Monday, June 30, 2008

Finally

We got a new piece of furniture today. Well, new to us. After literally years of trying to get a free or virtually free piano, the day has finally come. Thanks to the Shaddix family AND my mother-in-law who was helping them pack. She knows that I have been on the lookout for a long time. We just needed the perfect match of price (free or under $100) the right timing, people to help, a piano that is not too heavy, transportation. Ryan helped his dad and Rod move it in.
My issue with a good, cheap piano is that I know a dozen people who got a piano for free or next to nothing. Because I am genetically preconditioned to always look for the best price, I could not bear to pay when I knew free pianos were out there. So I have passed the assignment to everyone I know: find me a piano. When my home teacher would ask: "Is there any thing I can do for you?" I would answer: "Find me a piano." When my relatives would ask what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday, I answered: "Find me a piano." I had a few that slipped through my fingers: either I wasn't fast enough, I didn't have a truck at the right place or time, it was simply just too heavy, etc.

Now my girls can practice piano. Now their teacher does not have to explain that the keyboard is not adequate for practicing. Now we can enjoy music in our home. Now our house feels like a home. I am really very, very happy.

So ... does anyone need an electronic keyboard?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Momentous Occasions

We had two momentous occasions this week in our family. One was the sealing of my cousin Leyann to her husband and son as they went through the temple for the first time. The second was my nephew Jayme's missionary farewell.

Leyann's ability to go through the temple is an amazing miracle. She is a convert, as is her husband. They live in Missoula, Montana and were one of the family members we visited last summer. Her family history is colorful and is too much of a soap-opera to go through here. Leyann wanted more for her self, her marriage, and especially her son. She knew she was going to continue in the same pattern as the rest of her family unless she made changes. Since my mom is her only relative who is an active member of the church AND the only one with a stable family life, she naturally started gravitating toward investigating the church. It has been a long road. Her son is her pride and joy and just completed 100% attendance in seminary this last year. Leyann is very ill. Her trek to the temple was made more difficult because her health has deteriorated to the point that she is in a wheel chair full time and on oxygen tanks. Just the physical act of getting her to the temple was an ordeal. They were able to go on Thursday to the Spokane, Washington Temple. My mom and older sister Karen were able to fly up and attend with them. Many ward members were there to support and encourage. This really touched our hearts because it is a long drive, all-day, during the week temple session which means people had to take off work and drive-with these gas prices. In other words, each person came at great sacrifice. I wish I could have been there, but circumstances what they were, it was impossible. I am just glad that my mom and Karen were there to show support and escort Leyann. She has always been a sweet heart and we love her.

The second big event was Jayme's missionary farewell. We went to Lancaster today to attend and it was also our last opportunity to see him for two whole years as he leaves on the 5th for an MTC check in on the 9th. Jayme is the first one of my siblings' children to be old enough to go on a mission. He will serve in the Missouri St. Louis Mission - Spanish Speaking.

Jayme is an outstanding young man - very mature. At the age of 13, when my dad knew he was dying, my dad offered to travel with several of his children and grandchildren. Jayme chose that he wanted to go to General Conference with his grand parents. My sister thinks that is when his testimony really grew. I think the fact that he chose that instead a "fun" trip is indication that he was already on his way. He worked as a counselor at a boy scout camp, Camp Whitsett, for three summers where he blossomed into a leader. We know Jayme will be an outstanding missionary and we are so proud of him.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

BYU Swim Camp Trip: Day 9 & HOME

So how come every time we have a great trip, something goes wrong on the way home with the car. You might recall last summer's problem with the car in the airport parking lot?

We woke up and went to the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I noticed immediately that the front air conditioning was not turning on. We ate breakfast and I prayed and prayed. Not only did we need to drive through the hottest part of the whole country in the hottest part of the day, but I had to do all the driving on account of the fact that Robyn had sprained her right ankle the previous day. I can not drive in the afternoon very well. I can not drive in the heat at all. I just start getting really, really sleepy. So I knew we were in trouble. We got in the car and bought gas and asked the repair guy. He said it was probably a simple fix, but that he could not deal with it until 3:00. I looked around at the line of cars and the grumpy faces and realized this was going to be one tough day.

After driving to several repair shops and hearing everything from late afternoon to the following Tuesday, I took the road to the dealership. Granted it was a Saturday with limited hours and limited mechanics on duty. But it still felt like half the city was having car problems. I was in line behind two people who were told that he would not be able to get to them until Monday morning. I was praying my way through the line. I got up there and explained to the man that I thought it was a simple problem and that we were travelling and that I had four children and that we were headed home to Palm Springs and on and on. He agreed to fix it right away. Luckily (or perhaps it was a blessing?) they had the part on hand and it only took one hour to fix. And it only cost $73, which my mother graciously paid for. It is nice traveling with parents who are willing to pick up the tab on those unexpected things. These pictures were taken while we were waiting. We watched I Love Lucy, ate snacks, and played Mad Libs.

We had lost about three hours so everything was delayed a little. I had not called Ryan, so about the time we were supposed to roll in at home, he called to see where we were and found out we were still in Barstow. And we still had to take my mom home to Santa Clarita. We got home about 9:30 pm. It was good to be home.

Friday, June 20, 2008

BYU Swim Camp Trip: Day 8

On Friday, the older girls had their last day of swim camp. I dropped them off in the morning and headed back to the Christians for the yummiest German pancakes ever. Daxon and Shane came over for their final play time and goodbyes. We packed the car and hunted high and low for all our little odds and ends. We said our goodbyes.

One last lunch at the Brick Oven. One last fill up of $3.89 per gallon gas.

The girls had a swim meet at 2:00. Since the whole purpose for going was for the swim camp, let me explain here about what they did. I dropped them off every morning at 8:00 am. They had swim workouts for two hours. After that they changed into clothes and had classroom instruction. Each day was a different topic, such as nutrition, mental preparation, training strategy, pacing, etc. They went to lunch at the Cannon Center at about 11:00. They had a break until 1:00. Then it was classroom instruction on the stroke for the day. Mon-freestyle, Tues-backstroke, Wed-butterfly, Thur-breast stroke. They went back into the pool and practiced it. The would videotape their stroke from the top and bottom and then tell them individually how they could improve. They also taught them diving and turns. On the last day they had the swim meet.

The girls swam in the same race: freestyle medley. They each had to dive in, swim 25 meters, turn swim back and then the next one dove in. I was so proud of them. Not only were they the least experienced swimmers there (most of the participants were already on swim teams and were older) but Madison had to get up on the blocks against seven other kids - all boys who looked like they were at least sixteen. But she did it. McKayla took a great dive in and was very competitive on her lap. Their group lost the race but their team won the match.

So in the car and on the way to St. George. We checked in and went to Wingers for dinner. I was exhausted.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

BYU Swim Camp Trip: Day 7

After dropping off the girls again, we went to meet a friend at the Spanish Fork IHOP. He is Robert Kuder and he joined the church a little less than five years ago. He has a great testimony and a miraculous conversion story so it was fun to reminisce about his experiences. We ran around doing a bunch of miscellaneous errands (DI, malls, gas) until the girls' pick up time. While we were letting Robyn visit one of her friends we found ourselves hanging out at the mall for an hour. So the girls threw about five bucks away on some rides.

Then they found the fountain. They noticed all the money on the bottom surface. They wanted to throw a penny in. I gave them each a penny and we talked about how to make a wish and toss in the penny. Afterwards, they decided they wanted their money back. They tried very hard to dig it out. I tried very hard to keep them from going all the way in.

That evening the Christians planned a wienie roast. We went to to American Fork Canyon to a reserved picnic spot and prepared for the funnest evening of the trip. There was the campfire, the hiking trails, the river, the food, the four-wheeling on the Christian's newest toy, and of course the great company. Because not only did they plan a wonderful finale evening for us, but they also arranged for Jen, Jud and Ellie Runolfson to come. Along with old friends, Chanel, Brad, Daxon, and Shane came. Michelle Bateman was there with her sons and Cortland. (They had finished their football camp earlier that day.) Galen came on his newest toy: a motorcycle.

Sheila had made fruit salad, baked beans, and brownies. We had chips, paper goods, drinks, firewood, buns, ketchup, mustard, all the s'mores fixings, cookies . . . are we missing something? Oh yeah, the wieners. Jud had to run and get those. Whew, that was close. While Sheila ran groups back and forth on the four wheeling toy, the rest of the group explored the terrain. The river was running high and every time the kids ran close, we were all running in a panic. My little ones were fine until Dax and Shane thought it was fun to scare everyone. Then, for some reason, they felt obligated to run after them. The girls were so happy to be running around with these boys. Can you tell by the poses? Ryan had better lock them up when they become teenagers.

We had Galen's perfectly cooked hot dogs and Maya's perfected roasted marshmallows. How much fun it was to be able to spend a few hours in a beautiful canyon where it was nice and cool. McKayla loves Utah and desperately wants to move there. Now she is really hooked.

While we were at the campfire, we found out that the Bateman's son Trevor received an offer for a full scholarship to play football at BYU. Michelle gave us the play-by-play of their meeting with Coach Mendenhall. He accepted the offer later. We are very excited for him and feel very cool that we were the first to know. Here is a link to read about him.










Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BYU Swim Camp Trip: Day 5 & 6

On Tuesday morning, after dropping off the older girls to camp, we went to Temple Square. While my mom spent time in the Family History Library, the little ones and I spent some time on Temple Square in and around the Visitor Centers. We also went to the Church History Museum to play in the children's' hands-on area. One our way in, we saw Lis Rich, an old friend from my home ward growing up. We exchanged info on how everyone in each other's families were doing while the girls were getting antsy. The children's' section had an area that was a place to pretend was a hospital nursery so we spent the better part of an hour dressing and undressing dolls, swaddling and unswaddling dolls, listening to their heartbeats, checking eyes and ears and blood pressure and feeding them. When it was time to go we put them down for their nap. We met up with my mom and went over to the COB for lunch (that is the Church Office Building for those of you on the inside track-wink, wink.) It was fun seeing the Primary General Presidency and Elder Bruce C. Hafen. There is a man who plays the piano during lunch, mostly primary songs. The little ones sang along to Popcorn Popping and I Am a Child of God. A lot more singing than eating. We went to the church distribution center after that and then I dropped off my mom at the Christian's home and then left to get the girls.

We met up with Melissa, Ryan's sister at her home in Provo. We enjoyed dinner at Cafe Rio with her and then rented the movie Stardust.

Melissa brought out the gifts for both Maya's and Monterey's birthdays. They were delighted to discover their very own Anthropologie aprons. Now they just had to cook. Maya wanted to crack some eggs, because that is her culinary talent du jour. Melissa did popcorn. Slightly less messy and went with the movie better. Melissa donned her apron and lo and behold - she matched Maya. All three looked so cute. Now we only have three pouting girls that want their own Anthropologie aprons. I think somehow Monterey figured out that if she tilts her head in pictures, she looks cuter. Like she could get any cuter. We all got to bed way too late.

Wednesday morning we did laundry as I edited Ryan's final project for one of his MBA classes.

On Wednesday night, after camp, we picked up the girls and went to the Brick Oven for dinner. Caitlin came with us. Ryan and I used to live across the street in a basement apartment. Both Galen and Sheila worked there. (Galen made the Root and Apple Beer.) So we all shared a little history as we ate up all that yummy pizza, pasta, and salad. Of course, a few mugs of Root Beer were downed as well.

We went to Seven Peaks Water Park. The swim camp was going, so McK and Mad's passes were already paid for. My mom relaxed in a central location and the rest of us ran around enjoying the wave pool, lazy river, and the slides. Well, Robyn, McK, Caitlin, and Mad enjoyed the wave pool, lazy river, and slides. I went with the little ones who wanted to do everything on their own. Translation: I spent most of the time worrying about Maya (who was just fine, but does have a tendency to overestimate her abilities so I had to be on alert) and Monterey (who thinks she can swim, but really can't making her very dangerous in the water.) So Maya was fine, Monterey kept following her, and I kept fishing Monterey out of waves and currents. The older girls enjoyed their Dipping Dots and the babies practiced posing for the camera.

When we got home we watched Tuck Everlasting in the Christian's home theater. That was after I swore up and down to Sheila that we were all going to go to bed very early that night. So when she came in, we were both rather startled to find me there. Apparently, I am a sucker for a comfortable seat, a good movie, and fresh popcorn. We all got to bed way too late.

Monday, June 16, 2008

BYU Swim Camp Trip: Day 3 & 4

On Sunday morning, we woke up and went to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform their broadcast from the Conference Center. They had a performance in honor of Father's Day. They performed with the Orchestra at Temple Square. The songs were beautiful. They sung How Will They Know which is one of mine and Robyn's favorites. Because the little ones are under eight AND it is a live broadcast AND my mom had gone so many times while on her mission, my mom took them to the little theater to watch while McK, Mad, Robyn and I went to the broadcast. We saw Elder Richard G. Scott as we were walking out. Afterwards we toured a little, took a power nap, checked out of the hotel, ate lunch and then thought about what to do with the rest of our afternoon. I remembered something we did when I was little and we were off.

We drove to pioneer cemetery to view some of the graves and memorials of the latter-day prophets. First stop was President Gordon B. Hinckley. This one was most important for us since he is the only prophet that my girls really knew up until a few months ago. It was a neat experience to see him share his monument with his wife.

We sung the song Latter-Day Prophets each time we approached a grave so the girls could figure out the order they served in.

Latter-day prophets are: number one,
Joseph Smith; then Brigham Young;
John Taylor came third, we know;
Then Wilford Woodruff; Lorenzo Snow;
Joseph F. Smith (remember the F);
Heber J. Grant; and George Albert Smith;
David O. McKay was followed by Joseph Fielding Smith,
Then Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball,
Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter.
Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson.
These are the latter-day prophets.

We saw John Taylor, Heber J. Grant, and David O. McKay. At each one, we read the names of their wife (wives) and children. I told them about each one. Thank goodness we have been studying them in Relief Society. McKayla loved David O. McKay because we picked that particular spelling based on his name (McKay+la) so she has a special place in her heart for him.

Afterwards we drove to our home-away-from-home for the next five nights: the Christian's home. We were so excited to see them, especially McKayla since Caitlin and her are such good friends. All my girls love Caitlin and of course, Sheila who is always so kind to everyone. We took the tour of the house with it's gorgeous layout, special secret rooms, and warm decor. Sheila showed us our rooms and we got comfy. Dinner was a BBQ with Sheila, Caitlyn, Cortland, Cameron, and Galen's mom (Galen was travelling for work in Tampa) and then our group of six (Robyn went to visit the Andersons, old friends who live just down the street) and then Michelle Bateman (from PD ward) with her two sons and a friend who were going to be attending football camp the same week. What a group! One group watched the Laker-Celtic game while another watched the Tony's while another was skateboarding down the hill in the backyard. We all got to bed way too late.

The next morning the football camp group left at 7:30 while we left at 9:00. Caitlin hung out with us. Since our check in was not until 11:00, we walked through the beautiful campus, shopped at the bookstore, and made our way to the Marriott Center for check in. At the bookstore, Monterey sat down and was engaged in a solid conversation with the statue shown. When I pulled out the camera to document, Maya sat right down, her mouth full of her rainbow Swedish fish from the candy counter. We dropped off the girls at the Cannon Center (Helaman Halls) for lunch and took off.

We met Sheila, Michelle, and Chanel (with Daxon and Shane) at a cute shop/cafe called Dear Lizzies. They have the sweetest clothes/ decor/ accessories in all girldom. We ate scrumptiously fresh sandwiches, fruit, and cupcakes. We shared a drink: the Dizzy Lizzie. This is a cherry and cream soda that is to die for. Even though Maya is frowning in the picture, a habit she has developed that she finds hysterical, but I only find annoying, she proclaimed: "I want to eat here everyday."

We went back to Sheila's so the girls could play with Daxon and Shane. Talk about a match made in heaven: Monterey loved playing rough with the boys. I picked up the older girls and Sheila made us wonderful chicken enchiladas, two versions: both were delicious. We left to see a musical play. It was a summary of Saturday's Warrior and a new play called White Star which is a "whatever happened to the Flinders family." The younger girls enjoyed it. We arrived home late and went right to bed. We all got to bed way too late.

If you have not figured it out yet, the Christians did such a good job taking care of us and making us feel so comfortable in their home. And each day got better. And better. And better. Did I mention the fact that Monterey wanted to sleep with Sheila the first night? Monterey is so shy, that that speaks volumes. Sheila said yes which speaks volumes for what a perfect hostess she is: even giving up part of her own bed. I would not expect that again. After all it is Galen's bed too. So that was her only night, but still. Way beyond five-star accommodations.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BYU Swim Camp Trip: Day 1 & 2

We left at 1:00, after the Pump It Up party, after I picked up the girls from their last day of school, after unwrapping every present from the birthday party and picking three to take with us, after making notes so we could send appropriate thank you notes, after packing up the cooler, after loading the car up with luggage & food.

Here is our "official road trip" song:

Goofy: Do ya need a break from modern livin'? Do ya long to shed your weary load? If your nerves are raw And your brain is fried Just grab a friend and take a ride Together upon the open road C'mon, Maxie! Ah-yuk!
Max:
All in all, I'd rather have detention All in all, I'd rather eat a toad
Goofy:
Yuck!
Max:
And the old man drives like such a klutz That I'm about to hurl my guts Directly upon the road
Goofy:
There's nothin' can upset me 'Cause now we're on our way Our trusty map will guide us straight and true
Max:
Roxanne, please don't forget me I will return someday Though I may be in traction when I do
Goofy:
Me and Max relaxin' like the old days
Max:
This is worse than dragon breath and acne
Goofy:
In a buddy-buddy kind of mode
Max:
I'm so mad I think I may explode
Goofy:
When I see that highway, I could cry
Max:
Ya know, that's funny So could I
Both:
Just bein' out on the open road
Female Country Singers:
Howdy, boys Is this the way to Nashville?
Tow Truck Driver:
Watch it, Mac! Or you'll be gettin' towed
Prisoner:
I'm in no hurry to arrive 'Cause I'll be turnin' sixty-five The next time I see the open road
Small Man:
Just a week of rest and relaxtion
Large Woman:
Yeah!
Small Man:
And the odd romantic episode
Max:
Very odd!
Mickey Mouse:
It's Californ-eye-ay or bust
Old Lady:
Look out, you dirtbags Eat my dust From now on, I own the open road!
Goofy:
Just me and little Maxie My pipsqueak pioneer
Nuns:
Their car ventures forever westward ho
Nuns and Goofy:
Yeehaw!
Max:
Could someone call a taxi And get me outta here To Beverly Hills 9-0-2-1-0
Chorus and Goofy:
Every day another new adventure Every mile another new zip code And the cares we had are gone for good
Max:
And I'd go with them if I could
Goofy and Chorus:
I've got no strings on me I'm feelin' fancy-free How wonderful to be On the open road!

We like to listen and sing-a-long when ever we begin a long trip in the car. It is our celebration of hitting the open road.

By the time we reached Calimesa, Ryan called to tell me that Tim Russert died. Tim Russert was my favorite person to listen to. I always felt he was equally tough on everyone. I loved the way he asked the questions that I wanted to ask. He was completely impartial, well researched, and gutsy. Many times a news story would hit the airways and I would tell Ryan, I will wait to hear what Tim Russert has to say about it. I am completely devastated by losing my political commentator. Now I do not know who I will listen to. Sniff, sniff.

We picked up my mom and niece Robyn in Santa Clarita, and started on our drive to Vegas. We spent the night at the Courtyard in Vegas. Woke up and headed to St. George for Brunch. Cracker Barrel. We stopped knowing that food was only part of it. We love the shop. All the old candy, the cute knick-knacks. Robyn order breakfast, while the rest of us ordered lunch. Then I saw her breakfast. That did it. On the way home, we are eating at Cracker Barrel for breakfast.

On and on through the beautiful red cliffs of southern Utah, up to the Wasatch front. Love those mountains. There still is the slightest scattering of snow. So nice to see that snow.

We checked into our Salt Lake City Hotel, the Springhill Suites and went to dinner at The
Garden. It is at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. It is all white and has a retractable roof that makes the whole dining experience quite peaceful. My mom loves the deep fried pickles. Afterwards, we had to have a photo shoot looking over the balcony overlooking downtown Salt Lake City. Truly beautiful views.

We went swimming at the hotel and afterwards Madison put her hair up in a towel, put on her Jackie O sunglasses, handed me the camera and said "take a picture." So here it is. Maya wanted to put her hair up in a towel also. She snatched a washcloth and wound it around her hair. Had to snap that picture.