Saturday, December 18, 2010

Our Polar Express Party

I just couldn't resist reporting on our Polar Express party. It was so much fun and turned out perfectly--thanks to about 70 people who helped put it together!!

We decided to hold the party in the morning. Everyone met at the "train depot" (the pavilion behind our church building) for hot chocolate and oatmeal (cookies) while waiting for the train.

Our Bishop (leader of our church congregation) punched the tickets and gave a tour of the parking lot while the train traveled to the "North Pole". My favorite part was when he would say, "Thank you for choosing the Polar Express. We know you have a choice in your Arctic Travel . . . " Our good friends the Purtymuns, put the train together. It was pulled by a skip loader and had a coal car, and they rigged it all so it made a whistle like a real train!!

At the North Pole (notice the "pole" in front of the building), everyone was greeted by one of Santa's elves. A child from each group was chosen to ring the bells to open the doors.

Then two additional elves would throw open the doors and others inside would yell, "Welcome to the North Pole!" It was very exciting.

The women who decorated the lobby did an amazing job!! They had such a cute place for pictures with Santa.

Also around the room were other displays, like the "nice lists" containing all the names of the children in our church congregation. There was also a naughty list--but we are keeping those names confidential. :-)

After greeting Santa and having pictures, everyone was whisked away to help out in Santa's workshops. We also had decorations all through the hallways, "street" signs with names like "Candy Cane Lane" and "Jingle Bell Way" as well as signs on the doors that said things like "Mrs. Claus Kitchen" and "Elves Break Room".
We had four workshops people could help out in. They included coloring pictures, making red and green paper chains and making snowflakes to be used to decorate rooms at Phoenix Children's Hospital, making blankets for a dialysis center, and stuffing stockings for homeless teenagers at a shelter.
Here some of Santa's helpers are coloring pictures. I think my favorite moment of the day was when a little boy about three years of age, colored his picture and then went down the hall to show it to Santa.

At 9:00 we all stopped for breakfast. All the snowflakes you see were made ahead of time and also donated to the hospital. Breakfast was delicious and I thought the room turned out really cute.

After breakfast we were all ready for a little fun and entertainment. One thing we did was sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with every table being assigned to act out a day.
Here are some of the "Lords a Leaping"

And this was my favorite--a partridge in a pear tree.

We began the party at 8:00 and finished at 10:01. And amazingly we were all cleaned up one hour later ( a little different than the six hours it took to set up!).
I think everyone had a great time. We collected a large car load of decorations for the hospital, made 28 blankets and had 29 stockings. But the best part of the entire party, for me at least, occurred yesterday when I delivered the Christmas stockings to the homeless shelter. The staff was so sweet and appreciative that I got in my car and started to cry. I wish everyone who had helped put this party together could have been there with me. It was a wonderful feeling.
Now I have been released from this calling--since activities chairman is no longer a calling in our church. And although I will miss doing it, I am looking forward to new adventures.
And may your always find . . . joy in your journey.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Farewell of Sorts

Dear Family and Friends,

When I started my blog, I really didn't know anything about blogging. I just knew all my nieces were doing it and I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch with family.

But now two years and 278 posts later, I have learned a lot. One thing I learned is that there is a vast blogging community filled with wonderful women, and many have become friends. Some of you I have had the blessing of meeting personally, but all of you have blessed my life in some way.

I have had women who were once complete strangers offer to take dinner to a sick child at BYU, another offer to run to Walmart in Utah to find a Christmas tree ornament the stores in Arizona were out of. I have had women send me recipes, ideas for parties, and suggestions for helping with children and other challenges. I have had women pray for my mother when she was ill, and celebrate with me on the birth of a grandchild.

But, I have also learned that not having a plan for my blog wasn't the best idea. Over time my blog has seemed to have gotten away from me and evolved into something that I am not really very happy with.

I have considered just moving forward with this blog, making the changes I would like to make. But in the end decided it was better to just start over. So, beginning today I will be shutting this down, and in January I will debut my new one. (I decided starting it now before the holidays might not be the best choice).

However, between now and then, I still plan on making frequent visits to all of you, as I cherish your friendship and the things I learn from you.

May you all have a wonderful holiday season, and may your life always bring . . .

Joy to your journey!

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Not At All Scary Wes

My husband's birthday is in a few weeks. It is also our stake conference on the same day. And he is one of the speakers.

He is just lucky like that. :-)

Personally, I think Wes is an amazing speaker. He never has a single note. And most of the time he doesn't even know what he will be speaking on until he stands up to the pulpit. He just prepares by reading the scriptures and conference talks and praying--a lot. And then he gets up and gives the most wonderful sermons.

At least that is my opinion.

I have heard from a few sources that there are some people in the stake who think he can be pretty scary. I admit he can be forceful, but that people find him scary is a bit humorous to me.

Seriously, this is not a scary man. And here are two stories about Wes that illustrate what I mean.

First Story
There is a woman in our stake who is a good friend and a great bread maker. On occasion when she would bake bread, she would share her delicious talent with us. One Friday night she told me that she had made bread but it had not turned out (a very unusual occurrence) and so she could not bring us the loaf she had intended.

I shared with Wes our friend's sad story before heading off Saturday morning to all day meetings. When I returned, I found four loaves of bread sitting on the kitchen counter. They weren't the prettiest things, but they tasted great. When I asked where they had come from, Wes told me he had made them.

Now, Wes had never made bread before. But when he heard our friend's plight he decided to make bread for her family. So he got out the wheat grinder and went to work. He told me he knew his bread wasn't pretty, but he was sure our friend wouldn't mind. And of course, she didn't.

I thought that was the sweetest thing! And since that day he has been making bread every few weeks so we continue to enjoy the blessings of his service.

Second Story
A few years ago a family of birds built a nest on a pillar on our front porch. After the eggs hatched, however, one of the babies died and the birds knocked the nest to the ground. We assumed all the remaining babies were killed by the fall.

However, I was outside the following morning and noticed the mother bird was very distressed and kept flying around a bush. As I listened closely, I could hear the faint chirping of a baby bird and realized one had survived. The mother was trying to rescue the surviving baby but had no way of doing so.

My son and I were able to get the baby out of the bush and place it in a shoe box. Then my husband got a ladder and climbed up to the top of the pillar, where the nest had been, and taped the shoe box to the pillar.

If I had not been in love with Wes before that moment, I would have fallen head over heels in love with him right then. It totally melted my heart to see him doing that, but what even touched me more was hearing him talk to the baby bird. It was obvious the baby was scared, and so Wes attempted to calm it by talking to it in a soft, sweet voice. And after he taped the box to the pillar, he asked the bird, "Now is that better little kiddo?"

Now does that sound like a scary man? :-)

By the way, the story has a happy ending. The mother resumed care of the bird and about a week later it flew away.

So there you have two not at all scary stories of my "scary" husband. Two stories that have brought . . . joy to my journey!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Super Easy, Super Delicious Pumpkin Cookies

Want a super easy recipe for delicious (and low fat!) pumpkin cookies?

Here it is!!

I got this from my friend Viki. Viki is totally cute, fun and loves to party. She has made these cookies for me before, but it wasn't until she brought them to our stake service project yesterday that I learned they are a Weight Watcher recipe--and VERY, VERY easy!! (And sorry but the picture was taken at the service project which is why the cookies are not sitting on a cute plate. :-)

You will love them!

1 box Spice Cake Mix

1 15 oz can unsweetened pumpkin

1 C. Mini Semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray cookie sheet with Pam. In a large bowl, stir cake mix and pumpkin together until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Use a cookie scoop or spoon to drop tablespoons of dough on cookie sheet. Bake for 12 -14 minutes. Remove to cooling rack after 1 min on sheet.Number of Servings: 48

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Reality Of It All . . .

Dawn at Momza's House accepted a challenge to write the "Real Deal" of her life. I am pretty sure Dawn always writes the real deal as she is very open and honest in her posts which is one reason I always enjoy reading them.

After reading her post yesterday, however, I decided that for today I will write some things in my life that do not bring me any joy--not in the least. I don't mean to be a downer, I just intend to give a more accurate view of my life.

I also may not leave this post up for more than a few days but . . .

So, here is "The Reality Of It All" or the "Real Deal" and the joyless side of my life. I am leaving out some of the details out of respect for the privacy of those involved.

1. We have an immediate family member who was just recently diagnosed with cancer. The seriousness of it will not be determined until after a surgery that will be performed next month. This has made for a very teary week for me.

2. We have another immediate family member who is currently in the hospital undergoing a stem cell transplant for cancer. He is sick beyond sick at the moment--dealing with not only the cancer but the ravages of the treatment. This has resulted in considerable worry, concern, tears and prayers in his behalf.

3. I have a daughter in law who is six months pregnant with their first child--a boy. She is currently suffering from health complications that have severely restricted her activity and require that someone be with her at all times. Although her health and the health of the baby are our primary concerns, the mounting medical bills, the increase in health insurance costs and the fact that my son is only working part-time while going to school full time, brings additional stress to their little family.

4. My husband is a partner in a construction company. Since construction in our area is nearly dead, the company has had to lay off hundreds of workers over the past year (at considerable angst to my husband) and cut back on costs in all areas. In an effort to keep as many families on the pay roll as possible, the owners have cut their own salaries this past year to practically nothing.

5. I suffer from chronic back pain that restricts my activities and requires me to spend a lot of time with a chiropractor, and walking. If I do without either, the pain gets rather unbearable.

6. And I have a great big zit on my chin! :-)

I was visiting with a friend yesterday who asked me how I can feel any happiness with so many difficult things happening. My answer--I pray for peace, and when the feeling comes, I hold tight to it.

That, and I try to focus on the things that bring . . . joy to my journey. :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

While I Was Gone . . .

This is what I missed while out of town . . . Homecoming!! When we planned our trip six months ago, I didn't know we would be gone on such a big night!

But thankfully Ryan and Kali came over, took pictures and then spent the night so Michelle would have someone to come home to after her date. Thank you so much both of you!!

Here is a picture they took of Michelle and her friend Preston. I think it is a cute picture, but if I had been home they probably wouldn't have been standing so close together. :-)

And here are a few more pictures from the trip.

Whenever we travel I like to do the local thing. I like to eat where the locals eat and stay at B&B's so we can get to know more people. I think that is the funnest thing for me about traveling. Here is a picture of Wes and Cory fighting with their lobsters at a local lobster pound. Notice it took deep concentration.

I wanted to upload pictures of the two farm houses we stayed in. Both were over a hundred years old!! Unfortunately my computer had other ideas and wouldn't let me upload them. Hopefully I will get them loaded sometime. They were both darling and the owners were wonderful. We also met great people at both.

One of my favorite stories was when we got up on Sunday. We were traveling that day to Vermont, but stopping to attend church on the way, so we came down for breakfast in our Sunday clothes. A fellow tourist asked us why we were dressed up so I told him we were going to church. He turned to his wife and in laws (who were traveling with him) and said, "We should be doing that." After breakfast we made sandwiches to take with us. When they asked us why we were making our lunch I explained that since it was Sunday we didn't want to stop to eat at a restaurant so we were taking our lunch with us. He once again turned to his travel mates and said, "We should be doing that." Then his brother in law said, "You young people are setting a good example for us older folks."

At that moment I thought he was a wonderful man! I loved being called a "young people"! We very much enjoyed getting to know them. We sat up the night before in the living room for over an hour visiting with them. I love that!

But since I don't have pictures of the farm houses, here are some more of the scenery.

Wes took this one on our hike up Great Head in Acadia Park. I thought it was beautiful. And see those rocks on the left--that is what we were climbing up--just not quite so steep. Almost though.

This is one more picture of the beautifully quaint town of Deerfield, MA. I love this picture. If you don't look at the leaves very carefully you will think it is spring in stead of fall.

This is just outside Acadia. I love the color!! At night when I would close my eyes to go to sleep I would still see all sorts of colors in my mind. It was so beautiful!

These next two are closeups. This one is my favorite. I love all the different colors of leaves you can see against the bright blue sky.

A tree in Vermont.

And lastly, this isn't a very good photograph but it is pretty amazing when you realize that I took it very quickly out the car window while driving down the freeway. You can't tell very well but those are deer.

So there you have it . . . the last pictures I will post of our trip. The rest I will print up for our photo album. :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Visit To My Neighborhood

My neighborhood is a little unique.

I live on a cul-de-sac in the county, on a street with no name, that has seven houses all facing different directions and is also home to five dogs, several chickens, numerous jack rabbits, an occasional rattle snake, a large family of quail, and about 30 other birds that live in the orange tree in my front yard, eat all the oranges and greet me each morning with a cacophony of squawking.

When we first moved here, we were on the outskirts of civilization. We were the “edge of the desert” where teenagers went to have drinking parties, and an occasional dead body was found. We didn’t have cable TV or Internet service and every time the wind blew, our electricity went out—which also meant we had no water since our well pump requires electricity to run. The nearest grocery store was twenty minutes away, and going to church each Sunday was a half hour drive.

And the one road out of our neighborhood, when flooded, would become impassible.

During those early years we also suffered through what I call “the plagues”.

We had the mouse plague (which recently returned), the scorpion plague—where thankfully no one got stung-- the black cricket plague, the Indian house cricket plague and my most favorite—the plague of the centipedes. During that time, every morning I would awake to centipedes crawling across the floor, or hiding in my shoes. On two occasions they didn’t even wait until morning to pester me, but rather during the night, climbed into my bed!

It was then I wondered why we had willfully moved out to “the prairie”!

But civilization has since come out to meet us. Cable lines run under the ground, a Super Target is only a half mile away, a church building is down the street and monthly pest control has eliminated most of the unwanted creepy crawlers.

And I no longer wonder why we would ever want to live out in the desert. For besides the incredibly beautiful sunrises and sunsets that bless us each day . . .

We have our neighbors

Wonderful, fun, and very good neighbors.

Everyone on our street has lived here at least 10 years, and some as long as 15. Five of us belong to the Mormon Church, and all five were in the same ward (church unit) at one time before moving out to the county. The other two families actively participate in other religions.

But all of our kids have grown up together. In the beginning, there were Friday night “Capture the Flag” games, “secret” clubs, dance parties, and bake sales where we all got to buy back the items we just made. And we have all been the victim of the occasional prank—from the harmless toilet papering to the more destructive time when a garden hose was put inside a car window, the water turned on and left running over night.

Now we mostly celebrate prom dates, weddings and the birth of grandchildren.

We have had up times and down times, achievements and heart breaks. And through it all, we have been bound together by car pools, tragedy, sickness, health, and love.

I love that I can walk over to my neighbor’s home at any time to ask help with anything, and they are always willing to help. Whether it is shoveling 20 tons of rock on a Saturday morning, or help with a sick child in the middle of the night, someone will be there.

Our next door neighbors are particularly close friends. We have lived by each other for 24 years, served in many church callings together and have children who are best friends.

I count as one of my greatest blessings our friendship with Bryan and Connie. We are welcome in their home at any time whether they are there or not. If we go to their house while they are there, they will always feed us (something my kids learned very quickly) and if they aren't there we are still welcome to go in and watch TV (they have cable and we don't so my husband often disappears to their house to watch sports).

There are no walls between our houses and there are no walls between our hearts.

It is an honor to travel through this life with all of my neighbors. For they are definitely people who have brought, and continue to bring great . . . joy to my journey.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Dream Come True

Since I was a teenager, I have dreamed of visiting a certain area of the United States.

Well, this past week I finally got that opportunity!! We went with some friends, and as usual (when we are with them) had a wonderful time.

Look at the pictures below and see if you can guess where they were taken.


Picture A is of the Boston Temple at dusk. We spent a wonderful evening there doing work for Jenny's (my friend) ancestors.

Picture B is of Rockport, MA on the tip of Cape Ann. We were only there about 20 minutes, but we thoroughly enjoyed strolling around town and sampling the homemade fudge.

Okay, keep reading and see if any of these pictures look familiar.





C, D, E and F were all taken at Acadia Park in Maine. I was so thrilled to be there, especially in the fall!! It was so beautiful and the weather was perfect. The first two pictures give you an idea of the fall foliage. The third picture is of the many lobster boats. The harbor was filled with them! What I didn't understand is why lobster costs as much or more in Maine as it does anywhere else--even though you aren't paying for the shipping fees. Even so, we enjoyed our share of it.
And the last picture is of the light house on Bear Island. We took a boat across the harbor to Cranberry Island and passed this lighthouse on the way. So darling!!
Okay, ready for another picture? How about this one?


And this one. . .

G is actually a picture of the drive going into Joseph Smith's Birthplace in Sharon, Vermont. The drive and the views from there were so beautiful!
H is a very cute touristy town called Woodstock, which was nearby. We loved this town but would have loved it even more if there hadn't been so many tour buses driving by.
Okay, here is the last group of pictures. Can anyone guess where these were taken? I will give you a hint. They were all taken on the same street.




The answer is Deerfield, MA. I had never heard of the town before this trip, but was so glad to discover it!! The town is considered one of the best preserved historical towns in the U.S and dates all the way back to the late 1600's. We loved walking the street and admiring the cuteness of it all!
So that was my trip! It was very fun, very beautiful and filled with gorgeous weather! We returned home this morning at 9:30 a.m., which means I have now been awake for 22 hours straight!
I am off to bed!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Search of Cooler Weather . . .

I am headed out in the morning to Utah for conference.

We haven't been for a few years so I am really excited to go. Besides being able to attend a session, we also will get to spend time with our two BYU daughters! I am super excited about that. I have missed them both terribly.

And I am hoping the weather will be at least a few degrees cooler than what we are experiencing in Arizona. I keep reading posts about how everyone is loving their fall weather, and if coveting weren't a sin, I would be filled to the brim with it.

I got to substitute in seminary last week. It was so much fun! I subbed a freshman class and they were all so sweet and excited about everything. I think it would have made me want to teach again if I hadn't felt so tired the rest of the day! That sure brought back memories!! I have felt so much better these past few months. I actually have energy after 2:00! It is hard to believe I lived for 12 years being that sleep deprived.

Yesterday my husband's brother and his son were in town visiting from Hawaii. They are here for a BYU-H soccer game and came over for dinner and swimming (yes it is still hot enough to swim here).

Michelle also had some friends from school over to work on an English project, and they came into the family room to discuss their project with me.

It was so much fun. I love having my house filled with people and lively conversation. It just warms my heart!

I really was not meant to live in a quiet house. Dear Mothers of young children. . . Enjoy them. All too soon they are gone.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Close Encounters of the Scurrying Kind

I walked into my bedroom last night and found this in the corner . . .


And next to it on the ground were little black droppings.

This could only mean one thing . . .

While I had been blissfully sleeping the night before, there were MICE running around my bedroom, not more than a couple feet from where I had been!!
I called to my husband in another room to tell him what I found. He said, "I scoop out mice all the time from the swimming pool."
I wasn't quite sure what that meant. Was it
a. Just a random comment?
b. A suggestion for me to get the mice to follow me out to the pool where they could then drowned themselves?
c. His way of telling me that he has disposed of his share of mice and these were mine?
I vacuumed up the mess and checked all over my bedroom and bathroom for additional evidence of nocturnal wanderings. I didn't find anything, but just in case I made my husband keep the lights on while I climbed into bed and tucked myself in--and then moved to the middle of the bed (sorry about that Honey). I spent the night intently listening for scurrying feet and/or munching.
It was a very long night.
And to my dismay, despite my vigil, this morning we discovered a pair of my husband's socks partially eaten and mouse droppings all over the bathroom floor.
Tonight my husband put out traps all over our house.
Already we have one mouse killed in action.
I am not sure what the rest of the night will bring, but just in case, I am thinking about sleeping in the basement.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Look At Me Now!!

Look at these pictures of me! I love this one.

And this one!

And especially this one!

Okay, so they really aren't of me. But I sure wish they were.

Maybe someday . . . .:-)

About a month ago my friend and walking partner, Susan, decided we needed more of a challenge in our exercise routine. Frankly, I was quite content to walk our few miles around the neighborhood each morning while solving the problems of the world. But since she was ready to move on, I had no choice but to either find a new walking partner (which I did not want to do) or move forward with her.

So, we joined a neighborhood gym and now my life is filled with treadmills, weights, zumba classes and yes . . yoga!

I have wanted to try yoga for a long time but lacked the nerve and courage. But with a friend at your side, everything becomes less frightening, so we started attending the "gentle yoga" class twice a week together. And gentle it was. We would come out of class ready to take a nap. I loved the stretching but after a couple weeks we decided we could probably do a little more.

We noticed there was another yoga class just before our gentle one, so we decided to try that. We knew some people in the class and figured if they could do it, we could.

Yikes!! Three minutes in to class I knew I had made a huge mistake. Trying to balance on one foot while bringing my back leg up behind me just was not going to happen. (I couldn't even balance let alone grab my back foot!) Half way through the class my legs were shaking, my arms were trembling and I was sweating like a marathon runner. I was so thankful for dim lights and kept hoping no one was watching me as I stumbled through.

But apparently they were. As soon as class ended, the teacher came up to congratulate us for sticking it out. Ends up we were in an intermediate yoga class. INTERMEDIATE!! This after just three weeks of a remedial one.

She said how proud she was of us for being brave and trying some thing we obviously were not qualified for. (Those were not her exact words, but it was implied).

As we walked away, a member of the class must have thought we needed an additional pep talk because she then came over to visit with us as well. She told us that she was diagnosed with two herniated disks a year ago and so took up yoga. Now she attends class five days a week and loves it. In fact it is the only exercise she does.

I looked at her more closely. She was probably in her late 20's, tall, thin, beautiful, limber and very toned. VERY TONED!

As she walked away I watched her with just a touch [a lot] of envy.

Do you think if I stick it out I can look like that in a year?

Okay, probably not--in a million, billion years, ever! But, I think I am going to stick it out anyway.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fifteen Years Later . . . The Family Proclamation

Like many of you, I remember well the night "The Family, A Proclamation To The World" was presented during the Relief Society broadcast by then president of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley. But although I remember the reading of it, I had no idea at that moment how important the document would become to my family, nor how threatened the principles it teaches would become in our nation.

Today, September 23, 2010 marks the fifteen anniversary of that day. To commemorate the occasion, I wanted to share a few of my feelings, as well as some quotes from an article by Elder Henry B. Eyring, in the October 1998 Ensign.

During this past year our stake was asked to memorize the proclamation. This is the second time we have been asked to do this. Later, at stake conference, all who were willing to stand in defense of the family stood, and those who had memorized the proclamation recited it. It was a powerful moment, as hundreds joined their voices together in one voice and proclaimed the sanctity of life and the family.

I have come to love the proclamation. One thing that strikes me, is it teaches us that the family unit is eternal. Not just in the sense that we can be married here for all eternity, but that we ourselves belong to a spiritual family. And we always have. We have a heavenly mother and a heavenly father and we are their children. The family we have here is patterned after what we had there, and is also a type of what is to come. The family unit existing of a mother and a father has always existed and will always exist.

Everything about this life is to teach us about our heavenly parents so we can become like them, and we want to become like them so we can live with them again. Since they live in a family unit, having a family here is the best way for us to learn what they are like.

The world might teach us that the family unit is archaic, that fathers are unnescessary, that a woman's work is only valued outside the home, or that material possessions are what matter, but the proclamation helps us to know differently. And although achieving the ideal may be difficult, it is not impossible.

I love what Elder Eyring teaches us about that.

"Whoever we are, however difficult our circumstances, we can know that what our Father requires of us if we are to qualify for the blessings of eternal life will not be beyond our ability. What a young boy said long ago when he faced a seemingly impossible assignment is true: “I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne. 3:7).

We may have to pray with faith to know what we are to do, [to improve our family and prepare for eternal life] and after obtaining such knowledge we must pray with a determination to obey. But we can know what to do and be sure that the way has been prepared for us by the Lord. As we read what the proclamation tells us about the family, we can expect—in fact, we must expect—impressions to come to our minds as to what we are to do. And we can be confident it is possible for us to do according to those impressions."

The Family Proclamation is truly a blue print for eternal life. It teaches us who we are, where we come from and where we are going. It teaches the importance of making sacred temple covenants and what we must to do keep them.

Basically it teaches us how to return to live with our Heavenly Father.

How grateful I am for inspired leaders who show the way. And for a Heavenly Father who loves us enough to allow us to be in families here, and families in the eternity.

For there is nothing my life that brings greater . . . joy to my journey, than my family.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A whole lot of this and a little of that . . . .and that . . .

I had plans to blog more last week.

But life got in the way.

And a whole lot of worry.

My daughter in law was in the hospital for two days. She is 20 weeks pregnant with a little baby boy. We are so excited for the baby to come we can hardly stand the wait. But this past week she developed some health issues, unrelated to the pregnancy, and that has had us all worrying and praying a little more fervently as she cannot be treated until after the baby is born. I think the next four months are going to be very long ones.

But there have been some positives as well.

Yesterday our stake had a special meeting (it was not stake conference) and Elder Richard Hinckley of the First Quorum of Seventy presided. It was fun to have him visit. He told several stories about growing up with his father and lessons he learned from him.

One of my favorites was he told how soon before President Hinckley passed away he performed a sealing for one of his grandchildren. There at the sealing, President Hinckley commented that he just realized he had performed the sealings for all five of his children and all of his grandchildren. He went on to say that he felt having his family all sealed together was his greatest accomplishment. Elder Hinckley emphasized that his father had accomplished a lot during his many years of church service, including the unprecedented building of temples, yet having his family all sealed is what he thought was the best thing he ever did. I loved that.

Another story he told was about Mike Wallace and the 60 Minutes interview. He said Wallace was amazed when he learned about the missionary program and especially how mission presidents were called. He asked President Hinckley how the church was able to get men, many in the prime of their careers, to give up their jobs, or put their career on hold, and leave their families to serve for three years. President Hinckley answered, "We ask them." I got a kick out of that. So simple, yet so true.

It was a great meeting and I feel so blessed we were able to have him speak to us. He was in town for training meetings with the bishops and stake presidency and stayed over an extra day to speak to our stake as well. What a great blessing that was!!

And lastly . . . Here are a few pictures from our ward activity a week ago. We had a competition between the men and the women in fashion design, musical performance and coordination skills. It was a ton of fun!! And we were amazed at the talent in our ward!

This first picture was fashion design. Don't you just love the outfits?!

This was one of the coordination challenges. They had to keep three balloons in the air for one minute.

And lastly here is musical performance. This is one of the groups of women.

And here is a group of the men. Too funny. And cute legs. :-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yes I Can!! (Three Short Stories)

1. When our oldest daughter Camille was about three years old, my husband and I went to Dairy Queen to buy blizzards. We ordered mediums for the two of us and a small for Camille. My husband suggested we get her a medium as well (he wasn't thinking what would be best for her health, but rather what she would enjoy). I said to him, "She can't eat that much". From the back of the car we heard a very emphatic, "Yes. I. Can!" And she did.

We laughed at the bold determination of a small child. She was not going to be told what she could or couldn't do, but rather make that decision herself. And the stubbornness that was exhibited then has continued with her and has been put to good use.

2. Today is my brother's birthday and so my next story is about him. Mark received a mission call to Japan and therefore, obviously, needed to learn Japanese--a rather difficult language. While in the MTC he struggled with even the basics. After a short time one of his teachers suggested Mark talk to the MTC President about getting his mission call changed to an English speaking mission.

Mark's response to being told he couldn't do it? He just thought, "Yes I can". And he did. With a great deal of hard work and prayer, Mark learned the language well and later served as an assistant to his mission president.

3. When my daughter Kristen was in 5th grade, she wanted to play the flute in the school band. So she borrowed her older sister's flute and began attending band class. By the end of the first semester all she could play was a B flat. Luckily she could read music so she always knew when the note was coming so she could play it with everyone else. By the end of the year she could finally play a scale.

Also at the end of the year her teacher made two observations which he shared with her. The first was that she played the flute like a fish. The second was that she would never learn to play the flute well and should therefore consider playing another instrument that didn't require as much talent--like the drums (his suggestion).

So what was Kristen's response when told she would never learn to play the flute? She thought, "Yes I can." And she did. Kristen continued practicing and in both 7th and 8th grade was not only first chair, but also earned All State Honors.

So what is the moral of my stories?

Don't ever let anyone tell you, you can't do something, because chances are, you can!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Lesson From "We The People"

Although I have strong political views, I have not used my blog to express them. However, what happened at my daughter's school last Friday is too tempting for me not to share.

Friday was the first pep assembly of the year and as part of the assembly, each class was to present their class cheer which was made up by the class officers when each class were freshmen.

But the Junior class doesn't like their cheer. It is lengthy and the cadence is different from the other classes. They asked their class officers to change it. They asked the administration to change it. They even suggested several alternatives.

But the answer has always been an emphatic "no". Those they had chosen to represent them made their choice, and the class had no choice but to accept it.

Or so they were told.

Shortly before the assembly where the class cheers were to be presented, someone started passing around a short, easy to learn replacement. It wasn't clever, and it really wasn't even kind, but it made a strong statement of protest. Quickly it passed from student to student and in just a few minutes everyone had learned the protest cheer.

First the freshmen enthusiastically gave their cheer. Then the sophomores loudly shouted theirs.

Then it was time for the juniors.

In the past the class of 2012 has never cheered very loudly. Not liking their cheer, only a few voices could ever be heard coming from the crowd. But this time, while the class officers and cheerleaders stood in front of the crowd, holding posters with the words of the previously selected cheer, all the juniors stood and in one voice loudly shouted the words that had just recently passed from student to student.

The student council was confused. The administration was angry and disqualified the students from the cheer competition.

I applauded.

I am tired of elected officials forcing their agenda on the public, despite the protests of the people. And it sickens me that one solitary judge can over throw the votes of millions. I am beyond disillusioned with the corrupt politics in our country right now.

But something I learned from the class of 2012 is that when we all stand together, and shout in one voice, "we the people" can be heard.

Thank you Junior Class, for teaching me this. It gives me hope for our future.

Comments have been turned off. I am just venting.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Oops! How did that get there?

I walked in the door after church today and my husband said, "You have something on the back of your skirt." I looked down at my white skirt and saw a brown sticky glob stuck right on my rear.

It looked like a squished Milk Dud.

I had to wonder, how did it get there? And how long had it been since it took up residence on my backside?

Was it there when I walked into the chapel and passed around flyers for our social this Friday to everyone seated?

Was it there when I walked to the front of the chapel to lead the music?

Was it there when I walked back to my seat after the sacrament and then back up to the front again for the closing song?

Was it there when I subbed in the fifteen year old Sunday School class?

Was it there during RS and when I walked across the parking lot to my car?

And what were people thinking when they saw a big brown glob on the back of my white skirt?

I am sure I have had more embarrassing moments in the past, and will probably have more in the future, but still . . .

Why didn't anyone else tell me?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Coping With Unfulfilled Expectations

A while back the question arose in a discussion, "What do you do when your life doesn't turn out how you thought it would?" The man who posed the question expressed that he had many dreams and hopes in his life that were unfulfilled and consequently he was living each day with regret and self pity.

I spent the next few days thinking about his situation. I think all of us have dreams we will never see achieved. Maybe bad health restricts us from participating fully in physical activities, or the death of a spouse eliminates some opportunities. Maybe infertility has caused us to put away dreams of raising children, or the need to help out the family financially has put on hold a desire to stay at home with the kids.

I realize I don't have the answer for all those who feel they are missing out in life, but here are three suggestions that have helped me cope with disappointment.

Develop a habit of expressing gratitude.
I have learned that when I am unhappy, it is usually because I am focusing on what I don't have rather than on what I have. Initially it might be hard to express gratitude for what we have when we feel deprived of so many things, but like any other talent, we get better with practice. As I kneel each day and express gratitude for my blessings, I have become aware of many that have slipped by unnoticed. Expressing gratitude each day also helps me focus on what is good in my life and that brings joy and peace.

Redefine your dreams.
Although it may be true many of the dreams I had at 20 will never be achieved, I have accomplished much I never dreamed of doing in my younger years. Perhaps a dream of seeing all your children married in the temple does not appear likely, but maybe you have taught and influenced other youth through teaching Sunday School. Maybe your dream of finding the cure for cancer won't happen, but perhaps you have been the means of helping heal broken hearts through service.

Make a list of what you have done, enjoy the satisfaction from that, and then make another list of what you realistically would still like to do and get up and start doing it. Sitting around feeling regret and sadness for what we haven't accomplished while refusing to move forward, will only guarantee that at the end of our lives we will still be sad.

Realize the fulfillment of dreams doesn't always have a time limit.
There may be dreams that realistically need to be let go, but just because we are middle aged, or even elderly and have not done all we had hoped, does not mean it still can't be done. Blind men climb mountains and ninety-year-old women have gone back to college. It may take longer than we expected, and it may not even happen in this lifetime, but if it is possible to do, we should not give up. Life for most will last quite a long time, and eternity is even longer.

Most of all, the biggest lesson I have learned in life is this . . . there is time to accomplish a lot; we just need to be patient and in the meantime learn to find . . . joy in the journey.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Very First . . . and other stories from Utah

I am finally back from my trip to Utah, where I spent all of last week enjoying the company of my parents, spending time with three of my daughters and my granddaughter, and visiting with good friends.

It was a great week!

Although it didn’t start off so great.

(not the actual officer who pulled me over)

Just after crossing from Arizona into Utah I got pulled over for speeding. Now I know that for many people (family members included) this isn’t a big deal but for me it was HUGE!! I have never been pulled over for speeding before—in my entire life!! Not that I haven’t sped, I just have never been caught doing it. And although I thought it was a little unfair (I was just passing a car and would have slowed down after passing it) and I explained that to the officer, he didn’t care. He wrote me out my very first ticket anyway. So I told him he was going on my blog and he suggested I might want to join his Facebook fan page as well. Ha ha.

But from then on it was a great trip.

First off we went to visit my sister to spend time with her and her cute family. She has one son who just got off a mission and another who left last Wednesday. I was so glad to see them both!! Aren’t they so cute!!

(Can you guess which just got off the mission and which just left?)

The next day we went to visit Kristen’s classroom. She is teaching third grade this year in the Nebo School District. It was so much fun to see her room. And it was even more fun to hear all her stories each day after school during the week. One of my favorites was when some kids brought her flowers after recess. When Kristen asked them where they got the flowers they said “Across the street in someone’s yard.” Kristen joked that her next writing assignment would be to have the kids write apology letters.

We also were able to get Kathryn settled into her new apartment and meet one of her roommates. That was fun but leaving her there was sad for me. I have loved having Kathryn home with me this past summer and I am going to miss her a lot now that she is back at school.

Camille also flew in from Colorado to spend the week with us. I loved having her there as well. I am pretty sure life doesn’t get any better than sitting around the table at night visiting with your children. Although I missed those who weren’t there, I loved being with my three daughters who were. They are all so hilarious when they are together that I can’t stop laughing.

Another highlight of my trip was my mother’s birthday party. Thanks to my sister Terri, we were all able to get together to eat very yummy food and celebrate another year of life. I think my mom looks great--which is pretty amazing considering all she has been through the past two years. (And I would tell you she is turning 75 but she would be mad at me for it. :-)

I also loved visiting with my sisters and going to lunch with my sister Becky (on the left) for her birthday as well. Becky is one of my most favorite people. She is also someone who will never be rich because she is always using her resources to help others. She is truly one of the most creative and generous people I know. I love that she is my sister.

(This was taken at Terri's house, unfortunately Terri isn't in the picture.)

And to top off the week, I got to spend time with my very good friend from high school, Jaye Lynn and her husband Mark. I have known Jaye Lynn since I was 14 and I met Mark (who is the men's track coach at BYU) a year later. I was with Jaye Lynn the first time she met Mark and doubled with them on their first date.
There is something very sweet about spending time with people who have known you almost your entire life. Camille went with me to their house because she also knows them well as she worked as Mark’s secretary in the track office for four years while in college. It was so much fun to reminisce and get updates on mutual friends. I loved every second of being there. Because of my husband’s church calling and situations where we live now, I always feel I have to be constantly on guard. I have to always watch what I say and how I behave.
Consequently there are very few people who I feel really know me. But there in that family room, I didn’t have to be guarded at all. I could just be me.
It was fun. It was liberating. It was wonderful.

And the entire week was definitely one that brought great . . . joy to my journey.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Random Ramblings

We are counting down the days until Kathryn goes back to school! She is counting them in eager anticipation, and I am counting them tearfully. I don’t know why none of my daughters have been interested in staying home and being my personal assistant the rest of their lives. For some reason they all think getting an education and having a social life sounds like a lot more fun. Seriously!! (I have even offered to pay them!:-)

In the meantime life is getting a little CRAZY on the home front. Take tomorrow. We have a breakfast meeting for the missionaries in our area at my house at 6:30, then I have a meeting to plan our ward social at 10. I am having company for dinner, followed by an open house for investigators at 7:00—also at our house, and I need to make refreshments for that—and we have a Relief Society activity. Somehow, someway, it is all going to come together. I am sure of it. (Call me frazzled)

Michelle’s car broke down. She was driving to school early one morning after seminary and the car started making all sorts of strange noises. So she abandoned it along the side of a road and hitched a ride with a fellow early morning seminary student. We had to have it towed and it is still in the shop. So, this was going to be my first year in 13 years not to drive a child to seminary, but, alas, I am back at it. Although, Michelle isn’t too thrilled about having to ride the bus home either. Hopefully the car will be fixed soon.

On a more positive . . . we are thrilled to finally have the Phoenix Temple moving forward. Over two years after it was announced, plans are being submitted today to the city for approval. The original plans required a height variance, which was approved by the city but protested by the neighbors, so new plans were drawn. The new plans not only address the neighbors’ concerns, but the members as well. It is now one level but also larger to accommodate more people. The new square footage will be about equal to the Draper, Utah temple.

I attended a neighborhood meeting for the temple last night. Many of the people were very nice, but others were not. Some are just anti-Mormon and don’t want a temple at all. Others have valid concerns about their quality of life being affected. And others were fearful of a large structure being built that they won’t be able to use, by a religion they know very little about. Hopefully over time many of their fears will be allayed. For those of us who live on the west side, however, having a temple this close makes us all very happy! It will only be a 12 minute drive from my house!!

And . . .

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings. . .
We have been attending a LOT of wedding receptions lately. At one time I had 9 announcements on my refrigerator door.

Last week we attending a reception Thursday night, a wedding Saturday morning and a reception for a different couple Saturday night.

I love weddings though, and always enjoy seeing the decorations—like this dessert table below. I thought this was so cute!! The yellow "suckers" in the back are actually brownie bites dipped in white chocolate! Yummy! And the pink cookies are oreos dipped in white chocolate as well.

Lastly—it is so HOT!!

I am getting very tired of the AZ heat. By August my nerves are fried. What makes it worse is it is not only hot in August but humid as well. My weekly wardrobe is down to two short cotton skirts and three light cotton blouses. I refuse to wear anything else until the temperatures drop!

I am really praying the weather will be nicer in Utah when I take Kathryn back next week.

And that brings me back to where I started--feeling blue about her leaving me.

So, I am off to wipe my tears . . .

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Phed Up With Phones!

I love having a cell phone. I really do. I like that I can get a hold of my kids when I need to, or track my parents down when I am worried about them. I like that I can send a quick text message to someone, and get a quick message back. They are convenient and make me feel safe.

BUT . . . I wish there were some established rules regarding cell phone use in public—and in particular when you are out with other couples.

Here are a few true stories from my life recently.

1. We have two couples at our house for dinner. While everyone is sitting in the family room visiting, one of the women receives a text from her child. For the next twenty minutes she texts her child and talks to the lady next to her about the texts she is receiving. The rest of us try to carry on a conversation without them, but it is very distracting since we are all sitting in the same room.

2. We are out to dinner and a movie with another couple. We pick them up and all the way to the restaurant the man talks on the phone. He puts the phone away for dinner (thankfully) but resumes his talking as soon as we get back in to the car. He also talks on his phone all the way home.

3. We are with two other couples driving to Mesa (1 hour drive). All the way there and back the two men are playing games on their phones.

I could go on . . . and on and on.

None of these people are casual acquaintances. They are all very good friends. (Or at least were until they read this . :-) But seriously, it drives me crazy. My personal opinion is that it is very rude and it is all I can do to keep myself from screaming, “Good grief!! Put away your phone!!”

But, then I feel I would be being rude as well. So, what do I do?

What is acceptable behavior and what isn’t?
And how do you deal with people who spend their time talking/texting others or playing games on their phones while you are together?
Advice is appreciated.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm Exhausted!

Okay, so not nearly as exhausted as last year at this time, when I was also teaching seminary, but I am tired nonetheless.

I made a personal commitment to make breakfast for Michelle every morning before seminary, which means I get up at 5:15. I love mornings, and in the past got up at 4:30, so 5:15 really wouldn’t be a problem, except that Kathryn is not in school yet and therefore still operating on a summer schedule.

Translated . . . that means she has been out until early hours of the morning with her friends. Which also means I stay awake waiting for her to come home.

Yes, I know she will be 20 in a couple weeks. And yes I know she lived away from home all last year where she was out late nearly every night. Still, when she is living at home, I wait.

It started with a promise I made to myself many years ago. I was in my early 20’s and visiting with a young man who told me he often went home at night drunk, but his parents were always asleep so they never knew.

At that moment I decided I would always wait up for my kids so they would have to look me in the eyes and tell me about their night. And now, many years later, I have lived through many sleepless nights waiting for a child to walk through the back door. There were times I was so tired I would go to bed and set an alarm for ten minutes before curfew, and there have been many times my husband and I have taken turns, but every time the kids were out, they knew they would have to face one or both of their parents upon their return.

Although the decision has been tiring at times, it has also been worth it.

One of my greatest blessings has been some of the late night/early morning talks with my children. I found they are much more willing to give details the moment they walk in the door, than they are the next morning. This was especially true for my son. Ryan has never been one to share a lot with me. However, for some reason, he would become very talkative around 1 in the morning. By 2 I would be struggling to stay awake and suggesting we continue our conversation in the morning, to which he would always reply, “What kind of a mother does not want to talk with her teenage son when he wants to talk with her?” And so, guilt applied, I would stay up.

But there are other more important reasons I am glad for the decision. There was one night when a child came home and wouldn’t look me in the eyes. And there was another when a child broke into tears as she shared with me a bad choice a friend had made.

At those moments, I was so very grateful for that day many years ago when the young man shared with me his story. At that time I could not have even begun to comprehend how his story would affect my life . . . and how it would help protect my children.

And so for at least this week and next, while Kat is still home, I will probably be burning the proverbial candle at both ends. But sometimes, being really tired is worth it, because sometimes what may make us tired, may also bring . . . joy to our journey.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Baby Started School Today!!

Sack Lunch

School Supplies

Back pack

Car keys???

And she is off!!
Her first day as a junior in high school!

And it scares me to death.
Since she is a junior she gets to drive this year.
But that isn't what scares me.
She is also getting so old and will soon leave home.
But that isn't what scares me either.

What scares me is that all summer long she was at home in a safe and protected environment
or at work with Wes.
But school is very different.

I remember the first day I put my oldest in kindergarten.
I hated that she was no longer in my constant care and that others who didn't have our same values would be attempting to influence her.
I remember when she grew up and started high school.
I thought things were bad then.
But now it is 12 years later, and things are so very much worse.

I read last week that Target apologized for contributing money to
a conservative candidate and promised to do a better job overseeing their
political contributions in the future.

And today I read that Home Depot fired an employee for wearing a badge that said,
"One Nation Under God"
But allowed homosexual employees to wear aprons promoting their beliefs.

At Michelle's school, foul language, homosexuality and immorality of all kind abounds.
It is not only accepted but it is promoted and encouraged.

And so I hate that each day I send her out into a world that bombards her with evil.

But I am so thankful for the seminary program that allows her to meet with others of her same values each morning.

I am grateful that she can "put on her armor" before going out into the wicked world.

I am grateful for scriptures, family prayer, and family home evening that also strengthen that armor.

And I am grateful for a wonderful youth program with inspired leaders who, recognizing the evil of our day, help the youth to see the importance of "returning to virtue".

Yesterday in our church meeting, all the young women sang the song, "Virtue".
It made me cry.
I pray they believe it.
I pray they will live it.
And I pray they will always stand strong

Below is a video of a shortened version of the song.
I hope you enjoy it.