Saturday, November 28, 2009

Reflections on Joyful Journeys - Salt Lake City

December is definitely the month for reflection on the passing year...and though I might be a couple of weeks early, I thought I'd start looking back at some of my joyful journeys!

In April, Mom and I traveled to Salt Lake City. It was an early Mother's Day Trip - a tradition we began last year when we went to Vancouver. (We went earlier this year because she wanted to make sure she'd be home for the arrival of grandbaby #8!) We'd been to Salt Lake many times before, but this was still an exciting trip because it was Mom's first time to attend General Conference live!

The trip was a wonderful experience and we experienced so many blessings! First, a friend emailed me about an amazing seat sale for our flight ($491 total for BOTH our tickets!), then we were able to book tickets at the Plaza at Temple Square (which we later learned was usually booked solid before for Conference!), then we were able to rent a car for less than $50 for the entire trip!

It was so great to be in Salt Lake City again! I love the mountains, Temple Square, the wide streets, and (though some may call me crazy) driving on the freeways!

One of my favorite views of the Salt Lake Temple - from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building!

Another blessing - being able to connect (via Facebook) a couple of months before the trip, with a long-lost friend who'd served a full-time mission here over 20 years ago! She was one of the sisters who had taught one of my Lolas the gospel, which resulted in her baptism! We met B and her husband M at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for a wonderful lunch! The best part was that even though the years had gone by, the bonds of friendship were still strong!

Mom with B & M at our lunch in the JSMB! We had so much fun! It was hard to believe it had been over 20 years since we last saw them!

We attended the Saturday morning session in the Tabernacle - a marvelous work and a wonder of a building! Maybe I was being a bit fanciful, but I thought about the past prophets who'd spoken from that historic pulpit, from Brigham Young to Gordon B. Hinckley...and how the echo of their voices could still be heard resounding there, if one listened hard enough!

We had tickets to the Conference Center for the Saturday afternoon session, and were able to find friends from home to sit with in that amazing throng of people! Oh what an experience to be in that marvelous and wonderful building! To sit in the presence of the Lord's chosen leaders, the prophet and apostles; to listen to their wise and inspired counsel, and to feel the Spirit was such a blessing!

We watched the huge crowds leaving the Conference Center after the Saturday morning session, while eating lunch in our hotel room!

Saturday evening we went for dinner with some friends from home who were also in SLC for Conference! We went to Tucanos Brazilian Grill (highly recommended by P.B.), and found a new reason to love Salt Lake City! It was an amazing restaurant - the Brazilian lemonade, the HUGE salad bar, the 17 different types of rotisserie meats, and of course, the PINEAPPLE! We had such a fun time! I've promised Joc, who'd just gotten her mission call then, that we'd go back to celebrate her mission homecoming!

After another great session in the Tabernacle on Sunday morning, mom and I hit the freeway and headed for Logan! We went to visit the O family! We were able to watch the last session in their home, and have a very nice dinner together. They used to live down the street from us, and are pretty much family, so it was wonderful to spend time together, and hard to say

Then again, I think the best blessing, the JOY that comes from knowing the gospel is knowing that "it's never goodbye" when it comes to friends and family in the church! No matter the physical distances between us, and no matter how long it's been between contacts, we can know that there is always JOY in the reunion!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mr. "Stick-to-itiveness"

I just realized that I haven't done a November birthday tribute for my brother Eph! Growing up, he and I were very different in personality and temperament! He was always the shy, quiet, no-desire-to-be-in-the-spotlight brother. Any of his free time was often spent sketching and drawing on whatever piece of paper he could find. His favorite subject? Spiderman. He kept working on and developing his talent until now, I'm certain, his artwork is worthy of a comic book cover! He achieved a 100% mark for his Grade 12 Art class, and so impressed his teacher that the teacher handmade a special award just for Eph! That's one of the things I admire most about this brother of mine, his "stick-to-itiveness" until the job is done, and done right.

He was the first member of our family to serve as a full time missionary! He served for two years in California, and came back assertive and confident - bye, bye shy and quiet! He was a good example for me to follow when I left for my mission 5 months after he came home!

He is now a great husband and dad, and though it was definitely not easy, went back to university to complete a 5-year double degree course! He is now in his 2nd year of teaching high school full-time!

I'm very proud to call myself his sister, and am thankful for all he brings to our family!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Indigo Books, Strawberries & Cream Frappuccino...a fun tradition!

I spent a great day with my niece Belle on Monday! We continued the tradition which we'd started last year to celebrate her birthday. We went for lunch, browsed to our hearts' content at our favorite store - Indigo Books, and finished it off with some treats from Starbucks!

It's hard for me to believe that she is now twelve years old! Wasn't it just the other day that I marveled at the soft, sweet-smelling, round bundle as she was placed into my first-time-auntie arms?! (Cue music to "Sunrise, Sunset"...) Now she is almost as tall as I am! However, she is still a marvel to me! She is becoming a well-rounded young woman as she develops her skills and abilities in many pursuits! She is learning to play piano and flute, she swims and likes long distance running, she has a voracious appetite for reading, and has received awards for her academic prowess at school! She is also eager to get going in her Personal Progress program, and has already finished one value experience! Way to go!

She is soft spoken - though the speed at which she speaks has increased a lot! She is a kind and thoughtful older sister to Tori and Ethan. She is a joy and blessing to our family!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thirty days hath September...

...and quite a few of those days are family members' birthdays! Here are the tributes!

September 1 - Kelly, another one of the women brave enough to marry one of my brothers! Hahaha! She has a big heart, is a great mom to Emma, Eden, and Teo, and impresses me with the fact that she's tough enough to take on "Captain America" a.k.a. James! I also like that she never forgets that it's Taco Tuesday!
September 4 - Emma! Wonderful, kind, thoughtful Emma! I can't believe that this niece of mine is already 11! She is so fun to have around! Eden and Teo are so lucky to have her for a big sister! She's into the Jonas Brothers, loves singing Taylor Swift songs, and is reading the Twilight saga (which I have yet to attempt!). She also loves watching hockey with her dad, and especially cheering on her favorite Calgary Flames!
September 8 - Teo is a year old! Yes, he is as adorable in real life as in this picture! He is also very smart...he knows how to sign "more", "please", and "thank you"! His mom taught him how, and we hope he won't forget when he starts speaking! He loves to give kisses and his smiles light up the room!

September 24 - My first SIL, Jenn! She and Eph have been married for almost 15 years! Amazing! I still kinda regret not being at the wedding (though I had a really good excuse!). I admire how organized she is - in spite of having a bunch of kids running around her house all week - her own and the ones she looks after, her house is almost always neat and tidy! I'll have to ask her her secret one of these days!

September 6 - My one and only Dad! I see so much of him in me - and not just when I look in a mirror! I know that my love for reading, sports, history, and war movies came from watching, learning from, and spending time with him! He's also been a great example of hard work and sacrifice! Most of all, there is no question whatsoever in my mind that he LOVES his family, and his greatest JOY is spending time with all of us!

September 19 - My WONDERFUL Mom! This amazing woman has been one of the best blessings in my life! I don't know if I will ever be able to describe the gratitude I feel that she is my mom! She is my best friend, my inspiration, my confidante, and my biggest fan! She has taught me the lessons that have helped me most in my life. She is truly the heart of our family!

Those are only the birthdays of immediate family members! I also have an aunt, and uncle whose birthdays are in September! I often wondered why September is such a popular month for birthdays...and then a wise friend of mine said, "because it's nine months after Christmas!" Hahaha! I guess she should know, her birthday is Sept. 25th! :D

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

It has been far too long since I last posted! I could start offering excuses of poor time management, or just plain old laziness, but instead I'm just going to begin posting again, right now!

I think that this renewed resolve to blog stems from something that happened the other day...I bought new refill pages for my planner. As I was replacing the old, worn, written and doodled-on pages with the crisp and clean new ones, I couldn't help but stop and browse through the old ones. As I started reading the notes on the pages, I realized that I held a treasure trove of memories in my hands! Time goes by so quickly (hence the title quotation!) and somehow along the way, I'd forgotten to look around! I'd become so focused on the "here and now" that my perspective had become very narrow and small! It's almost as if the things I'd been doing had become a "checklist" and my sense of accomplishment had come from getting the many items checked off! I'd started this blog to help me to find and recognize Joy in the Journey, and instead had gotten wrapped up in getting from Point A to Point B, that I'd forgotten the purpose!

Well, I can't go back, but I can look back and share some of my thoughts and feelings about joys in my recent journeys! Here I go...

It looks as if my last post was about my brand new nephew, Nico! He is now 6 months old, and definitely a joy in my life! I love to see him smile!

I've also missed some birthday tributes along the way, so here they are!

May 20 - My SIL May! She is married to Bob, and mom to Brooklyn and Nico! And if that wasn't accomplishment enough, she's a dental hygienist too! She's great and I'm glad she's in our family!

July 19 - Brooklyn is now 2! She is constantly a source of amazment and laughter for me! She has an impressive vocabulary, and I love how she finds everything "beautiful and fantastic"! We share a love for songs from "Beauty & the Beast" - she knows a lot of the words! When the scriptures talk about needing to be child-like to be worthy of heaven, I know they're talking about being like Brooklyn!

August 11 - My cousin Ethel has been in Canada for almost 3 years now! She has applied for her permanent resident status, and is now working with us in the family business. She's not as shy as she was upon arrival, and can now give as good as she gets when being teased by Bob!

I'll continue the birthday tributes in a new post, as the month of September is the busiest month of the year for birthdays in our family!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bundle of JOY!

I just wanted to post that I have become an aunt for the EIGHTH time! My new and utterly adorable nephew, Nico, was born yesterday! I got to meet the handsome guy tonight, and he's perfect! I thought about a quotation I once came across would be entirely apropos,

"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on." - Carl Sandburg.

I completely agree, and add another one,

"Every child born into the world is a new thought of God, an ever fresh and radiant possibility." - Kate Douglas Wiggin

I'm looking forward to the new adventures of Nico!

P.S. I can't believe it's been a month since my last post! Wow! Time flies!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine...I mean, Energizer Bunny!

We were worried when she was going through her "terrorist two's" ("terrible" was NOT accurate enough)! I am pleased to report that she has mellowed a bit. She is so full of energy and if there were some way to harness it, she'd light up a city block by herself! She loves to sing, and makes up her own original "songs" - music and lyrics! She also loves to dance! Her hobbies include collecting "princess shoes" (of which she has at least 9 pairs - I don't think I own 9 pairs of real shoes), and fashion accessories, including a tiara! I love that she has been blessed with a great imagination, and love for telling stories! Life is full of surprises and excitement with this wonderful little gal around! Happy 6th Birthday to my niece Eden!