Monday, February 28, 2011

My Sister Terri

Terri's family. Forty-two strong and still growing!

My sister Terri just had a birthday. After reading her commemorative blogpost, I just knew I needed to share part of her life here as well.

She wrote:

"In October of 195x when I was 2 years old, my father dropped me off at the Clark's house to attend Joan's 3rd birthday party. I still remember the day very well. Little did I know that was the day Joan and I would become "Sisters". I waited and waited after all the other little kids went home from the party, but my dad never came for me. It was decided without explaining it to the 2-year-old that since my mother was very ill and could not care for me, I would live a mile away with the Clarks. My Aunt Verona, who I thought was the most beautiful lady I knew, put me to bed that night in the twin bed next to Joan. That was the beginning of many years of nights together giggling in our beds and cooking up trouble, and being partners in crime and fun times."

Whenever I hear that story I cry. Terri's mother was diagnosed with MS when Terri was only 2 and a half years old. Unable to care for her children, Terri was sent to live with Verona (her mother's sister) and her younger brother, Randy, went to live with my dad's sister Emily. Later when another sibling, Ruth, was born, she went directly home from the hospital to Emily's house as well.

Terri lived with the Clarks until she was seven.That is when our father married my mother. A year later, I was born.

From as early as I can remember, I admired Terri and wanted to be like her. She didn't like raisins, so I didn't like them. She wouldn't eat peas, so I wouldn't eat them either.

Unfortunately I never developed any of her wonderful talents.

I am pretty sure Terri can do anything. She is an amazing seamstress. That is doubly impressive to me since I can't sew anything other than a (sort of) straight line. One year, while serving as Relief Society President, she made pioneer bonnets for all the women in her ward to wear while they participated in a service project to commemorate the pioneers. That same year my daughter needed a bonnet. Since I didn't know how to sew, Terri made it for me--in about 20 minutes.

Last year for Christmas she made 28 quilts, she works as a realtor, cooks like a professional chef, decorates like a professional designer, and is a mother to 8 and grandmother to an ever increasing list of grandchildren. She is a great mother who has kept her family close to her. Most of her children live in Salt Lake and twice a month they get together for dinner. (And I am so very jealous of that!!) And every October they meet in St. George while most of the adults in the family run the marathon.

For the past five years she and her husband have served as directors of the inner city mission in Salt Lake City. They have put in countless hours training other missionaries, raising money for scholarships, putting together education classes and in every other way possible, helping the poor.

They have had struggles and set backs, but through them all, they have kept moving forward. And through it all, she has been my mentor and friend. Terri is the one sibling I have who responds to my family updates. When I am frustrated, she is the one I turn to. When I am mad or upset, or want to share something fun, she is the one I write.

And when my daughter got married a couple years ago in Utah, followed by a reception in Arizona, Terri drove by herself to Arizona to spend the day helping me decorate, attended the reception, and the next day drove back home.

And so it is always with a full heart I think of her. How grateful I am to have her in my life!!

Happy Birthday Terri!!
Thanks for bringing so much . . . joy to my journey!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So We Met the Boyfriend . . .

This past weekend Wes and I took a quick trip to Utah to meet "The Boyfriend". We did not go at our daughter's request, And let me clearly state (so I won't get into trouble) that we do not know at this time if this relationship will be temporary or permanent.

However, being the overly protective, highly curious mother that I am, I felt it was time to meet the man who was taking up so much of my daughter's time. And since Wes didn't want to miss out on the fun, he came with me.

I found it odd how I was filled with such conflicting emotions during our long drive there. Of course I am happy for K, as she is certainly smiling a lot these days, and I know having a daughter get married in the temple to a worthy young man is what I have been praying for since the day she was born. But I still felt sad at the thought that if not this young man, another will someday marry her and take her away. Probably far away. And oh, how I will miss her!!

Luckily by the time the meeting took place, I had worked through my emotions and was ready to be nice. Which was a good thing since he is a very nice boy.

And very diplomatic.

We met at the bowling alley as we thought that would be a safe and comfortable place for everyone to get acquainted. It ended up being rather humorous though. Wes is usually a fairly good bowler but was not having his best day. At the end of the first game he scored a 110 and The Boyfriend scored a 109. In the next game Wes was playing just about the same. The Boyfriend, however, had two consecutive strikes.

And then a funny thing happened. He decided to try and spin the ball for the next frame and guttered both times. Later he tried the spin again, and once again guttered.

The final score that time was Wes 99, The Boyfriend 95.

As we walked away Wes said to me, "Well, at least we know he is good at math."

And diplomacy.

Wes really would not have cared if he had been beaten, but we did think it was rather smart of The Boyfriend to lose. It also made me think that he must really like our daughter.

And here come the sad emotions again.

In other news . . . being at BYU was a complete diet-buster!! Of course no trip to Provo is complete without buying at least one mint brownie!

Unfortunately Wes went on the brownie run and came back with TWELVE of them!! Of which I am pretty sure I ate four. (Over the course of three days)

And then there were the chocolate chip cookies my mother made on Saturday night.

And the chocolate fudge pudding cake that my sister made for Sunday dinner.

And the peanut M&M's we bought to help us stay awake during the drive home.

But I am back to healthy eating today. We had black bean soup, tilapia and a green salad for dinner.

I just wish I weren't also going through sugar withdrawal. I sure wouldn't mind one of those dark, chocolatey, chewy, minty brownies right now!!

But I will be good and go find an apple instead.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How To Eat A Cougar and Other Valentine Stories

But first . . . don't you just love a man with a heart?!

This is one of my favorite pictures. I took it at a party we had at our house last year following a Friday night fireside. There were about 30 people over, and when I saw all these men sitting on the floor holding the balloons, I couldn't resist whipping out the camera! So cute!

But . . . about that cougar . . .

Question: If you attended BYU and eat cougar, does that make you a cannibal?

Saturday night we had a neighborhood progressive dinner. We started at B&C’s with yummy chicken nachos, fresh homemade salsa, pico de gallo and guacamole. Oh, and grilled cougar. YES!! Cougar.

Gotta say it creeped me out a bit.

Another neighbor, who is a big hunter, killed the cougar in southern Arizona a while ago and thought he would bring some over for us to enjoy. (cough, cough)

I was brave and ate three bites. It really wasn’t bad. It was sort of like slightly tough pork. By the third bite though, just the thought of what I was eating made me gag a bit.

I thought Wes would be excited to eat it. After all, according to Louis L'Amour (who is frequently quoted in our house) cougar is supposed to be the best meat ever.

Wes only had one bite. One little bite.

I think Louis has lost just a little credibility.

The rest of the evening was a lot of fun, just maybe not as adventurous. We went to my house for the main course, where we had rice, teriyaki pork, a salad and rolls (the salad and rolls were brought by other neighbors) and then we ended up at the home of the cougar cooks for strawberry shortcake and games.

It was a great way to share some “neighborhood love”!


AND . . .Since Valentines is today, Wes and I celebrated together Friday night. He is such a sweetheart!! He planned the whole evening on his own. (It isn't a shock that he can do it, it is just that I usually plan all of our dates.:-)

First, on Wednesday he brought me home a big bouquet of flowers and told me it was a clue to what we would be doing on our date. Finally I guessed that we would be going to see My Fair Lady at Arizona Broadway Theater, a dinner theater near our house.

The dinner was so yummy and the play was fantastic. They really did a great job. That play is one of our favorites so it was a lot of fun to go see it and very thoughtful of Wes to plan the night.

I sure love that man!!

Tonight we are having all RED food for dinner. . . salsa, enchiladas, Spanish rice (all family favorites)

Happy Valentines to Everyone!! I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A few things I will probably get in trouble for sharing . . .

I have had a hard time writing lately. It isn't that nothing is happening, it is just that my family doesn't like me telling the world about their lives.

For instance a few posts ago I mentioned that we were expecting a new grandbaby in August. Since it was pretty much announced to everyone at the family Christmas party, I didn't think it mattered if I mentioned it on my blog. But apparently Camille had not yet told any of her friends so when they read it on my blog and called/emailed her about it, she was FURIOUS with me.

Actually, FURIOUS might be a bit of an understatement.

I really did feel bad. I didn't want to steal any of her thunder. But now she has posted about it herself, so I am authorized to say . . . Camille is pregnant and due in August. This will be her second child and we are so very excited!!

But, . . . that experience made me bit apprehensive to share another event that has been happening in our family. A BOYFRIEND.

One of my daughters at BYU--who shall currently remain nameless :-) has met a young man she is interested in and I am DYING to meet him. I mean seriously----when they have gone from dating once a week to seeing each other every day I think it is time for us all to meet.

But until that happens, I have been getting reports from other family members. The younger sister has met him and thinks he is great. And yesterday my parents had lunch with him. Afterward my mother called in her report and my father sent an email listing his many positive observations--with the final comment that the boy got his vote.

And of course, I have also checked him out on Facebook. Unfortunately he isn't much of a FB person, so all I have been able to find out from there is that he likes to fish. A Lot. Almost every picture he posted, had a fish in it. Which is why I told my daughter that I am not going to take the relationship too seriously until she replaces the fish in his pictures. :-) Then I will be speed dialing Southwest.


Lastly--for this post . . . I have been spending a lot of time working on my "healthy life style" goal. I have been exercising twice a day almost every day and searching --and then preparing--healthy meals for my family.

They have eaten a lot of salads, chicken, fish, brown rice, quinoa, and fresh fruit and veggies. They were brave with the spicy black bean soup and even ate my homemade totally from scratch (as in fresh tomatoes) spaghetti sauce where I sneaked in some butternut squash.

Although I kept waiting for them to ask why their plate turned orange.

It has been working for me as I have also lost 12 pounds (hooray, hooray!) and I thought they were also enjoying the meals as both my husband and daughter had expressed a desire to be healthier as well.

But . . . apparently not complaining is not the same as enjoying.

Last Friday I offered to cook dinner instead of eating out so we could save money and I would be in control of what we ate. My husband suggested that it was good for us to eat out so I could have a break from cooking. I told him that I didn't need a break and as we were going out with friends Saturday night anyway, I could have my break then.

But he insisted we eat out. It was after all, out of consideration for me that he was suggesting it. He even called our neighbors and invited them to come with us.

Then he ordered mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob and a large plate of greasy, honey barbecue, deep fried chicken fingers. And he ate it all.

And then exclaimed, "It feels so good to EAT!"

Say what?

It's not like I have been starving him. He was welcome to eat as much of that salad as he wanted. :-)

So I am headed back to the cookbooks. I found a WW recipe for Cuban pork and sweet potatoes that I am going to try out tomorrow.

Sounds yummy to me!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Facebook Reality Check

I recently attended a presentation intended to educate parents on the evils and benefits of Facebook. Although I found the presenter and much of her material disturbing, I did feel we benefited from attending.

First off, let me say I have a Facebook account and I love it. I have been able to connect with friends from high school and one from as far back as grade school when I lived in Costa Rica. I am also able to check on my children and send them notes like "Why were you out in the snow with a cookie sheet?" or "I thought you were studying for a test all last night, so what is up with the hurdling contest in the dorm hallways?"

My kids love it. :-)

I am also able to keep updated on nieces who are expecting babies, cousins who are on vacation and aunts and uncles who will be in town visiting.

So I went to the presentation fully supporting Facebook. But during the presentation I became more and more uncomfortable.

The presenter very strongly suggested (ordered) everyone in attendance to open an account that very day. She said we would all be out of touch with the times if we did not have one. She even went so far as to suggest that when Christ appears at His second coming, we will probably be notified via Facebook. Huh? Seriously? At any rate, the more she pushed, the more uncomfortable I became--and so did my daughter sitting next to me.

After covering the many benefits, she then addressed some of the draw backs. This is where I felt I benefited the most from attending. She pulled up her FB page and then called a 12 year old boy out of the audience to come up and do a search for his name. He did, and his page came up. She then clicked on "wall" and all of his information popped up in front of us.

Turns out all his privacy settings were set on "everyone", so with one click of a mouse all his information was up on a screen available for everyone in the room to see. He then went to one of his "friends" --which in this case was his mother-- and suddenly all of her information was available as well.

I later thought about the times I have surfed FB looking for information on someone. Whenever one of my daughters mentions the name of a boy she is interested in, I usually turn to FB to find out what I can about him. (My kids call it stalking, I like to call it "responsible parenting":-) Most of the young men have their information blocked, but I can still access their pictures. You can learn a lot about someone from pictures.

One time we looked at about 30 photos. From those we learned the approximate age of the boy, where and when he served his mission, his major, where he lived, some of his hobbies and what campus clubs he had joined. That is a lot of information in just a few pictures.

And it is certainly more information than I would want a stranger being able to access about one of my children.

So here are some guidelines we were given to help us use FB more responsibly.

1. If you have children on FB, you should have an account as well and "friend" them so you can see what they are doing/receiving.

2. If your children are minors, you should also know their password.

3. Discuss with your children their "friending" policy. I have daughters who have 800 plus friends. This means that 800 plus people can potentially access all their information and share it with their friends. It may be wiser to have your children limit their friends to close friends and family members. (When we came home, my youngest daughter "de-friended" over a hundred people.)

4. Check your privacy settings. If needed, update all 9 basic and multiple granular privacy settings to "friends only". (Go to "account" and then "privacy".)

5. Review the fan and group pages you belong to. These are always public. Un-join as many as possible.

6. Review the apps that you use and think twice before using them again. Some make information (like your location) public.

7. Check the privacy settings on your photo albums. It is possible to make "lists" of people and limit the viewing of pictures to just those on the list. (To make a "list" go to "account" then "friends" and up on the right hand corner click on "lists". )

8. Un-tag yourself in random pictures.

9. Be very, very careful what information you put on your account and what you write on your wall. Many employers, the FBI, insurance companies and others currently use FB to gather information about people. Be sure what you post adequately represents you in the way you want to be presented.

And then enjoy connecting with friends and family!