Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boston--Part 1 (of 3)

First of all, I have to say that on the morning of our last day in Boston, I sat in the hotel room eating my yogurt at our makeshift dinner table READING the HISTORY section of the Boston guidebook.  Just goes to show that my lack of preparations turned out just fine. I am now a cultured and informed person of Boston history.

Well sort of.

I have so much to say, and so many pictures to show, but little time to do it all. So I'll be as brief as I can, while still trying to do justice to such an awesome experience. Here are a few of the brief highlights, and then the more specific sites and my historic lessons will come later. 

One of my favorite things were the scores of large magnolia trees in huge bloom that we'd see.


I absolutely LOVED all of the churches we saw. They are on nearly every street and have so much charm. It was quite by accident we found the Boston LDS temple, when we happened to be driving a few streets away and I noticed Angel Moroni atop a steeple. We wended our way to the temple just in time for a glorious sunset.

My sister-in-law and mother-in-law were actually very fun traveling companions. Not that I didn't expect them to be, but I certainly didn't think we would laugh as many times as we did. And I mean laugh...the kind where your stomach hurts and you have to find a bathroom pronto. Which speaking of bathrooms--these ladies use them a lot. Which is probably why my mother-in-law actually had a printed out document she had Googled for the best bathrooms in Boston. 

Awesome.
I think I like to eat more than these ladies, especially treats, but I was thrilled when my mother-in-law picked us up a slice of cake to share from this very popular pastry shop we found along the Freedom Trail. Delicious.
Kristin turned out to be a stellar driver through the streets of Boston, of course due in part to Laurie's paper map navigation skills, and my gps navigation skills. Together we were quite a successful team.




The best laugh came when my mother-in-law was on the phone with Jimmy at the front desk and she had to lay the phone down on the bed while the three of us sat laughing uncontrollably. I can't really even tell you why we were laughing so hard, when all we were needing was an extra blanket and two extra towels. Even as I type this I'm laughing out loud at the recollection. I told my family last night and laughed hysterically while I told them the details, to which Megan replied, "Now tell us a funny story." Fine. I guess you really did "have to be there."
Our laughter lasted through-out the whole trip, with Kristin treating somebody's private driveway as a public round-a-bout, our navigation and driving skills, wrong turns, bad directions from others, me carrying strawberries and bananas around in my bag for an afternoon, my phone's gps navigation system that was forever "re-routing" us. (Meaning, we'd miss the "occasional" turn, not that the system was unreliable.) Laurie's brown bag she saved to take home that ended up ripped to pieces, and so on. None of which you would find inherently funny, but if you had been there, you would have.
I'm fairly confident I've earned the right to be invited to travel with these ladies again. We shall see.
(Lexington, MA where the Revolutionary War started)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Home

(The sunset that Salt Lake City greeted us with upon our arrival home--beautiful!)

The reality that I am home from my (fabulous) trip to Boston (more on that tomorrow) came the second I turned on my cell-phone when the plane landed and I had a (frantic) voicemail from Drew's preschool teacher that school had been over for 20 minutes and he was still there.

All guilty parties shall remain nameless. I'm glad Drew finally made it home, as his welcome to me was quite endearing. He was laying in my bed, head poking out from the covers and with a huge grin said, "I am so glad to see you."

The other kids had pretty big grins (and hugs) too. And LOTS to say and LOTS to ask and LOTS to tell all when it was past their bedtime.

Ahh well, I am glad to be home.

Except I'm finding it quite ironic that this article of mine (You can read the article HERE.) was put on the Power of Moms site over the weekend. My plate is a little too full this week....

But my full report of Boston will definitely be on it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Preparation was Packing

Back in February, in preparation for my upcoming trip to Boston, my mother-in-law sent me home one day laden with history books. One of the books was a simple guide book, and I found myself looking through it frequently. Although I must admit I had a tendency to linger a little too long on the "shopping and dining" sections more than the history stuff.

By the time you read this, I will be flying across the skies with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Both very intelligent women with an emphasis on history, art, and nearly everything I don't have an interest in (or knowledge of!).

Back to my history studies.

One of the history books sat by my bed for weeks. Each night I would get a nagging feeling as I looked at it sitting there, but I always chose to read a different book from my nightstand. A month or so ago, Mike and I were visiting with some friends and I told them about my need to study up on Boston history. They looked at me like I was crazy, and one of them quipped, "Isn't that why you are going?"

A light bulb went on. Yes, I decided. I'm going to Boston to learn about it, not the other way around.

Except those books, especially the one of my nightstand continued to nag at me.

On the handful of nights when I did actually pick it up to read it, it was late, I was tired, and it was painful for me to try to understand. I'd last about 3-5 minutes maximum. (I'm a lot of things, but intelligent and intellectually stimulating is not one of them.)

Two weeks ago, I was feeling stretched too thin. I had too many demands on my time and I felt taxed beyond the realm of my normal endurance. As I climbed into bed, the thick history book caught my eye and the nightly nag began to creep into my thoughts.  In a sudden moment of spontaneous empowerment I picked it up and removed it from my nightstand. Immediately I felt a weight lift from me. I think I had been figuratively carrying that darn book (and the other one almost twice its size) on my shoulders since February.

I haven't touched either of them since.

Despite it being all good and well that I had that moment of personal empowerment (or resignation), the fact still remains that I am traveling to Boston with two intelligent women who know their US history inside and out, and all I know about Boston is that there was some sort of tea party there once.

And it wasn't the kind of tea party I read anything about under the "shopping and dining" section of the one "Boston book" I actually did spend a decent amount of time looking at.

Here's to five days of history lessons.
Wish me luck...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sweet Sixteen


This is my favorite wedding photo. But the only copy of it is a large 16 x 20" hanging in my bedroom, so excuse the photo of a photo.

I'll tell you why I love it so.

A few weeks before my wedding, I entered the home of my Stake President (LDS church leader) for an interview. In the hallway was a photo of him and his wife on their wedding day. They looked young, happy, joyful and carefree. I thought about the limited information I knew about them and their family, and I realized how naive we are on our wedding day about what lies ahead of us.

I vowed then and there to always hang a large wedding picture in a place I would see often. But not just any picture. I wanted it to be one that captured the innocence of the moment and one I would always look back on and feel the happiness and optimism of the day.

When I saw this one taken by a friend, not even our photographer, I fell in love with it immediately. It was taken on a slide and I knew it needed to be printed and enlarged.

16 years later it hangs above our bed.

Mike and I are a lot of things; mostly opposite. Sweet and sour, hot and cold, high and low, optimist and pessimist, relaxed and uptight.

And so despite the fact the first words out of my mouth to him as a newly married couple stepping outside of the LDS temple to greet our family and photographers, were, "Damn it Mike. Quit stepping on my dress."
We've made it for 16 years and we're still IN LOVE, and I guess when you have five kids, a mortgage, and the stresses of everyday life, that's a good thing.

Which I know I've told you that story before, as I have how much I love April 24th, my anniversary day, as I have about my favorite photo above, and  so on and so forth. I've probably told you pretty much every story there is to tell about Mike and me. (Okay, maybe not. But still...)

So today, on our 16th wedding anniversary, I'll keep it simple.

I HEART MIKE.

Due to me flying across the country tomorrow with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mike and I aren't  doing too much tonight in way of anniversary celebration. Of course with my upcoming trip, I have a little too much angst to spend the evening carefreely and will instead be writing notes to my children and Mike and cleaning up personal spaces in case I don't return home. I'm a nervous traveler like that.

I wish I were kidding.
Happy Anniversary.

You can read some of my more detailed and eloquent "Mike and Tiffany" anniversary posts HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Weekend in Sunny St. George

It's been nice to have my brother and his family living in St. George, so we actually have a reason to take little mini-vacations every once in a while.

We're so not vacationers. I would say money and time, but really? I think it is more likely due to the fact that the seven of us in such tight quarters (a car for a long drive?!) doesn't really rank very high on our priority list.

We travel no differently than a family would have traveled 20 years ago. Which I must say, really should change. Maybe, just maybe we could breakdown and involve some form of technology into our travels one of these days, and perhaps it would all go a lot more smoothly.

Ah well. Even if the journey to and fro isn't the greatest, the time in St. George is.

A trip to St. George wouldn't be complete without a trip for the boys to the red rocks.
A trip for me to my favorite store, Judd's to get a bottle of cream soda. Megan and Luke were the lucky ones to accompany me this time.
A trip to my second favorite store down there, Urban Renewal, where I purchased my first real vintage dress, which I LOVE. I'll spare you the photo shoot Luke took of me in the front yard.

Lots of cousin time.

Too many late nights.
Swimming in Kristin's generous parents' pool.
A walk to the local park. Although, after this last time, I'm wondering if I ever will again. Drew and Annie took turns throwing temper tantrums and Luke and Ellie were a little too fascinated with a questionable photo shoot/filming going on with some creepy looking men, a not very well dressed lady, and a 10 foot SNAKE!!! Awful.

(And no, Joshua should not be in a stroller, but sometimes at the end of the day when they've spent far too many hours playing in the water and sun. You do whatever to keep the peace until bedtime...)

I LOVED that James and Annie sat on their doorstep to bid us farewell. I am very happy they don't have big smiles on their faces. I much prefer the solemn-forlorn-we-are-so-sad-they-are-leaving looks.

Who wouldn't want to go back?
Which I have to, as I wasn't able to fit in my personal tour again this time.
Well and also because I'll enjoy seeing my favorite St. Georgians again.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Clean Pantry or Holdies

Some Saturday mornings when it is raining, Mike gets a bee in his bonnet to clean out the pantry, partly because he has 5 children (and sometimes a wife) that aren't quite as uptight as he is about where we return the box of crackers or the olive oil. I don't complain about his good intentions and I've tried to throw out any temporary guilt I feel that perhaps cleaning/organizing a pantry should be something I take a turn doing once in a while.

Oh well. Mike does these kind of projects better than me anyway. Not only does he empty the pantry entirely and scrub the shelves clean, this time he opted to re-paint the shelves too.

What did I do on Saturday morning while he emptied, cleaned and painted?
Well, put it this way, Mike did at one point say, "Are you going to just sit and watch me the whole time?"

Mike then requested a helping hand from me, but it just so happened to come 30 seconds after Drew had asked for holdies on the couch. I responded, "I'll come over to the kitchen and help you as soon as Drew is finished with holdies."

To which dear Drew piped up, "I'm not ever gonna be done."

Ahhhhhhh--
to help Mike with the pantry or hold Drew?

Drew won.
Eight hours later Mike and I arrived home from dinner to discover Drew riding a two-wheeler.
I better take "holdies" over helping clean the pantry while I can. My children aren't getting any younger.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hank's New Duties

You know what springtime means, right? The last two springs have brought two new additions around here.  Hank in 2011 and Lily in 2012. We figured once Luke had two goats, we were done with goats. Of course, Lily died during the winter, and Luke feels strongly that Hank needs a new friend.

Mike and I really aren't so sure.

We see Luke still show such tender and heartfelt grief for Lily, that in those moments I think we'd magic a goat on the spot if we could.

On the other hand, we see Luke's checkbook register that accounts for all his income and spending, and pretty much every penny he earns goes to animal feed. In those moments we try to tell him that ONE goat, a rabbit and EIGHT chickens is probably sufficient for now.

Luke still has his heart set on getting another goat, specifically a "Pack Goat."

You know, the kind that will be used to pack heavy loads up mountain trails? You know, because we're always wishing we had a goat for the times we're packing heavy loads up mountain trails?

Luke has been googling goat saddle packs for weeks seeing how much they cost, and in addition has been reading up on all sorts of tips for training pack goats.

Luke is waiting patiently. (He thinks he's getting one, Mike and I still aren't so sure) Actually, I take that back, I wouldn't necessarily say he is waiting "patiently".

But I will say, he's improvising.

Always one to save a dollar, and to improvise where he can, Luke has been hard at work the past couple of weeks making his own goat pack.

The other day I drove onto the driveway and saw this:
Then it progressed to this:
 
Hank may well become a Pack Goat.
Not to mention tonight Luke's scout troop was scheduled to take a walk along a local public trail to clean up garbage. Apparently, pets were invited. I think the scout leaders expected one or two dogs, not a goat carrying a pack.

The grin on Luke's face was pretty hard to miss, as he bragged about Hank carrying the garbage bags on "his pack" and the dry cereal Luke carried along in a sandwich bag (courtesy of the tips on Google under "training pack goats") working like a charm to keep Hank's behavior in check.

I'm still not sure what the scout leaders thought of the whole thing.

Hank turning into a Pack Goat could quite possibly become a win-win for us all! Luke could quite possibly get his pack goat, without needing a new goat.

I LOVE this kid. (Meaning Luke, not the goat) Seriously, is there anyone like him? We NEVER know what he will think of next.

PS-Hank was the only pet that attended the scout activity.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Power of Moms Las Vegas--Could It Get Any Better?

I wish I could write an eloquent post about my weekend in Las Vegas. But honestly, I don't think I could do it justice. I've been to quite a lot of Power of Moms Retreats now. I no longer wonder about the type of women that will be there, I know. Wonderful, fabulous, deliberate mothers. Last night as Mike drove me home from the airport, I couldn't help from repeating "There are SO MANY wonderful women in this world. I feel so blessed to meet lots of them."

The only drawback to these retreats, especially the ones out of town, is the reality that circumstances may  never put us together again. There are some hugs goodbye that sting with the reality of time and distance between us.

Our Friday night session was titled, Dream Night. We broke down the 45 attendees into groups of 3 and spent over two hours together discussing our dreams, our big daring dreams and our safe and ordinary dreams. I was fascinated by the diversity of dreams so many of us have. A Zumba class instructor, professional cake decorator, young adult novel author, weight-lifter, model, Camaro driver, and so on.

Aren't those some awesome dreams? I loved sitting in circles with these women, sometimes laughing and sometimes crying as we talked about the dreams we each have and how we hope (and dream) of pursuing them one day. I loved sitting and watching as some people experienced an a-ha moment that yes, indeed they do have a dream and it is OKAY as a mother to pursue it! And sometimes we sat together and realized that some dreams will have to wait for a while. Other times we watched as tears were shed that some dreams had to be forgotten.

What a night!!
Even if I did mortify April with too many details during my opening story. Has of yet, I haven't been fired, so there may still be hope for me.

I was THRILLED to meet my new friend, Jonelle and re-connect with another friend, Cheryl. Cheryl and I met at last year's Las Vegas retreat and Jonelle and I met via an email she sent to the Power of Moms website in December.

With me in Utah and these two ladies in two different parts of the Las Vegas area, they made the retreat really happen. What phenomenal ladies!! I'm blessed to know both of them. They are soon to be new Power of Moms trainers, and I'm sure some GREAT things will start happening with Power of Moms in the Las Vegas area. Not to mention the hope that the Las Vegas Retreat may become an annual event...
(Cheryl, me, Jonelle)

This dear, dear new friend, Briana, rode up from California with April. What a lady!! Her faith and optimism amidst real trials is truly inspiring. I loved lounging in a hotel room with her on Friday night visiting with her. I wish I could have spent hours more with her basking in her goodness.
I loved introducing these two ladies to each other. They share some common heartbreaks, but look at their smiles! More great women doing hard things!
And then there is the dear hostess, Dyana. What a gracious, generous woman! She not only opened her beautiful home to a houseful of strangers, but she had such insight to share. She and her sister are fabulous! I could have listened to their wisdom for hours. (Watching the two of them interact made me feel sad I don't have a sister.)
(Me, Dyana, Alesha, April)

Oh! And the bravery of this dear lady, Dawn! She courageously shared on Friday night her dream to become a Zumba instructor, and the next thing she knows, I (with gentle prodding from her friends) had her committed to leading us all in a short Zumba routine on Saturday morning!

(Dawn in the middle of her two supportive friends)


As for all the other women there? 
Wonderful, great women. I loved sitting in groups or observing groups and listening to them share their hearts. I feel humbled to have the opportunity to share my passion of motherhood and facilitate such great learning and discussion. 


I love this retreats!
I do not however love nearly every photo taken of me while talking, which you will not have the chance to see. It seems my hands/arms are waving and out-stretched in every photo! I obviously need to remember to speak with my mouth, not my arms!

I could go on and on. I could spend hours writing about the rich discussions that filled our day. The ideas, suggestions, and moments shared were touching, encouraging, and motivating. I'm sure I've said it before, but I firmly believe that with that many good women in a room, we could probably solve every parenting dilemma out there! With that many deliberate mothers in one place, it seems someone has a solution or suggestion for something.
What a way to spend a weekend.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Six

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
a.a. milne

Joshua opted for a low-key birthday. 100% his choice. A week before his birthday he announced, "I don't really like friend birthday parties. They make me ornery." I couldn't really argue with that, especially when he continued, "I just want to be with our family."

So, the bowling alley followed by Taco Bell, (We have never eaten there before, so not sure why his little heart was set for days on that "restaurant" for his birthday.), followed by cake and ice cream at home with grandparents, was pretty much the makings of a perfect birthday for Joshua.

I know Joshua was the birthday boy, but I love Drew's smile in these series of pictures!



Having spent last weekend in St. George (post to follow) with Cousins Annie and Kate, Joshua really wished Annie and Kate and Cousin Lucy from CA could come to his "family party." Of course neither could, but oh boy is technology wonderful. (I can't help but wonder how different my life growing up an ocean away from grandparents could have been with the technology of today!) Cousins Annie, Kate and Lucy were able to sing Happy Birthday right along with us!! It made me want to cry--and it actually did make Cousin Lucy in CA cry, I think it was the part she realized that she couldn't have any of the Superman cake!


The Smasher is SIX!
Happy Birthday Joshua.

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