Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wes finally meets his granddaughter!---Carly's blessing

This weekend we are in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the baby blessing of our first and only grandchild, Carly Amelia. She was blessed today by her Father, Dave. Here they are posing for the big event. Dave and his mother are the only members of the church and so it was also a great opportunity for missionary work. Dave's father, grandfather, aunt, uncle and two cousins attended along with a co-worker and his family. It was a wonderful day for all of us. Carly was blessed in the same dress her mother wore for her blessing and it was made out of scraps from my wedding dress.

This weekend was also the first time Wes has seen his grand-daughter. They had a lot of catching up to do and Carly seemed very happy to see him.

He played games with her . . .

And gave her kisses.
Max, the dog, was jealous and demanded equal time. Wes wasn't quite as happy about that, however.

On Saturday we ventured out to the Garden of the Gods, to admire the rock formations. Here Grandpa even insisted on pushing the stroller.

Later they were so worn out they had to take a nap.

Despite all the time the two of them spent together, I did get a few minutes with Carly. Here she is wide awake. That was unusual for when I would hold her. After a while we started calling me "Grandma Boring" because every time I took her she would fall asleep. Of course I loved that.
We are sure tomorrow will be a fun day as well and then we are flying home, tomorrow night, leaving our hearts behind in Colorado with this sweet little girl--and her parents, of course.

I think for the first time in my life I truly understand the scripture, "joy and rejoicing in your posterity" as my family has increased over the past year it has brought so much joy to my life and of course . . . joy to my journey.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An Actual Conversation With My Husband

My husband called me on the phone earlier today. He was filling out papers for new passports and had a few questions.

Him: "So are you 5'9"?"

Me: "No, I am 5'8".

Him: "What color is your hair?

Me: "Are you serious? You really don't know what color my hair is?"

Him: "Well, you might have changed it."

Me: (Thinking---since I had lunch with you an hour ago?) "It is brown."(And always has been except for a couple months 16 years ago)

Him: "What color are your eyes?"

Me: "You are kidding right? You have to know my eye color."

Him: "Well, I don't have your old passport in front of me so I don't know what it says."

Me: "We have been married 26 years. In all that time you have never looked at my eyes?

Him: "Oh, so they are green?"

Me: "No, they are blue/grey."

I think we need to spend a little more time together.

Youtube-Broken Things. Well worth the watch.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

As a Hen Gathereth Her Chickens . . . A Poignant True Life Story

I was recently reminded of this story which I found years ago in Meridian Magazine. I saved it, but neglected to document who wrote it. I believe it was Phillip Allred. I loved the story then and still love it now so I wanted to share it with you. I hope it will touch you as well.

“As a Hen Gathereth Her Chickens Under Her Wings”

"A few years ago, a colleague of mine at Idaho State University related one of his student’s experiences that help illustrate this mother hen symbolism. The student, a young man, had been helping inspect some fire damage just outside of town from a recent blaze. As he and the other volunteers were assisting one of the inspectors, they noticed several smoldering mounds across the scorched earth. Intrigued, he asked the inspector what these were. The inspector replied that he should kick one of the piles. He did. To his great surprise several baby chicks ran out from under the upturned mound.

He was fascinated. How ingenious he thought, these little chicks had known to run underneath this refuge. The young man asked the inspector how the chicks knew about this natural shelter. To his amazement, the inspector replied that they were not natural at all; instead this smoldering heap was none other than the remains of their mother. The inspector continued to explain that when a fire breaks out the mother hen calls out to her young ones and stretches out her arm so that they can run inside to her protective embrace.
How fitting that the Lord would personify the mother hen in His words to the Nephites and Lamanites. How perfect is this example for us today! 'Oh ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather ye as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings.' For it is through His embrace we may be protected and through His death that we may be saved."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I've Been Tagged----Seven Things About Me

So here are seven things about me that most anyone reading this would not know.

I can remember what someone wore to a dance twenty years ago or what restaurant they went to for their birthday five years ago, who they went with and what they ordered. But I can never remember where I put my keys or my sunglasses, or where I parked the car.

My favorite color is purple. I have four purple jackets, two purple dresses, two purple sweaters, a purple phone, purple sunglasses, purple sweat pants, and several purple t-shirts. My bathroom towels are purple, I have purple dishes and even purple curtains in my kitchen. My children think I have an addiction, but I think it is genetic. I have two sisters who have purple walls in their houses, and one has purple lights in her bathroom and a purple iron.

I have traveled to six of the seven continents (just missing Antarctica) and 37 different countries. My dream job would be to write for a travel magazine, but instead I just send home emails of our adventures to friends and family members. Although it is even more fun when they come along.

My husband when we were in Egypt, November 2007

I am plagued with a bad back that causes pain and frustration a good deal of the time—despite the exercising, physical therapy and stretching. (Although it is better than it used to be.)
Some of my favorite things are: sunrises and sunsets, splashing through puddles and crunching fall leaves; laughing, being with family and late nights visiting with friends, bubble baths, beaches, planning parties, reading good books, teenagers, tulips and chocolate.

I have had lunch with my husband every Wednesday nearly every week for the past 17 years. We started doing this when his life got very busy and we needed to be creative in finding time to spend together. In the beginning we took babies and toddlers with us, but now we are alone. And it is always one of the highlights of my week.

I am very good at organizing events, parties, people, and ideas, but I have absolutely no idea how to file so I just stack everything. Consequently I have stacks of papers and books all over my house. But part of my new year’s resolution of weeding my life is to clean up the stacks. I have been working on it, so hopefully by the end of this year, I will be stack free!

So there you have it. Thanks to Heidi Ashworth (Dunhaven Place) for tagging me. Now I want to tag Emily, Nature Girl, and Debi. I look forward to reading your blogs and learning more about each of you!
And may you all find . . . joy in your journey.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What a difference a day makes. . . or you will usually find what you are looking for

I couldn’t decide on a title for this post, so I used both, because both fit my day today. Although yesterday was a bit of a down day, today has been great, and promises to even get better. So what made the difference?

Well, first off when I woke up, I didn’t have a headache. My sinuses didn’t hurt and I wasn’t all congested. That helped A LOT.

Second, I loved seminary. Today we played a game where I gave them a scripture clue and they had to write the answer on a white board. They worked in pairs and when they had the answer, they held their boards up for me to see. After a few rounds, my daughter and her partner held up their board and it said, “We love you!” I replied, “I love that answer! You can have an extra point!” Next a boy held up his board that said, “Seminary is awesome!” Of course I gave and extra point for that as well. Soon all the students were writing me little love notes that they would hold up with their answers. One said, “I am cool, but my teacher is cooler!” another, “We love our teacher!” One young man, who refused to participate, felt inclined to inform me, “They are just sucking up.” I answered, “I know! And I’m okay with that!”

I loved it, actually. I know they were only trying to get extra points, but it was still fun. I told them this was my favorite game we have played so far because it was such a self-esteem boost for me. And it also reminded me that small expressions of love and appreciation (even if they might not be 100% sincere) are very powerful things that lift our spirits and brighten our days. Not only did I get a good laugh from it, but my students enjoyed it as well.

Later I went visiting teaching with my new partner Michelle. Michelle and I worked in young women’s together 24 years ago in another ward and stake. Over the course of time we ended up in a stake together again, and now, with her recent move, we are once again in the same ward. And even better, we are visiting teaching companions. I love Michelle and I love the three women we visit. I very much enjoyed being with them and being able to serve them. And so lesson number two for me today was a reminder of what great joy comes into our lives through service to others.

But today was especially sweet for me. I had a certain sister on my mind and had been thinking I needed to invite her to attend the temple with me. Her husband is not active in the church so he is not available to go with her. Michelle was recently called as a special temple patron and has been asked to attend each week. I wanted to go with Michelle, and we invited this dear sister to go with us. After asking her if she would like to come, she said, “Yes! I have been praying the Lord would send me someone I could attend the temple with.” So, lesson number three . . . if we listen, the spirit will guide us.

I returned home just in time to welcome my own visiting teachers into my house. But before joining them I made a quick trip to the bathroom. I returned, listened to their lesson and walked them to the door to say goodbye. As they were leaving, I reached behind me and noticed things just were not right. My skirt was tucked up into my underwear! Yes, I was slightly mortified. But lesson number four . . . don’t take yourself too seriously. I was embarrassed, but I also got a good laugh out of it.

I have been thinking about why today has brought me such joy when yesterday I was in such doldrums. I think it certainly has to do with a lot of good things happening today. But I also think it is in part what I have chosen to focus on. Yesterday I was determined to be miserable, and although many good things happened, I held strong to my misery. I was not to be deterred. I had earned a pity day and I was taking it. But today I have focused on the good, and in so doing I have been surrounded by it. And so lesson number five . . . whatever it is we are looking for, we will probably find. If you are looking for bad in a person, situation, event etc., you will most certainly find it, but if you focus on the good, you will find that as well, and good will always bring . . . joy to your journey.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Can you catch someone's sick bug over the internet?

Okay, so some days just aren’t that joyful. Some weeks aren’t either, and the past few days have been those kind of days. And do you think I can get germs over the internet?

I have read several blogs and received emails by/from people who are sick, and now I am sick too! I think I caught your bug! Yesterday my head started hurting and this morning I was just down right miserable. My head is pounding, my throat hurts, my body aches. I just want to put on a good movie and go to bed.

And I am sorry to say, I have not been very joyful. I haven’t even been trying to see the joy in my life. Instead today I allowed myself the indulgence of focusing on the not so joyful things. Such as . . .

1. The boy who hit my daughter’s car, took off after hitting her and we have yet to track him down. And, surprisingly, he hasn’t come forward to confess.

2. My husband got strep on his nose following his surgery for cancer. Yes, strep. They put him on penicillin to cure the strep and apparently he is allergic to it. Poor boy. His mother told him he might be, but the doctor insisted it was the best medicine for strep so Wes agreed to take it despite the risk. Besides, the doctor also said the only reaction that was worrisome is he might stop breathing. Okay. No big deal there! Breathing is so over rated, don’t you think?! Luckily his breathing has continued, but he does have an itchy rash. Only one more pill to go, however, and his life should start looking—and feeling— better. (And I bet he is so glad I just published that on the internet!:-)

3. I really don’t like dieters at the moment. Well, I don’t mind people on a diet, I just don’t like it when they have to tell you all about it when you are trying to eat. That piece of chocolate cake I was attempting to enjoy at a luncheon yesterday did not taste very good after the huge dose of guilt that was heaped on it. I ended up having to take it home and eat it later. :-)

4. My seminary class has suddenly turned into a challenge. I am not sure what happened to them over Christmas break, but they went from being a very good, thoughtful, participatory class into one that just stares at me. It has been very discouraging. Time to dig deeper and pull out some new tricks.

5. My husband is a part owner in a construction company and that is not a great place to be right now. It is oh, so sad!

6. I don’t feel well!!!!

Waaaaaaa! Waaaaaaa! Whine! Whine! You are all wondering what I would do if I had real problems, right??? I know, I know. None of these are hugely serious. When I was in the MTC, Mary Ellen Edmunds taught RS and told how she budgeted five minutes each day for complaining and wouldn’t allow herself to complain at any other time but then. I have always loved that thought. Only I have been saving up my five minutes and today is my day. The entire day. However, tomorrow, I promise I will be back . . . joyfully.

Oh, I just got news that a friend of ours who lost his job a few months ago just found a new one. That makes me so happy. But, that didn’t help my pity party any. I am starting to feel better already. Maybe I will just stay cranky until noon.
Editor's Note: After writing the above, my daughter called and told me about a miracle she had this morning with her printer. It was out of ink but she needed six colored copies for a class so she prayed it would work as she figured if the woman in the OT could have her cruse of oil last through the famine perhaps her ink cartridge could miraculously last longer as well. And it did! It got her through the six copies and then quit.
Then, a good friend called and told me about someone she knew who was having a pity party (besides me). The way she told me about it was hilariously funny and not only made me laugh, (a good healer for all ills) but also made me feel a bit guilty for even putting the above in print. So . . . what is up with this???? Don't all these people know I am trying to have a bad day?? I keep getting these wonderful telephone calls that cheer me up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"I've Been in an Accident"--Terrifying Tales of Teenagers

She came through the back door, white faced, shaking, and wiping tears from her face. “I got in an accident in the school parking lot.” High school parking lots—the most dangerous place on earth. They are filled with un-experienced drivers, who over estimate their driving skills and are always in a hurry. I do my best to avoid them, but for Kathryn, a senior in high school, they are unavoidable. And on this day her back fender came in direct contact with “Oops, I was talking to my friend and didn’t notice you there . . .ummm right in front of me.” The damage to her car was negligible, but her neck and shoulders are still suffering.

She called her dad first to tell him what happened. This is actually the third time she has been in an accident, none of which were her fault, and all three times she called Dad first. There is a good reason for that. He is much more calm in a crisis. I am good to have around afterward to give comfort, but not during. During I panic, wring my hands, pace back and forth and say the wrong thing.

Like when Kathryn’s older sister got in an accident. Unfortunately she couldn’t call her dad first because he was at home, and I answered the phone. The conversation went something like:

“Mom, I was in a car accident.”

“You what?! What did you do? Was it your fault? I can’t believe you did this! Weren’t you being careful?”

Muffled sobs. “Are you going to kill me?”

“Probably. (but I didn't mean it!) Stop crying. What happened?”

More sobs. “I was driving down the street (at 10 miles an hour) and hit gravel and lost control of the car and hit a fence.”

“How is the car?” (Notice I have yet to ask her how she is doing)

“It’s not too bad.”

“Can you drive it home?”

“Well, it is on top of a tree.”

“What?!! You drove your car through a tree! Camille!! Why did you say it wasn’t too bad? How much worse can it be than on top of a tree?”
No, this was not her car. I can't find her picture, I just thought the mother of this driver might have felt a lot like I did.

At this point my husband took the phone and asked Camille if she were okay. When she said she was, he told her he would be there in a few minutes. He made me stay home.
It ends up she did hit gravel, did lose control of the car, and probably was NOT going 10 miles an hour when it happened. And had she just taken her foot off the gas pedal, she would have been fine, but instead she panicked (takes a little after her mother, apparently) pressed down on the accelerator, closed her eyes and ramped a curb, cut through a tree and knocked down a block wall. The car was totaled and she and her friend were both lucky to be alive. The only good news is that the dog that had been lying on the other side of the block wall had just moved.

A safer way to travel perhaps?

But, I should have handled it better, I know that. I should have been more like Wes, or how my dad was when I was in an accident in his car at the age of 17. I was terrified to go home out of fear of what he would do. But, when I told him what happened, he just walked outside, looked at the car, said, “Well, it could be worse” and walked back in the house. That was it. He never once said another word about it. (I was child # 4) He never used it against me, never made me feel bad, never held it over my head. And I loved him for that.

So this time when Kathryn walked through the door wiping away tears, I didn’t say anything. I just gave her a hug. I am still not good in a crisis, but I am learning. Yes, I know car accidents are not good things, but in the end cars are still just things. And now we all laugh at Camille's accident and we also laugh at how I didn't handle it. But I am doing better. I am learning that life with teenagers is an exciting ride (pun intended) so it is best to just hold on tight because somehow, perhaps after sometime, even the wild rides bring. . . joy to your journey.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snap shots on life--some of my favorite pictures and what I learn from them

You can't hide who you really are.
After all, notice the horns? Just kidding, Cory, but this is a funny picture. We were in the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden in Jerusalem when this picture was taken. Cory (a very good friend) was handing his wife Jenny (one of my most dear friends) an olive branch symbolizing peace. It wasn't until later when I looked at the picture on the computer did I notice Cory's horns. What an interesting coincidence that he would be standing right there in front of that bush just as the light from the sun came up and illuminated it. Oh, wait, there are no coincidences, right? :-) (Truthfully, Cory is a great person and a wonderful friend)

Happily Ever After Does Not Mean No Problems

On my wedding day I honesly, truly and completely believed that you got married and lived "happily ever after" and that meant no problems. Now I find that very funny--and very naive. I have learned life is always going to have challenges, so the trick is to find joy in your life in spite of them.

If we can just get outside [of ourselves], things will look much brighter.

These next two pictures are from my son's honeymoon. If you read my post on that you will know he and his wife were both sick the entire time. But one day they went outside and this is what they found. The scenery was beautiful--and because they were inside feeling sick mostof the time, they almost missed it. My daughter had a somewhat similar experience this past week. She was feeling very sad one day and didn't notice a group of boys from her ward trying to get her attention. One of them told her the next day they had seen her and waved but she didn't respond. She was so busy feeling sad, she never looked around, but had she seen them, they most certainly would have brightened her day. I think there are all sorts of good lessons in that one.

When light shines on the storms of our lives, even the storms can turn to gold.

This is a picture taken off our front porch during a rainstorm. It had been a dreary day, but then just a little before sunset the sun came out in the west and shone on the rain, turning everything to gold. I loved it!

It is okay to have fun, even if you look silly doing it.

I took this picture in Colorado at the condo where we were staying. I had to lie on the ground in a very odd and uncomfortable position to get it, embarrassing my children and causing fellow vacationers to stop and stare as they passed by. I am not a photographer by any means, and I know it could be less blurry, butI got a kick out of seeing people look at me funny while I was taking it and in the end I love the picture.

So there you are--several pictures that have either captured a lesson about life, made me laugh or are just fun to look at and remember. And all of them have added . . . .joy to my journey. Hopefully they can add some joy to your's as well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just Coincidence or Divine Intervention?

I have had this on my mind the past few days, so I decided to share it. I don’t know if it persists in my thoughts because I need the reminder, or if someone else does, but here it is . . .

We had gone to Utah to spend Thanksgiving, and after a wonderful weekend of fun, family and feasting, were headed home. We live in Arizona, and the drive back is about 10 and ½ hours. We have driven it often over the past twenty-four years and have our route down to undeviating perfection. Either direction we go, we make the exact same stops. Going south, our first stop is always at the Chevron in Panguitch, next is the dam in Page where we get to walk for a few minutes to stretch our legs, then Flagstaff and home. It never changes. Except this one time.

About forty minutes out of Panguitch, I suddenly had to use the bathroom. My husband (as I mentioned in the heading of this blog) does not like to stop at all on trips. He only makes the stops we do because I insist. So, when I told him I needed an unplanned potty break in Kanab, his response was, “Are you sure?” Would I kid about something like this? Yes, I was sure. So he pulled into the first gas station we came to and I got out and winced when I saw there was only one bathroom and a long line. But, what’s a girl to do? I got in line and waited my turn.

After about a minute, a mother and her two daughters came and stood in line behind me. At first I didn’t pay much attention to them, but then I looked more closely at the mother. Suddenly I realized I knew her, and cried out, “Kristine H__!” Kristine was a very good friend of mine in college. She also made my wedding dress. And I hadn’t seen her since the day I got married.
Suddenly I wished I had taken time that morning to curl my hair . . . put on makeup . . . lose thirty pounds. But those thoughts quickly vanished with the excitement of seeing a very dear friend in, of all places, a gas station in Kanab.

She and her family had gone to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with her son who lives in Mesa and were now returning to Provo. They never stop in Kanab either, but this time, for some reason, she needed to make an unplanned bathroom stop along the way. So there we were together, for the first time in years.

I have given some thought to this since that day. I can just picture some angels in Heaven looking down and saying, “Oh, look at that! Those two old friends are going to be passing through Kanab at exactly the same moment. Too bad they will never know it. Wait! I have a plan . . . Bladder attack!“

Although I suppose there are those who will insist it was just a very lucky coincidence, I don’t believe that. A more likely explanation, and the one I feel is true, is that Heaven is very much more aware of our lives than we may often believe, and even the little things are noted. And although we may face challenges in living that can’t be removed (for our own good) we are also often given little gifts along the way that bring great . . . joy to our journey.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My best parenting advice came from my daughter

I used to think my job as a mother meant I needed to make sure my children were perfectly perfect by the time they left home at 18. It didn’t matter that I had yet to reach perfection status, I was determined to be sure they did.

So, I instructed, cajoled, encouraged, (or in their words, criticized and nagged) with words like, “You aren’t going to wear that are you?” “Get your elbows off the table” “Be nice”, “Sit up straight” etc., etc. And when my children would ask, “Why are you always telling me what I am doing wrong? “ My ready reply was, “Because I am your mother and it’s my job.”

Then one day my daughter, Kristen, told me something that changed my life—and hers. She said she felt like all I did was tell her what was wrong with her. She told me she already had plenty of people in her life to identify her faults. There were teachers, leaders, bosses, and friends, and she was very hard on herself. What she needed from me was acceptance. She needed to know when she came home from the demands of school/work, that she was entering a safe place where she was loved and accepted for just who and how she was.
That completely shocked me and I determined I would change my parenting. I will admit it didn’t happen over night and I still have room for improvement. I am naturally just a bit of a control freak, so giving up that “control” was a bit difficult.

I do not mean to say we should never teach or give advice, we do need to do that as parents, but I have learned a valuable lesson: LISTEN more, (they usually already know what they are doing wrong) TALK less, (they also usually know how to fix it) HUG a lot and ENCOURAGE with positive words.
So I felt pretty good a few months ago when I told a daughter how great she was and she and her sister rolled their eyes and said, “That is such a ‘Mom’ comment!” I am so glad my “mom comments” are now positive words instead of critical ones. And I am so very grateful for a daughter who was open and honest with me, because my relationship with my children is so very dear to my heart, and brings such great . . . joy to my journey.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You want to talk about . . . puppy poop????

My son recently married, and with the marriage came a little toy poodle named Daisy. Daisy is NOT a manly name and a toy poodle is definitely NOT a manly dog. So Ryan, who was deprived of a dog in his youth, decided he needed a dog of his own, a boxer named Diesel. Now Diesel is a name a man can use in public without being embarrassed.

Only now Ryan calls me on the phone to talk about, of all things, puppy poop--how often, where it is found and the texture. Seriously. If I tire of this conversation I can always call Camille, and talk about her daughter Carly. At three weeks of age the topic invariably seems to come around to poop as well. “All she does is eat, sleep and . . .” You get the picture.

I remember as a young mother I felt overwhelmed with diapers and baby babble. I looked forward to the days when my children would grow up and be able to carry on intelligent conversations. And they did. But then they got married . . .

The cycles of life, I suppose. :-)

Good Times and Thoughtful Friends

I am so excited about a gift I received this past weekend that I have to share the news. Our good friends the Holmes, brought over dinner Friday night (since my husband wasn’t too eager to go out in public with the stitches on his nose and the swelling still in full glory) and along with their food and company, they also brought a gift. A wonderful, long sought after, very coveted, gift. Books. A set of books, actually, written by my boss, when I was a student at BYU—Larry C. Porter.

For years I have yearned for these, but never thought I would be fortunate enough to actually own them! Yet one day while searching through the donated books at Deseret Industries, they were found, purchased and now delivered to me. What a treasure! The books are beautifully written and illustrated, and totally out of print.

To own them is such a thrill for me and the thoughtfulness of our friends is a gift I will never forget!

The food they brought was pretty good too! We were expecting take out, but instead they arrived with hamburger patties, buns, bacon, mushrooms, and pasta salad, as well as onions and zucchini to batter and deep fry. And that officially put an end to our new year’s resolution to eat better!
Forty-five minutes after their arrival, we were ready to enjoy our fattening feast. And enjoy we did. (I have since repented. It is veggie sticks from here on out!:-)

(You can probably feel your arteries clogging by just looking at it!)

After dinner we worked off a few of those calories with wii bowling and golf. (If you get a sore arm from wii bowling, does that mean you are just a wii bit out of shape?) How grateful I am for good friends, good food, and the fun we had sharing the evening with them.

After staying up late visiting Friday night, on Saturday Wes and I slept in. That is a luxury in which I rarely indulge. During the week I am up at 4:30 for seminary and on the weekends I am always moving by 7, but our daughters were on a snow trip and so we were home alone. With nothing pressing to do, and no one to set an example for, we slept--until 11. It was like being a teenager! We then got dressed, went to lunch and shopping for a bookcase to put my new books in. Saturday night was also spent with friends cheering the Cardinals on to victory.

Both Friday and Saturday were wonderful days and ones for which I am very grateful. In a way they were like a blip on the radar screen of reality. No responsibilities, no pressing engagements, just good relaxed fun. Sunday was quite the opposite. My husband left home at 8:30 a.m. and returned 13 and ½ hours later, having been in meetings every minute in between.
But I have decided that although our lives are often consumed with chores, worries, responsibilities, meetings and demands, the occasional lazy day, or relaxed evening is as much a reality as the other. Although having a lazy day may not be a frequent event, it is those times, as well as those spent with family and friends, that are ---as one bloggist wrote me—the sprinkles on our cupcakes of life. They are what often give color and dimension to our lives, and bring such great . . . joy to our journey

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Move out of my way, I have mountains to climb.

During Christmas break, we decided to climb West Wing Mountain. I know, I know. What we call a mountain in Arizona would only be called a small hill in Utah and Colorado, but it still took time, (a little over an hour) strength and endurance and we had a lot of fun doing it. Many women in my ward and stake climb the mountain on a daily basis (one courageous soul—Jen—climbs while carrying her baby in a pack) so we wanted to go see what all the hoopla was about.

Almost immediately my husband and daughter, Michelle, ran ahead. Michelle likes to run up the mountains and my husband stays with her because he is extremely competitive and can’t stand knowing that one of his children might be faster than he is. (And truthfully, none of our children are in better shape than he is as he runs every day—he just prefers to do it on flat ground.) Kathryn and Kristen took pity on me, however, and climbed at my pace.

I very much enjoyed the exercise and the feeling of accomplishing something I had never done before. But the best part really, was sharing the experience with my daughters and being able to visit with them.

I always find it interesting that when we are in the valleys of our lives, we complain.

When we are given mountains to climb, we grumble.

But when we reach the top of the mountains, we rejoice in our achievement,

And then immediately take time to admire the view of the valley.
I am wondering if one of the reasons God gives us mountains in our lives, is to give us a better view of how far we have come.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Honeymoons are so . . . over-rated.

My son recently returned from his honeymoon. (It was delayed due to school) It was a much anticipated event, of course. They went to Durango, Colorado with plans of skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling. It should have been a wonderful, event filled, romantic week. But it wasn’t.

The morning of their departure, they awoke to a dead car battery. (An omen perhaps?) After getting it fixed, they headed out, a bit delayed but still with high expectations. By the time they arrived at their condo, however, Ryan had a full blown head cold, headache, and fever. He spent the next two days feeling miserable, while dear, sweet Kali, tenderly cared for him.

When he finally began to improve, they ventured out to a Mexican restaurant where Kali got food poisoning and spent the rest of the night throwing up. That was followed by her catching Ryan’s head cold and so it became Ryan’s turn to give tender care. In many ways, it was a rather miserable week for the two of them, but even if they had felt better, their dreams of snow sports probably wouldn’t have materialized—due to the constant snow storms and the ever present avalanche warnings.

And so they returned home somewhat disappointed, but grateful to finally be feeling healthy again, and back where the sun could warm their hearts and souls.

I am so sorry to say that when he told me his woeful tale, I laughed. Oh, I felt sorry for them, I really did. And I will probably have to repent for my laughter, but in some ways it just struck me as funny. Just as it did when I saw my daughter the day after her wedding when we met at the airport for our flight to Colorado, and she told me she had been up all night with the stomach flu. She spent her wedding night with her head in the toilet and her dear husband standing behind her holding back her hair. Now that is true love! (Little did he know he would spend the next nine months watching her be sick as well:-)

I gave my son the same advice I gave my daughter . . . life would go on, better moments were ahead, and someday they would see the humor in it all.

So, I was telling my friend Lisa all of this at lunch yesterday, and she said, “Isn’t it funny how we look forward to these special events, thinking they are going to be so wonderful, when the real joys in life are usually found in just day to day living.” I had to laugh at that. Isn’t it so true? I mean I love having events to look forward to. I love to plan parties and thoroughly enjoy going on exciting vacations. And I always love a new adventure. But I also had spent the morning at the computer working on my seminary lesson when Lisa called and said, “Meet me in a few minutes at Paradise Bakery for lunch.” And so I dropped everything, ran out the door and met Lisa. And sitting there, visiting with her, one of the very best women I know, was truly one of the simple good times in life and brought great . . . joy to my journey.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Believe in Miracles

Those who read my last post know my husband is home today recuperating from surgery and looking like the star of a Rocky movie. Last night, as the swelling in his face increased, so did his pain. Only half an hour after taking his pain medication, he was asking for more--which I did not give him. (I felt bad about it, but I also didn't want him getting sick on pain meds) So, instead he asked for a priesthood blessing. I called our neighbor, who called another friend and they came over. Providentially a third friend also showed up at the same time so all three participated.

Afterwards they visited for a few minutes and then the men went home. Wes stayed up though, checking emails and getting a snack. Half an hour after he would have been able to take his pain medication again, I asked him if he wanted any. He declined. He said that the second the men placed their hands on his head the pain stopped and he hadn't felt any pain since that time. He had a relatively good night's sleep and is now insisting on going to his church meetings tonight--despite the fact that both his eyes are nearly swollen shut.

Men! Gotta love 'em! But how thankful we are for priesthood blessings and that we live in a day of miracles!

Monday, January 5, 2009

A long day of mixed blessings

This won't be my happiest post. It has been a long day with some bad and some good. So basically a day of mixed blessings.

My husband had surgery today to remove skin cancer from his nose. The cancer ended up being the size of a quarter so the end result isn't terribly pretty. Of course, with the stitches, bleeding and swelling it looks much worse than it will in a couple months. Then, other than a scar across his nose, he should be pretty much back to his normal handsome self. And that is much better than what could have happened. He could have lost half his nose--which we were told by the anesthesiologist probably would have happened had we used a different surgeon.

Our story began about a year ago when he got a little sore on his nose. It seemed to go away but then come back. It seemed so small and insignificant we didn't even notice it after a while--until we were recently looking at pictures from the past year and saw he had the sore in all of them. So, he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. It isn't life threatening, but it did need to be removed.

We felt blessed. Wes has a brother who was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing radiation therapy. His outlook is good, but the road to recovery will be difficult. Therefore, we also felt guilty. Wes told me he would gladly lose his nose for the guarantee that his brother would live.

After letting me kiss him goodbye, the nurse took me to the waiting room. It was on the far side of the building and down a long hall from where we entered. It also happened to be directly across from radiation therapy. The same radiation therapy my friend Lisa and I used to take our friend Meg. We took turns taking her every week for several weeks . . .until she died. That was five years ago this month. And sitting in the room across the hall from that place brought back memories of a sad and difficult time, but also sweet memories of kind, tender Meg. Both made me cry. Although it has been five years, I still have a message from her saved on my answering machine.

When my wait began to feel very long and my anxiety was rising, I started receiving telephone calls. They came from my mother, my daughters and my girl friends. Of my friends, Lisa called first. I became friends with Lisa while we both cared for Meg. Our service together wove a cord that has continued to bind us to each other. I next heard from Jenny. It was while visiting with Jenny at the luncheon following Meg's funeral, I realized how much we had in common and we have been good friends ever since. Then I heard from Sonia. She was best friends with Jenny and came into my life soon after Jenny did. I love them all and gained strength from talking with every person who called me.

I really don't have a moral to this story other than to be sure to check out sores that don't heal and odd looking moles before you end up losing your nose. But I think that for me there may be another message as well . . . Our journey through life comes with ups and downs. Some days we rejoice and others we mourn. Sometimes prayers are answered---as with Wes--and sometimes--as with Meg--they are not. But through it all, there are people placed on our path to love and support us and help us find . . .joy in the journey.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Low Fat No Sugar Bran Muffins or BYU Mint Brownies?

Here is a little thought for your journey my father sent me in an email today:
Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. Sing like nobody's listening. Live like it's Heaven on Earth.

So for those who have set a goal to eat better, here is a great recipe for bran muffins.

Healthy and Yummy--Adapted by Judy Sloan

3 Cups All Bran Cereal--Original Recipe
(Add to one cup boiling water.)

1/2 Cup unsweetened apple sauce (although I used sweetened with cinnamon)
1/2 Cup honey (can use brown sugar if you don't have honey but . . .)
2 eggs
2 Cups buttermilk
1 1/2 Cups white flour
1 Cup whole wheat flour (for a lighter muffin you can replace the whole wheat with white flour)
2 1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix together by hand--don't use a mixer. (Since muffins can get tough if over mixed, I mixed all the ingredients together except the flour first, and then added the flour and mixed again-gently)

Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your muffins. I made 18 and baked them for 13 minutes. If you made 24 smaller ones, you probably would only bake them for about 10 minutes. Do not over bake.

But, on the other hand, if low fat, no sugar bran muffins aren't your thing . . .



1 c. margarine, 1/2 c. cocoa, 2 Tbsp. honey, 4 eggs, 2 c. sugar, 1 3/4 c. flour,1/2 Tbsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 c. chopped walnuts,

12 oz. chocolate icing (Use your own icing recipe or purchase some chocolate frosting. You can also search the Internet for chocolate icing recipes.)

5 Tbsp. margarine, dash of salt, 3 Tbsp. milk, 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup, 2 1/3 c. powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. mint extract, 1-2 drops green food coloring

1. Melt margarine and mix in cocoa. Allow to cool. Add honey, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour batter into a greased 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool.

2. Prepare mint icing: Soften margarine. Add salt, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add mint extract and food coloring. Mix. Add milk gradually until the consistency is a little thinner than cake frosting.

3. Spread mint icing over brownies. Place brownies in the freezer for a short time to stiffen the icing. Remove from the freezer and carefully add a layer of chocolate icing.

Which ever you choose . . .

Friday, January 2, 2009

Being Resolute In My (1) New Year's Resolution

Each January I decide this is the year I am going to be perfect. Seriously. After all, it is a commandment, so it has to be possible, right? So on January 2 (I sleep in on January 1st, which isn’t my definition of perfection so I wait until the 2nd to start) I am up early, read my scriptures, say my prayers, clean my house, cook delicious, well balanced—and of course low calorie--meals, write in my journal, perform compassionate service, exercise, give my husband and children individual positive attention, improve my mind with a good book, fulfill my church calling, work on developing a new talent, look for someone to give a pass-a-long card to, make my visiting teaching appointments, and crash exhausted into bed, only to get up the next morning and do it all over again. By January 5th, I am too tired to get out of bed and can be found lying in a fetal position munching Dove chocolates and gnawing red licorice.

So . . . this year, I am going to do something different. I am only having one goal.

I am going to weed my garden.

Yep. That is it. I love weeding (although obviously I don’t do it often enough) because it feels so wonderfully therapeutic. You remove all those nasty little weeds that grow larger by the minute and free up the space and nutrients for good things to grow.

And that is what I feel my life needs right now; a good weeding. I am not even going to worry about planting anything. I can do that next year. This year I am just going to get rid of the weeds.

So what that means is this:
1. I am going to remove all the physical clutter from my environment. In other words I am going to clean out closets, kitchen cupboards, file drawers etc.
2. I am going to eliminate those nasty little bad health habits I once thought I had conquered but for some reason (I am blaming it on a great deal of stress these past few months) they have returned.
3. I am going to find a way to let go of the experiences in my past that I cling to, even though they now mostly just bring me pain.

The first weeding will be the easiest. I can see the clutter in my environment and I will be able to see when it is gone. (The garbage can will become my new best friend.) My personal physical weeding will be a bit more difficult, but I have some good friends to help me. My emotional weeding is the one I fear. I do not at all know how to do that one. A great deal of prayer, I suppose. But after several years, and a lot of time and energy, I am ready to move on, and move forward with my life . . . once, of course, I get those darn weeds out.

So that is it. I am sorry to say, I won’t reach perfection this year. Not even for a day. But I am determined to be resolute, in my one resolution . . . Especially now that I have made it public and will suffer extreme personal humiliation if I fail. (I have learned the threat of public humiliation is a great motivator) So . . . here is a New Year’s toast to weeding and . . . the joy it will hopefully bring to my journey.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Our Best of 2008 List

For those of you who are still waiting to get your Christmas card . . . here is a little preview from our annual letter. (The cards are in the mail, I promise) Here are our top ten events in the order they occurred.

1. Camille marries David Tusler March 7, 2008 in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple.
2. Wes, myself, Kathryn and Michelle spend spring break in Costa Rica, where I lived for three years as a child.
3. Kristen is accepted into the Elementary Ed. program at BYU and comes home for the summer! Hooray!
4. My parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
5. Kathryn spends two and a half weeks in Bolivia with Alliance for Youth Services. (Wonderful program!)
6. Michelle starts high school (9th grade) and makes the basketball team.
7. Wes and I fly to Israel with two other couples and my parents for a ten-day tour.
8. Wes celebrates his 50th birthday.
9. Ryan marries Kali Thomson November 29, 2008 in the Mesa, Arizona temple.
10. We become grandparents with the birth of Carly Amelia Tusler on December 20, 2008.

So, as you can see, it has been a banner year for us, but not one without difficulty. The economic crisis has brought many challenges to both us and many we love. Some friends lost their teenaged son in an accident, a nephew was nearly killed while on his motorcycle and several surgeries later is still trying to recover, and a family member was recently diagnosed with cancer.

I always begin each new year with some degree of fear and trepidation. Bad things happen to all of us and I often wonder what challenges are in store. However, we are still very much looking forward to 2009, because we know that both the ups and the downs can eventually bring . . . joy to the journey.