January 30, 2010

On the Lighter Side

I thought I'd relate a funny moment from Evan's recent joining of the National Guard. The recruiter picked him up Thursday afternoon to take him to Salt Lake for the night so that he could be up and ready to go at 0500. :) Evan was pretty excited about the fact that he would get to stay in a 5-star hotel, and had been bragging to me about having a pool party.

I explained to him that we live in Utah, so there ARE no 5-star hotels (I'm sure we probably do have, but I've never had the opportunity to stay in one, Utah or elsewhere). Nonetheless, he dutifully packed his swimming trunks and off he went.

He called home about 6:00 p.m. Thursday night, bored to tears already.

"What about your pool party?" I gleefully asked. "After all, you ARE in a 5-star hotel."

Turns out that there was a swimming pool. Unfortunately, it happened to be under snow and ice at the moment. It really does sound like the rooms were nice though, with a big screen TV and a sleep-number bed (something I would love to have).

He'll get the royal treatment again the night before he leaves for basic training. The recruiter explained to him that any time the government puts you up in such a nice place, you can guarantee that life's about to get pretty miserable!

January 29, 2010


Today Evan had his "swearing-in" ceremony to join the National Guard. He's only a junior in high school this year, so he's doing what is called a "split plan" where he'll go to basic training this summer for 10 1/2 weeks and then for his advanced training the summer after he graduates. I know that this will be a good thing for him in many different ways, both now and in the future. I truly am excited for him as he starts this new season in his life.

However, I still am feeling... I'm not sure what, exactly.

Proud, to be certain. Our family may be imperfect in many ways, but we've always had a deep love and appreciation for our country. My dad served in Vietnam. Tom has served active duty in the Army, and in the Reserves, and for the Guard. Josh, of course, has followed in his footsteps, serving first in the Guard, and now active duty on a Special Forces team in the Army (an accomplishment that is still unbelievable to me, knowing what he had to go through), just returning 2 days ago from a tour in Iraq. Evan goes into this with eyes wide-open to what he could and probably will face. To join, in spite of that, I think shows a lot of character.

Old, too. I know, I know, I'm really not that old in the grand scheme of things, but it literally seems like just yesterday he was a baby. I cannot seem to get my head around the fact that he is less than 2 years away from graduating, much less that he is taking these giant leaps toward becoming a man. Of course, he is still a teenager, so there are many days that it seems like I'll never get him there, but today, watching him take the oath and hearing him talk about the future, has made me realize how close we really are to that reality. My baby boy is growing up and will soon be gone. And Braden's following closely on his tail...

Scared and nervous. Especially because of my dad's, and Tom's, and Josh's experiences, I also go into this with my eyes wide open. These last months while Josh was away were very hard, not knowing what he was doing, if he was safe, how he was feeling, physically and mentally. We know that it will be all-too-soon and Josh will be off again. Thinking of having both of them potentially in harms way, maybe at the same time, seems almost unbearable. I honestly don't know how I feel about either of the wars we're currently in, and it doesn't take a genius to look around and see that there will never be a shortage when and if these are ever resolved. It reminds me of a Bellamy Brothers song, a remake of their hit "Old Hippie," but this version is called "Saved." In it, the following line has always stuck with me:

"I've been confused by the issues,
from Vietnam to Desert Storm,
But I pray every night for
the guys and gals in uniform..."

That would describe me perfectly. I know it's always easy to think, "it could never happen to my son," but it DOES happen to somebody's son or to somebody's daughter; lots of them, in fact. I truly believe in God's providence, but the thought of it still is hard. I can only imagine how I would actually handle it if it were to happen to us.

Anyway, those are the overwhelming emotions racing around inside me at the moment. More than anything I'm proud that we have managed to raise such conscientious sons and that they are willing to step forward for their country. I'm excited for Evan as he faces the future and pushes forward, making his own way and experiencing things he likely never would have without this. And I'm proud of the family members who set the example before that paved the way for him now. As Evan put it today as we were driving home, "Dad always made it seem like an honor to serve, and it is..."

And here we think that our kids aren't listening.
P.S. I promise to be more light-hearted soon... Seems like the last few weeks have been pretty heavy. :)

January 24, 2010

A Gift from my Grandpa

Tomorrow marks the 16th anniversary of when my Grandpa passed away. You would think that after so many years it would get a little easier, but he is never completely out of my thoughts, and when I think of him, my eyes still well up with tears from missing him. I think that I can safely say that he, out of all the people I've known in my life, had the greatest impact on who I am today.

My grandparents were both blind; my grandma from birth, and my grandpa completely lost his sight from glaucoma when he was 13 years old, although it had been going for years. To say that they were amazing people is an understatement. My grandpa was a piano tuner, with grandma working as his secretary, "booking" all of his jobs for him, keeping track of all their customers with an enormous card-file system done in braille. I can still hear her voice on the phone in the evenings, working away while grandpa cooked us dinner in the kitchen (I still miss his macaroni and cheese he made from scratch). "This is Mary Collins, the piano tuner's wife..."

When I got my driver's license at age 14 (the state of Idaho had to be nuts to give licenses that early!), my grandpa officially put me on the payroll to drive him to tuning jobs on Saturdays. Being such a young, inexperienced driver, he has no idea how often he was close to death, and his being blind was a blessing to both of us - him so he couldn't see what almost hit us (as I drifted into the oncoming traffic because I was too busy watching my speedometer. I certainly didn't want to be caught speeding!), and me, because he couldn't appropriately react to the same.

Those Saturdays were wonderful not only because I got to earn some much-needed spending money, but because I got to spend hours and hours of one-on-one time with grandpa. He could talk knowledgeably about everything from how ancient Romans built their roads to giving me tips on how to drive in the snow. We'd talk about books, boys, cooking, you name it. More than anything, he listened to me and constantly encouraged me to be better at whatever it was I was doing. He taught me to stop and enjoy the little things, letting me drive miles and miles out of the way on a trip we once took to Boise so that I could see a historic site in the middle of nowhere, a giant rock where early pioneers had carved their names. He also taught me to not be afraid to sing out (something I love, but which I really am not very good at) because I shouldn't let other people take away my joy. When I went through a phase of reading horror stories, he gently talked to me about the concept of "garbage in - garbage out."

He was also the original (and best) GPS system. Even though he was blind, he could give step-by-step directions on how to drive to any given address in what seemed like the entire state of Idaho; southern Idaho at the very least. "Turn east on St. Clair (or whatever that direction was) and then..." Right on track, we'd pull up to the exact address that we were looking for. Unfortunately, I never did get the hang of figuring out east/west/north/south in southern Idaho, because there were no landmarks to guide me. I'd always ask, "Which way is that- left or right?" Then he'd proceed to give me a lesson on the position of the sun in the sky, which side it was shining on your face, etc. etc. I never did figure that out, but I'd give anything to listen to him tell it to me again.

Last week, I received a note from an old high school friend on Facebook (well, not OLD, because we aren't really that old, are we?!) asking me "wasn't your grandpa a piano tuner?" It turns out that she inherited the family piano that her parent's had gotten when she was little. Being out of tune, she did a little digging to see when it had last been tuned. Inside was the following business card, with a March 1982 date. The tuner? My grandpa...

I can't help but feel that this was a special gift from Grandpa, still giving me encouragement when I need it, just another of many gifts he's given me throughout my life. The best gift of all though was just having him in my life. He was patience, kindness, and love personified. There was none better...

(A special thanks to Krista for letting me use her beautiful photography! I wish I had half her talent. To see more on her blog, click here.)

January 14, 2010

Mostly just rambling...

On January 3rd, our church gathered donated supplies such as children's clothes, diapers, formula, bottles, vitamins, etc. to send off with Mandi, a super-sweet friend who was making a 10-day humanitarian mission to Haiti, leaving the following Sunday, January 10th.

Of course by now you'd have to be living in a cave to not know the rest of the story...

In previous natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Indonesia, I was deeply saddened by the loss of life and imagining the trials people had to go through, but I was distanced somewhat from the problem. Somehow, though, it's much worse when you actually know someone who is there, dealing with the realities.

As soon as I heard about the earthquake, I immediately got scared because I knew she was somewhere near Port-au-Prince. It wasn't until the next day that another friend from church was able to track down family who had luckily heard from her. The orphanage she and her friend are in has damage (they are having to sleep outside), but they and all the babies made it out safely with only minor injuries - Mandi has either a broken or severely sprained ankle and some cuts from broken glass. They have been kept very busy providing medical care to people in their area. Several peoples in the building right next to theirs were not so lucky and died.

Several years ago my aunt Lois had traveled to Haiti to cover the building of a medical clinic set up by a group of doctors and nurses in Salt Lake. I remember when she returned, looking at the photos and hearing her stories, and just being incredibly touched. That is how I'm feeling again. Never before have I felt so helpless and wishing there was something I could do (beyond monetary donations to a legitimate source, which I have done) to provide help. I've been praying non-stop for Mandi and her friend Carol, and for their families, but it just doesn't seem like enough.

Even though there's nothing physical I can do to help, I find that I'm becoming extremely irritated with people who aren't focused on this tragedy. Watching the news last night and tonight, hearing the "battle" going on with Conan O'Brian and NBC, all I could think was "WHO REALLY CARES?" Same thing for Oprah and her "upcoming interviews with Adam Lambert!" probably one of the most useless people I can think of. These are our heroes? They are nothing compared to the doctors, nurses, and caregivers who are struggling to give help to those who are desperately in need of it.

There's much more on my heart, but I guess I should quit where I am. I hope that everyone will just continue to pray for ALL the people in Haiti.

Here are some links to recent articles you might find interesting

Here's an article from KSL about Mandi and Carol:

Here are links to recent articles that Lois wrote for the Deseret News:


Here are links to the archived articles from when Lois travelled there in 2000 which really highlight the struggles Haitians faced when life was "normal." I can only imagine how they'll continue on now...

August 13, 2000:

Bringing hope to Haiti

Island visit opens eyes and hearts

August 14, 2000:

Hard times a constant of Haitian history

August 15, 2000:

Mending bodies, building a legacy

Finally, a great response about the flap created by Pat Robertson who earns the award for most misguided and mispoken "Christian" out there.


January 5, 2010

What do you think this means?

My co-worker and I have worked closely together in the same office for almost 4 years now. We spend 8 hours together every day, 5 days a week, and I can't remember a time when we've not ever gotten along. She even got me hooked on scrapbooking, and we go to a scrapbooking class together once a month. I safely count her among my friends.

Yesterday I got to work, the first day that we were both there in the last week. When I walked in the office, the first thing she tells me is: "I had the worst dream about you last night!" Seems that her clothes dryer has been on the blink, so she dreamed that she brought her wet laundry into the office and had it hanging up everywhere to dry. Being the unreasonable person I am, I got angry with her and threw a fit about it.

Okay... don't know how I figured into that one, but doing household chores at work probably isn't the best idea! Unless you agree to do a little of my overdue ironing for me... ;-D


Early this morning I went out to wake the boys up to get ready for school. I woke Evan first, being that he's camped out on the couch for awhile. He sits straight up and says, "I had the worst dream about you last night!" Apparently in this one, I was the proud owner of a Corvette (Evan's favorite vehicle EV-AH). Because I am such an evil mom, I purposely drove the Corvette into a ditch full of water every day, just to tick him off. Each day he and Tom would have to use a tow truck and drag me out... He just couldn't believe that I would do that.

Now I know that he and I don't always see eye to eye, and I didn't give in and buy him the puppy he wanted for Christmas, but do I really seem that mean and vindictive?


Finally, I gave Tom his customary wake-up hug before heading out the door for work. Barely even opening his eyes he tells me "I'm mad at you!" During the night he dreamed that we went to the county fair together (which should have been his first clue that it was a dream - he'll NEVER go to things like that with me!). While there, he discovered that he had won a brand new John Deere riding lawn mower. Excited, he found me and tried to get me to go back with him to pick up his prize, but I wouldn't believe him. By the time I finally consented to go with him, somebody had stolen it. If only I'd have believed him...


Sheesh! And here I thought I was a nice, loving person. Guess not... :-)

January 4, 2010

Not off to a good start...

So 2010 hasn't really come in with a "Bang," so much as a "POP!" - of a waterbed, that is...

Was it only two days ago that I waxed poetic here about improving my outlook on life? New beginnings and all that for 2010? Hmmm... apparently I forgot that I have teenagers - a 17-year-old in particular. I won't make that mistake again.

Yesterday after church I was just getting ready to settle in for some much-needed relaxation, when Braden nonchalantly walked in the room to inform me that "Evan needs help with his waterbed. He was moving the mattress and now there's water going everywhere."

"Surely he's joking," I thought to myself, but he was a little too calm, usually a dead give-away that something big's going down. If he'd been frantic and hyper I would have known he was just trying to mess with my mind.

Sighing, I got up and trudged downstairs.

Here's the deal: Evan decided that he wanted to repaint his room, yet again. Since he now has his own job and his own money, he decided he didn't need to check with us to see if that'd be okay. To be fair, I've usually felt like "it's his room and he has to live with it, so whatever."

Several months ago he decided that he "HAD" to have a waterbed. Tom and I put up a good fight, giving all the reasons why he shouldn't have one. But he did his homework, finding articles showing that even if a waterbed "sprung a leak," it wouldn't flood like you would think due to pressure, linings, yadda yadda yadda... I honestly don't remember what all, but it sounded good enough that we finally relented. He really did need a new bed, so when he found a good used waterbed for $50 in the paper, we got it for him.

Since then he has emptied it and moved it at least 3 times, because he likes to rearrange. A. Lot. Because the poor, used thing has been moved so many times, and because it was probably so old and abused to begin with, this last move so that he could paint his walls was one time too many and the frame fell apart, but not before the now-exposed screws ripped not just one but several gaping holes.

By the time I got downstairs, the carpet was considerably "squishy," but Evan's girlfriend, a good sport who had offered to help him paint, was holding the worst part up. Of course we don't have a shop-vac, so Evan and I rushed into Hyrum to buy one ($55 - already more than the original cost of the stupid bed). An hour or so and probably fifty 5-gallon bucket trips of water up the stairs and outside later, the mattress was empty enough that Evan and Braden decided it would be light enough to carry upstairs and outside.

As you may have guessed, they were wrong. About halfway up the stairs, one end (not surprisingly the end with the biggest hole) was dropped, sending another cascade of water all over Braden, the stairs, and the carpet at the bottom.

To say that Evan was stressed out and pissed off at this point would be an understatement. As was I... I believe I said something about "ungrateful, #($)&..." They carried it back down and emptied 10 more bucketfuls. Eventually we got it emptied and Evan got the rest of it out. And now he sleeps on the couch.

But he did get the room painted. His colors of choice, which we didn't see until late last night when he was done? Black, black, black. Black walls (all four), and a black ceiling, with a yellow and white "Army" logo he did himself. Ai-yi-yi...

Rest in pieces, old friend...

January 2, 2010

Welcome 2010!

I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who's happy to see 2009 go bye-bye in the rearview mirror. As my Aunt Lo said in a recent facebook posting, "Don't let the door hit you in the *butt* on your way out!" Truer words were never spoken...

Due to the economy, it seems like EVERYBODY I know, even those blessed to still have jobs, has been stressed out, myself included. Throw in a few teenage boys at the home-castle, a son off in Iraq, and a tween-age girl, not to mention a husband (wonderful though he may be!) and you can understand why I'm practically certifiable at this point. The thing is, I really shouldn't be so stressed and, frankly, the fact that I am also stresses and irritates me a little. The last few months I have been feeling down, something I don't normally do for more than a day or two at a time before I get myself under control.

In looking back over the last year, I know I have actually been blessed beyond measure. Tom and I both still have our jobs, our health is mostly good, the kids are growing up and doing all the things kids do as they speed toward adulthood (which I'm also finding difficult!), our dogs love us unconditionally, and I still find time for reading and scrapbooking! Additionally, a long-time thorn in the flesh that I've been praying about for the last decade was finally taken care of, so I know that God is with us as always, whatever the new year brings.

Anyway, in the spirit of new beginnings, I am putting down my official New Year's resolutions, something I normally haven't done. I figure by adding it here, it will be harder to ignore, and at least a few people will help keep me accountable.

1) As is typical for most people, I want to get into shape. I've had a never-ending sinus infection for the last 3 months, so whatever shape I had managed to get in last summer is LONG gone. I have never felt like such a slug before in my life. I feel like I am finally on the tail-end of that, so now it's time to get off my butt! Anyone want to run some 5k's with me? :)

2) Going hand-in-hand with getting into better shape, exercise-wise, I need to do better with my low-salt diet. My meniere's has really been pretty kind to me the last year, not attacking me with a full-blown assault even once. Because of this, I've been playing pretty loose with the low-salt thing, even though it makes me feel perpetually off-center. Time to get back in control!

3) I'm going to blog more. I love looking back over all the entries since I started this blog, but am sad to see that I have only averaged 1-2 posts the last couple of months. Even though it seems like each day blends in with the next, I know there have been many things I've missed and now forgotten. I started this blog to help my poor, pre-Alzheimer's memory in remembering all the little things, and in looking back it really has helped serve it's purpose. This year I vow to do better.

4) I'm going to "Facebook" less. Or at least I'm going to quit wasting so much time on the mindless games that have been my escape from life and more time on actually connecting with friends. That means that this summer I will do better in my actual garden and ignore my virtual one. Except for Yoville, at least until I have enough money to buy the house I've been saving for... ;-D.

5) Reading more probably isn't an option for me, much as I would love it to be! However, this year I vow to read more of the classics, more history, and more non-fiction - things that will help better me as a person. Tom spoiled me for Christmas this year and got me one of the new e-Book readers. Since I'm such a miser at heart, I've been scouring the internet for free downloadable books and have discovered quite the treasure trove of these. Now I have no excuse!

6) Going hand-in-hand with this, I vow to study my Bible more. Our church is starting a campaign this month to read the New Testament in the next 40 days, which is a good start.

7) I will work towards becoming debt-free. Tom and I had started taking Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" class, but about halfway through was when Savannah and I came down with the flu, then sinus infections 1, 2, and 3, then Christmas, then.... You get the idea. You can't "graduate" if you miss more than 2 classes, so it just became easier not to go. However, with the holidays behind us, it's time to buckle back down and finish listening to all the lessons on CD. It's a very motivating course, so I highly encourage anyone who has the chance to listen to it.

8) Be a better mom/wife/worker. I think I especially need to focus on being less irritated with my kids and enjoy the journey, regardless of how challenging they may be.

9) Start now on next year's Christmas cards! Because of my total apathy about life these last few months, I didn't get cards sent out at all this year (so don't feel left out if you never received one - nobody else did either!).

Whew... it's quite the list, but hopefully I'll make at least a little progress. I'm reminded of a poem I read back in high school (lo, those many years ago!):

It Couldn't Be Done
By: Edgar A. Guest

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't" but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so 'til he'd tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried, he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done and he did it.

Somebody scoffed, "Oh you'll never do that,"
"At least no one ever has done it;"
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing,
That "cannot be done" and go do it.

Happy New Year's Everyone!