Dec 31, 2015

No Matter What.

So a few months ago I bought myself the brand new Sara Barielles cd. On this cd is a most beautiful and addictive song called, "You Matter To Me." The song is a duet with Jason Mraz. They sing back and forth about...well, about mattering to each other....duh :) In the chorus they sing:

"Because you matter to me
Simple and plain and not much to ask from somebody."

Is it really not much to ask to matter to someone?  I really, really love this song but it has got me thinking way too much about that word matter. What does it mean to matter to someone? Is it supposed to be work to show someone they matter? Or should it be easy? What does it mean if something matters to you? Is it selfish to want to matter to someone? So many questions, so little time :)

This song makes me feel melancholy and is probably not good for me to listen to since it fills my heart with such an enormous longing to really matter to someone. How would that feel? Sara describes it perfectly, "it's addictive the minute you let yourself think, the things that I think just might matter to someone." So true. It is addictive. I love to think and if someone actually looks like what I think might matter to them I am flinging the door to my life wide open. Yes, I have embarrassed myself  with this door flinging behavior, only to realize I did not actually matter....but, no matter :) I am not afraid to admit that I probably should be focusing more on if I am showing the things that matter to me that they, indeed matter. That would definitely be the less selfish route than worrying about if I matter to anyone. Are you wondering if I will continue to be selfish and choose the selfish route?  I think I can come through for you....starting tomorrow :)

Sometimes something can be, "A matter of life and death."

Lots of times you just have to be, "Matter of fact" with someone.

Sometimes there is just simply no other choice than to declare the phrase, "no matter" to help you move on and accept something you have no control over.

If I do not hear what my children say to me and I ask them to repeat it they often will give up and frustratingly declare, "oh, it doesn't matter."

If you matter, you are of consequence to someone. If you don't matter you are insignificant. I wonder if I know what really matters? If something matters to me do I know how to show it that it matters? I am confident that Reeses, pretty views, and steak know without a doubt that they matter to me. I think I am showing that you matter to me by asking you questions. I hope I show you that you matter to me by giving you my time and my eyeballs, that are looking at you.

Is it weird that for many, many years it mattered to me that I sent a Christmas card and now it just does not matter to me that you know how my year went or how glossy my family looks? I am not sure how or why this happened I just noticed that it happened.

Being a famous singer mattered to me for many years when I was a kid.
Having matching silverware used to matter immensely to me.
Having one pair of comfortable sweats matters to me.
Seeing places matters to me.
Pictures hanging centered and straight matters to me.

I presume that we all know what it feels like to not matter. Not the best feeling in the world but it is bound to happen, right? The bummer is the more I think about it the more I realize you can do nothing about not mattering to people. I have tried to make myself matter to someone, yeah, silly me, but at least now you can tell your friends you know this girl who tried to make herself matter to someone :)

Since today is the last day of 2015 I thought it would be a good time for me to focus and think about what matters to me as I head into a brand new New Year. Maybe I can possibly inspire you to think about what really matters to you. So what matters to me as I open the door to 2016?


Continuing going to college online matters to me this year.
Finding my very own place to live matters to me this year.
Making sure that I behave with integrity in everything I do matters to me this year.
Not worrying anymore about if there is someone out there that I matter to matters to me this year.
Saving money matters to me this year.
Not eating as many Reeses matters to me this year....AKA losing 20 lbs :)
Figuring out which degree I want to pursue matters to me this year.
Finding the perfect pair of black dress shoes in a size 4 matters to me this year.
Finding a bike rack for my car matters to me this year.
Spending a week in Canada matters to me this year.
Seeing Glaicer National Park matters to me this year.


I could not help myself and I opened up a new tab and I googled, "how do you know you matter?" I won't entertain you with all I read, although you know I want to. But I think if you sit very still, and quiet, and think about who matters to you and who you matter to you will easily recognize how you know. They listen, they are there....no matter what.

So here's to mattering....having importance....being significant and may you figure out what matters to you in 2016 and make sure it shows and it knows :) Does it matter how many times I used the word matter in this blog? :)

Dec 6, 2015

A Bus Driver's Day.

I bet you all have been dying to know what a bus driver actually does all day. And trust me I have been dying to tell you. So get buckled....here we go... one day in my most exciting life as a school bus driver.

So every week day my alarm rings at 5 am. I turn on my little bedside light and I lay there for ten minutes and think about my day. Yes, I actually set my alarm for ten minutes earlier so I can do this. I think about what I am going to wear, you see my wardrobe is not really a bus driver wardrobe and I do not want it to be a bus driver wardrobe. I think about what I need to accomplish during the day....homework...shopping....appointments. I think about mean people. I think about nice people. I remember I have no control over either one :) Anyway, you get the idea....I love this time and often think I should bump it up to 15 minutes.....but that just feels excessive :)

I leave for work at 6 am. I drop my Tatiana at a friends house so that she can get to her early morning seminary class and then I head to work. I like to get there at about 6:18. There are basically two parking options at my work you can park in a front, paved parking lot which we share with the adjoining middle school or you can drive all the way back behind the transportation building. I parked in the front last year but this year my bus is one of the buses that is parked in the back lot so I park in the back. I love parking back there. The parking lot is covered with big gravel-y rocks. I drive all the way to the back and park the nose of my car against a chain link fence under a row of enormous trees. On the other side of the fence there is trees, underbrush, loud frogs, a river, and the train tracks.....which you can not see. I can hear the river flowing on by when I sit in my car and read a book. I love that part. It is a very peaceful spot and it is worth the trees dropping all sorts of seeds and leaves on my car to park there. When I arrive in the morning it is dark so I do not do any admiring of my surroundings when I get to work.

Before I leave my car I gather my wallet, my humongous flashlight, and my gloves and then I walk back across the gravel parking lot towards the transportation building. Some bus drivers are already pre tripping their buses and I find the blinking of lights and sounds of running buses strangely soothing.

When I get in to the office I check my box to see if there are any notes for me and I have to tell you I rarely get notes in my box. I am sure it is nothing personal and I tell myself it is probably a good thing. But that empty box sometimes takes up way too much space in my brain.

I get my yellow folder out of the cupboard. This folder has all my route information in it and is supposed to always be on my bus with me. Once I gather that I head for the time clock. I try to make sure to always clock in around 6:25 am.

Pre tripping your bus in the morning takes a good 15 minutes. I turn on my flashlight as I head back out to my bus and I head for this little yellow shed where I grab a tire iron that I use for my pre trip. I turn on my bus and first thing I do is crank all my heaters, defrosters, and mirror heaters. Then I start checking lights, all the seats, emergency exits, steering wheel, horn, amps and volts, and so much more. Then I grab my tire iron, flashlight, and gloves, and head outside. I go around the entire outside of the bus checking all my lights, turning every single lug nut and axle nut, checking tires for inflation. I like doing the outside part.When I get back in my bus it is time to check the air brakes. You have to follow a very specific procedure for this. Part of it is pumping all the air out of the brakes. You use your right leg and pump, and pump, and pump.....56 times on average (yeah, I count it takes my mind off of the misery :) until the low air light and warning buzzer come on and until the parking brake pops out. Every single time I do this I think my leg is going to die. Yeah, it's a workout. I wonder if it is a workout because I have short legs? It probably does not even faze bus drivers with long legs.

I have some paper work I do while I press on the gas pedal to raise the RPM's thus, building the air back up. And then at 6:43 I leave and head out on my route. For the first part of my route I head out on one side of the Cottage Grove Reservoir. I love, love this drive. The lake, the mountains, the trees, the rural. It is a pretty sweet ride. After I pick everyone up on my way out then I turn around and pick up the kids on the other side of the road on the way into town. I sort of like the gathering feeling that comes as I pick them up. Some run to catch me almost every morning. Some are patiently waiting. Some have very sweet views of the sunrise from their bus stop.

I have a cute little kindergartner that every morning gives me a hug and tells me her brother pushed her, or broke her stick at the bus stop. Her brother is in middle school and he quickly explains every time that she is just being dramatic :) And I am confident he is right. One day she was covered with mud because she fell. One day she tripped up my bus steps. She makes me smile every morning.

My morning route is as close to perfect that a school bus route could be. The kids are fairly quiet and still waking up. I stop at an elementary school, take a load to the high school, and then stop by another elementary school. I am back into transportation by about 8:15.

To get extra hours I wash buses. There, I said it. It will not get me any dates and there is probably no one in the world that can love a girl that washes buses but it is what I do to get extra hours. I have five buses I wash, so on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:15 until about 10:00 you can find me behind the transportation building in the bus washing area. One week I do the outside of the bus and the next week I do the inside. It is hard, grueling, hard, grueling work...did you get all that? I am not going to lie. For the outside of the bus I fill a bucket with soap and water and use a big, long brush. I spray the entire bus with water and then I scrub and rinse all the way around the bus. The winter time is the worst. The buses are black. But it is very rewarding work for about 3 hours until it gets dirty again. I bus wash no matter what the weather is. I think the bus washing gig is surely refining me :)

Washing the inside is my least favorite. It is a lot of work. I sweep the entire bus. Under every single seat. Then I wash every window. Then I wash the dash board, steering wheel, and all that sort of stuff. Then comes mopping the entire bus. I scrape gum if there is any. I have found pop tarts stuffed between seats. I have faced glitter. It is good times. The "trip" bus is one of the buses I wash and you can just imagine the inside of that one after a sporting team has been on it. I am grateful for the work so I am not going to complain besides I feel very on top of the world when I am done bus washing every day.

Once I am done with bus washing I get in my car and drive over to our church. I do my homework and reading over there while I eat my lunch. I have to be back, on most afternoons, by 1:45 to drive my afternoon route. So I use this time to do reading, blogging, errands, meetings, staring off into space, you name it.

In the afternoon you have to pre trip your bus again but this time instead of the air brakes being tested you have to open where the engine is and check your alternator, air compressor, all the fluids including the oil. And then you again check all your tires all your lug nuts, the wear on your tires. Then your brakes, shock absorbers,leaf springs, spring mounts, exhaust pipe, steering box, and tons more.

I leave at around 2:00 pm and go over to park my bus at the elementary school. When I am settled there I go into the office to check the notes for kids riding my bus. Just in case they forget to show me their note and I do not know they are getting dropped somewhere different that day. I also use this time to wander up and down the aisle of my bus staring at my post it notes with all their names on them trying to figure out a way to have the most perfect assigned seating plan. Yeah, that is a dream that will most likely never come true. Just when I think I have got a kid in a spot that he can not possibly cause any problems something happens to crush my dreams.

At about 2:25 pm they start pouring out of the school. It is a very small country school and I drive most of the kids in the school. My bus is completely full. Most seats have three kids in them. I take most of them to the middle school where they transfer to their other buses. It is a loud, fairly oblivious to rules, kind of bunch. I have tried many things to get control of them but I have to tell you I have almost decided that I have an amazing tolerance level and for the twenty minutes of my life that this takes I am going to leave it. Referrals have not worked...having a silent ride has not worked....assigned seats have not worked.....moving the problem children by me has not worked. I think it may be time to admit that they win.

Like I said most of them get off of my bus at the middle school and then I get my middle schoolers. Then we all head over to the high school and get the high schoolers and then I run my route. It is a good route. I get to go back out around the lake. I head back to transportation at about 4:10 pm depending on if my last kids which live way out are taking the bus or not.

Some days are different. Like when the transmission in my bus falls apart and they have to bring me a new bus. Or when I get to drive a trip. Or when a train is blocking the tracks. I love driving trips but I am low on the seniority list so trips do not happen much for me. Wednesdays everything in the afternoon is an hour earlier. So there are some variations but not many. I do love watching the sun come up and admiring the views. And the funny things some of these kids say. For over $16.00 and hour it's not a bad gig while I am going to school trying to figure out what to be when I grow up.

Dec 3, 2015

The Martian....And Life.

So, for some reason, I have seen the movie The Martian,  that one with Matt Damon in it, three times. I am not really the kind of girl that sees movies three times...(unless it is the 90's, I am lonely, and The Titanic is in theaters :) But, no matter, the facts are there and I did see The Martian;

 Once on October 9th on the Oregon Coast with most of my siblings.
 Once in Springfield with a dear friend.
And once last week with my darling 16 year old.

 It is not like I have been running around raving about this movie and dying to see it again and again. It just has happened. I have enjoyed every single time I have seen this movie and actually this last time I saw it I had a major epiphany I needed to blog about, you see, in the last three minutes of the movie the main character, Mark Watney, says;

"At some point, everything's gonna go south on you and you're going to say, this is it, this is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That's all it is. You just begin. You do the math.You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And if you solve enough problems then you get to come home."

Great quote, right? So let me give you a little background just in case you have not feasted your eyes on this movie. And if you have seen it then take a little nap and I will wake you up when I get to my point :) So basically in this movie Mark Watney AKA Matt Damon accidentally gets left on Mars. Due to this accidental leaving the movie is a series of events that happen to him while he and NASA are trying to figure out a way home for him. And believe me all kinds of stuff can go wrong when you are on Mars....alone.

So, the entire movie, as bad things happen to Mark Watney, bad things that you think no one all alone on Mars can possibly survive...Mark survives. He painstakingly figures it out each and every time he has a setback. It is not easy....duh. He really has to work hard...like the doing lots of math, gross labor, and figuring logistics sort of hard. All while wearing an awkward, huge, heavy looking space suit.This third time as I watched it, yet again, even knowing that he makes it....oh, sorry did you not want to know that? :) I was struck between the eyes with this thought.....

I was stuck on Mars too.

You know what I mean, right? There are moments in all of our lives where everything is going to go south and you can not deny that you wonder, or possibly, you even shout it out loud. "Is this how I end? And then I love that really we all do exactly what he said, we either accept that it is how we end or we get to work to fight it for all we are worth. My tendency is to accept for awhile and then I usually ask myself the, "Is this how I end?" question way too many times, stalling, before I know what I have to do. And then after eons of thinking, question asking, praying and googling I finally make a decision. Just one. But it magically starts things off and gives me courage. I usually eat a Reeses after this first decision, just because.

Mark says it..."You just begin." You won't know the end if you don't begin. I keep telling myself that. So many beginnings are staring at me. I am in the beginning of school. I am in the beginning of work. I am in the beginning of being in charge of my own finances. I am in the beginning of maybe finding someone who knows all about the lack of a top on my toothpaste tube and can still love me. I am in the beginning of standing on the scale everyday :) I am in the beginning of figuring out what I am going to be when I grow up. And it is just like Mark Watney says, "You solve one problem, and you solve the next one, and then the next and if you solve enough problems then you get to come home." This is life. Solving one problem after the other. Maybe NASA would help me solve my problems?

Nov 14, 2015

What Is Love?

So last summer I got this sinking fear that I had no idea what love was. I was deeply concerned that I was 47 and did not know how to love someone. I realized that I am somewhat stingy with those three words. I don't find myself feeling like I think love should feel very often :) My brain honestly had started to wonder, "What does it feel like if someone loves you?" How do you show love? Can you fake it? As I looked around at church, at the store, at restaurants, and at events I attended it looked like everyone seemed to have someone to love and someone to love them. What compelled them to love that person? How did they know they needed to say it? What did it feel like? Was it hard or was it easy? If I tell you I love you what does it mean you expect from me? Overthinking love? Who me?

One day I decided I needed answers so I sheepishly googled "what is love?" and before you mercilessly tease me about googling, "what is love?" I must tell you that in 2012 that was the most googled question....yeah, I know it is 2015. Anyway, I read, and read, and read about love. I tried to find reputable sources. Who is the leading authority on love anyway? I took notes, in my special polka dot notebook, with the perfectly lined paper in it, that I write all important things in. I was determined to figure this out. I need to recognize love.


Mister Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood fame described love like this:

"Love isn't a perfect state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."

Almost everything I read confirmed Mister Roger's observations. If you love someone you love their imperfections and those imperfections become unique qualities to you. I think it is probably called unconditional. You see their flaws and still love them. So if someone tells me they love me they surely know about my faults and they are A-OK with them, right?

C.S.Lewis has written books about love and has many fabulous things to say about the topic but my favorite quote would have to be this one:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and you heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round, with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless,airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

Being vulnerable is yucky business. What does it even mean? The dictionary says it means you are capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt....you are liable, or exposed to disease, disaster. if you are vulnerable you are accessible and open to attack. Vulnerability goes against everything we are taught. Wear sunscreen. Wear sunglasses. Don't climb up the slide. Don't eat bacon for every meal. (just wanted to make sure you were reading) Wear a coat. Get immunized. Take an umbrella. Protect yourself in every way. Be guarded. Be safe. Be secure. Did you know if you are vulnerable, it means you are okay with you. And if you are okay with you then you can be okay with anyone else because you understand that no one is perfect. It is the only way if you want a relationship. But did I mention it is yucky business?

Guess what Oprah Winfrey said about love?

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."




Have you ever thought about who you love? Why do you love them? How do you know it's love? Why is it possible to love someone and they do not love you? How does that even happen? Hello, they love you.......love them back....right now :) Yeah, you can not make someone love someone they don't want to love. My daughter once told me that marrying for love is a fairly new idea people used to never marry for love....it was for money or status nothing as frivolous as love. I don't know, the idea of mattering enough to someone that they make me a priority in their life plus they adore my flaws, sounds pretty good to me....bring on the love. Tina Turner sings "What's love got to do with it? What's love but a secondhand emotion?" I tend to be a romantic and think love has everything to do with it....

Nov 10, 2015

Will Tell You All Things What You Should Do.

So I need a place to have my papers I am writing so that I can have them saved and eventually put into my blog book. It is also more possible that my children will read them if I have them here rather than sending them torturous mom lecture emails :) So here is my second paper I have written this semester. I am having the best time writing these.....

Something that caught my attention as I was reading in 2nd Nephi 32:3 this week was the footnote by the word “tell” in the sentence, “for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do,” If you look down at the footnote it says, “TG Problem solving.” I was intrigued. Life is nothing but problem solving. Is this telling me that the words of Christ will help me with all my problem solving? His words will tell me, “all things what I should do?” As I was thinking about this idea I had the realization that, “Wait, does that say that problem solving is in the topical guide?” I wondered which scriptures the topical guide would have put under the heading of problem solving? I was surprised as I started going down the list of scriptures, looking them up, how many of the scriptures were well known, plain, often used scriptures that I would not have thought to use when it came to problem solving but all made perfect “ah ha” moment sense when I read them.

For example, James 1:5 was on the list, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Joseph Smith had a problem. He did not know what church to join. He recognized that the message in this scripture would help him solve his problem. So he acted on it and got an answer. When we are having a problem it actually means we are lacking wisdom. So this scripture is plain and simple in the instructions to use when you are having a problem, ask of God.


Another plain and simple, well used scripture that was under the heading of problem solving was Matthew 11:28. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It’s true, when we do have a problem heavy laden is a perfect way to describe how we feel. We do spend a lot of time labouring about our problem. Here again, in Matthew is a very simple answer to how to solve our problem. Come unto him.

In Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 we also get advice on problem solving. The words in this verse give us a little more information as to how we need to come to him. We cannot just simply ask. It says in this verse that we must also study the problem out in our mind then ask Heavenly Father if our thoughts and decisions on our problems are right. And it tells us how it will feel if we have solved our problem…our bosom shall burn within us. Which is a peaceful feeling.

I was very interested to find Doctrine and Covenants 88:124 listed under the heading of problem solving. But as I read again for the hundredth time, “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and mind may be invigorated.” I wondered what does this verse have to do with problem solving? Then I thought about how if you are taking the advice that is listed in this verse you are most likely to have less problems and also you are likely to be in top form to deal with the problems that do come your way because you are well rested and your body will be invigorated.


            I was thrilled with all the discoveries and information that came with following this one little footnote for the word “tell”. Now I have a stronger testimony of the fact that we have a loving heavenly father that is genuinely interested in our problems and truly wants us to come to him with them and trust that he can and will help us with them. He will tell us all things what we should do. We just need to come to him prepared and trusting believing as it says in Matthew 7:7 that if we ask it shall be given to us.

Nov 8, 2015

Too Nice?

We have to talk about being too nice. And we must be nice while we are doing it :) As I have become a bus driver I have realized something that you all already know about me. I am too nice. I have assigned seats. I have given out referrals. I have stopped the bus and not moved until everyone was quiet. I have done it all. But apparently I am still too nice. I don't understand. What does a person have to do to not be nice around here? I have been firm. I have been consistent. I have set boundaries. Why am I still too nice?

I was going to try to trick you into thinking this is the only area of my life that I am too nice in but I figured you knew better. Honestly, the reason my life is where it is right now, at this exact moment, is because I have been too nice in the past. Did you know that it is so unusual to find people who are too nice that most people do not trust people who are too nice? When I heard this I had this ah ha moment where this moment in my past came to my mind. You see there was this couple we would often invite to Sunday dinner and the wife would always ask what she could bring to dinner. I have always had the philosophy that if I invite you to dinner I am doing it to give you a break from cooking so if someone offers to bring something when I invite them I let them, but I give them something easy so that they can have their Sunday afternoon free from cooking. I would always assign this girl the green salad. She thought this meant that I did not trust her to make anything else. Which was the furthest thing from my mind. I really was just trying to be nice but she was confident I had an ulterior motive. Does that make sense? She did not trust my niceness.... she could not even fathom that this had anything to do with nice. You see, in her mind ,I had an evil plan to make her bring salads to my house forever and ever. Now that I am thinking about it I can remember other times in my life where I was being myself and was not trusted because it simply was not normal to the other person. No one believes that too nice is sincere. What to do? Punch them all?

I already know that being too nice is not good but if you want to make a comment about it feel free. It was unsettling to read about it over, and over, and over again. Not one single article I read defended nice people. Even my 16 year old knew, she happened to saunter into my room just now and asked what I was reading about and when I told her she immediately weighed in on the topic with what she had learned in her sixth grade Health class in Massachusetts about the very topic of being too nice. She made sure I understood that I do not want to be aggressive....just assertive.... definitely not nice. She even had an example of being too nice from a My Little Pony episode involving Fluttershy. I feel like I have been living under a rock...a nice rock mind you :)

Is there someone out there who will unconditionally love someone who is too nice or is my lot in life to always be taken for granted, not respected, and used because I am too nice? If I go to the movie with you and you ask me what I want to see if I really don't care, which is going to be very likely, am I too nice if I tell you I will see what you want to see? I am being honest. Am I still too nice?

I am reading Gone With The Wind right now and Scarlett O'hara HATES Melanie Hamilton because she thinks she is too nice. Melanie is always seeing the positive and defending people and it drives Scarlett freaking crazy. But I just read about an incident where Scarlett starts catching glimpses of how tough Melanie is underneath. I am on page 493 of a 1024 page book and I am interested to see if Scarlett ends up being a fan of nice Melanie, or not.

Someone said in one of the articles I read that, "nice people are not bad, the problem is how society approaches nice people is bad." Society is unappreciative of nice things. That made me feel a little better. See it's not all me. So do people think like Scarlett thought of Melanie that if you are too nice you are weak? I am not weak. Well let me think about that for a minute before I possibly throw an untruth out there on the internet for you all to see and throw in my face. Let's add a word to that sentence...I am not weak...now. I have been in the past. I still have one person that hangs out in my life that I let walk all over me, and take advantage me as much as they want. I have no idea why it is just this one person I let take me for granted year after year. Why I do not expect this person to return invitations, hang out, or dedicate time to me. These are basic friendship things that I still keep waiting for this friend to "get." If you want to go to lunch and give me a serious talking to about this situation I just confessed to I am free this Friday at 11 meet me at Jack Sprat's restaurant downtown Cottage Grove. But trust me, I already know what I need to do :)

I have learned a lot while I have been thinking about this personality trait of being too nice. I think I have decided that being nice is not bad. It is who I am and I like who I am. I just need to make sure that along with the nice I need to make sure I am honest with others and myself. And it probably would not hurt to have the courage I need to make sure I am not taken advantage of, or taken for granted. But that still leaves me with a bus full of fifty kids with behavior issues :)

Nov 6, 2015

Shut The Front Door.

Doors. They let things in and they keep things out. Sometimes we slam them to show our feelings. We can knock on them to let someone know we are there. We have been known to accidentally shut fingers in them. Some of us have been known to kick them. We can decide to open them just a crack or we can fling them wide open. We can stand quietly outside of a closed one and listen.

When someone knocks on our door unexpectedly it startles us and we wonder...should we open it? It is hard to open the door if you are not sure who is going to be there. What if it is someone you do not want to see? But if you are expecting someone and you hear a knock on your door you are so excited to open the door, right?

When I was in Estonia last summer my son and his wife could not come to pick me up from the airport when I arrived since they do not own a car so I was given instructions on how to get a taxi in Estonia since I do not speak Estonian. I just needed to just show the driver my sons address and he would get me there. It worked, he did get me there...to a tall, Soviet era, high rise apartment building that was next to another tall, Soviet era, high rise apartment building that was next to another tall, Soviet era, high rise apartment building. It was around midnight Estonian time and the taxi driver helped me get my two, very heavy suitcases out of the taxi and then he left me alone in the dark, in front of this building. My cell phone did not work in Estonia. I had no wifi to send my son a message on Facebook to tell them I was there. I honestly did not know what to do. The address seemed foreign to me since it is written differently from our addresses here...it said Sutiste tee and then two numbers separated by a dash. I did not have any idea if either of the words meant street or apartment? Was it the name of the area? Or the name of the building? The only door to get into the building was locked. You had to have a special sort of key to get in. I stood there for about ten minutes wondering what my plan was going to be. A closed door never felt so lonely. I saw a lady walking my way with her dog (yes, in the middle of the night). I prayed she might understand English and that she would not think I was crazy. She did not understand English but I showed her my son's address on a piece of paper and apparently I looked distressed enough that she decided to help me. She walked over to the building, pushed a button and I think she said something in Russian into a speaker. The button was to Zach's apartment and he came and opened the door for me. Open doors, those are nice.

Closed doors, not as nice? Well unless there is a blizzard outside then it would be good to have a closed door. And I guess a closed door is probably good when it comes to the bathroom. Oh and many a time a closed and locked door helped me when I was wrapping Christmas presents. I have also appreciated a closed door when I had a toddler that thought nap time did not apply to them. Closed doors can keep people from seeing you cry. They also keep people from seeing you eat the candy you took from them :) Oh alright maybe closed doors are not so bad and have their place.

I have noticed that if I am in a room I usually prefer the door open. It just feels claustrophobic to me if it is shut. When you are a mom you just need the door open so you can hear what is going on. Teenagers tend to prefer doors shut. Toddlers usually beg you not to close them. Speaking of closed doors I have to tell you I am terrible at locking doors. Our house doors were only ever locked if we went on vacation for an excessively long time. But locking doors is a whole another blog for another day.

When I was about 11 and living in California my siblings and I would play a game with the door that went from our garage into our house. It was the sort of door that would close all by itself when you let it go so we would stretch our foot back to hold it and lean as far into the house as we could get and then when we were ready we would take our foot off of the door and race as fast as we could down the hall and into the middle of the house to see how far we could get before the door shut. This game was very popular until I raced around the corner one day smack into one of my sisters and got myself some stitches.


 While I was in Estonia this summer with my son and his family I got to spend some time in glorious old town Tallinn. One of the first things I noticed about old town Tallinn was that all the buildings and houses had different doors. The pictures I have posted with this blog are just some of the doors I saw. So many colors. So many designs. So many different sizes and shapes. Each door was unique and had character.

Just today I was thinking about our chicken coop door which is not closing and latching very well because it is a little warped from water and sun. Doors can do that.

There are a lot of doors in my life right now. Some are open. Some are closed.
Some I slowly open, peer around, maybe even start to come around the door and then something happens that forces me to go back behind the door again and hide.

One of my doors is going back to school That one is wide open and I am loving it.

One of my doors is figuring out what I want to be when I grow up...yeah here is what that one looks like :)

Another door is relationships. This one will get opened a little and then for all sorts of reasons will have to close again. The revolving nature of this door is frustrating but I know it is teaching me and making me better? UGH.... so I am going to be grateful for it. So right now at this exact moment this door looks like this. (Yes, that is my yellow outfit :)

It has been interesting to muse about doors as I drive along everyday in my school bus... opening and closing my door .....letting kids on and letting kids off.

I got a beautiful journal from my friend Gail for my birthday last week and I have decided it is my most special journal. In it I am going to write down which doors I want to go through and how I can get through them and where I hope they lead. Lots of lists and goals all written using my favorite pen.

Oct 25, 2015

Refiner's Fire.

UGH, I am being refined. When you say that something has been refined that means it has been through a process to bring it to a point where it is free from impurities. Why do things need to be refined? Did you know that after something is refined it is supposedly better than it was before?

I was reading about refining today and I learned about how impossible it would be to develop a universal boiler or engine capable of running on all crude oils. So to meet user requirements crude oil has to be separated, converted, and treated in a process called refining. There is lots of refining going on all around us. Sugar is refined. Salt is refined. Food oil is refined. Metals are refined. Petroleum oil is refined. I wonder if sugar wants to be refined? I wonder if it likes the process? I imagine it knows it has to go through it so it just submits willingly. Silly sugar.

What do you think about the idea that as humans we are all being refined? Remember the children of Israel in the Bible? They were definitely refined while they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years learning things about themselves. As humans enduring is what our refining process is. No actual melting. No actual heat. Although sometimes I feel like that is actually happening. But honestly it is just plain, old fashioned, enduring. Just embrace it. It is teaching us patience. It is increasing our perspective. It is making our little hard hearts soft. It even strengthens our conviction. I hear those are all good things....we want them :)

I hate to admit that I need refining and that it is good for me but I can not deny it, it is all true. Every time I come through something hard I notice that I am a teeny tiny bit better than I was before. My edges feel a little bit smoother. I feel a little bit calmer. I understand a little bit better. It is a slow process. Just in case you are jealous that I am always moving forward I have to tell you in all honesty I have been known to go backwards. Sometimes I feel refined, feel like I have learned, and feel a bit of a thrill about it. But then the situation comes up again, I make the same mistake again, and realize with a large amount of despair that I am not as refined as I thought I was and oh, hey I just did that mistake thing.... again. A most frustrating feeling to behave the way you shouldn't.

You would think by the time you were 46 years old that refining might be close to being over but that is not the case for me. Hard things are still happening. Hard things I have no control over. People making choices that affect me but that I have no control over are all around me. Hard things that I just have to endure and remind myself that I have to have faith that it will all work out the way it is supposed to. Submitting.....yeah, that is what it is called....good times.

Oct 21, 2015

Monkey Traps.

So on Thursday of this week I get to teach a lesson and as I have been studying for this lesson I have happened to learn about monkey traps. Is it weird that I have never heard of monkey traps before? It is a shame because this juicy little piece of information probably could have been used at some moments in the past 46 year of my life. But before we lament together about that let me first tell you all about monkey traps.

So in Africa and apparently other countries as well, they have a very effective way to trap monkeys. They take a coconut, lop off the top of the coconut, and take all the coconut meat out. They leave a hole in the top of the coconut that is just large enough for the monkey to stick his paw inside. They anchor the coconut to the ground and put some peanuts inside of the hole. Apparently monkeys will smell the peanuts, come to the trap,and put their paws down inside to get the nuts. Then they try to get them out. But with their little paws clenched around the peanuts they can not remove their paws from the hole because it is too small for all of that to come out. The monkeys will not let go of the peanuts...to literally save their lives and thus they are caught when the natives return.

Seems silly, right? All they have to do is let go. I read somewhere in the midst of all my googling on this topic something that really got me thinking, "the monkey is caught by its rigid values not the trap."The trap works because the monkey is so focused on getting the food inside. The silly monkey does not understand that the price of trying to get the food will be his freedom.

It seems so obvious to us...just let go of the food Mr. Monkey, run away, and find some other food. But supposedly we humans think better than monkeys and we "get it". But do we? The more I researched and the more questions I asked the more disconcerting it all got. Pretty soon I could painfully see places in my life where I had had my hand in the top of the coconut clutching some short sighted thing that I was sure I could not leave or live without. Ever been guilty of short term thinking? Ever been paralyzed by making decisions? Oh and the worst question is, "have you ever struggled to acknowledge that a decision you made was bad?" I fear I could probably write the book on monkey traps.

Why are things that matter the most always at the mercy of things that matter the least?

So right now as you are merrily reading this I am currently aware of not one but two monkey traps I am caught in. Did learning this fabulous lesson help me to let go, run as fast as I can and focus on things that matter the most??....Um no....not yet. But do not worry I always come around :)

Oct 19, 2015

Loverly.

So when I was little....well I am still little....I guess we should say when I was young, I loved to listen to the soundtrack from My Fair Lady, over, and over, and over again. I sort of like the fact that years later there is still a couple songs from that soundtrack that often play in my mind. One of them is a song from the beginning of the show where Eliza Doolitle, who is in the middle of a very poor, must work hard everyday for nothing, life, is singing about all she wants. And she sings"

"All I want is a room somewhere. Far away from the cold night air. With one enormous chair. Oh, wouldn't it be loverly? Lots of chocolate for me to eat. Lots of coal making lots of heat.Warm face. Warm hands. Warm feet. Oh wouldn't it be loverly?"


Yeah, that word loverly....is it not perfect?

 Of course these few sentences are only part of the song but this is the part that will be stuck in my head for ever and ever. I can not tell you how many times something will be going on in one of the days of my little old life and my mind will randomly bring up the words to this song. It does not even have to be a cold day...just one of "those"days. I am constantly refining the picture this song brings into my mind, more that I care to admit :) I feel like this moment, the room, the chair, and of course the chocolate are all out there somewhere, waiting for me. I have no doubt I will recognize them when I meet them.


The chair must have arms. It must have enough room for me to tuck one leg under the other leg  comfortably. It can't be to stiff of a chair, just a little bit sink-y. You know, like the three little bears story....a "just right" chair. Not too high or to low of a back. Armrests that you can slink down, rest your head on, and fall asleep on while you lay on your back slinging your legs over the opposite armrest.  An ottoman is a definite must for when you need to stretch out that leg that you folded underneath because it is threatening to fall asleep. I think the chair in that picture right over there is pretty darn close to what I envision.

The "far away from the cold night air" words make me supremely happy. I love cold night air. In my cold night air I imagine snow.....preferably the big storm variety of snow. My favorite blanket will be with me in my chair....my favorite blanket happens to be my oldest song Zach's blanket that he left in the states with me when he went to Europe. It is flannel. It is plaid. It is the perfect weight. I wonder when he will want this blanket back?

There simply must be a fire. Not coal as indicated in the song, that is so 1800's, just wood fire for me. It will be dark and gray outside. The house will surely be all picked up. While I sit in my chair I will be able to hear those comforting, rewarding, dinner is over and cleaned up dish washer sounds coming from the kitchen.

The song does not mention the table next to the chair but I am pretty sure there is one. What would I put the chocolate on ?:) Actually, you all know there are books on that table and a lamp. I need low, mood lighting in my, "re-creation of My Fair Lady song lyrics" moment....it's just the way I roll. Right now I am re-reading The Light Between Oceans so that will be there. I have a stack of magazines about things to do in Oregon that I got from the Visit Oregon Booth in the Portland airport way back in August that I have not had the chance to carefully read I would be so happy if those were on the table also. On a whim I purchased a Calvin and Hobbes book from a second hand bookstore and I have not had a chance to read that either. So add it to the pile. And last but not least, because a girl can never have too much reading material, my copy of The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Yes, it's a book. Yes, the book is better than the movie.

The chocolate? Yeah, holiday shaped Reeses.,,,you know, like pumpkins, Christmas trees, hearts. They are made differently than the normal Reeses and have a most perfect proportion of chocolate and peanut butter in them. Also the chocolate is smoother than normal Reeses peanut butter cups chocolate. But we all know any chocolate would do.

Wouldn't it all be loverly? Is it too much to add a view to my song? Oh and a best friend that "gets" me and wants to talk about what I am reading? Oh and steak for dinner later? :) And a hike planned for the next day? Yeah, I just ruined the song :)

Oct 18, 2015

Life Is Like A Sushi Belt?

Sometimes I wonder to myself about things I am very sure I don't like,

 "When did I decide I do not like this?"

And I try to remember the moment. It seems to me if you do not like something you should have a strong memory of that, "do not like moment" to back up your, "do not like declaration." We all know it sounds much more valid when someone declares their hatred for something and then when asked why they can give you a long detailed story about how they KNOW they hate it because they tried it in Alaska, in November of 1999, when they were wearing the bracelet from Uncle George, and it snowed a foot, a day they will never forget.

This is the thought process that went through my mind last Saturday night when I was up in Washington and an old friend from high school texted me to see if I liked sushi and if I wanted to meet at a sushi restaurant. I was proud of myself for telling my friend the truth that I did not like sushi. Usually my need to not not have confrontations, combined with my need to not be high maintenance keep me from admitting things like that. (Yeah, feel free to comment on that little gem of unhealthiness in the comment section :) I really wanted to hang out so I said I was coming and I would be happy to give it a try.

As I have grown up I have become much braver at trying new foods, as a kid I was definitely described as a picky eater. As I was driving to the restaurant I realized that if I really thought about it I could not even remember if I had ever eaten sushi and I felt a little sheepish about declaring I hated it when I could not find that moment that should be embedded in my mind of the trying and hating process. I do have strong memories of sitting across from friends in restaurants while they were eating sushi and feeling sick just watching it but that clearly could not count.

I got to the restaurant first so I sat in my car checking out the scene. The first thing I noticed was that the neon sign outside the restaurant had the words belt and sushi on it. I had no idea why. I was pretty sure belt was not a Japanese word so it seemed unlikely that it could be the families last name. Maybe there was a mountain named belt in Japan? Maybe I needed to be wearing a belt? Can you tell how much experience I have had with sushi?

Of course, as soon as I entered the restaurant it was apparent why the word belt was in the neon lights outside. I had never seen anything like it. A conveyor belt was snaking around the seating arrangement and on this belt were different color plates with various kinds of sushi, watermelon, pineapple, desserts, spring rolls, and dumplings on them. Some had clear lids covering the items on the plate and others were just open. All the plates were casually riding on this squeaky, gold colored conveyor belt like it was the most normal thing in the world. I was bursting with questions. WHY? WHY? and some more WHY? 

Luckily, my friend was comfortable and familiar with all this "sushi belt strangeness" and knew exactly what to do and immediately chose a plate off the belt for us to try. I needed a quick chopstick lesson before starting in. I am woefully uneducated in the Asian food department. I asked lots of questions and arranged my glass of water a few times until I knew I could not put it off any more.The moment had come. A little unassuming, harmless looking wrapped bundle of rice was patiently staring at me. I am not going to lie I was not excited about this moment. But I took a deep breath, used my chopsticks, grabbed the bundle, dipped it in soy sauce, and shoved it in my mouth. It was....awful. I have never choked something down so maturely in all my life. If I was just a year younger I would have spit it all out and declared hysterically that I was going to throw up. But thankfully that was last year. I just made a yucky face at my friend while I chewed the entire bundle in misery.

To my credit I took at least one bite of everything my friend chose off of the sushi belt. And now I have that, "when I knew I hated sushi moment" deeply embedded in my mind for when I need to refer to it again. For the record I did not want to hate sushi. I was really hoping I would love it. I know how it feels when I love something and I am so excited about sharing my love of it with someone. I wait with bated breath to see if they will declare they love it and then we will have a bonding moment. Yeah, no sushi bonding moment. But never fear I think our friendship is still intact. I am hoping that my friend did not need me to love sushi. I definitely loved the experience...learning about new things is always fun for me. Now I can have a small part in a future sushi conversation if necessary. And as always the company you are with is what it is really about.

On my drive home I could not stop musing about the wonder of that sushi belt. I smiled as I let my mind wander to thinking about what if life was like a sushi belt? What if different moments in life were laid out on colored plates with clear lids on top and they were all going around and around, clockwise on a conveyor belt? And there were certain times in life that you had to go sit in front of the conveyor belt and choose your education, your kids, your car, your house, your weight, your trials. Yeah, I know...but it was an entertaining thought. I would hope I would have enough money for the plate with the BMW on it and the plate with the vacation home on it.

Oct 8, 2015

"We Might Have Been Happy."

Laman and Lemuel are the brothers of Nephi in the Book of Mormon. The brothers that always seem to forget or not even recognize the ways they and their family have been blessed. The brothers that wrote the book on murmuring. The brothers that see actual angels and witness the power of God and yet never "get it". The brothers that see affliction so differently from Nephi and his other siblings. The chapters that I read for my religion class this week are some of my favorite chapters they are full of all sorts of nuggets of wisdom. For my class we have 20 minutes worth of video clips from various talks that relate to what we are reading. I love these little video clips, they always give me something to think about and something new to notice. 

This week one of these clips was called "Attitudes in Affliction". For a little over three minutes the speaker, Kirk Astel, talks about the differences between Laman and Lemuel, and Nephi's attitudes. He points out that chapter 17 of Nephi starts out with Nephi talking about this long 8 year journey, through the wilderness, they have just completed. Nephi gets married on this journey. His wife has children on this journey. He becomes a dad. When he describes the journey he acknowledges that they did "travel through much affliction in the wilderness". He says, "our women did bear children in the wilderness". But then he lists all their blessings from the journey. he says in verse 2 that the blessings of the Lord were great and were upon them. He has no problem recognizing how they were blessed. Here is his list of blessings he mentions:

#1, The blessings of the Lord were upon them while they did live upon raw meat in the wilderness.

#2. Their women had plenty of milk to nurse their babies so that their babies were strong.

#3. The women became strong too, even like unto the men and began to bear their journey without murmuring.

When you keep reading and you turn the page and read verse 20 then you get Laman and Lemuel's view of the 8 year journey. They did the exact same things that Nephi did. The speaker points out that just like Nephi they become fathers, they get married, they have kids. But they see the whole thing totally different. Check out what they say:

#1.We have wandered in this wilderness for these many years.

#2.Our women have toiled being big with child.

#3.They have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death.

#4. It would have been better that the women had dies before they left Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.

But here is the clincher. In verse 21 they declare, "Behold these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our posessions and the land of our inheritance; yea and we might have been happy."

What? They "might have been happy"? 

Good attitude.....bad attitude.

An attitude is "the way a person views something or tends to behave towards it, often in an evaluative way."

This really got me thinking about my attitude on my journey here in life. How I view things or behave towards them. We all gasp at the reality that Laman and Lemuel never "get it". They never change. They never even think they need to change. We can not even fathom it. We say to ourselves if all those things had happened to me I surely would have stopped murmuring and stopped having a bad attitude. We discuss it over and over, wondering out loud about "how could they?" 

Laman and Lemuel view the exact same journey so differently from Nephi. How do I view my journey that I am on with all the other people around me. How does my attitude compare? Can I see my blessings? Can I be grateful for them?

Do I declare that I "might have been happy?" I hope not. But I am human so the chances that I think this are very good. I really would rather just be happy. It sounds so simple and easy. Look at that innocent simple sentence :) Why do we always think something else would make us happier?

Sep 29, 2015

My First Essay As A Grown Up.


So as many of you know I have decided it is finally time to get a college degree. I mean I can't live with my parents forever....can I? I need you all to indulge me and print out my first essay and put it on your fridge...maybe add a sticker to it :) I am a little bit proud of this essay. I got 100% and my teacher made a  one word comment on it..."impressive". I think he is being generous. I was most likely the last paper he graded. His kids had probably all been up all night sick. His wife was sad because he missed their anniversary, and it's possible he was mad at the college since they asked him to do an online class....not a real class....but nevertheless I am taking the 100% and the comment to boost me up :) 

So here is my essay for you to enjoy. Feel free to rip it apart :) It was for my religion class so be warned...it is religious and probably why it was graded so much easier than a English class essay :) It is important for you to note that their are no smiley faces and no ellipses in this essay...a herculean feat for me.


What is an affliction? The dictionary tells us that affliction means “a state of pain, distress, or grief; misery.” Some of the words that are synonymous with the word affliction are, mishap, trouble, tribulation, calamity, catastrophe and disaster. In the very first chapter and first verse of The Book of Mormon Nephi says that he has, “seen many afflictions in the course of his days”. I have read that sentence countless times but today the footnote next to the word affliction caught my attention and I looked down and noticed that it said, “ TG Affliction: Blessing; God, gifts of.” It caused me to stop and wonder. Is an affliction a blessing and a gift of God?

I started my search by looking up all the scriptures in the topical guide about affliction. I discovered that from the first scripture listed, which was Exodus 3:7 where the Lord tells Moses that he has, “surely seen the affliction of his people which are in Egypt”, all the way to the last scripture listed, which was Doctrine and Covenants 121:7 where the Lord assures Joseph Smith that if he should be “cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee, if thou be cast in the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy, if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good,” the pattern is clear, affliction refines us, and causes us to turn to God. Anything that turns us to God is surely a blessing.

Jonah had an affliction. He was in the, “fishes belly” for three days and three nights until in Jonah chapter 2 verse 2 when he, “cries by reason of his affliction” to Heavenly Father. He tells the Lord that he has remembered him and all that he has done for him. Jonah’s affliction helped him to get some perspective on the choices he had made and after he recognizes it and prays the “Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out on dry land”.

Joseph of Egypt had afflictions. He had brothers that sold him into Egypt. He had a master’s wife that got him wrongfully imprisoned for his refusal to lie with her. Joseph did not choose his afflictions like Jonah did but he still had them. In Acts 7:10 when Stephen is recounting the history of Israel he mentions Joseph and he talks about how God was with him and “delivered him out of all his afflictions.”

And last but not least there is Lehi’s son Jacob. In 2nd Nephi chapter 2 verses 1-2 Lehi is talking to his son Jacob and he acknowledges that Jacob “hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow” throughout his childhood. But then he reminds Jacob that he knows the “greatness of God” and that because he knows this God will “consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.”

As I read scripture after scripture about affliction I could not ignore the realization that if you consider becoming better a blessing then afflictions are blessings. They refine us. Because we are the natural man it appears we will not naturally turn to God, we need experiences to encourage us to make that choice. In my reading I found a quote in the, Instructors Guide for the Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, that says, “Those times of spiritual dryness, when man is left alone to choose if he really will follow Him, are important to God, for then man shows on his own that he is determined to do as God asks. The Lord wants man to walk in His paths and so shows the way, but He must take away His hand so that man can learn to walk, if he will.”



So the definition of a blessing is a, “special favor, a mercy, or a benefit.” Think of it, that is what we get from God when we face our afflictions. We are here on earth to prove ourselves and the way we prove ourselves is by how we choose to see our afflictions. In Helaman 12:3 it says that “the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions” and sadly if he doesn’t do this we “will not remember him.”

Sep 28, 2015

What Takes Priority?

I just can't help it guys I have so many questions and thoughts about the word priority that I think I may burst. Can you believe that my recent constant thoughts about this word is what has jolted me back into the blogging world? Speaking of priorities obviously, poor, neglected, blogging has not been a priority in my life lately. I was so discouraged when I realized I had not blogged since May 11th of this year. So much has happened since May 11th, so much to tell you about, so much to document, and what do I choose to start with?

Not my epic trip to Estonia in July.
Not my trip to Idaho/ Yellowstone/ Jackson Hole/So Much More, in August.
Not our multitude of day trips since May.
Not my musings about relationships....yeah, I spared you this time :)
Not my feelings about ice cream.
Not about me starting online school.
Not about my constant quest for the perfect shoes.
Not about failing at long distance dating when you are 46....fascinating topic...trust me.
Not all about living with your parents for an entire year.

No, I chose to start with a word...the word priority, no less. What is coincidental is that as I was sitting here, curled up in my chair, staring out the window thinking about the word priority my mom came by to ask me a question about mailing something and she held up one of those priority mail boxes from the United States Postal Service and asked me a question about it....she even used the word priority, which made me smile. What does it mean if you use a priority box from the post office? Well by definition priority means it will get special attention. It also means it has the right to precede others in rank, order and privilege. How does something achieve that right? Often it is because you pay for it. Or it also can simply be that it is in a certain box that identifies it as a priority. The guy at the post office has told me that anytime I send anything over the Mississippi River within the USA it is worth it to use a priority mail box. It saves me money. The weight limit for the box is twenty lbs and I have never packed one of these boxes anywhere near that weight. When I had missionaries in foreign countries I always used the priority mail boxes. They never, ever got lost. I kinds like that these boxes always cost the same amount to send no matter what it weighs. And I may secretly have a thing for the official looking box. I always feel safe using these boxes.They always get where I am sending them. They truly do appear to get the special attention a priority box should get.

What about if you are a person. What does it mean to be a priority to someone? They obviously do not just have to pay more for you or put you in an official priority box :) Do you know who you are a priority to? How do you know? I have been thinking about this and wondering who I know I am a priority to. Who puts me first? "They"say that the biggest way you show someone that they are a priority to you is through time. Time is our most valuable resource, you have to be intentional with your schedule and your calendar so that you let someone know they are important to you.

How on earth do we ever choose the rank, order, and privilege among everything that demands something from us? Religion, work, school, relationships, kids, telemarketers, exercise, book club, unfolded laundry.Why are Reeses more important to me than Starbursts? Why are my counters clean from clutter but my drawers a little messy? Why is straight hair a priority to me but not curly hair? Why do I never think twice about the gas money that it costs to get in the car and go anywhere? And just to complicate things our priorities change...all the time.

I have a friend in Massachusetts for whom exercise is a priority. No complaining about not having time. No complaining about not having money for the gym, No complaining about what to do with her little kids while exercising it just happens. Exercise is a priority for her. She knows she needs it and she makes it happen. Yeah, I idolize her :)

When I was a young mother teaching my kids to sleep through the night in their own beds was a priority to me. I did whatever it took for that to happen. If if it meant listening to them cry in the night....so be it. After they were 6 months old it meant that much to me that if you would have told me that if I stood on my head in a jungle while balancing a stack of pancakes on my feet my kids would sleep through the night in their own beds I would have done it.....yeah, a priority.

It used to be a priority to me to give out, way too many goody plates at Christmas time but one day I realized with a start that this was not a priority to me anymore. Other holiday things ranked higher so I switched up the priority list.

What in my life means enough to me that I would do anything to make it happen? What if I know what means a lot to me and I do not mean that much to it? Yeah, it happens.

May 11, 2015

Cape Perpetua

Some people need to drink. Some people need to eat chocolate. Some people need to clean the house? :) Some people need to gamble. Some people need to buy new shoes. I need to get in the car and go places. Just to let you know how bad it is let me tell you about yesterday and then you can shake your head, judge me, and figure out how to plan an intervention for me.

All week I thought about how desperately I needed to get to the coast. I declared my need to my parents and my children. I had a super hard week...not gonna lie. I knew Mother's Day was coming....it's never easy...not gonna lie. I knew the coast had the potential to fix these things. I had a few touch and go moments where it looked like it was not going to happen but I figured it out and here are the details....you love details.

I am a lover of logistics and figuring out how to make things work and I knew that Natalie had a birthday party she needed to attend on Saturday at 3:00. My day had to revolve around this party. I do not know enough people here in Cottage Grove yet to mooch favors off of people and besides I really did need to be here to help her get ready and to the party. The quickest drive to the coast from here is an hour and a half. Tatiana wanted to come with me. We decided what kind of beach we needed....you know you have to decide if you want tide pools...or sea stacks views....or good beach combing....or a hike in addition to the beach....sand dunes?...people versus not so many people. And then throw in our limited time and it was some work. So I sat down with my best friend Google and finally figured out that our destination should be Cape Perpetua.

 It is hard to give up our only sleep in day of the week but we needed to steal time from where ever we could. I told Tatiana we had to leave by seven in the morning and then I woke up at 5:30 and realized we needed more time than that so I woke her up at 6. The sun was already up and the day was beckoning....yes, beckoning....days can do that :)

We just have to jump on I-5 going south and take the exit onto Route 38 and then follow that straight to Reedsport. This drive is beautiful. A lot of it goes right along the Umpqua River and the views are so pretty. We ran into some fog and that worried me. I have lived here long enough to recognize morning fog and know that 9 times out of 10 it blows off but it still worries me when I am heading to the beach and need a view. But it was just in patches and never caused us any more worry.

We chose Cape Perpetua because of the descriptions and reviews of the tide pools and a hike. We have been trying all different kinds of beaches on the Oregon Coast just because we can. Once it was dunes. Once it was sea stacks. Once it was beach combing opportunities. We just have to figure out our mood and match it to a beach :)

It was not easy to keep driving past all the other beach opportunities as we drove up Highway 101 towards Cape Perpetua but I had to keep reminding myself I had a goal and I needed to follow through. You pass so many great views and other beaches along the way and they are ALWAYS calling my name. It took will power to not stop at every beach.

We got to the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center at about 9:15 in the morning. Yeah, I know the math is a little off if you are checking my numbers but we did have to get gas and we had to back track to get it :) The visitors center and the area around it was nice and clean. The trails were well marked. We had to take the Captain Cook trail to get to the tide pools....it is paved and not even a mile's walk. The minute the trail ends you are on what looks like lava rock. I looked up tides to make sure we were going to be there around low tide because tide pools are no fun if it is high tide :) Low tide was supposed to be at 10:30am.

Can you find all the starfish?
We were not sure where to start when we came to the end of the trail and saw our destination in front of us. All around you to the right and to the left are black, barren, lava looking rocks that you have to climb on to get anywhere. You can see the ocean waves crashing out past the rocks. To the right you can see a large sandy beach at the edge of the rocks. The tide pools are scattered around on top of the rocks. We just started tentatively exploring getting braver with each step. In the deep pools we found could see purple sea urchins and green cucumbery things...yes, I said cucumbery but I meant anenomes :)

 We decided to head towards the distant sand part of the beach. Once we got down on the sand we discovered that we had a great view of the undersides of the rocks we had been walking on. There were starfish everywhere. It was cool. We got caught in some water from the waves and soaked our shoes. We were woefully uneducated about what we were looking at but it was still fun.

The beach was wedged between the rocks from the tide pools and some high cliffs with pine trees on them. And with the tide all the way out the sandy part of the beach was very vast,empty, and smooth. Just begging for Tatiana and I to run across it. Way at the back of the sandy part, up against the cliffs, was tons of bleached driftwood and rocks. Someone had made a pretty cool driftwood house with a window. The house came furnished with a driftwood table and a driftwood sofa. We decided we needed to buy it despite the suspiciously wet looking sand floor.

As we were walking on the sand with the rock formations creating passageways on either side of us we came around a corner and found some cairns. I love to find cairns. I love to wonder about who left them. I love that someone took the time to make them. They just make me feel connected. Tatiana and I made our own cairns to add to the 6 or 7 that were already there.

The next high tide was at 5:30 pm and I wished I could stay because rumor is that high tide at Cape Perpetua is supposed to be very cool because of all these raised rock formations and passageways.  Apparently,the ocean shoots in and up these passageways supposedly making amazing noises as it crashes against the sides of the rocks. I mean with names like Devils Churn and Spouting Horn why would you not want to check it out? I will definitely go back at high tide.....or even better in a storm :)

We explored for about an hour and a half and then had to head back. Yes, lets do the math together shall we? We drove an hour and a half to be on the beach for an hour and a half and then we drove an hour and a half home. We got back to Cottage Grove at about 1:30 in the afternoon. Crazy? Maybe. But I am so glad we did it. I needed to drive. I needed to hear waves and see some views. I noticed that when I have told a few people that I went to the beach yesterday and when I divulge the details people look at me a little odd. But I am really loving this, "go to the beach whenever I want" option in my life and am not likely to give it up soon.

 Along the way home we stopped to pick wildflowers for my mother. Can I just tell you that Oregon has it's flaws but it definitely knows how to do wildflowers. I have lived in many states and I have never seen wildflowers done the way Oregon does them. It started in early spring with daffodils growing wild on the freeways? CRAZY. Then wild poppies that are so many different shades of orange, cream, and yellow. Wild lupines. Wild iris. Daisies. I am loving all the colors. And everyday I notice a new flower starting to bloom along the roads that I am constantly driving or riding my bike on.

So thanks to the beach I survived my weekend and now I have another beach that I know about.


Apr 29, 2015

Moments....Missionaries, Accompanying, and Checking Out The Columbia River Gorge.

So the bakers wife in the movie Into The Woods has a "moment" in the woods. After she has this moment she sings this great song about her moment. In the song she is trying to make sense of why the moment happened and what it means. She questions if the moment was a trick of her mind? Did it really happen? Then she decides, yes it was a moment not a trick of her mind...

"one peculiar passing moment" if you need to know exactly how she described it.

A moment is passing....fleeting...an indefinitely short passage of time...basically a specific instant or point in time. If you really do not want to use the word moment you could use jiffy, flash, second, or my personal favorite twinkling.

Right now I am sitting in my favorite chair staring out the four tall living room windows. The house is on a hill so all around me I can see mountains covered with endless green Douglas fir trees, a lake, the sky, and my parents impeccable yard. I have been waiting for this exact moment all week. It was one of those weeks. Every moment was filled with something. As I looked into the future I knew that this would be the moment that I would be able to sit and not have something pressing on my mind.

I have been thinking about moments this week. In this song about moments the bakers wife wonders out loud;
"Oh if life were made of moments
Even now and then a bad one
But if life were only moments
Then you'd never know you had one."

I may spend more time than I should wondering about those words and what they could mean :) Regardless, moments come and go. Some you want to forget. Some you want to savor. My mind has been very full lately of realizations of moments and how they are intertwined in my life. I am noticing which ones I have chosen to remember and which ones I am trying to forget. Which ones have taught me things. Which ones have not. Here are some moments that have been on my mind just today.

Daughter number 3, Amanda, came home from her Spanish speaking mission in San Jose, California last week. She has been gone eighteen months. We talked on the phone on Mother's Day and Christmas and otherwise I only heard from her when we got an email once a week on Monday's. She is my fourth missionary to come home. So, if I have done my figuring right, since April 2009 I have always had a missionary on a mission....Estonia, El Salvador, Philippines, and California. Her sisters who are down at BYU drove 14 hours to be in Oregon for barely eight hours and then they drove back to Utah. Because they made that herculean effort we had a moment where all five of my girls were together. After Amanda came through her arrival gate at the airport they all instinctively gathered in a circle and wrapped their arms around each other and exclaimed the word, "sisters"to each other. It is true, there really is nothing like sisters. And that moment I witnessed will forever be in my mind. Yes, tears were in my eyes at that moment. I love that they all love each other and recognize the value of being sisters.

This Sunday I accompanied a family, who was singing a song in church, on the piano. It was a most challenging accompaniment. I loved that it was challenging and really was grateful for the challenge. But it took a lot of moments of practicing to get to where I could confidently play this song. It was constant running 16th notes. I am not sure when I will stop having the words one-e-and-da....two-e-and-da....three-e-and-da.....in my mind. I had to grab my mind and force it to really focus when I played this song. The singers were not singing what I was playing at all. This was a difficult and a little bit of a scary moment for me. I wanted to play this song perfectly so that the family I was playing for would be able to sing without worrying and it was very slow in coming. But it is over and I am sitting in my chair at home not worrying about it anymore. I did not do it perfectly but I did it well. I had this moment where preparing this song taught me that hard work pays off. I was so grateful for that moment.

Can a whole entire day be a moment? I hope so. Because my entire Saturday was one. We wanted to do something fun with Amanda since Saturday was our only chance before she leaves. So we deliberated and decided that our fun would be exploring the Columbia River Gorge. Every single time I have been in the Columbia River Gorge we are on our way somewhere with no time to stop and explore. I was very excited that finally it was our destination not just a place we were passing through.

My parents are always pointing out the Vista House to me as we drive by on I-84 but never stopping. Finally, a chance to see it. So my plan with my girls was to go to the Vista House and then do some hiking that would definitely involve waterfalls. There are 90 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.

You probably think I am the, "girl who cried beautiful day" because I am constantly telling you about my beautiful Oregon days and I am going to say it again....here it goes....it was a beautiful day...honestly, it was....no lie. The sky, the clouds, the sun, the brilliant colors. I can not say it enough. I kept saying to my girls all sorts of variations of "oh. my. gosh. what a perfect day." I really needed all of you to see it. You know, so you can understand what I am talking about. So we can bond.

The drive was about two hours. We took exit 22 off of I-84 and headed up the Historic Columbia River Highway. This highway was designed to show off the natural beauty along the route and eventually was replaced by the main road I-84. But parts of it are still there and truly are beautiful with stone "guard rails" with arches in them and perfect views. This road took us straight to the Vista House. Vista House was built as a resting point observatory for travelers on this old highway. It is built on Crown Point which is high above the Columbia River. It has the most amazing views of the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding mountains. We had a sunny day but just enough big fluffy clouds that they effectively blocked our view of Mt St Helens and Mt Hood...but just knowing they were there was enough.

The Vista House is a beautiful circular building with steps all around it. There are stained glass windows all around and a beautiful domed ceiling. There are stairs going up and outside onto a ledge so you can walk outside and get even better views. There are stairs going down to a gift shop, restrooms and some galleries with information about the Columbia River Gorge and bridges and quotes. The restroom had vases on the counters with real wildflowers in them...I was impressed. I never fall for gift shops but I can not say that anymore because I fell for this
one. What caught my eye? Coonskin hats..just like Lewis and Clark must have worn....my dad needed one....for reals.

After thoroughly enjoying the Vista House and all the views we jumped in our car and headed out on the meandering historic highway. We stopped at waterfalls (greatest concentration of waterfalls in the US of A right here in the Gorge) and explored whenever we wanted too. Our main goal was Elowah Falls. Great name huh? A middle earth name...right? On our way there we stopped at Multnomah Falls....Oregon's highest waterfall, and the second highest year round waterfall in America. This waterfall is VERY touristy. It drives my kids crazy. All the people, all the things to buy. But I think Multnomah is beautiful no matter how many people may be in the parking lots, in my pictures, and on the trails and insist on my kids checking it out with me...every.single.time. Maybe a moment they will remember someday? :)

Elowah is the last waterfall you come to before the historic highway ends. It is NOT touristy. Nary a bathroom in sight. It is the second tallest waterfall in Oregon but gets absolutely no attention. Which is what my girls say we like. You had to work a little bit harder for the Elowah waterfall. Multnomah was considerate enough to be visible from the freeway. Elowah is just under a mile hike but it is uphill...not going to lie....not miserable but definitely no getting out of your car and taking pictures happening here.

So if you search google for "What is a moment?" you will get a definition and then a lot of websites about physics and math, statistics. Apparently there are lots of ways to look at a moment. Do we live our life and moments are sprinkled in? Or is life only a long chain of moments? Don't all of us think that this particular moment is our moment?