Thursday, January 31, 2008

Scattered Thoughts

I just realized something new about myself: I don't handle 'the unknown' very well. (My family is, at this point, raising their eyebrows in surprise thinking, "You didn't know this before?") I've always known that I don't handle change well...I tend to plant deep roots around every single situation in my life, and I feel the pain when those roots must be cut in order for something to shift. But just recently, I've noticed that I don't even like the anticipation of change...which is what I mean by 'the unknown.' I like things to be clear, organized and I begin to stress when I see 'change' coming up over the horizon, and I get more stressed when I can't bring this change into focus...when I don't know what he will look like, what he will feel like, and most importantly what he will do to my family.

This epiphany came to me while I was driving home from a friends house late last Friday night. McKenzie was asleep in the backseat, and Carson was contently chewing away at his favorite stuffed animal, Jasper. For no good reason, I burst into tears and started thinking about what a horrible day it had been. But when I tried to nail down what was so horrible about it, I couldn't find much at all. My kids had been a little bit fussier than normal, but it was really no big deal. The only real downer of the whole day was that I only saw Brian for a few minutes during his transition from school to the church for a youth activity.

All the sudden, I saw a huge correlation between my horrible days, and the days when I know Brian will be gone until late into the night.
"Why?" I thought to myself.
I think I'm so terrified of next year, when Brian will be gone late into the night many times a week, that I panic when he has to do it now. For some reason, I feel like I have to save my patience and energy for next year. Consequently, I'm very unwilling to use it now - making days like last Friday impossible to be happy through. I don't know what to expect for next year...but the anticipation of the change that it might bring paralyzes me, and I can't function.

I have no solution at this point - - -
I understand that I shouldn't view my patience as something that has a set amount...that once it's gone I will never have more. I should, instead, think of it as something that will grow stronger with practice; and use these patience requiring opportunities now to build a strong foundation so that when I need it in large quantities next year, it will be easier to call upon.

I do fear, however, that this is much easier said than done - - -

Friday, January 25, 2008

Buying on a Whim can Sometimes be GREAT!! (Part 2)

This has turned slightly overwhelming to me: recapturing my vacation to Hawaii. So far, I've only gotten past the first sunrise - and we all know that was a slightly long post. So I'm trying to figure out what is most meaningful to me, and what will be most entertaining for you...but my filter of 'entertaining for others' is slightly off...I seem to think everything I find entertaining will be entertaining to everyone else as well. Oh dear. I guess I have the comfort in knowing that if you start to get bored, you can always skip ahead or stop reading altogether. :)

If there is anything more beautiful in Hawaii than the sunrises, it would have to be the sunsets. It's a different kind of beautiful, however, because the atmosphere is completely different. The sunrise comes at the end of tranquility - putting the calm night to bed. The sunset commands tranquility itself, but is flanked on either side by the excitement of the evening.

And a sunset wouldn't be much of a sunset to me without clouds. Without clouds, the setting sun rays would speed away into space with nothing to deter their path. It is the cloud that gives the sky it's fiery color - it is the cloud that captures my attention.

My New Favorite Animal
What a funny creature the crab is! This little guy was my companion for an hour and a half the second morning. We watched the sun come up together and, for a long while, ours were the only two footprints in the sand (...well...I suppose his were more like 'clawprints'...)! This crab strengthens my belief that God must have a sense of humor. I watched him settle down in a footprint, only to be washed up shore by the next large wave. I watched him hunker down when a runner would come by - he'd sit flat on the sand, pull his eyes down, and remain completely still until the runner was past. Then his eyes would pop back up and he'd return to play in the surf. I watched him 'be intimidating' when he was spotted by three ladies taking a morning stroll - when he knew he was spotted, he jumped up from his 'hunkered down' position, stood on the very tips of his legs and raised his body off the ground as far as he could. He jumped back and forth from one side to the other until the ladies had had enough fun and moved on. He watched them go and finally relaxed his stance with a triumphant little dance (I can't think of any words to describe it) and I laughed out loud.

The surfers and bodyboarders were out by this point, so I turned my attention to them. There were many times I laughed out loud as someone would take an exceptionally hard spill (that's my kind of humor - I could sit and watch America's Funniest Home Videos all day long!).
I zoned into my own little world, sitting there alone on the shoreline, laughing at crabs and people, slightly rocking to the song in my head (which happened to be "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid...), and running my fingers through the sand, when a small, Asian lady came up to me and said with a smile, "You enjoying dis?" I turned to look at her and she continued, "You enjoy de ocean?"
"Oh. I love the ocean." I said back
"I been up dere chanting." She pointed up the shore to a small yoga-looking mat. "You should try." She handed me a business card and said, "Chanting a good way to connect wid universe. It good for you." She started to back away to her mat.
"Oh, um. Thank you." I said
"Chanting will help you."
As she walked away, I thought about the gospel of Jesus Christ. "Naw," I thought, "I have a better way to connect with the universe." What better connection is there than knowing that God made all of this for me? That He loves me and wants me to have everything He has? I already feel a strong connection with this world because my own Father created it. I wish I would have been brave enough to speak my thoughts while she was standing next to me........maybe next time.


While my favorite things were the ocean, the sun, and the clouds, Brian's favorite things were the mountains. And what an impressive sight they were!!! From sea level to 3700 feet in less than 5 miles at some points. And they were so GREEN! Usually steep cliffs are not hospitable to vegetation - but somehow, these plants hung on! Spectacular.

Our One Full Day

We rented a car the last day we were there and drove up to the North Shore to visit my old stomping grounds. It was SO FUN to retrace my steps with my husband by my side. We visited the Laie Temple,
hiked out to Goat Island,
had some shrimp at a shrimp shack,
and finally topped it all off with some shave ice at Matsumotos! What a fun, fun day! It was especially great until we couldn't really find any showers to shower off in before we caught our 9:30 plane that night to come back to the real world. So, we had to travel with salt and sand in our hair and...other places.

I seriously, SERIOUSLY would have missed out on one of the best trips ever if I hadn't let my husband buy my ticket on a whim. What a beautiful, wonderful world we live in. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

DUKE wants to keep us!

The results are in - and it looks like we will be sticking around here for Brian's 3 years of Ophthalmology residency! Am I excited? Absolutely!

In all fairness, it wasn't our top choice...or even our second. We had ranked Duke 3rd behind Iowa and Michigan - but now that we've found out, I can honestly say that if I had it to do all over again, I would have ranked Duke at least number 2...and maybe even number 1. (Of course, I'm focusing on all the wonderful things about Durham, and all the horrible things about Iowa!) I've been surprised at how excited I am, actually. I thought I was ready for a change, but I really do love it here in Durham. I have loved it from the first day we moved here - literally. There are no sad feelings at all - there are no regrets, what ifs or (best of all) goodbyes.

I love Duke's campus;
I love the parks;

I love the trees lining the freeway;
I love berry picking;

I love the duck pond;
I love the popcorn trees;

I love that Eno Valley State Park is so close;

I love that we're close to the beach;

I love that we're close to the mountains;

But the very best thing of all - I love my wonderful friends! I wish I had pictures of everyone who has made my life here fabulous...but I do have pictures of a lot of you. :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Buying on a Whim can Sometimes be GREAT!!

Brian had his final interview this last week in Hawaii - and after some mild persuasion (from a pushy husband and some pushy friends :)), and some generous Christmas cash, I finally decided to splurge on a ticket for myself and go with him. It's funny that I needed persuasion - considering how much I love the beach - and considering how much I've wanted to go back and visit the place that I lived almost 6 years ago on that beautiful Hawaiian shore. I mean, come on, it's
Hawaii! How could I have even considered not going?! How fun it was to walk on the beach and soak in the find all those memories and share them with see the landscape and smell the air! What was I thinking?

I was thinking about money. A noble thought, indeed - I firmly believe we should live within our means - however, on the 13 hour flight to Hawaii, I read a book about a girl nobody liked because she was always so concerned about saving money. Hmmmm..... that sounded vaguely familiar..... I DO worry a lot about money. Maybe not quite as much as the girl in the book - but maybe too much, still. So, I think another new years resolution for me will be to stop fretting so much about finances. Not to spend more, per se - but to stop worrying about those uncontrollable expenses, and to treat myself every once in a while with a trip to Hawaii! (okay, maybe a nice dinner is more realistic....)

Anyway - I'm dying to share my vacation with, here we go!

After our long 17 hour travel day, we both arrived in Hawaii. We were, unfortunately, on different planes - due to the fact that I had bought my ticket about a month later than Brian bought his. But it was surprisingly relaxing to fly on a spacious plane with many extra seats to put my feet up on and no one interrupting my book-reading, journal writing splurge. As we started our descent into Honolulu, I glanced out the window and my heart leaped up into my throat in excitement. I watched for 30 minutes out that window with a big smile plastered on my face until we finally touched down on the runway. "Hawaii! I LOVE this place!" I remembered.

Brian and I rode the shoulder-to-shoulder crowded bus for an hour (with all of our luggage) to our hotel. The Marriott! Our friend, Natalie, has a sister who works for the Marriott Hotel, so she can get killer deals on their rooms - we had reserved a $380.00 per night room for $84.00 per night! We were really excited as we walked through the outdoor lobby up to the check in desk. "This is so nice!" I kept saying out loud to Brian. There were cushy lounge chairs and nice couches surrounding beautiful glass tables. A live band was playing soothing Hawaiian music to create a wonderful ambiance. There were cool looking trees and tropical flowers that smelled amazing!
"I'm sorry, but this rate is only for family members of the employee," came the voice behind the desk to shatter my awe. "Your friend rate will be $202.00 per night." Talk about a slap in the face!

It really was impractical for us to spend that much on a room for three nights, so when we realized that she wasn't going to budge, we had her cancel our reservation and sulked away from the counter. Great. 6:00 pm in Hawaii, and we have no place to go. We stood directionless for a couple of minutes before we went to find a phone-book to make another reservation somewhere else. After many calls, we found the cheapest place around and walked across the street to spend $135.00 per night for a mediocre room with a rock hard bed and an air conditioner that only had one temperature - FREEZING! But, we were in Hawaii! And, thanks to Natalie, we even got to have a small taste of what luxury might be like in paradise. :) Thanks, Natalie!

The Sun Rises

*These are gorgeous. You can click on them to get the fullest effect my little camera was able to capture.*

Brian had to leave at 6:30 the next morning to get to his interview on time, so I grabbed my camera and a book and headed out to the beach to catch the sunrise. Once I found the perfect spot on the deserted beach, I sat down, hugged my knees to my chest to shield myself a little from the cool morning breeze, and soaked in the moment. It was so beautiful, that I never even picked up my book. As the gray sky turned brilliantly into baby blue, I watched and listened to the waves gently break on the shore. Is there a more peaceful, beautiful sound? Each broken wave carried heavy sand which sank back quickly to the earth - leaving only the crystal clear water to be pulled back into the next breaking wave.

I have never been able to find my favorite color inside a crayon box. In fact, my favorite color is, unfortunately, nameless. It is the color of a clean wave, just before it breaks, when the sun pierces the blue water with just enough yellow sunlight to give it the slightest tint of green. It sits on the verge of if you should be able to see through it - but the color is slightly too rich. And, just as any color, there are different shades - it all depends on how much sunlight you add. They are all beautiful.

At 7:09, the sky had almost reached it's daytime brilliance and the waves snapped me back to reality as they crashed loudly onto the sand. I looked out to the ocean and saw large waves making their way to the shoreline. There were surfers scattered out among the waves and I realized that day had begun. It was interesting to me how one minute the ocean was quiet, calm and peaceful...and the next minute it came to life, throwing big waves out from nowhere...almost as if to say, "Well, day is's showtime!" ... well. I'm glad I was able to see the ocean before it woke up. I think the ocean is kind of like a child - you can play and laugh and have fun with him when he's awake...but he's just so beautiful when he's sleeping...

I'd better call it a night for now - but stay tuned and I'll share more experiences, thoughts and pictures from our wonderful Hawaiian vacation!

More from Utah

Here are a few more pictures of our vacation in Utah. My mother-in-law has a friend who takes pictures as a hobby. She let us come over and have a little mini photo-shoot while we were out there. Here are some of my favorite pictures!

22 Photos - You can click on the speaker for bonus music!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Goodbye, Old Year

As I sit here staring at my Christmas decorations, I think to myself, "I really should take those down now that we're back..." And yet I sit here. And I stare at them. And I think.

I feel sad when I take my Christmas tree down. My first memory of feeling the Spirit happened while I was staring at my family's Christmas tree 15 Christmases ago. And even though my dinky little tree with cheap ornaments resembles almost nothing of that family tree, it still has the ability to rekindle those warm memories.

But I suppose it's time.

So, with fondness, I'll share bits and pieces of my vacation with you, take my decorations down, and gently tuck Christmas away for the next ten and a half months.


Flying to Utah
Have you ever had the privilege to ride on a plane with a service dog? Well. On the first leg of our flight, we were accompanied by a dog so big, it seriously looked like a bear. It's white hair was shiny, beautiful and at least three inches long. After about 20 minutes of our hour long flight, we hit some turbulence which was soon accompanied by a sharp, eye-watering, nose crinkling smell...and I knew before I poo. "EWWWWWWWW!!!!!" McKenzie yelled, "What is that yucky, yucky smell?!!!" I slowly tilted my head into the isle to see the hairy beast pacing back and forth and squirting diarrhea all over the front of the plane. Thick tufts of long, white hair were floating in the air, covering the floor, and sticking in the runny, stinky mess. We were lucky enough to be sitting just 2 rows behind this fiasco. The row in front of us evacuated their seats - the smell made one poor lady lose her lunch once...and almost again. The flight attendants did their best to clean it up and spray air freshener in their wake - but the smell was unmaskable.

Brian had an optimistic attitude, however. When our kids were slightly fussy and loud, he smiled and said, "Well, at least we're not the most hated people on the plane anymore!"

It's Beginning To FEEL a lot Like Christmas!
Carson couldn't get enough of the snow. Every time he stuck his finger in it, he'd stomp his feet in excitement and laugh uncontrollably. Each time we walked outside, he'd point and grunt with enthusiasm until we said, "Yeah, Carson. Snow!" He'd look at us with wide eyes as if to say, "Have you ever
seen this stuff?!! This is awesome!!"

When we first arrived, we stepped out into the 28 degree Fahrenheit airport parking lot and after a short minute we heard McKenzie exclaim, "LOOK, Dad! I can do it TOO!!!!" We turned around and saw McKenzie's thrilled face. "WATCH!!" she said. She blew out a puff of air and said, "I CAN BLOW

McKenzie didn't like the cold much (as you can see from her face in the snowman picture), but she still helped build a stellar snowman!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Enjoy these 21 pictures of our celebrations!

Bear Lake

After Christmas, we took a little family vacation up to Bear Lake where we'd rented a cabin for two nights. McKenzie had her first sledding experience... in -2 degree F! The cold bit our faces and froze our nose goobers, but it was well worth it!

Brian's parents took the kids back to Farmington with them and let Brian and I have a couple days to ourselves. It was so good to reconnect and catch up on each others lives a little bit since Brian's been gone so much this month. We went snowshoeing, got our car stuck in the snow, watched movies, went out to eat and saw Enchanted - cute show!

Happy New Year!

And finally, we brought in the new year with the kids at about 6:00 - Grandma had poppers and noise makers that the kids loved! (Well, McKenzie didn't much like the noise makers...every time her cousin Samuel would pop one she'd cover her ears...) Then we played Don't Eat Pete, and I Spy - what a great new year's eve!

Here are 11 pictures of us all ringing in the new year!

Happy 2008!