Monday, July 29, 2013

All is well! All is well!

Pioneer Trek comes around once every four years in our stake, giving each youth the opportunity to live like the pioneers once between the ages of 14-18. Both Rebekah and Julianne fit into that age group this year so we had to prep double. And prep it is! A lot of work went into outfitting and gear so these girls could play pioneer for four days.

Admission...Pioneer Trek holds absolutely no appeal for me. I never had the opportunity to experience it as a youth (though my parents did when my dad was in the stake presidency) and haven't really ever felt bad about that. Heat, snakes, lack of know, my normal concerns about camping in general. And to do it all in layers of skirts, bloomers and bonnets? All the same, I was excited for the girls to do this, and happy that they were excited as well. Because though it's hard and dirty and hot, I also know that the spiritual growth and experiences are tremendous on Trek. And that's the part that I found myself a little envious of....

We sent the girls off Wednesday morning. And then I started praying hard for my pioneer girlies. Even 6-year old Lilian got into the spirit, praying each evening to "bless the girls that they don't get dehydrated."

Wednesday night we got the news that Bryan's Grandma Berneda had died. I was somewhat surprised, and yet I shouldn't have been. She'd been diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure two years ago. But in true Grandma Berneda grit, strength and determination, she continued to hang on giving us all the opportunity to benefit from her company, wisdom and humor for awhile longer, for which we are all very thankful.

The funeral was set for Saturday morning. Bryan was asked to give one of the prayers. I was asked to put together a musical number with Bryan's sister Carolyn. Aunts, uncles and cousins came into town from all over the country. Every single one of Grandma Berneda's 21 grandchildren were there, including most of the spouses and countless great grandchildren. She presides over a large posterity, Grandma Berneda does. The service was absolutely beautiful and we all enjoyed not only reminiscing about Grandma, but also catching up with cousins we haven't seen in awhile.
Through all of this, Rebekah and Julianne were on my mind. They didn't know about Grandma Berneda's passing. And by the time they came home, not only would they have to digest the news that Grandma had died, but also that the funeral had already been held. I wasn't sure how they would take it. That they'd be heartbroken was a given. They felt close to Grandma Berneda.

At the family luncheon after the funeral, Kimberly, the wife of Bryan's cousin Brandon, came over to talk to me. She had heard the situation with my girls...that they were at Trek and hadn't heard about Grandma yet. She said she had just finished a Trek in her own ward just recently and had had an incredible experience. She was anxious to hear what my girls thought of their own pioneer stint. But she also said something along the lines of, "I think Grandma Berneda is with your girls on Trek." I have to say, I got a little bit teary at the thought. It was comforting, even if I had no idea if Kimberly was correct or not.

Rebekah and Julianne arrived home from Trek just 30 minutes after we pulled in from Provo. We decided not to tell them immediately. We wanted to hear their experiences while the glow from Trek (if there was a glow) was still strong. And boy, did they have stories to share! I thought they'd want to take a shower first thing. But they took us out to the back deck and while they brushed off the dust and peeled off dirty shoes and layers of socks, inspecting blisters...they told us of their Trek families. The women's pull. The songs they sang, and the games they played. Friends they'd made, food they'd eaten. The things they learned and the feelings they felt. Detail after detail. The experience, just as I had hoped...had been nothing but tremendous. I found myself wishing I had been there with them....dirt, heat and lack of bathrooms nonetheless.

Finally, as they exhausted their words and started giving into their actual physical exhaustion, without a word I handed them the camera and let them scroll through the pictures. Julianne was confused at first. But Rebekah, with equal parts sadness and awe, immediately said, "Oh my goodness. It's Grandma Berneda isn't it? I knew it." She seemed so incredibly certain about that pronouncement that I questioned her further.

Apparently she and a new "sister" from her Trek family had been together just the two of them after camp had been made Friday evening. Most of their fellow pioneer compatriots were settling into their bedrolls for the night. But Rebekah and this other girl sat up for awhile longer, looking at the stars and talking. Talk turned to loved ones that had passed. And suddenly and unexplainedly, Rebekah said, Grandma Berneda was in her thoughts. She says she could just kind of feel her spirit....and somehow knew that she had died.

I was rather stunned as I thought of Kimberly's words at the funeral just a few hours earlier....that Grandma was likely watching over Rebekah and Julianne at Trek. And I couldn't help the words from the final verse of "Come Come Ye Saints" from going through my head....

And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell--
All is well! All is well!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The saga of the MacBook Air...

I love my MacBook Air. One of my favorite things...getting up early in the morning and with chocolate slimfast breakfast shake in hand, checking my email, reading blogs, etc...before the kids get up and I move into mom-mode.

{Did you catch that bit of foreshadowing there?}

One morning a little over a month ago, my L key stopped working. Very inconvenient wouldn't you say? I use L a lot. Why couldn't it have been an X or Z?

So I took the whole thing into the Apple store at the City Creek Mall downtown Salt Lake. Conveniently I was already planning to be down that way for lunch with some friends.

I told the Apple gurus that my L key wouldn't work. I didn't know why. They asked about any other keys not working? Well, the left bracket key was also broken. But that wasn't working because I had had a small spill of my chocolate shake one morning....over a year ago. And I don't use the bracket key much anyhow.

I was surprised to have the Apple guru inform me that likely the two events were related. How could that be, I wondered out loud? It was a year ago? He said that with liquid damage, it's usually just a matter of time. He told me to go home and back up my info and then bring the computer back so they could fix it for me.


I asked Bryan to help me back up my MacBook stuff onto an external hard drive. And he did bring a hard drive home from work for me.

But we were getting ready to go camping. And Bryan had heavy duty deadlines at work and wasn't home much. And so it didn't get done.

In the meantime, I plugged an external keyboard into my MacBook so I could type. Usually I left it off to the side. It was big and bulky and inconvenient to reach over to maneuver around on the mouse. If I was just typing some quick comment on facebook or trying to type in an internet address for some website, I could somewhat easily reach to the side and hit the L key if need be. If I was typing a longer email or blog post, I'd bring the keyboard in front of me. 

The whole thing was inconvenient, yes, but it was working. Trying to find a time where Bryan was home to help me, and also a time where I could even consider making another trip into the Apple store downtown, was equally inconvenient.

But then one early morning I was doing my regular morning routine...reading blogs as I drank my chocolate slimfast shake. I went to type a comment onto a blog I follow. Apparently I was typing a heavily L-filled comment because I decided maybe I should bring the keyboard over to the front of me. And as I grabbed the thing and tried to get all the cords to behave and get the darn thing situated in front of me....the corner of the keyboard hit the shake that was sitting up and out of the way from my MacBook...but still close enough to fly over and dump its contents all over my MacBook when struck.

Irony? That the whole reason I was using a the darn external keyboard to begin with was because of a chocolate slimfast shake spill. And then to have that unwieldy thing be the cause of another chocolate slimfast shake spill?? {Well you know, if I take any and all responsibility out of the equation and not own up to the fact that I should've learned from my mistakes to begin with and not be drinking chocolate slimfast shakes while anywhere near my computer....}

I won't repeat for you all the bad words that came out of my mouth.

I went into action, as you can imagine, trying to minimize the damage and get as much liquid off the MacBook before it seeped into the keyboard. But it was only seconds before the whole thing started making a really loud, overheating type noise. {Imagine that.} I turned it off, continued wiping up sludge, and then turned it upside down and open hoping that gravity would let some liquid drip out...and also to let the darn thing dry.

Then I had to tell Bryan.
But luckily for me, it was our 20th wedding anniversary that day. So he was thinking loving thoughts about me already and, though irritated, kept it in check.

A few hours later I turned the MacBook see if it even would. And it did! "Quick, quick Bryan!" {I hollered.} "Let's see if we can save any data!" He was all gung-ho and grabbed the external hard drive he had brought home for this very purpose weeks earlier.

And....hold that thought.
It was full of data already.
And taking way too long to clean up and reformat.
And by too long, I mean hours.
Which meant that by the time it was ready, my MacBook had long since turned off on its own.

It was at this point that I started mentally reviewing everything I had on my MacBook and grieving their loss. Mostly pictures. See, I also had become lazy where pictures were concerned. Because I dealt with them mostly in picasa on my MacBook when I was putting them up on my blog or facebook, I had more or less stopped downloading them to Bryan's main computer where they would be backed up. I knew that it was possible for Bryan to link up to my MacBook and just suck them over. He'd done it before. It was on my list of things to do.....
....too late.

My only saving grace....I am fairly up-to-date on my blog. So though I was losing countless pictures, I knew I had a good representation of all family activities and events on the blog.

So I took the MacBook, that was by this point in time smelling rather foully of spoiled chocolate milk, back to the Apple gurus and told them the story with all its irony and oh-me-oh-my-can-you-believe-how-stupid-I-was-???

The repairs were intense. And only slightly less expensive than buying a whole new MacBook. They had to replace so much on the thing that I more or less have a brand new MacBook anyhow.

But glory be and hallelujah! Because after weeks and weeks of having a slightly screwed up, and then completely hosed MacBook, I am finally back in business.

Because as cool as my iPad is....there's only so much it can do.

So my friends, learn from my mistakes. Back up your computer often. Don't delay getting your pictures to where they need to be to be safe. And above all, don't drink chocolate slimfast shakes for breakfast when you are reading email and blogs!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


A lot can change in 20 years. Bryan and I were just 21 and 19 when we got married. He just home from his mission as I graduated with an associates degree from Snow College. Two years of living somewhat independently on our own, we certainly felt old enough and ready to get married. Hindsight (and wedding pictures) show just what babies we still were. So sometimes I like to joke that we raised each other. Because we certainly have done a lot of growing up in these past 20 years. And though in the fundamentals we haven't changed much, moving into and through our adult years we've changed quite a lot as we've discovered what kind of individuals we were each becoming. I'm more emotional than I used to be, but much more confident, independent and outgoing. Who would've guessed that I'd become a brunette, drive a truck, and be passionate about yoga and biking? And Bryan...heavens, the man is a chicken farmer, is fascinated by any all things relating to guns and has a garage full of power tools! None of which I envisioned when the two of us said "I do" all those many years ago.

People change as they grow, as they learn, as they experience life. I'm glad that Bryan and I have grown together...even when growing up sometimes pushes our interests and opinions even further apart. The two of us are very different individuals, indeed. The past 20 years has definitely shed light on that time and time again. But as the time passes we cling fast to the things we have in common. Which, thankfully, are the most important things. We are in complete sync when it comes to our values and morals and the things we hold most dear. So clinging together for the past 20 years, helping each other grow, sticking tight through both the ups and downs has been something that we are not only willing to do, but have found even deeper love because of.

A perfect example of how we've changed....take a look at our rings on our wedding day. The traditional wedding ring picture shows my small solitaire surrounded 8 little diamonds, set in gold. Bryan's band also in gold with diagonal grooves running all around the ring. They were exactly what we wanted, perfect for the time. Our tastes have changed over the years. So when 8 years ago, I lost the solitaire from my ring, rather than replace the diamond, we decided to replace the entire ring...because though I do tend to be quite sentimental about things, in this case it wasn't the exact ring that was important to me, but the symbol behind it. My ring now is white gold, a square diamond solitaire accompanied by a band with 10 small diamond chips....8 of them taken from my original ring. Two separate rings rather than soldered together. And though Bryan's tastes had also changed, he continued to wear his original ring until this past December when he picked out a tungsten band.

They say that in today's world making it to 20 years of marriage is quite an accomplishment. And I don't doubt that is true. But I smiled when after being congratulated on our impressive feat, Bryan let out some sort of noise...a cross between a laugh and a psahw, maybe? And said, "You think this is something? You just wait till we hit our 40th. You can congratulate us then."   

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hobble Creek Campout

Three years have passed since our last big camping trip.

Well except for one little over-nighter with some friends in-between. And as far as over-nighters go...anyone can handle that and have a great time. Even if you've forgot a tent and have to sleep in the truck bed. {So that's how sardines must feel.} And if you get the world's most amazing summer thunder and lightening storm playing havoc in the sky right above you in that truck bed....well dang if that isn't some serious awesomeness!

Enough time had passed that we decided it was a good time to try again. And not that we didn't have fun last time, because we did. But I was worried about snakes and heat and having to pee in the middle of the night. Well okay, I was worried about all those things this time as well. But Lilian is now 6-years old instead of 3, and I really think that made a huge difference in my stress level and enjoyment of a 4-day long camping trip.
So up Hobble Creek Canyon in Springville we went. This time equipped with our very own (not even borrowed!!) tent, coolers, camp chairs, cots, etc. We set up in a group campsite with the rest of Bryan's siblings and their families and proceeded to be all outdoorsy-like. I didn't even wear mascara.

We went on a big hike one day. I was told it was "pretty steep but not overly treacherous." And I suppose that's true. But I tell you what, there were places where I felt like I was literally mountain climbing...holding on to branches, rocks, whatever I could get a grip on to heave myself up the was so steep. And muddy. Because it rained every night we were there. Which actually was pretty cool. Hearing the rain patter down on the roof of the tent was actually somewhat calming. Even if it did mean that I could sing "rain drops keep falling on my head..." during my nightly squats outside the tent door. (Darn bladder that I swear must only be the size of a grape.) And can I just say it was dark out there. Seriously pitch. And a cougar had been spotted in camp the week before. And a bear a month earlier. So, you know...I was seriously cursing that grape size bladder.
 (I look like some giant in this picture....)

But coming back around to the hike, yeah. There were multiple times I asked Bryan, "Are you sure this is a trail???" He assured me that it was so all I could figure was that it was clearly not a well traveled trail. My guess....most hikers don't go anywhere up as high as we did.

And then we found a snake. Megan was bound and determined to catch it. And I was bound and determined to take a picture of it once she know, just to prove that I was brave enough to look at it. But then she wanted to bring it back to camp. And our conversation went something like this:

Me: NO way, NO how are you bringing that snake back to camp.
Megan: But what if I just bring it back long enough to show it to the boys? I promise to bring it back to the river and let it go far away from camp.
Me: But what if it gets away from you while you are showing it off?
Megan: I'll just catch it again.
Me: know how terrified you are of spiders?
Megan: {shudders} yes...
Me: That's how I feel about snakes. I'll continue to smash spiders for you if you don't bring that snake back anywhere near camp...
---And an understanding was reached---

We played lots and lots of board games. And we read books. I finished up The Great Gatsby...and decided that there aren't too many redeemable characters in the darn thing. Why do people love it as much as they do? And then started into a book all about Earnest Hemingway. Apparently I was being rather highbrow literary in my reading selections. Maybe it was my way of holding on to the city girl in me while puttering around in the dirt with no mascara.

The kids spent a lot of time in the creek. Which meant I was hanging wet shorts and shirts on the clothesline each day...and then rushing to pull them down before our nightly rainstorms.

Lilian got sick one day...diarrhea and vomiting. Which meant scrubbing out more clothes and hanging them to dry on that same clothesline. (She asked for a "special daddy prayer" and got better pretty quick after that. The faith of a small child is truly sweet.....)

And though we ate well and plenty, I didn't eat any chocolate for 4 days straight. Well, unless you count the oreos. But really, I'm talking about chocolate, candy style. Because strangely enough, I wasn't ever in the mood for smores and the chocolate that would've come along with it. Hmmm.

Here's more pictures of our adventures....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer dance class

I'm always so impressed with the ingenuity of the teenagers in my neighborhood when it comes to their quest in finding ways to raise money in the summers. Art classes, flag service, spreading mulch, yard work, baking treats and taking orders for specific days during vacation, etc. This summer Brooke (one of Julianne's friends) decided to hold a dance camp. Three classes a day for various age groups, three days a week, for three weeks.

And at the end of it all, she arranged to not only hold a dance recital at the studio she dances at, but to also borrow dance costumes for the little girls to wear. So though originally I wasn't planning on having Lilian attend (because of scheduling issues) Lilian talked me into it....and then thoroughly enjoyed it. She learned both a ballet dance as well as a jazz dance. She claims she liked jazz the best...despite the fact that it looked like she knew the ballet better....

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Crazy For You

A month and a half ago Rebekah and Julianne performed "Crazy For You" with their theatre group. (And yes, I am way, way behind in getting them up and posted.) I'm always impressed with the shows and Broadway reviews this group puts on, but I think this one was their best yet. Julianne was this close to getting the lead part of Polly. Seriously...between her and another girl. The director told me that their were two reasons Julianne didn't end up getting the, because she didn't like to cast a jr. high kid in a kissing role. And two, the guy she was planning to cast as the lead male role was much taller than Julianne and she was worried that it might come across looking like father/daughter rather than romantic leads. Sigh. So much more than just how well you can sing and act goes into the casting of a musical. I've experienced this first hand myself. Julianne was disappointed....but in true Julianne style, she let herself mope for only a few hours and then immediately threw herself into making cupcakes for the girl who did get the part with decorations on top spelling out the name
P-O-L-L-Y, along with a congratulations card. 

Julianne ended up getting the part of "Mitzi" which is more or less ensemble, with a few bit lines. But because she has also been taking the tap classes, she ended up in some other dance scenes. Rebekah chose to not audition for any specific part, ...busy as she was with auditions for Madrigals at the high school and other such things, and was therefore automatically cast as part of the ensemble. Which she says she rather prefers. Much more fun and less pressure to just be in the big numbers. She does have a point....
Here's a lot some pictures of the show. Some taken from dress rehearsal by the director and posted on facebook that I snagged. And some from the night I went, taken (unfortunately) by my iPhone camera seeing as I forgot my nice one. Sigh. But between the two, you get the idea...

If you are a fan of Where's Waldo, this next part might be right up your alley. Where is Rebekah? Or Julianne? Which girl am I even looking for in each picture? I didn't really give you any hints....