Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Carving 2013

What a pleasure it is to have kids old enough to completely carve their own pumpkins now! Jared helped a little with technicalities and I just took pictures and oohed and awed over their great creations. My hands stayed clean the whole time - no goopy pumpkin stuff to wash off after helping them clean out the "guts."

Here are the results: (Excuse the poor-quality photos - I had to use my phone since my real camera - which isn't that great anyway - was out of batteries - as always. But you get the idea.)

Ashton's Minecraft-inspired pumpkin:

Oliver's awesome pumpkin with lots of scars:

Silas's very toothy pumpkin (he wanted to show off his own gappy teeth for his picture with his pumpkin):

Eliza's very cute and happy pumpkin:

Isaac's huge and heavy pumpkin/gourd - someone brought all the produce from their garden to church last Sunday and Isaac was thrilled to find this huge warty thing. He carved faces on 4 sides.

Face #2

Face #3

Face #4

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad!

You ask for a poem for your birthday every year. And often I wonder what more I can say as I sit down to right. But there's always plenty to say as I start thinking of all the things I love and appreciate about my amazing dad.

For my gift to you this year, my dear Dad, I've created a "poem in pictures."

On my run this morning, on this perfectly blustery golden autumn day, I thought of how you first introduced me to running and how I do much of my deeper thinking (something you're quite an expert on) while I run. Of course, I also thought about how amazingly beautiful the leaves were since autumn leaves will always be tied to you and all the lovely memories I have of jumping in the leaves for your birthday ever since I was a little girl.

I stopped to take photos of beautiful leaves and realized that the pictures I captured nicely represented some of the things I love about you.

A Poem in Pictures for my Dear Dad

You're all about contrast (like the bright yellows against this dark trunk). You a man's man with your love of sports and cars and all that good stuff. But you also love the finer things in life - classical music, great art, good food.

You can always find a way to do just about anything (like this little path that persists through the grass). You know how to make things happen and you don't take "no" for an answer if you think something really can and should work.

You've got the beautiful yellow of maturity, great wisdom and peace with yourself and with life, combined with the the bright green of youth that will always be with you since you're still a kid at heart in so many ways. I love seeing you be so silly and fun with my kids!

You personify pizzazz - whether it's your crazy outfits or your brilliant out-of-the-box ideas.

You can find the bright spot in even the hardest things - you've taught us all to see all the wonderful things about every hand we're dealt and every situation we find ourselves in. Where some people just see dead brown, you see interesting patterns and an interesting and lovely yellow streak.

You are amazingly bright. You're so quick and so smart. You've got a good idea when it comes to just about any issue under the sun.

You have a unique ability to combine somber seriousness about sensitive subjects (the darker leaf) with creative and beautiful solutions (the pretty speckled leaf).

You are unique. You fully embrace your uniqueness and are never afraid to be yourself. You've taught us all that "different is good."

You're not afraid to stand alone or to state an opinion that isn't popular. You're true to what you believe and what you know. You're fiercely loyal to what you know is right.

You've taught us all to embrace adventure and hard things, to reach outside ourselves to broaden and contribute in ways that are often uncomfortable but ultimately bring us great blessings. (See the solid red of learning and growth in the middle surrounded by the black and yellow marks of hard work and challenge and excitement - they go together to make such beauty.)

You feel and express deep and beautiful love for your family (especially your amazing wife), your faith, and all your blessings. You constantly strive to "love more." I loved watching you tenderly take care of your dear mother and seeing you work hard through prayer and action to help each of us as we go through trials. (This red and pink leaf made me think of love. And it's orange edges made me think of the determination and strength of your love.)

You surround yourself with interesting people and beautiful things - some of which anyone would find beautiful, some of which might not appear beautiful to many.  You seek after goodness and beauty constantly and treasure it where you find it.

 Sometimes you're flashy, but deep down, your testimony and goodness is simple, solid and true. 

We're excited to jump in the leaves with you this afternoon and really celebrate! The wind has blown off tons of leaves and we've got some perfect spots picked out for jumping.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grandma's Funeral

Grandma's funeral the Monday before last turned out to be a truly wonderful celebration of her life and a stellar opportunity to enjoy time with dear family members. It felt like Grandma was there, so pleased that her passing had given us a bonus reunion and so glad to see how much we all love and appreciate her.

My whole family flew in from all over the place to be there. While it's so fun to have everyone's spouses and kids with them, it was a unique and special experience to have some time with just my siblings and parents (too expensive for everyone to bring spouses and kids - Jared and our kids joined us for the viewing and funeral, but for other parts of the weekend, Jared was kind enough to take the kids so I could enjoy quality time with my siblings and parents).

We went for a great hike together.

We ate a beautiful dinner together:

We talked and laughed and had such a fabulous time sharing worries and hopes and joys and laughs.

I sure love these people:

And these people (all my cousins were able to make it, most of whom I see far too infrequently. SO fun to have time with all of them!)

We all crammed into Grandma's house to share favorite memories and it was just a perfect evening full of love and laughter and some tears of love.

The viewing the next morning was very nice. It was great to meet good people with stories to share about our beloved grandma. And Grandma looked peaceful and pleasant. Saydi and my mom and I got together with Aunt Karen and sweet Jan who was Grandma's caregiver at the end to prepare Grandma's body for the funeral. It was a bit jarring to see here there dead at first. But as we worked together to put on her favorite temple dress and do her hair and make up just the way she liked it, it felt so very right and I was so glad there was one last thing I could do for her in a very physical way. It was a very holy experience.

As the oldest grandchild, I was asked to share a life sketch at her funeral. I felt a little stressed out about how to offer an even somewhat representative gathering of information about her long and strong life. But I gathered ideas from grandma's sister, her children, my cousins, and her husband's old journal and sure learned a lot. I was way more emotional than I imagined I'd be as I got up there to speak but it all came off alright, I think.

Here are the parts of my grandpa's journal that I shared so he could be represented in the life sketch:
  • April 21, 1941 – Ray, Lois, Ruthie and I had a nice drive up the canyon yesterday. Oh, but Ruthie is a wonderful girl!
  • (When Dean and Ruthie were in a dance review together. Ruth was in about ½ the dances and Dean and Ruth were doing one dance together.)
  • April 29 – Oh, but I love Ruthie. I’ve just got to make her love me. I will do my darndest! I look forward to the practices with Ruthie for the dance review. We’re doing a very pretty waltz.
  • May 21st – Yippeee! Tonight was the night. After our picnic tonight, Ruth actually told me she loved me.
  • May 22st-  I can still hardly believe it! I’ve been whooping and hollering. She loves me! Just think – the most wonderful girl in the world.
  • June 17th – when I think of the other love affairs I’ve had, oh, they were just puppy love. Ruthie is the real thing. I think I’ve found the one for me.

And here's my sweet great aunt, Beth (with Shawni's daughter, Grace). She's Grandma's little sister (just 13 months younger) who looks and talks SO much like Grandma. I just had to ask her to share a bit about Grandma as a little girl as part of the life sketch. She shared the cutest story about how she and Grandma would play with their beloved dolls every day after school and talked about how Grandma was always the peacemaker in the family and was a conscientious "mother" and care-giver, even back then.

Beth also told me about the "dancing school" she and Grandma put together for all the little girls in their neighborhood, right there in the church where we held the funeral. Grandma so loved dancing:

(she's third from the right in this photo)

(she's front row left in this photo)

Each of Grandma's children shared beautiful memories and tributes (Kevin, Rawlin, Sheri, Chris and my dad, Richard)

And Elder Perry, who went to high school with Grandma, shared memories and urged us all to be valiant and to leave our mark on the world. He looked RIGHT at Ashton, sitting there on the second row and said, "You, young man, you've been given a powerful legacy and I can't wait to see the good things you'll do as you leave your mark on this world." Such a great moment, one that Ashton and the rest of us won't ever forget.

After the funeral, our time at the cemetery was soft and perfect.

So this past couple weeks, I've sure thought a lot about what I'd like my own children and grandchildren to be able to say about me one day. April and I devoted our Power of Moms radio show last week to our ideas about what sort of legacy we want to leave. Check it out here if you want - I share a lot more about the funeral and my thoughts and feelings about what I learned from Grandma in this podcast.

*** For lots more details and lovely photos, check out my sister Shawni's post here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ashton takes off, Isaac takes over - and gets braces

This morning at 5am, Ashton took off for the Grand Canyon with a school group. He's got a 30-pound backpack full of camping gear, food and clothes and he's happily tucked into a car with some good friends and a couple kind chaperone parents, enjoying a LONG drive that will be followed by a LONG hike as he explores the amazing waterfalls and unique Indian culture of Havasupai. He had to fill out a big application to be accepted as one of the 30 students who could go and worked hard to earn a big chunk of the money required for the trip. And he was SO excited yesterday, he was practically jumping up and down.

I was a little sad I couldn't sign up to be a chaperone since I love hiking and have longed to go to Havasupai plus I'd love the chance to see Ashton in action with his friends more. But I've got these four other kids who need me to be around. Plus that backpack did look awfully heavy... Maybe when the twins are old enough to go, I'll make the trip.

I'm so grateful for the teachers and parents who are sacrificing a lot to make this excellent opportunity possible. And when I went to the info meeting for parents about this trip, not sure whether I was quite comfortable sending my 13-year-old off for a week on a school trip, I saw the parents and kids who were going (many of whom I know), got to know the teachers heading it up (they're no-nonsense but really fun), and felt totally comfortable. Plus almost all the kids who came to Ashton's party a couple weekends ago are going and after spending more time with them, Jared and I felt extra great about the trip. Plus Ashton is just a good kid. He's smart. He's tough. He makes good decisions.

Anyway, with Ashton off on his grand adventure, Isaac's the big kid around here for a week and he's quite pleased about it. The twins have decided to share Oliver and Ashton's room for the week, leaving Isaac with his own room which he's excited about.

And today was Isaac's big day to get the braces he's been waiting for. He's been flashing his "buckers" (as he affectionately calls them) for years now, happily making authentic "rabbit faces" on demand, no self-consciousness with this guy. But he's excited to get those babies tucked in where they belong and was really happy when we got him set up with today's appointment.

Here he is ready to get started (and no, his hair doesn't usually look like this - it's Crazy Hair Day at school today and he was going for the wind-blown look):

Here he is ready for the orthodontist to place those brackets (oh, yeah, that's pretty, huh?):

And here is when we came out:

Bye bye buckers! (well, in a couple years...)


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