The Best Christmas Gift....EVER...!!!

December 26, 2011

Four months ago...I knew that this day would come.
I wasn't quite sure how it would work out...if I would cry my eyes the point that I couldn't even talk...I wasn't sure how I would react.  Our phone systems here in the land that I live are completely
unreliable.  I mean totally unreliable.  It really is a day to day thing...if the telephones will
actually work.  It has been my greatest fear that something would go wrong and we would
miss "the call."  So my week...last week...began with hours on the telephone with the phone company,
checking everything that could be checked with the phone lines.  Once it seemed all was
in place...I began to work out any issues with the Skype program and even made a few practice...Skype
calls to make SURE that everything was working as it should.  It took several days and many
phone calls...but by Friday we were ready to go.  We even had back-up plans in place;)
And then it happened...Saturday morning I got up early...the very first thing I did was check the
phones...and everything was good.  Not long after...I heard the phone ring..I yelled for The Farmer
to answer the phone...(he isn't too good about that)...and realizing what may be happening...he grabbed
the phone and said...hello?....after a long pause he said..."Hi Bubba...." (that is what The Farmer calls his boy)....the tone of his voice was that of a Father who was thrilled to hear the voice of his son...
that he has not heard in several months.  It was our schedule our Christmas Day
phone call!  Of course I burst into tears...The Farmer's voice was filled with emotion too....he enjoyed
a few minutes with His Boy...asking questions...listening....and feeling lots of joy!
By this time The Darlings realized what was happening and they quickly found a place close to
The Farmer so they could hear the voice of their Missionary Brother.  They were grinning from ear
to ear.  I said a quick hello...and told the Missionary Boy that I couldn't wait to "see" him on
Christmas Day...and then the call ended.  It ended much too soon!
Christmas 7:20...the phone rang...and we knew it was him!
After a few minutes....the Skype was working...and we saw and talked to...our Missionary Boy!
He looked great!!!  His face was filled with light!  We talked about his Christmas gifts....
if everything had arrived safely...and it had.   He then told us all about his mission...the new cultures
that he is learning to understand....the different foods he is learning to eat....the wonderful
families who so lovingly care for he and his companion...the people he is teaching....his feelings...his
worries...well I think we really talked about EVERYTHING!!
It was the most perfect Christmas gift ever.
We each had time to visit with him...and even The Farmer's Mother and Loly...The Missionary
Boy's best cousin ever...had a moment to visit.  Lot of tears were shed....mostly by me;)
I am pretty sure The Farmer shed a few as well.
(cousin Loly and The Rooster)
And then it was time to say good-bye.  And that was the worst!!!
The Missionary Boy said it wouldn't be too long until we talked again...(Mother's Day)...
and that the time would pass fast.  We told him that we loved him more than he would ever understand,
and how very proud of him that we are.  We also thanked him for blessing our family with his
missionary service.  He cried....we all cried...and then we said good-bye.
Christmas couldn't have been better for me!  To see our Missionary Boy thriving in his role
as missionary was the greatest gift of all!

Merry Christmas From England!!

December 22, 2011


This my email...I found....
a sweet note from some members in The Missionary Boy's ward.
What a treat!!!  Oh how I appreciate the members in his area...they are so good to him,
they take care of him....and me sending a picture every once in a while.
It was the hightlight of my day!!

The Making Of A REAL Christmas....

December 19, 2011

Today was a cold was a windy day.
The crew of cousins are all out of school and enjoying each minute they have together.
The begin making plans early in the day...what time they will get together...what they will do....
and sometimes it isn't what they are doing that is all that exciting...but that they are together.
They are an extra special bunch of cousins!
Last week we were on another road trip...this time Cousin Loly came along for the ride...
at some point in the trip she announced that she "loved" cousins...that having 26 cousins was like
having 26 siblings...and they should just call us the Duggars!
I love that these cousins love each other so very much!
In the last couple of days we have been carefully planning our upcoming "phone call"
from our Missionary Boy...when I told Cousin Loly that she should come to our house so she could
talk to the Missionary Boy...her eyes filled up with tears..and she said..."I think I could cry,
just thinking that I can talk to him."  Isn't that the best???!!!
So back to today....
A few weeks ago the local division of Social Service in our area...selected 7 families that they
felt had the greatest need in our area, and 7 groups of women from our ward began planning
"Christmas" for each of these families.  We were given a paper describing the needs of the family as
well as a picture of the family.  Our family was made up of a set of grandparents, (the grandpa
in a wheelchair because of a stroke and many other health problems) and 6 children,
whose Mother had abandoned them...from the ages of 6 to 15.  They live on a small pension,
and money that was earned from the 13 and 15 year old, picking chile.
The women in our group were generous...and many items were gathered so that this little family
could enjoy a bit of Christmas.  Today was the day we were ready to deliver the items.
Today was the day I called on the cousins to share in a very special act of service.
When basic needs are being met in the country of Mexico, we are talking about...
A load of wood to heat your house with...
A large sack of beans that you can eat for a very long time....
Coats...personal hygiene items...
Canned food items...
and....two simple gifts for each person in the family.
We also took a very small Christmas tree with a few simple ornaments.
We loaded the truck with gifts, supplies...and cousins...and off we went to find our family.
What we found was a little more than we had bargained for...we knew it was going to be very
difficult circumstances...but I am not sure the cousins were prepared for what they saw.
When we arrived...The Farmer knocked at their door...and instead of glass in the windows, small pieces of plastic had been taped in an effort to keep the cold out.  There was no tile...just very
rough cement running bathroom...and in the corner of a very, very,
humble kitchen...was a very rustic wood burning stove, by which the grandfather sat in his wheelchair,
trying to stay warm.  The Farmer explained our purpose in coming to their home...the little children
ran and put their arms around my legs and hugged and hugged me, and the grandfather began to cry,
almost with relief that help had arrived.  When The Farmer asked the grandmother how they had been
heating their small home...she replied that they had been burning anything they could find...sticks..rags..anything. The cousins began making trip after trip..their arms full of wood, 
carefully stacking the wood...that will most likely heat their home for the rest of the Winter months. was an especially cold day...there couldn't have been a better time for a load of wood to arrive to a family in such dire circumstances.
What was so noticeable was the joy in the faces of the children as they too took armfuls of wood
and stacked it...I am sure they knew what it have a load of means warm nights
instead of very cold nights.  They worked along side the cousins...and they were happy!
Once the wood was unloaded and stacked...the unloading of the food and gifts began.
By this time the cousins were really getting into the experience...they were now
smiling...feeling really good about themselves that they had chosen to serve their fellow man when
they really wanted to stay home and play Xbox.  I know this is really hard to believe...but when I first
told them I needed their help...they weren't all that excited about the adventure..
...I know...very hard to believe;)
They didn't complain about the cold...or that they were getting dirty...they didn't complain at all.
They were actually very quiet...very sober....very grateful.
This young cousin threw a 100 pound bag of beans on his shoulder and carried it into the humble home...(the family is in the background)
When everything was unloaded...and many thank you's had been said...The Farmer made only one
request of this sweet family.  He explained that we were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...and if one day two Elders came and knocked on their door...that they would please
remember this moment, and listen to the message that those missionaries would share.  They all agreed.
The grandmother offered a blessing of protection on us as we started to leave...and left on the top of
one of the six beds that filled the very small living room was a stack of Books of Mormon tied carefully with a lovely silver ribbon.  It was the last thing I noticed as we left the home.
We climbed into the was very quiet as we drove away....after a few minutes The Farmer,
made the best of a great teaching moment...assuring the cousins that they were some pretty lucky
and very blessed young people.  They agreed.
Then as promised...we headed to the best burrito stand in town....
With now full hearts....we filled the stomachs of these special cousins.
It was a day that will not soon be forgotten...and I think that these cousins will talk about this experience they shared together...when they are old married people one day.
And after a yummy lunch, we returned them to their homes...and as they unloaded from the truck...
the were quick to say thank you...for a wonderful experience of service that they
shared in this Christmas week.
I have always been grateful that my children are growing up in a place where life isn't perfect.
It doesn't look can't pretend it is perfect.  They are surrounded by need.
They know what it looks like to have only a pot of beans for dinner...they have visited those homes.
They know that in many takes very little to make a person happy...not fancy brand name clothing, not certain types of cars...not large homes.  It just takes a load of wood...a few simple gifts,
and a large sack of beans.  These people have not learned to depend upon "things" for their happiness.
They have learned to trust in God...that He will provide for them.
This was a REAL Christmas experience...what the season is really all about.

What I Know...For Sure.....

December 13, 2011

Today I spent some time at the temple with The Farmer...It was the best!
On our way home we stopped by "The Farm" to check on things...It rained some during the night
last night...and again this morning, everything was wet and beautiful.  When it was time
to leave "The Farm" we were gifted with this amazing rainbow...I know it is a little off center...
but when you look carefully at the far right of the will see a double rainbow!
The colors were so vibrant..I haven't seen one like this in a very long time....
It was a treat!
These are a few things I know for sure....
*I really like that Farmer of mine!!
*I am not afraid of change...
*"Love few...and always paddle your own canoe..."
*I have faith
*I love Christmas...and everything about it!!
*I am missing my Missionary Boy like CRAZY!!!
*I am counting the days until I get to talk to the Missionary Boy...;)
*Our Christmas "goodie" plates are done!!!...we did salsa and chips this year...
*There are few people in the world who think of others before they think of themselves...
*I believe in Karma...oh yes I do!!;)
 And there it is...the list of things I know for sure in this very moment...
(I know alot more...but I thought some of it would be best kept to myself!..hehe..)

Making Me Smile Today....

December 7, 2011

The Missionary Boy...
(Reading, England)


The Missionary Boy's Christmas....

December 5, 2011


I have a touch of OCD...and I know it.  It comes in handy sometimes and other really bugs
The Farmer!;)  Even when he is pretty hardly know it...he is in perfect control
about 98% of the time.  So back to my OCD...when The Missionary Boy left for his mission,
I began thinking about Christmas.  How was I going to ship his gifts??? What was I going to get him???
The Farmer...all the while...kept saying..."he really won't care...I promise!"
And, no mother I know actually believes the way!  I started making lists...searching the Internet
for ideas that he would enjoy.  I read every idea I could find, from Mom's who had
"been there and done that..."  and then I came up with my game plan.

By Halloween...I was ready to mail the packages that I had so carefully put together.
Each item wrapped with pretty ribbons and notes attached so he would feel somewhat like he
was at home.  I must have gone through the packages a hundred times...making sure I hadn't forgotten
anything.  It was so much fun putting it all together for him.  I cried a little in the process...feeling sad
for myself...not so much for him...(because I know he is fine.)  With everything ready to go...I started to load
the boxes into my car...after all we were heading to El Paso, and this is when I heard....
The Farmer.."what are you doing??"
Me..."I am loading The Missionary Boy's boxes into my car.."
The Farmer..."Why???"
Me..."Because it is time to ship them.."
The Farmer..."seriously??? is November 1st..."
Me..."yes I am serious!...I want them in the mail he is sure to get them."
**side note**
I think I have heard every horror story out there...of a missionary not getting his/her Christmas on time,
and they were without anything on Christmas morning...would it traumatize him??? I don't
think so...would it traumatize me....OH YES IT WOULD!!!
...back to the story...
so The Farmer assured me that it was much too early to mail a Christmas package...and that
The Missionary Boy would get his packages without a problem....
...and I should please unload the boxes from the car...everything would be just fine.

And because I believe what The Farmer tells me...I did what he asked and I waited.
The boxes were mailed around Thanksgiving...they have arrived (I watched the tracking)
and now me and my OCD can rest;)  We (The Darlings and I) had such a great time preparing
the boxes for The Missionary Boy.  I hope he will feel our love for him when he opens each
of the well thought out items.  One of PreShie's friends was visiting our house a few weeks ago,
and we were talking about an especially fun project we did for The Missionary Boy...
This young man said to me..."he is going to cry when he sees this."
It was the best way, I could think of...that we could send him a hug from home.
(I will post more details about this project later...)

Another fun project....we asked each family member...on both sides of the make an
ornament for The Missionary Boy...writing a note and including a photo.  I then laminated each ornament
and hung them on a make a long garland he can hang in his apartment.
It is darling and full of loving and encouraging comments for family who love him so very much!

Merry...Merry...Christmas to our Missionary Boy!
We can't wait to hear his voice on Christmas Day!!!

Our Thanksgiving...

November 29, 2011

(our traditional Gratitude Tree)
Thanksgiving was many things for us this year.....It was...
*a very tender letter from The Missionary The Farmer...which invoked many tears..
*a full memory card from the camera of the The Missionary Boy...complete with a couple of short videos;)
*a Thanksgiving breakfast with family we don't see enough....
*a great Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Grandma Vicki....
*a trip to the movies Thanksgiving night...with all the cousins
*great conversation and great food shared with "The Brotherhood" and their wives
(I sure do like those brothers of mine!  They are an impressive group of men!)
*Shopping with PreShie
(found was the most fantastic Christmas dress I think she has ever owned!)
*a couple of chance meetings with two very dear friends I haven't seen in years
*another movie with my kids;)
*a special temple sealing where a cousins new baby was sealed to her and her husband
(it was the most delightful experience I have had in awhile...what a special little baby!)
*an early morning trip to the temple for baptisms...for the Darlings and their cousins,
followed by a yummy breakfast...
It was the perfect Thanksgiving weekend...filled with wonderful family...incredible food...
and a lot of gratitude for it all!!

The Farmer's Daughter....

November 22, 2011


(Thanks Aunt always your photos are amazing!!)

He is smitten with her....and she adores him...
The best Daddy/Daughter relationship ever!!!

He Said He Was "Working".....

November 19, 2011

photo (14)

I guess my first clue should have been...when I overheard someone in the background...
(of a phone call) ask if The Farmer would like some more of the
"Flied Lice" know....Fried Rice.
It was then I knew...he was sitting in Chinatown having a meal...working????...
That is some hard work if you ask me!
photo (20)

The Farmer has spent this past week in the San Francisco area.  He covered alot of territory...and
got some important things done, as well as have a little fun.  He's good at that....
having a little fun along the way;)  It will be great to get him home!
photo (22)

Here are a few comments made by The Farmer's children this week....
*Hey...where's my Dad?
*(by the end of the week...) my Dad coming home????
*Hey...isn't California the place you go to find "hot chicks"????  (oh wow!)
*...Can I call my Dad???.....why isn't he answering his phone???
*Why does my Dad only like Chineese food?
*Where is my Dad again???
From the looks of the above would think that The Farmer has been gone
for years!!!!  The Darlings really do miss him when he is gone.... do I!!

This Makes A Mom Pretty Darn Happy!

November 14, 2011

Last week I found myself traveling for most of the week....although I love the city that we
traveled to...I am really tired of traveling!  I just wanted to be home with my kids...soaking them up!
While on the plane I checked my mail and this is what I found!
Another sweet family from The Missionary Boy's ward in England, took
a picture of he and his companion at a Halloween gathering and sent it to us.
It just made my day!
I sure do appreciate the love and kindness of the members in his area...they are taking
great care of him...and he loves them very much!
It was a Tender Mercy for a Mom who was missing her missionary Missionary Boy!

Today....Through Her Eyes.....

November 12, 2011








And...this is her!
Great photos PreShie!!

The Last Few Days....

November 8, 2011

I have done alot of this....
This was all in just a few days....
Auntie and the new hubby, had an Open House in Boise...
and a dear brother of mine...and myself...thought it would be fun to visit a place we had
never well as support Auntie. 
I had never been to this part of Idaho and didn't really know what to expect.
I did know, however....thanks to The Farmer...that it was going to be cold...snowing....
and more cold.  When we arrived in was in the midst of snow flurries...and it
was beautiful!  We spent the next day exploring the area....visiting....laughing..(alot)...
and exploring more!  It was a wonderful couple of days and I enjoyed so much...
spending time with a dear brother! 

Boise was just lovely.
We happened upon a Veteran's Day Parade...
a great Farmer's Market....


And some interesting causes that were seeking support.
p.s. it was a very interesting group of people who were signing the petition....and let's just say
they didn't look too sick to me....they looked pretty healthy and pretty happy!;)
The parade was well attended.  It reminded me how very much we do owe to
out Veteran's.  The open house was was wonderful to have long lost cousins arrive...and
even though years have is always the same...wonderful, supportative and just
a really great time!!  It was so great to catch up and commit to not loose touch again!
I was home for almost 24 hours...long enough to wash some clothing...and pack again.
The Grandparents S. arrived to hang out with The Darlings...and off I went again...
And now I am here....yes....again....and
Ahhhhhhhhhh, I do love Chicago!
Mexico.....Texas (El Paso, Dallas).....Kansas City....Chicago.....and in a couple of days...
I will do it all again!!!

It's All About The Burrito.....

November 3, 2011

Recently I have learned that the Eskimo's have as many as 100 different words to describe the
word "snow"....because it is such a big part of their lives.  Likewise, in this culture the Burrito
plays an equally important role in most every home......most everyday!
A burrito can be  filled with just about anything....and trust me....they are!
For instance in the southern part of Mexico, they are filled with crickets and stink bugs...
and according to The Farmer they really didn't taste too bad.  It's the thought that is painful!
When a burrito stand is exceptionally good...the word spreads fast.
In our town...there are MANY locations to purchase a burrito.  And while we are traveling
there are certain locations that we are sure to stop...because of good burritos.
Infact we have been known to find certain burrito certain towns...because
after sampling many different vendors burritos...his are the best!
(But you have to arrive early in the day...otherwise you are out of luck!!)
While visiting with one of my brother-in-laws the other day, he asked if we had been to the
newly discovered burrito stand on the far end of town. 
 He told me where it was located...and told me that people drive
a great distance to eat a burrito from this place.  I asked him why he thought it was so good,
and he thought for a moment...and said he didn't really know why...just that the ingredients seemed
really fresh and the tortillas were made fresh each day.  Now....burritos are a very important
part of the food of this area.  They are simple to make...and they are eaten daily for
atleast one meal...maybe two.  Here would be an example.....
At our house, we very often begin the day with a Breakfast Burrito.
This would have eggs, sauteed vegetbles and a little bit of bacon or sausage.
The are warm and filling...and keep The Darlings...and The Farmer full until lunchtime.
Then for lunch, the working class take burritos with them to their various jobs and when
lunchtime arrives...a small fire is constructed and the burritos are warmed and toasted
over an open fire.  The Boy spent much of his youth in the orchards or on the farms,
working along side the "workmen"...he would never allow me to fix him a lunch to take...
but would tell me that the men would bring extra burritos for him to enjoy...and he would rather
eat those than anything else in the world.  He would then return home and tell me how very
yummy those burritos were...and I should really learn to make beans like the wives of
the men he worked with.  On days he wasn't working...or at school....he would seek out
burritos to satisfy his hunger pains.  He is a true conisuer of the burrito.
Ask him the best locations in our town to get a burrito...and he is sure to name serveral locations
and why each one was good.  When his mission call arrived...that was one of my first comments..
"Where will he find a burrito in England...???"
I am sure that is something he is really missing.
This new burrito stand has fast become our favoirte!
The Farmer's brother was right....they are very good burritos.  Just a little side note about
The Farmer's brother....he should really become a local food fact maybe he should
write a blog about our local food;)....He has been to most all local eating establishments....
and is happy to tell you which is good...and which is not! 
(just a suggestion....hehe!)
The Rooster's personal favoirte is...Papa con queso...and a little chile...
The Farmer's favorite is shredded beef..a la Mexicana....which he says is pretty dang good.
(I haven't eaten it because it is too spicy for me!)
The Frijol con Asadero (a yummy local cheese) always tasty....
And yesterday The Farmer tried the chile relleno burrito...which...again...he said was great!
(Frijol con Asadero)
Shredded beef....A La Mexicana....
The Rooster spent another The Farm thrashing the beans....he worked a
long and full day, in fact we couldn't find him around 7:30 last night....and after calling his name...
inside and outside the house...I walked into his bedroom and found him sound asleep
tucked into his bed.  He was a tired Rooster.
While The Rooster was working....we headed to the burrito stand and purchased several burritos
and took them to him for his lunch.  He was very happy when the burritos arrived!!
Burritos...a simple staple of life in our nieghborhood.....
And we sure do appreciate a great burrito when we find one!!
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