Monday, May 23, 2011

Salt Flats Adventure

Saturday we went out to the Bonneville Salt Flats for Ben to do some research with his radar. My fellow history buffs would like to know that this used be the huge, salty Lake Bonneville thousands of years ago. Now people just like to race on it and get their bridals taken there. Go figure.

Cheyenne felt really cool in her shades.

 Much better than the beach.

I know you all wanted to see a picture of this, right? Ben's radar. Yes it can see through you and suck out your brains.

We had a great time just being together on our Saturday day-trip!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Ben had to go to a work thing in Paso Robles, California. Some of you know that the Memorial Day trip we had planned for Florida got cancelled. So I decided to go to California instead. I know, it was a hard trade off!

We started our trip by visiting Ben's brother and sister-in-law in Visalia. Christine was so gracious to make us a beautiful meal on the day she should have been taking it easy-- Mother's Day! On Monday Joseph took us to the Sequoias to see the giant trees, something Ben has always wanted to do.

We loved it and the trees were huge and beautiful-- like something out of a storybook. 
Although it was SNOWING!

Little Noah loved Cheyenne and tried to hold her hand in the car. They were so cute together.

Here are the two sisters-in-law-- soon to add the third and final in October (Michelle, Sam's fiance)!

Brothers. It goes Dannielle, Joseph, Ben, and Sam.

While Ben was busy working hard, I went sight seeing! My sister-in-law Melanie is from Atascadero, and I got some great tips from her and Joel before we left.
Since I love old architecture, this was definitely on the list.
This is Hearst Castle.

Next stop-- Pismo Beach! Cheyenne and I had a great time checking out all the little shops and outlets and looking out at the ocean.

Another beach we went to was in Los Osos, called Montana de Oro. It was nice and secluded, and was a perfect place to just sit and read a book in the sunshine.

Well, it would've been a great place for that, if it hadn't been for this little girl...

Turns out she is not a huge fan of the beach. She didn't really like the sand I guess.

No smiles. All frowns.

But I still love her!

One night we went out to the famous steakhouse McLintock's. Ben was in heaven of course.

Ben humored me and let me take a few shots with the sunset and the ocean.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Mother of the Year

Since I am going to be in sunny California on Mother's Day, I decided to post this a little early. I've been thinking a lot about my mother lately since I too have recently joined the motherhood ranks. Growing up, you assume that your life is exactly like everyone else's. It's not until you are older that you realize every family has different priorities, different things that they cherish. So then as an adult you can look back and see what it was that your parents did that made your life meaningful, and why you love and appreciate them so much. Since Mom has been my mother for almost 23 years (well she's probably been my mother since before this earth was created, but anyway), I decided to do 23 reasons why I love my mother.

In no particular order.

1. I love my mom because she taught me to appreciate beautiful music. It has made my life so much richer and fuller. I can't imagine my life without feeling the beauty of one clear note, the harmonies of two voices in tune, or when music moves me to tears. One time in second grade I won $15 for describing the imagery I imagined in a piece of music. Later when I was 14, I begged my mother to take me to a Pavarotti concert and we sat in the cheap seats, just to hear that beautiful tenor voice. My mother taught me how to appreciate beauty in music.

2. I love my mom because she gave everything to her children. Now I know most of you are thinking, "Well, any mother does that." And now being a mother myself, I would agree with you. To be a good mother, every mother must give some degree of herself in order to fully love her children. But I believe my mom gave so much more. When you give birth to eleven children, you literally don't have time for yourself. You don't have time to be selfish.  At. all.  So you say, "Well she's just a victim of circumstance." No, I don't see it that way. She chose, I believe, just like our Savior chose, to give everything. And for that she is deeply blessed.

3. I love my mom because she made holidays meaningful. Whether it be birthdays, Christmas, or Easter, it was the one day where she pulled out all the stops. My dad might argue that it's too much work to bake that bunny cake, or fix someone's favorite meal for their birthday, or go to all the trouble to sew individual gifts for Christmas. But it made a difference for me, and gives me fond memories of family togetherness. I am so thankful for that.

4. I love my mother because she goes out of her way to make others comfortable. My house isn't the one where you "help yourself to whatever's in the fridge" or "make yourself a sandwich." Mom is all about treating you like royalty. When guests come over, the house is spotless. A warm meal is on the table and chocolate chip cookies are in the oven. Mom and Dad will stop everything to come and welcome you into their home, even if it's two in the morning.

5. I love my mother because she is unfailingly diligent. My mom is solid in her faith and love for the Gospel. In my family we often joke about how my dad  was a "professional church nerd," since he taught seminary and studied the scriptures for a living. But my mom is not one step behind him. If my dad was away, that didn't mean we were on "vacation" from family scripture study or family prayer. Mom was and  is an equal spiritual leader in our family.

6. I love my mom because she loves to sew and quilt. She appreciates the beauty and hard work that goes into a handcrafted blanket or homemade dress, and has taught me to do the same.

7. I love my mom because she has lived a righteous life from the very beginning. My aunts love to say that my mom was the "goody two shoes" in their family and never made any mistakes. Mom will even tell you herself that she has always wanted to be good. And what a great job she has done of it.

8. I love my mom because she is an amazing example of will power. My mom has lost over 86 lbs. in these last few years. When I say my mom sacrificed everything for her children, I mean everything including her body. Can you imagine what a toll it would put on your body to give birth eleven times? I'm so grateful she did, and I'm so grateful she "has her body back" now, and has taught us all something in the process.

9. My mom was always big on "looking presentable" when we were kids and it has stuck with me. When we were little, we always had on clean clothes, had our hair fixed and curled, and never wore holes; even though we were poor. That taught me a big lesson is self respect that I still try to live up to.

10. My mom has a love for babies, especially her grandbabies, and especially fat ones with "ham hocks" (chubby legs). I love to be around my mom because I know Cheyenne fits in all those categories!

11. I love my mom because she remembers everything you tell her. Just the other day she was chatting with my cousin's husband, and she asks him, "Now how is your brother Mike and his three kids doing?" like they were her best friends. She remembers everybody's cousin, aunt, friend, sister-in-law, nephew; even if she's never met them. And she knows their birthday too and will probably send them a little something. It's her way of showing that she cares.

12. A few weeks ago I was sick, and I called my mom to complain. I could feel her compassion through the telephone. And then when she couldn't take care of me herself, she called my sister to take her place! I love my mom because she is compassionate. She yearns to take care of her children and lift their burdens. When I was pregnant, she wished I could move in with her just so she could take care of me. I love how much my mother cares for her children and others.

13. Mom is an awesome Relief Society President in our tiny church branch in Horseshoe Bend. She tries so hard to reach out to others and give her all.

14. I  love my mom because she had no excuses for herself or us as kids. You're too tired to go to seminary? Nope, you're going. Bored with choir practice? You're there. "Not in the mood" for a fireside? Too bad. Mom has been an awesome example in my life of what commitment is, and I hope I can live an excuse-free life just like her.

15. My mom has an awesome sense of humor. Ben's favorite emails to read on Sunday are the ones that come from my mom, full of funny anecdotes on how Mom sees life.

16. I love my mom because she is really good at a lot of things, including canning, baking bread, and making really good swiss steak.

17. I love my mom because she created what I call a "culture of success" in our home. When I was growing up, Mom didn't ask you if you wanted to sign up for that AP class or if you thought you'd like being on the Academic Team, because it was expected of you. We didn't get a "prize" for getting an A; because that was just what you got. I love my mom because of the high expectations she set for us.

18. My mom is a great speaker and leader and I love her for it. Whether it be in front of a classroom, from the pulpit, or bearing her testimony of the Gospel to her children, she is at ease and confident. Although this may be a God-given talent, she has taken it and multiplied it by teaching all eleven of her children the value of confidence.

19. Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money. My mom learned how to make the best of what we had. I have fond memories of a simple childhood, lots of playing outside and coming up with entertainment with my siblings. We were taught in our home to revel in the joy of a simple Friday night of movies from the library, discount treats from Hostess, and lots and lots of siblings to play with. No expensive vacations, just one annual trek to Idaho to visit family. I am grateful to a mother who taught us that joy comes from being together, not from spending money.

Bad picture quality, I know. It's a picture of a picture.

20. I love Mom because she is forgiving. When I was getting married she told me she really wanted me to go on a mission, but she said it was okay because Ben was a great guy :).

21. I love my mom because she taught me what it means to be a strong woman. She has never been a "needy woman" who breaks down if her husband is gone, or can't handle all eleven children by herself. She is so capable; totally independent of others for emotional or physical support. This is no slight to my dad, who has been her companion for nearly 36 years, but it is a testament my mom's own strength to take care of herself. It is something I am still trying to implement in my own life.

22. I love my mom because she is the exact opposite of lazy. She runs all day: teaching piano lessons, making a meal for a sick sister, reading her scriptures, calling her children, substituting at the school. It is seriously awesome to behold.

23. Lastly, I love my mother because she is my mother! Without her I wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't be who I am today. I love you Mom.