Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Great Storm

I live on the gulf coast.
Hurricane season, emergency preparations and tropical storms are a normal part of our summers.
Hurricane Ike will always be etched in my memory..
But not so much because of it's fury.
September 2008.
It hit Galveston with a wallop.
It wasn't the most powerful storm but it caused major damage. had this to say about Ike.
"Ike was a huge hurricane. Its tropical storm force wind field extended exceeded that of Katrina. In the central Gulf of Mexico, winds of tropical storm force or greater extended out 275 miles from the center. Ike's effects not only were felt on the coast, but extended well inland. Wind damage and/or flooding rains followed the path of Ike into the southern Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and into New England. Rainfall totals of ten inches or more were recorded in the southern Great Lakes. Power Outages were also common from wind damage well northward into the Ohio Valley. Damage estimates are placed at $18 billion making hurricane Ike the 4th costliest hurricane to hit the U.S. An additional $4.4 billion in damage occurred in Ike's post tropical stage as it moved northeast through the Ohio Valley causing widespread wind damage."
To tell the truth.
I hardly noticed the storm and it's damage until much later.
I was dealing with a unnamed storm of my own.
and I was worried about the damage it would cause.
Ike struck on September 13.
11 days before Jack entered the mission home.
Every idea I had about the last week and a half before he left was changed.
Church and therefore his farewell were cancelled.
Last minute shopping was impossible due to store closings.
We even wondered how we would retrieve his suit that was being altered.
The shop was closed almost up to the day we flew out.
Jack would not attend the Houston Temple for his endowments.
It was closed because of the lack of electricity.
That would have to wait until the day before he entered the MTC.
His grandparents who had made arrangements to be in town for that would miss it.
Everyone kept worrying about the storm
But I was just worried about how something that was already harder than I thought possible
was made even harder.
All of these things took precedence in my mind and in my heart.
What damage would be left from my storm.
I went to Galveston about a 8 months after Ike hit.
With Precious and Miss Leezie and Peanut.
The devastation was still obvious
Buildings were still heavily damaged and there were boats strewn about
in unusual places like uncared for toys.
The streets, shops and restaurants were empty.
There was a grayness to the damage and decay.
It was if the color was sucked out.
and I realized how much Ike had really cost the city of Galveston.
For the first time I felt a little bad about being so focused on my own "storm"
I wondered how the people of Galveston would make it.
The city seemed so forlorn.
I still felt a little lost myself.

Today I went to Galveston.
With Precious, Baby Davy, his daughter and my Mom and Dad.
I brought my camera to chronicle our adventure.
But what really captured my attention was
Beautiful Galveston.
It is being reborn.
My mom and dad showed us row upon row of houses that have been restored.
New trim and paint made everything looks so fresh and clean
Bright vivid happy colors....
Lush plants and plentiful flowers.

And they are even making something positive from the damage.
There were many beautiful old trees that were lost to the storm.
Years and years of growth wiped away in a matter of hours.
Only stumps remaining.
Instead of mourning what was lost....
they made it into something of beauty and whimsy.
Kinda a "take that Ike"
You can't keep us down.
And my personal favorite....
Galveston has never looked better.
Maybe storms both named and unnamed really do make us better.
Maybe when we are broken down into pieces we find the strength to make things better than before.
In the Bible it says that God told Adam that the land would be cursed for his sake.
I always read that to mean that because Adam and Eve had goofed up that it was going to be hard.
Real hard.
I never thought that the curse on the land was to help them to grow.
Grow because it was hard.
And hard things bring growth and rebirth.

It has been almost two years since September 2008...
Galveston looks and feels better
at least from what I can see.
I think I do too.

I think they look pretty darn good too!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Day after Father's Day

This is one of my favorite pictures of my Dad.
While the photographer was trying to take a picture of Raar and Ninja,
he jumped in at the last minute.
Classic Dad (as evidenced by the look on Raar's face)
He is a big tease.
A perennial little boy at heart.
Peter Pan syndrome at it's finest and yet
A man of great strength and conviction
And I have learned much from his example.
A devoted husband. A husband who took his wife out every Friday night on a date and always made sure that he told her that she was the most beautiful woman in the world.  I think it was President Gordon B. Hinckley that said that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother..and he does.
A father that always provided for his children.
A careful money manager that made sure that all of our physical needs were met and that we learned how to make wise choices with our resources.
Always supporting our interests, never missing a concert, assembly or performance and carrying on that tradition with his grandchildren.
A faithful servant in the gospel. He served and continues to serve where ever he is called. From scout master to bishop....from seminary teacher to senior missionary. No calling was rejected and no meeting unattended. I never heard him complain about the time and effort it took to be a faithful member of the church.
A lover of adventure...He is the most active seeker of fun that I know. Traveling the world or his own back yard he seeks out whatever of interest a city has to offer. From walking on the Great Wall of China or attending a local art festival he is like the Energizer bunny...he keeps going and going. I have learned from him to never be bored, there is just no excuse for it.
A man of action
Always be first in line.
To him the early bird ALWAYS catches the worm whether the worm is good seats at a show,  a hot scone at the Swiss days festival, or a plane to catch.
A man who took pictures.  His love of photography and good eye for a picture were passed down to me. I treasure the images of my youth that he captured during a time where too many photos were considered a waste of money. They are priceless to me.
A man who dances. His "try anything once" attitude and his lack of being embarrassed. He doesn't mind that he has been told that he can't dance or sing. He does it anyway. Why should he give up things that he enjoys because of others opinions. I try and remember that when I worry about public opinion.
A man who is always on the move. Whether playing tennis, skiing, hiking he has been example to a couch potato daughter that getting up and moving is always the best thing. And it never hurts to do it in style.
A lover of cards and games. I learned how to play hearts and always keep count of what has been played. His competitive nature only made me desire to learn how I could win.
He called me today.
To tell me that he found a CD I had made for him
Eight years ago for his anniversary.
He just wanted me to know that he had forgotten how much he enjoyed it
and how creative I was.
And what a good daughter I was.
So Dad.....
right back atcha.
I love you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Who wants to go on a Road Trip?

I love road trips.
Most people consider me crazy when I say that we are taking a vacation that is across the country and
we are driving.
In fact they almost always say first,
"You're flying....right?"
There is a feeling that comes from being on the open road
that is like no other for me.
My earliest childhood memories are being in a car
I have delicious memories of drifting to sleep with the hum of the engine, the low whispers of my parents in conversation, even my sweaty little legs sticking to the vinyl seats leaving the imprint of their geometric patterns.
The special bag of snacks purchased with "trip money", literally hush money from my parents, carefully selected at the local drugstore.
Each candy chosen for their unique abilities and value.
Penny candy because it could be purchased in quantity.
Jolly Rancher sticks because they lasted and could be savored. Their unique ability to be sucked into shapes like a sword or a sharp stick to poke your unsuspecting seat neighbor.
Wax bottles filled with an unpalatable liquid that was drunk quickly so that the wax could be used for fun. Chewed and softened in our mouths and molded into shapes; balls and sticks. For at least a few years. a retainer because I thought they were cool.
The strip of candy dots that were always so beautifully inviting but never satisfying when you tore them off and were left with a small spot of candy and larger amount of paper to try and digest.
Candy necklaces that could be worn and nibbled at,  leaving sticky sugar on your neck and fingers.
Smarties that were separated and savored slowly as I imagined each color a special pill that each possessed a different super power.
And a little bit of the good stuff...a candy bar or two that was usually gone by the first morning.
There were the moments of quiet when the siblings were asleep and I would stare out the windows mesmerized by the passing fields of corn or uniformly planted, so precise as they seemed to cascade by me like a movie in an old fashioned projector. I would see a farm house in the distance and try to imagine what they were doing inside and images cultivated from my love of the Little House series of books would fill my mind with possibilities.
There were times of singing. My mother repeating the songs of her youth to us. Her soothing voice coupled with my father's booming, eager, but tone deaf sounds, filling the car.
Little Red Schoolhouse,
Old McCluskey,
House in the middle of the woods,
Jeepers Creepers, and
Little Red Caboose.
Songs I remember and sang to my own brood, occasionally substituting a word or note accidentally.
And when my stomach was full and sleep would not come...
There was the teasing.
There was nothing better than placing your hand on the predetermined line on the seat that marked the enemies turf and extending a single, sticky pinky finger over it, waiting until it was spotted, then sitting smugly when the scream erupted,
"Mom, she's on my side!!"
And when all else failed to amuse there was the whining and complaining,
"I'm hot...turn up the AC."
"When are we going to get there?"
"When is it my turn up front?"
"Does the hotel have a swimming pool?"
"How much further?"
But my sweetest memory of all...
was knowing that my whole family,
everyone that I loved
was contained in one space.
and together.
With no easy exits.
I have hopefully passed the legacy on to my own children who will say to their
"Who wants to go on a road trip?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Final Installment of PPP

Yes I am still posting cell phone pictures.
I beg your indulgence and promise that it's most likely the last installment....
for sure,
I'm sorry.
My brain is a little mushy today.
This one is pretty self explanatory
Jack Fruit....not sure what it is or what it tastes like but anything that is named after my Elder Nerent is ok in my book.
Jack on the phone posed in front of
Jack on the phone.
Can you tell that I was the only one that thought this was clever and that Nerent is trying to be a good sport?
Mr. T and I at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Mt. T LOVES concerts.   I do not.   Mr. T LOVES Bruce Springsteen.   I do not.   Mr. T thinks that he deserves the nickname "the Boss".   I do not. (unless you want to extend it to the "boss of loud gravely voice noises"   But I do LOVE Mr. T and gave him the tickets as a Christmas present. The real present however was my presence.  FYI: When you purchase Springsteen tickets you get your money's worth. That man sang and sang and sang and sang and sang. Over three hours worth. Do you see the yellow string coming out my ears. Jewelry you ask? NO!.... ear plugs. My apologies to all you Springsteen fans out there.
Killing time at Target #1
Killing time at Target #2
Killing time at Target #3
Girls day out at The Quilted Bear. For those not acquainted with this Utah institution it is rows and rows of booths like a craft fair that are rented by individuals to sell their wares. They are not manned but are just overseen by....well....the Quilted Bear. There are some wonderful items. There is some scary stuff too. Some people should not be able to craft or own a glue gun or jigsaw.  That being said I always save room in my suitcase for the flight home for a few purchases.
Side note: They also have a little cafe inside that has some pretty good soup and giant frosted sugar cookies as big as your head. Those never even make it home.
Sometime I am just amazed by the beauty of nature. I am also amazed at the ability of a little cell phone to take a shot like this one. This is Mr. T and Peanut at a lake in the middle of the desert in the Joshua Tree National Monument. If you ever get to Southern CA I heartily recommend stopping there. It is worth the time.
Date Night with my Mr. T to the Houston Temple. Can't imagine he could look any more handsome than standing in front of this beautiful edifice reminding me that our love is eternal.
So my dear readers
is all I will post of my cell phone pictures.
Most likely
For sure.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ooops and a "Cell"fish post.

I accidentally posted my email about Elder Nerent to this blog instead of his/our missionary blog. When I went to copy and paste and delete it I decided not to. Because maybe you don't read that one and it was a story worth telling
A story about how the Lord takes care of his own.
So I left it.
Plus I like clicking on my blog and seeing his beautiful face.
But just to keep things on the light side as well...
Here are some more cell phone pics...
Just in case you needed more..
This is my 300 calorie Burger King meal. And I know how they do it. Can you believe the size of that burger. And no the camera did NOT make it look bigger like it does my face and body.  It is really THAT small. On the upside..I did enjoy the french fry shaped apple pieces. No they don't taste like fries but I pretended that they were anyway.
This is the lighthouse I was telling you about. The very first picture I took with my new cell phone with a camera. I fell in love with my new toy. It is still one of my favorite pictures. It is the Point Isabel Lighthouse in Port Isabel which is right across the bay from Padre Island, Texas. Someday I am going to travel the world taking pictures of lighthouses....but this will remain my first and favorite......well a girl can dream can't she?
This sign was outside our hotel by the postage stamp sized pool in Hermosa Beach CA. It made me laugh. I found it amusing that the first instruction was for me to tap the victim on the should and shout; "ARE YOU OK?" I want to find a way to employ that technique in all aspects of my life. I want permission to tap on a lot of people's shoulders and shout; "ARE YOU OK???" I think it might answer a lot of my questions.
This is the first home that Mr. T and I purchased. It was a happy little home and occasionally I drive by just to say hi to it. I brought 2 of my babies there straight from the hospital. They learned to ride their trikes on the inclined driveway. I want to knock on the door someday and tell the owners to look for the love notes we all left with sharpie markers on the fold away stairs that led to the attic. Even 1 year old Lauren's scribblings.
This is one of my favorite pictures EVER of my two girls. We are having lunch at ChickFilA....what a surprise!!
This is the biggest strawberry I have ever seen. That is Peanut's hand holding it....and she has a full grown adult hand. It was simply amazing and I hated to eat it.....but we did....and it was good.
Well I guess that's all for today.
If you would indulge me...
I think I have one more cell phone photo post in me.
If not..
It should be safe to come back by Friday.
Toodles my friends.

I felt like someone was pushing me....

When Jack was serving in his first area Peten,
he assured me that it was the safest place in the mission.
Being a new missionary mom, I believed him.
I felt a sense of security.
Now a year and a half later he is serving in Zone 18.
He knows that I know the stories about Zone 18.
Of course he says that he is in the "safest part" of Zone 18.
But he doesn't need to keep the truth from me to protect me.
Heavenly Father has been taking care of that job, as you can imagine,
with perfection.
I don't always receive it perfectly but that is how it is sent and
it is enough.
Yesterday when we were sending emails back and forth...
(I just "happened" to be at my computer when he sat down to a computer in the internet cafe)
He was telling me where to try and book a hotel for our Guatemala adventure in September.
He said,
"the temple is closer to our mission
zone 15 is the nicest zone
zone 14 or 9 are good ones too
zone 6 and 18 are not! lol
but i love the people there =)
in peten just make sue it´s in san benito, santa elena, or flores
flores is really nice"
To which I replied,
"hey Buster you told me that Zone 18 was SAFE. lol lol lol
Man am I a seasoned missionary mom veteran not to get stressed out about the zone you are in???
You better be safe though!!!
or else."
And then he shot back....
it´s safe.. just don't read the Guatemalan news  lol
the temple is in zone 15
it´s nice there
oh btw
i prolly wont be writing again until Tuesday
we have a service project on Monday" (I included that part for the Guat North moms whose sons are in Jack's zone. ;)
To which I replied,
if it's about the 6 severed heads found in public places...too late. your dad filled me in on that one. (I cannot imagine why he told me) But I long ago had to leave all that on the Lord's shoulders so don't worry about me worrying, I try to keep it to a minimum. Do you still feel safe and protected? If not I will try to pray harder. lol Thanks for the heads up on Tuesday.
He then said,
yeah, that's the news.
didn't happen in my area though. so don't worry. i still feel safe
I then typed back,
Just make sure that you keep your head on your shoulders and follow all of the rules and I will try to not worry.
btw you ALWAYS say your area is not the bad area....good try. But thanks for trying to protect me. lol You are a good son!
There should be a whole gang of really muscular angels surrounding you. I pray for those guys EVERY night!
Do you ever see or feel their presences?
And then he sent this short answer that made me still makes me cry when I type this. But first a little background...
When he was serving in "safe" Peten he and his companion were approached by a man who stopped his car to get out and talk to them. Jack had a bad feeling and they kept walking. The man then exited his car brandishing a machete and yelling. Jack and his companion started Now Jack has never been known for his athletic prowess but he said that he ran faster than he had ever run before. Yesterdays email answer explained why,
He said,
in peten when they were trying to kill me i did. lol
i ran faster than i had strength to run. i felt like someone was pushing me.
I know who was pushing him.
It was those angels.
They are not only big and tough they are
I spent the rest of the afternoon with a thankful heart.

Monday, June 14, 2010

PPP stands for Priceless Phone Photos

I thought I had lost my cell phone last weekend.
I had had such a busy weekend with birthdays and graduations and church that I hadn't even noticed it missing
Monday as Mr. T came home from work and
after a day spent cleaning the fridge and the pantry and no email from the Elder in Guatemala, I
proclaimed, (yes it really had a proclamation type edge to it)
I need you to take me out to dinner!
(My memory is fuzzy on whether or not I used please in the proclamation)
And I must have looked like I needed it because Mr. T just said,
"OK let's go"
(You just have to love a man that doesn't question the occasional proclamation)
That's when I noticed it missing.
I searched and searched and no cell phone.
Since I had spent the day cleaning I knew that if it was in the house I would have seen it already.
Calls from the home phone to check on it's location since it was obviously out of juice since it went straight to my voice mail;
"Hi you've reached Shell's Cell I can't talk right now but leave me a message...beep"
I wanted to scream into the phone, "Hey Dummy where did you leave your cell phone!!!"
But I didn't.
I had already had a hard enough day and I didn't want to hurt my feelings.
After a frantic search
I gave up looking and went to drown my sorrows at ChickFilA.
I even ordered waffle fries which I hadn't had in 4 months.
It didn't help.
I couldn't stop trying to remember where I was the last time that I used my cell phone.
Midway through dinner I decided that it had to have been at Peanuts graduation at the huge and cavernous Toyota Center downtown.
I felt sick because I didn't hold out hope that it would be returned. There were 5 different high schools that graduated that day and 5 more the following day. There were thousands of people that passed through that place that weekend.
Darn it! I would have to buy a new one.
Midway through my chicken sandwich I realized the really sad piece of the story;
The money was one thing but the worst part was.....
There were pictures on that cell phone that did not exist anywhere else.
Unlike the thousands upon thousands of pictures that I have taken with my real cameras these were precious and few.
Since there was always limited memory on a phone, I was selective on the pictures I snapped  and deleted only those that were not important to my existence.
For example;
Sitting in the airport waiting to fly to Utah with my son for his first year of college...the first time to live away from home and the nervous look on his face.
The award ceremony that my daughter told me she would NOT be getting an award and so I did not bring my camera.....She got two! My trusty cell phone captured the moment.
The very first picture I ever took with a cell phone of a light house in Padre Island. It was amazing to me that not only did I have a phone that I could always carry with me but NOW it took pictures! I declared it to be beautiful and technology amazing.
I couldn't believe that these images were gone.
I really felt sick.
Even my chicken sandwich dipped in Polynesian sauce brought no joy....
I went home to wallow in my sorrows.
I had one last thought on where I could look.
My chair.
(yes I have a chair that I have proclaimed is mine! Others may sit in it if they dare but we all know that it is MY chair)
I  rushed home and yanked off the cushions and was ready to plunge my hand into the dark scary bowels at it's sides where odd and disgusting items collect when Mr. T came over to help.
He tipped the chair backwards and lo and behold...
(what a knight in shining armor he was that night)
I gave Mr. T a hug.
I said a quick thanksgiving prayer
and went straight to my computer to download the pictures off of my cellphone.
Because pictures that are as precious as that should not be mobile.
So for reading my little ditty I thank you with a few images from my cell phone collection
Sit back and be prepared to be amazed. (or maybe just slightly's your call)
Mr. T decided that he would do a jigsaw puzzle on our short stay in Park City to drop Elder Nerent at the MTC. It did not seem likely that he could finish but he tried....even to just minutes before we were to catch a plane home. It was driving me crazy! I think it took him mind off difficult transitions)
Peanut and I were out shopping for the perfect homecoming dress. She wanted a headband with a flower. We found one and laughed until we cried. Opted for something just a little bit smaller.
A fun day spent with my sister Precious, Miss Leezie and Peanut on the strand in Galveston. My camera was too heavy to carry when shopping for treasures like these so out came the handy cell phone.
Pancakes at a place in Nashville that is world renown for it's different kinds of pancakes. I can't remember the name but I won't soon forget the maple pecan pancakes.
 Proof positive for my son in law that there really was such a thing as a TurDucKen which is a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a Turkey. It's really REAL!
Same said son in law who didn't believe in Turduckens with a score card after I beat him in a round of  a favorite family card game. Actually this was before he married Raar and after playing cards with us I marveled that he still was willing to join our family. Let's just say we take our card games very seriously.
My mom as "Wendy". No explanation needed I think.
Well that was fun.
Thanks for stopping by.
I think I will post some more phone photo gems tomorrow.
See you there??