal is to have his license before he goes to Nauvoo with his Grandparents this July. Wish us luck! (But mostly wish us patience!!!)