Thursday, February 26, 2015

Browsing Pinterest

Pinterest is an interesting website.

I resisted getting an account for a long time. I'd heard others bemoan how addicting the site was and knowing how dependent I already was on other social media sites (Facebook, I'm looking at you), the last thing I needed was another time waster.

But I was also finding myself bookmarking recipes and saving quotes and pictures of cool DIY crafts or home designs to my desktop often. I was constantly trying to find ways to organize it all, when I finally realized, isn't that what Pinterest is for?

So I signed up...and hoped to develop some self control if the site did prove to be overly alluring.

That was a few years ago. And amazingly (and thankfully) it has become more of a tool than a time waster. Recipes are probably what I use it for the most. But Pinterest has helped me come up with multiple ideas for birthday celebrations, holiday decor, hairstyles, craft projects, etc. I use Pinterest as a research tool, more or less...I can't believe how handy it is.

Oh, there are definitely times that I sit down to browse just for the sheer fun of it. It's interesting to see what the people I follow (my neighbors and friends) are pinning because in many cases it gives me a pretty good idea as to what they are up to. Kind of like people watching, but virtually.

For example:
     I could tell from her pins that I had a neighbor that was looking to build a new home long before she put her house in our neighborhood up for sale.
     This morning I saw pins from a couple of girls of Jane Austen hairstyles and laughed as I realized it is because they are both in the upcoming play at the high school where they will be performing Pride and Prejudice. Clearly they are trying to figure out how to do their hair for the show.
     I can tell when a holiday is coming up....Elf on the Shelf and neighbor gift/craft pins at Christmas, homemade valentines when someone has an elementary age child around Valentines Day, Halloween costumes, etc.
     I can tell when someone is trying to get in shape because they pin more exercise routines and ideas for diets.
     Someone in the mood to bake pins a lot cake, cookies and other such desserts recipes.
     Romantic and wedding type pins...lots of hearts and temples,  show up when someone is happily in a relationship.
     And quotes...always quotes. Depending on the type of quote, I can usually get the gist of what kind of mood they are in, what they are wishing to be better at, how they are feeling.

And I'm sure the same goes for me. People can tell when I'm in a wanderlust mood and yearning for a vacation because I pin lots of pictures and travel quotes to my vacation bucket list board. It likely becomes really obvious when I'm planning a birthday party. Or when the yogini in me is resurfacing after a few months off. A few times a month a bunch of recipes show up as I try to figure out new things to cook for family dinners. And by the quotes I pin, I'm sure I'm opening a little window as to what is on my mind at that particular moment.

Some examples of what I've pinned recently:

Monday, February 23, 2015


The phone rang at 7:15 this morning. It didn't wake me up, being a Monday morning I had already said goodbye to Julianne and was heading down the stairs to wake Brandon. But that was still pretty early for a phone call. The only thing I could imagine was that Julianne had forgotten a piece of homework or some other such thing for school.
It was the dentist office.
Aww, crap.
Brandon had an appointment this morning at 7:00. And though it was on my calendar, Brandon and I had talked about it coming up (and how awful it was to be so early...I was planning to just wear my pajamas), and had confirmed the appointment multiple times via phone call and email...I still somehow forgot.
But that's not the worst part. This was a make-up appointment. The first one was over Thanksgiving weekend. I had made the appointment a year earlier at his last check-up....but then didn't write it down because I had not bought my new 2014 calendar yet. It was in my phone, and that likely would've been enough.
Except we hopped on a last minute cruise over Thanksgiving week. And my phone was not receiving any service in the middle of the Caribbean. So I did not get the calendar reminder or the voice messages from the dentist office informing me that I had missed my appointment until after we docked in Florida a few days later.
When I got home I rescheduled. For today.
I'm not normally this scatter brained when it comes to appointments. I've never done this before and suddenly I've done it twice!
The other day when checking out at the grocery store I was asked for my home phone number that was attached to the frequent shopper program....and I couldn't remember. I had to look it up in my contact list on my cell phone.
A few days before that I couldn't get into my truck because I had forgotten the key code.
I'm trying to decide if I'm having brain freezes, senior moments or if my blonde roots are making an appearance.
Luckily for Brandon, they had a cancellation tomorrow at 12:15. The reminder alarm on my phone is already set....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Julianne's birthday garden

Julianne turned 17-years old last week. Last year I kind of outdid myself with the birthday remembrances, celebrations and decor. Which meant that this year, though it wasn't the iconic 16th birthday, I still knew that the bar was now set a little bit higher. Julianne did not want a birthday party. What could I do to make sure she felt good and celebrated beyond presents and cake?

(Oh my goodness...I'm just now realizing that we never sang the Happy Birthday song to her! Mom fail.)

Last year ended up being about balloons. In fact, every birthday last year for all four kids incorporated balloons in some sort of way. So I quickly dismissed any kind of balloon ideas...been there, done that. Maybe I was inspired by this crazy winter that is behaving much more like spring, but I grasped hold of a flower theme and ran with it. I bought a bunch of mason jars and painted them red, pink and white (Valentines Day colors seeing as the holiday is only four days after her birthday and therefore her favorite), tied bows of ribbon or twine around each one and then filled them with flowers. I got more than a few strange looks when I walked out of the grocery store, my arms laden with multiple bouquets of carnations, tulips, roses, daffodils, daisies, etc.

And then after the mason jars were filled I placed them all around her bedroom, every shelf on the book case, the bedside table, her dresser. Effectively her room became a flower garden, and oh the smell was heavenly. I took the last bunch of roses and clothes-pinned them to some twine hanging across her doorway. And then spread my Valentine silk rose petals across the floor everywhere. I added a couple of pink and white heart pillows to her bed and also a string of little Valentine chinese lantern-type lights above her window. Interestingly enough, Julianne had been asked to the Sweethearts Dance earlier with bunches of red and white balloons and those were still hanging out on the floor of her room as well and added to the overall I guess there were balloons after all.

Originally Julianne had been rather delighted about the idea that since her birthday fell on a Tuesday and therefore the "late start" schedule at school, she could sleep in...decadence! But the more she thought about it, the more she decided that rather than sleep in, she wanted to wake up extra early and go to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. Her grandpa had given her some family names that needed baptism work done and so she convinced her dad to come with her and the two of them left the house at 5:30AM to start off her birthday at the temple.

Afterwards she had just enough time to come home and get ready for the day before heading off to school. She only attended her first two classes, however, and then played hooky for the rest of the day to celebrate with me. (Is it hooky if I've actually given her permission and clear the absence with the school attendance office? I'm getting so soft in my old age. I never used to allow this kind of thing...)

After delightedly checking out her birthday flower garden in her bedroom, the two of us headed off for a girly birthday afternoon of shopping, lunch and pedicures.

It was a school day after all, so there was homework involved come evening. And a quick appearance at her young woman mutual activity. (She's class president. Plus, they were decorating Valentine cupcakes and Julianne is all about anything to do with Valentines Day.) There were texts and emails and visitors all day long wishing Julianne a Happy 17th. And we had Indian take-out from Taste of India for dinner and then the opening of the birthday gifts.

It was a fun day. I think we done celebrated her 17th in style.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The big, white envelope

Waiting is hard.

Rebekah's LDS mission papers (application and subsequent recommendations by doctors, dentist, bishop and stake president) went in on Sunday, January 25th. An average time to receive the big, white envelope in the mail containing the official mission call is about 2.5 weeks. But Rebekah's friend Casey had just received her mission call a couple of weeks earlier...and it only took 1.5 weeks for it to show up in her mailbox. The fact that Rebekah's papers were going in to the church headquarters during a slower time (all those potential graduating high school seniors still had a few weeks before they could start submitting their papers) meant that likely Rebekah's call would maybe come sooner than the average time and more like Casey. At least that's the conclusion I came to as it all swirled around in my brain. It also may have had to do with a healthy dose of anxiousness and hope. That big, white envelope was going to change my daughter's life and tell her what she'd be doing and where for the next year and a half so yes, the sooner I could start wrapping my brain around the specifics, the better!

(Filling out the various applications and forms on-line. And then some blood work as part of the required doctor's exam.)

Another statistic of mission calls...normally they come on a Wednesday. So 1.5 weeks after those fateful papers had been submitted I parked myself in front of my laptop which just so happens to sit next to a big, front window to watch for the mailman. Luckily ours comes 9:30-10:00. But the big, white envelope was not delivered on that Wednesday. Swallowing my disappointment, I texted Rebekah (who was waiting equally anxiously in Logan) to tell her that the call had not arrived that day, but maybe the next? Thursdays were not as normal for mission calls but Casey's call had come on a there was still hope. But the next day there was no big, white envelope peeking out of the mailbox either. Rebekah and I were both frustrated. Which was silly, of course. Because we knew well that normally it takes another full week for a mission call to come. We had elevated our hopes after watching Casey's situation. Throughout that Thursday I had multiple people try to rally my spirits by sharing with me stories of mission calls arriving on Fridays and sometimes even Saturdays. But I had determined to steel myself for another week of waiting. Waiting is hard!

Regardless, I watched closely for the mailman on Friday morning....just in case. I got a text from Rebekah, "Has the mail come yet???" Funny enough, I had just seen the mailman across the street just seconds earlier and was waiting for her to make the rounds through a couple of cul-de-sacs before u-turning onto our side of the street. She must have had to stop to run a delivery up to someone's door because I swear it took her longer than normal to get to our house. I actually started thinking she had passed by without my noticing and went out to check. Nothing. Sigh.

But then a few minutes later, around she came. I tried to put on a semblance of nonchalance as I walked back outside...hoping but trying not to hope as I opened the mailbox. But lo and behold....there it was! On a Friday! The BIG, WHITE ENVELOPE!

Rebekah's anxiety in Logan notwithstanding, I took a few seconds to snap a couple of pictures and then quickly texted her one of them....a picture being worth a thousand words in this case. Her reply text went something like this: "OH MY GOODNESS!!! (: I'M SO EXCITED! (: (:"

And then suddenly all my anxiety went away and I was filled with peace. I was all sorts of excited for her to open the call because I could hardly wait to see where she was going and when she would leave, but the waiting was finally over. I stuck the big, white envelope up on the mantle and started calmly cleaning the house and making preparations for the friends and family who would likely be coming over later to watch Rebekah open the mission call and rejoice with us.

We set the time for 8:00PM. I kept track of all the guesses that came in through Facebook and Instagram throughout the day and we put colorful little post-it note stickers on a big map detailing those guesses...86 in all. My personal guess? I was pretty set on Washington. I was fairly certain she'd go state side. But if in fact she did go foreign, Ireland.

After everyone arrived we went downstairs...time for the big moment. Everyone whipped out their phones to take pictures or video and Rebekah ripped open that big, white envelope. I could see the look of excited amazement on her face and in her voice as she read aloud and her brain processed where she was going about half a second before she announced it to us.

"Dear Sister Croft,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the England London Mission. In addition to your calling to share the gospel, you will be assigned to serve in the Hyde Park Chapel Visitors' Center."


Oh my goodness, I did not see that one coming. I'm not sure Rebekah did either. My sister-in-law Kari offered to take pictures with my camera for me so I could just focus fully on the big announcement...she said she was planning to take pictures of Rebekah but also my reaction the news, as the missionary mother. I'm afraid all her pictures of me are blurry because I was jumping up and down.

Let me type that again....LONDON!!! The land of Harry Potter and Doctor Who and the Beatles and the Royal family.

I mean, seriously. How cool is this? Bryan and I visited London back in 1999 and despite the fact that I was teased as being "from the colonies" when I stopped in to check out Big Ben and the House of Parliament, I was completely enamored of London. From a history stand point, I have a huge amount of respect for the way Londoner's particularly handled the Blitz during WWII...their stoicism or "stiff upper lip"...their Keep Calm and Carry On that has become so popular lately. From a family history standpoint  Rebekah's ancestors come from Ireland and Sweden but also and especially England. I could not be more thrilled that London specifically and England generally was going to become an important place to our family. And from a parent perspective, how send off a daughter to have a foreign experience, but not have to learn a new language and to a place where we don't have to worry quite as much for her safety or health. We all were just over the moon with this news!

We celebrated and took pictures and talked all at once and very excited were we all. Eventually we calmed down and things settled into a dessert party of sorts with pie and cookies upstairs in the kitchen and lots of conversation.

Rebekah leaves May 20th...three months from tomorrow. She will finish up this spring semester at Utah State University the last week of April, put her enrollment on a religious mission hold and then leave 2.5 weeks later for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. She'll likely spend only a couple of weeks there seeing as she does not need to learn a language and then off to England she will go. She's already sent in the paperwork for a passport. The application for a Visa has arrived and we'll be working on all the paperwork and requirements for that so that she will be allowed to live in England as a "Minister of Religion" for 18 months. Luggage and mission clothing need to purchased, along with a quality umbrella. ;)
This girl. She makes my heart happy proud.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

FanX-Comic Con

Bryan and I attended the very first Salt Lake Comic Con back in September 2013. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly...or rather, I enjoyed the crazy forms fandom takes while Bryan enjoyed watching me geek out.

Though Comic Con has come to Salt Lake City on average every six months since then, (why is that, by the way? Isn't once a year enough?) we haven't been back, even though I've wanted to. (Oh, how I regret not being there for the big Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion when all the actors from the show were there together.) But when I heard this time that not only Karen Gillian aka Amy Pond and Billie Piper aka Rose Tyler were attending but Matt Smith, my very favorite Doctor in the Doctor Who universe, I decided that come hell or high water I was going to make this happen!

(The Ghostbuster noticed that Lilian was sporting a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver and asked if he could swap her the sonic screwdriver for the P.K.E. Meter...)

Much to the disappointment of my other children, Lilian was the only one who could come with me. Bryan and Brandon were in Texas that weekend for a gymnastics meet. Julianne had opening night for her One Act Play Festival at the high school. And Rebekah was of course up in Logan.

(Weeping Angels are some of the freakiest Doctor Who alien baddies and Lilian has had many a nightmare of the stone monsters. Heck, so have I! I think maybe that is why she is so obsessed with them that she requested a Weeping Angel t-shirt...and followed this Angel around the convention floor for quite awhile getting up the courage to ask for a picture.
Also...despite the fact that we were going to be seeing Matt Smith in person, Lilian informed me that her favorite Doctor is actually number 10, David Tennant.)

So Lilian and I decked ourselves out in Doctor Who attire and joined the fandom going strong at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. Lilian wore a weeping angel t-shirt ("Don't Blink!!"), a weeping angel necklace and TARDIS hair bows. I wore TARDIS earrings, TARDIS socks, a "bow ties are cool" button, a red fez and a Van Gogh exploding TARDIS dress.

Two things...
1. I couldn't keep count of how many times I overheard people talking about my dress or was actually stopped so someone could look more closely at it, compliment it and ask where in the world I had bought it. It was "unique" and "epic." Yay me.
2. If you are completely lost at my description of our Doctor Who wear, then clearly you are not a Whovian and need to get on Netflix today and start watching.

We were sad to miss out on the opportunity to have a photo op with the Doctor, Amy and Rose. Despite the ridiculously high price, they were sold out. Do I even want to admit how seriously I was considering it? My wallet and my husband are very thankful, I'm sure. But we were able to score some tickets to the Doctor Who panel with the three of them. (Nowhere near as expensive, thankfully.) And the panel was ridiculously fun! Lilian was a little tired and bored by then, but I sure had a great time geeking out with my fellow fez and bow tie wearing Doctor Who fans.

Lilian's favorite part of the Con was the Creature Encounter booth. Lots of snakes, big and small and other such creepy crawlies like tarantulas, beetles and scorpions to hold. I tried to get my courage up to wrap the huge snake around my neck. It's no secret that they are my worst fear. But I liked the adventure of it all and wanted to be able to say, "I did it!" Also to creep my dad out because he hates snakes even more than I do. But I couldn't. I could not do it. Lilian had no such problem. She held every snake, the big and the small. And I'm proud to say I got close enough to actually touch them which didn't even result in the heeby jeebie dance. So those who know me can be impressed that I am getting better.

I couldn't hold the snakes, but I could hold the huge tarantula. Which apparently is equally impressive if not more so than holding an enormous snake? It wasn't a big deal to me, but I'm discovering that people who mock me for my fear of snakes tend to have an equal fear of spiders. To each his own, I suppose. So there! I am brave!