Monday, September 30, 2013

goose, Goose, GOOSE!

One of the things that is entertaining about Oregon in the fall is all of the migrating geese.  You know, geese migrating to the south?  And the west, and the east and even occasionally to the north!  Perhaps geese were in flight as much in North Carolina and I just didn’t notice it because of all of the trees.  Perhaps. 

Last week I was in the parking lot at Costco and a bunch of flocks of geese converged over my head.  I did some quick counting and estimated at least 50 geese, honking and squawking like nobody’s business.

It reminded me of a video I took one November day last year in the Winco parking lot.  Now this was a lot of geese!

Sunday, September 29, 2013


My cousin came to visit for an hour last spring on her way back from the Oregon Coast.  (A very brave girl, to visit the Oregon Coast over spring break!)  As she was leaving she mentioned that we needed to keep our eyes open for her friend who was coming to Oregon on her mission.

“Her mother and I grew up together,” my cousin told me.  “She lived right next door and we were best friends.  She got baptized but when we moved she stopped going to church, got a lot of tattoos, and eventually got pregnant.  Can you imagine how surprised I was when she got in contact with me last year and told me that she’d married in the temple, had 4 more children, and her oldest daughter was getting ready to serve a mission??”

My cousin may have been surprised, but I wasn’t.  You see I have been surrounded by these stories for the last year.  Stories of the son who unexpectedly decided to serve a mission.  Of the long inactive adult who made his way back to the church late in life.  Stories about estranged children making tentative moves to reestablish relationships and of troubled teens choosing to change their lives. 

Stories of redemption.

I have heard so many of these stories that I have stopped being surprised. (Though I have not stopped being glad.)

I was sitting one day thinking about all of these stories and wondering what they meant; wondering what I was supposed to learn from them.  And as I was thinking about them, the spirit spoke powerfully to my mind and my heart.  It told me that what I was supposed to be learning was simply that God’s plan works.  That God’s plan is to redeem His children, and that He will.  In His own time, and in His own way.  He may need our help from time to time, but this is His plan and not ours.  So we can relax and trust him and have faith in Him and His plan. 

And His redemption.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Crazy Week

So…one day I really am going to blog about my accident.  It’s on my to-do list.  But in the meantime, life keeps moving along.  This week quite a bit of what was scheduled was a result of the accident.  With a couple of other things mixed in, it added up to a seriously insane week:

  • Monday 7AM –ultrasound to check something found on ER CT scan
  • Monday 9AM—gyn appointment to talk about ultrasound results (all clear—yay!)
  • Tuesday 7AM—physical here at home for Russ for new life insurance policy (including EKG on the couch!)
  • Tuesday 7:30AM—my turn for physical.  One of the few times I wish I was a man is when I have to pee in a cup.
  • Tuesday 9AM—my first time back to curves since I sprained my ankle in June
  • Tuesday 4:30PM—appointment with my primary care doc to schedule an MRI to check on something else found on ER CT scan
  • Wednesday 8:30AM—Josh’s appointment with maxillofacial specialist to make sure he’s ok after his biking accident.  Thankfully everything is ok, and I think I’m glad I didn’t know some of that stuff beforehand.
  • Wednesday 2PM—teeth cleaning for me, Rachel, Jenna, & Jared
  • Thursday 10AM—Jared get braces, Rachel short ortho visit
  • Thursday 3PM—haircut for me
  • Thursday 4PM—chiropractic appointment for me to deal with ongoing neck soreness/stiffness since accident
  • Friday 9:30AM—Rachel gets 2 teeth pulled out to be ready for braces next week
  • Friday 11:30AM—FINALLY SOME FUN FOR ME!!  I went on a riverboat excursion in Portland for a couple of hours with two friends
  • Friday 6PM—leave for the temple
  • Friday 10:45PM—get back from the temple, melt into little puddle of exhaustion on the floor.

Next week is looking a lot better.  So far the schedule just has the MRI, Rachel’s braces, another trip to the chiropractor for me & Josh both, and some trips to Curves.  But it’s going to take me a while to recover from this week!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Looks like home to me

Look what we drove by a few blocks from here…


Do you know what that is???  It’s a crepe myrtle!!!  Here!  In Oregon!  I am totally getting one—and just that color.  Just as soon as I can figure out where to put it in my yard…

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fruit Fly Frenzy

When Jason got home from Chile I was determined that he experience the best fresh fruit that Oregon had to offer, so we got a box of peaches, one of pears, and one of nectarines.  Oh my goodness were they good—especially those pears. 


Because it was a big box (almost 30 pounds) we still had quite a few left when I had my accident.  And interestingly enough, it turns out that

lots of fresh fruit + a concussion = fruit flies

Who knew.

The fruit flies were obnoxious.  And they bred, well, like fruit flies.  Every day there were more and more of them.  Within a couple of days there were fruit flies in the kitchen, in the dining room, and even a few in the master bathroom.  (I know—I don’t get it either!)  It was so annoying.

On evening I was texting my awesome cousin Bethany (supplier of Jiff peanut butter for choosy mothers who’s Costco’s insist on selling Skippy) about our mutually favorite television show, MasterChef.  (Survivor meets Chopped.  How can you not love it??)  I mentioned the fruit fly fix we were in and she quickly texted me a solution she’d found on pinterest.

Within moments I knew that I’d found the cure.


And here you go, for the next time you have a fruit fly (in)festation.  Take a pint canning jar.  Fill it 1/3 with apple cider vinegar.  Add a few squirts of dish soap.  Fill with water until you have a lot of suds, going all the way to and above the top of your jar.  Set this jar wherever you’re having a fruit fly problem.  The flies are attracted to the smell of the vinegar, but for some reason when they touch the dish soap suds they die.  Dead!  As in no more fruit flies breeding everywhere!  It was really marvelous.  The suds do wither away eventually and the jar needs to be redone.  But seriously—I’d buy a lot more soap and vinegar to get rid of those pesky things.

PS—here’s a picture with Bethany and her sister Megan (who came to visit here last fall) from one day this summer when we had lunch at Café Rio and Bethany passed off her contraband of 8 large jars of Jiff peanut butter.  Bethany is the one on the right holding her darling baby Maizie. 


PPS—even though I am much, much older than Bethany (in fact I once babysat her when she was a small child) we are very close now.  We bonded at the farm one year at a family reunion when we made taco salad together.  In a (clean) garbage bag.  It was awesome.  And Grandma almost had a coronary.  (The bag was clean!  Brand new, Grandma, we promise!)  We call each other “taco salad cousin” to this day.  And we still will, because that has a better ring to it than “fruit fly killin’ cousin.”  Don’t you think??

Friday, September 20, 2013

Approaching Autumn


Every year it is the same.  I see early signs of fall around me and I pointedly ignore them, pretending that without my acknowledgement the seasonal change stalls and awaits my approval.  And then one day, (this day) I am faced with the incontrovertible proof.  With or without me, it will happen.  Is already happening, in fact.  And I wonder again why it is that I am so resistant to change, why I am so reluctant to say goodbye to the summer for what lies ahead.  I’ve known for a long time that I was not good at transitions, but I am only coming to realize in the last year how truly terrible I am at change of any kind.  I hold on to the moment that is with defiant tight-fistedness, certain that what lies ahead will never be as wonderful as what has just been.  

Today I left for an appointment with the chiropractor while the sun was out.  When I came out of his office the sky was gray with heavy clouds.  In the grocery store parking lot I noticed that in the last week many of the leaves have fallen from the trees.  By the time I got home it had begun to rain, drops hitting my nose as I carried in my bags of groceries.  The ten day weather forecast makes me wonder if the blue skies are done for the year.

This seasonal change holds even more worry for me than normal, now that I have experienced (and been depressed by) a long gray Oregon winter.  I am afraid of how it will feel and how I will handle it.  So I am starting a list, a list of the things that I can look forward to this winter.  Things like really good dark hot chocolate with just a dollop of cream in it, a crackling fire in our family room fireplace, and a nice hot bath with my new bath pillow.  I’m hoping that if I put more time into thinking about the things I can look forward to rather than looking back at the things I hate letting go of, I might do a little better with this transition.  Who know—maybe one day I’ll even be one of those people who sees the signs of fall with excitement.  Or even acceptance.  I can always hope…

Makes my heart happy


When I went to BYU I knew NO ONE in Utah.  Ok, not quite no one.  I had just met a second cousin at a family reunion and got a ride out to Provo with him.  So hey, I had known him for about 48 hours.  And my dad had a cousin living in Provo that he told me I could call if I needed help.  But really—it was just me, on my own.

It’s been interesting to watch the seismic shift that’s happened in my family over the last 30 years.  My second year at BYU there was a cousin there.  (Who I knew.) When my sister Margaret came to BYU she wasn’t alone because I was there.  The same for Val and Andra.  Both Margaret and Andra married men who planned to live in Utah.  And then the really shocking thing happened—some of our aunts & uncles moved to Utah.  First one family, then another, and by the time my dad and Ramona moved to Utah a few years ago they were the last of his family to arrive.  It’s been astounding to see this southern family entirely relocate to Utah, and I finally decided that Utah must be where Mormons go to die.

Last year Mahon and Cindy Lynn joined the Utah group when he got a new job in American Fork.  I know she’s enjoyed being able to see more of the family nearby, and she’s been waiting anxiously for Jason to get home from his mission and start school at BYU again.  Well he did and he did and I think they are both loving being so near each other.  Last night I saw this snippet of conversation on facebook:


I was surprised at the flash of joy this gave me—that my children are in a place where there are plenty of people who know and love them, people who watch out for them, who do favors for them, who care about them.  And now that my children have each other.  It just made my mommy heart happy…

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

(Divine) Summer Plans

During the spring sometime I was visiting in Utah and enjoying baby Kate so much and feeling bad for the triplets that they weren’t going to get to see her again until August.  And then these little thoughts crept into my mind. 

Josh doesn’t have a plane ticket to Utah for EFY yet.
It would cost the same amount to drive him out.
The triplets and I could spend the week hanging out with Kate.

And that was pretty much all it took to convince me that we should accompany Josh to Utah in June.  A short time later my siblings decided we could squeeze a family reunion in there too and so we planned that as well.  It was going to be a great way to start our summer.

Then Mahon and Cindy Lynn both got some really bad bug.  Bad enough to keep Mahon home from work for a day or two, and bad enough to worry Cindy Lynn.  Her lungs hadn’t been too great by the end of her pregnancy, and she was worried that this tenacious virus would be something she couldn’t shake on her own.  Now Cindy Lynn is a pro at hospitalizations for IV antibiotics for just this kind of thing, but this time there was a new complication. 



Cindy Lynn’s hope was that if she needed to go into the hospital she would be able to take Kate with her, but she hypothesized that she would need to have another adult with her the whole time to help out with Kate.  As we talked about it on the phone that day, I realized something—she was talking about going into the hospital “next week,” and I was going to be in Utah—next week.  I told her that I could come help her one day during the family reunion, and that I would be able to help her 3 days the next week. 

And so it went.  (Except for the fact that I was a little slower than usual due to falling down my dad’s deck stairs the first night I was there. )  We arrived in Utah at the brutal hour of 2AM (we will NOT do that again!) and were up before 9 the next morning headed to my dad’s and then I went on to the hospital.  After our reunion days the kids went down to Genola to stay with their cousins and I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the hospital with Cindy Lynn and Kate and then drove them back home after her unexpected early discharge.

The truth of the matter (sad and shallow as it so often is) is that I wasn’t thrilled about spending 4 of my days in the hospital.  It really doesn’t make sense when the whole reason for coming to Utah was to see Kate, but there you have it—emotions often don’t make logical sense.  What was surprising though was how much I enjoyed it.  Cindy Lynn and I sat around and talked and played with Kate.  We ate treats from the hospital cafeteria.  I got cranky Kate to take a nap every now and then.  IMG_6470
Someone asked what movies we’d watched and I realized that we hadn’t even turned the tv on once.  Sometimes we worked on our computers.  Sometimes we talked about what we’d just read.  The pool boy came in every now and then and offered us water.  It was peaceful and I completely enjoyed myself. 

Every night I went and stayed at a different place.  I got to hang out with my baby brother Jeremy and his family.

I got to spend 2 evenings with Russ’s awesome sister Marilyn.  We had a fun and thoroughly exhausting family reunion.  The whole experience, while tiring, was wonderful.

I don’t even remember at what point the thought occurred to me, “Isn’t it convenient and a crazy coincidence that we just happened to be planning a trip to Utah for the exact time when Cindy Lynn was going to be in the hospital?”  Except that in the same moment I knew it wasn’t.  A coincidence, anyway.

For a long time last year I thought about Elder Eyring’s challenge from the October 2007 conference to record each day the ways we saw the hand of the Lord touch our lives.  The idea had come into my head that there were probably many (many) things in my life all the time that were there because the Lord was touching me or blessing me or affecting me in some way.  I had prayed for many days that I might see some of these ways so that I was more aware of His working in my life. 

I remain convinced that I am mostly blind to the hand of God in my life.  I haven’t yet had a moment that identifies something that looks like a garden-variety happening as something directly connected to God.  But I knew, very clearly, that just like the idea to have Alisyn and her kids drive home with us from Utah was actually a tender mercy from the Lord, this plan that had seemed like my good idea to get more time with baby Kate was actually His plan to allow me to help Cindy Lynn at a time when she would really need me. 

And I am grateful.


PS—a few random pictures for you.  One morning on my way up to the hospital I saw something I never expected to see.  Something that made me grateful once again for the purse cam…


Yes, you’re seeing it right.  There was a porta-potty flying through the air at the end of the crane!

The hospital had valet parking, something I’ve never used before but with my sprained ankle was a real blessing.  Though the one night I left the hospital after they were closed and I had to go find my van myself I was wondering just how good of a thing valet parking really was…


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

For Alisyn

Because we’d hate for anyone not to have enough Kate in their lives…


(she’s quiet for the first minute, but then does a little talking about halfway through.)


Monday, September 16, 2013

Other Oregon Adventures

The other outing day that Cindy Lynn and I went on was to see waterfalls and also the Bonneville Dam.  The girls and I had been to see the dam last summer at a time when the salmon weren’t really running (swimming upstream), but had seen some really cool creature called the lamprey.  (If you want to see them in action, there’s also a video here.)  I hoped with Cindy Lynn we’d be able to see both lampreys and salmon, but we didn’t see any lampreys this time.  There sure were a lot of fish though!DSC_1740

We sat and watched the fish swimming in the fish ladders for quite a while, sometimes seeing just one at a time and sometimes seeing whole groups.  DSC_1749 DSC_1743

Kate was as much fun to watch as the fish.


We had to laugh when we saw this at the Dam.  When I downloaded the pictures and looked at this more closely I wished I had zoomed out more when I took the picture.  Because it looked like the comments were pretty great.


After we were done at the dam we drove to the nearest waterfall, Horsetail Falls.


I had hoped we could do the short hike up to the next falls (because you can walk behind it which is so cool) but I’d misread the info.  Instead of being .2 miles, it was .4 miles.  And since this was only about 3 weeks after my concussion, I didn’t think I was up to walking a mile, especially up & downhill. 


Just down the road from Horsetail falls is Oneata Gorge, so we stopped there and took a few pictures.  I texted one to Russ and said that Cindy Lynn, Kate, and I were going go to go on the hike.  He texted back and said that he would go ahead and call the ambulance ahead of time.


(Just in case you’re wondering—I thought at first that I wanted to go back and try this hike again next year, and just be more careful.  But after blogging about it last week, which made me pretty sick to my stomach, I decided that there are lots of other waterfalls in Oregon and still more in Washington, and I think I’ll concentrate on seeing more of those and leave this one alone.)


Kate was pretty tired by the this point but I wanted to stop at Multnomah Falls so that Cindy Lynn could see it up close and also so that I could find a Christmas ornament to commemorate our family hike with Jason that ended there.

  DSC_1788 DSC_1763

After that Cindy Lynn, Kate, and I were all tired so we called it a day and headed home.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Roses, Roses Everywhere

One of the places Cindy Lynn & I were determined to visit while she and Kate were in Oregon was the International Rose Test Garden.  She & I both love looking at and taking pictures of roses and we were sure that Kate would feel the same.  We had a lovely morning there and probably didn’t even see half of the roses!


Cindy Lynn and Kate’s fall visit

We didn’t have much time to be sad about Jason leaving for college before Cindy Lynn and Kate came to visit us for a week.  The weather was great and we loved having them here with us.  We always love having Cindy Lynn come visit us, but having Kate come was even better.  Because we pretty much sat around and played with Kate the whole time.

We took her to the farmer’s market,


Watched her eat pears with gusto,


And just hung out with her.  It was such fun!