Friday, September 26, 2008

Our 29th Anniversary

Twenty-nine years ago today, Garth and I got married. I had never been to Arizona in September and figured it would be cool by the end of the month, I was so young and naive. I had picked out a wool suit to wear that day and I thought I was going to roast to death. We were about to melt as we stood outside the temple that day, but we were in love and happy, and I didn't realize that 29 years later I would still be living here , waiting for the endless summer to be over.
Two days later we had our reception in Albuquerque, luckily it was much cooler there. While we didn't get to eat anything (all the food was gone by the time we got a chance to have any) it was very nice and we had lots of family and friends there. From Albuquerque we headed to Colorado Springs for our honeymoon. It wasn't the best place to go for a honeymoon and didn't have a very good time, mostly because of our lack of funds.
So for the the last 29 years we have been trying to make up for it. We decided long ago that we would forgo anniversary gifts and give ourselves a trip. We figured it was the best gift we could give to our children and ourselves, by keeping our marriage strong, we kept our family strong. So over the years we have gone to wonderful places sometimes with friends and family, sometimes for just a day and sometimes for over a week. Preston is the only one of our kids who has ever gone with us, because that is really a no no to take a kid on an anniversary trip, but he has gone twice, although he was so young I'm sure he doesn't remember either time.
Several time we have been to San Francisco and Sedona ,
and once to the Midwest (Illinois, Missouri),
and a couple of times to the South (Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee),
but our favorite area is the Northeast (NY, Mass, Rhode Island, Maine). We love the cool weather, old buildings, the seashore and lighthouses and of course the beautiful fall leaves.
Over the years, we have hiked, swam, ridden jet skis, snorkeled, biked, parisailed and walked our legs off.
We've spent time in big cities and small towns, on boats, subways, trains, trolleys, cruise ships, planes, buses and cars.
But the best thing has been being together and sharing time with each other, remembering why we love each other so much and chose to spend our lives together. Life can be hard and sometimes we let unimportant things get in the way of what is most important.
So once a year we get away and try to put our relationship back in proper perspective where it should be all the time - as the most important part of our lives. After 29 years I could have a drawer full of jewelry given to me as anniversary gifts, but instead I have a memory full of days and nights spent in wonderful places with the person I love most on this earth and I wouldn't trade one day for a diamond.
So you might ask where are we going this year? No where, we had a really great vacation last summer and got away by ourselves for a couple of days while we were there. But next year will be our 30th anniversary and I think we should do something really fun, don't you? Any suggestions?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not too much going on

Due to the request of my father-in-law and my most avid reader, who happen to be the same person, I'm updating our blog even though not too much has been going on in my life. Preston's life is a bit different though, so I will write about him. What will I do when he moves out?

A week ago Sunday we went to a Court of Honor where Preston received a Bronze Palm. For those of you who aren't career scouters, after a young man receives his Eagle he can continue to earn palms, the first of which is bronze after that they are silver. The boy must earn an additional 5 merit badges and has to wait 3 months between receiving them. They are a rarity in scouting because it takes about everything out of a scout and his family just to get his Eagle. Preston will probably receive three more palms by the time he turns 18. As Jason says Preston is the master scouter. I just hope his shirt will fit that long because I don't want to buy a new one and sew on all his patches again.
Steve Beck is Preston's leader and is one of the greatest blessings in our lives right now. He offers encouragement, is a great example and is lots of fun plus, the boys love and look up to him.
You can really tell Preston is getting into this forced hug!!
Last Saturday was Preston's second cross country meet. He wakes up at 5:00 am every morning, including Saturdays to run. Also, they run, lift weights or swim after school every day. He has to go to bed by 8:30 every night and watch what he eats to make sure he gets enough protein, calories, and carbs. This sport requires a lot from the participants, it's not one that kids do for fun. Here is he putting his shirt on in preparation for the J-V race last Saturday in Scottsdale.
With Dieter barking in the background, I was afraid one of the runners would mistake him for the gun but they all took off at once - just a mass of runners. There were teams from all over the valley and even one from New Mexico competing.
This is almost the end of the race and Preston has dropped back quite a bit. Afterwards he told us that going up a hill, he was too close to the guy in front of him and got kicked right where it counts. He said he was just lucky to be able to finish the race at all. That's my kid - Toro Tough!
Here he is rehydrating after the race with his friends. Mountain View ended up winning the meet. Go Toros!
This week has held a couple of changes for me. First, I started taking online classes again to get my teaching certificate. I had started last year and quit because I hated the non interaction you get with a computer. But I decided to just tough it out and finish so I can teach. And the class I'm taking right now is really interesting. It will probably take me two years to finish everything and maybe even longer if I keep blogging. Second, I cut off all my hair. I always seem to do that at the end of the summer. It is as though I'm just too sick of the heat and think if I cut off my hair it will help and it does. At least I didn't shave it like Pedro. But with the hope of cooler weather on the horizon you would think I would keep my hair longer until after winter. Well actually, my hair never is very long and we don't really have winter.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I always have good intentions of fixing things up or getting some decorating done in and around my house, but most of the time they are just intentions. When I go shopping I can almost always talk myself out of buying about anything and especially decorating items for my house or just essentials like towels, rugs, sheets.... and the list goes on. My biggest problem is that I just don't care that much about decorating and can make do with about anything. And the fact that I don't feel like I am any good at it doesn't help either. Also, I would rather save my money for a trip than buy a towel.

So I always need some motivation to get things done and this last week I got that motivation. To me having visitors is always a great reason to start sprucing things up (you know you really do need towels for visitors because it is embarrassing for people to know how you really live). My friend Anita emailed to say that she and her family would be coming for Christmas for two weeks. We are so excited, but I realized that there are lots of things that I meant to fix or change over the last six years since her last visit but haven't. Thus my motivation.

Since the beginning of summer I have had this big empty wall after we moved our bookcase to another wall.
And I have had this collage picture frame for probably eight months or more just waiting for me to find a place to hang it and replace the pictures of strangers with family members.
So this week after spending a day shopping for towels, curtains, a bedspread, rugs and a toilet paper holder (I only bought the toilet paper holder), I sat at my computer rummaging through all my picture files. I forget just how many pictures I have on my computer until I start going through them all. Luckily Lonica helped me figure out a system to organize them all but it still took almost a whole day to pick, crop and order the 38 pictures the frame needed.
And then a couple more hours to cut, paste and place them all. I think my motherhood qualities came out because I tried so hard to make all the pictures "fair" - not too many of one child and not enough of another.
And then as I looked at the few pictures I had left over I wondered if they said anything about me. Why had I chosen one and not another? Was it just picture quality - no. Did I pick just my favorites - no. Was it mat size - kind of. But was there some other deep meaning behind the pictures I chose, off the computer and off the floor? Who knows but I do know that when Anita and her family come for Christmas, we will have one less blank wall! And I do hope some new towels too.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Twenty-five years ago today

Twenty-five years ago my life completely changed and has never been the same since. I awoke early September 5, 1983 at about 2:00am with a burst of energy. I washed baby clothes I had received at a shower the week before, made phone lists, cleaned our townhouse and then tried to go back to bed. At 5:00 I got up again and when Garth got up at 5:30 to go play golf, I had a hard time talking him out of going. After all it was Labor Day and he had the day off. I wasn't sure I was in labor, I'd never been through it before, but I finally convinced him that calling me after every hole wasn't a good idea. Remember this was before the cell phone era so I don't know how he thought he would call me.

At 7:00am when my water broke, all doubt left us and we headed to the hospital knowing we would have a new baby that day. Two hours later, I was a mom to a beautiful 6 pound 13 ounce little girl. Garth and I were in heaven and couldn't believe the beautiful baby we had to love! Needless, to say I was scared to death to have this little girl to take care of. I stayed in the hospital as long as my insurance would let me and then my mom came the day I went home and stayed for a week. My mom was such a life saver; I didn't know how to take care of a newborn! After a week of my mom's help and wonderful meals she had prepared, she left me alone to care for this little baby. I was SO nervous! I really didn't know anything about being a mom, raising a daughter and teaching her everything she would need to know so she could make good decisions and grow into a responsible, caring, contributing member of society. I could barely figure out why she was crying.
But like all first time moms, I just started to wing it and prayed for a lot of help. She was a great baby and slept though the night after the third night we had her home; can't get much better than that! Garth and I would sit all night just watching her sleep. Sleeping is one activity she has excelled at from birth and still does very well.
She was a beautiful baby, toddler and little girl and made my life full of surprises and joy. I had no idea what joy and happiness a baby could bring to your life. You learn to put your needs last and thrill in the "newness" around you as they discover the world. I had forgotten just how exciting Christmas lights are or watching popcorn pop or playing in the rain. Lonica made me look at life all over again and it was fun.
She was always hard to buy gifts for because she never really played with toys. She wanted to dress up, make something, read something, put on a play or dance, be the teacher or store keeper or the museum director. Her creativity never stopped. There were many days I wished it would because she just had to have some fabric, paper, paint, glue or whatever right then to finish the latest project she was working on.
She never thought it was impossible to do anything and had such self confidence. If She needed help in a store or library, she was never intimated to ask an adult for it. She made up dances (she only took a few lessons when she was four) and performed them at her elementary school talent show, sang solos in choir, plays and recitals, played the piano, participated in Speech and Debate, swam in city meets, played water polo, took swing lessons, was a Junior Miss contestant and loved to scrapbook. She was such joy to watch in whatever she did and had such a great attitude whether she did well or not. To her it was all about the experience.
I could almost always talk her into doing crazy things with me whether it was a hike, project or some other off the wall thing. And she talked me into trying new things too, like making my own wallpaper or substituting in high school. She has always been an inspiration to me.
One of Lonica's greatest loves has been learning and going to school. I was so proud as I watched her receive her diploma from Arizona State University, sum cum laud and see the culmination of years of hard work. She has always loved to read and we have enjoyed discussing and teaching the same books, developing lessons plans together, bouncing ideas off one another and of course watching all 6 hours of A&E's Pride and Prejudice over and over and over again.
Today Lonica turns 25 years old and she has had a full 25 years. She has married a great guy named Scott whom we love and adore. They are always going, doing or trying something new and are never dull to be around. This weekend she is participating in her first triathlon, and so what if it isn't a full one, at least she is participating, she is giving it a shot.
Twenty five years ago, I had no idea what life would be like being Lonica's mother and I was so scared. Now it seems that those years have flown by and I realize that if I have a daughter that is 25, I must be 25 years older, but what wonderful, joyful, learning years they have been. I can't wait to see what the next 25 will hold for me and for my amazing daughter. I love you so much Lonica!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Willow Valley Hike

We have a friend, Terry Jorgensen, who has been our camping, hiking, Dutch oven cooking friend for over 20 years. About a month ago he started calling to get us to go on a new hike he had just found. He is always looking for adventure and I'm always willing to follow along with him. He planned the hike for Labor Day so Garth and Preston could go too. As you can see Preston opted out of the hike and stayed home to play basketball and golf, he made the safer decision.
Terry had also invited his friend Jim (in the jeans and blue shirt standing next to me), next is Terry, then Dennis' friend Don, Garth and our friend Dennis. We met at our house at 5:00am and had a two hour drive to the trail head east of Happy Jack. After dropping a car at one end of the trail, started on our adventure, a little after 9:00 and about an hour behind schedule, in 59 degree weather. Problem was that we couldn't find the beginning of the trail, so we just headed down a steep drainage area though rough, scratchy brush in the direction we knew we needed to go. Did I say that this was a remote area?
As you can see by Terry's arms we were all a little cut up by the time we hit the bottom and found the creek but we knew we were heading in the right direction because there was only one way to go!
Part of the adventure of this hike was the pools we would have to swim through, not just wade through but swim through. This was the first of those pools and Garth is trying desperately to find away around getting wet.
The water was ice cold and slimy green and by the time I got through the third pool I think that hypothermia was setting in. We had planned on the sun to warm us up. You know that Arizona has 363 days of sunshine a year so where was it yesterday?
Here is Garth swimming as fast as he can in the coldest and longest of the pools.
Just a little soaking wet from freezing, nasty green water. Oh, look a little sun.
Also, notice the boulders we were having to climb down, over and around. It was lots of work, especially when you are shivering to death. Terry had brought and carried a little raft he thought he would help him float - didn't work so well.
Here are Garth and I after finishing adventure number one - we made it through all the pools and are still alive.
In several places we found spider webs that had caught birds and squirrels. They were pretty creepy especially since the next part of the hike we were bushwhacking though brush above our waists or higher. You had no idea what was in there and I was just hoping it wasn't a spider who ate birds and squirrels.
The canyon was absolutely beautiful and reminded us a little of the Narrows hike in Zion National Park. The walls got very steep and high but the hiking was much more difficult than the Narrows. The rocks were slick and unstable and I think all of us had a couple of falls. The next portion of the hike was boulder hopping. Boulder hopping can be fun and is, but after 4 hours of it, it can get very tiring plus one missed step and you can really get hurt! But we safely made it through adventure number two!
We eventually came to some meadows and Garth wanted his picture taken right HERE. Most of the time there wasn't a trail to follow and so we just bushwhacked though the reeds, sticker bushes, trees, brush, fallen trees (which there were a lot off) and back and forth across the creek. Dennis had set his GSP and we could tell we were getting closer to the car, that is when we could get a signal, but after 7 hours of hiking we were all getting a little worried about finding the trail out. We finally came to the confluence which meant that the trail up and out was close but it evaded us.
Our next decisions could have been caused by being too tired, desperation or sheer stupidity but in our attempt to get of the canyon, we split up. Garth and I had been leading most of the hike and we decided to hike straight up a drainage wash. From where we were it looked as though the rim wasn't too far away. The soil was soft and moved with each step. It was very rocky but the rocks moved as well and couldn't be trusted for sure footing. We literally scratched and climbed on our hands and feet up a huge hill only to find that we were still far from the top. We could hear the rest of our group far below still looking for the trail. We decided to just keep hiking up and towards the direction of the trail, thinking that eventually we would hit the trail.
The next addition to the adventure was that the sun was beginning to set and we knew that we were running out of daylight and Garth was having a hard time catching his breath and couldn't go very fast. We both knew we could physically continue to make it up the cliff but we just weren't sure what we would find over the next ridge and if there would be a way out through the rock at the top. I was worried we would have to spend the night on the ledge because we would get stuck someplace. We were both praying a lot. Finally, Garth suggested we walk back the other way and see if there might be a place we could scale the rocks and low and behold, there was the trail!!!
We couldn't figure out where it had come from but there was a trail up through the hardest part of the cliff. We hadn't see any other hikers the entire day and all of the sudden there was a backpacker coming down the trail. He told us where we were and had seen our car and gave us directions to it. End of the biggest adventure of the day - we had made it up the cliff!
As you can see we were just a little happy to see the trail head when we made it out or is Garth too tired to smile? The six hour hike had taken us nine hours.
Our next big worry was were the rest of our group was. We made it back to the car and waited for about 30 minutes and finally the rest of our party hobbled in. They hadn't found the trail either and they too had hiked up a drainage wash only one ravine over. It was dark by the time everyone was back at the car and ready to go pick up the other vehicle and 10:30 by the time we made it home.
While it was a beautiful hike, it is one I will never do again. It was now the physically hardest hike I've ever been on (replacing Four Peaks) and an adventure that I won't repeat. We are using our caller ID now when Terry calls.