Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ashley


Ashley on far right

You were the darling girl in blond locks I instantly fell in love with when I started dating your uncle.  You were the insightful one who had a remarkable wit for such a young age.  Moments I got to play with you and your sister were precious, especially the afternoon you spent with me while everyone else was at the temple.  

I saw your sweet looks of awe and wonder when I appeared in my wedding dress at the reception.  You got to run around with all the cousins that evening eating salmon and drinking lemonade to your heart's content.  I had dreams of one day watching you in the same scenario.  Dreams.

Greg stayed for hours with you at Colossus, patiently waiting for you to muster your courage.  He adored you too.  You held a special spot with him.        

Every 24th of July at the McKinnon cabin was a highlight because you were one of the few who stayed up late playing Scum around lantern light.  You made me laugh.  You were so clever.  We talked theology, Hoarders, addictions and mental issues.  

I had no idea.

We got a few hints before the first crash, which was just the beginning of our minuscule understanding into your suffering.  I didn't comprehend any of it.  I was angry.  So angry.  You see I've never had much empathy for this kind of thing.  And my ignorance often brings out my grit-filled, buck-up-and-push-forward, shoulder-to-the-metal Welsh blood.  Why couldn't you see how much we loved you?  Why couldn't that be enough?  Why couldn't you...overcome?

You'll have to forgive me too, Ashley.  Because I'm still dealing with my anger.  I'm angry and I'm heartbroken.  

Do you want to know what has affected me most?  In the days following your death, your cousins - your many, wonderful, amazing cousins who grew up with you and loved you - dropped everything they were doing, drove long distances and came to comfort your siblings.  Don't ever believe you were alone or inadequate.  You were everything to us.    
  
I have not the slightest doubt I will see you again.  It doesn't stop the ache inside me, but it lessens the intensity.  We'll get to visit again about everything you're feeling and what you've discovered about yourself since we've been apart.  Please have the lantern ready.  I'll bring the deck of cards and the popcorn.  We'll laugh together and try to understand one another in a new light.  

"In gospel grammar, death is not an exclamation point, merely a comma." - Neal A. Maxwell.    

Playing cards at the McKinnon cabin.  Ashley across from me.

Ashley, Bubbs and Makena

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cebu, Philippines...20 years later

In spite of the moving chaos, I couldn't let this month finish without recognizing that 20 years ago this week, Greg came home from his mission in Cebu, Philippines. 

When we're settled and stable, I plan to update this post with highlights Greg remembers from his 2 year experience proselytizing for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the meantime, you'll have to take a few of my recollections and some of my favorite photos. 

These photos did not scan well - Greg looks too pale.  They also don't come close to representing the excitement I felt every time I opened his letters.  He worked incredibly hard in very humid, hot conditions.  His favorite areas were Lapu Lapu, Cebu City, Carmen and Dumaguete.  He still talks about how blue the ocean was around the islands.  

He made life long friends with his companions and roommates.  He survived living in Carmen for 4 months with almost no food and supplies.  He was chased by a few killer-fighting monkeys.  Fell in love with baby goats.  Crawled out of a severe case of walking pneumonia half way through his mission.  Became a devoted fan of the Coca-Cola drink, Lift (we've never been able to find it in the States).  Nearly died from bad Jeepney drivers.  Was miraculously saved while biking home late one night in the dark.  Had a lady cancel on an appointment with him by literally moving her entire house to who knows where.  And he lived through several disastrous typhoons.

Food over there is not complex or gourmet by any stretch of the imagination.  If you ask Greg to make you a traditional Filipino meal, he'll make hot dogs and rice with soda on the side.  I never push him on this.  I know there were months he survived on just Top Ramon and some rice.  Greg wouldn't eat rice for several years after he got home - I think he'd had enough.   

But above all, I felt through Greg's letters, his growing knowledge of the daily workings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He was most moved by the members of the church and how much they sacrifice for their faith.  They are happy in spite of so much poverty.  They are blessed.  And they are quick to credit all they have to their faith.

Lucky me that I got to share in his experiences through so many wonderful letters!        


    













Thursday, July 13, 2017

June

June was packed.  Lots of activities.  Lots of decisions being made.  

#1 - 5th Grade Graduation

Andrew and his class performed a 1950s skit for his 5th Grade program (Little Richard) - hence the greaser look.  It was super cute to watch him perform and dance with a GIRL!  Esp coming from a firm 11yr old who declares he will never get married because girls are too emotional.

We went to On The Roll in downtown Eagle (our favorite deli) to celebrate.  

He's had a wonderful 5th grade class at Andrus with Mr. Fischer. This is also the first year where my son has been taller than his teacher - it kept shocking me when I'd volunteer.  This kid has solid convictions and a strong sense of self he inherited from his Dad.  He will miss his friends, his soccer team and the chess club.  







#2 - Kindergarten Graduation 


Despite how much I dislike these types of extravagant celebrations of routine, I'm always won over by my children's cuteness.  This guy makes my day with his keen observations of daily life, his love for others and his nightly prayers that encompass so much gratitude I take for granted.  Our family is blessed by Bubbs. 




#3 - Last Day of School!!

Such a lousy photo.  The jumps, the light - the whole thing is off.  Worst end of school year photo ever!  Gah!!  But we were in the middle of dropping off James at the Astin's house for Lake Powell.  We were in a massive hurry.  We were hot and we'd just driven 6 hours without Dad.  

Oh well.  There's always next year.  






#4 - Kearns Swim Meet & Teaching Swim Lessons

James spent a weekend down in Kearns, Utah with the Eliasons at a regional invitational swim meet.  He swam 6 events - 5 of them were separate 200 yard swims (very difficult!).  He told me later he the water in Kearns, particularly the pool, was horribly dry and gross.  I told him I was just grateful he didn't get shot or mugged.

After he got back, James spent 2 weeks teaching swim lessons for the family of his Sunday School teacher.  This was tricky for him - since he's had zero training and could only pull from his swim team instruction.  But he really crafted some awesome lessons and channeled his favorite swim teacher from Draper - Linda Ewell.  Which meant he had snacks for his students every day.  He also earned enough cash to boost his car savings fund significantly. 
 





#5 - James in Teachers

I should have commented on this in May, but I'd neglected to get a shot of the new suit. Side note - I wasn't crazy about a blue suit when I heard the color choice from Greg.  But now I wouldn't change a thing.  Love, love!      

In the LDS church, males who turn 14 and live according to gospel standards advance to the role of Teacher, which brings with it several responsibilities including Home Teaching with Dad.  This was a little bittersweet for my son who has wholeheartedly loved Deacons, particularly his Deacons Adviser - Brother Farrell.  He's been in the Deacons presidency since we moved here and with the move to Teacher, he had to leave that behind. 

On the other hand, he's very much looking forward to Teachers and his 2nd 50-miler, High Adventure, week-long camp out that's around the corner.     

Doesn't he look sharp?  Isn't he just...glowing?



#6 - Field Trips & Science Projects

We've somehow miraculously managed to squeeze in a few of these amidst the chaos that has been a constant since summer started.  I should note that my kids have started talking up our summer activities to their friends.  So we've now got company almost anytime we break out the tools for science projects or load up the car. 










These are all plaster animal/bird foot prints we made at the MK Nature Center.  And just my luck, I ended up with the Canadian Goose.  Such an ironic way to wrap up my year of living in Boise, Idaho.  Bleh.  




#7 - Farewell

I don't like this at all, but there's no getting around it.  We said farewell (AGAIN!) to Greg end of June just in time for him to start the new job in San Diego.  Since then it's been a fight between counting down days and trying not to think about it before he comes home every other weekend.  

If this is the stuff of life that ultimately makes you stronger, I'm going to be one toned lady, and I really hope it shows in my bicep area - or possibly my abs.

Either way - WE MISS GREG!!!  And we are really praying for stability.  Stability please!!  Maybe for my birthday wish this year.  I could use several decades with no more change.  No more moves.  No more stress. 

In the meantime, there's a house to sell, a house to find and rent, schools to research, seminary to find, wards to contact, moving companies, space to shrink - all that lovely stuff that keeps you up till the early hours of the morning stressing over.        




#7 - Astin Visits (And John Shaw)

Our good friends the Astins flew up Nathan and Erin for a few days while their Mom & Dad did Trek in Herriman.  Coincidently, it was the same week that one of Andrew's best friends from Utah surprised him with a visit.  So for several days, it was mass pandemonium play time at our house.  Lots of happiness, but a very weary mother at the end.         

But like every other good host in Boise, we did the right thing - we took them to visit McCall.  









One small note.  This plaque is on display at the main pier at McCall (courtesy again of my talented cousin).  I read this lovely quote last fall after my Dad pointed it out to me.  I've thought about it frequently since - very soul stirring.  Glad I was finally able to document it on our blog.  Louisa McCall sounds like a woman I'd love to know.    


#8 - Everything Else...

Lunch with family, trying fried Twinkies for the first time, lemonade stands, garden and yard updates, waiting for early morning, swim practice carpool and everything else I couldn't categorize.