Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who needs TV with kids around?

Last week, I acquired my fifth nephew. As Laura pointed out, whenever one of us gets around to having a girl, she will be the most spoiled baby in the world.

We do love our boys, though, and I was quite happy to get to meet baby Z on Saturday. Tim is quite proud that he and his son were the same weight at birth. They seem to have the same personality so far, too- very laid back and easygoing and stoic. This kid never cries, to his parents' joy. He also wouldn't open his eyes for me, but I'm sure we'll have time to get to know each other.

I ended up spending Saturday night at the homestead instead of driving back to Salt Lake, and both T and K decided they wanted to have a sleepover with me. The only problem with that was that I was staying in a room with two twin beds. In my mind, that meant that one of the boys would be sleeping on the floor. I sat them down and pointed out that there were only two beds, and K piped up, "you can sleep in my bed." Which, I suppose, was very generous of him. I didn't have the heart to ask him to sleep on the floor after that. By about 5 AM, I was very tired of being squashed in half of a twin bed, though, so *I* ended up sleeping on the floor. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn't go into Laura's room, since she was gone, or find a couch or something.

By Sunday evening, K was definitely wound up. After doing some silly and annoying things, I hunted him down in Dad's closet and asked him if he'd like to go outside to run around. We ended up running races across the length of the backyard. T came out and wanted to join in. K had been having me give him head starts, but when T came out, he suggested that I should get the head start. Bemused, I asked him why. "Well," he replied, "I noticed that you're not a very fast runner."

At that point, I decided that I was doing too good of a job of letting them win, and so for the next race, I booked it across the lawn and easily beat the eight year old and the five year old. Then they both stripped all the flowers they could reach off the Rose of Sharon and gave them all to me. Maybe I'm still single because no man has showered as much love and attention on me as my nephews have. Hm.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

One thing that I simultaneously love and dislike about this single LDS life I lead is the sudden opportunities that appear for exciting new experiences, be they fun, thought-provoking, or service-oriented. Like all opportunities, these have a limited window during which they are valid options, and these windows tend to run on the small side.

So it was on Thursday when I got home from work and discovered an email from my good friend Sarah P, inviting me to go backpacking in the Uintahs this weekend, a quick overnight trip to Jewel Lake, a place that her boyfriend, Brian, had been wanting to show her for some time.

So it came to pass that I found myself on Friday afternoon leaving work to frantically cram Heather's loaned backpack with food and a toothbrush and a spare pare of socks, before leaving for the beautiful, scenic drive from Salt Lake to Kamas and on into the Uintahs with Sarah, Brian, and Trevor.

It didn't really occur to us until we were driving up through the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway that it was a holiday weekend, but we felt it was appropriate to celebrate our Pioneer heritage by roughing it and reconnecting with nature.

I am proud to report that, although the hike in was only a couple miles and not really strenuous, I did carry my own pack the whole way with minimal problems. My body really is a lot stronger than it used to be, and I rejoice.

I actually fared a lot better than Trevor, the king of backpacking and camping, who, on the way in, misjudged a log's ability to hold his weight, wasn't able to catch himself as the log gave way, and awkwardly fell forward, managing to sprain his ankle. Being a tough, manly man, he proceeded onwards and really didn't complain too much considering the amount of pain he must have been in. It did have a sad effect on the amount of hiking we did after that, though.

Although I love camping and "roughing it," I must confess this was some of the roughest roughing I have yet done. We didn't take in any firewood; while Sarah and Brian took a romantic stroll around the lake, Trevor and I pulled tinder off of trees in the form of dead pine branches and located some long dead logs that Trevor broke into the appropriate size by hurling rocks at them. It didn't take long before we had a merry fire going, and although Trevor initially laughed at me for bringing a whole six pack of sausages, he was quite happy to eat two of them for me in return for some of his gourmet instant mashed potatoes.

I also had the great pleasure of inroducing Sarah and Brian to the roasted cinnamon bear, a delectable family tradition that is much less gooey and harder to ruin than roasting marshmallows. Yum. Brian and Sarah effectively cleaned out the bag of cinnamon bears, they liked them so much.

Trevor is a media aficionado, and he just got a nice new camera, which, of course, he brought along on the trip. We took it down to near the lake to do all kinds of crazy stunts with exposure time- next time I see Trevor I'll bug him to send me copies of them so I can display all his awesome ideas for cool pictures.

The next morning, we took a few nice strolls, I found my personal shrine in a pile of moraine rock that covered an inlet for the lake and also was a haven for all kinds of gorgeous wildflowers, we cleaned up camp, and began hiking out. Sarah and Brian began falling behind, and we somehow wound up separated from them. It ended well when we got back to the car within fifteen minutes of each other. But since Trevor and I got there first, we had time to contemplate what it would be like to get a covered wagon through the Uintah mountains. We concluded that the pioneers were very smart to not go through the mountains, which would have been a death wish on the whole expedition.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Race You to the Top of the Mountain

As I was leaving work today, I discovered a text from Trevor on my phone indicating a hiking trip was in the works tonight. I haven't been hiking much this summer, so I ended up hiking to the top of Red Butte with Trevor and Tyler, and having a most enjoyable time.

As we sat on the peak of the hill and looked out across the valley, it hit all of us what a unique kind of beauty Salt Lake has. As we watched the red sun set until it met up with its reflection in the Great Salt Lake and vanished over the horizon, and the lights of the city slowly came on and began to twinkle, filling up the whole valley, we basked in the slowly receding desert heat. The beginnings of the evening canyon breezes curled down Emigration Canyon as the sounds of a thunderstorm further south wafted towards us.

We squinted at the beautiful panorama and were able to just make out all four temples in the Salt Lake Valley, starting with the nearest, Salt Lake itself, then moving much further south down the valley, to Jordan River, Oquirrh Mountain, and Draper. The half moon poked out from behind its shroud of stormclouds, tinged pink from the still-setting sun, and I sat in awe of this marvelous place that I live.

So marvelous. Life is so good. I love when the moon shines so bright and I can see the path clearly by its light. I love spending good time with good friends and discussing all things, silly and sober, along the way. I love it when my friends who are true mountaineers are patient with my slightly slower and more cautious approach to climbing hills. I love coming home from a tiring hike and letting the shower wash away all the grime. I love throwing my windows wide open to let the summer-ness of the night come in while I sleep. I am a blessed woman. And there are always more mountains to climb.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Journ-al of the Journ-ey

I am a pretty regular journaler, not as frequent as I usually set out to be, but my journal entries tend to be usually at least a page typed and fairly in-depth. My journal is not so much a place to vent as a place for me to state what's going on in my life and what I feel about it and what insights I've gained from it and what I'm doing about it. It's also a place to record all the things I'm grateful for, all the blessings and miracles that take place in my life, and how I'm progressing on any goals that I am currently working on.

My journal has been a huge blessing itself because I get to go back and read through it to remind myself of where I've been and where I'm going. It's fascinating how remembering where I've been can be both a testimony to how far I've come and also a testimony of how many good things I've experienced and can continue to experience if I allow myself to.

That was the blessing of my journal this week. I found myself staying up later than I intended last night because of some concerns I had with some situations in my life. I ended up pulling out (or pulling up, since it's all digitized now) my journal from last year and reading several pages worth of entries. It did so much to remind me that I've had a hand in creating miracles in the past and I get to keep right on creating miracles as long as I choose to. It pulled me through my rough spot last night and now tonight I feel so much more peaceful and really just grounded in my convictions and faith. All because I took a little time last year to record what was going on around me.

It also brought to mind the stories and teachings that I've been reading in the Book of Mormon the last little while. I just read the end of the Book of Omni, which contains the record of the people of Nephi leaving the land of Nephi under the leadership of King Mosiah the first and happening across Zarahemla and his people. If you are familiar with the Book of Mormon, you are aware that Mosiah and his people were descendants of Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, and Joseph, who had a record called the brass plates that had a history of their people and a lot of doctrine, as well as the gold plates which their people had used to keep a record of their current history and teachings. The people of Zarahemla were descendants of Mulek, and they had no such writings. The Book of Omni indicates that the Nephite people were grounded in their knowledge of God, Christ, and the gospel, as well as their ancestral language and their ancestral heritage. The Mulekites hadn't had this advantage and had really fallen apart as a society. They lived without the blessings of the gospel and the blessings of knowing where they had come from and why they had been brought there by the Lord.

I have found that the more conscious I am of what I do with my life, the easier it is to direct myself on a clear path in the direction that I desire. And it never ceases to amaze me how enhanced my memory is by the aid of my journal. The more clear I am about where I've been and what I've already experienced, the more clear I am about where I am going. What a great tool for good my journal can be.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Inner strength

As life usually does, tonight did not go according to plan. The plan was to be in bed by 10:30. We gathered for apartment prayer at 10. Then Jamie passed out and went into a seizure.

This is not an uncommon thing, unfortunately, but her cardiologist had instructed her to go to the ER the next time it happened so she could be monitored with professional equipment. Jamie has been dealing with seizures for a long time, and a number of specialists have been unable to determine exactly why. So after she had her first active seizure and was laying on the floor unconscious, we had our roommate prayer and Sarah called the paramedics. Sarah was once an EMT herself and has known Jamie for years, so she was able to give them the full run-down. Cassaundra and I sat quietly in the living room next to Jamie and talked to her to keep her from going into more active seizures, which partly worked and partly didn't.

It must have been a slow night, because shortly there was an ambulance and two fire trucks in front of our house, and at least eight men filing into our living room with various equipment. After some discussion and tests, Jamie was strapped on a gurney and she, Sarah, and Heather left with the paramedics for the hospital. Methinks they are in for a long night.

After all the hubbub died down, Cassaundra and I talked for a bit about the various challenges that face each of the girls in our house. It absolutely amazes me what each girl is experiencing and how much fortitude we all have. I believe our current list includes boyfriends with commitment issues, mononucleosis, unemployment, unique work challenges involving troubled teenage girls, broken bones, being single and 30, depression and anxiety (which doesn't count me, by the way- I've been depression free for a good bit now :-)), siblings with health challenges, and parents with terminal illness. Spread that across five girls and you've got a cross section of my house.

I am constantly amazed at the girls I live with and how they carry the challenges they've been given to bear. They are some of my favorite people and they are bearers of the light that they were born with. And we all draw strength from coming together and sharing our experiences and joys and sorrows. And so I don't get weighed down when I think of the burdens we bear. I smile and feel the solemn joy of knowing that I live with daughters of God who are in the thick of their training to become like their Father. As am I.