Prolonged Pain vs. Acute Pain

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Bandages and children go together like cookies and milk. Actually children tend to be a good excuse for cookies and milk. Sounds yummy … hmm …

Anyway, my point is that kids are frequently getting banged up as they bump around the world testing their limits. Blood is not required for a kid to think they need a band-aid either. The problem with band-aids on kids is the kids regard bandages as they would a tattoo – a permanent decoration on their body. Those band-aids can get pretty ratty after a while and then comes the classic debate.

Do you rip it off quickly or slowly? Which way is better?

We all know that it makes more sense to rip that thing off as fast as possible. Get the worst of it over with already. Kids don’t see things that way. In some ways I don’t blame them. I’ve tried to remove bandages from my hairy arms. It hurts. That sounds like I have monkey arms or something! No, I’ve just had enough blood drawn in my life and my fair share of cotton balls taped to my arms. The tape is sticky and sits on top of my delicate arm hair. Fast or slow it hurts.

Bandage removal can be compared to the prep work involved in getting kids to school. It seems like more of my time is required every year. This week has been taken up with school meetings and other responsibilities. Next week is no different. School doesn’t start until the week after that! Good heavens, can we just rip the band-aid off already!

I don’t remember my parents having to go through nearly this many hoops just to put me in a hot and stuffy building for seven hours a day nine months out of the year. Granted I was a kid so my perception was different. What I do know is that I was given my next year’s class assignment, including teacher name and room number, on the last day of school with my report card. And by the time we made it to junior high and high school my dad complained about “some free education” every year when he had to write a check to the school. He was also irritated whenever we had a day off from school.

I have become my father. Public schools extort money on a regular basis. It’s a little disgusting actually. Not only that but school kids get an extraordinary amount of days off for holidays and teacher work days. There are several months where my kids only attend one full week of school. The rest of the weeks are missing one or more days for something random. Now my school district wants to decrease summer significantly. As a result the students get full weeks off at other times in the year. How about if we keep summer vacation together and keep the kids in school?

This morning I dropped Gavin off at school for a laptop program boot camp. I ran into a mom from the elementary school. She was annoyed by all the meetings and extras she had to deal with. Rightly so. Her husband left her when our kids were in kindergarten, for a bodacious brunette, forcing my friend to reenter the workforce. She works 30 some odd minutes away. She’s afraid she may get fired between all the running around she has to do for her middle schooler and high schooler. All waste of time activities just to have permission for them to sit in a classroom.

We live in a district that requires two proofs of residency. As a result there is no way for the registration process to be completely done online or over the phone. To further entice parents to comply, classroom assignments are not given until Walk Thru Registration is complete.

The middle school required parents to pick up their child’s emergency card today. The emergency card needed to have health information and emergency contact information updated. By the way, you can’t take the card off campus. It had to be filled out there.

So my friend had to be late for work to drop off her middle schooler for the laptop boot camp, fill out the emergency card, then turn around and pick her daughter up from boot camp at noon. Tomorrow she gets to go back to the middle school for Walk Thru Registration to show her filled out emergency card and two proofs of residency. Next week she gets to do the same thing for her daughter in high school. Forget about the fact that there are student orientation meetings and so many other things going on before school starts.

I feel her frustration! If I didn’t have to deal with filling out an emergency card on campus, even though the elementary school expects parents to pick those up and return them days later at Walk Thru Registration, if I didn’t have to do that I would have left Parker and Gwen home this morning. But instead I have to drag everyone out of bed, get us all ready and to the school by 9:00 am.

Yesterday I screwed up the partial online registration for two of my three kids. Gavin’s didn’t make sense. I got to the end where it told me to print my receipt. My receipt said I paid nothing. Well I didn’t pay anything because the only forms that wanted my money were for organizations I wasn’t interested in paying for. Where was the PE clothes and student organizer form? I don’t know if I want to pay $65 for a crappy yearbook but I didn’t even have the option! At the bottom of one form it said that Spirit Wear was available at Walk Thru Registration so it’s not like I could have even pre-ordered anything.

I mentioned my concern to the elementary school secretaries. This partial online registration thing is new this year and they didn’t really know how it worked from a parent’s perspective. They let me sit at a computer in the office and show them how it works. Many more forms came up for Gwen but I skipped through them. And now I’m stuck on the print receipt page. I cannot go back. Trust me, I’ve tried. So now I have to go through the money grubber line at Walk Thru Registration to pay for the stuff I didn’t pay for online because I was acting as a guinea pig. I’m not mad at the secretaries or myself. It’s a flawed system.

Registering for school each year takes longer and longer every year. The hoops I have to jump through are so lame. Let’s just rip the band-aid off already and reward ourselves with cookies and milk! School does not have to be so complicated! Actually cookies sound really good. My kids are rockstars and deserve a reward for their patience.

Secrets

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Gwen: I have a secret to tell you. I’m actually excited about the first day of school!

I knew it! That girl is too funny. I know she is apprehensive about going back to school. She’s excited to go back since she loves school but she hates homework. It’s weekly homework in first grade. She’ll be fine.

The other day I got a little nervous thinking that school should be starting soon yet I had received no correspondence from the school. No information from either school my children will be attending. I’ve been a little preoccupied in thought lately so I had to check to be sure I didn’t miss anything. Nope. Nothing until this morning when I finally got an email from the elementary school principal. She said that the information was delayed and will be mailed tomorrow I think.

Last night I went to the school website to check on things. Walk Thru Registration is on Monday and letters were scheduled to be mailed to families in early August. But don’t worry or contact the school until you haven’t received anything by August 15th. Okey dokey. *huge eye roll*

So two of my kids are accounted for. What about the other one? The one who is starting middle school? Why don’t I know anything about that? I checked that school website too. Their letters were also delayed. I should get mine in the mail today but who knows? It’s a good thing I checked the site because there is a ton of stuff starting tomorrow that we need to attend. Thanks for the heads up Famous Person Middle School!

thMy calendar is all filled up again. Just in time for me to decide it’s time to come out of the shadows of anonymity. I haven’t really been anonymous as much as I have been pretending like the rest of the world doesn’t exist. There is life outside my door? With sunshine and everything? Shocking. I took out the trash yesterday. The sun was shining and it was a lovely day. In the few seconds I was out there I decided it was too cool to play in the pool and too hot to do anything else. Movie afternoon anyone?

This is how pathetic I have become. Gavin said something about not being outside in over 24 hours. So I sent him out to the mailbox. Gwen’s hair hasn’t been combed since Sunday. Somehow I just don’t care.

It wasn’t just a Primary Presidency meeting this morning that made me put myself together. Last night I had a new thought. It was time to let go and hand my mangled mess over to the Lord. Don’t get me wrong. I have been praying this whole time. I have been studying the scriptures and living from blessing to blessing. Luckily the blessings have been abundant. But the last time I tried to give my burden to the Lord was weeks ago when I was overcome by guilt.

I don’t know if I really gave up my guilty feelings or what. I went back to Salt Lake and spent time in my dad’s house. The guilty feelings are very much gone. I recognize that I could have and maybe should have reached out to him. But his house made me mad. He had a disgusting amount of stuff. The more we opened window treatments to let the natural light in, the more angry I felt. In the light his things could be seen for what they are – things. Things that looked glittery and gorgeous in subdued light. Under natural light they started to look gaudy and tacky.

The plan was to go through his house, just dig around and discover who he was and how he lived his life. Clearly I didn’t miss much during that period of estrangement. He hadn’t changed from the person I knew him to be. He was still showy and flashy and concerned about appearances. Yet there were secrets tucked away behind every picture in every picture frame and stashed in various other hiding places. It was my childhood all over again. I got tired of knowing the secrets but only showing my public persona.

The problem is I don’t know how to let go. I’ve done it before but seem to forget the combination each time. I was reading Are We There Yet? by Robert L. Millet this morning. I particularly liked the chapter titled From Weakness to Strength. He starts out by saying that he has encountered so many people who struggle with different things. When he suggests they learn to trust more in the Lord they politely reject his counsel. When they say, “It’s okay, I can handle it.” They are essentially saying, “I can get by on my own. I don’t want to trouble you or the Lord. God expects me to give it my best shot. I’m strong. I can deal with my own problems.”

The rest of the chapter discusses how self reliance is an important virtue however, one of the principles we should learn from challenges in life is how important it is to rely on the Lord. I have learned that I always have a choice. I can either turn my back on the Lord or I can ask Him for help. It’s when I ask for help that miracles occur. It’s when I humbly accept my weakness that I find strength.

I never thought I would react to the mourning process in this way. I never expected to become depressed doing enough chores to maintain some dignity as I sat in front of the TV for hours each day. I never expected to feel such irritated apathy only to realize that the more I said I don’t care, the more I meant I care too much to think about it. It hurts too much.

Peter taught, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7) It’s as if Peter counsels: “Quit worrying. Don’t be so anxious. Let Jesus take the burden while you take the peace.” When I read that I realized how stubborn I have been that I not accept peace. Like I needed to punish myself somehow. But then I had that thought last night that it was time to let go. I consider this book and particularly this chapter a tender mercy from the Lord.

He ends by saying, “Let’s be wise and honest. We cannot handle it. We cannot make it on our own. We cannot pull ourselves up by our own spiritual bootstraps. We are not bright enough or powerful enough to bring to pass the mighty change necessary to see and enter the kingdom of God. We cannot pry our way through the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem any more than we can perform our own eye surgery. We cannot make ourselves happy or bring about our own fulfillment. But we can “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in us forever” (Ether 12:41). Then all these things will be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). That’s the promise, and I affirm that it’s true.”

All I can do now is put it to the test. The Lord has been speaking to me through different means – other people, books, scriptures, thoughts, etc. If I didn’t know it before, I sure do now. He loves us each individually. He knows exactly what we are going through and He knows how to succor us because He was there! He felt it all through His Atoning sacrifice. There isn’t a single challenge any person has that He has not experienced intimately. It’s not a secret but it’s not universally understood so it feels like a secret.

Handy Dandy Video Freewrite

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A heaviness hangs in the air. It’s a desperate feeling. I still cry every other day trying to work through things in my mind. It gives me a headache and makes me lethargic. The kids feel the impending doom of school being around the corner.

We have a dry erase calendar with six weeks up at a time. Gwen was so upset when she saw that school was on the calendar. She doesn’t want to know about it. Summer is like a comfortable bed. Easy to get into and hard to get out of. It feels like this summer started out so slowly. We did so many things in such a short amount of time I couldn’t believe how much summer was actually left. Now that blasted first day of school keeps creeping up higher and higher on the calendar.

It’s been a boring week. I was nesting on Monday. For some reason this is my new way of coming home from trips. I clean the whole house and put every bit of luggage away. Heath told me that our air conditioning went out last Saturday. The landlord sent someone over Monday morning to fix it. When he left I thought of taking a shower but had gotten into my cleaning. I never got a shower that day because the handyman showed up later to fix our leaky shower. He never calls first. He’s not my favorite person!

Monday and Tuesday the handyman and his friend (who I trust more than the handyman) spent many hours at our house working on repairing damage from the leaky shower. The kids were climbing the walls. I was too. Wednesday we sat around expecting Handyman and Friend to show up. Nada. We wasted our day inside. Gwen and I scrapbooked. Her whole kindergarten year is creatively preserved in her scrapbook.

Who knows if Handyman tried to come over but missed us. I hope he did. Learn to use the phone! I guess it’s hard when he leaves his iPhone at other clients houses and asks to use my internet to track it down! Then takes off for 45 minutes to retrieve it only to realize the clients aren’t home. This actually happened. He also used electrical tape on the pipes under our kitchen sink when they kept separating and flooding our kitchen.

I think Handyman Friend was a blessing. No duct tape was used to reseal the shower drain. We looked. They left a big hole in the ceiling and came back the next day to patch it. I just wonder when they are ever going to come back to finish the job. I don’t even care. We were too busy freezing in our pool yesterday. Temps have been mild this week. And playing at the park today.

Heath worked from home on Tuesday. It was probably a lot of reasons that played into that decision. I like to believe he did it for me. I told him to bring me home greasy hamburgers on Monday because my day was shot, I was stinky, and depressed. He saw the handyman and told me later, “He’s about 15 degrees off … normal.” It’s true. He’s a little weird.

So we’ve had time to do whatever we want but nobody seems happy. It’s like the kids sense their freedom slipping through their fingers but they can’t figure out what they want to do. I’m so glad we don’t have any other trips or anything major planned. That would stress me out to do that just before school started. A friend once said that she tried to cram all the fun stuff into the last weeks of summer because of a picture her son drew. The teacher had the kids draw what they did over the summer. He drew himself sitting in front of the TV! We welcome the boredom but it’s still boredom. The kids walk around the house like zombies. They don’t know how to enjoy their fleeting freedom.

In the meantime I have one more vacation story to tell but I’m not feeling it. I’ve been kind of grouchy lately. I kind of want to yell at everybody. The stress is getting to all of us. Apparently we can’t pay people to take away my dad’s stuff. His taste does not fit the demographics of the neighborhood he lives in so there’s really no way to sell it. It’s frustrating. Tyson suggested we burn it all. Sounds good to me. But Heath is a partypooper and says the fines are too high.

I’m just sick of stuff. This stuff is taking over our lives. Stuff that we didn’t know about or care about is now our problem. We all just want to burn the stuff and sell the house and be done with all of it. Ugh.

Ed found a Weird Al video that reminded him of me. The video makes me laugh and it cracks me up that Gwen knows all the words. While there are some things in the song that are my pet peeves I’m not normally that upset by people’s English mistakes. But the song kind of fits my mood lately. Peppy with a heavy dose of sarcasm and irritation. Enjoy.

Vacation Say What

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Gavin: Parker is wasting all my virtual game money!
Parker: I haven’t wasted it yet!

Gwen: I didn’t feel a tingle on my bottom going over that bridge.

Heath: Who can see Husky Stadium?
Gwen: I don’t know and I don’t care.
Later
Gwen: I’m sorry I don’t know Husky Stadium.
Heath: It’s the “I don’t care” part that you need to apologize for.
Gwen: I’m sorry I don’t care.

Gavin: No thumbs up? That sign says we can’t do thumbs up signs. Why not?
Heath: It means no hitchhiking.

Parker: Do you want a hug?
Heath: No …
Parker: Do you want a mug?
Heath: No, I want you to show good manners.
Parker: That doesn’t rhyme!

Gavin: I need an extra day on my vacation. Today was long and boring.

Parker: Why don’t I ever get to see you, Dad? Even on vacation I don’t get to see you!
Which was one of the many reasons why we ended up at Café Rio after filming family.

Parker: I couldn’t keep my pants on!
We bought him a pair of jeans and while we were walking through the mall he said that as he swung his new pants in the bag.

A few weeks ago I bought some buckets to hold pencils and crayons and stuff. Gavin was holding the bag and bumped it with his leg.
Gavin: Sorry! I just kicked the bucket!

I love that the kids still say funny things. I really love that the funny things the boys say are not so much the naïve things they said as little kids but are real jokes that they recognize. They knew what they were saying with the pants and bucket.

Gwen: I’m just enjoying my life.

Pretty Cheesy

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On our last day in Oregon we went to the Tillamook Factory for a tour. Tillamook cheese is like our favorite food ever. If you have never experienced the joy of Tillamook cheese (or ice cream) you should definitely try it. The ads are funny and the tagline says it all. “Tastes better because it’s made better.” Tillamook cheese is a taste of heaven.

Tillamook

It was a little disconcerting that Gwen and Parker became a cow and farmer but I got over it. The change didn’t last long. Like only a couple seconds beyond this photo!

The tours are self guided which is good and bad. Good because you can go at your own pace and you can reenter that cheese sample line as many times as you want. No one will know! The cheese is seriously sooooo good! Bad because there is no crowd control. I wasn’t aggressive enough to claw my way up to the windows to see the factory workers below. Enough other people were and I didn’t feel like competing.

I read the signs instead. There was plenty of information to be read and I found that just as satisfying as looking through a window trying to guess what was happening. I’m not kidding. I’m a bit of an info nerd.

I learned that there were dairy farmers that moved to Tillamook in the 1800’s. Their cows produced so much milk the farmers couldn’t use it all. They learned that it made more sense to preserve the excess as cheese to be used by many people. Cheese lasts longer than milk. The head farmer guy had learned to make cheese when he lived in Southern California. So he tried his hand at cheese making. His first batch was inedible. He kept trying and refining his cheese making skills until he got it right. And boy did he ever!

The tour consists of informational posters along the walls downstairs. My guess is most of those posters aren’t read because they’re along the side of the sample line. It’s hard to care about history when there’s mouth watering cheese squares to be tried. Then the tour moves upstairs where there are tons of posters scattered around the room and in tall informational displays in the middle of the floor.

When you decide you’ve seen enough then there is an ice cream shop on the far side of the room. They have a bunch of amazing flavors to choose from. The ice cream isn’t free but it is so worth it. Then you go downstairs again. There is a gift shop and a cafeteria to have fun in.

Heath bought a t-shirt for himself and a Goodnight Beach book for the kids. He bought a recipe book full of tempting cheese recipes. Included is a recipe for how to make your own sharp cheddar cheese. You need milk and cream and some other ingredients. After you follow the recipe you need about nine months for it to properly age. So if you want to make your own cheese you need to plan ahead. If you have a cheese craving in the middle of the night you’re better off finding an open grocery store that carries Tillamook cheese products.

I wish our grocery stores would carry some of the fun flavors. The garlic cheese was really good and the jalapeño pepper cheese. Our grocery store only recently started carrying Tillamook ice cream. That stuff is excellent. Heath also bought a couple bricks of cheese, including some fun flavors. We had to share since there was no way of being able to bring it home with us. Ha ha I say it like it’s a bad thing to share!

Of course our family tradition is to adopt a new plush pet that represents our vacation. We decided that we have enough sea creatures. A cow was what we needed.

Tilly 

There were cartoon looking cows. The company mascot is a cartoon looking cow that began as a squeak toy. We try to find realistic pets as much as possible. Tilly can be seen in front of her watering trough on the left. The tin watering trough came from Great Grandma. She had many things to share with her family when she moved and had to downsize her belongings. The kids come into our room often to play with all the pets.

It’s a little strange for me to have a black and white cow again. I was kind of a cow freak as a teenager. Over the years I had accumulated SO MANY cows! Tilly is cute. She enjoys her brothers and sisters from various places. The kids sure like her.

Monsoonal Moisture

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Last night the heavens opened and drooled a little on select portions of the state. We were not one of them. But still, any rain is a good thing and Californians will take whatever they can get.

Wally Weatherman says that this is the same monsoonal moisture that recently hit Southern California causing flash flooding in some areas. As a result, the air is heavy and sticky. It feels like that Reading Rainbow book where the black raincloud sat over the African village forever not raining. Then the boy chucked his spear into the sky piercing the cloud letting the rain come down on the parched land.

Yesterday was gray but pleasant. A really nice guy came over to fix our air conditioner that stopped working on Saturday. I never turned it on all day though. There was enough of a breeze and temperatures were so mild that open windows worked well enough.

Today is another story. We played at the park with friends this morning. The kids are sweaty and sticky. It’s not hot enough to play in the pool. It just feels that way when the sun beats down mercilessly. It hides behind the clouds a lot though. Most of the heat is from the thick humidity.

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Today would be the perfect splash pad day.

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When our Jetty Island plans fell through and the Children’s Museum was closed and every idea crashed and burned as soon as we came up with it, we hit the new local splash pad. I think it’s funny that we had to convince Parker to go out and play. He wanted nothing to do with any of it for some reason. Once he got out there he was all smiles. The kids had a lot of fun.

Another Diet Coke? Don’t judge me!

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I have never drank from a fire hose but the last few days have been the emotional equivalent of that. Right now I am so irritated and angry. Yet I am so grateful for the opportunity to reach that point.

I can safely say that I am fine with never seeing my father’s house or the possessions inside it ever again. No regrets. The last day in that house was a couple hours too long. I was ready to scream about an hour before we were scheduled to meet with a couple about the estate (selling all the crap in his house). We stayed for some time after the couple left.

By the time I got back to my mom’s house I was ready to cash in on my plan. Before I left for Salt Lake, I had planned on asking for someone to take me to a store to buy Diet Coke. I have been emotionally drinking it lately. I hate myself for it but it’s the truth. I knew this trip would be particularly trying and the soda would be helpful. It was a few hours before our family dinner party and I was just mad.

My mom was so cute. When I made the general announcement that I wanted to buy a Diet Coke, her face fell a little. She looked at me as if I had spoiled a wonderful surprise and almost whispered, “I got you one for dinner tonight. Can you wait?” How sweet for her to enable me like that! I was so grateful for her gesture. Ed chimed in, “I could use a Dr. Pepper so I’ll take you to get one now.” Candi and my mom asked for candy bars and Ed and I were on our way to the gas station.

We talked a little about our feelings about my dad’s house before pulling into the parking lot. I grabbed a 20 oz. Diet Coke out of the fridge while Ed debated on what he wanted. He chose two of the liter sized bottles of Mt. Dew. Then we filled the candy bar orders and got some bite size candy bars for his kids so they wouldn’t feel left out. We were laughing at our handfuls of binge food. As we stood in line I said, “You can tell people your brother died so don’t judge you. I will tell people my dad died so don’t judge me!” Ed liked that plan. Some days life sucks. Don’t judge me for finding momentary happiness in flavored carbonated water.

Driving back to my mom’s house we supported one another with empathy over the punch to our guts we have each felt over uncles choices. My experience happened many years ago. His is the latest in a series of difficult trials. These last few days have been so hard. I feel so broken coming from a family of unidentified mental illness and poor anger management. Not only that but seeing how my father lived his life is a cross between wanting to throw up and wanting to punch a wall. They’re not my sins but they are still affecting me. If someone ever says that they aren’t hurting anyone but themselves, they’re lying.

That’s as much as I want to say about the negative aspect of the trip. I don’t think I even want to write details in a draft. Some stories aren’t worth remembering. All I will say is that I was right that my children were better off never knowing my father. It hurts so much to learn that but it’s true. My brother, sister, and I all agree we were spared years of frustration. It doesn’t make anything easier but at least our children were somewhat protected from who he was. I wish there was a way to take a big eraser to my mind. Can I just forget where I came from?

There were good parts to the visit. My mom planned a fun activity every night and it was a welcome break from the emotional drama of the day. Friday night we all met at Crown Burger for dinner. I love that place! Heath and I are always jealous of the other for getting to go. The closest we have here is Athena Burger and it’s not even close to the same.

After dinner we went to a concert in the park in downtown Salt Lake City. The band was called Tuesday Sessions. We learned that one of the band members is the son of a wonderful family friend (Neal P.) who worked with my Grandpa. That was pretty cool. Tyson and Deanna had connections to one of the girl band members through a ward member.

The lead singer in this video is Chad the son of Neal. He’s the one with the dark hair. This video is a good representation of what it was like to watch them. They weren’t all dressy since the concert in the park wasn’t a wedding but you get the idea. They were good. They did covers. My favorite was Home.

It makes me tear up every time I hear it. I love this song. Tuesday Sessions did a great job with this one.

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After the concert we all parted ways. My mom and I decided to walk around City Creek. That was a lot of fun. The fountain was our favorite. I love fountains.

Saturday night we had a grilled burger and brat party. Dinner was followed by watching the show Man vs. Wild on the big screen outside.

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Sunday morning my mom and I went to Music & the Spoken Word at the Conference Center. I felt so far removed from the Spirit that I was extra grateful my mom had planned this activity. Music & the Spoken Word is my favorite show to watch or listen to. It was so soothing to sit there and experience the show live. We sat maybe three rows back from the very front. I could practically see up their noses. Okay, maybe not!

How it works is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the orchestra (that has a name but I can’t remember) run through the entire program like a dress rehearsal. Members from the production team come out and tell the conductor about timing issues and adjustments are made. Then everyone on stage takes a short break while someone MC’s the event more or less.

Mark Eubank, the weatherman I grew up watching, was the MC. He talked about the show and how it has been airing live since the 1920’s. In the summer they move to the Conference Center to accommodate the large number of visitors who would like to watch the show.

conference-center

Yesterday was the largest group of visitors so far this summer. It almost looked like they setting up for General Conference there were so many people! Pretty much the whole bottom was full. They had limited seating on one side because that’s where Lloyd Newell is recorded sharing the spoken word portion of the program. Nobody was really in the balcony sections.

Mark Eubank guessed based on a show of hands, that there were about 80% out of state visitors. Out of state meaning states and countries. There were several special visitors from several countries that were formally introduced. We ran into two women in the elevator from South Africa.

Then Lloyd Newell talked to the audience for a bit and explained how it’s a live show. He asked us to help by being as quiet as possible. There are about 100 microphones around and any tiny sound would be picked up. He said if we needed to cough, that was the perfect time to do it before they started! I grabbed a stick of gum and chewed away so my throat wouldn’t ruin anything! We were also told that we were to hold our applause until after the entire show was finished.

There were two large screens on either side of the stage where you could see the program as it would appear on TV. Most TV’s are 36 inches while those screens are more like 36 foot screens. They each require two projectors perfectly aligned to project the image without any blur on the screens. Amazing. We enjoyed the show and the audience was silent until the last of the credits rolled on the screens. There was a brief pause to make sure it was all complete and then the room erupted into thunderous applause. It was pretty amazing. And everyone stood up for a standing ovation.

My favorite part was when the choir and orchestra all sang to the audience. The orchestra people held their instruments still while they sang acapella with the choir, God Be With You Till We Meet Again. It was the most beautiful thing ever. Even Mack Wilberg, the conductor, sang to the audience. It was so touching.

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We took a minute to enjoy the Conference Center and Temple Square before we had to leave for church. As soon as we got home from church I had time to eat a quick lunch and pack up to catch my flight home.

I felt bad eating two meals in front of my mom. It was Fast Sunday but I am not able to fast. She never complained. She just sat there and talked to me while I ate. She was so nervous when I had to admit that I forgot to put in a continuous glucose monitor sensor before I left. She did not want to see me in the hospital with low blood sugar ever again! I didn’t either. When Ed came to the house on Saturday to meet with the estate people he brought my lunch. My mom sent it with him. I was glad since we didn’t have time to break for lunch that day. I took the microwave manual out and nuked my hot pocket at my dad’s house!

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Of all the decisions we have had to make through this process, the only one I felt strongly about was which niche wall would be my father’s final resting place. The guy we worked with at the cemetery was really nice. He took us to a niche wall just behind the office we met with him in. Right off the bat I hated that niche wall. It was so big it didn’t feel comfortable.

Then he took us inside a mausoleum. At first I liked the idea of inside. But it was hot and stuffy with fans blowing hot air. You have to get a key code in order to access the inside which would be annoying for anyone trying to visit his niche. There was a regular niche wall inside that was okay. There was also a display case with glass front niches. They can be decorated as often as the family would like or at least be a way to show off the beautiful box his remains are in. Nice idea but it didn’t seem right. I didn’t like the decorating idea and any drama that would come from it and I didn’t want my dad to look like the one nobody cared about if it was never decorated.

Then the guy said we had to get on a golf cart so he could take us to the niche wall in the center of the garden. As soon as he said center of the garden I knew that was it. I loved it out there. My dad would have loved it out there. The wall was the perfect height and size and it felt so peaceful. I liked the benches nearby too if someone wanted to sit and think. We picked a spot and felt good about it. Heath asked for a picture as we were driving away. The above picture was the best I could do!

A lot was crammed into a 3.5 day trip. It was good. I’m exhausted. I also feel bad that I live so far away. I can distract myself from all of this anytime I want. I feel like this summer has been the best summer ever for my kids and the worst summer ever for my nieces and nephews.

I’m grateful I was able to have heart to heart talks with my mom and sister. I wish I had the time to do that with my brother. I’m grateful I was able to learn more from Deanna. I hate what I learned but I’m glad she told me the stories. I’m grateful for the moments of comic relief with my brother and how he made me laugh on Saturday. One day we will all heal. Today is not that day. I think I will try to relax with a Diet Coke. My dad died. Don’t judge me.

Beach Party

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Before I continue the beach stories, I would like to take a moment to recognize my WordPress blogiversary. I just got the notification that it was three years ago today I made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. My how time flies.

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Parker celebrated a special anniversary on the beach. He had his 9th birthday there!

We spent the day at the beach playing. For dinner we had hot dogs per Parker’s request. Dad and Grandpa roasted them outside. Grandma made decadent Reese’s cupcakes in silicone heart shaped cupcake liners. Aunt Chris and Uncle Charlie bought ice cream when they headed into town to buy something else.

After dinner we watched one of Parker’s favorite movies – The Big Year. He actually fell asleep during the movie so dessert was saved for the next day. He got an Amazon gift card from Grandma and was beside himself with excitement. Between all his grandmas he had received $45 for his birthday.

This boy is Lego obsessed. He couldn’t wait to bring home his dad’s old Legos from Grandma’s house. His birthday money was spent on Lego sets. He bought Cloud Cuckoo Palace from the Lego Movie and a Back to the Future set with the DeLorean that converts into the different versions from all three movies. The DeLorean set showed up today. The doorbell rang and Parker was flying. He was literally floating in the air and screaming “Yes!” over and over as he picked up the box off the porch while I thanked the delivery dude. Life is good!

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Parker’s birthday was an all day beach party. The kids had a blast playing on the beach.

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Gavin would run to catch up to us. Then stop to build some more cities. And on and on the cycle would go on. He was having the time of his life.

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We all filled our pockets with shells. In Gwen’s case, rocks. She loves rocks. I love the rocks at this beach. They are so pretty. I should have taken a picture of the back of our van. We filled it with a large display of shells set there to dry out. Butterfly shaped shells and sand dollars were our favorites.

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Gwen had fun playing with her shadow. She noticed her pigtails bouncing as she jumped and danced.

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That afternoon when it was high tide the kids had fun with the waves. Parker would build something and watch the waves inch closer and closer. At one point he yelled, “Stop right there! Don’t come any closer!” And wouldn’t you know it, the wave stopped just before his toes!

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Grandma made Gwen a mermaid tail and took pictures. That was cute and Gwen was in heaven looking like a real mermaid.

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Ahh … does it get any better than this?

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By the end of every day the kids crashed. I love that Parker is slipping under the railing! Good thing there is a railing there. The stairs were this tightly wound spiral staircase because it took up less space that way.

The sleeping arrangements are worth noting. Grandma and Grandpa slept in the only bedroom with a door. They suggested we sleep in there so I could have a place to get away if I needed to. But I knew her knees wouldn’t appreciate climbing up and down that claustrophobic staircase. They had an extra twin sized bed in there but we didn’t inflict them with any of our kids.

Chris and Charlie slept on a full sized bed next to the bathroom. Heath and I were tucked away in the opposite corner next to the wet bar in the “couple’s therapy beds.” We were in two twin sized beds. The kids were scattered on the floor between chairs and couches under the large picture windows.

The house had fun toys for the kids to play with. It also had a laundry room which helped us out a lot. We did laundry before leaving to minimize the amount of sand we were transporting. Gavin had a bunch of shells in his sweatshirt pocket that I didn’t know about. They came out really clean and a ton of sand came out the hose that drained in the laundry room sink!

It was so much fun staying in that beach house for a couple days. Unfortunately our dedicated beach day came with mostly cloudy skies and misty fog. I did like the fog. It’s so pretty and it makes me feel like I’m walking in a cloud. Our short beach day was perfectly sunny all day long. The kids played hard one last time at the beach before we had to pack up and leave.

Bellybuttons, castles, and long walks on the beach

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Being surrounded by trees helped make the 101 more worth the effort. Soon the tsunami danger zone signs started popping up. Suddenly there were trees towering on one side and

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views like this on the other. I imagined the ocean would be a permanent fixture on the left side as we drove. The twiddly bits kept that from being the case. These breathtaking views came and went as we zigzagged our way through the mountains, trees, and towns.

Eventually we made it to the beach house in Arch Cape. A small private neighborhood was nestled between the 101 and the beach.

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This was the view from the house. Our house was tucked further back from the road and close to the house you see on the right. It was as if the house were more of a guest house or mother-in-law suite. The whole front of the house was basically windows so you could see the beach. The view was much better upstairs which is where Heath got this shot.

Northwest-Adventure-118To get to the beach we walked down the street a few houses till we saw the castle house. Unfortunately I have no pictures of that house. But it really was a castle house. The outside looked like a classic castle. Imagine those little castle bits were stacked tall on the main structure.

That’s what the castle house looked like. It was for sale. We had dreams of seeing the inside but we never did. Heath and I found a couple houses listed on Zillow. We’re seriously considering moving to one. It was huge with 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, private beach access, and only $700,000. A reasonable price for the area we live. Heath told his boss about the house. He said he was sure they could start an office in Oregon as long as we didn’t mind visitors. Sure. No problem. Come on over! Aunt Chris also assured us that she and Uncle Charlie would rent it for two weeks every year. Sold.

Anyway, back to reality. The castle house was across the street from the “public” beach access. Basically you had to be in a house across the street from the beach in order to use that access point. It was a small path between two houses, then down a steep couple yards of smooth black river rocks. Then we were on the beach.

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If you look in the center of the picture to the left of the birds you can see a long white log coming down from a house. That was where we came into the beach.

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We could set up camp anywhere we wanted along the beach that stretched forever in either direction. It is more or less a private beach. All beaches are public in Oregon but they don’t have to have public access. So there weren’t many people spread out on the beach. Sweet! During low tide we could have walked around large rocks and on up to Cannon Beach.

The original plans were to go back to Tillamook on Parker’s birthday and spend a little time at the beach. Then the next day we would spend the morning at the beach before checking out of the house and moving on to Washington. Plans changed when we saw that there would be negative tides on Parker’s birthday. I’m a beach idiot but I learned that means the low tides would be extra low. It has to do with the super moon phenomenon that occurs every so often. Apparently the moon has more pull on the oceans when it’s closer to the earth.

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Low tides indeed! Check out how far away the houses are from where we are standing at the water’s edge. You can barely make out our family walking.

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Here’s a zoomed in picture of them. It’s quite possible we were able to walk a quarter to a half mile from the regular beach to the water’s edge during that negative tide. During high tide later in the day, Heath told me we didn’t need to worry as much about the kids in the waves. We knew what a gradual slope it was into the ocean. The complete opposite of Half Moon Bay where there are dramatic drop offs and Parker tried to get swept away in the waves.

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We walked around enjoying the tide pools. Tide pools are awesome. It’s amazing to see what lives under the water. The kindergarteners used to have a standard field trip to Pigeon Point every year. Apparently there is no longer a budget for that field trip and Gwen’s class was not able to go. Some of the parents lost their minds about it and arranged for a visit to Pigeon Point during Spring Break.

I would have to pay a discounted group rate to get in and provide lunch but she could basically have the same field trip that her brothers had, minus the cool bus ride. I was not interested. The schools do a great job of giving students cool experiences but families can provide those same experiences when field trips are canceled. I think Gwen appreciated the tide pools on the Oregon coast more than she would have with her classmates and their parents during Spring Break.

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I wish I had worn my flip flops on this walk. We found this really neat cave that would be full of water later. Parker had fun exploring in there. There were a lot of sharp rocks inside.

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The sea anemones always amaze me. You can see them open in the water. I didn’t realize at first that the rocks were filled with closed sea anemones. They look like bellybuttons! I love that Gavin did that report on sea anemones in kindergarten. When Charlie asked me what eats sea anemones I remembered. Sort of. I couldn’t remember the name. Heath did and we told him that it’s the nudibranches that prey on sea anemones. They use the toxins from the anemones to build up their own electrical supply against other sea creatures. How wild is that!

Heath and the kids saw a washed up jellyfish on the beach. We saw a bunch of seagulls swooping down into the water. When they left we saw tons of crab shell carnage. Heath and I saw two legs of a starfish. The circle of life is fascinating to witness firsthand.

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Heath told me that the pioneers used the beaches during low tide. It was easier for them to move their wagons and stuff across the sand than to keep twisting and turning through the trees. I didn’t believe him until I saw people riding their bikes across the beach. The sand is soft but packs well. So when you walk through it you don’t sink in. A family was moving rocks and wood for a beach campfire. The kid started using a wheelbarrow to move stuff because it was so much easier than making multiple trips and carrying everything.

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The negative tide only lasted an hour. Soon the water started to slowly eat away at the extra beach. We went back to the beach at high tide later in the day. The kids had fun watching the water destroy anything they wrote or built into the sand. It was amazing how much shorter the beach was at high tide.

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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