Saturday, April 22, 2017

Love at First Peep

One day, when I was about seven years of age, my father arrived home from an out-of-town trip with a curious box.  Strange “peeping” noises were emanating from it.  My siblings and I waited in eager anticipation as Daddy removed the lid. Inside the box, we were delighted to find 12 of the most darling yellow baby chicks!  I fell in love with them at first peep! Daddy let us help feed and water them as he moved them to a larger box.  We were allowed to hold them briefly if we washed our hands immediately afterwards.  

When the chickens were big enough, Daddy built a chicken run in the backyard.  By the time they were adults, the chickens were no longer yellow, but pure white.  They were difficult to tell apart from each other, but we named each one and I think my siblings and I were pretty good at determining who was who.  To us, they were our pets.  We continued to help feed and water them but we were no longer allowed to hold them and were commanded not to touch or pet them due to the possibility of our contracting Salmonella (or some other dreaded disease).  I am quite certain we broke that rule many times. 

Sunday dinner was the most important meal of the week.  One early Sunday afternoon my nose detected the unmistakable scent of Mama’s fried chicken wafting throughout the house.  This was a common entre for our family and Mama made the best fried chicken I have ever tasted!  When I arrived in the kitchen I spied a lovely Lemon Meringue Pie sitting on the counter.  Mama also made the best Lemon Meringue Pies in the world.  My mouth began to water.  The pie would be dessert for those of us who could manage to eat a piece of chicken, a respectable amount of vegetables, and drink a glass of milk.  As much as I enjoyed fried chicken and even looked forward to the creamed carrots and peas that were being offered that day, my eyes were on that pie!  

Soon we were called to the table and sat down to enjoy what promised to be a lovely meal.  In the course of the conversation between my parents as we ate, I was horrified to realize that the delicious fried chicken we were imbibing was in fact the remains of one of our beloved pets.  I stopped mid-chew.  I could not bring myself to swallow and spat the mostly masticated contents of my mouth out onto my plate.

“What’s the matter?” queried Mama, a concerned look coming over her face.
“I’m not hungry anymore,” I replied.  That was not a lie.  I found myself completely without appetite at the realization that one of my friends was on the menu.  I did not even want a piece of pie, and probably could not have eaten even a bite of it either.

“YOU EAT YOUR DINNER,” my father commanded sternly, his brow furrowed in a deep scowl.  “Don’t you know there are children starving in China?”  I can’t remember for sure if it was in fact China, but somewhere in the world children were starving and my father knew exactly where that was, and somehow, by some magic, my consuming the crispy carcass of my former pet would be the means of providing nourishment to those poor souls.  Despite my feelings of guilt, I could not bring myself to comply. Much to my relief, I was sent from the table and not allowed to eat anything more for the rest of that day.

As the weeks went by, our chickens disappeared one-by-one.  I found that I needed to distance myself from them emotionally, so I no longer interacted with them.  It was some time before I was able to eat chicken, fried, or in any other form.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fourteen Years of Grand-parenthood!

Fourteen years ago today, I became a grandmother!  It was such an exciting day for our whole family. I was to have attended his birth in American Fork, Utah, but that as it turned out, was not to happen.

About 10 days before our grandson was born, I looked over at my youngest son, Adam, lying on the sofa in our family room.  "Maybe, it the light," I remember thinking to myself, "but his nose looks crooked."  I went over to investigate, and discovered that it was indeed crooked.  As he and his older brother Christopher explained, they had been playing baseball with a basketball and Adam's face got in the way of Chris' line drive.  

"We must wait for some of the swelling to go down," explained Dr. Carder.  "But, because of his age, we cannot wait past 10 days to do the surgery."  I reported this to my daughter Alyssa, who was awaiting the birth of her first child and had invited her mother to be present.

"It's okay Mom," she said when I informed her that I would be unable to be there. "Ryan will never remember you missed his birth, but a ten-year-old needs his mother when he has nose surgery."

The nose surgery went perfect.  "Those bones just snapped back into place," informed the doctor.  "A second surgery is often necessary when they are about 17, but I'm not sure that will be required in this case."  Dr. Carder's words were prophetic.  No repeat surgery was needed.

Ryan Thomas Christensen arrived in the wee hours of the morning on March 29, 2003!  I was hoping he would wait to be born on his great grandfather's (my father's) birthday which was the 30th of March.  But, Ryan was to have his own birthday.  He was named Ryan (after Nolan Ryan an outstanding baseball pitcher for the Texas Rangers).  His middle name was Thomas, (same middle name as his father).

I don't remember his weight or length, but I was with  my daughter Alyssa when she took Ryan to his two-week check-up. Dr. Liddle recounted the scary moments after he was born not breathing.  "I've never seen a baby go from an APGAR of two to a nine,' he explained. Ryan had a good check-up and seemed to be doing fine aside from having re=flux.

I remember taking the night shift with my adorable but fussy new grandson.  Because of the re-flux, holding him in an upright position after feeding seemed to help calm him.  In the upright position cuddled up next to me, he went to sleep that particular night; so I laid him down in his bassinet and dozed off myself.  I awakened with a start about five hours later to the fact that that I had let him miss his four AM feeding.  I rushed over to him as I realized that without thinking (and out of habit) I had put him on his stomach to sleep.  (His parents had stressed to me the importance of babies being put on their backs to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS--exactly opposite the advise I was given when I raised my children).  To my relief, Ryan was sleeping peacefully.  "Well," I remember telling his mother Alyssa, "If you get to the point where you could kill for sleep, you know what to do." Ryan did much better bundled up like a burrito, sleeping on his stomach.

So Happy Birthday to an outstanding young man!!!  I love you Ryan and I am so glad you came to our family 14 years ago today!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

Merry Martin Christmas 2016

This year we are again so very blessed.  Here is a count of our blessings:

One wonderful living parent!!!  We are blessed to have Jerry’s 90 year-old mother Melba Martin still with us here on this Earth.  She is as mentally sharp and spunky as ever.  We are spending Christmas with her in Preston, Idaho this year.

Two new Grandchildren!  Cute and cuddly, Jordyn Gemie Martin joined our family on August 12th.    Jerald Lynn Martin (the 3rd with that name) could come any day now and we feel he is already part of the family.  (Is this counting our grandchildren before they are hatched?)

Three new homes:  Not for us, but three of our families got new homes this year.  The Boren’s moved to a new home within the same city (Lehi, Utah).  They love their pool and large back yard.  Justin graduated from medical school in San Antonio and he and Kara built a new home in Temple, Texas where he is doing his residency.  They are enjoying being first time home owners.  The Ronér’s made the move from the Atlanta, Georgia area to the Syracuse, New York area where they built a new home!  The children are missing their old back yard, but happy to experience snow. They are having a White Christmas!

Four callings:  Jerry (Sr.) was called in February to be the First Counselor in the Plano, Texas Stake Presidency.   He has also accepted a volunteer position as the District Chairman for the Golden Arrow District of the Boy Scouts of America.  Gemie continues to serve as the Stake Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for our Plano, Texas Stake.  She is gearing up for our Stake Emergency Preparedness Fair which will be held on February 25th.  She also volunteers in the Family History Center on Tuesday mornings.

Five extra "weekend days" each week!  That is what is supposed to happen when you retire right?  It was working for us.  Now we are so busy we wonder how Jerry ever had time to work and how Gemie accomplished what she did with eight children to chauffer all over Plano and a family of 10 to cook and do laundry for.

Six Hobbies:  Jerry loves coin collecting and can boast the best Lincoln Wheat Back Penny collection ever assembled! (Rest easy, it is in a safe deposit box).  Jerry also loves reading (Brandon Sanderson is his favorite author). He also loves to hike and is putting a lot of mileage on his new knee (which was replaced in January).  Gemie’s newest hobby is baking with sour dough.  She loves creating new recipes (sour dough and otherwise).  She also loves to sew and read but rarely finds time for either. 

Seven wonderful in-laws!  We have four terrific sons-in-law, (Spencer, Brendan, Neil, and Brett), and three fantastic daughters-in-law (Sara, Kara, and Karen)!  We are so grateful to these wonderful people our children chose to have as their eternal companions!  We couldn’t be more pleased to have them in our family!!!  

Eight Wonderful Children!  We are so lucky to have each child!  We appreciate each one for the way they conduct their lives.  Our children and their spouses have fun texting the whole group when things happen in their lives (like the new Christmas puppy that just appeared down in Temple, Texas)!  When our phones start buzzing non-stop, we know our children and their spouses are having fun in a group conversation! We love that they enjoy keeping in touch with each other and with us.  Camie, Alyssa, Kindra, Jenae, Jerald (Jerry), Justin, Christopher (Chris), and Adam—we love you fiercely!!!

Nine Wonderful Siblings:   Gemie still has all seven of hers: Loren (Bud), Marlene, George, Mark, Julie, April, and Marvelee.   We love our family reunions in Bliss Canyon (Moab, Utah) where four of them reside!  Jerry has two sisters: Sharan and Nadine who we love our visits with as well (we are also spending Christmas with Sharan this year).  We also have a wonderful sister-in-law Sallie whom we love to get together with and will also see Christmas day!  Sallie lives in Logan, Utah. 

Ten handsome grandsons: They range in age from Ryan who will be 14 in March to the littlest (as yet unborn) Jerald (Jerry?).  In between we have Benjamin (Ben) who is 10, Luke (9), Joshua (Josh) who is 7, Logan (6), Dallin (6), Trace (5), Seth (3) and James (almost 3). 

Eleven rooms of new windows.  We finally got around to replacing most of the windows in our home.  We love having no more cold and drafty areas in the winter!  We hope to see lower utility bills in summer and winter.  We wish we had done this sooner!

Twelve wonderful months of enjoying each other’s company.  I would say we can now finish each other’s sentences, but Gemie never knows what Jerry will say.  Jerry needs to finish Gemie’s sentences because she forgets what she is saying mid- . . .

Thirteen gorgeous granddaughters!!!  At 12 Brooklyn is almost a teenager.  Ashlin and Katelyn (Kate) both 11 are “Irish twins” having been born less than a week apart.  Then we have Bailey, Abigail (Abby), and Eleanor (Ellie) all 10.  Marin and Rachel are nine, but turn 10 early in the year.  Lilian (Lilly) is six.  Our other set of “Irish twins,” (born just two days apart) Addison and Brinley are three.  Then we have Gemma (the only girl in her family with four older brothers) who just turned one.  Last (but not least) is Jordyn who is 4 months old. 

As we contemplate our many blessings and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we count our greatest gift to be His marvelous Atonement.  We know His atoning sacrifice will make it possible for us to someday be reunited with Him and our Heavenly Father and all our beloved family members who are on the other side of the veil.  We often say, "Families are forever," and count on the prospect of being together for the eternities with our wonderful family to whom we have been sealed through Holy Temple ordinances. We know it is our Savior Jesus Christ who makes this possible for us.

We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy (and prosperous) New Year!

Jerry and Gemie Martin

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Happy 32nd Birthday to Our 5th Child!

Thirty two years ago today, our 5th child was born.  My husband Jerry and I had recently moved with our four young daughters to Doraville, Georgia (suburb of Atlanta).  We had selected a small local hospital in a neighboring town, Chamblee to give birth to our 5th child.  

It was not the practice at that time to do sonograms on non-risk pregnancies.  We had no idea of the gender of our new baby.  With four girls, we also had no reason to suspect we would be having a boy.  I could tell this particular baby was significantly larger than any of the girls had been, but I had an aunt who had been born at 12 lbs.  Still, I was convinced this baby would be a son!

Our baby was due on September 2, 1984.  I knew we would probably be moving back to the Dallas, Texas area where the headquarters of Frito-Lay (Jerry's employment) was. I wanted the baby to be born on or before the first of September so we would have the choice of whether or not we could enroll our child in Kindergarten when he or she was 5 or whether we would wait until he or she turned 6.  The cutoff date was September first.  I went jogging around on the hills in our neighborhood on August 31st.  Not a wise thing to do, but it seemed to work.  About a month earlier, I had been put on bed rest to make sure the baby did not come too early.

I cannot describe the elation I felt when our first son was born!  I was so delighted to find out that I was right about him being a boy, I forgot to have the after baby blues!  He weighed over a pound more than our largest daughter.  He was 9 lbs. 2 ozs. And 22 inches long.  He did not curl up like a newborn does, where they draw their legs tightly up to their abdomen.  Jerry laid out flat right from the start.

They used to keep us several days in the hospital back then.  On the second day, the nursery delivered the wrong baby to my bed.  I knew it was not him immediately!  “This is not my baby!” I told the nurse.  “YOU BRING ME MY BABY!”

“This IS your baby Mrs. Martin,” she tried to reassure me.  “Let’s check your tags.”  She checked our tags and said, “Oh, this is NOT your baby.”  I think I beat her down to the nursery.  He stayed in my room for the remainder of our stay.

I was so convinced I would have a boy, I only packed a boy’s outfit in my hospital bag for his trip home .  I had it all washed up and ready to dress him in.  If he had been a girl, she would probably have had to wear a little blue nautically themed outfit home.  It would probably have fit her better.  As it was,  I had to shove Jerry into the outfit and it was difficult to snap it.

“You need to take that outfit back to the store,” remarked the nurse who was helping me dress him.  “It’s too small.” 

“No,” I replied, “I’ve already washed it and he’s going home in it.”  It would be the only time he would wear that cute little outfit, but he did go home in it!  Home to his four excited sisters and visiting grandmother (Genevieve Johnson).

"Little Jerry" (we named him Jerald Lynn Martin after his father), was a very pleasant little guy.  He only cried when he was hungry or had been startled.  Then his little face would wrinkle up and he would wail.  Another thing to note, he had the biggest feet I have ever seen on a newborn!  

Happy 32nd birthday, "Little" Jerry!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Changing Perspectives

In cleaning out and sorting papers, I found a loose journal-type entry of mine.  It was not dated, but had to have been written sometime in late 1999 or early 2000.  I have deleted the names to protect the innocent (or should I say guilty).  I think I was frustrated and just venting when I wrote this:

“My 15-year-old son just broke his toilet paper holder off the wall!  It was put on brand new a few weeks ago by the guy who hung the new wallpaper there.  The wall paper has a lighthouse motif.  I found some cute little ceramic soap and lotion dispensers in the shape of lighthouses to put at the basins.  Yesterday, I glued a chip back on one of them.  It has several smaller chips that I won’t be able to repair.  Two weeks ago the boys broke a support off the handrail to the stairs while they were rough housing.  The three eldest boys broke the door to one of their bedrooms that very same day.  I am still fuming about all of this destruction!!! Why can’t I have anything stay nice???

I think my problem is that I am ready to be an empty-nester. This is a problem because I have a first grader (also a boy) and two other sons in between the two I have already mentioned.  I also have a daughter, still at home, who is 17.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel there.  I am geared up to enjoy the one more year I have with her.  Her three older sisters are already away at college.  Most of the friends my age are empty-nesters.

Twenty-four years ago, I was pregnant with my first child.  I had either one or two in diapers for over 18 years!  If anyone deserves to be an empty nester, it is me.  The irony is that when I finally arrive there, I will probably be too old and senile to enjoy it.  I will be too old to cook, let alone to enjoy being the only woman in my kitchen.  (I’ve always maintained that two women in a kitchen, is one too many.)  I will probably no longer be wearing make-up, so it won’t matter that my blushes and nail polish will stay where I put them.  No one will want to borrow my orthotic shoes.  Support hose won’t appeal to them either.  In fact, I am sure none of them will want to wear anything I have.  (Every year after the three oldest leave for college, I have to take an inventory of how many shirts, slips and socks I have left.)

With so many children, I will probably have lots of grandchildren.  Grandchildren do damage too.  I am just thinking of the damage my children did to their grandparent’s homes.  Maybe we should volunteer to visit our grandchildren in their homes.  Perhaps Jerry and I should get a large RV (with a bumper sticker that reads: ‘I am spending my children’s inheritance’ on it), and travel around to each child’s home, plugging into their electricity!”

Those were my sentiments back in late 1999.  Here is how I feel today:

I finally arrived at the empty nest stage of life.  I still enjoy cooking although I do not do nearly as much of it.  It is fun when I have daughters and daughters-in-law come to help cook.  My youngest son and I had a lot of fun cooking together before he left the nest.  Occasionally we still cook together when he is around.   One daughter still goes through my make-up.  (She now asks permission to take what she wants of it.)  I find it endearing that a thirty something woman still wants to go through and wear mama’s make-up.  I don’t wear orthotic shoes or support hose—yet.  Even if the girls were to like my clothes, they (the girls) are all too small for my clothes to fit them well.   I love having my grandchildren over even though things do get broken from time-to-time.  We have plenty of time to make any repairs or clean-ups that need to be made.  I really enjoy all of my adult children and their spouses too!!!  What an exciting time of life!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Marion Borges Martin, A Great Man

Written by His Son, Jerald Lynn Martin in response to a request from Christopher Martin (His Grandson)

1)  Great Men of the Ward.  When I was 15 or 16, I attended a Sacrament Meeting that will forever be in my memory.  Grandpa was a convert of the Church after he got married to Grandma.  He knew little of the doctrine or the culture.  But he always had great faith, believed in people and was always willing to serve wherever needed.  Grandpa Martin did not complete high school until he was middle age, around 40 years old.  He was intimidated to be in front of crowds, had little in the way of leadership skills as we think of them and was fearful of public speaking including giving prayers.  I can't remember Grandpa ever giving a talk in any meeting and on only one occasion giving a prayer in Sacrament Meeting when I was 17.  He was so terrified he completely wrote out the words of his prayer and then read it.  On this particular Sunday, Brother Clausen, 1st Counselor in the Bishopric was the final speaker of the day.  This was before the block scheduling so Sacrament Meeting was 1and 1/2 hours and was held in the afternoon.  Brother Clausen's talk was themed "Great Men of the Ward."  After describing characteristics of great men, the first person he highlighted as the role model of great men of the ward was Grandpa Martin.  I was shocked as was the whole family as there was nothing society would think was great about Grandpa.  He never held a Church leadership position.  He barely had a high school education amongst a ward full of Engineers and Nuclear Scientists.  We had little money and lived in the Veterans Affairs development of homes for World War 2 vets.  What would qualify Grandpa Martin to be considered "great".  The answer came quickly.  He was the man who honored his priesthood and magnified it.  In 13 and 1/2 years, Grandpa had never missed a home teaching visit and always had a message of inspiration.  His home teaching went way beyond that.  He took care of fixing yards, making repairs in their homes, feeding them and others with the bounty of his garden/orchard harvests.  He always volunteered to transport the scouts.  He never missed Church.  He merely went about doing good without any notice or any desire for attention.  Yet he was most beloved by all.  Because he served with love.  Because he didn't need to talk much, he was a great listener and heard the challenges of those in his circle.  He then acted to help with those challenges.  He was a simple man with few needs but with great faith and excellent everyman skills.  He could change oil, run electricity, build fences, do brick and cement work, sprinkler systems, and grass, put up sheds, paint houses, fix roofs, and had an amazing green thumb.  He took joy in using those skills for his family and others.  And in all of that he was truly one of the great men of the Ward. 
2)Tithing.  When I was young, maybe 6 or 7, Grandma and Grandpa had a special family home evening (which we didn't do that often).  The purpose of this FHE was to discover if we children would support our parents in them paying tithing.  We were a poor family.  Just a few years before, my parents didn't have enough income to provide housing (they lived in a shed like building behind Great Grandpa Martin's house) and many times went hungry for food.  Both Grandpa and Grandma worked at this time with Grandpa oftentimes working two jobs.  The question was put to the kids if we were willing to do with a little less so that they could pay tithing.  We children all said yes.  So Grandma started paying tithing from her wages for the whole family (covering Grandpa's  pay also).  In the scriptures it says the Lord will open the windows of heaven for those who keep this law.  While that may come in many forms, it came directly to our family in way of much greater employment opportunities.  Within a short time, maybe a year, Grandma Martin was given the opportunity by her employer to learn engineering schematics.  It was the space race with the Russians and the US needed many more skilled people than were available.  Grandma jumped at the opportunity and in a couple years passed up Grandpa Martin in wages where before starting paying her tithing she earned about half of his wages.  A few more years went by and Grandma Martin continued to accelerate in her career now nearly doubling Grandpa's wages.  Around this time Grandpa Martin proclaimed he would take responsibility for his own tithing.  From there our family become very comfortable with money.  We enjoyed vacations out of the area and Grandma and Grandpa Martin became very comfortable financially.  To me their son, I consider this a miracle.  Two high school trained kids living comfortably in the midst of Silicon Valley.  This testimony of tithing, of putting the Lord first, is deeply entrenched in my heart.  "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  I learned that Tithing is the most visible symbol of my faith in Heavenly Father and His Son.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Happy 23rd, er make that 24th, Birthday Adam!

It was 24 years ago today that our last child, Adam Joseph Martin joined our family.  I have already wished him a happy 23rd birthday (for the second year in a row) but did the math and realized he is actually 24!  (Six subtract two is four, so that has to be right, but it is still hard for me to believe!) He chose June 22, 1992 to come here to Earth and we were lucky enough to have been chosen to be his family.

Adam was born at the Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, Texas.  He was our largest baby, weighing in at 9 lbs. 11 oz. and was 22 inches long!  He was already past the newborn stage (where they pull their legs tightly up into their stomachs) when he was born.  One nurse commented that she had noticed with larger babies that they arrived laying out flat.  He started wearing 3 month clothing immediately.

Another thing that was remarkable about baby Adam, was that he was covered in dark hair.  He had a very hairy back.  Like his older brother Christopher, he was very fair complected, but with very dark hair.  Adam also had very long eyelashes such that when he would cry, his tears would cause the top lashes to plaster down on his cheeks.  It looked rather hilarious.  I felt guilty laughing at a crying infant.  Fortunately, he did not cry all that often.  He was generally a very pleasant little guy.  He was only unhappy when his stomach was on empty or had an air bubble trapped in it.

He was the youngest of eight children.  I won't say he was spoiled, but the other children doted on him, especially his four sisters.  They were all older than his three elder brothers.  There was a 15 year difference between he and his oldest sister, Camie. She was like a second mother to him.

I remember several funny Adam stories, but will relate only one at this time.  He was probably about 18 months old when this incident happened.  One day, after putting Adam down for a nap, I noticed he did not stop crying.  His cry was also not his normal protest cry (of being put unwillingly to bed). I entered his bedroom to check on him and found him standing in his crib.  As I tried to lay him back down, I realized that one leg was stuck at the knee (with the knee bent), between the crib bars. He had on a bulky sweat suit which did not help matters.  I tried unsuccessfully to remove his leg from between the bars.  Each time I left the room to try and find the right tool to help, he would panic and set up a howl.  I felt so sorry for him.  Ordinarily, I would have broken one of the crib bars, but my husband and I were leaving town the next day.  I knew the babysitter would be needing the crib to put him into for sleeping.  I remembered that in our city (Plano, Texas) one could call the Fire Department for assistance.  I called them.  A firetruck with about 8 firemen, rushed to the scene. When several of them entered the bedroom dressed in their jumpsuits and gear, Adam really panicked and began freaking out.  Fortunately, two of them were able to force apart the bars without breaking them, while a third pushed Adam's knee back through.  The firemen wanted to take Adam to the hospital to be checked out.  I was unwilling to let him go because I had preschool-aged Christopher to tend to at home and would not be able to ride with them in the ambulance.  They checked the pulse in his foot and looked at the coloring of his leg and, after seeing him toddle around for a few minutes with no problems, determined he could stay at home.  It would be about 16 years later, that I would ride with Adam in an ambulance to a hospital emergency room, but that is another story for another time.

Happy 24th birthday, Adam!