"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

Monday, January 31, 2011

We're Not Pros...

We took some video of our cross-country ski trip into My National Park last weekend. There were a lot more hills on this trail than what we're used to. (Our normal trail has one hill. This had about 5...it is still considered an easy trail.)

Hills can cause problems when you're on cross-country skis.

The only part of your boot that attaches to the ski is the toe. You have a little loop thing on the tip of your boot that clicks into a clasp on the ski binding. And that clasp won't let go of the loop thing until you press a button on the ski bindings with your pole and it opens, which releases your boot. So if you fall, you have these 4+ foot long skinny things stuck to your feet which can seriously hamper abilities to get your feet under you to stand up. Generally -without skis- when you try to get up from the ground, you get onto your knees and push up. You can't do that with these long things stuck on your feet!

Going up hills can be tricky too. Skis are designed to glide over snow and we live on a world where gravity is the law. When you're trying to walk up a hill, inevitably your skis will start sliding and gravity pulls you back down to the bottom. A skilled skier will point his toes and skis outward and waddle up the hill like a duck. Olympic skilled skiers can run up a hill like this. We are NOT Olympic skilled skiers. The best way for us to get up a hill is to turn sideways and step up the hill. It can be slow going, but it's more effective than taking two glides up and sliding 5 back.

I'm not the most limber person in the world (I never have been). I try to avoid going down hills at all cost. I get so embarrassed when I fall and someone has to come help me stand up. I don't know why it affects me that way, but it does! To avoid going down long hills, I have been known to take the skis off and walk down the hill. Yes, I've taken a step and sunk up to my hips in deep snow, but I'd rather do that than fall face first in a drift! I'm willing to ski down long hills if the trail has been groomed and there are definite tracks for me to place my skis in. I still scream the entire way down though.

There were daring people in our group that thought it would be fun to go down one of the bigger hills we encountered on our Saturday trip. Okay, the only two people that didn't go down the hill were me and Little Miss Dolittle. We're wimps. Or we're the smartest two people in the group... I guess it depends on how you look at it!

Inigo is the downhill champ. He has a sense of balance that won't quit and the energy to match it. This video shows him going down the hill 3 times. He went down this particular hill a total of 5 or 6 times. And remember, there's nothing to pull him back UP. It's side stepping, slipping and maintaining that balance all the way to the top.

Stinky went down twice. You'll see his first attempt and I'm pretty sure you'll laugh. His second trip down was successful. (I made that annoying scream as he started down the hill to try to see if I could throw him off balance. You know, when someone is bowling and you pinch their bum just as their about to throw the ball? Kind of like that. However, it wasn't me that made him fall. He got out of the ski tracks. Whatever the reason he went down, it's a classic video!!)

I'm so proud of Shack for going down. She stood at the top for quite a while working up her courage and her determination. You'll thank me for cutting that part of the video out... I got quite annoying in it trying to be her cheerleader. As it is you can hear me giving her all sorts of advice.... It's advice easily given from someone who is to scared to do it herself!!

(we used real names in the video... which breaks all my rules on this blog... *oh well.*)


This was my first attempt at putting a bunch of separate videos into one longer one. I'm excited to try to figure out video editing!

Hello Out There....!

You know that scene at the end of the movie, Titanic (which I saw about 52 times when it was playing in the theaters... James Cameron can personally thank me for the fancy car he drives) ?

After the ship sinks, Rose is lying on a wooden head board in the icy waters. Jack is completely blue and frozen to her hand. Ice has formed under his nostrils.

The screaming has stopped. The water has stopped churning. Most of the unfortunate passengers who didn't have a spot on a life boat have frozen to death.

Rose is gazing at the stars, singing a song about a flying machine.

When suddenly that dreamy 5th Officer, Harold Lowe played by Ioan Gruffudd says he's going to go out and find any survivors. He rows the boat in the middle of the casualties and while shining his flashlight starts yelling,

"Hello out there! Can anyone hear me? Is anyone alive out there?"

I feel that way about my blog.

I'd just like to tell you that yes, I'm alive out here. Existing. Having good days and bad.

Last week wasn't the best week of my life. I'm just trying to figure out how to do this single mom stuff, taking care of things as they break... especially the electronics. (When Max is home and there is a problem, all I have to do is call for him, he comes and stands next to the appliance or electronic gadget that is currently not working and *ding* it starts working! He doesn't even have to touch it!)

I'm planning on having a better week this week. I'm clinging to the memories of the past two weekends where we were able to head to My Mountains and My National Park and enjoy the fresh air, the beautiful trees and cross-country ski in a peaceful and relaxing setting.

I live for Friday when Max will come home. And dread Sunday when he leaves.

So, yes, I'm alive!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Art Lesson

I am substituting for Inigo's art teacher who recently had a baby. She was having complications and was put on bed rest for a couple months before delivery, so I've been teaching art every other Friday since October. I know I've mentioned before -- and I'll mention it again -- I'M NO ARTIST!!! I would love to leave all this art teaching to the professionals (That's YOU Thorkgal!) but I love to help in Inigo's class and there was a need, so why not give it a try?

Thankfully there are a couple GREAT websites out there for idiots like me: artsonia.com and artprojectsforkids.org. I have found some really cute projects for the kids to make.

The projects we've done have had mixed results. My first lesson was a complete and total failure. Things have gradually improved over the weeks and I think today's lesson was (for me) a wonderful success!! I should probably quit now and beg the other mom to come back so I can end on a high...

The lesson today was on lines. How sharp lines can make you feel energetic and softer curves can make you have more of a peaceful feeling. We were supposed to make a self portrait with one half of the face drawn in using sharp lines and bright colors and the other half using muted colors and softer lines.

Also, earlier today the kids had a lesson on Fantasy vs. Reality, so we also incorporated that into the art.

I am so pleased with how the projects turned out!!

(This is Inigo's art.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Did It!!

I'm a wimp.

No doubt about it. When faced with new situations, I become wimpy, unsure of myself and a little weepy. Maybe even a LOT weepy, depending on the situation.

I have made myself sick worrying over various experiences in my life:

  • Our first trip to Disney World AND Disneyland. (Going to unknown places KILLS me!!)
  • When we went to Maui in 2006, I stayed in my hotel room alone while Max was in his meetings because I was too scared to leave and go anywhere by myself.
  • I contemplated cancelling our horse back riding trip last fall because I was scared of riding horses!
  • I had to take medication for IBS the first time I rode an airplane to visit my sister in Virginia.
Those are just a couple examples of many wimpy experiences in my life.

This is why last weekend was such a BIG DEAL for me. The kids and I flew -sans Max- to Phoenix for Leo's wedding! I have gone on trips without Max before, but I've always had another "grown-up" with me to fall back on, whether I'm travelling with someone or meeting someone once I get there.

This weekend I had to be the grown-up and take care of all our travelling needs. From getting ourselves to the airport and on the plane, to finding the car rental counter, to checking into the hotel, to finding fun and interesting activities to do while we weren't consumed with wedding festivities.

And, surprisingly, we did okay!!!

I arranged for my parents to take us and pick us up from the airport. That was easy. (Thanks, Mom & Dad for your time!) I had a car reserved, a room reserved and the GPS was ready and filled in with the addresses we needed, and some that we didn't need. (Believe me when I say, I would NOT have gone this weekend if I didn't have our handy dandy Garmin!! )

The biggest and scariest hiccup in the weekend was when our plane landed in a different airport than where we were expecting to land. We didn't know that there were TWO usable airports in the Phoenix area.

I was so pleased to walk up to the car rental counter and give them my name.

"Yes, my name is Valerie and I have a reservation."

The employee types my name into the computer and starts looking up my reservation... she can't find it.

"Do you happen to have your reservation number?"

Are you kidding? I'M A PREPARED MOMMY!!! I consulted my trusty manila file holder that has all the travel information written down.

"Yes. The number is......"

As the clerk types the number in she says,

"This number sounds like it's for Sky Harbor."

My confidence started to ebb... FEAR reaches her cold hand inside and grabs a hold of my heart.

"Sky Harbor? I'm not at Sky Harbor? (Dramatic pause)......Where am I?" I whisper.

I tried to keep the panic at bay and the pitch of my voice level. I can be cool. I can be suave. I can roll with the punches...

"Yes! There is your reservation. Your car is at Sky Harbor Airport and you have just landed at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport. Sadly, because there is the (some big important football) game (involving Oregon and Auburn... a championship game?) this weekend, I don't have any extra cars here. See this map? If you get a taxi just outside that door, you can tell them to take you here (pointing to Sky Harbor) and you can go pick up your car." (I don't watch college football... sorry.)

Holy Hannah! Oh crap! A taxi is gonna be expensive!! AND SCARY!!!

I wrack my brain for any other solution, wishing that Max were there. What would Max do?

Breathe, Valerie, breathe!!

Tears well up in my eyes but there is NOTHING I can do about it. It's my own fault. Why didn't I look at airports when I was booking flights and cars? BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW THERE WERE TWO AIRPORTS IN PHOENIX!!! Duh.

Because of the kids, I had to stay calm. What kind of example will I be if I have a mental break down right there? I have to teach them that life throws you all sorts of curve balls and you have to be ready to catch them. (I will admit I did swear just a little.) Rolling with the punches will leave you happier and with lower blood pressure....

So I did what I had to do. I called my friend, Lavender, and told her we'd be a few minutes late. We walked outside toward the row of waiting taxi cabs and said, "We need a ride." We got in the cab and drove across town to the other airport.

Oh, there were many panic moments inside that taxi, believe me. All three of us watched that meter tick up and up and up... Buttercup's eyes kept getting bigger and even Inigo leaned over and whispered, "Mom! Look! It says we owe $50!" Then, "Mom! Look how high the number is going!" I debated asking the driver to pull over and let us walk the rest of the way when we hit $60. I hated watching all our spending money go into this cab ride.

Ultimately, it was my fault though. CONSEQUENCES!!!

When all was said and done, we spent $75 (including a very meager tip) to get our rental car. But the lesson we learned was far more valuable. From this day forward, I will check and double check airport names on all my itinerary. I'm sure the kids will too!

BUT.... we got a darling car! We got to choose which car to drive for the weekend and we voted unanimously on the VW Bug. It was so much fun to drive! It's now on my list of "must-haves." We all hated to turn it back in on Monday (we were able to return it to Gateway Airport so we didn't have the same cab fee back. WHEW!!)

The rest of the weekend went fairly well. I was pretty nervous about doing the pictures and I have decided NOT to do wedding photos again, until I am better versed in procedure and technique. I also need to work more on controlling crowds. Leo's husband comes from a large family and by the time I got everyone corralled for a group family shot, I was ready to kill them! I mean... SERIOUSLY!!!!... you know we're taking pictures. Why on earth would you disappear to change clothes or go look at a cactus? And why on earth would you show up AT THE TEMPLE for a wedding in jean shorts and a bright red t-shirt?

Okay. Calm down, Valerie. They were nice people. Really.

Leo was a beautiful bride and her wedding day is such a miracle! Some day I'll fill you in on all that she's been through in her life. No one expected her to live to see her wedding day... It was a pleasure to be there and share the day with her.

The kids and I spent Sunday exploring areas we hadn't been to before... after all, our family motto is "Making Memories" and we have to live up to that! We got online and decided that going to old Indian ruins would be a fun thing to do. We chose Montezuma's Castle and Tuzigoot National Monument.

It was a beautiful day... the weather gods were smiling on us. The temperatures were mid 50's with a gentle breeze blowing. Sunshine filled the skies and (sadly) no clouds to be seen.

We had a very enjoyable day. Even Buttercup enjoyed spending time in the fresh air. (I'm sure the fact that we were in Arizona away from the cold and snow of Florin had something to do with that!)

Monday morning arrived (very early) and I had to get us back to the airport on time! And seriously, if you know me, you know that punctuality is NOT my strong suit. But I fought hard to get us there and we made it! I would also like to add, for any of you that might be flying OUT of the Gateway Airport... plan EXTRA time. It is an extremely UNORGANIZED airport. Even though we were there in plenty of time, by the time we got our bag checked and through security, we got to the gate just as they were boarding our flight. We should have had -at minimum - 1/2 hour to relax and fill our water bottles before they started boarding. Getting through security was RIDICULOUS!! 'Nuff said.

Ultimately, what this post is about is that I did it! I didn't crumple under the pressure! We had a lovely mini-vacation and even though there was a slight hiccup in plans, we made the best of it and things worked out okay. Yippee! (We really missed having Max with us though.)

I guess this means I'm a grown-up after all. :o)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where Are You, Buttercup?!?!

I'm starting to think we're a family of three instead of a family of four. As I review our recent photos, there is a glaring, empty spot in all of them.

Buttercup, where are you?

Oh, yeah.

Busy going to school 8+ hours a day.
Busy working another 4+ hours after that.

And on that Monday when you don't have school, you work 10+ hours and have Family Home Evening with your Singles Branch right afterward.

And on that Thursday when you don't work, you still go to school 8 hours and want to hang out with friends in the evening.

Of course, there's that one special day a week -- Sunday -- when you don't have either work or school. But you don't go to church with us. You have your own ward to attend and it starts at a later time than our's, so you're sleeping when we leave and heading out the door when we get home.

At least we get to eat dinner with you.

Darling Daughter, please don't forget about us!! We're here waiting for you!
We miss you, Buttercup!
I want to show you how much we (I) miss you by showing pictures of our quiet New Year's Eve celebration.
See? It's just three of us... Max, Inigo and I.
(Of course, you can't see me because I have to take the pictures.)
We played Golf and I actually WON!! Because you weren't there to hog all the Jokers. :)

If you had been with us, do you think that we (I) would have had to battle Inigo's Bey Blades in his new Battle Stadium? (It's a game that only Inigo and other 6 - 10 year old boys finds fun.)

Of course, playing our new UNO game would have been a lot more fun with a fourth player.

You would have laughed hysterically when Inigo said, "I'm so happy to stay up on New Year's Eve so I can be awake when the earth finishes its rotation around the sun."

I know you would have thought, as Dad and I did, "What kid says that? Most kids (and adults) are just happy to see one year end and another begin." Only your brother would come with something like "the earth's rotation!"

And, after the ball dropped at the stroke of midnight, we really missed you when we had our family group hug/kiss-on-the-cheek. Our little circle was too small without you.

Well, I guess you have to do what is best for you and your future.
But, please come home now and again, would you?