Saturday, July 31, 2010

So My Life Isn't Perfect . . .

In a perfect world I would be in Nauvoo right now. I would be with my husband and his family, and together we would have gone through a session at the temple and then watched the Nauvoo pageant. And this afternoon we would be attending the wedding of my nephew and his very beautiful fiancé.

But a glitch in my life made me unable to go, and so I sit at home, eagerly waiting for Wes to call me with updates.

And doing a few other things like . . .

Waiting up late for children.

My sixteen and nineteen year old daughters, believing they would be home alone, apparently made plans they did not tell me about. Michelle (16) invited a friend to spend the night both Thursday and Friday nights. Thursday night they dressed up in crazy outfits and went to Wal-mart to play cards. And last night they joined forces with Kathryn (19) and her friend in the latest battle of a prank war--that for some reason could not be carried out before one in the morning.

I protested.

And was told “Don’t worry Mom. This is going to take a long time, so just go to bed and we will wake you when we get home so you will know we are safe.”

When did I lose control of the kids???

Waiting for the telephone repair man.

We had an exciting rain storm that poured sheets of rain in torrents for over an hour—flooding our streets and damaging our telephone cable. Our phones were out for about 18 hours while we waited for the telephone repair man to come and work his magic.

Avoiding the front yard.

The rain also washed all the horse manure from the neighbors horse stalls into our yard, which is why going out in the front of our house smells so very bad right now.

But all is not bad. There has also been some good like . . .

Visiting with family.

My nephew Seth and his cute wife Cairen, along with their adorable little girls came by for a visit. They live in Las Vegas but were in town on business so we got to spend a few hours with them. That was so much fun!! We don’t get family from out of state very often so every visit is greatly appreciated.

Seeing Kayla's ring!!

Kayla is my neighbor, and one of Kathryn's very best friends. She turns 19 this week, and we have known her since the day she was born. This past week she got engaged to a very cute boy who saw her at a YSA activity and thought, "She is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my entire life!" (ahhhhh) They have been together ever since.

She came over last night at midnight to show us the ring!! It is so pretty. And seeing her was so much fun!!


I have also been deep cleaning. Or “purging” as my friend Susan calls it. Being home with no other plans or responsibilities seemed like the perfect time to clean. Clutter is a funny thing. It can grow gradually, and imperceptibly. But once you notice it, it drives you crazy. And that is where I am right now. The crazy stage. So I told my girls we are cleaning as if we are moving. If we wouldn’t take it with us to a new house, out it goes!! So far we have six sacks of garbage and three bags for D.I. I am loving it!!

So, while life isn’t perfect, at least it is still be pretty good. No matter the circumstance, there always seems to be a way to find . . . joy in the journey. :-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Great Way To Turn Forty!!!!

My very good friend, Jenny, turned 40 today.

So to celebrate, she invited her sister, her mother (both shown below with Jenny) and some of her friends to spend the day with her.

Borrowing an idea from another good friend, Lisa, she decided to have a service party--and in fact the goal was to perform 40 acts of service in approximately 4 hours.

We began by writing letters of appreciation and/or encouragement to anyone of our choice. We placed these in the mail box along with a note of appreciation to the mail man.

Next, we loaded into a 12 passenger van and drove to Rena's. Rena not only just became the grandmother of twins, but it is her birthday on Friday. So we gave her a bouquet of flowers and sang a birthday song!

Then things got a little trickier. Here Suzy is leaving a package on a door step, ringing the doorbell and running. (And you thought only teenagers did that! :-) There were a couple packages we delivered that way. (I would tell you what was in them, but just in case the people read my blog, I don't want them to know it was us. :-)

We then headed off to Wal-mart. Here we brought out a helium tank and filled balloons that were handed out to the children in the store.

We also helped put away shopping carts for shoppers. That turned out to be a bit humorous. Although we didn't have any children turn down a balloon, we had several people tell us "No thank you" when we asked if we could put away their shopping cart for them. Even after we told them it was our friend's birthday and to celebrate we wanted to serve them, they still told us no.
However, there were others who were very appreciative.
As we traveled from location to location we decided to leave signs on telephone posts along the way to hopefully brighten people's day.

Then we headed to a rest home with more balloons for the patients there. Here we also got a mixed reception. Some people were not too happy we were bothering them but most were very nice and happy to have visitors. The best part is there were three people also having birthdays this week so we sang "Happy Birthday" to each of them. Below is a picture of Jenny with one of the birthday girls. This beautiful lady just turned 88!!

We had one man ask us to sing the birthday song in Spanish (which we did) and another man sang a cowboy song to us! As we left, Jenny's mother commented, "That was the most fun I have had in two years!"
Knowing how miserable it is to be outside in the Arizona heat, we then became the "Gatorade Brigade", and dropped off ice cold Gatorade to work crews we passed on the streets.

Below is one happy man who took several bottles to give to his workers. I missed the best picture though. After delivering about 10 bottles to a work crew they all gathered together and waved goodbye with the drinks in hand. Unfortunately we were speeding off to rescue other thirsty men in need and so I didn't get the picture.

Next on the agenda was the hospital. Here we taped envelopes to vending machines with change inside for anyone who may want it. The lady below had just walked up to the vending machine when we arrived and gave her some money. She was so cute about it. She thanked everyone and gave Jenny a big hug!!

Before leaving the hospital we also dropped off coloring books with crayons in a couple of the waiting rooms for bored children.
Another fun service we did was go to Taco Bell and pay the bill for a person going through the drive through. Our intent was to pay for the person behind us, but as no one came behind us, Jenny jumped out of the car and approached the man in front of us instead. She said, "I know you will think I am crazy, but it is my birthday and for my birthday I want to buy your lunch." He exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!! Thank you!!" That was fun.
Finally, we were all finished except for one more service. We gathered for lunch at Olive Garden (Jenny's favorite restaurant). Here Jenny found a family at a table near us and gave them a $25 gift certificate to help pay for their meal.
And then we enjoyed a delicious meal of our own.
Near the end of our day, Sonia (above in pink shirt) was heard to say, "Being kind sure takes a lot of time!" We laughed at that, but it was true. It took time, and some money and we were all pretty sweaty and stinky by the end of the morning. BUT . . .it was also a lot of fun, a great way to celebrate a birthday, and of course it brought a great deal of . . . joy to our journey.
And hopefully some joy to a few other people's journey as well.
Happy Birthday Jen!! Thanks for letting us spend the day with you!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

If I Were In A Book Club . . .

If I belonged to a book club I would want everyone to read "The Silence of God". I loved this book and wish I had other women to discuss it with.

The book is loosely based on the only Mormon family living in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. Although the family really did exist, most of what happens to them in the book is fictional. However, the author Gale Sears, does a superb job telling the story of the revolution through the eyes of the family members and their associates.

There are so many great topics to discuss after reading this book. The historical period in which the book is set is a fascinating time that could easily occupy a lengthy discussion. This is the time when imperialist Russia was overthrown and Lenin and communism came into power under the pretense of offering peace, land and bread for all. There are so many parallels between what happened there and the war in heaven, our daily personal battles between good and evil and what we see happening in our country today with the willingness to sacrifice freedom for “security”.

One thing I really enjoyed about the book is how the author wove the message throughout that Satan’s way of forced obedience and compulsion hardens hearts and builds hatred between people, while the Savior’s way of willful obedience, softens hearts and unifies.

And of course another topic begging to be discussed is how we can maintain our faith during extremely difficult times and when prayers, even those offered by an apostle, seem to go unanswered.

Other Books I Read This Week
I also just read “The Road Show” by Braden Bell. To be honest, I was a little uncomfortable with parts of the book and probably would not have finished it were it not due to a sense of loyalty to blog friends who posted about it. The main character has an addiction to pornography and although it is delicately handled, it still bothered me. There were a few other events in the book that were uncomfortable for me as well.

HOWEVER, that said, in the end I was very glad I read it. Although it is not realistic that all our problems will be neatly solved during a road show, I don’t believe that was the author’s point anyway. The show is simply a tool to teach us about the atonement and that all physical, emotional and spiritual wounds are only healed when we turn our hearts over to the Savior and apply the atonement in our lives. And our healing results in a greater love for others, which helps bring them to the Savior and allows them to be healed as well.

That message rang very true throughout the book.

I have another more personal reason for being glad I read it. It really helped open my eyes to the people around me. Although I consider myself a nice person who wants to serve others, after reading this book I realized there are many times I am insensitive to the needs of people I know. I hope I can now always remember that realization and change my behavior.

The third book I read this past week was , “My Fair Godmother” by Janette Rallison.

This is the perfect book for a rainy afternoon when you want something to read that doesn’t require a great deal of concentration, but is completely entertaining. It is a fairytale though, so if you are not into those, you will not like this. I have read reviews of the book that said the first four chapters were slow but then it picks up. Although I didn’t think the beginning was boring, after chapter 5 I did not want to put it down.

Monday, July 19, 2010

So, It Started On Our Honeymoon . . .

Twenty eight years ago this July, my husband and I were married. The day after the wedding, we packed up all our belongings and moved south to Mexico City. I had only recently returned from my mission and did not feel ready to leave my family in Utah for another foreign land, but, knowing that living a part after the wedding day was not good for a marriage, :-) I went a long--crying all the way.
One bright spot in that week of travel, however, was our two night stay just north of Durango, Colorado at the Tamarron Resort. Wes' friend's family owned a condo there and offered to let us use it. We were too poor to visit the many paid tourist attractions around town, but even in our poverty we were warmly welcomed by the green San Juan Mountains.

We had no way of knowing then how much this place would become a part of our lives. Two years later, and after completing graduate school, Wes took a job with the father of his friend and Tamarron became a nearly annual event. Here we have enjoyed vacations with friends, had a family reunion and it also became the honeymoon destination of both our daughter and our son.

And this is where we have been spending this past week.

We were actually hoping for a little cooler weather. With temperatures as high as 98 degrees, it is only ten degrees cooler than our home in Arizona, but we have still had a lot of fun. Camille and her little family drove down from Colorado Springs to join us. We are just sad that Kristen, Ryan and Kali are not also here. School has kept them both at home.

One of our favorite activities is to drive ten minutes north to Purgatory Ski Resort and ride the alpine slide. Here everyone is waiting in line for the ski lift up the mountain.

Wes barely beat Michelle in the first race down. I creamed Camille!! (I will be bragging about that one for a long time!!) However, I also lost to Wes in the first race and won the second, but he insisted on giving me a head start so it was a shallow victory.

After the slide lost our interest, we moved on to the bungee pit. Here they strapped you in to a harness attached to two bungee chords, which were held in place by two tall poles. They would get you bouncing and then let you soar!! Here Michelle is receiving her instructions.

She screamed the entire time and had some moves that looked rather painful.

Kathryn followed Michelle and added a few flips.

That was a fun day, but I must say, the most fun I have had is playing with Carly. What a cutie!! She is so happy (most of the time:-) and loves to jibber jabber. Here Wes took her up to the pool to cool off.

I have also enjoyed the flora. There are such beautiful flowers everywhere. We are enjoying the fauna as well. The other morning while walking up to the lodge we saw a doe and her fawn on the golf course. It was so fun to see the fawn leaping across the grass. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me.

I am going to be so sad tomorrow when everyone goes home.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One Fine Day . . .

I had a wonderful day on Tuesday.

I got up and worked on my to-do list until noon when I left to meet my friend Susan for lunch. Susan is my walking partner, but between her summer vacations and mine, we haven't seen each other very much. And after talking for one hour every morning for two years, not visiting for over a month meant we had a lot to catch up on.

So we skipped the exercise and went to Babbo's, a wonderfully delicious Italian restaurant, where I enjoyed chicken limone while we chatted for a very long time.

In the evening Ryan (my son) and Kali (DIL) came over for dinner and swimming. We had such a great time out in the pool. The kids all raced in a variety of swim strokes where Ryan was declared the winner--much to his delight. Wes won the holding-your-breath-while-swimming contest--making it four lengths of the pool before coming up for air. And Kali and I --not being the best of swimmers, but still enjoying the cool water after a very hot day--cheered them all on to victory.

And then Kathryn brought out warm and deliciously, wonderful chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven---that we all ate while still in the pool.

I think I spend most of my life in a rush. I like being like that, actually. I am happiest when I am busy and when I am busy I am in a hurry to get things done. But on Tuesday I didn't rush anything. I didn't hurry home from lunch with Susan, and I didn't skip the pool to work on a project, like I usually do.

I just enjoyed the moments.

And at the end of the day I realized how precious those moments were, as they definitely brought great . . . joy to my journey.

And since I haven't blogged for a while, I am also posting these pictures below. While Kristen was still home I had some fun taking pictures of the three younger girls.

I am certainly missing having them all home now. But the good news is I will soon be spending time with my oldest daughter, her husband, and best of all--our grand daughter!! I am pretty sure I will be bringing out the camera a time or two for that. :-)