Thursday, May 29, 2014

Red carnations for Memorial Day

My grandfather, Papa to me....died on August 26, 2000. He was the first grandparent I lost, so the first experience I had with that kind of grief. I was the oldest grandchild and felt that I had a rather special relationship with Papa. I had been married for 7 years and had provided him with two great-grandchildren...his only greats at that point.

His death did not come as a surprise, really. He'd been battling cancer for awhile. But when the time came for him to leave, it happened quickly. I was newly pregnant with Brandon and Bryan was traveling with work a great deal at that time leaving me to deal with my pregnancy sickness and hormones, and taking care of my two little daughters often on my own. It was in this emotional state that I found myself attending my beloved grandfathers funeral....on my birthday, no less, and with Bryan on a business trip. It was a beautiful but tough day.

Towards the end of the day...after the funeral, the graveside service and the grandmom wanted to go back to the cemetery to go through the flower arrangements that had been left there and gather some flowers for my sister Melissa to arrange into a dried arrangement for her to hang in her home. I was asked to go along and help. While we were there my grandmom mentioned to me that red carnations were Papa's favorite flower. Would I be willing to pick through the various arrangements and pull out all the red carnations? She wanted to give one to each grandchild in memory of their grandfather. I did as she asked and delivered the flowers to my fellow cousins with an explanation. I was happy for the task because not only did it give me something to focus on but also made me feel even closer to Papa.

It's been fourteen years since Papa died. Grandmom joined him four years later. As well as Grandma Adele and Grandpa Kofe, my grandparents on my mother's side. But every year on Memorial Day I gather red carnations in memory. In the beginning I took them to Papa's grave and left them there. But as the years have passed and my little family has grown and become ever more busy it isn't very often that we make it to the cemetery in Orem. Still, I search for red carnations and I arrange them in a vase and put them on my bedside table. The carnations, though originating with Papa, have come to represent all of my grandparents who have passed own way of keeping them in mind and honoring them on Memorial Day.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Senior Cotillion

The last big dance of the year is only for seniors. And every senior is invited to dress up and come...dateless. Purposely I'm sure, so no one feels like they can't come because they weren't asked. A big, last dance a week or so before graduation where all the seniors can enjoy each other's company, let the stress of finals and end of year craziness go...and just dance it out. It is a dress up occasion, so definitely a bigger to-do than some kind of casual Stomp (as we used to call them in high they still call them that?) but not overly formal like Prom or even Homecoming.
These three...Ambree, Rebekah and all dressed and fancied up together, and then met up with a large group of friends for dinner out before the dance. Don't they look pretty?

We bought the dress on a frantic run to the mall (end of year craziness means not much leisure time for dress shopping) and got lucky at the first store we hit. My necklace and Julianne's shoes completed the ensemble. I especially liked the slicked back bun so you could see the the fun cutouts in the back of her dress, and the bright red lipstick that matched her shoes. She looked really pretty and sophisticated to me. Sigh....just one more thing to add to the ever-growing reality check-list that my baby is indeed all grown up.

Friday, May 23, 2014


It was the summer after my graduation. I was a young one and still had a few months till my 18th birthday. I had worked fairly consistently and determinedly on my Personal Progress goals all through my Beehive, Mia Maid and Laurel years. The program was a little bit different then. You couldn't power through and earn your medallion when you were say, only 14-years old. There was a track you followed, a certain amount of goals per year you worked on. Your Laurel years were saved for the big projects. And by the time I hit this not-quite-18-summer-after-graduation time in my life...truth be told, I was a little burned out. Not by the Young Women program or Personal Progress, per se....just kind of anything to do with my young teenaged life. And yes, we have established the fact that I was only 17 at the time...still very much a teenager. But at the same time I was feeling very much an adult having graduated high school, working a summer job, and just a few weeks away from leaving for college. I was having a hard time convincing myself that finishing up those last few projects to earn my medallion was all that important. And when I left home and moved to Ephraim in late September, I had made the decision that I would be medallionless. And that was okay.

Except, as I made my way through that first year of college I saw a lot of girls wearing their medallions. Proudly. What it represented meant a lot to them, was something special. And I found myself feeling envious and decidedly sad. I wished I was wearing a medallion. Why had I not taken it more seriously? Why hadn't it meant more to me?

I went home that summer and talked to my old Young Women leaders and Bishop. They agreed that though I had already been in Relief Society for a year and had clearly missed the traditional deadline, they would give me the summer to finish up the projects I had started while still a Laurel. I worked hard with new determination, but also with a change of heart. My Bishop presented me with my medallion on my 19th birthday...a few weeks before I left for my second year of college.

Rebekah was presented with her medallion this past Sunday. It represents six years of hard work. Skills learned, services rendered, habits formed, and a testimony grown. It has helped shape the person she is today. I am so proud of her. And so glad that even near the end when she got busy and overwhelmed, she never let up. It was that important. It was that special.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Senior pictures...

Rebekah's senior pictures turned out beautifully...even more so than I could've imagined. It was extremely hard to choose just a few of my favorites to share here and even more difficult to figure out which ones should go on the picture collage that was to accompany Rebekah's graduation announcements. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jon Woodbury is a genius behind the extraordinary photographer. I'm thankful to call him friend...which makes it that much easier to schedule photo shoots with him. :)

See here for the actual photo shoot story....a cold and windy evening at the Great Salt Lake back in early April.
And please, do yourself a favor and check out Jon's website. He does truly incredible work.

We put these collages together for the graduation announcements...and then of course printed out others of our favorites to put in frames around the house or to send to the grandparents. We're due for a family photo shoot's been almost 4 years now. I'm looking forward to working with Jon again.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Prom(s) 2014

I was hoping it would happen. Likely it would be the only time that both my girls could formal dress shop together for a dance. It would be Julianne's first and Rebekah's last....but that was only if they both got asked. It was a pretty safe bet that as a senior, Rebekah would. But Julianne was a sophomore and newly 16-years who knew, really?
But they both got asked. The same weekend even. And I have to admit, I was a little giddy at the prospects...

Julianne found THE DRESS at the third store we tried. It matched her personality perfectly and looked beautiful on her.
Rebekah on the other hand, was being a bit more choosy. And maybe rightly so. Supposedly this would be her last Prom, the big one of her senior year. She didn't want to settle. We had heard of a store in Logan with a big selection and decent prices, and normally we wouldn't have driven all that way just on the off chance THE DRESS would be found there. But Rebekah had "A" Day at Utah State University that week so we stopped by. And wouldn't you know it, there it was....THE DRESS! (And can I just say...making the drive to dress shop at this store may be worth it in the future seeing as every single dress in that store had sleeves! No need for modesty alterations! Unheard of!) The only issue was that the dress had to be hemmed. So I made the drive back to Logan again (through Sardine Canyon in a snowstorm, no less) a few days later to pick it up.

The big day came and we were all set with dresses, shoes, and boutonnieres. The girls helped each other with hair and make-up and advice on jewelry options. All I had to do really, was to take pictures. (And pay for everything, of course.)

But don't they look stunning?

Spencer picked Rebekah up first. Though a year younger than Rebekah, the two of them met last summer when they were in the same Pioneer Trek family and became good friends.

And then an hour later, Chase came to pick up Julianne. Chase was a new friend that Julianne had met at school and the two of them had been out before.
 (I especially like the look of extreme concentration on Julianne's face as she tries her hardest to get that darn boutonniere pinned on correctly...)

And the nice thing about social media....I was able to snag some group shots off the internet.

And if that were it, well then wow...what a spectacular Prom season, yes? But it wasn't over. Because a few weeks later Rebekah got asked to another high school's Prom by Aaron, the boy she went to Prom with last year. (See here) Prom hopping...apparently it's a thing. Especially if you have to miss your own or have friends that go to other schools. Neither was the case in this situation, really. I think Aaron and his friend just liked the idea of going. Plus, another chance for him to take Rebekah to one last dance....
This one was a little more low key, thankfully. Rebekah borrowed a dress from a friend. No boutonnieres and corsages. No big day activity...just dinner and the dance, and then a campfire with s'mores afterwards.