Happy Birthday Wishes And Reflections!

Happy Birthday Wishes And Reflections!

Happy Birthday CakeIt was a fun weekend for Happy Birthday celebrations and reflections!  My father was born April 27, 1914, he would have been 99 years old on Saturday!  Happy Birthday, Dad!  My dad believed his birthday was just another great day to enjoy life!  Even on his last birthday, April 27, 2002, just a few days before he died, dad’s calm demeanor and sense of humor were intact.  By this time, my father’s vision had deteriorated significantly over the past few years from macular degeneration, a hereditary condition that affects the retina.  My dad couldn’t read unless it was magnified into very large print.  Knowing that his birthdays were being cut short with his recent leukemia diagnosis, dad reflected a bit that birthday afternoon as I visited with him; we both chuckled when he said, “Maybe I’ll get a new pair of eyes in this deal!”  My father added to his birthday wish list by saying that he hoped there would be some well stocked book shelves in heaven with a soft leather chair nearby!

“We are all a reflection of those who came before us!”  

My father’s life was indeed a reflection of the wonderful upbringing his parents had given him.  In turn, as I celebrate more birthdays, I hope my life reflects the amazing example set by my parents!

Dad with ringlets cut off

The caption under this picture in my father’s autobiography states that it was taken right after his ringlets were cut off!  My dad always had a full head of thick wavy hair, he didn’t even start turning gray until he was 80 years old!  

Growing up, my mom had us make our birthday cards for family member’s birthdays.  I came across one I’d done in some mementos my mom had saved.  The coloring is smudged and my handwriting indicates I was grade school age–the real image is too faded to show, but here is the gist of my birthday card…

Crayon Happy Birthday

Farmer

Asks questions

Teacher

 Helps me

 Earns money

 Really fun

Good times with dad!

This picture of me and my dad was taken by my mom in an attempt to get us back on task after we were caught horsing around during a homework break where we nearly upended the lamp and flowers on the end table.  As you can see, we’re doing our best to look contrite and apologetic!?  ( I would imagine that the lamp and sofa pictured would go for a pretty penny at a vintage store today!)

If I adapted the Happy Birthday sentiment of “father” today, it would read more like this:

  Faithful         Articulate         Tireless         Hopeful         Endearing       Rare

My dad wrote this recollection on one of the last pages of his history:

“I have never had a day since my birth that I have not been blessed in countless ways!”          

He obviously had the foresight to be aware of the “countless ways” his life was blessed and make note of them!  Again, Happy Birthday wishes to you, Dad!  It was a beautiful day to celebrate your birthday!  Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying a good book!

We also enjoyed a happy birthday celebration for my oldest daughter, Malia, and her darling family this weekend.  I remember when I was expecting Malia, (and in those days, you rarely knew whether you were going to have a boy or a girl before your baby was born) I told my dad that I hoped my baby would be his birthday present that year.  With a knowing grin, my father said that my baby deserved her own special birthday!  My cute, little baby girl, Malia, with her thick mass of dark hair and round, kiss-able cheeks was born early on the morning of April 28, 1981.  In keeping up with the tradition I started on my dad’s birthday card many years ago, I’ll write a few Happy Birthday sentiments for Malia now too!

Adorable girl, Malia

 Boating in Hyrum

My friend

Amazing mother

Loves her family

Interested in others

A beautiful daughter

 

What I’m learning now is…

I once heard it said that, “Your past is the landscape of your life.”  What I’m learning now is that when each birthday rolls around, (as they inevitably do…) it might be a good chance for us to reflect on our lives and enhance that landscape…as well as recommit to making it one that all our loved ones will have the opportunity to enjoy for many years to come!

Take the opportunity to spell out your loved ones names on a paper and consider the fun words you’d write to pay tribute to the unique impact they’ve had on your life.  Surprise them with your thoughts for their next birthday!   

–Mary    

 

Be Interesting…And Interested!

Be Interesting Yourself…And Interested in Others!

As I’ve mentioned before, my dad and mom worked hard to give me a wonderful upbringing!  In the chapter of his history entitled, “The Time for Marriage and Family”  my father expresses that he and my mom had a heartfelt determination to be…“equally committed that in all areas our children should have the opportunity for full personal development.”   It’s true, I grew up benefitting from a wide range of experiences and feel that my parents most definitely helped me become a more interesting and well rounded person as a result.  My parents also tried to instill in me good habits of being able to recognize and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of other people too.

I think most of us remember that defining turning point in our lives, where wise parents made us a little more aware of the fact that the world didn’t necessarily center around our every need?  (Imagine that!)

Peanuts comic stip-Lucy pyschiatric help!For me, it was one weekend evening when I was eleven or twelve years old. As I lounged in the middle of my parent’s big bed with pillows piled under my head and fuzzy purple slippers adorning my feet, I chattered away while watching my parents as they made final touches to their attire before leaving for a night of social commitments.  Much like Lucy, a character in the  “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles Shultz, I offered up my five cents worth of wisdom and lamented about the fact that their evening was sure to be less than eventful.  In the loftiness of my pre-adolescence, I’m quite certain that I wondered aloud how my dad and mom could possibly go and be charming with people who I was sure had to be very boring!    As my mom spritzed on her perfume and my dad smoothed the tie he had just knotted, my parents exchanged knowing glances.  When they turned to exit the bedroom, my father spoke in somewhat of an exasperated voice, one that seemed to mimic my own previously stated glibness to a degree. “Mary,” he said, “I hope you’ll soon learn that life becomes a better experience when you’re not too self-centered!”  

It’s always an ongoing process to live outside ourselves a bit, but my parents provided sublte examples of how it can be done in very gracious ways!

scan 43 editMy dad and mom were always quick to greet friends and associates they met with a smile and a handshake, and ask for quick updates on their lives.  My parents would often offer recognition for recent achievements and express sincere concern for any pressing worries the person might be facing at the time.  They always seemed to take to heart the advice wisely given in one of my favorite booklets, “Live and Learn and Pass It On”  by H. Jackson Brown. “I’ve learned that you can’t really expect your children to listen to your advice and ignore your example!”  

My friends always seemed to enjoy being at our home and often got a real kick out of my dad when he shared with them some of his favorite record albums as he played them on our oversized stereo console.  Eddy Arnold’s song “Green Green Grass of Home”  and  “Moon River” by Andy Williams, were among his favorite.  I think my friends were also quite impressed that my father took the time to listen to the teenage accolades of their many music interests too!  The back and forth banter that my father shared on many topics with my friends was sometimes a bit embarrassing for me, but I know it was his way of showing an interest in our lives!

Being Interested In Others Often Means Hanging Out The Welcome Sign 

You're welcome at our home!

My dad and mom often hosted extended family gatherings, as well as eclectic mixes of neighbors and friends where someone’s recent trip adventures were highlighted or community activities and service projects were organized.  In these seemingly simple ways, without much bravado, my parents showed that they were genuinely interested in others.  Showing interest and doing these types of activities together seemed to make it easier for everyone to offer support during more trying situations.

My husband has said that one of the things he loved most when he first met my dad and mom was that they greeted him warmly and made him feel especially welcome.  He noted that my parents were always quick to put aside whatever it was they were doing at the time, so they could sit down and visit with him and give him their undivided attention.  I know my husband and children, along with many others who shared the privilege of visiting with my parents, can vouch for the fact that this was their customary fashion for welcoming others into their home.  To this day, I have had some of my parent’s friends, and many of my own, tell me about the special memories they have of the kind interest they were shown by my dad and mom!

What I’m learning now is…

In his popular book “How To Win Friends And Influence People” acclaimed author, Dale Carnegie, outlined a good formula for making our lives more worthwhile: smiley-face

Principle 1:  Become genuinely interested in other people.

Principle 2:  SMILE!      

Principle 3:  Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Principle 4:  Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Principle 5:  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Principle 6 Make the other person feel important–and DO it sincerely.

In a nutshell, what I’m learning now is that my parents loved their family, and like most parents, they worked hard to provide opportunities to help each of us reach our individual potential.  In doing so, they also knew that we needed to extend our view of the world, so to speak, beyond the narrow scope of our own lives!  If ever there was a lesson that my parents tried to teach me, this is the one I wish I had been better at doing while they were still alive! 

Dr. Seuss quote

Please share ways that your parents have helped you know and love others better.

–Mary

  

To Every Thing There Is A Season…Some Seasons Are Just More Preferred!

Ecclesiastes 3:1: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” is referencing the “seasons” of our lives; or perhaps for some of my generation, it cues memories of the song “Turn Turn Turn” by the Byrds–ahhh, good times!  But for the purpose of this journal entry, I’m referring to the seasons of the year.

Glimpsing out at my world lately…you’ll see a sort of Dr. Zhivago movie-type view, but without the intrigue and adventure…!

 

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The air is murky and the cold chill seeps quickly into the layers of sweaters and coats worn.  Right now I dream of being here…

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Where I grew up, winter, spring, summer and fall all seemed to hold their own special fascination; I never wished one away before the other arrived!  As we get older, I guess it’s human nature for us to sometimes think that our lives will be better enriched with the essence of another time and season that’s just around the corner!  As this winter lingers, I’ve tried to remember how my parents went about fostering their regard for mother nature’s personality fluxes!  Days spent playing outside in the snow always seemed to end happily with my mom’s warm hands rubbing my cold fingertips as numb toes were placed over blowing furnace vents.  To top things off, yummy homemade soup was often served for dinner.  Reading or homework was done later while sprawled out by the living room fireplace.  It seemed so magical then.  I’m sure I’m romancing the memory a bit, but it still serves as a good reminder to do a better job at appreciating the unique qualities of each season, and to try and do things that will help make them more enjoyable for others too…including the winter months–ugh, that’s a tough call right now!

There really is nothing like the warm “comfort foods” of the winter months.  More important is the special tradition of getting together around the dinner table.  It seems like this is harder to do after your children are grown, but it’s something that my husband and I try to do, and find it’s well worth the effort, especially after being out and about in the cold weather!

I hope this scrumptious family recipe of Hamburger Soup helps you enjoy a bowl together with family members or other loved ones!

Mom's soup 015 (1)FAMILY FAVORITE HAMBURGER SOUP

1 pound hamburger and 1 cup chopped onion

Brown both together in a stove top skillet 

Put hamburger in large soup pot and add:

1 cup cubed potatoes  

1 cup sliced carrots  

1/2 cup diced celery  

1 cup shredded cabbage  

1 large can stewed tomatoes  

 Small bay leaf crushed  

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried basil 

2 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper

Add 1-1/2 quarts water and simmer approximately 1-1/2 hours

Enjoy a warm bowl of soup and maybe a new perspective on the winter season! 

What I’m learning now is…

Winter really is over before we know it, as is every other season that comes and goes each year.  They all hold favorite aspects we enjoy about them, along with the more unpleasant ones that we don’t particularly look forward to as much.  Although it sounds cliche, what I’m learning now is that the quote on a plaque in my husband’s office states it the best…“Nothing is a waste of time, if you use the experience wisely.”

Share some unique activities you do to make the winter months more fun.

Hey, bring on the snow!

–Mary

February 7, 2013:  Just thinking…and I bet you’ll agree, that a winter afternoon could be fun spent here with a cup of warm soup and a good book!

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