Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: The Last Four Months

I am tired.  Really tired.  Too tired to have many words to talk about it, which is certainly rare.  So this evening I will embrace the (nearly) wordless Wednesday trend in order to explain my fatigue.

April 30-May 17

May 2011 196

Memorial Day

May 2011 908

June 3-5

June 2011 031

June 11-July 16

June 2011 1368

July 25-Aug 9

July 2011 111

July 30-Aug 6

Emerald Isle 2011 402 GOOD_edited

Aug 10

3jason leaves13

Aug 16-22


Aug 29-30



What an amazing and incredible four months.  And now I need a nap for the next four.  Here’s to hanging out here for a while!


PS—Yes, I do know how blessed I am to have been able to have each one of these experiences.
PPS—Now you know why my new van has 11,000 more miles on it than it did when I bought it 3.5 months ago!
PPPS—No, I am not crazy.  Or yes, I am crazy.  Depending on your point of view.
PPPPS—It goes without saying that I am married to a saint.
PPPPPS—Did you really think I could blog with so few words???

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Message Was...Charity

Today after our block of meetings I stayed and attended another Relief Society. I thought I was there to see how thing were going and to make an announcement about an upcoming service activity. As I listened to the lesson, however, I realized I was there because I needed to hear this particular teacher's lesson on charity.

I was particularly touched by a quote she read from Elder Marvin J. Ashton, and after I got home I looked for it online. Here you go--my personal message from Heavenly Father today.

(excerpted from his 1992 Ensign article)

Moroni described it this way: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all. …“Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.” (Moro. 7:46–47.)

Charity is, perhaps, in many ways a misunderstood word. We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more.

Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again.

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.

None of us need one more person pointing out where we have failed or fallen short. Most of us are already well aware of the areas in which we are weak. What each of us does need is family, friends, employers, and brothers and sisters who support us, who have the patience to teach us, who believe in us, and who believe we’re trying to do the best we can, in spite of our weaknesses. What ever happened to giving each other the benefit of the doubt? What ever happened to hoping that another person would succeed or achieve? What ever happened to rooting for each other?

It should come as no surprise that one of the adversary’s tactics in the latter days is stirring up hatred among the children of men. He loves to see us criticize each other, make fun or take advantage of our neighbor’s known flaws, and generally pick on each other. The Book of Mormon is clear from where all anger, malice, greed, and hate come.

Nephi prophesied that in the last days the devil would “rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.” (2 Ne. 28:20.) By the looks of what we constantly see depicted in the news media, it appears that Satan is doing a pretty good job...

Throughout the scriptures a common thread seems to emerge. Let’s consider first the Sermon on the Mount, which to our knowledge was the first sermon Jesus Christ taught his newly called disciples. The overriding theme of the Savior’s sermon, which in many ways is the ultimate handbook on coming unto Him, seems to center around the virtues of love, compassion, forgiveness, and long-suffering—in other words, those qualities that enable us to deal with our fellowmen more compassionately. Let’s look specifically at the Savior’s message to the Twelve. They (and we) were admonished to “be reconciled to [our] brother” (Matt. 5:24), to “agree with [our] adversary quickly” (Matt. 5:25), to “love [our] enemies, [to] bless them that curse [us], [to] do good to them that hate [us], and [to] pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us].” (Matt. 5:44.) We are told, “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt. 5:39.)

It seems interesting that the first principles the Lord Jesus Christ chose to teach His newly called Apostles were those that center around the way we treat each other. And then, what did He emphasize during the brief period He spent with the Nephites on this continent? Basically the same message. Could this be because the way we treat each other is the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

“The best and most clear indicator that we are progressing spiritually and coming unto Christ is the way we treat other people.”

Be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.

Lend a hand to those who are frightened, lonely, or burdened.If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.

If the adversary can influence us to pick on each other, to find fault, bash, and undermine, to judge or humiliate or taunt, half his battle is won. Why? Because though this sort of conduct may not equate with succumbing to grievous sin, it nevertheless neutralizes us spiritually. The Spirit of the Lord cannot dwell where there is bickering, judging, contention...

Once again may I emphasize the principle that when we truly become converted to Jesus Christ, committed to Him, an interesting thing happens: our attention turns to the welfare of our fellowman, and the way we treat others becomes increasingly filled with patience, kindness, a gentle acceptance, and a desire to play a positive role in their lives. This is the beginning of true conversion.

Let us open our arms to each other, accept each other for who we are, assume everyone is doing the best he or she can, and look for ways to help leave quiet messages of love and encouragement...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hummer Games


I love being home.  I love being in my home.  This may not be apparent based on the amount of time I’ve spent here in the last 4 months, but it is, nevertheless, true.

One of my favorite things about my home is my deck.  For many years I only loved the screened in porch and didn’t pay any attention to the deck at all, but in the last few years it’s become the focus of my flower planting attention.  My favorite part of the deck is this corner,


complete with pink mandevilla, several pots of gerbers, petunias, impatiens, hummingbird feeders, and this year a butterfly bush too.

This year the hummingbirds have been even more active than last year.  I have loved watching them as they feed, and as they chase each other around the deck and yard.  (True fact—hummingbirds average speeds of 20-30 mph, but during courtship dives can go 6omph.  They really zip by!)


This summer we’ve also put a feeder right in the window over the sink.  I was a little dubious about whether or not the hummers would come that close to the window (and therefore us,) but come they have.  They often keep the feeder between them and us, but we’re still able to get a close (and short) look at them quite often.

This evening after the winds from Hurricane Irene had died down the hummers were particularly active.  At least four of them were zipping around the deck like crazy, stopping to feed and then chasing each other back and forth.  I tried to take some pictures but there wasn’t enough light, and a flash from the inside doesn’t work.  I decided to try taking some video and I couldn’t believe how much I was able to videotape.  The hummingbirds often perch on the feeders, and on the bars above the small feeders, but tonight several of them were also perching in the butterfly bush.  I put together all of the clips, and slowed them down so you can actually see them fly.  Towards the middle you can see two hummers sitting in the butterfly bush at the same time, something I’ve definitely not seen before.  I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed watching them!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hot Stuff

My wonderful brother and his wife were kind enough to let me use their cars while I was in Utah for Education week.  Because I stayed at a different house each night (lots of people to love!) I loaded my suitcase every morning into the back of Jeff’s jeep and drove up to campus.  Every evening when I came back to the jeep it was roasting hot inside from sitting in the direct sun all day.  (I think the few shaded parking spots went really early!)  And every evening it was an adventure to see what the heat had done to my stuff.

The first day I had with me both grapes and an apple I’d brought from home to snack on.  I decided that I would just take the grapes on campus with me and leave the apple for a snack for the next day.  Unfortunately when I took it in from the car that night it was kind of soft and mushy feeling from it’s long day in the sun.  I decided that maybe if I put it in the fridge over night it would be fine by morning and I’d be able to take it with me to campus.

In the morning when I got it out of the fridge it was a little shriveled, and when I cut it open it was all brown inside.  Nasty!

I have a little container of vaseline in my traveling toiletries bag.  I don’t usually need vaseline, but it’s in there just in case. 

Well I have been reminded once again that when it gets hot vaseline melts.  All over makeup, for instance.  And when it cools back down it just congeals wherever it is, including upside down in it’s little container.  After the first day the now-right-side-up vaseline got it’s own ziploc bag.

By far the oddest thing I experienced was getting to brush my teeth with really warm toothpaste every night.  Then I would climb into my heated pajamas.   Talk about disconcerting…

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Starry Night, Sunny Day


Friday afternoon I left the wonders of Education week and drove up to Rexburg to spend some time with Cindy Lynn and Mahon.  It was a long drive, but I entertained myself by talking to Russ, looking at the sunflowers growing alongside the interstate,


(ok, who am I kidding here?  I did far more than enjoy the sunflowers as I drove by!!!  I pulled over to the side of the road, stopped the car, climbed over the railing, and happily took pictures for a while.)


and eventually enjoyed watching a long and beautiful sunset. 

Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that the sky was perfectly clear, and that maybe it would be a good night for star watching in Idaho.  Cindy Lynn checked the calendar and it turned out that we were just a week past the apex of the Perseid Meteor Shower, so we decided that once I arrived we would go and do some star watching.

I arrived late enough that we didn’t want to go all the way out to the sand dunes, so we drove to a church parking lot on the outskirts of town, spread out some blankets, and laid down to watch the stars.  It was a beautiful night and the stars were so bright and clear.  We lay there talking about my favorite class at Education week, and what I’d learned about personal revelation.  Every now and then we’d see a small shooting star and we’d interrupt ourself, pointing and saying, “I saw one!  Did you see that?”

And then, we saw it.  We all saw it.  The BIGGEST shooting star I’ve ever seen.  The kind that is so bright that it leaves a streak of light behind it, this one blindingly white and longer than any I’ve seen before.  It was so amazing that we were almost speechless.   After that we watched a  little longer, but without any expectation that we could top that moment.


(so that you can imagine that you were there with us…)

Every time I look at the stars lately I think of a line from a Christian song I’ve heard a couple of times in the past month. 

I'm giving my life to the only One who makes the moon reflect the sun.
Every starry night, that was His design

What a design it was and is…


Saturday was beautifully sunny, and it was also Cindy Lynn’s 23rd birthday.  (How’s that for great timing?)  We celebrated by taking a lovely walk around the gardens on the BYUI campus, eating amazing raspberry lemonade frozen custard at the new Neilson’s in Rexburg, and having an incredible birthday dinner complete with out of this world mango pina coladas.  I will get her recipe and post it because believe me, you want to try it!

The flowers at the garden were so lovely, and it’s just such a happy place for me because that’s where their wedding reception was.


IMG_1058 a



After dinner they went to see the movie “The Help” (so amazing—if you haven’t seen it you should!) and I drove down to Logan.  Thank you Cindy Lynn and Mahon for such a wonderful visit!




PS—I thought the hollyhocks were so beautiful, and yesterday before I flew home I went by my wonderful Aunt Pam’s house and she gave me bunches of seeds from her beautiful hollyhocks!  (Along with daylillies, columbines, irises, and something else I can’t remember—she was so generous!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Individual Journeys


I went to Education Week for 2 1/2 days.  (Not nearly long enough.)  One of my sisters was there for a day and a half, and one of my friends was there for two of the days.

We rarely went to classes together.  We texted back and forth the whole time, inquiring to see where each was headed next, rejoicing at the end of a fabulous class experience.  But it was not very often that we actually went to the same class.

I prayed every morning that I would be led to the classes that would be of most benefit to me, and there were definitely subjects that caught my interest when I looked through the schedule.  They were classes on hearing the Spirit/receiving personal revelation, classes on parenting, and classes on teaching.  My friend had an entirely different set of classes that appealed to her; each time she told me the title of a class she was thinking of going to I could see how applicable that class would be in her life.  My sister went to yet another type of classes looking for help with recent concerns in her life.

Wow, I thought.  We three are nothing alike.  We each needed something so different and so very specific.  It made me realize again how completely individual each of our mortal journeys are.  Even when life circumstances may look similar (my sister and I are both moms with a lot of kids, for instance) the experiences we are having in this moment are unique.

I was so grateful to BYU for offering such a wide variety of excellent classes.  And for the knowledge that our Heavenly Father has tailored specific life experiences for each of us, and is always there to provide the individual and customized support that we each need.  Both during and after education week…

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Place Where Happiness Began


In April I realized that we had a voucher for a one-way plane ticket that had to be used by the third week in August.

I had already bought Russ’s ticket to Utah this summer.

Boo.  And Hooray!!!

In that moment I knew what I would do—take myself to BYU in August for a couple of days of Education Week.  It was wonderful.  The classes were amazing, I loved hanging out with my sister and getting to see family. 

And I LOVE being at BYU.

June 2011 1365

I realized a couple of years ago that being on the BYU campus just makes me happy.  I tried to figure out why, and then I decided--

BYU is the place where happiness began.


I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I do remember that I was not a particularly happy teenager.  I was a highly stressed perfectionist, not socially graceful, one of only a few LDS kids in my high school.  While there were good moments in my teenage life it is definitely not a time I would ever want to relive.


Contrast that with BYU.  I still had to deal with the issues of perfectionism and on top of that get good enough grades to keep my scholarship.  But it was soothing to my soul to be suddenly surrounded by people who believed what I did—people who could have a good time without compromising their standards and teachers who taught with the spirit.   It was like heaven on earth.  (Except for that one American Heritage teacher…but that is neither nor there.)

June 2011 1332

Then I met Russ.  And the rest is history…happy, happy history complete with ping pong games, movies, watching Brigham do the funky chicken, terrible first kisses,  talking late at night, marriage,  and eventually even graduating.  Having Russ in my life made me so much happier, and that was just the beginning of what has been an incredibly happy life together.   I think it’s those feelings I remember when I walk around the campus now. 

June 2011 1334

June 2011 1369

THIS is where my happiness began…

(Pictures from our family’s day at BYU this summer.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Christian Music

When I was a teenager I was on a committee that had something to do with music at church dances. There was just beginning to be some concern about inappropriate lyrics in pop music, and we were discussing alternatives. I tentatively mentioned that perhaps we could use some Christian music at our dances. Now I’m pretty sure I had never actually heard any Christian music; I just thought that it might be appropriate for our dances.

The adult in charge nixed that idea right away. She said that we couldn’t take the risk of Christian music introducing incorrect doctrine. And so we never did use any. And I never did listen to any.

Josh likes to listen to the radio when we’re in the car. When I get in alone and don’t like the song that is playing on his radio station (or the ads) I switch to other stations. One of the stations on my presets is a Christian station. I am continually impressed with the music that this station plays. Not only does it not teach my children immorality, it reminds me of gospel truths in new ways that touch my heart.

Any doctrinal differences I have heard have been so inconsequential that I have not even noticed them.

I love Christian music.

Here’s a beautiful song that my sister just played for me…

What if trials in this life are mercies in disguise...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chasing the Greased Pig: Date Night


A few days ago I was talking to a friend about marriage.  My friend made the comment that marriage is sometimes hard work, and that marriages need time and attention to make sure that they stay strong.

The next day I happened across an article called “Love is Like a Greased Pig.”  The author said,

“True love doesn’t follow you like a little puppy that is constantly there. It’s actually more like a greased pig! You have to chase after it and pursue it. You have to run it down and tackle it and when it gets away, you go after it one more time. You may finally get a hold of it for a while, but then the little rascal can slip away and you have to chase it down again.”

I loved this.  It was exactly what my friend and I were talking about.  Sometimes marriage (which for my purposes also means love) goes along without a hitch.  Sometimes every conversation and every hug is like a magic moment.  But just as often marriage slips between the cracks, we don’t manage to have any conversations, and we begin to feel distant from each other.

Those are the greased pig moments.  And I LOVE the image of chasing the greased pig.  Because that’s how determined I want to be to keep love alive in my marriage.  And Russ loves the image.  Because he knows he’s the greased pig. 
Winking smile

Friday night we went on a much needed date—this summer has been full of amazing experiences, but not much bonding time for the two of us.  So we started the evening by using a groupon to a local Indian restaurant.  Yum, yum, thank you to Amy for telling us what to order! 

We ended the evening by watching the new movie, “The Help.”  I loved it.  We loved it.  You’re not going to believe I’m saying this, but I liked this better than Harry Potter 7B.  It was more emotionally satisfying than I cold have believed…


And the greased pig is resting happily in his pen. 

Pictures: Entering the MTC

One last group of pictures of Jason.  First, before he left we made sure he was going to be a stylish missionary.  In the only way missionaries are able to be stylish…


Here he is before leaving his grandparent’s Wednesday morning.

3jason leaves03

He went with Cindy Lynn and Mahon to have lunch at Panda Express before going to the MTC, and he got an AWESOME fortune!

3jason leaves08

And here he is, getting his luggage and walking off with his MTC escort.  It’s still unbelievable to me!

3jason leaves11

3jason leaves12

3jason leaves13

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We Got a Letter!!!

We had our first communication from Jason today; first a letter in the mail written from the MTC Wednesday night, then today an email! Hooray!!

If you're interested in seeing what he had to say, you can read it on his missionary blog.

Friday, August 12, 2011


August 2011 177This one was before he was set apart…

We took the rest of these before we left for the airport.

 August 2011 255 August 2011 259 August 2011 260 August 2011 264 August 2011 258 August 2011 262

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jason’s Last Night:
Rough Start, Great Finish!

I had all sorts of hopes and dreams for our family for the night before Cindy Lynn got married; I saw it as a pivotal moment in our family, and I wanted it to be a last time to bond and celebrate our family. Instead the photographer wanted us to look at the zillions of pictures she’d taken and that took forever, and the restaurant took over an hour to bring our food. By the time I even got dinner I think it was close to 10pm and I’d lost that loving feeling. Completely. The wedding still went off beautifully and we had a great time. But I regretted not having that moment together. And I was very happy when we really did have the exact moment I’d envisioned the next summer.

I also had ideas of how I wanted Jason’s last night at home to feel. We were going to go to Duke Gardens to have a family picture taken, (thank you Lindsay!!!) but then I wanted us to really spend time together as a family.

Our evening got off to a rough start. When we got to Duke Gardens it was about 90 degrees, but it didn’t feel too bad. We made our way to the duck pond where there are some cool rocks that have been the backdrop for pictures over the years. When we started trying to arrange people on the rocks things started to get a little dicey. Not only were the rocks hard as, well, rocks, (to be expected) they were also hot as could be from the accumulated heat of the day. (unexpected) So in addition to the 90 degrees, and the 90% humidity, now we had an oven-like environment thanks to the rocks. It was not very pleasant. I begged and bribed and cajoled and brought out frozen water bottles, and somehow we got through it. When it was over we were ALL dripping with sweat, including our lovely photographer.

Then came the next rough part of our evening. I always provide an incentive when we’re going to have family pictures. (Doesn’t incentive sound so much better than bribe?) I learned the year Cindy Lynn graduated and we took our first big beach picture that just because we were paying a lot of money for a picture and it was fantastically important to me didn’t mean people’s faces were going to cooperate. My family is now trained that if they cooperate, there’s something good coming for them afterwards. I’d known that it would be a warm adventure to have a family picture taken on an August evening, so I’d proposed several options that could cool us down afterwards. One was to go to Cookout, a little drive through place where Jason worked his senior year, for milkshakes. The other was to go to ChickFilA. The little kids were dead set on going to cookout—but I hadn’t realized that there was no place to stay there and eat our shakes outside. Plus, it was outside and we were so hot already! It took a while but I finally got everyone to agree that going to ChickFilA would be acceptable, so we climbed into our blissfully air-conditioned cars and took off.

Once we got to ChickFilA things got much much better. The cashier was a little overwhelmed by our order of 10 milkshakes, a brownie, fries, and 9 ice waters, but she was a good sport and even offered to bring them out to us. The little kids went to play in the play area (thankfully we were the only ones there so no one noticed that we were pushing the size limits) and we pulled a couple of tables together and sat down. We had such fun there—still cooling off, just chatting and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. The waffle fries didn’t go far, so Russ had to keep going back to order more. Josh thought their new ketchup packets were so cool that he brought a couple home with him. (Don’t ask me why!) And the kids were all thrilled to have their very own milkshake. (I think sharing is a very healthy skill to grow up with. And I am too frugal to buy people their own shakes, usually.) We stayed at ChickFilA long enough that the manager brought us out a pile of coupons for free chicken sandwiches. Nice!

When we got home we started the little kids moving towards bed and then Cindy Lynn asked if we wanted to play a game while she did therapy. I readily agreed and persuaded Jason that he should play one last game of german Ticket to Ride with us. It was a tough and competitive game, and we had lots of fun.

August 2011 226

When we were done playing Jason went and did a little more packing and I hemmed his white pants. After that we played a few rounds of speed scrabble. Then, before bed, Russ gave both Jason and Cindy Lynn father’s blessings. It was really a beautiful and tender moment. I could hear in Russ’s blessing for Jason many thoughts and feelings about his own mission, and it touched my heart deeply to hear him draw from his own experiences to bless Jason. I think by the time he was done giving Cindy Lynn a blessing we were all teary (except maybe Mahon). By the time we all went to bed I was feeling deeply satisfied with our evening and the time spent together. One last round of memories to get us through the next two years!

Ray Family Picture final

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Picture That Exists Only in My Heart

My bathroom counter is cleaned off now, most of the laundry is done, and the kitchen is relatively clean.  It’s amazing how much better that feels…Over the next few days I hope to be posting pictures from our last few days with Jason.  But today I’m going to write about the picture I didn’t take.


On Sunday evening we met with President Milton at the church so that Jason could be set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  President Milton was wonderful—he had a list of scriptures that he wanted us to read, and he had each of the little kids read some of the verses so that it would be easier for them to pay attention.  The scriptures were just what we needed to hear; verses about being called to labor as a missionary, about missionary work being the Lord’s work, and scriptures about the importance of unity in order to invite the spirit.  I think when we were done reading the different verses we all felt touched by the spirit about how important this work is to our Heavenly Father.

And then President Milton invited Jason to come up and sit on a chair in the front of our group.  He invited Russ to come and help with the ordinance, and Jason also invited Ken and Mahon to stand in the circle.  They put their hands on Jason’s head and President Milton set him apart as a missionary.


Normally when a prayer or ordinance like that starts, I immediately and instinctively go into prayer mode; head bowed, eyes closed, arms folded.  But this time I didn’t.  I made a conscious decision to look at what was happening, wanting a visual image for my mind and heart to go along with the memory of the words I was about to hear.


What I saw was beautiful.  Through the space between Russ and Mahon I could see Jason perfectly, sitting with his eyes closed and their hands on his head. President Milton first set him apart as a missionary and then gave him a beautiful blessing of strength, peace, and wisdom.  I sat and watched for several moments, realizing that this was the culmination of much of what we have worked and prayed towards for all of Jason’s life.  I watched my son’s face, proud of the boy he has been and excited about the man he will start to become. 


And then, picture safely tucked away in my heart, I too closed my eyes and bowed my head. 

August 2011 188 Elder Jason David Ray


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Empty Space

My brain has been whirling furiously for the last few days; blog thoughts bouncing around in there with lists of last minute things needing to be done.  I had assumed that after all of our goodbyes were said this morning I would come home and spend my day blogging, a well deserved rest.

Instead my brain is empty, empty and really tired. 

So I will keep trying to get this mess that is our house cleaned back up again, and assume that at some point the thoughts will come back…

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Last Swim

Emerald Isle 2011 1654_a

The last swim of the week is always such a melancholy moment.  We leave the slivery-smooth water knowing that this is the last time, that there will be no more  sand and no more water and no more waves.  All that remains is to pack the car and drive home, a drive no longer shortened by the anticipation of the week to come.

Life the way we live it here could not be sustained; we must return to reality—to reasonable bedtimes and responsible work schedules and rational portion sizes.  But oh, how we will miss our life at the beach. 

Already, even before we drive away, we are plotting and planning for next year.  What meals went well, what games we forgot, what week will work best.  And for the next 51 weeks we’ll smile every time we think back to our time together this year, and forward to our week next year.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Dance Party

After a day of swimming and playing with legos last week, the kids ended up having a dance party in the living room.  They each picked a song and took turns leading the dancing.  They were having fun and it was such fun to watch!  I snuck in and videotaped them for a while…

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Luscious Peach Pie


July 2011 135

Amy came to swim with me one day last week and saw my boxes of peaches, so she sent me this recipe.  It’s totally delish.  Russ prefers it with a graham cracker crust, but I like it much better with a traditional crust.


Georgia Peach Pie

1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons cornstarch
5-6 peaches

Cook first 4 ingredients until mixed.  Make a paste with cornstarch and water.  Add to mixture.  Stir over heat til thick.  Cool.  Pour over sliced peaches and crust.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Starry Starry Night (with addendum)

I wear my glasses in the hot tub at night so that I can see the stars.  I lay back in the water and watch the sky, enjoying the nighttime beauty and (always) hoping that I’ll see a shooting star.  A few nights ago when we got into the hot tub we could see only a few stars in the sky, but as we sat and talked more and more appeared.  We were fortunate enough to see quite  a few shooting stars (one very bright), and by the time we were tired and ready for bed the sky was filled with stars. 


As I got ready for bed I thought about what a good metaphor this is for Heavenly Father’s plan.  When we first look at it, we can see only the brightest points.  Sometimes if we look away and then look back our eyes are hardly able to see anything, and it takes a while for our (spiritual) eyes to readjust.  But if we keep looking, if we focus and concentrate, then we see more and more and more-- until finally we are truly able to see the immense vastness of His plan in all it’s beauty.


***I love Lindsay’s comment that if you are surrounded by too much interfering light you can’t see the stars anymore.  This is so true in our spiritual lives as well—there are many forms of interference that keep us from being able to see Heavenly Father’s plan.  Sometimes we’re around a lot of interference and we can’t see it at all, and sometimes we’re around just a little bit of interference that keeps us from being able to see the immensity and depth of the plan.  When I read her comment my first thought was “yeah, this is why I go to the beach, so that I can see the stars better.”  But then I realized that this is a true principle—that we simply must find places and times in our lives when we are not affected by ‘interfering light’ so that we are able to see more clearly.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Twilight Memory

We are usually in the beach house at sunset; cleaning up from dinner, playing games with the kids, eating dessert.  Tonight I was taking pictures of Cindy Lynn and Mahon out on the beach as the sun was setting.  As soon as we were done I ran back to the house and put on my swimsuit, then ran back outside to join Russ, Ken, and a few of the kids in the water. 

I wish I had a picture of it.  The ocean was a dusty jade and felt like warm silk.  The just-setting sun was shining pink across the water between the waves.  And the waves were absolutely perfect for boogie boarding. We ran into the water again and again, waiting to catch the perfect wave and then ride it right up onto the sand, laughing from the exhilaration of the moment.

We normally don’t swim at sunset.  Conventional wisdom says that sharks feed at dawn and dusk, and so we usually do our swimming earlier. 

But tonight…

Tonight we threw caution to the winds and swam in the twilit ocean. 


And it was beautiful.

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Inadequate Accommodations

Josh was really kind and let Jason use his more accessible bed/bedroom in the days right after his surgery.  There were several other places that Josh could have slept, but instead he chose the sofa in the family room.  Which was a great choice until the next morning, when the obstacle course races resumed…

July 2011 134

Monday, August 1, 2011

Obstacle Course

One night I was working on dinner and the kids starting running through the kitchen.  I was talking on the phone and might not have even noticed, except that they kept coming down the back stairs and through the kitchen door, leaving it open.  Each time I closed the door so that we wouldn’t lose all of the cold air, and each time someone opened it and ran through the kitchen again.  By the time I was off the phone dinner was ready and I called the kids to the table without finding out exactly what they were doing.

The next morning, though, they were at it again.  When I asked they said that they were running an obstacle course, and timing each other.  I quickly understood that the obstacle course included running up the front stairs, through the playroom filled with all of Jason’s mission paraphernalia, and down the back stairs.  I figured I should figure out exactly what they were doing and and maybe take some pictures.

Much to my surprise the living room sofas were also… involved in the obstacle course. 

Here you can see what happened next.

And that, my friends, was the end of the obstacle course!