Thursday, June 09, 2016

Family Reunion

I didn't go stir crazy with pictures with this family reunion. I was too busy, but it has been a wonderful and interesting experience. This is the first reunion we have ever held. We have learned a lot of lessons - just in case we ever decide to have another one. We have exhausted the kids and they have exhausted us. (I think I can express that in behalf of all the parents.)

Today Gillian and David went home. I take my hat of to them, especially, because they both made the long trek here without spouses. That couldn't have been an easy task but they did a remarkable job of holding it all together. Their kids were tired today. I hope they slept most of the way home.

Adam will leave on Saturday and Jason will leave early Monday morning. The day everyone started arriving (June 3), my heart kept beating quickly. I left work at 11:00 that morning to be here when they all started arriving. I kept saying,"I can't believe this is really happening!" And I was beyond happy! I haven't slept much in the past week because I lie awake trying to figure out details of the next day, but it has been worth the sleeplessness just to have so many family members together.

I am convinced that the more often family members get together, the better our understanding of each other will become; the quicker it will be to resolve personal issues; the stronger the bonds will forge and the individual support will strengthen. This is my wish for this fantastic, crazy family. And yes, we are LOUD! Cousins got to play with each other and got to know one another. For the most part, this was a great adventure. There were a few difficult patches but hopefully those will straighten out.

Here are a few random pictures. If you don't see your kids in one of them, it's either because I did not have my camera with me or they didn't sit still enough for me to catch them. (And I'm only posting a few.)

First day -- Park play and just chillin'.

 Eva had the great idea of having the kids follow her in a single file. She was the leader of the pack. They followed her.
 This adorable little girl was happy to be still enough to let me take her picture.
 All but two.
Second day:  From this.....
 To this!
 Ladies (including Eva) started painting the ugly brown trim on the front of the house.
 Dinner time after a long, hot day of service. There are a lot of us!
 Alyssa asked me to take a few senior pictures. We did a few practice pictures tonight. I wish I was a better people photographer. We'll see how it turns out tomorrow morning. There's smoke in the sky so I'm hoping the sky doesn't get blown out. She's definitely a pretty subject.

 

Friday, May 06, 2016

A Nice Mother's Day Rant



After I became a mother, I began to hate Mother’s Day – more than any day of the year. I was grumpy as the day approached. I knew there would be no fuss except for the little things the kids would bring home from school. I wore the Kerr bottle rings as necklaces. I wore the dried clay pins and macaroni necklaces that the kids made at school. That was the only symbol that Mother’s Day had arrived. But nothing was different on that day. Everybody would ask me what I wanted. I would say, “I’d like a day when none of you argue and I would like to have a day without having to cook.” So simple. But the kids still argued. I still fixed all the meals. I sat and listened to unbearable stories about the perfect mothers in the world knowing I wasn’t one of them. Lip service was given about how special I was but action rarely followed those words. Every year I tried to change how I felt. I tried to be more adult about it. I tried not to care that my kids didn’t pay attention to the day any more than any other. And my husband rarely stepped up to make a special meal or give me a break from the daily grind that came with a gazillion kids. I still fulfilled my callings at church. And then, at the end of church, they would give us some little booklet that talked about the glories of motherhood. I went home and dumped it into the garbage. Sometimes we’d get a little plant. I think mine died every single year. It was symbolic, I thought.
And then one year I figured it all out. I called all the mothers of my daughters-in-law and thanked them for raising such wonderful young women. I thanked them for being great mothers. I called my daughters and thanked them for being such stellar women and told them how much I loved them. It was such a simple task but it changed how I looked at Mother’s Day. I decided to honor my daughters, who made me in to a mother. I decided to look outward rather than inward. Once that shift in my thought process took place, Mother’s Day became more like Valentine’s Day, which is my favorite holiday. I could do something for other mothers. I stopped expecting gifts and fuss. I began to shed the years of frustration and selfishness. And now I love Mother’s Day. Some years I do something special. Some years it’s just another nice day. Nothing is expected – either from me or by me. And peace has come to me. I just have to figure out what I want to do this year. I feel phone calls to my daughters coming on. And phone calls to lonely mothers in my ward that don’t get to see their children very often. And a phone call to the bishop’s wife who is the mother of the ward. And our Relief Society President who mothers all of us. It’s not about me and never should have been.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Last Pictures of California Trip

I promise - these are the last pictures of our California trip. I can't forget the most important part of the trip -- the people!

The sweetest little face in the world. Who wouldn't be captivated by this look?

 The kids at the end of our hike in Armstrong Woods.
 Amy and Hannah at the beginning of the hike.

 Jim is soooo strong!


 Jim peeking through the base of one tree that split.

 The kids looking inside the base of a tree.

 Ammon is just a speck amongst the forest. It reminds me of Enoch's statement when he saw the creations of God and remarked how insignificant man really is.

Ammon was Mr. Taxi much of the time. Kids loved the ride.
 George was kind of talking to himself when I walked up by his side. He was actually talking to his shadow. As the shadow blended in with other shadows and he couldn't see it he would say, "And now it's gone into the ground." It was too cute to miss so I captured it here.

 Gracie
Two live oak trees - some of my favorite and in plentiful supply in California. I think they are gorgeous trees. It looks like they are sitting on the "Teletubby hills." Adam said that the green hills you see on the Microsoft window were actually taken in this area, just about 2 miles from Adam's house.
 The kids put on a little show for us. They use the entrance to their house as their stage. Sometimes they make up their own songs and sometimes they perform to a recorded song. It was lively and a lot of fun.
 These kids are the most energetic of any I have ever met, I think. These three, especially (Sam, Ella and Grace) seem to always be in the mix of it all. They certainly had fun together.

A few blocks from Adam's house is a nice neighborhood that has been invaded by wild peacocks. They were everywhere! One house had 4 peacocks on their front porch. While they are beautiful to see, I would be afraid of them with so many at my front door. There were also wild turkeys. We saw one coming back from the grocery store - he was just strutting across the street. It is a unique area.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Part 2 - California Trip

Here are some photos of the ocean. These were my favorite ones for various reasons.


 The wildflowers on the banks and cliffs were in abundance. They were very beautiful.




 Seals galore. I would like to say basking in the sun but the sun was hidden.

 I like the orange jacket in this picture. Wouldn't you love to walk down those stairs?

I love the cascading white flowers on the cliffs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

California Trip

I have begged everybody I know to take a picture of the ocean and give it to me. So far, no one has done that. I finally got a few that might work. I will post a couple of different posts because there are so many pictures. First of scenery and then some of the kids that I took on our California trip this past week.

We arrived in California last Thursday afternoon. We stopped by Bill and Diane's house (and saw our old house and the Children's Receiving Home - just for David) first. We visited with them for an hour or so and then went on to Adam's place. We had only given them a day and a half notice that we were coming because we didn't know we were going until Tuesday morning. We left on Wednesday afternoon and stopped in Sparks, NV for the night simply because I was too tired to go on. Adam and Amy let their kids miss school on Friday so we could take a little trip to Armstrong Woods and Jenner which is about 30 miles easy of the woods. I wish we had known they existed when we lived there because I would love all of you to see them. The kids were really good on the trip and seemed to have alot of fun hiking through the woods. It was clear and beautiful there. By the time we got to Jenner, it was very, very foggy which disappointed me but I guess it just added a mysterious feel to the waves and cliffs. We worked our way down to Bodega Bay where the kids were able to play for a few minutes on the beach.

It rained all day Saturday so we just hung out at home and watched the kids play. On Sunday, we attended church and enjoyed that experience. After church Bill and Diane came over and ate with us and met Amy and the kids. I think they had a good time although Bill could not win Hannah over as hard as he tried. Monday morning we left from our motel and stopped in Auburn to visit with Sam and Joyce Roskelley for about 20 minutes. And then we were on our way. It was a quick trip but I'm sure glad we were able to go. Here are a few pictures.

 Our old house. I still like it.
Diane and Bill
 It's difficult to get a real perspective as to how tall these trees are - and there are a lot of shadows.
Jim standing in front of one of the largest trees.
I love texture and small details - like this mushroom growing out of a fallen log.
Another upward view.
I loved the play of light and shadow.
This is called a burl. I used my telephoto lens to get this. It's probably 80-100 feet up on the tree. Sediment from the forest fills in the burl and plants (poison oak, ferns and even a little tree) are growing on this thing.
 A fallen tree. Notice how really large this is.
Again- some texture that I like.
I call this one Gracie's throne. It was at the end of the hike. Grace instantly sat on the grating and dubbed it her throne. I thought it was pretty adorable.
Pictures of the ocean will come on tomorrow.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

General Conference



I would think that every single person had favorite talks throughout the three sessions of General Conference. Different speakers would speak to our hearts as we sought inspiration. I was very anxious and excited for Conference this time. More so than other times. I needed to have my decision to retire verified. I don't want to make a mistake or cause our family any undue stress because of this decision. I made the decision to do so about three weeks ago and felt very peaceful and even exited about the new adventures that might await us once the daily grind of work was behind me. I had earnestly sought God's guidance through the process of making the decision. I fasted about it. I went to the Temple seeking approbation. And I prayed day and night to know that the Lord approved of my desire. The Lord was very quiet. In fact, I felt nothing. I didn't feel like it was right or wrong. After a week or so, I finally said, "Ok, then God is trusting me to make this decision on my own. If it's wrong, He had better let me know before it's too late." So I told my boss and got things under way. (It nearly takes an act of Congress to retire from BYU.) I felt peaceful until a week ago. And then one day I woke up grumpy and out of sorts for no reason at all. The days got darker and darker. I had difficulty sleeping. I was cranky at work and treated Jim horribly. All our old financial issues kept coming to my mind. All our moves and our insecurities would not leave my head. I felt terrified of leaving my job. I tried to examine my thoughts. Where did this darkness come from? God doesn't work in darkness. He works with light. And Joseph Smith's statement "Fear and faith cannot reside in a person at the same time" would not leave my mind. I was fearful. Should I exercise faith that after all I could do would be sufficient for the Lord to make up the deficit? He hadn't at some points in our lives--at least not in the way I would have wanted. So what about now? For three days I felt dark depression and great fear. I finally requested a Priesthood blessing from Jim. I explained to him what was going on in my head. He gave me a beautiful blessing and the darkness immediately left. I was able to turn in my last papers and did make the final decision that retiring is what I needed to do. It has been peaceful for the last two days.

And so, as Conference approached, I was hoping that I would feel even stronger in my resolve. All the talks were good and there were snippets in each that I could apply to my situation and need. I knew my decision was right. And then Elder Holland spoke and I had a small vision come to my mind that is very sacred. I do not know how this will all end, but I did see and know in my mind's eye that my place is in the home. It always has been. I just had to take a detour for a while. Now I am to return to prepare for whatever is to happen in the future. Tears were streaming down my face. I am at peace.

I asked Ammon what his favorite talk was and he didn't even hesitate. He said his favorite was Elder Paul Johnson's about the atonement. It gave him hope and he said he can't wait until all his family and friends can see him whole and well.

And so we go to "tomorrow" and the high from this weekend might lessen but I will take Elder Holland's suggestion that we do not let the tomorrow's get us down. I will anxiously wait to read the words that were spoken so that I can remember what I heard in all it's detail this weekend.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Working With Adam

I have a co-worker named Adam Clark (and he's a good, bright, motivated worker, so ... it must be the name). He says he has ancestors who helped settle Spanish Fork, but we can't seem to make a connection via the family history stuff.

Does anyone know why the Clark line goes back only a few generations?

Jess -- Dad -- Henry Clifford -- James Edward -- John Richard -- dead end

Is there more info floating out there that we know of but haven't connected in FamilySearch?

On another note, I enjoy using Puzzilla.org to help quickly visualize fan charts and decendents. It uses your FamilySearch credentials and is pretty slick. You can't use it to enter data, but it's a great visualization tool.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BEST TOMATO SOUP EVER!

I found a tomato soup recipe in the Better Homes & Garden magazine. It looked simple and I had most of the ingredients so I decided to try it - and best of all, it only has 220 calories per serving.
This is the BEST tomato soup I've ever eaten. I decided to share it. It's simple and delicious.

1 TBS Olive Oil
1 med. onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
3 c. lower-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 TBS butter
1/2 tsp sugar
 

1. In 5-to 7 qt sauce pot, heat oil on medium. Add onion and garlic; cook 10 minutes., stirring.
Add broth, tomatoes, baby leaves and 1/2 tsp salt. Heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat; simmer 20 min., stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, trim crusts from bread. With heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut 4 hearts from bread slices; toast hearts. Stir bread scraps into soup.
3. Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in butter and sugar. In batches in blender or with immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Stir in 1/4 tsp. pepper. Served topped with croutons if desired.

About 4 servings, 220 calories, 4 g protein, 27 g carbs, 11 g fat (3 g sat), 3 g. fiber, 928 mg sodium.

I did not use the toast croutons. I just served saltines and Ritz crackers along with a spinach salad.

So yummy!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Winter Clouds

I have not taken a single winter picture this year. The cold hurts my fingers too much. But today, it was just too amazing to pass up. If we lived in Spanish Fork, it would seem gloomy again today, like yesterday. But up here, we are above the clouds and it is truly beautiful. Enjoy.