Monday, August 29, 2011

Time for some more gratitude

As I’m sure you’re well aware, today is Monday. Usually it’s my least favorite day of the week.

But not today

Several things happened that have filled my heart to overflowing. From having lunch with my brother and sister-in-law (none of my siblings live close enough for me to do this, so it’s a treat to have it happen) to finding out some exciting news on a special project to being visited by some wonderful sisters in my ward, I’m feeling the love today.

And I have to be honest, I really need it. I like to think I can make it on my own, but sometimes my cup runs a little low, and I need support from other people. I’m always willing to give it, but sometimes I need it too. It’s nice to know that other people are also watching out for me, that my Father in Heaven is letting me know He cares through them.

I can tell you without any doubt that’s what happened today.

Other great things that happened today: I got an email from a dear friend who recently moved away and I’ve been missing like crazy. I found out my brother got an internship in Utah, so he’s going to be living here, starting next weekend, for the next four months. It’ll be hard since his wife is staying in Rexburg to hold her job and their apartment there, but I will LOVE having him close by. Not to mention this is a great opportunity for him.

Sometimes when I’m feeling down, as I was last week, I question whether anybody out there cares or if I’m truly alone. Today it has been made perfectly clear this is not the case. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Culinary disasters!

A few weeks ago I was having a discussion with my supervisor and another colleague. We were talking about cooking, specifically that one dish you own because you can nail it every time you make it. Hers happens to be this delicious coconut cake that I missed sampling while I was in Yellowstone.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since because while I consider myself to be a decent cook, there’s not one specific dish that I would consider as my specialty. Until I thought about Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. I love them! I’ve practically memorized the recipe because I make them so much.

When my bananas were looking a little too ripe to eat this week, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. But this time it didn’t turn out quite the way I expected.


Did I jinx myself by deciding this is the dish I own? Or did I just have a bad cooking night?

For my own peace of mind, I’m going to choose the latter. But, for the record, this is the only time I’ve ever seen them turn out this way. And it may be because I was cooking them at the same time I was making zucchini bread, which also didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped or expected.

IMG_8577 IMG_8578

The bread itself is fine, but it sure fell apart when I tried to take it out of the pan. I even floured and sprayed it too. Dang it!

Better luck next time I decide to be Betty Crocker. Or maybe I should stick to baking one thing at a time. It seems to work out better for me that way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

You are not forgotten

The past few days have been difficult for me, just for various reasons. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I do have the end of summer blues, but there’s a few other concerns weighing on my mind too. I’m not going into specifics here, but I’ve been dealing with my problems as best I can. Tonight I made the effort to resolve the situation in the way that felt right to me.

But that’s not why I’m writing. I want to talk about the experience I had yesterday. For the reason I was alluding to above, I’ve been rather anxious and upset. I got up early for church so I could study a lesson I was planning to give later that night. I was trying hard to set aside my concerns so they wouldn’t affect the lesson I was striving so hard to prepare.

As I read over the lesson and read a scripture associated with it, a part of it struck me in a way it never had before. It touched me to the point of tears. The thought, in gist, is this, that one of the blessings of temple attendance is that angels can minister to us as a result of giving that service.

Of course my mind immediately turned to our beautiful angel and the fact that I know she has been allowed to minister to members of my family since she died. Some of my most touching experiences with her have come when I’ve been in the temple, which is probably why that scripture struck me so much.

Anyway, as I continued my Sabbath day preparations, I was so filled with the Spirit. I felt at peace and I knew everything was going to be okay. I was touched by something our teacher spoke about in Relief Society. The lesson was about the temple and family history. She showed a clip about the new FamilySearch where they talked about the people whose work we do in the temple. These are people who lived difficult lives, and many of them died believing God had forgotten them. By doing their temple work, we are showing that God definitely didn’t forget them and wants to provide them with the most choice blessings he can offer.

Later that evening I went to a fireside about the Book of Mormon. Basically our stake has been challenged to read the entire book between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. But we’re supposed to read it with a purpose, and it will touch our lives in ways we never would’ve thought possible. I’m intrigued with that idea and am excited to get started. What touched me the most though was the closing song “If the Savior Stood Beside Me.”

I’ve heard it before, and it touched me then but in my weepy state, it sent me into tears. I couldn’t even sing the second or third verse. This is what the third verse says, “He is always near me, though I do not see him there. And because He loves me dearly, I am in his watchful care. So, I’ll be the kind of person that I know I’d like to be if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.”

Those words struck me because I realized in that moment that I am not alone, I have not been forgotten. My Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ love me very much and no matter how alone I feel sometimes, they are always there for me. I can’t tell you how much I needed that message yesterday. I needed it more than I realized, and I’m even a mess as I write about it here.

To end this post on a happy note, here’s one more great thing. These were not sent to me, but they were sent home with me to enjoy, and I truly have been. Every time I look at them, they make me smile. Just one more reminder that I haven’t been forgotten.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of summer blues

Today is the 21st of August. That means the month is more than halfway over. And I was distressed to learn that several schools are already starting next week. Not that school starting is a bad thing; I’m just distressed that it means the end of summer is rapidly approaching.

Once again I find myself rather melancholy at that thought.

When I was younger I didn’t like it because it meant those lazy summer days with no school were over, even though I was usually excited to start a new school year. The change was always exciting, and I used to anticipate going back to school. Yes, I was nerdy like that, but with both of my parents as teachers, how could I help it?

Now I still get sad but for different reasons. I’m usually sad because I so desperately love and anticipate the summer. I love that it’s green outside, that it’s light for so long, that I can hear the birds as I wake up in the morning, that I don’t have to worry about defrosting my car as I dash to the train, that I don’t have to wear a jacket or long pants and that it’s fun to be outside enjoy the beauty our Father in Heaven created. Yes, I pretty much love it all. I enjoy that summer tends to be a more relaxed time and there’s always plenty of fun activities to look forward to.

I also love that it’s vacation season which usually means I get to spend plenty of time with my family. There’s always the Yellowstone vacation to look forward to and, if I’m lucky, another trip to anticipate. But when it’s all over, it’s a bit of a letdown. This year I got smart though and decided to do my big trip in October so I have something to look forward to. I’m excited that I was able to plan it that way.

I suppose what I’m most sad about is the time that has disappeared. Those memories are so precious to me and part of me wants to go back so I can live it all again. But I know life isn’t meant to be lived by looking backward, only moving forward. Yes, I can look back on all the great times I’ve had this summer and cherish them, keeping them close to my heart.

And in the next two weeks as August winds its way quickly to September, I’m going to do my best to live it up and enjoy the summer while I can. I’m going to find the way to make each moment count as much as I can. That should help me fight these end of summer blues.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thank heaven for little girls (and puppies too) :)

I must confess that I was really lazy the other day and instead of doing something productive that made the world around me a better place in some way, I sat and read my old blog posts for quite some time. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit how long it was. But it did help me have an important realization.

One of my goals for this year was to be more grateful. Part of that goal was to write a thankful post at least once a week in gratitude for the many blessings I receive. Yeah, I have pretty much failed at that so far. But, the year isn’t over yet! I still have time to repent. I feel like I’ve been a little too negative of late anyway, so I’d like to write something more positive.

Today I’d like to express gratitude for my beautiful youngest niece, KK. She was sent to our family at a key moment when her mother was grieving the stillborn birth of her baby and just a short time before everything started happening with Ashley. My dear sister-in-law told me a short time ago that she believes part of KK’s mission in being sent here at this time was to bring comfort. Look at this little sweetheart.


In seeing her interactions with members of my family, including all my siblings, as well as my nieces and nephews, I must say I think that’s an accurate description of her. She is so sweet, hates to be dirty, is very good tempered and is so patient to let the bigger kids pack her around. She had the most fun in Yellowstone the night when she was running around with the big kids chasing her. So cute!

In addition, Ashley dearly loved her, even when she was so desperately sick and miserable. The baby truly brought her comfort, as she has all of us. She melts all of our hearts.

I had some very cute times with her while I was at home in Idaho last week. I’d like to share the pictures here. See, she was playing in the bird bath, but it’s just no fun to do it by yourself. So, she grabbed her sucker of an aunt and put her hands in the water so she could play too. And if that aunt took her hands out, well she put them right back in. I taught her to do a little dance and say “shake, shake, shake” to dry her hands off. It was really cute. She might’ve suckered a few of her cousins into playing in it too.



Here she is running around with the big kids in Yellowstone.


Not that darling little girls should be compared with dogs, but I love this little pooch too. A beagle named Dot, she’s definitely still a puppy, and I wasn’t sure at first that I liked her, but since I’ve seen what a great kid dog she is I’ve changed my mind. And she looks up at you with those big brown eyes and you just melt!


Believe me when I say I’m grateful for many, many more things. This is covering only two of them. Goodnight everyone!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another TRAX adventure

In the past year I have become a faithful TRAX rider. I ride it almost every day except when I have a reason to drive. It’s a reliable form of transportation that saves me a LOT on gas money, wear and tear on my car and the hassle of fighting traffic. Not to mention it allows me an extra hour of reading time each day.

I’ve only had a few experiences when it was less than reliable, so it’s very much the exception rather than the rule for that to happen. But in the last week it’s happened twice!  I’m not going to really tell about the one last week because I’m pretty much over it. I have to tell about the one today, however, because, quite honestly, I want some sympathy. So here goes.

I was riding home today and everything was fine until we got to the 90th South station. I noticed that the air went off and the lights out, but I’ve seen it flick on and off before so at first I didn’t think anything of it. That is until I realized neither was coming back on, and we’d been sitting there awhile. Not only was the train not showing any sign of movement, but the one going the other direction was also stationary.

I was trying to stay calm and chat with the other passengers a bit, but the plain fact is that it was hot in there. It hit 85 degrees today, and with a lot of people and no AC, the air was heating up quickly. I was very concerned about that.

You have to understand that I have this terrible irrational fear of getting stuck somewhere I won’t be able to get out. This includes elevators, stairwells and any tight spaces that look iffy. I’ve overcome it to a certain extent, but it’s still there. So, when I realized the power was off and that most likely meant the doors wouldn’t open, I must admit that I started panicking. I felt better when I saw the door just down the way open and a few other passengers getting out.

I’d just about made the decision to get out and start walking at that point, so it was just as well to see a UTA person coming to tell us we were all getting off the train for awhile because they didn’t have any power. I missed the rest of the explanation of what was wrong because pretty much I was ready to peace out. I’d been sitting on the dead train for 15-20 minutes at that point, and I had things to do. So I decided my legs would have to get me where I needed to go.

The 90th South stop is probably a little over a mile from the one I usually get off at, two stops later. There’s a nice little path that runs parallel to the tracks, and I actually walked it a couple weeks ago. So, off I went, along with several other passengers.

I wasn’t worried about the distance because I can run/walk a 5K comfortably, but I was concerned about A) walking in the heat in my nice clothes and B) my shoe situation. I was wearing my cute wedges today that are okay for walking short distances, like around the office or from the train to my car, but not much more. But even that didn’t stop me.

I made good time and got back to my car within about 20 minutes, including the times I had to wait to cross the street. It turned out to be a wise decision on my part too because I was in my car driving away before I saw a train pull into the station.

At that point I was hot, tired and in a bit of pain from the five blisters my little walk put on my feet. I went on a two-mile walk in those shoes earlier this summer, and it was a mistake. I wouldn’t have done it this time except I really needed to get home and waiting however long for the train just didn’t appeal. But I survived the ordeal, and the blisters will eventually go away, so I’m not all that worse for wear.

I suppose I’m just annoyed to have a major delay on Trax twice in a week, but what happens, happens I suppose.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Homes on parade

One of the themes of my life in the past year is change. In learning to embrace change, I’ve also learned to not be afraid to try new things. This means I’ve had some wonderful experiences I might not have had otherwise. Some I liked and others I didn’t, but the point is that I did them. Yay for me, right?

Last week I had yet another opportunity to try something new. In this case it was the Parade of Homes. Every year the Salt Lake Builder’s Society (I think) offers a collection of around 30 homes and 10 models that you can tour for minimal cost. I’d seen one for a neighborhood in Salt Lake that I would’ve dearly loved to tour, but I wasn’t familiar with this one.

After hearing about some of the homes, particularly the home created in honor of Disney and Pixar’s Up movie, I was intrigued. And then I was invited to go. So I did.

The circumstances under which I started were not ideal, so I was not such a happy camper at first. But I talked my way out of my grumpiness and loved it! I spent three days last week touring around 25 homes. I didn’t have time or the inclination to see them all, but I loved those I did see.

Here are a few highlights. This first one is in honor of our dear Neal Caffrey. The whole layout reminded me of him, and, sigh, this picture is of the Brooklyn Bridge which is near where he lives. All right, three of the four pictures are from different homes. But the kitchen is very mod and, in my opinion, Neal-esque. With as stylishly as dear Mr. Caffrey dresses, I can’t imagine him not liking the tie holder.



A few of my favorite interiors



Several of the rooms were created in honor of wishes the Make a Wish Foundation has granted. I found those the most touching. Here’s a couple examples.



My personal favorite Make a Wish room, created in honor of Tangled. In the actual wish, the little girl wanted a playhouse. Who wouldn’t love a castle like the one in Tangled? And you could actually climb up in that playhouse! So of course we did!



Of course I’m not going to forget the Up house. It’s bigger than it looks, and how can you not love a house created in honor of such a great movie?!




Finally, and yes I know I’m getting completely carried away. But really where else am I going to share these pictures?



Okay, seriously last pictures, I promise. I think this house is gorgeous, and the location is unbelievable. I can’t imagine having this view every single night. When I got to the house, which was no small feat with all the winding around it took to get there, I saw deer on the hill just above it. The only drawback is that it’s clear out in Herriman. Oh, and it might cost around $800,000 too, but really that’s pocket change.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Family is where it’s at

So once again it’s been far too long since I’ve posted in my blog. My only defense is that life happens, and mine seems to be happening a LOT of late, so I haven’t gotten around to writing as much as I’d like to. Hopefully it’ll be better now.

So the summer is more than halfway over now, which really kind of freaks me out. Time passes so quickly these days. It kind of scares me. In any case, I have had some fantastic experiences this summer. Many of them have centered on my wonderful family. I think I’ve mentioned in here before, but I just love them so much! My life would not be complete without them.

I think I would feel lost if I couldn’t call my mom or dad when my evening didn’t go as planned, and I was really upset about it. Or if I couldn’t call my sister just to shoot the breeze for an hour on a weekend night. Or if I didn’t have a close relationship with my brother so when he and my sister-in-law purchase a car online they feel comfortable coming to stay at my house and having me shuttle them to the airport.

But since I’m close to all my siblings, there are all things I can and will do. I love my siblings, and it’s always a joy for me to see them and be a part of their lives. I dearly love being the favorite aunt to their children too. Smile

It’s funny how often one of us plans a trip to Mom and Dad’s for the weekend. And when another of us hears about it, we plan our own trip to come at the same time so we can see each other. This is especially true if we haven’t seen each other for awhile. We know space will be limited, and it will surely be a beehive of activity while we’re there, but that doesn’t stop us. We just go anyway and do our best to roll with it. Perhaps we even enjoy the chaos to a certain extent, even if we may not admit it.

My mom often tells me that she considers it one of her greatest accomplishments that her children love to be together. I’m glad too because I think I have some of the best siblings in the world. And I’d like to take it one step further and include my extended family. We don’t all get together very often, but, we enjoy seeing each other when we do. It was great to have our first family reunion in 11 years earlier this summer and to catch up on one another’s lives. Things have changed a lot in that time.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the family for your enjoyment.

It all starts at the top—my wonderful grandparents and my cute parents.


Here’s my siblings and their families




My adopted family


Others of my extended family


See, aren’t we a great looking bunch? We’re happy and we love each other, and really that’s what matters the most anyway.