Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ready to Eat

Jana and my Sunday was a little busy today.  We left for church at 8:30 this morning.  When we got our at noon I took Jana home then went to another ward or congregation to attend their meetings.  In a church calling I have I am what is called a Stake Sunday School President now, meaning that I help oversee and encourage quality teaching in 10 different congregations.  After our own church meetings I was visiting another ward with their Sunday School Presidents and teachers for two more hours of meetings.

When I finally got home at around 2:30 I went looking for Jana.  I found her taking a nap in our guest bedroom.  As I walked into the room she must have heard me come in as she opened her eyes and said, "I was waiting for you.  Dinner is ready."

The table was already set and waiting.  We had a lovely, simple dinner and just shared our church experiences of the day and what we learned, experienced, and enjoyed.

Having dinner ready was such a kind, loving thing.   Jana knew roughly what time I'd be home from my meetings but even so I do have the capability to be a little late getting home if I found someone to talk to, an additional errand to run, or had someone I felt I needed to drop by and visit on my way home.  I so appreciate her love and patience.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Launchpad

As empty nesters my wife and I have created a predictable, functional morning routine that gets our day started.  We begin by going to the local rec center bright and early to open the eyes and get the blood pumping.  When we get home Jana showers while I read the scriptures.  I then cook breakfast for us.

After our morning prayer we eat breakfast and read the scriptures together.  She then heads for the bedroom to read the paper while I wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen.  Together we drive to her bus stop where she catches a commuter bus to work.

The other morning Jana, as she sat on the bus bench while I stood keeping an eye out for the bus, turned to me, pulled aside the hood of her pink winter coat with her bemittened hand and said, "I sure appreciate your driving me to the bus every morning.  It just helps me start my day in a happy way.  You're my launchpad.  You launch me into my day."

What a sweet thing to say.  That made me feel loved and appreciated.  It motivates me to keep doing it, every day.  It's little, unexpected loving things like that, unrequested and often undeserved, that make a marriage – and any valued relationship – one that encourages us to try a little harder to give a little more, to be a little more and to love a little more each day.  I know it does for me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ring My Chimes

We had our annual Christmas family night Monday with all the cousins in the area.  There must have been over 50 of us, half under that age of 12 I'm sure.  It's something we all look forward to each year.  It was noisy and rowdy and fun and loud and endearing and a joy.  It's one of those family traditions, started by  my wife's parents many years ago, that keeps us close as an extended family.

Before the evening my dear sister-in-law, LD, had asked if I would lead the children in our traditional bell-ringing Christmas carols.  LD has some colored bells and several years ago made color-coded Christmas carol charts that we can follow and play.  It's one of the things we all look forward to and everyone, young and not, loves to have a turn.

The trick is to corral the youngest bell-carolers in learning how to ring the right-colored bell, at the right time, without pulling on the spring-suspended clappers and not just ringing them continuously.  It's sort of like … well, … like giving a child a bell and telling her not to ring it.

We all had a grand, noisy time and, being that all the children, grandchildren and cousins are above average, they did an amazing job … and we even could hear bits of Christmas melodies ringing amidst the noise.

On the way home Jana and I were alone in the car.  "That was fun.  You did a really great job in controlling the kids and letting them have fun at the same time."   I thanked her. It WAS fun.

After many years of marriage there is a tendency to become so comfortable with your spouse that you don't always acknowledge his or her efforts or deeds or actions (at least not the positive ones).  It is no small thing to keep recognizing your spouse's contributions without keeping a "compliment score".  I am so grateful for Jana's kindness in letting me know when I do things good – or do good things.  It lifts my confidence and makes me even more appreciative of the many "loving things" she constantly does that keep our marriage growing.  She rings my chimes.

(Thanks Lexie for sharing the photos.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Water Closet Congregation

Several months ago Jana's work schedule changed.  With that change our morning routine changed as well.  We get up a little before 5:00 and head to the Rec Center.  There we work out and energize the start to our day.  Jana generally walks the indoor track and I walk, workout in the weight room or ride a bike.

She usually finishes first and waits a few minutes for me to finish my last lap.  But this morning when I walked off the track Jana was nowhere to be seen.  I looked down the mezzanine that is suspended midway through the building above the gym floor on one side and the pools on the other, lined with every imaginable piece of cardiovascular equipment (and a few unimaginable ones), toward the bathroom end of the second floor.  No Jana.

I asked a woman I know if she had seen my sweetheart.  "I think I saw her on the track."  I thought that was unusual but waited about three minutes to see if she would come 'round the bend.  But she didn't.

I went downstairs to see if she was waiting there for me.  No Jana.

I headed back up again and stood at one end of the mezzanine where, if she came out of hiding somewhere, she'd be sure to see me.  I was a little worried, for two reasons.  One, she is very predictable because after our workout she is anxious to get home and get ready for work.  And two, she is very predictable.

I glanced over at the coat rack where we hang our coats and Jana's grey, oversized BYUI sweatshirt was hanging there.  "Well, she's still in the building" I thought.

After another five minutes I finally saw her, coming out of the women's restroom at the opposite end of the mezzanine.  I walked over and grabbed her sweatshirt so I could help her on with it and as I held it out so she could slip her arm in the sleeve I asked, "Are you all right?" thinking maybe she wasn't feeling well.

"Perfectly.  I was just giving my Sunday School lesson in the loo.  Oh, it's going to be such a good lesson."

"Oh, really?"

"Yes.  I was all alone except for this other lady.  I could have given it out loud because she had her hair dryer on and it was so loud you couldn't hear a thing."

Jana is a wonderful teacher.  She currently teaches the Marriage and Family Relations class in our ward.  I just love her unaffected, matter-of-fact approach to life, like "What's unusual about giving a lesson in the loo?"  That's one of the loving things I appreciate about her.

And I'm sure Jana's water closet congregation really enjoyed the lesson as well.

Monday, April 15, 2013

CAUTION - Space Needed

My daughter's home from college for a quick week between semesters.  It's always a joy to have her home and really catch up on her successes of the finished semester.

However, during this visit she needs some "get away" time; time to back off and catch some perspective on her personal life.   She's had a relationship this semester that's been left a little in limbo that she needs some space to process.

After church today Jana invited a friend over who is particularly gifted at helping people gain perspective.  Even though Jana and I have talked with our daughter over the phone over the past few weeks on the issue, and even though we had a good conversation together last night (at the moment she feels safe enough in our relationships to talk to us about these issues openly) Jana felt she needed another perspective to give her peace.

After dinner I was starting on the dishes (I still do dishes by hand, old school) and "the girls" had settled in the living room and were chatting.  As I stood at the sink up to my elbows in Joy dish soap, Jana came in and gave me an unsolicited hug.  That's always nice.  Then she whispered, "We've got some girl talk going on."

To quote A. A. Milne in talking about Winnie the Pooh, "Being a bear of very little brain...", I thought for just a moment, then the light came on, "Oh, you'd like for me not to join you?"

"Yes," she replied lovingly.

I"m the kind of dad who, being interested in his kids lives, would have invited myself to join them after I finished the dishes -- "girl talk" doesn't frighten or bore me.   But thanks to Jana's awareness and sensitivity, she quietly, discretely gave me a gentle suggestion that space was needed.

I consider it a loving thing when she just gently let me know what was needed.  Otherwise I would have felt rejected and devalued for being left out or unwanted in this little piece of my daughter's life.  I'm thankful for my wife's sensitive awareness.  Now I can write it down and feel loved in the process.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 1 - International Culture Anniversary

Jana and I had a wonderful anniversary this year.  We always do.  It has become such a tradition among her colleagues where Jana works that they start asking what she's going to do for her anniversary starting in August.  To which Jana replies, "I'm not telling ... until after the anniversary."

However, I do know that some of them sometimes get a little disappointed when they learn it isn't a wonderfully extravagant journey to someplace exotic.  In fact, this year one of her coworkers asked, "Since you take turns each year don't you try to outdo each other?"

Her answer?  "No.  It's about the time together."

And that's the point.  It's about taking a few days and isolating ourselves from the pressures and worries and interruptions and distractions that constantly pull at our relationship and just focus on being together, whether it's in Oceanside, Oregon, or Kuna, Idaho.

And this year was no different.

Jana came up with the theme of a Multi-Cultural Experience.  I shared in my last post the letter I received Sunday evening.  I knew no more about what we were going to be doing after I read the letter than I did before.

Day One of our Multi-Cultural Anniversary

"The Culture of Old World Wealth"

I had been told that we were leaving the house at 10:30 am.  Jana had already gassed up the van and once I started up the car she said, "Head for the freeway toward Boise."

I followed directions until we ended up on Warm Springs Ave.  We drove up the avenue to a grocery store where we pulled in. We went inside and I was told to buy some treats to keep up my energy.  After we got our treats Jana said, "We've always driven up Warm Springs and commented that we'd sure like to someday look at the beautiful mansions.  Well, today, we're taking a 'walking tour' of Warm Springs Ave."

Warm Springs is a well-known street in Boise where, a hundred-plus years ago, the affluent built beautiful homes: some very victorian, some more modern.  We headed down Warm Springs just walking and looking at the beautiful homes, wandering up side streets – whatever looked interesting.  We wandered about 3/4 of a mile, crossed the street and meandered back, taking it all in, talking about the houses, who would live there, what renovations were being made and how much we enjoyed being together.

After two hours we had made it back to our van and were ready for the next "culture".

"Oregon Coast Culture I"

After leaving Warm Springs we headed back to town, got on the freeway and made our way to the Towne Square Mall.  We didn't go to the mall, but wandered past it to an industrial/warehouse-looking building with several businesses occupying the space.  However, one of the spaces was a little different than the rest of the warehouse occupants.  The sign above the entrance read "Idaho Aquarium".  I had seen the place before but always assumed, with the large pictures of fish on the wall, that it was a place that sold exotic fish to people with fish tanks.  But no, it was an aquarium that displays sea-life.

For a $7 donation we got to see and pet rays, baby sharks (including a hammerhead shark), eels, jellyfish, lionfish and other tropical fish.  We got to stare down the free-range iguanas wandering about, laugh at the puffins and watch the chameleons change their colors.

(From Jana:   Here's the deal about the Idaho Aquarium.  When you walk outside afterwards, you are still in Idaho. Bummer.  It puts you in such a mood for the ocean and yet there you stand in the parking lot and nary a seagull to be found.  Bummer again.  It's sort of like bait & switch.)  

Each year, during our anniversary, we buy a Christmas ornament for our hodge-podge of a Christmas tree.  I found a small, round refrigerator magnet with a very small starfish on it that I'll drill a hole in, put a ribbon through and add to our collection this Christmas.

"Oregon Coast Culture II"

By now it was after 1:00 so we headed to "Oregon Coast Culture II", McGrath's Fish House.  Jana had found a coupon for a reduced price on salmon dinners at McGrath's.  However, when we went to order the waiter apologized that the special was over.  They had a steak coupon now.  So he gave us some more time to go back over the menu to pick our steak special.

Shortly he came running back, breathlessly saying, "Don't order.  Don't order."  He continued, "I talked to the kitchen and they said you can have the salmon specials, whichever one you want."  And so we did.

(From Jana:  I figured after looking at fish (aquarium), it was time to eat fish.   (However, I draw the line at octopus.  I don't like chewing tire tread.)  The salmon & halibut at McGrath's was delicious.)

"Indulge-Your-Wife Culture"

Next on our adventure was something just for Jana.  She has been looking for a blue blazer to wear for  her business wardrobe and had heard of a thrift shop that was supposed to be very good.  Over the past two years Jana has learned to love consignment shopping and found that she can really stretch her dollar on buying clothes.  We headed for the Boise Assistance League Thrift Shop near the Boise Fairgrounds.

I love shopping for clothes with Jana and picking things I think would look good for her.  I take credit for finding the blazer and she ended up plunking down $8.  We also looked at jewelry which she has gained more interest in since working.

Before moving on to our next "culture" we saw a consignment furniture store across the parking lot and found two recliners that tempted us sorely to adopt.  But we withstood the temptation.

"The Sugar Culture"

Next to the thrift store was a bakery that Jana has heard about for years but has never gone to: Pastry Perfection.  Walking in this store puts on 350 calories just smelling the air.  We looked and smelled and looked some more, finally each choosing a confection to take with us.

"The Hipster Culture"

Arielle introduced us to the "hipster culture" a couple years ago.  The epicenter of the hipster haute couture in Boise is Urban Outfitters in downtown.  We parked in a downtown parking garage and started walking downtown toward the 8th Street marketplace area.  We had fun looking at downtown and the downtown dwellers as we meandered past the Boise Centre on the Grove and the Century Link Arena.  What fun looping in and out of downtown book shops and clothing stores.  We found a chocolate confectioner where we could have dropped $27 for 12 bite-sized pieces of chocolate, but we resisted.

It was fun watching workers and a very tall crane building a large tower that will one day be the core of a new high rise building in downtown.

"Mediterranean Culture"

It was now after 6:30 and time for our next cultural adventure.  Jana directed me toward the Park Center area of East Boise, looking for an address.  We finally found the address attached to a small, hidden eatery call the Mazzah Grill.  This restaurant features Mediterranean cuisine with food samplings from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria and that region.  Jana had, again, found this place online and read good reviews about it.

I had a combo kabob plate including shish kabob, marinated chicken kabob and pork kabob with a Syrian fatoosh salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and a dressing I've never tasted before.  Yummy.  Jana had the fatoosh salad with a Greek gyro sandwich.  We took our time and just talked while we ate.

"International Culture"

After dinner we had one more culture to experience before calling it a day.  I was told it wasn't starting until 9:00 pm and it was only 7:50 as we left the restaurant.  We headed for home for an hour where I took a 45 minute snooze and then out the door we went.

For our international culture we headed for the Edwards movie theater.  Since it was a little later on a Monday evening there wasn't really a line at the window where Jana purchased two tickets to see the "Bourne Legacy".  I happen to like the suspense of the the Bourne movie trilogy so Jana took us for this international ride:  international because the movie storyline takes you across the globe.

Jana did an amazing job in arranging this evening.  When we walked into our theater we were the only two people there.  We had the whole movie to ourselves.  When we finally got out at nearly midnight we walked out of our theater into the common halls of this 14 theater complex and there wasn't another person in the building.  We didn't even see an employee as we walked through theater, past the snack bar and through the main lobby.  Jana had the whole movie theater opened just for us.  How do you top that?


We dragged ourselves home and collapsed into bed.  Jana had told me the day before when she first delivered the letter to me about our anniversary plan that we were going to experience things we had never experienced before.  So far she was living up to her promise.  We just had so much fun on Day One exploring new things close to home and mostly just walking and talking together.

Day One had truly been a loving thing.  Now, on to Day Two.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

International Culture Anniversary

Several weeks ago we were sitting around the breakfast table at 5:30 am when Jana commented she was tired.

"How come?"

"Because I didn't sleep much last night?"

"Why?  Weren't you feeling well?"

"No. I was planning our anniversary.   Oh, we're going to have so much fun.  I can hardly wait."

I think I've mentioned it before but Jana and I have an anniversary tradition.  It started clear back when we'd been married for 9 years.  When Jana and I were married we were married in Salt Lake City, Utah.  For our wedding night I had arranged for a room in the Tura Mura Lodge at the Snowbird ski resort nearby in the mountains east of Salt Lake.  I had made the arrangement without Jana's knowledge and our wedding night location was a big surprise to her.

For our 9 year anniversary I decided to take her back, again, without her knowing it.  One Friday morning in October we got up, had our school day morning routines and went out on the porch to see Aaron off to school on his bike.  As he left he said, "See you later, Mom ... much later." To which we waved him goodbye.

As soon as he was out of sight I turned to Jana.  "Sweetheart, get in the car."

"But I'm not dressed."  (She was wearing her long flannel night gown.)

"Doesn't matter.  Get in the car anyway."

We put three year old Chanel in the car, got in and left.  We went to Jana's sister's home here in town to drop off Chanel, complete with a prepacked suitcase, and headed for the freeway.  Forty five minutes later, after we had passed Boise and were well on our way to Mountain Home, Jana asked, "Where ARE we going?"

To which I replied, "Happy Annivesary!"

"But I don't have any clothes!"

"Don't worry.  They're in the trunk."

We had a wonderful time for three days.  And it was so fun, surprising her all over again.  On our way home she said, "Next year, I'm in charge of our anniversary."  And so a tradition started.

The rules are simple:
  • This is alone time.  No distractions from work or other events.
  • Be fully engaged in our time together.
  • It must be planned -- no "let's just see what happens" excuse for not putting forth the effort to plan.
  • Take turns being totally in charge ( I get odd years, Jana gets even).
  • Keep the event a complete secret as to what's planned, from your spouse or anyone else.
  • Tease your spouse starting months ahead about how much fun we'll have together.  (Such as "I just made our reservations for our anniversary!!  And you don't know what we're doing.")

I could spend a year talking about all the adventures we've had on these anniversaries –– like the year we spent four days in a barn loft in Inkom, Idaho; or the senior citizens bus trip to Baker City, Oregon; or the four days at the May Family Ranch on the Salmon River, halfway between Stanley and Salmon, Idaho; or the week at Otter Rock on the Oregon Coast.  Our adventures could fill a year's worth of blog posts, but that's not the point of this post.

If you ask Jana what her favorite holiday is, she won't tell you Christmas or the Fourth of July.  She'll say, "Our wedding anniversary."

So this year is our 36th anniversary and, being an even year, it's Jana's turn.  She had me block out this next week a couple months ago.  A week ago she said, "Sunday, night we need to have an anniversary meeting."  So, tonight I've been looking forward to our "meeting".

I sat down on the couch.  Arielle, living at home right now between college semesters, was here too.  Jana handed me a blank envelope, then sat back and smiled.  The note read:

2012 Wedding Anniversary
Number 36
Prepare for fun!

Multi-Cultural Experience

Monday (leave 10:30 am-ish)

  • The Culture of Old World Wealth
  • Indulge-your-Wife Culture (always a good thing)
  • The Sugar Culture
  • Oregon Coast Culture I
  • Oregon Coast Culture II
  • Hipster Culture
  • French Culture
  • International Culture (all over the map)

Tuesday (leave same time as yesterday)

This day has a special rule:  NO matter what happens, the computer and your office are off-limits to you!!!  [Note:  I work at home and my office is in my home.]

Today we will do our food storage shopping at the Winco on Fairview Ave.  Why there?  Because it's kitty-korner from a restaurant I want to try.

After shopping, lunch, putting away food, the rest of the day is free for special projects.  (How about you paint? [I'm currently in the process of painting our home]  And I will sew.)

Wednesday (leave same as before)
  • Ancient History Culture
  • Redneck Culture
  • Jewish Culture
  • Latin Culture
  • Idaho History Culture
  • Mediterranean Culture
  • Indian Culture (as in Calcutta)

We will be very cultured after this anniversary.  Almost like world travelers at a fraction of the cost.

As of tonight, that's what I know.  This post will need to continue tomorrow as the mystery anniversary unfolds.  For me, anniversaries and surprises are loving things.