387 Bad Reviews should have given us a clue.

2015
06.22

Saturday was HOT. Super HOT. I was already planning on hosting a party for the Bells on Temple Square members and their family, and I anticipated that we’d have about 60. I’d been prepping and planning all week. But John really wanted to have a garage sale, and I couldn’t foresee any available Saturdays for quite some time, so I gave in and said we could just do it. That meant about 3 days of sorting, purging, gathering, etc. We made signs, we dragged up tables, we folded clothes. On Friday morning (after being out late on Thursday night to go see a play with the Relief Society ladies), I got up at about 5:30 to start taking out our tables and make sure the signs stayed up (they hadn’t). I had to wake up the tired kids, most of whom did NOT want to be woken up before 7. But I wasn’t about to do this by myself.

We started our boring sale, which was a lot of sitting there outside, waiting for people to come. The kids were wondering why we were even doing a yard sale on Friday, but I was hoping by having it on Friday, we could NOT have to sell our junk on Saturday. At the end of the day, we had made $70. I was hoping that was enough to toss everything and send it to DI. But no, they wanted to sell again on Sat. So, we hauled everything back to the garage and closed up shop.

Next day, repeat. At 1:00, we started to pack everything away. We didn’t have time to waste. We had a retirement party to go to, and our Bots party to set up for. But why was it so hot? Cole and Megan took most of the leftovers to DI (thank goodness).

At about 2:30, we started to set up the canopies. We have one square shade canopy that we bought, and two that we were borrowing from a neighbor. While we do have a LARGE back yard, we do not have a shady back yard, so we had to put up some shade.

And we have this thing.

It looks great, right? The description sounds great, too.
Holds up to 30 people
4 sidewalls with windows
2 end walls
All-white waterproof polyethylene canopy features UV protection; blocks 90 percent of sun’s rays
Measures 10 by 30 feet

We borrowed this canopy when we had a different big party here, for my parent’s 50th anniversary (also hot, also in June). Ryan’s sister and husband host a lot of parties for the Chilean association, so they have all the stuff. We set this thing up in the morning, and then had to leave. It was no small feat getting this thing up, because the instructions (I think we did actually have the instructions then) are ambiguous and just when you have one side done, one of the poles comes unsnapped. It’s a VERY frustrating thing to put up even when it’s not 95 degrees. When we came back, the wind had taken it and twisted it. Part of the canopy was ripped and one or two of the poles had broken. NO!!!! We had to do our best to repair it and put it back up, but we wore worried it would get ripped and ruined even more. We used other stakes and weights to hold it down. It did hold up for the evening. However, we couldn’t return a broken canopy, so we ended up buying her a new one, and we kept the one we had broken.

Fast forward to Saturday. Blazing heat. We’re already exhausted, dirty, and tired from yard sale X 2 days.

Ryan and Cole are pulling over the bounce house and setting that up. We had the box of poles and tarps. No instructions. 5 of us sat there surrounded by poles with the mandate…”You guys figure that out.” Are you freaking kidding me? First I tried to make light of the situation. “Let’s pretend we’re on the amazing race and this is our task in Africa.” They were not amused. Megan even went in to get cups of water for us, since we were in danger of heat exhaustion. We tried fitting pole 1 to pole 2. Now what? 3 and 4? No, that doesn’t fit. Turn it around! Tempers were flaring with the heat and frustration.

If someone were to ask me what I thought of that really cool canopy and should they get one, I would Grab them by the front of the shirt and yell in their face, “For the love of Pete, man, do you not love your family? Don’t do it! Don’t buy it! I know it looks big and the price is great, but DON’T DO it! You WILL say things you regret, and isn’t your family worth more than that?”

There are 387 customer reviews on Amazon for this tent. That’s 387 families that are probably in family counseling now (or at least they should be). One short and sweet review said, “If you want a canopy made from cheapest materials available this canopy if for you. It would make a wonderful windsock. One good gust and hope you can find all the pieces.”

You get the picture? There was whining, crying, gnashing of teeth, yelling, screaming, and stomping. There was also working together, trying to be supportive, and encouragement. We weren’t ALL bad. We TRIED. In the end, we got the thing up, and miracle, it stayed.

We all needed showers to cool off (both literally and figuratively).

The party was still hot, but much less than if we’d had shade.

I was so busy, I didn’t even get any decent pictures, but my friend Liz took a few. You can kind of see the canopies in these pictures.

We survived. The party was fun, even though it was too hot. I haven’t written my review on Amazon just yet. But I’m ready in case I decide to.

Lagoon Day

2015
06.19

Ryan’s work does their company summer party at Lagoon. It makes it so we can actually afford to go, which is nice. I’m not a huge fan of roller coasters and gross rides, so I spend my time watching the backpacks, talking to friends, going on a few rides with John or whoever will go on the mellow rides with me. The rest of the crew hits the crazier rides.

My favorite ride is rattlesnake rapids. It’s just so fun for us ALL to go. We laugh the whole time in anticipation and trying to avoid getting wet. We talk smack about who’s going to be the wettest and who’s not going to get wet.

We’ve never had pictures, until this time. My friend Kimberly knew we were going to be on that ride, because we saw her family getting off the ride as we were in line. She stood above and snapped some pictures of us. They are priceless.

Watch Ryan as he gets soaked.

It looks like the rest of us escaped with minimal wetness, but that would be wrong. I was already soaked all the way down the back, and even though we were all huddled on one side at that time, we ALL got wet.

Yes, we spent the rest of the afternoon in squishy shoes and soggy pants, but it’s worth it. Greatest picture ever. I may have to put it as my background. Thanks, Kimberly, for the shot.

Endings and beginnings

2015
05.28

It’s the last week of school for folks in these parts. It’s been full of LASTS. Concerts, parties, yearbooks, autographs and school.

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We don’t have anyone graduating this year, but our neighbors do. Can you tell what these balloons spell out?

My sister-in-law, Julene and I went to John’s class at school today to make balloon animals for part of their party.
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His teacher thanked us profusely, but I wonder if the balloon noise just added to the chaos. Oh, well. The kids liked them.

In addition to lasts, we’ve had new beginnings. Cole spend almost all day on Monday playing with (or maybe the better word is configuring) his new phone (my old phone). He’s also been working on his old laptop (the one that Megan’s been using for the past two years). But yesterday, he heard back from his former boss at his BYU job, who asked him to come in today and start working! Woo Hoo! Such a relief to have him have a JOB! Not only does he desperately need money, but he needs something to DO. It sounds like they will allow him to work up to 40 hours a week, which would be wonderful. Crossing my fingers that it will work out that way.

Megan has also been working at Wendy’s since she came back from school. Since she’s available and willing to work, they’ve put her on nights, which means she goes in at 5 and is done at about 1. Last pay period she even picked up someone’s shift so she got overtime. Overtime makes this girl super happy.
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When things get busy and we have more things going on, I hope it’s not too hard for her to trade shifts so that she can have the evening off to do things with us (family pictures coming up, for example).

Natalie has also applied at a couple (and I use that term liberally) places, but today when I nagged her about that it was time to find a job, she complained bitterly. Does she not understand that the nagging with stop when she finds a job? Silly girl. She acts like she’s too good to work fast food. Hmm. I guess she’ll just have to do more jobs around the house for me.

Since we have two more drivers home and no more cars (nobody seems to want to drive the suburban), we’ve been looking for another car. We found one this week and I bought it yesterday.
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If you think that looks somewhat like a police car, you would be correct.
It’s a 2003 Crown Victoria, used by the forest service, not a patrol car, so it’s not quite as beat up as it could have been. It looks ok from the side, but if you look up top you’ll see much more paint damage.
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The kids don’t seem to mind, and the price was in our range, so we bought it. Plus, we know the guy who sold it to us, and I don’t think he would sell us a lemon on purpose. This car has a lot of power and will hopefully run for a long time.

And on a completely unrelated topic, since Natalie was home today, I asked her to use the rhubarb we had picked yesterday to make something. I made rhubarb muffins yesterday, so she decided she wanted to make a pie. Not bad looking for her first pie, right?

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So, happy summer. Enjoy the long days, the kids at home, the messes. I know I will.

He’s home!

2015
05.25

Friday was THE day. I had so much to do in anticipation of our celebration weekend, but I didn’t really want to do it. But by Friday, there was no resting. At 1:00, I took Megan with me and we went to John’s school to decorate a few faces john face
for the school dance festival. John’s grade was doing the Haka, and so, eyeliners in hand, we helped to make them look a bit more scary.dance fest
It’s been such a rainy month, and it threatened to rain the whole time, but thankfully it did not. We enjoyed all the dances, but especially the cute life skills class doing the Makarana.

After the festival, we brought John home, and got a few things ready before we left for the airport.
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I hung my banner, which I just love. It wasn’t too hard to make, and I thought it was so cute. (I love how the cat posed right by the door in my picture).

We grabbed some balloons, and headed up to the airport. In reality, we should have left a bit earlier, since the traffic was kind of heavy, but we did fine.

We set a family goal to finish the Book of Mormon before Cole came home. As we were in Alma at the time we set that goal, we thought that was totally doable. Well, procrastinators that we are, as we got in the car to go get him, we still had the entire book of Moroni to read. But Moroni has a bunch of small chapters, so we thought we could do it. I started the audio on my phone and we listened the whole drive. Chapters 1-5 went quickly, but then we got to 7 which is long, and I began to worry that we might have to be reading in a corner of the airport. I know you can make Bruce Lindsay read faster, but I didn’t want to take the time to fiddle with the app and figure that out. As we were pulling into the parking garage, we were on chapter 10. So close! We finished the book AS WE were pulling into the parking spot. Not kidding.

We grabbed out sign and hurried in. We could have taken our time, but it was the only a couple of minutes before the scheduled arrival time. We stood around for about a half an hour.

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We stood with our sign, me talking to my parents and chit chatting a bit with the other missionaries’ families. All excited. Counting the minutes. The energy at the airport on when waiting for a missionary is electric! So many families. So much love.
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There were actually only 5 missionaries on this flight, but the waiting area was pretty full.
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Finally we spotted him!
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One mom to the right RAN ahead screaming to grab her son, but the rest of us were a bit more composed.
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I got to grab him and hug him. It felt so great. I think I exhaled some tension I didn’t know I had been carrying for the past two years. Just a tiny bit of worry that I had held on to while my boy was away. I don’t have a picture of me hugging him (I think my dad has that one), but we all got our hugs in.
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And we got a picture of us all at the airport.

Afterwards, we all went to crown burger for some dinner. Fancy? Not so much. Convenient? Yes. Fun? Of course. DSCN1217

Saturday we all went to the Stake President’s office at noon for a great talk and some wonderful advice, and then he had him take off his name tag. That’s a hard thing to give up the protection and honor of wearing that badge. He let me have one of them to keep on the fridge.
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We had to much work to do Saturday that it was busy, busy. We even took Cole to a wedding reception of a ward member that night, and he got lots of hugs from non family members.

Sunday was a wonderful day. He gave a great talk, Natalie played a wonderful piano solo, and the weather held. We were able to have our gathering outside, just as I had wanted.
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Even though it was cloudy and a bit cold when we started, we just went for it. I said to the group of at least 50 people (didn’t count), if it rains, we can go inside.
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But only a couple people went inside. After about 20 minutes, it warmed up, the sun came out, and it was wonderful! I loved having so many cousins, aunts and uncles, and my sisters and parents there. There was plenty of food, so many hugs, and we had a great time. The chickens, who had been locked up the whole day, were anxious to get out, and we did get a couple of them out to let the little kids pet them.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day with family.

We are so happy to have him home, but I’m a tiny bit sad to have the missionary experience over. I know it sounds strange, but I really did enjoy having a missionary out. I hope I’ll get the experience again in a few years.

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Can’t stop the thinking

2015
05.13

First I couldn’t sleep.
Too hot. Too cold. Pillow too flat. Husband making noise. Whatever.

Then my brain kicked in.
Thinking about fundraising for John to go to the scout National Jamboree. Thinking about the kids and their end of school projects and things. Thinking about Cole coming home and details that go with that.

I was finally just about back to sleep and I had this horrible thought that something wasn’t right.
So, I dragged myself out of bed to go and check to see if the kids were all in bed, and all breathing. Irrational? Yes. When I got to Megan’s room, I couldn’t see ANYTHING, and I stepped on something. It woke her up and freaked her out that her stalker mom was coming to check on her. I don’t blame her. “Mom, what are you doing?”
“Just checking to see if you are allright.” Such a lame answer, I know.
“I couldn’t sleep, so I just wanted to check on everyone.”

Is it just me? Stupid middle of the night fears.

Mother’s Day and More

2015
05.12

I helped someone fill out a food order this week. Everything is firsts for me in this calling. I’ve been doing it for a month, now, and I’m still learning and finding things out. It’s hard to keep my personal opinions and prejudices out of the situation, since I really don’t KNOW the whole story. I’m just trying to help them without judging.

There was also another death in the ward. A 105 year old woman who was living in our ward, with her son and his family. She didn’t make it to church, and I think I have only seen her once since she’s been here. Her funeral will be in New Mexico, where she is from, so I don’t need to worry about that.

Mother’s day was awesome. We had some great talks in church, then COLE skyped with us and it was so wonderful to see his face. I know he comes home in less than two weeks, but it was still a lovely bonus to see him. I hope he works hard for the last real week. We are all very excited to have him home! I keep telling the kids that he’ll be a bit weird when he comes home, but they don’t really listen.

Then we had our Moms and Dads over for dinner. Our biggest laugh of the evening came when my mom was testing out our new whipped cream whipper that Ryan is so thrilled with (Best $2 garage sale find in quite a while.)

She didn’t have it straight up and down and when she went to put cream on her pie, it shot ALL over Ryan! We laughed SO hard! It was great. Ryan’s pants wash, so it’s no big deal, and we wiped everything up in no time

Kind of a roller coaster

2015
04.30

This week was hard for me. Monday, especially. Monday and Tuesday were auditions for a summer show at the Sera theater. I’ve always loved “Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamboat”,even before Donny made it his own. Even though there aren’t really any parts for women, I wanted to audition. But when I accepted this relief society calling, I told Ryan that I would probably have to give up community theater for a bit. I didn’t say forever. When I looked at the dates for that play (and two others) and looked at my rehearsal schedule for bells (every Wed night, three Saturday mornings and a couple other nights thrown in before our concert in June) and the other things the family has already scheduled, I realized that no one would cast me in a show that opens July 2, even if I did audition. But it made me sad, still.

I couldn’t find my favorite chicken again. She doesn’t like to go into the house at night, and we usually have to pick her up and put her inside. When I went to put them away one night, I couldn’t find her anywhere. Couldn’t find her again the next day. She did this once before, and after disappearing for a day, she magically came back. I figured she was just on another walk-about. But, as I was out in the orchard area of the yard, spraying weeds, I found her. Or bits of her. Only her feet and a wing were there. Something had come into our yard and eaten her. Sadness enveloped me as I cleaned up what was left of my favorite chicken. A thought came to me that if I cared this much about a chicken, imagine the sorrow that a parent, or our Heavenly Father, feels when a child is lost. It put things into perspective a bit, but I was still so very sad.

On Tuesday, I read on the freecycle email that someone had two Americauna Chickens to give away. The same kind as I had lost, they lay green eggs, and are very friendly. Tuesday night I went to go pick them up. Even though I only lost one, I picked up those two and brought them home to our flock. I hope they adjust well soon. So, that was good.

Wed I got to sub in Kindergarten. First time I’ve had a little one throw up in the classroom, and let me tell you, I don’t need to experience that again…ever.

Bells rehearsal was a lot of fun. LeAnna was gone and Larry was a little bit more casual and fun. Since we had just had a BIG long day on Friday, it was nice to take it a little bit easy and have the pressure off.

The deadline to get Natalie registered for the National Debate competition has been looming. While we want her to have a good experience, this trip just doesn’t seem to be working out. Only 3 kids from Lone Peak Qualified, and there were no chaperones, except the one boy’s mom, from what I could tell. We as parents got NO communication from the school or the debate coach, even though I emailed and asked questions. Natalie’s friend is her duo partner, and I kept asking her mom if she knew anything. Last week I realized we would have to do all the arrangements ourselves, and I called to see if we could reserve a room at the hotel where the competition is being held. I thought if I went with them, that would put me at ease. Sold out. Wait list. Looked at flights, not terrible, but still, we would want to book those soon.

I’ve had this unsettled feeling about the competition. How would these girls find anything? Where would they stay? Take a taxi? What 16 year old knows how to do that? I’m not a seasoned traveler, so these things make me nervous, maybe I was projecting that feeling onto this situation.

I heard in a meeting the other day, that if you have a little feeling and you wonder if that’s from the spirit trying to tell you something of if it’s a thought you had in your own mind, 99% of the time, it’s the spirit trying to tell you something. I’m trying to live closer to the spirit since my RS calling, and I just couldn’t get this nagging annoying feeling to go away. I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to please help me figure out what to do. Then I messaged Natalie’s debate partner’s mom and just told her what I thought. She said she would not hold it against us if we decided to pull Natalie from the competition, even if that meant her daughter wouldn’t be able to attend. It would simplify their lives as well (she would be missing half of a family vacation).

When Natalie came home, I braced myself for some drama, but as I explained how I felt and what we were thinking, she was very calm and I think she understands. I told her how much we love her and that we want her to be happy and successful, but we don’t think this is the competition for her. She called her friend, who already knew what we moms were thinking, and they told the coach to put the alternates in, that they wouldn’t be going. (Sure, SHE can reach him, but he won’t answer my email? Whatever)

I feel a bit more peaceful now that the decision has been made.

I had kept today and tomorrow open because my friend Robin had wanted to fly here from AZ and go to women’s conference with me, but she decided at the last minute that she’d better not. Even though she feels pretty good at home, her white count is down, and who knows how the altitude and the flight might affect her (she’s undergoing cancer treatments). So, while I could have gone to Women’s conference, I spent the day doing Relief Society things instead. I made muffins and went to visit two older sisters in our ward. They are both primary care takers for husbands suffering with Alzheimer’s. It was good to visit with them for a few minutes and let them know that we care and we are available to help, if they want that. I also worked on my lesson for Sunday a little bit.

So, you can see, the week is full of ups and downs. That’s how life is. Ups and Downs, highs and lows. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…….I’ll stop now.

The weasel of virtue?

2015
04.23

At dinner, Jenna asked what the oldest level of scouts is.
“The cubmaster,” I said.
“No, you’ve forgotten about the Silver Beaver,” said Ryan. Even though the silver beaver is an actual thing, we thought it was funny.
“Don’t forget about the diamond squirrel and the platinum mongoose, and the bronze gopher.” We all had one to add, laughing.
“The top honor is the tin chicken,” I said.
“Do not mock the scouting!” Ryan said. “What’s the highest recognition you can earn in Young Women’s?” he said in a somewhat mocking tone.
“Well,” Natalie said, “there’s the honor bee…and the Virtue Weasel.”
We all burst out laughing. There was no stopping us, now.
“It is the highest honor,” I chimed in, “You earn your Virtue Weasel anklet…No, Toe ring!”

Yes. We are so reverent.

John

2015
04.19

Eleven is a big year for this boy here.

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He got to perform at the Hope of America, which is a big program at BYU (part of the Freedom Festival) where 5th graders learn a bunch of great songs and get to go and perform them.

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You can’t tell, but there’s John over there in the yellow shirt on the left side.

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Also not John.

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The coolest is when they do this whole flashlight song and sing about how they are the light.

John doesn’t love to have his picture taken right now, but he is indeed a light to our family. Smart and Spunky (and stubborn). We love him.

The other day there was a HUGE windstorm. I hate windstorms. The sound of the wind shaking the windows and the bushes scraping the trees scares me, and I envision our roof being ripped off as I watch garbage cans and coolers and boxes blow down the street. As I was preparing to hunker down inside, I looked out the window, and I saw John on the trampoline. What in the world?
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He thought he would take advantage of the breeze and see if that affected his jumping. That boy loves to jump on the trampoline.

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The pictures aren’t the greatest quality because I took them from inside the house through a dirty window (because I wasn’t going outside, are you kidding?)but you get the idea.

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I actually had to call him inside when dinner was ready.

I love this boy.
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First Funeral

2015
04.17

Saturday we had a funeral. Our first as a RS presidency. Thankfully, we have Kristen, an amazing lady who is our compassionate service funeral team leader. She was so organized, so it made the day go quite smoothly.

I got a call on Friday from the daughter, who was helping coordinate the funeral for her dad. She said they wanted to have donuts to pass out after the funeral. Her dad lived on Coke and donuts, and all the grandkids knew that if they stayed over with their Grandparents, they would have coke and donuts for breakfast.

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So, on Saturday, one of the brothers brought in about 400 donuts from Lehi bakery.

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Once the funeral started, we set these up on both sides of the chapel, so that people could pick up a donut on the way out. It was just a fun reminder of Gary, a way of remembering a great man.

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And boy were they yummy donuts! I didn’t eat a donut, but I did in fact have several donut holes.

I’m thankful that things went smoothly that day. It was a long day, and hard work, but we were happy to serve.