Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: Homecoming Edition

It's Sunday morning, and I'm relaxing on the couch with my computer on my lap. Empty boxes sit in the upstairs hallway and downstairs family room, and lean against the wall in the entryway.


Photo: View from my couch as described above.
I'm home in this not-yet-familiar house. John is here, Drexel is here, and my belonging are here (though in which box or cupboard is still anyone's guess--referring of course to the belongings; John and Drexel roam free in the house.) We still don't know which switches control which lights but, over time, we'll get the desired effect with fewer tries. In short, we're in the "unpacking and settling in" phase of moving--a phase in which what should be second nature is new and exciting.

This week's TToT theme is homecoming. 

1. I'm thankful for this house, which we plan on making our home until our knees give out and age forces a change.

It's obvious that #1 would make the list, especially given the theme, but the idea of homecoming has been popping up all over the place recently.

2. I'm thankful that the Thai soccer players were able to be rescued. I'm sure that they welcomed returning to their homes.

3. I'm thankful that more children were reunited with their parents at the border. I don't have the answers to immigration issues, but I do know that children need parents. 

4. I'm thankful that my grandchildren have both their mom and their dad at home.

5. I'm thankful that my youngest son successfully relocated from Washington to Colorado. Who knew that a Chevy Aveo had towing capability?! 

6-7.  I'm thankful that youngest daughter's path is becoming more clear to her, and that several things are lining up which will allow her to move into a location which will be a better fit for her. 

8. I'm thankful for good timing, which gives both John and I, as well as another family, the opportunity for a homecoming. As our lease drew to a close, we decided on a moving-out date. Shortly after we told our landlord what day we would be vacating, our landlord informed us that another family would be moving in the following week. That family is from another country, is escaping persecution, and, with any luck, will be flying into the nearby airport tomorrow. As I cleaned the house prior to turning in the keys, I thought of this sweet family. What could have been just another chore turned into a labor of love. I hope they enjoy peace and enjoy the house and neighborhood as much as John and I did.

9. I'm thankful for neighbors who make goodbyes and hellos easier. In leaving, we had help cleaning and loading. In arrival, we had help unloading, and the offer of dinner. We couldn't have loaded or unloaded the piano (for example, and in particular) without help. 

(I love my old upright piano, but it weighs a ton--at least figuratively, if not literally--and I get nervous whenever we have to move it. My dad's sister actually died in a freak piano-moving accident when she was a little girl, so that is always in the back of my mind whenever we have to relocate our piano.)

10. I'm thankful for John. We have, as John puts it, "grown up and moved out." I have loved each stage of our life together, and this homecoming is no exception. 

What are you thankful for this week? What makes home home for you? Link up below (if the code is working!) and/or visit the Ten Things of Thankful blog and join in the fun.


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Friday, July 6, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: California and a Utah 4th Edition


I've been away from my blog for the past little bit, as I spent some time in California with my daughter and my grandchildren, but I arrived back home in Utah in time for the 4th of July. 

I'm thankful:

1. For my sweet grandchildren. We sang together, read together, talked together, ate together, worked together, laughed together, prayed together, and basically just had a great time!


Photo: a collage of photos of my grandchildren. On the left, the baby grandson smiles up at the camera. In the middle, youngest granddaughter and oldest grandson stand together. Granddaughter has her arm around her brother. She holds a "wishing star" and he holds a toy sword. On the right, oldest granddaughter sleeps on the couch, and her black-and-white kitten naps next to her.

2. For all of my children. Even though I didn't see everybody at the same time, in June I was able to spend time with all of my children. They are far beyond the little kid stage, but I am delighted with the adults they have become. 

3. For friends. One of my friends took time from her busy schedule to come down and help me for two days while I was at my daughter's house. The help was much appreciated, and we managed to have a lot of fun, too!

4. For missionaries, who spend their days in service. While I was in California, I found a washer/dryer set on Craigslist. My daughter's washer didn't work correctly, and she didn't have a dryer. I made a phone call, and Mormon missionaries met me at the seller's house, loaded the set into my van, met me back at my daughter's house, and unloaded the appliances. They were cheerful and smiling the entire time. Ask the missionaries! They can help you!

5. For "interesting" experiences. Despite the washer/dryer purchase, it was necessary for me to spend some time at a laundromat. While there, I had a conversation with a guy which has provided me with blog fodder for a future post. Sometimes I just have to shake my head and laugh. Look for "Thou Shalt Not: Flirting Tips from an Old Married Grandma (Don't. Just Don't.)" later. 

6. To be back home. While I enjoyed spending time in California with my daughter and grandchildren, it is so good to be back home to John again! 

7. For apricots. The house we will be moving into THIS MONTH (!) has an apricot tree in the front yard. Since Utah decided to get snow after the blossoms already appeared, I didn't think we would have much of a crop this summer. I was right, but we still were able to pick a couple dozen apricots, which is a good amount for us right now.


Photo: A few ripe apricots emerge from green leaves against a deep blue sky.

8. For parades. The 4th of July parade here was wonderful! It had all of the typical entries--floats, marching bands, old cars, fire trucks, bagpipes, horses, community leaders, etc.--as well as some "I've-never-seen-that-before; it-must-be-a-Utah-thing" additions. In lieu of candy being thrown to the parade watchers, sometimes water was squirted out on the crowd. I wasn't expecting to be in a splash zone, but didn't really mind. I don't think I have ever watched a parade with a contingent of Mormon missionaries walking the route. And while the Macy's Day Parade is known for its balloons, I don't think I have ever personally seen big balloons limbo-ing under power lines.




9. For the sights and sounds of celebrating freedom. John and I attended Stadium of Fire, which bills itself as the nation's largest stadium fireworks display. It was a spectacular event, from the fly-over of F-35s, to the massive field show, to the concert by One Republic, to the concluding fireworks display. I'm so glad we got to experience it, and I'm thankful for the men and women throughout our nation's history who have bravely sacrificed so we can live in this free country. 









Photo: Fireworks explode over LaVell Edwards Stadium on the 4th of July
10. For John. I missed him while I was gone, but we will have plenty of time together in the next few weeks as we finally complete the move into our new house. Over a year ago, we made the decision to move to Utah. It has proved to be a good choice, and I've enjoyed the time we've rented this house here in Provo, but I'm excited to finally settle into a more permanent place. As John says, "We're growing up and moving out on our own!" Our empty-nest home. A new chapter awaits. Adventure is out there!

I'm having trouble with the link-up code this week. Please visit the Ten Things of Thankful blog to view other posts and feel free to link up your own!


Friday, June 22, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: A Quick Stream of Consciousness Edition

I was going to spend the evening thoughtfully composing this post, but had a last-minute change of plans. I'll be headed to CA tomorrow bright and early to spend some time with my daughter and her children, so this post is going to be quick (at least in theory).

I'm thankful:

1. That we spotted the rattlesnake in our backyard. (Of course, it would have been better if he hadn't been there, but if he was going to show up, I'm glad we noticed him.)


Photo: A rattlesnake curls up in the green grass

2. That John was able to successfully dispose of the snake. 

3. For cute baby quail (which are a whole lot more enjoyable to see than a rattlesnake--and a whole lot harder to photograph!)

4. That at least one room in our new house is completely unpacked and decorated. 


Photo: A bathroom with a Mickey Mouse theme. A Mickey Mouse poster is on the wall, Mickey Mouse towels hang on the rack, and Mickey Mouse shower curtain hooks hold a white ruffled shower curtain.
5. For home and garden tours. John and I got to tour a couple of historic homes recently, then on another evening, toured some gardens in another nearby town. I particularly enjoyed talking to the gardeners and gathering information about what grows well here. (Several of the yards had raspberries!!!!)

6. For planter boxes that fit my porch.

7. For fuchsias.


Photo: White planter boxes filled with fuchsia plants line the rail of my porch.
8.  For the flexibility I have to go help my daughter and see my grandchildren.

9. For good deals found online.

10. For John. 

What are you thankful for this week? Feel free to link up your own post!

I just realized that the link up is not displaying properly on my blog. Unfortunately, I do not have time to figure out what the problem is right now, as I really need to start my drive to California. Please click on the link to be redirected to the link-up on the Ten Things of Thankful blog. (And if any of you have a solution for me, please let me know!) Thanks for your patience with me as I learn the ropes of blog hop hosting!







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Friday, June 15, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: It's the Little Things Edition

As Josie Two Shoes announced on the Ten Things of Thankful blog this week, she is going to be stepping down from hosting the blog hop. She has done a great job, and though I cannot fill her shoes, I did agree to do my best to keep our blog hop hoppin'. 

I recognize the power of gratitude. I named my blog, Thankful Me, to brand myself as a thankful person. Then Lizzi started the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop, and soon had gathered a vibrant community of others who expressed gratitude--even during challenging times. The internet brought together a diverse group of people from all over the world who found common ground through the power of gratitude. The simple act of expressing what we were thankful for brought strength to us individually, and connected us as a community. I believe strongly in the benefit of this blog hop, and knew I had to volunteer when Josie Two Shoes announced she needed to step down. 

This week, as I've thought about the importance of this blog hop, I've thought not just on the "thankful" part, but also on the "things." Little things can make a big difference. 

1. I'm thankful for how the simple act of deciding to write about what I am thankful for changes my perspective and makes me more aware throughout the week of grateful moments.

I'm thankful that progress doesn't always require Herculean effort, but that small things develop into larger things:

2. I'm thankful that seeds grow into plants. As I weeded the garden boxes in my new house, I discovered some volunteer sunflowers, onions, and parsley. Though I didn't plant them, they grew anyway. 

3. I'm thankful that small steps form habits. The change in perspective mentioned in #1, practiced over and over through the weeks, months, and years, has resulted in a change of person. Looking for things I am thankful for has become second nature. (Don't misunderstand, I still have moments of complaints, but I'm less likely to be overwhelmed by them now.)

4. I'm thankful that small steps develop into longer runs. In high school, my dad and I ran a race or two together, but I wasn't what you would call a runner. I still struggle to consider myself a runner. I don't have the sleek, gazelle-like look of "serious" runners, nor the speed of those in front of me. However, I have learned over the past few years that I can run farther than I realized. Day after day, putting one step in front of the other, my cardiovascular system has adapted, my legs have become stronger, and I have successfully run 2 half-marathons, and multiple 10K and 5 K races. I am amazed at myself. Small steps count.

5. Similarly, I'm thankful that small increases in pace develop into a new normal. I've started increasing my running pace, ever so slightly, with the hope (and belief) that gradual increases will result in a better time on my next run. I don't think I'll ever be actually fast, but I also think my body is capable of running faster than I do currently. 

6. I'm thankful for clean dishes, clean laundry, and a clean-enough house. When I take time to think about what a benefit those things are to me and my family, I'm less likely to begrudge those tasks. Small things that make a difference aren't really small things now, are they?

7. I'm thankful for a small world. Sometimes, the world becomes smaller thanks to the internet, such as with the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop. Sometimes the world shrinks because two people are in the same place at the same time. Such was the case on Sunday. While John and I were in the Family History Center (we are family history consultants in our ward), a young woman came in and asked for some help. When I sat down at the computer with her, I immediately recognized some of the names on her pedigree chart. I asked, "Where are those people from?" When she said, "Oregon," (as I knew she would), I told her that her dad and I were in the same branch (a church congregation smaller than a ward) when we were in high school. Her mom, though not in my branch, had been in a nearby ward. Small world!

8. I'm thankful for how meaningful small interactions can be. This week, I received a text from a friend saying she and her family were in Utah, asking if they could stop by for a visit. Of course I agreed, and it was so good to catch up! Friendships are built day by day, interaction by interaction, step by step. Moving requires one to make new friends--which counts as the next thing of thankful--but it is lovely to see friends whose friendship's foundation is old and firm. 

9. I'm thankful for new friendships, that develop as old friendships do, step by step. This morning I went out for breakfast with a couple of women from my ward. Though we have only known each other for less than a year, we have learned from one another and supported each other. We've had different experiences in life, yet have found commonalities. As we've taken the time to get to know each other, we've become friends. 

10. I'm thankful for small habits that have contributed to a strong marriage. Though circumstances may change, and routines sometimes get thrown off for one reason or another, we have found that the more consistent we are with the following, the closer we are to each other and the more joy we have: prayer, scripture study, church and temple attendance, eating meals together, family home evening, and weekly date night. 

One nice thing about small things is that they are small. On the one hand, they aren't difficult. One the other hand, one missed thing every now and then isn't the end of the world. Instead of beating myself up because I missed doing the dishes right away, for example, I can simply do them now and move on. That works with other things, as well. The power of small things is magnified as those small things accumulate. When I notice that my life seems unbalanced, correction occurs through small steps. 

What small things are important to you? As always, I invite you to join the Ten Things of Thankful and experience the power of sharing your gratitude. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: Vacation Slideshow Edition!

Back in the old days, before some of you were born, people used film in their cameras; digital photography hadn't been invented yet. Sometimes that film was developed into slides rather than photos, and friends and family would gather together to watch a slideshow of their vacation. 

I thought I'd take the slideshow approach to this week's Ten Things of Thankful post, but while I get the slides loaded into the projector, let me set the stage. Feel free to pop some popcorn and find a comfy spot on the sofa while I give the background.  On May 25, my oldest daughter carried a suitcase with her to her final exam of law school. As soon as she finished her test, she flew from Seattle to Salt Lake City. We met her at the airport, slept for a few hours in the house we are moving into, then returned to the airport and flew to Orlando. We spent the next week at Disney World, then hopped back on a plane bound for Seattle. The next day, John and I (along with some other family members and friends) watched our daughter graduate from law school. John and I stayed in Seattle for a couple of days, then flew back to Utah. Oldest daughter now has her nose in books as she prepares to take the bar exam, and John and I are settling back into our regular life.

OK, I think I've loaded the slides upside-down and backwards into the carousel, so the images should display correctly. Could someone dim the lights? Great! Let's begin:

One of the things that our oldest daughter loves to do at Disney parks is to interact with the characters, so we made a point to meet as many as we could. One of the first we met was Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. She set the stage for a magical vacation! She greeted each person with genuine care and concern. After my daughter asked her if she could cast a spell to help her pass the bar exam, the Fairy Godmother took a little piece of paper and a pen out of one of her sleeves and jotted down my daughter's name and request. She explained that she would put her in her prayers. My daughter said 
that the Fairy Godmother's sleeve was full of little papers. The Fairy Godmother's sincerity endeared us to her. After we returned home, I stumbled across an article that showed me that I'm not the first one to witness her caring manner. I'm thankful for nice people, who go above and beyond.
Photo: Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, dressed in a sky blue hooded robe with a pink bow at the neck, and my oldest daughter stand near the castle wall

Now, of course, not all Disney characters are so sweet. No matter; memorable encounters occur with others, too. When my daughter pointed up toward the sky when posing with Peter Pan, he said, "What are you doing? You look like a dork!" He then demonstrated the proper way to fly. We laughed about that for quite some time. 


Photo: Peter Pan instructs my daughter on how to fly: arms out like an airplane, back foot lifted.
Our daughter is not one to let her heart rule her head, so this next photo also makes me laugh. The villain Gaston is not her type at all!


Photo: Gaston shows off his muscles while oldest daughter looks up and swoons.
I'm thankful for those who obviously enjoy their jobs.

We didn't just meet characters; we took time to ride the rides as well. Some of the attractions have cameras set up to capture action shots. A couple of the photos made us laugh.


Photo: A vehicle traveling through the Dinosaur ride. On the back row, oldest daughter, John, and I look less than enthralled. On the middle row, three women smile, while one of them covers her daughter's eyes. On the first row, a man throws his arms across his sons, as if to protect them from the animatronic dinosaurs.
Photo: John, oldest daughter, and I ride in the back seat of a blue car on the Test Track ride, while in the front row, a man sitting in front of John wears a blue plaid shirt that is nearly identical to John's. 
I'm thankful for humorous moments.

Speaking of humorous moments, we witnessed another one while at Animal Kingdom. Let's let the slide projector rest for a moment while we watch this video I captured of two young gorillas with their dad.


In the video, one of the young gorillas saunters up to his dad. The older gorilla has his back turned. His son gives him a quick shove, then quickly retreats. The dad ignores him. 

I guess children of many species challenge their parents every now and then.

I'm thankful for animals, children, and their self-development.

OK, I think the projector is ready to go again. Our week at Disney World was great, and we enjoyed being able to spend time with our daughter.


Photo: Our daughter smiles as John and I stand on either side of her and kiss her cheeks.
I'm thankful for oldest daughter.

Fun though Disney World was, we needed to head back to Seattle for this moment:

Photo: Oldest daughter walks across the stage and shakes hands with a law school administrator. (Photo compliments of my brother.)

I'm thankful for our daughter's determination and hard work.

I'm also thankful for my brother's photography skills, which were much better than mine for this occasion. 


(Photo shows my daughter seemingly walking right into the law school administrator.)

One son lives in Seattle, and the other son came up for the graduation, so we enjoyed being able to spend time with three of our children. We visited Chihuly Garden and Glass  and were amazed at the beautiful glass creations. 

Photo: light shines down through a glass ceiling of colorful glass bowls, spheres, and other objects to create aqua and purple light patterns on the walls. 

Photo: Large red, orange, and yellow glass flowers hang from the glass ceiling of a sunroom at Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Photo: A glass sphere in the garden reflects the Space Needle and us taking a photo.


I'm thankful for the talents of a master craftsman, and the opportunity to view his beautiful glass artwork.

No trip to Seattle would be complete without visiting the waterfront. Not to be content with just one lake, we stopped at Union Lake, Lake Washington, and Green Lake. 


Photo: John, I, our boys, and oldest daughter smile for the camera at Lake Washington. (Thanks to daughter's friend for the photo!)

I'm thankful for the opportunity to see so many of my children at once. 

Our time in Seattle was short, which is probably for the best because every time we are there, we get the urge to buy a house and relocate. (The housing market is a great deterrent now, though!) Soon John and I were on our way home. Mt. Rainier was out (that isn't always the case; it's often under cloud cover) and I snuck a photo from the plane.



I'm thankful for John and all the adventures we've had over the years.


Photo: John and I stand in the Pandora area of Animal Kingdom.

Thanks for humoring me with this vacation slideshow. I fear a little bit that my posts of a great vacation could paint a picture that is all-rosy. I did not throw in photos of blistered feet and torrential rain. I do not write of many of the struggles that are chronic but are not mine to share. I put worries on the back burner and enjoyed the moment. 

Writing a Ten Things of Thankful post does not mean that one is unfamiliar with trials; it is a chance to keep those challenges from becoming too overwhelming. Whether one is on vacation, in the middle of a big move (or both!), or simply in a humdrum routine, there is much to be thankful for. 

I'd love to see your own slideshow or written Ten Things of Thankful post! Feel free to join us!





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