Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rochester New York Mission

Before I go to bed tonight, have to add one more thing.

There is a saying that when two or more coincidences happen, maybe it's not coincidence. Maybe Heavenly Father is trying to tell you something. Well, something is going on with my time in New York.

Two of the most influential people in my life were the Siddoways, my mission president and his wife. For as little time as I actually spent with them, their influence has been greater than anyone else I can think of.

It has been years since I last spoke with them. But, for whatever reason, this last time in Utah, I was able to contact them AND go see them! I was walking on clouds after out visit. They brought up so many warm memories and experiences. Things I needed to remember. What was golden to me was that they remembered me the same way i remembered them. President Siddoway and I had some very wonderful talks, which have remained with me for over thirty years. It brought tears to my eyes that he remembered them as well. It made me think about when we get to see the Savior again - the brightness of the love and concern He will have for us. the term "no longer strangers" goes through my head. He still knew me. What an example of the Savior he is to me.

So, we had our "fast and testimony" meeting last Sunday and I got up and talked about New York and President Siddoway. He had shared a private story about President Hinckley with me and my kids and I passed it on to my branch. The closing song was "Sweet Hour of Pray," which had been the song I sang as a duet with Nina Robison in Hanksville, Utah at my missionary farewell. I was a teary, soggy mess by the time Sunday School started.

After Sunday School, Bro. Arnold came up to me. The Arnolds are just one of my favorite couples in the whole world. I could write a whole blog on just them! Anyway, he told me that his wife's brother had also served in New York - under President Siddoway! He told me his name and it was one I think I remember. Turns out, he lives in Vancouver! I am going to try and contact him this weekend when we go up there for Cayden's birthday. (October 1 - 4 years old!!)

I don't know where this is all leading, but it's the most exciting thing I have going at present. That many coincidences...doesn't seem like a coincidence.

The other thing was that I got to talk to two of the sister missionaries I had met there. One goes back longer. I have wondered and wondered about her. They will be having a sister reunion this April and the Siddoways were already working on that. I don't want to miss that. I have never been to one.

Over the River and Through the Woods....

We are making a trip to Eugene tomorrow. I have a dermatologist appointment tomorrow. Skin and mole check. Woo-Hoo! The drive takes about two hours one way. (when I say we live on the end of the world - I'm not kidding) But Eugene has malls, a really good women's foundation shop (read that new bras!), and Costco. I'm hoping we have enough energy to do some shopping there.

I have been home seven days now and am going buggy. What I hate about it is that I don't feel bad enough to sleep during the day, but I don't have enough energy to do anything. I'm just schlepping around. I identify with Matt's feeling about feeling better when he is getting his "to do" list knocked down. I'm not hyper-active in any shape or form, but I AM goal oriented. Right now I'm not making any of my goals except making and keeping medical appointments. Somehow this isn't what I had in mind.

It's interesting to me (oh really, Paula? Yeah - really...) (just adding a little dialog...) that I made the decision to stay home for a while BEFORE I had gotten the calls about the results of my physical. Once I got all that news, it like knocked the wind out of my sails. I THOUGHT I was tired before....suddenly, I feel exhausted. There's lots to do. Everything just seems overwhelming. Tht sounds a lot like depression, doesn't it? I don't know what in my head and what's in my body right now. Frustrating. WHEREever it's coming from, I wish it would go away.

The Blog Has Been Disconnected

I made my blog private today, just to see if anyone noticed. Ericka did and called me. I just got tired of writing and checking and nothing ever being there from the rest of the family. Ericka has blogged and I LOVE that. (She didn't even complain about the bullwhip lashing, Chrissy!) I got addicted to getting to hear from you all. I guess it was more fun for you when it was new. Being home, I don't have as many distractions. I just got tired of being disappointed that no one was adding to their blog and no one was leaving notes. I must be a high maintenance blogger.

I decided that if I was just writing to myself, there was no point of having "open to the public." So I made it private. Now I'm repenting. I still miss reading our little notes and daily events.

Note to self: Get a life!
Get well enough that you can have "a life."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dropping My Dirt Aspirations

Suppose it's not necessary to make a post on this, but - here it is.

I've decided that I don't want to be dirt.

Dirt has no free agency. It goes where it is told, when it is told. We have the higher responsibility to do what God asks of us because we want to. The greatest gift we have is free agency. The ability to choose our response to any given stimulus. We can decide how good a day we are going to have before we ever SEE the weather report. We can choose to be happy regardless of what comes our way. We can choose to be grateful BEFORE we receive anything at all. It's all up to us.

Because God gives us EVERY thing - the only thing we truly have that is our own is our agency. So it is the only true thing we have to give back to HIM. Think about it. He owns everything else. But for us to say, " I can choose any path I want. But I CHOOSE to follow Christ. I want to do it because it shows where You stand in my life. I choose to be obedient. I choose to believe. I choose to be grateful. I choose to strive to become valiant.

Neal A. Maxwell said:
"So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the alter and letting it be consumed! Such is the "sacrifice unto the Lord...of a broken heart and contrite spirit," (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving "away all [our]sins" in order to "know God" (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him." (emphasis added)

You know you live in the Pacific Northwest if you...

- use the word "ferry" and think of boats and long waits.

- You have no concept of humidity without precipitation

- You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer & Elk season (Fall)

- can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai food.

- take a half day every July 1 to find your sunglasses and sunscreen.

- remember the date, severity, time of day, where you were, and how long you were out of power and phone service for every winter-weather event in the last five years.

- feel guilty for days after throwing an aluminum can in the trash instead of recycling it.

- get very, very happy when the early morning weather forecast includes the term "sun breaks."

- know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon, Yakima, Yaquina and Willamette.

- have ever called your insurance agent to ask if your homeowners policy covers falling trees, flooding, or mud slides or if the number of your favorite roofing company is on your phone's speed-dial list.

- never go camping without waterproof matches, ponchos, and mattress pads that double as flotation devices.
- know more people who own boats than air conditioners.

- consider that if it doesn't have snow on it or has not recently erupted, regardless of elevation, it is not a real mountain

- complain about Californians until the day you sell your house to one for twice what you paid for it.

- find a wallet with $500 in it, return it all to the owner and refuse a reward.

- know the difference between Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye salmon.

- used to live somewhere else, but won't admit it

- You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain," and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."

- believe swimming is not a sport but a survival skill to prevent boating deaths and should be done only indoors, except in an emergency.

- You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time.

-You measure distance in hours not miles and refer to locations by their mile-post markings.

- can point in the direction of two or more volcanoes even though you can't see them through the clouds.

- go to work and return home in the dark in the winter, even though you only have an eight-hour work day.

- find that when the weather gets above 60 degrees, you replace your hiking boots with Birkenstock or Teva sandals.

- believe people who use umbrellas are wimps, Californians, or both.

-You are sad during Christmas because it never snows in the valley. AND you know where "the valley" is

- You go out of state and wait in your car for someone to pump your gas.

- You make subtle remarks about Washington drivers, but save your real road rage for California drivers.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Froggy Goes A'Swimming...

This August Matt and Cayden spent some time outside in the backyard together. They found bugs and dead flies (so gross) and frogs. Cayden wanted to build homes for everything he found. Uncle Matt documented their discoveries:

It's not easy being green - but it beats everthing else!

Getting Jobs Done

The pace the past few days has been different than I'm used to. I can do whatever I WANT to. I almost feel guilty. I have gotten some important things done, though.

I got a bulletin board put up with daily, weekly and monthly chores for Mom. She seems to like having it. It's a good check-point for all of us. I also thoroughly cleaned the living room Thursday. It took me all day, but I got it done. My visiting teachers were coming over Friday morning and I wanted to get the room cleaned up before they came. It was nice to be ready before they came.

I was able to get the estimate for the window repair signed and back to the contractor. I want to get those replaced/repaired before the storms come.

I will be working on our 72-hr emergency kit today. I found an old-fashioned luggage rack in the storage area this morning. I am putting a plastic milk carton on the bottom and attaching it with a bungee card; that will hold the water bottles. I will place the duffel bag on top of that. I will post a picture when I have it done. My goal has been to have this done by conference, which is coming up next weekend.

Also have a bridal shower this afternoon and need to prepare my gospel doctrine lesson. Will check in later.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Some Health Issues

Getting a physical was a good thing. My level of tiredness was one of my big reasons for getting one. I also had some pains I was concerned about. All of it is kind of tying together. Everything they discovered has a common symptom - fatigue. Gee.

Don't have all the answers right now. Just got a call notifying me of some of the results and that we aren't through. I have to go back next week.

They found through the sonogram that I might have some kind of chronic liver disease. When I had the last flare up, they said I probably had fatty liver disease. Probably the same thing now. Best treatment? Loose weight and exercise. Surprise.

Also they found high blood sugar and an extreme Vitamin D deficiency. I'm so excited....at least I know it wasn't my imagination. I really WAS tired. I'm glad I listened to my promptings. I'm hoping I can get on top of this soon. Part of me is scared but part of me is happy to know that there are actually things I can do. It's better than not finding anything and being afraid. I can get my prescriptions today and start treatment before my next appointment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Taking a Break

I have made a drastic choice, but one I feel very good about.

I have been SO stressed with all the responsibilities that have occurred since June. I have had to be a property manager, a dietician, a care-giver, a housekeeper AND wastewater operator. I haven't handled them all well and my job preformance has drastically been affected. I have starting having stress-related physical symptoms and physical problems of my own. I noticed the change in my body when we went to Mesa. It happened again when I spent a few days in Utah.

I flew home in time to make it to work for my swing shift Tuesday, but the closer we got to home, the worse I felt. My neck started hurting. My headache came back. I had spent at least two days drug-free while in Utah. I didn't go to work that night. I had some of my yearly physical tests that my doctor had wanted scheduled for Wednesday morning. From those, I went to city hall and wanted to resign. They suggested that I try a family emergency medical leave instead. I thought that was a good idea because at that moment, all I could feel was that I couldn't do it all any more. I have 12 weeks this year. I don't have to take them all at one time. I COULD take them as half days if they would let me, which would make the leave time last longer. Right now I never want to go back. It makes me sick to even think about it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Okay, Family - You're Slacking

This is me - cracking the whip!
Get those blogging muscles going. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Just let us know what you are doing!

Sibling Rivalry Never Dies!

My two younger girls shared a bedroom when they were young. They took care of each other through the turbulent end of my marriage to their father. They shared space, toys, clothes and my attention. They can be close...
But occasional, there is this under current. It starts as "innocent" teasing...
Somehow, it gains energy.
And intensity...

Down isn't good enough.
Out of the way is better...

Rivalry. It never dies...

My trip made me envious of all the fun they have together. Families who live close enough to continue to have family dinners and outings together have the best. I wish Ericka and I could be part of these social activities. Hopefully this will change in the next year.

The Faces of Briggs Wright

I got to spend some time with my new little grandson. He is sure q GOOD little baby. Maybe it is a "third child" thing. Ericka's Brenna is the same way. These are two easy-going, happy, little kids.

Briggs, the quiet.
Briggs, the wailer
Briggs, the cuddled
Briggs, the opiniated
Briggs, the super-star - no more Paparazzi, please!

Briggs, the first son of my first son

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Adventure with Baggage Loss/Delay

I don't recommend this as a practice, but if there are family members who don't update their blogs - board a plane, show up on their door! Demand information! Take pictures! Post them on YOUR blog....

The lack of baby pictures, no updates from two kids - what could I do? I took Mohammad (okay, Mama) to the mountain - Wasatch Mountains, to be specific. I have three days of baby powder, teeny-tiny diapers, and non-burp-producing back patting. Life is good.

Not all has gone smoothly. For the first time ever I experienced the frustration of air travel. I arrived in Salt Lake City and my luggage didn't.

(photo courtesy of http://www.worth1000.com/entries/210500/210892NsUR_w.jpg)

Don't know what scenic route Southwest Airlines routed them through, but I didn't get them back for more than twenty-seven hours. I have always liked Southwest. But I think their service in the "loss/delay" section needs some improvement. I received no information initiated by them after I filed the report. They told me that their policy is that they don't make contact with the customer UNTIL they locate the luggage. I was told I would get a contact within a certain time frame, which never happened. It took supervisory intervention to get information of where they stood in locating my bag.

In the end, they DID offer to reimburse me up to $50 for over-night supplies because of the inconvenience. That was nice and I did take them up on the offer since I wasn't sure I would get it back even the next day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

School's Beginning - Another View

Consider this from a new teacher to the system:

After being interviewed by the school administration, the teaching prospect said,

"Let me see if I've got this right: You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of anti-social behavior, and make sure that they all pass the state exams.

You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English and Spanish by letter, email, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

You want me to do all this and then you tell me that I can't pray?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flash From the Past

Jared reminded me of this:


Chrissy and Tanis Rock

I Want to be Dirt!

Tom and I decided we have a new goal in life.

(Helaman 12:7-8)

7 O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.

8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and
thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting

Dirt listens and obey God. It blows at His command. Man certainly doesn't. We want to be dirt.

Okay - we want to be as OBEDIENT as dirt. Suddenly, being referred to as "dirt under someone's feet" doesn't seem so bad. Dirt listens and obey God. We want to be dirt!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Faith and Trusting God

We finished up the book of Helaman Sunday. I know I have read it before, but reading it this time was SO intense. It was so relevant to our times. Maybe it's the election. Maybe it's having it so close to the anniversary of 9-11 and all the emotions and memories it brought up. Maybe it's the Spirit witnessing that we need to be alert and prepared. I asked my class if they had any different reactions to reading it this time and several had the same reaction I did. It was very unsettling to do my reading and then watch the news, as Tom does every day. I started this deja vu thing as I was reading..."Didn't I just see this on Fox News? Didn't CNN just cover this?" And as I watched the news, scriptures kept popping up in my head as I watched.

One thing I came away with, was how the Lord ALWAYS supports those whom are faithful, firm and resolute in obeying the commandments. He always gives warnings. We don't always listen, but He always gives us a chance to change our path before it everlastingly too late. And there IS a point where it IS too late to repent and obey.

Our class talked a lot about that - concerning emergency preparedness. Kind of the Ant and the Grasshopper story. When you NEED the food and supplies, it's too late to go get them. As I mentioned before, this has been an issue of much prompting. I now have two cases of MRE's in the garage. I WILL have our 72-hr kit ready by conference and am still adding to our 3 month supply.

We had a couple come from Corvallis to give talks on Sunday. (Our little branch is so little, we get guest speakers from neighboring wards. Otherwise we would just be giving talks one after each other, round-robin-style) The wife had the best image for trusting the Lord. I will share her story, after a little background.

I've loved Pres. Packer's symbolism is comparing faith to standing on a dark street, under a street light. Wherever the light falls, symbolizes our faith. The time comes, occasionally, when we have have to step out of the circle of light. "Leap of faith" comes to mind. The miracle is that when we stand on the edge of that light and take a step into the darkness, by the time our foot hits the ground, the light has expanded to include the area where we now stand. The circle of light has grown and we aren't in the darkness; as we imagined we would be. Cool.

There are lots of examples in the scriptures of having to take the step before your faith is rewarded. When Moses divided the Red Sea. When Joshua divided the Jordan River. The men carrying the ark actually had to step into the water before it spread apart for them. They crossed on dry ground, but they had to step into water. Amazing message. President Spencer W. Kimball wrote a book Faith Precedes the Miracle.

In talking to my kids and teaching my Sunday School class, one of the things I have stressed is the importance of remembering past experiences of trusting the Lord. Looking back at His past dealings with you. My family has a rich shared experience of many blessing through harrowing times. We KNOW He knows our needs. We KNOW that if we follow His prompting, we will end up in a better situation than we were before. If we loose something that was hard to understand WHY you couldn't have it, we have seen it was because He had something better just down the road. If we had settled for our own desires, we would have missed the greater blessing He had waiting for us. I don't always know or understand the paths He takes me down, but I trust implicitly the worth of the walk.

So this sweet sister compared our experiences in faith to a starfish. (I LOVE beach combing analogies!) Have you ever tried to pry a starfish off a rock? It's extremely difficult because they have all these little sucker feet. You have to work them off, little by little. You can easily break off one of their arms before you are able to pry the whole body off. WE ARE LIKE THAT!

We work a few little "suckers" off our fear and take that step of faith. It turned out okay. We were blessed. Next time, we can release a few more, because we remember it worked out well the last time we trusted the Lord. Little by little, we are able to change our heart into a trusting one. Knowing our weaknesses, He never takes us to the breaking point.

I asked a bishop about that once. I said, "If Heavenly Father never gives you more than you can handle, why do some people have 'nervous breakdowns'?" (Oh, me of little faith....) I have always remembered his answer. He said that happens because of pride. Sometimes they get too proud to ask for help. The gospel works because we become ONE. We are to bear one another's burdens. To help bear them, we have to know about them. He gives us weakness to make us humble; to come to Him and He will make our weak areas strong. He also tells us not to run faster than we have strength. Gauge our activities and commitments. Keep our priorities straight. God. Family. Church. Employment.

Stephen Covey says, "“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” Stress comes when your external priorities are in conflict with your internal priorities.

I wish I could just remember that when things are getting tough in areas of my life, that is usually a big billboard warning that I need to increase my spirituality. Conflict at home? Trouble at work? World bearing down on me? The answer is always more prayer and scriptures. It works every time.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Skunk Train - Eureka to Willits

I first discovered this little train back in the 70's (I know....and believe me it makes me feel ancient) I was living in the Bay Area (San Francisco Bay area) and on weekends I used to make little road trips in my VW van. ( I AM a sixty's left-over, you know). I used to like to drive north of San Francisco to this little town called Willits. I was always broke, just having enough to get there and stay the night in a motel. I could hear the train leaving throughout the weekend. I learned it went through the coastal range to Eureka. I imagined what you might see of that trip: the redwoods, the ferns, maybe animals. I always planned on getting to ride it. It only took me thirty years. It was worth the wait.

The cars are actual railway cars from the 1910 era. The staff is wonderful about assisting those with diabilities. If you notice the metal contraption beside the train, it was the manual lift they used to help my Mom board the train.
The round trip to Northspur (the turn-around point) takes about 2.5 hours. It travels though forest of redwoods and other conifers. The engineer gives you the history of the area and points out things of interest as you travel. They have a "dining car" where you can get snacks on your trip. As much fun as it is to ride IN the train - THE way to see the forest is on their "observation" car.
They have two flat bed cars with handrails. Standing there, you only have the trees and the sky over you. You can smell the forest scents and get a creak in your neck craning your head back to see the tops of the redwoods. It was my favorite part of the whole trip. It was dream realized. Mom and Tom couldn't take the standing, but were understanding about my going out there.

I took picture after picture, until my battery died.

They had live musical entertainment of the train. He was quite a character and fun to listen to. He provided our mealtime entertainment as well. He had some of littel kids dancing along with his songs.

At Northspur, they have a barbecue menu available. All the food is cooked over two large open air grills. In the fall, on weekends, you can get fresh grilled salmon. It is possible to pick a trip that goes all the way into Willits. They have over-night packeages available, where you could stay at a motel in town and take the train back to your original destination, going both east and west. They had to turn the train around on our trip, to go back to Eureka, so we had time to get lunch before boarding the train to go back.

I felt a little like I had completed something from my own "bucket list." It was as good as I had imagined it would be. It was special getting to share it with Tom & Mom. It was something none of us had done before and so it got to be a first for all of us together. If we ever do it again, I think I would drive down the freeway to Willits and ride the train from there. There are no services on the road from Hwy 5 to Eureka. It's about an hour and a half drive and you only travel about 50-60 miles. Twenty-two miles of it is hairpin turns. It's worse that Hwy 34, for my kids' reference.

On our way back to the motel, we stopped in Leggett to see the tree you can drive your car through. They had one along the Avenue of the Giants, but wanted to make you pay to do it. This one is in a state park and is free. Did we drive through? No. Go figure. We weren't sure the van would actually clear without scratching.