Sunday, August 5, 2018

I Believe in Being Honest

A Family From Yosemite Story
By Martha Reynders Blair

I have this vague memory of an experience that happened over
60 years ago. It’s so long ago that it seems like a dream.
Certain parts are rather sketchy, but surprisingly I specifically
remember the grocery store I was in. The building still stands
on the corner of Lancaster Blvd. and Elm.  I even remember the
area where the car was parked. It’s funny the details I recall.
Even though I don’t remember a lot of precise information of
what transpired that day, I do remember the feelings of
my heart.

I was grocery shopping with my mother.  I had to have been
very little. My head did not reach the top of the counter that
was in front of me.  I even remember cocking my head back
and standing on my tippy toes to see where the groceries had
been place, but it was all beyond my sight. My mother was in
the process of purchasing our items. I say “purchasing,” but I
really didn’t know anything about money. I was quite innocent
and unaware.  I stood there at the final array of goodies. There
was plenty within my reach because the display went all the
way to the floor. I spotted some candy I liked, picked out a
piece, and placed it in my pocket.

I didn’t understand the workings of the Spirit then, but I can
look back on the situation now and certainly know that I was
being taught. As soon as the candy entered my pocket, I got
this sinking feeling. I knew it wasn’t right that I had taken it.
It seemed so natural and appealing to pick it up, but now this
darkness had perforated my heart. Even so, I didn’t put it
back, but instead followed close by my mother out to the car,
all along being preoccupied with the possession in my pocket
and hoping this uncomfortable feeling would go away.

I’m not quite sure of everything that transpired after I climbed
into the car. I don’t know if my mother saw me - with those
eyes in the back of her head - pull the candy out of my pocket
or if I promptly popped up in the seat and showed her what I
had. My mother wasn’t angry with me, but she made it clear
I should not have taken the candy. If she had explained that
we should have bought the candy first, I don’t think even then
I would have understood the purchasing power of money.
It was beyond me at that point and seemed irrelevant. I had
taken something that did not belong to me and my mother was
certain I needed to return the candy and tell the cashier that
I was sorry.

Oh, the dread of it all! I did not want to talk with anyone about
this. I knew what I had done was wrong. I already got that, but
going through the process of returning the candy and
apologizing weighed on me. It was a long walk back into the
store and it seemed even longer as I stood there with my mother
as we waited for an opportunity to talk with someone. I was
nervous to say the least. I remember looking more at the ground
than the face of the one that I had to face. Again, no one was
angry with me as I returned the candy and mumbled my
apology. I was very sorry. Those terrible feelings
overwhelmed my insides and I wished it had never happened.

The person we talked with was very supportive and thanked me
for returning the candy. Even though I didn’t see it, for some
reason I think everyone in the store was smiling down on me.
They seemed pleased and very understanding of this first early
lesson regarding the command, “Thou shalt not steal”
(Exodus 20:15).

We were soon walking away and as we walked that oppressive
feeling I once had in my heart dissipated and was quickly
replaced with this happy feeling knowing I had done the right
thing. What a relief! I can’t believe how young I was in
receiving these spiritual impressions and understanding them.
I don’t think I could have explained all this then, but with age
I can now say with confidence, it was a witness of the Spirit.
It isn’t in my nature to steal things. I don’t believe I have ever
taken anything since, evidently, it was a lesson well learned.

Now jump ahead some 30 plus years and I’m standing in line
at the grocery store ready for check out with my own brood.
Cassie was my youngest of four at the time.  She was as cute,
as cute as can be. She was an extraordinary delight! My early
experience crossed my mind as I looked down and could see
that her curly blonde head did not reach the top of the counter
where the conveyor belt would eventually take my groceries to
be tallied and bagged.

She wanted a piece of candy and I said, “No.” I can’t remember,
but it wouldn’t surprise me if I had given my oft-time lecture as
we sat in the car before we entered the store, “We are not
getting anything extra - so don’t even ask!” But she was the
youngest with her little wily ways and as generous as I like to
think I am I would have given her the world if I could. It wasn’t
an option. I wondered if she would want to steal something with
my mostly consistent, “No, we are not getting anything.”

I looked at her bright shining face and figured I quiz her, to
see where her understanding was. I asked, “Cassie, when you
ask for something at the store and Mommy tells you ‘No,’ what
would you do next?” Being precocious and flashing a big grin,
she quickly replied, “Oh, I know exactly what to do - I’d go ask
Grandma!” I Immediately started to laugh and she laughed too.
Oh boy! I knew my mother and I knew Cassie had it all
figured out.

I Believe in Being Honest
Words: Ruth Muir Gardner, 1927–1999. © 1986 IRI
Music: Lyall J. Gardner, b. 1926. © 1986

I believe in being honest;
I believe in being true,
That honesty should start with me
In all I say, in all I do.
I’ll form good habits in my youth,
To keep my word, to tell the truth,
To speak up in defending right
And keep my name and honor bright.
I believe in being honest;
I believe in being true,
That honesty should start with me
In all I say, in all I do.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 - "Here I GO!"

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As I  ring in the new year for 2018, a story came to mind.  It's not one I remember, but one I was told by my parents, time and time again. I'm not sure what age I was, but I was little and I could talk.  My parents would tell me not to touch certain things like the stove, iron, etc. Whatever! The point is every time they would say, "Don't touch that!" I would boldly hold out my little pointer finger while blatantly looking at them saying these words, "Here . . . I  . . . GO!!!" They were always amused at my response, no doubt that's why I kept doing it.

In light of 2018, my hope is that when I say, "Here . . . I . . . GO!!!" I am following in the footsteps of my Savior and not the ways of the world.

"Happy New Year! 2018, Here I GO!"

“He [or she] that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24

Monday, December 25, 2017

Missing Church

A small boy with blond hair reaches out to take a cup from a metal sacrament tray that a deacon is holding out to him.

I was at a baby shower when I ended up visiting with a friend.  I hadn’t seen her in awhile because she hadn’t been at church.  I asked her how she was doing and she was quick to say that her children had been ill. If her children were sick, she wouldn’t go to church. It made sense. I got it. A personal story immediately popped into my head when she explained her situation, but I didn’t tell it then.  I just listened.

My story is a memory I long remember. It isn’t so much about sick children, but what I learned after everyone was well and recovered. It started one spring day when I discovered a blistered sore on Billy’s skin. The next day I could see he had more.  I was a bit alarmed. I could clearly see he was breaking out with something.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but a trip to the doctor quickly revealed a diagnosis. Billy had the Chickenpox.

We hadn’t had the Chicken Pox at our house before.  The vaccine wasn’t in use then. Getting Chicken Pox is how you dealt with Chickenpox. Mother's would actually bring their children to their friend's house where they had infectious Chickenpox with the idea of getting their children sick so they could get the Chickenpox over with. I, on the other hand, was trying my best to avoid the trial. I well knew this wouldn’t just involve Billy, I had three other children who hadn't had it yet.

In Billy’s very infectious state he couldn’t go to school.  He was disappointed and rightfully so, he was going to be the star of the show in a school play that week, Max of Where the Wild Things Are. I felt dejected for him, but in spite of the discouragement, there was nothing we could do to change the situation. He couldn’t participate and so he was replaced by his friend. “The show must go on!” as they say.

We stayed home following the doctors orders with plenty of fluids, Aveeno (oatmeal) baths, and Calamine lotion. Billy seemed to fair very well and right on schedule Ricky broke out with Becky, and Cassie following. I ended up being home for six whole weeks tending to their needs. For some reason, the girls seemed to have it worse than the boys, but they all survived. Me, I learned an important lesson.

During this inconvenient time, I did not attend church for six weeks.  I didn’t even think to ask my husband to stay home on Sunday so I could go.  He had some important responsibilities to attend to. Not that that ultimately matters when a crisis hits, but I knew I could easily get a substitute for what I had to do so I got my substitutes and stayed home. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t that housebound. I did get away for a walk or a trip to the grocery store, just not to church.

I had never really missed church before, ever. I always went to church. I didn’t think much about staying home like I did. “Someone had to watch the kids,” as Hugh and I would put it. I chose to do it.  I had a good reason to stay home. Again, my children were sick, but I didn’t really realize what I was missing because I was so use to the spiritual feeding that comes with church attendance.

The Sunday I went back to church I was surprised at the somewhat defiled feeling I had as I sat in the pew waiting for the meeting to start. It wasn’t that I felt guilty about not going to church, but I could tell I wasn’t quite in sync with the feeling of the Spirit that was in the room. There was something different and I was slightly taken aback by my uncomfortable feelings as I set there. It started to sink in that I hadn’t taken the Sacrament for six weeks. I had not renewed my baptismal covenants in six weeks. As I partook of the emblems of Christ that Sabbath day, I felt an immediate cleansing power take place that I definitely needed. “No wonder this ordinance is presented each week,” I thought. This sacred expression of commitment, gratitude, love, and so much more had evidently turned routine and commonplace because I was so use to the daily benefits. I knew, in that moment, as gratitude washed over me that I had actually been deprived of that great joy that the Sacrament ordinance brings each week.

As I sat in that meeting, I realized better, than I ever had before, of the importance of the Savior, His love, and His sacrifice for me. I knew that the saving ordinances made a difference.  I had not just given lip service to these crucial covenants over the years. I never doubted their importance, but greater understanding was distilled upon my soul, clarifying my dependence on Christ.

What would it be like to not be baptized or receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and the other saving ordinances of the temple? I don’t know.  I have them.  I am grateful for them and I wanted to make sure that I kept them.  I know they make a difference in my life and my happiness. I felt it so clearly in that singular moment.  I understood it and I bear testimony of its reality.  God lives and loves us and Jesus is the Christ providing the way for me to return and live with them again with my family.

“The person who absents himself from a sacrament meeting week after week and month after month, and nothing prevents him from coming, is not loyal to the truth. He does not love it. If he did, he would be present to partake of these emblems—just a little piece of bread, a little cup of water. He would want to do that to show his love for the truth and his loyal service to the Son of God.”  

Included in “Chapter 6: The Significance of the Sacrament,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith (2013), 94–103, (quoted from Seek Ye Earnestly, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. (1972), 99).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 - Hopeful

January is almost over and I haven't reviewed last year's or posted this year's resolutions. The quest continues to lose weight.  I fell off the Weight Watchers bandwagon and tried to muster it alone, but I did not do well.  Hoping 2017 will be better.

I learned how to submit names to the temple last year, but more importantly, I need to take more names to the temple and share them with my family.  Some may find this transfer of names from the computer to the temple easy, but it is still a stress for me. I know I will get better at it the more I do it so I continue. I am on a self-proclaimed mission doing indexing and researching daily.  I am no doubt addicted.

Hugh and I did get our DNA tests done - finally. I'm 100% European (no surprises there), but I was amused to find out how Irish I was. When St. Patrick's Day comes around I won't be faking it when I say, "Kiss Me, I'm Irish!" I'm inspired to become more knowledgeable about research and indexing this year.

One thing I hope to do more is writing.  I said I'd blog more, but I didn't last year.  My plan is to follow the #52 Stories questions on, hoping to get more down on paper about my own personal life and in doing so I'll get more up on my blog.

Last but not least, I wrote about doing a "good turn daily" and writing it down, but I did not find this to be as fulfilling and motivating as I hoped.  I live my life in service daily and I already keep a journal.  I'm not trying to boast, but what shall I pick in my daily doings.  I did not feel so inclined to record it all in a separate journal (which was the plan). If anything, I'll be looking to writing about my weight - food and exercise and such in a separate journal and keep my regular one for daily life.

I have lots of goals, probably too many and too vague, but here I go anyway 2017.  Hoping for the best!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Not "Working" ?!

I've been so busy and yet it's not because I'm substitute teaching. I officially retired in April - an end to my almost 8 year saga.  After the wedding for Janna last December, and through the holidays, and into the new year I was sick.  I hadn't worked in a while because of it all.  It was hard for me to get back out there.  I started to get this feeling that I was done with subbing in spite of plenty of opportunities to work.  It was more of a struggle for some reason. I felt a little disconnected from it all.

Substitutes got a great pay increase in our school district, but it didn't matter.  My reasons for working had passed even though I would have been happy to have some extra money. I soon realized I was done in spite of all the good reasons I could think to keep working. I have moved on and definitely filled my time with other things.

I share one last substitute story as I close this chapter of my life. There was a little Hispanic boy I had been servicing for some time. I repeatedly substituted for his Resource teacher.  He liked me to say it mildly.  He told me that he bet his grandma and I would be great friends if we knew each other.

School can be difficult and even more so for someone who is big for their age, has an unsightly birthmark on their face, a Spanish accent, and sent to Resource throughout the day.  He had challenges more than most. He never talked about his mother.  It was always grandma and his dad. He was quite a delight in spite of all his struggles.  I wish he knew that. He had such great potential, but like all of us it is hard to see our way clear when we are down.

Sometimes he would lean his head on my shoulder while I was helping him.  When he would see me out on campus other than the classroom he would run and grab my hand to walk with me.  If he hadn't seen me at school in a while, receiving a big hug from him as a greeting was no surprise.  I suppose none of that was "appropriate" when it comes to interacting with a student.  I don't push or pursue that kind of contact, but I certainly don't reject it.  He had a need and I made sure I was always loving and kind in my dealings with him

This experience is an example of those moments when you knew you were making a difference in the life of a child.  There is a lot I don't miss about subbing, but moments like this I will certainly miss. He was one of the reasons I didn't want to stop subbing.  I didn't want to leave him and many others, but it was time.

"Every child has a different
learning style and pace.
Each child is unique,
not only capable of learning
but also capable of succeeding."
-- Robert John Meehan

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Hero

"America needs heroes. You don't have to be larger than life to be a hero, just larger than yourself. I see heroes everyday--scout masters, primary teachers, missionaries, campaign volunteers, parents. I hope you will choose to be a hero because we need a lot more of them."

Mitt Romney
BYU Forum
November 18, 2014

Sister Jessica Lockhart
Brazil Sao Paulo West Mission
Rua Doutor Rui Batista Pereira, 165
Jardim Caxingui-Sao Paulo-SP
CEP: 05517-080

So late making this post, and even so, so proud of this girl - my niece, Jessica Lockhart - serving in Sao Paulo, Brazil as a missionary. Love reading her letters. She's an inspiration.  She's my roll model.  "I hope they call me on a mission . .  ." someday.

She's been out over a hear and will now be home in less than six months and then back to school. Check her out on the blog her mom (my sister) is keeping for her with all her letters and pics:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Elder and Sister Reynders

Called to Serve
Elder and Sister Reynders
Mississippi Jackson Mission
175 Burnham Road
Brandon, MS  39042

at the iconic map at the MTC

They are outta here!  80 couples joined my brother and his wife as they entered the MTC  yesterday for a week. Elder and Sister Reynders will also go to Salt Lake City for another week for some special training.  Mark will be serving as the mission nurse.  They'll head out to Mississippi after that. I'm excited to hear about all their doings. Their parents both served missions, but now it's time for the next wave of senior missionaries from the next generation.  Mark and Jo are leading the way in the family and I'm excited for them. Hoping to follow in their footsteps someday - CALLED TO SERVE!

“O ye that embark in the service of God,
see that ye serve him with all your heart,
might, mind and strength,
that ye may stand blameless before God
at the last day.
“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God
ye are called to the work.”

Doctrine and Covenants 4:2-3

Friday, January 1, 2016

Red Letter Year

It's more than just a red letter day.  It's going to be a
Red Letter Year. Here are my 2016 goals:

2015 was not a good year for blogging.  I suppose with blogging I rode a wave that has come and gone in it's popularity, but it's still out there.  My posts were meager this year in more ways than one and I struggled with my new computer which is older now and I'm still not sure how to work it, hence, I have picture issues.  Ugh!  Why do my pictures disappear? I lack the skills - don't I know it!

Well, in spite of my set backs, I'm going to keep blogging.  That was one of my goals for 2015 because my blog was waning even in 2014.  I was not successful, but I will carry on in the hopes of doing better.

I said I'd lose weight.  Happily I did!  But it's still a goal for the new year.  I've got more to do.
I will lose weight!

I was very successful I think with indexing and I've done more with research too.  I pretty much index a batch a day and plan to continue, but as the year went on I started doing research a little everyday too. I will continue both.  My researching has improved my family tree, but I have not been diligent in assembling names for the temple.  I want to get better at that.  Also I bought DNA test kits for Hugh and I last year and we haven't done it yet.  Hope there's not an expiration date on it. It's not suppose to be difficult, but it seems to be for me.  I need someone to just hold my hand to get it done and take me through the process and if that's what it takes I guess I'll do that.  It's kind of like pictures and my new computer - it's more of a struggle than it needs to be, but admittingly, it's still a big struggle. Hoping to get this resolved in 2016 if not sooner.  DNA test and submit names for temple ordinances.

I've kept a Thank You Journal pretty consistently for two years now.  Hopefully I'll just be more thankful now without going through this exercise.  I'm going to try something different my sister, Beth, suggested - A Good Turn Daily.  It's Scouting terminology for serving everyday. I'm going to try and record this information daily in my little journal instead of my thanks and see what the results are.

I have a number of other goals, but this is all I'll put here on the blog.  Hopefully my blogging will improve, I'll be lighter, I'll have DNA results to share and get better at submitting names to the temple.  I also look forward to rendering more service.  I already think of myself as being serviceable, but I think I can always do more - maybe more for the people closest to me.

2016 here I come!

"As we emulate His example,
we will bless lives,
including our own."
—Thomas S. Monson,
general conference, October 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Ant Miracle - The Family From Yosemite 2015

Christmas 2015
The Family From Yosemite
The Ant Miracle
by Martha Reynders Blair

The weather was warming up and unfortunately Tom and Janna had the Chickenpox. I was regretting not having had them vaccinated. The vaccine hadn't been out for very long when they were little and because of that my very cautious doctor did not recommend them getting vaccinated.  He was worried and wanted to see if there were any reports of reactions over the coming years. I agreed, but now I wasn’t so sure. They were both miserable with what seemed to be exceptionally bad cases or at least worse than anything I had previously endured with my older children.

I tell this only because it just added to my discouragement that day - the day of the ants.  Don’t get me wrong, I've dealt with ants many a day.  It seemed they would show up every year when spring would come.  Busy and industrious they would enter my home in search of water and food.  They were the little black ants - sugar ants they called them.

I had learned to control them. I was too worried about money to consider pest control. Funny though, when we moved to our new home Hughie insisted on pest control because the ants started filing in about a year later, just like they always did.  But we could afford it then so I didn't argue and I've been very happy and content to keep them at bay.  A spray around the house every couple of months seems to do the trick, but I digress; back when I was “in-control” I used “Terro” - a product a friend turned me on to that saved my life from sweet eating ants.  Granted, I had to live with the ants marching in for a period of time, but eventually they stopped.  Once I found a trail, I would place the poison in a discrete location while the toxin worked its magic.  That was the routine - set it out and wait.

I had been waiting approximately three weeks for the parade to stop and it did one day - abruptly. With no black ants in sight I thought,“One less thing for me to worry about.” I was so happy and pleased about the situation because I was in the midst of Chickenpox quarantine. But that very night I was up late after everyone else had gone to bed.  As I cleaned the kitchen, all of a sudden I saw an ant on the wall, coming up from behind the stove.  I soon had a great appreciation for little black ants. Their docile trail that filed quietly straight to my poison unaware were nothing compared to the aggressive red ant I now stared at. It was searching and my “Terro” wasn't anything it was interested in.  I figured it must have come from the same access point the black ants had obviously cleared, wherever that was; and at that late hour there was no pulling out the stove to look. More red ants came right behind their leader, searching, filing, and searching.  I tried to wipe them up and they didn't let me do it easily.  They were fighting mad, mean, and malicious, “You get out of my way! I’m here to stay!” was ringing in my ears in spite of their silent menace.

What was I going to do?  It was late at night.  There was no point going out in the darkness looking for bug spray.  I was tired.  I had sick children.  I didn't have a remedy. Standing there in frustration and torment the Spirit whispered, “You can pray about it?” I paused, I thought; a light went on in my mind and yet I was doubtful at the solution that had presented.  I was so upset about my circumstances because I knew ants would be all over my kitchen and maybe the entire house by morning if I just let it go.  But I really didn't have any other options.

After a final swipe and still seeing more red ants perilously marching in from Mojave, I went to my bedroom.  I knelt down and pleaded to my Heavenly Father.  I told him about my situation; how my husband was asleep and would be leaving for work early the next morning; how I wasn't in a position to leave the house because of my children being in the middle of full-blown Chickenpox.  I needed help now not later.  Sure I could desperately get pest control the next day, but not before an ultimate takeover of red ants had ensued.  “Please Heavenly Father, take these ants away. Please, please, please, please, please!  You’re my only hope and I need help.”

I admit I wasn't too believing as I finally crawled into bed.  In fact, I fully expected to wake up to disaster, but one thing I did know - the Spirit had prompted me to pray.  I could not deny that and I did believe that if the Spirit told me to pray I should do it and I did and I hoped my nightmare would be gone or at least the army of ants somehow held at bay until I could get some help.

Why did I doubt?  God parted the Red Sea when the children of Israel needed it in their escape from Egypt. Mary Fielding Smith’s ox was healed when she needed its help to cross the rugged plains west to the promised Zion. The scriptures and others have testified of miracles - so yes, I believed it was possible that God could help me, but I really only hoped that God would answer my plea. I just wasn't certain.  I guess it was easier to read about the experience of others than to think that it could really happen to me here and now.

You cannot imagine my reaction as I got up the next morning and slowly approached my kitchen.  I tiptoed.  I peeked.  Looking not only once, but twice, and three times in amazement.  “Ask and ye shall receive,” is what exactly went through my mind. There was no sign of any ants in spite of how aggressive they had been the night before and in spite of my doubt.  I was so grateful they were gone. Needless to say, it was a tender mercy of a miracle, my life was so much easier as I endured our family Chickenpox epidemic and happily it was my last.  After ten years of trials my pediatrician was finally on-board for the vaccination so Sam never got the Chickenpox.

One other side note, I claimed those ants were marching in from Mojave, but a better guess would have been the dirt lot right across the street.  I found out they were even closer than that.  One day while talking to my neighbor he asked me if I ever got any red ants? As he complained, he explained it was a constant issue for him and his wife.  I could clearly see he was very burdened by an incessant plague.  But happily I said, “Only one time and I haven’t had a problem since.”  And I never have.

"Many miracles happen every day in the work of our Church and in the lives of our members. Many of you have witnessed miracles, perhaps more than you realize.
A miracle has been defined as “a beneficial event brought about through divine power that mortals do not understand and of themselves cannot duplicate.'"

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Time to Evaluate

Wishing this was true!

calories dont count_blog button

I wrote last February that I've been trying to lose weight.  Nothing new there, I'm always trying to lose weight  Happily it's working this time. I lost about 11 lbs. earlier this year and then in late July I joined Weight Watchers with the urging of my friend Lisa.  We went together.  I have lost another 30 lbs. and counting.  I still have a long way to go.  My feet are feeling a little better.  I definitely feel stronger.  Wish it could come off faster, but I'll take it.

Looking forward to 2016.  It's still a goal to lose more weight in the new year.  It has been a great struggle and obvious it's going to be life long. The struggle won't stop when it's off or if for some reason it does stop - I'll let you know. We'll see what the new year brings and starting Tuesday, Weight Watchers is unveiling a new program.  Hoping for continued help.  I've met some great people.  More evaluation and resolutions to come. 'Tis the season!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


If you haven't heard already, Janna is getting married.  She got engaged the very day she left home in August and now her wedding day is looming before us.  She's not here to plan, but we try. SUU, where Janna and her fiance, Eric, are attending school, had a fall break.  Happily they were home last weekend.  We had a bridal shower and were also able to  get some things squared away for the wedding.

I don't know what your definition of  MOMZILLA is, but I look at it as me simply stressing out which I can easily do.  I'm notorious for over thinking things instead of making a simple choice.  I easily get overwhelmed with options.  Anyway, we went to The Farmer's Wife and saw Joy who helped us put some flowers together for the wedding.  I started asking questions and I think my girls were getting concerned as they gave me a glare when I began to ask yet another question after what they thought was turning into an interrogation.  I caught my folly and quickly tried to smooth things over by explaining that I was just trying to understand it all and in my attempt may have turned into MOMZILLA.  I apologized.  I admit my stress level was somewhat mounting, but Joy in her joyful way reassured me that she understood where I was coming from. She said, "I've met MOMZILLA, and you're not her."

Yeah, thanks Joy for understanding and thank you for relieving the pressure about the flowers. She knew what she was doing and made it easy for us in spite of how I behaved. Thanks too for Sharon and Eric's mom, Linda, who are putting together the family dinner.  I have so many other people helping us in so many ways.  Now, if I can just not get stressed out keeping track of all my help MOMZILLA just might not rear her ugly head between now and December 19th.


Thursday, October 15, 2015


I have been working more and more on family history.  At there is a section for each person titled "memories". I've been adding a few memories as they come to me for my ancestors. This whole process made me think of our Family From Yosemite stories. They are usually based on a memory and we write about them making them into "bigger" stories. I keep thinking we're missing out on stories that are small or are one liners that can say so much about our family and bring us closer together. We've attempted drawing cartoons and I'm sure that will continue.  I will share a snippet of a story here  that as a grandma I found quite endearing.  I hope we can write more of these "smaller" memories to add to our storybook with the idea "that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6) The great thing being the bigger picture of who we  are.  We are living daily together and striving to do better with eternity in mind - FAMILIES ARE FOREVER.

This one is in honor of the upcoming holiday - Halloween.


One morning Cassie and Dexter stopped by on their way to school.  It was fall, things were starting to get a little cooler, and Dexter obviously had Halloween on his mind a good month in advance.

"Grandma! Grandma!" he shouted as he came running up to me breathlessly. "I know what Forest was for Halloween last year!"

"Really! What?" I said wide-eyed not really knowing what he was going to say.

"A mustache!" was his reply and I immediately knew what picture he must have seen to have prompted him to say such a thing.

I quickly responded with, "I think you're right!"

If I were a 5 year old, I would have thought Forest was a mustache for Halloween too.

Looking forward to the big day!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

On The Program

Last Christmas we had the Jingle Bell Challenge. It's a way for our family to promote health and fitness. Billy made T-shirts, we had prizes, lots of activity and cheerleading. It was fun! Hopefully we'll be more fit for it. We looked at this as the first annual event.

Having the Jingle Bell Challenge gave Rick some fodder in creating his submission to The Family From Yosemite stories (another annual holiday tradition). It's a self-deprecating saga of what so many of us go through concerning food. Our T-shirts said, "On The Program" this year and Rick's title is the same. I myself am on the program and am hopefully making 2015 my year to lose the weight. The challenge and the story have helped encourage me along with lots of prayer and support from the family. It's Valentine's Day and I've been on the program for a month. I've lost 10 lbs. It's a start. I'm sharing Rick's story today because I and the rest of my family continue to be On The Program

Fruit heart clipart

On The Program
by Richard H. Blair
December 29, 2014 - The Family From Yosemite

Any organization, culture, or family in the process of time develops a shared vocabulary.  In the context of these groups some words take on special and unique meanings that are not immediately obvious to outsiders.  This process is certainly active in the Blair home.

Last year for his Family From Yosemite submission my Dad chronicled many of the so-called “Blairisms” that our family has created through the years.  Today I’d like to focus on one of them... “The Program".

To define it most simply, The Program is healthful living through proper diet and regular exercise.  However, you’d rarely, if ever, hear someone from the family say “I’m on a diet”…that’s because we never just diet...we go on the program.

Growing up, I didn't realize that no one knew what this was. Telling someone you weren't going to have any desert because you were on The Program would usually trigger a puzzled stare along with the question, "What's The Program?"

I mentioned before that The Program is more than just dieting, it's also more the just exercise, or even both together. Diet and exercise are for wimps, the program is something more, something harder, not to be attempted by the faint of heart.

In reality it's just diet and exercise, but this elitist attitude for me is the essence of the program.

Anyone can diet and exercise, but not everyone can do The Program, and since I am on the Program, I’m not just anybody.  Arrogant?  Maybe, but a little self-confidence to provide a mental edge is huge.

What makes the program harder is the same thing that makes it difficult to sustain.  This elitism I spoke of propels it to extreme and aggressive levels. Kick moderation out the door, and and welcome austerity with a big hug, The Program is an all-or-nothing do-or-die proposition.

It may sound hard to believe, but on more than one occasion in my life I've said aloud "I'll never eat a piece of candy again."  I've meant it every time too. You should hear me, "I'm gonna do it this time, never again, I'm back on the program!

ike the Nephite pride cycle, you can always bet with 100 percent certainty that things are going to turn out badly in the end.   Failure is inevitable, and then the bold promises start anew.  For every commitment to live clean, there's a Del Taco chicken soft taco waiting around the corner.

A favorite comedian of mine, Jim Gaffigan, summed up the Blair Program nicely when he spoke about his own personal fitness aspirations:

"Occasionally, I do workout, and I'm one of those people whenever I do workout, I immediately have grand plans...'I'm gonna work out every day.'

Then the next day I'm like, 'Well, not EVERY day. I gotta let my muscles breathe a little. I'll work out every OTHER day.'... then the next day I'm like, 'Eh, I'm happy with the way I look.'"

Its the grand plans that cause us to falter.  My list of failed commitments is pretty long.
No fast food ever again, going vegetarian, going vegan, gonna exercise everyday, for real no caffeine. Only plant-based whole-foods. Gluten free, dairy free, no more junk food, and this time I mean it.  "I'm back on The Program."...well for a little while at least.

I'm not the only one.  Just this week, upon arrival at Mom and Dad's I found a pledge posted by Sam on the refrigerator:

No Sugar
Absolutely no fast food
Workout 5 times a week
Eat more fruit

I reminded Sam of this while he was reaching for his second handful of chocolate almonds, and all I got back was an eye roll.  Next time maybe Sam should try writing his goals on his heart instead of the fridge.

The hard truth is that I have no room to criticize. I've fallen off the wagon more than once over the years and my wife Wendy has had a front row view of all my weirdness.

Most recently in anticipation of the inaugural Jingle Bell Challenge I went through a whole series of back on the program delusions...I'm not gonna eat a single piece of Candy this Halloween-failed. Ok then, I'm not gonna overdo it on Thanksgiving, it's all about portion control, just one plate and I'm done-failed. Well, dang, then now I'm not gonna have a single treat on Thanksgiving-I ate half a pie.

Wendy's seen firsthand my manic swings between eating like a Buddhist Monk to cramming so much cake in my face that I feel like turning in my temple recommend.  If only I had her iron will, or maybe if I wasn't such a nut. At any rate, Wendy has always had much more moderate sensibilities when it comes to food.

As a case in point, let's look at my behavior this past Halloween. Several weeks out I told Wendy of my aspirations to go treat free. I think already doubting my resolve, I explained my solution was to remove any source of temptation and not have Wendy buy any candy at all. Negotiations started out badly with Wendy affirming that she wasn't  calling off Halloween for my sake. Her solution was "just don't eat all of it". I countered with "OK, go ahead and buy it, but keep it hidden and don't tell me under any conditions where you've put it." A few days later without Wendy's knowledge I was rummaging through the back of every cupboard in the house looking for the hidden cache so I could get my fix.

I did eventually find it and now angry at myself I blame Wendy...this is your fault, I wouldn't eat this junk if you wouldn't buy it, you did this to me.  I'm sorry, I know I'm wrong, tomorrow I'll start over.

Then the day starts fresh, things will be different today, but it's Halloween, maybe just one, the kids have so much, and I love Almond Joys. Just one more, ok last one, this is it, just these last three; I can't believe I ate all that, I wasn't going to have any, and now I've lost track, I'm ashamed, but tomorrow I can start fresh.

It's a new day, the mania hits me again: "Wendy, we need to throw away all of the Halloween Candy...or maybe you can hide it all from me."  Again, the obvious reply, "Maybe you just need to control yourself."

Well, instead maybe I’ll enjoy what I've got here, and once it's all gone, then I can start fresh tomorrow, tomorrow I'll be back on the program.

And the cycle continues, good for a time...until something...the weekend, a family visit, the drive through because I'm in a hurry, it's the holidays, tonight I just don't care, wow, those Costco muffins look good, if it's not one thing it's another, and there's always tomorrow. . . tomorrow I'm back on the program.

Do not ignore the Word of Wisdom,
for that may cost you
the “great treasures of knowledge,
even hidden treasures”
promised to those who keep it. 
And good health is an added blessing.

– Elder Boyd K. Packer, 
Ensign, November 1994, p. 61