The house is decorated! Grace finished the downstairs family room this afternoon. ZJ helped with the tree upstairs. The food is prepared except the potatoes and rolls. The turkey is in the oven, baking upside down with oven as low as it will go all night long! We enjoyed a pre-Thanksgiving Apple Crumb pie and a movie as a family tonight. Everyone's gone to bed and Doug and I are ready to call it a night! It's been a good Thanksgiving Eve!
The movie we watched was called "Leaving Limbo". It's a sweet movie, obviously a Christian film, with a very sweet story about a girl who returns to the living after being in a coma for nineteen years. Sweet story. But, the exciting thing about the movie was the my first cousin, Mandy Brown. Mandy is Mom's brother's daughter. I've only met Uncle Junior and his family once when I was a child. It was almost eerie to watch this movie, though, because Mandy has my mom's eyes and there were many times that I felt like I was looking at a photo of my grandmother, Eliza, who I never met. She died when Mom was a teen, before I was born. It was definitely an interesting experience to watch the movie. My kids loved the story! It was a great night!
Quayd and Doug worked today. The girls and I had a great afternoon in the kitchen! What would I do without my girls!? We made the pies and desserts and salads and yams and stuffing. All ready to go! I taught the girls how to do a lattice top on the pies. They were so excited! Fun times!
ZJ made the banana cream pies. "You cook the pudding?! Really??!?"
We're calling it a night! Tonight, I am thankful for these girls who are so helpful to me. Since the injury on my foot, the girls have picked up a lot of slack where I am lacking. Grace helps so much with laundry. ZJ is such a cook and organizer! Honestly, I do not know what I would do without these two girls' help with my duties at home!
There's always something to be thankful for!
What a wonderful day! This morning, we all overslept! ZJ had felt so bad yesterday, I assumed she was staying home and I didn't roll over until 7:14! When I realized she'd not gotten up, I figured Quayd and Grace would be ready to go soon. As I listened and didn't hear a sound downstairs, I knew that we were going to be late! So, everyone got up, got ready, we raced to both schools and I headed to town to run a few errands. I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up the garland for the Christmas tyree and found only three. I needed five! I bought the three and will have to wait till next Tuesday's shipment to finish the garland on the bottom of the tree. The first three are on and I even managed to sneak in 30 minutes of attention to the tree before I picked Quayd and Grace up from school. Quayd raced in and changed clothes for work, then I grabbed my camera, took him to work and headed out to my destinations for the evening. (I actually kissed Doug hello and goodbye in one pass!
First, I met Denise and her entire family for a family photo session. Denise had rented a photography studio since it was far too cold outside! The studio was perfect! We laughed hard at the antics of the kids and grands. It was a lot of fun. I love this family!!! Here's a few of my favorite photos. I preferred the white background, but Denise requested the wooded backdrop!
I'd seen a photo taken outdoors similar to this one below and knew that I would try it one day! This was the day and I love this photo!
When I took this one, Denise's son-in-law, Brian, was standing behind me making the grands laugh so hard! It was the most natural shot of all the kids! Doesn't Nisey have adorable grands!
This was a must do, the first pic we took, just to see all those sparking blue eyes and get the kids in the mood. Not the best composition, but too cute!
and the wood background...
Look at these boys! Could they be any cuter? Tatum, in the middle, goes to lunch with us every day and he's a little clone of his dad and a character just like him! I look at these boys and remember their parents at the same ages! Good times!
Following the photo shoot, I raced home, changed to my skirt, helped the girls load up and we raced to the church to help with the little display at the Young Women in Excellence. After attending them for over twenty five years, YWiE isn't always the most exciting evening. It is, however, an important evening to recognize the girls successes and I wouldn't want to miss it. ZJ asked me why we have it every year and I told her that it's comparable to the Young Men having a Court of Honor for their scouting achievements.
Grace's personal progress goals this year... reading, practicing piano, learning how to can and seminary/scripture study.
ZJ's goals and talents shared were here scripture study, her writing, her clever crafts and developing so many homemaking skills!
We got to the church and found the most darling decor! The theme about "making lemonade" from the sour things in life and turning them into sweetness. It was nice way to review the values and themes for each class. The presentation was adorable...the girls were asked to share some of their bitter lemons in life... school, brothers, school, peer pressure... And then, they were asked what was the "Sweetness" in life. They listed family, friends, patriarchal blessings, scriptures, prayer and mostly, as was shared by Katrina, one of our leaders, "testimonies of Christ". It was beautiful! Following that, they had a fabulous game of jeopardy with the Young Women Values and Mottos and theme and leaders as topics. Christie, who's husband is a graphics designer, made a fun board for the girls to choose categories. SO clever and fun! And our team won! Then there was the food! OH MY! It was one amazing spread. I could hardly believe all of the lovely desserts! Fantastic! Lemon bars, orange cupcakes, key lime cheesecakes, lemon candies... it was just too fun... all foods that had a little tartness and a lot of sweetness! The evening was the full package! The girls loved it! I loved it!
The little gift bags were handmade lotions made by Katrina, ZJ's leader!
I was quite proud of my girls. I don't usually share things like this on the blog. We are having a family fast at this time for some family members with some specific needs. We didn't eat one bite of the desserts! We brought ours home to eat in the morning. It was toughest for ZJ, but she made it. The Young Women's President, Tina, was aware of things and saw to it that the girls brought home full plates of every treat for breakfast tomorrow. I appreciated her support!
We came home and I posted my favorite pix on Denise's facebook page so that she could see them tonight. She cried. That was the best reward of all... knowing that she loved them that much!
It's been a great day. Tonight, I'm thankful for wonderful leaders that my children have been blessed with through their years in the youth program in our ward. They have always been concerned and interested in the girls and Quayd's lives. That means more than words can express to Doug and I! Their examples and leadership has been a gift to each of the kids. The girls love their leaders...past and present. Quayd has a great relationship with his. Truly, their leaders have been one of our greatest blessings over the past five years!
Holy cow! I, literally, just realized that tomorrow is my biggest cooking day of the year! It's here!!!
Every day, be sure to tell someone "thank you".
About ten years or so ago, I was visiting friend, Anita, in the St. Louis area and she reminded me, just recently, that we stopped at Krispy Kreme in Fergeson, Missouri. I didn't even realize that I'd been there until then. Tonight, I'm glad that I am far, far away. Doug and I watched the news on CNN as the prosecutor announcemed that Officer Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting of the young man in Missouri. I texted Anita, who still lives in the area, and told that I was thinking of her. She wrote back, "My chest is tight." I think that all of America could relate to that feeling to a degree.
We listened to the news conference and heard the details of the investigation. Sadly, those who were outside protesting were not listening! Hearing the facts, it sounds pretty cut and dry. And now, I watch the cars and buildings burning, the freeway shutdown and the police lights flashing, it makes me sad. Sadly, a life was lost. My heart breaks for his family. BUT. It was investigated and the decision was clear. I hear the protests of the people and I feel sad for them...do they not get that holding onto such anger and bitterness seems to negate, even defy, the pain that goes along with the loss of a life?!
Regardless of the circumstances, we live in a nation where justice is celebrated. To carry on like this just seems so senseless. I will never "get" how looting a store, burning a car, breaking a window makes anyone feel better that they don't agree with a decision of justice. Not here. Not in America. I do not get it. God bless America.
I was thinking about it as I watch the news...the same thing happens every day in our lives. Every single day, we are given a chance to forgive and forget or to just hold on to the anger or hurts that happen in our lives and make it worse! Doug reminds me often that people are good and usually well-intended. I've said all this before... If you think about it, it's true. Your spouse/partner/friend, for the most part, loves you and wants you to be happy! Why on earth would they intentionally want you to be hurt or upset or sad? So, most of the time, when an offense occurs, it's not intentional. Sometimes we just do or say things that we really don't mean or it's misinterpreted for whatever reason. Also, there's always two sides to every story. I thought it was interesting in the press conference that there were several versions of what actually happened. We all perceive things differently. The bottom line, though, as I see it, )and also as I am reminded while I study and prepare my upcoming lesson on dealing with conflict), is communicating, listening, trying to see both sides. It may not seem so simple in the heat of it. But, in reality, it really is a simple solution. Reacting never gets us anywhere! Act, not react! Enough said about that.
Today I bought the turkey and fresh veggies for Thanksgiving Day. Quayd had his ortho appointment. I met with his counselor over the phone for a bit. ZJ had a major headache and went straight to bed after school. She never came up again for the entire night. Grace did her jobs for her and did a few other things to help around the house. Quayd worked til 10. It was not your average family night, that's for sure. I didn't really slow down from one appointment to another until Doug got in from work. One tree is decorated. The big tree is still waiting, but everything else is looking good! We may end up decorating the tree after Thanksgiving dinner after all, at this rate! And that will be just fine!
Today, I'm thankful for the freedoms we enjoy in this country and the right to speak our mind in a civil way! I'm also thankful for those policemen, firefighters, soldiers and all who work so hard to protect our freedoms!
In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give,
and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
Friday ~ I always love the days that Doug gets off but I also love the paychecks when he doesn't get a lot of time off. Given the choice, I prefer Doug over the paycheck! Unfortunately, we need both! ;) We did have a lovely day together. It was one of those Cache Valley weather days where it snowed, rained, cloudy, sunny, you name it and we kept busy through it all!
Doug and I went to lunch at Cafe Sabor and had a very nice hour together out on the patio (which they enclose, obviously, in the winter). We laughed. A lot! He's a very funny man! We ordered fajitas for two and a bowl of guacamole! OH MY! It was a lot of food! We ended up still bringing home half of it for the kids after school snack. They were very happy!
After lunch, we finally found a new dishwasher! A major part melted in the old one in late June. It was time for a new dishwasher since the part would cost about 1/4 of a new machine! So, the kids have washed dishes for four months by hand. They're still alive but I'm quite tired of the daily dish drama! HAPPINESS! They all now appreciate the dishwasher and my kitchen is as happy as I am! I'm so not a fan of dishes in the sink!
Friday after school, ZJ and I were in the living room for over an hour discussing whether or not to put up the Christmas decorations this weekend. I told her that I was thinking about putting the tree in the corner. "Nooooooooooo! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don't! It needs to be in the bay window. That's what bay windows are for - Christmas trees!" Then, I said, I was thinking about putting it in another corner. "Nooooooooo! It needs to be in the bay window." Then, I said, "Let's just wait until Christmas Eve!" "Noooooooooooo!" This lasted an hour. I, of course, was teasing her. She was on the living room floor with tears (forced tears), begging. I'd tease back and forth. Doug came into the room, at one point and joined the joking, "Babe. You do know that's child abuse, don't you?" We made the decision to put it up on Saturday after Quayd left for his dance.
Doug and I were buying furnace filters at the Implement Store and decided to buy Quayd a pair of insulated, but cool-looking, boots so that he can do carts at work in the slush and cold. A few days earlier, his Nikes were soaked! They weren't cheap, so we told him "Happy Birthday", since he's still not thought of any birthday gifts. His initial reaction was not too excited but the next morning, when he wore them in the blizzard at work, he was very happy to have them!
Doug and I went to Stott and Wendy's to watch Edge of Tomorrow. I brought over Apple Nachos and, as we were walking out the door, ZJ suggested that we bake them. I've never done it before but it sounded like a winner. AND IT WAS!!!! OH MY!!!! Stott pulled out the icecream to go with and WOW!!! Great treat!!!
Saturday morning ~ Doug got up bright and early to get the dishwasher installed. Quayd had to be at work at 8. The girls and I got ready and ran a few errands. (I rarely go to town on Saturday!) We grabbed a bite, went to Kohls to buy Quayd a shirt for the dance and a gift card to give to the sweet checker who volunteered to work his shift. After a Sonic stop, we pulled up at Lee's just in time for Quayd to race out the door to get ready for the dance. Doug ran to the florist and picked up the wrap for Quayd to give Robin. I've never seen Quayd get ready so quickly!
Robin picked him up twenty minutes later. He was ready to roll! In our area, the big dances are not just about the dance. It's usually a day long event. They usually start earlier in the day with some fun activities... always with a large group. (I think Quayd said there were fourteen in their group this time.) For the afternoon date, they went on a photo Scavenger Hunt all over, taking pix of a crazy list of things to find and do. I had to laugh at some of the things Quayd told me that they'd photographed! These are the kind of things that take guts! They went out for hot cocoa and treats afterward and had a contest to judge who won the scavenger contest pics. Quayd said they had a great afternoon, talking, laughing and driving in the blizzard.
Then, the date is paused for an hour or two, so that everyone can go home and get dressed for the dance part of the date. For Sadie's, the girls do the asking, the planning, the buying, the driving, everything. Usually, the couples dress alike. This was a western dance, so the girls in their group had printed the "Got Sadies?" t-shirts. The boys were told to wear it with a plaid shirt and each couple in the group had a different color bandana. They went to dinner at Fredricos, then to a big barn in Hyde Park for photos of couples and the group. Usually, the dance is the smallest part of the evening. Afterwards, one of the girls' mom rented a theater for just the twelve of them to watch a movie. (Quayd thought they were watching "Edge of Tomorrow" but they ended up watching something different. He said that it was appropriate and that everyone in the group wouldn't watch it if it were not. (We have a rule that we have to see a "date movie" before the kids do because of the content. Movies today are so sexual... how embarrassing for a first date to watch something smutty! Thankfully, this wasn't an issue with Quayd or his friends!)
He came in at 11:40 and was just grinning. They had a great time. A hug goodnight at the door. He really liked Robin, who he barely knew before the dance. She's smart and athletic and "busy" and "Fun!" He was excited to tell me about it all! I loved listening! LOVE THAT BOY!!!
As soon as Quayd had left for the day date, Doug brought up the trees and holiday bins. ZJ, Grace and I got busy decorating. My foot was screaming all day and the night before, so the girls were a huge help and part of the effort! We got the upstairs decorated, but not the tree. It's waiting for a fun garland that I have to buy at Hobby Lobby in the morning! We decorated and dejunked as we went through the bins, loading Doug's van with DI donations. It was about six when we realized that we hadn't eaten much all day. Doug picked up pizza for us and just as we were sitting down to eat it, we realized that Stake Conference Saturday night session started in 35 minutes! We ate a few bites quickly, got ready and raced to the Stake Center in the storm for a wonderful evening filled with music from the USU Logan LDS Institute Choir and fabulous speakers. It was a great meeting!
We came home, filled with a sweet peace and no desire to decorate another minute. As we got ready for bed, and waited for Quayd's return, we somehow found a second wind to get a little more of the decor done. The downstairs family room and our bedroom was a nightmare but everything else was looking grand before Quayd came in from the dance!
All through the evening, my stomach was not happy about the pizza and I was up most of the night. I loved the pizza but it did not love me. By the time we woke up at 7, for Doug to go to his Stake Leadership Meeting, I knew that I wasn't going too far from home today. (TMI, I know.) Quayd also woke up with a terrible sinus headache and he never gets headaches. He slept most of the entire day. Doug and the girls went to conference.
After Conference, Doug went to pick up Zaylee for the afternoon! While I made Belgian waffles, the girls helped pick up a bit more before they came back. We had a delightful afternoon with Zaylee. She and Grace made cookies after dinner. She loved the waffles and immediately found Mr. Jingles on the chandelier when she came in. No one had seen him yet and she found him instantly! (wink) She was excited to see the decorations up, even if it was only partially. She did let me know quite clearly, "Gram! You need to decorate the tree!" Okey dokey then! She skyped with Liza and Buddy and Aylabelle twice. I read "The Elf on the Shelf" book to her and Liza and Aylabelle. Aylabelle got up in the middle and went to get her own book to show me. It was a good visit.
Doug went hometeaching after taking Zaylee home. He was gone for.ev.er. So, we just went ahead and had scriptures without him then sat and talked and talked and talked in front of the undecorated but lit tree. Doug came in and joined us until bedtime. We'll live in the front room for the next 35 days with candles lit, lights dimmed, Christmas music in the background and warm hearts! Life is good! We are so blessed! Life joyfully! Tis the season!
Trade your expectation to appreciation and the world changes instantly.
... a new dishwasher and a good man who can install it himself!
I'm thankful for this good husband of mine's hands! Those hads work hard to provide for our family. They works hard to keep up at home! They are placed upon our heads for priesthood blessings. They give me foot massages and lotion rubs and hair brushing while we watch our favorite tv shows and old movies. They work hard in the garden all summer long. They prepare his blender drinks every morning and breakfast in bed for me on occasion. They make points when he is teaching us. They reach over and touch mine softly while we are at church, visiting friends, sitting beside each other reading or just driving down the road. His hands are gently, selfless, serving and loving!
If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!
For dinner tonight, ZJ made the salad. I thought she was going to make a Chef's salad but it was totally different. And it was GOOD! She used a big bowl of Spring Mix and Spinach, then chopped two apples, added peanuts, shredded colby-jack cheese and tossed in Poppy Seed dressing. SO TASTY! I love my young Martha!
Today was more of the recent same... chase, chase, chase, run, run, run... with a quick lunch with Carol in the middle. I love that Carol is no longer a teacher and can go to lunch, even if she's only in town half the time since she and Robert were married.
Doug's off tomorrow and I'm excited to have a day with him! He deserves a day off! We're dishwasher and Christmas shopping.
Today, I'm thankful for my Bose Dock. ZJ and I had a major jam session tonight. I love that she knows the words to all of my 70s playlist! That dock brings lots of holiday music, sabbath day music and cleaning music to our home! It was a gift a few years ago and I appreciate it every day!
to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.
thomas s. monson
How did it get to be ten o'clock!? It was a busy day... this morning, I went over to Carol's old house and we took a load of things to her new house, then visited over Sonic Diet Cokes for a few minutes before I had to race off to manage a few other pressing matters. I did squeeze in lunch with Doug at his workplace. That was a bonus! I got home just before the kids did and we kept busy until 9. We watched Survivor an hour late and everyone went to bed. Crazy days.
The highlight of my day today was "going on a walk" with Liza and Aylabelle! Oh my gosh, I do love that girl! Her little waddle/walk is precious! Notice, she has long sleeves on and the lawns are green as green can be in Arizona. I'm wrapped in a knit scarf and trying to keep warm by the heat vent!
I told Doug at lunch that I wanted to try to get started on the Christmas stuff tonight, but once I was home, I decided that I'm still enjoying my November decor so much that I don't want to take it down yet. ZJ asked, at dinner, if we were going black friday shopping and I said that I had no plans to at this moment. Doug's response was, "What? Babe? Don't you want to go play?" I love that man! The girls want to, but right now, I'm thinking I'll wait until Black Friday to decorate and will just enjoy my touches of fall throughout the house. I grabbed the camera and took a few pix of my day.
This is the grass out in the back yard below the rain gutter. To me, this shows exactly how frigid it's been this past week!
Here's my lovely November tablescape. It's as simple as can be, but it's warmed my heart to just sit by the table and enjoy it all month.
My cute little scarecrows are almost twenty years old now, but they bring me great pleasure every fall! They are keepers, for sure!
Although this corner cabinet is in the kitchen, it can be seen from the entryway and everyone that comes in comments on it. Remember this corner cabinet was purchased for $15 at a yard sale and restored ten years ago. I LOVE IT! Every holiday gets to "Sing" from this corner of my kitchen all year long! November is almost as fun as December in this corner! Notice my cute Thanksgiving Subway Print, a gift from friend Marilyn. She made me one for every month of the year!
Friend Mary Ann gave me this awesome cake pedestal. It's wire and lightweight and could never hold a cake, but these rice-stuffed pumpkins that I made in the late 90s still make me excited and they are a perfect fit for the pedestal. Isn't it fab!!
The flowers from the High Priest Dinner table decor and the acorns from Susan could not be just tossed into a box until I enjoyed them at home for a week or so!
With all the fun fall things, today, I convinced myself to wait one more week! Doug's grin, when I told him, was huge!!! And, truth be told, I always feel a little guilty, like I'm robbing Thanksgiving by jumping the gun and decorating for Christmas. The fall colors don't look good on the Thanksgiving table when there are mistletoe and holly everywhere else in the house. This is a good time to practice patience, right? (Ask me that this weekend if I get antsy again!?)
Today, I'm thankful for repentance and forgiveness. Someone apologized to me today and I had an opportunity to forgive...or to hold on and carry it around some more. It wasn't easy! For either of us! But, it all worked out well and we both felt better when all was said and done. Tonight, I am reminded of the atonement of Christ and all that he did for us, that we might exercise the agency to repent and forgive! Indeed, our greatest gift, the atonement of Christ.
Gratitude helps us see what there is instead of what there isn't.
First of all... the soup... here's my recipe. I say "my" because I really did not have a clue how much of anything to add. I just went by Selena's instructions and "a little" and "a taste" type amounts. I measured what I added, so that I could duplicate it again in the future if we liked it and we loved it! It seriously sounds like something I'd never make if I saw the recipe in a cookbook, but it was one of the best brothy soups I have ever tasted! It needs a good name. "Pork Tofu Soup" just does not sound appetizing! So, since our friend, Selena, owns the "Black Pearl", I'm calling it,
"Pearl Friend Soup"
3 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups - 2 cups soy sauce
Mix and set aside.
3 heaping Tablespoons of chicken base
2 cups of leftover pork roast, chopped
1/4 cup oil (olive or vegetable)
soft tofu (there are three types, buy the softest)
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons dry cilantro or half a bunch of fresh
Boil about 4 quarts of water. Add chicken base. (I use the Sam's Club kind with the red lid.) Pour in the soy sauce and cornstarch mixture. Add, rice vinegar, oil and pork. (Mine had a few onions and mushrooms cooked with it, so I tossed them in too.) Pour the tofu, gently, onto a cutting board and cut it into small pieces (about the size of a macaroni noodle). Add the tofu to the soup and simmer. Add cilantro to broth just before serving. Serve in a bowl over a scoop of cooked rice. (For the gallon of soup, I made 6 cups of cooked rice. It was perfect.) I also added just about a touch of pepper seed oil to my bowl. (Selena's suggestion) It spiced it up quite a bit!
That's that! We had quite a day. Doug and I met early this morning for a meeting that we needed to attend. We had a lunch date with Stott and Wendy after our meeting. Doug went back to work and it was time for me to pick up the kids from school. I took Quayd to work to confirm that his replacement could work for him on Saturday. He was so so excited to hear a final "yes"! Once we got home, he had a texting session with his date, getting all of the details for their date. (It's a Sadie Hawkins dance, so the girls are making all of the plans.) It sounds like it's going to be a great event! As soon as Doug got home, we had another meeting before the kids went off to Young Men and Young Women activities. Doug came home early for one more meeting and went straight to bed as soon as we said "amen" to family prayer. Tuesdays are always our crazy day, but this one was W-I-L-D!!!
In the morning, I've got to run to see Carol for a bit and then will head home and get busy on the projects that are screaming my name. It hit me this afternoon that I've really not slowed down since before New York. I'm ready! New York seems so long ago! (I am ready to return! December, after the tree at the Rock would be nice!) We've had so much going on. There's been lots on our minds and on our calendars and I, for one, am excited to spend a four day weekend at home chilling with the family over Thanksgiving! I have absolutely nooooooooooo desire to do any black Friday shopping unless it's online! I want to stay home, drink cocoa, eat leftovers and wrap up in a warm blanket with the kids and Doug and watch movies, decorate and enjoy doing nothing!
There's a lot on my mind these days and I'm anxious to blog about them. But, it's going to have to be another day when I'm not trying to race from this to that. For today, here's my gratitude in a fast ABC list. Someone mentioned that I hadn't done one in a long time, so hear's one:
Today, I'm thankful for:
a ~ Aylabelle
b ~ Buddy
c ~ coke... diet with lime and lots of ice
d ~ Dale
e ~ experiences that make us stronger
f ~ faith and family
g ~ Grace
h ~ my Husband and the love he shows me every day
i ~ my iPad! How did I ever live without it!?
j ~ joyful living
k ~ Kelly
l ~ Liza
m ~ my grandchildren
n - now! I'm so grateful for each and every moment of life and what it offers... good and bad!
o ~ our doggies
p ~ priesthood in our home
q ~ Quayd
r ~ religion in my life
s ~ snow, but, not ice cold weather
t ~ talents I've been blessed with
u ~ upcoming plans for our future
v ~ very very good friends
w ~ wisdom that I've acquired throughout my life
x ~ eXtra blessings I feel every day
y ~ youth, even if it's just in my mind!
z ~ ZJ
I am blessed and have much to be grateful for!
the root of joy is gratefulness
This weather! OH MY! It's cold! We are in a deep freeze! It's sooooooooo cold!
The kids didn't have school today, so we all slept in (till 8:30, which is huge for me!) Then we all did our chores and went to town to run a few errands and lunch. A quick stop at Hobby Lobby, a stop at the AT&T store for Quayd's phone to be checked (it's not worked for three weeks and the guy took the sim card out, put it back in and Voila, it worked!) Then, a stop at Grandma Corbridge's for a little visit. The kids always are more than willing to see Grandma and give her a hug! We came home and had an hour until Quayd had to go to work, so we all just did our own thing for a bit. It was a casual and fun day! Leftover soup for dinner. Relaxed family night together, minus Quayd.
I wanted to share these photos of the work my girl, ZJ, did Saturday! She cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, washed them down, combined any duplicates, tossed anything that shouldn't be kept and made the kitchen just shine! It's ready for the holidays! Happiness! This thirteen year old girl of ours is A.MAZ.ING!
Here's the pantry. Most of our canned goods are downstairs in the food storage room, but this is just enough to grab when we need something. I look at this picture and it's obvious that I make most things from scratch. Not too many prepared foods hit this cupboard! Also, for the record, the bottles are Sparking Apple Cider!
The corner cabinet for dry storage. She contained and organized it all. She blows me away!
The spice cabinet... I just noticed that I didn't put the curry back in it's place!
Kitchen's done! Laundry room, storage room and gallery are left, then we can get the Christmas decor out! The gallery is Christmas Central for the next few weeks and I need to get the gifts that I've already purchased bowed up and ready to go under the tree! Doug and I have some important things on the calendar tomorrow, but, once I'm home, I will get to work on the last of it and by the weekend, ZJ may get her wish... Christmas in November!
The kids start their second quarter tomorrow. Grace is so excited that she got a B+ in driver's ed! Quayd was just happy to be done with early morning Seminary. He did great, as well! ZJ has loved her Foreign language exploration class more than any class ever. She's totally interested in learning German in High School. Go figure. I'd have picked french so that we could practice together. Practically, it makes sense to learn Spanish in this day and age. But, she's wanting German. She loved it! Time will tell!
Quayd had a really rough weekend. He was asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance on October 5th by a girl that he hardly knows. They don't have any classes together but have friends in common. He was excited to say yes to her. He immediately went to work to put in for the night off, but ran into a few snags... beginning with the fact that you can't even ask that far in advance. After a few complications, the schedule for the week of the dance was posted and Quayd, sadly, was scheduled to work. He spent the entire weekend trying to find anyone who would work for him. He offered money, to trade shifts, anything he could think of. Sadly, to no avail. His last hope had no excuse, he just didn't want to. That was the hardest for Quayd. But. He handled it with a smile. After his last no, he went in this afternoon and told one of the bosses that he'd be at work "with a smile" on the day of the dance.
This afternoon, while we were at lunch, he'd got the last no and was so disappointed. He decied to say a prayer. His prayer moved me to tears. He prayed that this situation would be resolved as it was supposed to and that if he was not able to find someone to work for him, that the girl's heart would not be broken and that he would be able to have a good attitude and learn something from this experience. Literally, the girls and I were teary-eyed. When he told his Grandma what had happened, he was a little choked up about it... not for him, but for the girl who asked. He didn't want her to be disappointed or miss the dance because it's so late in the game. I know that Grandma said a special prayer for him too! She's awesome like that!
Tonight, when Quayd called to have me come and pick him up, he told me that one of the checkers had told him that if he can talk with the person who does scheduling first, she will work for him! His prayer was answered! I was so excited when he told me that I started to cry! SO excited! Tender mercies! Yagottaluvthem!
Today, I'm thankful for the obvious... an answered prayer. But, more than that, I'm thankful that the prayer answered was my son's. Even more than that, I'm thankful for the faith of my children! They are truly wonderful kids and I pray everyday that they continue on the path that they are on! As I tell them every day, the choices they make today determine their happiness tomorrow. They are making good choices today, thankfully! For this, I am most grateful!
Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
It's COLD! Three degrees this morning. CRAZY cold! I heard on the news tonight that it hadn't been this cold since January 5 last winter! As I type, it warmed up to 14. Even at Park City, it is 2 degrees! I no likee cold. I'd love about two feet more of snow right now, but cold... not so much! It's wear socks and warm jammies and drink hot cocoa weather, for sure!
Friday was one of my favorite days in a long, long time! It may seem silly but Doug and I were together every minute of the day... we worked together on the decorations for the High Priest Dinner and then went to Black Pearl for a very late, late lunch/afternoon Sushi treat. Oh my! It was divine!
Following the dinner at the Stake Center, we cleaned up and walked outside to load up in a literal blizzard! It was a white-out to drive in! Scott and Doug and I divided the food in half and went out in the storm to deliver some of the leftover food to a few families in our wards. Doug and I were met by a few unanswered doors, getting soaked from the wet, wet snow, we decided to share with a few families that we knew would answer! It all worked out. We came home to kids who were very happy to have both parents home again for the rest of the weekend!
Saturday was one of those days that we had so many things on the calendar, we knew we wouldn't be able to do it all, but we were going to try! I was invited to a party, we were all invited to a party for Carol's granddaughter, we had a family temple day, Denise wanted a girls night out, the girls had some plans of their own and Quayd worked. HOWEVER, Doug woke up shivering and shaking, chilled and aching. We'd planned on doing our fall dejunking and some prep for getting the holiday decorating in order in the morning. Instead of all that was on the calendar in the afternoon and evening, Doug took it easy at home. I did run out for an hour with Denise to split a dinner at Texas Roadhouse and to grab a few must haves before Sunday. I came home and reviewed my lesson while doing laundry. The girls worked their hearts out all day! Doug seemed to be doing a bit better by bedtime, but, it was definitely some sort of 24 hour bug. Thanksfully, he woke up Sunday morning feeling much better!
Since we were home, we did get some serious dejunking done. ZJ and I emptied and cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, rearranged my spices, my dish cupboards, the pantry and the baking center. Grace rearranged and organized all of the movies in our library, cleaned the downstairs and helped with laundry. It was a productive day, in spite of Doug not being up to par. I love productive days!
Today, I taught my Sunday School lesson on intimacy in marriage. The discussion was much better this time that the last round. This was the hardest lesson of all sixteen to teach because it is such a personal topic. We had a good discussion, a few good laughs and I felt like we all went away feeling like we'd learned something... myself usually learning the most! I love my calling!
We were very excited to make dinner after church. Doug and I have become friends with the owners of the Black Pearl restaurant. Selena had shared her recipe for making a Pork Tofu soup while we were there on Friday. Does that sound sick or what?! However, she described it and made it sound so delish that I decided to give it an attempt. Without any amounts, I had a list of ingredients and tried to prepare this soup, based on Selena's input. SCORE!!! It was so so delish! Everyone absolutely love it! Honestly, I would never even think about making this recipe if I'd been looking through a cookbook but it was divine! I'll share the recipe tomorrow because I did note how much I used of everything!
Tomorrow, the kids have no school. When I asked why not, ZJ explained, "It's so that teachers can learn to use iPads even if they don't have one." Okey dokey then. Regardless, we will be home together. Zeej wants to put up the tree... and truthh be told, it wouldn't take much to talk me into it. It's only a week early! Denise wants to go to lunch, but I had to tell her no since the kids are home. We still have some work to do... their closets and drawers with my supervision and a few other spots that need some pre-holiday attention. We'll make the most of the day, regardless of what we end up doing. According to Zeej, I'm "really to be respected" for making every day special. Her "really respected" always makes me laugh!
It was a good weekend... even if my sweatheart didn't feel so hot. We had lots of time together, some good laughs, some good talks, lots of cleaning and organizing, some planning, some great food, lots of hugs and conversation... a good weekend, indeed, even if we did miss half the things we hoped to do!
Today, I'm thankful for a family who have good appetites. My family eats just about anything I prepare and they are always complementary of the food I serve! Thankfully, aside from non-bean eathers, I have kids who love good and healthy food! I love that they love broccoli and soups of all kinds and pumpkin dishes and whole wheat flour in things! It makes cooking for them much more fun!
The greatest challenge in life is discoering who you are.
The second greatest is being happy with what you find.
A wonderful evening, if I do say so myself! Great food! Teriyaki Chicken, Buttery New Potatoes, Green Salad and delicious fresh rolls, catered by Iron Gate Grill. Raspberry Cake and Red Velvet Cake for dessert. The only thing missing was the Diet Coke!
Doug helped trim our thorny wild rose bushes for the sticks. He wore work gloves to harvest them and to keep warm in the seven degree cold then, I wore them to trim and create the centerpieces. The wild roses were a last minute thought because I was just going to use some birch twigs, but the roses still had some foilage and berries on them and hardly anything else in our world did after three days of ten degrees and below!!
They looked pretty good across the room!
The acorns have a story! Last week, on the morning that my lifelong friend, Susan's husband was having surgery, I texted her and asked if there was any chance she could send me a couple of gallons of acorns from "the Ohio". I wasn't aware of Robery's surgery, but she said that she'd try. The day after his surgery, Robert and Susan went to two parks to find enough acorns to send to me! She FexExed them and they arrived the day before the dinner. There's much to be said about this kind act! First, Robert was barely recovering! Second, if you know Susan, you know that she is so not an outdoorsy person! So, this was a true sign of friendship and love for both of them to go to this extreme to send us the acorns, which were just randomly scattered on the tables. There's even more to the story...
Susan sent me a sweet email letting me know that they were on their way. She commented on the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had it's early beginnings in the same area in Ohio and shared some fun facts regarding those beginnings, which gave the acorns meaning beyond just decoration. I shared her email with Scott before the dinner began and suggested that he share these jewels with the guests. Just as he welcomed everyone and thanked me for my part in the evening, he said, "Sophia's not going to like this, but she's going to share some fun information with you about the acorns on the tables tonight." I looked at him and said, "Scott!!! YOU were supposed to do it!" Everyone had a good laugh. I stood up and shared the stories by reading much of Susan's email right from my iPad. Throughout the night, everyone commented about the acorns. They really did make a difference in the evening, reminding us of our "roots". Lovely!
As I mentioned earlier this week, I have had the feeling that this will be the last year that Brother Jackson (Scott) and I work together on this dinner. It's been so much fun! Just in case, I'm already thinking about next year, but I really don't feel like it will happen. Time will tell! For now, I'm so grateful for the opportunity! As I told Scott, with some other things that we've been dealing with lately, the opportunity to have this dinner to focus on and keep busy with this past two weeks has been a gift to me!
Today, I'm grateful for the talents that Heavenly Father has blessed me with! I say that humbly, for certain! Part of the entertainment for the evening was a pianist who played some old jazzy music, "Misty", "Blue Skies" and the likes, then "Sway" at the end. While she was playing, I thought, "Oh, I'd give anything to be able to play like that!" As we were cleaning up later, the sister who played piano came to me and said, "Oh, I'd give anything to be able to decorate like this! I just play the piano!" I'm grateful that Heavenly Father blesses us each with different gifts so that we can, in turn, bless those around us!
A moment of gratitude makes all the difference in your attitude.
I love this day! It was so fun! First, it snowed! All day! LOVELY! I always love snow days!!! Look outside the window next to ZJ!! LOVE IT!!! I spent the morning visiting with Susan again on the phone while glueing the acorns she'd sent to the caps. We had a few good laughs while gabbing, which was welcomed! The rest of the morning, I loaded and packed and gathered until it was time to get the kids from school and begin our marathon evening.
Zaylee's turned six years old today! We took her shopping for a few things and then went out for dinner at Firehouse when Doug got off work. One of Zaylee's little "issues", and it darned well is deserved because she's lost everything she ever had over and over and over, is that she wants to carry things that matter to her with her. If she has anything that is special to her, she does not want to leave it behind. It's heartbreaking to me. She wanted to bring all of her birthday gifts with her to dinner in her new school backpack. So, I bought her another one and called it her "special" backpack. I explained that she can carry her other one to school and leave her special things at home then when she comes to Grammie's house to visit or anyplace else that she goes, she can bring her special things in her special backpack. She liked that idea! I also gave her a new scrapbook with pictures of everyone in her world to keep in her backpack. At dinner, we Skyped with Liza and showed every picture in the album to her. She also got some sparkly new Uggs type snow boots, which she needed today!!! It was a fun little dinner. She and the girls had a good time and, of course, they had to end the night with their own personal mini-FHzookies! (By the way, a FHzookie is a cookie baked in a cast iron skillet then topped with icecream, caramel and chocolate...everyone's favorite dessert! Quayd wasn't able to join us because he was working, but the rest of us were there! Fun times!
After dinner, we went separate ways. Doug and the girls went straight to the high school for Grace's concert. I went to the high school for a bit and then to the stake center to get decorating. There was a meeting for the young men and leaders in the stake at 7. When the meeting ended, the men came into the cultural hall and got right to work. They asked for volunteers before the closing prayer in their meeting and within five minutes, 24 tables and 180 chairs were in place. I was amazed at how quickly they came and were gone without a word! AWESOME! I love seeing the boys in action. I kept thinking, "Many hands make light work!" It touched my heart to watch.
Doug and the girls came and got right to work helping me set the tables. By 9:15, the tables were almost completely set! I will go over in the morning to put the napkins on and add the sticks/twigs to the arrangements. Done! I had everything divied out and ready to put out before we got there, so it was done in no time! Brother Jackson and I were talking before the chairs and tables were set up about this event. This is our fifth year doing it together. We're pretty much a "two-man" team (plus my girls and Doug's help every year.) He's in charge of the whole thing... entertainment, menu, arrangements. I do the decor and buy the papergoods. I'm feeling like this will be our last year. I'll willingly and happily do it again next year, but I just have a feeling that this will be it. It's been a fun experience and Doug and I have loved getting to know Scott. He is my good friend, Kara's brother, so, I've just loved him from the minute I discovered that!
I shared this when it happened five years ago, but I will repeat it now. On an October Wednesday night about about 9:30, my phone rang. I answered and Scott said, "Sister Corbridge, this is Brother Jackson from the Stake High Council. My wife told me I was crazy to do this because it's such short notice, but I was wondering if you could help us decorate for the Stake High Priest Dinner? It is short notice and I apologize." I said, "I'd love to. When is it? He said, "Saturday night." I said, "This Saturday night!?" I explained that I was hosting a Halloween party for twenty women on Friday night, so this gave me, basically, Thursday to get it together since I knew that I'd be doing the party all day Friday. But, I'd be happy to give it a shot. He was so appreciative! The funny part was that at the Halloween party, I was telling the story about this High Councilman calling me late Wednesday night, asking me to decorate for over 200 people and giving me 72 hours to do it. Kara asked who was the High Councilman. I told her, "I don't know, Brother Jackson, I think he said." Kara asked, "Would that be Scott Jackson, my brother?" Yes it was! And I've loved him ever since! Scott says that as long as this is his assignment each year, it's mine. Gosh, I'm glad I hadn't said anything negative about him! He's awesome! It's been a fun gig!
Everything's looking great! It will be done in no time tomorrow and I'm going to come home and start my fall dejunking (two months later... but, hey, I've been to NYC, had Liza come, had a lot going on with family and finished the cabin insurance documents!) I'm excited that my next "fire" is Thanksgiving dinner! Wooohoooo! Life is so good!
Keep calm and be thankful!
Ten things I have to do tomorrow:
Nine things I'm praying for right now:
Eight things I am looking forward to:
Seven random things about my Wednesday:
Six words to describe my Wednesday:
five things on the calendar tomorrow:
Four people I'm appreciating today:
Three last things to finish up the decorations:
Two things I indulged in today that I rarely ever eat:
One thing that I am super grateful for today is the little tender mercies that occur in my life every day to remind me of who I am. Honestly, I know my Heavenly Father lives and he reminds me each day with His tender mercies!
Life is full of give and take.
Give thanks for everything.
Take nothing for granted.
Oh my word, it was a wonderful day! I had a ton to do and checked everything on the list off! Yagottaluvit! Tuesdays are our crazy days. The kids have Young Men/Young Women and Doug is a leader of the Young Men, so I always have or try to have dinner early for them and we never know who's going which direction or when.
This morning, I received a very interesting text from friend, Marilyn in SLC, saying that we were supposed to be together today. We've not connected since I was on my way to NYC and had set the date. Her text teased, "Are we having fun? Are we eating great things? Have we bought anything cute? Have you knocked over anything at Rodworks?" I'm anxious to see that happen!!!
I wanted to share this awesome picture that I took from inside the Marriott yesterday in Logan. Most of our trees have shed their leaves but these were just turning. Beautiful fall! Notice the snow-covered mountains in the background!
This morning, I did several errands and met Natalie for lunch in between. I was able to get everything I need for the Stake High Priest Dinner gathered. Tomorrow, I'll do the preliminary work and then be able to just "set" the tables Thursday night. I'm quite excited about this project getting done because after that, it's prep for Christmas!!! I think that this year will be my last year doing this project, but they continue to ask me for six years now. I think that next year, if they ask me to do it again, I'm going to beg them to do it after Thanksgiving. My fall ideas are running dry! But, December... now I could really look forward to that! IF they ask me again. I'm anxious to see it all come together this year!
In the afternoon, Quayd and I had a long talk about life. He's been struggling with a few things recently and I hope that I put him at ease a bit. Tonight, after prayer, and before he went downstairs, he said, "Thanks for being motherly." Okey dokey then, I'll take that as a happy moment!
As Doug was getting dressed warmly to go help in the cold with the youth service project, I said, "Oh, we are learning more about that man who kidnapped the little five year old girl from her bed in SLC." Doug asked if he was insane. I said, "Well, he seems pretty quirky but, it sounds like he lived a pretty normal life. He apparently raised three kids." Doug said, quite quickly, "Three kids? Yep, he's crazy." His wit always cracks me up just when I need a good laugh!
Right after dinner, as everyone was about to go, Liza Skyped with Aylabelle. We were laughing because Aylabelle was sitting in her high chair in a diaper, eating a frozen strawberry Popsicle while I was saying, "Wear layers! Find your gloves! Make sure to wear a hat! Get a hoodie under your coat!" Oh, the difference between Liza's Arizona weather and ours makes us tease each other a lot. I said, "It's seventeen out!" Liza said, "Yes, it's seventy here!" Aylabelle had us all laughing. She jabbers and jabbers and loves to dance! Oh my word, I love that baby!
Tonight, Grace had miss Young Womens to go to a performance at the Junior High School. It was a mandatory assignment for school. Everyone else went to a service project at the Stake Center. I stayed home and had a fun visit with friend, Susan from Ohio, on the phone.
When it was about time for everyone to return, I knew that they would be frozen. The service project was collecting canned goods all over Smithfield for the food bank. I pulled out the cocoa maker and plugged it in. It sounded strange, so I emptied it and played with it till it sounded right and refilled it with milk and cocoa. I was on the phone with Susan and it's loud, so I went into the living room. When everyone pulled in, I went back into the kitchen, telling them, "It's almost ready. It should stop any second." I found my counter covered with milk and about an inch left in the machine. The kitchen smelled like an electrical fire. HUGE mess. Sadly, it's time for a new one. Honestly, I have to buy a new one every winter! But, they are so worth it! I just need to find a higher quality machine or something! Any suggestions. We've been through three Coco-motions, two Vintage-like ones from Bed, Bath and Beyond and two from Walmart. Please pass a new one that will last more than one winter!
Tomorrow, assembly of the table decor, a little time for my lesson prep, doing some shopping with the kids in the afternoon and Survivor! It's cold! Sixteen this morning and probably pretty close tonight. I'm ready for a White Thanksgiving! Only six states are not supposed to see snow in the next eight days!
Three more days of early morning Seminary!!!
Today, I am thankful for the little modern tech things that simplify my life... microwaves, hot cocoa makers (especially when they work), cellphones, laptops, iPads, blowdryers, flat irons, garage door openers (thanks Jim Anderson!) and most of all, SKYPE/FACETIME!!!! Oh my gosh, my heart would not survive without my girls in Arizona on Facetime!
Life is a gift!
A little news from the past few days...
Giving thanks for abundance is greater than the abundance itself.
Today was our Primary Sacrament Meeting where the children sing and give talks and quote scripture verses. It's always a delightful hour, filled with emotion from pre-schoolers with stage fright, that one child who's voice stands out above all others, lots of smiling visiting parents and grandparents. This year's program, in our ward, brought tears to Doug's eyes and mine. We both commented on how large our primary has become! We had a very small primary when ZJ graduated, just two years go. Today, there are almost twice as many children!
It has been an amazing weekend, filled with wonderful positive moments. Yesterday afternoon, I was blessed to be able to attend the Stake Relief Society event, "The Parable of the Ten Virgins". This program was arranged years ago by several women from Cokeville Wyoming. Over those years, they have performed this presentation many, many times. It was amazing. Based on this painting of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, these women did a wonderful portrayal of each of the virgins, reminding us all that there's a little bit of each of the virgins in each of us. The ten virgins represent our passions and desires and strengths and talents. I found this on the website by the artist of the painting,"The Ten Virgins":
Copyright 1984 by Gayla Prince
Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered saying, Not so; lest there not be enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegoom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Matthew 25:1-13
The Parable of the 10 Virgins, and thus, the message of this painting, is a message for the members of the Church. It was a message sent to the elect with a warning that even the elect can be deceived. These virgins, who symbolize both men and women, represent those who profess a belief in Christ. The lamps are symbols of their outward profession of this belief. The gifts they hold are what is most precious to them and are symbols of what they offer to Christ.
The first five virgins represent those who were wise and prepared and brought extra oil. Each of these virgins represent a virtue necessary to meet the Bridegroom and obtain the Celestial Kingdom. The other five virgins represent those who were foolish and not prepared with extra oil. Each of these virgins represent a vice that would prevent one from entering the Celestial Kingdom.
1. The first virgin represents a Christ-like person. This is the person who is meek, humble, obedient, long-suffering, gracious, and just: one who has faith, is pure in heart, one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and is a peacemaker. This virgin prays and fasts, keeps the commandments and studies the scriptures to learn of Christ. You cannot be a Christ-like person unless you know Christ. Her gifts are palm fronds – which are symbolic of Christ entering Jerusalem for the last time when those who recognized Him as the Messiah laid palm fronds at his feet. Another gift, olive branches, are symbolic of the gathering of Israel in the last days. Her final gift is seven white lilies, which represent the seven dispensations of time.
2. The second virgin represents repentance, and forgiveness, and one who has accepted the atonement of Christ for her sins. She looks to Him with love and gratitude for being her own personal Savior. Her gifts are a stalk of wheat and a vessel of water which are representative of the sacrament. She is dressed in white linen, the material Christ was wrapped in when he was taken from the cross.
3. The third virgin represents the ordinances necessary on this earth to enter the kingdom, such as: Baptism, Confirmation, Endowments, Temple Marriage, and Temple Work which includes genealogy, etc. Her gifts are two doves, which represent the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit of Promise. She is dressed in blue, trimmed with gold – blue and gold are the colors of the priesthood.
4. The fourth virgin represents truth, light and knowledge, and discovering, developing, and using talents for building up the kingdom. Scrolls are her gift, which represent the knowledge, truth, and light she has gained The lyre is also her gift, representing all the talents she has developed, not just musical talents. She is the tallest and easiest to be seen of the five wise virgins because talents and knowledge are the most obvious and easiest to be seen of the five virtues.
5. The fifth virgin represents charity, the true love of Christ, and service. She is in the background, quietly going about her business without calling attention to herself. She has a serene smile. She represents the epitome of motherhood or fatherhood, of sweet, unseen service to her family and to others. Many who have viewed this painting have compared her to Mary, the mother of Jesus. There are few, perhaps one in ten, who will reach her level of charity and service. Her gift is a basket of fruits. It represents two things: First, `By their fruits ye shall know them", and Second: The Word of Wisdom. The tray and fruits are partly hidden which represents the hidden treasures spoken of in the Word of Wisdom.
6. The sixth virgin represents vanity and seeking after riches. She is the tallest of all the 10 virgins because it is easy to see the riches of the world. She would be the one to whom wealth and possessions are most important. Her gift is a golden vessel filled with gold and precious things. Her dress is costly. Even the scarlet color of her dress, which is decorated with jewels and gold, is a sign of wealth. It is important to remember that the love of riches is evil, not the riches.
7. The seventh virgin represents the sins and pleasures of the world. This virgin is very appealing to people. She is fun-loving and fun to be around. She doesn't realize how the immodesty of her gown makes her appear or how if affects the emotions and minds of others. Her testimony is weak and she generally goes with the crowd because she isn't strong enough to stand on her own. She would live by the philosophy of "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Her gift is a large vessel containing an alcoholic beverage, because drinking and sinning are alike in that they gradually dull the mind and senses until one day you wake up horrified at what you have done and become.
8. The eighth virgin represents addiction and excess. Her gifts are a swine's head which represents filthiness of body, mind, and spirit, and honeycomb which represents the addicting vices which are too sweet for us to give up. These addictions are not just what we take into our body internally, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sugar or excess eating, etc., but also addictions of the mind and soul, such as soap operas, unrestricted T.V., listening to the wrong kind of music, R-rated or filthy movies or books. Anything that would cause the body or mind to depend upon or desire them. She has a weak will and would delight in telling or hearing dirty jokes or stories, or in repeating gossip. She seems to be inviting: "Try it,... join me.... it's fun."
9. The ninth virgin represents those who delve into dark works and idol worshiping. These are those who dleve into the mysteries of the occult, secret combinations, and perhaps other works in secret, like pornography, child abuse, and perversion. She has a band around her neck which symbolizes these sins that, first like threads and cords, become like bands and chains to drag us down to Hell. The jewel on the forehead represents the mark of the beast. The gift she gives is an idol of a goat's head and represents apostasy or anything that is put before the Lord. The goat is a symbol of Satan. She is dark and hidden. Her lamp has no glow to shine forth, it is consumed by her darkness. She consumes all light around her. Though what this virgin represents may be frightening and the power should be respected, it should be remembered that the Lord's power is greater.
10. The tenth virgin represents unrighteous power and ego. This is the one who is puffed up because she feels her calling is greater than someone else's. This is also the one who manipulates or rationalizes and would have one set of standards on Sunday and another in the business world. She wears a crown and carries a scepter which are symbols of her power. She is jealous and envious of others, even her dress is green with envy. She has a partially hidden sword which represents gossip or cutting people down behind their back. The sword also represents the many people who get hurt when someone tries to use unrighteous power. She is the first of the procession as if she feels she belongs at the front and has the right to lead. Her gift is the crown and scepter she wears, but will she give up her symbols of power even to the one to whom they belong?
The five wise virgins would have been the kind to share if they could, so there must have been a reason why they didn't. It is possible to share food, cloths, or shelter, but you can't share your own personal preparation. You can bear your testomony of Christ; you can repent for your own sins; you can do ordinances for yourself or others if they are dead; you can obtain truth, knowledge, and talents through your own labors; and you can work to develope charity and service in your own heart; but you cannot give or force these onto another. Drop by drop, each virgin, each person must prepare themselves and work out their own salvation. You can't borrow someone's else's preparation, soneone else's oil.
Every person who views this painting will find their own meaning according to the experiences of their own life. To most people it will bring mixed feelings as they see parts f themselves in all of he virgins. The waywill be clear - prepare yourself, give up the vies, and strengthen the virtues.
All the 10 virgins could be compared each with the other, but this is part of the wonder of each individual heart to make your own comparisons and find meaning for yourself. However, the value and placements of the first virgin needs to be considered. Why is she last in the procession? Why are the five wise virgins on the left rather than on the right? The first virgin knows Christ, she has become a Christ-like person. She is last in the procession, but she shall be first. "And the first shall be last and the last shall be first." We view her and the other wise virgins as if they were on the left. But as we become part of the procession, as we become one of the five wise virgins, as we join them in the painting, we are on the right.
It is significant that the first virgin is first because that is where we should first look. As we contemplate the challenges of repentance and preparation, we sometimes feel a hopelessness. How to rid ourselves of these foolish things and gain more of the wise qualities? It seems impossible. The answer lies with the first virgin – look to the light. Look to Christ. In order to become Christ-like, you must know Him. When you know Him, you love Him and all else comes. As you know and love Christ, you have no more desire to sin. You willingly give all your sins away. As you know and love Christ you willingly repent; you willingly take upon yourself the ordinances and receive the strength and blessings of His holy power; you willingly develop talents and thirst for knowledge; you willingly and lovingly perform services in His name. Christ is the key, the source of the light. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to become like Him."
After a brief introduction to each of the brides, we were divided into groups of 20-30 sisters and rotated through the stake center, into rooms to get to know each of the virgins on a more personal basis. They all spoke about their strenghth or weakness. The wise virgins brought a wonderful spirit and inspiring message to us all, encouraging each of us to do our best to be our best. The foolish virgins, on the other hand, brought an entirely different spirit to us all. They were humorous and had us laughing quite a bit, but as they continued with each of their passions, hearing more and more of their weaknesses, it brought about an uncomfortable feeling to us all. (I know it did me!) Things that were mentioned were our attitudes about service, thinking we were better than others or above certain tasks in life, being too caught up in the worldly things, passions that are out of control (Diet Coke came to my mind), time spent on things that are not important. It went on and on.
The dark Virgin made me the most uncomfortable. I try very hard to stay away from dark things and this just made my skin crawl. The 8th virgin, with her appetites and passions and addictions really bothered me. She was quite light minded and over the top. These two bothered me the most, even though they may not have been the things that I related to the most. (No true confessions here!)
After we met the virgins in their own rooms, we reconvened in the cultural hall for the "finale". The virgins each realized and recognized the error of their ways and the wise virgins remindes us again of their testimonies. It was a powerful message. At the end, as these foolish virgins came to the an awareness of the error of their ways, they asked the wise virgins to share their oil. The wise virgins did not share. It was brought to our attention that just like I can not sit down at a piano and give a concert performance because I've not spent the time at the piano studying and practicing for years. Nor one can not give away the knowledge that they have spent years studying and pondering to one who's barely cracked a book. The foolish virgins, then, went through the audience, pleading with everyone to spare some oil for them. However, no one shared. The foolish virgins left the cultural hall and the Bride Groom came and spoke.
Upon his arrival, was the most chilling moment of all. The foolish virgins were outside, banging on the door, pleading, crying, wailing, begging to be let inside to join the wedding. It was, literally, chilling. The thought entered all of our minds, "I do not want to be left outside! I want to be inside, included."
I went to dinner after with friends. We all made similar observations regarding the message that was delivered. It was a remarkable program and I was so grateful for the opportunity to attend. My biggest regret was that I did not bring my girls. It was advertised for Relief Society Sisters, age 18 and up, but I wanted to run home and grab the girls and say, "Start over, please!" I came home and shared every detail of the evening with them. They sat quite attentively, listening. It was, indeed, a fabulous evening and gave me much to think about on my own.
Today, I am grateful for the Relief Society! It's been a major part of my life for so many years. This past several years, I've only attended and not had a part in the leadership of it, as I did until I was 40. Many of the lessons I've learned in life, from homemaking to mothering to being a daughter of God, I learned in this wonderful organization for the women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christike attributes.
five friday night thoughts...
Today, I am grateful for the General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each day, I read their words of wisdom and guidance and am inspired to be a better person. Whether it be an entire General Conference talk or just a quote, there's always much to be learned. Today, these simple words inspired me: We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become. James E. Faust
Gratitude changes everything!
I didn't get to sleep in. As a matter of fact, I was up at 4 and never did go back to bed. Crazy morning, trying to deal with a few things that needed my attention. I was happy to get out and go to town with Natalie though as soon as the morning routine was completed. We spent some serious time in Hobby Lobby and Nat has me all excited about Christmas, but I'm not allowing myself the pleasure until I've figured out the details for the High Priest dinner.
ZJ had asked at the beginning of the week if her friends could come home from school to hang out and I promised that she could at the end of the week. So, yesterday, when she reminded me, I asked what their plans were. Her answer was, "Could you take us to the temple to do baptisms?" So, as soon as they all came in from school, we dropped Quayd off at work and I took ZJ, Lindsay and Grace to the temple.
I totally spaced taking a picture of them before, so I had to beg for a shot after, with their wet hair. I was committed to never put it on Facebook, but I did get permission to share it on the blog, where their friends wouldn't look!
When they got into the truck, I said, "How about we go to Firehouse for dinner?" They love Firehouse, but seriously had to think about it with their wet hair. Of course, they went. They were happy to be seated in a booth in the corner where they couldn't be seen but enjoyed dinner and even a chocolate chip pumpkin fzhookie for dessert.
I have to laugh at the observation I made tonight. It's no secret that ZJ is Miss Congeniality and everyone knows when she is in the room and Grace is more of the quiet, gentle rose. Grace sat on my side of the booth and we watched ZJ with one of her best friends, just being silly and giggly and thirteen. On my side of the table, I watched this soon to be sixteen year old. She was laughing and giggling with them, but in a much more "refined" manner.
When we got into the truck to ride home, Grace hopped up front with me. She's so into her drivers ed class right now. The girls were in the backseat, making so much noise, laughing and squealing and "being thirteen" that I could barely hear Grace talking. Grace notices out loud, "Right signal...Roundabout...Left turn lane...Lane change..." As we were rolling down the highway into Smithfield, she commented, "As your passenger, I need to secure your safety." Okey dokey then, Miss Grace. She's going to be a very conscientious driver! The girls in the back were so loud, as she was asking me a question about the double lines on the highway, for the fourth time, that I had to ask them to give us one minute of silence so that I could hear Grace. Their response was not silence, but a "one. two. three...." as they counted quietly the sixty second minute of silence. Definitely thirteen year olds. I loved watching ZJ having so much fun! She's choosing good friends! YAY!!!
I had the "oldies" station on in the truck and the girls were singing right along with 70s and 80s songs. We cranked up the radio and were just rocking to the music. Lindsay said that I was a "Cool Mom", so that made my day. I'll take "Cool Mom" any day! As we were all singing, John Mellancamp's Jack and Diane, "Oh, yeah! Life goes on, Long after the thrill of livin' is gone..." I asked, "How do you know these songs, Linds?" She said, "My dad listens to them all the time." Score for Lindsay! One more thing to love about her!
Once home, Doug and I actually were able to sit down and discuss some important matters and even just enjoy a little chitchat for an hour before he started to doze off. The man works so dang hard! One of the important matters we were discussing was actually taking a vacation in the future! I love that! No decisions, but we are in the "thinking about it" stage! Yagotta start somewhere! For now, we're talking... well, trying to... while trying not to doze. That's what happens when we get up at 3:55 every morning!
Speaking of planning and decisions, we did make some holiday decisions! One of my favorite things to talk about! After Hobby Lobby, I'm ready to decorate... but not until that dinner is done!
It's been a great day! There are a few serious things happening in life right now. My cousin, Paula, has been hospitalized since July and has had several surgeries. She is in surgery as I type. My prayers have been with her. We've had lots on our plate lately, but things are coming together and falling into place. They always do... sometimes not in our time, but they always do.
Today, I'm grateful for every moment that I get to spend with my kids! I love having teens in the house and the busyness and activity it brings to my life!
If you want to feel rich, just count all of the gifts you have that money can't buy.
It's been another very busy day! I had more on my plate than I should have but managed to get everything done. Doug called at 9 this morning, "What ya doing, Babe?" I took a deep breath and said, "Trying to decide which order to do all that's on my list today."
I am happy to announce that the insurance documents are no longer in my possession! DONE! FINI! HAPPINESS!!!! Tomorrow, I'll start to think about the upcoming High Priest Dinner that I'm decorating.
A little bit of blogkeeping....
Here's the recipe I'd promised... This was divine!! This white sauce was similar to the one I saw made on "The Chew" while in New York City. SO tasty!
Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream White Sauce
Meat from 1 finely chopped or shredded chicken (about 2-3 cups...I used a roasted chicken from Sam's Club)
1 can of Green chilies
2 cups of chicken broth
3 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. butter
3 cups monterey jack cheese (I used colby-jack and cheddar)
1 cup sour cream
Lightly oil a 9x13 baking pan with olive oil. Mix the chicken and 1 cup of cheese. Add chicken and cheese mixture to tortilla and then roll up and place in the pan seam side down.
In small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Add the broth and whisk until smooth. Allow sauce to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and chilies. (Make sure that the sauce isn't too hot or the sour cream will curdle. I made the sauce, then filled the tortillas before mixing in the sour cream.)
Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake 25 minutes and then broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese. (I did the sauce times 1.5, and poured it over the edges, so that some sauce would go inside of the tortillas from the ends...plus it was tasty on the spanish rice.)
This would be a great dish to make two pans and share with someone in need! It was a huge hit! Every word was positive for the entire meal!
Zaylee has left our nest. We had a wonderful little visit as she'd requested. Oh how I love that little girl.
Speaking of loving girls... this girl can make me laugh with her silliness or cry with her loveliness in seconds. I love her hugs and her smile!
Today, I express my gratitude for kind and gentle, soft-spoken words. I was visiting with someone in our home recently and I noticed how soft-spoken and gentle their voice was. My family is loud! We have very loud voices. Dale and Quayd, particularly. Doug has a very soft-spoken, gentle voice. I noticed that Liza almost whispers when she speaks to Aylabelle. I notice it whenever I am around my friend, Natalie, as well. When this visiting friend was speaking to me, I noticed that their voice was gentle and quiet and I found myself listening more intently. Doug never raises his voice. If he did, we'd know it was an emergency. I'm thankful for soft voices that speak kindly and gently in my life.
Tomorrow, I plan on going back to sleep after the kids are off to school then doing a little catch-up on laundry and then, making some serious lists for the holidays! I may even go to lunch with a friend...imagine that. Live joyfully!
Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all aournd them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable. Joseph B. Wirthlin
First of all, it's my first born son's birthday! Dale is "like...olllllllllld" today. He's closer to 40 than 30! Happy Birthday, Dale! We love you! His sweet friend has been shared some photos with me this year and I'm in heaven seeing him and Willow more than ever! Here's a few peeks at our son, Dale, who may not live near, and may have different views about life, but is one of the greatest loves of our life. He's got his Dad's love for earth and all it's beauty, for eating veggies and being adventurous. He got his mother's gift of gab and passion for living and, I'm thinking, inherited a bit of my creativity (although he has more artistic talent in his little pinky than I do in my whole body and brain!) Here are a few of Erica's photo gifts to me.
This is my favorite. It's Dale... chill. sunshine. nature. love it.
This is who and where Dale calls "home". I'm very happy for them!
Our right brained artistic son blows the most amazing glass.
Watching him work is one of the most fascinating things I've ever done.
Dale and Willow. He adores his daughter.
I'm not sure who's the bigger tease.
This was just two weeks ago. I love it!
Dale raises the most wonderful pitbulls and I'm quite certain that they don't realize that they are not people. I love his dogs!
Happy Birthday, Dale! Thanks for being you! We love you!
It was a busy Tuesday for all of us, as always, with a little extra spice thrown in. It was one of those days when things didn't go as planned and then they were quickly followed up by little tender mercies that reminded me that all was well!
Today, I'm grateful for the gift of joy in my life and the knowlege that no matter how rough the day, no matter how rude the person, no matter how big the spill, there's always still far more to be happy about than to whine about! Life is good. Live joyfully... and if it's not all joyful, try to live it anyway!
I can not not say something when things are not all "hunky-dory" in our world and I don't feel that it's honest to try and pretend. We are smack dab in the middle of some serious drama. Suffice it to say that this day has not been one I'd care to relive! I hate cryptic messages and posts, but I honestly am not at liberty to share any details yet. But, I do feel, at this point, a need to ask for a few extra prayers for Zaylee. She'll be with us for a few more days and, even with the drama, we all love having her here!
For now, a few other random thoughts:
Today, I am grateful for SKYPE! Need I say more?!
Zaylee is visiting for a few days. We had a fun weekend together, celebrating her birthday early by buying some new church clothes and a few new things to have at our house since she's outgrown everything she fit in last year. She loved it! The girls have loved having her here again. She's in heaven with the attention and playing with the kittie, which she has renamed Shadow. She's definitely an animal person. She is growing so fast and was so reverent in church and has been on her best behavior! We are loving it!
After very uplifting church meetings, we came home and all got busy in the kitchen together. Quayd even made the rice and beans. (We have a goal to teach him to cook in case he gets called to serve and LDS mission to someplace that doesn't have cold cereal or tortillas and cheese.) Everyone helped and worked together for a perfect dinner of chicken enchiladas, spanish rice and beans. Grace made apple oatmeal cookies for dessert. ZJ helped keep up with dishes and took care of Zaylee. It was fun family time and gave cause for Doug to point out, "Babe, you need a bigger kitchen." Hmmm. I wouldn't mind that at all! Oh, and I must share the recipe this week. WOW! Never again will I make my chicken chimichangas with the cream of chicken soup... not when this recipe was so simple and sooooooo much better!
We enjoyed a lovely Saturday morning with sunshine and a warm breeze winterizing the yard. Within hours, it turned into a stormy, windy afternoon and snow-covered mountains before the day was over. It is cold... a very clear reminder that winter is on it's way. At one point in the afternoon, I said, "Let's go ahead and put up the tree today!" and I received a resounding "Noooooooo!" Even I am not ready for that yet! I'm excited to enjoy this lovely month of gratitude!
Today, I express my gratitude for my calling at church. How I love teaching the gospel. I say that often. But, sharing thoughts and leading discussions on the topic of family and marriage is such a delight for me! This class is amazing. The class fills my bucket each week. I'm grateful for my gift from Heavenly Father - the ability to teach the gospel in a way that others can feel my love for it! I'm not in any way boasting. I am truly humbled for the opportunity each time it arises! Tonight, Quayd came in and layed down on the bed. We talked for 45 minutes about patriarchal blessings and the direction he is going in life. Those are my favorite teaching moments... with my children. How I love and appreciate discussing and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ!
There is no joy without gratitude.
This has to be the most wonderful weathered Halloween on record.. or at least in my memory! FABULOUS!!!
Natalie and I went up to Idaho yesterday to get a few last minute things done for the cabin insurance documents. We grabbed lunch on the way, made a few stops in Soda and headed up to the cabin. When we arrived at the ranch, before even emptying the car and taking our things into the loft, we went through the cabin and took a bunch of photos, checked through the remaining items that were needed and documented a few more things. Once finished, we went upstairs, got comfy, made broiled tuna melts and watched a couple of chick flicks, ate treats, played one round of Hand and Foot, then went to bed.
On the way to Idaho, we'd talked movies. I wasn't sure what movie we'd be in the mood to watch, so I brought about twenty for us to choose from. Somehow, the topic of Nicholas Sparks movies came up. We both agreed that we HATE Nicholas Sparks movies because someone always dies in them! On the way, we'd stopped at this little store for a second because I forgot my socks. While there, we saw a pile of $6 DVDs and I noticed Somersby, one of the movies we used to own in VHS but had not yet replaced in DVD. It has been twenty some years since I saw it and I only remembered an intense courtroom scene and that I loved the story. Nat had never seen it. We bought it and as we settled down, we, again, discussed how we were so not Nicholas Sparks fans. The movie came to the point of the courtroom scene. At that point, Nat looked at me. I looked at her. I remembered it. She realized it. She said, quite loudly, "IS HE GOING TO DIE?!!??!??!?!!?" at the same time I said, equally loud, "I'M SORRRRRYYYYY!!!!!" Not Nicholas Sparks, but it might as well have been! I'm still laughing. Oops.
This morning, we got up, did some more measuring and photos, then headed home. We got home just as the kids were coming in from school, and just in time for them to start getting ready for Halloween. The kids are too big for trick or treating, in my opinion, so they are now into having little get togethers with friends. Quayd had to work anyway, so no play for him. Just before he left for work, he decided that he would dress in costume, so with eight minutes to get ready, he decided on being a nerd and here's what he came up with. He walked into work and his friends all started cracking up, so I guess that's a hit.
It was the wool socks with the shorts that completed the outfit. Here's Quayd with my second favorite Lee's bagger/neighbor, Chase, who was a perfect Clark Kent. I teased that Quayd was Spiderman under the nerd suit!
ZJ had decided to have friends over for dinner and a movie. Grace wasn't going to participate but then I told her that she could invite a friend over. Her friend ended up not being able to come at the last minute, so she joined them and, also, at the last minute, came up with a costume from the costume box. She's finally big enough to wear the princess dress. This was a five minute choice, as well, and fortunately for her, her hair was curled from school today. Score for Grace, our beautiful princess!
Her sweet disposition shows in this one.
ZJ, on the other hand had been planning Halloween for weeks! This girl... her personality just shines! She's a riot! Taking her photos always fun because there's never a dull moment with ZJ.
I always take a group photo but this year, with manchild Quayd at work, it was just the girls.
We skyped with Liza and Aylabelle before they went to the ward party. Buddy was at the university working tonight, sadly. Liza and Aylabelle were the characters in the book, "You are Special" with the dots and the stars. Too sweet. Aylabelle kept pointing to her stars and was so proud. I love watching her be so aware of everything around her!
Liza texted me this from their ward party.
We had a quick visit from Kelly and Zaylee. Zaylee was a cute little pirate. I'd have put some more clothes on her, but I didn't say a word to Kelly. She had gotten Zaylee a costume and done her hair, I'm not going to complain. She's doing her Kelly best. Zaylee ran right past me and went straight to the garage to find the kitty.
Our last little "special guest" was Miki, who came as her favorite princess, Elsa. She was so excited about Trick or Treating with her big sister and Mom and Dad!
My favorite trick or treater of the night, however, was not one of my own. Our neighbors stopped by with their two sweet little daughters, one of which has Downs Syndrome. These two little girls are both just beautiful. The older daughter was thirsty, so I brought her inside for a quick drink. When we walked back to the front door, her sister, who's about two or three now, was in her dad's arms, just waving and smiling at us. I waved good-bye to her and she blew me a kiss. I closed the door and just started to bawl. Doug wrapped his arms around me and said, "She's a little celestial angel, isn't she?" It was the best moment of my day.
The kids are all home and in bed. The girls laughed themselves to sleep. Quayd fell asleep on the floor by the dogs after working. A storm is heading in and winter is on it's way! Doug's spent the last two days working in the yard while I was at the cabin. Tonight, after the girls friends' left, I took down all of our Halloween decor and put the Thanksgiving/November decor. I can not believe it's THANKSGIVING season! WOW!!! Where did October go!?
Life is a book. We fill the pages.
I ran errands this morning and met Denise for lunch. After lunch, we ran to Sam's Club for a few items. OH! MY! WORD!!! We'd driven separately and parked a few parks away from each other. Doug called as I was getting out of the Expedition and walk inside. As Denise and I were walking in, I realized that I'd not locked the truck, so I stopped at the front end of the parking lot to grab my keys out of my purse pocket and push the button to lock it from several parking spaces away. As I stopped, some crochety man, probably in his later 60s, layed on his horn. I wasn't even sure if he was honking at me??? I was too far from the truck, so I had to walk back closer to it to push the button.
As I walked back to the store, I passed the man and asked, unknowingly, "Were you honking at me?" I asked nicely because I wasn't sure if I'd done something wrong and was willing to apologize if I had. The man lit into me!!!! He was swearing at me and yelling! He told me to stay of my *!@#! cell phone! I was stunned! I said, "I was looking for my key." He went on, "I saw what you were doing! STAY OF YOUR @#$@#$@#$ cell phone!!!!" OH MY WORD!!! I could not believe my ears! People were staring. Doug was on the phone asking, "What's happening? What's happening?" I said, loud enough for him to hear, "Some grumpy old man is yelling and swearing at me. I don't know who pooped in his oatmeal this morning, but he's on one."
People were laughing at my response and I went on, "And he's got his little grandkid with him. That's impressive. He's a great example for her." Denise was dying. She'd walked ahead before it all started and hearing him yell, turned to see what was going on. She was worried that he would be crazy and pull out a gun or something. I kept walking inside and he was following me, just going off. People were rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at him. The guy kept on carrying on and I just walked into the store and went a different direction to avoid him until we left. I didn't see him again. Doug was so upset that he wasn't there. It did make me a bit nervous because these days, you just never know. BUT SERIOUSLY???? Apparently, I was too close to where he was pulling into the park, but I had passed the parking space completely. Denise and I couldn't even figure out why he was freaking out because I was well out of his way when I stopped. Some people's grandpas!
Last night, the kids had all been in different activities for their YM and YW activities, so they came in at different times from different directions. Doug had gone to bed early. The girls were in bed, long before Quayd came in. I'd left the front door unlocked but he came in through the garage door instead, all excited to tell me about his night. I had climbed into bed and Zulu, who sleeps in his bed under ours, was freaking out. He was growling and scratching his bed and moaning and making all sorts of noise. He'd run to the kitchen and then back under the bed, freaking out over and over. This went on for a good twenty minutes. Every single time he came into the bedroom, he was going ballistic under the bed. Go-Go, in his bed right next to him, was as content and quiet as could be. I kept thinking he was playing or trying to tell Go-Go to trade beds, because sometimes Go-Go gets into Zulu's. I was trying to read quietly. I finally thought, "WHAT is his problem?", got out of the bed and down on the floor to take a peek. The kitten was lying there in his bed just as cozy as could be, looking at Zulu as if to say, "I'm not even moving." He's an outside kitten who is learning to be a mouser for the winter. (We have a hay barn behind our home, requiring a cat or two to keep on top of the mice.) The little guy slips in every time we open the door. He had slipped in when Quayd came in from YM and we'd missed his entrance. I laughed so hard once I realized the problem. I took him outside immediately and Zulu looked at me like, "It's about time!" Silly kitty!
Kelly called tonight. Her soon-to-be officially EX-husband and her had some serious drama tonight. Oh, please pass him out of her life and her out of his... FOR.EV.ER. Never a dull moment. On a positive note, she's sent me some very cute photos of Zaylee this past week as they are celebrating Halloween socials. She's really trying. She's also calling more often and being a better daughter of late. I like that... even with the added drama that comes with.
I'm making a quick trip with a friend to the ranch to take some photos of a few last things at the cabin. I'd hoped to plan a "girl's night out" with several girlfriends before winter, but I didn't see it possibly happening at this busy time of year... everyone is so busy...as I said yesterday, Halloween, birthdays, and then Thanksgiving are coming too quickly. I am looking forward to even just a day at the ranch, though, as it's been weeks and weeks since we've been!
Live joyfully... even when people yell at you for no good reason!
Good people bring out the good in people.
This morning, ZJ texted me from school, letting me know that she was not feeling well. She has some sort of bug, so I raced to get her before going to the high school with Doug to celebrate Quayd being chosen as one of the nine recipients of the Student of the Month. We were fed a delicious meal and praised highly for Quayd's awesomeness. I think he enjoyed most sitting across from two darling senior girls who act as representatives for the school. We had a delightful visit with them both. One reminded us immensely of our niece, Lexi, who just got her mission call to Seattle. Ironically, this cute little gal just moved to the valley last year from Seattle.
I was entertained watching Quayd talk with the girls and ask them questions about their lives. He definitely has developed that gift of his dad's, who's worked hard to help all of the kids with the art of asking questions to get others to speak. It was a most enjoyable experience and a proud parent moment for us and for Quayd!
We came home and Doug quickly went back to work. ZJ and I spent some time talking and then she went down for a nap before the kids come home from school. ZJ loves to ask me questions about my life, about my youth. She's always interested, probably moreso than any of the kids have ever been. We have so much fun visiting. Gosh, I heart these kids!
We spent a little time on Facetime with Liza and Aylabelle before Aylabelle's naptime, as well. Aylabelle was eating apples from our tree that Liza had taken home. She loves to blow me kisses. It's one of my favorite things about life right now! I can't believe they've been gone a week already.
Zulu and I did a little reading today. Here's Zulu's favorite location... on the back of my chair, with his head leaning on my shoulder. Could I have any more smudged mascara? It's called, "I cry when I'm happy!" and Quayd made me happy! (Susan, you asked for more pix of me. You got them!)
The kids came home from school and decided to do a "service hour" by walking around the block and offering/helping rake leaves for neighbors. Grace came home early and helped make dinner and a treat for ZJ to take to Young Women's. We had a Sunday pot roast dinner on Tuesday night...score for Mom! It was a busy afternoon.
I was looking at the calendar and all that's happening over the next 60 days. We are literally eight weeks from Christmas. There's much to be done between now and then. Over the next 70 days, my calendar includes:
It's insane how quickly time flies by. While at the luncheon, there was a lady there who I was sure that I recognized but could not put my finger on it. We visited a minute and it turned out that she was the sister of one of my brother-in-law's best friends from high school. We caught up on life for a bit and sat down before the presentation. I was a bit blown away to think of all that's happened since then. You know that feeling when you see someone that you haven't seen in 35 years and they changed. ha! They grew up, married, had kids, their kids grew up and had kids. How did that happen?!?
This week, our sweet neighbor, Arva, 96, passed away. I read her obituary and saw her photo when she was in her prime, as well as one that was probably in her 80s. I barely recognized her. I've only known her the past 15 years or so. Again, I thought, "time flies too quickly!"
I was looking out at the cherry trees in our back yard when I got home. They are beautiful, prolific, producing fabulous cherries by the buckets every July, they block the view of our neighbors yard and give us some privacy. We planted them the second summer in our home. In the time that those trees have grown, so have my children. It's unimaginable how quickly time is flying by.
I catch myself, often, saying, "I can't wait!" It's something that I set as a goal last year to say less. I really don't want to rush the days by. ZJ mentioned an hour ago, "This week has been the slowest week. It's only Tuesday!" She's excited for Halloween. But, before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then 2015. Grace turns sixteen on January 2. She'll be "datable". I. CAN. WAIT!
Quayd has less than 20 months and, hopefully, he'll be serving an LDS mission. Grace will be a senior in the same amount of time. ZJ will be at the high school. Honestly, I'd like to stop this train and just take a little walk in the park for a few more years before moving on! Life moves too quickly. Slow down. Even stop.
I'm feeling quite sentimental today. Aunt Pattie was buried today. Savor every moment. Make them count. Don't rush the days by because all to quickly, they become the years. Live joyfully!
Time flies. You are the pilot.
What a rollercoaster of an emotional weekend we all had! Doug and Quayd took the trailer and the tent trailer and went on a Father Son outing...just the two of them... no scouts, no friends, no family... just them. They came back loving life. They'd sat up late and watched the stars and talked about life, took the canoe out and spent some time on the water in the morning and Quayd even took a dip in the water.... brrrrrrrrrrr. But, they had a great time together. Nothing makes me happier!
Big happy news... I stayed up most of the night Friday night and then all day Saturday until I finished the Cabin Inventory Project! No sooner than I finished, I realized that there are a few things we'd kept to restore that are packed away at the ranch. I'll need to make a quick run up to the cabin for some photos to add those last items to the list and send it off to the insurance company this week! HAPPINESS!!!! That was one huge undertaking and I am glad to see it at it's end!
The girls and I stayed home and ate frozen pizzas and treats while doing laundry and watching a new DVD we ordered called Mom's Night Out. It was totally predictable but very clean and cute with a great message. Watching the girls laugh made it worth the money because they are still quoting it and laughing about it!
Doug and Quayd came home, just about the same time I was finishing the cabin project. It had been an emotional morning for me. (That's a whole other story.) My aunt had passed away and I was feeling a lot of emotion over my parents divorce and how much I'd missed of my Bell family as I had grown up. I had been worried for the past few days over something that I could not quite put my finger on. Something wasn't right and I didn't know what. That afternoon, I was in tears, sharing my feeling with Doug when my phone rang. It was a member of my Dad's side of the family. I literally stared at my phone and thought, "Dad is dead." It was a horrific feeling that took me about four rings to gather the courage to say, "Hello." That was not the news. But, the news was not good. Dad's not doing well. Some decisions needed to be made in his behalf. It was a difficult conversation to have, but one that was necessary. I can't really say much more because there's not much more to say yet. But, prayers for my dad would be appreciated. I was so grateful that Doug was there to hold me and hug me and say that everything will be okay after I'd hung up.
Saturday evening, we all went our own directions. Quayd worked, Grace went to a dance at the LDS Institute on USU Campus, ZJ and Doug stayed home and made grape juice, then watched Mom's Night Out together. Denise called and needed a friend (and quite frankly, after the "dad situation", it was nice to escape), so we went to dinner and for a drive. It was one of those nights where we were all busy but all busy apart. It worked out for the best for everyone.
One other thought from Saturday... one of our sweet senior single lady friends, that I used to help with the Family Home Evenings, passed away on Saturday morning. Arva was 96 years old. She was the definition of "Enduring to the end". She's could barely see or hear, but that sweet wonderful woman sat on the front row of church every Sunday until the very end! Bless her heart! And her family!
I started my teaching my Sunday School class again yesterday. I was surprised to see so many familiar faces, choosing to repeat the class. I explained that the manual had not changed, Doug nor I had changed, so my stories wouldn't have changed either and then teased, "Either I didn't do a very good job or you guys still haven't figured it out!" I had a happy moment when someone in the hall said, "Take her class, she's the best teacher!" I don't know who said it, but, I called out the door, "Thank you! YOU just made my day!" That's always a sweet reward. There are a few new couples in the class, as well as the group that I loved spending that hour with each Sunday last time around, so it will be a fun group to have discussions about family and marriage together with! I love teaching the gospel and teaching about families and the gospel is even better!
When we got home from church, Go-Go was the only little furry friend who greeted me at the door. I immediately knew that our little wanderer, Zulu, had gone on another walk-about! We searched and searched for hours to no avail. We went to the B's for dessert after dinner and drove around in the dark after that. This morning at 6, I was out driving around after a long night of worrying about him freezing to death! Nothing. Sadness.
I met Carol this morning bright and early for breakfast and some furniture shopping for her new home. While we were out and about, I got an email from a new friend, who said she is a "Closet blog-reader" of mine. She'd seen my post yesterday and noticed on Facebook that someone had found a dog, posted his picture and it was Zulu! Here was the ad and photo: No, he's not for sale but lost. He was at the church and I'm sure he is missed. If you know anyone that lost him, Please contact me...
Friend, Amber also had told me to try the same page, but I'd not realized that she mean that it was a page on Facebook. I thought it was at a different website. With the help of both of them, I was able to contact the lady and went straight to pick him up. Zulu was on a walk with her husband when I arrived and came running across the field to greet me. Here I'd been worrying all night that he was wandering and freezing and the sweet lady said that he slept in bed with them and their other little maltese pooch. They'd all bonded and had a nice warm night together. Zulu has been home sleeping all day... exhausted after his little excitement. I think we are going to get him new tags that says, "I'm Zulu Corbridge and I like to explore the world on my own!" I feel so thankful that he's home! It was a long and tearful night! He's basked in the sunshine and slept most of the afternoon since he came home.
Natalie and I did some running and shopping and grabbed a bite for lunch in the afternoon, right after I picked Zulu up. We always have tons to talk about and love home decor shopping together. We always manage to something to laugh about, as well. I came home and thought, "I am blessed with amazing people in my world!"
Tonight, for family home evening, we'll be making grape juice and applesauce, I believe is the plan. The weather has been so lovely. This morning and last night were very cold. Today, it's felt like October! Hard to imagine that it's this late in the the fall before it feels like it! Nat and I were gabbing and looking at Halloween decor at Sugar and Spice when she had to point out that Halloween is this week! I said, "How did that happen!?" Then I remembered, "Oh! NYC and Liza for a week. That's how it happened!" The second this sunk in, I thought, "It's almost time for Christmas decor!!!!" and the Christmas music started in my head, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"
Quayd's Student of the Month luncheon is tomorrow! We've got dental appointments, a doctor check-up, a quick run to the cabin, a couple of projects that need to be done now that my time is my own and not the cabin's anymore, some end of season canning and Thanksgiving/fall decorating as soon as I put away the Halloween things Friday night to do. It's a busy week...just the way I like it! Live joyfully!
When it rains look for rainbows, when its dark look for stars.
I started this entry Tuesday evening, but I've been so involved in other things, it's taken me until tonight to complete it! Liza's last day here...
When we woke up Tuesday morning, it was pouring the rain and there was a thunder/lightning storm just as the kids were ready to go to school. I took Quayd and Grace to Seminary and came home to take ZJ to school. For some personal reasons, ZJ stayed home from school and as we were leaving, I felt impressed to bring her with me to take Liza to the airport. I'd made plans earlier to have lunch with one of my favorite ladies, Marilyn, in SLC. I texted then called Marilyn to let her know that I just felt this strong impression that Zeej needed her mom today. So, we rescheduled and ZJ joined us.
While Liza was getting ready, ZJ kept Aylabelle entertained on the piano. Liza held her and played quite a bit, so I loved watching Aylabelle play with her fingers instead of banging with her hands. She loved it!
Could she look any more like her mother in the one below?
Once Liza was ready, we took a few pictures, which made me especially grateful to have ZJ there! It's rare that I get in front of the camera, but here's a few of my faves!
Blowing Grammie kisses!
Oh my heart! I love this baby!
Could she be any cuter and could I be any happier!?
Really and truly, there are no words.
We left a few hours early for the airport, so that we could stop at Zupas for lunch in Layton. We had a fun lunch and loved watching Aylabelle tasting all the fun foods. She loved the chocolate covered strawberry, but not as much as Liza's turkey cranberry sandwich! That little girl loves to eat!
When we arrived at the airport, it was 2:14 and the goal was 2:15, so right on schedule. We had a sky-cap help Liza get checked in and said our goodbyes. My heart. It ached for the last hour. Aylabelle was excited to get in her stroller and get moving. Liza and I hugged and the tears fell. (At least, mine did. She loves her mother, but she is always anxious and happy to get home to see her hubby! And, again, I wouldn't have it any other way!)
Liza texted me this photo of Aylabelle's fascination inside the plane.
I had ZJ text Liza a few texts while I drove away and headed north. We stopped at Taipan for a little looksie. As we were pulling into the parking lot, ZJ got a text from Liza, "Is Mom still crying?" Zeej responded, "We are pulling into Taipan, this will help." Liza, at the same time, texted, "Ask her a question about her teen years. She can tell you a story and that will take her mind off of things." They both know their mother so well! Chirstmas is already happening at Taipan!
We were in search of a new butter dish. Fail. But, we did see some fun holiday decor and Zeej fell in love with some of the clothing items. It was a fun stop. One more stop for Sonic happy hour (Twice in one day) and we were headed home. We got home just about the same time Liza landed safely and texted that Aylabelle had done great! She also had her own aisle on the not-even-half-full plane. Sweet! A happy reunion for Liza's little family and we came home just in time for the girls to get ready and head to the temple with the Young Women. Quayd and I had a long talk about some deep topics before Doug came in from work and they headed off to a Court of Honor. Being alone in the house gave me a few minutes to pick up, put away the baby things, and count my blessings for this wonderful week!
When everyone came in and shared their "events" of the day and headed to bed early, Liza and I chatted for a few minutes just before she was putting Aylabelle to bed. My favorite moment of the day was Liza hugging me at the airport and saying, "Mom, it's been a perfect week...every second of it." It doesn't get any better than that! I am so blessed with this wonderful family!
A few random thoughts...
Train your mind to see the good in everything.
ETA: I wrote this blog last night and this is the first time I've had to sit down at the computer to add photos. This past year, life has put so much on my plate that I really do have a hard time sitting down some days. ANYWAAAAAYYYYY....
On Monday, we met Kelly and Denise for lunch and ran the last of Liza's "while I'm in Utah" errands before going back in for second haircuts. The stylist had been in a rush because she'd been double booked last week and told us to come in again, so we did after both of us had done our own hair and decided that we wanted it shorter. I took Aylabelle into the toy store while Liza got her hair recut. We found a huge giraffe in the toystore, which she fell in love with. Aylabelle has the oddest looking stuffed giraffe that was the first toy Liza and Buddy bought her. She loves it! They have season passes to the huge Phoenix Zoo and Aylabelle definitely makes the connection with her own stuffed "Bob" and she also made the connection with the giraffe in the store! Too cute!
another deep sigh...
Quayd, sadly, had to work last night. So, when Doug called on his afternoon break, we took Liza's lead for Family Home Evening. We met Doug at Willow Park for a spontaneous Subway Sandwich, chips and cookies picnic, some park time and a walk through what Logan calls it's own zoo. (In my opinion, a zoo is not a zoo without an elephant, a tiger, a zebra and a giraffe, making Willow Park a "not even close" zoo. However, they do have a bear and a monkey.) Not that it mattered, because when we were done eating, we discovered that the "not even close" Zoo was closed at 5PM. Buddy had called in the middle of our walk to the zoo and when Liza told him what we were doing, he said, "Tell Aylabelle to try to pretend it's cool." Lots of "not even close" Zoo jokes. Just for Buddy, here's Aylabelle's "Where'd it go?" photo at the closed gate of the not even close zoo. (I was telling a friend from Logan about it and they laughed, "It's not a zoo! It's a bird sanctuary!"
Aylabelle does DuckFace when she swings.
After we discovered that the park was closed, we walked through the park area and noticed the little stage and I had a spontaneous idea that we were going to have an instant talent show. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy! I grabbed the camera and started taking pictures. Oh my, we laughed! Here's our talent show, which took a total of five minutes and we laughed for half an hour.
Liza gave a "grand" piano performance on her imaginary piano. At first, she played pretty prim and proper, but then she got right into it! Too funny! If you were a "Friends" watcher, you know where we got this line, "You're good!"
ZJ was a mime.
Grace did some serious Irish Step Dancing.
Doug played his nose "harp".
I was the performance photographer.
Aylabelle even got in the fun and did "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" with her mommy.
As we finished, Liza gave a 30 second lesson that Heavenly Father has blessed us each with many talents and that it's important that we develop them and share them to serve others. All impromptu, but I'm betting we will all remember "that Family Night at Willow Park when we had the not-so talent show because the not-so Zoo was closed."
When we got home, Liza went downstairs to pack. I kept Aylabelle with me. We sat on the floor in the gallery with Dancing with the Stars on the TV in the background while she and I played with her toys for two hours. She would hear the beat of the music and dance. She loves to dance and do her little jig. The girls were downstairs in Grace's room, below me, and I could hear them all just talking and having a good time through the vent... not what they were talking about but that they were talking. The mere fact that it took two hours, I knew that they were bonding. A bit later, the girls came upstairs while Liza was finishing up and said, "Liza is the best big sister in the world." They were grinning ear to ear and just went on and on about their conversation. When I asked, "What were you all talking about?", they said, "You know, sister stuff." How grateful I am for the effort Liza has put forth over the years to be their big sister!
Quayd came in from work and was a bit jealous, he'd told his dad, that the girls had had so much time with Liza while he'd been working, so she went down and spent an hour in his room with him. She'd also helped him on Saturday night to prepare for an assignment he had for Sunday School. They had a good visit, as well. I'm sure it was hard for him to see us all doing the girly stuff all week, even though we played plenty of games to include him when he was home.
After Quayd, Liza went in and woke her dad up to visit with him for thirty last minutes. It was after eleven when we actually had some time together. Never enough moments in the day when she is here. We sat and gabbed until we were both ready to crash. Sadly, after she went to bed, I still took an hour to fall asleep, just thinking about her leaving.
To be continued....
Don't wait for the perfect moment,
take the moment and make it perfect.
My girls are gone. It's almost midnight. We made the most of every minute until the very last. I'm exhausted! I've got an entire post ready to publish minus the pictures. So, I'm going to bed and will add the pix and post it in the morning. For tonight... Here's my lovely little ladies saying goodbye at the airport. Happy to be going home to their life, husband and daddy, they were smiling much more than I. But, I can not deny how happy I am that my sweet Liza is so happy in her own life as wife, mother, sister in the gospel, homemaker and more... that she looks so forward to getting back to it! A mother could not ask for more for her daughter!
I've got a ton of pix to post and it's almost midnight. We had the funnest day and a crazy Family Home Evening. It's been a great day! Liza and I are still up visiting. I'll share more tomorrow after I get back from the airport. Me and a Route 44 Diet Coke. Tomorrow night. Same time, same place. Less my two girls.
Today's pic... Aylabelle meets her first olive. She loved them.
she likes it!
Have I mentioned that I love my girls?
Always find a reason to laugh.
It may not add years to your life, but it will surely add life to your years.
What a wonderful time we've been having with Liza and Aylabelle!
Friday: We slept in a bit and ZJ made us Creamy Wheat for breakfast. We had this whole conversation about how following directions actually makes for good food! You had to be there, but ZJ is a direction follower! It was perfect! We stuck around home all morning and until 2 in the afternoon. Liza had made a hair appointment and we didn't leave until five minutes before that. The kids were home and we had a fun morning just chillaxing together. It was nice to have the kids home for fall break, even if we didn't do much big time "breaking". Just the fact that we didn't have to get up so early was awesome! (Only two more weeks of early morning Seminary! YAY!!!) Doug had to work. Quayd had to work. ZJ wasn't feeling too hot, so she and Grace opted to stay home and in their jammies all day. That's perfectly fine with me because it's vacation!
Liza and I had a nice little afternoon out alone. When we got to the salon, Liza surprised me with a haircut too. We argued over who paid and, in the end, and I won. My favorite thing she said, "Mom never lets me pay for a thing when I'm here, no matter how hard I try." Isn't that what going home to Mom is all about? My mom never let me pay when I went home. I think it's a rule someplace, right?
We had a few stops in town, but, our first was to visit Doug's mom. Liza loves her Grandma and always makes time to go and see her whenever she comes to visit. Aylabelle was so sweet with her. She did her Eensy-Weensy Spider and clapped and all of her cute little one year old performances, but Great-Grandma loved that Aylabelle blew her kisses goodbye without any prompting at all. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of them together!
We made a few quick shopping stops and headed home for the evening with Doug and the girls until Quayd came in from work. Not wanting to cook, and not wanting to go out, Doug cooked, which means, McDonalds, pizza or Subway. It was so fun watching Aylabelle eat french fries. She has a few food allergies and she is lactose intolerant, so I have to be so careful what I feed her and it drives me nuts! I'll think I've got something awesome for her and realize, "Oh, there's cheese." I'm learning, but it was fun to watch her eat "normal food". The funny thing is that it's very rare that we eat "normal" ( McD's) since I'm married to Mr. Granolaman. THANKFULLY because I am so not a McD's fan!
We played Fluxx and Apples to Apples until bedtime and laughed so hard. The best laugh of the night was when we had the word "Complicated" and Liza insisted that her card, "Knock-knock Jokes" should win. We all looked at her and asked how she could even think that knock-knock jokes were complicated? Her answer, "Knock knock jokes are so complicated... I can never tell if I should say, Who's there? or Come in." She cracks me up! After family prayer, I looked around the room and just wanted to cry because we were all together and it hit me, that having teens at home with Liza here, is just crazy fun! I feel so blessed!
On Saturday, Doug went into work. After breakfast, we watched "Heaven is For Real" and played a few games until Liza went to her in-laws for the afternoon. While she was away, ZJ and I put that few hours to use and finished preparing the lesson she'd been asked to teach in Young Womens. We prepared a huge Jeopardy board game withh stories, characteristics, hymns, and so on about Christ and from his lifetime. As son as we got it together, we made dinner (PF Chang Chicken stir-fry) and waited for Liza to return. She got home in perfect timing, just as dinner was ready.
After dinner, we played a few other games until bedtime. After bedtime, Doug and I introduced Liza to "Forever", our new favorite TV show. We talked a bit through it and Doug slept through it, as we didn't even begin until after ten, but it was a good way to wind down.
Sunday was a bit different for us. Since Aylabelle has been sick, Liza opted to keep her home from church and away from other children a few more days. It's not even been a week yet and Aylabelle is still using the inhaler, so we are still concerned that she is contagious. I woke up with a serious migraine. ZJ did, as well. ZJ had to teach her lesson, so she went to church to teach her lesson. She said that she lost her voice in the middle of it. She wasn't feeling her best, but she was committed. I stayed home with Liza and Aylabelle. That wasn't a hard decision. The migraine did not go away until evening.
We'd invited Kelly and Zaylee to come for dinner and told Zaylee that she needed to keep her distance from Aylabelle, but once Zaylee saw our kitten, that wasn't not a problem for her at all. While we waited for dinner to cook, we enjoyed sitting out in the backyard on the swing. Zaylee and Aylabelle picked grapes with ZJ. Liza pointed out that our back yard is so beautiful and, for a moment, I grieved the fact that we are only weeks away from being inside for months. As much as I love winter, I've enjoyed this past summer in our back yard more than any I can remember.
Dinner was fabulous! Quayd chose the menu since it was a post birthday dinner for him. Grape-jelly meatballs, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls and other good things, plus Fried Ice Cream for dessert. After dinner, we played games and gabbed and just had a really visit. Doug took Zaylee for a walk over to the B's so that she could see Miki for a bit. When they got home, we played CLR and ate dessert, said family prayer and said our goodbyes.
Before she left, Kelly invited herself to join Liza, Denise and I for lunch tomorrow. We were happy to have her want to come. She promised that she would not be a stranger and hugged me. Liza and I talked after about the fact that Kelly tried really hard to be respectful. She offered and helped with dishes. It really was a pleasant afternoon and evening, and a perfect way to help remind her of how much family matters. I think that we all equally enjoyed the visit.
Before prayer, I pointed out to Zaylee, "Look! Look at who's here with Grammie! Kelly! Then Liza! Then, Quayd! Then, Grace! Then ZJ! Five of my six children! Who's missing? She said, "Uncle Dale!" Then I said, "And look! YOU and Aylabelle! Willow is missing." But, I have almost all of our family here together! This makes Grammie sooooooooooo happy!" We took a bunch of pictures and it brought tears to my eyes.
girls, girls, girls!
the gang's almost all here!
Kelly's choices have affected mine and Doug's lives in so many ways beyond words. Thankfully, miraculously, I am grateful for the placement of Kelly's other four children into the most wonderful families we could have imagined. I consider them my grands, as well. But, those children belong to their own families and how thankful we are for those families! We are so proud of how hard Kelly worked to get Zaylee back and she continues to show progress. They are both good for each other. 16 months later, there has been much good that came from the challenge of having Zaylee removed. Kelly continues to try harder every day. Zaylee loves her mom. It's been a good thing, in the long run. As usual... we can look back on the challenges of life and see that good came from them!
Life is good! Live joyfully!
Family...where life begins and love never ends.
Aylabelle slept in this morning, which we were happy to see since she's been so sick. She woke up acting a bit better, but she's still raspy. She got better throught the day but first thing, she was pretty sad. It's heartbreaking to see this happy baby feeling so terrible!
We had a big day planned for everyone. After a German Pancake brunch, Quayd and Doug went to see new movie, Mazerunner, at noon. They came back loving it! The girls went to the mall and had their own little shopping time and lunch. This is the kind of thing that they really get excited about. "It's a teenage thing to do, Mom." Liza, Aylabelle and I met Denise for lunch. We had a good visit and the food was okay. Our server was lacking in positive attitnde and actually kept us entertained by his poor service. His attitude was awful! There were a list of things he did that would have made my mother scream, but we had to laugh... like when I asked him for a second straw since Aylabelle had claimed mine. He said, "I'll bring one when I get a minute." (He had one other table at the time.) He'd not brought the water that Liza had asked for at the beginning, so when he brought her water, it had two straws in it. He said, "There's your extra straw, in her water." SERIOUSLY!? That was just the beginning. We only left him a 15% tip, which was his own doing, but Denise still feels guilty. Liza said, "He didn't deserve that!"
We did a little shopping after lunch with the girls. Liza strongly recommended that we need new pillows, so we pillow shopped and bought a few other odds and ends with the girls. I bought Aylabelle the coolest toy which entertained us all most of the rest of the day.
Doug had spent over an hour this morning, trying to unplug the kitchen drain this morning to no avail. He decided that after the movie, he would have to disassemble the bottom pipe under the sink. While we were shopping, Liza suggested that I buy some drano before Doug took the kitchen sink apart. We poured half a bottle in and it said to wait fifteen minutes. Within five minutes, the sink drained itself...quite loudly! As in, "What was that!?" I was glad that this didn't become one of those projects that you think will be one thing and it ends up being a whole new kitchen.
I made a family favorite, Cabbage and Noodles for dinner. Liza was talking to Buddy and told him what we having. Buddy teased "I'll leave that to you and go get me something to eat." He was a happy camper not to have our meal, but for over 35 years, it's been a family favorite. Aylabelle sure enjoys the grapes. Doug was so excited to share them and see her loving them. It's a riot!
After dinner, Liza introduced us to a fun game... a variation of the Name Game. (To play the game, everyone writes one name on a piece of paper. Each player had three pieces, so each wrote three names. They go into a bowl. Round 1: Each person takes a turn, drawing a name and describing the name until someone guesses it. Round 2: Put the names back into the bowl. Each person takes a turn, drawing a name and says ONE WORD to describe the person until someone guesses it. It helps if you pay attention to round 1 so that you can use a word from the previous clue. Round 3: The names go back into the bowl again. This time, everyone takes turns, drawing the name and acting it out, like Charades. It can also be played in teams. Example: Cinderella: Round 1: This person had a wicked step-mother and step-sisters and swept and cleaned everything for them. She lost her glass slipper. Round 2: Slipper. or Step-Mother. Round 3: act out slipping on the slipper or sweeping the floor. VERY FUN!
We played three rounds whild Grace baked cookies. We laughed so dang hard. My Alvin and the Chipmunks immitation had Liza in tears. Aylabelle was sitting on my dining room table in the middle of the game and everytime we would laugh, she would start clapping and laughing like it was all about her. Oh my word, I love this child!
Carol came over tonight with Taylor and Tanner to see Liza and Aylabelle. Carol notices that Aylabelle was playing with my iPhone. She said, "Is that your phone she's playing with?" Carol could not believe that I was letting her play with it. Her comment was "You don't even let your kids play with your phone!" That's one of the beauties of being Grammie! I can break all of the rules!
It was a good day and a good night! Loved it! I love having my girls here! I can't believe I didn't take many pictures today. We were too busy playing! Live joyfully!
Find Joy in the ORDINARY!
I think that I mentioned that Quayd has had no desire to celebrate being seventeen. None. For weeks, I've asked, what do you want for your birthday? Nothing? What do you want to do for your birthday? Nothing. What can I cook for your birthday? Nothing? So, we discussed it yesterday and decided that I wasn't going to buy him anything just for buying's sake. When he figures out what he wants, it's his. But, until then, I'll just keep that money put away. No treasure hunt. No gifts. (Well, none that were real gifts.) That's what he wanted. Okey dokey then.
After school, he decided that he did want to go out to dinner at HuHot as a family. So, we met Doug after work and went straight to dinner. Quayd ate and ate and ate. Three large plates of stirfry and appetizers. Quayd finished his second year of no candy or pop this week. So, he got pop for dinner tonight and drank 5 cups of peach fanta. On the way home, he and his dad stopped at Lee's and bought 2.5 pounds of taffy. When he got to the register to buy it, Quayd's good friend, Chase said, "I'm buying it for your birthday!" Quayd thought that was pretty cool of Chase. He ate half the bag tonight. Oh my. Talk about sugar shock. I told him that as long as he brushed his teeth for three minutes and that he could sleep it off tonight, it was fine with me. I'm sick thinking about it! He apologized a few minutes ago for being so picky about his birthday. I told him, "You weren't picky enough!!" He had a good day!
Now to Liza's arrival: I baked homemade bagels in the afternoon to kill time while waiting for Liza and Aylabelle to arrive. The kids had YM/YW service project, picking apples at Sister Smith's home. The bagels came out of the oven, just as they were ready to leave. I was able to make scrambled egg and cheese bagels for them to have a quick bite before leaving. I've made bagels before, but I've been inspired to become a Master Bagel maker since NYC. Oh, my. They were divine! They are time consuming but so worth the effort! I loved this quote: If it's not boiled, it's not a bagel, it's a roll with a hole in it.
Liza and Aylabelle arrived last night about about 8. They'd gotten into town and she'd stayed at Buddy's parents' home the first day. When we facetimed in the morning, Aylabelle was just barking. Her little eyes were swollen and puffy. Liza said she has never been this sick. One look at her and I called our doctor for an appointment! Liza and her mother-in-law, Sheree, took Aylabelle into the doctor and he confirmed that she has croup. It was the saddest thing I've ever seen. He gave her a steroid and an inhaler to be used this week.
Once they arrived last night, Aylabelle was just the saddest little thing. She cried everytime anyone looked at her. She just wanted her mommy, so I didn't even try to hold her. Doug and our good neighbor/former Bishop, Kim, gave her a priesthood blessing. That was a task in itself. She was so tired and achey. Liza got her to bed and I assumed that it would be a very long night for us all. She only woke twice that we heard and when she woke up this morning, she sounded much better. As the day went on, aside from her raspy voice, you would not have known she was sick. She was happy and playful.
She loves the kids. She loves her Grampy. She totally trusts me and came to me all day. That's because we facetime or skype every day. We had such a fun day. We didn't take her out to town until Quayd's dinner, but we did take two walks to the corner and let her play in the back yard with the dogs. She loves the puppies. Liza and I laughed so hard at Aylabelle and the kitty, however. She is apparently, not a cat lover. The kitten jumped up on the glider swing and Aylabelle would scoot it right off. Tango would just back up. Aylabelle would push him off again. This happened over and over. If the dogs jumped up, she'd smile and pet them. She made her opinion known, no doubt.
She also loved eating the grapes off the vine. Liza is used to feeding her storebought grapes, where she cuts them into pieces. However, Aylabelle would have none of that. Our vine-ripening grapes have soft skins and just explode when you try to break them. Aylabelle wanted to hold the vine and pull them off. It was adorable.
The kids are so excited to have Liza and Aylabelle here. ZJ made me laugh so hard today that I cackled. Here's the text conversation that we had today while she was at school:
ZJ: Can u plz come and get me?
Me: R u sick? R u bleeding out of your eyeballs? Did your arms fall off? Did your appendix rupture? (She has no appendix.)
ZJ: I'm dead. Something along that line. A little bit of each. LOL
Me: If the school calls an ambulance for you, have them call me on the way to the hospital, okay?
ZJ: Okay, I shall try. I'm just really cranky and tired.
Me: You'll still be alive. BUT, I love you.
ZJ: I know.
That girl cracks me up. She survived the day and now they have Fall Break, so no school till next week! Party time!
Liza made us egg salad sandwiches for lunch, we stayed home till dinnertime, just gabbing. My favorite part of the day was when the kids came home and we all sat in the backyard just gabbing while we waited for Doug to get off work. Aylabelle is so cute. She does cute things and then looks at us, waiting for our applause and praise. SO dang cute!
It was so nice to see her smile after last night!
Grammie lets Aylabelle play with her phone. It's me practicing, "When all else fails, ask Grammie!"
I don't think that it's possible to love any more than I love this girl!
My Liza Junior...ZJ and her baby, Zulu
She's growing up far too quickly!
The birthday boy!
Grace shared a story from her day at school that made me proud! She stood up to and asked someone to stop gossiping. She is just as beautiful on the inside as she is the out.
Liza and Aylabelle were facetiming while sitting next to each other. Aylabelle loved that!
Oh, I have to share one Doug funny... last night, I'm baking bagels. Doug walks into the kitchen. Out of nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE, he says, "I'm sad that John Denver died." I said, "Um. You do realize that John Denver died like twenty years ago, right?" He said, "Yeh, but I can still miss him." I love this man that has such a big heart.
After dinner, we came home and Liza introduced us to a new game called, Fluxx. Lots of fun! Just ordered our own from Amazon Prime! Quayd had a great birthday! I had a great family day! I have a great family, said Sophia, humbly!
Kelly called this afternoon and will be coming over on Sunday. We didn't want to expose Zaylee to croup. The doctor said it's highly contagious to children. By Sunday, she'll be fine. We'll probably go out for lunch or breakfast next week before Liza leaves too. I was glad to hear from Kelly! I am one lucky mom and grammie! Life is good! Live joyfully!
Be with those who help your being!
It's Quayd's 17th birthday! This has been a huge year for Quayd. This year, he passed the drivers test, but still hasn't gotten his license. He's in no hurry and we sure aren't rushing him! He went on his first date and was just asked to his first dance. He got a job and works hard! He's shown some amazing growth, physically, spiritually and emotionally! He's taller than his dad and so proud of it! He is such a great boy! His sense of humor keeps us laughing! His creativity is always in high gear. Quayd has a soundtrack in his head for life... everything, from doing dishes to riding his bike, he's got music going. He's made some great friends this year. One of the highlights of my year was seeing Quayd with his friends "hang out" by doing baptisms at the temple. He's still not completed that Eagle Project and has one year left to do it. He's not given up, but fitting it in with school and working the hours he does, it's going to be a challenge! OH MY WORD, I love this boy! Our lives without Quayd would be boring and dull! He keeps us on our toes!
Here's Quayd's birthday interview:
Happy Birthday, Bug! We love you!!!
I had a fun lunch date with Natalie, celebrating my birthday and running some errands. She's still redecorating and we did a little shopping for her while finding a cute Halloween item for my corner cabinet. I always love catching up with Nat... she was gone last week and I was gone the week before, so it was two weeks that we had not connected. Lovely!
I heard from Liza off and on all day as she traveled from Arizona with her mother-in-law. They should be here by now. I won't see her until tomorrow night, though! Can. Not. Wait! Until then, I have a family meeting about the cabin, more laundry to do and a few last minute things to get ready for her arrival. Have I mentioned that I'm excited to see my girls?!
Speaking of girls, I dropped by Kelly's over the weekend. I was able to see Zaylee for about five minutes. It's the first time we'd seen her since July 3. Zaylee seemed happy, Kelly looks so thin, the house was very clean. Zaylee needs a dresser. I think that's what we will give her for her birthday. We only spoke for a few minutes. I was just checking to see if she needed anything. I hope that we will get to see her while Liza and Aylabelle are here.
We took Quayd to work this afternoon and ran into Lee's for a few groceries. ZJ has been asking about SPAM. She's never had SPAM before and keeps wanting to try it. I told her that it's nasty and there's a reason we don't eat it. I remembered eating it as a little girl and liking it, but being married to GranolaMan, it's not something that I've bought in her lifetime. She told me, while walking down the aisles at Lee's that it's Number Three on her bucketlist. I grabbed a can and said we could have Chef's Salad and Spam sandwiches for dinner, so that she could cross it off. Then I told her, "If SPAM is number three, we need to work on that Bucket List a little." I think it will be a fun Family Home Evening activity. We'll do it next week with Liza here!
Best text of the day: In Logan! (with this photo attached!)
Patience never was one of my virtues!
It is not how much we have but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.
A few things that have really been on my mind since I got home...
I would love to return to New York. One thing I realized is that going again with Doug or Carol would be a totally different experience. Going with Doug, we'd spend a lot of time in museums and talking with people. Carol and I would do a lot of sightseeing, taste testing, finding ways to laugh together...probably by our own faux pas.However! I'm so so grateful for the opportunity of having gone with Katie and staying with LeAnna and the "real life" look at the city that I don't think we could have gotten otherwise. It was such a fabulous experience, unmatchable! I loved the entire trip! It's hard to believe that I was flying home at about this time one week ago. It was a life-changing experience. Even Doug has said that he sees it! SO grateful!
It's been a crazy week. Coming home, I had a total case of jet-lag or alcohol-less hangover. I think I'm still a bit sleep deprived. Thankfully, I've been able to rest at my will throughout the week. I got home and slept and slept and slept the first two days. It felt great to be home in my own bed. Life wasted no time "continuing" as soon as I walked in the door. Here's a few things that have happened since I got home...
Start each day with a positive thought!
Following our tour of Ground Zero, Katie still needed to get that Lego set for Jason before we headed back to Brooklyn to gather our things and head to the airport. Our flight did not leave until 7:30PM, so we didn't need to leave for the airport until 5. We still had all afternoon. We decided to just grab a bite to eat on the run. I had pizza. LeAnna grabbed sushi. Isn't she adorable!
Katie ate at McD's because they have a potty! ha! Remember, it's crazy that there are no potties in NY! Doug says that sounds like an opportunity... I'd pass, thank you! Not the best pizza I had in NY, but they had the nummy garlic knots that I grew up eating in Miama, so I brought home half a dozen for the kids and Doug to try. (Poor Katie had to smell them everytime I opened my carry-on bag.) Again, the city... the buildings... it's amazing!
We caught a subway and headed to Upper Manhattan. No sooner than the doors closed, a mariachi band started performing. They were good! I videotaped them singing so Doug could enjoy their music. I love subway performers!
We got to Rockefeller Center and went our separate ways. I had really wanted to see the inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral. It's under construction currently and there was scaffolding all around the outside of the building.
LeAnna and Katie went one way and I headed towards the church, with plans to meet back in a bit. As I turned the corner, I could see that there was a parade taking place on the street between where I was standing and the Cathedral. I'm not even sure how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I was in a crowd of people being herded through "cattle chutes" across the street, while the parade was called to a halt.
I mentioned to a police officer in the street that I wanted to go inside the church. She led me into a different "chute" and the next thing I knew, I was walking up some planks into St. Patricks. Um. Really? I could not believe what I saw next.
Remember, it's Sunday afternoon. And this is a church. And there were people inside. Worshipping. Lighting candles. Kneeling and crossing. And there was a priest. He was speaking latin. And there were people repeating him. In high school, one of my closest friends was from Queens and she was as Italian and as Catholic as could be. I knew these things from time spent with her. But, here was the thing... there were probably a hundred tourists walking around inside the church while people were worshipping!!!! Are you kidding me!?!? I felt terrible! There was no turning back. I had been cattle chuted inside and had to find a way out. Tourists were stepping over people who were praying to take pictures. I walked all the way to the back of the church, which was totally under construction on the inside, as well, with scaffolding and ladders and piles high of building materials. I do confess (no pun intended) that I did sneak a few photos of this magnificent cathedral, but I did it reverently and discreetly and could not get out of there quick enough. Although, a certain part of me wanted to stay, to be seated and enjoy thier worship ceremony. I could not believe my eyes! People being tourists and people worshipping and construction happening all at the same time! I've never felt so disrespectful in my life! Again... I have to say, the building was absolutely breathtaking! I would love to have walked through there for hours when it was in it's pristine condition and when there was no one praying! I was told by a few New Yorkers that people who worship there are used to tourists. Okey dokey then. The church, however, is magnificent, even with scaffolding!
From there, I came out at Saks Fifth Avenue and walked up the street, back to the Rock to meet Katie and LeAnna. Again, I wandered through a maze to get across the street to them while the parade was halted.
We went into the Magnolia Bakery, knowing that our time was coming to an end and we needed to get moving to make that plane. Katie and LeAnna bought me a coffeecake and a current scone and presented it to me outside at the bottom of the Rock and sang, "Happy Birthday" once more. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this wonderful trip, my dream trip, and the fact that I was, indeed, being sung to on my birthday in NEW YORK CITY!!!! It doesn't get any better than that! (Well, the hair could have been a bit better!) This was my last photo in the city.
I took a selfie at the airport, looking like a woman who'd had less than 20 hours of sleep in a week, looking satisfied, a woman who's loved the excitement of the big city all of her life, but a woman who loves even more what was waiting for her at hom!
We caught a subway and then had a car drive us back to the Brownstone, grabbed our luggage which was packed and ready, said our thank yous and good-byes to LeAnna. She was the most incredible hostess! We headed to the airport, being driven by a Mexican driver, who shared his story of 9-11 and living in New York. He was a kind and caring man, my favorite driver of the entire trip.
We arrived at the airport, checked our luggage and Katie grabbed us some food to go while I listened for the boarding call. We literally had about ten minutes before we got on the plane. Good-bye, New York! Good-bye, AMAZING vacation!
I took a selfie at the airport and looked exhausted! I was ready for a nice long nap, a big hug from my sweetheart! However, the next five hours were not quite what I expected.
When we got to our seats, window and center, there was a very large man on the aisle seat. He did not even offer to move for us to be seated. We had to ask him. The flight attendant rolled her eyes at him, as well. We were seated and he never spoke a single word, other than, "Keep this arm rest down." Okey dokey then. He was large. And my rear end isn't tiny. So, it was very uncomfortable as he took his seat and part of mine. That I could live with, but the man turned on his iPad and started watching porn!!! Seriously, Mister? We had a very wonderful flight with little turbulence until coming over the Rocky Mountains. At one point, Katie and I both decided to take turns for a potty break. A five hour flight needs some leg movement and stretching anyway. The man would not move. I finally said, "I'm sorry, but we both need to get out." He was annoyed. Very. I went to the back of the plane and asked if there were any rules about watching porn on a plane where others had to view it as well. She followed me back and made a comment "There's a time and a place." He didn't turn it back on after that. As Katie said, "He was just rude." Yucky and rude.
We had one of the smoothest landest I can ever remember in SLC. Dave was waiting for us. We grabbed our luggage and met him outside. I was ready to be home! I didn't want it to end, but I was ready to see Doug and the kids! And to start getting ready for Liza's visit! It was almost 1 when we got to Dave and Katies, but I opted to keep on and drive home. Liza had said she'd stay up and we could chat while I drove. We talked until I pulled into the driveway and Doug (who had been sleeping, but woke up with the sound of the garage door) was waiting for me at the door with hugs and kisses and a perfectly clean house! We sat up and talked until about 3:30. Doug had arranged to go into work late on Monday morning, so we had a wonderful, uninterrupted visit.
We went to bed and slept a couple of hours until the school alarms started going off. The kids had lots of hugs and kisses, we had prayer and Doug drove them all to school on his way to work. I went back to sleep and slept until 12:15 when the phone rang. I went back to sleep after the call and slept until the alarm for the kids to come home from school went off. I took Quayd to work and the girls went to play. I took another nap and slept until Doug called and said he'd be home in an hour. We had dinner, I gave them their prizes and I went back to sleep for ten more hours. Can you say exhausted!?!
I have a few more thoughts and observations about the trip. It truly was life-changing for me. Some ways, I'll share tomorrow. Others, I'll keep to myself. It was a dream come true... one that I will be eternally grateful to Katie and LeAnna for their kindness, generousity and hospitality!
On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we made our way to the 9-11 Memorial. I've had a very difficult time even wanting to download the photos from my camera to the laptop. I had no idea that this would impact me the way that it did. The pools are beautiful. I love water, in any form, but when you see these pools, they are not just a beautiful piece of architecture. They represent the almost 3000 lives that were lost on that horrid day. The names are carved into the surrounds of the water with lights underneath them. At night, it was an incredible sight.
Occasionally, you would see a white rose inserted into the name of one of the victims. We learned on Sunday morning that those roses were placed in the memorial on the name of the victim on their birthday. This is done by the Memorial staff, not by the family. I'm not sure if that made me feel better or worse.
This tree, we were told, was the one tree left standing and that had survived the fall of the Twin Towers. It's protected and brought a light of hope to all after the catastrophic events of that day.
I could not help but to look up at the new Freedom Tower, which will not even open until next month and see it beyond the top of the tree.
In many of the conversations that I had with New Yorkers, the building of this new Freedom Tower came up. I was amazed at how many people made the same comment, "I'm not sure that I'd want to work in that building. It's almost a sitting duck target... almost as though we are asking to be hit again... almost as though "they" are waiting for their chance to strike again. It was mentioned that there will probably be many offices that remain empty because of this concern/fear. A taxi driver commented, "It will be generations before they are over the fear." I hate to think of Americans being stunted by the "enemy", but I totally get it. The thought occurred to me several times while there, "How safe is this place today?"
The Memorial Museum was closing as we got there, so we opted to return on Sunday, finding it a befitting way to spend our Sabbath morning. I had no idea what would lie ahead. There would be no smiles on Sunday morning because seeing the museum was a far cry different than just seeing the pools and the Freedom Tower... a completely different setting and feeling.
Touring the museum brought total clarity to the horrific nightmare that this disaster was. I am a newshound. When something happens in the world, I'm glued to CNN and reading the internet at the same time, keeping up with the latest. I did not leave my TV for days... until Doug said, "Babe, you have to take a break." But. This. This was nothing like I could have ever dreamed. There has never been one single piece of news footage that could do justice to how horrific this event was. Again, the pools were magnificent, and the tower, spectacular, but inside that museum, it's a completely different environment.
I was amazed at the reverence that was felt in the building. People spoke in a whisper or not at all. There were tears. There was silence.
This wall, where the "Missing" posters were shared made my heart ache. Wedding photos, photos of fathers with babes in their arms... You could literally feel the helplessness of the survivors who were hoping for miracles.
I'd never seen this photo before. It was posted twice, at each level of the Survivor Stairs. A volenteer guide told us some chilling facts about those that were lost that day. It was too horrific to even share.
These are the actual stairs.
This tile wall has a significance. There is one blue tile for each victim who died that day. The color blue was chosen to represent the beautiful blue sky of the morning before the first plane struck. This wall was huge.
This fire truck shocked me. I took a few photos of it, as I walked around it. When I walked all the way to the other end, I realized that this was the front of the engine, not the back as I had assumed. It was not recognizable.
I think that this was one of the most touching moments of the morning for me. I stepped back and took this shot discreetly. There is not walking tour. You roam through the building at your own pace. There are volunteers here and there who will answer your questions if you ask. This little girl was asking a lot of questions. I was moved to tears as the volunteer got down to her level and just answered every question she had. I think that this is the first time it had occurred to me, children will hear about this in history class in years to come, while some will never forget the day that our world was changed. I've wished for 30 years now that I could ask my granddaddy where he was on the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor and what his feelings were. My feelings are recorded and scrapbooked. I think it's important that we all take the time to do that for our posterity.
Inside the huge museum, which is large and spacious, there is an enclosed area that's not marked very well. I've spoken with several people who've been there and did not even know to go inside this part of the museum. This is where it gets very personal and intimate. Outside of this area, it's walls, twisted metal and mechanical debris. But, inside this separate part of the museum is a much more intimate look at the day. As you walk through this massive maze, there are audio bites, projected videos of every moment of the day. It begins with seeing photos of those who were inside the Trade Centers while hearing, overhead, their voice messages that were left to family members, explaining what had happened, saying that they were just fine, that they'd check back when things calmed down and so on. These people never made it out of the building alive. From there, you meander through, viewing the television newscasters sharing that "a" plane had crashed into the Tower. Then the next screen, "another" plane. And throughout the day, the news as it happened. There were artifacts and personal property of the victims, stories on boards and in photos of the victims.
We had been told that we could go through the museum in an hour. I think that a person could spend five or six hours inside this part of the museum alone. As I walked through, I took a few photos, until I overheard a volunteer explaining to another person that photos were not allowed inside this part of the museum. I put my camera away. I won't share them here. I thought about it later. This was about respecting those whose lives were lost. I walked and read and listened and viewed and after about 45 minutes, I was so completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of it all... seeing the personal effects of the victims and listening to story after story of personal experiences... I literally had to get out of there. I was in the middle and walk quickly, through the people, quite a way more through the maze to the exit. By the time I made it to the door, I just wanted to race outside and sob! I called Doug and just wept, telling him how painful this was and how I'd never even begun to have a clue as to how horrific this day was. It had become personal. I felt this overwhelming grief and pain. Doug kept saying, "Just breathe. Take a breath." At that moment, I hated the museum. It was awful. Painful and awful.
I was grateful to see LeAnna shortly after this and to get a text from Katie so that we could all meet back together again. Once I could breathe again and had gained my composure, I was grateful for the experience and glad that I'd seen it all. I would definitely go back to the museum...perhaps it would be less painful now that I am prepared. This was not just about facts and figures and statistics. It's a reality check from what we think we know happened and what really happened that morning. It has literally taken me four days to even look at these photos again. My heart aches for those who were there, who's loved ones were there. Our world changed forever that day. But, for most of us, even with all that the media offers, I know that we can't even begin to imagine what it was really like. This was a life-changing paradigm shift for me. I was grateful to walk outside, take a several deep breaths, look into those blue skies and see that Freedom Tower, to feel like I could breathe again.
I've decided that I'll write a separate post completely about Ground Zero. I, literally can't make myself go there without tears. It was seriously one of the most emotional experiences of my life. So, I will continue with our Day four, which followed spending an hour or more just walking around the original site of the World Trade Centers.
We took a subway and came right up at 5th Avenue, as in home of Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, St. Patricks Cathedral and many other familiar sites.
Our first challenge was to find a bathroom! Remember, this was after being rejected by the pizza brothers and the Burger Kng police 2 hours earlier! We went into an awesome store that I knew my girls would have gone crazy over! I took a short video panaramic of the store and texted it to them. Grace texted back, "I want to go there!" and ZJ texted, "WOW! That mall is awesome!" It was a store, not a mall. Both girls feel the need to go to NYC for some a serious shopping trip. The store was pretty fabulous... and their bathroom was lovely and we were welcome there without buying a $90 hoodie!
We passed Radio City Music Hall and the NBC studios are more in this area. The people! The city never sleeps, I'm convinced!
Once we were at the Rockefeller Center, we took a ton of pictures. Katie was excited to buy Jason a gift from the giant Lego Store but they were closing, so we decided to come back the next day. I loved being at this site and could only imagine the Christmas tree in December. I decided right then and there that my next trip (and there will be a next trip) to New York City will be in December to see all the lights and the ice skaters. A new item on my bucket list! YAY!
We had planned to go to the top of the Rock and see the city from above but it was late and we were hungry, so we stood at the bottom of the rock. Next trip!
As we walked up the street, Katie discovered Dylans Candy Bar, which is a seriously awesome candy shop, owned by Ralph Lauren's daughter. This store is huge! Three stories of nothing but candy... walls of candy, islands of candy, every kind of candy in the world!
My favorite part of our time in the store was the music playing... all loud and fun... Ghostbusters, Adams Family, Michael Jackson Thriller... When Thriller came on, there was a little black girl, about ten years old, and she entertained me through the whole song, dancing around the candy. I told her that she was really good and she ate it up, dancing even more. Too cute! A limo of teens came into the store, all dressed in formals, celebrating one girls 16th birthday. The birthday girl was wearing sweats and a tiara?? Go figure? There was a transvestite checker that was absolutely beautiful! Those legs! Only in NY? Being that my kids are on the $100 no candy chaallenge, I bought myself some buttered popcorn jelly bellies and went outside to sit down, give my foot a break and do some people watching. There was a gorgeous couple, an Asiant girl and a black man, both wo were stunning to look at and dressed to the nines. I'd noticed them inside and they came out right after me. Her six inch shoe was having issues, so they'd stepped outside to try to fix it. I told them how beautiful they were together and we started visiting. They were all dressed up to celebrate their first anniversary as a dating couple. We had a nice visit before they left and I was thrilled to have made some more NYC friends. Honestly, the people were my favorite part of the trip. I wanted to ask a million questions. No one could ever convince me that New Yorkers are anything but friendly! I met some amazing people... as long as I didn't try to use their potty without purchasing first!
I'd asked a week earlier on Facebook where were the don't miss hotspots in New York and Serendipity was one of the suggestions. Serendipity is one of my favorite chic flicks! As we were trying to decide what we could fit into our last twenty-four hours, LeAnna suggested Serendipity too! Katie and I said, "Let's do it!" While we were at the Candy Bar, LeAnna made a reservation for us. Serendipity was just up the block.
We sat outside for quite a while, people watching, talking about the movie and just enjoying the fun atmosphere. An hour later, at 11:15PM, we were invited into the most quaint little restaurant, named Serendipity, long before the movie. It's actually an ice cream parlor. Our server was patient with us as we debated and debated over what to have... the menu was so versatile. Finally, on his third attempt to see if we were ready, I told him to surprise me. I mentioned three items on the menu that looked fabulous and said, "I'll love whatever you bring me." Holy cow! When our meals were served, my plate was huge and I was having meatloaf for my midnight birthday dinner! It was two slices, the size of two ribeye steaks and half a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy, following a wonderful salad. The man at the table next to us said, "Oh, I'm totally jealous." I was embarrassed by the size of it and said, "I didn't order it! I let the server choose!" The server added, "It's what I had for lunch yesterday and it's delicious!" And it was! I'm not even a big meatloaf fan, but this was, by far, the best meatloaf I've ever tasted. And no. I did not eat it all!
Katie ordered a BLT that literally had a pound of bacon on it. LeAnna and I were half-way done before she had even figured out and built her sandwich in a way that it was possible to eat it. It was not as pleasant of an experience for her.
All the while during dinner, we were looking at the magnificent desserts being carried around our table. Serendipity is known for their ice cream and we could definitely see why.
The man who had spoken to us about my meatloaf was with his wife, and six teenage girls, celebrating his daughter's birthday. Our dessert was $18, so this man spent almost $200 on dessert for these girls. What an exciting memory that would be for a young girl. It was just as exciting of a memory for this 56 year young girl! When they brought my birthday dessert, I could not believe my eyes!
The menu description: The Insanity Sundae (Go Nuts!): Southern pecan pie with hot fudge, butter pecan ice cream (my favorite), maple walnut topping, whipped cream and almond slices. The server brought it, and a frozen hot chocolate, and everyone on the entire floor sang "Happy Birthday" to me. It was 12:45AM, so it was officially my birthday. I could not have been happier. The three of us did not come even close to finishing either dessert, but it was certainly divine!
As were getting the check, Liza texted, "Are you still up?" I wrote back that not only were we up, we were having dessert at Serendipity and still had over an hour on the subway to get home. I loved sharing the moments with her, throughout my trip!
The subway was much fuller on the way home because it was the weekend, even though it was almost 2AM when we got off. That last little walk home felt heavenly after such a hearty meal at such a late hour, but literally, I wanted to be carried. My foot was telling me, "ENOUGH!" but everything else in me was saying, "One more day!!!"
I climbed into bed at about ten after 3 and noticed that Doug had sent me a Happy Birthday text while I was in the subway. What a wonderful way to begin my birthday... Serendipity and messages from Liza and Doug. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 3:22AM. Z~Z~Z~Z~Z~Z~Z~Z~Z~Z~Z~Z
When we woke up in upstate NY, it was still raining. I think, even harder. The wind had howled all night long. But, it was daylight and we could see! Once on the highway, we so glad that we had waited. The four hour drive, even in the fierce rain, was absolutely breathtaking! The leaves were brilliant yellows and golds and browns and reds, brilliant! There was a mist over the mountains and lots of foggy spots, which enhanced the mountainsides even more.
Eastern mountains are so different than the west. Both are beautiful in their own ways. The east has more of the rolling hills with mountains surrounding, where the west has the huge Rocky Mountains and flat valleys. The drive was incredible, even though it was a bit intense with the wipers on high all the way. LeAnna drove like a pro both in the mountains and the city when we returned!
When we got back into Brooklyn, we didn't want to waste a minute and got ready quickly to head back into the city. It was nice to still have the rental car because that was one less subway ride! I really found the subways fascinating and didn't mind riding them at all... actually, I could feel that rocking feeling all night long on our late nights and I quite enjoyed the subway performers! HOWEVER, the bazillion stairs were killer on my foot! Holy cow! With Ibuprofen 800s and lots of stops, I survived!
Doug's biggest concern every time we talked on the phone was how my foot was handling it... The stairs were the worst...30 steps down to one level and then back up another 20 steps then down another to the next platform. NO WONDER New Yorkers all looks so good! Had it not been for my dang foot, I'd have LOVED all that fun exercise! I put my foot up every chance I could! I was determined to endure and appreciated Katie and LeAnna's patience. LeAnna was so cute. She'd slow down, patiently wait and say, "Dang Chili's!" or "Dang that bathroom door!" Like I told Doug, "This is my life now. I can sit and let it pass by or deal with the pain and keep enjoying it. Which do you think I am going to do?" I wasn't going to miss this trip for anything!
I digress. The best news of the day was that while we went inside to drop off our luggage and freshen up, the rain disappeared, the skies opened and for the first time since we'd landed at JFK, the skies were blue and beautiful and it remained that way for the rest of our trip! LeAnna drove us into the city from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, into the financial district and Wall Street.
The Skyline is magnificent!
Having the car made for a much quicker arrival. LeAnna dropped us off at the Staten Island Ferry so that we could see the Statue of Liberty. She assured us that we could find Ground Zero all by ourselves from there when we were done while she returned the rental car in New Jersey.
Katie and I made it just in time for the ferry with only a few moments to wait. We went straight to the bow of the boat and had a beautiful view, as well as that lovely oceanic breeze in our faces! That breeze didn't do much for our hair in photos, but it was perfect day for pictures and the thrill! I LOVE THE WATER!
The Statue was smaller than I'd imagined. Most everything in the city was larger, but Lady Liberty was really not nearly as big as I'd expected. We enjoyed watching the boats in the harbor around it, the wind in our faces and we had a more serious conversation during the half hour trip each direction.
When we arrived back at Battery Park, we walked outside and met a very nice young black man who worked for one of the double-decker bus tour companies. We visited with him and the guy was so sweet. The ride was $80. He told us that it wasn't worth it for us to take the bus because it was a two-day pass and we'd never get our money's worth out of it. Instead, he pointed out a few hot spots from famous movies that were within our sight and sent us on our way down the the Wall Street Bull before heading to Ground Zero. I was impressed with the guy for being straight with us. He shook our hands and even walked down the street with us.
When we came up to the Bull, there were a ton of people there taking pictures of it. I thought it was rather odd to see the people taking pictures of themselves holding the bull's, shall we say, "Man parts". Really? Whatever flips your trigger, I guess? Katie and I opted just to get a shot of the whole bull.
Just beyond the Bull was a Green Army Man "statue", standing there on a "green puddle of paint dripping off his boots", just like the little toy army guys that kids play with. It was so lifelike!
All of a sudden, a little Asian girl went up to the statue and it moved!!! I've somehow missed the memo about Green Army Guy. I'd never head of him. Katie said he'd been in movies. This guy was painted totally green (like the Blue Man Group guys). He had tiny little slits for his eyes, nostril and mouth. That was it. He moved and I about jumped out of my skin. If you stood on one foot, he stood on one foot. He did whatever you did. People took turns having photos taken with him in some funky poses and everyone gave him cash after their photo. He was awesome!
This was one of the things I was move impressed with about New Yorkers. They are very innovative. I'd expected to see more homeless people. Other than two sitting with dogs and signs asking for money, and one man burrowed into a sleeping bag down in the subway (Can you say HOT AND SMELLY?), I did not see any other people just asking for handouts. There were subway performers, people selling bottled water, street dancers, all sorts of creative ways to make money without asking. I found that quite impressive.
As we headed up Wall Street, we passed a magnificent cemetery. I LOVE cemeteries and could have walked through this one for hours. The headstones were fascinating.
As we got closer, we started to see more "artifacts" from the 9-11. It was almost eerie to walk these streets, knowing all that had happened that beautiful September morning thirteen years ago. There was a sense of sadness for me, as I remembered people running in the opposite direction from those huge plumes of smoke and dust and ash. I hate 9-11.
As we turned off Wall Street to head down toward the 9-11 Memorial, there was a street market. We were supposed to meet LeAnna at Ground Zero, but Katie called and told her that we'd found some fun little shopping places. Katie shopped a lot during the trip, along the way. I bought my little take-home gifts for the family here. The girls got some funky over the shoulder bags/backpacks. Quayd got a pair of I HEART NY boxers. Doug's gift was more special...to be talked about later. I ended up getting a few other little things, even a Christmas gift or two.
While Katie and LeAnna continued to shop, I saw a police officer standing there just keeping his eyes open for anything and everything. Again, one of my biggest goals was to talk with the people of New York and get a real feel for them. This officer was very friendly and we had a good ten minute visit. Being only one block away from Ground Zero, it naturally came up in the conversation. I can't imagine these people, who we know knew people who were lost in that tragedy, having to work and revisit that tragedy every day, all these years later. The officer, another awesome Italian was so kind. I thanked him for protecting us all! He even agreed to let me take his picture! Have I mentioned that I love New Yorkers!? Well... most of them!
One thing that we learned the hard way... People in NYC don't care if you have to go potty! There are NOOOOOOOOO public bathrooms! They are there, but they are not for the public. Katie ran in to a Burger King on the corner and they told her that she had to buy something first! I found a pizza place while Katie was shopping and I had to tinkle! BAD! We'd planned on meeting and getting pizza after she was done, so I thought I'd just go inside, use the potty and wait. I had three men screaming at me, "WHERE ARE YOU GOING!!?!??!? WHAT ARE YOU DOIN!!?!?!?!? GET BACK HERE IN LINE!!!" I didn't even realize that they were talking to me. I was just walking through the dining area. This was a "fast food" not a sit down fancy restaurant! I said, "I'm going to the bathroom and then meeting my friends for pizza." The one guy, who'd followed me halfway to the back said, "YOU ORDER FIRST, THEN YOU GO to THE BATHROOM!" He was so rude about it that I said, "Wow! We can just get our pizza around the corner. Thanks, anyway!" FOR RUDE!!! I left. I was stunned. Later, I thought about it. I get it. If every person who goes to Ground Zero decides to go potty in their pizza place without buying, they'd spend more on toilet paper than food! BUT, did they have to be so rude about it? Live and learn. One of the VERY few negative experiences the whole trip. By the way, the pizza around the corner was delectible!!!
While I was upsetting the pizza guys, Katie and LeAnna walked down to the firestation, Ladder Ten, on the corner, directly across from the 9-11 Memorial. Katie had promised her brother-in-law a great photo of a NY fire truck for his collection. Ironically, a fireman opened the door, invited these two beautiful women, Katie and LeAnna, inside and gave them a real tour. Katie's camera battery had died, so she'd taken mine and had some great pix!
This is the station directly across the street from the World Trade Center Square. Many of the stories that we know are of this station.
There were many times when I'd just walk off and do my own thing, so that Katie and LeAnna had some sister time. One of these times, was a half hour that turned out to be the most powerful 30 minutes of my entire trip. A few doors from the firestation, standing and holding a huge glass door open was a beautiful black man with long cornrows that reached his lower back. He had gentle eyes and a beautiful smile. Me... shy person that I am... said, "Oh my word, you are a beautiful human being!" He thanked me with a beautiful accent. I asked him where he was from and he said, "Balize." We began a 30 minute conversation that I will never forget for the rest of my life. He blinked, dangit, but he was indeed, a magnificent looking man.
Me, always asking questions... one thing led to another. In the course of the conversation, I had discovered that he was married, had a 13 year old daughter, had been in America/NYC for 15 years and he'd worked here for all those years as a doorman. It was after discussing the fact that after fifteen years, I commented that he was probably like family to the residents of this building. As the words came out of my mouth, I realized... 15 years. 9-11 was thirteen years ago. He saw it in my eyes. I saw it in his. I asked, "Were you working here then?" Yes. "Were you hear that morning?" Yes. He then told me his experience and I literally wept as he shared. I can't even go there on the blog, but it was one of the most emotional stories I've ever heard. He saw it all... up close and personal. As the first plane hit the Tower, the door at his building shattered. He raced to the corner to see what was happening and while standing outside, literally, he was under the second plane, as it flew over him and into the second tower. Until that moment, no one knew that it was not an accident. From that moment on, the fear of "what if there's another? Which building? Where?" and then... the collapsing. Oh my gosh. I have chills just rethinking it. He shared some pretty horrific and frightening memories. Before we parted, I took his photo, shook his hands and called him "my friend". This experience with my new friend, Curtis, was truly a gift that I'll cherish. I walked away from Curtis and said a prayer of thanksgiving for meeting Curtis and for his kindness in sharing that very personal experience.
I met Katie and LeAnna in the gift shop and we walked to Ground Zero Memorial Pools. I think I'll stop here and continue later with one single post about the 9-11 Memorial. It was such an emotional experience that it doesn't feel right to talk fun and 9-11 in the same breath. To be continued.
When I woke up in the hotel that morning, the room was dark and empty! Katie and LeeAnna had gotten up, gotten dressed and went down for breakfast and I never heard a sound! Apparently, I needed the sleep. I was thankful for the rest! A few minutes later, they came back into the room with a waffle and some fresh fruit for me. We got ready for the day, taking our time, then headed to Palmyra.
Dave has an aunt, his dad's sister, who lives in Palmyra. Dave never really got to know her, but, he just adores her. She's 88 years old and goes by the name of "Happy". Katie hadn't seen her in 20 years and had only met her once, but we wanted to say hello to her while we were near. WHAT A DELIGHT! She's not LDS, but a very religious woman and she loves the Mormons. We had the best visit! This sweet woman is just awesome! She had photos everywhere and books and books of family history. She's lived in Palmyra for decades and loves the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the area. She told us everything about the church history sites that we had come to visit. We loved every minute of our visit.
I took lots of photos of some of the family history documents that she had for Dave and Katie while she prepared us a picnic. When we were ready to go, she handed us the box which included a 8-pack of the little mini-cans of diet coke, ham and cheese sandwiches, bananas, grapes, a bowl of fresh cut cantelope, a package of Halloween Oreos, coleslaw. She invited us to come back for dinner an d we offered to take her out for dinner, but she was content to stay home. What a sweetheart! Her name, Happy, was legit!
Our first tour site was at the Print Shop where the first 5000 Books of Mormon were printed. We walked in through the back door and were greeted by a senior male missionary who's name badge was a Cache Valley name. When I mentioned, "That's a Hyde Park, Utah name," this cute little sister missionary, who was seated in the room behind on the floor with a few other Sisters, leaped up and ran out to the desk! "Hyde Park!? Are you from Hyde Park!?" I responded, "No, I'm from Smithfield, about three miles north." She said, "I'm from Smithfield!!!" It turned out that she was the next door neighbor of Zaylee's foster family! She was a delight. We "friended" on Facebook so that I could share her photo with people in our old stake and her family. Kind of a fun experience!
She gave us a wonderful tour of the old Printing Press, where the first 5000 Books of Mormon were published. It was pretty interesting to see how this book came to be and to know some of the stories of what had gone into the effort. I had no idea, but the first Books of Mormon sold for $1.75, while others cost five cents. That's a lot of money to pay for a book that you were dubious about to begin with. I love the stories of the beginnings of the Church history!
After taking a few pictures, we headed to the Smith Farm a mile or two away from town. We decided to have Aunt Happy's picnic before taking the tour. It was so delish. It's funny that we are eating in all these fancy NYC restaurants and a simple ham and cheese sandwich tasted so divine! We had a few good laughs over a bee that was chasing Katie. The wind was blowing harder than I could even begin to describe.
We were told by a sister missionary at the farm said she had never seen it so windy in her seventeen months of serving there. We held on to our lunches like nothing else.
After lunch, we went inside the visitor center and began the tour. First, we visited the old Smith Farm log cabin. I have toured Kirtland, Ohio, Nauvoo, Illinois, all of the Utah pioneer visitors centers and never have I seen a cabin of it's like. It was much larger than I expected. The feelings that I had and thoughts while taking the tour were overwhelming. Knowing all that had happened here to Joseph and his family was humbling.
A moment that really stands out in my mind... The sister opened the back door to the cabin, where it overlooks the groves of trees behind, and it touched my heart to be in the same proximity of such sacred experiences.
Following the cabin, we walked to the larger Smith Home, which still bears the original walls and floors. I loved this home! I love Church History and love seeing the actual places so much. I wanted to soak in every inch of the home. The paint whitewash is the original, as were the floors. Just awesome!
We also toured the Brigham Young threshing barn which has been moved to Palmyra and rebuilt there, as well as a cooper shop. The stories told about these places are fascinating.
The wind continued to blow and there was a sign at the entrance to the path that leads out to the grove, warning that the grove is closed during high winds. We later learned that after we had entered, they closed the tour path. However, once we were inside the trees, it was calm as could be.
This was a place that I have wanted to visit since I was fourteen years old and I was finally there! Bucket List: Sacred Grove - CHECK! As we went into the grove, were were basically alone. I think that there were three other people in the grove that afternoon. One man alone and a couple that we never saw until the very end. I was so glad to be alone here. Katie went one way, LeeAnna went another and I was on my own until we met at the very end of the path.
We were there for over an hour and, without sharing the details, I will say that it was, indeed, a sacred experience of my own to always cherish! We met up near the end of the trails and walked together out of the grove, sharing a few of our thoughts while inside.
We realized that we were racing the clock. It was late afternoon and we still had a five and a half hour drive ahead of us, so we visited the LDS Temple and Hill Cumorah and the visitors center for just a short bit and were on our way. Rain was starting to fall and it was getting dark, so we decided we'd head back to NyC.
By 8PM, we found a restaurant in Syracuse called DelMonicos. It was an italian steak house. We had looked and looked for someplace to eat and had passed this place at the beginning of our search. Finally, we turned back around and we were so glad that we did! Dinner was wonderful. The building was very nice. All of the servers were black mini skirts with black lacy stockings, white shirts and black vests. The prices were high, like all food in NY. The walls had charicatures of all of the famous italians from Dean Martin to Leonardo DeCaprico. I also loved that Dean Martin was singing in the background! We all decided to be brave with our menu choices. I ordered the lasagna. It was called "One Pound Lasagna" and I did ask first if I could get a smaller portion. Not an option. So, we all agreed to share with each other. It was huuuuuge. Even after sharing with Katie and LeAnna having a bite or two, there was still half of the plate full left at the end.
In the photo, you can see that it's a full size oval dinner plate. You can see the salad in the background. Isn't that insane! It was divine!
We left Syracuse and it was pouring the rain. Seriously pouring and the wind was blowing so hard that the rental car was all over the road. After about twenty minutes on the freeway, Katie said that she had a bad feeling about us continuing on. We still had four hours of driving ahead of us and it was after nine oclock. We all agreed that it would be nice to get some real sleep and head out early in the morning.
Using our phones and iPad, we called around ahead looking for a hotel, only to find that there were no vacancies in the little town because there was an Irish Dance Festival. Only, it was so odd! We got off that exit and the town was D-E-A-D. The streets were filled with dark homes. There was no one driving. It was like the twilight zone! Quietest Irish Dance Festival we ever heard of! LeeAnna found one last number to try calling and they still had vacancies. Of course they did... the rooms were $179 a night! And it was 10PM!! At that point, we were all so tired, we just wanted a room! I said, "I'll negotiate!" Katie and I walked inside and asked this sweet Indian woman (who we decided was the owner later) if that was the best she could do and she gave us a whole ten dollars off! Some negotiator! Katie and I laughed over that. It was a beautiful brand new, three month old Best Western. The owner told us that we could use the pool even though it was after hours. We were just happy to have a place to lay our heads. We never made it back to the pool. I blogged, they slept, I showered and crawled into bed just before 3 while the wind continued to howl and the rain hit the windows all night long. Another late night, but another fantastic day! Perfect!
We were awake at 8:30,feeling quite refreshed after five hours of sleep and ready to go! We also were packed and ready to take our journey, later in the day, to upper New York State for our Church History experience. Since we were traveling with luggage, we had a car pick us up again and headed into the city! We had to be in line for our priority seating at the TV cooking show, "The Chew". The driver took us to a subway entrance and we got right on the subway. It was MUCH busier this early in the morning than it had been in the middle of the night. Lots more people on the train! We rode over the Manhattan bridge on the sub and could see the skyline! I was so excited!
On our ride into the city with so many people on the subway was more of what I'd always imagined it to be. As we got onto the last subway, three black men got on with us. One man, very friendly said, quite loudly, "Good morning, people! It's a beeeeautiful day in the city!" I was surprised at how loud he was! Most people didn't even react! Seriously? How do you not look at this guy!? And out of nowhere he started, along with the other two gentlemen, singing in beautiful harmony, "I'm gonna let it shine!" WOW! They were wonderful! I could have stayed on the subway with them for a while longer. LeeAnna reached into her wallet and gave them some money. They gave fist pumps to all three of us as we left the subway and said, "Have a great day!" with mega-enthusiasm! Apparently, subway performers are quite common. (I visited with one of the interns at The Chew and she told me that for the tourists, this is exciting and impressive but for the New Yorkers on their way to work, "We just want them to shut up and leave us alone." I get it, but I don't think I'd ever tire of three fun men singing to brighten my morning on the way to work! Awesome! (I got to the point that I actually hoped for subway performers. I quite liked them.)
We came out of the subway and looked up, just across the street in front of us and there was the Manhattan LDS Temple. I saw the beautiful statue of the Angel Moroni on the top of that corner building and started to cry! It was just an overwhelming feeling to see, in the midst of all this hubbub and excitement, a reminder of all that matters most to me - family, faith, God. Loved it! We crossed Broadway and went inside the LDS Building. This building, not only houses the temple, but two LDS Chapels, a Distribution Center, many classes, a cultural hall... and so on. Multi-purpose building! We took our luggage upstairs, found a specific place and left it there so that we could spend the rest of the day in the city.
We walked a few blocks to the ABC studios. "Kelly and Michael" was just ending. We could see inside the set as they opened the doors, which was fun. Next door is "the Chew" studios and next to that is "The View". The line/wait was two hours long. We had priority tickets and were actually among the first seated, but it was quite the wait.
Waiting in line on 42nd Street was one of my favorite parts of the city. Across the street on this quaint little quiet side street, there are the most beautiful high-rise buildings... obviously homes/apartments with the most incredible architecture. We stood in that line for over an hour and everytime I looked again at a building, I'd see new intricate designs on the building. I was in heaven! I want to go back to NYC with my camera and a blank agenda for about a month and do nothing but walk down the streets and take photos of the doors and architecture. It was incredible.
After an hour or so, we were led inside the building, about ten people at a time, went through the metal detectors, had security checks in our purses and bags, then we were sent into a waiting room. There was seating, a table with granola bars and bottled water for all of the guests and another lonnnnnng wait. I was able to visit with one of the producer interns, Katrina, she was adorable, for much of the time. (One of my goals for the trip was to talk with as many New Yorkers as possible.) After what felt like eternity, we were seated inside the studio.
Oh, have I mentioned that there was a light mist in the air most of the time. My hair. I gave up trying. Humidity and my hair = frizz and curl!
The Chew Studio seats about 150 guests at a time (I think I read that on a sign somewhere) and there is not a bad seat in the house. Oh my word, it studio was filled with the scent of steak grilling and all sorts of other foods that was being prepared for the show... the most delectable scents! The warm-up guy was pretty funny. Very NY. He was quick witted and fast thinking. He had us singing and clapping and laughing instantly. As each of the stars came out, they were introduced. Lots of cheering and applause. They had us applaud loudly. Then quietly. Then calmly. Then laugh. Then laugh hard for 20 second and clap... and so on. all of the audience footage is filmed before the show. We were told that our show will air on October 15th.
The cast/hosts of the show came out one by one. I've never been a regular Chew viewer, even though I tiVo record it every day. The topic for the day was "weekday Gourmet". As the show began, I counted 23 people who would run out on the stage in between commercials. Michael Symon spilled some broth all over the flattop stove while cooking the sauce to go over the steak. He didn't even flinch and kept cooking. As soon as the commercial break, the staff was right on it, cleaning that stovetop. During Mario Batali's segment, they were wiping and making everything look great off camera. During commercials, they powdered the shine on Michael's head. Carla was the most interactie with the audience... she came into the audience and danced and chatted. Michael actually brought a few plates of extra food into the audience. The "handler" kept us laughing and cheering. Michael and Clinton Kelly also visited with the guest a bit. Daphne had no interaction with the audience. She actually didn't interact much with anyone, not even the hosts. Maybe she had something else on her mind or had had a bad morning. It was a high energy show. A fun experience.
I've decided that, on the day that the show airs, October 15th (or the next night since the 15th is Quayd's birthday), I will prepare the food that was prepared on the show on the day for our family dinner, so that my family can experience the scents that we did AND so that we can taste it! It smelled divine!
We walked outside the studio, back onto 42nd Street and just is Central Park. Bucket List: Central Park: CHECK! We took a walk into the park, saw Tavern on the Green, took a ton of pix.
I was happy to see a carriage go by. I have always wanted to ride a carriage in Central Park but I want to do that with Doug, so it wasn't even tempting.
Central Park is huge! It was so interesting to walk from the hustle and bustle of the concrete city into this beautiful, quiet, green and lush park. We took a ton of pix and just enjoyed the peace.
We followed this little guy around our walk. The squirrels are so different than our little chipmunk kind guys in the west.
Could Katie be any cuter?
Following the park, we walked through the city and checked out some of the many lovely shops. On the way to Broadway, the doors! OH, the doors and these Brownstones!
I was grateful that Katie wanted to do some shopping, for it gave me a chance to sit and rest my foot and meet some great people! People watcher that I am, I loved being able to find a place to sit outside and just watch the people, chat here and there with a few. Awesome! I love New Yorkers!
We visited the Magnolia Bakery and had to have a treat. There was a television crew filming while we were there. This was something that we saw several places. People didn't pay much attention to it. The cakes and pastries and muffins were beautiful! I got a Key Lime cheesecake (large cupcake size)... beautiful! Look at these cakes!
We had a wonderful experience in Sabon, which is a store filled with natural soaps and potions. Very earthy and natural. Look at this beautiful "sink" in the center. A sweet young gal introduced us to some beautiful fragrances where we chose which we wanted to wash our hands and give them a gentle treatment of Lovely experience.
We peeked in and out of several little shops and boutiques. I was more interested in the architecture than the shopping. Did I mention that I love those doors!
We were getting hungry for real food, especially after The Chew, so we started looking for a place to eat lunch. We passed italian, mediteranean, asian, but nothing sounded "right" yet. When we were at the intersection of Broadway and across from the , we found "the Smith", which had an outdoor/right on the sidewalk dining. Perfect!
We were seated and served sparkling water or just chilled in wine bottles, linen napkins, just very "upscale". It was lovely! The menu was pretty pricey, but oh, my! We ordered two appetizers - friend green beans and fried portabella mushrooms, served with a ranch and some spicy sauce. WOW! Mushrooms make me almost as happy as cream cheese!
The menu selections included lots of things that left you reading the description before you have a clue what it is. Everything sounded wonderful! However, the people at the table next to us ordered cheeseburgers. Now that sounds funny, but you had to see them. WOW!!! They looked so good that all three of us ordered one and they were divine! We sat there watching the traffic and the people and just took all of the city in! I think just relaxing over lunch was my favorite part of that whole day.
After our lunch, we walked a block or two to the LDS Temple/Church building, grabbed our luggage and were ready to head to upstate New York for our day in Palmyra. Watching LeeAnna hail a taxi is fun! She's got chutzpah and our next adventure absolutely showed it! But first...
I decided that I needed to hail a taxi myself so that Katie could get a picture and I could then send Liza a text that said, "I hail!" (One of our favorite movies ever is What about Bob? In the movie, there's a scene where he says, "I sail, with a boat, on the water....." It's been years and we still laugh so hard! So, I sent Liza the text and picture, "I hail!" She immediately texted back, getting it completely, "Ahoy!!! You hail!!!! Like on the street with the cab in the city!!!!! AHOY!!!!" It made my day! I loved sharing videos, photos and texts with Liza and Doug the entire trip. so that they could share the moments, in a way, with me too.
We went into the LDS building and, while Katie and LeeAnna walked around a few minutes, I found a quiet hallway, layed down on a sofa and put my foot up in the air. No sooner than I to it up, a sister came to me and said I had to put it down. She was forgiving after my explanatiion and let me do it anyway.
Our next adventure was absolutely WILD! After LeeAnna's attempts to hail several taxi, and being ready to get on the road to Palmyra, LeeAnna decided to just hail a black car. Black cars are different than yellow taxi's. They have a flat rate whereas taxis are metered rides. In Brooklyn, where LeeAnna lives, she rides in the black cars more than taxi's. This whole transportation in NYC is so fascinating. You walk as much as you can, then grab a taxi to get you to another stop, hop out at a subway entrance, ride the subway a bit, come up and take another taxi. Whatever it takes to get you there. Transportation in the city is insanely expensive! It cost over $130 on the first day to get around!
ANYWAY... we hop into a black car and this very chatty foriegn driver starts talking. ANd talking. AND TALKING. He was non-stop talk. He asked where we were from then went on and on about us being Mormons, how many wives did our husbands have, he went on about being submissive and then he got out of control and starting talking sexually and extremely inappropriate for a stranger who was working to speak to his customers. He was immediately shut down by all three of us, then he went on about different topics. NON STOP TALKING.
This was bad enough, but his driving! OH MY WORD!!!! I honestly thought "I am going to die in NYC!" He passed on the left and right, in places that were not lanes, pulled in front of busses who had no choice but to slam their brakes to stop...he wove in and out, gunned it and slammed the brakes, OH MY WORD!!!! It was rush hour and the traffic was non-stop, but he managed to weave around in and between places that were designated not to be driven in. He did everything but drive on the sidewalks and I thought, a couple of times, that he was going to do that! It was the wildest ride of my LIFE!
As we were getting near the subway station, LeeAnna asked how much it would be. $35! THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS to ride one mile! She said, "A taxi would have cost about $12." He argued that he got us there fast and on and on. She didn't let up and told him that he was taking advantage of us. Our super friendly cabdriver became an instant jerk! Of course, later, we thought of a thousand different things... like telling him that we'd call his company and tell them how inappropriate he had been in his conversation. (I think that the driving is expected, although, LeeAnna agreed that he was one of her wilder taxi rides.) It was really a sad joke... but it gave us something to talk about and laugh about later. Honestly, the only negative experience in the city. Other than him, to the this point, everyone has been very friendly.
We got out of his car, grabbed our luggage and were literally fifteen feet from the entrance to the subway that would take us to New Jersey (basically across the river). LeeAnna had rented a car in Jersey. The subway was solid packed, as in sardine style, with people getting off work at 5PM. We were way behind schedule but not too concerned about it, because as we said many times, "We're on vacation!"
When we got to New Jersey, we picked up the rental car at a huge mall. Rather than walk through the mall, I opted to sit outside and peoplewatch with my foot up on our luggage. Katie and LeeAnna were gone for about 45 minutes and I called Doug to visit with him about the day while watching all of the people come off the subway and walking into the mall. This melting pot of the USA is filled with some very beautiful people! I enjoyed the time on the phone with Doug and alone in my thoughts.
Our drive was long! It was dark when we started and in my mind, we had a two hour drive ahead of us. I was imagining a drive from Logan to Provo-ish. However, it was more like a drive from Logan to St. George. Five and a half hours. We talked a lot. Katie napped. I wrote the first blog entry on my iPad to later insert photos in the hotel room. LeeAnna listened to some fun music and a podcast or two. I love her taste in music and found some new music for Doug and I to enjoy together when I get home! Sweet!
It was 1AM when we arrived at the Hampton Inn in Victor NY. We'd had such a late and large lunch that we made one munchie stop on the way and called it good. While Katie and LeeAnna got ready for bed, I blogged and tryed to wind down some before I could fall asleep. It was about 2:30, the last time I looked at the clock! Another wonderful day filled with exciting new experiences! LOVE IT!!!
I'm still having computer issues and had more pix but giving up tonight. I'll add more later!