Monday, January 15, 2018

Biggest Event of 2017

I don't have any other pictures from this big day.

Can you believe these are all ours?

Makayla joined our family on December 28th, and it was a perfect few days, aside from the migraine that felled me just before the wedding dinner on the 27th (happened at Heidi's dinner, too. I don't get migraines very often--why on weddings?).

We had 80+ people over for Mexican food the night before and housed 15 additional people for a few days before and after the wedding. It was one of the best times ever--late-night games, movies, long talks, and food food food!

Makayla's grandfather performed their ceremony, and it was one of the most beautiful I've ever attended. How tender to have your grandpa who's known you every day of your entire life marry you? I felt very privileged to be there that day.

Nothing makes me happier than having all of my family together. I love each of their personalities and quirks, and the more we add to the Sanatorium, the better it gets!

Brad's sister Amy took this picture at the Gilbert temple right after their sealing. I really need to get better at taking pictures with my phone instead of hauling out my big camera. Now that I rarely use the big camera, I have this weird idea that little things aren't worth a crappy phone picture. Another mental block I need to get past--literary and deep blog posts. This is my family record, not a candidate for the Pulitzer. Twoof my goals for 2018--more photos and blog posts.

Especially since this photo is already outdated--Karli and Tucker announced they're expecting a new baby in July!

Friday, January 5, 2018

I'm Off on an Adventure!

Toto, we're not in Arizona any more!

Guess where I am?

I am one of the very lucky few that beat the bomb cyclone along the East Coast and made it to Boston without a flight cancellation! I arrived Wednesday, just as the first flakes were hitting Florida. I got snug in my AirBnB apartment Wednesday night and woke up to snow! It's been years since I was in a big snowstorm, and I would guess this is the biggest I've ever seen in my entire life. I chronicled the increasing depth on the garbage cans outside my window.

Up to fifteen inches in certain places in Boston, the reports say. My unscientific measurements would have to agree.

Yesterday was glorious. I took three stomps through the snow to get food and and to get my bearings, and I felt like a little kid living an adventure story. Ok. It wasn't that exciting, but for an AZ girl, it was pretty close. There were few cars (and even fewer people) out, and those that were brave enough were generally stuck (one car was being dug out by a skinny young guy in a Santa onesie and hat). Snow plows cleared the roads in groups of three, efficiently and regularly keeping the roads accessible. Sidewalks were a different story, and I had to blaze my own trails with my trusty waterproof duck boots and Siri. I may have grinned like a ten-year-old boy out with his first BB gun as I plodded knee deep through the snow.

I had to buy a new coat for such an adventure, since I've lived in AZ way too long to have leftovers from our law school years in Chicago. Who knew that a $54 coat from Amazon would be just as toasty as a high-end coat from The North Face? Temperatures yesterday were beautiful--hovering around 30 degrees with only a few (albeit strong) gusts of wind. The weather made the adventure even better. I was cold, but not miserable. I loved it all.

Today the weather is brutal but clear, and I have yet to venture outside, even though it's almost 2 pm. I can hear the wind howl and I watch the flakes swirl across the plowed streets and now-shoveled walks, knowing that a different experience awaits me today. I've been cocooned with a cup of herbal tea, a blanket across my lap, preparing lesson plans for school next week. It's been a good morning, but this afternoon begins the real adventure and the real reason I'm in Boston--I'm taking a class on the Constitution, preparing for a new seminar I'm teaching. On Monday. Yeah, I cut this one a little close, but I'm excited, and a little bit nervous, to be honest. I haven't been a student inside a regular classroom in almost three decades. Here's hoping I survive the Arctic blast as I walk outside!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Rewrite the Stars 2018

My blog and my yearly goal last year sadly lagged. I missed it. I missed the accountability and I miss the record of my family and activities. I'm hoping to get back to it, not for anyone else this time but just for me and the record I need to leave for my family.

Here's my necklace for 2018, my peridot birthstone with an 8-pointed star. Unlike years past where all focused on a one-word large goal, I do have eight smaller goals I'm working on this year. They all, however, focus on the center and a guiding Star in my life.

As I reflected on 2017 and my first full year of teaching, I recognized one adjustment I need to make for 2018, and it's this:
No matter what else fills my plate or fills my mind or fills my time,my primary job in this world is my family.

Here's to a year of manageable improvement in small steps, a year of accepting limitations and learning from failures, a year of saying no when necessary, and a year of joy surrounded by those people and things that I love most.

*And if you missed the reference in the title, you really NEED to see "The Greatest Showman." A pure delight--just like the joy that comes when seeing a show on Broadway.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Weekend

I'm tired of this.

More than 50 dead last night in Las Vegas.

We had a peaceful, joyful, family-filled weekend listening to General Conference--all of us piled on blankets and pillows with notebooks and treats in the messy family room.

We had dinner with family then a quick visit to the Mesa Temple Visitor's Center to listen to Karli sing songs about love and Christ.

We had a long talk with Lily about her plans for college next year--ACT scores, entrance fees, and how much things really cost in the grown-up world.

We sent kids up to bed with instructions to brush and read while Brad and I took a quick walk around the block in the suddenly balmy evening.

We said prayers, and I was so grateful in mine for an almost perfect weekend surrounded by the people and things that I love.

And I woke up to six notifications on my phone of the shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. Brad and I attended a concert at Mandalay Bay once: Josh Groban. I've walked the halls of that hotel and the Strip, and somehow that makes this shooting even harder for me, makes it more personal and immediate. We drive through Las Vegas on our way to Idaho. Las Vegas is close.

I can't stop thinking about the people and their families, those whose lives changed instantly. I can't stop thinking about how quickly life changes and how we never know when it will be us.

Prayers are different this morning--still full of gratitude for my family and my life, but now they are headlined with prayers for healing. Prayers for this world we live in.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

It's Been Too Long

It's been too long since I really blogged--sat down at the keyboard and let ideas flow and gel and cement.

My life is so good right now. But it's very busy, and time with the computer (let alone time with my thoughts) is generally sucked up with grading or learning more things to teach my students.

Brad generously sent me up here to the cabin last night because he knew I've been missing it. Even though it's just been for a few hours (and for most of them I was thankfully sleeping with the window open and the cool breeze blowing across my bed), I realize how much I needed to sit. To think. To stop.

Elk and deer. Bluebirds and squirrels. And a pair of retired hikers with their trail poles. The only companionship I've had all morning.

It's been nice.

School is much more manageable this year, but I know I still need to do better. I hope that life is settling down now and that I can get into a groove where I remember the necessary more frequently.

Taking more pictures

Watching more football games

Having lunch with friends

Reading bedtime stories

Attending the temple

Pondering and praying

Helping with elementary homework

And sitting just quietly to smell the flowers.

Here's to new resolutions and important moments.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Wisdom from a Sickbed

Mom, after a dash to the toilet with his hands over his mouth: "Sorry you don't feel well, buddy."

Hyrum, from the cozy layers of his bed: "It's okay, Mom. Sooner or later it happens to everybody."

I had to laugh at his wisdom.

Hope he makes it to the bathroom next time, too.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Here We Have Idaho

Something about Idaho recharges my spirit, especially the smells--the smell of rain on freshly cut alfalfa (and even the smell of dairies and horse pastures).

After spending the last week back home (I still call Idaho that, even though I've lived in AZ much longer now), I figured out what some of that something is. It's the people.

Farm people

Rural people

Salt-of-the-earth people

Sensible people

God-fearing people

Patriotic people

Hardworking people

Humble people

Kind people

Good people

Idaho folks as a general rule (like most of the country between the coasts) don't have time to worry about rainbows and statues and what their underlying meanings may be. They're too busy working to pay the bills. They're busy taking care of livestock or their neighbor's sick wife. They're busy picking fresh tomatoes and green beans from their gardens and canning them quick before the first heavy frost comes. They're busy checking maps and forecasts and camp equipment for the big hunts in October.

They're busy living.

They are also sick of city people telling them how to spend their money or their time or how to best utilize their wilderness or how many guns they can own. They are tired of city people legislating change to their lives. City people rarely share rural values like these: Hard work outside or inside is what brings satisfaction, and that hard work often doesn't punch a clock. Family (whether blood or not) is what brings joy. Love of God and country is what brings meaning.

They still salute the flag and tear up when they hear "The Star Spangled Banner." They fly flags from their trucks and from their gutters--and not just on national holidays. They carry guns in the backs of their trucks and on their hips--and not to make a political statement, but because they may need it sometime. They still pray in public--and no one rebukes them.

Ironically, because of how hard life in rural communities can be, these hardworking people have more reasons than most to be bitter. Yet they retain their optimism and conviction that America is the greatest place on earth.

These are the people who voted for Trump in large percentages--for someone who espouses American values and doesn't play by the Washington rules they hate.

And while I may have drifted over a thousand miles from them geographically (and hundreds of miles politically, in some cases), a small portion of my heart always opens again in Idaho, whispering, "Welcome home."