Monday, March 30, 2015

Growing and Learning

One of my roles in life right now is that of Relief Society President.  It has been an eye opening experience.  I spend a fair amount of time worrying about the women in my ward.  The widows.  The divorced. The ones dealing with health challenges in their families.  The ones who can't say no to anything and are burning the candle on both ends.  The ones who won't say yes to anything because they are so wrapped up in their issues that they feel they have nothing to give.  The ones who are unhappy because life hasn't turned out how they planned.

I guess that is just about everybody!

But it is not.

What I have discovered is that there are a handful of women in my ward who can step past the issues in their own lives to live joyfully.  They are patient and kind.  They are quick to serve and to volunteer for anything.  They look for ways to lift others and they know who is in need because they are good listeners and observers.

They are examples for me of how I can grow and improve.  I am so grateful for the women that Heavenly Father has placed in my path.  I am grateful for the members of my "team" both past and present who have skills that I do not and see things that I miss.  I am learning, but it is slow and sometimes painful.  I had one of those situations today where I feel that I reproved someone with sharpness.  Before, her actions and words would have bothered me for a while, but one thing I have become much better at is letting things go.  Now I just have to figure out how to show an increase of love to this woman who probably really needs it.  I know that with some prayer Heavenly Father will help me find the best way to smooth things over.  And that's another thing that I have learned- more trust in my Heavenly Father.

Although some days are hard, I am grateful for my calling.

Removing Blogs from your Blogger Reading List

Maybe I am just really slow, but this issue drove me crazy for at least an hour before I figured it out. I am posting this so that I will be able to remember the next time. . .an maybe I can save someone else a headache.

When you are on your blog's dashboard there is a feature called "Reading List."  I like to use this to keep up on my friends' blogs but a couple of years ago I had connected to a lot design blogs and I wanted to clean things up.  I generally connect to my friends' blogs using Google Friend Connect, so I was having some issues.

1.  Click on the settings button for the Reading List.  It should take you to a new page called "Manage the Blogs I'm Reading"

2.  Next to the blog name that you want to remove, click on the word "Settings."

3.  Here is the key: you will have to sign in AGAIN!  How stupid is that?  Anyway, once you sign in you can click on "Stop Following."

4.  Voila!  You may now clean up your list.

These days I tend to connect to favorite blogs through Instagram, but I want to make sure I can always find my friends.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wanderlust

I have been travelling a lot lately.

  March 4-7, 2015  Las Vegas, NV

I went to Las Vegas to visit my friend Leisa and to go to the Rascal Flatts concert at the Hard Rock.  The concert was AMAZING!!!!  It was fun to see their new home and meet their new foster daughter, Caleigh.  I spent some quality time playing ball with the boys and had a great break.

 March 8-10, 2015  San Clemente, CA

Yup.  I was home for less than 24 hours.  We left Reed home alone and went to see Parker’s graduation from MCT.  He had liberty on Sunday afternoon so we were there for that.  On Monday we explored a bit and I took a long nap because I had a bad cold.  The best part of this trip was the 5 or so hours we spent with Parker in LAX!  It was super hard to leave and watch him walk away.  I had no idea how many people witnessed the event, but about half the plane spoke to me as they went by me.  The flight attendant kept a steady stream of Diet Coke and chocolate flowing, but I could not stop crying.  I’d think I had it all together and then a tear would slide down my cheek.  Yesterday Parker posted this about that day:

“A few weeks back I was at the airport with my parents saying my goodbyes before they boarded the plane my mom was crying like moms do and I remember looking over and I saw a lady crying. At that moment I realized something. For 18 years my mom has loved me and supported me through all of the long nights after surgeries. the days where I was so tired I'd pass out in the shower and her and my brother would have to carry me into my room, she'd take me to the gun shop to buy a new rifle. she fed me, taught me what is right and wrong. she made sure I knew what she expected of me. And she is what made me the man I am today. I don't say this enough but I love my mom to death! And yes my mom is so cool she can do failure drills with her handgun. #‎watchoutshespackin and she even let me play with machine guns. Sorry guys but my mom is the coolest. Love you mom can't wait to see you!”

Yeah.  I cry every time I read it!!!

  March 11-19  HOME!!!!
       Ed did some travelling but I didn’t.  Reed had a couple of concerts.  It is fun to watch him perform because he seems to enjoy it.  He is excited about being in Encore next year.

 March 20-27  South Portland, ME
      Uncle Len died on the 16th, so I headed to Maine- and so did ALL of my brothers.  We cannot remember the last time we were all together.  How sad is that?  I was supposed to leave on the 25th but so was the rest of the tribe so I stayed a couple extra days to feather it out for Aunt Thelma.
·        
March 29-30  The Cabin
      Ed brought the dogs down yesterday since we were getting new tile laid to fill in the holes from our construction project.  Today we switched places so that he can go to work and I will take them home when the grout dries tomorrow.

And yes. . . we leave on Friday for Miami and the Eastern Carribean.  Then maybe I will stay home for longer than 8 days.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Crucible

If you know me well, you know that the past couple of weeks have been pretty stressful.  We have had a lot going on, but the underlying stress is coming from Parker being at the MCRD SD.  That stands for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.  He is undergoing 13 weeks of intense training to see if he has the right stuff to be a Marine.  Basically the first week doesn't count, so when you see week counts, it is based on 12 weeks of training.  This is week 11.
Parker is in the 2nd to top row on the left.  You can see him in the first few seconds of the video.  What we learned today is that 3245 is the Honor Platoon.  That means they have won the most awards and performed the best of the six platoons of the Lima Company.  Quite an honor.

video




Last week had a couple of real high points.  On Wednesday we got about an 8 and a half minute call from him because his platoon had scored the highest on the written knowledge test.  That was a very big deal.  It was so good to hear his voice.  It was very calm and measured- not at all like mine!!!  He told us that he had the flu and was really worried that he might get dropped back, but he was able to recover in the time allowed and all was well.  He was excited about getting fitted for his uniforms and getting a real Marine haircut- a high and tight.

Then on Thursday we received two letters in the mail.  He told us that he had baptized someone and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood on someone.  What great news!  He also said that he had had pneumonia a few weeks before.  That did not panic me because I read that ALL the recruits say they have pneumonia when they really have a cold.

In the phone call when I asked him if he was concerned at all about The Crucible, he responded, "It's only two and a half days."  Yes, but. . . there's quite a bit that happens in that length of time.


I found this video.  Although it does not look like fun to me, Parker probably thinks it is like Scout Camp on steroids.  Judging by the foliage and the fact that there are women recruits, I am guessing this video was made at Parris Island, SC but there are the same types of obstacles at Camp Pendleton where they will do their test.  One thing that caught my eye is when they all step over a log.  My dad taught me that as I was growing up.  He was in the Army- probably learned it there.




I have an hour-by-hour schedule of the event so that I can be in a full-bore panic for the full 54 hours!  There are about 420 recruits in the Lima Company. About half of the moms and dads are on a Facebook site where we can share information.  One of the things that we have done is set up a prayer list so that someone will be praying for the boys every single hour.  I have three times and I have an alarm set on my phone so that I won't miss them!

One tradition is that you keep your porch light burning and a candle burning so that your recruit can find his way home.  We left our Christmas candles in our windows and they are blazing.


We also have a little display in our home to keep our minds and our prayers on Parker and the other recruits.  Since these are not real candles we will let them burn for the whole time. 


Our understanding is that if we do not get a phone call by Thursday night, we can be assured that our son completed The Crucible and has become a Marine.  I am praying that that phone stays silent!  I am not at all worried about his determination or his ability to complete such a difficult task.  I am a little concerned about his body holding up, but I have placed my concerns in God's hands and every time I feel myself getting a little worried, I pray.

So, if you don't mind, pray with me.  For strength, determination, and health for all the men of Lima Company.  Go Lethal Limas!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Road to the Marines

 
 One of Parker's senior photos- where he is NOT holding a gun!

Quite a few people have asked me why Parker wants to join the Marines.  I can't speak for him, except for what he has written in his letters, but I can share my own thoughts and observations.  Here's what I know.  When I look at photo albums it starts being funny because every page you turn there is a photo of Parker wearing wither Red, White, and Blue or camo.  It is rare to see anything else until high school when he added wrestling t-shirts to his wardrobe.  And his hair has always been short since he had a say about it.  Sometimes even shaved.  The other thing that is obvious as you turn the pages of the many photo albums is that we have traveled a lot.  Parker has been to 38 states and 5 countries.  He knows what America is all about and he's seen what is part our borders.  He knows what he stands for.


Parker was, and is, a tough and tumble kid.  He was scaling the refrigerator at about 18 months- which was a problem for me since I was 8 months pregnant with Reed!  He was always dirty and would make anything explode that he could- flour in the kitchen, baby powder in the bathroom... you get the idea!  He always wanted to be outside.  Right around his 4th birthday we bought a new-to-us motor home that was straight from the 70's and came with the 8 track tapes from the era.  He decided that camper was his and he wanted to go camping all the time!  As we traveled he learned great tunes by Johnny Cash and the Carpenters.

Parker was in kindergarten on September 11, 2001.  He was already a patriot and that event galvanized his 5 year old heart against the bad guys who threaten our country.  He was a vision in red, white, and blue and he wore this pin that we made together every day for months. I was surprised to see the school pictures with the flag he had built out of Legos that he made at school- I didn't know anything about it, but Mrs. South said that he kept it in his cubby and would not let anyone take it apart to re-use the Legos.

At that time in his life, all Parker wanted to be was a firefighter.  We watched "Here Comes a Fire Truck" over and over.  Ed and I can still sing all the songs!  For his 5th birthday Ed had put an old hydrant over our irrigation water spigot in the back yard.  We bought the right size hose and Parker could water the garden like a fireman.  When the fires burned after 9-11, our Fire Department was sending some guys to New York to help.  Parker had his dad unhook the hose in the backyard and he gave it to Fire Chief Dale Ekins to take to NYC to help put out the fires.  A few weeks later the hose was returned along with a FDNY hat that Parker wore all the time.






Parker shot a .22 for the first time in 2002 when we were in Illinois at Uncle Bob's house.  Loved it.  This is his 4th grade school photo from 2006- 4th grade.


Parker loved being in the Boy Scouts of America.  He loved the campouts and the hikes.  The harder the adventure was, the happier it made him.  He earned his Eagle and for his project he built a fire pit in North Lake Park.  His favorite part was the Camping Merit Badge.


The photo on the left is from the 50 mile bike ride.  It was a cold miserable day in September, but he did it!  Can't remember if he was 12 or 13.  He earned his Eagle at age 15.

Parker started wrestling in high school which is a brutal sport.  He learned to be tough both mentally and physically.  Of course Reed had to follow in his big brother's footsteps.  When they would come home from practice, Reed would be moaning and say "That was the worst practice ever."  Parker would come in with a big grin and say, "That was an awesome practice!"  The funny thing is, I don't think he ever liked wrestling despite the fact he was on the team for four years.  It was all about pushing himself to the limits in a sport that most people just can't handle.





Parker has always loved shooting.  He is our varmint control manager at the cabin and is pretty lethal with a pellet gun.  I can't even begin to imagine how many rodents have had aerial burials down there at his hands.
In November of his Junior year (2012) he was lifting.  He went down into a squat and started to come up and got stuck.  His first knee surgery was to remove the bone spur that had finally gotten long enough to dig into his IT Band muscle.  He recovered quickly and was able to start wrestling in January.  Interestingly enough, he was much better than he had been before surgery.
This is my favorite photo of Parker wrestling.  I love the intensity in his eyes as he was waiting for the ref to call the pin.  You can see the scar from the first surgery in this shot as well.

In April of that same year he went to one of those trampoline places where he managed to hurt his knee.  The doctor we went to was an idiot.  He did an ultrasound, pronounced that he would be fine with some physical therapy and sent us on our way.  I still can't believe I let that happen.  He did PT for a couple of months and then went to Vandit Wrestling Camp in June.  His knee dislocated 7 times in the first two days.  After doing some more PT, finding the doctor again who had changed offices, and finally getting x-rays and an MRI, we were sent to the head of Sports Medicine at the University of Utah Orthopedic Hospital who did a huge surgery on P's knee on September 25th, 2013. (For more on the TTT surgery, READ THIS.)  Parker became the poster child for a perfect recovery.  The doctor said he had never seen someone heal so completely and quickly from that big a surgery.  He cleared him to wrestle on January 6, 2014!
These are the scars from the second surgery.  He had two dissolvable screws to hold the new "tendon" that was made out of his hanstring and two big old screws holding his tibia together after they broke it and reshaped it to better hold the patella. Unfortunately Reed blew out his knee on January 7th and we had another knee surgery in the family.  Parker got tweaked in one of his matches and his Dad called an end to his wrestling career.  I left on a cruise with both of them on crutches! 

As any good parents would, we tried to talk to Parker about going to college or serving a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He was pretty quiet about his plans, but we knew he was thinking about military service.  Things came to a head in April of his Senior year when he asked us to go to the recruiter's office and sign paperwork to allow him to join the Marines since he was only 17.  After many conversations, and a few tears on my part, we did.  This was important because it allowed us to start down the path of getting his knee cleared.  To be honest, we never really thought they would take him since he still has two screws in his knee.  But he was in such good shape that they thought he would be just fine.

This photo was taken during Parker's junior year of high school.  You can see that he had taken the "military thing" to the next level.  And that there was a new sense of seriousness.

Parker left in June to go work in North Dakota on a road project for his Dad's company.  He spent the days hauling rebar and running up and down the hills with Survey equipment.  By the time he came home in October, he had lost about 10 pounds.  He was supposed to leave on November 17, but all of a sudden the date was changed to November 2.  We were on the hustle to have family photos and to get everything ready.  Which, since they can only take a Driver's License, a Social Security Card, $20, and the clothes on their backs, it was pretty easy!

Getting sworn in for the second time (active duty) at the MEPS in Salt Lake City.  November 3, 2014.

It was hard sitting at MEPS and knowing my boy was leaving and that he would come back totally different- a man.  I am actually kind of excited to see if he picks up after himself. . .  This little kid who was at MEPS because his sister was going into the Army became enamored with Parker.  This is the last photo I took of him before he left.  It make me happy that he was so kind to this kid.

It is fun to sit back and think of all the influences in Parker's life that led him to want to serve his Country.  We are pretty patriotic and I think Utah is a very patriotic state- much more so than Maine where his Dad and I grew up.  Ed and I are both the children of men who served in WWII.  My brother served in the Army and my niece served in the Navy during Desert Storm.  Parker will be the first Marine in the family tree.  I think our tree is getting a lot stronger- and better defended!






Friday, January 2, 2015

Another New Year!

I can hardly believe that 2015 is here!  It really is true that the older you get, the more quickly time seems to pass.  This last year is like a blur- except for the two knee surgeries.  Those periods stand out in clear, dreadful detail.  And Parker leaving for Boot Camp.  That was a little traumatic for me!



I feel certain that 2015 will have its ups and downs, but I know that attitude is everything, so it will be a great year.  I am looking forward to:

Parker's Graduation and 10 Day Leave
Daniel and Tanika's new baby boy arriving in March
Ed's Birthday/ Our 24th Anniversary Cruise in April
Danaca's graduation from UVU on May 1
Dalton's Graduation from Lehi High School in May/June
Dallin and Frazier's baby arriving in June
Reed will be a Senior in August

This is one of those BIG EVENT kind of years.  I'm sure there will be lots of fun, quiet moments, too.  I just can't even anticipate them yet!

As for resolutions, I'm not that big a fan, but I do have some:

1.  Be grateful and let people know.  Write lots of thank you notes.

2.  Give 15 minutes a day to Heavenly Father.  No matter what.  This can take many forms, but it needs to be EVERY day.  (I've skipped a few in the past.)

3.  Either figure out how to make a photography business work, or forget it.  It can't be a half hobby like it is now.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Christmas

I never got around to posting our Christmas card for posterity, so here it is.  A bit late, but better than never!

We had a little help from DiAnna to get this photo taken.  
Since we are down to the three of us, we just had to do something funny!

And here's our Christmas Update.  Definitely not a letter.

Of course, by now we all know that the knee surgery count is woefully inaccurate since Reed blew out his other knee on December 15. . . yeah. . . the same day he had an x-ray to see if he could be cleared to wrestle on account of his broken hand.  The answer to that was, "Ah. . .you aren't quite ready yet,"  which of course, Reed totally ignored.  For the record, Reed broke the knee AT wrestling practice, but he was not wrestling.  He was running ladders.  I always said running was dangerous.

We had a very nice Christmas.  Ed's sister Judy came out from Maine and stayed for 13 days.  I felt bad that we had a pretty low key visit since Reed was firmly implanted into the couch.  She did become well acquainted with Doug and Brenda Wilcox because Brenda came over to work on Reed's leg to decrease the pain.  She taught me a new crochet pattern and I have started a baby afghan.  We also played a LOT of Hand and Foot.   We all love that game.  The dogs laid around and loved all the attention that they could wrangle.



Reed received a Playstation 4 and a couple of games.  For his birthday we gave him an iPhone 6 because we just did not feel that giving him the golf stuff we had bought would be a good fit for a kid who had surgery that day and was missing a golf trip to St. George.  He got the golf stuff for Christmas along with an iPad Mini that we got for a song as a gift with purchase kind of thing.

I received a beautiful chestnut Coach purse that was stocked with a couple of gift cards and a $100 bill!  I got ink cartridges for my photo printer.  That might not sound like a great gift, but it was.  That printer takes NINE cartridges (4 that are shades of black!) and they are expensive critters.  I also got a frying pan with a non-stick diamond coating.   
  
Ed got a surveillance camera for down at the cabin.  I think my skinny dipping days are over because I am afraid that someone will hack our feed!  I'm pretty sure they would get more than they bargained for. . .much more.  He also got a WiFi music system that he is installing down at the cabin so we have some good music when we are there.  

It was a beautiful day with the snow falling continuously.  I had two favorite moments.

1.  Around 10:30 I got a call from Sister Clausen who is a Senior Missionary at Camp Pendleton.  She told me that she had spoken with Parker that morning and that he seemed happy and well. SHe also gave us some idea of what was going on there that day. That made my whole day.

2.  In the afternoon Colby and Danaca came over.  What do you give a married couple who has no space for stuff? A trip.  They were happy with the plane tickets because they thought they would cover the trip to Parker's graduation.  They looked a little stumped about the hotel nights, but Danaca just about exploded with joy when they opened the gift cards for 3 day Disney passes.  It was a riot!  We are sad that we did not video her reaction because it was so out of character!