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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas from get out!

So here are all things least all I thought was cool enough to mention....

Swiss chocolate...essential....

Swiss Army Knives.....essential for the Swiss army for some reason, and a fairly cool tool...

Swiss Mountain Dog....great looking dog...ready to rescue someone...

Not to forget cheese....Swiss cheese.....always wondered, why the holes?

Not mention Swiss watches....Michelle watches may be the rage today...but I'll take a Swiss watch over one any day.

So Switzerland what's the deal?

You want the missionaries to leave after 2012?

Guys on bikes? Always smiling...young girls hiking over your cobblestone streets?

Learning French and German....Bringing nothing but good news?


C'mon Switzerland, say it isn't so.

If every Mormon who has Swiss heritage wrote to you, you would have to stay up for weeks reading all the letters.

Lots of Mormons are Swiss, they eat the cheese, use the knife, crave chocolate, wind the watch and pet the dog....and make sure they ride the Matterhorn at Disneyland first, no matter how long the line is.

So, Switzerland, say it isn't so...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankfully yours

I love Thanksgiving...all of it..... I love buying the food, preparing it, polishing silver, setting the table. I love praline sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing, and rolls...lots of rolls. My husband carves the turkey, Ashleigh loves the mashed potatoes and Mikey wants chocolate pie...Emma likes apple crisp and Trey says he is not sure what he likes the most.

While I was getting everything ready it occurred to me how many people are a part of my Thanksgiving. Everything I picked up had a story and someone to attach it to.

I washed the curtains in the dining room. Those curtains Connie sewed for me. I got the lace from Claudine after Theresa realized they were just going into storage after Claudine got new three friends all involved in one project....and they are still on my windows after all these years.

I polished the oak side board that I bought from my quirky neighbor who sold antiques out of her house....also the dining room table.

And then I pulled out all the silver......all the memories of my grandmother who ruled Thanksgiving with a silver fist. Her silver is every where in my dining room. She loved the silver, the bowls, tea set and flatware. When she got real sick I flew home to visit her and we pulled out the flatware and just looked at it. So when I set the table it is always an homage to her. She set this beautiful table for Thanksgiving and then insisted we eat at halftime. For those of you from Texas no explanation is necessary but for all of you who don't revolve your lives around football, Texas and Texas A&M always play on Thanksgiving. And we always dinner was important, but football reigned. She set the table early we arrived early and we ate late.....and I loved just looking at the table.

I enjoyed the day, the windows are clean, the floor is polished and I can't wait for my family to sit down around our table tomorrow. Everyone is home for the first time in two years......I have a lot to be grateful for....

I hope you are going to have a wonderful Thanksgiving...make it a point to find things to be thankful for.

Gratitude makes all the bad feelings go away...

Now bring on Christmas, my silver is polished!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Isn't this is Fabulous?

I have a video to share...I found it on a fellow bloggers blog...when she said it made her happy I had to see. And sure enough, it made me smile.

Oh, and the picture of dressed up Chihuahua's? When I was little my parents raised Chihuahua's and I truly did dress them up. Evidently there is something compelling about dressing up Chihuahua's...and here is proof. Sometime I will find the picture of the three dogs I dressed as cowboys,in chairs, ready for high tea. Priceless, or decide.

Anyway the following video proves how small the world is. I believe there are some really good, positive reasons for the world to shrink. And this shows how beautiful the world beautiful people are....and how optimistic we should be.

It also looks like the kind of movie my son Trey would make. Instead of a guy named Matt, this so easily could be Trey. He would have loved to be involved in this.....just making people happy. Isn't that a great thing to say about another person?

As for me I am going to be positive and hopeful for the next 5 weeks. I am going to love these holidays. A great man said not very long ago......."Come what may, and love it." There is so much to love, if we look for it. So much to be happy about, if we chose it. And so much good to accomplish if we do it. Three verbs...three ideas....looking, choosing, and doing.

On my walk this morning I plugged the Ipod in my ear and lipsynched down the street to Gloria Gaynor and "I will survive". Not because of some message, I just think it is a great powerful song, easy to sing to and easy to dance to....and please don't dwell on the mental image of me dancing and singing down my street. I am certain I frightened the neighbors...but no matter what, I was smiling!

I am going to do something to smile about every day....maybe even laugh out loud. It is my new challenge. Tell me, what you do to laugh out loud? you....laugh out loud? I hope so.

Enjoy the video....I loved it. And watch how he made it too, there is a link for that, just here to help.

And have a great think it is going to be a great one!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Friend Lisa

Saturday I attended the funeral of my friend Lisa. She passed away from the effects of ovarian cancer, and she left behind parents and four sisters. One of those sisters was my dearest friend Stef. She invited my little family to be a part of her larger family almost thirty years ago, a blessing I will never fully be able to repay. I learned so much from them over the years, but never more than on Saturday when Stef and her sisters said goodbye to Lisa. It wasn't sad, it was was hopeful, it was a celebration of a "life lived well."

Lisa left this life surrounded by her family. And she passed on to a life I know is also filled with family. This life is simply a stop in our eternal journey. There are specific things we do at every stop, and this one is all about how we treat each other. If you hadn't noticed, this life can be very hard. We have a great deal of serious things to deal with. Illness, money, and our relationships with people. We deal with parents, the Taliban,children, husbands, wives, and the Chinese. Our whole lives revolve around people...the ones on the freeway who need to be in our lane a bit prematurely.....the ones who get the last cardigan on sale in our size...or the ones who ask us to go ahead of them in line because we only have a gallon of milk.

When Lisa was in the hospital I saw something that will stay in my heart forever. She was in intensive care, in a small room, very intimidating with lots of machines, and certainly not a lot of privacy....I was there with Ann for a minute and then Stef came in and then a few minutes later Karen arrived. Three of her sisters. I stood at the foot of the bed and watched these three women stroke her hair, hold her hand, adjust her pillows, offer her water, just doing whatever they could to help her be comfortable. They worked in tandem, a graceful dance of ministering angels. I will keep the picture of those three sisters around Lisa's bed in my heart forever.
I was changed by that...I realized more clearly than ever before that we are here on earth to comfort each other, to help each other, to lift each others burdens. We have been given talents and blessings not simply to enrich our own lives but to enrich the lives of those around us. Only when we decide each day to make life a bit more bearable for someone else do we really find joy.

Saturday I listened to Stef and her sisters talk about Lisa. Not only did Lisa matter, but she made life easier for those around her. I know she did for me. She sent gifts to my children while they were on missions for our church and made sure I always had eye cream. Lisa lived a life that mattered. She was someone who loved people and spent her life helping those who could not help themselves. She left this life peacefully, with no regrets, surrounded by people who loved her. Is anything better than that?

We have very little control over what goes on this in life.....but we do have control over ourselves. We cannot make people love us more, but we can love them more. We can't erase grudges that have occurred, but we can forgive and vow never to hold a grudge again. We can give our husbands or wives or children a mile instead of an inch. We can look for the good in the people around us and simply ignore the bad. We can say we are sorry, which may be our greatest gift to others. I believe in the law of the harvest, that we reap what we sow....and when we are consistently kind, when we tell the truth, when we serve without thinking what is in it for me......we will find real joy. It is our purpose in life to ease each other's matter the outcome, never keeping score.
I hope this little blog post conveyed the feelings in my heart. And to my friend Lisa...thank you...thank you for showing me a "life lived well."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Uncle!! stop it! ENOUGH!! I have had it, I say uncle, I say enough....I say no more politics, no more nasty commercials. Stop calling me. Stop writing me....don't text me. I am finished, I no longer care....and by the way your stuff is so bad that every time I watch one of your commercials I want to take a shower.

And there is more....Don't think I am partisan on this one, I am tired of every commercial, from every politician. I want Sarah Palin to stop talking, I want Nancy Pelosi to stop talking. I am tired of all of it. I don't care about witches, or college pranks...Stop!

My opinion not withstanding, I need persuasion, don't yell at me. Don't tell me I have to "fire" people. By voting for one candidate over another I am not firing anyone. That sounds ghastly. Persuade me to vote for you. Stop telling me to support things you don't even understand. Treat me like I have a brain. Respect me!

You want me to vote for you? Tell me how you will create some jobs, real jobs. Don't you wonder why we don't make much of anything any more? Maybe we make some things, but not much. We don't make a lot of toys, or furniture, TV's or clothes. America is an amazing place, we would give Iran a kidney if they needed it. We are the first ones to help in a crisis, we are innovative, smart and self reliant. We can get back to those days of inventing things, starting businesses, manufacturing things and depending on ourselves. But right now America is acting like a bunch of battered wives. And I will leave it to you to decide who is doing the battering.

Give me some hope. Remind me how great we are...If you tell kids all day long they are a nuisance, stop letting them make their own decisions, treat them like they are helpless and can't make it on their own, they stop believing in themselves. But tell a kid they are smart, and capable....give them responsibility, loyalty and respect...and they produce amazing things. Remind me how great we are. Remind me of building cars, computers and walking on the moon.

I am an American...I love saying that, I love living here, I love our freedom, I love being able to attend the church I want to, read what I want to and say what I want to.

Politicians just fight, argue, call each other names...And all of the ugly ads? How do I know if they are true? If you are low enough to say those things, aren't you low enough to just make it up?

I don't care what these folks who are running for office did in high school..or college for that matter. I don't care what was in their thesis....and if they are different now...GREAT! That's not flip flopping, that my friend is growing up. Sometimes we have an opinion and then we take it out for a test drive and it doesn't fit any more and we change our mind..... I am not the person I was even five years ago...a lot of things are the same...I follow the ten commandments pretty closely...but other things? C'mon!

So do you get it? I don't care any more, no one does...if we don't know who we are going to vote for by now we never will. So stop it. You are wasting money, time, resources and talent.

But good news, I totally didn't know there was a Baldwin on Parenthood. And he likes a woman who isn't 22. There is life beyond November 2.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Martha and Me

I recently did something I haven't done for awhile, I ordered a magazine. Thanks to the good people of I racked up enough points for several magazines. It seems drinking a great deal of diet coke has it own rewards, literally, and for me it comes in the form of a new magazine. I stopped buying them for awhile because basically they were piling up everywhere. I was waiting for the time I "could get to them," and since that time never came I just stopped buying them. Except at Christmas...and Thanksgiving, they are so beautiful during the holidays. And it is so heartwarming and authentic to look at pictures of carefully staged, extravagantly decorated rooms that are never lived in by a real family. These homes are certainly never dirty, messy or even vaguely inhabitable. I used to look at them and compare what I saw around me and cringe. As though I had done something wrong to have dogs and kids and crumbs...and disorganization, and dishes I may or may not do. And don't forget the laundry that was sometimes washed again because I left it in the washing machine for a couple of days and now it smells...

Anyway back to my thought, I ordered a Martha Stewart magazine. Isn't that insane? Every once in awhile I decide to torture myself and simply look at her calendar for the month. It is remarkable...she must sit down with someone name Ruth or Mildred at the first of the month and think of every thing possible she could do in 28, 30 or 31 days. She remembers birthdays, outdoor furniture and when it needs to be washed and there are several designation for her work outs. Some are even done with the dogs ( I hope they are alerted by Ruth or Mildred as to which days they get the nod - they better not show up on an uninvited workout day. And heaven forbid they come for yoga - dogs are not the least bit flexible, have you ever seen a shih tzu try to to get into the cobra position? Although they can do the corpse position really, really well)
Back to the calendar...she organizes closets without being told, or without the closet collapsing from the sheer weight of stuff. She of course goes on TV (funny I never see a place for 'crash diet for appearance on TV" on her calendar...that would definitely be on mine.hmmm) She airs out pillows, has her chimney inspected and harvests her herbs. She is giving a presentation in Sweden (probably in Swedish) and is having a wedding at her home. She is preparing the chicken coop for new chicks and is uploading pictures for her blog. She refills bird feeders, picks plums and vacuum and rotates all the mattresses.

That concludes what I do in a year...for Martha that is all done in one month.

Or that is what she and Ruth/Mildred want us to believe.

Remember when someone turned the cameras on Martha and revealed the one hundred migrant workers at Turkey Hill? Don't look behind the curtain.....For those of you without Martha speak Turkey Hill was her home in wherever New York. Known for it's perfection and beauty.....and when I found out she did have help, lots of help I slept for the first time in months. On an unrotated mattress.

Remember when Martha went to jail? I called a friend of mine and told her for at least 6 months we didn't have to use cloth napkins, spin any yarn or can a thing. It was like mom went out of town and left us kids home alone!!...suddenly we didn't have to do anything responsible! We could stay up late and eat cake for breakfast!! Nothing matched that should have, the outdoor furniture was mildewed and we bought candles instead of making them!! It was heaven! No soup from scratch, lots of take out and boxed macaroni and cheese!! She will never find out, no one told on us! enjoy I kept telling my friends enjoy it now because she will be back and we will have to once again hang pictures correctly, clean our garden tools and plant okra.

And then it happened, she got out of jail...wearing a little something she knitted while she in the big Martha. And once again I folded napkins, polished silver, and ate vegetables.

And so now you are wondering why in the world would I go back? Why would I get the magazine again? Why?

Because my closets won't close, my soup tastes bland and I need her fixes for stains, scratches and spills. And I don't know when to bring in the okra.

So even if Martha drives me crazy....I can use her as a condiment, just not the main course. And if every once in a while I put the soup in homemade bread bowls, or buy the size towels she says is most effective (hand size) If she helps me remember to use the good stuff more often, not eat standing at the stove or simply be more organized....then she has done her part.

I don't want to be Martha, I don't think Martha could be Martha without a lot of help. But I can be Martha-ish.....and that is good enough for me.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Opal Leigh and Patti Jones

Before my son left for Costa Rica on a two year mission for our church, he sent a hymn book to me. I loved it...and I loved it more when I saw that he had engraved "Patti Jones" on the cover. I could not stop laughing, you see "Patti Jones" is the name given to me by my biological mother, Opal Leigh Jones. I loved having that little book, and then I lost it. The worst part was figuring out how to get it back....My name is Donna, everyone knows me as Donna but the hymn book said Patti Jones. So I assumed it was trail back to me. And then against all possible odds, a friend of mine ran across it in a pile of books at church. She was one of the few people who knew the story of Opal Leigh and Patti Jones. When she handed it to me I told her the timing was perfect, my birthday is Thursday and that is the only day out of the year that I am pretty sure Opal Leigh thinks about me. How could she not? The experience of labor makes a pretty deep memory for a mother, so I am confident we share a few thoughts on September 2.

I have always been OK with being adopted, my step mother, Jerry, told me in third grade(my father had been married before and he and his first wife Madeline adopted me, they divorced when I was four and she passed away when I was eight). I just kind of mentally added it to the list of things about me, good swimmer, blond hair, loves the beach...adopted. And that was the last time it was really mentioned. My dad never talked to me about being adopted, not one time, not in our whole life together....when you don't grow up in the world of Oprah you don't necessarily feel the need to discuss every private thing...or any thing. So in case I was wrong and it wasn't just another bit of information, I mean if in fact I was now "different" I didn't have to deal with it. Because my being adopted was disclosed and then closed.

Every once in a while a friend of our family would talk to my step mother about my biological parents. She knew them both...I guess pretty well. My biological father was a professional golfer, Opal was is easy to figure out what happened. And not much additional information was forthcoming, except there was one story repeated a lot, it seems that after I was born she asked for a mirror........I thought.....perfect, vanity is genetic!

I went through a phase where I read a lot about being adopted. Stories of mothers finding children and children finding mothers. But finding my biological mother had never appealed to me. I would feel like I was intruding on Opal's life......suddenly showing up. Although meeting my mother would be interesting I don't know where it would go beyond that. And then we would be in some sort of "have to" relationship. And that feels awkward.

I am grateful to Opal Leigh for giving birth to me, and just because she did, I know so much about her. I know she was able to do a hard thing at a very young age. What must it have been like to go through an unwanted, and certainly unexpected pregnancy. I also know she found a couple to raise me......and then she let me go to have that life. All of my parents were flawed, just like me...and they did the best they could with the light and knowledge they had at the time. Just like me...and just like my children. I forgive my parents whatever they did to cause a bit of extra baggage in my life because I want my children to forgive me. That's how life works, we forgive when we realize folks are human and they in turn forgive us.

It has been OK with me to be adopted....I don't think I was misplaced or some kind of mistake. I went exactly where I was supposed to go. I don't think God scratches his head and says, "one, two, three, four, ....wait where's the fifth one? I know that child was here somewhere." God knew where he placed me.....the place I would fit the best and benefit the most. Maybe that is why I am fine with it. I know who I am. I know whose daughter I really am.

I accept that my entry into the world wasn't a typical one, and I know some folks are unsettled by their adoptions, I hope they find their answers. The truth that settled on me is that life isn't random and there is purpose in life. I attended a seminar once where the woman spoke of a cross stitch she was doing. From the top it all looked beautiful, stitches in place, colors perfect, and a tangible picture, but from underneath there were knots, misplaced threads, and certainly no distinguishable picture. we see ourselves in the cross stitch from underneath...dropped stitches and knots, we don't understand why things happen the way they do sometimes, but God sees us from the top of the cross stitch...a beautiful, perfect picture.

So tomorrow Opal Leigh and I will share a few laughs from wherever she is to where I's our birthday!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I was bitten by a dog....Part Deux

Thank you so much for your wonderful messages of concern about my dog bite. . I had no idea so many people had also been bitten by dogs. However, I have assembled a team of lawyers, doctors and faith healers (notice I started with lawyers) to help me through this difficult time. I am much better..I am healing.....I am optimistic for a full recovery.

Until this morning.....

Today has been a train wreck. It started with a way too early phone call from my daughter's high school. She was late for a very important meeting, a meeting I knew she meant to be early to. So I flew upstairs to wake her only to act as though we had missed the last boat out of Pompei. I scared her to husband who only minutes before was peacefully sleeping was now chasing me up the stairs thinking someone had been harmed, kidnapped, or killed. Want to imagine his reaction when he found out my insane behavior was precipitated simply by her sleeping in? I turned an unfortunate situation into a Fellini movie. Loud voices, crying, big gestures...I needed a mulligan on this one.

The worst part? I know better.... Again Texas wisdom emerges, "There is no education in the second kick of a mule." And one more time I think, "how could I get this old and still make this mistake?" And one more time I vow to do better.

The only thing to salvage this day is a little exercise, so I set out for my walk, my older daughter offers to go with me. We get about a mile and a half from our house and 2 large dogs come running toward us and our properly leashed dog Sadie - who is now looking like sushi to these dogs - is their target. My daughter grabs Sadie just as these dogs start to attack her. They were acting crazy, jumping on Ashleigh, scratching her back and then they ran like the cowards they are when I got to them. I am thinking.....this is happening again? So I went into mama grizzly mode, I did everything wrong, I ran at them screaming and flailing my arms. I don't know who was more surprised, the dogs or the 4 men working on the neighbors yard that I didn't see right away. They came around the corner to check out what was going on. I calmly explained I had recently been bitten by a dog so I was a little sensitive to full on dog attacks. They looked at us for a minute and then went back to what they were doing.

So much for chivalry....big help those guys.....

I chased these stupid dogs back to their yard, the gate was open and of course no one was top it off they were Old English Sheepdogs. Think the Disney move "The Shaggy Dog". Hardly vicious dogs. The whole time I am thinking I was bitten by a dog who reached back to some kind of primal purpose and tried to gather me back to the herd and these dogs think Sadie is a sheep? She's a Shihz Tzu!! These stupid dogs tore my daughter's t-shirt, her favorite sleeping shirt, and I haven't seen Sadie since we got home.

Post traumatic walking disorder......I need deep psychological help. Will I ever walk again? Will Sadie ever come out from under the bed? Will Ashleigh recover from losing her favorite sleeping shirt?

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I was bitten by a dog....

This morning I set off on my daily walk only thnking about how hot it was and why didn't I leave earlier, when about a zillion dogs came running out of the side yard of some house. One of them, the absolute ugliest one, was determined to make some kind of point on my being in his territory. And he bit me! I have been walking around here for 15 years...I have never been bitten...except once by a bee.

After I realized I was injured, I went to the door to find out if Cujo had his answer.

No answer! I am in pain... then I realized I had to walk all the way home with what appeared to be life altering wounds. (actually it is a bruise and 5 painful puncture marks - but for the sake of this blog and drama, I am calling it life altering wounds). The thought of walking all the way home in pain made me mad. But I made it after alerting every walker I came in contact with of this rabid dog, I also made them look at my wound.

My husband, the Italian, ( important note) went right over to their house after I told him what had happened. Please know, the dog had gotten bigger by now, and the wound more gaping, and the pain, excruciating. The dog owners....Bonnie and Clyde....were very apologetic. They assured my husband, the Italian, that Cujo had indeed had his shots and that he was some sort of heeler. Heeler? She went on to explain that heelers bite at the heels of cattle to herd them, and was I running?

Running? There is as much of a chance that I was walking by on my hands as I was running.

But evidently if it is in your DNA to have a particular's OK to act badly. Ha!!!
DNA had nothing to do with this....this dog had never seen a cow...and I don't care what anyone says, I don't look like livestock.

So Cujo is confused, mean and now carrying around my DNA. I intend to whine and limp all day.

So y'all be careful out there, it's a dog eat dog world. Oh, and the dog in the picture may appear larger than he actually was...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Disneyland Trip

When Mikey got home from his mission we decided to go to Disneyland. Everyone was ready to just be together and stare at Mikey. We just say things like....."Mikey's home" every ten seconds. It feels so good...

Aren't they the greatest kids?

Raymond tried all day to put on a brave face, but he hates he is begging the bus driver to take him back to the car.

This was our best story, we had lunch at Blue Bayou. And we were starving, and thirsty. Our waitress was from Mexico so Mikey had a lot of fun talking to her in Spanish. She was quite wonderful...however our bus boy...was the most unhappy guy in Disneyland. Trey thought maybe he was Micky Mouse but was demoted, and maybe it happened that day. Because he was taking it out on everyone he served. We would ask for bread, and he would never speak just grunt and slam it on the table. It was hysterical, we started asking for things to see his reaction! Trey asked for butter and as the guy was walking away he threw it on the we just kept at it......more bread, more butter, more water. We are awful, awful people, it was fabulous...

Ashleigh celebrated her birthday. We will do anything for a free desert.
Disneyland never gets old...I hope I go back a thousand more times...

Disneyland is a place to be silly, to take pictures and make memories...When I leave I am always sad, not because I will miss the long lines or impossible prices. But I think of my children when they were little...and I miss them.

Raymond still found a little to be happy about....not much, but a little.

I have to admit it was great to not have to worry about strollers, or diapers....we didn't have to stop every 10 minutes for a churro, water, or a hat...or a magic trick...or the bathroom every ten minutes. I didn't even carry a purse.

I found a cup to match my shirt...pure picture perfect...I forced Trey to take the picture...

So until we can save up enough cans to get in again, farewell Disneyland.
...we left enough money there to support a small country, but we loved it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I am going to stop using the word only.

Only has so little merit...a silly word used in disparaging, minimizing ways...I would rather maximize my life...use all my tools....
positive ideas and words. And only? Well it is kind of a load...


But I only had one...
If only you loved me...
Only Buffy and Tad spoke to me at the cotillion
Dad only loves you
Mom only loves you
If only I had not eaten,said,done,that.
You only get one
Who is it? Only me
Only a face a mother could love
I only did it once...

I am not great at setting goals, I am great at wanting I will try again...what else do we have except to try again.
My new goal is to avoid the onlys in my life.

I am adding, myriad...many...numerous...innumerable....multitudinous....

A life of bounty and abundance...

Doesn't that sound great? I am not confusing bounty and abundance with wealth and power...I see bounty and abundance as dispelling worry. And worry is what we do when we can't do anything else....

But we can do so many things, in fact we can do almost anything.

I asked a friend of mine how she lost weight and got in better physical shape...she looked at me for a long time and then said, "I just did it, I got up one day and ate differently and went for a long walk...nothing more profound than that."

So today just do it.....argue with no one....let everyone else win the argument. Let them all "Be right" That is your gift to your family, friends and neighbors....if you see an argument coming...walk away. The Savior never argued, when there was contention, he walked away. Think of all the fights you have had simply because you had to be couldn't let it go....

Now go!! Read good things, think good thoughts, and eat good food.....throw away the onlys!!

Love to you all, especially Kathey...her sweet son is going on his mission today..

Friday, July 9, 2010

He is Home!!!

Can you believe it? He really is home.....we have been making fools of ourselves since he came down the escalator at the airport Tuesday night.

We touch him......a lot.

And we smile even more....

There just aren't a lot of times in my life that equal the other night. Seeing my son after two years was almost surreal.

When I saw him, and he looked so great, and had the biggest smile it was as though he had not ever been away.

But he was away...for two years. He sure grew up a lot. Now he understands that the most satisfying parts of life revolve around helping other people. And he found out how to work hard, to love without expecting anything in return.

And can you believe it? He eats fruit now....

So he is home. I think he is glad to be home, but sometimes I am sure he misses being a missionary. He will be thinking about these last two years for the rest of his life. There is nothing else he could have done over the last two years that could have even come close to the experience he had. We drove up to Utah today to see about school....and on the way back he told me story after story....some were sad, some were funny, and all of them were life altering for Mikey.

Welcome home Mikey, thanks for the ride, it was so much fun. But I am so glad you are home!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Preparing the fatted little boy is coming home!!!

Next Tuesday my son Mikey will be returning home from two years in Costa Rica where he served a mission for our church. I thought the time went by so fast, but then I always think time rushes by...I feel we eat breakfast every twenty minutes. Even with time going by quickly, I have missed him so much. Our whole family felt the hole created by his absence. Sometimes it was too hard and sometimes it was even unbearable. But I knew the life he was living in Costa Rica was completely worth the sacrifice.

We missed his savant like mind for endless sports trivia. His unbelievable inability to sing. We missed his ridiculous outfits and theme dates.
We looked forward to Mondays when his weekly email arrived. We laughed at his antics and wondered what the "Ticos" really thought of our silly, sweet, but always determined Michael. We followed his adventures for two years.....from endless rain, beautiful beaches, volcanic eruptions. strange, strange animals and far to many earthquakes to count. I didn't feel nervous, which I should have...but I always felt a certain peace that comes when you know everything is fine.

It is true I couldn't listen to Jack Johnson for two years...or Michael Buble...the memories were too strong...he loved all kinds of music, but those two singers were his favorites. Every time I would hear Jack Johnson my heart would go back to an incredible Saturday afternoon watching him play football. So I avoided those songs. Unless they would come on the radio......and then honestly I would have to go off by myself, cry, compose myself and go on. I Knew there was no way I could offer him the kind of experiences he was having...I just let the wave of sadness come and then go....

For a long time I couldn't go in his room, then I went all the time, I found a lot of comfort there. I never made his room a shrine, but it was a place to remember the little boy I knew was never coming home. Mikey left a teenager, but he is coming back a twenty one year old man. A man who has had a lot of responsibility, worked through homesickness, impatience and a lot of rejection. He lost himself and found real joy....all from serving people he never knew before and may never see again.

He wrote to us first of not getting along with his companions...and then his letters changed to caring about others and not himself......his heart was broken telling us about his companion who was disowned by his family when he joined the church only a year ago. The sadness they both felt after his mother hung up on him when he called her for mother's day. He told me he felt guilty when he would get emails and packages. He begged me to send his companion a box, "just put anything in it, he never gets a letter or an email." We did that happily.....

Because he was so passionate about what he was there to do, it bothered him when people didn't accept his message....his heart was broken when very troubled people would come up to him and tell him how much they wanted what he was offering, how much they wanted to change...but they felt their weaknesses was too much to overcome. Mikey is convinced anyone can do anything. he tries so hard to get people to believe in themselves and the power they have. I hope he never loses is a good way to live.

So Tuesday Mikey comes home...and another chapter of life starts. He doesn't know what an iPad is, or the oil spill in the Gulf. When he left Bush was president and unemployment in Nevada was about is now the worst in the country at 14%. When he left Tiger Woods was still an athlete we respected and Ben Rothlisberger was a great quarterback whose only statistics were on the field. Come to think of it, Mikey may not want to catch up with everything....

Mikey shared with me the wonder of his mission through his letters and emails. He wrote about his absolute joy when someone would consent to baptism. He told us about the woman at the temple who recognized his name and told him she joined the church after her daughter shared the gospel with her.....and her daughter had been taught by Mikey. He was barely able to speak when he realized his message of hope had been passed to this wonderful woman, someone he had never met. We shared his disappointment when things didn't work out the way he had hoped. We laughed at his inability to be sad for very long, relieved he could still find the "funny" in the most depressing times.

His adventures were running from dogs, seeing amazing water falls, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, tremendous poverty, and unbelievable beauty. He had a surprise visit from his brother who brought a suitcase to him filled with Christmas goodies, a visit from dear friends who brought 30 people with them straining the walls of the tiny church he met in. He ran into a man at the temple who is a best friend of our stake president...I had a box delivered to him by the most amazing relay system you could imagine. The box went from a friend of mine in Las Vegas to a woman who lived in Costa Rica was in Salt Lake City for a conference....she then carried the box for a week before going back to Costa Rica and handing it off to Mikey in San Jose.

Then a former baby sitter who grew up to be unbelievably beautiful, went to his Sacrament meeting with her three children while she was there on vacation. She scared him when she said, "Hi Mikey, how's it going?" He didn't recognize her at first, and had the hardest time explaining to everyone who she was. There just aren't a lot of beautiful blondes in the jungle of Costa Rica.

Part of the fun of Mikey's mission was when he would run into people who knew his older brother. Trey served in the same mission, and there were quite a few times people would recognize his name and be amazed. Mikey was grateful Trey was a good missionary...he never had to apologize for anything.

I don't have adequate words to express my thanks to the people who prayed for him while he was away. Or those that sent him letters and gifts of money (he often got tired of Rice and beans and enjoyed many trips to Taco Bell, Burger King and McDonalds.) He got care packages from so many, including letters from former coaches. I don't think he ever felt forgotten, or unloved. And aside from constant problems with his feet (thank you Shawna for helping him get medical help) he is coming home healthy and happy. He truly left it, "all on the field."

But more than anything I want to thank my Savior for making it all possible. For giving me the strength to let my precious son be away for two years, and for being the only one Michael depended on for two years.
My love to you all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wimbledon and some great advice...

So here's the deal, the other day I read a really nasty column online. It upset me, so I sent it to my friend Wendy, she would know what to do. I mean it was the meanest, twisted bit of quasi journalism you could ever read. I was acrimonious with what they had said and I needed Wendy to fix it..... why should I deal with this alone? So she emails back almost immediately and tells me, "don't read this column again." And then she says...."Go watch Wimbledon." Some wing man.

But I did....

Holy cats!! Did you watch that match today? Did you see those 2 players slogging it out for 10 straight hours? Wait, let me say this again.....10 HOURS!!! The longest tennis match ever played...for those of you sleeping...they played for 10 hours, who does anything for 10 hours? And these guys played big boy tennis for 10 hours. If you wonder why I am repeating myself it is because no one plays tennis for 10 hours! Much less this kind of tennis........great tennis, aces, volleys, incredible tennis! These 2 players, a American named John Isner and a Frenchman named Nicolas Mahut started playing this match Tuesday but had to stop because it was dark (Wimbledon doesn't have lights...I know, I know, the English have heard of lights but it is in the same category as dentists....they just don't use them. ) And then back to it today...the fifth game is tied at....wait for it, 59-59. There should be see it is a rule that the fifth game can't go to a tie breaker. So instead it just goes on forever. I wouldn't think this would be very good news for France...they have that nasty reputation for simply giving up, but old Nicolas would have none of that....he is in it to win it...I am not sure if this performance will be enough to change the course of history about the French and surrendering, but who knows ...and these 2 guys are amazing. How many of us would do something like this? I have to tell you at some reasonable time, maybe at hour number 3 or 4, I think I would wander over to the net, motion to my opponent and say something like.....I'M HUNGRY! I'M TIRED! I NEED TO PEE! it's been real!!.....I would toss them a towel, gather up my rackets and head for a massage. So long!!

.....but not these guys.

Anyway, another great part of this marathon tennis match is the Queen is coming tomorrow! She is scheduled to see Rafael Nadal play, and you know Queens - they stay on a schedule, but I wonder if she will at least take a peek at the French guy and the really tall American. As cute as Rafael is, only his mom will be watching his match. I am so excited to see who finally wins. These 2 guys are freakin' famous!! (thank you to my children for that description) No matter what happens next, they are the story of Wimbledon. They have set a record no one will break....who else could survive that long to break it?
And they are going to be connected forever. Maybe they never met before they faced off on the green courts of Wimbledon...but now these 2 obscure guys playing on court 18 are going to be on Regis, People magazine and the food network. They will be endorsing shoes that can go the distance, a little trail mix for stamina, and a watch for telling the time...A watch that should be saying, "Hey Nicolas we have been here for 10 hours!!"

Court 18 or not everyone will be watching them tomorrow. Including the Queen, I mean come on she hasn't been to Wimbledon in 33 years, this is big! She will have to trot down to court 18...What am I saying? She and her purse can sit at Center court for a while and then demand they change courts. A little player rotation, why not? She's the queen!! There just have to be some perks for putting up with her kids all these years...

But here's the deal, in life, you never know what the real story is going to be. And that is what I especially love about never know. It is SO much better than the news, because we always know how that is going to end, someone yelling, someone lying, and everyone mad.

So let's tune into to Wimbledon tomorrow, before you watch that cute Rafael Nadal on Center court, watch these guys for awhile. No one told them they were just some obscure tennis players way back on court 18......they think they are champions. And after what I saw today, I think they are right.

Aren't you glad I listened to Wendy?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

James Taylor, Stevie Nicks and Me

I am a child of the 70's....We were all over the place. None of us knew what was really going on. For one thing we didn't really know what kind of music we liked.......It seemed like we were musically schizophrenic, there was hard rock, odd rock, slow music, loud music all of it, wonderful early 70's taste was devoted to Jethro Tull, Rare Earth and James Taylor. My parents had lived through the Monkees, the Beach Boys and of course the Rolling Stones...and then there were others....and all of the music had a story.

The summer before I graduated from high school I visited lots of colleges trying to decide which one could reject me first...and I heard "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart every ten minutes on the radio. I equate beautiful Texas campuses, warm summer evenings with Rod Stewart, and every time I hear Maggie May I go right back there.

During the race to become homecoming Queen my senior year the local radio station dedicated a song to me for luck every time I hear the song called "Sweet City Woman" by the Stampeders, I remember a wonderful Saturday afternoon at a great football game, and my yellow dress with shoes dyed to match. I didn't win, but it didn't really matter. I go back to that afternoon every time I hear...
"I can see your face, I can hear your voice, I can almost touch you
Swee-ee-eet, sweet city woman
Oh, my banjo and me, we got a feel for singin', yeah, yeah,"

And then of course that catchy refrain....sung about a thousand times, it doesn't matter how corny it is, I love it, I am 17 again....with yellow shoes dyed to match.
"Bon c'est bon, bon bon c'est bon, bon,"
(That is awful..but I still love

And then of course there was Fleetwood Mac...I wanted to be Stevie Nicks and sing Landslide, my favorite song...The fact I couldn't sing and didn't have a drug problem seemed to be deal breakers. I went to see her one time and she came out on stage in this amazing long black dress, she was beautiful....and her voice was perfect. It was years later that I read she lived in a small house behind someone's house with a couple of dogs. The article was clear she really loved her dogs....

I thought for sure Glen Frey from the Eagles would have asked me out. And he would have if only our paths would have crossed. But he didn't and they didn't.... I thought Witchy Woman was the coolest song...when I got older and really listened to the song I was a little surprised...I never paid any attention to the words as I sang along...I had no idea why "she drove herself to madness with a silver spoon...". My husband and I went to see the Eagles with Jane and Steve...everyone was our age, and I bet every one of us was thinking of another time...

"Mama told me not to come" by Three Dog Night was my anthem. I still think it is a great fun song, and it is still true!

Patti and I climbed on a table to sing along with War. Didn't they sing Cisco Kid too?

I knew all the words to "American Pie" by Don McClean, and I stun friends with my ability to sing the many years later.

High School graduation was a Rare Earth concert..."I just want to celebrate!" Remember that?
But do you know what makes me the happiest today is that Carole King and James Taylor have decided to get old. It took James Taylor a long, long time to find out that drugs are not a very good substitute for creativity. And just look at this picture...two old friends, still with a lot of talent....being who they are. This picture makes me feel good...I know James Taylor had a lot of things to over come. And he did it...there are lots of stars of music who died young, some tragically, many sacrificed marriages and were estranged from their children. I thought so many of them were the coolest.......I didn't really know.I am glad my life worked out the way they did. I wouldn't change a thing. Every bad decision I made helped me be stronger, and wiser. Every sad thing that happened every bumbling dumb thing I did......All of it made me better. All of our experiences are for our good, if we chose to look at them that way. And I do. I get to walk through life with the same person I started out with. That's the greatest miracle of my life. Thanks Ray-Ray. Congrats on 31 great years.

There is a great quote that says, "It is at the end of a man's life that he realizes how important the decisions were that he made at the beginning of his life."

I was never going to be a singer, or an actress, a great tennis player or Barbara Walters......I have a very small life, but it is an important one. So I don't look with envy at Stevie, or wonder if Glen is going to call...I think of that young girl looking at colleges listening to Maggie May and I know she would be happy for how things have worked out. Small lives are important lives...