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.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When Did I Lose My Brain????

As part of my “purging” (cleaning my house) I have been cleaning out the office cupboards behind my husband’s desk. Stored there is the accumulation of twelve years of seminary papers, teaching supplies, training materials, old CES videos, church magazine articles I copied to save, and my homework from BYU continuing education classes I took several years ago. So in other words, the cupboards were full!

It was sad for me to part with the seminary supplies, but what really depressed me was reading my homework assignments.

When did I go brain dead?

And how come I didn’t notice before now?

About eleven years ago, I decided I needed more in my life and made the decision to take classes online from BYU. I took two classes a year for four years, and then quit when motherhood and seminary squeezed out all extra time.

But for two hours yesterday I sat in the office and viewed assignments I completed in biology, geography and teaching, and papers I had written for classes in English, humanities, political science and history. I had papers on the “Feminization of Poverty” as well as the decreasing role of the father in the modern American family. I analyzed music from Chopin, wrote a critique on several published articles, wrote a ten-page comparative analysis on John Adams and Abraham Lincoln, and a five page paper on the influence of the media in modern politics. I studied philosophers from Socrates to Voltaire, wrote a paper on existentialism, and the list goes on.

I was shocked, really. Most of my assignments were well thought out and the papers were well written. Seriously, I don’t remember ever thinking like that or being able to write like that.

Somewhere in the past seven years, I must have lost my brain.

Sure, it takes some deep thinking and creativity to teach the gospel every day to 14 year olds, but I don’t think I have really had to think so analytically, or write so persuasively since I quit taking classes.

I have let my mind get lazy.

One solution may be to go back to school, but I am not sure this is a good time for me to do that. However, somehow, I need to get my brain back!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nearly Worldless Wednesday . . . How Can Anyone Be So Cute?!

I just love this little girl!!
And I am missing her terribly.
Thankfully we will see her again in a couple weeks!
And isn't this the saddest face?
She was wanting me to pick her up
So she reached out her hands and said, "Up".
This is why family vacations are hazardous to your health.
My girls made this dessert on our last night together.
Two chocolate chip cookies filled with ice cream and a brownie,
and topped with a mini drum stick!!

Now we are all on diets. :-)
May your day be a great one and may you find . . . joy in your journey.