Saturday, July 25, 2009

For the Birds


We live in the country. We have lots of trees. It's a great home for birds around here. Mostly.

Sometimes the little birdies around here get so excited as they flit along that they mistakenly judge our windows to be open passages into our home. For some reason, this time of year, we have birds that crash into our windows several times a day. If you aren't expecting it, the loud THUD they make on the window can be quite unnerving.

Birds fly pretty fast in these parts. Depending on the size and velocity of said birds, there can be a variety of results. Sometimes they are stunned. They make IMPACT, skip a few flaps of the wing, but then they pull it out and make for a tree branch-disoriented, but all right. It's almost comical to watch if it weren't so darn pathetic. Other times we only hear the THUD and are left to wonder if the bird that left behind feathers and a dusty outline will live to fly another day.

Sadly, today, I was out in the back yard looking for strawberries when I heard the tell-tale THUMP on the high picture windows. When I turned to see the aftermath, I saw our sorta-wild cat POUNCE on the fallen, though still alive, bird!! The horror. The humanity. The lunch for my cat. It was just a little too Animal Planet for me and I had to go inside leaving the wild beasts to their uncivilized ways.

So be warned little birdies-don't be tricked. You CANNOT fly into our living room! Go enjoy the summer air away from my house. And oh ya, while you are at it, stay out of my strawberry patch too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Our Anniversary

Today is our anniversary.

14 years.

Wow.

It kind of freaks me out-but in a good way! ;)

No big trip this year because we will be at Powell next week and someone has to actually go to work to earn a living.

But you know what? I don't mind even a little bit.

We got to hang out this afternoon and after taking care of various kid stuff, we went to dinner at Ariano's (one of my fav. Italian resturants). It was delightful, and even kinda romantic.

(...cue Jack Johnson music here...deep sigh...)

Because we were together.

We did exchange gifts. He got me some fun jewelry and I got this...
Because for us, This is the Place where it all began 14 years ago. I was pretty ga-ga. I thought he was the ideal man.
Over these last 14 years I have realized that I was RIGHT! Even though he is not perfect (sorry to reveal that on my blog and all...), but he is the ideal man-for ME! It's pretty cool, because not only are we still in love, but most days we still really like each other. We are certainly different in a lot of ways, but I decided a long time ago that it must just mean we are a good balance for each other.

Last month we went to our niece's wedding at the SLC Temple and we had lots of time to sit and hang out together. We talked about how fun our wedding day was for us. All of the friends and family coming together to help celebrate the start of a new family. It was dreamy! We chuckled at the innocent and naive smiles my niece and her new husband had. We wondered if we had known back then everything we would go through together, would we have still gotten married?

OH YA! YES! WAY!

Although there have been days I really wondered, I know I wouldn't trade ANY of the things we have learned together--good and bad. So Happy Anniversary John-you are still THE ONE!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Scout Camp

Last week was Scout Camp for Gabe and Seth. I wasn't there so I cannot comment on it too much. I just know the boys had a blast and earned 18 merit badges between them. I did take this picture when they got home. I thought it captured some of the 'essence' of the week.

Monday, July 20, 2009

FFFFFHE

FHE is fun, but even more fun when some extra families join in.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Jedi in the Family

When we pulled the Suburban into the garage tonight many of the widows were down as we were enjoying the perfect summer evening blowing through the car. John asked everyone to roll up their windows and Jebb seemed to be in no hurry. He was just kind of staring out his window. So John did what any good parent would do, he used the parental controls on the driver's door to roll Jebb's window up himself.

When it reached the top, Jebb turned to the rest of us with a look of triumph and proudly said about the rolled up window, "I used the FORCE!"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Not the Eyelashes!!

Earlier this week John and I got to go on a little date. We cruised to Farmington to do some shopping while Grandma watched the little guys. We had a great time. Costa Vida for lunch, Target (see Jackson's B-day), Sam's Club for 'stuff', and the MALL! I thought there might be some good sales going on and the kids and I need a few things.

As we finished looking thru the mall, we went back into Dillard's where we had parked. The Lancome counter is the first thing you run into. I stopped. You know, I need a new eyeliner, I thought. I typically just buy them at WalMart and they are fine, but I guess I was feeling the whole mall vibe.

I approached the counter.

A lovely young lady pounced.

She showed me the different eyeliners and I settled on the waterproof Cafe color (that's dark brown for the WalMart crowd). I was feeling pretty good and thought how proud Elise would be of me (she is currently undergoing a feminization transformation and I think she would approve of me taking a greater interest in makeup). John stood quietly by with an approving smile. All was well.


Then the young girl went in for the kill...er...I mean, the sale. She let me know that Lancome was in a gift season. This meant that if I spent just a little more, I would be eligible for a big pink bag and some baby sized cosmetics.

I hesitated.

She went for the jugular.

'Can I show you our newest mascara?'

Mascara?

Was she looking at my eyelashes?!

Sidenote: I decided I would not write anymore about my eyelashes--for obvious reasons. But for the sake of understanding I need to tell you that I finally parted ways with my huge fake eye accessories. I tried trimming them, but they were really starting to look odd with gaps and whatnot. By 'whatnot' I really mean they were coming unglued in all the wrong places. They looked horrible. I olive oiled them up really good (I googled directions for removal) after a hot shower. Then I rubbed, ever so gently, and they all eventually came off. But they were not alone. The lashes had apperently formed an inseperable bond with my natural lashes and if the fakies were going-so were the real ones. Not good. Not cute. But what's a girl to do? I had to summon all of my courage and go on with my now pitiful life. My top eyelashes aren't completely gone, but they are now similar in length and thickness to my short, thin bottom lashes. Oh well, they will grow back, right? Right?

So there the girl was--staring at my eyelashes. I tried to will myself not to sweat. I wiped my brow.

Um, Mascara? OK. What have you got.

She then showed me the normal mascaras. I wanted to cut her little presentation off and just scream, "I'll take it! Just quit talking about lengthening and thickening my eyelashes!" But instead I smiled politely. And sweated.

She finished and I calmly said, "Sounds good. OK then..."

She then abandoned all mercy and told me that while the normal mascara would put me into the realm where I qualified for the free gift, if I spent just a little more, I would qualify for the awesome moisturizer and some other stuff in a purple bottle. She twisted the knife and pulled out a HUGE mascara. She pushed a small button on the cap and I heard a low buzz. It was the new, amazing, will-almost-make-your-eyelashes-look-fake, more expensive, battery operated mascara. Yes, it had an oscillating brush. The lengths, the thickness. She couldn't rave enough.

By now my peripheral vision was going black and my mouth was dry.

So did I want to get this more expensive mascara? She asked.

"PERFECT!" I said a little too enthusiastically. My 'polite face' mask was beginning to crack and I resisted the urge to speed walk right out of there. After quickly selecting the day cream over the night, she rang me up, let me pay, and handed me the ugly pink bag with all of my new beauty enhancing products--including that $35 (!!) oscillating-brush-lash-building-mascara.

So this is what I bought....So I could get this....


.....and so I could get the heck away from the girl who wouldn't stop staring and talking about eyelashes.

I thought I was over it, but I guess I still have a ways to go. How long does it take for eyelashes to grow back anyway?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Jackson is 6




Jackson is one year older and wiser too. Happy Birthday... to you! OK, I will stop singing. Today is Jackson's 6th birthday and I was really starting to worry I would have an issue with 'Expectation Management.' By this I mean that what we were doing was not what he was expecting.

Yesterday I dropped the little guys off with Grandma on my way to Farmington. She pulled me aside and asked me to please buy him a present that she could give to him. Hmm.

The expectation: Jackson told me long ago that for his birthday Grandma promised him "Wolverine Claws." This is apparently a glove with Wolverine-like blades protruding from them. How nice. That tops the Hulk Hands he wanted last year. I actually heard him at one point giving her direction on how to find them. He told her "Grandma, you go to Walmart and go in the door by the flowers. Walk for a little bit then turn left (or 'yeft' as Jackson doesn't always pronounce his L's). Go a little ways and you will see the Wolverine Cyaws." Grandma assured him he wouldn't be dissapointed.

The Reality: Target in Farmington is OUT of Wolverine Claws--or Cyaws. I bought PJ's and an action figure with Wolverine, but my concern was obvious.

The Save: John to the rescue got up early this morning and the Durango WalMart is NOT out of WC's. Shwew. Expectation Managed.

*******

The Expectation: We told Jackson we would take him bowling for his birthday. Seems simple enough. My sister called him today to see what his plans were. He explained in great detail how when you go bowling on your birthday, there is this girl that brings you a special birthday bowling pin and you have this really cool party there. He had details. His friend Cooper had done it and that was his expectation.

The Reality: John managed to sneak away from work a little early to take Jackson, Jebb, and myself bowling. Just the four of us. One lane. Low key. No special pins. The snack bar wasn't even open yet.


The Save: We let each guy pick out his own 'special' bowling ball. After John creamed us all (I should have used the bumpers) we got a bunch of quarters and hit the arcade. We let Jackson try his luck with one of those claw machines that I think rip you off...he got not one, but TWO toys on his second try! I stand corrected. Then on to a little air hockey and a video game. Five bucks in the arcade = Expectation Managed.








*******

The Expectation: Jackson let me know around noon that he was planning on having a sleepover with Cooper and Elias. Once again, he had plans on where they would sleep and when they would eat cake and the like.

The Reality: I knew Cooper was sleeping at another kid's house tonite and I don't even know Elias' last name, let alone how to get a hold of his mother. Gabe and Seth need picked up tonite from Scout Camp and we weren't even going to open J's presents until tomorrow. The cake is not yet made. I am going to get those presents wrapped here anytime.

The Save: We had dinner at Denny's (his favorite). I bagged up the wolverine action figure and PJ's so he could open one present tonight and the rest tomorrow when the big boys are home. He was thrilled! Once again, Expectation Managed!

*******

The truth is that Jackson has been a champ today on his birthday. When things weren't how he envisioned them, he took it in stride and had a terrific attitude. Very impressive for a 6 year old. I need to follow his good example better and learn to roll with it!!

Jackson is a delight to have in our family. He is creative and kind. He is best friends with his little brother Jebb. He always has hugs and kisses to spare for me. He is bright and he is good. When he says his prayers at night he remembers people and things that I forget. I love him! Happy Birthday Jackson!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nature or Nurture

I have often said it is a small world. Especially in the church. We have all played the Mormon 'do you know?' game with success. This week I was emailing several friends about the Denver area and another connection was found. This connection though got me thinking about something completely different.

The thought provoking connection was this. Skip (by bro) and Laurene's family were in a ward with a bishop who grew up in Durango. His name was Rex J. At this same time, his older brother Vaughn J. happened to be our bishop here in Durango-he is now our Stake President. Their dad Vaughn J Senior was previously our Stake President, then the Patriarch, and was just called as the Temple President in our district. They also have a brother Jay J that recently moved back home with his family and their ward wasted no time putting him in the bishopric. They have other kids whose callings I don't know, but I would be willing to wager they have had their fair share of leadership callings. I would be interested to know if the spouses they have all chosen come from similar families with similar leadership vibes.

I think many areas have families like this. The ones that are 'Rocks' in the ward. They quietly go about fulfilling their responsibilites and magnifying their callings. They are the ones you know you can count on and they seem almost by their very nature to be suited to serve in those types of callings. So my musing was this: is it Nature or Nurture? Are families like the J's good leaders because they saw their father serve and therefore were socialized or conditioned to accomplish callings that take a great deal of time and dedication? Or is it just in their natures-something in their DNA that makes them more adept at handling the stresses of such things with seeming ease (like a natural athlete or mucsician).

We see a similar phenomenon in our General Authorities of the Church. They are all seemingly related. A large number of them can trace their ancestory to a handful of Pioneer Stock. I know this has bothered some people who feel like some GA's are called simply because of who they know or who they are related to. I think this is an idea that in the United States we have bristled at since 1776. We rejected soundly the notion that blood lines are what make a man and we became a unique place that doesn't have an Aristocracy. The rugged individual is the one that writes their own destiny in our culture.

So what is it that matters most? Pedigree? Culture? Foreordination? Agency? Location?

When it comes to making leaders, I think it's a combination of Nature and Nurture...and a strong dose of free will.

It makes sense to me that certain personality types would be more likely to thrive in leadership callings. These type of traits are often hard wired from birth. So logically, these favorable leadership traits would naturally be passed on by Nature.

it also makes sense that children of Bishops see first hand, every day, how many hours it takes to accomplish such a calling. To them, it would seem normal to spend countless, thankless hours serving the members of a ward. It would be part of their culture to fulfill and magnify callings while attending all church functions. They would be socialized or Nurtured to serve.

Then of course there is Foreordination. We believe that before we were even born, all of us agreed to serve in certain capacities. What better way to ensure the fulfillment of that potential than to place certain souls in families where they will have inborn drive and the right training to help them fulfill these sacred trusts?

Even with Nature and Nurture, we all know people that seem to break the mold. We've all seen the sadness created when someone with 'so much potential' walks away from the church, or worse, just idles under the radar. And on the flip side of that, we've all seen the joy created when someone whom we would never suspect embraces the gospel and thrives as an unlikely though successful leader. This is the tragedy and triumph of free will.

Of course, all of these same principles can apply to any attribute. I am only using leadership because it is an obvious one. Compassion, cruelty, spirituality, pride, and innumerable traits can be influenced by the same mixture of factors.

The moral of this post: All of my big kids are gone. I have too much free time to think about such things! Still-I do like to chew on things like this now and then. When I get all of the kids out of the house, I will sit down and write out some more specific ideas I have about what it means to be 'bound' to an Eternal Family. Thanks for indulging me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wondering

I am really missing Elise.

But I can't help but wonder if she is missing us too.

My sweet neice Maddy sent me these pics from her phone
A sideways shot of her new haircut. Notice the new shirt she got shopping.
And here was the really exciting one...new pierced ears! She is giddy.

I think if she asked me for anything right now I would go for it! She calls me and I'm all, "I miss you.....Sure honey, whatever you want.....Be good, see you soon I hope."

John has encouraged me not to ask her if she misses us-I guess he thinks it won't occur to her to miss us unless I suggest it (??).

She is having a lot of fun and assures me all is well. I know it is-but I still find myself counting heads and missing hers.

********************************

OOPS I forgot to mention that I am missing these two guys too:
They are at Scout Camp this week. I am excited to see them as well!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Our Girl

Have you seen this girl? Of course this is a picture of her from years ago-but she still has the same beautiful brown eyes.

I am missing her!
She has gone to Arizona. In a bit of a last minute move, we sent her home with this girl...
They really love being together--but I am lonely being the only girl around!

I am really glad she has wonderful cousins to go and stay the week with. John reminded me that a week of feminine influence will be a good thing--and I agree-- but the selfish part of me will be counting down her return. I love you Elise!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

eSmell


I wish computers had Smell-O-Vision...or, uh, eScratch and eSniff or ...something? I don't know what you would call it, but I wish I could bottle the scent this lily is giving off and send it out for you to enjoy. Or you could just have to come to my house--anywhere upstairs-- everywhere upstairs.

I picked this today and put it in a pink plastic cup on the kitchen table. The cup is not very asthetically pleasing, but the bloom makes up for it.

When Gabe walked in from riding his dirtbike this afternoon, I asked him if he could smell anything.

"Uh, fuel." He did kinda smell like fuel.

No. Not HOW do YOU smell--can you smell anything in the house?

"OH. Ya. Hey that smells good. What is that?"

It was actually a blossom from a plant Gabe had picked out of the nursery this spring. He smiled and said, "Wow, I have good taste."

He's so 12! Nonetheless, he really did pick a delightful one! I hope it multiplies next year!! Maybe there will be Smell-O-Vision by then...

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Pond

I really love the pond. We enjoy it so much in the summer. July is glorious down on the dock!
Kip, Jess, and the girls are here for a visit. The kids are having a ball! We took these pics on Tuesday.
John took me on a canoe ride. One of the kids got a shot of us. I can truly say this is one of the most relaxing and romantic things we do in the late afternoon.

Tonight the Gillys swam until the sun went down.






Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dang

Seth had an "Aw Dang" moment today.

From another angle...


John helped him hook up to the tractor to the Allen's Razr. That's right-it's not ours-it belongs to the Allens. They are a fun family with 6(!) kids that came to Durango with Kip and Jess. Seth is fine. Very little damage done-scratches on the fender flares.

And I wonder why I am going so gray.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Share and Share Alike

Last night I asked Jackson and Jebb to go brush their teeth. I heard Jebb, with all the brotherly love you can imagine, say to Jackson, "Here's the whale toothbrush Jackson. It's your turn to use it!"

I cringe to think how long they have been sharing so well.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Berries, ets.

It has been fairly busy around the Big G home. We have had company with lots of kids and toys to entertain us. It has been fabulous. And busy. And loud. So this afternoon when I found myself alone (the kids had all migrated to Grandma's), I immediately took a deep breath and savored the breeze coming through my open window. I could hear some birds talking to one another and the sun was breaking through an afternoon rain shower. It was delightful. I decided to head outside and see what was happening in my garden. I strolled. I weeded. I snacked. I photographed. I thought I'd share.

Last year I wrote about the berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and chokecherries) in my life--HERE. I am happy to report that our yields are lining up to be much greater this season.

The strawberries this year were out of control! We ate only about 4% of the crop and birds and squirrels took care of the rest. We were out of town when most of them were ripe, but we still were able to eat to our hearts content. They are now sending out their shoots and a smaller second crop will be produced thoughout the summer. I will let them continue spreading.

The blackberry is going nuts! Not only is it flowering like crazy, it is also sending out new growth for next year's crop. My berry book says that it is 40+ days from bloom to berry.
Each blossom turns into a berry. I am holding a small cluster in my hand for perspective. You can see there are lots of clusters. I didn't realize one bush would set so much fruit. I am giddy!


Then I checked out the raspberries. Once again, I wasn't expecting too much because there are probably only 5 canes that will have fruit. Hopefully this picture shows just how many berries there are on just the end of this one cane.
I picked the first ripe berry today. It tasted even better than it looked. They aren't huge, but they are tasty. They seemed to really mature faster once the weather got hot. Gabe just came in and saw this picture. He is now outside looking for more.


This year my apple trees set a lot of fruit. Last year there were late freezes that got my blossoms. This is a branch on a tree that is about as tall as I am. Although it isn't very tall it set the most fruit. There are 5 trees total. Most of them have quite a bit of fruit that will mature later in the summer or fall (I can't wait to find out!).


I have 3 chokecherry trees but only the 2 in the front of the house set fruit. I think the 3rd is too shady out in the backyard.This year there was a soft freeze while they were blossoming and it really thinned out the clusters. The berries will turn dark red when they are ripe. I am hoping to beat the birds to them this year and try my hand at making chokecherry syrup.


My SFG is faring all right this year. The cool, wet summer has kept it alive (we need to quit traveling in June if I ever want to grow my own vegetables).The corn is growing as are the peas and carrots. It took the warmer weather before the tomatoes did much. My melons along the edges especially have basked in the higher temperatures-they are actually finally growing. I never have grown a melon successfully before the frost comes, but maybe this is my year!


Everything is coming right along. I am still amazed at the amount of enjoyment I get out of growing things. It is all new to me but I like it when I have success. I REALLY love it when the kids get excited about it too. On our mountain trip we actually saw some wild onions. We recognized them because we had planted some in our flower beds. FUN!