Thursday, August 18, 2016

Catching Up

I'm sure much has happened over the last couple of weeks but I don't remember much! Today Emery searched for something to do and the girls decided on a photography challenge. They had a list of ideas and had to take a photo for each one. Emery and Cadence were on a team and Regen and I were on a team. I was doing some planning for homeschool (which starts next week) so I stayed inside and she came and asked for ideas or my opinion from time to time. They also washed my car. Without being asked! My kids are amazing. I've been reading the books of two of my friends as they prepare to have them published and I'm almost done with my final edit of Escaping Neverland. After that, I'll send it off to my proofers and soon it will be published. I'm excited for that--nothing compares to birthing a new book into the world.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Birthday Boys

Yesterday we went to church. It was good to be back in our home ward. I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting about an experience I had on trek. While watching the youth struggle to push the handcart up a hill, the words came to my mind, "That is what it means to take up the cross." I've struggled to understand this saying at times, but it was so clear to me in that moment. The pioneers gave up everything: their families, friends, the comfort of their homes, possessions, etc. for the gospel. The next thought I had was that it is not supposed to be easy. I read Mark 10:21 and 2 Nephi 9:18. It was a powerful experience for me and I am grateful for the calm assurance I had while getting up to bear my testimony as that is always such a nerve racking thing for me. Sharee and Gordon came over to celebrate the birthday of Peter and Alex who turned five. We had a great dinner of "red soup," cornbread and cucumbers. I ate leftover taco soup and tortilla chips because I don't love tomato soup and can't eat the cornbread. I made a gluten free cake that Emery and Regen decorated. The kids played and the parents visited. Ryan had to leave for his meeting eventually. I look forward to him being home on Sunday nights again someday but he loves the ARP meetings and the help he is able to give others.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Utah Trip 2016

We left for Utah Tuesday, July 26th. We flew from Baltimore to Las Vegas, rented a car and drove up to St. George where we spent the night. Wednesday morning, we met Katie and Cierra Earl at my uncle Clay's and aunt Lana's house. We visited for a little bet then headed to Zion's National Park. We drove up Kolob Canon and took a short hike at the end of the drive. The view was lovely.

We drove to the main part of the park and took a wrong turn which led us through two tunnels. Ryan figured out that we were heading toward the east exit so we headed back. Rather than go into the park on shuttle, we hiked down to the river to play for a bit. Clay and Lana met us in Hurricane to bring us some of our belongings we had left at their house to keep them cool. The temperature in Southern Utah that day was 113 degrees.

We headed up to Katie's, stopping at my parents' house to drop off Cierra and say hello.

Thursday was my birthday. Cadence and I did a little grocery shopping in the morning.  I had a meeting so we hung out at Katie's until after. We went to a picnic lunch at Wheeler Farm where my mom, Kylie Tara and Cierra Earl met us and Katie. We ate lunch then visited the animals. Afterward, Kriss and all five kids, Dylan, Abbie, Scott, Keira and Brock, came to swim with us at Katie's. Katie made me a gluten free chocolate cake. Ryan and I went on a date to Winger's (a Utah favorite) and the rest went out to Red Robin. We came back to Katie's for cake and ice cream and all watched Secretariat.

Friday we went to Kaysville to visit with friends. We stopped at the Templeton's first, then Rosalie Gardner at her senior care center. She was so surprised and thrilled to see us. We had a great visit with her. Next we headed to Brian and Amy Johnson's for dinner with the Black's and the Carrier's as well. This was so much fun and the girls, especially Cadence, loved seeing old friends. After dinner we went to Sariah's to visit with her and her mom, Crystal. We played Just Dance until late and went back to Katie's for sleep.

Saturday we visited Salt Lake. We met Ryan's parents at their apartment for a little visit and some snacks. Then we headed to the Family History Library so they could show us what they do every day on their mission. Next we explored the Church History Library and enjoyed that. Afterward, we went back to their apartment clubhouse where James and his family, Jenni and her girls, Cierra and Krecia (with her husband Devin and toddler Christian) for an early dinner. We headed to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to explore the Discovery Center at Family Search. We learned a lot about family history. Later we drove down to Saratoga Springs to visit my friends from High School. There are now 19 children among us. Jill and Mike were there with their 3 children; Jessica came with her three children; we saw Kendi, H.D, and their 5 children; Maria and Chad came with their 4 children; and Ashlie came with her daughter. It was so much fun to see them and rebuild our friendships. I think I've missed them the most!

 These are pictures of me and Cierra Lemon. We think our faces are pretty compatible.

Sunday we went to church with Katie and then had dinner at my parents' house with Heather and her family, Jesse and his Family, Nancy and some of the Browns, including Sam, Amanda, Andrew and Emerson; Dan and Anthony; and Lanell joined us later when she returned from California. The girls loved getting reacquainted with cousins. Little Andrew loved Regen. :)

Monday we went back to Kaysville so that Regen could visit with her friend Maui and Emery could spend the day with Sariah. We dropped Emery off and then Regen. Regen went with Maui to the mall in Farmington while Ryan, Cadence and I window shopped and went on a giraffe hunt. I met Amy Johnson for lunch and that was so good. I miss her so much!! I am so blessed to have so many good friends in so many places. Regen, Cadence, Ryan and I went to Heber for dinner with Rob and Emily Willardson.

Tuesday we headed to Ephraim for lunch at Roy's Pizza. We visited Snow College, showing the girls the LDS Institute building where we met and walking around campus. Then we headed for Cedar City, stopping to take a picture of the Manti temple. We grabbed some dinner and went swimming at the hotel.

Wednesday we drove by the Cedar City temple and then headed to Las Vegas where we drove by the temple there before flying back to Baltimore. We had such a blessed trip, with an abundance of safety and many, many good visits with family and friends.

Gordon picked us up from the airport and we retrieved our cars (one from Sharee's and one from the stake center in Columbia) and headed for home. Cadence and I went to dinner at Taco Bell and stopped at the grocery store for a few items to get us through the next day. We got home at about midnight.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Playing Therapist

Cadence began a little game at night when I'm tucking her in. She'll say, "Let's play therapist. I get to be the therapist." Then I proceed to tell her some things that are going on, troubles I'm having or problems I'm facing. We discuss them and she gives some helpful ideas or advice. It is so nice to be able to tell your troubles to someone! Thanks for listening, Cadence!

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Sometimes it takes a long time to decide whether you like something. And once you've decided, you can still forget. That's how it is for me with gardening. I love being out in my garden. I can spend hours weeding, planting, tending, nurturing, etc. and I love every minute of it. It feels good to be physically active; the fresh air is cleansing; the results bring enjoyment and beauty. But sometimes, when I'm looking out the window, I feel overwhelmed by how much work there is to do. Last year and the year before that (and the years before that when I had a garden) I would give up part way through the Spring or Summer and let the weeds take over. This year I am trying to remind myself that staring at weeds does not intimidate them. I try to just take those few steps outside, slip on the gardening gloves, pick up a shovel or bag of seeds and just go for it. I got several things planted today and was surprised to see that one would take an entire year to bloom. Talk about needing patience. There are so many analogies about life to be drawn from gardening. I think of them while I'm out there, or I think about nothing. Either way, if I just get out and do it, it's pretty close to bliss.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Few Happenings

Last week one of my daughters had her 9th birthday. I decided three days before to make her a quilt so it was a bit of a whirlwind getting that done and everything ready for her party. I had lots of help which made it possible and I'm so grateful for that because she had a great birthday and LOVED her quilt.

My husband and I spoke at a fireside last night to a group of youth and their leaders and parents about preventing addiction and addressing the challenges kids face today with courage and strength. We did a Q & A for the first time and it went really well. They asked a lot of questions and it was great to share our thoughts and experiences with them.

Lately, the phrase or idea that keeps standing out to me as I read the scriptures, conference talks or listen to speakers or lessons in church, is "He is with us." The impression has come again and again that this is true. He is all around us: leading this work, giving us hope and strength, providing a way out of sin and temptation, rescuing us when we ask, and faithfully being the big brother and friend we all need. It has been a blessing to receive this sweet, strong and profound reassurance again and again in a short two-week period. I am savoring the conference ensign!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Few Highlights

I got a haircut this week and it took a few days before I got used to it. It's short again, to my jaw. We had a couple of dr. appointments this week for the girls which were actually to just get referrals for specialists. Emery's going in for a glaucoma consult and Regen is getting those ginormous tonsils looked at.

The final project and paper for my class this semester was due this week so while I have one more class session to go to, I'm reveling in the fact that I'm done with homework for a few months. I learned a great deal about counseling theories and techniques and am developing my own theories and toolbox for when I become a counselor. Whenever a theory was introduced, I tested its ideas against my knowledge of the gospel. This always proves an excellent guide. I like the idea of unconditional positive regard from person centered therapy (think Christ-like love). My favorite overall theory ended up being Choice Theory which led to a practice called Reality Therapy. It's all about the choices we make. While most theories have some point that I'm not in love with, this one seemed to be dead on in every way. Still probably not the best method/guide for certain clients, but one I'll be using I'm sure.

Today was Mother's Day and I have to say it was fabulous. My family made me almond poppy seed muffins for breakfast (a favorite that I haven't had in years) and french dip sandwiches for dinner (another favorite we haven't enjoyed for a long time). The kids and Ryan gave me some thoughtful gifts and I have to admit that I'm always excited for the gift that is usually given at church to all the women. I can only remember not receiving a gift one year. It was in Colorado and I remember it didn't go down so well with the ladies that there was no thank you gift on Mother's Day. I guess we've come to expect it a bit. I am usually disappointed when it's not chocolate, but I do love flowers so that is fine too. I think all the ladies today had a nice surprise when we were told to go to the cultural hall for third hour. The men had set up tables and chairs and had a spread of crackers, cheese, grapes, strawberries, eclairs and a couple of chocolate fountains. The bishop gave a nice little lesson about our important role in the world today, sharing thoughts from Elder Nelson's talk from October 2015. His sincere words brought tears to my eyes and I think we all felt the love and appreciation that they had put into the day.

Ryan is at a meeting and the girls and I just had brownies and now Regen and Cadence are reading and Emery is coloring.

I feel stuck with family history. Just waiting for more records to be indexed so that there can be some progress again. It has been fun to discover a few things and even a baby sister of my great-great-great grandfather who had never been listed. I found her name on a census record. Emery took the name to the temple for her baptism/confirmation and I'll go and do the initiatory and endowment. Technically, it's the first family name I've ever discovered and done the temple work for. That's pretty awesome. I worked in tidbits for several years to reach that milestone.