Tuesday, August 15, 2017

From there to here

I'm not kidding when I say I felt like my heart had been ripped out.  It felt like nothing would ever be the same again.

It hasn't been.

Nothing-ever-the-same-again isn't all terrible though.  When he entered the scene on a snowy day in January 1997 he made it so things were never the same again.

Thankfully, happily nothing has been the same since then.

The time span of Braeden's mission has been a time of trial and testing for all of us in different ways--and some shared ways.  We've more or less held our ground and I'd like to think that we are emerging stronger and more committed to each other and to the Lord.

Never the same again.

Sunday a dear woman, one of many who took such good care of Braeden, texted me a whole raft of pictures.  She'd fed them dinner and invited our whole family to visit sometime.

Here are some of my favorites of the pictures she sent.

I never imagined that I would make friends that feel like family as a result of Braeden's mission.  Stella is certainly one of those people.  The Justesens are linked to us too.  They got up early this morning and gave Braeden a send off at the airport.

And then, because Rebecca is awesome like that, she sent me a picture:

I couldn't be more happy that he's coming home.

I couldn't be more grateful that he served a mission.

It may feel like your heart is being ripped out at the MTC, but believe the hype.  Missions are worth it.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Adventure time

We had another glorious weekend adventure.  It's been a good summer of discovering Utah beyond the Wasatch Front.  I like the Wasatch Front, but the rest of Utah is straight up amazing.

Friday we went to Boulder to stay with Tabor and Katie.  This adventure was better than most because Emma was there too.  The planets aligned and she didn't have to work.  Tabor and Katie fed us a delicious dinner and then we stayed up too late talking and slept in their luxurious guest accommodations and maybe we'll just move in.

Family is great.

That is all.

We had an amazing breakfast and stayed around the table chatting until almost lunchtime and then we headed out to Capitol Reef National Park.  Tabor told us about an alternate route to get there which included dirt roads and some intense switchbacks.  My vote was no.  I've been on some rough roads in that little Subaru and I don't love it.

Adam was convinced though and I'm not sorry.  It was an incredible road.

The scenery knocked our socks off (well it would have if I hadn't been wearing the same sandals I've worn on every adventure this summer and they are starting to show the peril).

The switchbacks stressed Emma out.

We tried to talk her down while we drove down down down and she almost lost it when she thought we were going to drive with Mark hanging halfway out the car.  (We weren't going to do that.)

Mark is irreplaceable.

It is monsoon season and there were thunderstorms in the area.  As we drove across a soft and sandy stretch of the road, there were a few areas where the road was washed out.  This is the kind of thing Adam looks for with the Subaru.  As he sped through one washed out section, the car slid sideways in an alarming way.  After we emerged victorious, Mark was impressed.  He said, "Dad, that was some sick drift."

Our original plan had been to hike in a slot canyon but the weather precluded that idea.

We stopped and had a snack/lunch of cheese and crackers purchased at the postage stamp sized store in Boulder.  Here I am, slicing cheese with a pocket knife.  It's about as outdoorsy as I get.

Mark and Emma engaged in feats of strength...

Emma cracked us up with her dramatic attempt to leap the fence.  Our children will do anything for a laugh and I almost always accommodate them.

I loved having Emma there.  We all did.  It's great to go on trips with Mark and then Emma makes it twice as good and then tomorrow (TOMORROW!!) we will have Braeden here and everything will be three times as good.

Emma wrote a poem, inspired by the desert?  I asked her to text it to me.  She told me that if I was going to put it on my blog, I needed to let you know "it's supposed to be read in a kinda almost stoner voice and there has to be a whole bunch of pauses for dramatic emphasis."  I wish I could translate her delivery for you.

Hi my name is Clarence and this is a poem that I wrote about heterocapitalism in America and the systematic oppression that I face every day.

A sea of cactus
In a desert of sand.
Raindrops fall.
Raindrops land.

Rain clouds go away.
Sun burns hot.
Some cactus thrive.
Some do not.

A weary traveler
Hungry and lost.
Been in the sand wastes.
Battered and tossed.

He finds no refuge
In the cactus sea
Because he's too different.
That traveler is me.

Thanks guys.

At some point I maybe did something to deserve these children.  I don't know what it was, but I'm glad I did it.   

Friday, August 11, 2017

Grateful Friday

They have added on a new fancy addition to the Missionary Training Center in Provo.  By the time I tried to get tickets for the tour they were all gone.  I was lamenting this sad tale to Olivia and she invited me to tag along with a stake YW trip they were taking.  They had reserved 40 tickets but wouldn't need them all.

So Adam and Mark and I joined up with them.  Clarissa too.  It just so happened that the timing worked for her to take a break from being an EFY counselor at BYU. (Is Provo the acronym capital of the world?  Are Mormons kings of all the acronyms?)

We were walking along the tour, minding our own business when everyone's favorite MTC resident just happened to be walking along!  3700 missionaries and we stumbled upon our own Desi!

Olivia, Clarissa, Desi, me--we all burst into tears.  Maybe Liberty did too and I just didn't notice?  It seems like our birthright, those tears.

There was much hugging and I-can't-believe-we-ran-into-you.

We took pictures.

The aunts:

Olivia and I simultaneously kissed Desi's cheeks after this picture was taken.  I am wearing heels and was on the uphill slope and I was taller than Olivia.  Ha!
The sisters:

Love. These. Girls.
Olivia and I texted Marianne and she didn't answer.  Had she thrown her phone in anguish because we got to see Desi and she didn't?  Was that why she wasn't answering?  Then Olivia remembered, sheepishly, that Marianne was out of phone service because she had gone to get the scouts from their hike, including Olivia's son Ruben.

Later, Adam said that he'd texted Robert a picture.  Oh yeah.  Good thing Adam was there to consider the dad in the equation....

It was my lucky day seeing all these women I adore.  Wonder of wonders.  Sometimes you just don't know what happiness awaits you.

Desi leaves Monday for Hong Kong.

I'm jealous of Hong Kong. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Every. single. time.

I usually take my reusable shopping bags with me when I go to the store.  At Costco, they ask me, "Do you want to use these bags?"

I say, "No.  I just brought them because they were getting bored  hanging there on their hook in the mudroom.  You know, there's not much to look at in there.  So occasionally, I bring them to Costco, just for a change.  They like to look around, try a sample, marvel that Halloween costumes are already for sale.  It's really sort of an adventure for the bags.  I don't bring them to put my purchases in.  I mean, who does that?"

OK, maybe I don't say that.

I think it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One of my favorites

Since we were in France during General Conference, I sadly didn't get to watch it all in one fell swoop over a weekend.  I missed it.

I've watched/listened to/read the talks since, but I always love the heavy concentration of watching them all at once.  It's like getting an IV of spiritual enlightenment.

Still, I love conference!  One story that I've thought of over and over has also felt relevant to me over and over.  It's from Elder Gary B. Sabin:

My father-in-law taught at BYU and loved BYU football but could not bring himself to watch their games because he was so nervous about the outcome. Then a wonderful thing happened—the VCR was invented, which made it possible for him to record the games. If BYU won, he would watch the recording with perfect confidence, absolutely certain of the ending! If they were penalized unfairly, injured, or behind late in the fourth quarter, he wasn’t stressed because he knew they would pull it out! You might say he had “a perfect brightness of hope”!

So it is with us. As we are faithful, we can have equal certainty that things will work out well for us in the end. The Lord’s promises are sure. This does not mean this mortal university will be easy or without many tears, but as Paul wrote, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat:  We've read the book, and you come out on top.

I'm grateful for living prophets that inspire and lead and remind us of things we know.

"things will work out well for us in the end"

What more could we ask for?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Saturday I was in line behind a guy at the grocery store.  The checker was super chatty and enthusiastic, slamming groceries into bags with a whole lot of force.

She asked the guy for his Smith's card number.  He said, "Oh, I'm from out of state."

"Where are you from?" she asked.

He said, "Texas...well Las Vegas."  The two of them looked at each other with a little confusion and he tried again.  "I'm originally from Brazil."  Then he gestured to the tall kid across the way waiting for him.  "My wife and I are dropping our son off at BYU," he said.  As if that explained his inability to explain where he was from.

My immediate thought was, "Already?  People are already bringing their kids to BYU?"  I'm not ready for that!  There's a big difference between being happy your kids are accepted to BYU (I was!  Happy day!) to actually having them move out.  And then there's the cost.  Spoiler alert, but sending two kids to/getting them ready for college isn't cheap.

It's all kind of dizzying and disorienting and I can totally understand why my friend from Texas/Las Vegas/Brazil didn't know where he was from.  Solidarity buddy.  I get it.  Kids + college is disconcerting.


Emma asked me the other day if I was excited for her to go to college.  I said, "I'm excited for you, but not for me."

She said, "There must be something that will be better about it.  Less work for you?"

"No," I said. "You don't cause that much work.  There's no upside for me."

"Do you want me to live with you forever?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"Then there's an upside."

Who am I to argue with Emma?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Books I read in July 2017

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery ****

Someone at book club mentioned this book and I was pleasantly surprised that there was a book by her that I hadn't read.  This was a good book.  It's about a woman who has spent a lifetime cowed by her awful family and then she is told she only has a few months left to live to she shocks her family and does what she wants.

Left Neglected  by Lisa Genova***

This is by the same author of Still Alice.  Like it, there's a lot of neuroscience in the book.  A woman has an accident that leaves her with a brain injury where she can't see the left side of anything.  It was interesting.  I also loved the story.  It made me think and made me grateful for my life and the fact that I don't have a high falutin' career.

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor ***

I had a little bit of a hard time getting into it.  Since I knew some of the characters wouldn't survive the Titanic, I didn't know which characters I should care about and which I should keep my distance from since they weren't going to make it.  I ended up thinking it was interesting read though.

The Things We Knew by Catherine West ***

This was for book club.  I liked the book fine...it's an easy read about a family that is sort of in disrepair and they have a house in Nantucket.  What's not to like?  When I got to book club, everyone spent the first 15 minutes talking about how dumb and lacking in substance the book was.  Hmm.  What does that say about me?

Don't answer that.

Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey*

This one is a Newbery winner so I started it.  Didn't finish it.  The book is short, but so is life.  What isn't short is the list of books that I want to read.  So this one didn't make the cut.  It won the Newbery in 1947 and makes you wonder what the competition was.  Was there competition?  Maybe this was the only book published that year.  It's about a cranky doll whose head is made out of a hickory nut.  I browsed ahead and looked at the pictures and it seems a squirrel eats her head later.  Weird.

Emma was sort of shocked when I told her I wasn't finishing it.  "I thought you were going to read every Newbery?!?" 

Emma clearly has more stick-to-itiveness than I do.

Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark **

This was another Newbery.  It was OK but I didn't love it.  It was about a boy living in the Andes and on sort of a quest to discover his Incan roots.  It was all very mystical and left me wondering what exactly were his roots and what was the secret. 

First Comes Love by Emily Giffen ***

The language was a little dicey.  I need to remember that because I always forget and then recommend a book to someone else....

Also, the ending wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked. I do mostly enjoy Emily Giffen books though.  The characters are interesting and multi-dimensional.  The book was about two sisters who didn't have a great relationship and there was the underlying tragedy of their brother who died young and how that changed everyone. 


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