Sep 28, 2013

Turning One Hundred.

On September 16th my Grandpa Ord turned 100 years old. He is still driving. He can still recite his stories and poems from memory. He knows who we all are and details about us. The family had a huge gathering to honor him this last summer in California and I was, thankfully, able to go. I do not see my Grandpa very much which is probably good because every single time I see him I get those lumps that you get in your throat that mean you are about to cry and I have to figure out how to choke them down. I am not sure what causes me to choke up. Is it the realization of what an amazing life he has lived? Is it because he is family? Something just overwhelms me when I am in his presence. Maybe it is something just confirming the circle of life...ugh, did I just quote Lion King?

I actually do not really know my Grandpa that well. This is one of the only pictures I have of him and I together. Please notice my blue gum in my mouth in this picture :) Growing up we did not live that close to him and when he and Grandma came to visit I was not really as attentive of a teenage granddaughter as I wish I would have been. There are a few things that stand out to me when I think about his life. One is his amazing memory. He has memorized countless poems, quotes, and stories and he can still recite them all. Another is his work ethic. He started at the very bottom of Bank of America and through the years worked his way up and up. That sort of thing does not really happen in this world much anymore. Another fact is his fascinating love for my Grandmother. She died several years ago and he talks about her with such sweetness and tenderness. In our church he served as a stake president and a Patriarch among other things and sacrificed and sacrificed for those callings. He truly inspires me despite the fact that I did not spend much time with him or see him much.

I can not even comprehend 100 years. You know how in elementary school they usually have a day that falls sometime in the cold of February where they recognize that everyone has been in school 100 days? The kids usually have to bring in 100 of something so they can get a visual on how much 100 of something is. When ever my kids had to do this I confess my first thought was usually, "Aaarghhhh, 100 of something, really?" That is going to be so hard. But when you actually count out 100 Fruit Loops, 100 Cheerios, or even 100 Legos it is not drama-licious at all. But when it comes to Grandpa Ord we are talking about years... doing 365 days 100 times.....that is a dang lot of fruit loops :)

If I happen to live to be a hundred that would mean I am not even halfway through my life yet. I wonder if Grandpa even thought about 100 when he was 44 years old?

If I reach 100 what will I hope I see when I look back at 44? Will I be proud of my life? Will I have seen the Aurora Borealis? Will I finally have a good lawn? Will I have ridden on a train across the country? Will I have traveled? Will I have seen a space shuttle take off? Will I have been whale watching at least twice? Will I have three different color hydrangeas in my yard? Will I have found the best way to stake tomatoes? Will I have been nice to others? Will I have been true to myself? Will I have spent the night on the beach? Will I have read all the books on my list? Will I have learned to play tennis? Will I have tried the violin? Will I have found the perfect bread recipe? Will my children all be making my rolls? Will I own a convertible? Will someone love me as much as I love them?

Geesh, I better get busy :)

Sep 17, 2013

Spending The Paycheck.

Well my friends your good friend Jennifer just got her very first, honest to goodness, paycheck. I got it last Friday. I am pretty sure you guys already know how you can tell if a paycheck is honest to goodness but I will educate you just in case....the way you can tell is if it has perforated things on all four sides that you fold over and tear to reveal the check...that my friends is how you know you have truly arrived :)

 As I watched my hours grow and grow at the library I would be lying if I did not tell you that I started doing the math in my head to figure out what amount this paycheck would end up being. This paycheck was for 65 hours. Sixty Five glorious hours of checking books in and out...helping people place holds on books....checking holds in from other libraries and putting them on the shelf to wait for their patron to pick them up....collecting fines....helping people find books....yeah, loads of good times. Anyhow, because I am a rookie at this "making my own money" thing I did a little fantasizing about what I should spend it on. You know, all the things you always put off buying because they are not needs they are just evil wants. It was a little alarming how big my list was of things I wanted to spend this paycheck on.

There is the perfect brown couch in the Pier One Catalog that knows my name....and would take my entire paycheck very handily.

There are the many, many, many bags of sand that I need to own to finish my brick path in the garden.

And speaking of yard purchases I would be lying if I did not tell you that I have seriously thought of how I could now buy a couple bags of grass seed....all summer I have put off purchasing grass seed and my grass really needs it....really.

I have spent the last couple of years borrowing Madeline's music holding device when I go exercise but now she is home and took it back and I have nothing to hold my music and play my music for me when I run or bike ride. I am pretty sure I NEED to buy one for me and some good headphones....not the ear bud headphones....the ones that go over your head and rest on top of your ear....ear buds ALWAYS fall out of my ears.

A passport. I have a grand baby that lives in Estonia and most likely always will. So Grandma needs to procure a passport.

A floor lamp for the basement.

Dahlia and daffodil bulbs.....lots of them :)

A big umbrella...I love the really big, long, expensive umbrellas not the folded up compact ones. I find them in stores and carry them around but never purchase them.

Several cd's that I have longed to own like Christina Perri, Mates of State, Jack and White, and Alphaville.

The third season of Downton Abby, Moonrise Kingdom, Star Trek Into Darkness, A Room With A View in dvd form. I own it in video form but that is so not cool anymore :)

A patio set. Every summer I longingly peruse the lawn and garden section of any store that happens to stock them. I think my life would be complete if I had a table and some comfy chairs on the deck.

So without too much thinking it was a little alarming how quickly I could spend my paycheck. And while we are on the subject of alarming I totally had forgotten to account for taxes in my little, "fantasizing while adding up my hours moment." Geesh, seriously government? :)

In conclusion you will be happy to know I did not spend the is in my bank account and most likely will be used for boring, practical, necessary groceries. Although, I really do think I should have one thing I really want to show for this first paycheck.....I think it is between the passport and the music device....oh, wait maybe the couch?? :)

Sep 13, 2013

Being A Friend.

“In friendship ... we think we have chosen our peers. [But] in reality a few years' 
difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice 
of one university [over] another ... the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a 
first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there 
are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. 
Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can 
truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have 
chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating … 
good taste in finding one another out. [But] it is the instrument by which God reveals to 
each of us the beauties of others.”

C.S Lewis

I have been thinking a lot lately about friends. Some people may argue with good old C.S about the idea that everyone is in our lives for a reason. I for one adore the idea that all the people I have come in contact with throughout all my 44 years have all been there for a reason. Especially as I get older and can clearly see the purpose of each person. It is staggering to think about how big the world is and how many chances you have to brush up against someone elses life. I sat down the other day to make a list of the friends in my life that I can not imagine my life without. The ones who have shaped me and impacted me.

 I thought about the friends who said something to me at just the right moment and I have never forgotten what they said and I now pass on their words of wisdom to others who seem to need the same advice. This happened when I was living in Princeton with way too many little kids and I was wondering if the frustration I occasionally felt was normal and two moms of older kids who I really looked up to and imagined to have oh so perfect lives were talking to me and began confessing to me about times they felt evil thoughts about their children and let me tell you it was so reassuring. I am so grateful that these women were not intent on keeping up a facade of a perfect life and were okay with being real and honest in front of a very young, overwhelmed, and impressionable mom.

I thought of "friends" who have been unkind to me and taught me something through their unkindness.....even though it was very icky :) Is it weird to be grateful for mean people? I could not have learned some hard things without them that is for sure. They are not true friends because I somehow knew when they offered criticism that they did not have my best interest at heart. Funny how there is that difference that we can all innately tell between someone who truly loves us and cares about us offering advice or observations and someone who does not. 

I thought of friends who loved me enough to tell me something hard. There are not many of these in my life but I know who they are and I LOVE that our connection is so perfect that they can say anything and not offend me or hurt me because they have shown me through their actions that they truly do unconditionally love me. I wish all my relationships were this way but then I would not have anything to agonize over and Oprah would most likely want to talk to me :)

I thought of friends whose hearts were generous enough to allow them to freely find the words to recognize something I did. It is a great skill to not have a jealous bone in your body and to be able to recognize other people's strengths and to tell them you see them and to rejoice in them. 

I thought of friends that to this day even though we are miles apart and have not seen each other in years we can pick up right where we left off. I have maybe five of these kinds of friends and I love that comfortable, safe, peaceful feeling I feel when I get together with them. I love it when I realize how long I have known these particular friends. And I love when out of the blue they reach out to me from thousands of miles away after oh so many years somehow knowing I needed to hear from them.

I often wonder what kind of friend I am. Just for your information my relationships are fiercely important to me. I am always working to keep up my friendships. If something happens to our friendship I can never ever just let it go I will pester you longing to figure out why it broke, longing to understand. I used to think I needed everyone to be my friend but you will be oh so glad to know that as of about two years ago that is most definitely not the case anymore. I am truly content with a handful of people that understand me and like me. And if you know me at all you know that you thought you would never hear me saying that.

 I wonder if I listen well? I wonder if my friends know how much they mean to me? I wonder if my children know how to be good friends?

As I have joined the Facebook family I can not help but notice my friends from high school on my news feed. I love how so many of them have kept in touch with each other. They take care of each other, visit each other, encourage each other, and post pictures of themselves together. I was not so attentive to my friends in high school and I am not sure why so I do not really have that sort of relationship with any of them. I loved high school but I think they all were hanging out and I somehow missed the memo :) But I love seeing them chat with each other and keep up those friendships after all these years I do not know why it makes me happy.

So as Sharon Eubank said at a BYU women's Conference a year ago, here is to the people in our circle....most of them are a divine gift. There may be a few that are thrown in there for spice but I believe most of them are in proximity to us on purpose. We can't dismiss the people in our circles :) 

Sep 8, 2013

What Makes Your Heart Swell?

Do you know what I am talking about when I say something made my heart swell? Do you know the feeling of which I speak? You know when you have a sudden powerful surge of a good feeling? I wish I could think of a better way to describe it. You know like the feeling:

When you are driving down the road and there are big white puffy clouds in the sky and the sky is blue?
When your kitten is pouncing on pieces of tissue paper with wild abandonment?
When a seed you thought was not coming up decides to comes up?
When you are driving across the mountains in Utah and Wyoming and it is the middle of the night and there is a full moon and everyone in the car is asleep and you are listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Come Come Ye Saints?
When you see that dark blue color that the sky gets right before the sun comes up?
When an old friend reaches out to you and thanks you for something you did or said that impacted their life but you never ever knew it?
When the kids go out to the garden, cut flowers,bring them inside, and artfully arrange them in vases for display in the house?
When someone "gets" you and you know it with all your heart?
When you are laying in the hammock looking at the leaves?
When you are playing the theme from Out of Africa on the piano?
When someone lets you help them?
When someone knows just what to say?
When someone loves a book you recommended and they really want to talk about it?
When a band is playing in a parade?
When you hear the Star Spangled Banner?
The first snowfall of winter?
When it is almost Fall and the temperature is 70 and the sun is out and your windows are all open and a breeze is blowing through your house?
When you hear the sound of your canning jars sealing?
When you see big worms in your garden and know that means your soil is happy?
Sitting on the beach with your feet buried with warm sand watching your kids play in the water?
When you carefully follow the instructions and it actually works?
The smell of campfire?
Finding a sand dollar on the beach?
When you get together with an old friend and you can talk like you had never been apart?
Listening to Aaron Coplands Appalachian Spring?
When the moon is full?
When someone gives you a gift and you know they paid attention to you because it is perfect?

Yeah....I have been noticing lately when my heart does that swelling thing because I do love it.

Sep 2, 2013

Acadia National Park...Part Two of Our Saturday In Maine.

So after we left the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and the fort we headed east towards Acadia National Park. We had laid out all of our choices and Acadia had won for destination two of our Maine trip. We decided after much googling that we needed to do the Park Loop Drive. But first we had to drive an hour to get there. Along the way Amanda and Julie studied our maps of the United States and we counted all the National Parks....forty eight. We expressed to each other our desperate need to visit every single one. We wondered about what made somewhere earn the distinction of being a National Park. We talked about the ones we had been to. The ones we had almost been too. And what we imagined the ones we had not been to were like. It was a great conversation :) And before we knew it we were there.

We stopped and collected brochures and maps at the visitor center because that is a very important part of trips....collecting brochures that you can enjoy forever and ever and then wonder years later why you kept it. I got reassurance about my directions and my goals from a park ranger, we paid the $20.00 to get into the park, and got back in the car. The Park Loop Road is 27 miles long. It is supposed to offer some of the best coastal views in the park. I became enamored with the idea of this drive as I had read about the places along it with sweet names like Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs and Cadillac Mountain. All these places and many others are all along the Park Loop Road. We drove in to the park proper at about two in the afternoon. We got onto the one way road and just drove and stopped at our leisure. I love, love, love doing that. For some reason that does not happen when the whole family is involved. Sadly, most of our stops were covered in pretty thick mist. But we did not let that bring us down. And actually it did not really bother us because we did not know what we were missing. Since we have been home and I have looked at pictures of these places minus the mist I realize now what we missed. SO I HAVE to go back now and see it when it is clear because I now know there are amazing views out there.

Sand Beach was totally shrouded in mist yet the crowds were out in force. It was so humorous to me to see all these people sitting on this mist covered, cold beach totally acting like this was normal beach day. We were wearing jackets. When you looked out to the water there were lots of barely distinguishable bodies out in the water frolicking like they were in the Bahamas :) The water temperature was just as you would imagine Maine water to be...freeeeeezing :) We did not spend too much time at Sand Beach but I am glad to know about it.

 We continued on and did what most humans do... stopped when we saw a whole bunch of cars parked somewhere. This is how we discovered all these cliffs. They were amazing. The rocks were a different color than I had seen at beaches. I think it is called a pink granite. looking at all these cliffs you can see why Maine coastline has lots of lighthouses.You could climb all over the rocks and cliffs. Which is exactly what the girls did....well all except Natalie who had acquired a sprained ankle a few days before our trip. So she and I walked around a little and then sat on the rocks and watched the others. The beaches were covered with rocks all sorts and all sizes. I could spend days on a beach like that.

Thunderhole is one of those places you have to time just right because it depends on the tide. The tide was coming in but it was not high tide so it was not performing at its best. But It was still very cool to watch the power of the tide. To see all the water suck out, watch the water level sink so low and then within seconds this narrow passageway between the rocks  would fill back up and water would shoot out of this hole. It was very cool. I could have watched that for a long time.

After exploring everything we could in the mist we headed up to Cadillac Mountain and as we headed up the mist lifted and we were on top of the world :) All the clouds were all around us. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Seacoast and the best part is that during Fall and Winter Cadillac Mountain is where you can go to see the first sunrise in The United States....yeah, totally on my bucket list.

At about six o'clock we headed out of Acadia and back towards Massachusetts. We got home at about 1:45 am in the morning. It was a fabulous trip and I am ready to head up to Maine for Fall.

Sep 1, 2013

Penobscot Narrows Observatory and Maine.

Ever since we moved to Massachusetts and I applied what I learned in school and realized how close I was to Maine I have needed to go there. Anytime the sun comes up and it is a gorgeous day I say to myself and anyone else that will listen "It's a beautiful day. Let's drive to Maine." Most everyone agrees with me but strangely it has never happened. I was serious every single time I said it. As with anything I long to do I asked a lot of questions over the last couple of years when ever I found someone who had been to Maine. I have several friends who spend lots of their summer in Maine and I am extremely jealous of this. Throughout the course of my gathering information process I came across a copy of Yankee magazine in the library that had an article just about Maine and things to do there. I checked it out from the library and I read it cover to cover and took copious notes. That article was where I learned about the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.

About three and a half hours into Maine is the town of Prospect, Maine and Verona Island, Maine and between them is the Penobscot River. There was a bridge connecting them that was built in 1931 but it needed to be replaced and so in 2006 the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory were built. What caught my attention was the fact that there are only four bridges in the world that have bridge observation towers and this is the only one in the United States. That kind of information always escalates Jennifer's interest immediately past the point where you say, "I want to go there someday." To the point where you say, "I am going there next weekend." I mean you have a bridge....and I LOVE bridges. Then you have a bridge with a observation tower that is taller than the Statue of Liberty. An elevator that takes you to the top and is the fastest elevator in all of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. And...wait, let me catch my also have a 360 degree view from the top.

Then when my Amanda, her friend Julie, and I had a conversation a few weeks ago that caused us all to realize we all had a burning need to go to Maine the deal was sealed. My husband got us a hotel in Portland, Maine with his Marriott points and last Friday afternoon, after paper routes were finished, and after work was done, we loaded up my little Subaru with Tatiana, Natalie, Julie, Amanda, snacks, music, maps, my little ponies, clothes, and me and we headed out for a girls road trip to Maine.

We drove through Massachusetts and New Hampshire and arrived in Portland at about 8 at night. We did what girls always do when they hang out in hotel rooms we watched a couple episodes of "Say Yes To The Dress" and lounged around in the hotel hot tub. It was so relaxing and fun. I decided before we even started on our trip that I was not going to rush our next morning. These kids get up early every day for work and school so I decided to just let the morning go without much structure. We left the hotel by 9:15 am which was just right.

It took us another two hours and about twenty minutes of driving to get to the bridge. When we first drove in to the parking lot is where you buy the very reasonably priced tickets that get you up to the top of the tower...$31.00 for all 5 of us. Sometimes when you pay for something you feel in the end that the money you spent was not worth it. I feel like the money we spent was well worth it.

 We did not have to wait in a line and headed straight up to the observation room in the super fast elevator. The minute you step out of the elevator there is solid windows. The view is everything a view should be. You can see the river below....endless trees in every direction and a few little towns. I need to go back in the fall because I bet seeing all the changing leaves from up there is amazing. And I wish I worked there so i could sneak up in the winter and see it in the epic Maine snow. Okay, I even fantasized for a minute about being up there at night in a thunder and lighting storm. Yeah, I know what is wrong with me? :) We took lots of pictures and did lots of gazing and then we went down. And it was over. Just like that. I always hate that part :)

Another small detail you need to know is that there is a Fort Knox right next to this bridge. This Fort Knox never saw battle but it is an amazing place to visit. It was the first fort in Maine to be built out of granite and not wood. I did not think my girls would be interested in the fort at all but when you buy the observatory ticket the Fort is included. My girls gleefully explored every passageway this fort had to offer. The lighting was perfect and the stone and brick and starkness of the interior offered way too many photo opportunities. They played, and played, and played until I finally said we had to get going. We took way too many pictures there. I tell you when you shoot for your upcoming album cover, or your upcoming engagement pictures, or your upcoming graduation pictures, or just your upcoming pictures you should definitely plan to go up to nowhere Maine and take them at this fort. Check out some of these pictures :)
Tatiana looking down at me :)

Cool Passageway, right?