Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"The UPS Man"

My Dad wrote this for his ward newsletter this month. It made me cry... I thought I'd add it to my blog to share with you all...but also so I can make sure that I've got it tucked away to keep in the book that I make out of this blog.

The UPS Man

My mother-in-law died this week. Her name was Adele, and you can talk all you want about mother-in-law jokes or horror stories or whatever, but they didn’t apply to her. I loved my mother-in-law. I thought she was a grand lady, and she thought I was, well, just wonderful. Clearly, in my estimation (though perhaps not in others), I was her favorite son-in-law . That is ironic, because I don’t believe I was her first choice as husband for her daughter. Jason Barber was more handsome, for sure, and destined to become a presumably well-to-do lawyer in Florida. Still, my mother-in-law welcomed me into the family fold with outstretched arms and nary a regret when I showed up in Honeyville, Utah, in September 1972 to marry her daughter.

But that’s what she was—a welcomer and lover of souls. She adored her six children, of course, expressing her love for them freely and often, not only in person but also in the e-mails she wrote to keep in daily touch with her family. She looked after the young, down-on-their-luck Hispanic couple who lived in the little home to the side of hers, taking over jars of preserves and produce from her garden, and worrying if they were going to get by. And she looked in daily on Mildred, the little lady in her nineties next door, bringing her mail and newspaper to her each day, and hauling in her garbage cans after the big sanitation truck came by. While my mother-in-law was only a few years younger than Mildred, she didn’t see herself as old so much as blessed, and she felt a need to share what she could and help where she could. That’s why she loved Costco. When she bought things in the oversized packages at Costco, there was enough for herself and plenty to send home with a daughter or son, a grandchild, or a neighbor.

It wasn’t that she was trying to be a stellar member missionary; she hadn’t been to church in a while. But she welcomed her home teachers and visiting teachers, never quite knowing which were which, and never quite caring, because they were good company either way. Her tax accountant was her friend. Her investment advisor was her friend. The guy who took care of her car was her friend. The nice young man and his son who mowed her lawn were her friends. And I think every one of them had, more than once, been invited inside and fed at her kitchen table.

I didn’t know about the UPS man until the day of her graveside services. My mother-in-law found that shopping was easier using mail order catalogs and on-line buying services as she got older. She’d order her Christmas gifts and whatever other items she needed, and the UPS man would bring them to her. At the memorial service everyone in the rather large group of assembled folks introduced themselves: children, grandchildren, cousins, in-laws, dear friends from her growing up days in Brigham City, friends of family, and so on. One nicely dressed man, standing with his wife at the periphery of the large group said, “I’m her UPS man.” He said Ralph and Adele had had lots of deliveries over the years. He was the one who made them. He, too, had been invited inside for cookies or soup or warm bread or whatever else was simmering on the stove or baking in the oven that day. He, too, had been fed at my mother-in-law’s table. He, too, was numbered among her friends.

When the UPS man takes a day off work and drives eighty miles to Brigham City to pay his respects, you know that you have kept well the second great commandment to love your neighbor. A high compliment, Grandma Adele. We will sorely miss you. All of us.

Monday, July 26, 2010


This past weekend we went camping. Yes, you read that right. We, the family of Bryan and Sarah, voluntarily spent Wednesday through Sunday at Yellow Pine Campground up in the high Uintah Mountains roughing it with all of Bryan's family....18 kids and 10 adults. Special thanks goes out to Treg and Carolyn who not only planned the great majority of the trip but also cooked most of the food. Bryan and I had only one assignment (besides showing up) bring makings for s'mores. Knowing that we'd never camped before...they didn't dare assign us much. We didn't even own a tent. Carolyn and Treg graciously allowed us the use of theirs seeing as they had recently bought a tent trailer. Because of my Grandma Adele's funeral, I wasn't able to come up till Friday. But the rest of the family headed out Wednesday afternoon and when I showed up the kids had numerous stories of fun experiences to share with me.

Sunday afternoon before heading home we took a few minutes to take a big group picture. Do we look appropriately dirty and worn out?
Picture proof that we indeed went camping! Crazy kids making crazy faces! I especially smiled at Lilian...she makes that face often.
Elizabeth, Kaitlyn, Aaron, Rebekah, Lilian, Julianne, Lara and Megan.

It was hot, Hot, HOT during the day. But this river was cold, Cold, COLD. The combination of the two was just about perfect and we had a great time splashing and playing in the water.
Lynn and Carol bought these 4-wheelers a bit ago and hauled them up for all of us to play on. I'd never driven one before and was a little nervous at first. It didn't take long, though, before I was thoroughly enjoying speeding up the dirt path. Bryan had to remind me to slow down a bit so I could "enjoy the journey." Because it really was gorgeous scenery. Towering pine trees, trickling rivers...just beautiful.
Love this picture of Julianne. She actually has more experience than I do driving these 4-wheelers around. I let her drive for a bit on the way down the mountain. (Shhh....she didn't have a license....)

One of my favorite things about the trip? Sharing a tent as a family. It was like a big slumber party. I really enjoyed peeking over the edge of my cot at four sweet little heads peeking out of sleeping bags. Also enjoyable, interestingly enough, listening to the wind blow through the tops of the trees as I fell asleep.
Each morning Lilian would wake up...yawn, stretch and then proclaim, "It's a sunny day!" I think it was her way of letting us know it was time to get up and get moving.

On our final night Bryan and the kids collected oodles and tons of pine cones to fill the fire pit for a massive bonfire. It was all sorts of impressive and the kids had a great time putting it together. Carolyn pulled out glow sticks for each of the kids and Lynn and Carol took the kids on a "parade"...all of the kids skipping around the campground waving their glow sticks around. I tell you, it was better than sparklers and a perfect way to celebrate teh 24th of July and the end of our camping trip.
Kevin, Daniel, Rebekah and Megan.

Daniel, Lynn, Aaron, Lara, Julianne, Lilian and Andrew roasting marshmallows for those s'mores I was officially in charge of.
Rebekah and Jordan spent a lot of time fishing. Although they didn't catch anything while I was there, rumor has it that both Rebekah and Jordan had much better luck earlier in the week, each catching a fish a piece. The trout Jordan caught was even big enough to eat.This picture is deceiving. It was rare that Lilian just sat still like this. She wanted to explore and run. Which meant two things. One, that we had to have eyes on her 24/7 to make sure she didn't wander off. And two, she fell a lot. Her knees are scraped and bruised. Her hands have cuts and sores. But after wiping away blood and tears she would give a watery smile and take off running again.
Lilian and Lara.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grandma Adele

My sweet Grandma Adele died this past week. She had colon cancer that spread to her liver. I went to see her a few weeks ago and was amazed at how good she looked, at what a good attitude she still had about life and dying. She was very matter of fact about leaving this life, very fact, she got rather upset if anyone even tried to be sad or cry. The day she found out that she had cancer and had two months to live, her response to us all was that she was going to go home to eat all her favorite foods...and she didn't want anyone "boo hooing" about it! Even so, I found myself shedding numerous tears over the past few days as I've thought about Grandma Adele.

I think of Grandma Adele and think of color. She always wore the most colorful, fun clothing and big jewelry. In fact, my sister Katie purposely wore a bright pink skirt and big pink hoop earrings to the funeral in Grandma's honor. She had a cabin in Star Valley called "Twice Glad" that was on a golf course...which meant that on most summer days you could see her riding around in her bright pink golf cart.

She loved to garden. "It has been mostly rainy weather up here, but we have had a few good days mixed in. Enough good days to get 14 flats of flowers's going to be real pretty. We have loads of daffodils, tulips and other spring flowers blooming will be the gorgeous iris and peonies and after that all the flowers we have planted should be blooming. This morning a darn moose was about to tramp through the flower beds but Alphie barked him away...boy does he think he is tough. I am sure if the moose had turned around he would have made tracks for the patio. He really thinks he has the upper hand with the squirrels but they just look down on him from the railing and then run up the path like "catch me if you can"...I do believe."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Books, books and more books

I've always said that my mom has so many books she could open her own library. This past weekend while the kids were staying with her, Julianne decided to count them all. Every. Single. Book. It took awhile. Rebekah and I helped her with the last book shelf....the one where on every shelf the books are double-deckered.

Under the stairs: 1,053
Den: 1,729
Upstairs TV/sitting room: 236
Upstairs hallway: 14
Kitchen: 350 (Yes, there really is a bookshelf in the kitchen...with regular books, not cookbooks. We didn't count the cookbooks, now that I think of it!)
Living room: 28
Guest room: 37
Downstairs family room: 2,303
Exersize room: 411
Master bedroom: 5


Keep in mind that this does not count books that are out on loan...of which, I'm sure, there are many. There are at least 5 or 6 at my house alone! This also does not include the book shelf that is brimming with piano/choir/voice songbooks. Or, apparently, cookbooks. We showed the number to my dad. To which he replied, "See! This is why we can never move. How can we ever move that many books?" Luckily for my mom, my dad is a handyman who is more than capable of building many beautiful bookshelves to hold her library. And once those shelves are filled with books.... my dad calls it "expensive wallpaper."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Anniversary Weekend

Seventeen years married. That's a big accomplishment. Bryan and I decided a celebration was in order. We dropped the kids off at my parents house for a sleepover and then headed up to Cache Valley. Our first year of marriage was spent in Logan so we (I) decided a little reminiscing was in order. We stayed at the Sherwood Hills Resort in Sardine Canyon. We'd passed it many times driving to and from Logan but had never driven up the little road that led to it. Friday we finally did. We drove through the gates and immediately noticed a little prarie dog in the road. Twitching. It had been hit. We decided to put it out of it's misery and roll over it again. Smashed flat. But before we had gone even a few hundred yards further...SQUISH. Another one had run out in front of our car. We backed up over it again to make sure it was good and dead and not suffering. And then noticed that these little prarie dogs were EVERYWHERE! Bryan was wishing mightily for his .22 and a silencer. I must've looked at him strangely because he defended his stance quickly by saying he would be doing the resort a service...surely these prarie dogs were eating up the golf course! :) The road up to the resort was pretty. Uphill through the trees, lined with lamp posts. It was a pretty little hotel. We quite enjoyed our stay there.
Friday night we went to the Iron Gate Grill in Logan. Remember that place I ate at while getting ready for my Little Red Riding Hood bike ride? The one with the best chocolate cake EVER? Yeah, that place. And yeah, we got more cake. Yum.
Saturday we slept in till 11:00. Talk about decadence. We checked out and zipped back to Logan to visit The Book Table....the site of my very favorite job ever. I was practically giddy, I was so excited to see the place again. I knew that there wouldn't be anyone there still that I used to work with. I knew that surely there would be changes. But oh! The CHANGES! Much more extreme than I had expected. And overall, it was a little depressing. I much preferred the way it had been...though it could be just because I'm more sentimentally attached to my memories of the place.

We headed south and decided to stop for lunch in Brigham City. My mom grew up in Brigham. We used to visit fairly regularly when I was a kid, especially during Peach Days. A few weeks ago when I visited my Grandma Adele she recommended that the next time I was up that way I should eat at Peach old high school hangout that had great burgers and fries but especially yummy homemade peach shakes. Grandma Adele has cancer. Friday when I was dropping the kids off at my parents house, my mom told me that Grandma has only 3-5 days left to live. So going to Peach City...for me, it seemed like it was in honor of her. We sat down at the counter, and after ordering I told Bryan all the things my Grandma had told me about this place. And all of the sudden I realized I was going to cry. I put my hands over my face, leaned my elbows onto the counter, and with Bryan rubbing my back, I did exactly that. The reality of the fact that in less than a week my sweet Grandma Adele will be just didn't really hit me until right then. So I cried. And I ate my yummy peach shake and cried a little more. Thoughtful, sweet Bryan decided that it would be a good idea to get a picture of the two of us there. I'm glad he thought of that. And I'm grateful he was willing to eat at some fast food burger place and humor my sentimentality.
We had a great weekend. Thank you to my wonderful parents for watching our children. My sister Mary and her family were in town, staying there also, and the kids had SO much fun with their cousins that Lilian wanted nothing to do with me when we got back. Told me to go home, in fact! I'm glad they were happy and cared for. And I'm glad that Bryan and I were able to get away for the weekend to celebrate 17 years together. Bryan's mom called while we were driving into Logan Saturday afternoon. He told her where we were and why. And then told her that this was just the beginning. Seventeen years? It's nothing compared to how many we will eventually share. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago today Bryan walked me inside the Jordan River Temple and married me for time and all eternity. Within those 17 years there has been...
2 apartments, 3 houses
5 towns lived in
9 cars owned or leased
10 jobs between the 2 of us
4 pregnancies
4 beautiful babies
3 girls, 1 boy
Many family vacations
Even more business trips
Countless meals around the kitchen table
Numerous family prayers
An indescribable amount of love

(Thanks to Melissa for the photo.)


Early last week Bryan and I were getting ready for bed. As we went through the daily nighttime routine Bryan said, "I need to trim my nails. Hmm...I need to shave too. And I need a hair cut. I also need a new stereo for my car." I laughed...the song from Sesame Street running through my head. "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same..."
Bryan's hair has still not been cut, nor has he shaved. I'm not sure about his nails getting trimmed. But he did spend all yesterday evening installing a new stereo into his car. It's all about priorities, right? :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A glimpse of Rebekah at EFY

Rebekah went to her first EFY (Especially For Youth) down at BYU with her friend Courtney this week. She stayed at A. Richards Hall and after getting her all settled in I walked back to the car and tried not to cry. It was like a glimpse into the future.
She had an amazing time and made a lot of new friends. It was a little disconcerting to hear her talk about all these "hot" boys she had met. Is she really that old? My Dad told me to remind Rebekah "that 14-year old boys are not 'hot.' Some of them may be rather cute in their way, but mostly they are awkward, doofus dorks." To which her only defense was, "Tell Grandpa that most of them aren't 14 years old...they are 15!" Said with a "so there!" kind of attitude. :)
Classes, dances, scriptures, counselors, cafeteria food and dorm living. This is an experience she'll hold dear for a long time to come.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Favorite Photo(s) Friday: Roomies

Heather and I met in Jr. High. She was so bubbly, fun and outgoing, I was thrilled when we became good friends in High School. We sat together in Concert Choir and were roomies on tour. We enjoyed the arrangement so much that we decided to be roomates at Snow College the next year. For two years we lived together. We cooked together, we did homework together, we went for walks together and took weekend trips home together. I watched the clock when she was out late, she listened to my stories of the new boyfriend I had kissed. I introduced her to Rawlin, she let me cry on her shoulder when I got dumped. I went to her concerts for Ascension (the Snow College show choir.) She came to my concerts for LD Singers (the Ephraim Institute show choir). We shared clothes. She made fun of me for taking so long to curl my hair. I made fun of her for taking so long to apply her make-up. She got engaged to Rawlin the same weekend Bryan came home from his mission. Six weeks later Bryan and I got engaged. Which meant that we were planning weddings at the same time. Announcements, flowers, showers, dresses. She got married in June and I got married in July. I was her maid of honor and she was mine. Luckily, blessedly...our husbands are so alike that they get along beautifully. Our children look forward to seeing each other as well. Heather and Rawlin live in Wisconsin now. We don't see them as much as we used to. But they are in town visiting family this week and are planning to stay the whole weekend with us. I am so excited!
Heather gave me this card right as we were heading into college graduation and our big wedding summer. I've kept it all these years. I'll keep the personal sentiments to myself but the card itself I thought I'd share because it's really funny and fits us well.

Top Ten Reasons We're Such Good Friends:
10. Neither one of us would ever wear a thong bikini.
9. Calories we eat together don't count.
8. Shopping, shopping, shopping.
7. Shared love of telephones.
6. No man is ever going to tell you honestly if an outfit makes your butt look big.
5. We believe each other's excuses for missing aerobics.
4. Neither one of us ever asks, "Are you allowed to eat that on your diet?"
3. Chocolate.
2. We can mindlessly talk about our hair for long periods of time.
And the #1 reason we're such good friends is:
1. Every woman's got to have someone to go to the ladies room with.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Auditioning for KISS?

I'm thinking Lilian's tongue length rivals Gene Simmons from KISS. What do you think? (Obviously she is much cuter without the black and white face paint...)

Shopping for bushes

This is one of my very favorite places. I can't even describe the excitement that comes over me when I start walking through the aisles. All those trees, bushes and flowers.... so many options! It makes me smile.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Celebrating Independence Day

I love the 4th of July. It's my second favorite holiday (after Thanksgiving) so we had quite the busy weekend as I packed as much patriotic fun into 3 days as I could. (I even got the kids to watch the musical "1776" with me. Well, until I noticed that John Adams was swearing about every other sentence and realized I was decidedly uncomfortable about it all...)

Bryan came home from work on Friday and told me that his friend and business partner said as he was leaving, "I'm going to celebrate my independence by going home and doing whatever my wife tells me to." I laughed. Because I'm sure Bryan related to those sentiments.

Friday night we continued our tradition of attending the concert in the park and the big fireworks show in our old town. Brandon and Bryan ended up going to a gymnastics BBQ and team party so it was just the four of us girls. Lilian was so excited she could hardly contain it and asked all day, "Is it time for fireworks yet???"

In my opinion it's not the 4th of July without a parade. Bryan most likely wouldn't agree with me but he was a good sport on Saturday morning and still came anyhow. He even dressed in patriotic colors. And wow...what a great picture of that good looking man I married!!

Don't you think these are the perfect patriotic shoes?? (Side note: They also doubled as pretty awesome vampire shoes when I dressed up to see "Eclipse" a few nights ago. Multi-functional shoes....can't beat that!)

A few highlights of the parade? Watching my kids watching the parade is one of them. I took so many pictures like this one. Another... the jets from Hill Airforce Base flying overhead. I LOVE that! It gives me the chills. Another thing that gives me the chills... the start of the parade when the color guard brings the flag down the route and everyone stands and puts their hands over their hearts. I cried. I literally cried. Did I mention that I am a sentimental sap for any and all things patriotic?

This was another favorite for me...probably because I am still on a Ragnar high. Did you know that Ragnar started in Utah? The Wasatch Back was the very first one. There are many of them throughout the country now, but the headquarters are in Utah not far from my home. I saw this semi trailer up at the finish line in Park City. And I've been passing it daily for the past few weeks as I've been out and about. So I got all excited to see it lumbering down the street in the parade. I jumped out of my seat and whooped and hollered...and wished I was wearing my Ragnar t-shirt.

We spent the evening down the street with a bunch of neighbors for a BBQ and fireworks. After eating the guys pulled out the ping pong table and played a few rounds of "Slap Back." Wondering what that is? Yeah, I was too. Apparently it's a version of "Around the World" ping pong that is hilarious for spectators but pressure filled and potentially painful for the players. The players keep track of how many times they miss and when they get up to three... that's when the fun begins. Rules state that the player go nose to the garage door, pull up his shirt to reveal his bare back and then each of the other players gets a chance to whack the ping pong ball at him. Some of the men got some big ol' welts! Luckily for Bryan, he never got to three....
Hanging with the ladies... it's not on the same par as a big stadium show. But I think we had our own fairly impressive little "Cul-de-sac of Fire."

Seeing as the official 4th fell on a Sunday this year, we made sure to still dress in red, white or blue. I loved that we sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the opening song in church. And that we all stood as a congregation to sing it together. We have "In God We Trust" on our money. We say "One nation under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance. Honestly, being at church on the 4th, I thought, was pretty appropriate.