Happiest place on earth


Words will have to come another day. But for now I’ll just say I hope I never grow so old that Disneyland doesn’t make me scream at Thunder Mountain, get giddy over Indiana Jones, giggle at Goofy, and take the racing portion of Radiator Springs Racing VERY seriously.

Also, sunshine IS good for the soul!

apple – tree


Yeah. I know that most girls are horrified at the thought they are somehow like their mothers (so shhh. Don’t tell!), but I found this throwback while sifting through some old photos and couldn’t resist the side-by-side! I totally stole the other photo off Facebook ages ago and it’s what I see every time my daughter calls me on the phone. Because I love everything about it. And unlike the photo of me, which is so staged. This one is so real. And so very much Lindsay.

We share a lot of similar characteristics and maybe that’s what makes us butt heads now and then. But I admire her heart and her strength and her sense of self. I also love her energy and the way she goes after the things she loves to do. It’s a wild ride with a bit of sass but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

of good report

One of the great things about having kids is that your family expands exponentially when they start bringing home friends. I love having them in my home. They make me laugh. Sometimes they make me cry. They bring this wonderful energy into our lives. And we love them like they were our own.

Here are a couple of great things some of our favorite “adopted” kids are doing right now. It’s so great to see them take a chance, really go after something the want and love, and make it happen. I wish them the best success!


Finding rainbows

taste the rainbow

I love walking across the ramp every morning. Today was a little eerie because the fleet was all locked up tightly in the hangar due to expected high winds. (Undesired lift can get a little crazy.) But generally the quiet days are the best.

I also love a good storm. I was at peace bracing for it as I walked along, appreciating the darkening clouds. Then I saw it! A subtle hint of a rainbow. Can you see it? Just to the right of the tower. I quickly snapped a shot of it and then hurried to my office.

Before too long I was mired in the seemingly impossible challenges of a particular project, whose details don’t matter. And then I got word of a young friend of mine whose four young children lost their father unexpectedly last night. Suddenly the day darkened, as I couldn’t get her and her family out of my mind. I felt the darkness of their hour and the weight of sorrow on my heart all through the day. I feel it still.

But I keep coming back to that rainbow. I remembered how during the darkest days of this past year there was always a rainbow, a sunset, a perfect (in the good sense of the word) storm, or heartfelt encouraging words from a friend reaching out at just the right time. A hint of light against the darkness. Even when I had to look for it.

I hope my friend and her family will see rays of hope, in whatever form they take. And that light will cut through even their darkest days.

Love story

Jeff and Melody

Once upon a time through the miracle that is summer vacations at your aunt’s house in Wisconsin, a boy fell in love with a girl. And she fell in deep friendship with him. But he was so in love he actually laminated her wallet-sized school picture and carried it around in his wallet for ages.

Their lives moved apart fall after fall and then back together summer after summer until they grew up and married other people and went their separate ways.

Those separate ways were full of beauty and full of joy, but also fraught with trials and sadness and loneliness and divorce and single parenthood.

Then one day, the now grown-man was moving some boxes in his garage. One box flapped open and there was that laminated wallet-sized school photo of his first love.

And he thought to himself, in this day of the Internets, maybe I should find this girl.

And so he did.

I still remember the first time I met Jeff. He was walking up the stairs as they came to pick up Melody’s granddaughter, who ended up at my house when her little brother ended up in the emergency room with a broken arm. Jeff’s whole being exuded kindness. Right then and there my heart silently consented for him to marry one of my best friends.

Long story short, just last month, Melody and Jeff got married. And they are just getting started putting the happy in happily ever after.

And I think that’s the point. This mortal life is fraught with trials. We tell each other – particularly people who are alone – to just hang on, everything will work out in the next life (and it will – I know it!). But isn’t it so beautiful and so hopeful to know that sometimes you don’t have to wait until the next life?

filling holes

[I need to write. I don't expect anyone to read this. I still don't understand how anyone has time to read blogs anymore. This is simply my attempt to get back up on that horse. NaBloPoMo seemed like a good excuse to try.]

This has been a year for losing and missing people. It’s still too soon to write about losing my mother. Except to say it’s not a thing you can begin to understand until you experience it yourself. (Which I don’t wish on anyone.) And that one of the things you will realize after she’s gone (despite how complex your relationship may have been at times) is that one of the best things about your mother is that she is the one person in your life who will care about the things no one else cares about simply because you care about them.

A good friend, colleague and mentor moved across the country. I was ghosted by one of my closest friends. Another of my closest friends moved to Texas. And another of my closest friends found and married the love of her life. (Which, on some days, feels as far away as Texas.) And so on… Yes, I am blessed to have that many close friends. But that only made me feel the distances between us more acutely.

The context of that kind of loss in such a short time throws the best thing that happened this year into sharp relief. Namely this little guy:

His name is James. He is sweetness personified. Until he was born I could not have imagined or believed how instantaneously one could fall so deeply in love with a child born to another mother, but that’s part of the beauty of becoming a grandmother.

And the moment I saw him – as his father (my oldest son) held him up to the corner window of the OR – my heart began to heal.


Tonight as Lindsay was heading off to scuba diving class I pondered over one of my favorite qualities of hers. She is fearless. That doesn’t mean she isn’t hesitant about certain things, but it’s a quality I’ve admired and observed in her for quite sometime and it’s most often displayed in her love of the outdoors and sports and recreation.

I remember when, as a little girl, Lindsay reached up with her bare hand and snagged an over-the-fence home run at her big brother’s Little League game. I realized then she is not afraid of the ball and it was an aspect of her athleticism I enjoyed watching through a few seasons playing goalie in soccer and many years playing centerfield in softball. I see it now as she embraces new sports – rock climbing and scuba diving – this year. She goes after her passions even when it means jumping right in to a class full of strangers or climbing with someone she doesn’t know just for the love of the climb.

My other kids are fearless in many ways as well. Luke, already to graduate with a degree in civil engineering, feels the call to serve as a seminary teacher and shares his most precious thoughts will rooms full of teenagers. Zack, who is also fearless in his outdoor recreation hurls himself down rapids all summer and spent an entire semester taking all his classes in Arabic in the Middle East. And I’ll never forget watching Kyle as he diplomatically offered to help an older gentleman who was volunteering as a blacksmith in the Pioneer Village when Kyle knew something he didn’t, but needed to know in order to finish his demonstration. Or the day Kyle spent an entire day in a real Smith’s forge with a class full of adults all for the love of creating something out of molten metal.

I’m grateful for the blessing of watching my children grow up bravely in a world that teaches us to be afraid. I hope their fearlessness serves them well. It certainly takes them places I would never have imagined. Good for them!

Finding words

MomDuring my time with Mom I’ve been having fun going through the shoebox full of old photographs while she’s resting

I stopped writing the day my mother confided to me that she knew her time was short. I knew the truth of her words. It’s not that there were no longer stories to tell, it just became harder to find the right words. And easier to retreat from the reality in the moments it wasn’t staring you down in the face, rather than dig a little deeper into the raw to tell it like it really is.

It became easier to tell the story in pictures (Thanks Instagram), but memory is often fleeting for me and those still-frames in my mind will fade along with the photographs unless I find my words. I need to record some of the bitter as well as the sweet. Lest I forget.

So I will try to find the right words to paint the moments that strike me to the heart throughout this journey.

They won’t be in any particular order – maybe I’ll sort it out later. Maybe I won’t.

I’m standing at her fridge, helping her find room in her freezer for the groceries I just picked up for her after work. Marie Calendar frozen dinners (Mongolian Beef, Turkey Pot Pie, etc). and another year’s supply of Häagen-Dazs (white chocolate raspberry truffle, vanilla swiss almond, milk chocolate almond covered ice cream bars) and Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. (note to self: write Häagen-Dazs a thank you note. She came to love you late, but I’m pretty sure you added months of quality and life to her shortened time here as your ice cream became the one thing that always sounded good to her.)

She mentioned her obituary, which I had offered at the middle of the summer to write for her. Her words caught in her throat and tears welled up in her usually sparkling eyes,

“I feel my time is running out.”

Sensing her fear for the first time at this stage of the battle – she has fought bravely and stoically this whole time – I looked her in the eyes.

“You will not go this alone. And there will be a sweet reunion. I know this.”

“I will have to trust your knowing.”

I hugged her, no longer able to fight back my own tears.

“You have been holding this in. You don’t need to carry this alone. We are here for you. You need to talk to us.”

“I’m not holding it in.”

“Look me in the eyes. You are holding this in.”

I hugged her again, then we turned back to fitting the Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars into the packed freezer. It was easier to move on.

Last Friday the hospice nurse brought up the hospital bed. There was resistance. She knows what that means. We know what that means as well. It’s time for round-the-clock care. Her sister, my Aunt Jean, has been there this week. My SIL D’Dee and I schedule the weekend until my sister, Jayne Anne is set to arrive Wednesday. D’Dee and I tag team the weekend until I get sick and D’Dee has to go solo.

Häagen-DazD’Dee sends a fuzzy cell phone picture of Mom with her ice cream (which she was still holding when she later fell asleep)


“I am amazed at how things come together. Ready or not, here it comes.”


(note to self: someday recount the game of telephone that was played as we tried to run interference for Mom to reduce the number of incoming texts and calls that were overwhelming her. Nurses orders: reduce stimulus, help her simplify her life.)

As Saturday night draws late and Sunday morning draws near, ideas pop into my head of ways we can simplify and shorten Mom’s bedtime routine – both for her and for her caregivers. Sunday morning is the first fall. Mom’s legs gave out from under her. It’s a good thing she still has some upper body strength, because I can barely get her upright again. I couldn’t have done it if she weren’t helping. First I say a prayer of thanks I was here – falls have been our worst fear, particularly as Mom has insisted she continue living in her home alone. Next I wonder what I would have done had she not been able to help a little. I wonder what D’Dee would have done if Mom had fallen on her watch. “We need a short list of neighbors we could call,” I think to myself. We take the door off the bathroom. I run home long enough to shower and find a ward I can join long enough to take the sacrament and then head back out to Mom’s. Until D’Dee comes to take the night shift. Later that night I realize I’m coming down with something. Worst possible time. We’ve only just begun and things are about to get more difficult. I do everything in my power to fight it. Monday morning there is another fall. The hospital bed becomes mandatory and a wheelchair is recommended. Resistance is futile. Hard reality checks are coming by the day now. Both are delivered on Tuesday.

Acceptance juxtaposed with denial. Mom talks freely and specifically about her wishes for “after.” Yet says things like “My drivers license expires on my birthday (Jan 31, 2015). I hope the swelling in my cheeks goes down before I have to get my picture taken.” and worries over whether she canceled the long-term health policy too soon (warning – read the small print. Waiting through 90 days of helplessness before becoming eligible for the help you’ve been paying for isn’t so helpful with cancer). Sad truth, she doesn’t have three months. We are down to weeks. Even as I type this and knowing what I’ve witnessed this week, it is difficult to accept.

Week before last (out of order, I know) my SIL told me Mom said, “I hope I make it until Christmas. I would really like to have some carrot (steamed) pudding Dalene makes every year.” That Saturday I let go of some of the cleaning and took the time to mix up a batch. She was on bedrest that weekend due to the fluid seeping out of her swollen legs and D’Dee and I were taking her meals in.

Shirley'sPhotobombed by my friend and foundation, lady Timpanogos who was brilliant at such an early hour

Yesterday I got up and dragged my still-sick self to Shirley’s bakery at 6:45 am. Thanksgiving dinner at Mom’s is a go and since I am sick I won’t be baking pies, but have been assigned to bring the rolls. Shirley’s are not only the best, they are Mom’s favorite. But I found out Tuesday afternoon that you have to start ordering them in October and they stopped taking orders three weeks ago. First come first served when the doors open at 7. There is already a line when I arrive well before 7. Bug hugs and special love for the sweet beautiful woman – younger than I – who shed a tear for my mom and hers (whose last Thanksgiving was last Thanksgiving) as we shared a tiny piece of our stories while we stood in line together. And for the kind woman ahead of us who lost her dad this past year. The consensus “Holidays are hard.” I love a stranger who will share a piece of her soul with me.

That’s enough for today. Except two images I wish never to forget. One I caught the after effects on camera, the other I did not, so I rely on memory. There is nothing like watching the process of going from the blank look of surprise, to recognition, and then the mixture of tears and a big joyful smile as a loved one surprises Mom with a visit. This spring it was Aunt Jean, who braved the long solo trip from her mission in Hong Kong to see my Mom at a time we were afraid she wouldn’t make it until Jean came home in June. She has fought hard and long past June and continued to surpise us all with her strength. Then again last late November night as my baby brother and his family walked in after driving straight here from Idaho. Pure joy. Families are forever!


I can’t write about it now. Or yet. But this year has seen its share of pain and sorrow as well as its moments of grace and beauty. And the worst is yet to come. In the midst of it all, there have been prayers for peace and comfort and courage. And there have been angels tending to us. Here is one of my mother’s angels. Carols became her angel while taking care of his own dear mother. He recently lost his mother, but still finds the time to look after mine. He has brought light and love and warmth to her life during what could have been a dark and lonely time. Words are inadequate to express our gratitude. When I try, he simply insists the pleasure has been his.


virtuous, lovely, and of good report

If you know me at all, you will know I am, by nature, a little bit snarky. Back in the day before the word “snark” was coined, my dad used to tell me I was a smart aleck. To which I would retort, “That’s better than being a dumb aleck.”

Somewhere over the ages and while social media went viral, I began to reach my snark saturation. I still appreciate clever and slightly irreverent, but the edge of the snark grew mean and the Internet became permeated with mean and I was just done.

At one point I thought of just being done, done. But I’ve had too many sweet experiences and I am connected to too many people I love to pull the plug. So I just decided to try ["try" is the operative word here] to keep one thing in mind. The admonition of Paul, as expressed in the 13th Article of Faith: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” I fell in love with Instagram for that very reason. It was a nice, possibly wordless venue on which to share whatever that day had struck me as particularly lovely or of good report. I grasped on to the #thingsthatmakemehappy hashtag and had at it. The subjects are generally simple. There might be clouds, a river trail, or even planes involved. Whatever it is, it is something that caught my eye and bid me to take a moment to capture it and remember.

So today here is a little glimpse into one of the things I found lovely in the world of late. Despite the mean and hateful and hurtful, there is beauty all around. It testifies of God’s love for us. And it gives me something to celebrate on even the bleakest day. For that I will forever be grateful. I am often heard whispering aloud as I frame the subject in the camera to snap the photo, “Thank you, God, for this beautiful world.”

lovely and of good report