Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: "The One" Edition

This week, I've been reminded of the power of "one." 

A photograph of a young woman walking with her sister, combined with a quote by Sister Anne C. Pingree: “We can alter the face of the earth … through charity.”
Photo: A young woman walks down a cobblestone street with her arm around a girl. The quote, by Anne C. Pingree, reads: "We can alter the face of the earth one family and one home at a time through charity, our small and simple acts of pure love." Source

After viewing a particularly scary house (quite obviously the dwelling of a serious hoarder), our realtor asked, "So, is this 'the one'?" No, it isn't the right house for us, but we are enjoying the search for a home to purchase. I'm thankful (1) for our realtor's patience with us, as we request to see very diverse properties, and I'm thankful (2) that both John and I realize that homes are much more than the walls that make up a house.

Yesterday afternoon, John and I had the privilege of attending an open house for a young couple who recently married. The bride had been best friends with our son when they were preschoolers. Her older sister was best friends with our oldest daughter, and her oldest sister was friends with our oldest son. We had not seen her family in 19 years. What a happy reunion! Also in attendance was another couple that we hadn't seen in those 19 years. We had such a nice time talking with them. Afterwards, I reflected back on how each one of those friends have been a blessing to us, and how I have learned from each of them, individually.

I'm thankful (3) that we could spend time with our friends, and I'm thankful (4) that despite that fact that so many years have gone by, we picked up as if no time had passed. I'm thankful (5) for the countless hours of listening and service these friends gave me 24 years ago, as I lay in a hospital bed for weeks, fighting pre-term labor. I don't think they realize what an impact they made on me and my family. One of those friends was childless at the time, and I can only imagine what it took to put aside her own feelings as she supported me in my pregnancy. The other friend was pregnant at the time (her daughter--the bride yesterday-- was born just one day after my son's early arrival), yet she found the energy and time to help me. 

After the birth of my son, those women continued to teach me through their examples. One friend helped me be more patient with myself. She is a talented painter, and once, while teaching a class I attended, said that we should rejoice when we make a mistake. Since only God is perfect, when we make an error on a piece, we can then relax, knowing we have our mistake out of the way. She stated it more eloquently, but the idea stuck with me. We all make mistakes; imperfection is to be expected; just keep trying and be happy. I'm thankful (7) for that paradigm shift. 

The other friend showed me mercy and kindness when she could have been upset, or at least frustrated. Her daughter had several broken bones as an infant and toddler; just the normal falls and bumps of childhood often resulted in a broken bone. Wearing a cast was almost the rule rather than the exception. At one point in time, right before they were to take a trip to Hawaii, my friend was so excited because her girl was all healed up and cast-free. She was looking forward to being able to have her family enjoy the water without the burden of protecting a cast. The week before they were to leave, I was watching her daughter at my house. While the kids were playing, her daughter fell and broke her arm. My friend was so gracious about it, quickly reassuring me that she was experienced and skilled in cast-protection, and it wouldn't be a hassle at all to have her daughter in a cast in Hawaii. She probably would still insist it was no big deal, but I'm thankful (8) for her genuinely kind reaction.

Last night, John and I attended the adult session of our church stake conference, and one of the speakers talked about how Jesus Christ 
served 'the one.' While he loved everyone, the scriptures abound with his example of kindness toward 'the one.' Though in a throng of people, he could notice one woman who touched the hem of his robe. He taught parables about one wandering sheep, one lost coin, or one prodigal son. I'm thankful (9) for the love of Jesus Christ, and His example of serving individuals, one by one.

I'm thankful (10) for my children and grandchildren--not just collectively, but individually--and for John, who is 'the one' for me.

What are the things you are thankful for this week? What and who are the 'ones' in your life? Leave a comment, and if you blog, feel free to write a post of your own to link up at the Ten Things of Thankful blog



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Friday, September 8, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Two Weeks Edition


I refuse to let the weekend slip by again without a Ten Things of Thankful post, so I'm getting a jump on it (and including items from the past two weeks.) 

Last week, we drove back to California (again). Months before we had decided to move to Utah, we had signed up to run at Disneyland over Labor Day weekend. We left here on Wednesday night, stopped at Mesquite, Nevada to sleep, then drove the rest of the way to Anaheim on Thursday morning.

1. I'm thankful for safety in travel. We drove through some pretty intense, though brief, rain storms in southern Utah. We had no problems, nor did anyone else that we saw. 

2. I'm thankful for online discount sites. Thanks to Ebates and Expedia, our stay at the Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort in Mesquite was super affordable. (If you ever find yourself in Mesquite, and want to avoid the casino crowd, I'd recommend Rising Star. It was new, clean, and smoke-free.)

Once in Anaheim, we were shocked at how uncrowded the Disney parks were! Apparently triple-digit heat, combined with humidity, keeps lots of people home or in their hotels. 

3. I'm thankful the lines were short, so we could minimize our time standing around in the heat. (Here's a Public Service Announcement: Fast passes at Disneyland are still free. You only have to pay if you want to get fast passes on your phone. If you approach a ride and see that the wait time is 30 minutes, and the fast pass return time is now, get a fast pass! Then you can bypass the 30 minute wait and get on the ride nearly immediately. I had never seen the return time match (or be within 5 minutes) the actual time before, and that happened more than once this trip.)

4. I'm thankful we met up with good friends and fellow Disney fanatics. We had a great time together!


Photo: Our friends, Dehrl and Gina, pose with John and I behind a Disneyland postcard frame. In the top right corner is a stamp of Mickey and Minnie, and on the bottom of the frame is printed, "Wish you were here!"
The 5 K run was Friday at 5 a.m., and the 10 K run was Saturday, also at 5 a.m. 

5.  I'm thankful the early start meant the temperatures were manageable. Conditions were still far from ideal--76 degrees with 60 percent humidity--but they were better than they were later in the day. 

While waiting for the start, race organizers were interviewing runners in the corrals. One little girl was asked how she trained for the run. She replied, "Well, our family did some stretches this morning." With everything that a move entails, John and I had not trained well for this race, and it was encouraging to hear that if we just stretched a little, we'd be fine. 

6. I'm thankful that even though we weren't well-prepared for this run, we paced ourselves accordingly, and had fun anyway. 


Photo: John and I cross the finish line with arms upraised and smiles on our faces
After the race, we drove back to our California town, picked up a U-Haul truck, and started loading boxes from our storage unit. We worked until we couldn't take it any longer, then drove to our nearly-empty house and crashed for the night.

On Sunday, we attended church and enjoyed visiting with friends. Though we hadn't been gone long, we received a warm welcome. That afternoon, we spent time with our daughter and grandchildren. 

7. I'm thankful for big hugs from little people, and I'm thankful for video calling when I can't be there for the hugs. 

We were up bright and early Monday, to load the last of the things from the house and make the long trip home to Utah.

8. I'm thankful for friends who came to help. It made the task less daunting and far more enjoyable. 

9. I'm thankful the house is now cleared out and ready for the new owners, and it is even possible that escrow will close early!

The trip home was uneventful, though long. We got home around 2 a.m. on Tuesday. We hired some help to unload the truck. This week, I've just been continuing to get settled in. Yesterday, my visiting teachers came. Next week, I'll go meet the women I am assigned to visit teach. 

9-1/2. I'm thankful for the visiting teaching program, which allows me to get to know the women in my church ward and gives me a chance to serve. 

9-3/4. My daughter-in-law surprised us with a visit this week! She and her parents were on their way to drop her sister off to college, so she stopped by for a bit. It was so nice to see her!

10. As always, I am thankful for John. He is so busy at work right now, yet we managed to go on a mini-vacation and bring another moving van to Utah. It seemed like a good idea at the time to combine the fun trip with the moving trip, but it was a lot of hard work! I appreciate all he does. 

I am aware that fires rage, hurricanes threaten, floods destroy, earthquakes rumble, and generally bad things happen. Despite that, or maybe even because of that, it is helpful and good to look for things for which to be grateful. Find joy, and help others.

If you are wanting to help financially to relieve suffering for those affected by natural disasters, and don't know where to donate, might I suggest LDS Philanthropies? I appreciate this statement from their webpage:
Two ideas are at the core of the Humanitarian Services response: 
  • 100% of every dollar donated is used to help those in need without regard to race, religion, or ethnic origin, and
  • Humanitarian Services helps people attain self-sufficiency so they can be self-reliant long after Humanitarian Services departs.
Even if you aren't in a position to assist financially, you can help make the world a little brighter by joining us in our Ten Things of Thankful blog hop! Go visit Josie's link-up and read, post, comment, and enjoy. What are you thankful for this week?


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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Catching Up Edition

Two weeks ago, I thought, "Great! I'm back to blogging!" I even managed to write two posts: a Ten Things of Thankful entry, and an article about the regional differences I've noticed at Costco. Between then and now, I've had a whirlwind of observations and experiences that I've wanted to share, but haven't gotten around to writing about until today. So, this will be a Ten Things of Thankful post that includes items from the past couple of weeks. Though I normally write my TToT posts in enumerated list form, today I will dispense with the numbers, as I have much for which to be thankful!

Our oldest son is starting medical school, and he invited us to attend his white coat ceremony. We are so happy that he is able to pursue his goal of being a doctor. We had a great weekend with our son, daughter-in-law, and her parents. After the ceremony, we all went out for lunch, walked around the California State Capitol building, and enjoyed the most delicious, upscale shave ice dessert at a little shop called Vampire Penguin

Photo: John and I pose with our oldest son (who wears his new white coat and holds a bouquet of pink roses) after his induction ceremony into medical school

Photo: The white, ornate, California State Capitol building, with its dome and flagpole, stands in contrast to the deep blue sky and green trees.

Photo: The Dulce de Leche: a tower of vanilla shave "snow," surrounded by a circle of sliced bananas, drizzled with caramel, and topped with whipped cream and flan. 
As John and I made the road trip to our son's and daughter-in-law's place, we were able to see interesting sights, like the Bonneville Salt Flats and road signs that made me laugh.

Photo: The Bonneville Salt Flats look like a large expanse of snow. Mountains appear in the background.
Photo: Yellow traffic sign says, "Undulations"

Photo: A yellow traffic sign is marked "Speed Lumps"

I don't know what they call "speed bumps" in your neck of the woods, but apparently they are also known as "speed lumps" or "undulations."

We arrived back home to Utah the day before the eclipse. We did not see a total eclipse at our location. I was impressed just how light it remained at 91% totality. Just a little bit of light makes a big difference--and that is something to remember when I think that my small efforts might not make a difference. 

Photo: John stands in the backyard and points upward, while wearing his eclipse glasses. Yellow lab, Drexel, photobombs in the foreground.
Photo: The light filtered through the trees and shining on the sidewalk shows the progress of the eclipse
Monday brought not only the eclipse, but also the start of Brigham Young University's Education Week. BYU Ed Week is an annual event, where thousands of people from all over the world gather to attend classes on a variety of topics. I always come away from Ed Week renewed, re-energized, and full of new insights. One of the presenters, Connie Sokol, stated, "Gratitude and joy go hand in hand." I have to agree! 

Photo: A screen in an auditorium at BYU displays the BYU Education Week theme for 2017: "He that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more light."
Next to BYU is the MTC, or Missionary Training Center. There are several MTCs around the world, where men and women go for a short time (days or weeks) before beginning their missions. The Provo MTC recently expanded, and I was able to tour the new buildings. They are light and beautiful, and humming with the excitement of the newly-called missionaries. Missionaries dedicate 18-24 months of their time, at their expense, going wherever they are assigned, learning whatever language is required. They come away from their missions with a deep love for the people and area where they served, and for the gospel of Jesus Christ. They learn, and love, to serve. Have a question? Ask the missionaries! They can help you! (Or chat with them on Mormon.org.)

Photo: Some of the many world flags that fly outside the Provo MTC
Photo: The light-filled lobby of the Missionary Training Center. Light grey padded chairs are arranged throughout the room. On the back wall is the scripture, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

I continue to find beauty here in Utah. 

Photo: The Provo City Center Temple, a brick, spired building, stands with the Wasatch Mountains in the background
Photo: The Provo Temple, a white building with one spire, sits at the base of the Wasatch Mountains
Photo: An impressive piece of art in the MTC. A blue globe hangs from the ceiling, and is enveloped by strings of downward-hanging mini-lights. Within the light strands are tiny origami-like birds. What I understand from this is that the peace, and light, of God is washing over the entire world.

Photo: A piece of art in BYU's Museum of Art. The piece is titled, Plexus no. 29, and is made from rainbow-colored threads. The threads are attached at the top of the ceiling, then fan out and are attached to various walls. With the light shining through, it looks like a rainbow, though not in the traditional rainbow shape.

Photo: A flower bed outside the BYU library. Mounds of greenery are in the foreground, with purple salvia (?) and yellow Black-eyed Susan behind. A tree spreads its limbs in the background.

I also continue to enjoy the various birds. Quail frequent my yard, as do jays, magpies, and hummingbirds. I've observed golden eagles on my hikes, and yesterday, while we were driving around, we found a bunch of wild turkeys. 

Photo: A flock of wild turkeys walks among some trees in the background.

While we are enjoying the beauty here in Utah, we are particularly thankful that our home in California is now in escrow! While we loved that house, we know it is time to move on, and we are so thankful that we will be able to hand it over to another family soon.

As always, I am thankful for John. Life is busy, never dull, and lots of fun--even when he's swamped at work, or I'm overwhelmed about one thing or another, or life is just a bit crazy. Yesterday, we were able to Rise and Shout for our Cougars as we attended a football game. It wasn't the prettiest of games, nor the coolest of weather, but we had fun together.

Photo: The score board at Lavell Edwards Stadium, and lots of blue and white balloons floating into the sky after the first touchdown. (The balloons are extremely difficult to see against the blue sky and white clouds.)
Thanks to you for reading this far--and brownie points if you clicked on all those links! Joining in on the Ten Things of Thankful calms my mind and makes me smile, and having readers for my posts is like icing on the cake. Thank you!

What are you thankful for this week? Comment below, and also know you are invited to the weekly blog party! Go to the Ten Things of Thankful blog and link up your post of gratitude. Then read and comment on the other links. We're a friendly and diverse group, and love to meet new bloggers!




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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Seven Signs You Might Be Shopping in a Utah Costco

Shopping in a warehouse store carries a measure of familiarity to it, no matter where you are. The layout of the stores is basically the same, as is the selection of merchandise. However, there are subtle (and not so subtle) differences between stores. 

Recently, I moved from California to Utah. As I am Mormon, and have lived in Utah before when I was a student at BYU, I wasn't expecting too much difficulty adjusting to the new locale. However, when I went to Costco, I couldn't help but have that "something is slightly off" feeling. I started paying attention to the differences between the Costco I shopped at in California, and the Costco in Utah.

Seven Signs You Might Be Shopping in a Utah Costco

1. There are lots more kids in tow. In California, whenever I had all five of my children with me, we definitely stood out. That wouldn't have been a problem in Utah. I looked around while I was in the checkout line, and noticed big families everywhere. Four or more children was the norm, not the exception.

2. Forty-five pound buckets of whole wheat kernels are sitting next to big white buckets of rolled oats. In California, I never once saw wheat for sale.


Photo: Big white buckets (labeled "Lehi Roller Mills") of whole wheat kernels stacked in Costco
3. Hershey's Syrup is sold in seven-pound jugs. Mormons neither smoke nor drink (alcohol or coffee), so I guess what is left on the acceptable vice front is chocolate--lots of chocolate. 


Photo: Brown plastic jugs of Hershey's Syrup sit in white boxes
4. Alcohol and cigarettes are conspicuously missing. While in California it is hard to miss the alcohol section of Costco, or the locked cage holding the cigarettes, I couldn't see any sign of either alcohol or cigarettes at my local Costco in Utah.

5. That familiar red coffee grinding machine is gone, too. Though I don't drink the stuff, I must admit I will miss the smell of freshly ground coffee beans. In California, whenever anyone was using the grinder when I was exiting the building, I would take a deep whiff as I walked to the door. 

6. There are plenty of red (for the University of Utah) and blue (for Brigham Young University) shirts for sale. I'm partial to blue, so that's what I'll include in the photo.

Photo: A display of blue and grey BYU shirts at Costco
7. The book table includes copies of "Your Study of the Book of Mormon Made Easier." I can't say I have ever seen that in California.

Photo: Copies of "Your Study of the Book of Mormon Made Easier" on the book table at Costco. (Along with another title, "Forgotten Tales of Utah".)
Have you shopped at a Costco store in Utah? Have I missed other signs that should be included? What is unique in Costco in your state? I'd love to hear your comments!


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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: We Made it to Utah! Edition

Have you ever started a journal and then abandoned it, only to realize years later that you want to write again, but so much time has passed and there is no possible way to adequately catch up? That is kind of how I feel about this blog. Mere months have passed, but it feels like so much has happened. Suffice it to say that we have moved from California to Utah. We are in a transition time, as our house has still not sold and we have not completely moved all our things here. I'm a bit overwhelmed when I think of all the necessary tasks I still have to complete (car registrations, driver's license, etc.), but I am chipping away at them. Every day, more boxes get unpacked and we are a bit more settled. We've been here exactly one week today (Saturday as I write this, but I have a feeling I won't get it posted until Sunday), and it is definitely time for a Ten Things of Thankful post!

1. I'm thankful for the good friends in California who helped us in so many ways. What an outpouring of love we received! 

2. I'm thankful for a safe drive here. John drove the moving van; I drove the minivan while towing a car trailer with the little Ford Anglia on it. I had never towed anything before, so I was a little apprehensive, but everything went just fine. The only thing I really had to worry about was my short-term memory, because I spent the entire 600+ miles being startled by the tail-gating car every time I looked in my rear-view mirror, only to remember that I was towing the Anglia.


Photo: (As seen by my rear-view mirror--photo taken while I was stopped at a rest stop) Suitcases and a white garbage bag are in the back of the van, while a red Ford Anglia (the Harry Potter car) appears to be tailgating me. 

3. I'm thankful for the warm welcome we received upon arrival. We met the neighbors on either side of us, and the neighbors kitty-corner on our first day here. The neighbors across the street came over and introduced themselves on Monday. They even apologized for not coming sooner, but they were on vacation over the weekend. The Andy Griffith Show might as well have named Mayberry "Provo." 

4. I'm thankful that this new place seems so familiar. Of course, John and I both lived in Provo when we were students at BYU, but that was over 30 years ago, before we were married. It's nice to return to our old stomping grounds. In fact, if we head out to the sidewalk in front of our rental house and look down the street, we can see the clubhouse of the apartment complex where we first met!

5. I'm thankful for this rental house. While we are waiting for a buyer for our California home, we decided to go ahead and rent here. It will be hard to leave! It's older than we are, quirky, and practical, and in a convenient location. 


Photo: The inside of a medicine cabinet in the house we are renting. The back of the cabinet is white, with a small slot in it, and underneath the slot are the words, "Razor Blades." Years ago, medicine cabinets had these slots for the disposal of used razor blades. If we tore into the walls of this house, who knows how many razor blades we would find?

6. I'm thankful for green Utah. When I was moving from Oregon to Utah to attend BYU, I saw Utah as brown. The mountains looked so barren to me, because I was used to evergreen trees covering the Cascades. Now, coming from the high desert of California, Utah looks so green. It's not quite the lush green of the Pacific Northwest, but I am definitely seeing more green and fewer tumbleweeds. 

7. I'm thankful for the mountains. I love a good view, and those mountains are hard to miss. I'm glad I can look out my living room window, or be in either the front or back yard, and see them.


Photo: Looking from my backyard eastward, a green shrub grows in the foreground. A red brick single-story house with a concrete patio and white wooden patio cover stand in front of the tall Wasatch Range mountains. Just above the green trees, a Y (for BYU) on the mountain can be seen.

8. I'm thankful for the quail that frequent my yard every day. I'm learning their cute calls, and I just love seeing the little apostrophes on the tops of their heads! (This photo isn't the greatest--I need to unpack my camera and practice.)


Photo: Five quail search in the green grass for a tasty morsel.

9. I'm thankful for the nearby trails, where I can (theoretically) run. One bad thing about the move is that my treadmill can't seem to fit into the house. It's sitting in the garage right now. I'm having a hard time getting back into the running habit, but I have taken some walks and have enjoyed the beautiful views. When the snow starts falling, I might just need to join a gym, but in the meantime, I have plenty of options of places to run.


Photo: The view from the trail I walked. A yellow grassy field sets the foreground. Two Mormon churches sit just below the field. Green trees and the city of Provo spread to the shores of Utah Lake. Other mountains are in the distance. The sky is blue, with scattered white clouds.

10. I'm thankful, as always, for John. He flew back to California yesterday to retrieve our other car and take care of a few errands. He'll arrive here tonight. I appreciate his sacrifice to take such a whirlwind trip. 

What are you thankful for this week? Let me know in your comments, or join in by posting your own list on the Ten Things of Thankful blog.



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