Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last night's view off my back porch

Pretty Awesome!!

Remember, we don't see a lot of rain here in Arizona. :-)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Journey to the Windy City

Every three years, my husband's family gathers for a family reunion. The seven brothers and sisters take turns hosting the event and this year it was turn for his brother who lives in Chicago. So . . . we were all off to enjoy fun in the Windy City!!

Although we had a lot of family members not able to make it--due to new jobs, or newly married--we had a lot of fun with those who were there, and missed those who were not.
Wil (Wes' brother who hosted the reunion) has had a few health challenges of late and so we arrived concerned about his energy level.
We soon learned we did not have to worry! Our first day in town he marched us up and down the city at a fast pace for HOURS!!!! Every person you can see in the picture below is a family member. We walked as quickly as we could, with Wes pushing his mother in a wheel chair and Camille pushing Carly in a stroller, all over the city. By the end of the day we were calling it the "Chicago Death March" and decided Wil can run us all into the ground.

We went to the top of the Sears' Tower (I forgot to post that picture!!) and over to the Chicago Institute of Art.

We searched the city for the second tallest building (and discovered no one in Chicago can agree on which it is) rode the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier and took a boat ride on Lake Michigan. And we listened to a concert in Millennium Park. This picture was taken on our second day in town when we competed in the Chicago version of "The Amazing Race" We divided into groups and were sent into the city to complete certain objectives. One was to have a picture with all members of our group in it. This day we were tired from the day before and so drove our car into town. However, not wanting to park just to take this picture, my husband put the car in park at a RED light and we all jumped out, had the picture taken and ran back into the car while the people in the cars behind us all impatiently honked their horns.

After walking all day (the first day) we were allowed to stop for lunch (at 3:00) Wil suggested we wait until 5 to eat so other family members who were coming late could join us, but upon fear of mutiny, he agreed to let us eat earlier. We went to Ed Debevic's and loved their delicious shakes, burgers, sandwiches and smart mouthed waitresses.

Being as Carly is only six months old, Camille has not allowed her to eat anything sweet. However, when Camille went off to the bathroom, bad Grandpa offered her the milk shake glass. (Although she didn't get anything--we enjoyed teasing Camille with the picture.)

After three days of so very much fun, we said our final good bye to Illinois. Even the city looked a bit sad to have us go. Notice the fog in the distance.

Next time it will be our turn. Last time we held it in Colorado, but this time . . . who knows?! I am just so thankful for a family that takes the time and makes the sacrifice to get together. This has built such strong bonds over the years between cousins who mostly see each other only on these occasions. And that has brought great . . . joy to our journey.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

HELP! I have all this yellow squash. . . now what do I do with it????

My friend Jenny gave me a yellow squash plant earlier this year. I have never used yellow squash in my cooking before, but we are new to the gardening hobby and were excited to plant anything that had even the most remote possibility of growing.

And this certainly did!!!

The one little plant has pretty much taken over our garden and we now have an abundance of yellow squash. So . . .


What do we do with it now?? Any one out there have some good suggestions or recipes?? If so please let me know or email them to joy4yourjrney@gmail.com


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Adam Ondi Ahman . . .

Nearly 80 miles north of Kansas City, Missouri, lies the valley of Adam ondi Ahman. Here, we believe, Adam called his posterity together three years before his death to bless them. At an unknown future date we also believe Christ will gather in this same valley with the righteous before His official Millennial reign.

Last week we had the very wonderful experience of being able to visit this valley. Our good friends Lloyd and Donise Price are serving a mission there and they very graciously allowed us, and our two youngest daughters, to spend two memorable nights with them.

This was actually my third trip to the valley and each time I am impressed with the sacredness of it. Noisy children and loud adults all seem to instantly fall silent as they gaze at the valley below them. This time was particularly touching for us, as we not only were able to view the valley, but also take a truck through the back woods over much of the land owned by the church there. At each place Elder Price taught us about the events that transpired there and future events yet to come. Here Wes, Elder Price and my daughters are standing at "Preacher's Rock", where Joseph Smith himself stood and taught the saints many years ago.

One of my favorite views was of Spring Hill. Spring Hill is the highest point in the area and where is believed to be a dedicated temple site. When we arrived the sun was just beginning to set over the hill. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Looking down from the top of Spring Hill you can see the long road that traverses the property lined by white fence posts. Each of these posts were lovingly painted recently by the missionaries.

One of my other favorite sights on the property is this graveyard. It is very likely that buried here are some of the local Missourians who drove the saints out of Missouri. Yet when the graveyard was discovered, the missionaries began to tenderly care for it. Headstones have been cleaned, silk flowers placed at many of the graves, grass has been mowed and a large wood sign erected with the name of the cemetery.

The following morning, while Wes went off with the men to whack weeds, and after Sister Price finished her computer work, the women climbed in the truck and headed to Jamesport, Missouri, a small Amish town. We traveled there through the back roads to get a better view of the Amish homes. I loved this one below. If you look carefully you can see the horse and carriage waiting to transport the family to town. Notice also the orange lilies on the bottom left of the picture. These grew wild all over the sides of the roads, adding a touch of country beauty every where we went.

In town we stopped at the local store to pick up a few grocery items--like apple butter and homemade jam (yum, yum!) I got such a kick out of this sign on the outside door. It tells you to get a cart before entering. Notice what is under it. A hand cart!!

After two nights of visiting, we left Saturday morning to visit the church history sites around Kansas City and then head home to Arizona. We loved our stay with the Prices and were sad to say goodbye. Here Elder Price held out his arms in a virtual hug for all the people back home. He and Sister Price wish you all well, and want you to know of their love and appreciation for you.

And of course, no trip to Kansas City is complete without a stop at one of the famous Kansas City barbecues!!

It was such a wonderful trip. Later this week I will post about our visit to Chicago and what we now lovingly refer to as the "Death March". In the meantime, may you always find . . . joy in the journey.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tags and a Swinging Good Time in MO

I got the 8 Things Tag from Lisa at Pulsipher Page. Thanks Lisa!! I loved reading your list. Here is mine.

Favorite TV Shows
None--I am sorry to say. We moved the TV out of the upstairs family room a few years ago and I never wanted to go downstairs just to watch TV so I quit watching. Now I don’t even know what shows are on. (I am so out of touch!!)

8 Things I did Yesterday

Made breakfast for my husband
Went to church
Took a short nap (loved that!)
Cooked dinner
Finished reading Nicholas and Alexandra. (Book #3 for the summer!)
Visited with Ryan and Kali who came by for Father’s Day.
Visited online with Camille, Dave and Carly
Visited with our neighbors Bryan and Connie who came over and brought very yummy cookies.
(Remember it was Sunday, today I will get a lot more work done)

8 Favorite Restaurants

Cafe Rio
Macaroni Grill
Wildflower Bread Company
Corner Bakery Café
P.F. Changs

8 Things I am Looking Forward To

Going on a cruise next month with my husband and three daughters
Getting caught up on my laundry
Christmas break when my two college girls come back home to visit
Christmas break when Camille, Dave and Carly come to visit
Getting the list for my new seminary class so I can start meeting them.
Getting caught up on thank you notes, graduation cards and wedding gifts.
My youngest daughter getting her driver’s license (She told me to write that, I am actually terrified at the thought).
Losing ten pounds.

And now I tag anyone out there who wants to do this. But be sure and let me know so I can read your posts!

Also . . . we just got back from visiting friends on a mission at Adam ondi Ahman in Missouri. We had such a great time, (I will post pictures of that trip and our Chicago Family Reunion Adventure later this week) One of the biggest hits of our stay in MO was the swing in the front yard.

Michelle loved it!

Kathryn loved it!

And never to be left out of an adventure . . . Even Wes got on it!!

Fun times were had by all!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hang nails and other lessons from life.

At some point during the week I like to reflect on what life has taught me over the past several days. A few things I have learned this past week are . . .

1. Don't ask a person a question that you don't have to ask and which has a high probability of having an answer you aren't going to like. Ignorance at times, can be bliss--or at least easier to live with.

2. No matter how comfortable you think a new pair of shoes will be, NEVER take the new shoes as your only pair on a vacation. This is dumb, dumb, dumb!! After you have walked for hours and have blisters, you won't have any shoes to change in to.

3. Since you can no longer wear the offending shoes, do not under any circumstances run down the carpeted hotel stairs in your socks. This only leads to slipping on the stairs, falling down them, and spraining your ankle, which results in a fat foot that now in no way fits into your only pair of shoes.

4. Don't let your married children move away. We have spent the past two weeks with our daughter Camille, her husband Dave and their baby. They left this morning to return to Colorado Springs and I am sure my heart will be sad forever--or at least until we see them again, which wasn't going to be until December, but now I think will be much sooner.

5. Don't get caught up focusing on a hang nail--or anything like unto it. I got a hang nail the other day and did not have anything to remove it. The pestering piece of skin caused my whole finger to ache and demanded the better part of my attention until I tracked down a daughter with clippers. (We were out of town which is why I did not have any of my own.) For that entire time my focus was on the pain of a little hang nail. I was surrounded by family and natures beauty, but was distracted by a throbbing finger. It made me wonder how many times in life I have missed out on a lot of wonderful experiences because I was focusing on something that demanded my attention but in reality was of little importance.

6. And last of all . . . treasure each day. We are currently in Chicago at a family reunion and having a wonderful time. We get to spend sweet moments with relatives who live as far away as Hawaii and Atlanta and all my kids are going home feeling that they not only know their cousins better, but have also made some very good friends.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Heat Has Arrived . . So Why Do I Live Here???

Every summer when the heat wave blasts into Phoenix, I try to remind myself why we live here. And then I remember, oh yea, it is where we have a job. But, my blog friend Jenny, recently posted about her neighborhood in Washington State, and that made me give more thought to what blessings we have in Arizona, and in particular in my neighborhood, besides the scorching heat (which I do NOT consider a blessing!)

Here are a few things I thought of.

1. Longevity. We have lived in the same town for 23 years and when you have lived somewhere that long you definitely put down roots. I have seen kids be born, graduate from high school, leave on missions, get married and are now having babies of their own.

2. My neighbors Bryan and Connie. We lived by them in our old house for 11 years and then moved to our current houses together 12 years ago. They are the kind of people you can always be comfortable around. You can drop by in the evening to watch TV (they have cable, we don’t) or just visit outside over our gardens.

3. All my neighbors actually. They are all great people, most of whom I have known for many years. Over time we have enjoyed some very good times together, and have also suffered through some very deep tragedies.

4. Fresh Eggs. Everyone probably has a neighbor they can turn to if they need an egg in a cooking emergency. But here in our neighborhood we have eggs fresh from the chickens. You just can’t be too picky about color as they might come in white, brown or grey.

5. Swimming pools. (See previous post) Nearly everyone in Arizona has a pool—not just the wealthy. And just glancing out the kitchen window at the cool, blue water makes you feel better.

6. Lemons and oranges—fresh from the tree. Want some fresh squeezed lemonade? I can do that! How about fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast? I can do that too. We have one lemon tree and several orange trees in our yard, and oh, how we love their juice!

7. Convenience. We never have to shovel snow or scrape ice off the car windshield.

8. Water. We have a well with our own water supply and as long as we have electricity, we have plenty of water.

9. Mexican Food. I have to admit I hated Mexican food when I first got married. But I married a man from Mexico and we live in Arizona, so I have learned to love it.

10. The beauty of the desert. I particularly love the early mornings, sitting on my front porch listening to the birds sing, watching the jack rabbits nibble at the grass and families of quail scurry across the yard. But the wide open spaces and the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular.

So, even with the torrid heat, AZ can be a great place to live!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Am Finally Going To Do It!

Every summer I say I am going to take a day off from life and sit by the pool, drink lemonade and read a good book. I plan on it, look forward to it, talk about it . . . and then it never happens.

While we are in town, there are always so many things to do to get ready for seminary in the fall, that I never feel I can take a break and relax. To be honest, I am not a very good relaxer. I am not good at taking naps either. I am a stresser and a worrier (it is genetic, just ask my dad!) and so whenever I try to relax, I just worry about all the things I am not doing that I should be and then I go and do them. On the positive side, I am also not a procrastinator.

But this summer is going to be different. My very good friend Susan, knowing of the unfulfilled desire of my heart, gave me a wonderful gift. Lemonade!! Along with very cute glasses and a pitcher!!

But that isn't all! She also gave me beach towels, an inflatable raft, squirt guns to use to cool myself off with (in case I don't want to actually get in to the water:-) and two of her favorite books to read!!
So, I am set! I am ready to kick back, relax, float in the pool, drink lemonade and read a book! So if anyone wants me, this is where I will be.

Okay, so that isn't really my swimming pool , (and that definitely is NOT my house!) but thanks to Susan, the much more humble pool in my back yard will for at least one day be the stuff dreams are made of! And that brings great . . . joy to my journey!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It Doesn't Get Better Than This!!

There are two places I love more than anywhere else on earth. One is Hawaii and the other is the Animas Valley in Colorado.

About every two years since our honeymoon we have made the trek to the cool pine country where we stay at the company condo just north of Durango, and enjoy sleeping in, going on walks, reading books on the back porch, swimming , and any other local activity we feel up to—such as river rafting, and the Alpine Slide.

This past week was our trek time. And even better, it was my birthday. Wes planned a big surprise activity for the celebration and all the kids, in-laws and our grandbaby came along for the celebration. And they all managed to keep the surprise a secret!!
Just having the family all together was a treat! I loved listening to everyone visit and tease. And of course I loved spending time with Carly. It was so fun to see her reaction when she would see me or Wes. She would smile a big smile, hold out her arms and then bounce her arms and legs up and down as fast as she could until we took her. There are few things in life, I believe, that will warm my heart more than that did.

But, back to my big adventure. . . . I may love planning parties, but Wes is the best at planning fun activities. We got up early in the morning and drove down to the train station where we picked up the Durango Silverton Train. The train ride alone is a treat and we loved watching the scenery as it passed by.

After an hour ride, we disembarked at a remote resort (reached only by train or helicopter) where they had a zip line course. Our entire day was spent riding the zip line. It was so much fun!!

We went through their training session and put on our gear. There were twenty people there that day and eight were with us (Michelle made the sacrifice to stay home and babysit Carly). The crew/guides asked us how we all knew each other. We told them we were all one family and they asked, “So, like you are cousins?” No, we explained, Wes and I were the parents and the others were our children. For the rest of the day they called me “Super Mom” –which I liked, by the way, and kept saying to us, “You guys have the funnest family!”

The crew (which were college aged kids from all over the world) was very helpful, polite and kind. They learned our names within the first ten minutes of being there and this particular young man quickly came to Kristen’s rescue when she cut her hand. He not only provided a Band Aid, but he also took her blood pressure and her heart rate. He told her if she needed anything else he was at her beck and call. Hmmmmm.

Half way through the day we stopped for a very yummy lunch by the river and then began the more challenging course. The most fun was when we traveled at 35 miles an hour over 1,400 feet zipping through the trees and over the river.

Everyone developed their own style of "soaring". Camille (who is on a separate, higher line, by the way) clung tightly to the rope and screamed most of the way. I, for some reason, kept my legs straight out in front of me which resulted in some rather sore stomach muscles the next day.

Kristen liked the flare of the one arm approach.

Kali usually had one leg straight and the other bent and her coat flowing behind her. It was a look that made us think of Mary Poppins meets Super Hero.

And Ryan (shown below) Dave, Wes and Kathryn all tried going upside down. Dave was totally crazy and spent most of his time in that position.

After a very fun day, we took the train home where we picked up Michelle and Carly and headed into Durango for a birthday dinner at Mutu’s Italian Restaurant.

We finished off the night with cake and ice cream back at the condo. By the way, I am not 42, but my kids are kind and allow me the fantasy of pretending to be. Here Carly is helping blow out the candles.

It was a great day and I loved every minute of it. I am so grateful to my wonderful family and especially Wes, who spent so much time and effort planning it and making sure I felt loved and reminded that no matter how old we get, there are still a lot of good times--and adventures-- ahead!

Friday, June 5, 2009

If I Were Ten Years Younger . . .

The main reason I started blogging (besides my husband encouraging me to do so) was so I could learn to always look for and find joy in the journey of life, rather than just dreading getting older. I think I have done pretty well, except the past few months I have had a few weepy moments when I would think about aging. I even caught myself thinking the other day how I wish I would wake up one morning ten years younger than the age I am going to be.

But then I started thinking of all the blessings I have received in my life the past ten years that I would not currently have—and might not ever have, if my wish were granted.

So . . . if I were ten years younger . . .

1. All my children would still be at home, but I also would not have a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a sweet little grandbaby—all of which bring me great joy.

2. With a the exception of family members and neighbors , most of the people I consider important in my life right now, have come into my life in the past ten years.

3. I would have missed out on nine years of being involved in the seminary program and all the associations I have made through seminary, as well as everything I have learned by studying the scriptures during that same time.

4. I would have yet to be a mother of a missionary.

5. I would not have the wonderful friendships I now enjoy with my adult aged children.

6. I would not have traveled to the Orient, Australia, Eastern Europe, Israel, Guatemala, the Mediterranean and Costa Rica.

7. I would still never know how very much fun mountain biking in Moab, Utah can be, what it is like to swim at the Great Barrier Reef, or rappel down waterfalls. And considering the current economy and the lack of construction in Phoenix (my husband’s source of employment) it is very unlikely we would have had the opportunity to do all those things in the next ten years.

8. I would have not yet gone back to school and therefore still would not have the appreciation I do for art, philosophy, biology, geography and literature.

9. I would have less patience, less charity, less compassion and be less forgiving of others.

10. I would be harder on myself, more worried about what others think, and more afraid to let others know who I really am.

And so for those reasons, and many more, I am grateful I am not ten years younger, since the past ten years have brought rich experiences, meaningful relationships and oh, so much . . . joy to my journey!

But now I am wondering . . . what fun adventures, challenges and blessings will the next ten bring??

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Perfect Swim Suit for all Body Types!!

Okay, Ladies, it is officially
And that means time to make the dreaded trip to the store for . . .
But luckily I have found a swimming suit for people of all shapes and sizes.
You can order it at http://www.swimoutlet.com/

So I am forgetting about the crash diet, the situps and the leg lifts.
I am now ready to hit the beach and pool just the way I am!!