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Ten Things of Thankful: Empty Nest, Week 1

As you may recall, my youngest daughter flew the coop.  Literally Figuratively Well, kinda really.  She got on an airplane last week and is now staying with my brother's family for the summer.  This leaves John and me alone with no supervision. 

We have been acting both like responsible adults, and like kids in a candy store.  You can decide which is which in this week's TToT:

1.  The day youngest daughter left, we attended two baptisms:  one for a child (in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, baptism occurs at age 8 or later), and one for a young adult convert.  I'm thankful we were able to go, and for the chance I had to reflect on my own baptism.  I find great peace and power in covenants with Heavenly Father.

2.  Saturday, we woke up and went for a run together.  We will be running a 10 K together over Labor Day weekend, and I think we are ready.  (Well, I still have a bit of sewing for John's Mickey costume, but his ears arrived and my Minnie costume is complete.) Even though I still don't feel like a real runner--I'm jogging at a 12-13 minute mile pace--I'm learning to quiet the negative self-talk and just tell myself that if I can run 6 miles, I am a runner.  I'm thankful that I can run farther now than I've ever been able to run before.

3.  After our run, we tackled some of the clutter in our closet.  It felt good to drop off a load of clothes and books to the Salvation Army.  I'm thankful our unwanted yet still useful items will be used for good. 

4.  Numerous times throughout the week, we've eaten whatever caught our fancy.  Indian food?  Pizza?  Sausage?  Milkshakes?  Cookies?  Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!  It's getting to be a bit ridiculous.  (We have also eaten better-for-us fare, like rotisserie chicken, black cod, or various salads, but still. . . )  I'm thankful for tasty foods--both the healthy and not-so-healthy varieties.

5.  Our house now sports solar panels, and we are enjoying watching our meter run backwards!  I'm thankful for the great crew that came and installed our system.  They were pleasant, punctual, and professional.  

Yes, those are clouds in the sky.  We install solar, and all of a sudden the sun disappears.  If we can end the drought, though, I won't mind.

6.  Whenever we have people over to help us, John likes to have refreshments available to them.  Knowing this, I offered Gatorade to the solar installers each day they were working here.  (Being up on a roof all day in 90+ degree heat can't be fun!) On the final day of installation, I had donuts for them also.  I did not think anything of it.  The crew thanked me each day, but I had no idea what an impact Gatorade and donuts made.  I received a phone call from the owner of the company, thanking me for how we had treated the workers.  She said they had never been treated so nicely, and the guys told her that they wished we had 100 more houses that we wanted solar panels on.  I'm thankful that John is thoughtful and kind, and that he has helped me remember to be thoughtful and kind, too.

7.  We saw a movie Monday night.  We bought 3 tickets for the two of us, because on Mondays, tickets are $1.00 apiece if you buy 3 or more.  Otherwise, tickets are $2.00 apiece.  If the box office stats for "Heaven is for Real" seem a little inflated this week, you'll know why.  I'm thankful for an inexpensive theater.  

OK, if you don't mind, could you please let me know if you think heaven is real?  Both John and I were taken aback that the preacher and his congregation seemed to struggle with the idea that heaven is real.  We assumed that most religious people would believe in an afterlife (as we do), but the movie made it seem like it was a divisive concept.  What do you think?  (I'm not looking for a debate; I'm just wondering if I'm off-base in my assumptions about what people generally believe.)  Thanks!

8.  We went to a baseball game Thursday night.  I love watching our local minor league team.  The players are the ages of my kids, and some of them go on to play in the bigs.  I'm thankful to be able to see the guys out there, pursuing their dreams--even when our team loses.

It's minor league, so sometimes the numbers are a little different than you would see in the major league.

My new favorite player, Jon Kemmer.  See that dirt on his back?  That's from a fantastic diving catch he made to finally retire the top of an inning. Otherwise, that score would have been much worse.
9.  Monday and Thursday, while technically dates, were not on the weekend, so of course we needed to go on our Friday night date.  We ventured to Hollywood's Pantages Theater to watch the musical, "Once."  

 I was excited to read on the Pantages web page:
The use of cameras, cell phone cameras or audio/video recording devices is not permitted during the performance. Patrons are welcome to take photos before, during intermission and after the show, however, “Professional” grade cameras are not allowed inside the theatre at any time. It is the discretion of Management to determine if a camera is considered “Professional” but a guideline for an acceptable camera would be one which can fit neatly inside a small purse, bag or pocket.
I foolishly took that to mean that it would be OK to take photos inside the theater, as long as I didn't take them during the performance.  No, what that means is that you can take photos of the lobby, but not inside the theater.  Apparently all cameras, including phone cameras, are "Professional" grade. Luckily, I learned from the mistakes of others, so I didn't even attempt a photo inside the theater.  I would have been satisfied with a photo of the ceiling; it was so impressive!  Anyway, I'm afraid I only have these photos of the lobby, which was also very impressive:


I was anticipating writing about how much I enjoyed "Once," but unfortunately, I cannot recommend it.  It had many enjoyable moments, beautiful music, and a classic love story plot.  If the script had left out the coarse language, I would not have such a negative view of the play.  I know not everyone agrees with me, and some may view me as old-fashioned, but I don't appreciate swearing.  "Colorful" language tainted my view of the entire performance. 

Here are the thankfuls, though:  I'm thankful for beautiful old buildings, filled with craftsmanship.  I'm thankful for talented musicians and actors.  I'm always thankful for a date with John.  I'm thankful for my friends who, although they might not agree with me (and I support their right to disagree), temper their language while communicating with me; I really appreciate that.

10.  Today we started another project, that hopefully I'll be able to show you next week.  

Until then, please join the Ten Things of Thankful movement! I'm thankful to be a co-host for this wonderful blog hop.  The more I get to know the other co-hosts and participants, the more impressed I am.  Gratitude is everywhere!
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Thanks for a responsible and fun-filled week!

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  1. oooh a cliffhanger! Cant wait to see the new project.

    I am totally like that with people coming to the house for any service. I figure I love having something special at work so why not everyone else?

    So, about Heaven... I have to say I have been unsure for years. As a child and straight into my thirties I was fairly certain of my faith and the existence of Heaven... but doubt set in and newer concepts came to mind and I just didnt know. I think I believe in Heaven but perhaps not in its traditional form ( whatever that is) ... I guess I think of a more collective conciousness after death... but I do believe in God and a higher power...and I guess in a Heaven of sorts. Now you have me thinking... a dangerous thing!

    1. Hopefully, putting in that cliffhanger means we will finish the project this week. We'll see.

      Thanks for your response to my question about heaven. Good point about needing a definition of "traditional form." I don't imagine floating on clouds, playing harps, but believe in a heaven where we will continue living in families.

      Be careful with your dangerous thoughts! :-)

  2. Sounds like a wonderful week you and John had; your dinners sound yummy...yes i believe in heaven there's no doubt in my mind that it does not exist. Lovely pictures of the theater awesome craftsmanship. I like to know who are the solar panel company's clients, I never heard that you do not take care of any workers that are in the home. Good job keeping them hydrated. :) enjoy your week!

    1. Hmm, now blogger is eating my own replies to comments. Here's take 2:

      The solar workers did come with their own water, but I was surprised that our treatment of them was so unusual.

      Thanks for your response to my question. Like you, I believe in heaven.

  3. "...I'm learning to quiet the negative self-talk and just tell myself that if I can run…
    I'm glad I read the post, this line in particular. It helps me feel that I am correct in thinking that what I am thinking (while trying to run) is very important. (?!!) lol
    I found your reaction to the play (and the choice of language) interesting, as it resonates with my own beliefs about the whole notion of personal realty. While I'm fairly certain the language (in this case) would not have the same impact on my own enjoyment (of the play), I have no doubt whatsoever that it does…have that effect on another person.
    It's kind of what we mean over here at the Doctrine, that it is our responsibility to understand that, what we experience (of the world around us) does not necessarily mean that it is the same for everyone.
    A first small step to understanding the people in our lives.

    1. I'm beginning to realize that negative self-talk is really the opposite of gratitude. I have a healthy physical body. Running, and "owning up" to running, is an expression of gratitude for the health that I have. Telling myself that I'm not really a runner minimizes my thankfulness.

      I appreciate the fact that your blog promotes understanding, trying to recognize where another person is coming from. And I'm glad that my review of the play was read for what it was--a way for me to explain my feelings, and not as a judgement of those whose choice of words differs from mine.

  4. Wow! That theatre's BEAUTIFUL! Such gorgeous design and interior decor! What a shame the play wasn't enjoyable for you.

    And yes, DEFINITELY, if you can run six miles, you're a runner. You can run further than I can, at the moment *sigh*

    1. Isn't it amazing? I really wish I could have taken a photo inside the actual performance area, because it was even more ornate!

      No need to sigh about your own running. I'm trying to minimize my own self-negative voice--I certainly won't put up with hearing you be disappointed in your running efforts! (How's that for an unusually--for me--bold statement?) Regardless of how far or how fast you are currently running, you still are an example to me of someone who tries new things and pushes herself to do better. (Rock wall climbing, biking, etc.) Thank you for reminding me to be adventurous and stretch myself.

  5. 1. I find great peace and power in covenants with Heavenly Father.

    Ditto. Recently, I was with my in-laws at the temple to offer proxies for members of their family. I also remember my daughter's first temple trip. She understands how covenants bind families together.

    5. Awesome! I've only had solar cells on a very small scale (trickling energy to a car battery), but I hope to have a setup like that someday.

    6. There is a story about our Church president George Albert Smith, I believe. I might not be telling it right, but I seem to remember it was that he had laborers at his home who were cursing and swearing. President Smith made some lemonade as he figured they were uncomfortably hot and thirsty, and their attitude quickly changed. How blessed you are that John is likewise a very good example. It's my experience service gives me so many blessings, even if it doesn't seem that I get reciprocated. My needs somehow get taken care of when I serve.

    7. It's an esoteric thing for me, and intensely personal and sacred. Yes, I believe heaven is real. But... people understand heaven in so many different ways, that I need to know where they are coming from, to find common ground, before I share my experiences. I see you understand it's a subject people can clash over differences, so I try to be very careful to build on something shared.

    8. Cimmy and I love this so much, too. We used to go a little more before our son was born, and when she delivered newspapers-- the paper had a free night for carriers.

    1. I certainly didn't intend for people to share anything too personal, so I hope the question didn't come across that way. I was just wondering on a basic level what readers views were about the existence (or not) of heaven. I agree with you, that discussions benefit from common ground.

      I seem to remember that story. Fortunately for me, the solar workers were pleasant even before the Gatorade was offered. And you're right, even though the purpose of service is not to get gain, very often the good we offer others is returned to us again.

  6. Glad to hear that you are enjoying your "empty" nest.

    Yes, I believe heaven is real - after all, Jesus said he was preparing a place for believers.

    1. We are having fun.

      Thanks for chiming in on my question. Perhaps the doubt in the movie was overplayed.

  7. Now I'm so curious on your new project!

    Like you, I always give workers at our home some refreshments and - it they are here for a whole day, something extra with their lunch like a cup of soup. I think this is just good form.
    Nice that the company owner called to tell you how much it's appriciated, but sad it's so uncommon that she did so.....

    About Heaven. Eventhough I don't see myself as a very religious person, I do believe in Heaven. Not the sitting on clouds and stuff, but a higher place we all go and will be reunited with our loved ones who gone before us. If I have to be honest, I'm quite curious to see and go to heaven, not that I long to end my life or something, but I'm not afraid to go, I wouldn't fight it if it's my time. I also think the spirits are among us, around us and can see us live our lifes. I hope it's true....

    Love your time together! It's over before you'll know. Making memories like this together is great, don't you think. I love to read how you still have a good relation together, not lost your "togetherness" because of having kids. Henk and I often see couples not knowing how to be together any more after the kids left the house... You two most surtainly don't have that problem!! Respect for that!

    1. I agree. I was pleased to hear from the company president, but saddened to think our actions seem to be the exception and not the norm.

      I also agree with you about heaven. I don't envision sitting on clouds, but in being reunited with our families. I do think our loved ones who have gone before are aware of our lives and can be a supportive influence.

      Date night has always been a top priority for us. We love, love, love our kids, but we are also aware that kids need parents who have a strong relationship with each other, so we've tried to make that a priority. Of course, it helps that I'm married to John, who is the perfect man for me. :-)

  8. Kristi, you are most definitely a runner! I can't run six miles. Especially in the heat of summer in Florida!
    You and your husband seem to be making the most of your empty nest time. I'm glad to hear it.
    My daughter has been looking forward to Heaven Is For Real coming out on DVD this Tuesday. It looks like a good movie.
    I don't often get involved in conversation on religion or politics but this seem important to you so I will tell you that I believe in God and I believe there is something or somewhere after this life though not the Heaven we were taught about when I was a child...with mansions and streets of gold.
    I love what you did for the solar panel workers. I think that is an incredible gesture and I thank you for the idea. I think I will have to do the same next time someone is at my home working on something.

    1. Thank you for chiming in! I understand your hesitance to comment on religion or politics; so often those topics are divisive rather than unifying. A little respect goes a long way toward understanding, but it seems that differences of opinion too often lead to name-calling. I have friends of various political and religious persuasions, and hope that they understand I do not have a political or religious test of friendship.

      I'm glad that John helped me learn to think more about others. I'll tell him that his example has influenced you, too.

  9. I used to love to go to Hollywood to see movies when I was a teenager and living in the San Fernando Valley --- and the Pantages was high on the list! What a beautiful theater. I'm surprised they didn't let you take interior photos -- I thought the no camera thing was so that people couldn't steal the movies but I guess there is more to it. Hope you have a great week!

    1. Perhaps the "no photos" rule was just specific to this play; I'm not sure. It is a beautiful theater, that's for sure. I think the theater is only used for plays now, rather than movies. I think that is kind of funny, because most old theaters were originally built for plays and converted to movie theaters, but the Pantages went the opposite route.

  10. What an amazing list of thankfuls Kristi!!! Six miles? WOW. you ARE A RUNNER!!

    Love that you have the world at your finger tips with your hubs!! what an increidble week full of awesome food, projects and cheap movie tickets!

    I read the book Heaven is for Real to my 4-6 graders last summer. The book is amazing. I have yet to see the movie. I would assume all Christians believe in Heaven. It's a huge component of the Christian faith! I am not sure the difference between your denomination and any other Christian ideology? Oh Kristi, I would absolutely LOVE for you to be a guest on my blog to share more specifically about your faith! Would ya? no pressure and no time frame... I have a (this summer random- but weekly usually) Devotional Diary series on Sundays that offers anyone the opportunity to share their journey in faith.

    Just let me know, because I know many would be curious and love to learn more about yours!

    1. I would assume so, too, but the movie made it seem that the congregation (and the father, too, for that matter) struggled quite a bit with the idea that the boy actually saw heaven.

      I'd be honored to write a guest post for you! Thanks for the invite.

  11. Heaven? Absolutely. I think my concept of it today differs greatly from my perception in childhood - but that's true of anything, isn't it? Children think much more literally so if it was angels on clouds with harps or whatever and that's not actually what I think now, so be it. Right about here is where I'd springboard into a much longer conversation because I find the topic - Heaven and faith and all of it - fascinating on so many levels. Probably why I ended up minoring in Christian Theology.
    Great moments in your week! I loved the part about eating whatever struck your fancy - so different to eat without kids than with, isn't it? I can recall some fun spur-of-the-moment dinner decisions in our marriage before Kidzilla. I guess being parents makes us think differently, doesn't it? But one of these days we are going to have to introduce her to the joy of ice cream for dinner on a way too hot summer's day.

    1. I didn't know you minored in Christian Theology. Faith is an interesting topic!

  12. Adjusting well the the empty nest, I think. It's nice that the running helps balance out the pizza, the sausage, the milkshake. It's wonderful you have the confidence to enter the 10K. Whoo Hoo - good for you. I envy that.

    1. I've run a couple of Disney runs before; they are definitely geared toward fun, not intimidation. I will need to get the eating under control here soon, though, or start training for a marathon! :-)


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