Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 1: The Westward Migration Begins


Today’s travel: 447 miles                                                       

We left Durham at 10:42 this morning, just 42 minutes behind schedule.  (Which is pretty close to right on time for me!)  We left with hugs and tears and then more tears.  Before we got on the freeway I pulled over to the side of the road and said a prayer; a prayer for safe traveling, a prayer of thanks for the past 16 years and 10 months of happiness in North Carolina, and a prayer that Josh & Tiger will be happy and safe without us.  By the end of the prayer even Jared was crying.  

Our first stop was in Charlotte to see my mom’s older sister, my Aunt Elizabeth.  (After we left Rachel asked why I called her by both her names…I finally realized she thought I was saying “Ann Elizabeth.”)  We had a lovely lunch with Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Bill.  The kids particularly enjoyed Uncle Bill’s collection of stringed instruments and Aunt Elizabeth’s black and white cat. 


Then we drove on to Columbia where we visited for an hour with my mom’s other sisters, my Aunt June and Aunt Sylvia (whom we’ve always called Aunt Seba) and her brother Billy. 


It made our travel day very long, but it has been too many years since I have seen all of them and I just couldn’t leave the east without visiting. 

We left Columbia and drove to Eric & Katie’s home in Atlanta, arriving at about 9:45 pm.  I ended up having to stop at a rest area to take a 20 minute nap, something that I’ve never had to do before while driving.  Of course I’m not usually this worn out when I start a trip.  Hopefully I won’t be this tired the whole time.

Here is a new friend who joined us on this trip.


He served several different functions, including this one that was a bit of a surprise…


For a couple of weeks now I have been disconnecting myself from my earthlink email address.  Each day I would unsubscribe to a handful of emails, always surprised that the next day still more came that I needed to deal with.  Some of the unsubscribes were relatively easy—requiring only the click of a button and they were done.  Some were harder and took much longer to navigate.

I feel like I have spent the last two weeks saying goodbye to people that I love.  Some of the goodbyes were bittersweet but not painful—friendships and church associations that have been lovely and pleasant.  But others—oh, they have been so much harder.  People who have been dear to me, who have been part of the fabric of my life.  I have hated saying goodbye to friends as they move out of our ward a family or two at a time—this having to say goodbye to all of my people at once was almost more than I could wrap my brain (or my heart) around.  It hurt. 

I keep reminding myself that I am lucky to have many people to love, fortunate to love and be loved deeply.  How lonely and unsatisfying life life would be without these relationships.  But oh how hard it is to say goodbye…

Friday, April 27, 2012

One of the (small & few) benefits of moving

How often do you get the green light to do this??


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The best laid plans


Yesterday’s plan:

9:00 get Jared’s retainer from orthodontist
9:20 return my tennis shoes to store since they are making my toes fall asleep
9:40 take kids to Veaches house
10:00 pick up tools from friend, get to house and put in new sinks in my bathroom

5:15 empty outside freezer
5:40 clean up
5:50  drive to Nancy’s, shower quickly, put on real person clothes, get Jared’s scout book
6:20 leave Nancy’s, take food from freezer to friend’s house
6:45 meet Vicki at church to get a picture with her
7:00 meet Diana, Monica, and Alisa for dinner


Yesterday’s reality:

9:15 still 10 minutes from orthodontist when phone rings.  I assure them I’m moments away.  They say no rush, the retainer won’t be finished for an hour…
9:30 pull into Target to look for shoes for the girls who forgot to pull Sunday shoes out before their room was packed
9:45 Rachel discovers the platform heels and we have an impromptu fashion show in the Target shoe department
10:15 go to shoe store, exchange toe-numbing tennis shoes, but Duke T-shirts
10:30 get to orthodontist
10:45 the orthodontist will see you now
11:30 arrive at Veaches house, drop off kids, chat for half hour
12:30 arrive at house, eat lunch
1:30 Josh gets home early from school, we have hour long skype conversation with Russ  and Josh about Josh’s chemistry grade and what to do about it.
2:00 talk to Cindy Lynn on phone, pull weeds in the garden for an hour, realize those last weeds were flowers I planted last year.  Dump dirt out of whiskey barrel planter, realize that the swarms of ants on the dirt are all carrying what must be little ant larvae, gross!
3:00 take all of food out of freezer, put it into coolers in my car.  see spare key hidden (and forgotten in freezer), think briefly about putting it on key ring but decide there’s no reason to do that now since it will need to be left with the house.
4:00 realize I have forgotten to get tools from friend.  Call friend who is now annoyed because he postponed his project earlier while waiting for me.  go get tools
4:15 start working on bathroom counter.  realize immediately that there are 2x4’s in the way and it’s going to be much harder to cut.  and cut.  and cut…
5:45 time to leave to go shower, take food the friend, meet Vicki at church, go to dinner
5:50 realize jacket is still upstairs, walk back to door to go in, realize that door has worked itself locked again
5:50 1/2 realize I have no key and no way to get in
5:51 run over to neighbors house because she has spare key
5:52 knock on neighbor’s door
5:53 ring neighbor’s bell
5:55 decide that it is necessary to use neighbor’s hidden key to break into her house to find my spare key
5:56 open neighbor’s back door with key, walk in right as she walks down the stairs calling “who’s in my house???”  oops….
5:57 neighbor looks for spare key…for 20 minutes…unsuccessfully
6:15 call Russ, request that he call realtor for lock box code, yell at him when he suggests other alternatives
6:25 Russ calls with lockbox code
6:30 open house, retrieve spare key, leave house without jacket, no time for shower
6:35 ask friend to bring her cooler to church for food
6:55 get to church, pass off food, get picture taken with Vicki, hugs all around
7:15 arrive at restaurant for dinner, covered in sawdust, still dressed in nasty work clothes (which fit right in as it turns out.)


Russ decided when he called this morning that it is best not to ask me how I’m doing for a while…


No one rocks work clothes like I do!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Yesterday I walked into the kitchen where Matt the packer was packing boxes.

“Where’s the food storage,” he asked?  “Do you have it hidden somewhere??”

“Um…um…what do you mean?” I asked, a little baffled.


“I saw the Book of Mormon in the drawer” he said, gesturing toward the drawer.  “I’ve been doing this long enough to know that where there’s a Book of Mormon, there’s always food storage.”


So glad I didn’t disappoint him…

Monday, April 23, 2012

SKYPE Will Keep Us Together

I was really apprehensive when I realized that Russ & I were going to be spending a huge chunk of time apart.  I mean sure, I go to Utah for a week every spring.  And drive there with the kids sometimes in the summer.  I even went to help my sister with her twins last spring and was gone for 2 1/2 weeks.

But this?  I knew this was going to be much, much longer.

And quite honestly, folks, we just don’t do that great on the telephone.  It’s not for lack of trying, most of the time—it’s just the way it is.

Fortunately technology has made our time apart so much easier.  Let me say that again.  So Much Easier than it would otherwise have been.  Thanks to Skype, we can video chat every morning and every night. (Except for when I’m having book club, because let’s be serious—I’d ignore him on book club night even if he was home!) I am amazed at how much better (BETTER!!!!) we do with video chatting.  I don’t know what it is, but being able to see each other while we’re talking just seems to make all the difference in the world as to how connected to each other we feel.

Now I know that some people (not gonna mention your name, Lindsay!) get annoyed when their spouses are watching themselves and making faces in skype, but Russ just laughs at me when I do it.  And he’s really nice and sweet when I just sit there and cry from sadness and exhaustion.  And he entertains me too.  As long as we have to be across the country from each other, this sure makes it a lot better. 

I told Russ to smile for the camera so that I could record a picture for posterity.  So here you have it, posterity…

skype 1

skype 2

skype 5

skype 4

He sure keeps me entertained!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our Last Meal

I am, in case you haven’t noticed, a super nostalgic person.  I form strong bonds to people, and as it turns out, places.  Because of this I didn’t want for us to just straggle out of here without taking any real notice of what was happening.  That has happened too often with too many other things in my life, and I didn’t want it to happen this time.

So tonight when I came home from church I changed into my comfy pajamas and then I whipped up what we normally call “Dad-Hop,” but tonight was “Mom-Hop.”  I cooked a whole package of bacon (a cause for much celebration!), made a batch of pancakes, scrambled some eggs, and mixed sliced fresh (from the farm yesterday thanks to Ken & Alisyn) strawberries with sugar and covered them with whipped cream.  I even used the good plates.


I called the kids down to dinner and we started by kneeling to say a prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for giving us this wonderful home to live in for the last 10 years.  Then we ate, and it was as delicious and satisfying as I’d hoped.  I tried to get the kids to pose for a picture, but they were too sad to all cooperate.


Finally I bribed or threatened or begged and they all looked in the general direction of the camera.



I know I have a couple more days of work before we’re out of here altogether, but I will say it now anyway. 

Goodbye, dear home.  I had no idea how happy we were going to be here, and you will always hold a special place in my heart…


I was looking out the kitchen window the other day, admiring the beautiful sight that is my backyard right now.  I looked at the planters filled with beautiful pansies that my friend Mel planted to make my deck beautiful.  And then I noticed them.  Sitting calmly in the middle of the pansies…my volunteers.


Maybe our non-existent winter kept the gerber daisy plant that twinned all last summer from dying off so that it could come back this spring.  Whatever the reason, it put a smile on my face in an otherwise difficult week…

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Fun Continues

The realtor’s office just called.  To tell me someone wants to come see the house tomorrow at 1:30.  Was that ok, she asked?

Sure, I said.

This is what I was doing when she called.


I wonder what I can get done before then???

Food Thoughts


It’s official—we will have to move to Oregon.  Because we ate the last raw tortilla last night.


(You may think I’m joking.  But last Feb—2011—Russ brought back 50 lbs of raw tortillas from Utah and we put them in the freezer.  And then Becky brought some back for us when she went to Utah.   We have been well stocked with raw tortillas!)


Sometimes when you’re trying to get things cleaned out so you can move, you have to take one for the team and do things like

eat homemade peach cobbler.


For breakfast.   Smile

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Quarter of a Century


I sat behind them on Sunday, watched them snuggle close together on their bench.  I watched her rub his shoulder and saw him tenderly take her hand.  It made me smile, because I remember being that young couple, married for only a few days.  I remember the joy in thinking that he was mine now, mine forever.  I remember feeling like I would never be able to get enough of him.  I remember it almost like it was yesterday.

But it wasn’t yesterday, it was 9,125 yesterdays ago—twenty five years.  More time than I could comprehend then, and more time than I can believe has passed now.   I think to myself, “today we have been married 25 years,” and I can hardly fathom it.

Today, even though we are temporarily apart, I will be celebrating our life together.  Today I will be thinking about how amazing it is that this

Scan255, June 03, 2002

became this.

Emerald Isle 2011 403_edited

Today I will be thinking of how lucky I got all those years ago, and that I never could have known how good this was all going to be.  Hard times, yes.  Stressful moments, sure.  But overall, happiness like I never dared to hope for.


Happy anniversary, Russ—I love you!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

My East Coast Bucket List

Whenever I’ve heard people talk about the hundred or thousand things they want to do before they die I’ve always been slightly perplexed.  You see, there are not that many thing I have a strong need to do before I die, other than snorkel in Maui when I can hear the whales under the water again .  But go specific places, or do specific things—(other than the no-duh variety like be a grandma and hang out with my awesome family)—I don’t really have a list.

So it really was as much as surprise to me as it was to anyone else (specifically the anyone else I am married to) when I realized that I actually had an east coast bucket list—things I wanted to do/see if possible before we leave this part of the country.  Fortunately for me and my east coast bucket list we have spring break this week.  Even more fortunately I was able to persuade my friends to go with me and so this will be a travel-ganza like no other!

You may be wondering what my east coast bucket list includes, and I’ll tell you:

  • Showing my kids the major DC sights
  • Going to visit my sister’s house in upstate New York, which happens to be relatively near
  • Palmyra and
  • Niagara Falls.  Then it’s just as easy as not to visit
  • Kirtland Ohio

on our way back home. 

Should be a whirlwind 5 days, filled with many miles and hopefully even more memories.  I’m not sure if I’m taking my computer or not, so I’m not planning on any blogging this week. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happiness is…


Living in the same house, even if it was only for the weekend…


To Be Perfectly Understood


A few days ago someone gave me some advice on how I should feel about moving.  Unsolicited, with no real understanding of what I’m going through.  I was furious.

It did make me think though.  Last year when my brother in law finally found a new job and my wonderful sister in law was so sad to leave her home of 20+ years I might have thought the same kind of thing that this person just said to me.  Because the truth was, I had no real understanding at that point of what it was like to leave a life that you love so deeply—not like the understanding I am developing now.


When I was a senior in high school, another member of the band was absent for several weeks.  At some point the band director told us that her father had been ill and died, and that she would be coming back in a couple of days.  I felt terrible for her, but because I didn’t know her well and because I felt so incredibly awkward, I never said anything to her about her father’s death. 

I have always regretted that, especially after my mom died.  I never understood before going through that experience myself how much every expression of caring could mean, and I resolved that I would never miss an opportunity to extend compassion and understanding to someone going through a similar experience.  In the years after my mom died several of my good friends experienced the death of a parent, and I felt like I was able to understand and offer love in a way I would not have been able to before.


I was thinking about all of these things as I drove home the other day.  Thinking how how angry I was that someone with no personal understanding of my experience would tell me how I should feel.  Thinking about how I myself had been in a similar situation of not truly understanding when my brother and sister in law were moving last year.  Thinking about the dramatic shift in my understanding and feelings of compassion towards them as I am now in the midst of a similar situation.  Thinking about how I never could have understood the depth of grief involved in the death of a parent before I experienced it myself.


Suddenly I had a flash of understanding.  My mind was drawn to one of my favorite scriptures that describes the Savior’s atonement, found in Alma 7:

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.


I have been aware of and loved this scripture for many year since I first heard Elder Holland read it and talk about it.  But as I was thinking about it that day it had new and deeper meaning to me.  In a new way I realized that Christ does understand, because he has felt my pain.  This pain, this exact pain.  My sorrow in this moment of grief.  My exhaustion with all that is left to do.  My missing Russ and my dread of missing our dear friends.  All of it he experienced so that he would know how to run to and comfort me. 


Next my thoughts were lead to the story of Lazarus’ death.  I remember as a child being somewhat puzzled over the account in the New Testament.  Jesus arrives and the distraught sisters told him that their brother had died because Jesus was not there.  Jesus cried with them.  And then He raised their brother from the dead.  Why on earth would Jesus have stopped to cry, knowing what He was just about to do?

It is only as I have grown older that I have come to appreciate this message.  That Jesus cared about their sorrow, even as He knew they joy they were just about to experience. Their grief mattered to him. 

Surely He knows that there are joys ahead for us to experience.  Maybe He knows that we will fall in love with the Oregon coast in a whole new way.  Maybe He knows that there will be a new house to welcome us, new flowers to photograph, new friends to love.  But it is comforting to me in a deep and profound way to know that for now, He weeps with us.  That He understands our desire to follow Heavenly Father’s plan and at the same time how much this plan is breaking our hearts.  That He would never tell me that I should feel differently, but would instead comfort me until I do feel differently.

And that, I believe, is the message for me this Easter day.  That He lives, that He loves me, and that He understands me.  Perfectly. 


Oh sweet the joy, indeed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


In January we hosted a goodbye party for a family in our ward that was getting ready to move to Germany.  There were only a few months between their decision to move and their move date, and I remember watching her and thinking how exhausted she looked all of the time.

The night of their party I sat in the family room and watched them talking in the kitchen with people in the ward that have been their church family for the last 10 years.  I told Russ afterwards that the party was hard on my house and hard on my heart.  Hard on my recently painted house to be that full of little kids for a couple of hours.  Hard on my heart to watch someone else saying their goodbyes, knowing that in a few short months that would be us.

I actually told Nancy that we weren’t going to have a going away party, but she overruled me.  She did say that she was going to call it a viewing instead of a party though.  We decided to have it last night while Russ was back for Easter weekend.

This time I am the one that is exhausted.  We are the ones saying goodbye to our church family for the last 17 years.  It was hard—hard on Nancy’s house, and hard on my heart—but not as bad as I expected.  (I only cried once.)

I loved seeing all of these friends; being able to talk to everyone, to hug everyone, to know that I will not leave feeling like I need to say all of my goodbyes in the hallway at church. 


How we ended up in Durham 2nd is actually an interesting story.  When Russ & I came here for his job interview 17 years ago this weekend, we went to church in the other ward.  Their choir was amazing.  AMAZING.  We joked that we had mistakenly wandered into the Baptist church.  I wanted to be in that ward and experience that quality of music on a weekly basis.  But from the beginning, I knew it wasn’t the ward for us.  I knew without even realizing I knew it, that D2 was the place for us.  And I’ve never regretted , not even for a moment.  I left the party last night feeling like we have been richly blessed in our associations here in the Durham 2nd ward, both past and present.

This ward and these people will forever be a part of us…



Just stumbled on this which expresses my feelings about my ward very well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Science Class

Jenna during a thunder storm last week: I see that there are lots of negatively charged ions in the clouds and positively charged ions on the ground.

Me: I see you have been doing science with Dad again.


I have been busy working on the house for months now, it seems.  One of the unfortunate side effects is that I usually haven’t had time for the fun stuff I was doing with the kids for school.  They still do the basics on their own, but none of the extras that I like to do with them.

At some point Russ offered to help out, and I handed him a stack of science books.  Here, I told him, pick something fun because they’re dying to do science.  And he did.

The result has been terrific.  I have loved watching him prepare a lesson and then teach it to the little kids.  Since he’s been in Oregon they still have science class several times a week via skype.  Every time I see/hear it happening, it warms the cockles of my heart.

My did I choose my kids a great dad…




More great logic from Jenna:

Me: Do you want a bacon, egg, & cheese biscuit from BoJangles?
Her: No, their cheese tastes like macaroni.  And I don’t like macaroni with my egg…

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lions & Tigers (No Bears), Oh My

Early in the year a friend from church sent out a link suggesting that we might enjoy a visit to a place called the Conservator’s Center in a nearby town.  It looked interesting, so when a groupon showed up in my inbox a few weeks later I bought passes for a school “field trip.”  Yesterday was the day.

I don’t think the little kids were very excited when I told them we were going to go see some wild animals that had been rescued.  I don’t think they were very excited that it was an hour away.

By the end, though, we were all thrilled with our experience…


I thought the whole experience was lovely, including the drive.  The Conservator’s Center turns out to be out in the boonies, west and north of us.  Google Maps suggested that I drive all the way to Roxboro where there is a good east-west highway to drive on, but I (of course) spurned their suggestion in favor of good old country roads.  True, those on my path were more often not a straight shot to my destination, but I pieced together a route that worked well.  I love driving on country roads in North Carolina anytime, and the spring sights were a delight.

The Center is a wild animal rescue program.  We loved hearing the stories about how many of the animals ended up there.  The three red foxes (the center never meant to rescue foxes) who had been raised in captivity from birth, and were part of a deal for the center to get another lemur so that their first lemur would stop demanding that the center staff spend all of their time with him.  The serval who was a family pet until it “sprayed” in all of the air-conditioning vents.  The four tigers who were rescued from a breeding facility in another state (with terrible living conditions for the animals) –along with 10 lions the center didn’t mean to adopt.  And the binturongs.  We had no idea what those were.  And we still don’t.  But we have seen one now!

We left in such a hurry that I forgot my camera, if you can believe it.  (I still can’t.  Except that life has been so stressful that I kind of can.)  At a certain point I had to try to take pictures with my phone because what we were seeing was just so incredible.  If we were staying here I would probably try to recruit a group of photography loving friends to sign up for a photo taking tour, where you get to stand up close to the enclosures and take your pictures through small camera openings in the chain link.  That would be cool.  Since we were not on a camera tour, all of my pictures include the fencing.

Here is one of the servals, basking in the sun in it’s hammock made of fire hoses. 


An enclosure full of white wolves, which would normally have made Rachel’s day. 


Unfortunately for the wolves, they were competing with a pair of beautiful leopards (sorry, no decent pictures) and with these guys.


Now remember—that picture was taken with a camera phone with NO zoom capability.  That’s how close we were!  It was amazing.


We got to see one of the lions chase a cinnamon spiked ball, and come back with it stuck on her canine tooth.


The most exciting moment (besides when the male lion sprayed in our direction) was when the tour guide was able to get the lions to all calling to each other.  Before we would have thought this was growling, but she explained that this was a way the lions keep track of where everyone is.  Regardless of it’s purpose, it was something else to hear lions calling all around us.  I wish I had been able to capture the sound on video, but it turns out that my cell phone does take video, but without any sound.

Our favorite animal that we “met” was Arthur Tiger.  Arthur is a white tiger with very few stripes, and he is just beautiful.  The girls were excited to hear that Arthur has his own facebook page, and they friended him as soon as we got home.


So there you have it—don’t you love it when you try something new and it’s just fabulous?  That’s what I felt like yesterday, and I think we may try to go back before we leave so that Josh can experience the Conservators Center too.  You can read all about each animal’s story on their website and see beautiful (chain link-less) pictures of them as well if you want to know more.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Anatomy of a Bad Night

  • 10:00 pm—finally decide that I am done painting for the day.
  • 10:15 pm—Russ “calls” and we skype for an hour.
  • 12:00 midnight—turn off the lamp and get into bed, exhausted.
  • 12:15 am—hear something odd near my head.  Could it be a bug?  Move computer from bedside table to another place just in case it is making noises.
  • 12:20 am—no, there’s still a whirring noise there.  Turn on the light.  Something sort of like a firefly (minus fire) is on alarm clock.  Fortunately it doesn’t run away when I grab it with some toilet paper and flush it down the toilet.
  • 12:30 am—what was THAT noise?  It sounded like someone trying to get into the front door!  Complete and total freakout!  I jump out of bed and run down the stairs where I think I catch a glimpse of Rachel on the front porch through the leaded glass.  Oh that’s right, the girls aren’t upstairs in bed, they’re spending the night at a friend’s house so it could be her.  Not brave enough to open the door to see, though, and I can’t see anything through the leaded glass.
  • 12:32 am—I hear garage door start to open.  Minor freakout.  Reassure myself that it must be Rachel (or the handyman come to fix something else) because you can’t get in the garage without the code. 
  • 12:33 am—Rachel comes in the back door looking pale and sleepy.  She couldn’t sleep, she says, her tummy hurts really bad.  I hand her two tums (our first line of defense against tummy trouble) and she is off to bed.
  • 3:00 am—Rachel comes in my room and wakes me up, says her tummy is still hurting really bad.  I wonder if watching the episode of survivor yesterday where the annoying guy gets appendicitis can rub off on one of my children.  I tell her there’s pepto-bismal in my closet (the location of many misplaced things right now) and it’s a sign of how bad she feels that she gets it and takes it and doesn’t say anything about how nasty it is.  Or maybe she does say something but I’m already asleep again and don’t hear it.
  • 5:00 am—Rachel comes in to tell me she has thrown up.  She says that it got on everything, which is bad, but not on the floor, which is good.  I go into her room, still half asleep.  There is vomit, and there is really gross vomit.  This is the latter.  Good thing I am really still asleep, it lessens the need for me to vomit while I get everything and put it in the washer.  I pray that it will actually come clean.  Then I tell her to get in Jenna’s bed and go back to sleep.
  • 8:15 am—(you know I would have been up the crack of dawn if I hadn’t had such a bad night…as it was, I was hoping to sleep until noon.) Someone from the realtor’s office calls.  It’s not too early to call is it? they ask.  I reassure them (hoping that they can’t tell they just woke me) that it’s not.  They tell me that someone is coming to see the house today at 3:30.  Hooray…at least it’s still mostly clean from yesterday…

How soon can I have a nap???

  • 9:00 am—I am sitting on the floor of my bedroom dividing up the “Easter” candy, which I will distribute today for consumption during conference.  (We never combine “Easter” candy with Easter Sunday, and this seemed a reasonable time to do it.)  Josh comes in and tells me that the realtor is here already.  I panic.

     Best. April Fools. Ever.