Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hiking the Volcanoes

We went and visited the "three sisters" (las tres hermanas) on Saturday, three hills formed from fissure eruptions sometime around 100,000 years ago.  We didn't get a picture of the snake that was in one of the bathrooms behind the toilet, but Pat was nice enough to chase it out of there before it scared some poor girl to death.  We had fun and were able to hike to all three volcanoes in less than three hours. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Emerald City Ball

I have really had a lot of challenging assignments with the work I do at church lately, but it has been a joy and I have been feeling so happy to be who I am doing what I'm doing.  I have really been enjoying visiting each ward for their conference and teaching and getting to know their girls.  Three more ward conferences to go!  We've also been visiting with the girls and their leaders to get ready for our week long camp which is coming up soon.  I think it's going to be wonderful!  And then, just yesterday, our Stake was in charge of a Ball for the 16-18 year olds from many Stakes.  The youth chose to do an Emerald City as the theme.  It turned out really neat thanks to so many who volunteered their time and talents to make the night special.  For many of the youth this is a substitute for the prom since that's not always a good environment, and also many of them go to alternative schools where there is no prom.  So the youth came decked out in beautiful prom gowns and tuxes and it was super exciting.

First they came and signed in.

Went through the tornado.

And then went on a journey following the yellow brick road that led them to the Emerald City.

DJ setting up.

We had a Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Wicked Witch, Munchkins, and Glenda the Good Witch.  Didn't get pictures of all of them.  I was a Munchkin.  We sang the "lollipop guild" song and "follow the yellow brick road" song as the youth passed by. 
Corn fields.
Dark forest.
Setting up the poppy fields.
Witch crushed under the house.

This is my president who I work with in all these adventures.  She is always fun!

Anyway, it all turned out great, and today my kids got to eat the "Lollipop Guild's" lollipops.  But just a couple licks.

...and down at the bakery...

I read a funny story of a grandma who was walking around at a family wedding telling everyone how talented the groom was and that he was also bisexual.  But she had misspoken.  What she meant to say was ambidextrous! 

Can you imagine how hard it is for older folks who grew up in an entirely different society than we now live in today?   I'm not even older, and I hate it!  I can see myself as that grandma. 

There's so many crazy social issues today, that for me, really come back to, should the government (or any group of people) have the power to force other people to do something?  Follow the same religion?  Love people of another race?  Be republican?  Buy certain things? Get vaccines?  Put kids in public school?  Bake a cake for a gay wedding?  Perform a gay marriage? Follow a gluten free or whole foods diet?  Exercise?  Support abortion through insurance or assisting in the procedure?  Pay to stop global warming? (what a notion) 

I say no!  When one group of people can choose for another, we are not then equal anymore.  We are not free.  Experts disagree more often than they agree.  Listen to the spirit.  Study it out in your mind. "Those who pose as authorities are likely to be a Polonius trying to turn Ophelia into a baby as they are to have a real handle on what they are talking about."- Thomas G. Plummer.  For example, I believe in a mother's intuition far more than in a doctors command. 

The more we learn, the more humble we should be, knowing more fully how much we have yet to learn.  This should be true for the scientist, mathematician, philosopher, christian, doctor, etc.  Sometimes, the wisest people of all are those who may not even read, but have lived lives of love, toil, and service, experiencing things far beyond what most people can comprehend.  Hugh B. Brown said,  "We have been blessed with much knowledge by revelation from God which, in some part, the world lacks. But there is an incomprehensibly greater part of truth which we must yet discover. Our revealed truth should leave us stricken with the knowledge of how little we really know. It should never lead to an emotional arrogance based upon a false assumption that we somehow have all the answers--that we in fact have a corner on truth, for we do not."

Forcing people to do what you think is right, only makes things worse; even if the thing is right and true.  I think God gave us agency to choose for ourselves for precisely this reason.  Not everyone is convicted of the same things simultaneously.  If you know what you believe to be right and true, then live it!  Happily!  Do not judge or belittle those who have not walked that path with you yet. They may never walk it.  Love them anyway.  Live your life the way you feel is right anyway.

  Humans are historically corrupted by power.  We relish even small amounts of power over other people and often fight to gain more power.  History is full of dictators and kings who cared nothing for the suffering or well-being of their people; who trampled all over their rights. 

But one does not need to become a dictator to exercise this power over others.  All a person needs is to feel that because of their education they are better than others, or because they stand with the majority they are better than the minority, or because they have had a personal emotional experience, their view trumps all others, or because they have a certain skin color they deserve to be treated differently. This is the America I often see now.  People being divided.  Venomous hate.  It is a dangerous road to go down.  It begins the cycle of pride and division into classes.  People make money off of that.  They gain power.  So rather than focusing on the positive and ignoring the negative, they organize more discouraging discussions.  Create more chaos.  Organize more hate.  More strife.  More division.   

I think there are idols being worshiped today made by man, but not out of stone.  Taking one part of the gospel of Christ, like tolerance, and worshiping there.  Or, taking the temple which is our body, and worshiping there, by making diet, exercise and how we look our biggest priority.

The gospel of Christ teaches me to love and care for the earth, but for some, "Saving the Earth" is their religion.  This one part of the gospel has become their whole gospel or the idol they worship.  

Unconditional love is another.  Yes, our Father loves us no matter what, and always will.  But Jesus also said, "Go and sin no more."

People should be able to make their own choices based on what they feel is right.  People evolve, and change, but no one should force that change on others through intimidation or belittling behavior.  Everyone  should be able to say no if they are uncomfortable.  Even if they are wrong.  For example, if a person doesn't want to make a cake for a gay wedding.  Or when I worked at the hospital years ago, I was friends with a surgical tech who came out from assisting with an abortion shattered and in tears.  He described what he saw passing through the tube, and just kept saying over and over, with his head in his hand, "It's horrible, it's horrible, it's horrible".  He felt he had no choice in this.  No protection of his job if he refused.

I know there's a big difference between a cake and an abortion, but if we allow our freedom to choose to be taken away, then there will be no difference.   If we don't stand up for the rights of even people we disagree with to not be trampled on, then we have no right to ask that our beliefs not be trampled on.

When you force someone to believe the way you do, you are forcing a religion on them. Just because it's not an organized traditional religion doesn't make it any less a religion. You're forcing them to be convicted to your beliefs without giving them the same respect. Go down the street and buy a cake somewhere else.

From Val Lewis: "I am happy to see this civil discourse with persons on each side of this issue. I have felt for a few years that "same gender marriage" should be treated under the Constitution as a "freedom of religion" issue and not become a "law of the land" issue. This way, people who belong to a "religion" that believes and practices a doctrine of "same gender marriage" would be protected under the constitution to do so. But simultaneously, the government would be neutral on the subject and could not compel citizens to participate in a doctrine, or promote a doctrine of any particular "religion" by "law". Otherwise, we are heading toward a "National Church", and the Supreme Court would be the 12 Apostles. So, if this issue was treated as a "freedom of religion" issue, suddenly, both sides could co-exist without compulsion. I understand there are literally thousands of religious denominations, who for the most part, peacefully debate their different doctrines, but don't have the government and the Supreme Court referee who's right. Let's leave that up to our individual conscience...just as it is intended by the Constitution."

People have denied me many things because I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was denied several campsites for girls camp this year, and I was once denied the adoption of a child.  

I am happy to share my beliefs, but I don't try to force them on others.  I respect others beliefs as I would hope they'd respect mine. In all these instances, even after I was denied, I made every attempt to be very friendly and understanding and left things very well.  Kindness would go a lot farther with people than ruining their lives and shutting down their businesses.

In short, I think Jesus himself would decide things on a case by case basis.  People's hearts are so different even if they are "taken in" the same sin.  

There's a meme that says, "I don't judge people based on color, race, religion, sexuality, gender, ability, or size.  I base it on whether or not they're an idiot* (replaced the swear word).

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Every day we drive by the fire station multiple times.  But since we are huge Avatar- the last Airbender (cartoon) fans, Leia says, "When are we going to go back to the fire nation?"  And when she sees firemen, she says, "Fire benders!"

Charles spent all day yesterday calling me Evan because he thought he was funny.  Most of the time he says, "Hi Mama!" all day, but yesterday it was, "Hi Evan".  When Pat got home, Charles told him a long story about how we had gone to the park and how he played on the slides, etc.  None of it was true.

Charles has a deep voice and talks really loud.  Leia might be losing her name and nickname.  For some reason, Charles calls her Nora, her middle name.  I hoped to call her that from the beginning.  All day long I hear, "NO NORA!", "STOP NORA!".  But they play happily too.  Leia taught him how to say his name and he came out and said it to me a bunch of times.

Charles wakes up hungry as a bear and just tells me what he wants.  Butter!  Peanut Butter!  Egg!  Yummy egg!  Drink water!  Cereal!  Milk!  Cheese!  (He says an S all spitty, but he talks better than any of my kids at that age).

At night he very reluctantly lets his dad lay him down in his bed, but he always shows up in our room at night.  Sometimes 1/2 hour later and sometimes around midnight when he wakes up and wants to be sleeping with us.  This morning Pat said, "Charles really likes you.  No matter how much I move him away from you in the bed (because Pat sees I'm cramped along the edge) he just scoots back to you."  *smile*  Usually the first warning that he's climbing up into our bed is toys being launched at us so his hands are free to hoist himself up.  He's always carrying cars, trains or animals.

Charles is fiercely determined to not be left out.  If anyone mentions leaving somewhere he's shouting, "Mee too!"  If someone is getting a piece of cheese or banana or some other food, he shouts, "Mee too, nana!", or "Mee too cheese!".  

Charles comes to me wimpering that he wants to go outside but he's afraid the chickens will get him.  He conveys this by saying, "Side. Bak baks!"

This morning with my friend Tera we did a workout on balls.  Charles thought it was the best workout ever, because, BALLS.

As soon as the summer comes, I'm going to potty train him, because he really does seem more ready than my previous kids.  He always knows if he's potty or poopy.  Last night he teased Pat though...

“Poopy” (touches diaper)
Pat checks, “No, you’re not.”
“Yes Poopy!  Yes Poopy!  Yes Poopy!.....”

Then they had a yelling match about whether or not he was poopy.  

We were singing a song last night that had a lot of actions and he was dying laughing watching Evan.  We sang, "Here we go round the mulberry bush", and then changed to "this is the way we clap our hands", etc., stomp our feet, run real fast, pat our tummy, stand like a statue, do a somersault, etc.  Charlie loved it and kept saying, "Again!"

Leia laughed so hard she wet her pants 3 times.  Poor girl.  I wonder when she'll be able to laugh without having to change her clothes.
Charlie echoes everything Leia says and other people too.  If it's too long, he'll just say the last word.  I had him during a ward conference and we all sang, "I am a Child of God".  At the end, when we sang the last words, ..."to live with Him someday", Charles echoed in his loud deep voice "DAY".  It was so cute.

I love these funny little ones!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Sunday

It's so great to have General Conference this weekend.  The talks were so moving, inspirational and emotional.  I just love the gospel.  I know it's true.  I love Heavenly Father's plan.  I love being a member of Christ's church, restored on the earth again, and the blessings poured out on us by serving therein.  I love our prophets and apostles and leaders of the church.  As I interact with our local leaders, they constantly amaze me with their goodness toward all.  They make me want to be better.  I love seeing the members of the church and missionaries from so many countries and I am glad to be one with them.  I have seen the most remarkable young people that are going out to serve as missionaries lately.  It brings me to tears.

It's so great to have Easter too! We colored eggs and had the egg hunt.  The kids had a small basket this year with a new book each, a chocolate bunny and a homemade rice krispy treat made into the shape of a nest with some jelly beans in it.  It was plenty.  My treat this year was Jordan almonds which I love and a clean house finally after all our trips, and a walk and long talk with my good man.  The kids all seemed to like their books.  Sam just came and told me, "Mom, I really like my book.  I wish were reading this one in school."  They are studying the civil war in depth right now and will be doing a play at the end of the school year.

Now, on to food.  This is one of my favorite meals.  Pat makes the falafels, and I make the rice, sauce, and salad.  The salad is cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro, mint and a bit of lemon juice and salt.

The sauce is 1 part mayo, 1 part sour cream, some pickle juice or lemon juice to thin it, cilantro, and feta cheese bits.  We normally put this all in a pita with the rice on the side, but we had no pita bread, so there's a piece of naan.  This would make a good salad.  On a bed of lettuce put the tomato salad, then top with the dressing and the falafels on top.  For the falafels we just buy a mix at the store and follow the directions.  I've tried making my own but they take gobs of time and fall apart.  Pat makes the falafels since they require frying and I hate frying.

Our latest Home Depot excursion early Saturday morning.  We love these. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring Break 2015

Pat was going on a campout during spring break with his scouts.  Therefore taking off two days of work.  Therefore can't take off work to spend time with his OWN family.  So I decided to show him... by locking myself up in a car with my kids for three days on our OWN trip.  Take that! 

I wasn't really mad, and I am perfectly happy sitting at home, but just felt like we needed to get out and do SOMETHING memorable.   So we went to Arizona for the first half of the week, and Pat went to White Sands for the second half.  He got home this afternoon finally, and we're so glad it's Conference weekend so we can relax together finally!

Here's some of the scouts at White Sands New Mexico.  They had a great time!

And here are way too many pictures of our trip to Arizona.  There was no shortage of trains to Charlie's delight.
Do-Do Tain!
And no shortage of big beautiful skies and landscape.  Dallas took all these pictures.

I finally found the Indian jewelry store that I had lost.  It's called Chaco Canyon Trading Company off the Milan exit about 1hr 45min away from my house.  It's just a lame gas stop but the jewelry is more abundant and prettier than any I've seen anywhere.  The cost is lower also since it's by the reservation where it's made.  Much of it is then sent to Santa Fe and all over the country.  The gallery is huge and all the jewelry is arranged by color in sectioned off areas.   You can also watch people making the jewelry. 

Including this one.  Grrr....

We stopped at the store on the way and I let everyone pick out a snack to take on the trip.  I was proud of us!  Pickles, Cheese Sticks, Grapes, Animal Crackers, Roasted Edamame, French Bread, Oranges, and Bananas.  We pretty much got the same things on the way home too.  Nice car lunch!  I HATE fast food, but unfortunately, that's all we could ever find come dinner times.  Bleh.  Bleh. Bleh.  Tastes good going in, feels so gross immediately afterward.  Fast food.  Maybe it's called that because you're better off fasting.

We stopped at this shop where they had hundreds of things made from wood.  We want the huge wagon wheel 6 seater rocking chair!

Hotel pool was closed.  SUCH a bummer.  But this huge hot tub was open.  Yea!!

Sam and Evan.  Best of friends in the back seat.

Went to a train place in Scottsdale, AZ.  Scottsdale is gorgeous, and the kids loved it.  They got to ride on the Merry Go Round and a small train.

On the small train.

They had a fantastic park, but Charles and Leia just wanted to play in the sand. 
Then we went to a kids museum in Phoenix that was free for us since it's related to our museum membership here.  It was okay.  Glad I didn't have to pay.  All of us are in this picture.  It had these cool robots that weren't real that you could move around, kick around, whatever.
After that, we realized it was really HOT outside! 
Time to get ice-cream!  Charle had to completely change his clothes after this.  Leia too.  The boys their shirts.  Okay, my shirt too!  It was melting so fast!  Arizona is hot.

Then we went to Mesa to the temple to get seats for the Easter Pageant.  It was really nice.  Only wish the sound hadn't been pre-recorded.  It seems more from the heart if people do their own talking and singing.  The dancing was terrific.  And no one knew if we were supposed to clap or not throughout.   Charlie's favorite part was the airplanes that passed overhead continuously heading for a nearby airport.  There were also lots of helicopters.

Amongst the flowers at the beautiful Mesa Arizona Temple.
One of my favorite paintings.

The stage was HUGE, and there must have been thousands of people there, but my phone died after this picture.  Here we are in our seats next to the sound tent.   Before it started, the actors walked around meeting people and even brought their animals!  Leia and Charles were fascinated with the sheep! There were about 500 actors and they did an amazing job.  Especially considering they are all just members of the church volunteering their time.  I couldn't believe it.
We were up late that night because our hotel was in Payson AZ, so we had to drive for more than an hour, not getting back until 11:30pm.  (12:30 NM time).  So we were exhausted.  The next morning, we slept in, enjoyed the complimentary breakfast (the kids love that) and swam once more before beginning the looong drive home.  It was only about 6 hours, but there were several traffic holdups that added another hour. 

Dallas was the one person in our family that got to go on BOTH trips.  He passed out after he got home today from White Sands.  *smile* 
We're glad we got to do something fun this week for relatively cheap.  Our friend got us a deal at an inexpensive hotel chain he works for.  Dallas cleaned out my car and helped pack everything.  The kids were so helpful and good.  The only time we had trouble was waiting the three hours for the pageant to start.  We are so thankful to be home and safe.