Sunday, July 31, 2011

One of Those Moments


There are moments you remember all your life,
There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life,
This is one of those moments…

July 2011 073 Jason with our recently released bishop.



When Jason was young, probably 6 or so, there was a talk in sacrament meeting about going on a mission.  After sacrament meeting I walked to the primary room and met Jason coming from the drinking fountain.  For some reason I asked him if he was ok, and he started crying.  Through his sweet tears he told me that he really wanted to be a missionary, but he didn’t want to leave me because he would miss me too much. 

Jason 1

I reassured him that it would be a long, long time before he would get to be a missionary, and told him that it was a good thing he couldn’t go right then because I would miss him too.


In that moment, nineteen seemed light years away.  There was still cub scouts, senior primary, scouts and young mens, dances and passing the sacrament, dating and college to experience.  Age 19 seemed a million milestones away.  Yet all of a sudden it’s here.


Last Sunday I sat in sacrament meeting and listened to my son speak about how we can find peace in troubled times.  I listened to him talk about how he feels about going to Chile to serve as a missionary, and I wept because I have been waiting for this moment all of his life, and I could not believe it is here.


Sunday night I watched as people in our ward came to wish Jason well on his mission. The cultural hall was filled with members of our ward family, all thrilled for Jason.  I took pictures of him with his friends, realizing that this is the end of this part of his life.  And I still could not believe that this moment is here.

 July 2011 077

Which is why, for the week and then the next two years I will be reminding myself,

There are moments you remember all your life,
There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life,
This is one of those moments…

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Russ and I both have amazing families.  Unfortunately we have never lived very close to any of them, and for the last 16 years we have lived across the country from most of them.  We have been blessed with wonderful friends during our time in North Carolina; friends who have supported us in difficult times and celebrated with us during the good times.  In 2004 two of our closest friends, Abigail and Benjamin, moved from North Carolina to Utah.

January 209

Long distance friendships are always an interesting thing, and when they moved I wondered if Abigail and Benjamin and my little kids would be able to remain friends across time and distance.   But every time they’ve been together, whether at their house in Utah or on a beach trip in North Carolina, it has been as if no time has passed at all.  This summer we invited Abigail and Benjamin to come out to North Carolina for 2 weeks so that they could go to the beach with us.  The week before the beach has been one long party, and it’s been a delight to watch.  We love Abigail and Benjamin!

July 2011 114 July 2011 111

Friday, July 29, 2011


This was on my google news page today:



Who decided that they need to give us brownie points for reading the news?!?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Medical Helps

Yesterday as we were preparing to leave the hospital the nurse expressed concern that Jason might become nauseous as we were driving home.  Then she reached into her drawer and handed me something.

I thought it would be, you know, like a ziploc baggie.  Or a little paper bag like you find in the seat-back pocket on an airplane. 

But no.  It was a high tech solution for a low tech problem.

July 2011 136

Please notice the high-techness:

July 2011 137

And the size accommodations.  So helpful.

July 2011 138

And, just in case you can’t figure it out, on the back there is an entire set of instructions.

July 2011 139

What will they think of next?!?


PS—I am more than pleased to report that Jason was perfectly fine on the way home.  Leaving me in possession of one unopened and unused convenience bag…

Peaches, Peaches Everywhere

July 2011 135

My sweet dad & stepmother brought me 3 boxes of South Carolina peaches this weekend.  Peaches are funny.  When they arrived Saturday night the peaches were almost as crisp as apples, but now a few days later they’re perfectly soft and delicious.  I want to freeze a bunch to use in our smoothies this winter, but I also want to eat lots while they’re fresh and make all of the yummy peach desserts that we can.  So far I’ve planned

peach shakes
fresh peach pie (which means unbaked and is a treat to eat!)
old fashioned peach cobbler


Do you have any great peach recipes to recommend???

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Jason got his bars removed today.  Fortunately for him this surgery was a breeze compared to the one two years ago when they were installed.  He was out of surgery within two hours and home by 5pm, needing just a bit of pain medication.  Just in case you wondered what exactly was in his chest, here you go.  They’ve been autoclaved and Russ is going to figure out how to make him a tie rack out of them!

July 2011 119

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ya Gotta Love this Weather…

Sunday marked the fifth day in a row with 100-degree temperatures at Raleigh
Durham International Airport, setting an all-time record. The previous record
was four consecutive triple-digit days, set in 1983 and matched in 2008.

I thought I would drive home from my church meeting today with the top down; after a mile of feeling my skin sizzle in the hundred degree sun I pulled over, put the top up, and cranked up the A/C. All I can say is thank heavens for the modern convenience of A/C!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Darned Varmits

I am learning that one of the unexpected effects of trying to attract creatures to our deck is that we invariably attract some unwanted critters as well.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week trying to figure out how to keep the hornets out of the hummingbird nectar; I can’t imagine that the hummingbirds really enjoy the nectar as much when there are dead hornet bodies floating inside!  I finally gave in today and went to the bird store and spent real $$ on a better hummingbird feeder.  Of course then when I got home I realized that the hornets are mostly gone, so I’m conflicted.  Do I take the feeder back and keep using my cheap Lowes feeders?  Or are the hornets just taking a hot-weather-hiatus??  (Just in case you were wondering, I was told not once but twice by the lady at the bird store that I could not get these kinds of bird feeders at Lowes…got it, lady!!)

As you’ve seen before, supplying seed for the beautiful birds also means that we end up with squirrels everywhere.  Including in the screened in porch looking for more bird seed.  But I think that we’ve attracted a stronger, smarter varmit with the birdseed as well. 

First of all, I put out a new suet cake for the woodpeckers just yesterday.  This is all that is left today.  And when I came out the arm of the bird feeder holder was swiveled all the over the porch—and I know for a fact that I left it all the way over the lawn.  I’m thinking I need to move the suet feeder to a less cooperative (not mobile) holder.

July 2011 029

I bought a nice new container to put our birdseed in, and thought it would be plenty safe in the screened in porch.  Instead, something half gnawed away the lid in an attempt to get at the seed.  We have resorted to keeping our birdseed in the family room (which is closer to the feeders than the garage) and I’m sure that’s a very redneck thing to do.

July 2011 036

And then I made the mistake of putting a new bag of seed out there last night, and forgetting to transfer it to the container.  When I went out a while ago there was a big hole in the bag, and the bag was surrounded by empty sunflower shells.  Some creature had an easy feast last night…

July 2011 034

And lastly…just in case you’d ever wondered what kind of sunflower would grow from the black oil sunflower seeds that my birds (and squirrels) (and mystery critters) love, here you go.

July 2011 032

Cause I promise you I didn’t plant a lone sunflower in this pot of petunias!!

July 2011 033

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Music of the Night
(and other truths about the south I forgot while I was gone)

Five weeks is a long time. A really long time. Long enough to forget some things while I was in the land of the west.

For instance:

I just went out on my deck, refilled the hummingbird feeders (which are really wasp feeders right now, but I’m working on solving that problem) and watered the flowers. I was not out there long, and yet I now need a shower and a tall iced lemonade.

Oh, humidity, how could I have forgotten about you? The thing I both love and hate about this place I call home. I hate it in the heat of day, hate it when it renders irrelevant the shower taken 5 minutes ago. I hated it yesterday when the car wouldn’t start and I was in the middle of the Home Depot parking lot with heat radiating off of the parking lot all around me and I felt truly wilted until I made a mad dash for the air-conditioned comfort of Kohls.

But at night…ahhh…then I love it. I LOVE being able to feel the air. I love the the feeling of being enveloped in it’s dense warmness. I love the lush landscape that all of this humidity supports. And I love that the humidity keeps me warmer at the pool, a fact I didn’t know until last year.

Another truth about North Carolina that I forgot somehow is that the night here is loud. LOUD. Filled with high pitched squeaks and lower pitched chirps, all at a measurable decibel level. It’s like inviting another person to your conversations, like having a noise machine playing all night long every night. Now this noise isn’t normally a problem for me because I’m used to it. But somehow in the last 5 weeks of relatively quiet sleeping, I managed to get unused to it. And now it’s keeping me awake at night!

Other things I forgot…how much I love my ward and missed spending time with my friends, how awesomely wonderful my house is, how awful my lawn is, and how beautiful my flowers are. Guess it’s a good thing I’m back!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The End of an Era

I came late to the Harry Potter thing; Cindy Lynn’s piano teacher showed me the book and I agreed with her that it looked far too scary for children.  But then Alisyn read it and told me how great it was and I was hooked.  Cindy Lynn, Russ, and I waited eagerly for each new book, fighting to see who got to read them first.  I was thrilled when a new one came while I was on bedrest with the triplets—what a diversion that was!  I also credit Harry Potter with turning Jason and then Josh into independent readers.

When the movies started I wasn’t sure what I thought.  How could books that were so rich, filled with such lavish adventures, be adequately transformed into film?  Some things I liked, others I wasn’t so sure about.  But I would never have missed seeing them.

Most of the movies we saw on opening day with Ken and Alisyn and their kids.  Knowing that we often celebrate exciting experiences with a new Christmas ornament, they gave us a Harry Potter Christmas ornament after the first Harry Potter movie.  I can’t remember exactly what happened but the ornament broke right away, leaving the string attached to Harry’s head and his body/broomstick separate.  Every year we laugh about “Nearly Headless Harry” as we hang his head on the tree and put his body up on the mantle. 


I loved the last Harry Potter book.  I was amazed at how deftly JK Rowling tied up loose ends and at the emotional intensity of the final battle.  I was sad to think that this was the last book, but not overly sad because at that point there were still 3 movies to go.


Now we have seen the last movie, and it is still hard to believe that it is All Done; that our 14 year journey with Harry Potter is at an end.  We went (with Ken and Alisyn,their kids and Ann) to the IMAX in Raleigh and watched the last movie in larger than life 3D. 

July 2011 005

July 2011 006

July 2011 007

One of the most fun things was that the entire theater was decorated for the movie. 

July 2011 004

July 2011 009

July 2011 003

The movie was amazing.  Terrifically true to the book, and emotionally riveting.  We were exhausted by the time it was all over, and some of us were in tears more than once. 

Now I think my kids are ready to go to Hogwarts.

July 2011 017

July 2011 014

July 2011 017

July 2011 019


What an adventure—thank you JK Rowling, from the bottom of my heart!

July 2011 011

Trying to See the Cup Half Full


Lunch for my whole family at the Park City Mexican restaurant:           $60

Temporary patch for tooth cracked on chip at restaurant:                       $50

Crown needed to fix tooth cracked on chip at restaurant:                       $642

Spending the afternoon in Park City with all of the Rays:                      priceless!


June 2011 1649 There are some things money can’t buy.  For the rest we’re glad we have a credit card!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Our original travel plans included a three day visit with my brother’s family in Kentucky, going to church with them on Sunday, and then driving home.  By the time we arrived late Wednesday night I was seriously thinking of revising my travel plan; I hated the thought of Russ spending the whole weekend alone again, and let’s face it, I missed him!  So I told the kids to cram their cousin-fun into 2 1/2 days, and Saturday afternoon we loaded the car and started our last drive east.


We didn’t tell Russ.

I waited all afternoon and evening for him to call, hoping I would be able to talk to him without giving away our surprise.  As it happened he called right before 10pm, when we were pulling out from McDonalds where I’d bought late night treats.  I told him we were out for a late night ice cream run.  What I didn’t tell him was that instead of being in Kentucky, this particular McDonalds was just 1 short mile from this:

trip home 2011 565

Two and a half hours later we pulled into the driveway, sneaked into the house as quietly as we could, and jumped on him in the bed. 

Boy was he SURPRISED!!

I love it when that happens.  :)


We let the little kids sleep in this morning but I got up and went to church just so I could sit close to him for a couple of hours.  And here we are, tired but oh so happy to be together again!!!

trip home 2011 566

Thursday, July 14, 2011


In case you were wondering what would happen if I spent 3 nights not getting nearly enough sleep, and 2 days driving across the country, and 1 morning getting new brakes, and another day driving across the country, and I arrived at my brother’s house at 1AM, the answer is


a coma.


I slept from 2AM until noon,

and again from 2PM until 5.


When my brother woke me up so that I could eat dinner.


And now I’m ready for bed again!


(I am normally more fun than this; sorry Val & Jeannie!!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reminders of My Better Half



trip home 2011 089

trip home 2011 091

trip home 2011 152

trip home 2011 153


(Rachel says, “Dad gets a ville?  No fair, I want a ville!”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Goodbye, Utah


June 2011 2111

I am waiting while the kids all take showers and re-pack their clothes, then we are going to load the van one last time and head east.

I am ready.  I miss my sweet husband and it will still be days before we are together again.  But I am leaving with a heart that is full to overflowing, filled with beautiful memories of the last three and a half weeks.

As I start the long drive home, I’ll be smiling and remembering it all; brothers, sisters, and cousins, crazy family parties, hikes, playing in the river, wildflowers, family reunion fun, fireworks and friends, smores, temples, picnics, happy kids, games, singing, late night conversations, early morning adventures, and almost more happiness and love than could possibly be stuffed into 26 days.

Thank you all.

We love you!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sometimes There is Actually a Moment Like Your Fantasy…

This was from earlier today.

I’m still smiling…

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Sign We’ve Partied Too Hard on Our Vacation

June 2011


If I was blogging instead of vacationing, I would have so much to tell you about in addition to Moab and the 4th:

  • Zions National Park,  squirrels, and the Virgin River
  • Bryce Canyon
  • BYU and bowling
  • Sub Zero Ice cream
  • Family Dinners
  • Laser Tag
  • Ray Reunion Games
  • Taking Jason to the temple!
  • Broken teeth
  • Hanging out with Cindy Lynn & Mahon
  • Old friends
  • New games
  • Sand dunes

This has been a most excellent trip and we still have a weekend in Logan to look forward to as well as one last Watson family party, and then three days at my brother’s in Kentucky next week.

I think by the time it’s all over we’ll all be asleep at the table!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Longest. Fourth. Ever.

Yesterday morning I did something pretty unusual for me.  I got up at 5:15 (after going to bed at 1AM) and got dressed, then woke my family and made them get dressed too.  So that we could drive into Provo for the annual balloon festival. 

Sunday evening we ended up being up much later than expected and I reconsidered and told the kids that they didn’t have to get up and go with us, but they all said that they still wanted to go.  By 6:05 AM we were out the door, and by the time we were in Provo we could see that many MANY other families had had the same idea.  It was a lovely but slightly crazy way to start our 4th of July celebration.

June 2011 1918

We learned that the balloons are truly enormous, very loud, and beautiful on the inside.

June 2011 1964

The highlight of the balloon festival was the Darth Vadar balloon, all the way from Belgium.  Jared and his cousin Carter were pretty excited to see it.

June 2011 1980

Unfortunately we didn’t get to see it for long, because just as it was turning around towards us a few gusts of wind blew.  Turns out that hot air balloons and wing gusts aren’t compatible—all of the balloons collapsed within just a few minutes.  My brother said it was the most exciting ending to a balloon festival that he’s ever seen!

June 2011 1984

jeffs pics (28)

When we realized that the balloons were all done we joined the mob of thousands and walked back to our car.  We thought about going out to breakfast but so did all of the other balloon observers, so we ended up going back to Jeff’s where he made us a delicious breakfast. 

Then the rest of our day started.  (with no more pictures.)

At 9 we left Jeff’s.  We left Jared behind to play with his cousin, brought cousin Elaina, and drove to Genola.

At 10 we dropped Elaina and the girls off at my sister Andra’s house to play, dropped Jason off to pack, and picked up cousins John and Leigh Ann to drive to Ephraim for EFY.

At 11:15 we dropped Josh, John, and Leigh Ann off at EFY, then turned around and drove back to Genola.

At 12:30 we picked Jason and the girls up from Genola.

At 1:30 we dropped Elaina off at her house and picked up Jared and all of our luggage, then drove to the Salt Lake Airport.

At 2:30 we dropped Russ off at the airport for his trip home (sniff, sniff—we like it better when he’s here!) and drove to my sister Laila’s house.

At 3:00 we got to Laila’s and all of us took a nap.  Mine lasted an hour, but the little kids slept for over 2 hours and Jason was still awake when I woke him up to leave at 5:45! 

At 5:45 we packed back up and drove north to Idaho Falls, stopping only in Brigham City for some dinner.

At 9:00 we got to our friends’ house in Idaho Falls and hung out for a while watching their neighbors shoot off fireworks and eating homemade ice cream. 

At 9:45 we drove over by the river and found a nice place to watch fireworks.  In Idaho Falls the fireworks are set to music, and it is the largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi.  It was 30 minutes long, and so many beautiful fireworks.  We’d gone to a location that was supposed to keep us away from the bulk of the traffic, but that didn’t work very well once we started towards Cindy Lynn’s apartment in Rexburg.  It took us over 20 minutes to get the last few blocks out of town, and over an hour to get from Idaho Falls to Cindy Lynn’s apartment.  It was a very long drive and I was SO tired!

At 12:05 we arrived here.  I told the little kids to just sleep in their clothes, and I think I was in bed by 12:15. 

At 11:00 this morning I woke up—that’s how tired was was from such a long day!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Reality Check


When I think about taking a trip with my kids, especially as they’ve gotten older, I tend to have rosy ideals of what our time together will be like.  In my mind it looks a lot like this.  (videos work better if you let them load a bit first…)


While we do have those moments, they are frequently punctuated by this.



I’m still not sure how to reconcile myself to reality…