Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Surprise

This afternoon as we were sitting around reverently meditating on the Sabbath (heehee), the phone rang. I almost didn't answer thinking it might be another dang survey call (I am on some political 'to call and harass' list). I took a chance and I am SO glad I did! On the other end of the line I heard a familiar voice from my long-ago past. Marla (SIPE) Weaver was about an hour from my house on a long drive home and she wondered if she could drop in as they would be cruising right by our casa!

I was ecstatic!! Marla (or 'Sipe' as I think of her) is one of my favorite people. She was my first missionary companion (or 'trainer') back in the day. She helped me negotiate the unfamiliar lifestyle of a missionary in the Canada, Halifax mission. Sipe is one of the coolest girls I have the pleasure of knowing. She is the most patient and easy going people I have ever lived with. She is also one heck of a practical, oh man...the stories I could tell!

I told my daughter Elise that if she had any spiritual type questions she should ask Sipe because she has an uncanny gift of discernment. She has a unique 'feel' for things. She is a great example of walking by faith to me. She still has lots of amazing stories and her testimony still burns bright. she said her family has had some difficult years but they feel like they are coming out of it. I was happy to hear that. It reminded me of a scripture in Alma

Alma 17: 2
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

Alma met up with his old mission buddies and it was great to see them. The only thing that added to his happiness was knowing they were still strong in the faith.

Our lives have changed a lot since those days in Fall River, Nova Scotia. I don't think Marla has aged a day since our missions. She still has the same easy smile and happy eyes. We both have managed to multiply quite dramatically! It was so great to visit with her while her kids stretched their legs a little and my kids got them all revved up for their drive back to Utah.

Look how stinkin' cute her family is! Darrell and Marla have 5 kids age 7 and under! Woo Hoo! Now that is amazing! :) I am so glad they took time to stop in! I am so grateful for the chance I had to go on a mission where I got to meet some of the greatest people I know. It's funny how things like that are--I thought I was making this big sacrifice to serve, but it turned out to be a huge blessing in my life in so many unexpected and extraordinary ways.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Lesson From The Pond

We have a pond in our back yard. I love it! It is so beautiful, attracts lots of wildlife, and is fun to play in.

The pond drops a few feet each year after the water stops flowing in the fall. When we built the pond (it was just a marshy spot when we bought this land), we placed a layer of heavy clay-dirt in the bottom of the big hole we had excavated to create the pond. The dozer spread that clay all around the bottom, then pushed it up the sides. We live on a rocky mesa and had we not done this, the pond would not hold water because it would all have flowed right into the gravely ground. When the dozer pushed the dirt up on the sides, it didn't go quite to the top. For this reason, when there is not inflow, the pond level slowly drops as it leaks out the gravel until it reaches the level of the tightly packed clay. (I know there is a Sacrament Meeting talk in that somewhere...)
It is interesting to watch the pond fill each spring.

By this time of year the pond has gotten pretty yucky and the inflow of water doesn't help a lot; in fact, it pretty much just stirs everything up.

We do have a windmill (can you see it in the next pic?) that is attached to a hose that goes to the bottom of the pond. When the windmill turns, it pumps air into the hose and aerates (or puts air into) the pond. This is to help the pond stay healthy when the water does not flow. So although we aerate the pond, it is not enough to keep it really nice.

When I first used to see the pond fill it behaved unexpectedly. I thought once the fresh water flowed into the pond, it would make it cleaner and healthier. I guess it did help somewhat, but not by much. Like I said, it just kinda stirred things up. What really made a difference in the health, cleanliness, and beauty of the pond was when it finally got full enough to reach the outflow pipe.

Once water starts flowing out of the pond, there is an almost instant improvement. And in a very short time, the pond becomes clearer and much more inviting. It is the outflow that makes it a place where things can live and grow. It is the outflow that keep it from being yucky.

This is true for all bodies of water. And I think it is true for me. It is a principle of nature that I sometimes forget. I think the inflow of things to me (meaning any selfish-type stuff) will make my life better. instead, it just kinda stirs the muck around and dilutes me a little bit. It's when I focus on the outflow (stuff like service and focusing on family) when I feel good. Cleaner. Healthier. Clearer.

Sometimes we just need to let things go. Let the gunk flow right on out of our lives. There is no good that comes from holding onto the unpleasant stuff.

Man I like that pond.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

When The Water Comes In

Durango has a fairly dry climate where one would have a hard time producing any agricultural products without the aid of irrigation. There is a complex system of dams, rivers, canals, and ditches that create the means to store and deliver life giving water throughout the county. It is very much like the circulatory system in the human body that brings life giving blood using complex and increasingly smaller arteries until it is delivered to different bodily cells. When the water is released from the dam and sent to the land owners, it too delivers the life giving water through increasingly smaller canals and ditches until it reaches the land it is meant to moisten. This is the time of year 'when the water comes in,' and flows throughout the county.

Daisy and I decided to take a walk to see this phenomenon for ourselves. We walked up the trail toward the canal. The oakbrush has finally gotten it's leaves. It is one of the last trees to do so. Of course I had to take pictures of some of the wildflowers that are blooming. There are a lot this year-that's one benefit of a snowy winter.

These big pine trees are about half way up the trail. I like how they drop their pine needles and your feet sound different when you walk under them.

We made it up to the canal. It is several feet wide and deep. The water moves at a good pace. This is like a big artery.
The water exits out of what are called headgates. Here are two that release water into the smaller ditches that bring water to land in our area. The more you unscrew them, the more water that flows through.
You can measure how much water is flowing down the smaller ditch with one of these contraptions. It is often made of metal and is called a weir. I used to know a dentist named Dr. Weir. He shared an office with Dr. Wolf. True Story.
I think Daisy likes getting her picture taken. She's such a poser.

The water works it's way down the small ditches until it reaches it's final destination. It is used to irrigate the fields or fill the ponds where it is stored and pumped out into sprinklers at a later date.

Sometimes the huge ranch next door to us irrigates the fields a little too long. The water flows over the fields, but they can't absorb any more water and it just runs on through. They call this water 'waste water.' This is the type of water we use to fill our pond. It comes from a ranch waaaay over there. We love it when they aren't paying attention to their water because it flows right down to us.
These ducks like it too because it creates a little wet spot for them to splash around in. See them on the other side of the dried cattails?
Daisy likes it too because she can terrorize the ducks when I'm not looking until they fly away.

The waste water gets funneled into the pond where it enters through the waterfall.

And there are the ducks (they are tiny in the bottom left). They made it down to the pond too.

And that's what happens when the water comes in.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Daisy v. the Porcupine Chapter III

I cannot believe there is another chapter to this story. Daisy has had ANOTHER encounter with a porcupine. I am reminded of the song that goes, "Second verse, same as the first..."

I did not even take a picture of her quill filled, foaming mouth. I realized that I have that same picture taken on two previous occasions. And it aint pretty!

I thought that I should consider letting Daisy wait. Yep, it was going to have to be another visit to the vet (another $300+ visit) and I considered waiting until tomorrow to take her in. I knew she would suffer and I am wondering at this point if that is not such a bad thing. Maybe she would suffer enough to swear off her prickly foes forever...? Somehow I doubt it, and I wanted to get the vet visit over with for my own sake.

I thought about Daisy as I drove the 15 minutes to the vet. Why did she keep going back? Couldn't she figure out that she was getting the raw end of the deal every time she chose to rumble with the porcupine?

I tried to look on the bright side. What could I learn from my crazy dog? I asked myself if there were any porcupines in my own life? Do I revisit things I shouldn't? Have I forgiven things that have hurt me badly in the past or do I keep chasing them down to take another bite?

So those were my thoughts for the afternoon. I had a long talk with Daisy about all of it as we drove home. I am really hoping some of it sunk in because I am not sure if John will agree to another vet visit. If I can't change Daisy, maybe I will have to learn to hunt porcupines.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Jackson learned to use a ratchet set today. He helped John put the tail gate thingy on the tailgate.

He looks kinda ticked off, but I think it is a look of intensity...

John is a good fix-it guy. I really appreciate that about him. He can construct stuff out of metal for all kinds of off-road-enhancing applications. I like having such a handy guy around and I am glad he is trying to pass some of those skills on.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Early Morning Seminary 09/10

This is John's class of Freshman that he taught each morning this past school year. They studied the Book of Mormon and John said he really enjoyed these guys. This was their last day of seminary and they went to breakfast at Denny's. :) I asked him to get a picture, this is what he emailed me from his phone.

We are not sure if he will be teaching again next year. He tells me he has mixed feelings about the idea. Although he has enjoyed teaching the last 2 years, it is an enormous time commitment. I guess we'll find out soon enough; until then, he will enjoy having only his High Priest calling this summer. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jackson's First Grade Fieldtrip

Jackson joined his first grade class today on a field trip. They went to the Missionary Ridge burn area. This is an area near town that was hit by a forest fire a few years back. They joined about 200 1st graders in planting seedlings to help restore it. I didn't attend the field trip, but I took these photos out of our local online newspaper which wrote about it. Ii cannot find Jacks in any of the photos, but let's just pretend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cutting the Apron Strings

Earlier this week Gabe asked me if he could ride his bike to school. My immediate, knee-jerk answer was a firm, resounding NO. We live in a rural area, but to get to the middle school, there is a huge chunk of highway riding. My baby. Riding his bicycle. On the highway. All alone. Without me to keep him safe.

So yes, it was NO! But somewhere in the back of my mind there was a different thought, so I told Gabe that I would talk to Dad about it (I know it sounds like a wimp-out answer, but I was trying to stay objective and not answer simply by reflex).

Of course John was all for the solo ride to school during morning rush hour. The mom in me felt a need to balance out the dad, and I thought to myself I should surely deny my eldest baby. As a mom you have a powerful instinct to nurture, love, and protect your children. You can't help it. It is this undeniable phenomenon that strikes you like a bolt of lightning the moment you lay eyes on your tiny, helpless, vulnerable, newborn child. It is just part of becoming a Mom-you turn into a super protective freak! :)

In the infinite wisdom of God, he made children have 2 parents by design. One to be the paranoid loon, and one that is willing to take that same vulnerable offspring and heave it several feet into the air for 'fun.' I can see the need for both, and I try to tame the Mom-beast that is always swimming just below the surface. I try to think about the fact that I want my kids to live boldly in this world. I want them to travel to foreign countries, have difficult experiences, and taste far away flavors. But that mom part of me wants them to do it all...well, safely. I can recognize that these ideas might be at odds. So I relented.

I agreed to letting Gabe ride to school. But I talked about crossing the highway, and I made him take the cell phone so he could call me when he got there. I have to admit that Gabe was ever the good sport through it all. He waited patiently for me to come to my 'yes' answer and never balked when it looked like a 'no.' I actually am beginning to think he has me figured out and I played right into his hands. :)

He rode to school and it was all very...uneventful. He made it no problem. Not a hitch. Not a scratch.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Firepit Friends

Tonight we went to the Francom home to hang out by the firepit.

Of course there was lots of good food.

And good converstion.

It was a delight. The kids all had someone to hang out with and everyone had a great time. I LOVE nights like this. Being outside, enjoying cool friends. I am hoping it is the beginning of a summer packed with good times.

Spring Flowers

About a million years ago I served as a missionary in Eastern Canada including the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. I arrived in Canada in the fall. The leaves had all changed and quickly began to drop off the trees. And then came winter. Or I guess I should type WINTER. It was Canada. It was COLD! This Arizona girl struggled through the cold, white months praying that Spring would come some day. And as seasons always do, the weather eventually began to change. Green gave way to white and I felt a spring in my step directly proportional to the rise in the mercury.

I had wondered on numerous occasions throughout the winter WHY anyone would want to live in Canada!! I couldn't understand why anyone would stay in such a chilly place.

And then Spring came.

I was transferred about this same time of year to Prince Edward Island-the land of Anne of Green Gables fame. All of my questioning was answered. Why did people choose to live in this section of the world? They lived here for Spring, Summer and Fall. PEI, a place where the ocean can freeze solid around it, turned into a virtual paradise. There was every shade and hue of vivid green popping out of the red, fertile soil. Vacant areas became huge swaths of wildflowers in every color imaginable. It truly was like living and driving around in a gigantic flower garden. Unreal!

One of my favorite flowers grew along most every road in the ditches. Pink and purple lupines blossomed up and down the island. They were like a thick trail of beauty along each side of every road. It was phenomenal! The lupines only lasted a few weeks and were soon replaces by a myriad of color and variety in wildflower mayhem. But I will never forget the drama and the impact of their brief blooming season. It was (to me) almost magical!

This winter I started to feel like I had somehow been transported north to the Canada from my memories.

We had snow.

And more snow.

And it stayed.

And stayed.

But I have held out hope.

The snow has finally melted, and living in Canada taught me that all of that snow translates into blossoms in the spring. so here is it, right on the side of my driveway--LUPINS!! Not quite in the same quantity and my beloved PEI, but lupins none the less! :)

Of course lupins aren't the only thing blooming around here. If I take pictures of the blossoms up close, it always seems more colorful. So here is what's blooming:

So although it isn't the floral showcase you get in Canada, it is a sign of warmer things to come!

Friday, May 14, 2010

End of Year Concert

The end of the school year is near. We got to listen to Elise's last hurrah in orchestra. They had a concert before school. Good job sweetie!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daddy Daughter Drive

Yesterday after lunch, John picked Elise up from lunch and they headed to Utah. John was trading in his truck (of course he found some amazing deal... in fact, we are saving sooo much by getting this new truck...but I digress.) Needless to say, she was thrilled. She sometimes feels like 'the boys' get to do 'everything.' And sometimes, she's right.

She has been going through an interesting time. We have had a hard time communicating at times. I think she needs to pick up her shoes, and she thinks I nag her too much. But I guess all it takes is a 36 hour road trip with your dad, and you can't wait to call your mom back home. :) I loved chatting with her on the phone and hearing about her day (thanks for taking her to lunch mom!) When they walked in the door tonight, she ran to me and hugged me like she hadn't seen me in a month. It was delightful!

Thanks John for taking her! Jackson and Jebb thank you too because they loved sleeping with me in our bed. Even if it was only yesterday after lunch that you left, I still missed you guys! Dads are so important in their daughter's lives.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Weekend Recap incl'd Mother's Day Madness

With all of the chilly weather, and a Grandma that missed her kids, the BigG Tribe decided to head South for the weekend. We stayed in Kip's empty house (he moved his fam to Denver) where Kristine has been camping out for a few weeks. Luckily, the pool was NOT empty and the weather was just right for swimming.
For some reason John and I experienced a phenomenon we have encountered before. I have decided to name it the 'Titanic Effect.' When they found the sunken Titanic, it was deep down on the ocean floor where all of the well preserved artifacts were under an enormous amount of pressure. They found when they brought those artifacts to the surface, no longer under the pressure, many of the artifacts fell apart or showed their cracks.

So ya, 'The Titanic Effect.'

Sometimes after being under a great deal of stress back home, when we leave or get away from it, we fall apart and our cracks start to show. So while it was a nice sunny weekend, John and I were in a big, huge, fat fight. Over what? you may wonder. Nothing that should be big, huge, or fat. I am chalking it up to decompression.

We did manage to patch it up long enough to visit a friend of mine, Lisa, and her family. They were terrific hosts and BBQed a yummy dinner for us. She laughingly told us that her family had to re-do Mother's Day last year (I think it was foreshadowing of things to come). It was really nice seeing them and it was nice getting along for a few hours, because it did NOT last.

For some reason, when you add a Holiday to whatever dynamic is happening between John and I, it gets magnified 10 times-for good or ill. And we all know that Sunday was Mother's Day. I won't go into great detail, but let's just say that I was not wished a Happy Mother's Day by the Father of my children. Nor was there any conversation for the 7 hour drive home. (The kids did finally realize it was M Day when we went to church that morning and they all wished me well. Seth and Elise even bought me candy bars when we stopped for gas on the drive home...)

We did finally make it home, back to the deep sea pressures of our lives. It took a while, but we eventually re-compressed. I decided I would not move out of our bedroom and change back to my Maiden name. Opening the gifts the little guys made me really helped to tame this shrew.

When John and I were finally talking and laughing again, I told him he was going to have to do something REALLY good to make up for Mother's Day. Lunch at Tequilla's helped. Monday afternoon I took the kids on an FHE bike ride then left John to do the lesson as I went to a political thing. I must say, he did a pretty good job. He helped all of the big kids answer 3 questions. He had them tell what they would appreciate about me when they graduated High School, went on a mission, and got married. Ya. I cried when I read them.

I am grateful for Mother's Day because it is a day that celebrates the very best thing in life. I am so glad I am the Mom to these 5 terrific kids. I am grateful for good moms and good women everywhere that have a positive influence on our society. I need to have better perspective. I love my family so much. When I think of John and I fighting I just cringe. How short sighted of us! We know we are going to make up, but it's so foolish to have that negative energy in our family while we indulge in the selfishness of a big, fat fight. I truly believe what our family has is precious and special--and we need to CHOOSE it every day. I am glad I have a good man as a partner to raise these kiddos.

I am still holding out for breakfast in bed though.