Tuesday, December 30, 2014


My grandfather, Forrest Leroy Packard, was a prisoner of war during World War II.  He was on Wake Island when Pearl Harbor was bombed and then captured by the Japanese days later on Wake Island.
Grandpa's story has always been a main focal point in our family and a very interesting and tender story in the history of the Packard family.  Grandpa had 16 children at the time he and grandma decided it would be okay for him to go over to Wake Island and work for a construction company to try and make some extra money to help pay off the farm faster.  It would only be for a year and then they would be debt free.  They had no idea, that the one year they planned on grandpa being gone, would turn into WWII and 5 yrs as a POW in Japan.
When grandpa came home, after the war was over and he was rescued, he was a changed man - had lost most of his teeth, was in crippling health and had lost a lot of his mental sharpness and awareness.  He was a completely different man, never to be the same again.  My cousin, Dee, and some other family members, have taken the opportunity to research materials, history and even grandpa's letters and memories and have compiled them all into a book for our family use.  I have read the book once or twice.
This movie had been advertised for months - to come out on Christmas Day.  Our family decided to go see it the day after Christmas.  I thought I was prepared for it.  I was mistaken.  It was my un-doing.  I was fine through most of it...but then my thoughts went to grandpa and some of the experiences on the screen were one and the same as my grandpa's in the book.  He was tortured, starved, abused, lost, and almost died.  I sobbed through those parts, realizing the strength grandpa must have found in the Gospel and his family back home, and the hope he must have had to return home to them someday.  In the movie, the man was a POW for just over 2 years - grandpa was held captive for just under 5 years. I cannot even fathom the details of those 5 years.  It's more than I can wrap my mind around, and yet, I just saw it on the movie screen, brought to life and it tore me apart.  I now have an even higher level of admiration and love for my grandpa, for enduring and living through what must have seemed like a blackness and despair like no other.If not for his faith and love for his Savior, his loving family and the eternal plan he knew and understood, I am sure he would have come home a broken and defeated man.
But I am so grateful and proud to say, that just as the hero in this movie returned home unbroken and alive, so did my sweet Grandpa Forrest Leroy Packard.

Monday, December 29, 2014

It's All a Blur

Christmas has come and gone.
I only remember a few details though as since the day after Christmas, I have been sick with the worst head cold EVER!  Thank heavens I took some pictures of the whole event so that I could at least look back on them and have some recollection of some details.
Preston got dinosaurs.
Madi got horsies.
I got huge canvases of my grandchildren for my home and pots and pans from Jordan and Lexi.
And Del snuck in a little nap.
We were exhausted by the end of the day.
We got Mike and Kylie's family a trampoline.
Jordan and Lexi's family a new set of dishes and silverware.
And Kathryn, we gave $500 cash and a trip to the Indoor Skydiving place -
It was a nice Christmas.

Since being sick, Madi had her 2 yr birthday yesterday, Del conducted a funeral Saturday, attended an anniversary party and temple night...all without me.  I missed church and all activities for three days.Hopefully, this head cold will get lonesome and leave and I can get back to enjoying the holidays.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Aunt Chica is Home; Let the Party Begin

And she even arrived 30 minutes early!!
I was at work, planning to leave in about 30 minutes, when Kathryn called and said her plane had just landed.  I of course, had to shut down everything and race to the airport because everyone knows that when Kathryn arrives, the fun begins!!
I pulled up to the curb, got out, and started pacing the sidewalk waiting for her to come out - but she called and told me to turn around and look through the glass - she was waving at me frantically, while waiting for her luggage to be  delivered.  Only five minutes later, she was in the car and we were laughing our heads off.  She does that to me.  Makes me laugh and all.
Just little things..like...when we got home, I opened the garage door and took some things into the house.  She followed with her luggage and arms full of other things, so failed to close the door behind her.  I yelled at her 'Where were you born?  In a barn?"  Right on cue, one of our chickens came tearing through the kitchen and took the sharp turn into the living room with Del quickly on her tail, chasing her into the front entry way.  Laughs and giggles came from Kathryn and me as we watched Del attempting to catch and miss her multiple times.  When he finally got both his hands around her neck, he muttered 'bird brain' twice while approaching the crockpot on the kitchen counter that was slow cooking chicken legs.  He told something like ' you do this again and you're going to join your friends for dinner' and threw her outside on the back porch.  Kathryn and I laughed and laughed.
When the rest of the family arrived, the grandkids were beyond excited that CHICA was home - they don't even know her name is Kathryn - only CHICA.  And they had the best time with her...
I'm glad to have her home also - we will have a wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Elves

Mike and Kylie invited us over for dinner and FHE last night.
Preston and Madi LOVE when we come to play with them, and they literally wear us out.  They have so much fun with Papa especially -
Don't they make for the cutest little Christmas Elves??
It's going to be wonderful spending so much time as family this week of Christmas.

Emerson at 10 Months

Emerson is just about the cutest grandson ever.  He's got 6 teeth now and growing like a weed.  Jordan and Lexi say he is so close to walking, it should be just weeks.  But mostly, they say he is in to everything.  I think that is so funny.  He is very much like his father was...in to everything.
And this is his first Christmas.  I'm excited to see him enjoying everything that will happen - especially being around the other little children.  I sure miss him being at the house.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another Special Gift For Christmas

Olivia Larman.
Just had her 8th child 2 weeks ago.  And yesterday, she arrived with all 8 children, her husband and this gingerbread house, to tithing settlement, where she presented it to Del for our home.  Del asked her when she had finished making it - her reply?  4:30 that morning.  She only makes three of them a year - and this year, one of them was for the Bishop and his wife.
It is adorable.  So detailed - from our family name on the front of the house saying 'The Lott Family; est 1982., to the raccoons that can be found in the trash cans behind the house on the back porch.  It really is quite intense.
Olivia is an angel.  As if she has NOTHING else to do, she makes US a HUGE Gingerbread House for Christmas.
God Bless her.

Angels Among Us

Some years, it doesn't affect me at all.  But then, there are other years, like this one, where my mind and thoughts have been a lot on Michael's passing 29 years ago. Part of it has been that I was asked to share his story in Relief Society yesterday, and I have spent the past few weeks thinking about what I might say; not wanting to share anything just to share, but to share what I felt my Heavenly Father wanted me to share with the sisters...for a reason, not just for drama.  The story is dramatic enough in and of itself.  But I didn't want drama.  I wanted the message of the true meaning of Christmas to be shared.
After an extremely stressful week, I wasn't feeling 100% when I woke up for church yesterday.  I had a large cold  sore on my lower lip that had appeared the day before and I was feeling heavy in the chest.  Maybe a cold - maybe just a heavy heart.  I don't know why.  Maybe just the let down after a week of adrenaline rush of busyness - but all in all, I was dragging.  I got to church late to top things off.  Not good for the Bishops wife.
When Relief Society started, I felt a peace and was pensive when it was my turn to share my story.  It went well. I was very matter of fact - kind of non-emotional - until I spoke of my Savior being born - a baby - Michael a baby - the celebrating of the birth of a baby, an my life now, forever remembering the death of mine.  The meaning of Christmas was now forever changed for me.
The sisters understood as I told them this year was a little more difficult for me, only because I was being forced to think of it - analyze it - remember it.  It's not painful.  It's only empty of his presence.  A lot of Christmas is filled with other things now, but his his little place remains empty.  That empty space tends to leave me longing for a feeling - a warmth - a filling of the emptiness.  The sisters understood as they cried with me.
Work was a little 'empty' today.  I had a lot of time to think of what day it was.  The day seemed to take forever to end...and I got home about 45 minutes later than usual.  On the kitchen table, was a gift and card addressed to me.  I opened the card first - from a sweet sweet friend in the ward, Colleen Newton.  Her words of comfort and love were perfect - tender and kind.  The gift was a Christmas tree made by blue buttons that she had sewn on to a canvas - then framed.  It was beautiful.
Del I decided to watch some BYU volleyball that we had taped over the weekend when the doorbell rang.  The Stewart Family.  They are new in the ward of about 6 months.  They have 6 children and are building a new home just down the street from us.  The dad is a musician and has a beautiful voice.  He and I sang with Del and Kylie for the ward Christmas party and he is the conductor of the Millennial Choir in Dallas.  His wife, Mindy, is one of our newly called Relief Society teachers.  She is expecting their 7th child.  They sang to us, we invited them in, and then they asked us to join them singing 'Silent Night'.  I couldn't make it through the song.  They gave us a gift and told us to put it in the freezer until later tonight.  They wanted to see the pictures of Michael - we shared pictures and story and after a 30 minute visit, they left.  As they left, the Burton family arrived.  Brandon Burton is Del;s first counselor in the Bishopric.  I sit with his wife Sarah and their four children every Sunday.  They came and brought a gift and then we visited for about an hour.  While they were here, another ring at the door had the Pond family arriving.  They have 5 children, all of whom call me Nana.  Dylan is the Young Men's President.  We have done quite a few things with their family and we just love them.  They arrived with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for our dinner table.  We all visited and let the kids play until 30 minutes later, everyone left.
It was once again, quiet.  But I wasn't empty anymore.  I was filled - with a heart full of love and thankfulness for angels who had come to feel the empty spot that this mother had been feeling over the past few days.  I was so grateful for these kind kind people who brought their families and love to my home and filled our home with the spirit of Christmas.  The true meaning of Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Someone Has Been REALLY Good This Year

This is the 'Loser Cruiser'.  We've had her for almost 12 years, the last 2 of which she has been on her 'last leg'.  Poor thing has taken us through 4 moves, 3 of my children and over 200,000 miles.  I have loved driving her for the time she was still young and healthy, but her last few years have been under the watchful care of Del's eyes.  He's neglected her - Del has been trying to ride her on her last leg for a good 2-3 years - and felt that because he needed her, she would remain faithful and true to him.  But, he neglected her. And this past Monday was the last straw.  He took her into the rear - end of the car in front of him. Not hard enough to total her out, BUT, hard enough that she's done.
So today, we took her to Service King, where she barely drove in on her own; coughing and sputtering and giving her last breath.
The debate over the past two years has been, do we get me a new SUV, something small and high off the ground, OR, do we get Del another mini van or truck, to carry around his plywood and other purchased materials for his wood projects.  I can't imagine having a vehicle that is purchased for one main purpose - to carry something that he will do only 3-4 times a year.  I have NOT been happy with the thought of another mini van .  I'm past that stage and don't want one.
Today, after we left the loser cruiser at the morgue, we went car shopping.  The exciting part, was knowing that we weren't going to be just 'window shopping' - we actually needed to walk away with a new car.  The bad thing, was, although I had done a lot of researching a new car, Del had done very little.  But always, in our previous purchases, I have been the one who has been able to have the new car and Del has taken the left over.  He's always been kind that way.
First place we went to was the Dodge dealership, where Del checked out the mini vans.  As soon as he did that, I checked out.  If he was going to get a mini van, it was going to be all him; I wasn't interested.  But when they didn't meet his criteria, we moved over to the trucks.  Here comes the conclusion to the story.  
It's Del's turn for the new toy.  He deserves it too.  He has waited a long time for a truck - and of all times, he needs one for this new place.  It helps, of course, that I love it too.  It's new too.  Our first new car/truck.  It's a 2014, but only has like 200 miles on it.  It's black and drives like a dream.  Del is finally a true Texan...has his truck and has his farm.  Love him.  I am happy for him.  More happy for him than I am sad for me.  Am I going to drive it???  Maybe...But it's Del's.
Merry Christmas Del!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Return and Report

Last year, around this same week, I was preparing to have a meeting with Dr Henao and her husband, Nacho, to review the year of 2013 and then to set goals for 2014.  I was asked to prepare some reports and to be ready to give statistics and financial details as to the standing of the company.  I had only joined the office in September, but I was still being asked to assess the whole year and to be accountable for everything since I had joined the staff.  The task was a little daunting, as I didn't have a lot of the information, having not experienced the number first hand.  I could only report on what I knew and what I had been a part of.
Last week, I received an email from Nacho asking me to prepare the same reports and statistics for THIS years meeting.  It was much easier - faster - thorough and complete.  I knew all the information because I had lived it and experienced it.  I will  be able to assess, return, report and be accountable for all info I give them.
I taught the Relief Society lesson on Sunday - it was on much the same topic.  I asked the ladies to quickly review in their minds, their past years performance in certain areas - visiting teaching, temple attendance, service, church activity, etc etc...and asked them to assess their performance as if being asked to 'return and report'.  I stressed that the main purpose of assessing and reporting would be to see where improvement would be needed in the setting of new goals for the coming year.  For some, the assessment process was difficult, as they realized areas in which they had fallen short.  For others, their assessment process was pleasant, as they could see areas in which they had made significant improvement and the changing of their hearts from previous years.
Can you imagine, in the reporting phase of our lives, giving the answer to the Lord, that the reason for our lack of service, of Visiting Teaching, of temple attendance or church activity was because 'we just didn't have enough time"?  If my answer to Dr Henao and Nacho for failed improvement in our production or success in the company was due to my ;lack of time', I would be fired.  I would be 'let go'.  I  would have to be accountable for my lack of time.
And so it is, when we are held accountable for our time here on earth.  So, how do I encourage the sisters to spend their time more wisely??  Change their hearts.
Humility - charity - unselfishness.  Taught first, by example.
It will happen with me first.  I have had some wonderful and encouraging changes over the past few years.  I am slowly, but continually, evolving into a happy and complete person.  I have been purposely working on certain areas of my life that have allowed me to help and be an influence for good, with the sisters in the ward.  And in my marriage. I have an eye more focused on the Savior - or at least, on his example.  I still falter with my pride - with my selfishness - with my heart being hard.  But I'm trying - knowing that at some point, I will need to report to the Lord, what I have done with the talents and gifts he has given me - and with the trials and challenges that have come my way.  I will have to be accountable for what I have and have not done.
When I explained and taught the sisters, the law of returning and reporting, as we learn in the temple, I bore my testimony to them of the importance of being accountable for the purpose of learning how we can do better.  It's not to tear down, but to help us build foundations for future improvement and growth.  I was thrilled that sisters understood this.  That they felt encouraged to recognize their areas of success, areas of need and then to see instilled in them, the desire to change their hearts.
The year of 2015, should be a great year for the sisters of the Aubrey Ward.  We will have a year of assessing our progress - of accountability - and of reporting to each other.
I look forward to it - both as a member of the RS presidency and personally.

Sportin' Some Bling

Lexi has always wanted them..Jordan already passed on them once when he was 16.
But it seems NOW IS THE TIME for some bling in this family.
Dr Henao is doing braces on these two - same day, same time, same experience.  So, tonight, we have two young adults feeling a little discomfort and pain as they work towards achieving the smile they should have always had.  It will be a short 18 months...with the result of gorgeous teeth.

And while they had their bling put on, I got to play with little Em.  He was so fun at the office - loved crawling and even TRYING to walk around.  Yes, this little guy is standing alone for a few seconds at a time and has even taken a step here and there.  It's so exciting to see how quickly he is growing up.  LOVE him...

The British Are Coming...

Elaine called me last week and let me know she was flying mom down for a few days to attend the wonderful Christmas concert of the singing choir Elaine is a member of.  She wanted to know when we could all get together.  My mother has never seen either Madison or Emerson, so I was really excited.  But Madi ended up being sick last night and so only got to meet our little Emerson.
My mom looks great.  We exchanged big hugs and loves, of which I was able to enjoy all day today as I could smell her Youth Dew Perfume on my lab coat when ever I moved.  It made me smile.  Tomorrow night will be the concert, and then mom will fly out the next day.  A short visit, but enough to have a four generation picture taken with Jordan and his little Em.
So glad to have you here mom.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Night Became a Miracle

I expressed to Kylie the experience her parents had with setting up their Christmas tree and begged for us to come and help her little family set up their Christmas tree, as we had always done in the past,  She was quick to extend the invitation.
I babysat the kids Friday morning while Kylie went to the doctor.  Both kids were still in their pajamas when I arrived at 9:00 in the morning but it was only because they had been up since early that morning.  While I was in the front room playing with Madi, Preston was still back in the playroom, supposedly watching a movie, until I realized I could hear him snoring.  After about a half hour, I decided to go take him to his bedroom as he was obviously tired and needed to take a nap. When Kylie came home, she was very surprised that Preston had gone back to sleep and fallen alseep on his own.  I went home.
Later that afternoon, Kylie told Del that Preston had slept most of the day - only getting up to eat a little, drink something and then go back to bed.  This was the case of how we found him when we arrived at his house.  We were supposed to make doughnuts as we put up the tree - we had Christmas music and Madi was loving the whole scene, but Preston remained on the couch, obviously not feeling well. His fever was high the first time - 104'.  Later, it dropped to 103', but still way too high for him to handle.  I suggested a blessing.
Mike explained to Preston the process - the why's, the who's and the when's of the procedure.  Preston listened to every word and understood everything Mike was telling him.  I was amazed watching Preston process it all.  I could see his sweet spirit believing everything Mike told him - and he would ask Papa a few questions - I just listened and found my heart touched by the experience that we anticipated.
Del anointed.  Preston sat reverently and didn't move.  Even folded his arms.  And unlike what other children may have done at that point, he remained in his seat, understanding that his daddy would now 'seal the blessing'.  The blessing wasn't long, but it was thorough.  As Del and Mike finished and stepped away from the chair, Preston hopped off and went to Papa and said 'Am I healed?'  Del
 expressed later that he thought quickly of how he should answer that question, not wanting to squelch Preston's innocent faith, but also wanting to be realistic.  He simply replied 'You will be'.
We didn't stay long that night, due the circumstances.  I was sad that the night hadn't gone as I had envisioned it would - the laughter, giggle, doughnuts, tree decorated and the kids playing.  But I was touched by the experience we HAD witnessed - and the spirit we had felt from our sweet grandson.
In our evening prayers, Del and I pleaded with the Lord to hear our prayers and heal Preston -
Kylie called the next morning, confirming to us, that 'the miracle' had occurred, and Preston was indeed, healed.
Hearts were full and thanks was given and expressed to a loving Heavenly Father that could hear the prayers and see the faith of a special little four year old boy and his family.
Our own little Christmas miracle.

A New Special Tradition

It was just us.  No little grandchildren running around or our kids teasing each other with snide and jabbing remarks.  It was just us.
Me and Del.  Softly playing Christmas music as we set up our new Christmas tree we purchase at Target last week. It's a pretty tree - a little different with some flocking.  I went days without buying ornaments because I just didn't know what I wanted yet. Choosing Christmas ornaments is an important decision, because they are the ornaments you will have for years to come.  And this was our year to purchase.  I had been using the same ornaments for 15 years - soft pink and sage green.  And I have loved them for the full 15 years we had them.  But it was time for a change in all things.
While listening to the music and setting up the tree, I asked Del if he was enjoying himself - having fun.  I was...in a different from the past kind of way.  I found it sweet that Del and I were doing it together - alone, in the quiet.  But as he expressed what I was feeling, we were missing the excitement of our own children and our grandchildren.  We missed the kids.
A few days after we had the tree up, I chose the color scheme I wanted to have - red and gold - with ivory as the accent ribbon.  I finished the decorating while Del was at the church doing tithing settlement.  When he came home, he expressed how pleased he was with what I had chosen. Over the following days, I finished decorating the home - with touches of lights and Christmas on the front porch, in the entry way inside, on the fireplace mantel and on the piano.
It's warm...cozy, inviting and soft.  I keep the lights dimmed for ambiance - it's exactly what I love.
I love coming home from work, every day, to the warmth and comfort of my home.  It's peaceful and quiet.  I'm able to feel the spirit quickly and often.  It's nice to feel and share that with Del.  And I'm realizing that when the kids and grandkids come over, the laughter, giggles, joy and happiness we experience is enjoyed and cherished.  But I am also enjoying the peace and quiet after everyone leaves.  I love both...A new stage of life.
A new normal..a new time for us.

Another Sleepover at Papa's House

It was time for another sleepover at Papa's house.  It's been a long time since we've had Preston over and then even longer since we had Madi stay over also.  So after Jordan and Lexi moved out, we had a whole room to where Papa would be able to sleep with Preston and Madi would be able to sleep with me in our master bedroom.
But there was so much fun to be had first.  Papa had gone out and purchased Nerf Guns, which happened to Preston's new favorite thing.  There have been nerf gun wars going on ever since - even on Thanksgiving day, at the dinner table, between Jordan and Kylie.  It really was quite funny to see nerf bullets flying all through the house.  Sure hope the missionaries, sitting at our Thanksgiving Table, thought so too.  They were laughing hard enough that hopefully they weren't offended by our total lack of 'proper table etiquette'.
After nerf wars came our tradition of Preston making smoothies with Papa.  But it appears that it was time to pass the torch...allowing Madi to now help in putting the strawberries in the mixer and then assisting the strawberries to the bottom of the mixer with the infamous plunger.  Madi did a great job and it was fun to see her finally enjoying the process that Preston had helped Papa with for years.  They sure do love their smoothies...
Of course, they had to 'perform' for us, standing on the fireplace hearth, singing and dancing for us before it was time to tell goodnight stories, read scriptures and then have family prayer.
The night went as planned for Preston and Del - They were both asleep within just minutes of saying goodnight.  Not so much in our wing of the house,  Madi doesn't do well away from her house and her crib.  I had her two horses, the two blankies, the humidifier, her baby and her binkie.  But there would be no sleep for either of us that whole night.  She asked continually for Papa, and wanted to see me every 5 minutes.  I was exhausted by morning.  Apparently, she went home and took a four hour nap and slept through the night also.
But it was worth it for the pictures and the memories.