Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's Our Anniversary.

I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap
A barrel and a heap and I'm talkin' in my sleep
About you....

Happy 14th Anniversary my Love! 
I love every minute with you!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

In Memorium.

It was a bright and beautiful Sabbath morning, just like today, 11 years ago.  April 28, 2002.  My Sammy was just 16 days old.  He had been out of the NICU for just a week and we had oxygen delivered to our house for him.  I was still recovering from a C-Section.  Isaac was 2.  He was cute as could be.  Life was good.  We were healthy and happy.  And the day was beautiful!

We were awakened around 8 am by a ringing phone.  It was my dad.  He said he had distressing news.  Aaron was missing.  He hadn't come home the night before after hanging out with friends.  My dad had been out all night looking for him.  He was 17.  The police don't consider it a priority to look for a missing 17 year old boy.  My dad was asking for help to look.

We got in the car and drove down.  We passed the emergency vehicles on the side of the road, next to the ravine, as we got closer to my parents' house.  I knew they were there for Aaron.  We got to my parents' house as my dad was leaving and told him to go see if it was Aaron.  It was.

The rest is history.  Our family history.  Aaron returned to his Heavenly Father earlier that morning.  We miss him.   We KNOW we will see him again.  We KNOW that families are eternal.  We KNOW we will be resurrected.  We KNOW we can live with Heavenly Father again.  We KNOW Aaron is where he needs to be.  And today is a beautiful day!

Aaron, we love you, we miss you.  Come back soon!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just A Little Trip.

 My Grandma just turned 100!  Can you believe it?  Think of all the things she's seen in the past 100 years.  Depression, War, Inventions, Big Bands, Elvis, Beatles, Michael Jackson, Bieber. She watched her "show", Guiding Light from the very beginning, when it was on the radio in 1952, to when the final episode aired in 2009. 
So we decided to make a trip out of it.  We got in the car last Friday morning and drove over 800 miles to the California coast.  Our hotel room got upgraded.  We didn't complain.  Ruthie and dad just chillin' on the couch.
 Isaac and Sam shared the second bedroom.  And they thoroughly enjoyed having their own TV and bathroom.
We even had a kitchen.  I wish I had brought microwave popcorn.  We even had a dishwasher.  On to the party. 
On Saturday we went swimming, got dressed, ate lunch, then headed to the church for the party.  I got to see cousins who I haven't seen in years.  Here is our family with Great Grandma Nunes.
Singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles.  Grandma has lived in the same house since the 1940's.  My Grandpa died in 1992, right before his 92nd birthday.  We Nunes' believe in long life.  My dad will be around a while. 
That evening we all (my parents and all my siblings and families) went to the AT&T park in San Francisco to see the Giants play.  Look at that view!
The night was beautiful and slightly brisk.  Perfect for a baseball game.
We got the first row.  A couple of my sisters and their kids are behind us.
We aren't big baseball fans.  Although I was raised on the Giants and 49ers.  But it was so fun to be there with Abbie and Poppy and cousins and stuff.  That's right, my siblings are the "stuff".  I was there for the garlic fries.  Oh Baby!
Guess who loved them too?? She should be in commercials.  Ruthie sat next to my two brothers, who are gigantic Giants fans.  Their wives and boys were at home.  Too fast a trip for babies.  Ruthie kept saying she was so glad I wasn't like my brothers, who were yelling and making a raucous during the 7th inning stretch and when we all sang Sweet Caroline in support of Boston.  I pointed out that I was singing loudly too.  And I knew all the words to Sweet Caroline and wasn't holding back! It's my job to embarrass.
Sam was bundled in his hoodie, dad's jacket, a blanket and snow hat and gloves.  He wouldn't eat the garlic fries.  More for us.  He was shivering the whole time.  But.. he still had fun.
Isaac and dad had fun together.  They watched the boats in the harbor and enjoyed the game.  Isaac was next to another of my sisters who had her baby.  Isaac loved when cousin Washington would look at him and try to grab him.  He was embarrassed by his dad at this moment.
And here is the proof that I was there and having a ball.  The game went only 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Fast!!
We drove home Sunday and are still recovering.  What a fun and exciting trip.  We are so glad we got to go out and see Great Grandma Nunes and go to a baseball game with Abbie and Poppy. 
Happy 100 years Grandma!  We love you and are so glad we got to see you!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Goodbye Goats.

Today these goats go to auction. 
Mama Cass
They have been too aggressive and had to go.  We were getting ready to put them on KSL, but our neighbor behind us, Randy, asked to buy them.  Last night he came to get them and today he takes them to auction.   
The upside to losing two goats is, the dynamic outside is changing.  And we'll get a few new kids soon. 
Goodby Mama Cass and Felix.  May all your goat dreams come true. 
Or.. may the BBQ be delicious!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Laundry Anyone?

I use liquid detergent for laundry.  I get the big thingy at Costco.  It works for me.  But then, when the container is empty and needs to be thrown away, I think of all the "air" it's using in the trash. And so I thought of a useful idea to use up that "air" and do some good in the world.  Just kidding.  I read on a preparedness blog how to use the empty container for storage.  Use the last bit for your load.  Then fill the container with water.  Put the lid on it.
Write "do not drink" on the container.  That way there won't be any confusion.  When hit with a tornado or earthquake or other such natural disaster, you have detergent water handy for dishes, dirty hands or feet, or just about anything that needs a quick wash.  You really wouldn't use it for laundry.  It's not enough detergent to do anything justice.  Unless you are desperate. 
So there you go.  A useful storage/cleaning tip for emergencies

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Looking Forward.

On Monday night, after watching the bombs explode over and over a few dozen times, and hearing the stories of those who lost limbs or life, I sat down with Isaac to talk.  He was sitting on my bed watching the news.  I could see he was thinking through it all and worried.  We talked about living in the Last Days and that, while we are waiting for Christ to come, we are going to see a lot of destruction and sorrow.  We may even experience some destruction and, we are no strangers to sorrow. 

Uncle Clark was running the marathon.  He had finished the race some 30 minutes before the bombs went off.  He was fine.  We also just recently had a cousin, Dilon, who was in a motorcycle accident.  At first he only lost some toes.  Then he lost his leg.  He is recovering and hopeful.  We got to visit him and see pictures and ask questions. 

We live in perilous times.  So Isaac and I talked about living righteously every day.  No matter what happens to us or around us or anywhere or to anyone else in the world, we know that if we are living righteously we will be okay.  It doesn't mean we will not suffer.  It doesn't mean we won't die.  But it also doesn't mean we sit in our house and board up the windows and hope nothing happens to us.  We live.  We choose the right.  We laugh.  We pray.  We look forward with a perfect brightness of hope.  We look foward to when Christ will come again.

Friday, April 12, 2013

You Say It's Your Birthday!

 It's Sam's birthday.  He's 11 and feeling good. 
We began with a trip to Abbie and Poppy's for Easter and birthday fun.  This is Sam with his birthday chocolate and moolah from Abbie and Poppy.
At home, he had to wait for dad to get home to open gifts.  He got his very own box of Swiss Rolls. 
He got lots of Godzilla stuff.  He was Samzilla in another life.  He wants to serve his mission in Japan.  Go figure!
And... he got his ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.  Aahhh.  Look at that face.  He was so excited.
Grandma and grandpa took Sam and the other kids to the dollar store where they could each buy 10 items for their birthdays.  Sam was on a roll and got 10 super fun things.  So did the other kids.  We had his birthday dinner at Burrito Grande where he got to wear the giant sombrero.  Cool.
Sam, we love you and are so glad you belong to us.  Super Silly Sam.  Samzilla.  Samalicious.  Sammy Sam.  Sammers.  Samuel Lawrence.  Samuel L Jackson, etc, etc, etc.  Happy birthday!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Don't Smoke!

So this car has been sitting here in the garage for over a week.  If Daniel were to drive it we think it would explode.  The engine is gone.  Luckily he takes the train to work, so I have been dropping him off and picking him up from the train every day.  No biggie, it's just up the hill and I take him right after Isaac leaves for the bus.  But eventually we will need to get back to being a 2 car couple.  Daniel has been scouring for a little non gas guzzling car. 
He found another little Neon that was cheap and needed to be sold quickly to the gal could make her house payment.  But she wouldn't return any calls after the initial conversation.  I guess she found another way to make the house payment.  But why not answer when it's someone who wants to buy it?! 
Then Daniel found a really snazzy and cute Mercury Cougar hatchback.  He called the guy and left a message.  The guy, let's call him Nick, called back.  Daniel told him he's interested in the car.  The guy, Nick, says to my never taken a drink in his life hubby, "Are you drunk??"  to which Daniel replies to the now obviously drunk Nick, "No", are you??  I mean seriously.  He's drunk on the phone.  But he wants Daniel to come see the car.  It's late and I'm concerned.  So I went with him.  It was dark and rainy.  We found the place and Daniel went to the door.  The car was right outside.  CUTE!  Nick came out and let Daniel look around the car.  Then he asks him again if he's drunk.  No.  Nick says, "I am drunk and I have to use the breathalyzer in the car before I can drive.  If you were drunk, it wouldn't let you drive".  Oh Winner! 
So he has my dear hubby blow into the breathalyzer.  You blow then you hum/blow. So Daniel does it.  Then Nick is excited because it means they can go for a test drive.  Whew!  That was close.
So I get into the cute little snazzy sport car just as Nick's landlord comes for the rent.  Nick is short $75.  Bummer.  The landlord is not walking away.  He wants his money and doesn't want to chase Nick down.  Nick says he'll call him later in the week when he has the moolah. 
Okey Dokey.
So we get in and go.  Then the beeping begins and the car comes to a halt.  Daniel has to blow in the thing so the car will go.  Nick says he can't blow in it because he's drunk.  Thanks, we know.  So my clean as a slate hubby blows and we go.  This is a fun ride.  Except for the drunkard in the back seat.  His language is so unsuitable for the presence of a lady, too.  He asks if we're LDS.  Yes.  He apologizes for the behavior.  Then he asks if we are familiar with certain LDS figures from Joseph Smith's time.  And wouldn't you know it?  We are.  I ask if he's LDS and he says yes but is an alcoholic and has missionaries who come by all the time to talk to him and help him. 
Then our good friend Nick asks us if we're familiar with the Steed family from way back.  Daniel asks if they are from right here.  NO.  Joseph's time.  He continues with how good the family was and the influence they had.  Okay.  Apparently our friend Nick has read The Work And The Glory.  And he is diluted into thinking this fictional Steed family is indeed a real family.  So Daniel and I are ready for the ride to end. 
We get back to the apartment and Nick invites us in so we can discuss when Daniel will contact him after we think about the car.  We love it. But Nick is getting increasingly sloshed as time goes on.  He was on his drunken game when we first got there.  But the alcohol has since killed off another bazillion brain cells.  And I really do think that was a great part of what he's got left.  We are in his apartment for another 15 minutes talking about when Daniel will contact him.  Nick really needs to go to bed.  So I ask him if I can write it down for him.  He pulls out his "brain" and boy, am I relieved that it was a notepad.  More brain cells there than what the alcohol has killed. 
I write very specifically what time Daniel will call and tell him he needs to go to bed.  We also remind him, when he asks what he told his landlord, that he needs to call the guy when he has the, how much do I need to give him?, $75.  Thank goodness we were there!
Nick just loves us.  He thinks we are the nicest and most kindest people in the world.  We aren't judging him, but we are helping him.  He tells Daniel that he will keep his number in his phone for anytime he feels he needs to talk.  Umm.  He also tells Daniel that he can now teach a class about the breathalyzer!  Awesome!
So we finally leave.  The problem is.. I love love love this little car.  And I fully understand the car isn't for me.  Really.  I do.  But I would be willing to drive that little thing around anytime.  But the back has only 2 bucket seats and we have 3 kids.  And you know all the kids will want to ride in the snazzy little sports car with us.  Then we realize what has been wrong with the whole situation.  Other than the drunken car owner with the breathalyzer.  Cigarette smoke.  The car and his apartment was permeated with it and my lungs are burning.  It didn't take long before we knew we would not buy this little car.  I was bummed enough to want to look past the smell.  But as my lungs burned through the night, I knew we wouldn't buy it. 
So let's get to the next day.  Daniel called our friendly drunkard and told him that the cigarette smell was the clincher.  We would not be buying.  To which our good friend replies, "I DON'T SMOKE!".  I beg to differ dude.  He was upset.  I am pretty sure he removed Daniel's number from his phone.  He probably drank a little to get over us.  I hope not, but, you know. 
So we are still looking.  Daniel found another little Cougar hatchback.  I really want it, but we need to seat 3 kids in the back.  So, there  you are.  I'll get back to you when we make a purchase!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

20 Years Later.

20 years ago I was serving a full time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was stateside and Spanish speaking. It was the best of both mission worlds. I was in my own country, able to get my diabetes care, and because I was Spanish speaking, I was able to teach and work with people from Mexico, Central America and South America. My first area was awesomely incredible. The work was moving, I was working hard and I was happy.

After a couple of months there, when call outs for transfers came, my name was included. I was going to a new area along with a new companion. Together we would open the area for Spanish speaking sisters again. There were elders there already and they were wonderful to us. They gave us families and individuals to teach. They worked on getting dinner appointments for us. They introduced us to many of the members and investigators. They told us the best places to proselyte as well as the not so great places.

It soon became very apparent that we, the sisters, were not welcome there. The member men, Los Hermanos, as they were called, said that because we didn't hold the priesthood we were not really on the Lord's errand. They shunned us. The member women would only sign up to feed the missionaries if the sisters did not accompany the elders. They did not want us in their homes. As we began meeting investigators, we were quickly told they were not interested. They stopped answering their phones and their doors. While looking for service opportunities, we were quickly met with nice people saying they were not in need of help. My companion and I found ourselves in a very difficult scenario. We were not wanted, we were not working and we were not serving.

As a result, we spent a lot of time in our apartment. Soon I became very ill. I stopped sleeping, my blood sugars were sky high, I had gained about 40 pounds, my head was constantly pounding and I had no energy to do anything. I went to a doctor who said I needed to lose weight. That would solve everything. I struggled with that. I couldn't lose anything. We were on a very tight budget and at the mercy of anyone who fed us. I couldn't exercise because I eventually couldn't get out of bed. Weight was no longer an issue. Something else was wrong.

In this process, I stopped studying with my companion. She found that sleeping during the day was best under the circumstances. I also stopped studying my scriptures and praying. Now, this all had happened within a very short time of my becoming sick. Although it felt like an eternity.

I saw a few more doctors and there was nothing they could do for me. They didn't know what was wrong. My mission president was on his way home. And with a new president coming in, I found myself on his radar. The problem was, I scared the new president. We spent some time on the phone for him to become familiar with me and what was happening. When our phone calls would end, I didn't even feel relief that he knew my situation. He was just as stumped as the previous president. He spent time talking with the doctors I'd seen and on the phone with my parents. Everyone was at a loss.

It had only been about 2 weeks. I found myself unable to see any light at all. I described it to one of the elders as “being in a deep, dark pit with no light and no way out”. One night I sat on the bathroom floor crying. I was so completely miserable that I couldn't see anything in front of me. My companion came in and asked what I was thinking. I only told her that I couldn't do it anymore. She said, “so you're just going to sit here and cry?!”. Well. Yes.

Actually I was going through every option I could think of to end my life. But without causing pain. Physical pain and I don't really like each other. And to take my life, I would experience some type of pain. To my clouded mind, it seemed like the only way out. So I was left wondering. With no real answer.

Then the phone rang. It was my grandma. Meme, actually. My family was on a trip to Canada and I had been trying to contact them earlier. I don't remember how it was that she knew to call, but I was grateful she did. We talked for just a few minutes. She said she would have my aunt Ruth call me. She lived just a short drive away. I hung up and waited by the phone. Ruth called and I told her what was going on. I talked for a while. Then she gave me the best advice I think I have ever received. It went something like this... I will send Chuck (her hubby) right now to pick you up. You don't have to pack anything, don't say anything to anyone, just wait for him and leave with him. We'll get you home and in to see your own doctor. We will all support you. You will get better and move on with your life. In 20 years you'll look back and think “I didn't finish, even though I did get better”. OR, You stay and you get on your knees right after you hang up. You talk to Heavenly Father and get His help. You do all you can to get out and work, just a little a day. We will support you. You will get better and in 20 years you'll look back and think “I finished and I got better and I am stronger and better because of it”. She said I just needed to choose. If I needed some time to think about it, all I needed to do was call back and let her know I needed Chuck to come. We talked for just a few more minutes and I told her I would call her back when I'd made a decision.

Oh how I wanted to go home. How I wanted to just walk away from the misery. How I wanted to just have some light in my life again. But the advice to kneel and talk to Heavenly Father was echoing in my head. Along with the pounding pain. So I knelt.

I knelt for a very long time. I didn't say a word. I didn't know what to say. 2 weeks is a very long time to not pray. I had given up on Heavenly Father so easily that I didn't know if He would even listen. I knelt for a very long time.

Then it was time. I began my prayer with “Heavenly Father. Are you there?..” and with that I felt his arms wrapped around me so tightly and so lovingly that I knew He was there. He was listening, and, by golly, He loved me! So so much. The rest of my prayer came a little more easily. I talked. I asked. I pleaded. I listened. And then I knew. I needed to stay. Not even thinking 20 years into the future. But for right in that moment I knew that He had a purpose for me to be there and work that only I could do. And I knew that I would get better. I knew I would be okay.

I called Ruth back and told her I was staying. She said their family had been praying for me and that they knew I had gotten the right answer. I went to my companion and told her I would be okay and that we needed to get back to the work. We needed to study and pray and get out of the gross apartment.

It was a process to get back on my feet. I soon went to a doctor who simply asked if I was depressed. Um. Yep. He gave me some meds and sent me on my way. That helped clear the clouds out. I was studying and praying again. We were getting out and working as much as I could do each day. It wasn't easy and it wasn't fast. But it was the right direction.

Soon call outs were coming and the mission president had told me that I now needed a whole new view. A new area and a new companion. I was transferred to a beautiful and hard working companion in an area ripe for the picking. Our apartment was on Christmas Tree Lane!  My Spanish was picking up fast and my body was getting stronger. I was sleeping and I was happy.

It has been 20 years now. I do look back with so much gratitude for that phone call from Ruth and the advice she gave. I have often thought over these many years how my life would have been different if I had left that night. Would my testimony be what it is now? Would my courage be what it is now? Would I even be who I am now? I have no idea. And frankly, I'm glad I'll never know. I always say that those 18 months of full time service were the hardest I've ever lived. But the worth of the experience shows in how I live my life, how I love the gospel and in the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. If I ever wonder how a decision I need to make will impact my life 20 years from now, I think of this one experience. And I know that in seeking the Lord's help and doing what He wants me to do will bring joy and rejoicing. Now, and in 20 years.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Here You Go.

You've seen that commercial with the black screen and words that say that the following scenes may be disturbing?  Then they show cakes that are sliding and slipping and falling over.  Then they show you the fix-it solution.  Cool Whip frosting.  Then the cakes are beautiful. 
For Easter we went to my mom's for, um, Easter, and for birthdays.  Sam is one of those birthdays.  So I asked him what he wanted me to make for the birthday dessert.  He said he wanted the Hobbit cake from Dairy Queen.  Um, no.  So I offered to make a chocolate cake with the Cool Whip frosting. He readily agreed.  As long as I consider, with all seriousness, the Hobbit cake from Dairy Queen for the actual birthday. Done.
And here it is.  And here is my review.  'Cause I know you wanna know what I thought and how it worked!  Right?  You have to thaw it out to spread it.  Then you have to keep the cake in the fridge forevermore.  Just kidding.  You keep it  in the fridge until you serve it.  I put the cake in the freezer after frosting it because it was getting sloshy.  You know, like the bad cakes on the commercial.  Hmm.  Then I put it in the fridge over night.  Then we traveled a good hour down to my mom's with the cake in the back of the Durango.  We stopped at the cemetery to say hey to Aaron and Rebecca (we love you, we miss you, come back soon!) and then on to the house.  I kept it in the fridge there, too.  Then it was time to serve.  Just look..
It tasted good.  But it looked... like the cakes in the commercial that they say the frosting will cure.  I was disappointed in how it looked, in how it needed to be stored and that the container wasn't the same size as the real Cool Whip.  I wanted more.  But everyone enjoyed the cake.  My grandma gave praise, even though she shared my disappointment in the overall experience.  So, you can go ahead and try it.  Your cake or cupcakes will be yummy.  But it's a hassle that regular frosting doesn't give.
There you go.