Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Snowy Day Edition

Last Monday, it snowed. I've been a bit surprised at how little snow we've had since moving here, and I'm beginning to think we won't have a white Christmas. But last week, it snowed. We had some come down here at the house we are renting, and even more at the house we bought. 


Photo: A blanket of snow covers the front yard of my new house.
1. I'm thankful for the beauty of the snow. 

2. I'm thankful that, at least this time, the driveway and roads remained clear.

3. I'm thankful for quail, and I'm happy that large numbers of them frequent both the yard of the house I'm in now, and the yard of the house I'm moving into.

4. I'm thankful for Snowy Day stamps. When I asked the postal worker what Christmas stamps were available, I didn't even listen past, "Snowy Day." I was instantly transported back to childhood and knew I would be purchasing those stamps.

Photo: A book of stamps featuring illustrations of a little boy playing in the snow, from the children's book, The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

5. I'm thankful for a Relief Society progressive dinner. It was nice to get to know the women in the ward better. 

6. I'm thankful for a phone call from a friend. I need to be better about calling friends; I always enjoy talking with them, but am not very good about initiating the calls.

7. I'm thankful that the plans for the house are starting to fall into place. I've been a little bit stressed trying to coordinate what needs to be done, but hopefully things will be sorted out over the next couple of days. We are planning on remodeling the kitchen (which involves removing cabinets and a closet pantry, moving electrical, and installing a gas line), painting practically the entire interior of the house, replacing carpet, installing some hardwood floors, and refinishing the existing hardwoods. Everyone I talk to tells me what needs to be done before their part of the job can start. I've struggled to keep the choreography of this dance straight in my mind, but I think I'm finally getting it! 

8. I'm thankful for this time of year, when I think back over the years and remember friends and family. So many people have touched my life, and I am thankful for them. 

9. I'm thankful that age brings with it greater self-awareness and self-assurance. Over the years, I've realized more specifically what I like. For example, I love houses that have well-defined yards. It doesn't much matter whether the yard has a fence or a hedge around it; if it has some border of some sort, it will catch my eye. Last year, I realized that I am attracted to Christmas trees that have decorative "fluff" stuck in the branches. I decided to get some floral picks to put in my tree. The result wasn't quite what I envisioned, but I still like it, and it makes me laugh, so I'm keeping it. 

Photo: A Facebook post I wrote: When I bought a silvery, glittery, "Blooming Holiday Bush" at Joann's today, I thought I would separate the individual spirals and put them on my Christmas tree to add a touch of elegance. Instead, when I look at my tree, I think, "It looks like I murdered a slinky and hung the pieces as a trophy."
I should know better than to try to adopt elegance into my life. I'm just not that kind of girl--and that's OK. 

10. I'm thankful for John, and thankful he loves awkward-Christmas-tree-decorator me. 

I'm linking this post up late, but that is one beauty of the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop--it's open more days each week than it's closed! Feel free to join us; we love to have new friends participate!




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Sunday, December 10, 2017

#LightTheWorld, Search the Scriptures

Occasionally, I hear of the odd person who realized they were feeling weak because they forgot to eat something that day. Though I don't typically forget to eat, it is easy for me to understand that I function better when I take care of my physical needs. 

Similarly, if I find myself feeling impatient, irritable, or generally down-in-the-dumps, I can sometimes trace those feelings back to a lack of spiritual nourishment. Perhaps I forgot to kneel before I hit the ground running that morning, or perhaps I failed to take time to read from the scriptures. I've heard it said that prayer is how we talk to God, and the scriptures are a way He responds to us. I know that often while I'm reading scriptures, thoughts and impressions come to my mind that have little or nothing to do with what I'm reading, but when I have followed those promptings, I feel happy and at peace. 

A pair of rounded wire-frame eyeglasses lying on top of a Bible, which is opened to Acts chapter 27 and marked with a maroon ribbon.
Photo:  pair of eyeglasses resting on top of a Bible, which is opened to Acts chapter 27. (Source)

Today's #LightTheWorld theme is from John 5:39: "Search the scriptures." As we study and ponder scriptures, we can learn more about Him whose birth we celebrate this season, and as we model our actions after His, we can feel His presence more powerfully in our lives. 

Scripture study can be incorporated into our lives in various ways, both individually, and as a family. During the Christmas season, our family study is often reading a verse from our advent calendar. This year, one thing I am trying to do individually is to memorize "The Living Christ." It is the testimony of the apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was published in January 2000.  I've learned that I don't memorize as quickly as I did when I was younger, but I've also learned that I'm not too old, either. I find myself thinking more about the life and mission of Jesus, as I work to commit to memory the following:
As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.
I won't be finished memorizing by Christmas--I'm only almost done with the first four paragraphs--but that's OK. Studying the life of Jesus isn't limited to Christmastime. Just as food should be a part of my daily life, so too should spiritual nourishment. 

 Have you noticed the blessings of scripture study in your life? Do you have a favorite scripture?

(Did you know you can request a free copy of the Holy Bible at this link?)



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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Before My Flight Home Edition

I took a flight to California yesterday to see my grandchildren (and their parents, too, of course!) and am currently in a hotel room before my flight home. It was a quick trip, but a fun one. 

1. I'm thankful for airplanes that make such quick trips possible. 

2. I'm thankful that my laptop made it through the security check--twice! After I was through the TSA checkpoint and had put my shoes on and picked up my carry-on bag, I realized my bag was lighter than normal. My laptop (which I had taken out of my bag and put in its own bin) was missing! TSA officials told me that sometimes it takes a while to get the bins through, and to wait a few minutes. I waited, but couldn't imagine how the bin couldn't have gone through already. An overheard announcement was made to all waiting passengers to check to make sure they hadn't inadvertently picked up someone else's belongings. After more time went by, a TSA worker found my computer. I think someone (maybe even me) stacked an empty bin on top of the bin my laptop was in, and the stack of bins was returned to the beginning of the security line. In any case, I got my computer back, and still made my flight. 

3. I'm thankful for my precious grandchildren. It simultaneously warms and breaks my heart to see them cry when I leave. Before the sad goodbyes, though, my granddaughters showed me how they can write and draw, and my grandsons posed for silly selfies and generally just drooled all over me (that happens when you are teething, after all!)


Photo: Oldest granddaughter, dressed in a green knit dress and lying on the wooden floor, traces numbers and words in a workbook
Photo: Youngest granddaughter, dressed in a red knit dress and seated on the wooden floor in front of the couch, colors in shapes in a workbook.
Photo: Oldest grandson and I take a selfie. I have on my glasses, and he balances a pair of upside-down sunglasses on the tip of his nose.
Photo: Youngest grandson chomps down on my thumb. Fortunately, despite my expression, I experienced no pain, as he is all gums still.


4. I'm thankful for pre-cut felt numbers, sharp scissors, and hot glue. Before my trip, my daughter mentioned how she wished she had an advent calendar like the one she remembers from childhood. I was able to make a replica of the calendar I made 30 years or so ago and take it to her family to carry on the tradition. 


Photo: A felt Nativity advent calendar, portraying Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in the stable, as well as shepherds, wise men, angels, stars, and various animals.
5. I'm also thankful for a helpful customer in a sewing machine repair store, who saved me a repair bill by making a suggestion to me regarding my machine. What I thought was a problem, wasn't. That allowed me to finish the calendar project on time.

6. Speaking of advent calendars, I'm thankful for the #LightTheWorld campaign. Click on the video link in the top right-hand side of my sidebar to view the video for the day. Each day in December until Christmas features another scripture and ideas on how to serve others. It's a great way to bring joy into the Christmas season!

7. I'm thankful for opportunities to meet wonderful people. Earlier this week, I attended an unveiling of service vending machines, in connection with the #LightTheWorld initiative. After the event, I chatted over lunch with some lovely people: Kara from TodayIAmEnough.com and Rachel (and her husband, daughter, and father-in-law) from TheOhanaAdventure.com. I was impressed with the graciousness of such successful social media figures. I mostly listened, but when I talked, my comments were heard and valued. I appreciated the chance to become acquainted with Kara and Rachel. 

8. I'm thankful for Quick Quack car washes. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I dread entering car washes--not because of the brushes, but because with some car washes, I can't seem to get my car's front tire lined up correctly in the wash. At Quick Quack, there is an attendant who helps direct the drivers onto the moving belt, so I never have to panic that I am doing it wrong. Also, Quick Quack has the best vacuums, and they are free to use after the wash. (Though this sounds like a commercial, I did not receive any compensation for this item of gratitude.)

9. I'm thankful to know that my gratitude extends beyond what I list every week. This week in particular, I know I thought of several other things throughout the week that I failed to write down at the time. Although it bothers me that I don't remember now, at least I was thankful in the moment, and I'll just try in the future to write things down at the time. 

10. As always, I am thankful for John. Earlier this week, I was getting nervous about this solo trip; the details kept changing, and not all the pieces were familiar to me. He was able to assure me that everything would be fine. I'm looking forward to him picking me up from the airport this afternoon! 

What are you thankful for this week? Please join us at the Ten Things of Thankful blog for our weekly celebration and expression of gratitude. We welcome new friends!









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Friday, December 1, 2017

December 1st: #LightTheWorld by Giving

Happy December! It's time to kick-off the #LightTheWorld campaign. Each day through Christmas, a scriptural verse is featured and the challenge is to find some way to implement the counsel in our own lives. It's not meant to be overwhelming; participate however you can.

Today's verse, Matthew 10:8, sets the tone for the whole month: Freely ye have received, freely give. I love the feeling that comes with giving, especially when the gift is truly appreciated--something needed or wanted. 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to drive to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the unveiling of some very unusual kiosks. Set in the lovely Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square, these vending machines allow visitors to donate to various charities. After inserting cash or credit card, the giver punches in the letter and number of one of the items displayed, and watches as the selected gift falls to the bottom of the machine. Unlike normal vending machines, there isn't a way for the purchaser to retrieve the item (with the exception of one machine that gives cards listing service ideas); instead, the items collect in a clear case, so it is easy to see how the contributions add up. 

Photo: Workers stock and clean red #LightTheWorld vending machines. Above the machines is the question: "This Christmas season, how will you #LightTheWorld?
Different vending machines benefit different charities. One, benefiting Care.org, is stocked with items ranging from pacifiers to goats. (To be honest, the goats aren't actually in the machines, but rather, cards that specify the purchase of a goat.) Another, benefiting the Utah Food Bank and Eye Care 4 Kids, offers beans, rice, and other food items, as well as eyeglasses and vouchers for eye exams. A third machine collects funds for Wateraid and Water for People. The final one accepts no money, but freely offers printed cards with ideas on how to serve in other ways. 

One hundred percent of the money received goes to the various charities. A tax receipt prints out for the giver. 

What do you think of this concept? Would you like to use vending machines like these? What are some of your favorite charities?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Post-Thanksgiving Edition

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. I'll jump right in:

1. I'm thankful for cooperative return policies. Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I had to return a range that I had purchased, and I hoped that the particular range was just a lemon and that the replacement wouldn't have the same problem. Well, unfortunately, it did. On the bright side, the store quickly picked up the second range and refunded my money. I'm putting appliance purchases on the back burner (!) for the moment. 

2. I'm thankful for temples. I went one morning this week to the temple. I'm always amazed at how much insight comes in just an hour or two of reflection. 

3. I'm thankful for my sister. She and her family came to Utah to spend Thanksgiving with her in-laws, and I got a chance to see her and her family on Wednesday. The last time I saw her was in January at our grandma's 100th birthday celebration. We feel lucky to have two visits in one year! 

4. I'm thankful for my brother. My parents and two of my kids got to spend Thanksgiving with him, and I'm glad he and his family were able to host them.

5. I'm thankful that my other children also had invitations for Thanksgiving. 

6. I'm thankful for all of my grandchildren, but particularly my oldest granddaughter this week, as she turns 5. 

7. I'm thankful for my sister-in-law, who invited us to her new house for Thanksgiving, and for John's parents, who were able to come, too. I'm still getting used to the fact that we live so close now, that getting together for holidays is quick and easy.

8. I'm thankful that, because my new house is just out the door to a hiking trail, I get the feeling that the entire canyon is an extension of my backyard. And the canyon has a creek! I don't know if it is pronounced creek or crick here (though I don't know if I'll ever be able to say crick), but however it is pronounced, it means WATER! 

Photo: A shallow creek tumbles over rocks on its way down the canyon
9. I'm thankful for the #LightTheWorld initiative, which is being continued again this Christmas season. Watch the video up there on the top of the right-hand sidebar. I believe that video will be changing throughout the month of December. Small (or large) acts of service can make a big difference!

10. I'm thankful for John. One of the first dates we went on was a picnic the day after Thanksgiving, 1986. It was amazing that the weather cooperated then. The weather cooperated this year, too, and we "picnicked" in our new house, then hiked up the canyon. It feels like we've come full circle, but more in a spiraling way than a return to the exact spot. Looking forward to our continued journey together. 

What are you thankful for this week? Leave a comment, and/or write a post yourself and link up on the Ten Things of Thankful blog
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Are We Willing to Act? #LightTheWorld

Have you ever read, seen, or heard something that caused you to really take notice? Perhaps it changed the way you thought of a particular concept. Perhaps you understood a situation from another's perspective, in a way you previously did not. One way John and I judge movies is by how much we talk about them afterwards. A well-written script causes us to reflect upon the meaning and talk about how it translates to real life.

While talk is good, action is better. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Whatever the initial motivating force--an idea from a book, a speech, a movie, or a life--a magnifying effect occurs as that idea takes hold of one's actions. The acted-upon idea has not only the power to change the individual's life, but others' lives as well. 

You might remember that last Christmas I participated in the #LightTheWorld initiative. Each day, for 25 days, we were encouraged to think of a way to follow the example of Jesus Christ. On one of the days last December, my daughter and I handed out  bags of small items to the homeless people we encountered as we drove around town. One woman in particular was very touched by that small gesture, and I felt good that our efforts made a difference in her life.

Sometime in 2017, I gave away sunscreen to a person at a freeway exit. I was on my way to mail off a package, and while I stood in line at the post office, a man behind me exclaimed, "You gave away the sunscreen!" Apparently he had been in the car behind mine. He saw me give sunscreen. He gave money. He was so excited about the idea of having items in the car to give away. He told me that he had witnessed two people, in a car like mine, give out a bag to a homeless person at Christmastime. I realized that he might have seen my daughter and I.  A chance encounter in the post office reminded me that we never know the full impact our actions can have. 

This year, the #LightTheWorld campaign continues, and I'm excited to see what happens as I purposefully participate. 





On the top of the right-hand sidebar of this blog is a video, which I believe will change (perhaps daily, starting in December?) The video that is currently playing goes along with the message for December 1st: "Freely ye have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8) Please take the time to click on it and watch it. 

What did you think? Would you like to see vending machines like that one? Will you join me as we #LightTheWorld this Christmas season?


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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: This Week, and Always Edition

The nationally-designated day of Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and people are preparing for the feast: making lists, grocery shopping, figuring out the logistics of hosting, or making travel plans, if traveling. While all those preparations are good and necessary, Thanksgiving also requires reflection on what it is we are celebrating. What are we thankful for, right now?

When I started my blog nearly seven years ago (Wow! Has it really been that long?), I didn't really have any idea what I was doing, or what I wanted the blog to be. I decided upon the name, Thankful Me, in an effort to develop a greater sense of gratitude within myself. It is altogether too easy to be overwhelmed with life's circumstances, and bad news often screams out, "Listen to me!" Regardless of the trials and distractions that swirl around, though, there is good to be found and gratitude to be expressed. I knew that if I made it a habit to be thankful, I would be a more pleasant person and better equipped to handle life's challenges. 

In 2013, I stumbled across the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop and was quickly welcomed and accepted as a co-host. Though the organization has changed over the years (founder Lizzi has passed the torch to Josie, and the hop no longer uses co-hosts, but rather now has its own designated blog), the purpose remains the same: to allow everyone to have a place to express thanks each week. Participants span the globe and have diverse views and backgrounds. Especially in an online setting, this could be a recipe for disaster. I'm sure we've all seen evidence on social media of hateful, vicious comments. What makes the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop so welcoming, supportive, and positive? I think it is that everyone who participates is focused on seeking the good. 

Despite the differences, friendships formed, and the door is always open for more friends. Knowing that I will be writing a list every week, keeps me focused on looking for those little (and big) things every day that bring me a sense of gratitude. Telling myself that I am "Thankful Me," has changed me. I am more likely to think before complaining, and try to re-frame the situation. In reading the Ten Things of Thankful posts that others write, I get the feeling that I am not the only one who has changed from the exercise of gratitude. 


Photo: A mother and daughter hug and look out on the ocean, which is seen between big rocks. The caption is a quote by Gordon T. Watts: "Joy and happiness are born of gratitude."
Though my Ten Things of Thankful posts are generally numbered, this week I will demonstrate that participation in this blog hop does not require enumeration: 

I'm thankful that thankfulness is a quality that can be practiced and developed, and that the end result is greater joy and happiness. I'm thankful for the big things in my life, like faith, family, and friends, and for the little things, like raspberries (the best fruit ever!) 

Please consider joining us in expressing thankfulness each week. The blog hop goes live each week just after midnight (Central time) Thursday night, and stays open until Tuesday night. You can link up here. It's a simple thing to do, but the rewards are great.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Running Late Edition

I'm nearly late for the link up, so will write a short post this week. I don't want to miss out on an opportunity to express my thanks!

1. I'm thankful for the first snowfall of the season in our backyard. Drexel seemed oblivious.



2. I'm thankful that when I drove up to our new house ("It can't be snowing yet! I'm not done raking leaves!"), I found a sweet welcome banner tied to our porch, and a plate of goodies by the front door.

Photo: Orange-with-white-polka-dots plastic triangles, tied with a string to white porch rails, form a bunting banner that spells out "Welcome!"

3. I'm thankful that John and I were able to go to our last Disneyland run. Not only was it the last Disneyland run we have signed up for, it was the last Disneyland run period, in the foreseeable future, at least.

4. I'm thankful that the details of the running costume finally came together.

Photo: Various pattern pieces lay on top of a gold-colored piece of fabric
The race we ran was the Thor 10K. John dressed as Odin, and I dressed as Frigga, Odin's wife. We like to run in coordinating costumes, and we felt we fit the Odin/Frigga demographic better than the younger characters. One downside is that Frigga isn't as easily recognizable. When we got our photos taken with Thor during the race, I said, "We're so proud of you, son!" Thor told me, "Oh, at first I thought you were my brother, Loki!" 

Photo: Me (as Frigga), Thor, and John (as Odin) pose at a photo spot during the 10K
5. I'm thankful that after the run, as we were walking back to our hotel, we were stopped by another runner, who asked if he could take a photo with us. He was dressed as Thor, and recognized us as Odin and Frigga. Hurray! At least someone knew who both of us were supposed to be. 

6. I'm thankful that we were able to see friends while at Disneyland. One meeting was planned, and one was serendipitous. Both were delightful!

7. I'm thankful for the comfortable blend of familiar and unexpected that I find at Disneyland. I love the fact that I know my way around, and I love the fact that there is always something new to discover. On this trip, I noticed the unusual feet of this waterfowl. (I tried an image search to determine what type of bird it was. One search returned, "beak", and the other returned, "plant.")

Photo: A small black waterfowl, with white feathers on its head between its red eyes, has feet with black and white, scalloped-shaped toes

Photo: A close-up of the bird's feet. Each toe has 2-4 of the scalloped segments. The feet are not webbed in the true sense of having the webbing connected from one toe to the next, but each of the scalloped segments is wide and provides the same advantage that webbing has.
8. I'm thankful that youngest daughter took care of things at home while we were gone. Drexel was cared for, and when we arrived home, the house was cleaner than it was when we left!

9. I'm thankful for uneventful drives. We hit neither traffic nor construction nor bad weather nor anything else! 

10. I'm thankful for John. Being able to take a short vacation together was fun. We kept the same pace, both on the run and on the endurance of our theme-park days, which made it nice. Though our Disneyland runs are over, now we will get to find other races to run. Life is an adventure with John!

Photo: John and I stand in front of the huge Christmas tree on Main Street in Disneyland
Well, I'm not sure I succeeded with a short post, but I'm thankful I got it written! What are you thankful for this week? There is still time to link up a post if you'd like! 








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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Bullies, Snowblowers, and a Birthday Edition

Hello, November! The sky is cloudy, and precipitation of some kind or another (depending on the forecaster) is in the future. 

I've been scouring the local online ads for a snowblower. After extensive research, I located just the one for us. I texted the seller, and agreed on a time for John and I to meet him. Later in the day, I texted again to verify, and was told another interested party would be seeing the snowblower at the same time. At that point, I informed the seller I would pass, as I didn't want to get caught up in a bidding war, and I didn't want to drive the distance to see the snowblower if we weren't going to be able to purchase it. I also didn't think it was fair to the other party to be stuck in the same position.

Later that night, I received another text from the seller, informing me that I didn't show up (I already had told him I wouldn't), and that the other party didn't either. The wording of his text was grandiose and designed to make me feel small. It didn't work. I took a few minutes and told John all the clever responses I could come up with (but didn't type any reply), laughed a bit, then enjoyed the rest of our evening.

1. I'm thankful we didn't buy the snowblower from the bully.

Last night, John's parents called. They did not know that we were looking for a snowblower. They didn't know that we had been in communication with that guy. John's dad asked John if he would like a snowblower. John's dad recently purchased a new one, and was looking to get rid of his old, but perfectly functional, snowblower. John laughed, readily accepted the generous offer, and then explained what had happened just the day before.

2. I'm thankful that John's dad offered to give us his old snowblower.

3. I'm thankful that life works like that. Call it karma, or "What goes around, comes around," or "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again," but I'm glad that life returns what you give. I refrained from actually replying back with the zingers that I was composing and sharing with John, and our need was met. 

(While I believe in the above principle, I also know that sometimes things happen over which we have no control and that are in no way our fault. Life isn't always fair, in the immediate sense of the word, but I do believe that in the end, all will be made right.)

I spent some time at our new-to-us house this past week. The previous week, we had a range delivered. The day after it was delivered, it was beeping and flashing an error message. When I called the customer service line, I was told the error message indicated something was wrong with the electronic board, and that I had a choice between getting a repairman or having a new range delivered. Of course, I opted for the new range.

4. I'm thankful for an easy exchange. I'm hoping the first stove was just a lemon, and that the replacement will not have the same issue. So far, so good.

Another morning, I met the roofer for a few easy repairs of little problems that had surfaced during our pre-purchase inspection.

5. I'm thankful for skilled workers who can easily and affordably fix things.

While the roofer was working, I touched up some areas on outside door frames where the paint had faded or chipped away.

6. I'm thankful to be getting projects done prior to moving in. 

The evening of the snow blower incident, John and I headed up to the new neighborhood to attend a get-together with our neighbors. It's going to take me some time to remember all the names, but everyone seemed very nice and we had a nice time meeting our neighbors. 

7. I'm thankful for friendly welcomes.

This past week wrapped up another year for John, and he celebrated a birthday yesterday. We (John, youngest daughter, and I) ate dinner at Four Seasons Hot Pot and Dumpling, which was a fun experience. A hot pot of broth sat on a hotplate on the table, and we could choose what to put in it. It cooked at the table, and we were encouraged to keep adding more and more to the broth. We left stuffed!

8. I'm thankful for apps and social media sites that make researching restaurants easy.

After dinner, we took part in Art Walk, which is held the first Friday of each month in Provo. We didn't actually know ahead of time where the shops were that were participating, so we didn't see many signs and only ended up wandering into one art gallery, but it was interesting anyway. We couldn't pass up going inside a local pet store, even though it wasn't officially part of the art walk. They had an extensive aquarium section, and quite a few reptiles as well. I just had to take a picture of the baby bearded dragons.

Photo: Eight baby bearded dragons pile on top of each other, facing all directions.
After our walk, we drove to a dessert place (The Chocolate, which had other flavors available) where we each enjoyed a slice of cake with some ice cream. 

9. I'm thankful for fun family evenings.

10. I'm thankful for John. We are not as old as the birthdays would indicate, but I welcome those markers that prove we have had more time together. Years ago, we would have thought people of our age were old. We know better now, but I do look forward to growing old together. Of course, our idea of what that looks like is different than we would have imagined in our younger days. We will be running more races, and hopefully longer distances. We will be hiking the mountains behind our home. Whatever else we decide to do, we will do with a sense of adventure and enjoyment, because that is how we choose to live. Happy birthday, John! I love you!

How was your week? Did you deal with bullies or celebrate birthdays? I'd love to hear what you are thankful for this week! Comment below, and as always, please consider writing your own post and linking it up at the Ten Things of Thankful blog!





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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Sports, Chili, and Neighbors Edition

I love fall. There's a bit of a nip in the air, yet the daytime temperatures don't require a heavy coat. The beautiful colored leaves contrast against the blue of the sky--until they fall to the ground and provide a delightfully crunchy walking surface. Fall elicits cozy feelings, but doesn't trap us inside our houses. Fall brings sports games, chili cook-offs, and association with neighbors. 

1. I'm thankful for nice people, even (and perhaps especially) when there are accidents. I got rear-ended this week, but there was no real damage to cars nor people, and the overriding feeling I took away from the experience (besides unbelief at being hit) was how nice the young man was who hit me. He was remorseful, gracious, and pleasant. If I Have to Have a Fender-Bender, Let it Be in Provo.

2. I'm thankful for Hruska's Kolaches. Yes, this is a repeat from last week, but can I just say YUM! As I'm typing this, I am realizing that we ate kolaches last Saturday, again on Monday, and then again yesterday. I might have a kolaches problem. In my defense, I had to go yesterday, because Hruska's had a special Harry Potter day, with specially-flavored kolaches, butterbeer, street magicians, an owl, and very elaborate decorations. 

Photo: A painted cutout of a castle, reminiscent of Hogwart's castle, disguises a fence at Hruska's Kolaches.

3. I'm thankful for what feels like a local team in the World Series. No, I'm not talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers; I mean the Houston Astros. Many of the Astros players are former Lancaster (CA) Jethawks. John and I had the chance to cheer on George Springer, Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, and others when we would attend the Jethawks games. It's nice to see that their hard work has paid off and they are living their dreams.

4. I'm thankful that winning isn't everything. The BYU football team isn't having a particularly good season. (Yes, that is most definitely an understatement.) 

5. I'm thankful for the chance I've had to live in various places. It is so strange for me to now be living in a town where I belong to the religious majority, and Mormon culture doesn't require explanation. Hopefully my experience of being in the minority most of my life will keep me aware of those who are in the minority here. 

6. I'm thankful for chili cook-offs. When I was in the grocery store Thursday night buying ingredients to make chili for a ward (congregation) chili cook-off, I realized that several other people were visiting the same aisles I was, and were looking for the same types of ingredients I was. Though they might be in my ward (I'm still getting to know everyone), I didn't recognize them. I think perhaps another ward (or two or more) was also having a chili cook-off this past weekend. Chili cook-offs have nothing to do with Mormon doctrine, but are a pretty common ward activity. I was just struck once again how immersed I am in Mormon culture here in Utah, and it made me chuckle. (For more of my observations about the influence of Mormon culture here, you might want to read Seven Signs You Might Be Shopping in a Utah Costco.)

7. I'm thankful I could help with the activity Friday night. As I asked participants to sign-in with their pots of chili, I got to put more names with faces, and had a chance to chat with people a bit. Learning names helps turn strangers to acquaintances and friends. 

8. I'm thankful that our new house is also in a very welcoming location. We were invited to a neighborhood get-together that will be held next week. Already, five families in what will be our new neighborhood have come over to introduce themselves to us as they've noticed us at the house raking leaves, etc. We are excited to get to know them better, as well as to get to know the other families on our street. 

9. I'm thankful that we live close to John's parents. We were able to take them out to dinner this week to celebrate John's dad's birthday. It's just such a treat that we can get together so easily with them. 

10. I'm thankful for John. We are approaching the empty-nest phase of life, and as much as we are looking forward to that, John and I also recognize that it is going to be a major change for us (and it will particularly impact my daily life, as I can hang up my taxi-cab hat, for example.) I'm thankful to have such a supportive husband by my side as we go through the various stages of our life together.

How has your week gone? Have you been in an accident, eaten good food, watched a game, or spent time with friends or family? Whatever you've done, there is something for which to be thankful. Let me know in a comment, or write a post and link up to the Ten Things of Thankful blog. I'm thankful to be part of such an encouraging online community!



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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Six Sentence Story: Menu

It's time for another Six Sentence Story! Each week, Ivy of Uncharted gives a cue, and, more often than not, I can record a family memory based on the clue. (Sometimes I do write fictional pieces based on the cue, but not this week.)



Her first-born was turning two, and Mom, trying to plan the birthday dinner, decided to ask the little guy what he wanted to eat. 

"He'll probably request ba-sketti, or perhaps hot dogs, but letting the birthday child pick the meal should be a tradition in this family," she thought to herself.

"Hey, Jake, what should Mommy cook for dinner? What would you like to eat?"

Though she clearly heard his response, it still caught her off guard, and she wondered about the economic feasibility of adopting the "birthday child chooses the menu" tradition.

Still, a promise is a promise, and that night (after a quick trip to the grocery store) the little family feasted on salmon. 







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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

If I Have to Have a Fender-Bender, Let it Be in Provo

Ivy, over at Uncharted, is having a contest, asking for the best opening line of a country western ballad. When I was typing the title of this post, I could almost hear the twanging of guitar strings. That title, perhaps like many country western lyrics, was born of experience.

Photo: A rear bumper, with a small hole and various scratches and scuffs

Monday morning, I was on my way back home after picking up some kolaches from Hruska's. (Yes, I had tried them for the first time on Saturday morning, and went back on Monday morning for more. If you've had them, you'll understand.) I was stopped at a 4-way stop, waiting for the car to the right of me to proceed before making a left turn, when BAM! a car plowed into me from behind. I couldn't believe it. I made the turn, pulled over to the side of the road, and the offender pulled up behind me. 

A young man, presumably a BYU student, got out of the car and immediately said, "I'm so sorry!" I didn't see any major damage to my car's bumper, so didn't bother to even get his name. He kept pointing to places on my bumper.

"Was that there before?" ("Yes," I said, then thought, "that's where a lady rear-ended me years ago when I stopped for a passing ambulance, and she didn't." )

"What about these scratches?" ("Yes, they were already there," I said, as I thought, "those were very recently obtained when I didn't quite pull far enough into the garage before pushing the button to shut the garage door!)

"You're so kind. You're so kind." He kept repeating himself. I just kept seeing my own children in him. I was fine. My car was fine. He was apologetic. He wasn't under the influence. (This is Provo, after all, home of the nation's #1 "Stone-Cold Sober" university--for 20 years in a row!) 

Besides, I had kolaches in the car that were getting cold. We shook hands, and got back into our cars. After he pulled away--I insisted he go first. I might be kind, but I'm wary, too!--I drove home, composing to myself that future country hit, If I Have to Have a Fender-Bender, Let it Be in Provo. 






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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Closing Escrow Edition

We moved to Utah over the summer, knowing the move was the right thing to do for our family, though we didn't have all of the details hammered out ahead of time. We signed a year-long lease on a rental house. We trimmed, packed, stored, and moved our belongings, many of which are now in a storage unit here in Utah. We knew that this year would be a year of transition, as we sold homes in California and looked to purchase a home here in Utah. 

1. I'm thankful for the peace of mind that comes when we follow promptings, especially because action often requires a leap of faith.

We didn't expect to find our new home as quickly as we did. We planned on having our California houses sold before we made an offer on a Utah house, but instead we found ourselves involved in three simultaneous escrows. I could easily get caught up in the stress of it all, but if I truly thought about it, the stress was superficial and the peace was enduring. Everything came together, and in case the post title wasn't clear, let me reiterate. . . ALL OF THE ESCROWS ARE CLOSED!!!!


Photo: Yellow leaves from a pear tree on the left, and an apricot tree on the right, frame the photo of a two-story house with a wrap-around porch.
2. I'm thankful for this house that just feels like home already.

3. I'm thankful for little details that, while certainly not needs, are lovely extras that make me smile--things like a porch, fruit trees, and white-barked quaking aspen. 

Probably the thing we love most about the house is its location and view. It dawned on me the other day that people sleep in tents on hard, cold ground to experience nature, and I will be able to soak in views and still sleep in a comfortable bed at night!


Photo: The view from the corner of my new backyard shows an expansive view of the valley, from sage brush leading to the green grass of my neighbor's backyard, then (in the distance) Utah Lake and Lake Mountain.
4. I'm thankful for the ability to enjoy the beauty of nature without having to sacrifice modern conveniences. 

Though we are still in transition, and will be until our lease is fulfilled and we have settled into our home, we now have a more-detailed plan. We can make changes to the house while living in the rental. We can move our things to their permanent location over time. And even though we will be moving to another city and will have another church ward next summer, we can enjoy getting to know the lovely people here. (The best and worst part about moving anywhere is meeting then leaving friends!)

5. I'm thankful for how welcoming the people in our church ward are. Many of us are in the same boat--here only temporarily. (There are a lot of BYU students in our ward.) Despite the transient nature of the ward, everyone is warmly welcomed, whether they are just visiting for the day or permanently settling in. I even learned today that someone has been "blog-stalking" me--Hi, Julie! 

6. I'm thankful for how welcoming the people in our new neighborhood (and thus new church ward) are, too. John and I went up to the house on Saturday morning to rake leaves. One of our neighbors popped by to introduce himself and offered to take our bagged leaves to the green waste facility. We gladly accepted that help!

Perhaps because we recognize the fleeting time we have here in Provo, we are trying to explore the town as much as possible. Saturday morning before we started raking leaves, we stopped by a local restaurant: Hruska's Kolaches. It's easy to overlook in the afternoons, but impossible to miss in the mornings, because the line goes out the door and down the street. Fortunately, you don't have to be able to pronounce it to enjoy the warm, delicious rolls, stuffed either with savory breakfast foods, or with sweet cheese and fruit preserves. 


Photo: A large yellow pear sign is to the left of white letters that spell out "Hruska's KOLACHES". Both the pear and the letters are on a rusty-colored corrugated metal roof.
7. I'm thankful to discover new places and foods to try. 

Not all of my discoveries are food-related. This past week, I also discovered Treasures Antique Mall. That is a dangerous, fun, frightening place. Dangerous because I could easily spend (too much) money there. Fun because . . . do I really have to explain the fun of an antique store? Frightening because I saw items there were identical to wedding gifts I received, and I refuse to believe I'm antique!

Anyway, while I was there, I found something I didn't realize I was looking for, but when I found it, I knew it was perfect for the new house! The photo isn't the best--it was hastily-taken on my phone to show John what I had found--but I hope you can get the idea. 


Photo: A  faded teal, metal welcome sign. Three quail stand on top of a slight arc, and the word "WELCOME" hangs below the arc.
8. I'm thankful for unique items that add personality and our own touch to the house. Sometimes, I even find things at non-antique stores!


Photo: A red door mat, with the words, "be Thankful" 
I am thankful! It was a look-back-over-my-life sort of week, as I celebrated another birthday. 

9. I am so thankful for family and friends throughout my life. As I read birthday wishes on Facebook, I thought about how I knew each person. Little memories from childhood came back to me: climbing Kurt's tree when I was about 3 years old, as our moms visited; listening to Paula give the synopsis of any Bible story; hours spent on the bus, playground, or classroom with classmates in elementary school; Sharma and I working together as teens at church girl's camp. Some friends I haven't known as long, yet their impact on me is still significant. They have been there when I've needed a listening ear concerning the challenges of motherhood, and they have shared with me their struggles, too. Yet other friends I have not met in person, but somehow through the internet and blogging we have become acquainted. And, of course, there is family--from parents and siblings, to in-laws and cousins, to very distant cousins that fall into the "only met through the internet" category. Every single person has made an impact on me in one way or another--and most certainly, in a more significant way than they would give themselves credit for. So, if anyone is still reading--thank you! Not just for reading, but for being a part of my life. 

As you know, if you have been a regular reader, my tenth item is reserved for my sweet husband.

10. I'm thankful for John. How I managed to meet such a wonderful best friend, who is so perfect for me, and somehow feels the same way about me, is really a miracle. (Last week's TToT post had some of you singing "Doe, a Deer," from Sound of Music. This week, of course, you might have "Wonder of Wonders" from Fiddler on the Roof. Hope you enjoy those musicals as much as I do!)

What are you thankful for this week? No matter whether you are feeling settled or in flux, there is gratitude to be had! Comment below, and if you have a blog, write a post and link up at the Ten Things of Thankful blog!





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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Six Sentence Story: Yard

Today is Thursday, which means that Ivy of Uncharted is hosting another Six Sentence Story blog hop. The timing of this week's cue (yard) is impeccable. This morning, John and I are going to sign final escrow papers on the purchase of our new-to-us home. I've had "yard" on my mind quite a bit lately. 

The house itself stood still and firm, waiting for the couple to turn their attention to it, but not even its wrap-around porch could redirect their excitement from the yard. 

The green grass in the front yard grew with reckless abandon, unconcerned about the purple-flowered weeds, caring only about reaching ever-closer to the bright blue sky.Two fruit trees--pear and apricot--rooted deeply under that green grass, proud of the fact they were not hidden behind the man-made abode, but could be seen from the street. Maples, pines, and quaking aspen each contributed their own character, but although they were native to the area, perhaps nothing said wild quite as well as the sagebrush that owned the backyard. In fact, it was impossible to determine exactly where the delineated property line fell; the lawn seamlessly was swallowed by the scrubby brush. 

And there, mere yards from the patient house, the trail on the mountain beckoned the couple to step off of their land and begin another adventure. 

Photo: Foothills, punctuated with sagebrush and other wild vegetation, lead to the craggy mountain. Dark clouds cover the sky.





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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It's Almost Party Time, and You're Invited! #FamilySearchIndexing

Have you ever found information about an ancestor online? Perhaps you've stumbled across an obituary, or a census record. Maybe you've discovered a newspaper article, or a marriage license. If you have, you understand what a thrill it is to learn something about someone who is related to you. 

Have you ever wondered just how that information gets published online? In brief, digital images are taken of paper records, and then, thanks to many volunteers, the names and dates from those images are indexed. People like you and me can download a batch of records, then carefully transcribe what is written. 

Indexing is simple, and you can return a batch anytime. There is help available every step of the way, and each batch is indexed by more than one person, and any differences are arbitrated. It's a no-pressure, interesting, helpful project, and can be done by people of all ages. 

Why am I mentioning this? #FamilySearchIndexing is hosting an event on October 20-22, with the goal of making more records searchable, and is inviting you to participate! You can read more about how to join in by clicking here.

Caption: Join the cause Worldwide Indexing Event 2017 Help Others Find Their Ancestors through Indexing When: October 20 to 22 Where: Wherever you are! How: Index one batch, and help someone else do the same. What's new: Online indexing now available! Learn more at: FamilySearch.org/indexingevent2017 FamilySearch The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints #familysearchindexing
Hope you can join in the fun!



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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Autumn Splendor Edition


I was reminded last week that I haven't done a photo-heavy Ten Things of Thankful list in a while, so I determined to capture in pictures the beauty of the fall season. John, youngest daughter, and I headed up Provo Canyon to see the colorful display of the changing leaves. We saw not only trees, but animals, a waterfall, and other things that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy!

Photo: A forest of red, orange, and yellow-leaved oak and maple trees is dotted by the occasional evergreen tree, with the majestic rocky Wasatch mountain range in the background. Fluffy white clouds float in the blue sky.
Photo:  A doe (a deer, a female deer) crosses a dirt road. On either side of the road are oak and maple trees, shrubs, and grasses.
Photo: A canopy of trees with small green and yellow leaves stretches over a paved walking path. A wooden rail fence marks the right side of the path.
Photo: A blossom of a tree. The flower has white, wispy, hair-like pieces flowing from a yellowish center. I'm sorry I don't know what kind of a plant it is--a reverse Google image search suggested, "Flower."
Photo: An old wire-wrapped wooden pole lies on the ground, surrounded by yellow and tan leaves
Photo: Bridal Veil Falls tumbles over the rocky face of the mountain. An aspen tree, with green and yellow leaves, stands in the foreground on the left.
Photo: A small maple, with burnt-orange/reddish leaves, stands in the foreground, with the Utah valley in the background.
Photo: A chipmunk uses its hind feet to grab onto a vertical tree limb, while clutching its front feet together.
Photo: A white-barked, still mainly green-leaved aspen tree.
Photo: John and I stand on a bridge, with trees with yellow and green leaves behind us.
I am thankful.

What have you noticed this week that makes thanksgiving swell in you? Comment below, and feel free to write your own post to link at the Ten Things of Thankful blog!





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