Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Papers, Books and Friends

During the last couple of weeks I have been busy putting my basement back together after the flood.  I was determined to NOT return anything to the basement that I didn't want.  It has become a much greater project than I ever imagined, and since Christmas is nearing I'm rushing and not being able to finish it quite like I had in mind, but it is better than it was.  Of course, my goal is to finish it after Christmas, but then my goal has been to dejunk my basement the past several winters.  Hopefully this time it will work.
I had two large four drawer filing cabinets in the basement before and I was resigned to getting it down to one filing cabinet.  I spent days with papers spread all over my upstairs family room floor deciding what I would or would not keep.  It was so fun to find papers that have been lost for years and also exhilarating to throw stacks and stacks of papers away.  I am now the proud owner of just one filing cabinet!!
One of the papers I found had a quote by Dr. James Dobson on it.  It reminded of a time when we lived in Logan (almost 25 years ago) and a few of our couple friends went to a Baptist Church for parenting classes.  They showed us lectures by Dr. Dobson who was the founder of Focus On The Family.  He has since left the organization, but it was a wonderful resource on parenting in our younger years.    Dr. Dobson is a staunch Evangelical Christian with some incredible moral values and a desire to strengthen families.  Here is the quote I found.

"There is no greater threat to effective parenting than life in the fast lane, where busy mothers and fathers race from one obligation to another.  It takes time to introduce children to good books and fly kites and play punch ball and put together jigsaw puzzles.  It takes time to listen, once more, to the skinned-knee episode and talk about the bird with the broken wing.  
These are the building blocks of esteem, held together with the mortar of love."
Dr. James Dobson

I also am a collector of books.  I have literally hundreds of books and so many of them were on book shelves in my basement so they were all boxed up after the flood.  Last weekend Jeff was helping me put them back on the shelves.  He very kindly suggested that maybe I could part with a few of the books and we could send them to the DI.  I agreed thinking I could part with them as easy as had the papers in my filing cabinet.  We started pulling them from the boxes, and unfortunately as I would see each one I would very tenderly look at the book, remember a time or a thought or have some memory of each book and place it back on the shelf.  There were very few books that I could part with.  I finally decided that I had a personal relationship with each book.  They are like my friends.  I couldn't just discard them, I needed each one.  
I love my books and I love my friends.  I'm sure I will keep the old ones and hopefully add many new ones.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Parable of the Ten Virgins

Last week our Relief Society had a kick off for the holiday season and presented a "Music and The Spoken Word".  Five Parables that Jesus taught were shared which were each followed by a special musical number that correlated with the Parable.  It was truly a delightful evening.  Very well planned and thought through.  I love extra Relief Society Meetings that are spiritual and meaningful.
I was asked to present the Parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25 and speak about how it had helped me through some of my personal trials and in my preparation for the Second Coming.  After much thought and prayer I felt impressed to speak about some of my personal trials and how I have realized that casual spiritual preparation in today's world will not be enough to keep us strong and steadfast.  All of us need to step it up a notch or two or three.  I'm not sure it is exactly what they had in mind, but it is what I felt needed to be said.
Here is a copy of my thoughts.

Nearly 12 years ago my oldest daughter was struggling with some very debilitating health issues, which had been plaguing her for several years.  One day I was visiting with a very dear and very wise friend and I was actually whining to her about how I couldn’t believe that Amy could keep her faith and be so optimistic when our prayers in her behalf were never answered.  My friend stopped me abruptly and told me that obviously I didn’t understand the Doctrine of the Gospel because my prayers were being answered.  She said; “ We weren’t sent here to earth to learn how to walk, it won’t matter if Amy ever walks.  We were sent here to Know our Savior, and look at Amy she knows her Savior.  Your prayers have been answered, you were just praying for the wrong thing. 

That conversation that day has been the catalyst for a quest of mine to truly learn and then instill in my life the Doctrines of the gospel.  As I look back at that day now, I realize that like the unprepared virgins, my lamp was only half full.  Ironically, I was a fully active participating member of the church, attending all of my meetings, diligently serving in my callings, reading my scriptures and teaching my children at home, and yet I had missed some very important lessons.  I had faith, the “Primary” kind of faith.  We’ve all heard the stories in primary---Someone loses a cherished object, they kneel and pray and then they find it.  Another person is sick, he is blessed and he is miraculously healed.  I believed it, I knew the Lord could heal my daughter, but what I was missing was more than just Faith.  I needed Faith in Jesus Christ, Faith in His timing, Faith in His ways, and Faith in His plan. 

As I began my quest to truly understand the Doctrine of the Gospel, or to fill the top half of my lamp with oil, many opportunities were placed in my path to help me discover these truths. 

In our family we have a son who has chosen a different lifestyle, very removed from the values that he has been taught.  Through extremely difficult circumstances I have learned the Doctrine of Agency.  No matter how much I plead in prayer I have realized that the Lord Cannot and Will not override someone’s agency.  I have studied books, articles, and scriptures extensively to know what I can do to help my son return.  I wanted “How to’s” –“Do This and Do That’s”  but everything I have studied over and over again comes back to the same premise.  Turn my concerns over to the Lord and then work on me.  Develop my spiritual strength, increase my temple attendance, intensify my own personal worship and then my son will see the Joy that living the gospel brings to me and someday he will have a desire to follow.   He has become the reason to fill my lamp with oil.

A few years ago I was called to teach institute.  I spent almost every waking moment of the next three years reading, searching, studying scriptures so I could be prepared to lead and discover with these wonderful Young Single Adults the doctrines of the gospel.  That is when I realized that no wonder my lamp was only half full when I was just reading the scriptures.  I needed to feast in the scriptures to learn the lessons buried deep in them to help me understand the Lord’s plan in our lives. 

We are truly living today in enemy territory.  A casual living of gospel standards and practices are not going to be enough to keep us worthy of exaltation. 

Julie Beck, our past General Relief Society President shares with us
“Never at any time in the world have we needed more faith from the women of God.  Without it, we will not be able to navigate in this life.  The adversary will pick us off one by one, and we will be drawn off course by the many, many voices that are out there distracting us.” 
 Julie B Beck,  BYU Womens Conference, 2010

The Lord is giving me a second chance to see if I have learned anything since that life changing conversation with my friend 12 years ago.  Now my youngest daughter has been struggling with unresolved health issues for the past year.  This time I’ve become much more patient with the Lord.  I am continuously working on filling my lamp with oil.  I’m certainly trying to trust in Him, in His timing and in His plan.  I still plead for relief and answers for her, but I also strive to have faith in His love for her and for me. 

In closing I would like to share a quote from Elder L Tom Perry   

 “The Lord has given us a beautiful plan about how we can return to Him, but the completion of our mortal journey requires spiritual fuel.  We want to emulate the five wise virgins, who had stored sufficient fuel to accompany the bridegroom when he came.  What is required to maintain a sufficient store of spiritual fuel?  We must acquire knowledge of God’s eternal plan and our role in it, and then by living righteously, surrendering our will to the will of the Lord, we receive the promised blessings.”
Elder L Tom Perry, 2008 October General Conference 

A great verse in the D&C explains one of those promised blessings as we strive to fill our lamp with oil.  The Lord is speaking:
…for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. 
D&C 84:88

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A "Grand" Holiday!!

This year was our OFF year for Thanksgiving meaning that it was our married kids year to eat at their in-laws.  Actually Ty and Ben and their respective families were not in town anyway, so this really meant that Amy was eating at her in-laws.  Nevertheless, that left just Jessi, Jeff and I for Thanksgiving.  We decided to spend the day doing something entirely different than we have experienced before.  So we went to the Grand America Thanksgiving Day Brunch!!
Oh my goodness, it was incredible.  The food was exquisite!!  The atmosphere was festive!!  The decorations were beautiful!!  The entire experience was unforgettable!!  Jessi decided that she quite enjoyed being the only one home for Thanksgiving if that is what we get to do.
They also offered Complimentary Photos are your dinner party.
Obviously our I-Phones don't take the same quality of pictures.  Oh Well.  This is Jessi with her Cranberry Spritzer!!

This tree was beautiful.  The picture doesn't do it justice at all.  It certainly brought the holiday spirit to life.  
 What a "Grand" Holiday we had.  I'm sure we will do this again someday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wow,  So much to be thankful for on this beautiful Thanksgiving Day!!  Yesterday we spent the day at the Hunstman Cancer Institute with a hematologist/oncologist for Jessi.  Her GI Doctor was quite convinced that Jessi had lymphoma.  It never made sense to me, but her blood tests had gone kind of crazy and that was his diagnosis.
 GREAT NEWS!!  No cancer!!!!
I never felt truly panicked about it, but it is quite daunting to get emails, instructions and then to walk in the front doors of the Cancer Institute with your daughter.   What a humbling experience.

Of course, we still have no answers to what is going on with her but no cancer is a great place to start.  Her appointment was with the department head and what a wonderful doctor she seemed to be.  They took an incredible amount of blood again for further studies so we will see if that shows anything.

Jessi walked out of the lab and said to me as soon as she sat down in the waiting room.  
"I will never complain again."  
Honestly Jess has not been a huge complainer during this whole year, but she said that the people who were in the lab with her were so incredibly ill and they seemed so happy and encouraging to each other.  Trials and tribulations can certainly be an incredible refiner's fire if we will let them.  

How grateful I am for an entire day dedicated to being Thankful.  An awesome start to our holidays!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Love MY In-Laws!!

This is my car parked in my garage!!  This might not be a big thing to you, but to me this is HUGE!!  My car has not fit in my garage since the flood over two months ago.  This morning my incredibly sweet son-in-law Luke came and carried and carried and carried stuff from by garage to the downstairs so I could begin to put it away and YES so I could park in my garage!!  Right now this very minute---He is my very favorite person!!  During the winter he has so little time off so for him to give up an entire morning to help me is priceless.
That is the kind of person all my children have married.  I love and cherish each one of them.  Thanks for all you add to our family.
How grateful I am that we can be an eternal family.  
How true it is---Families Can Be Together Forever---and I'm so glad that I get to be with each of you.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

De Ja Vu Moment

As Jessi and I were walking on the path leading towards the west entrance of the Holy Cross Hospital to meet with a specialist I experienced a "De Ja Vu" moment.  Probably 12 years ago I was walking the same pathway with a very sick daughter into the hospital to meet with a specialist to see if we could get some answers to an unknown illness.  Not only the same path, but the same door, same elevator, and same frustration the only thing changed was a different daughter and different illness.  The irony of the moment struck me hard.  Who would of ever thought that I would be experiencing that time once again?  Unknown sickness and disability is a tough road.  Knowing what you are dealing with, no matter what it is, is less stressful.
We have had a couple of long weeks trying to figure out what is happening with Jess.  Her illness continues and in many ways is getting worse and the C Diff that we thought was the culprit is gone.  They have run a battery of tests, getting many results but none of them leading to a definitive diagnosis or treatment, so they continue to poke her, scan her and (TMI) test her poop.  They have found that she has severe anemia, but really I'm surprised she has any blood left after all the tubes they have taken from her little arms.
These are the first set of orders of three days of testing in Lakeview Hospital.  They also did a 1 1/2 hour gall bladder test, abdominal ultrasound, chest x ray,  MRI and several more blood draws over the next few days.

This is what was ordered after we met with the Infectious Disease Doctor at Holy Cross.
We are also waiting to get into a Hematologist at the University Hospital.  They move a little slower than the rest of the medical system so we hope to hear back from them this week.
The De Ja Vu moment continues as I have the same conversation with my daughter now as I did then.  "Why can't they find out what is wrong?"  "They think I'm faking!!"  "I'm tired of this, I just want to be normal."  Unfortunately as I try to listen, understand and encourage I have no more answers this time than I did last.  I just know I'm so impressed with the maturity, resilience and optimism that each of these beautiful girls possess.  The Lord continues to refine them so they can be strong and faithful in accomplishing what ever mission they have been sent here to fulfill.  I'm proud to be their mother!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hospital Visit Again

Our weekend didn't end as well as it started.  Coming from an incredible spiritual high, Jessi spiked a fever as I was preparing dinner for our family and friends.  It definitely made a damper on an otherwise wonderful weekend.  After chatting for a minute with our physician friend, he suggested I call Jessi's GI Doctor since she was still experiencing severe GI problems.  I called, mentioned to him what was going on and he felt we should take her to the Intermountain Medical Center Emergency Room.  We quickly finished our dinner, which was actually breakfast food  (More on that later), Jeff and Luke gave her a blessing and I took her to the hospital.
Sunday night at the largest ER in the state is quite an interesting place to be.  There was lots of down time as we waited our turn for help, but after extensive laboratory work they found every thing to be normal, including the C Diff.  We were so afraid that it had reared its nasty head again, but thank heavens it is still gone.  They pushed a lot of IV fluids to relieve the dehydration which helped her feel immensely better.  Final prognosis is it is probably Post Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome or PI-IBS,  which occasionally develops after a severe bacterial GI infection.  She is still running a fever, though not as high.  We are still waiting for instructions on what happens now.  Unfortunately this can be persistent for a very long time.  Once again we are asking for your prayers in Jessi's behalf.
       She did have an elevated heart rate when we arrived at the hospital, but it slowly came down some as she was rehydrated.
 On Sunday I had decided since it was close to Halloween to have a different Autumn Menu than the typical Sabbath Dinner.  We had Gingerbread Pancakes with Buttermilk Syrup and Breakfast Casserole.  We have a neighborhood lunch once a month, and my next door neighbor did a brunch instead of lunch and this is what she served.  Here are the recipes for the pancakes and syrup and I used a basic breakfast casserole recipe that most people already have.


1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
1 egg
1 1/4 C milk
1/4 C molasses
3 TBL cooking oil

Stir all dry ingredients together.  Mix egg and milk until combined.  Beat in molasses ad oil.  Stir dry ingredients into liquid just until blended but slightly lumpy.  Cook on griddle.  Must serve with buttermilk syrup!!


1 tsp baking soda
1 C butter
2 C buttermilk
2 C sugar
1/2 C corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients (except vanilla) in a big POT ( biggest you've got).  Bring to a boil stirring more than occasionally, but less than constantly.  Continue to stir and boil at least 7 min until a golden tan color.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Extra syrup is also very delicious over vanilla ice cream.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Awesome Weekend

Amy, Jessi and I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday at the Salt Lake City TIME OUT FOR WOMEN.  Wow!  It seems to get better every year that I attend.  Each speaker was incredible and seemed to have a message tailored just for me.
I was so impressed that cute 18 year old Jessi would come with us and enjoy it!!  She has a deep inner spiritual soul for one so young.
 It is always a challenge for Amy to get babysitters for her children for the two days, so I'm so thankful for her diligence and desire to be there also.
One of the presenters explained why I always feel so driven to attend these kind of events and to have as many of my family with me.  He spoke of how a marinade always seems to make any meat taste better.  It is because it becomes enveloped in the flavors of the marinade.  It has permeated every fiber of the meat making it more tender and flavorful.  This idea was then related to our personal lives and that regardless of our original intention we will eventually become what we surround ourselves with.  Whatever we choose to marinate ourselves in is what we will become.  So every time that we immerse ourselves in wholesome, spiritual and uplifting experiences we obviously become more wholesome, spiritual and uplifted.  In today's world I believe that we need every drop of goodness to permeate our souls to keep us strong against the adversary.

Saturday evening after the TOFW conference we had the adult session of our Stake Conference which is always my favorite.  It was a great conclusion to my day.
Sunday was our family session of Stake Conference which was awesome, especially because Jeff was one of the speakers.  Unfortunately a couple of speakers before Jeff took way more than their allotted time and Jeff knew our stake president had an important message for our stake so he kept his talk extremely short.  I felt bad he didn't get to present his entire message, but he gave an incredible testimony of the Atonement.  There is no message more important.

Oh how I wish every weekend I could be immersed in this much goodness.  I guess I will just have to hope it holds me over for some time.  Obviously I need to improve my own personal study so I can feel the spirit as deeply on my own as when it is shared with me by others.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quotes For The Day

Each morning when I open my email I'm greeted by a new "Happiness" thought sent by Gretchen Rubin author of the Happiness Project.  Some of them I read, smile and then delete.  Others I read, smile, ponder and know that they have touched my heart and I need to remember them.  I would like to share a few of my favorites.

“My favorite thing is to go where I've never been before.”
-Diane Arbus

"If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life."
--- Leo Tolstoy

“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”

"Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers."
---  Madame du Chatele

The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.”
-Yutang Lin

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."
----George Moore

The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.”

-Ayn Rand

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Thirty five years ago during this autumn season I met, became best friends, and then fell in love with my dear husband.  We had a whirlwind courtship, engagement and marriage and the crisp air and amazing colors of fall remind me of that incredible time of my life each year.

We were introduced to each other by a mutual friend at a USU football game on a Saturday in late September and then discovered the next Monday that we had two classes together.  After becoming study partners in these classes, we spent every waking moment of each day together playing in the leaves at the park, enjoying Logan Canyon, feeding the ducks near the river where I lived, and becoming acquainted with each others Dreams, Desires and Devotions.  We were becoming one.

All of these moments together were solidified by the hues of oranges, reds, golds and muted greens of the season.
Several years ago when we were remodeling our home, I had a good friend come give me suggestions on decorating.  She asked me to ponder and feel what I wanted the mood in our home to be and then to describe it with colors.  I immediately knew I wanted to surround myself each day with the colors of oranges, reds, golds and muted greens of Autumn.  Each day I wanted to REMEMBER the feelings of those moments when Jeff and I were SOLIDIFYING our relationship and KNOWING that we wanted to be together for eternity.

      I love Autumn and I love Jeff----even more--much more now---than I did in this same season 35 years ago.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Choice

Jessi and her boyfriend Spjut (Mitch) carved this pumpkin on a date with several other couples last weekend.  The pumpkin is quite ordinary, sorry Jess, and it in itself is not what I am blogging about. It was the conversation about it the next day that has had me pondering for several days now.
One of the other girls in the group hosted them at her home.  Jessi mentioned about how she liked going to her house because this particular girl's mother did so much for them.  She was talking about the cute pumpkin cookies the mom had made and then continued to say that while they were busy doing something else, the mom cleaned out all of the pumpkins for every couple.  I was beginning to feel very guilty and inferior because I knew there was no way I would be cleaning out all of those pumpkins, when Jessi said that this girl mentioned that her mom was so bored and had nothing to do so she liked doing these things for her.
THEN I made the comment about how I wished I had that life, that I was so bored that I had nothing to do but clean out pumpkins for my college age daughter and friends WHEN Jessi and Jeff immediately and simultaneously said  "You would hate that.  You would absolutely hate not having something to do."
I immediately knew they were right.  I chose the life I have, as crazy as it is at times.  I choose to volunteer, I choose to take classes, I choose to take friends to lunch, I choose to play with my kids and grandkids, I choose to blog, I choose to travel and I choose a myriad of other things to do because I don't like being bored.  As out of control as my life seems at times, I now realize it is because I have chosen it.
The interesting thing about this is the epiphany that every other woman has chosen how they want to live their life.  Yes some may have much more responsibility in earning a living or caring for elderly parents or young children, but we all have a choice on how we spend our discretionary time.  My neighbor whom I envy at times because she has kept her life so simple and stress free has chosen that life style.  It works for her, and though I think I desire it, I certainly don't change my life to acquire it so I now realize that if I really wanted it I would change how I live.
The great thing is that we never need to judge one another on how we utilize our time.  No one will choose the same thing we do and that is Okay.  If that sweet mom wants to scoop out those pumpkin seeds---good luck and have fun.  My kids will be scooping out their own.
 We can even choose whether to be happy and content with our lives, no matter what has been thrown at us, or we can choose to be miserable.  The choice as always is ours.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Faces On The Mountain

Our family (minus Ben's family and Kevin) ventured to South Dakota to visit Mt Rushmore.  We rented a large SUV so Amy's family, Jessi, Jeff and I could travel the 10 hours together in one car.  Carly and Tyler brought two cars for their 7 hour journey so that Carly could caravan home with us because she needed to be in Utah for a marathon the next week.
It turned out to be a great meeting spot for us.  As I watched Blake and Lucy, and even Clara and Callie play together I missed having Cody, Macey and Mackayla with us so much.  It would be awesome if we all lived close.  Cousins are so cute together.
We were pleasantly surprised with the beauty of the South Dakota Black Hills and surrounding area.  There was so much to see and do and we had so little time.  We might have to explore there again another time without small children because there were many scenic drives that we would of loved to have taken.  It is amazing to me as we visit different places through out the country that there are many completely diverse but equally beautiful areas to see.  How grateful I am that the Lord blessed us with such a wonderful world to live.
We did many fun and different things that the grandkids seemed to enjoy greatly.
We started at Reptile Gardens.  Reptiles, especially snakes, are not my favorite but the kids loved it.
Blake petting the snake.  She loves them at our farm, but this one was quite a bit bigger.

This tortoise is real.  They were amazing to watch and to touch.  

 After a quick lunch we ventured through Bear World.  Now that is more my style.  I love the bears
and especially the wolves.  This place was first class.  The animals all seemed so healthy and content.
 The Girls.  We do have a great time together.
 Jessi enjoying the bear back rest.
 Jessi enjoying her personal "bear" back rest.  This one would be my favorite!!
 That evening we went to a Chuck Wagon Dinner that was at the location where they filmed parts of Dances with Wolves.

The next morning was spent at Mount Rushmore, or as Lucy referred to it "The Faces on the Mountain."  Wow, I expected it to be huge, but it is truly indescribable.  The massiveness and exactness of the faces is overwhelming.  
 The Entrance to Mt. Rushmore.
 A dear man offered to take a picture of all of us.  We almost all made it into the picture!!
Three of our original five!!
 Custer State Park was such a beautiful drive.  We saw many animals on the wildlife loop.  In all the places we have driven to observe wildlife I have never seen wild burros.  They were the hit of the drive.  They would stick their heads right in the car windows if you would let them.
 They had already rounded up the Buffalo for the winter so they were gathered in this field instead of roaming free through out the park.
 We saw many mountain goats and also big horn sheep and lots of deer.
Clara and Lucy at one of the beautiful lakes.
I love my family!!  I love traveling to new places!!  When you get both in one---Life is Great!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Great Weekend!!

General Conference Weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year.  I love it and I have a dream of one day being so organized that I don't have one thing to do and I can sit and and bask in the spirit of each conference session without any interruptions.  It's a great dream, but will probably never happen. For now I will always try to enjoy each moment that I can.
I always felt a real let down when the last AMEN is pronounced, knowing it is over for six months.
This year the new announcement on lowering the age for eligible missionaries completely rocked our home.  Jessi, if she desired and was healthy, could turn in her mission papers in less than a month.  How great it is for these young sisters to have that option available to them.  I think it is the greatest thing ever.  I know there will be so many of them that will jump on this opportunity.  The world will not know what hit them when this incredible force for good is unleashed.  Talk about a "Mormon Moment."  Each country will be filled with so many young men and women sporting black names tags introducing them as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I love it.
As Pres. Monson  spoke of hastening the work of the Lord, it made me realize that the time of mere playing and using time unwisely is in the past.
I'm excited to read each of the talks again.  How lucky we are to have the internet and the church website to listen to them or read them as many times as we desire.  The world is a great place!!!

Amy came over for Sunday afternoon conference and brought these fun bottles.  If the word was mentioned during a talk we got to take a treat from the bottle.  She made them for her kids, but honestly the adults enjoyed them much more.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Oregon Adventures

In the past few years I have traveled to Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Hawaii and Alaska with  multiple layovers and connections.  I have never lost a suitcase or even had one delayed.  I believe that suitcases changing airlines and having multiple stops and arriving at the same time and place that the owner does should be hailed as one of the greatest wonders of the world.  I have been incredibly fortunate.  However last week when I flew on a nonstop, 1 and 1/2 hour flight to Portland my suitcase was missing when I got there.  The airline knew where it was, but all I knew was it wasn't in Portland.  As I left the airport they assured me that my suitcase would be delivered to Ben's house in just a few short hours.  24 Hours later we were still waiting for it to appear.  Go figure.  At least Ben and Carrie had an extra contact case and a children's toothbrush for me to use.  What else do you need?
I love Oregon!!  This was only the second time I have been there, but it definitely ranks as one of my favorite places.  Of course I have never been there during the rainy season so that may change my mind somewhat.
Carrie has the greatest friends there.  I just love the kind of people that she knows.  They are trying to be self sufficient and are so not into materialism.  She had told me that nobody wore makeup in Oregon.  How great would that be?
She has friends who have incredible gardens, growing every nutritious vegetable known and a few not so known.  One of them owns bee hives so they can have fresh raw honey.  Another cute lady built her own house.  She did it, not her husband, she did.  It was a beautiful home.  The amazing thing is they have six children.  Carrie has a neighbor who had an overabundance of basil so she invited Carrie to come to her house and they made Pesto.  Another lady, who has seven children, writes the most incredible, well thought out, intellectual yet spiritual blogs I have ever read.  Ben and Carrie mentioned that she has a complete one year supply of food for her entire family of nine.  I met almost all of these women. They seemed incredibly kind and unassuming, concerned about others and of course they just love Carrie and her family.  I would love to visit and become acquainted with each one of them.  I'm sure they have incredible stories.
We had a great time and it was so fun to see the grandkids.  They have grown up so much.  Cody is so proud that he is now in kindergarten.  The two girls are wonderful.  We had an awesome visit even if it was cut short because of the funeral.
We spent a couple of days at the coast.  It is only about an hour drive from their home.  The first day we headed to the Aquarium.  I loved it.  Check our Carrie's Blog to read a fun version of our experiences.

 On Saturday Ben came with us and we went to the tide pools.  (I love tide pools, could be one of my favorite things to do.)
 Cody really loves them too.  He can tell you about all the marine life that he finds.  I'm so impressed with his interest and knowledge.
 We went on a whale watching adventure.  We saw whales, but they are too difficult for me to get pictures of.  We also did some crabbing which was fun.  This is Ben pulling in the crab cage with Cody watching closely to see what we caught.
 Playing with the Crabs!!  Mackayla thought they were great.
 Macy not so much.

 After that adventure we stopped by the beach for a little sand play.  I think kids and beaches were made to go together.  Children are never happier than at the beach.  Obviously it doesn't matter if it is even cold.

I can't wait to go back.  It is an incredible opportunity this year to soak up as much of this culture as I can while they live there.  I absolutely LOVE it!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Flood

Last Tuesday when I returned home from Pilates I noticed that our sprinklers had turned off a half an hour early.  I wondered about it, I even called Jeff and asked him if he turned them off and he said no, then rationalizing that the timer must have changed I entered the house.  As I was busy getting ready to leave for a hair appointment I had the thought to go downstairs and check to see if I could find out what happened to the sprinklers.  Unfortunately I dismissed the idea a couple of times and left.
Fast forward about 5 hours.  I'm now at the grocery store shopping when I get a frantic phone call from Jessi telling me that she had walked down the steps and there was water every where.  As I quickly went to check out she called to inform me that she and Amy had called Jeff and they had got the water shut off.  I felt much better about the situation, not even beginning to understand the extent of the water in our home.
As soon as I arrived home I noticed Jessi running from one neighbor to the next to get help to get our belongings out of the basement.  That is when reality began to set in.  I carried in the groceries and walked down the stairs.  To my utter amazement the water covered my feet as I stepped off the landing.
The girls said that it had gone down drastically since the water had been turned off.
My dear sweet neighbors, the priest quorum from our ward, and many others just driving by stopped to help.  We totally removed everything from our basement.  Every couch, table, bed, book, blanket, junk and more junk was carried out.  It is remarkable the amount of STUFF we had in that basement.  The water had spread so completely that there was not a room, closet or corner that had not been soaked.
The disaster team was called and responded so quickly.  They began removing the water as we were still removing furniture and items from our house.  They worked for hours and hours ripping up carpet pad, base boards, and vacuuming up water.  They have been remarkable.  Each day they come back to destroy more of the house as they find more water damage.  They cut 24 inches high of sheetrock around  the bottom of all the outside walls and removed wet insulation.  Another day they came and removed built in cupboards because there was water under them that they could not reach.  It has been overwhelming, but how grateful I am that they are thorough.  They have had giant fans running non stop in our basement for one week now.  The rebuilding of our basement will take lots of time but the damage has now stopped.  We can finally move forward.
 Unfortunately I didn't think to take pics during the flood.  I would love to document the amount of water we had and the number of people who came to help.  I was totally humbled by the willingness of others and I need to repent of having bad feelings about returning to our family ward.  The Lord needed to remind my of what an incredible place we do live.
These pictures are of the fans in our basement.  This is after they had removed 18 of them.  Notice in this first picture that the sheetrock has been cut away.

 We had to store most of our belongings in the garage while they were working in the basement.  Trying to empty the rooms quickly didn't make for nice packing.  Things were thrown into what ever container we could find.  We look like "one of those people"  you know- those hoarders that people whisper about.  We try to keep the garage door closed as much as possible.

So many times since the flood I have regretted that I didn't listen to those promptings to go and check out the sprinklers and see what was going on with them.  It turned out that one of the valves burst which is why my sprinklers stopped and the water began running into our home.  It is so difficult for me to determine whether thoughts are of my own or of the spirit.  I sometimes feel like when I think it is the spirit telling me something it is not and at times like this that I think I am just coming up with a thought  and it is the spirit talking to me.  Will I ever get it right?
Here is a great article on learning to listen to the spirit.