Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best Christmas

The Christmas season is over for another year and the hours of 2009 are slowly winding down.  In two days we will wake up to another century, 2010.  What will 2010 bring for me, to Lynn, to our families and friends? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Before 2010 arrives though, my sister-in-law, Alicia, sent us a moving and poignant Christmas story, "The Best Christmas".  Author, unknown.

"Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though. I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard.

"Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."

I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. Here, help me.." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something.

"Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"

“You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.

The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what?

Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

"What's in the little sack?" I asked.

“Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible then, we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us.

"God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyo ne try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life."

I don't think we have to wait until next Christmas to do some kind gesture.  Chances for service surrounds us every day, especially now due to the economic and financial situations of the nation and the world.  We all need to look deep into our souls and try in 2010 to make a difference to at least one individual, perhaps two.  It could be a member of your family, a friend or for a citizen in the community.  Two insights we could apply to our lives for 2010 are diligence and attitude.  "True greatness is not always tied to the scope of our tasks, but to the quality of how we carry out our tasks whatever they are. In that attitude, let us give our time, ourselves, and our talents to the things that really matter now, things which will still matter a thousand years from now."--Spencer W. Kimball, "A Gift of Gratitude", Tambuli, Dec 1977

Happy New Year's everyone!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009


We are honored and feel so blessed to once again find ourselves at Christmas time living in Illinois.  Chicagoland is a magical place filled with spectacular and historical surroundings and memorable people.  Miracles occur everday, if we only but look.

We are Christians and belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saint (the Mormons).  We DO believe in Jesus Christ.  We DO know that on this special and hallowed Christmas night the earth and mankind was transformed.  Angels sang from heaven.  A new glorious star shone bright signaling the Savior's humble birth.  Kings from noble birthrights sought out the Christ child.

May we all look to the year of 2010 as a time to renew our commitment to God, strengthen home and family, rekindle friendships, old and new; and that we might find joy and success by all that surrounds us.

We would like to wish our family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a spectacular and prosperous New Year!

Lynn and Shelly Hook

Friday, December 11, 2009

Live Life

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.


Friday, December 4, 2009

A Plug for Nadine!!!

My friend, Nadine Bozek, is so talented.  She is a talented, extremly creative and artistic artist, photographer and seamstress.  Actually, Nadine could turn a puzzle piece into a work of art.  I just want to go ahead and give Nadine's websites and blog Shelly's official ten thumbs up award. [Ten thumbs up  in 'my world' is greater than ten star rating.]  Here are Nadine's sites.

I met Nadine in August (2009) thanks to PDS Technical Services and our temporary work assignment at The Hartford.  She's extraordinary! Of course, I am a little prejudiced because of our friendship, but as a 'lover of the arts' she has a dedicated work style and is passionate about her art.
If you want to find out anything more on Nadine? Do what I did? Google her name, Nadine Bozek.  Here is a picture from her photography studio, along with a picture of Nadine.

I also have the privilege and opportunity of working alongside Anita Alltop day in and day out.  Working side by side, 5 days a week ... 40 hours a day ... with these two wonderful women has been a highlight and a true blessing in my life.  It will be a sad day :o(  when I actually have to leave The Hartford/PDS and not see these two dear friends and their faces on a regular basis. - - Because of them, I am enriched.  Because of Anita and Nadine I AM a better person. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

At A Certain Age

At a certain age, everyone will understand this poor guy as he explains his dilemma:

"I thought about the 30 year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue tooth [it's red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it and I got a little loud.

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, "Re-calc-ul-ating" You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GSP lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven't figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden "Paper or Plastic?" every time I check out just knocks me for a loop.

I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused but I never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, "Paper or Plastic?" I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual.." Then it's their turn to stare at me with a blank look."

By: Allyn anonymous

-Shelly  :o)

Sunday, November 15, 2009 Email Account Compromised

Anything that you recieve from the account since last night will not have come from Shelly. Her email account has been compromised. She is not in France, and does not need money. Okay we need money, we always need money, but we would not be asking for it via that mode. Sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused anyone.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

God's Pharmacy!

It’s been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish… all before making a human. He made and provided what we’d need before we were born. These are best & more powerful when eaten raw.

We’re such slow learners…God left us a few great clues as to what foods help what part of our body.

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye.. and YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Avocadoes, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) mo nths to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of n utrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow.Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.

Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like the body’s cells. Today’s research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.

Live Life Abundantly!!!


** I was sent God's Pharmacy by way of Email from several friends and family.**

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Amazing Cucumber!!!

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Asking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

** This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.**

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Goodness, how time flies! It was 2 years ago, last Monday (Columbus Day), Lynn and I pulled the car up to our new townhouse in Aurora, IL. It was an uneventful road trip from Utah to Illinois. However, the 2 years we’ve been in Aurora has been anything but typical or what we usually call, 'normal'. Maybe, that’s why Lynn and I had to move to Illinois (Chicagoland). Instead of having another ordinary life ---- our lives have had more upheavals along with several roadblocks, but the journey has been extraordinary. And, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Lynn and I are both are at jobs we like (even though mine is a temporary situation), we have met countless and wonderful new friends. My sister, Ami, is 4 to 6 hours away in Michigan and it takes 45 to 60 minutes to drive to my niece, Cori’s, house.

Aurora and the Chicagoland area are wonderful places to explore. My first 18-months in Illinois was spent indoors and not feeling well, but things have changed now. I’m up, feeling healthier and sassier than ever. My exploratory bone is ready to see new things, haunt and hunt down the hundreds upon thousands of museums that surround us. I’m ready to visit and see the exquisite landscapes and parks of the Midwest and the Great Lakes region. The dust is off my tennis shoes since we have several walking and hiking paths close to where we live aching and waiting to be discovered. Everywhere I turn, there is something beautiful to see … whether it’s the sun as it is setting in the west, the innumerable green hues of the trees that dot the landscape, and the wildlife. I am in awe and feel totally surprised and flabbergasted. ** Chicagoland is AMAZING!!!** We are blessed to be living now in the notable and noteworthy state of Illinois.

Lynn and I are strapped down into the rollercoaster of life. We can’t wait to see what the next 2 years will bring!!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Juicy Tidbits ...

I have to start this entry by letting you know, MY MOM IS COMING FOR A VISIT! :o) My mom will be here for a very short window span, but I am so grateful for the time she is taking out of her busy and hectic schedule in Utah to visit with us. It is hard to share time with mom when there are nine of us clamoring for her undivided attention, plus my other siblings have more arsenals in their bag of tricks to keep my mom’s attention, they include ‘grandchildren’. My mom will be coming in on Wednesday, Oct 21st and heading back to Utah Sunday evening, Oct. 25th. So our time frame isn’t that long, but it will be jam packed with love, love, and then more love. I am fortunate though that one of my wonderful nieces and her family don’t live far from us in Aurora.

I received ‘good news’ this week. I had to take a few days off from work due to the flu and I was worried about my temporary work assignment with PDS Tech. Inc. When I came home from work on Monday, I found a message on the answering machine. Hartford Insurance wants to extend my contract for another 2 months. Ana (w/PDS) said that the professionals at Hartford like my attitude and my work ethics. YAHOO!!! That means I may be working with Hartford/PDS up until Thanksgiving, and who knows … it may be longer than that if Hartford wants to extend my contract even longer. We (my other temp colleagues and friends, Nadine and Anita) have started a gigantic, multi-tasking project. Anita, Nadine and I work so well together. We are over hauling the filing system. I didn’t think it would be so time consuming. But, there seems to be one small hurdle after another. I don’t mind it though. I love, absolutely love, working on a project where I can actually see some kind of progress. I am so glad Nadine and Anita started with me. Working as three, rather than one lonely temp, has been divine. We are the ‘Three Musketeers’ in all aspects when it comes to our job at Hartford.

We are still waiting to hear if Lynn’s contract with the Army Reserve will be renewed the first part of October (2009). Yep, the date is right around the corner! The Reserve Unit he’s with definitely wants to renew it and keep Lynn on, but the paperwork is being shuffled through the federal bureaucracy. Last year Lynn had to take a few personal days off because his contract didn’t get signed in time. – I’m glad that Hartford & PDS Techs don’t take that long to finalize things.

Lynn's sister's husband received a surprise job offer, and they are now moving to Southern Utah. Lynn's youngest sister, Pauline's, husband will be in Iraq for the year. He is in Kuwait now and is traveling today to Iraq. We have 2 nephews who are on missions for our church. One is in New York the other in South Africa. Both, JJ and David, love the areas they are in, they love the people with all their heart and enjoying new cultural experiences.

My sister, Lisa, is still going through chemo for breast cancer. Lisa is on a second type of chemo and it has actually made her more ill than the first concotion they gave her. My older sister, Linda, has had a few health problems crop up this year with multiple kidney stones that are in both kidneys. The medical teams are still trying to find an explanation for the kidney stones and a cure.

The rest of our families are doing well. We have a myriad of nieces and nephews that are in grade school, junior/senior high school, and college. All of our siblings are doing well, rattling around their houses, trying to keep up with their tykes and school kids, etc. .. living life to the fullest.

Next week we’re suppose to get our first ‘real’ taste of fall. Cool temps, wind, rain … I just LOVE FALL!!!:o)


Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Ode To Fall ...

The green leaves outside our windows are once again turning lovely shades of red beginning at the top of the trees interspersed with yellow and orange coloring throughout. Fall is one of my favorite seasons and the thought by Lin Yutang captures my feelings so perfectly.

"I like spring, but it is too young.

I like summer,
but it is too proud.

So I like best of all autumn

because its tone is
its colours are richer,

and it is tinged with a little sorrow.

Its golden richness speaks
not of the innocence of spring,

nor the power of summer,

but of the mellowness and kindly
wisdom of approaching age.

It knows the limitations of life and its content."

- Lin Yutang


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Thoughts To Live By....

I received this Email from one of my friends and I found that many of the sayings were meant espically for me; therefore, I wanted to share it on our blog page so they will inspire and maybe help someone else.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

With or Without ?

With or without? Hmmmm! Thanks to a friend’s recent Facebook entry, I am reminded that as of October, 2009, Lynn and I will have been in Chicagoland for 2 (two) glorious year. I cannot think of a place I would rather be with Lynn than right here by his side.

Our family and friends as much as we love them, will continue to grow older, and be taller (or shorter), wider or thinner, gain hair/loose hair, with or without us. School days for youth march on. Even though we do not have youngsters of our own, family members and friends are happily and sadly in some cases heading back to school.

Family and friends are facing tough decisions on what university or college to attend, anxieties about their new roommates, vocation resolutions, missions, vacations? Will or will they not, have a few vacation days hopped scotched in during the remainder of the year? Again, this will happen with or without us.
My mother, surprised us all this year, by adding an addition to our family tree, by way of a 4-legged, small puppy, named Tuffee (I have probably misspelled his name); of course, Mom did this without us, but we were so happy that she did. My sister, without us, is surviving breast cancer; another is fighting horrid kidney stones and lipotripsy action, without us. A nephew is on a mission in South Africa, another is hitting a mile stone in New York. Our brother-in-law is heading to Iraq. Even though our family and friends are doing things ‘without’ us physically. Our hearts, love, and soul, are 'with them always'.

Our hearts still ache with loss for family and friends who are no longer with us, and whose laughter has been hushed for awhile. WE KNOW we will hear their laughter again, in time. We will continue to work hard, play hard, embrace and absorb life, and love every moment we have in our phase(s) of life.

Our religion continues to be very important to us. Like time, our religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) continues to move on with or without us. We WANT to be on that bus, train, jet, or walk, for the long haul.

Life. Life will happen with or without us. We want to make the most of and cherish ‘our time’ and ‘do it together’. We intend to make the most of it and enjoy it. Whether time flies by in Chicago, or the warm sunny skies of California, or if we find ourselves in another state or back in the dry, but glorious desert state, of Utah or Idaho. Time will always go by, with or without us. WE ARE TRULY GRATEFUL FOR THE UPS AND DOWNS, THE SPILLS AND TURNS, AND THE EXHILLERATING RIDE OF LIFE!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

At Last !!!

Lynn and I are late with our blog entry because I wanted to wait until the end of the week to post. This week, August 3rd, was my first full work week since my surgery back in December of 2007. The job search has been long and extensive.

I did have a part-time position with the Samaritan Counseling Center from Sept-Dec, but due to the economy and a slow opening, I had to give that position up. I loved working with the Samaritan Counseling Center. I enjoyed driving to Barrington, IL every day (a 45 to 60 minute car ride each way) because of the homey towns, and the great scenery, I drove though. I was always greeted by Rev. (Mary) Tudela [Executive Director] at the Samaritan Counseling Center with warmth, a cheery hello, along with a very comfortable and favorable working environment. I was sad to leave, but I could understand from Mary the circumstances and the reasons why I needed to be let go.

For months, and I mean months, I have been laboring diligently, putting in 4 to 6-hours a day looking for employment. I, along with everyone else in Chicagoland and the nation, were being let go or fired, with entire companies and industries folding. We were all out looking for jobs, a job, any job. The job search was long and arduous. July will go down in the record book, for me, as being the miraculous month. I received a call from PDS (a temporary recruiting agency out of Hartford, CT) and they, along with plenty of others, saw one of my myriads of resumes on the Internet, and wanted to know if I was interested in a temporary position. I was already a client with several temporary agencies throughout DuPage County, but I thought I’d give another agency a whirl, and this was an agency from out-of-state in Connecticut. ** Connecticut is where my sister Denyse and her family live. **

PDS was a magical ‘shoe-like’ Cinderella fit. I was immediately put in touch with my recruiter, Ana, who was personal and professional, along with being a little blunt at times. Ana set me up for an interview with Hartford Insurance Company’s Workers Compensation area for the Midwest. Before you knew it, I had the interview and the good folks at Hartford liked me and *poof*, I was hired. My first official work week with them started on Monday. The job with PDS/Hartford is a 2, possibly 3-month, temporary assignment.

As any employee to a new company will know, the first few days and weeks are trying, exciting, and stressful. My first week was eventful and memorable. I am starting from the ground floor up. This week I filed. Filing is one of the most important actions I can do for a company or government entity, but it is the least of the things I like to do in my profession. However, it is by filing, and Hartford is no exception, I learn about the company. Through filing, I am getting a clearer picture of the claims I file and their important nature. I am meeting and interacting with other professionals at Hartford; therefore this week's job activity has been a blessing in disguise. Another PDS Temp (Nadene) started the same day, the same position, along with the same location I did; so, instead of having that constant ‘deer in the headlight’ stare, it has been a breeze. The two of us starting at the same time, cubical mates, rattling things around in our heads together are great. It has also helped immensely with the great supervisors Nadene and I have to report to at Hartford.

Excuse me, did I tell you Hartford Insurance is only five (5) minutes away from where we live!! It’s another miracle

I am back in the work saddle again. Working 8:00am-4:30pm, Mon-Friday. Lynn is happy and ecstatic as well. Lynn has been holding down the fort for so long due to our move to Illinois, my surgeries and recovery period, and then while unemployed. I am eager and excited to put my shoulder to the wheel and get our lives moving back on track.

This entry has been quite an epilog for such a quick synopsis, and I’m sorry. But, I was so excited and I just had to let you know what was happening in our lives and my life now.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lighted Vessels

I am so excited to report that the fireflies in Aurora are back. Last summer by this time I saw quite a few fireflies. I’m not sure if the cool(er) summer we’ve been experiencing has played havoc to them, but I haven’t seen as many fireflies until last night. There they were my sweet little flickers of dancing light, hovering above the darkened sky. The sight of them is quite a phenomenon since I did not grow up with these little light vessels in the western states. Each little light, for me, signals a sign of hope. Hope for a better world, hope for continued success, hope for a healthy year for myself and my husband, I hope one day to be reunited with my entire family, etc. For me, these lighted winged insects are like little wishing stars. If you see a firefly, wish fast, because in a split second they will dissolve into darkness. Never fear though, another ray of hope will emerge in the field, on a tree, or in the sky. Fly on winged ray of lighted hope, fly on!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Okay everyone, I am in trouble! I need some intervention; and quickly. A friend of mine, and I won't mention any names, introduced me to a very addictive computer game. This is a game which I can play happily on the computer anywhere at anytime and it doesn't matter if I'm wearing my PJ's, casual or professional clothes. ;-) The game is 'Letter-Link'!

Has anyone heard of 'Boggle'? My family plays it all the time. Well, this is the Internet's version of Boggle. The object is to form 3 to 5 lettered words. The words must be an unbroken chain of letters. Words can go diagonally, horizontally, backwards, and what I call the 'snake mode'. Click on the first letter of the word and then go from there. The words you find are entered on a small screen to your left. Create as many words as you can in 2 minutes. Once the time is up, an entire list of words individuals have found on that same screen will pop up. It’s amazing the words I couldn’t find and then magically appear as the word springs to the left. The game is fun and entertaining if you like words. If you would like to try the first level, click on the link I provided and click, 'START GAME'. Try it! Let me know if you like it or dislike the game. I have found it to be oh so addicting. (fyi) There are several version of this game on the Internet. Just google, 'Link Letter' and the sponsors will pop up. Some vendors want you to download special versions of the game, and you can purchase the other levels if you’d like but, just playing the free levels will keep you entertained for hours, just ask me. ;o) PS … I'm sorry in advance about the first 5 to 30 seconds of advertisements you will be subject to before the game starts. Maybe if you purchase the game the ads will stop. Enjoy!!!

The next game is all my sister-in-law's fault. It's a Facebook game. If you do not have Facebook, or never intend to set your eyes on Facebook, you don't need to worry; it is Facebook's silly multi-user, multi-level, Farm game. Facebook has two Farm games I know of, but the game I have been playing is Farm Town. The name, ‘FARM TOWN’, just says it all, doesn’t it? Within the game I interact with other Facebook or Internet users all across the world. I have talked strategy with people from the Philippines, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and even the good old folks from the USA. The intent is to create a farm space by obtaining materials, goods (fruits, veggies, cotton, coffee, etc.), land, etc. There are 34 levels that I know of to Farm Town. I utilize others Farm Town folks for their assistance in plowing, harvesting, or picking fruit off of the fruit trees on my property. I also offer myself to help others grow. My goal, and every other Farm Town player’s goal, in farming (my husband will laugh at this … and does) is to become a millionaire. It is a fun game for me. Farm Town seems to alleviate my ‘real time stress level’. I love the camaraderie, the bartering, and the creativity; and for me, I can visit other farms without leaving the comfort of my computer chair or my house.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Great Things Are Happening .... :o)

Lynn and I are so excited. My brother, Todd, his wife Annette, and their three daughters, Julia, Natalie, and Elizabeth, are coming for a visit starting on July 27th. They will leave Chicago on July 30th and head to Utah and Idaho to see our family there. Here is a picture I have of Todd's family, from the summer of 2006, when Lynn and I went out to the DC area for a visit and to be a tourist. Lynn and I have a Chicagoland adventure planned for their visit. I can't wait.

My sister, Lisa, is now on chemo and radiation for her breast cancer. Lisa has been a real trooper with this whole ordeal. I am so proud of my sister. Lisa was extremely nauseated after her first chemo treatment. They are giving Lisa mega doses of the chemo, then after three months, she will get a different does of chemo. The first chemo sessions are the ones that cause hair loss, nausea, and totally wipe the energy out of an individual. Lisa has handled the ordeal so well. Like the angel she is ... she continues to reach out and make those who are talking or visiting with her feel special and reach out with love to her family, friends, other cancer related patients, and her community. I couldn't ask God for a better sister than the sisters and brothers I have been blessed with. Lisa's chemo and radiation treatments will be over by the end of the year. This is a picture of Lisa's new hair cut. I think she looks smashingly well. The new hair do makes her look 10 to 15 years younger.

Another new and exciting thing that is happening in our lives is that, I HAVE A JOB! Yep, a job! The position is a 2-month contract. I will be working with Hartford Insurance. My employment begins at the end of July or the first week in August.

As you can see, Lynn and I have been blessed. Our health is good. We are enjoying our adventures in Chicagoland. We are older and hopefully a little wiser, and having the time of our lives.


Friday, July 3, 2009

5 Obscure Facts about the Declaration of Independence.

5 Obscure Facts about the Declaration of Independence.
1) There Was No "United States" in the Declaration of Independence.
The original inscription read, 'Thirteen United States of America'. The original document was signed on July 4, 1776,the 2nd Continental Congress didn't ratify it until March 1, 1781. Once it was ratified, they changed the inscription to read, "The United States of America".

2) Jefferson Was Upset that Slavery was Edited out.
Thomas Jefferson in the first original draft penned the words, "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither." However, the paragraph was edited out of the final draft by South Carolina and Georgia. Thomas Jefferson was upset about the removal of the paragraph up until his death.

3) The Youngest and Oldest Signers
The youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina who was 26 years old. Benjamin Franklin, at 70 years young, was the oldest signer of the famous Declaration.

4) The Sole Recanter: Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton was one of four signers of the Declaration that were captured by the British. After being incarcerated and under duress, he recanted his statement. When Richard Stockton returned to New York, his house was in ruins and his possessions were gone. The imprisonment ruined his health. Before Richard died he re-affirmed his oath and allegiance to the United States.

5) Bargain Hunters Bought an Old Copy of the Declaration of Independence for $4, Sold It For Millions!
In 1989, at a flea market a bargain hunter bought an old worn out painting for $4.00. Tucked under the canvas was one of the 24 original documents of the Declaration of Independence known to exist. For a $4.00 investment it sold at auction for $8.14 million.


Lynn & Shelly

Saturday, June 27, 2009

LOVE STORY (Taylor Swift) meets VIVA LA VIDA (Coldplay) - Piano Cello - by Jon Schmidt

Loved this video a friend posted on his Facebook page from Jon Schmidt....Lynn

Hi...Jon Schmidt here. This arrangement is dedicated to Sarah, my 7 year old daughter who loves the song Love Story by Taylor Swift. Because of a common rhythm element between the tunes, I decided I could mish/mash the two. My great friend Steven Sharp Nelson (cello percussion) really makes this tune.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Uncle Albert says ....

I found these incredible quotes from Albert Einstein. I wanted to share them in our blog for the week.

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and stupidity – and I’m not sure about the former”.
“God is subtle, but he is not malicious.”
“Common sense’ is the set of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather, a man of value.”
“I experience the greatest degree of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They furnish me with happy feelings of an intensity such as I cannot drive from other realms.”
“To punish me for my contempt for authority, Fate made me an authority myself.”
“Why is it that nobody understands me, and everybody likes me?”
“A life directed chiefly toward fulfillment of personal desires sooner or later always leads to bitter disappointment.”
“My political ideal is that of a democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual, and no man idolized.”
“Whatever there is of God and goodness in the Universe, it must work itself out and express itself through us. We cannot stand aside and let God do it.”
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever … This is a somewhat new kind of religion.”
“With fame I become more and more stupid, which of course is a very common phenomenon.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Makes a Dad

What Makes a Dad
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,
He called it ... Dad.
~~Author Unknown.~~

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our Thoughts Turned to Our Dads ...

I heard a thought the other day from Charles Wadsworth, and I'm paraphrasing, "By the time a man or woman realizes their father was right, they usually have their own son or daughter who thinks they are wrong."

God bless the wonderful men in the world who are fathers, sons, grandfathers, uncles and fathers-to-be, who reach out to the children and youth of the world and makes each one feel safe and loved.

We want to pay tribute to my dad and to Lynn's dad. Both men have gone the way of the earth, and both fathers were stalwart, diligent, committed, brave, and fearless in defending the freedom of our country. They gave their entire essence and sacrificed all for their religion, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. Our fathers (& mothers) are why we are who we are. If we are half the example that they were to us, then our world is blessed and then our fathers objectives while on earth was a success.

We LOVE and MISS you Dad, and thank you!

Lynn & Shelly

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chicago and Cantigny Park

I have to explain that this entry has nothing but everything to do with each other. One of the collages I've created by way of Picaso, is the incredible time we had with our niece, Vali, when she came out to Chicago during her spring break, and then I have another collage of a Memorial Day outing we had with our sweet friends Daryl and Donna Miyasaki to Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL. I had a glorious time on both outings. Actually, I just LOVE to get out and see new things and visit wonderful parks and places throughout Illinois and the surrounding states.

The trips to Chicago and Cantigny Park are so different and provide strong and deep emotions in very different ways. But, the one thing they have in common is that Lynn and I are spending them with family and friends we love and cherish.


Friday, June 5, 2009

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

This has been an interesting eighteen months for me and Lynn. Of course it started off with our move in October (2007) to what everyone out here in Illinois calls "God's country" (Chicagoland/Aurora/Naperville area). It was a year ago May (2008) when I was given a clean bill of health.

We have found in our lovely area wonderful friends, fantastic scenery, and remarkable architecture (both God made and manmade). I have enjoyed traipsing through downtown Chicago and other areas that have a historical and sentimental nature behind them. We have had family and friends who have visited us in our new surroundings.

We have visited our surrounding neighbor states, such as Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin, and plan to have more excursions of discovery, especially to the lower part of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, etc.

Lynn’s contract with the Army Reserve is going superbly. I am still searching for that elusive and illusive job position, which I know is just around the corner.

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer a month ago and the doctors feel strongly that they have removed all the cancerous tissues. Her chemo and radiation treatments will be completed by the end of the year.

Lynn and I continue to have nieces and nephews that are leaving a remarkable and lasting legacy for their friends and family (such as their Aunt and Uncle) to follow. I have a mother (and Lynn has a mother-in-law, but really she’s his mother-of-love) in my life that I cherish and love with all my heart.

We feel truly blessed and eager, but somewhat anxious, to see what’s ahead for us in the next few years. I know though as I go through this life that I will go forth boldly and strongly because of my sweet and dear companion, Lynn. - - Of that, I have no doubt. Three things are certain in our lives. One, Lynn and I have each other, now and forever. Two, we have a remarkable loving family support system; and three, which is the most important thing to us, is our belief and trust in God.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Farmer's Donkey

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down.

A few shovels later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
Free your heart from hatred
Free your mind from worries
Live simply
Give more
Expect less

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Weekend!

Remembering with gratitude and pride for all those who serve and have served to protect our country.
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Friday, May 15, 2009

Red-Wings and Buzzers

Spring has really sprung in Chicagoland. It is evident with the arrival of the red-winged blackbirds and the early cicadas.

I am sure if I was up and more alert at this time last year that I would have seen the beautiful birds and the first infestation of the buzzing cicadas. (A cicada looks similar to a locust, but it has a larger body and is more colorful.

I feel bad for the early cicadas because they will be devoured by the birds and dogs as they venture out of their underground burrows; however do not feel too bad for the industrious and noisy insects. Soon there will be so many of them around, the dogs and birds will be sick of eating them, and then all the male cicadas will sing; and the stereophonic buzzing will sound like a den of rattlesnakes.

I saw my first sighting of a red-winged blackbird a few weeks ago. It was sitting on the tip of cattail and I would have totally missed the little black bird, but it hopped off the plant and I immediately saw the bright red feathers. It was the most beautiful little bird I have seen in a long time. When Lynn and I were driving up to Madison, Wisconsin, I saw oodles of red-winged blackbirds off the freeways defending their small territories. The birds nests in marshes, cattails, fields, etc. They migrate from the Southern states and Mexico around March to the Northern states, including Aurora, IL, in swarms. They will migrate back to their warmer climates in the fall.

It is raining today in Chicagoland. With the arrival of the cicadas, along with the red-winged blackbirds, and the rain, it feels like spring!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Utah Visitors

We are SUPER excited! Tomorrow we will be having some dear friends visiting from Utah. They will stay overnight and head back to Iowa on Thursday. We have missed our wonderful friends and family who live in Utah and other areas in the United States. Our only wish is that Geri and Bill’s visit could be longer; however, we are not picky. We will enjoy whatever time we have with our good friends.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How To Plant Your Garden

A friend of mine reminded me today of a few helpful planting tips. Especially now, as we begin to plant our gardens; may we remember to place in the ground peas, squash, lettuce, turnips and thyme? The seed tips for healthy growing vegetables are:
1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul

1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness


1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another


1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends