Why is Angel Moroni on top of a tree?

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In the 14 years that Heath and I have been visiting the Seattle area, he has never taken me to the temple. That sounds bad. I mean he has never taken me to the Seattle temple. It’s just never fit in with all the other activities we have planned with family. I had no idea the fire station put Angel Moroni on top of a tree.

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The Seattle temple is not even located in Seattle but in Bellevue. Interesting that they still call it the Seattle temple. Heath used to work at the Redmond Town Center. We go back to visit occasionally. I had a craving for Ruby’s Diner and asked if we could visit the temple grounds after having lunch at Ruby’s. Unfortunately Ruby’s is no longer there so we had lunch at JB’s. After we walked around the ever changing mall we drove on to Bellevue to visit the temple.

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As we sat at a stoplight we could see the top of the temple through the trees. Gwen looked over spotting Angel Moroni on top of the spire.
Gwen: Why did the fire station put Angel Moroni on top of a tree? They should put him on top of the temple!

The nearby fire station was clearly to blame in her little 6 year old mind. We all had a good laugh over her outburst. Western Washington is so full of trees. It kind of did look like the angel was on top of a tree.

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There is no visitor’s center at this temple. The grounds are beautiful but smaller than I imagined.

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There’s a small path through a garden. Parker is standing at the top of the steps on one end of the path. In the middle of the garden is a bench. Gavin sat down and said, “This seems familiar.” He remembered us taking him to our bench at Murray Park last summer. That’s where Heath proposed to me. Happy memories. How fitting for Gavin to remember how our family began at a place that reminds us families can be together forever.

Gwen cannot wait to be married in the temple. She was running up and down a set of stairs telling us who was invited and what her dress would look like. I probably watch a little too many Bride Days on TLC. For now I see no harm in her dreaming. She understands the importance of the temple and the important priesthood ordinances performed there.

There was a night when Kirk and Dayleen’s family was over. Gwen was running around with Breena having the time of her life. Gwen decided to play Say Yes to the Dress. She would wrap a fleece blanket around herself in different ways and stand on a step stool for us to give our opinions. I loved how she would tell us about her dress down to the imaginary accessories.

She also made sure we understood that there would be a shirt underneath so the dress had sleeves and was modest. Heath and Kirk laughed that Mormon girls wear t-shirts under their dresses. Modest is hottest! The best was when she came out with the blanket wrapped around her and held a bow shaped pillow in front of her chest. “This is called a clown gown!” We all busted up laughing. That girl is so funny!

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I love the fountains at the different temple grounds the best.

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And the pretty flowers that Heath photographs so well.
I am amazed that the basket of flowers I took home from my dad’s memorial service are still alive. The flowers died a long time ago but the plants keep on living. I hardly ever water them but they look great. It makes me smile.

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We seemed to be the only tourists that day. The only other people I saw not dressed in Sunday best were small children playing in the grass. Their mom was in a dress. My guess is she and her husband were taking turns serving in the temple. I’m still glad we went. I love walking around temple grounds when I get the chance.

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Super Sleuth

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It has been quite the exciting summer around here. With all our road trips Gavin was able to earn every reading prize offered at the library for the summer reading program.

The library had a spy mystery case theme this summer. First prize was a notebook and pen along with a coupon for a free personal pizza at Round Table. Second prize was spy glasses with a coupon to the Chabot Space and Science Center. Gavin was pretty excited about the glasses. He put them on in the car and as I was backing up he said, “Hey! I can see the cars behind me!” His face was still forward.

Third prize was a flashlight pen I think and a paper with a fudge recipe on one side and Spectrum of Science information on the other side. Gavin only cared about the recipe. I don’t know what the Spectrum of Science is. I guess we need to go to their website because we have a coupon good for $5 off any Spectrum of Science program. Gavin loves science but I think all he really wants to do is make the fudge!

The final prize is for the overachiever readers. The kids who read all summer and do little else. Two major road trips with audio books plus Kindles and reading lights, Gavin was able to earn the final prize – a book. The librarians had a cart full of books for the prize earners to choose from. Gavin picked Lost and Found by Andrew Clements. Excellent choice. Gavin loves that author and there really wasn’t anything on his reading level that he was interested in. So he picked a book he enjoyed reading a couple years ago.

Oh, and the librarian also gave Gavin a coupon for a free cookie pizza from a pizza place. Probably Round Table again. I know what he will be getting while I’m out of town! Pizza, cookies, and movies I don’t want to watch. The kids can’t wait to get into a Dad only routine.

While we were in Seattle we went to the Pacific Science Center. When we were getting the tickets Heath decided to pay a little extra for the Spy Exhibit. The kids thought that was pretty cool that their summer reading program was a spy theme and we were going to learn about spies.

Here’s a little hint about the Pacific Science Center. You need more than two hours. Here’s another hint. When they say no bathrooms beyond this point, just make the kids go. The Spy Exhibit was much bigger and more involved than we thought. I actually wish we had known just how extensive it was so we could have paced ourselves a little better.

The first couple rooms were very creepy. I did not enjoy being in there. It bothered me to learn about so many crazy things that are real. You see things in the movies and think it’s Hollywood. More of that stuff is real than I ever wanted to believe.

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I wish I could have gotten a better picture of this letter. This was the best angle to avoid glare and seeing my reflection in the glass. It’s a letter from a father to his son who was a toddler during the Holocaust. Richard Helms was a spy who fought against Hitler. His brief letter was honest and chilling. He didn’t share a lot of details but his words were well chosen. The cursive was difficult to read and I hoped I could get a good picture of it. Oh well. I won’t soon forget how the letter made me feel.

We spent a lot of time in the first couple of rooms reading. There were displays to look at and lots of things to read. The kids were getting a little bored and I felt bad. I also didn’t really want to explain things to them because the world felt ugly at that point. Eventually we worked our way to another room. It was more interactive. The kids really had fun there. Their favorite was the room with the lasers they had to avoid hitting.

There was a monitor outside so we could watch. The monitor didn’t show the lasers but it was fun to watch them step over and slide around to avoid them in the 30 second time limit. Parker was perfect. The other two touched lasers more than once. Gavin almost didn’t get out in time. By the time that activity was over their tiny little bladders had filled up.

They tried to hold it but that didn’t last long. We had to race through the labyrinth of spy activities and rooms, including the gift shop at the end, hoping to find the final exit to get to a bathroom already. The spy section was set up that you don’t get to return once you leave. Grr. So we tried to hit the highlights in the rest of the Science Center with the hour we had left. It wasn’t enough time to really do anything.

When Gavin got the rest of his library reading prizes today, the other two were so excited to talk about different spy things they had learned about. At least they got something out of the short experience we had in the Spy Exhibit. I’m just excited that Gavin worked as hard as he did to earn the free book. I feel like we have accomplished a lot this summer and had tons of fun.

From the Redwood Forests …

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I have always wanted to visit the redwood forests. I grew up singing that song – This Land Was Made for You and Me. The redwood forest is in that song. Trees are awesome. I love trees. I have heard on more than one occasion that there is a place in the redwood forest where you can drive a car through a redwood tree. It’s been on my mental bucket list for some time.

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We moved to California, the home of the redwood forests, and the inspiration for the line in the song – from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me. Time to find out for myself.

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Part of the thought process behind driving up the coast via Highway 101 was so we could visit the redwood forest. Highway 101 cuts right through these forests. As the gentle giants loomed on either side of the road I was impressed. These trees are massive. Not only are they incredibly tall but they are, well, massive. These are not tall spindly things overstretched in their quest to touch the heavens. These trees have substance. Gentle giant is a great description.

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The more I was in awe of these trees the more my mind went back to an embarrassing post from a few years ago. The point of the post was how I had misread the planting directions for a redwood seedling. Ha ha ha, very funny. What bothered me about it (besides admitting online to anyone in the world interested in reading that post) was one of the comments. Not only had I misread measurements but it’s the sequoia trees that you can drive through, not redwoods. Redwoods are thin in comparison.

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That has weighed on my mind for years. How had I misheard so many people for so much of my life claiming that you can drive a car through a redwood tree? I had to know the truth.

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As I looked out the van window at the redwoods I thought those trees were pretty big. It was hard to say if a car could fit through the wide trunk. We stopped a few times to walk among the trees. Unfortunately we missed our chance to drive through the trees. The sign came and went so fast that we missed the turnoff. I kind of hoped there would be more opportunities. But there weren’t. Since I didn’t actually get to drive through a redwood tree I doubted the enormity of the trees I did see up close and personal.

Northwest-Adventure-011 I have no idea what she’s doing!

Two weeks later the suspense was killing me. I looked it up and found this statement.

Shrine Drive-Thru Tree, and Drive-Over Tree: Humboldt Redwoods State Park   13078 Avenue of the Giants, Myers Flat, CA 95554. Drive your car through a redwood tree or over a fallen redwood log. The kids will like our two 2-story tree houses and the children’s walk-through stump. Visit the redwood gift shop  707-943-1975. Tree is open from dawn til dusk. Gift shop hours – summertime only – 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

Closed in winter.  More Info

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Our adventure up the 101 included driving through Humboldt Redwood State Park. As I said, we missed the turn to drive through a tree but at least now I know for sure. You can drive through redwood trees. The site mentioned that there are three “drive-through” trees on the North Coast. All redwoods as far as I can tell.

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Further searching has taught me that the comment was right; that sequoias are larger in diameter than redwoods. But redwoods are taller than sequoias. It also seems that both names belong to the same species of tree. So there is a chance that the three drive-through trees are actually sequoia and not redwood trees. Not being able to drive through a tree makes it difficult to know for sure exactly what type of tree had a car sized tunnel carved out of it.

Whether or not I’m an idiot when it comes to trees remains to be seen. It was quite the experience being around these gentle giants anyway. I kind of want to go back. After all, William Cullen Bryant tells us, “The groves were God’s first temples.”

Is this what happens in families with no divorce?

Six people were lined up in front of the fireplace, lapel mics in place. Three cameras were strategically placed throughout the room. The wings of the room were full of interested onlookers. A palpable energy sizzled.

Two women had plans to go shopping. They never left the room. Nobody left the room except for short breaks. Everyone was transfixed. Who knew family stories could be so mesmerizing?

The kids and I were downstairs watching movies. Uncle Lindy came into the theater room at one point. I had fallen asleep and his opening the door startled me. I stumbled out of my seat to shut everything down, assuming the filming was finished upstairs and Lindy had come to rescue us. Still in a fog I grabbed everything and went upstairs where I was told they were only taking a break.

Uncle Dan said, “You thought we could tell a lifetime of stories in only three hours?” Admittedly, I hoped that was the case. When Heath filmed my grandparents telling stories last summer we were excited with the 90 minute session. We had no idea how supportive Heath’s family would be.

There really was a feeling upstairs. It was as thick as being wrapped in a warm blanket. Everyone said that they don’t care if Heath ever edits the video into a DVD. The experience was worth it.

I wish I could have been there to hear the stories firsthand. I get the impression it was a cathartic exercise to sit next to one another, in birth order with Grandma in the middle, just reminiscing.

After six hours of filming they finally called it quits. Heath and I never conceived of such a successful day. It brings goosebumps to my arms just thinking about it.

Uncle Channing’s former wife had come just for a minute to see. Wild horses could not have dragged her from that room and the feeling created there. She was so touched by the experience that she said, “Is this what happens in families that don’t get divorced?” Such a profound statement of observation.

Families can be close and families can be separated by time and choices. In the end there is a glue that binds people together as families. I don’t know how close this family really is. They seem to keep in touch with one another fairly well. They all love their mother. She is an incredible woman.

I can’t help but think of my own family. I was so nervous to go to my dad’s memorial service. What would my aunts and uncles think of me? I hadn’t seen them in probably 20 years. Who had I become in their minds over that period of time?

It felt like home. Their eyes were so kind. My Uncle Max’s face seemed to say it all. “I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. Too many years have passed but I am so happy to see you again.” My Aunt Sarah hugged me and my sister so tightly. She said over and over again, “You are so beautiful!” Family is forever.

That feeling I felt in the small amount of time I had to reunite with my dad’s brothers and sisters was the same feeling in that clubhouse when Heath was filming his family. It was so strong. Regardless of mistakes made, there is always the realization that this is family. The love is already there.

Time didn’t allow Heath to film his dad telling Grandpa’s stories. I was so surprised last December to learn that Heath’s grandpa never shared war stories with any of his children. He had only told his son in law. When we were telling Dan and Dana about  the idea of filming Grandma and any of her kids who wanted to join, Dan said, “Make sure you film your dad telling Grandpa’s war stories.”

Heath is going back to Seattle in a month or so on business. He plans to sit down with his dad and capture those stories then. I can’t even imagine how amazing those stories are and what it will mean to everyone. Grandpa served in World War II as a sniper.

In a few days I will go back to Utah. I want to but I am really nervous about it too. Part of me is jealous that my brother and sister have had time to deal with their feelings after our dad’s passing. They are right there immersed in all of it.

That’s what makes me nervous I guess. I can live in my own little corner of the world with my own little family. I love the family I was born in and the family I married into. But we live out of state from both families. Am I really ready to dive back in to the feelings of losing my dad? I’m protected here from my own mind. Going back to Utah will just open it all up again.

My mother in law’s cousin showed up for the filming too. Word spread far and wide about this unique family opportunity. She shared some stories about her grandparents, Heath’s great grandparents. The stories make me sad. It was common knowledge that this great grandmother was difficult to get along with.

It’s not even my family and it hurts my feelings to think that’s how this woman is remembered. All I could think of that night was an unanswerable question. What’s worse, a relative that’s difficult to be around or a relative that isolates themselves, cutting themselves off from the rest of the family?

My dad didn’t want to be the hard relative so he left. I didn’t want him in my life so I never reached out to him. Now that he’s gone everything hurts. Then I wonder, who am I? What terms am I remembered by? Families are complicated.

The older I get the more real everything becomes. I recognize the healing power of love and forgiveness. Family is the most important thing. I’m so glad that we are still capturing my family’s stories. Now we have captured Heath’s family stories. It’s a very cool thing. Family makes up so much of who people are. For good or bad, family is where it all starts.

Does that enveloping feeling of being hugged in a warm blanket only exist in families with no divorce? I don’t think so. Maybe the glue that binds is felt stronger in those families. But I can’t forget my aunts and uncles faces. Nor can I forget the feeling of being home in their embrace. After all is said and done, family is family. The love is already there.

Chicken Soup for the Computer Soul

The computer is sick. Apparently it has a virus. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. I’m terrified we will lose data. If I lose any of my Primary files I don’t know what I will do. If I lose any pictures that will officially be the end of the world.

We haven’t been taking as many pictures lately. The computer has made it difficult to import pictures and video from the cameras so I hardly ever take video. More often than not I will take pictures on my phone because they are stored in the cloud. The virus is probably to blame for the importing issues. Although Heath seemed to fix it the other day.

The computer has become my domain over the last couple years. Heath loves his gadgets and keeps getting new stuff that he uses in place of our regular computer. He keeps threatening to switch us to laptops. He assures me I can still have my dual monitor system and my laptop will simply click in to a docking station. I’m not thrilled with change so I don’t like the idea.

Heath has been using my computer a lot since we got home. It makes me feel displaced. We haven’t had to coordinate computer time with each other for years. But we both have memories we want to capture. He’s been trying to work with the video he got of his family. I just want to blog. When he steps away, I don’t even have any pictures! They’re still on his Surface. Now no one can work. The computer is coughing lines of code scrolling on a black background.

I feel a little lost. Today is a strange day. We only had an hour of church. A design flaw was discovered in specific building floor plans. Urgent inspections were done a couple days ago and one of the church buildings in the Stake failed inspection. So the wards that meet in that building were rerouted to the Stake Center for Sacrament Meeting only. To accommodate the extra wards, the two wards that normally meet there only had Sacrament Meeting as well.

I was thrilled to not have any Primary responsibilities. I have had a bad attitude about my role as secretary lately. It was frustrating to me to be expected to still send out many emails while on vacation. The number of emails I have been involved in over the last two days has put me over the edge! Effective communication does not seem to be a strong suit among the Presidency and Nursery leaders.

So here I am sitting at home with all the time in the world to blog and I have to do it on my annoying Netbook with the tiny keyboard. I don’t really have access to vacation pictures. At least not the way I want. Get better soon computer. I miss typing on the keys with no names.

Here’s Your Sign

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Bill Engvall is one of my favorite comedians. He is known for his “here’s your sign” bits. “Stupid people should have to wear signs. That way you wouldn’t rely on them, would you? You wouldn’t ask them anything. It would be like, “Excuse me…oops, never mind. I didn’t see your sign.” …

“We were trying to sell our car about a year ago. A guy came over to the house and drove the car around for about 45 minutes. We get back to the house, he gets out of the car, reaches down and grabs the exhaust pipe, then goes, “Darn that’s hot!” See? If he’d been wearing his sign, I could have stopped him.”

Speaking of comedians, I also love Brian Regan. I thought of him every time Chris and Charlie talked about coffee. They like their coffee black. Maybe it’s just Charlie that’s picky about that. We were driving together from the hotel we all stayed at in Crescent City to the beach house. When Heath was in the lead he pulled into a parking lot with a drive thru coffee shop. We asked Charlie what kind of coffee he likes, knowing he wanted a cup in the afternoon. He said he likes it black.

Anyway, every time I saw those two drinking coffee I thought of this bit by Brian Regan. It may be visually annoying since someone basically illustrated the jokes. You can close your eyes and listen if you prefer.

Back to signs.

Highway 101 has some of the strangest signs. Highway 101 is kind of a strange road altogether. It’s two lanes of opposing traffic separated by paint. Kind of like some crazy trust exercise. It says a lot about society that at any given moment a driver can choose to turn the wheel differently a few degrees and CRUNCH!

Speeds range from 25 to 55 depending on whether or not you’re passing through a town. There are houses and businesses on the 101. I just think that would be weird to put on a return address label.

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456 Highway 101
Fortuna, OR

I think Fortuna was in Oregon. There were so many strange cities and towns, not to mention unfortunate street names. Fortuna was one of those names that cracked us up. Fortuna press one. For roast beef press two. It sounds like a sandwich hotline. There were some others but I don’t remember them and it’s probably just as well. We had a little too much fun with some of the street names. Like Leavage, a street that runs between two hills. You have to wonder what people were thinking.

I hated everything about traveling on the 101. Twiddly bits are fun and all but that’s all the road is. Twists and turns at breakneck speeds considering the twists and turns among the trees. There were no quiet parts of the road either. There was always someone behind us who seemed to be annoyed that we weren’t speeding through the terrain. And of course there was always truck and RV after semi truck and car careening down the road opposite of us. Separated by paint. Barely. Let’s just say that my legs were sore from trying in vain not to stomp on my imaginary brakes.

We listened to audio books for much of our driving. My heart was racing as we got to the most exciting part of Inkheart while it looked like we were inches from death from a head on collision with every vehicle that passed. Did I mention I didn’t like Highway 101?

At one point we were taking a break from the audio books and just listening to music. The kids were zoned out watching movies in the backseat. Heath was on a roll with the jokes. His sense of humor is one of my favorite things about him and he was cracking me up. I’m going to write this story knowing it won’t be as funny to anyone but us. You kind of had to be there.

The first elk sign came up and I had to say it. “Why do they put those signs there? Deer can’t read! No, but they do recognize pictures of themselves. Here’s your sign.” It’s a whole Bill Engvall thing from his Dorkfish album. Anyway, Heath and I giggled at the joke as we always do. Apparently there are a ton of elk that live in the Northern California and Oregon hills because the signs were everywhere.

At one point there was a sign that said Slow Elk 200 yards. Seconds later we rounded a corner and saw an old red one room schoolhouse. Heath started joking about slow elk and how he needed to run for office so he could lobby for better education for the elk. We decided the males were the slow elk because their horns can’t fit through the school door. Only the females can fit in the school. After that some signs specified slow elk while others just had a picture with the word elk. Heath kept asking if they were slow or fast elk.

Suddenly we came up on a long line of stopped traffic in both directions. People were getting out of their cars. As we inched our way around cars parked as far off the road as possible, which was about halfway through the lane, we expected to see some grizzly car accident. No, it was a herd of elk chilling in the grass. People were getting out to take pictures.

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I managed to get a picture of only three female elk before we completely drove past the scene. Ironically all the slow elk were too quick for me and my camera prowess.

Heath and I laughed some more over elk and the strange scene of the elk grazing in the middle of the field by the road. Earlier we had laughed over the tsunami signs. You are entering the danger zone. Now you are leaving the danger zone. By the way, our beach house was in the tsunami danger zone! One sign had a dramatically decreased speed limit for the 90 degree turn. Heath had me laughing hard at that one too. “If we go that direction we’ll be in the ocean! We’re not trying to get to Japan!”

Then the sign to beat all signs came up.
“Campers 1/4 mile”

I laughed so hard I cried. Between tears and guffaws I choked out, “What, you wanna picture?” Think about it. The sign was not informing us of an activity. We weren’t being invited to a camping activity. It seemed to only be letting us know that people participating in a camping activity could be seen in a quarter mile. Like monkeys at the zoo. Drivers were left to wonder if these campers were displayed on the side of the road or if sleeping bags were strewn across the street. A quarter mile warning is not a lot of time at 55 mph through twiddly bits.

There were no campers that I could see. I feel a little like they made a big deal of not inviting me to their camping exposé. Whatever. It still makes me laugh. That night we went out to dinner in Cannon Beach. At some really delicious and very posh restaurant that we were severely underdressed for. As we were munching on bread and chatting, Heath tells the campers sign story. The hilarity was still very fresh on my mind and I snorted. Out loud. When he started the story. I’m not sure if anyone noticed. Not that it matters now, I just admitted it! That sign will be my happy thought for years to come.

Other crazy signs included pictures. Over and over we saw signs with a picture of a bike and the words “on the road” underneath. It just seems to me that it would be easier to remove the bike from the road than make a whole sign warning motorists about it. That’s not an unreasonable assumption either because there were plenty of bike racing signs. Those signs included a stick figure person on the stick figure bike. That’s a sign I can understand. Don’t hit the bikers. But the riderless bike? What’s that all about?

There were many signs that came in multiples. A large board would have a picture of a campfire, a tent, a picnic table, and the most chilling picture ever – a small person holding the hand of a big person with water under their feet. What!

It kept showing up. What were they saying? Vertically challenged individuals must hold the hand of the vertically endowed? Someone likes long romantic walks on the beach so much they advertise ten times in as many miles? Our favorite hypothesis was that it was a sign for child abduction or child exploitation. Maybe the sign meant that if parents turned their backs a kidnapper would walk off hand in hand with their kid. Maybe it was a safe surrender site! We felt better knowing that all those criminal activities were contained in small designated areas up and down the coast.

Eventually our silly imaginings turned to real contemplation. What in the world did that picture mean? We still don’t know but it’s highly likely the sign means it’s a family friendly beach. Oh.

The names of creeks were great too. Some of them were really lame like Big Creek. Little Creek. Rock Creek. Don’t hurt yourself coming up with names right? Maybe they liked Dick and Jane books. Maybe the creeks were named to be the setting for a Dick and Jane book.

My favorite was the tunnel that went straight into a bridge. I could just imagine the trailblazers. Some guy was sick of the twiddly bits and was going to bore straight through the mountain already. Forget going around when you can go right through. The tunnel was painstakingly dug and they finally came out the other side. *plop* A pickaxe dropped into the creek below. And then they had to make a bridge to get across.

For as much as I hated the 101, it was beautiful. Trees and mountains to the right. Breathtaking ocean views to the left. The signs more than made up for any anxiety. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to look at the campers exploiting children at the lake.

I’ve Learned

  • The longer I go without blogging the worse the writer’s block gets.
  • I am suffering from extreme perfectionism.
  • After a couple years of not being able to pack without feeling nauseated or anxious, I have become a master packer!
  • Heath taught me a matrix style of gathering things to pack. I will be using that method again. I have a picture of it but I’ll have to get it later.
  • Going home packing is much easier! I eliminated bags left and right with my ultra stuffing and cramming.
  • As much fun as it was to get Tillie the cow from Tillamook, OR, I kind of wish we got an elk too. The elk signs are everywhere and they remind me of fun times with Heath on this trip.
  • This trip should be called the Hindsight Trip. Few things happened as we expected.
  • Café Rio has spread to Lynnwood, WA. It tasted marvelous. The employees were a little dense. They didn’t seem to understand or care that my experience with Café Rio goes all the way back to the original St. George, UT location. When they asked Heath if we wanted a punchcard they didn’t understand that there is no Café Rio in California and we don’t make it to Washington all that often! The food still tasted marvelous. Dumb employees, excellent food.
  • Once I tasted Costa Vida I liked it better than Café Rio. Over time my opinions have changed. Baja Fresh is the closest thing we have to this type of Cal Mex where we live. It’s good and all but just not the same. I have decided that it doesn’t matter. Costa Vida or Café Rio. Whatever is available it tastes like home. That Café Rio at the Alderwood Mall was the best thing I ate this whole trip.
  • The Original Wow Burger in somewhere with a W Oregon was pretty good too. Pretentious name but the food lived up to it. Of course it bumped my blood sugar up to the 400’s. You would think I didn’t even bolus for lunch. That bummed me out for a few hours.
  • Lately when I have been on “vacation” (if you can call mourning in Utah and preparing for a memorial service a vacation) I don’t bolus for anything. My blood sugars stay stable in a higher than they should be range but they’re stable and predictable. I do bolus for food on driving days because sitting in a car all day murders my blood sugar.
  • My kids are rockstars. I am so lucky they are mine! They are perfect the way they are. Man I love those kids!
  • The other night Gwen was getting a little out of control. She was excited to be with her cousins. It took a few reminders from Mom, Dad, and Grandma for her to calm down. After the cousins left Gwen apologized to Grandma for her behavior. Heath and I checked with each other later and found out neither one of us told her to do that. She came up with the idea all on her own. They can be taught!
  • I didn’t even know you guys were down there was my favorite compliment. A couple people said that when they found out the kids and I were chilling downstairs in Uncle Lindy’s clubhouse for 6 hours while Heath captured video of his mom’s family telling stories.
  • Well it’s a tie between that compliment and the one Uncle Lindy gave me about my blogging. He said he likes the unexpected point of view I use to tell my stories and he likes that when I write about religious things I do it in a very human way. The religious perspective in my mother in law’s family is varied so I was happy to hear that my religious experiences come out the way I expect them to. I’m not trying to convert anybody. Just trying to share my experiences.
  • Gavin found his soulmate in Heath’s uncle Charlie.
  • Everyone got a souvenir t-shirt but me. Hmm.
  • I can’t wait to get home. I miss my bed. I miss my house.
  • I almost forgot what my house looks like! Heath’s parents gave us a table that converts to an easel. The kids will use it as a craft table. Heath suggested we put it in the homework station, aka the upstairs hallway. When he said homework station I suddenly remembered how wide our hallways are!
  • Heath and I survived couples therapy beds in a beach house in Arch Cape. We’ve been able to share a bed since then but it’s not the same as being home. I can’t wait to sink into my own bed.
  • As much as I love the rain I sure hated it today. The rain was never heavy. More like eternal mist. Nearly impossible to drive in. I miss the drought in California! Just kidding. But I am looking forward to rediscovering my tan. The weather was really nice in Washington for much of the trip but my tan is fading fast.
  • There are many things I have learned in the last week and a half. This is just a preview of coming attractions. Or blog posts. At least I hope so. I have had many false starts. I have deleted all but one and that one may get deleted too. I think I need my own computer to blog on.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!

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Don’t you love those parental moments when you realize what an idiot you are? Today we celebrated Parker’s birthday. His birthday is not today. We have planned a very elaborate family reunion style birthday party for him this year. We thought we were doing the right thing by making a big deal out of his birthday on his actual birth day. So far in his 9 years of existence he has shared birthday celebrations with his brother. I always felt bad about that until this weekend. Now I realize what a fool I am!

The boys are two years and eleven days apart. July is usually birthday month around our house. Part of me thought that was unfair to Parker. So this year we were going to make a big deal out of Parker’s birthday by celebrating in a beach house in Oregon. Parker was and is very excited. Then Gavin had a birthday. Parker has been Mr. Jealous ever since.

In his little mind it is absolutely unfair that he has to wait an entire eleven days until his birthday. To add insult to injury, he has been told in no uncertain terms that he cannot play with Gavin’s birthday toys. Which makes those eleven days feel like eleventeen million years because Gavin got a Lego set.

To ease some of the anticipatory pressure and because we don’t want to keep track of Legos on our trip, we decided to celebrate Parker’s birthday early. Today could not come fast enough for Parker. He nearly exploded with excitement.

Gwen and I went shopping yesterday for a birthday present for Parker. She really wanted to go to the dollar store and get her brother a dinosaur. By the time we got to the store she changed her mind and insisted on a snake. Target only had dinosaurs in the bargain bins. Gwen was sure she wanted to buy him a snake. So after our shopping at Target was done we headed to the dollar store.

ponyShe found him the best snake for a dollar. It’s a bit of a magic trick. The snake is hooked up to a clear plastic earpiece via monofilament. Parker can hold the snake in his hand and with subtle movements it looks like he has become a snake charmer. Gwen was excited about it. I was too. But it’s Gwen so she had to buy herself something as well. I didn’t care. It was her money! She hooked herself up with a My Little Pony knockoff. This is the paper creation she made of her pony.

Gwen and I tried to be so sneaky. We put the snake in the bag from Target so Parker couldn’t see it. Then we quickly put it in a gift bag with tissue paper while Parker was still immersed in his movie. Gwen took the gift up to my room. Note to self: Wrap the dang gift before putting it in a gift bag!

The tissue paper looked a little weird when I went to bed last night. I asked Parker this morning if he peeked. Heath thought I was jumping to conclusions. He thought Gwen messed with it. Ah but mothers know! Parker had his telltale smirk and I knew he was a liar liar pants on fire! He was excited about the snake. Until it was time for his “real present.”

We gave Gavin a day at home for his birthday. We gave Parker a shopping trip to the Lego store for his birthday! That boy could not have been more excited about it. Gavin hates shopping. Parker loves it. At least when it’s for himself. So Heath took the boys out. They all got haircuts before shopping. Parker was given a budget at the Lego store. He could spend as much as Gavin’s Lego set cost. He came in four dollars under budget. Gavin spent his birthday money on a couple sets so everyone was happy. Heath said that Parker was beside himself with glee in that store.

Gavin spent the entire day yesterday making a comic book for Parker. I don’t think Gavin finished and I kind of don’t think Parker cares. He’s all about the stuff. The thought counts for nothing with him. Gwen made him the sweetest card last night. She said “I love you” in it which melted my heart. He dropped it on the floor to get to the snake. I found the abandoned card later partially kicked under my bed. That boy is all about the stuff!

I started this post saying we royally screwed up as parents. We should have gone out to Parker’s favorite restaurant for lunch. At lunch he was still on Cloud 9 and chattered on about how excited he was to have dinner at OTB. By the time we left for dinner Parker had melted down into a puddle of resentment. He would not forgive us for tearing him away from his toys. He claimed he didn’t have enough time to play with them anyway!

He glowered at the table. We told the waiter it was Parker’s happy birthday hoping the attention of wait staff singing to him later would cheer him up. But the waiter either didn’t hear or remember. Nobody came by to sing. Parker did perk up a little when his food came out.

Then we further ruined his life by stopping off at not one, but two stores, on the way home. Heath had this brilliant plan to pack a picnic lunch on our trip and we needed a cooler. Our last plug in cooler was left in Southern California with our totaled van after that inconvenient car accident a few years ago. Bed Bath & Beyond wasn’t hooking us up. Heath said he was able to shop quickly without four ducklings following him. It felt like an eternity to me though as I sat in the car with our ducklings while they annoyed each other.

Sport Chalet did hook us up. Sort of. They had a big thermal bag. We have plenty of ice packs. It should work for our purposes. It’s not like we’re trying to keep food cold for days. Just a couple hours. Parker was fine with showering first when we got home.

P2P1

So he could get back to his new Lego sets.

I think he’ll forgive us. It may be difficult to part with his toys on Monday. The beach should dim his memory. Especially since he will get new gifts from Grandma and Grandpa while we’re there. Then his cousins will fill in new memories for him when we move on from the beach house. He’ll be fine. The toys will patiently wait for his return.

Blessings through Service

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The other day I met with a friend at her house for visiting teaching. For those who may not know, visiting teaching is a program through my church. The women are assigned a companion and given a small list of women to teach each month.

It has been my experience that I get more from the people I am partnered with, as well as the people I visit, than the service I am providing. The Savior often asks us to serve each other, not for the blessings we provide, but for the blessings that come to us through service. That afternoon was no exception.

This month the visiting teaching assignments were changed. I was partnered with a lady I don’t know very well. Her husband is one of my favorite people but I don’t know Chris very well. One person we visit was on my route before. Vicki is one of my really good friends. Because we are friends it can be awkward to share a spiritual message. She pretty much told me she would rather get together and chat. It doesn’t have to be so formal. Since I had a new companion I decided to go back to formalities.

Just as I was loading up kids to go, I printed the monthly message. The kids ran off playing and the three of us women chatted. There was a lull in the conversation and my companion indicated it was time for the message. I touched the printed pages on my lap and admitted I barely skimmed it as I was racing out the door. I did see the question at the end and it struck me.

How can the advocacy of Jesus Christ inspire us to extend mercy and forgiveness to others?

Vicki immediately started sharing her thoughts. My pulse quickened. I will admit I have been struggling with things emotionally lately. It felt like some of the answers I had been seeking would be found in her thoughts. One of our kids walked in the room before she really said much. Chris needed to go and took that as a good breaking point. My boys sensed the natural break and came to my side wondering if it was time to go yet. They have fun at that house but they are outnumbered as boys.

I could not go yet. I needed to hear the rest of what Vicki was going to say. She got all the kids a drink of water and didn’t seem in any hurry to return to the interrupted conversation. I told my boys to play for another 5-10 minutes and to let their sister know that we would be leaving soon. As soon as Parker was a few feet away I told Vicki I had to hear what she was going to say.

We walked back to her family room and sat down. She talked about a friend she has mentioned before. This friend was abused as a child by her father. This friend is 41 years old and cannot forgive him. She wants to but can’t figure out how. I told Vicki that I have forgiven my dad. What kills me about the situation is the incredible guilt I have taken on for not reaching out to him – ever.

I told her how I felt like my forgiveness may not be complete without actually talking to him. It was a thought I had off and on but I wasn’t ready yet and I did nothing about it. Now it’s too late. Those words have got to be the most damning words ever put together. Too late. I feel like my world has crumbled into tiny crumb size pieces that have scattered everywhere. There is no way to fix it!

I don’t remember the order of the conversation. It was very short but very healing for me. I talked about how I started reading The Infinite Atonement a few months after my grandpa passed away. The book inspired me to be a better person. I finished the book after my dad passed away.

Because I was so conflicted and have worried about whether or not my forgiveness was complete – for years I have worried about this – I started reading The Miracle of Forgiveness. Again. For like the hundredth time I have started this book never to have finished it before. Now it’s a matter of principle that I finish it! I told Vicki that it’s not really what I was looking for. The book is full of very blunt warnings about sin. Overt sins. I feel like my sin was a sin of omission. I needed to do something but waited until it was too late. How can I even begin to be forgiven for that?

She told me what a lot of people have told me; that my dad should have contacted me. But I love her for quickly amending that I feel guilt for my role, whether or not I should. It’s how I feel. I love that she didn’t take it away from me. Then she talked about grace. She said that in the case of her friend, forgiveness will have to be a gift provided by the Savior. She cannot forgive her father on her own. Vicki told me that grace is a gift and I can ask for it in prayer.

I appreciated that little moment so much. It felt like I finally had a direction to go in. This morning I finally hit a chapter in The Miracle of Forgiveness that gave me hope. The book is difficult to read. Maybe I’m just wicked and the wicked take the truth hard! But I get to a point where I can’t read any more about how ugly sin is and I quit reading. But like I said, I will finish the book this time around. Even if it kills me. I’m almost to the end and I’m just waiting for the miracle of forgiveness to come in to play!

Well it did this morning. I read a beautiful chapter about forgiving others in order to be forgiven by God. Everything started to click in my mind. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t read anything I didn’t already know. It just was a chapter that finally sat peacefully on my mind. I thought about what Vicki had said about it being a gift. I prayed that I could be given that gift. That I could find a way to let go of everything and forgive myself. I realize that I can’t fix anything. All I can do is move forward from where I am right now. I just have felt stuck lately not knowing how to do that exactly.

Then I remembered something else Vicki told me. She told me about a speech Brad Wilcox gave on grace. He talked about how the Savior meets us where we are. He doesn’t expect us to get to a certain point first. I looked it up. Then printed it after reading it. It’s exactly what I needed to learn right now.

Something else Vicki said really stuck out. She said to be patient with myself because I am so early on in the grieving process. I don’t know why I thought I could be “all better” in about six weeks. That was a good reminder. It’s a process. The Lord knows my heart and He is patient. The crumbs of my shattered world are no longer so daunting to think about. Everything will be okay in the end.

What If Stories

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Here are the stories the kids wrote yesterday answering the question, what if.

Gwen:

What if princesses could play sports? Princesses just do girl stuff. What if that could change? They could do boy stuff. But why? Princesses tell me!

Gwen-the-CoachSnow-White-and-CinderellaAurora-and-Ariel

Left to right: Gwen the coach, Snow White playing soccer and Cinderella playing “baxsetball”, Aurora playing tennis and Ariel playing volleyball

 

 

 


Parker:

Guy 1: What if aliens invaded the earth?
Guy 2: Don’t ask that question! It’s already happening.
1: WHAT?!?! How is that happening! AHHHHH! Alien!
2: No, no, no, that’s my uncle!
1: Really? Well I guess I should be leaving.
2: NO! Please don’t!
1: Why?
2: Because, uh my family wants to meet you!
1: Gahh! No, I really need to go! I really want to –Ahh! Alien!
2: Stop being rude, that’s my baby brother!
1: Soo … you’re saying no aliens are – SWEET MOTHER OF NATURE! Is that your mom or something?
2: Nope!
1: Should we make a run for it?
2: Yep! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! AHHHHH!!!!

The end

Aliens-Invading

Gavin’s story titled 480:

What if you opened your bedroom door and nothing was there? You would close it and open it again. And you would find your bedroom the way it is supposed to be. Your bed where you left it. All your toys in your chest. You would shut the door behind you, but you would not help but wonder what would happen if you opened your door again.

You would probably open your door to get rid of your strong feeling of curiosity. When you opened your door you would find nothing there. You would close and open it, but still find dark, unfilled space. You would look behind you and your walls would glitch and disappear along with the ground.

Everything would be gone except your bedroom bedroom door and the spot you were standing on. Blue light would glitch and your door would disattach from the ground and fall off into the empty space. The door might glitch and the door would vanish from its frame.

You would bend your knees and take a leap towards the empty door frame. You feel a feeling of fear and curiosity that is simply undesirable. You’d hang from the cold door frame. You’d feel a strong feeling in your stomach that no preacher could describe. You’d fall into a hole of swirling gas and feel your body stretch before you. You would know this was the end.

The end of life. The end of delicious lasagna. The end of being a regular mortal human. You’d look at the door frame before you and know in your mind you could lose it all, or take the small chance of surviving.

Your legs would kick the door frame into the hole and your body would backflip away from the angry stormy hole. Your eyes would shut. Your body would feel the warmth of the explosion and the fiery gas as it touched your bare knees and arms. It would be the end.

You would see black. Pitch black. You would wake upon a hot beach with red clouds, sky, and sand. You would see a black ink cloud by the shore. Without thinking you would touch it. Memories of fire and anything hot you had experienced would come to mind. The last thing you would see would be an old man in old rags using a hand motion as if he were sending you away. Then you would wake up comfy in your bed. Then your mother would call you downstairs.

“Gavin, what have you been doing! Your door was locked and you have been up there for four weeks!”
“Uh,” you would say lost in thought.
“Why are you so red? Why are you so tall?”

And then you would say, well actually I can’t tell you that. So I have a question to ask you. What would you say?

To be continued …

480

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