Sunday, September 30, 2012

Elevation 9000

 Here it is, beautiful Fish Lake. We don't fish--and the water up here is waaay too cold for skinny dipping but, we do know how to hike--and skip rocks. More on that later.

The kids got a lesson in rock skipping. They took right to it except Adrie's rock skipped right onto Brynn's head and caused some tears from both parties and a nice colorful contusion.

 Speaking of colorful...

 Here's to another weekend of enjoying the short-lived but brilliant peak of Fall.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Baptism by Fire

It takes a miracle to convert me from Summer to Autumn. Burning bushes do the trick every year. We took a Sunday drive up the canyon to partake of the beauty and welcome in Fall.

 Collecting leaves is as much fun as collecting seashells.


Our own version of "wipeout"

One of these things just doesn't belong here-- and it isn't the red tree.

Walking in an Autumn Wonderland. Welcome Fall!!!

What is your favorite thing about the season?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Extraordinary Kindness

We celebrated our 15th! can you believe it 15th wedding anniversary. A lot can happen in that time--like 4 kids!
We celebrated big with a little trip to Cedar City for the Utah Shakespeare Festival and a performance of Les Miserables. It was outstanding. Fabulous. Oh the music! and the story!  A tale of forgiveness and redemption that I will not soon forget. The timing could not have been better.

After losing my mom and family so to speak in the aftermath,  I felt myself becoming increasingly un-forgiving and more hardened.  I walked around with a proverbial t-shirt that said something like,
"I've been through hell. Don't mess with me."
I kept to myself more, smiled less.

I was becoming indifferent.

 It was at this time that I was browsing with my kids in the neighborhood  "Bookmobile" (we have those:)  and I came across the book  Escape from Rwanda. Sounded like just the light read I needed... I checked it out and read and read.    The book is the true story of a boy who writes about his escape and his subsequent life as a refugee, and the obvious horrors that he witnessed and experienced during Rwanda's civil war. With each page my life problems were successively put into perspective.  And it didn't take many pages before my life seemed pretty easy, my struggles petty,  and the people in my life, pretty good.  They weren't murdering my family members as I watched, for example.   What really struck me, though,  were the examples of extraordinary kindness in this boy's life. Individuals who, amid these cruel world experiences, and throughout various times in his life,  lifted him up,  paid his ticket, carried his load, or took him in.  He went from a destitute orphan to an American citizen and college graduate.  Their kindness made all the difference.

I have since felt a change of heart.  I want to be extraordinarily kind--the kind of person who lifts others up, the kind of person who cares.

And then to see Les Miserables!   The priest showed a supreme example of kindness to a criminal, Jean Val Jean, whose heart was forever changed by the kindness he received.
I jotted down two lines from the ending scenes of the performance that hit me like a ton of bricks--for lack of a more original phrase.

" Love is everlasting"
"When you love someone you see the face of God"

I've  resolved to be kinder to those that are close to me and to everyone. I haven't done anything extraordinary by any means--just more aware of my presence, my words, and how they affect others. I smile more and guess what? I'm happier!!  And. Hopefully I can be in the right place at the right time and with the right frame of mind to go above and beyond like the examples above. Maybe those individuals didn't think they were doing anything extraordinary at the time, maybe ordinary kindness can be extraordinary.

Either way, I am walking around with a new message on my proverbial t-shirt:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dining Room Makeover

My husband was actually relieved to be the on-call mental health therapist this weekend so we could stay home for a change.
While he was on the phone saving lives in this little part of the world I did my own WEEKEND PROJECT: Dining Room Makeover

Ever since we moved into our house 5 years ago I have always thought a black table would look better in here BUT we had bought this one 5 years earlier and it was still perfectly functional with 2 expanding leaves and extra chairs even what to do??   PAINT.

  As I was sanding off the 10 + years of grime in this table's nether parts, I thought how much easier it would be to JUST BUY A NEW ONE....I immediately stopped my progress to have a looky online:  hmmmm $1000 new table vs. $50 paint and some sweat... Shoot.
 10 Bottles of Black Spray paint Primer and High Gloss Black Spray Paint later and 1 of Polyurethane...What do you think?
 Why didn't I do it sooner??
 The map covering has the double benefit of protecting the finish as well as providing interesting dinner time conversations:)     Thanks to my SIL for believing in me and sending me this link:   All Things Thrifty: How to Paint Furniture .  I finally did it!!
In other news we hosted our 4th? annual neighborhood block party. Think Bring your own meat and Potluck, and a little rivalry with some tug-o-war.  One of our neighbors was fresh off an Alaskan salmon fishing trip and he kindly grilled some up for us to try.    sooo delicious it was like Meat Cookies!  Yeah. THAT good. I'm ready to plan a fishing trip so I can have my own freezer full... And after my money saving project I should be that much closer, right?:)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Sizzling Birthday Weekend in St. George

So many places to go and so little time! I feel the Fall nipping at my heels and chasing my beloved Summer away.  This particular roadtrip could have waited until winter--it was pretty hot in the desert--but it was nothing we couldn't manage with frequent dips in the pool and excursions to air conditioned malls...Besides,  it was my birthday!!! and a perfect weekend involves all of the above plus some nature.

St. George, UT

  My fantastically chocolatey fudgey moussey cake. Brandon had all the kids take a turn telling their most favorite thing about me. Little guy, went first. "My favorite thing about mom is....BIRTHDAY CAKE!"

I spent the morning shopping at all my favorite stores. Brynn helped me pick out a stylish shirt to get me excited for a new season.  We joined the rest of the family for swimming and relaxing by the pool, and then Brandon and I dined ethnic. Upon gazing at the menu I wondered what region of Mexico this "mexican" restaurant could possibly be representing--fried yucca? pupusas? I looked around the room and learned, based on the maps and decor, that we were actually in an El Salvadorian restaurant. Bon appetit! or whatever they say there. Oh yes, "buen provecho!" The food was good, especially the salvadorian creme soda.

 The next day was Sunday. We attended morning church and then to keep the glow all day long, we ventured around the temple grounds. We went to the visitor's center where we gazed upon the beautiful artwork of Al Rounds, Carl Bloch, Liz Lemon Swindle, and watched some feel-good weepy movies about forever families.
 After that we walked around Historic Downtown where we got a tour of the St. George Tabernacle. Learning of the little miracles that took place to build this thing in the middle of the desert 100 plus years ago was nothing short of inspiring.
 A perfect specimen of a staircase, it was made by Mitt Romney's great x 3 grandfather.
If you're really good on the tour, they let you preach repentance over the pulpit. 
Nestled among all these historic sites is a fun splashy park for the kiddos.
 Kate turned tattoo artist and gave each of her siblings one of these to sport at the pool the next day.
 This is the park that our kids INSIST on going to everytime we are in Dixie land. It is called Cottonwood Cove, which is way too normal a name for this unusual park.  You won't find any regular swingsets here. No sirree, it's full of whirly gigs and other sliding spinning contraptions. We call it the Euro-park, because it's out of this world, I mean, continent.
I wouldn't say I'm an animal lover, but I do have a mental checklist of animals I'd really like to see in the wild. (Whales, check)  As the sun went down and I was enjoying that moment when the dry heat of the desert is at it's most satisfying, I looked overhead to see a thick-bodied fowl alight on top of a tree. It had the wingspan of a hawk but no it's head was round???--it was an OWL!  Check!!
 A sneak peak at Bud's Halloween Costume. I was meaning for it to stay hidden for awhile but someone discovered it in the trunk and  Power Up Power Rangers has been the phrase-of-the-day ever since.  I let Bud wear it grocery shopping with me today on condition that he protect me from all the bad guys. He sat in the cart the whole time--I guess that gave him a better vantage point.
 And now for the nature part of the trip...Kolob Canyon.   You've seen it a hundred times off the freeway on your way to Disneyland, right? But have you stopped? Not unless you've grown up with my mom --then you've stopped at every historical marker and rest area ever made.   My last memory of this place was from about age 14 so we went and explored and reveled in the beauty.
 We hiked up Taylor Creek past red boulders and pine forests. Hiking is always more fun when you can forge a stream.
 My family in the jaws of a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex!  and all I could say was "scream for the camera."
 Adrie thought she might want to bed down here if times got hard.
 We found a tiny toad, chased a squirrelly snake, and saw lizards in a variety of sizes. Brynn's goal was to catch one but darn it all if they didn't have legs as fast as lightning.  An eagle circled overhead in the bright blue sky and we saw a squirrel burying a cache of acorns.  The trail made a slight detour to avoid the "aggressive hornets" they warned us about at the visitor's center.
 We made it to historical cabin #1, or Larson's cabin.
 Having made it this far, and after escaping giant dinosaurs , aggressive hornets, and tiny toads we rejoiced in our awesomeness. No matter that there were still 3 miles to go...our water was getting low so we headed back down the trail, this time so fast we scared off any wildlife for miles.

We finished off the trip with some BBQ and Karaoke at the home of our very hospitable Southern cousins.