Saturday, February 28, 2009

Newspaper Write-up #1

Note: One of the best things about having this published in my local paper is that I've had a handful of people come up to me and express their opinion that I'm not overweight. I assure them that according to the government/insurance height and weight tables I'm plenty overweight. People are so nice!

Everyone has a claim to fame. Mine is that up until a couple months ago I was Google’s number one overweight housewife. Meaning, if you typed the terms “overweight housewife” in a Google search, my blog was the first result listed. I should be embarrassed about that, but I’m not. Something in my personality makes me perfectly willing to look bad if it will help someone else feel better.

I’m bringing my strange sense of altruism to the pages of this newspaper. This year I’m planning to go on two showshoe/hiking outings each month in training to climb the Wellsville Mountains in early September. Basically I’ve subscribed to the idea that things which don’t kill you will make you stronger. Or at the very least, they’ll help you drop a few pounds.

My journey to the top of the Wellsville Mountain range started with a little hike up Green Canyon. I chose this hike first for two reasons. One, I’m familiar with it. I’ve done it before. And two, it’s fairly easy. I didn’t want to keel over from a heart attack on my first outing.

The next hike on my list was Bunchgrass to White Pine Creek trail, but it worked out better for my hiking companions to meet at the Cherry Creek Canyon trailhead instead. Part of getting in shape means being flexible, right? Until I can literally bend over backwards, changing my hiking plans will just have to do.

The Green Canyon and Cherry Creek Canyon hikes had a lot in common. Both followed a road that’s passable by truck during non-winter months. Both took place on sunny, clear days. Both trails were packed, allowing us to ditch our snowshoes. Both hikes were fairly short, lasting less than three hours. And on both hikes we were accompanied by our dogs, who alternated between racing ahead and charging straight back at us. Every time they ran at me I’d stop for a second and brace myself for impact. Four knee surgeries are enough for me, thank you very much. I wasn’t about to let an exuberant dog disable me at the beginning of my hiking career.

I’ve been tempted to use my upcoming hikes as an excuse to go shopping for things like a hydration pack, another pair of hiking boots and some stylish, breathable outdoor-oriented togs. But the truth is, I already own most hiking essentials: the 2004 edition of Jim Sinclair’s book, Cache Trails, broken-in hiking boots, a large fanny pack, water bottles that don’t leak and plenty of clothes to wear in layers. Tina Pierson, one of my hiking buddies, has embraced the wisdom of dressing in layers when hiking. On the Cherry Creek outing she said, “I have on so many layers that my pants could fall down, and I wouldn’t even know it.”

With two hikes now under my belt (not that I’ve really worn a belt in the last 10 years), I’ve made some happy discoveries. First, I’ve noticed that hiking gets me wrapped up in the moment. When I’m huffing and puffing up a hill surrounded by snow-cloaked mountain maples and glistening snow fields, I’m not thinking about the endless to-do list that awaits me at home. For a few hours I’m simply focused on putting one foot in front of the other while trying to absorb as much beauty as possible.

I’ve also noticed that after only two hikes I’m feeling stronger. Not just physically, but mentally too. I’m proving to myself one hike at a time that being an overweight housewife with a bum knee can’t stop me from living a healthy lifestyle.

My "Finding Joy as a Young Mother" talk

When I first heard that I’d been asked to give a talk on finding joy as a young mother, I immediately went and bought me some Joy. (Displays a large bottle of lemon Joy dish detergent). Don’t you wish that you could really just buy joy off the shelf at the grocery store? But you can’t. Joy can’t be bought, it has to be lived.

Joy is not the same as happiness. Not the same as fun and excitement. I like to think of happiness, fun and excitement as the things that make you smile, but joy being the things that make you weep, or “happy cry” as my mother used to call it.

Bruce R. McConkie, in Mormon Doctrine, wrote this under joy:
“Men are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) That is, the very purpose of man’s creation is to enable him to gain joy; it is the object and end of existence…. Here in mortality men gain joy only by obedience to gospel law, the gospel itself being the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) … Joy is a gift of the spirit. It comes from the Holy Ghost….

Joy has everything to do with believing and following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus makes joy possible. As a mother, we’ll all make mistakes, but through the teachings of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice and atonement for us, we can repent, be forgiven, and rise above our natural tendencies to experience JOY.

What can we do to live so that we can have the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives? (Possible answers given from the audience: Keep the commandments / Attend church meetings / Family Home Evening / Family & Personal Scripture study / Personal & Family Prayer)

These answers are often called the Sunday School answers, the Seminary answers, some would even call them trite answers. But I want to testify that they’re only trite answers until they become TRIED answers.

Here’s my best tip for making family home evenings a habit – focus on the treat. Little ones don’t have much of an attention span, but they do love treats. Enjoy a nice gospel-centered discussion/lesson while everyone enjoys a treat.

Family scripture study is harder because it’s every day. We started out using the gospel art kit available through Church Distribution, talking about a different picture each night. But with our oldest in kindergarten, we soon felt that we needed to be reading right from the scriptures. So, each night we’d gather in the family room, our oldest was six, and the girls were 3 and 18 months. Most nights we only got through a couple verses before we’d lost their attention. (Children’s maximum attention span is their age in minutes.) We wondered if anything was sinking in. It certainly didn’t seem to be. But then I went to a parent/teacher conference with our son’s kindergarten teacher. She told me about how they’d been reading the book, “The Rainbow Fish.” She asked the class what it meant to have pride. My son raised his hand. “It means you’re stiff necked,” he said. And that’s when I knew that our efforts weren’t wasted, that it was sinking in.

A component of joy is contentment. It’s hard to find joy if you’re not content. There’s a big reason why it’s difficult to be content. 2 Nephi 2:11 says, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.” Which means that Satan has plots and plans to keep us from being content and finding joy. Women of our generation have been told that we can have it all, do it all, be it all. We also live in the information age where the world would have us compare ourselves to others, and the images are everywhere: magazines, television, internet.

Hence, my new motto: Dream Simple. (I shared excerpts from this blog entry.)

Even men can struggle with contentment. In Alma 29 Alma writes about his struggle. He starts off by saying, “Oh that I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart. . . .” He then goes on to describe how he would cry repentance and spread the gospel with angelic zeal. But then he comes back to reality in verses 3 and 6:
Verse3: “but behold,… I do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted me.”
Verse 6:“Why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?”

Finding contentment and joy is possible when you know and do the Lord’s will in your life. What have you been called to do? Make it a matter of fasting and prayer. A good place to start is with your own patriarchal blessing. To get the big picture, I recommend reading, “I am a Mother” by Jane Clayson Johnson. She makes a strong case for motherhood being the most important job in the world.

I’ve found that even when I’m trying to follow the teachings of Jesus, and doing the Lord’s will, I can still struggle with contentment. Keeping a gratitude journal and a dozen other journals has been one of the best ways for me to find joy. President Spencer W. Kimball, himself a keeper of journals, said:

Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 349.

The great thing about gratitude journals is that you can share them with your children now. They don’t need to wait to read them until you’re dead.
(I shared a few entries from my gratitude journal and the steno notebooks I’ve kept on each child.)

There are a multitude of ways to keep a journal. Do what works for you. Some examples include: blogging, scrapbooking, keeping a journal on your computer, or even just keeping a really detailed checkbook register. There’d be no writing checks or using debit cards if you didn’t receive lots of blessings!

I really like the advice given by Sister Marjorie Hinkley. She said, “As you create a home, don’t get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family. Don’t dwell on your failures, but think about your successes. Have joy in your home. Have joy in your children. Have joy in your husband. Be grateful for the journey.”

Keep the big picture in mind. I’d like to share a quote that helps me do just that. In 1909 H.M. Bareham wrote something that was later quoted by Elder Spencer W. Kimball in April Conference of 1960. This quote has been around a long time because its truths are timeless:

“In 1809 men were following with bated breath the march of Napoleon and waiting with feverish impatience for news of the wars. And all the while in their homes babies were being born. Who could think about babies? Everyone was thinking about battles…. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? We fancy God can manage His world only with great battalions, when all the time He is doing it with beautiful babies…. When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants discovering, God sends a baby into the world to do it. While most of the thousands of precious infants born every hour will never be known outside their neighborhoods, there are great souls being born who will rise above their surroundings…. One mother gives us a Shakespeare, another a Michelangelo, and another an Abraham Lincoln…. When clouds of error need dissipating and spiritual darkness needs penetrating and heavens need opening, a little infant is born.”

I am grateful for the infants born in this world whose lives have brought me joy. I’m grateful for Jesus Christ, for Joseph Smith, for the missionaries who first brought the gospel to my ancestors in England and Denmark. Our children may not grow up to be presidents of the United States, but chances are they will be missionaries. And we are missionaries, and there’s not a more important place to share the gospel than in our homes. Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 says, “And if it so be that ye should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

Being a mom is hard work, but it is important work, a work whose benefits and joys will extend into the eternities.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Funny Things Kids Say . . .

I'm preparing to give a talk on finding joy as a young mother. As part of my preparation I'm talking about keeping a jounal and decided to share some snippets from the Steno notebooks I keep on each of my children. It's where I've recorded the funny things they've said and done. The following are the excerpts I'm planning to share in my talk. Enjoy!

from Bug's notebook

February 9, 1996 (he's just over 2 years old)
Bug woke up a couple days ago with a diaper rash. He said to Hubby, "Daddy my bottom hurts." And knowing that kisses help things feel better he added, "Daddy, kiss my bottom!"

from Loula Belle's notebook

July 8, 1998 (age 2)
I told Loula Belle that we needed to put her shoes on before going outside. "No!" she said. "I want to wear my toes."

August 28, 1998 (age 2)
Yesterday for breakfast I made "eggs in a basket." I asked Loula Belle where we get eggs from. She didn't seem to know, so Bug told her they come from chickens. Eager to show me she was smart, Lou told me that milk comes from cows. "Where does orange juice come from?" I asked, pointing to her sippy cup. "From horses," she said.

from Beans's notebook

August 29, 2002 (age 3 1/2)
Now that Bug and Loula Belle have started school, it's just Beans and me at home. This morning I was using the bathroom when the phone rang. Beans answered it. "Hello," she said. (pause) "Yes. She's going poop," she says, and then brings me the phone in the bathroom.

I was mortified! And just hung up. But they called right back. Fortunately, it was my sister-in-law, Angie. Boy did we ever have a good laugh!

December 2, 2006 (age 8)
Loula Belle was complaining about the whole-wheat pancakes we were having for breakfast, and Beans said, "I'd rather be hungry than eat these.

And they wonder why I don't like to cook.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hike #4 -- Woodcamp/Jardine Juniper

This sign marks the start of the trail to Jardine Juniper. Please note that 5.2 miles is a bit beyond my winter snowshoeing/hiking capabilities. By our estimates, my sister and I hiked approximately 2.5 miles toward Old Juniper before we turned around. Also, please note that we did that 2.5 miles in 2 hours, whereas our 1.65 miles up Bunchgrass Creek Trail a week earlier took us 1 hour and 45 minutes. We went faster and farther this time. I give the credit to a packed trail and hiking sans snowshoes. We could have gone farther, but we'd left the snowshoes in the truck, and at the end we were breaking trail through snow that was above our knees at times. I dressed in layers, but my top layer was a loose pair of jeans (my ski pants make me too hot). All the knee-deep hiking was getting me soaked! Hence, we turned back.

A beautiful, sunny morning causes squinting for photos. We could not have asked for a better day -- warm, clear, gorgeous!

We came across this sign once we started on the switchbacks, before getting to the naturally occuring springs. It made us chuckle because at the first of our hike Sherri spied a milk jug lid in the snow. She went to pick it up to throw away later and discovered a 1/3 full milk jug of . . . well . . . let's just say it looked like Mountain Dew. Gross! We had a short conversation about what would prompt a guy (had to be a guy) to wee in a jug and then leave it under a tree. Weird. And wrong on all sorts of levels! In future, let's hope that all hikers follow the sign's advice.

This is the trail before we hiked through it, breaking trail for the 7 or so other snowshoers we passed coming up the trail as we were headed down. (It felt good knowing that we'd gotten farther than any other hikers in the past three days or so.)

Look closely. This is proof that the cartoons are right. A little snow rolling down the hill does form into a big wheel-like ball. This is photographic proof.

All in all, it was a gret hike and a great workout.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Technology is like the Atonement . . .

A friend e-mailed me to find out why the text on her blog isn't showing up. I offered my best advice and then confessed that I'm not a techno kind of person. I summed up by saying, "For me, technology is kind of like the Atonement. I use it, but I don't completely understand it."

That's going to be my thought for the day. Have you ever met anyone who was investigating the gospel but couldn't make a leap of faith because they had to know and understand everything? That's not faith, but it is an understandable position given the fact-filled world that we live in. We've been raised in the information age, and sometimes that upbringing can make it difficult to find faith. I see it as it relates to my health. I want to know all the whys and what-fors.

I know that Jesus's atonement makes it possible for Him to succor us in our physical afflictions. I don't know exactly how that works, but I've experienced it before. Right now seems like a good time to try using it again. I just need to remind myself that I don't have to know how spiritual healing works in order to use it. Faith means believing and then acting.

That's my goal for today, for forever.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A short personal history

I was born in March of 1972 in the old Logan, Utah LDS hospital to a terrific set of parents. One of the nurses at the hospital said that I always looked like I wanted to ask a question. That sounds about right. I continue to be insatiably curious about the people and places around me.

Five short months before they brought me home to their little one-bedroom home on Center Street in Smithfield, my parents brought home another newborn baby girl, a baby they’d adopted from California. While we were babies my mom had her hands full! I imagine it was a lot like having twins, only we didn’t go through developmental stages at the same time. I was always a few steps behind my sister, trying hard to keep up. My brothers were born in 1975 and 1978 while we were living in Hyrum, Utah.

My dad taught me to love dogs and horses and the great outdoors. Dad wanted his girls to be tough. We have a photo of Sherri and me at age two, each holding a fish and bawling. Eventually we learned not to cry when he dropped something new into our outstretched hands. I consider my dad to be my first biology and science teacher. He took me for horse rides in the mountains and taught me the names of the all the birds, flowers, animals and trees.

I have always loved school. My academic career began at Lincoln Elementary in Hyrum, Utah and ended in May of 1994 when I received my bachelor degree in English from Utah State University. Somewhat naively, I thought that girls naturally became like their mothers, and so I patterned my life after my mom’s. She loves reading and writing. So do I. She enjoys talking with people and getting to know them. So do I. She was an exchange student when she was sixteen. So was I. (I went to Tokyo, Japan.) She graduated valedictorian from high school. So did I. I’m grateful that she set a great example for me and gave me a lot to achieve and accomplish.

I met my husband while attending the USU 14th ward. I’ve always kept a journal and had written a couple entries listing the criteria I’d like to have in a future husband. Once I found myself falling for Hubby, I looked back on those entries and discovered that he was a perfect fit. He has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ, knows where he’s going in life, is a hard worker and shares similar interests with me. But it was the heart-felt notes he’d leave in my racquetball bag or on the windshield of my car that made it easy to say yes when he proposed. That one decision has been the biggest blessing in my life!

Built in Accountability . . .

Today's Herald Journal, my local newspaper, contains my first Hiking to Health article. (Sorry, it's not on-line.) I'm pleased with how they laid it out and their photo choices. It's nice. And binding.

There in black and white is my committment to take two snowshoe/hiking outings each month and write a monthly report of my progress. No wimping out now. I'm committed. Which was part of my plan all along.

Why is it that a promise to oneself is easy to break? But a promise made to others is more likely to be kept? I disappoint myself all the time by not doing what I know is best for myself. (As in yesterday's bowl of ice cream.) But I'll go to great lengths not to let someone else down.

Clearly on my path to better health I need to learn how to make and keep committments to myself. Anyone have experience learning how to do this? Any handy tips?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bunchgrass Creek Snowshoe Outing

This is my sister and me at the beginning of our latest snowshoe outing. On Wednesday morning we drove up Logan Canyon, parked along the highway just past the Tony Grove turn off, and hiked up the Bunchgrass Creek trail. Unlike our other hiking outings, Wednesday's weather was overcast with a few snow flurries. We also had to wear snowshoes for the entire hike. I felt like Nanook of the North trudging through the snow.

This is a young aspen with a bit of naturally occuring graffiti. P is for powder!

And this is my powder pooch! Annie loves the snow. She rolls in it, licks it up, runs like mad through it. I call her my all-terrain dog.

This trail may look moderate. Actually it is moderate, but moderate kicked my tush! My sister brought along a GPS that told us how far we'd hiked, the elevation, temperature, etc. We started up the trail at 10 AM and my goal was to hike until noon, taking little breaks along the way. Well, by 11:45 I called Uncle. My joints felt fine. I was just beat. Hot, sweaty, and tired. The GPS said we'd gone only 1.6 miles. If snowshoeing on a moderate incline for under 2 miles tuckers me out, how am I ever going to scale the mighty Wellsville Mountains? The climb up Deep Canyon to the Wellsville Ridge is 2.9 miles with an elevation gain of 2,720 feet. From there the hike along the ridge to the Wellsville Cone is 3.2 miles and an elevation gain of 1,350 feet. Add it up. That's 6.1 miles and an elevation climb of 4,070 feet! My days of missing my morning Nordic Track workouts are over. I am motivated not to die on September 12th. I'll be kicking my workouts up a notch.

This is Bunchgrass Creek. I'd like to see it again in the summertime.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dream Simple

Maybe you've noticed that I enjoy coming up with monthly motivational phrases. Last month's was -- Shut your mouth and live your life! A reminder to live a fulfilled life that will help prevent mindless eating. Or something like that.

For this month my motto is -- Dream Simple.

We've all been told to dream big. But dreaming big often backfires on me. I have a very vivid imagination and really enjoy creating a fully illustrated alternate reality in my head. That's when the over-achiever side of my personality takes over and outlines a series of steps necessary to achieve said gigantic dream. Those steps then morph into expectations, and pretty soon reality kicks in, perhaps in the form of a malfunctioning thyroid or an ovarian cyst from Hades, or just in the demands of raising a family and running a household. It seems that sooner or later I realize that the gigantic dream I'd created for myself isn't going to materialize.

How do you feel when you've taken steps to reach a goal and come up short? I'll be honest. I feel crappy. Demoralized. Defeated. Depressed.

Hence my new motto -- Dream Simple.

Here's the thing, dreaming, imagining wonderful things for yourself, feels great. I don't ever want to stop dreaming. But I'd like to stop feeling like a failure. Looking at my past experiences with dream drop-out, I can see that I aimed for the stars and landed in my backyard.

But is the backyard such a bad place to be? Not really. It's where our chicken coop is, where we get three fresh eggs every day. It's where I play fetch with my dog while I'm out doing chores. Come spring it's where our lilac plants will bloom, where the strawberries will come on, where the grass will need mowing, where the kids will lay out a blanket and read in the sun. And I'm going to join them.

I can see that these alternate realities I've been creating for myself often neglect to take into account current realities: kids, chores, husband, church callings, genetic predispositions. If I'm going to stop feeling like a failure, I'm going to need to start dreaming with the backyard in mind. Dreaming simple means considering where you're starting from, thinking about who you are and what brings you joy.

Joy. That's what dreaming simple is all about. Instead of aiming at joy, I can see that my dreams have been aiming for recognition.

Old habits die hard. Our family is in the process of creating individual history pages to add to my father-in-law's personal history book. I've been asked to write a one page summary of my life up until I got married. Sunday I dug through boxes in the basement and found a scrapbook I kept from middle school through high school. It's full of straight-A report cards, awards and certificates of recognition for everything from camp certification to English Sterling Scholar and valedictorian. If it extended into my college years it would be more of the same right up until I graduated and began my career as an at-home mom.

No wonder I've been making myself miserable. I spent the first half of my life seeking and getting recognition while overlooking the joy of the jouney. There is very little recognition, awards or certificates of achievement given to mothers. But there are countless daily joys.

Dreaming simple involves recognizing dreams that have come true and acknowledging blessings and gifts. Sometimes dreaming simple means imagining your life staying the same. Wow. That's a new thought for me, but a powerful one.

I don't need to dream about having a different life or being a different person (i.e. a skinnier one). I can dream about where my current life is taking me, dream about the joys that lie ahead. But most importantly, I can be grateful for this wonderful, simple dream that I'm living.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hiking to Health . . .

Last last year I hit upon a fun way to stay motivated to get in shape. Go hiking! I also approached my local newspaper about the possibility of sharing my exploits with its readers. Well, I just heard back from the features editor. They'd like me to write a once-a-month hiking piece starting in February and going thru September. Watch out Herald Journal readers, HERE I COME!

I'll be combining the Green Canyon hike with this past Saturday's Cherry Creek hike for the first submission. Here are some shots I took on Saturday. For Tina's take on the excursion, visit her blog. (She has better photos.)

This is my sister Sherri and her friend Carl mugging for the camera before we head up the trail.

This is Tina carrying her snowshoes. We discovered that the packed trail didn't really require snowshoes. Speaking for myself, I discovered that the little wider walking stance required for snowshoeing bothered my hips. Curse these hips! Walking up the trail in hiking books was easier.

This is Carl bending down to take off his snowshoes. Notice that he's got my set strapped to his backpack. Thanks Carl! (I ditched mine sooner than everyone else.)

After we'd been hiking for over an hour, the packed trail ended at a cabin. Hmmmm. We'd long ago left our snowshoes under a tree. We trudged up the trail a bit sans snow gear, but decided to call it a hike and turn around.

All in all, I think it was a good idea to ditch the snowshoes. Not only did it save my hips, but it shortened our hike -- made it so that we didn't overdo. I came home feeling like I'd had a workout, but not left totally drained. Perfect!

Next week we'll be hiking Bunchgrass trail up Logan Canyon. E-mail me if you'd like to come along!

The joys of being . . .

This is the view from the top of the mountain just off Marge's Triple at Beaver Mountain. I snapped this Wednesday morning. My daughter's elementary school does a P.E. unit on skiing and has the opportunity to go skiing at drastically reduced rates. In the morning the kids get lessons, and this mom skiied all her favorite runs. The sun was shining, and the weather was perfect!

Here we are with the lodge in the background and great big smiles on our faces. We left the haze of the valley behind and enjoyed warmth and sunshine skiing down the slopes.

Here's a little confession. I'm a very task-oriented person who likes to tick tasks off my daily to-do list. But this one day of skiing with my daughter left a big impression on me. It helped me remember that life is not a list of tasks to be checked off, it's about living and being. I spent most of Wednesday living in the present, being present for my daughter.

You've heard about the dangers of distracted driving. But what about distracted living? I'm afraid that I've been guilty of doing a lot of distracted living lately -- crossing off appointments on my calendar, planning for upcoming events, even blogging about what I've been doing -- but missing present moments.

I keep thinking back to the words of President Thomas S. Monson. He wisely taught:
1. Learn from the past.
2. Prepare for the future.
3. Live in the present.

I feel like I'm living in the present when I take the time to play darts with Beans, when I stop what I'm doing when Lou comes home from school and listen to her while she eats her after-school snack. Even just reading a book on the couch while the rest of the family is scattered around me feels like making the most of small moments. Remembering to ask my husband about his day at work and then listening and responding to what he says is living in the present.

Because I spend most of the day home while everyone else is gone to work or school, I sometimes get overly focused on my own agenda. When they return I have a hard time transitioning back into a multi-person focus. But hey, now that I've acknowledged what the problem is, I can work on improving.

Every little moment spent with a loved one is a moment to savor and cherish!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

An expensive, ER visit issued bracelet . . .

I went to the Emergency Room on Sunday evening. I thought it was a kidney stone, but it turned out to be an ovarian cyst between 5-6 centimeters long. Which, in the words of my doctor, is honking! And terribly painful. I didn't actually save the little identification bracelet that they tag you with when you go to the ER, but I figure it will end up costing $250. (There are SO MANY other things I would rather spend that money on!)

The good news is that the worst pain of my life has passed, and I'm hopeful it will never return. Also, I was able to complete hike #2 on Saturday and will post my report in the next day or two. (It was more difficult, but I felt in better shape to meet its physical demands.)

Also, I'm headed up skiing tomorrow with my daughter's elementary school class. Mostly I'll be avoiding the other little skiers and focusing on spending a day on the slopes with my little cutie. Should be fun.

This housewife is awfully gratefull to be back to feeling healthy!

My First Robert Burns Dinner . . .

This is Eric, the bagpiper who was playing when we entered the door at our friends's home for our first Robert Burns Commemorative Dinner. If you'd like more information on Robert Burns, you have one of two options. Option 1: You can check out what Wikipedia has to say about him. Option 2: You can find some friends with Scottish ancestry that enjoy throwing elaborate parties and are kind enough to invite you. We went with option #2.

Meet Lez and DeSiree, our friends and ward members. After forgetting to bring my camera to their commorative dinner celebrating Saint Barbara, patron saint of miners, I made sure to get pictures this time. Lez and Des give dinners that would put the spreads you see in glossy magazines to shame. For their miner's dinner, Lez and his son constructed a simulated mine in their basement complete with timber beams, ventilation tubing, and all the fine touches. Knowing their dedication to their Scottish ancestry, I knew to expect an equally authentic environment at the Burns Dinner. I wasn't disappointed. We were treated to live music on the bagpipes. The room for the dinner was draped in swags of tartan with Scottish flags as accents. And the food was, well, Scottish. Posted below is a video of the Parade of the Haggis. And, yes, I sampled the haggis. It was fine. But I must say that I was a bit more appreciative of the other Scottish fare. Except, you've got to love an entree that has such loyal admirers. Tony gave a wonderful rendition of Burns' "Address to a Haggis" and then it was time to dine!

Thank you, Lez and Des for going above and beyond the ordinary to put on a wonderful feast!