Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Me vs. clutter? Who will win?

This week I’m enjoying a lovely and much deserved break from work. I like to save my vacation if possible so I can have the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s off. For the last two years I’ve been able to do so, and it’s been lovely!

I have to be honest: coming to my parents’ house is not really a vacation for me because there’s always so much that needs to be done. But I decided it’s okay because I’d rather be busy doing something productive here than being lazy and lonely back in Utah.

Anyway, I decided that my major project while I’m here this time is to clean out what used to be my bedroom (it has so much stuff in it that it almost makes me claustrophobic) and turn it into a nice guest room where any of my siblings (or me) would be pleased to stay.

So, I’m taking on the clutter.

And I’m happy to report that so far I’m winning!

Today I took a load of cardboard to the recycling bin, two huge loads of garbage to an undisclosed location (I can’t say because technically speaking I’m not sure we’re supposed to be using said garbage, but since those who should be using it aren’t at the moment, it seems to be okay) and I took a load of items to DI.

I’m not finished by any means, but I am to a point where I need my parents’ assistance to deal with the stuff because it’s not mine. Tonight I made progress by cleaning out another cupboard to make a place for the stuff from my room to go so it doesn’t end up clogging up another area of the house.

Not only have I now made enough space so I can put my stuff away while I’m here, but I think my parents are also catching onto my vision! Once they saw what I was trying to do, they started doing it themselves, and then our progress was even better! Old habits die hard though so it’s still a bit of a fight. But again we are making progress!

All I can say is: bring on the clutter!

Please note, however, that I’m not going to spend my entire vacation de-junking. I’ll work hard again tomorrow, but then I’m taking a break for the next couple of days after that. I want to spend some time playing too, especially since my sister and her family will be coming to visit. Yippee!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas everyone! Okay, since it’s after midnight I guess technically it’s not Christmas anymore, but oh well! It’s been a fairly busy day today which is why I just haven’t gotten around to writing until now. And I’m exhausted so I’m thinking this will have to wait until tomorrow after church. I’m a little out of the habit of early church these days since my ward is in the afternoons.

But I digress. And when I’m this tired as I write, that’s not the wisest idea in the world.

I drove home to my parents’ house yesterday morning. It took me longer to get off than I thought it would, and I ended up making two quick stops along the way, but I still made good time.

This is one of the first things I saw when I got home.


Yes, my cute little niece made a fun Christmas greeting for my door. I was delighted by it. Later on I got to play beauty parlor and fixed both her (Banani’s) and her little sister’s hair. Fun stuff! See those cute little pigtails? I did that, and boy did she look cute!


We did our traditional reading of/singing about/acting out the Nativity story. I refused to be the donkey this year, but guess what I ended up doing anyway? Actually, Turkey did more than his fair share being not only Joseph but also the shepherd and wise man! I suppose that’s what happens when there’s a serious lack of children to be in the play.


Without small children in the house, this year we didn’t start our Christmas morning sock opening until later, around 8. And then we had our traditional breakfast of donuts, Orange Julius, hash browns and eggs before starting to open the presents under the tree. I think the pictures can tell the story much better than I can.



For the second year in a row, my mom and I got each other the same thing. All I can say is great minds think alike.


On the left, KK playing with Aunt A’s minion. Right, a pair of Boise state fans, one with a fleece, the other a BSU bracelet watch. How fun!


Turkey’s excited about his footballs and new jersey. Right, me being a smart aleck daughter. I gave my dad a present that was themed, “So you’re retired. . . now what?” This is my suggestion for a new hobby he can take up.


Our beautiful angel wasn’t forgotten today. This is a wreath we put on her grave, complete with butterflies. We felt her absence keenly, but I know she was watching over us.


Finally, what Christmas would be complete without some game playing? D, A, my dad and I played Mexi-Train Dominoes for awhile and then we had some fun building with the same dominoes. I wanted to capture more of our creations, but this is the only one I caught. Yes, it is mine.

In case you can’t tell, it was a wonderful Christmas. Our family has been through some tough times this year, but we’re stronger and closer for having lived through it. And I know our angel is always watching over us, even if she is busy on the other side.

One more cute thing to share. Opening presents is tiring work! She fell asleep at almost the same time last year, which is what makes this funny. Below, Grandpa found another use for his huge Christmas sack.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It’s called customer service people – you might want to look into it!

I had a customer experience so terrible tonight that I’m still angry about it hours later. And since a good way to diffuse my anger is by writing about it (and I’m kind of waiting up so I can see the eclipse), well here goes.

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, my Zumba class that I love, love, LOVED ended two weeks ago. I’ve been looking for a gym to join (which offered Zumba of course), but haven’t quite figured that out yet. I have one in mind but am slightly held up by the fees it takes to join.

I’m connected to my former Zumba instructor on Facebook and happened to see that she’d be teaching at Gold’s Gym in Sandy tonight. I took a chance and asked her if she had any guest passes (she frequently invites people to come to her classes, which is fabulous!), and she said yes. I was unsure if all the details had been worked out but went to the gym in question tonight hoping for the best.

I caught her just as she was going in, and she gave me a guest pass. I stepped up to the front desk, so excited that Zumba was only minutes away. Seriously, I’ve been going into withdrawals because I miss it so much!

The girl at the desk asked if I’d ever worked out at Gold’s before. I told her yes, and she asked for my driver’s license. It’s a pain to get out of my wallet but I dug it out and gave it to her anyway, still not really thinking about it. I figured it had to do with liability or something.


She proceeded to tell me that I couldn’t use the guest pass because not only had I worked out at Gold’s before, but I was a former member. This guest pass is for people who’ve never worked out there before. However, if I wanted to pay the $10 one-time use fee, well I was free to do that. Otherwise, no dice on attending the class. I was seriously floored and couldn’t even think what to say. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I wish that I could have said, “Thank you. . . for cementing in my mind why I will NEVER join Gold’s Gym again!”

But, alas, I don’t think on my feet that quickly. And although I was livid, I’m still not good at being mean to people. I know it’s not her fault, but it was such horrible customer service that I couldn’t even believe it. And now I have to share it with you, my faithful readers.

Normally I stay general in my blog for good reasons, but this time I’m trying to besmirch Gold’s Gym because I think they deserve it. Hopefully this helps me get over it and move on with my life. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas, Ashley

Yesterday was our floor Christmas party, and this year instead of a nice luncheon somewhere, we went bowling. I'm not the world's best bowler, so I don't know that I was terribly excited, but I thought it could still be fun. I really did appallingly awful in the one game I played though. Oh well! It was all in fun anyway.

What I didn't realize until I was in the situation is the effect it would have on me. I didn’t remember that the last time I went bowling was almost two years ago when we had a small gathering at my parents’ house (by we I mean my siblings and I) and took the kids bowling.

It was such a fun night, and we all had a grand time. Here’s a picture so you can enjoy it too. Yes, what I’m talking about is that our beautiful Miss Sassypants was in attendance. Going yesterday made me remember that and miss her fiercely.


I know it’s just bowling, and it wasn’t one of her favorite activities or anything, but it was still hard to remember. It was before she started going downhill, one of the times when we were just able to have fun. And it made me sad.

I was already just a bit depressed from attending the temple the night before. As I sat in the Celestial Room and thought about her being near while I was there, it made me think how sad it is that we can’t have her here anymore, even if I know it was her time to go and she was suffering so much at the time she died that it was merciful for her to go when she did. Death is so permanent, and sometimes I think it takes losing someone you love so much to appreciate that.

I felt it again at the concert last night too. One of the songs talked about angels surrounding us and listening to the heavenly music. They had some floating angel figurines that they lowered at that point. That almost made the waterworks start up, but I got it under control.

No such luck on the last song, “Angels from the Realms of Glory.”

I don’t know if it was the idea she could be (and perhaps was) close during that song or just the idea of it, but I missed her so much that I bawled through the whole thing. And I had a difficult time stopping even when it was over.

After reading my sister’s blog last week, which almost broke my heart (follow the link, I’ve been praying that she would be allowed to be near her family during a time that it’s so difficult for them to have her gone, especially in this first Christmas without her.

What I didn’t realize is that perhaps being near her family meant feeling her and missing her so much myself. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I wasn’t her mother, so I didn’t have the unique mother experiences with her. I am her aunt though, and I loved her like she was my daughter, so I think it’s okay for her to miss her like she’s my daughter too.

I’ll be fine of course and make it through this bout of missing her just as I have all the others, but it’s just hard. And as a good friend once told me, of course it’s going to be okay, but sometimes it’s okay to know that it won’t be okay for awhile and just try to make my way through it.

Merry Christmas, Ashley, our beautiful angel forever!

The MoTabs and David Archuleta

Last night I discovered I had tickets to the hottest show in town: David Archuleta and special guest Michael York performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. I love, love, LOVE the MoTab Christmas concert, and this is the fourth I've attended since living in Salt Lake City. The concerts I've been to have all been beautifully done, so I was excited to see it.

I have to be honest though. Having watched Archie on American Idol, I was anticipating what it would be like to see him perform in person, but it wasn't only seeing him that got me excited about the concert. It was the whole package I was excited about more than anything.

The concert was great, very beautifully done! The dancers were excellent, the songs were great, Michael York's performance was lovely and, yes, I thought Archie did good too. He has a great voice, very pure and on pitch. He harmonized with the choir very well. I think my two favs were his rendition of "Joy to the World" and a Spanish carol he sang.

While I enjoyed the concert immensely, I still don't think it can compare to the one when Sissel came three or four years ago. That concert completely blew me away, and she is such an amazing singer. Even Natalie Cole last year couldn't compare, although she was lovely as well.

Anyway, hats off to the MoTabs and the Orchestra for once again creating a spectacular show. I heard the other night that they received a million requests for this concert. Crazy! All I can say is that they've established a reputation for putting on an excellent show, and we Utahns like to support our own, a.k.a. David Archuleta.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why me? Seriously!

I can't remember if I've talked about it in here or not, but I have a serious issue of being a weirdo magnet. The stories I could tell you about the weirdos who seem to flock to me would probably amuse you, but I'm not going to tell them here. I'm a nice normal person (although I have my quirks of course), so I don't know why this type of person seems to be drawn to me, but whatever.

If it's not weirdos, then it's those kiosk salespeople at the mall. You know the ones I speak of, who waylay you, and if you're not careful, you walk away with a bag of their products whether you need it or not. The Dead Sea people are the absolute worst about that! Or I suppose you could say they're the best salespeople. I swear I don't have a sign printed on my forehead that says, "I'm a sucker, please ask me to buy your product" but perhaps I'm mistaken.

Anyway, tonight I was trying desperately to get my Christmas shopping done. I was making great time too until I went downstairs in the mall. I was just searching for the final store I wanted to visit as I contemplated a decision about a Christmas gift.

The girl working at the Dead Sea nail products kiosk leaned out to ask me if I wanted some lotion. I thought it was harmless enough so I took it, and of course then she had to ask me if I wanted to see something really cool that could help my nails.

I smiled and told her I already had one, and of course she told me this was the new one. I let her do her thing with one of my nails but easily told her no on purchasing a kit. Phew, that's over, I thought.

But I was mistaken.

As I continued my search for this last store, another person offered me a small packet of lotion. He was from the hair straightener kiosk, so I knew I needed to just keep walking, but being me of course I didn't. And I was led over to his "shop" where he proceeded to not only be very friendly but to take my hair out of its twist so he could show me his product which was far superior to what I already had of course.

I listened politely, and it seemed to work well on my hair, but I was distressed that my hair now looked stupid, and I was pretty sure he wasn't going to completely fix it. And I was right too. He curled it with both the straightener and the curling iron then gave me the full-out sales pitch.

I almost wish I'd had my camera so I could've recorded the crestfallen look on his face when I told him flat-out no. He seemed shocked I didn't want to take him up on the great "deal" he was offering, a curling iron free with a straightener. I refused to name a price I'd be willing to pay because I honestly don't have the funds for it now. He didn't seem to understand when I told him, "it's not in the budget."

I almost felt sorry for depriving him of the sale, almost being the key word here. I just don't understand why these people always seem to pick me for the easy sale. Not today though, Zurg!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not what I'd choose

Riding TRAX can be an interesting experience. This I know from things I've experienced and from stories I've heard from other people.

That's why I've felt good that to this point I've been spared anything too dramatic while on TRAX.

Until yesterday that is.

I was hurrying off to catch the train after work yesterday when what should I see but a bride and groom taking photos at the TRAX stop. I had to wind my way around them so I could be in the right place on the platform. I didn't think too much about it except that taking photos at the TRAX stop wouldn't be my first choice. I climbed on the train and settled in to read.

Before the train pulled away I saw the entire bridal party--bride, groom, photographer and someone I think was the bride's mother--climb onto the train. This was no easy affair with all the photography equipment, the bride's train and flowers and keeping that beautiful dress off the ground. I was smiling slightly to myself as I watched, just thinking how unfun that must be.

I was surprised when the bride and groom posed right there in the doorway on TRAX and started taking photos, which may or may not have had me in the background looking on. At that point, I decided I thought these people were very interesting.

I mean, to each his or her own, but I personally wouldn't want my wedding photos taken at a boring old TRAX platform (especially with all the City Creek Center construction ugliness in the background) or on the train itself. Oh well! It amused me the entire ride home anyway.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Distracted much?

Just so you don’t think I’m a hopeless case, I do have a quick funny story to share with you.

Today I had to go to a lunch appointment. I knew about it in advance and drove my car downtown so I could get there on time. I carefully planned to take the earlier train back to my car so I could make it not only on time, but, wait for it, early. Yes, I know that’s practically unheard of for a perpetually late person like myself. For once I just really wanted to be on time.

I saw that the time for the train’s arrival was coming up fast, so I hurried out of the building so I could catch it. Just as I was crossing the street, I saw the train pulling in. I swear that I checked to make sure it said “Sandy” and it had three cars just like most of the Sandy trains do, so I climbed right on.

As we pulled into the second station I happened to glance at the clock on my phone. Strange, I thought, that the train seems to have come early. I’m really glad that I left the office when I did so I could make it. As the train started turning onto 4th South instead of continuing to the Courthouse, That’s when I realized my mistake: I’d taken the wrong train!

Being me, I immediately started laughing to myself and was glad I hadn’t gone any further. I got off the train at the next stop and waited for another train to take me back to where I could catch the right train. Of course, this made me slightly late to my lunch appointment, but oh well. It all turned out to be okay.

I can honestly say that I’ve never taken the wrong train before, but there’s a first time time for everything. Today appears to have been that day for me.

Stuck in a funk

I’ve been feeling the need to write a meatier post in my blog for the last few days, but I just couldn’t decide what I should write about. Until tonight.

I don’t know what it is exactly, but this week I’ve felt very unlike myself. By unlike myself, I mean I feel apathetic and completely unmotivated. The last few months I’ve kept myself extremely busy with activities or events most nights of the week. Of course that takes its toll on your body, but for the most part I’ve felt pretty good about it. It can’t be any worse than commuting to work every day.

However, my two main activities on Monday and Tuesday nights are ending this week and next. I’m excited for the former to be done because it just feels like time, but the latter. . . I’m sad to see it go. I have truly loved and anticipated my Zumba class, and it’s given me a place to exercise when it was too cold and dark to go after I got off work. Not only is it fun but it’s a great workout too! Yes, this is motivating me to finally find a gym where I can work out now. I even found a great deal through my work this week that I’m excited to look into.

The last two nights when I didn’t have anything going on, I’ve been incredibly lazy. Not that laziness is unheard of for me because it’s not. But the apathy is not really normal for me. And the utter exhaustion that has accompanied it is also strange.

Some of it could be attributed to the fact that I’ve been sick for over a week and a half now. I’ve felt much better this week than last, but I’m still not all the way there. I know sickness can take a lot out of you. And last week was super stressful at work too, so that could also be factoring into this, even though this week has been much, much better.

I guess the real issue is that I don’t quite feel like myself, and it bothers me, especially since this is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” I LOVE the Christmas season and all it entails, from the beautiful lights to all the fun holiday events to the fact that people seem to be kinder and more willing to give.

I suppose I just need to find a way to do something for someone else and perhaps that’ll help me. I’d also like to kick this stinkin’ cold once and for all! That’ll surely help me too! Wish me luck as I find my way out of this funk.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

At least someone likes the snow. . .

As I look out the window today, I see what snow is left on the ground slowly melting. We’re supposed to get precipitation today, but it’ll be rain instead of snow since the temperature is dramatically warmer than it was only last weekend. It’s almost (almost being the key word here) hard to believe how cold and icky it was.

Don’t worry — my memory’s not that short. :) Having just posted a status update on Monday when it was still freezing about just how much I hate the cold I haven’t forgotten that quickly how much I don’t enjoy it.

I do want to share some pictures of some kids who not only like it but love it! I still remember what it was like to be a kid and be overjoyed to see white flakes drifting onto the ground. Oh the adventure it presented! My dad used to make us snow caves which were so much fun! And sometimes we even had snow horses, which were kind of like tipped over snowmen that you could sit on.

But I digress. The point of this post is to share pictures of the kids enjoyed the tubing hill my brother-in-law created in his backyard. At first it was just a couple of bumps, but he built it up to be even bigger and better. Oh boy did the kids love it! They spent hours, and I do mean hours, tubing down it. They didn’t care that it was cold outside, no siree! With the proper snow clothing, I think they barely even felt the cold.

This is what it looks like. Pretty cool huh.


Can’t you see how delighted they were with the snow hill?



Of course what goes down must also come up. And we must be sure to keep building it up as my two brothers-in-law are doing in the picture on the right.


The whole group of excited tubers. Even after hours of being in the bitter cold, they’re still excited. Where can I get some of that enthusiasm?! Winking smile


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

This year’s Thanksgiving was a complete 180-degree turnaround from last year. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a wonderful time, but it was just completely different is all. In the first place, it was only my two older sisters and their families and me. My parents weren’t able to make it for a variety of reasons including bad weather (stupid snow!) and discovering an uninvited critter in their home (eek!). This is the first time I’ve ever been away from my parents for Thanksgiving, so it was interesting.

Last year my entire family all gathered to Boise to spend Thanksgiving with our beautiful angel. It was a very special and tender time and the second year in a row that my entire family was able to get together. But I did have a lovely time with my sisters!

The weather wasn’t ideal for the drive, but blessedly my sister’s best friend was visiting from California. She was determined to visit Logan and invited me to ride with her and her kids. What a wonderful blessing! Otherwise I probably would’ve waited until Thursday morning to go.

The weekend was great! I split my time between both my sisters’ houses and very much enjoyed spending time with them and their families. Here’s a few pictorial highlights. Enjoy!

This is what Logan looked like as we drove in. Yup, winter has officially arrived.


Clockwise from top left: the kids were very excited to see me; the Gamer loves MellyBelly (but she’s so adorable how could you not love her?); Bumblebee enjoying our pre-Thanksgiving shopping trip; and Bumblebee and the Diva helping make Thanksgiving treats.



Thanksgiving Day: my sister and I attended two hours of the aerobathon her gym was holding. One of the classes was Zumba (wa-hoo!) and the other was basically a group personal training session. It kicked my trash, but I loved it! I also got to play beauty salon with the girls, as you can see below.


The spread and my brothers-in-law.


What gathering would be complete without some dancing? And the other one is just A being silly.


As you can see, it was a very fun day! I was going to add a few more pictures, but I just decided to do a separate entry for those. I hope you’ll be waiting in anticipation.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Thanks: Days 5-7

Okay so sometimes I go to my sisters’ houses for Thanksgiving and sometimes I’m just a little caught up with family things so I don’t get the chance to write in my blog like I would normally. That means I never finished my thankful posts. But I promise that I’m very much still thankful. Instead of writing three more posts on this subject, I’m going to instead roll it up into one final post.

Day 5: My livelihood and transportation

Someone close to me recently had a serious change in livelihood. No, she didn’t lose her job, but it did burn down. And the building and everything in it was a complete loss. While it looks like she will still have a job, things are going to be quite different for awhile.

This has really caused me to reflect on my own job. I know that I complain about it a lot and I’m not always as grateful for it as I should be. But observing this situation has really helped me to appreciate my job even more than I did before. I am very grateful that I have a job and that it’s a good job. It’s undergone quite a few changes this year and although some of them have been difficult, I am grateful for the challenge it’s presented and how it’s helped me to grow. I would be in such a terrible situation if something suddenly happened to my job, so let me just say that I’m grateful for it.

Along those same lines, I am very much grateful to have a reliable car that can get me back and forth to where I need to go. I’ve had very few problems with my car since I got it, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. I’m even happier that it’s so close to being paid off.

Day 6: My children

One of the most special roles that I get to play in my life is favorite aunt to my 12 nieces and nephews. And in case you can’t tell from the 5 million times I mention them in my blog, they are one of the most important things to me. They fulfill a need for me that can’t be filled anywhere else. . . until I have children of my own. Since there’s no telling how long that might be, let me just say now how much I love and appreciate them. Here’s just a few pictorial highlights of the fun things they do.





Day 7: My Incredible Family

I’ve already talked about how much I adore my nieces and nephews, an d they’re an important part of my entire family. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my family. I have incredible parents who taught me from a young age to develop a strong set of values and morals.They taught me how to work (even if I didn’t always like it at the time) and encouraged my educational pursuits. From a young age it was made clear that a college education was not only encouraged but expected, and I’m so grateful I have my degree. I’ve enjoyed watching my siblings also get their college educations and how that decision has blessed their life.

Being almost the youngest child in my family, I learn a lot by observing. I have carefully watched my older siblings and have learned quite a bit from doing so. It’s also given me something to look forward to and work toward.

I feel incredibly blessed by the fact that I’ve never had to wonder throughout my life if my family loved me because I always knew they did. I know that not everyone can say that so I’m grateful I can. I could go on for pages and pages about why my family is great, but I know that would most likely be boring for anyone who reads my blog, so I’m going to just end with saying I’m grateful for such a wonderful family. Here’s a picture of almost all of us.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks Day 4: The Temple

I know that I just barely posted my day 3, but I’m behind a couple of days so bear with me while I catch up. Since I’m pretty much snowed in tonight with the storm of the century raging outside, I have some time on my hands and am trying to figure out the best way to use it. Blogging about being thankful seems like a great way.

I have always had a great love for the beautiful temple. I grew up being taught why temples are important and knowing I someday wanted to go there. And now having been, I know why it’s important and that I always want to be worthy to enter. Living in Utah I have my pick of which temple I want to go to. In only an hour radius there’s about 8 temples and there’s even more if I widen my scope to a few hours. I try to do my best to never take the temple for granted and attend regularly.

The last year has increased my knowledge of the importance of the temple even more. I am a strong believer in the idea of eternal marriage and families. After losing a family member so dear, whom I definitely want to see again someday, I have an even stronger belief in those sacred covenants. I know their power is real.


Just a few weeks ago, I saw my beloved sister and her family be sealed for time and for all eternity in the temple, and I don’t know that I’ve had a more touching experience. There is power in those sacred covenants, and it touched me to be a part of it.


The temple is also a place where you can go to think and ponder over important questions. I’ve had more than one experience where I received exactly the comfort that I needed by going there. I hope to continue to make the temple an important part of my daily life and to attend frequently.

Pumpkin Walk etc 149