Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Take Your Best Guess

The other morning I got up and Allan had left a section of the newspaper for me. I looked at it and wondered what article he wanted me to read. There were 4 to pick from:
  • "You gonna be okay, man?" An article about binge drinking
  • An article on Breast cancer and mammograms--I thought maybe he had noticed the messages I had been getting about it's time again for my mamogram???
  • "Last-minute advice about running a marathon"
  • An article about a "hottie hubby"--I know he's hot but I didn't know he thought he was ; )
I wondered? And which one do YOU THINK he wanted me to read?

Yes, it was the one about running a marathon. And I thought he either thinks I'm in better shape than I am or HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME ; ) No, at this point in time there is no marathon in my future. I had talked about a half-marathon, but that will have to wait until next year--perhaps the Spring. BTW, I have decided the on-line running class is not for me.

I have been slowly getting back to running--after my two week illness the beginning of August. It seemed to take a long time to get back into it. I guess that has gotten me thinking about some of the lessons I've learned from running:
  • Perseverance: When I first started a little over a year ago, I didn't think I'd ever be able to run for more than a minute or two. I still don't have great endurance, but that's okay. It has really paid off to "just keep running".
  • You don't quit just because of a little pain: This came at me full force the other day. The first 15 minutes of my run I was miserable. My back was killing me, but I decided to just run through it. And then it started to get better. It was a great run that really had me thinking that it's like life--sometimes we just have to keep going and it will get better.
  • The feeling of accomplishment: Some days when I go out in my car after running and drive to where I ran, I think WOW, I really ran a long way. And that just makes me smile. It's nice to sit back and think about the things we accomplish--even the little things.
  • There is such beauty in the world: I love as I run along and see all the different colors of the trees, the flowers, etc. (I do have to admit I don't like the canker worms, but at least they are not on the trees all year) The other day when I was out running, I came up upon 2 deer at 3 different spots along the run. Each set was a mom and her baby. They were so sweet. I was so afraid I was going to scare them and they would take off into oncoming traffic so I had to either slow or come to a complete stop and wait until they ran back in the woods or I would run into the street to keep them from going that direction.
  • There are all kinds of people in the world: This morning I had a weird experience. I had passed the half-way point and had started back toward home when a guy riding by on a bike starts talking to me, "The toilet paper at McDonald's is like sandpaper." I said, "Oh?" He added, "Yeah, my butt's bleeding." At that point I put my earphones back in and kept running.
  • Attitude truly is everything: Quite often I have to push myself to get out there and run. But I know one thing--doing it is good for me. Some days when I am out running, I feel pretty old, but I know by doing this I'm taking better care of myself. I saw this somewhere and loved it, "a recent 2010 study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research showed that, overall, people aged 70 and older who had a positive mental attitude about aging and who were physically active reported feeling much younger than their years. Conversely, those who had a more negative attitude about getting older tended to be less active; and reported feeling at least their age, if not older; and reporting more health problems than the younger group did." That's very true--I don't feel too old until I look in the mirror ; )
And speaking of the beauty in this world--A few days ago when I saw this tree, I had to go back and get my camera to get a picture of it. It is always one of my favorites and this year has not been any different. It always makes me smile when I see it.






Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Family



Then there's this guy--he sure is growing. I get to iChat with him once in awhile and that's great.
When you have grandkids that are that cute, of course, you want to be able to spend more time with them. I sure wish I could see them more often.

The other day one of my sisters sent me a message on our family website and asked me why my kids were never on. I realized I never invited any of them and then I wondered, "Who would I invite?" We have lived out of the U.S. and away from California for so long that the majority of my children do not know my sisters. That is so sad. I think Kyle has met them maybe twice. My family is very different from Allan's family. It's funny--I can be critical of them sometimes. I have a sister who has struggled with an addiction that has basically cost her her house. I get mad at her about it, but no one else better say anything negative about her. After all she is my sister and I love her and will always love her. I may not like the choices she has made but I still love her.

I understand that none of them have the money to come and see me (and they don't have passports), so I need to make more of an effort to see them.

When I talk to them on the phone and they have a family gathering, I'm sad that I'm not there. Unfortunately they don't get together as often as they used to. I remember when Stephen was a baby and we all got together just about every weekend to play cards and have fun. It was so fun to be there with them back in June and to spend a couple of nights at my sister Linda's. We had so much fun. I miss those days.

Like I mentioned at the start of this post,I think about how I don't get to see my kids/grandkids as often as I would like. Allan and I were saying the other night how no one really wants to travel to Winnipeg. I've heard a few times--"it's so cold there." Well, I have to laugh because it is only cold a few months out of the year, but somehow that seems to work for them. Then again maybe because we travel to see them occasionally, they don't feel a need to head this direction. (And I don't blame any of them for not wanting to be here at Christmas--it is very cold ; )

Aside from my having a chance to see them, there is nothing that makes me happier than when they get together. Neal was recently in Utah and had a chance to see Heidi, Brent, and my granddaughter, Kiah. I'm glad. It would have been nice if it had been this weekend because then Allan would have a chance to see them, but at least he will have time with Heidi, Brent, and Kiah. They will all go to Conference together.

Sidenote #1: Spanish class is going well. Because it has been so long since I've been to meetings other than Church, it felt weird to start a class without a prayer ; )

Sidenote #2: I found a cute pattern for a baby blanket for the new baby and I think I found some yarn that I really like.

Sidenote #3: Elder Rob is doing GREAT.





Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Motherhood Part II


I had every intention of publishing this post as a follow-up to this post, but I didn't get around to it.

I have had the opportunity to be a mom/step-mom to some pretty wonderful children. From them I have learned a great deal. And they continue to teach me. Because I don't want to write a book, I thought I'd share with you SOME of what I have learned:

From Stephen: For the first 12 years of his life we were alone.He taught me how to be a mom. I learned how to love--I'm sure I learned that from my parents but I really felt it put into action with him. I learned that there is such a special connection between a mom and her son and that bond is always there. I was quite worried about being a mother to a boy (especially with no dad around for him)--after all I only had sisters, but I feel my being a tom-boy really paid off. Stephen is a sports fanatic and so am I. I thoroughly enjoyed all of his years of little league, soccer, football and track. I watch him today coach his children (and others) and it makes me smile. I know it was tough for him growing up, but he made it through. I'm so grateful he has such a great relationship with Allan. He has learned so much from him and today he is a fabulous dad because of all that he has learned from Allan. I smiled the other day when on her FB status, one of his daughters posted, "I love my dad".

And when I married Allan I became a mother to some wonderful children--of course, this picture on our wedding day has Stephen in it, too.

From Neal: He taught me how to forgive. Years ago he forgave me for something and I'm still amazed that he was able to do so. He is an incredible young man. He works so very hard to keep in touch with his brothers and sisters. It is very important to him. Because we are a blended family, there is a concern that when Allan and I are gone these kids will not stay in touch with their "step" brothers and sisters. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I hate the term stepbrother or stepsister, but it is what some prefer. I am so grateful that Neal works so hard to keep in touch with all his brothers and sisters. I know he will do all he can to keep everyone together, and I rest easier knowing that is the case. He is so loving with his children. I'm so excited that he and Macy are having another baby girl. She will be a lucky one going to their home. I'm excited about the opportunity to go out to see them when the baby comes in January. It's going to be so much fun. (As well, it will definitely be warmer in Texas in January than it will be here ; )

From Nancy: I learned to laugh--of course, with Nancy how can you do anything but laugh. When I had Heidi, Nancy was her second mother. They were so cute together. When I think back on memories of Heidi growing up and see things in my mind, Nancy is usually in the picture. Of course, Nancy used to love to hide Heidi everywhere and take her everywhere. I don't know if we can attribute Heidi's love of dance to Nancy, but I wouldn't be surprised. I have memories of Heidi riding around in the little yellow bug with Nancy and the two of them moving their arms to the music. Today Nancy is a fantastic mother/grandmother.

From Wendy: I learned the danger of judging others (something I'm still working on). I will forever be grateful that she was brave enough to point it out to me. At the time, it really hurt, but it has paid off in the long run. Because of her help, I think I am a better person, and I am grateful for her. (Now, as I write that you might say, well you didn't learn if you still struggle with judging--I'm trying to do better. I will never say I've got everything under control) Wendy is a very hard worker. She is the family hairdresser. My heart breaks for her that she has not been able to have children, but she has been a wonderful 2nd mother to Nancy's boys.

And, then I had these little ones:

From Heidi: I learned a great deal about myself--she has struggled with some personal challenges, but I watched with amazement as she dealt with them and grew from the experience. Heidi is very much like her mother and through the years we have butted heads, but she has grown into a beautiful young woman. I really miss having her at home. Whenever she's here she helps me so much. She has the best stories about teaching school. She has a very loving heart. She is definitely a builder--she tries very hard to build people. She is incredibly creative--I was telling Allan the other day that I really want her to get back to painting. We need some paintings in our home and this girl has a gift. BTW, her little missionary comes home in less than a month and we are all anxious to see what will happen.

From Brent: I learned to become even closer to God. I learned that God is so mindful of us and is always there to help us along our journey. I learned that we are never alone but God is never closer than when we are parenting and striving to teach these precious children of His. Those first few days of Brent's life, as I tried to wake him up and couldn't get him to respond, I still remember pleading with God and telling Him I would do anything. I saw God's hand in everything we went through with Brent--guiding us to the right places, the right teachers, etc. Brent has been my miracle child and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have had to be his mother. He is my happiest child. I love being around him. He loves everyone. (I have to add that I also learned that I could survive those 2 years when your son is on a mission. I still remember when he first left I didn't think I could have him gone for 2 years, but I did it--and he had a fabulous mission.)

From Kyle: This one is tough. He is my baby--my little missionary--and my feelings are very tender right now (Someone referred to those feelings as my "mom heart" and I really like that.) I love talking about him--probably because I miss him so much. Every week after Allan and I each get our e-mails, I send out an update to all of his brothers and sisters. I love doing it because it gives me a chance to kind of talk about him--not sure if they feel they really want to read them, but I sure enjoy writing them. He was probably my most tenderhearted child. When he would get corrected (and yes, he was corrected) he would go in his room and then would come out with a little note of apology that he had written and he had drawn of a picture of a little boy with tears. He had a way of melting my heart. Just the other day in his e-mail he was responding to a comment his dad had sent to him regarding having to give an employee at attitude adjustment. Elder Rob wrote, "I remember back in the day when I needed an attitude adjustment at least once a week. I feel bad to have put you guys through that. But I guess it's quite normal with most teenagers"It is so much fun to watch him grow and mature.

So what did he teach me??? I think he taught me to be a better teacher--having him in my Seminary class kept me on my toes. We are very hard on ourselves as mothers, and he has always had a way of helping me feel that I did a pretty good job.

Sidenote: This week in his e-mail he told us about a mom who is going through a divorce and when they were visiting with her she was crying and they bore their testimony. She explained that she was having a hard time because her son is on a mission in Minneapolis and will be returning home in 5 months. He then said, "I hope you aren't worrying about me, because I am definitely being looked after here in Idaho." I will assure him I don't worry. I know he is where he needs to be and doing what he needs to do. And I have Idaho blogging buddies that I know have their eyes open looking for him and will be there if needed ; )

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Power of Examples

I read the other day that Sister Barbara Smith, former General Relief Society President (in fact, she was the President when I joined the Church) passed away. That took me back to when I first joined the Church and I started thinking about the first Ward Relief Society President I had. Sister W. was an older sister (actually probably a little younger than I am right now, so how can I say she was older ; ) She was such a loving woman. She took me under her wing and helped me so much. She never judged me. She just loved me and taught me by example. As a new convert, my skirts were way, way too short, my hair was probably a little weird, and my language was not very clean.

When I think back on how patient and kind she was with me, I am so grateful. I was so blessed with wonderful examples all around me. There were many families in my Ward who watched over me and Stephen. I remember one sister telling me that her daughter was buying some new clothes and she knew I was about her same size, and she wondered if I would like her clothes. I was thrilled. (Now, I could have been offended, but frankly, I didn't have money for new clothes so I was more than happy to have some hand-me-downs, and they were wonderful.) This particular sister has since passed away, but I always loved her and appreciated her for her kindness.

It makes me realize that I need to do a better job and reach out to new members. Joining the Church was a huge change for me--I lived a VERY DIFFERENT life style. Today many new members make great changes, and I want to emulate the example of my first Relief Society President as I welcome them into the Church.

I've been blessed with so many wonderful examples in my life. Currently I am involved in another challenge--I must be a glutton for punishment. Anyway, there are only 5 of us doing. We're all members of our Stake, but not of the same Ward. Each of these women is so so remarkable and I appreciate the great example they have been to me. Today our discussion has been about our favorite scripture. So far, only two of them have responded, but I have been so uplifted by their words. (This is perhaps the greatest reason I do the challenge)

Sidenote: Last night we had 4 of our missionaries over for dinner. It was so fun. One of them will be going home in a little over a week, so it was great to have him in our home for one last time. I decided to take their picture and then send the picture along with a little note to their parents. The little elder in the back told me that he had a problem shutting his eyes for the picture. I took two and he shut them on both--something I could totally relate to. (I told his parents that we just wanted them to know he hadn't changed ; )

I heard back from two of the moms. The mom of the elder with his eyes shut said she really didn't mind, she said his smile more than made up for it. One of the other moms mentioned that it was her son's birthday, and she was so happy to know that he was welcomed into our home for a nice dinner on his birthday..





Friday, September 17, 2010

What a Difference a Few Days Makes



On Monday I posted this picture of the tree in front of my house. I LOVE FALL and I love seeing the colors change. And, I'm so glad I took the picture because the temperatures are falling (and obviously, so are the leaves). Here's what the tree looked like this morning.

It's funny because when I get up in the morning I look at my iPod and scroll through the weather sites I have bookmarked which are all the different cities where my kids live (6 different ones) Quite often the little Elder and our temperatures are pretty close. The little Texans have been the warmest ; ) I'm enjoying the cooler temperatures here, but I REALLY don't want to think about what's coming. Soon it will be time to get my little spikes out for my running shoes.

Speaking of our little Elder, he's doing great which makes this mama very happy. I'm so grateful that we get those weekly e-mails. It's hard for me to believe he's been out for 16 weeks. And I get so excited when he sends me a photo CD. In the one I received recently I found this picture. I love his little face. He and his companion found this little kitten under their car. What makes me laugh is they named the kitten after a former Bishop in one of their Wards who they think is awesome because he is so missionary focused and is always so willing to help out with the work ; )

He's having a great experience. And I just have to add--I LOVE THAT YOUNG MAN.



Monday, September 13, 2010

I LOVE TRAVELING--PART II

When we were driving around, Allan said, "For a guy that loves mountains, THIS IS IT!!!!"

When we were at Church, Allan heard a man talk about a place to go to see bears. So we made the drive over a gravel road--AND I SHOULD ADD IT WAS VERY BUMPY!!!! On the drive we saw this and this, but never saw a bear. I had anticipated seeing a bear so I was disappointed, but it passed quickly because how can you be disappointed when you're surrounded by such beauty.


We did see this guy

And these guys.

On Monday morning, we headed to Lake Louise. The temperatures had dropped and it was fairly cool. The drive was spectacular. And the Lake was BEAUTIFUL. But then again, there was not much on this trip that wasn't beautiful.

We spent a little time there and then headed to the Columbia Icefields. On our way we passed several glaciers like this one.

When we got to Columbia we realized it had changed a great deal since we were there back in 1991. Look at this--the sign reads 1975--you can see where the glacier was when we were there.

Now look at this--the sign Allan is standing near reads 1992. I really couldn't capture how much it has receded.

We continued on toward Jasper--one of our favorite spots had to be here at Athabasca Falls. It was AMAZING. But, first of all, here are the kids when we were here in 91--I don't think we went way into the falls.

Here's Allan at a similar spot to where the kids were.

Now this is obviously from a different spot.

They were pretty amazing.




When we got to Jasper, we decided to just turn around and head back.

On Tuesday, first order of business was to go ride the tram to the top of Sulphur Mountain. You have to know how much I hate riding gondolas, chair lifts, anything like that. Now I have no trouble riding a rollercoaster that goes upside down--flies through the air, etc., but those lifts are a whole different story. My palms were sweating like crazy. Allan's hands were cold so he was more than happy for my sweaty hands ; ) Hey, it's a long way down.

But when you get up at the top and this is the view of Banff, how can you resist????

When we got up to the top, we took the trail that goes to the Cosmic Ray Station. It was quite the hike. In case you are wondering what a "cosmic ray station is, the Parks Canada website says: "Canada was one of the countries to participate in the "International Geophysical Year" and made its greatest contribution in the study of cosmic rays...The station's high altitude paired with its high geomagnetic latitude made it particularly sensitive to the low energy end of the cosmic ray energy spectrum. This was important for understanding the magnetic behaviour of the sun by studying its effect on cosmic rays."

It has been a number of years since we had been here with the kids--actually, this picture was taken the first time--the unhappy baby is our little Elder.

And me and my sweetie at the top.

SIDENOTE #1: I hadn't run in what felt like forever, but ran today and I'm so glad I did. Now I just have to keep it up--at least until the snow falls. My tree in front of my house was just beautiful today.

SIDENOTE #2: I have my first Spanish class the end of this week. I'm excited, but a little nervous, too.




Saturday, September 11, 2010

Needs vs. Wants

I am still working on my traveling part II post. But because I've been thinking a lot about this I wanted to post it.

I've been thinking about lyrics to The Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want"

"No, you can't always get what you want,
No, you can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime,
You just might find
You get what you need."

I've probably been thinking about this because of Allan's comment about how the older he gets the more he realizes he doesn't need all the toys. Not me--I love the toys. Do I NEED the toys? No. But then again what do any of us really "need"? Food, shelter, and clothes on our back. But then I think about how much I am so enjoying my new camera--did I really need it? No, my "old" one was fine, but I'm enjoying this one so much. On our recent trip, I captured some great shots.

Neither Allan nor I spend a lot of money on clothes--they are just not that important to us. I have the same living room couch that I bought when we moved to North Carolina some 20 years ago. In fact, when I wrote on FB recently about wondering whether I needed at Interior decorator or a wardrobe consultant, someone commented how my house looks exactly the same as it did the first time she visited over a decade ago--actually it looks very much like it did when we moved in 14 years ago. (We have painted a little, but for the most part, she is right!!!) And, as I sit here today, I wonder--knowing that in 4 or 5 years we'll be serving missions, do I really need to go out and buy a new couch? Is that a want or a need?

My 60th birthday is coming up in January--it's hard for me to even think about it. Not because I mind turning 60, but I just can't believe I'm going to be that old. (In my mind, I'm maybe 40, but CERTAINLY not any older than that ; ) Anyway, Allan wants to take me on a trip--perhaps it will be some place warm that we both love and where we went on our honeymoon. I'd love to go, but then I think--you know what: we could take that money and buy a nice new couch and even do some other things with the house.

I suppose I'm rambling, but I really am a little perplexed. I guess I'll have to give it a lot of thought. But then again, maybe that's my problem--I think too much ; ) I guess the key is what is mentioned in recent Mormon Message to listen to the "Voice of the Spirit".

I just need to focus on listening. And, obviously, with the listening--comes the DOING.

SIDENOTE: Heidi and Brent are running a 5K this morning and I can't wait to hear how they did. Wish I was there to run with them--maybe one day ; )

***Just heard from them they both BEAT BEETHOVEN. Way to go guys!!!! They both ran it in about 25 minutes.





Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Love Traveling--Part I

First of all--We are sitting at the airport in Calgary and will be home in a couple of hours. If I can get on and look at blogs, I will. If not, I will read tomorrow ; )

Yes, the title of my blog says it all "The Life and Travels of Me". I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about our trip to Banff--except to say it was wonderful.

When we arrived in Calgary on Thursday, Allan had business meetings. When he returned we headed out to see where the new temple was going to be built. It is going to be beautiful--as they always are.

On Friday we drove down to Cardston. I think the Cardston temple is so beautiful. I took pictures from all directions--I really should have got one from the entrance.








Then we headed to Glacier National Park. We were so smart to go into the U.S. because Allan has a pass that gets us into any of the National Parks for free (It pays to be OLD ; ) The park was beautiful. We saw some incredible scenery and even a few animals.






























Thankfully we had our GPS and we left Glacier and headed to Banff. BTW, I think our little GPS got tired of me making fun of her with her "RECALCULATING" garbage and she will not talk any more. So I have to read her--I miss her telling us what to do.

We got into Banff and checked into our hotel. Here is the view from our room--two pictures. The first one was the evening we arrived.
















The other was on Sunday--when we had a little snow.
















We walked all around the city of Banff. There is a Park Administration Building that has the most beautiful flowers. I told Allan--gee, it looks just like our backyard.




































When you have a brown thumb you are just totally in awe of flowers like this in a garden.














I love this picture because of the bee flying between two flowers--I'm fascinated with nature, so this was GREAT.


















On Saturday night we met up with a couple from Winnipeg. He has taken a job in Alberta and part of the family has moved there. He is one of Allan's counselors. It was wonderful to have dinner together. I will miss them very much.

On Sunday we attended the branch in Banff. The meetings were wonderful. Before the meeting started a lady came up and was talking to Allan and I was trying so hard to figure out who she was--then it hit me. She was a woman who lived in Winnipeg years ago when we first moved into the Ward. She is a great lady and it was so fun to have a few minutes to visit with her. She was visiting Banff. I thought the building was so unique.

Testimony meeting was so uplifting. I would just like to talk about one of the men who bore his testimony. He was a man in his early 50's and got up and said that on August 7th he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and on September 17th he was having surgery to remove the tumor. He talked about how hearing news like that causes you to spend a lot of time thinking about your own mortality and you view things in a whole different way. He talked about how certain things become very unimportnat. He bore one of the strongest testimonies of the Plan of Salvation. I was so touched and strengthened.

I had to ask myself: Do I have that kind of faith?





Saturday, September 4, 2010

Some Thoughts

I have been doing a lot of reading. This summer I participated in the FB Book of Mormon summer reading challenge. Unfortunately I got a little behind when I was in California. In actuality it was a good thing because I ended up having to read several chapters a day during the last few weeks. I loved it--I really got a lot out of those chapters. I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON. I don't care how many times I read it--I always feel good when I read.

I came across this great quote the other day from Elder Maxwell. "Duties are not to be rejected on the basis of I've done all that before, as if God were required to supply us with new thrills. Mortality has been described by the Lord as being like working in a vineyard--never as an afternoon at a carnival."

Don't you just love it.

I found these questions on a piece of paper in a notebook, so I'm not sure where I read them, but they have me thinking:
  • What motivates you spiritually?
  • What is one gospel subject that you enjoy studying?
  • What meaningful activities bring you the most joy?
  • Which of those activities help you feel closer to Christ?
  • What qualities do you have that can help others feel closer to Christ?


How about you?


SIDENOTE: In case you meet or see Allan and/or me in the near future and you wonder if we're a little different than you remember, we'll blame it on this cloud formation that greeted us when we arrived in Banff. (More about the trip later)