Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christmas Spirit

It has been 9 years since my mother passed away and this Christmas has been the most difficult that I remember in all that time. I have missed her so often during the past several months and I am not sure exactly why. I have really struggled to have the holiday spirit, however this past week I had some experiences that have made it a little easier to open my heart.
The first happened a few days ago. I was walking out of the office after a really crazy day at work. I just wanted to get to the car and go home. I passed a woman and a little girl who appeared to be about 4 years old. The little girl was singing at the top of her lungs,
“Oh, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town!”
The next experience happened today in Sacrament Meeting. There was a special musical number performed by the Matthew and Zachary Zalar along with their mother. It was a medley of Christmas hymns and Matthew played the violin. I wasn’t prepared for the feelings that rushed into my heart. I thought of my mother and how when I was younger, we would do the same kind of things. Both Bobbye and I cried and cried.
After church, as I was putting the nursery toys away, I saw Savanna Prince walking down the hall. She had candy from the Bishop’s office in her hand as she greeted me with a huge smile. I hugged her and asked her if she was excited for Christmas. She said that she was and she was looking forward to getting presents. I agreed with her that it was fun to get presents at Christmas. As she followed me into the nursery classroom, she said, “Sylvia, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and WE get the presents!”
It took me a few minutes to fully comprehend what she said. As I did the tears began to flow once again. I am thankful for the wisdom of a 5 year old. This Christmas I hope each and every one of you remember how blessed you are because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ gave US all the presents. May your hearts truly rejoice during this wonderful holiday season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I've Been Tagged...Games I don't play well...

Maura, http://www.pamperedprincessmaura.blogspot/, tagged me. I will confess right now that I don't play games like this very well. I may be amending the rules somewhat because there are just some games I stink at and this is one of them. My understanding of this game is that I must

a) link to the person that tagged me.

b)mention the rules of the game

c)tell six quirks about myself

d)tag six other people

e)comment on their blogs to let them know they have been tagged

I am hoping so far that I have accomplished the first two rules. So on to the quirks...

1. I love to do dishes. A clean kitchen makes me so happy. Cooking the meal is fine and I enjoy that too, but cleaning up the kitchen and making things organized and sparkling just really satisfies me. The rest of the house can be in total chaos, but if the kitchen is clean and organized, then I am a happy camper. I like to cook, but refuse to do so in a dirty kitchen. So in our house, that means, Eric does most of the cooking! About once a month, I get really frustrated and attack it with all my might. That cleaning lasts for a week or so and then it is trashed again. Since returning to work full time 8 years ago, I have had to learn the art of selective neglect. I selectively neglect this dirty kitchen because I have more important things that need to be done in my limited time. This habit has saved my marriage since I am married to "Messy Marvin".

2. I hate to leave home. I know this may sound odd, but I could stay home for days on end. Those of you who have been to my house, know that I have everything anyone could ever want or need so I wouldn't have to go out for a long time! I have noticed that this is an interesting paradox, because all my life, I have had to be gone from home. My secret desire is to be locked in my home for a month...oh, the things I could get done!

I have had tremendous opportunities to travel and each time I have a trip coming up, I get really nervous. I just hate to leave. This doesn't stop me from going and having a great time, but I really enjoy coming home.

3. I have really weird sleeping patterns. When I was younger, I considered myself a "night person". I functioned the best between 10pm and 2am. This didn't work well while I was in school. After I got married, I had a few years when I could still stay up late and sleep in. When I started back to work full time, I had to learn to go to bed early and get up early. Usually I am asleep before 10pm and I get up around 5am. Sometimes, I wake up even earlier. This happens frequently on the weekends. I have found that I get a lot done early on Saturday morning because everyone else is asleep.

4. I have a fear of drowning. Not so intense that it keeps me out of or away from water. In fact I love the water. It is just every now and then when I am driving across a bridge, I think about the car plummeting into the water and what I would do. Part of me thinks I would try to escape and then another part of me thinks I would just let go and surrender myself to the deep. I hope I never have to actually face that fear. When I was a little girl, we lived in eastern Pennsylvania and we would have to drive to one of my parent's friends houses a lot. She was an elderly lady named Sister Jonnsen. The road to get there was narrow and winding. On one side was a river. I would be scared every time we drove on the side of the road closest to the river especially in winter when the roads were covered with ice and snow.

5. I have a two new loves...Cruising and Florida. After having such a great time on my recent vacation, I have spent hours dreaming and planning about a return trip. I am totally in love with Florida. Now I am smart enough to know that I don't want to go there in the summer, nor do I really want to live there--way too hot! But just like Utah, a visit now and then is perfect.

6. I have two things that I have never done, but would like to do before I die. I have never been to Disneyworld (or Disneyland for that matter). I would like to go there just once. Not to ride the rides but just to experience the atmosphere of "The Happiest Place on Earth". Of course it would be fun to sleep overnight in the Princess castle! The other thing I have never done, but would love to do is to attend the Tucson Gem Show which is held every year in February. It is one of the premiere gem trade shows in the world. It is strictly for business owners so I will have to either know someone or have my own business. About ten years ago, Eric's mother got to go to the show with her Sister in Law who owns a quilt shop in Tucson. She bought me a really neat sterling silver and opal ring. She told me that there is so much to see you can't even see it all. I just want to see all the gems.

Ok. so here is where I don't play the game too well. I am going to "freeze" on tagging anyone else. Number one, I don't know how to link people. Number two, I am sure that it is so late in the game that everyone I know has already been tagged. So thanks for reading my quirks. Feel free to comment and know that you are all safe...there'll be no tags from me!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Extreme Gardner Girls Conference

As many of you know, I just returned from attending the Extreme Gardner Girls Conferece. I am hoping that this will become an annual event. Last Fall my sister, Debra decided that as sisters we needed to take a vacation together. She arranged for us to take a cruise to the Caribbean and told us to get our passports and make arrangements to get to Florida. This conference was a year in the making and well worth all the sacrifices made to attend. Debra wanted this trip to allow us to bond together in a special way. I was thankful for the chance to spend more time with Laura because she is our newest sister and though I took care of her when she was three, I didn't really know her as a grown up.
Traveling with Bobbye is always an adventure. For those of you who have not had the experience, let me just say that if you like to melt into the background, don't travel with Bobbye. Everyone knows who you are when you are with her. This trip was no exception. Margaret, Bobbye and I flew down to Florida on Saturday Oct. 25th. We were picked up from the airport by the hotel shuttle. The driver immediately played a joke on us by telling us it was his first day driving and he wasn't sure how to get back to the hotel. We found out later that Debra (who was the first to arrive) had arranged for him to play a trick on Bobbye when he picked us up. Soon we were joined by Martha, Mary and Laura who were flying in from Salt Lake. Then the laughter began...
Sunday morning we attended Sacrament Meeting at a local ward. The ward choir director was sitting in the pew in front of us. When she heard us sing, she asked if we were moving into the ward. Sorry, just visiting! That afternoon, we drove down by the beach and ate lunch at this cafe which had booths that were on gliders. It was fun to feel the breeze and listen to the ocean as we ate lunch.
Monday morning we took the shuttle to Port Everglades where we checked in and boarded our cruise ship. There were lots of people there, but it was organized really well and soon we were greeted by Royal Caribbean staff directing us to the lunch buffet on the pool deck. Our staterooms were not ready yet so we went up there and enjoyed a wonderful lunch. As we sat at our table eating, laughing and visiting, I marvelled at the fact that I was actually on a cruise ship for the first time ever!
Before too long, we were leaving the port and our cruise was underway. Tuesday morning we were in Key West. It was very windy and a little chilly however, I got some really great pictures from the top deck of the ship.
Wednesday we were in Cozumel, Mexico where we booked a shore excursion called the Deluxe beach break. They took us to this resort and we got to sit on the beach for a few hours. It was partly cloudy there so the temperature was perfect.

Thursday we were in Belize City, Belize. We took an excursion to the Mayan ruins. It was an hour by bus and then another hour and a half by boat up the Belize River. The site where the temples were was really neat, but it was definately in the jungle. There was a lot of mud, rocky terrain and bugs.
Friday was Halloween and we were cruising all day. It was fun to just hang out on the ship and visit. There were lots of activities going on and we spent the day enjoying each other's company.All too soon, we were back in Ft. Lauderdale. We spent Saturday together and we all headed for home on Sunday morning. I was so thankful to Debra for having the inspiration to plan and organize such a wonderful outing. I am thankful for my sisters and for the opportunity of spending time with them in such a unique setting. After the holidays we are going to plan our next conference. I am sure it will be another wonderful event. I also want to give a special thanks to Bobbye. Many of you knew my mother and what a special woman she was. She always made us feel important and loved. I am so thankful for Bobbye because she has the same attitude toward us. I am thankful that she loves me so much. She was a major contributor in making the Extreme Gardner Girls Conference a success.

I learned many things from attending this conference. First of all: The Gardner Girls Rock! We are all awesome, talented, funny, smart and beautiful women. Second: It is important to take time to do things with the ones you love regardless of the sacrifices you have to make. Third: Cruising is a great way to vacation. I have never felt so pampered in all my life. I am looking forward to taking Eric on a cruise someday.

Friday, October 10, 2008


The other day I took a few minutes to read some blogs. As I was reading "Through Rose-colored Glasses" I realized that it had been a really long time since I had posted. The main reason for this is because I have been focusing on my fitness goals and also some other personal goals. Sorry for my long absence...

Wednesday as I was doing my in home walking with Leslie Sansone (4 fast miles) I realized for the first time in my life, I actually set a goal in January to lose weight and have accomplished this goal. It has been a long and frustrating path. I have struggled with health issues, stress from work and periods where I just lacked commitment. Despite these and other challenges, I have managed to drop more than 20 pounds since January. Of course, my hope at the beginning of the year was to lose more than this, but the fact that I have actually accomplished part of my goal is really significant.

It was interesting for me to note that the majority of my weight loss happened after I returned home from vacation in July. I had committed to walking the Black Squirrel 5k with Maura and I knew that I needed to get conditioned for this. August was a great month. September didn't start out so wonderful because I had a sinus infection. The week leading up to the Black Squirrel was really bad because I had to work a lot of overtime due to the wind storm. When the 27th of September dawned, I was pretty exhausted.

Regardless of this fatigue, I had committed to the event and I was going to do it. I admit that I was not adequately prepared and by the time I hit heartbreak hill, which was early in the course, I was seriously questioning my sanity. I was thankful for two angels (Rhonda and Stephanie), who walked with me and helped me finish. It was hard. My pace was slow (about 21 minutes per mile). I was the last person to cross the finish line, but I finished and was proud of my accomplishment.

The best part of the event was when I was coming down the last big hill and I saw Maura, Mikayla and my niece, Cortney coming up the hill to greet me. They came to find me and walk me in. I had no idea how demanding this course would be and I was totally unprepared. As I pondered the event later that day, I realized that only the first few hundred feet and the last few hundred feet were flat. Everything else was either up or down hill. What a challenge. I told Maura, next year, we are training on those hills.

On the way home from this event, we drove through Winton Woods and discussed the possibility of doing the Run for the Nuns 5k which was the following Saturday. I was not sure I wanted to do any hills again so soon. Maura called the sponsors and found out that the course had been changed so we decided to go for it. I will save this experience for a future blog. I will say that doing the Run for the Nuns was the most fun I have had since I started this journey earlier this year.

For the past two weeks I have been very committed to my walking/jogging. I am working to build up my stamina for my upcoming cruise. The other day, Eric wanted to inspire me so he printed out my finish line pictures for all three 5k walks I have done. To my surprise, I could really see the difference in my body. I am thankful for the changes and I am looking forward to even more as I continue working toward reaching my fitness goals.

So, I am still a slow walker, but my pace is getting faster. I still want to complete the 10k at the Flying Pig in May. In January when I sat down and set my goals for this year, I never imagined where they would take me...but I am totally loving it!
This is me finishing the Flying Pig 5k on May 3rd.
This is me finishing the Black Squirrel on Sept. 27th. My nephew, Heston is cheering me on as I cross the finish line.
This is just before I crossed the finish line at the Run for the Nuns on Oct. 4th. I am celebrating beating my time from the previous week by almost 4 minutes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Didn't Know...

I realized a couple of weeks ago that it had been over a month since I had posted anything new. Although I felt guilty, my busy schedule did not permit me to remedy the situation until today. Yesterday as I was watching QVC--one of my favorite things to do--I heard a new term that I thought was blogworthy. The hostess was talking about how the recent economic challenges have made it more expensive for people to take traditional vacations. The consequence of this was that many were opting to stay home this summer and participate in recreational activities either at home or closer to home. She called this a "STAYCATION"!

Now, I don't know about you, but this concept is not new to me...I can remember as a child that our family took several staycations. In fact, most of the 21 years that Eric and I have been together, we have taken a staycation during the summer. Last year during our staycation we put the laminant floor in our computer room. It was both physically and mentally taxing for me and when it came time to return to work, I felt like I needed another week to recover. This was an especially good staycation because it came the closest to simulating how I feel when I have to return to work after a traditional vacation.

What a surprise for me to find out that all these years, I was just ahead of my time--and so were my parents! I'm guessing that there are plenty of you out there who were also ahead of your time--now we can rest easy because we know that we were veteren staycationers before it was chic!

Now of course, the best part of this new discovery would be if I could actually participate with "the crowd" in my own staycation this year. Truth be told, I would love to do this because I really enjoy being at home with Eric, my four kitties and my sweet doggie. Alas, I am sorry to say that once again, I am not going to be in vogue. I have already purchased tickets for TWO vacations this year! Oh, well.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wow, I really did it!!! My Life Has Changed Forever

It was hard to do, but I did it! When I sat down to write out my goals for 2008, I never imagined I would find myself actually wanting to go downtown and be around a whole bunch of people walking in the rain. I started my walking program to help me lose weight. This has been particularly frustrating since it isn't happening the way I would like (but that is for another blog). When Maura mentioned walking the 5K at the Flying Pig Marathon, I thought, "ok, I can do this."

I worked really hard in January and February to get my walking distance up to 4 miles at time. In March I started having some health issues so cut back a bit and I completely stopped in April. I was very frustrated and wasn't even sure I would be able to do the 5K even up to last week. On Tuesday I made the decision that I had set this goal and I was going to do it even though I had not walked in over a month. I put in my slow walking DVD and managed to do 2 miles before I quit. I did ok so figured I would just go for it.

Friday at the Health Expo was a total blast. Maura and I checked in and picked up our posters, T-shirts and other goodies. We walked around and I just took in the atmosphere. At this point, I have to interject that I usually avoid crowds, events and the like so this was highly out of character for me. Maura was so knowledgeable about things and I loved her enthusiasm. It really lit my fire and made me eager for the events of the next day.

I hardly slept at all Friday night. We got up at 5am and were out to door by 6 to pick up Maura. We got downtown and parked in a great spot--I have to say here that this was my real fear--where to park so that Eric didn't have to do a ton of walking. I prayed that things would go well and they did. Shane told us exactly how to get where we wanted to be and we parked about as close to the action as you could get. Once we were there, I was more relaxed.

It was wet and drizzly when Maura started, but I really enjoyed cheering her on as she left. She inspired me so much and I was extremely proud of how well she finished. It was a highlight of my day to stand there at the "finish swine" and clap as she crossed. She totally rocks! It was fun to see all the cool stuff they had for the racers once they finished and it made me excited for my turn.

We went back to the car and hung out for a while. We ate snacks and watched the people walking by on the sidewalk. We could see that the rain was starting again--so much for the weather forecast that said the rain would be over by 9am! Silly weathermen!!! When it came time for my race, it was pouring down rain. I was really excited despite the wet conditions. The thing that impressed me the most was the participants...there were all kinds of people: young, old, skinny, not so skinny, people in wheelchairs and some were even blind. When Maura initially mentioned I should do this walk, she told me about all the different people who participated. Seeing it for myself, just drove home the point that everyone can participate if they want.

I started off strong and confident, the first mile was easy. Maura was talking to me and coaching me the whole way and I was so thankful. I could have done it alone, but she wanted to be there with me. Her encouragement helped me get through some really rough spots where I would have been tempted to quit. Before we got to the 2nd mile marker, I could feel the blisters starting to form on my feet because my socks were so wet. There was a point where the course was not marked well and we--like many others, because we were following the crowd (also a lesson for another blog) went the wrong way. We had to backtrack so that we could get back on course. We could see the finish line, but still had about half the course to run so we joked about going across, but decided we did not want to cheat ourselves from having the full experience. On we walked.

When I was nearing the "Finish Swine" Maura broke off from me and ran ahead to meet up with Eric. I was left to walk the last part on my own. It was at this point that I had two profound thoughts which brought tears to my eyes. The first was that I was actually going to accomplish my goal which made all the work and sacrifice worth the effort. The second thought was about the Savior when He atoned for our sins. When the suffering got difficult, an angel was sent to strengthen him, however, there was a point where he had to finish the task alone...and he did. Maura was the angel that strengthened me. She stayed with me until it was time for me to finish the race on my own.

This experience has changed my life forever. I am now really excited about walking and running other marathons. I have set a goal to run the 10K next year and I also want to walk the 5K with my sweetheart, Eric. My heart is full today as I contemplate the numerous blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me. Maura, you are the best. You were sent to me at a time when I really needed you.Thank you for your support and encouragement. To those of you reading this (since you have persevered to the end of this rather long posting) this is an open invitation to join us next year. We would love to share a walk/run with you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Fresh Perspective

This week marks the one year anniversary of my nephew, Louis, getting sick. For those of you who don't know the story, I will give you the highlights. Louis lived here in Ohio for about six years. He was raised as a member of the church but was not active as an adult. Louis and I have always had a close relationship and so during the time he lived here we relied on each other for help and support.
Last April, he went to Mercy hospital with pain in his abdomen. He was transferred to UC where they treated him for a blood clot in the main vein coming from his liver. He was doing pretty well with his treatment, however during a procedure there was a complication which caused him to go into respiratory and cardiac arrest. The doctors and nurses were able to bring him back, but were certain that he would not live. I was at the hospital when this happened and it reminded me a lot of what you see on tv.
We were blessed to have two worthy Priesthood holders working at the hospital that night who were able to administer to him. The blessing was beautiful and comforting to myself and also his mother. In the days and weeks that passed, Louis got stronger and eventually was able to be moved to a long term care facility in Utah so his mother could be close to home. In Nov. he came home from the nursing home and now lives with his parents.
He still has a long way to go. He cannot speak, but his facial expressions let you know what he is thinking. He requires constant monitoring, but he is home and he is happy. This brings me to my story for this week...I called my sister to see how she was doing and the Relief Society president answered the phone. At first I thought I had dialed a wrong number, but she assured me that I had not. She told me that Martha was busy with Louis and he was having a problem so they were taking him to the hospital.
Later that night, Martha called me to explain that Louis was choking on some mucous and they couldn't get it out. She shared with me how wonderful and calm his brother, John, was as he called 911 and explained that they needed help. She said that John looked at Louis and told him, "Louis, you stay here with us. You don't go to Grandma! Stay with us."
As I have thought about that statement the past few days I am amazed at John's perspective. He is 16 years old and he shares a large portion of the responsibility to care for his older brother. It would be easy for him to resent the time he has to sacrifice to care for Louis. It would be easy for him to resent the time that his mother has to spend taking care of Louis. My sister said she feared that they were going to lose Louis and she was sure that my mother was there during this episode.
I also know that this past year for Louis has been frustrating. One day he is healthy and able to go about living his life the way he wants and the next he is trapped in a body that won't work. I have wondered what impact John's words had on Louis. I have marvelled at the love John showed for Louis. Most of all, I am thankful because I understand how John came to love Louis so much.
When John was little, Louis was a lot older and he loved John and always went out of his way to do things with/for him. One might think that would be the reason, but the real reason that John begged Louis to stay with them is because he truly loves him. I believe this love came as a result of the example of my sister and my mother. My mother cared for my handicapped sister, Julie for 20 years and allowed each of us to take part in that. The privilege of caring for Julie is one that I treasure to this day. I miss her a lot. Martha now is doing the same thing as she teaches her children while they care for Louis.
I know for a fact that we love those we serve and there can be no greater blessing than this. I am so thankful for John's insightful words..."Stay here with us." Don't feel like you need to leave just because you are tired, frustrated, too much trouble, or you think we are tired and frustrated. We will take care of you because we love you. We want you here with us. What a different world it would be if more people understood the power of unconditional love. Thank you John, for giving me a fresh perspective.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Tupperware Shape Ball Experience

Today in nursery, I brought a Tupperware shape ball toy for the class. As we sat on the blanket, I handed each child a different shaped piece. Then, one by one I put the ball in front of each child with the matching opening on top to help them put the piece inside. As I watched what happened next it made me think about my own life...
Some of the children followed my prompting and tried to put the piece into the space I was showing them but they were not sucessful because it was slightly twisted and it didn't match the opening. Of these, some persisted to follow my instructions and eventually got the piece to go in the opening and others started looking for and trying to put the piece into another opening.
Some of the children didn't pay any attention to what I was showing them and immediately tried to get the piece to fit into a different space. It became frustrating for me because I was trying to help them and they weren't listening.
Some of the children were excited about taking a turn with the toy and others didn't really care at all if they got the piece in the correct place. It didn't take long before I was ready to put the toy away!
As I reflected on this experience this afternoon, I wondered how many times Heavenly Father has become frustrated with me. In the past few weeks, I have been struggling with some health issues and I have been extremely frustrated. I have prayed and asked for help. I have had Priesthood blessings. I have acted on the things I have been instructed to do and nothing changed. This past week, my patience was exhausted. It was 3am on Tuesday morning and I had had all I was going to take. I was on my knees issuing an ultimatum: Solve this problem or else! (and the "or else" was that I would work all week because I have to and I would rest all day Saturday and Sunday and I wouldn't be going to church). I did feel somewhat guilty about throwing a temper tantrum, but I was really tired. I have since repented of the tantrum.
In the hours and days that followed, I got the answers I was needing. How thankful I am that despite my temper tantrum, I was blessed by a Heavenly Father that loves me. In thinking about my experience today, I know I had the right pieces to the puzzle, they were just slightly askew. Instead of adjusting each of the pieces, I was looking for a different opening that fit the way I had them arranged. After humbling myself and making some alterations I was able to see some changes. As these changes came, I expressed my gratitude for the blessing.
I had planned to attend an all day stamping party yesterday, but instead spent the day in bed getting the rest my body needed. I know this was the place I needed to be even though I wanted to be with my friends. I knew it was important that I have the strength to be in the nursery class and that if I have to work all week and sleep all day Saturday so that I can be there on Sunday then that is what I will do.
Nursery today went pretty well. I am confident that there is much good being accomplished and that is why I am experiencing such opposition. Corrie's talk in Sacrament meeting today was very uplifting. With my current struggles and stress, I know I need to be in church each week. I also know that Heavenly Father will give me the strength to be there. I am hopeful that in time, I will get all the pieces into the ball and everything thing will be in the correct order. I just have to be patient and listen to His instructions.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Adventure Continues

As promised in a previous blog...this is a picture of me on a mule. It was taken in Sept. 2002 when my friend, Pam Clark, and I, took Eric's mother with us to the Parade Rest Dude Ranch in West Yellowstone, Montana. Here is the story...
We had so much fun during our whirlwind weekend in Texas that we wanted to travel again so almost immediately after getting home, we started planning another trip. We looked for airline tickets online because we decided that we didn't like flying stand-by. We found a great deal and reserved our tickets. The day before the deadline to actually pay for the tickets we talked again about taking the trip. Neither of us felt good about going so we canceled the reservation. A few months later we were humbled as we realized that had we gone on the trip we had planned, we would have been flying home (or should I say trying to fly home) on Sept. 11, 2001. How thankful I am that we followed that prompting.
Pam found this dude ranch online and we decided that we should go there. The rates were good because it was the end of the season. One of the highlights of the trip was called "The Sunset Ride". Now, I must confess that I was a little intimidated by the prospect of riding anything up the side of a mountain, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity and I was not disappointed. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I'm sure the ranch hands were accustomed to dealing with people that didn't know anything about riding and I was thankful for this. The mule's name was "Shaw Lynn" and he was very gentle. They had steps that I walked up to help me get on his back. It was nothing like trying to get on the cow. After a brief lesson on how to ride, we were off! Pam was riding behind me and she coached me a few times until I got the hang of it.
We started up the mountain and rode for about 30 minutes until we came to a beautiful lake. It was just about sunset and the temperature was great. I remember being in awe of my beautiful surroundings. It was the beginning of Fall so the leaves were starting to change color. It was wonderful. By the time we got back to the ranch it was nearly dark. Pam snapped this picture so I could have photographic evidence of my ride. I don't know why I didn't take my camera with me? I definately will, the next time I do this.
During this same trip, we went to Yellowstone National Park. That was my first time to go there and I didn't get to see Old Faithful, so I have to go back someday for that. We also stopped in Grand Teton National Park. Now that was a beautiful place. We drove to Twin Falls, Idaho so I could visit my grandmother and we spent a few days in Salt Lake visiting my family. We knew we had done a lot in the ten days we were gone because we logged 2000 miles on the rental car! Wow! Oh, and I also got a speeding ticket in Taylorsville, Utah--but that is a story for another blog.
I am sad to say that since this trip we have not traveled much. Lives get busy and so for now we have nothing planned, but I am hopeful that in a couple of years after her children have graduated from high school, that we will again be able to take a trip together. How thankful I am for the beautiful earth that the Lord created. I am also thankful for the freedom to be able to travel about and see these wonderful creations.

Friday, April 4, 2008

My Daring Adventures

As a follow up to my ABC's, I thought I would post some rare pictures of me doing things that are a little daring. This first picture is from New Year's weekend in 2000. I went to Texas with my dear friend, Pam Clark. The story is quite see, her mother worked for US Air and we got really cheap tickets flying stand by. We wanted to go to LA, but that was pure foolishness. We flew from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh where we checked all the available flights to the west and then started sitting at gates. We finally made it on a plane that took us to Dallas. We rented a car and got a hotel room for the weekend. This picture was taken at the Fort Worth Stock yards.
This man was walking up and down the street. He would let people get on the cow for pictures. Pam (who had lots of experience riding horses) was able to get right up there on the cow. Now, for me it was a little different. The man (standing there next to the cow) said, "If you can get your foot up in that stirrup, I can get you on that cow." Being the daredevil that I am, I said, "No problem!" I stepped up as high as I could and got my foot in the stirrup. Then jumped. He pushed. I pulled and you know, I got on that cow. Great picture, don't you think?
Pam and I had so much fun on this trip that we decided to do it again. In my next posting, I'll show the infamous "Sylvia on a mule" picture from when we went to the Dude Ranch in Montana. I am really thankful for my adventurous spirit. I am especially thankful that even though I have a lot of "body" I have enough muscle to do just about anything I want.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My A B C's

A: Attached or single--definately attached!
B: Best Friend--Eric
C: Cake or Pie--definately Pie--key lime or cherry preferrably.
D: Day of Choice--Saturday (don't have to go to the office, can do what I want, when I want)
E: Essential item--anythng with some bling!
F: Favorite color--Pink, yellow, purple, I love them all!
G: Gummy bears or worms--Gummy bears, especially the cinnamon ones--I love those things!
H: Hometown--Fairfield, Ohio.
I: Indulgence--full body massage (have not had one for a long time, desperately need one now!)
J: January or July--too hard to choose, January has two holidays because I am a government worker, July only has one since we don't live in Utah, I guess I vote for January.
K: Kids--4 boys and a girl--Lad, Bullseye, Kit Kat, Snickers and Oreo. What can I say? They are my babies--Oh, and then there is Eric, but according to him, he is pretty low on the totem pole.
L: Life rule--Everything's better with glitter! If your paper's too plain, stamp on it!
M: Marriage--Feb. 20, 1987 Jordan River Temple--the first time in my life I really felt like a princess.
N: Number of Siblings--5 sisters and 3 brothers.
O: Oranges or Apples--Oranges! There is nothing better than getting all sticky and smelling really yummy.
P: Phobias--large crowds, like at the race track or Walmart on Saturday. Big ugly spiders!
Q: Quote--"That's messed up!" Boog the grizzly bear from "Open Season" also, "You look like my Barbie" Olivia from "The Holiday"
R: Reason to smile--I'm taking two vacations this year!
S: Season--definately Summer--I need the sunshine, now!
T: Tag Six--I am always the last one to get with the program so I am guessing that everyone has already been "tagged" or "it" so I am changing this category to Trip--my most memorable trip was to a dude ranch in Montana. It was my firt time to ride a mule--someday I'll post the picture.
U: Unknown Fact about Me--My second year of college I was on Academic Probation while also serving on the Academics Counsel--Yes, my major was campus wildlife--Who'd a thunk it?
V: Vegetarian or Carnivor--Vegetarian, most definately, which causes some issues with my Carnivorous husband!
W: Worst Habit--I don't have any of those...I only have good habits...ok, ok, Eric says it is backseat driving. Can I help it if I want to get there safely? Hmmm?
X: X-ray or Ultrasound--never had an ultrasound so I have to go with x-ray.
Y: Your favorite food--Pizza, hands down! I could eat it anytime, all day, every day. Can't ever have too much.
Z: Zodiac--Leo. Couldn't you tell?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring is Almost Here!

I was thankful for the snow last week. It gave me a chance to scrub my kitchen floor (which was seriously dirty). It gave me an excuse to reorganize some of my kitchen cupboards and get rid of some things I have not been using. I also cooked more than I have in a long time.

The end of Feb. I got sick with a really bad ear infection and I had to slow down. I was making good progress on my goals, but since then, I have lost my momentum. Having to stay inside last weekend, gave me the time to get things back on track. I will confess that I usually hate snow. I like the way it looks and how peacefully it comes down from the heavens, but once it starts hanging around on the ground, it begins to create problems for my life. We have been blessed with a really good neighbor who will clear our driveway with his snowblower. He has saved us many times this winter. He was able to clear the driveway on Friday evening, but after the big snow on Saturday, his snowblower froze up before he could get to our driveway. I ended up shoveling it myself which was really good for me. I enjoyed the exercise--which I have to say, before starting my walking program, I wouldn't have enjoyed shoveling all that snow.

This afternoon, as I walked out to the car from church, I saw the sun shining, I heard the birds chirping, I breathed in the fresh, slightly crisp air, and I got excited about the arrival of spring. I am so thankful for this time of year when things are fresh and new. It gives me hope that I, too can begin anew. I can make the changes I need to make to become what I want to become. I am thankful for this Easter season. I am especially thankful that this year it comes early because I feel like I really need that reminder right now.

Last Sunday, Eric and I held our own Sacrament meeting and read several articles from this month's Ensign magazine. I was thankful to read the testimoy of President Hinckley. This morning as I was getting ready for church, I reflected on that and then thought about General Conference which is coming in a couple of weeks. I am looking forward to hearing from President Monson. I am thankful the Heavenly Father loves us enough to give us prophets and leaders who love us and desire to help us live the gospel so that we can be happy.

Serving in the nursery has given me some really choice experiences. As many of you know, it was hard for me to accept this calling. I have struggled with this like no other calling I have ever had. I can't even tell you exactly why. It has been a challenge for these young children to adjust to being in Primary. I have worked hard to make the atmosphere inviting and also establish a routine but despite this, we still have some that cry.

I want you to know how much I love these children. They are so sweet and it is wonderful to see their progress each week. I am amazed at what we have accomplished in such a short time. Today, they played together so well. They are singing more of the songs and the funniest part of class is when we do moving to music from the Primary 1 CD. The children are really great and I am thankful that Heavenly Father has given me a chance to get to know them. I am looking forward to taking them outside for walks when the weather gets warmer. Spring will be here soon and I am so thankful!

Friday, February 22, 2008


I have really been away from blogging for a while. It seems my schedule is pretty crazy these days. Here are a few updates...

After making my first goal to get my shoes, I set another goal to do 3 miles every day for two weeks. Unfortunately, I didn't make it. I had some family things that happened and I just didn't have the energy to do it all. Despite that, I moved forward. When I knew that I wasn't going to meet that goal, I just walked as many days those two weeks as I could. Last Tuesday (2/12/08), Maura came over and we were doing the 3 mile walk which consisted of playing my 2 mile walk one full time and then going to the one mile mark a second time. Well, we got busy talking and I missed the one mile mark. Maura finaly said, "I think we have finished the 3rd mile." I looked at the video and sure enough, we were past that mark. I joked about doing the whole thing twice and she agreed, but then I told her we had to get to work so I stopped.

The next day I was thinking about how easily I could have gone on, so when I started walking, I just kept going. I went through my 2 mile walk 2 complete times. It was amazing to me how easy that last mile was. So I did 4 miles, each day the rest of the week. On Sunday, I decided to pull out my 4 fast miles DVD and see how I could do. It was challenging, but I loved it. So I am now doing 4 fast miles every day. I can keep the pace pretty good, but still not able to do the high impact. I can really tell a difference in my core and abdominal muscles. So I am really excited about this. When Maura came over this past Tuesday we did it together and let me tell you, she is awesome.

I am thankful for all the support and the positive feedback. I have not stepped on a scale in a while because that is just too frustrating right now. Maura and I reviewed my progress since starting in December and found something really interesting. In December when I started, I walked a total of 10 miles. In January I walked a total of 42 miles. As of today, I have walked 57 miles in February and if I keep on track, I will have walked over 80 miles by the end of the month. That is exciting to me. The 4 fast miles is a faster pace and I can really feel the difference. There are good things ahead.

On Wed. this week 2/20/08...Eric and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. In some ways it is hard to believe that we have been married that long. In other ways, it seems like just yesterday. He is my biggest supporter and I am thankful for his encouragement as I work toward acheiving my goals. I don't think I realized when I married him, what a treasure I was getting. However, as the years have passed, I have been blessed to have him in my life. He really brings out the best in me. Eric, honey, thanks for everything. I love you so much. Here's to the next 21 years!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mama Got a New Pair O' Shoes!

I have been really diligent about keeping my goals so far this year. I have charted my progress and am really proud to say that I have done better this year than any other year in my life. Still with keeping my goals I wasn't seeing the weight loss that I wanted. I was doing the diet and really giving it my all---to no avail! So I took a que from the pampered princess and decided I was going to increase my activity level...

Last week I walked 3 miles every day---21 miles total. I have to say it was hard some of the days, but I knew that I wanted to obtain my reward so I just ignored the pain and went on. At one point, I got up from my desk slowly because my muscles were stiff and my co-worker asked if I was ok. I explained my goal and she was very supportive because she had also lost 100 lbs a couple of years ago and understood the sacrifice it took to do this.

I am happy to report that today I went to the store and bought my reward--a new pair of running shoes. That isn't even the best part of the story...I was going to get them on Saturday, before I had finished my goal, but decided I wanted to really earn it so I waited...Today after work, Eric and I went to Shoe Carnival. I had planned to buy him a new pair of shoes also so I knew it was going to cost me, but I had earned my shoes and didn't care about the cost.

When we got to the store, we started looking at the shoes. Over the PA system they announced an in store one pair, get one half price--even on the clearance shoes. This was something we had done there before, but today it wasn't advertised. It was just that store, at that moment. I found a pair of Nike runners that was regularly $65, on clearance for $54. Eric got a pair of New Balance (the only kind that he can wear because his foot is so wide--4E) for $59. My shoes were half price---$27. As we left the store, I exclaimed "Thank you Heavenly Father for another tithing blessing!"

Not only did I reach my goal and get my reward, but I also was blessed to get a great deal. I am thankful to report that I put on the new shoes right after I got home and walked 3 miles in them. WOW--what a difference a new pair of shoes makes! My next goal is to walk 3 miles every day for the next 2 weeks. I haven't decided on a reward, but it will be a good one. I am going to force my metabolism to respond!

I do have to admit that even though the weight loss isn't there, I can see my muscles toning up. I also know that muscle weighs more than fat so I am willing to go with it. Thanks for all your support. This is going to be a great year as I finally accomplish my goals.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sorry I Was Away So Long

Hello friends,

After the holidays, my life got really hectic. I was focused on my goals and work has been absolutely crazy so the last thing I wanted to do after coming home was sit in front of a computer again. Sorry, I have been away so long. I have missed reading your blogs. This morning I woke up early and decided to write a few things.

The first is that I am proud to say I have been really good at sticking to my goals for this year. I have been keeping a calendar and writing things down. I have spent more time reading, not only the scriptures, but also some other good books that I have wanted to read. I have kept my exercise goals (though some days I just didn't want to do it) and have lost about 3 pounds. A decent start considering that I have a long way to go and I want to keep it off. I am most thankful to Maura for her support. She has been one of the biggest reasons I have stayed with the exercise. It is great to have a buddy.

Second, I was really thrown for a loop by the calling to serve in the Nursery. This was the first time in my life that I really struggled to accept a call. I literally cried for days. It wasn't that I dislike being there, it was more that I had been looking forward to studying the Book of Mormon with Gospel Doctrine and I was really looking forward to the Joseph Smith RS lessons. I have served in other callings for so many years that I can't remember the last time I started and ended the year in SS and RS. When I was set apart for the nursery calling, I was given a wonderful blessing and I will say that I have been comforted by this. This past Sunday was my first week and I think things went pretty well. I find it ironic that I had just cleaned out my office in November and moved all my Primary stuff to the basement. Now I have to bring it all back upstairs!

Third, and most of all...thank you to all my friends who have been there to offer love and support. This is a big year for me. I have much to accomplish and I know that as I continue to work on my goals, I will see the fruits of my labor. I am thankful especially to Eric. He has always been a great support for me. I love him so much and can hardly believe that next month we celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. Time flies when you are with the one you love.

With all that said, I will try to be more regular with my posts. I love blogging and I definately will need your support and encouragement throughout the coming year.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Years Is Over! --Now get to work!!!

Many of you know that I started a walking program in December. I must confess that I did really well unitl the week before Christmas. I think the stress of the holidays just really made it hard for me to stay focused. Thankfully, I got back on the wagon New Year's Eve. I woke up that morning and informed Eric that he was going to walk 1 mile with me, whether he liked it or not. It was a good thing, too, because we went to two parties that night and pigged out! We also stayed out way too late and when we did come home we stayed up until 2am watching tv...don't ask why--we don't know. Probably because of all the sugar we consumed.

Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed around 9am on New Years Day and commenced to cleaning off the desk in my office, which needed to be done before I could make any kind of resolutions. A little later on, Maura came over and we walked 2 miles together. This was too much fun! Then we went to work in my office, cleaning and clearing things out. After she left, I was feeling really good about what we had accomplished and I was able to sit down and think about my goals for 2008.

I got out a 3 ring binder and put a picture of a new Dodge Avenger (which is the car we plan to purchase this year if our finances will allow it) in the front and proceeded to write out my goals for the year. Then, I got another piece of paper and wrote down the action steps that I will do each day to meet my goals--this was inspired by a great talk on goals that was given in Sacrament Meeting last week--Thank you Jamie! I printed out calendar pages for each month in 2008, added them to the binder, and have been logging my progress each day.

I am proud to report that so far, I am on track--I know it is only the 4th, but I have actually been tracking my progress in walking since December. I am feeling comfortable with a 2 mile walk and am working on increasing the distance by a mile each month. My goal is to be at 195 pounds before the end of the year. The last time I weighed that was when I was in college which was more than 20 years ago. I am ready to do this and knowing that I have a family reunion this summer and a special trip in October with my sisters has given me the incentive. So next time you see me, ask me how I am doing. I will love to share my success.