Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lobster Rolls and Eye Crud

Back from Bean Town.  Actually, the only time I was really IN Boston was landing at Logan Airport, and being dropped off again after a week.  The rest of the time we were far away from the chasing of bombers and police activity - either in Worcester or various places in Cape Cod.  The weather for the most part (and why we always cite the weather, I don't know) was glorious and beautiful.  I was grateful for that, because I dislike being cold.

Katie came and picked me up with Mia and Hayden sitting in the back of the Dodge Caravan in their car seats.  So good to see their little faces!  So excited and happy.  It was way past their bedtime, so after the initial flurry of getting me in the car, Hayden was out like a light.  Katie and I tried to visit and catch up, but apparently I was also supposed to be the navigator, and we kept making wrong turns or getting in the wrong toll road line so I had to pay attention to the GPS and guide us safely back to Worcester.  Of course, once we got there the little girls went to bed and I tried to unpack the essentials and settle in.  I couldn't get to sleep for the life of me.  The Massachusetts clock was 3 hours ahead of me, and the more I thought about how I needed to sleep, the more I couldn't.  I think I ended up getting about 4 hours.  Not a good start, but surprisingly (luckily), it didn't seem to affect me very much.

Wednesday dawned early - Mia and Hayden are up with the birds! - but they were very good to tiptoe out of the room and let me sleep.  But of course I couldn't, knowing the girls were downstairs and the week was ahead of me.  We had to grocery shop, getting some essentials and also some ingredients we needed for our tea party that afternoon.  Katie had made some white cake cupcakes (my favorite!) and while Katie was resting, the girls and I made our Sand Dollar Cookies.  We had planned to have an "Under the Sea" tea party.

When all was prepared, Katie put the final touches on our strawberry lemonade, and we all got ready for "tea."  Hayden was totally into it, donning her jewels, sundress, and a big floppy hat.  And her baby.  Mia didn't want to dress up.  She is not into frilly or ruffly these days, and insisted on wearing her parka and jeans.  Whatever.  Katie was brave, carrying out stemmed glassware and plates into the front yard area for our crazy little tea.  Now, I could tell the sweet image she had in her head of how all of this was going to look.  But I also have the years to know that kids - especially your own - hardly ever follow the plan.  They rarely even read the book in the first place.  So Mia was in jeans with holes in the knees, Hayden had crazy hair going on under the hat, and one of the glasses got knocked over and broken.  It just wasn't the beautiful picture we'd envisioned - you know, beautifully dressed up girls with curled hair, flowers woven through it, perfect manners, the usual nonsense.  Mia rode her scooter around, wouldn't sit down, and would instead swoop in for a treat before riding off.  Poor Katie was so frustrated!  But these are real little girls, not images from a styled photo shoot, and we had ourselves a good time anyway.  Until the glass broke.  Ah... that also happens in real life. So instead of something out of a fairy tale, here is our motley crew:

Oh, and did I mention the pink eye?  Yes, Hayden came down with it the first day I was there.  Such fun trying to get a 3 year old to hold still when you put stinging drops in her eyes.  She cleared up pretty fast, though.  We thought we were home free.  Silly us...

On Thursday morning we headed out for Cape Cod for a couple of days with the girls.  We had no idea where we were going, trusting our fate to the GPS.  Sadly, though, the hotel was located on what we thought said Lyanough Rd.  It wouldn't come up on the GPS, but we bravely set out, hoping there would be bread crumbs or something to show us the way.  As we neared the area, we turned off and asked a couple of locals in a parking lot if they knew where Lynough Rd was.  They didn't.  I called the hotel and told them basically where we were and they gave me some simple directions.  That was when Katie got into the car after conferring with the locals.  She was shaking with laughter.  Turns out we should have been looking for Iyanough Rd all along.  We read the upper case"I" as a lower case "l" - no idea why, but we did.  We are map impaired, and as it turns out, we are GPS impaired as well, if we can't read a simple address.  Oh well - we got there, didn't we?  After we stopped laughing, anyway.

The hotel had (drum roll please...) an indoor SWIMMING POOL!  And that's all the girls wanted to do.  So we donned our suits and trekked down to the pool where they swam for what seemed like hours.  It all started coming back to me how hard it is to get kids out of a pool.  Mia is a little fish, and Hayden is right behind her.  And Katie is the original water baby.

While we were at the pool we got a recommendation for dinner: Captain Parker's Pub.  At first people were recommending places like Olive Garden.  Really?!?  I can eat there any time.  We wanted Cape Cod food.  A man who was another guest told us about Captain Parker's - said they'd won prizes so many years for their clam chowder that they weren't allowed to compete anymore.  So off we went.

We weren't disappointed.  Not in the chowder anyway.  The service was another matter - terrible waitress.  By the time we got our food (other than the chowder) the girls were starting to fall apart.  I had them box up everything and we took everything back to the hotel.  It was a little bit disappointing but all in all we had a great time.  While we'd been waiting for our table, there was a group of four men eating in the bar next to where we were waiting.  Hayden spilled Katie's purse over and a bunch of Skittles spilled on the floor.  One of the men looked at Hayden and said "There's a red one - if you don't eat it, I will!"  Hayden didn't know what to think about that, so the man grabbed the red Skittle off  the floor and popped it into his mouth.  He looked at Katie and said "You need to teach her about the 5 second rule.  I never pass up a red Skittle!"  We laughed and got to talking to them, and they gave us some suggestions for things to do the next day.  I love being on vacation when you meet friendly locals.  It really was fun talking to them as it was obvious they'd been friends for a long time, and all had grandchildren of their own.

Back to the hotel after dinner for a good night's sleep and the rest of our dinner!  The next morning we got up and, taking our new friends' suggestion, took the girls to the Zooquarium, located right behind Captain Parker's Pub.  They had a petting zoo, a bird show, a small aquarium with local fish and sea life, and PONY RIDES!  It was a hit.  The girls bought handfuls of corn to feed the deer, sheep, and llamas.  When that was gone, Mia got industrious and ran around picking up all of the corn that had been spilled on the ground.

They both wanted to ride the pony, so each one took a turn, and had big smiles the whole time.

The girls had the chance to see a peacock looking normal, with his tail dragging behind him.  All of a sudden his lady friend appeared, and quick as a wink, his tail was unfolded in all it's glory.  Mia and Hayden were quite impressed with that quick trick.  What men won't do to show off...

It started to rain, and so we grabbed the girls and got them in the car.  Time for lunch!  Katie's friend had told her about a place called Brax Landing that had good food, so off we went in search.  As it turns out, it was an excellent tip: Katie and I shared a lobster roll and lobster mac 'n cheese.  It was AMAZING, and I want more.  Immediately.  Our waitress was the best.  Totally catered to the girls, brought us all food we loved, and had the thickest New England accent you can imagine.

She was so perfect, it just made my whole day.  The restaurant had a whole wall of windows that looked out over a little harbor where everyone kept their boats, and it was such a pretty scene.  I would go back there in a second.  After lunch, we just drove around and did a little exploring.  We found a wonderful place with benches above a little beach with the water just a few feet away.  Had it not been raining I could have sat there and watched the girls play for quite awhile.  Such a quiet spot, with a quaint little neighborhood of cottages just behind.  Did I mention I love Cape Cod?

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a little shop that sold sea glass jewelry.  Katie bought a ring (she loves rings) and I got a bracelet with a pretty piece of blue sea glass set on it.  A nice memento of our little New England jaunt.  I suggested we stop and get some salt water taffy at a place we'd seen on the way in, so we did that also.  Sadly, as we backed out of the parking space, Katie hit a post that was painted white with red stripes that was protecting a small brick retaining wall.  We just didn't realize it was there, but the bumper got a 3-4 inch scratch where the paint came off.  Ouch...  Nothing like putting a damper on a great day.... We pulled into a body shop we passed and Katie jumped out to have them look at it to assess the damage.  She likes her ducks in a row before calling the Mister.  A very nice man came out with a rubbing compound and got the red paint off the bumper.  He guessed about $380 in cost to fix, OR - we could buy a can of spray paint to match and just patch it.  I don't know which one they'll end up doing, but it was nice to have the option.  And luckily, Zach wasn't too upset about it.  The sun came out after that.

The rest of the time spent there was nothing really notable.  We all went out to eat at a local Thai place (that advertised that they had "lobstah!"), we went to church on Sunday, I made them one of my special recipes for dinner one night.  I played at least a hundred games of Disney Princess Memory, we built things with Legos, we spent lots of time playing unicorns and My Little Pony.  I had one heart to heart talk with Mia, in which she confided that she wanted to take her OWN shower, instead of a nightly bath with Hayden.  She's growing up... Very everyday things, and yet they are the memories that are etched in my heart.  Hearing Hayden whisper "YESSSSS!" whenever she got a match, and Mia saying "It's weird, but I usually win at Memory..."  (Except when Hayden wins!)  I tended to zone out.  One Princess began to look like another.  I was having too much fun having 2 girls enjoy spending time with me.

Mia got the eye crud on Sunday night.  Awful stuff.  More hand washing.  Katie came down with it Monday night and it was really bad when she had to take me to the airport on Tuesday.  We picked Mia up early from school and set off for Boston.  Several tolls later, we were finally there.  It was hard to leave my girl when I knew she didn't feel good.

I sadly trudged into the airport terminal.  Where I sat for the next 4 hours because my plane broke.  Jet Blue finally found us another plane and we took off at last.  But our arrival time was pushed back from 7:30 to after 11pm.  Brutal...

And so now I'm home.  And I almost dodged the eye crud.  Until yesterday when my left eye started to crud up and swell.  UGH... One call to my brother in law (thank you Dr. Rick!) and a day later, it's finally starting to look normal.  I'm hoping to be able to wear my contact lenses tomorrow.  It was a crazy week that was full of activity.  Some of it was nothing special, some of it was constant on the go running around.  But all of it was memory making at it's finest.  Lots of cuddles, silliness, and I love yous.  And everyone knows those are some of the best things in life.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Plane to Boston

Tomorrow morning I get on a Boston-bound plane.  I'm so excited to see my daughter and Mia and Hayden.  And Zach.  It's just that I don't suppose I'll see much of Zach as he spends most of his time at the hospital, but it'll be good to see him here and there.
I have a niece on my husband's side of the family who was running in the Boston Marathon today.  Luckily, Kaylene is a good runner, and was already finished and done when the blasts occurred.  But I didn't know that, and I was frantic.  I left a very sobby message on her cell phone to call me.  IMMEDIATELY.  Then I remembered she was running and probably wouldn't/couldn't call me.  Tried to call her mom (my husband's sister) but I don't have her cell number so I had L call her.  Long story short, she is fine.  Her husband is fine.  All is well with them.  They were in the Medical Tent when the the explosions went off.  They were immediately directed out of the tent to make room for the injured.  They are on their way out of the city now, going to their friends' house, but it was hard to get anywhere for a while as the city pretty much shut down right around them.  What a horrific experience.  For all of us.  I don't know what's worse - being in the middle of the fray, or being far away and not knowing what's going on.  I guess what's worse is being one of the casualties or injured persons.  It was horrific, and still, I can't tear myself away from the TV.  (Yes, it's on while I write this.)

While I'm very excited to go on my trip tomorrow, it's put a damper on the travel portion of it.  I'm sure any airport is going to be a mess with heightened security (and rightfully so).  I can't even imagine what Boston will be like.  I'm glad that it will be a whole week before I have to fly out of it again.  And there's just the general nervousness that accompanies any flight.    Only this time it will be really amped up - for me, anyway.  I'm not normally afraid to fly, but the events today just sent chills up my spine.  For those of you who are Facebook friends, I'll send a thankful thumbs up when we safely land.

I don't understand this kind of terrorist message.  Or the messengers.  It's just pure evil.  The small silver lining is that tragedies like this bring out the best in people.  I saw runners whipping off their t-shirts to help wrap wounds.  I saw brave firemen and policemen putting themselves in danger to save others.  Medical personnel standing their ground in the midst of pure chaos.  Onlookers at the marathon were doing whatever they could to help people up and get them out of danger.  Native Bostonians opening their homes to runners and their families who are stranded and can't get home or to their hotels.  People are inherently good, especially in the face of evil.  While we hate to come face to face with evil, it does get our attention, but it makes us stronger - just that simple choice of good over evil.  Kindness over apathy.  More determined - angry that it happened yet again, and determined to shore up our vigilance.  More aware that kindness and generosity of spirit can heal.

Heaven help us.  A lot more prayer and spiritual thought would not be a bad thing.  Standing firm and not allowing ourselves to become jaded and complacent would be even better.  Being strong pillars and leaders in our communities would be best.  Because we're going to need great courage to stand up and fight back against evil like this.  More backbone.  Less political correctness and stupid nonsense.  If you suppose we can think good thoughts and sit in front of our TVs, hoping for the best to get a good outcome, think again.  We need to wake up and realize the wolf is at the door.

I'll get on that plane tomorrow, and I'll have a great week with my girlies.  Cape Cod, lobster dinner, tea parties, all of it.  I'll come back home in a week with tons of new memories and pictures to show.  But damn whoever was responsible for the chaos and tragedy today, for making me just a little bit nervous to get on the plane.  For marring my anticipated reunion with these two darling girls with a terrorist act.

Dance Recital - Mia was a clown, Hayden a tightrope walker.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy Anniversary Marilyn & Ted!

The 60th anniversary party for the folks was beautiful.  It couldn't have gone any better, and my mom and dad thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  L and I picked them up to take them over to Big Canyon, and they were running a little bit late.  Poor Dad - the chemotherapy has done such a number on him that his clothes don't fit very well anymore and he was having a hard time getting an outfit together.  But he looked so handsome in his gray jacket and shirt and tie!  I know he doesn't feel like himself, but he looked every bit the co-guest of honor.  Mom looked beautiful, as usual, a little nervous, and we bundled them into the car, and off we went for our evening of fun.

Now, if you're lucky enough to belong to the Big Canyon Country Club (I am not) maybe you get used to living in the lap of luxury.  But for me, it was such an enormous treat to be able to have our parents' party there.  My middle brother and his wife are members, and so we all got lucky with the location of the party.  Dinner was beautiful, delicious, and wonderful.  The staff is so attentive, and I've not had a better dinner anywhere else.  Our table overlooked the golf course by the little lake, and it was a lovely view as we ate filet mignon, conversed, and listened to our mom and dad tell the story of how they met and became a couple.
Mom at dinner remembering the early days

Sister in laws Greta and Becky, with Greta's daughter Ariana in the middle

Because we had gotten there a little bit late, and the conversation ran a little long, our guests started arriving just as we were finishing dinner.  My nephew Tom and his girlfriend Hadley were taking pictures of everyone as they arrived, so we would have a good memory of everything from start to finish.  

Nephew Tom and girlfriend Hadley, camera at the ready

I won't bore everyone with the names and faces of everyone (and truthfully, I didn't know everyone there) but here are some of the main characters:
Becky and brother Brent 

Brother Matt, Greta, and Ariana

Brother Chris and a guest (we never got a picture of Chris and wife Jill together!)

Sister in law Jill and a guest - I think his name is Brownie!

The program commenced: a magician!  I've seen this particular one before.  He works at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, and he's very good.  He did everything from fire swallowing

The magician swallowing fire!

The magician floating a table with Mom's assistance

Mom and Dad enjoying their party

to rope and ring tricks, to a floating table.  He did amazing tricks that seemingly needed psychic ability, and we were all wide-eyed, and open mouthed with amazement.  My dad, especially, loves things like that, and tries to figure out how they're done.  This magician is too good, though.  No one had the slightest idea how he did anything.

After that bit of excitement, one of Jill's friends came onstage and sang about 3 songs.  She has a lovely voice, and my mother really enjoyed that part of the program.  She started off with "On The Road To Mandalay" - a rather random selection, except for the fact that my dad sang that to us on an almost daily basis.  Because he's tone deaf, we were all curious as to what the real song sounded like.  Actually, I prefer my dad's tone deaf version, I think.  It's more fun, and has good memories attached.  But the rest of the selections were beautiful love songs, and we all sang along on the last one.  

My brother Chris (master of ceremonies that evening) was just about to wind it up when our youngest niece, Ariana, felt moved to sing a song for her Grandma and Grandpa.  She said she "felt it in her heart."  So she proceeded to sing a long and wandering tune of her own composition.  It seemed like there was no end to it, but she was so adorable... so finally Jill began to clap, which made us all clap, and the gift of song from the heart ended.  

Ariana's aria.  Chris standing by... waiting...

More pictures, and more visiting followed, as people made their way to the dessert table, which consisted of (YES!!) triple chocolate cake, and an ice cream sundae bar.

My dad and his oldest friend, Tom,  and wife

Ariana and Grandma/Mom share a moment at the party

LaMar and I had put together a framed poem, written by my friend Sue Anderson, that all of the guests signed at some point during the party.  It turned out so lovely, and it will be a precious memory for them of a beautiful evening with family and friends.

Sue's poem, framed with guest signatures on the mat

And what about the gift we gave our parents?  Well, we couldn't think of a thing that they didn't already have.  They've been through the wringer this past year with my dad's cancer treatments, and a newly developed heart condition - life has been a little complicated and worrisome.  So we decided to give them a gift that would take them back to those simple years where it all began, before life as we know it got so problematic and complicated.  When the four of us were not even a twinkle in their eyes.  We found a photograph of them in 1951, just after they'd started dating.  It was taken at one of the BYU dinner dances they attended together, and the sweet innocence of this particular photo brings tears to my eyes.  We had it enlarged to 12 x 16 and mounted on canvas, before choosing a beautiful frame for it.  I love the nostalgic feel to it, and I hope it took them back to a wonderful time when love was fresh and new.

Mom and Dad in 1951 - our gift to them

The guests of honor basking in the glow of their celebration

It was a magical evening well spent.  For a few hours, cancer was banished, health issues disappeared, and love for family and friends sparked the night air.  So many people came out to give our parents their best wishes, and we're grateful to them for helping us to make the evening a huge success.  A couple of nights later we all gathered together post-party to celebrate Ariana's 7th birthday, and Mom and Dad were still riding high from the fun and memories of their special celebration.  60 years is quite an accomplishment (61 years this coming June!) and they deserved the biggest party we could throw them.  Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!  Your lives together are an inspiration to all of us, and your party had the best chocolate cake I've ever had.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's Go Time.

It's go time.  I've picked up the gift for my parents.  It's just beautiful, and I'll be sure to share what it is after the party, along with some pictures from the celebration.  The menu is planned, guests have responded, plans are in place.

My sister in law has worked hard doing the dinner and dessert portion of the evening.  It's their club we're holding the event at.  She is a tireless worker, whereas I am sluggish and prone to procrastination.  By the time I asked, "What can I do to help you?" it was already done.  And beautifully done, I might add.  We'll have dinner, just our parents, siblings, and spouses.  It will be quiet, intimate, and a special time with all of us together.

After dinner we'll adjourn to another room where there will be an ice cream sundae bar and, if I'm not mistaken, triple chocolate cake.  *I do hope I'm not mistaken* This is where the 30 or so friends, plus any grandchildren who are in the area, will join us for dessert and entertainment.  My sister in law hired a magician (this part is mostly for my dad), and a friend of hers will come and sing some beautiful love songs for us - but she will start with "On The Road To Mandalay," which is not a love song at all, of course, but is ingrained in all of the four kids' collective memory as a song my dad always - like almost daily - *tried* to sing.  He is tone deaf and none of us really know what the tune sounds like, but on Wednesday night we will.  I have a feeling that I'll always remember and prefer my Dad's rendition, however.

L and I put together a special frame that has a current picture of my mom and dad topping my friend Sue Anderson's beautiful poem "Fruit of the Vine."  L designed the layout, complete with a beautiful vine graphic, and it will go into the frame surrounded by a thick mat.  Each guest can then sign their name on the mat and include a special message and good wishes.  It will be a nice memory and keepsake from the evening.  I'll be sure to include a picture of the total project and the verse after the party.  It's so lovely, and every time I read it I tear up.  (Thank you Sue! XOXO)

The gift we are giving them is also very special, and I think they'll love it.  I keep running downstairs today to look at it again and again.  It gets my heart every time I see it.

My special dress for the occasion?  Never happened.  I looked.  And looked.  And came home very discouraged.  So I will wear something I already have, and it will be fine.  After all, I'm not the star of the show tomorrow.  That role is for Mom and Dad.  And I'm hoping that the whole evening will shimmer and shine for them.  They deserve it.  60 years together deserves some glitz for their truly great accomplishment, and a sweet glance back to the days when life was simple, and everything was in front of them.

More to come in a day or two.  Right now, it's go time.

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