"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind... We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith." -- Margaret D. Nadauld

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yippy Ki-Aye

There are many benefits about where we live. Florin, itself, isn't in the most beautiful setting. But we are close to many activities and places of destination that it makes it a good place to live.

Last night we did something we have never done. We went on a guided horseback riding trip into the back country of nearby mountains. Our goal was to experience the elk rut and hopefully be able to hear bull elk as they "bugle" and round up their cows.

The trip was Steck's idea. She invited us along and while the idea of the trip was extremely appealing the reality of it was extremely scary. We agreed to go and the anticipation of it put me in some form of agony. But I was never in danger of cancelling... sometimes you HAVE to face your fears! (I'm always in agony when I do something new! I have fantasies of cancelling almost every trip I go on because I get myself so worked up! But I haven't cancelled one yet!!)

I was scared for a couple of reasons:
#1 - Have you seen how BIG a horse is?
#2 - The last time I rode a horse was the fall before Max and I got married (1987). The saddle on the horse I rode on wasn't cinched up tight and it kept slipping sideways. By the time we got back to the barn at the end of the ride, I was sitting on the horse's side instead of its back.
#3 - Have you seen how BIG a horse is?!?!

It was an evening ride and we arrived at our destination shortly before 5:00. Wanting it to be a surprise, we didn't tell Inigo what we were doing either. He guessed as we pulled into the state park and was so excited! One of the reasons I didn't want to tell was I thought he'd be scared too and I didn't want to have any arguments over whether he'd go or not. PLUS, he said at dinner two nights previous to the trip - remember he didn't know about it - that he thought he'd be scared hearing an elk bugle.
We met our horses and tried to become friendly with them. Inigo wasn't scared at all!

All too soon it was time to climb into that saddle. Inigo went first which was a blessing and a curse. It was great because as a hovering mother, I was able to stand there and make sure he was secure (ha!) and it gave me an opportunity to take a couple pictures while standing on firm ground... after all, it's the photo ops that are most important, right?!?

The "curse" part was that he was on the horse first while the rest of us saddled up and he didn't know how to control it. Sure, we were in a corral, which kept him and his horse contained, but I didn't want him falling off and getting injured while the rest of us were otherwise occupied.

Then it was my turn. I asked for a calm horse and they gave me one named Diamond... or Destiny (?) or Dusty (?) or Demon (?) What was her name? Yeah, I think it was Diamond.

Thankfully, there was a little step for lard butts like me to use to boost myself up a bit. It was extremely uncomfortable throwing my leg over the back of that horse and trying to get myself onto that massive, thinking, moving creature with four legs. Have you noticed how BIG a horse is?!? They adjusted my stirrups and left me to get acquainted with my new best friend. I sat there praying, "please don't move horse.... please don't move...."

Max and Steck got on their horses quite easily it seemed and with our guide Chet in the lead, we headed out of the corral and into the sunset!

Inigo and his horse were tethered to the guide, followed by Steck, me, Max and the guide's son had the rear. For the first 15 minutes we listened to Chet give Inigo a lesson in horse riding and guiding. "Use one hand." "Pull to the left." "You haffta give him a slight kick to get him moving." "Puuuulll back on the reins to get him to stop!" "USE ONE HAND!!"

Then my boy was turned loose!! I was freaking out... just a little... but he did GREAT!! He had total control of that horse and even got him to gallop a little. No fear. My little super hero!

We got a bonus on our ride... something the guides didn't advertise. A cow and bull moose!! Sadly, we couldn't get any better pictures... it's really HARD taking pictures from on top of a horse!

By now most of us were fairly comfortable where we were. We seemed to have the reins under control and in spite of our knees being in a painfully awkward position we could sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

And it WAS beautiful!!

Finally, we arrived in "Elk Country." Chet asked us if we could quit the chit chat and laughing and make silence be our code so we wouldn't scare away any of these majestic animals. That was a hard request, for sure, (seriously, asking Inigo and his mother to stop talking is like asking us to donate a body part without anesthesia!) but we were able to clamp our lips closed and bask quietly in anticipation of what we hoped to hear and see.

It wasn't long before we heard the siren-like sound of a bull elk in the distance. It's a sound that sends chills up and down your spine. It's eerily beautiful! When we arrived at a narrow meadow, Chet had us dismount (so glad there wasn't a video camera around for that!), tie up the horses and hike a short distance to sit on the edge of some trees and silently wait to see if any elk would come out of the cover of the forest.

We sat as quietly as we could. For Inigo it was extremely difficult. He's 8 and not used to being absolutely still. Any movement, any stick breaking, any dirt being scuffed felt like the sound was being amplified 100x's in the quiet forest. And he really wanted to get back on his horse!!

As we sat there we could hear 4 or 5 bulls in the distance, challenging each other. Chet could hear a couple to the north, and used sign language to tell his son and Max to quietly walk up there and see what they could find. Steck and I sat on a log with our cameras set to video mode to see if we could capture the sound of the elk.

Our efforts paid off. Max and Lewis had a great view of two bull vying for the love of a single cow. We could see them off in the distance, but we didn't have a great view.

Max took these pictures and I took the video.

There's not much to see in the video, but if you listen closely and turn up your speakers you will be able to hear two or three elk bugling. (At the very end, when the video gets all crazy, that's when the elk come out in the meadow. The second video is shaky because I had to zoom to get close enough to record the bull chasing the cow.) (Also, you can hear Chet trying to make the same sound a cow elk makes, to see if the bull will come a little closer.)

We sat there for what seemed like ages. The sun went down and the temperature dropped by about 20 degrees. My sweatshirt was back with the horses. Thankfully Inigo had his tied around his waist. We waited and waited for the elk that was in the forest directly across from us to come out, but he never did.

Suddenly, we heard the yip yip yip of a coyote, in the direction of the horses. So now we're listening to 4 or 5 elk accompanied by a howling coyote, chirping of birds and occasional whinnying of our horses.

Seriously, it doesn't get much better than that.

When another horse group moved in, and rode straight down the meadow we knew it was time to head back. The riders scared the elk back into the woods and we knew with the approaching darkness we wouldn't get another chance that evening to see any more elk. We raised our freezing, aching bones off the ground and headed back to the horses. (Thank you to Max to knelt down and let me stand on him to have a boost to get back on Destiny... I mean Diamond!)

Riding back to camp in the dark was amazing. Of course, there are no pictures. We watched the stars come out and could still hear the bugles in the distance.

And contrary to popular belief, a horse headed back for "home" does NOT move faster! I kept kicking and nudging my poor horse and she kept falling further and further behind. I couldn't see a thing or person in front of us and still she wouldn't move faster. She could hear her buddies in the pastures calling to her and she wanted to stay there... I think she was sick of me by the time we finally made it back to the corrall.

It was a wonderful evening, and we feel our time was well spent! In spite of my aching back side and screaming knees, if you asked me to do it again, I'd be there. No hesitation. No fear.
**We missed having Buttercup along. Since she started school and work, we've had NO extra-curricular family time with her! We miss her!!**

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dude! You Passed!

Inigo is getting baptized soon. On October 9 as a matter of fact. In recent weeks we've been teasing him about the bishop's interview he'll have, saying things like, "I hope you pass," and "Do you think you know all the right answers?"

Uh oh. He's never had a bishop's interview before. He didn't know that this particular one is very easy to pass, especially when you're 8 years old!

Inigo's interview was last night. We got him all gussied up... he looked so handsome! I took him to the church and with his big eyes shining brightly, the bishop (our neighbor that lives two houses away) led him into his office.

Approximately 15 minutes later, Inigo walks out with his recommend in his hand.

We walk down the hall together and when we're about 5 feet from the bishop's office, he whispers to me in an excited voice,


Then he gives me the biggest hug ever.

All the way home he kept muttering, "I passed! I can't believe I passed! I'm so excited!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's Around That Corner?

Faith..... it's a tricky thing.
Especially for me.
I don't have problems having faith in everything. It's easy for me to:
  • Have Faith in God. I don't doubt for a second that He exists and that He loves me.
  • I don't doubt for a second that Jesus Christ is the Savior of our World and that he died for me.
  • I believe in the Book of Mormon with all my heart and love the stories and doctrines that I can learn from it!
  • I KNOW that there is a prophet on the earth today.
  • I have faith in Priesthood Power. I know that that power is on this earth to help give us comfort, healing, guidance as well as the sealing power to bind families to live together throughout eternity.
Faith in all this is so easy.
I struggle with a more personal faith.
I like control. I like knowing how things are going to turn out. I like knowing what I'm supposed to do, doing it and knowing what the outcome will be.
I don't do abstract. I don't like having a bevvy of choices made available to me and having to pick one and hope that it's the right one. I struggle with knowing the difference between my voice and the voice of the Holy Ghost.
Our family is facing some difficult choices. Choices that have the potential to be life changing. I'm struggling with knowing how to make those choices... how to distance myself from the "natural man" and becoming more spiritually minded to know -without a doubt- what Heavenly Father wants us to do.
Maybe faith isn't what I struggle with... maybe it's perspective. Our decision can become so much easier if I can just see what's up that road and around that corner!! I don't need to see everything, just a hint -or a shadow- of what will be. All I need is a hint of which direction that corner turns.
Max isn't struggling at all. I'm sure he's sick of hearing me talking about it. A few days ago, as I was obsessing and panicking, he said to me, "Valerie, you need to stop worrying. I know there is a miracle waiting for us." It's so easy for him.
And, actually, I can already see the Lord's hand making some choices more available for us. I can see how He's clearing the way and making it easier (physically) for us. I just need more faith in knowing that everything will be all right and that He will be there to help us when we need it...
Because we are going to need it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing!

How fun is this!?!?

(Cheryl, I know this isn't the post you're looking for, but I'M WORKING ON IT!!!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Clouds Are "Da Bomb"

I have mentioned before that I love to look at clouds. When I drive down the road, I find myself looking at the sky more than I look at the road.
I've been known to drive 5 or 10 minutes out of my way to see the exact formation of a cloud because sometimes a hill is in my way.
I've been known to spend 10-15 minutes just standing at a window watching a storm roll in.
I've been known to use a whole roll of film trying to capture the best image I can of a particular cloud. (Okay, I don't use film, but I can take 24 pictures of o
ne cloud formation which = one roll of film!)
Thus, I have about a gazillion pictures of them.
I decided it would be fun to start a blog of just cloud/sky/weather pictures. After all, what's one more blog to manage in my life?


It's still a work in progress, but it's a start.

Here's my plea to you: if you have any pictures that you would like me to put on that blog, send them to me! I have readers from all over the US and even one or two out of the country that have gorgeous weather patterns. Go outside and take those pictures and let's get them on the blog!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sun and Her Planets

My sister, Wees, emailed this article to me. I think it perfectly sums up how moms feel when their kids grow up and leave the nest.

(I know Buttercup hasn't officially moved out yet. However, she has been working full time and playing with her friends after work. Next week she starts her cosmetology classes... in addition to working and friend time. We'll see her even less, so it's almost like she's moved out. HOWEVER.... I still know where she sleeps at night and have a pretty good idea of who she's hanging out with. I'll enjoy it while I can!)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I was the sun, the kids were my planets
by Beverly Beckham

I wasn't wrong about their leaving. My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn't the end of the world when first one child, then another, and then the last packed their bags and left for college.

But it was the end of something. "Can you pick me up, Mom?" "What's for dinner?" "What do you think?"

I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, non-stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.

And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.

And then they were gone, one after the other.

"They'll be back," my husband said. And he was right. They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals -- not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.

Always is what you miss. Always knowing where they are. At school. At play practice. At a ball game. At a friend's. Always looking at the clock mid-day and anticipating the door opening, the sigh, the smile, the laugh, the shrug. "How was school?" answered for years in too much detail. "And then he said... and then I said to him..." Then hardly answered at all.

Always knowing his friends.

Her favorite show.

What he had for breakfast.

What she wore to school.

What he thinks.

How she feels.

My friend Beth's twin girls left for Roger Williams yesterday. They are her fourth and fifth children. She's been down this road three times before. You'd think it would get easier.

"I don't know what I'm going to do without them," she has said every day for months.

And I have said nothing, because, really, what is there to say?

A chapter ends. Another chapter begins. One door closes and another door opens. The best thing a parent can give their child is wings. I read all these things when my children left home and thought then what I think now: What do these words mean?

Eighteen years isn't a chapter in any one's life. It's a whole book, and that book is ending and what comes next is connect to, but different from, everything that has gone before.

Before was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager. Before was feeding and changing and teaching and comforting and guiding and disciplining, everything hands on. Now?

Now the kids are young adults and on their own and the parents are on the periphery, and it's not just a chapter change. It's a sea change.

As for a door closing? Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too. And would that they occupied just a single room in your head. But they're in every room in your head and in your heart.

As for the wings analogy? It's sweet. But children are not birds. Parents don't let them go and build another nest and have all new offspring next year.

Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that's what going to college is. It's goodbye.

It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy.

But it's not nothing, either.

To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts.

To let go of a child, a body changes too. It sigh and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.

Life does go on.

"Can you give me a ride to the mall?" "Mom, make him stop!" I don't miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee. But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company