A Lot Can Change in Ten Years

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Tomorrow I turn 40, which I suppose has made me reflect on this closing decade.  Ten years ago, at the beginning of my 30s, I had three children, ages 8, 5, and 3. The three-year-old was giving me a run for money, as three-year-olds will sometimes do, and the eight-year-old was having a particularly trying year in school, partly because his dad was on a military deployment in Greece for an unknown length of time (turned out to be just a few months) and he wasn’t sure how to process that. He also had a teacher and principal that weren’t very sympathetic or knowledgeable about the issues that went along with Asperger’s syndrome and his frustration and anxiety with his school and home situation was creating some significant behavioral problems for the first time.

We were living in San Bernardino, California, and had been for 7 years. It was hot there, over 100 degrees most of the summer, and smoggy. We lived in a three-bedroom, 1300 square foot house next door to drug dealers. When Sammy was a newborn and my mom was visiting to help, we saw a SWAT team in the neighborhood, one guy in full gear standing on top of the cement block fence of my back yard, searching for a criminal. We actually got that house for a steal of a deal since it had foreclosed and was the site of a murder, giving it a “stigma.” The schools had graffiti and were not in ideal aesthetic condition. They were also somewhat loud and chaotic, which I only fully realized after we moved and were exposed to quiet and organized schools. Many houses in our neighborhood had been broken into. We managed to avoid that, although we did have a car stolen and various other items from outside. San Bernardino sees its share of murders, crime, and gang activity, but it also contained wonderful people that we loved and cared about, people that influenced our lives for good, helped our children, and made lasting impacts on our family.

I had been in school part time, taking a class or two here and there, for several years. I had completed most of the music classes offered at my community college of choice, enough to get an associates in music, which I never bothered to actually get the degree for, and also classes to fulfill the prerequisites to get into the nursing program. In fact, I applied for and was accepted into the nursing program for the fall of that year. I was taking a microbiology class and lab that semester in early 2003, the last classes I needed before starting nursing, and I also had a family member staying with me while going to rehab (or so I was being led to believe) for a drug addiction.

My health was not particularly good. I had a chronic cough and often felt tired and achy with low energy, wondering sometimes if I would ever be healthy enough to actually be a nurse. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me and I gave up trying. Years later the cough resolved somehow (leaving the smog helped I imagine) but it took me most of the last decade to discover that the biggest key to feeling healthy was that sugar was not my friend and that sleep and exercise were, something that seems awfully simple to have taken so long to realize.

All of that may sound depressing, but really it just sets the stage for how much things have changed in the last 10 years. There were a lot of good things in my life along with the stress and difficult things, and I was not unhappy. My kids, while challenging, were also adorable and sweet and brought me a lot of joy.

Boys in 2003

I had then, as I do now, a loving and dedicated husband that worked hard to support our family. I loved my church experiences, where I served in the Young Women’s program and played the organ. I loved the opportunities I had to accompany talented singers and the relationships developed through music. Scott and I both had family within a reasonable distance and we loved the time we could spend with all of them.  We especially spent a lot of time with my brother Patrick and his family since they lived so close. And despite what I said about the home and neighborhood, we felt very blessed to own a home. That home and the increase in property values that occurred while we lived there is what made our move and owning our current home possible.

A lot of things happened the year I turned 30 that changed our course. I decided one day, in a flash of clear inspiration that I couldn’t deny or argue with, that I had to kick out the family member that was staying with me and that I needed to drop out of school and postpone my nursing plans. Both of these were dramatic decisions, but I didn’t waver or question it because I was so confident that I was being led by the Spirit, one of the few times I have felt that quite so strongly. That summer, with Scott back from his deployment . . .

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. . . we went on a 10th anniversary trip up the coast of California and Oregon . . .

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. . . during which we started dreaming of living in Oregon someday, a goal that would be achieved three years later.

Ten years later here I am, living in the beautiful state of Oregon, blessed to have a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood with lovely schools in a lovely city that after seven years I still feel lucky to call home. Noah joined us, bringing so much love and joy to this family that had been without a baby for awhile. It brought out a protectiveness and fatherly behavior in the big brothers, which was sweet to observe, and continues still.

The boys are happy and well. Gabe, now 18, is enjoying his college experiences, loves biking, and is preparing for a mission. Josh, 15, has found a passion for water polo, is working hard in school, and is getting so mature and grown up right before my eyes. Sammy, 13, is excited to start high school and is creative and funny (and much, much easier to live with than when he was three). Noah loves to learn, is curious and excited about everything, and has become quite dedicated lately to the piano. Scott is also doing well. He doesn’t have to work as late here in Oregon as he did in California, which has opened up the chance for him to participate in sports officiating, which has been a fun hobby for him.

Scott referreeing

I’m back in school, retaking classes that had become outdated, working toward nursing again. I feel like a healthy person, able to keep up with my very busy and stressful life for the most part. I exercise regularly and eat well most of the time. Life isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  I still struggle with many weaknesses and have tons of room for growth and improvement, which I’ll hopefully make some progress on in this next decade and then I can talk all about that and how much better things are! In many ways life looks different for me now than it did ten years ago, but in a lot of important and good ways it is the same. I’m looking forward to seeing what new and exciting experiences the next ten years bring!

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Looking Back to Late April

Late April collage

I had the bright idea I should catch up on 2012 before I go back to school in a week, but considering how long this one post took me on my super slow computer, I see that as very unlikely. However, at least I finished April, right? So here are some highlights from the second half of April 2012.

It was a busy, productive time! I was still completely off sugar and had a high level of energy and motivation and felt very healthy. I had an enormous amount of transcription to do and I also took on the project of painting my kitchen and family room. I wanted to get it done before I hosted book club at the end of the month. Oh, and I also had my book to read, which was Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. I recommend it!

I started by painting a chalkboard wall in the dining area. I liked the way it turned out. I also picked a color I loved for the family room, a bluish gray. The boys were somewhat helpful with painting and I was excited about it so it went quickly. My visiting teacher, Shirley, helped me do my kitchen too. For that I just repainted it a very similar neutral color, but it made everything so fresh and clean looking. I never would have taken on that project without her help and encouragement so I’m grateful for her. It was a big project, but so nice to get it done!!

Because of my huge workload and not finishing my book or painting yet, I postponed book club for a week and had that at the beginning of May instead. And of course there were other things to keep us busy. Gabe was still in track, Josh in baseball, Sammy in water polo, and Noah in his first organized sport, T-ball, which was fun, but also frustrating at times for him since he had no previous experience. Learning to throw and catch and swing the bat didn’t come very easily for him, but that was probably a good experience for him since so many things do come easily for him.

Noah lost a couple of front teeth, making for a very cute hole in his smile, and we lost a window to Josh’s baseball, making a not so cute hole. That’s at least the third window we’ve lost because of that kid!!

Also during this time there was a school carnival where Noah won a goldfish. This was our first experience with a goldfish and we tried to do good by her. Noah named her Noelle Fish Duffin and Daddy went and got her a friend, Noah James Duffin II, aka Jimbo. (We thought calling him Noah would be confusing.) It was kind of fun having goldfish in the family and watching them swim around. I think they liked each other and were glad they had a friend.

I don’t know if I mentioned before, but I was called to the Primary presidency at the beginning of January, so there is always of course that going on with presidency meetings, sharing times, and so on. I really love the calling. My favorite thing is sitting at the front looking into those sweet faces each Sunday. I get to sit right in front of the adorable Sunbeams. There is some personality in that class! I just love all the kids and I love how now that they recognize and know me from Primary they will smile and be excited to see me in other places. I’m used to most of the kids just being kind of indifferent to me, so seeing them light up just warms my heart. I’m the counsellor in charge of scouts and we had our Pinewood Derby at the end of April as well, which is always exciting.

I have no pictures of Scott during this time and no messages about him or Facebook status updates or anything to tell me what he was doing, but I can guess pretty well that he was working hard at FedEx and being an awesome and supportive husband and father. He’s the best!

So there you go. A different time, a different season, it all feels kind of long ago now, but the year also seems to spin through the months so quickly. I don’t know how that works! I’ll try to get back with more this week, but regardless it’s been fun stopping back in here for awhile.

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Looking Back to Early April

I’ve gotten behind in this little part of my world, for a lot of reasons, but I want to try to catch up, so here’s a look back at early April. I’m hoping to keep up with these collages this year and put them in a photo book for an easy way to remember 2012.

Early April

(click on collage for larger image)

Some notable things about early April:

The beginning of spring~~hail, rain, sunshine, cold, hints of warmth, flowers, blossoming trees, springtime smells.

Scott’s 45th birthday~~a particularly lovely day. He was able to get the day off and it was so nice to spend the day together while the kids were at school. We went out to lunch (to Sweet Tomatoes) and the weather was perfect and beautiful. I made him a nice dinner (roast and potatoes) and we celebrated with the usual cake and ice cream, singing, balloons, and presents.

Noah and sports~~Noah started T-ball. His first practice was rough because he realized throwing and catching the ball wasn’t as easy as it looked and he felt quite sad that he wasn’t a pro yet, but by the second practice he was happy and had more realistic expectations. It has been a lot of fun for him. He also was beyond excited to make his first basket in the big basketball hoop and has been playing a lot of basketball since. Our basketball hoop has become a neighborhood attraction with the weather warming up and it is so much fun to see all the kids out there playing together.

The concert~~I blogged about it already, but my outing with Sammy to Portland for a concert was a fun highlight of early April.

A sad accident~~Some friends that used to live here lost their 11-year-old daughter, Lizy, in an accident. It was so heartbreaking and hard to imagine losing a child, but they have handled it with strength and faith. It was the sister of Noah’s friend Jacob, who I have written about before. It really reinforced how precious and sometimes short our lives can be and it made me want to show my kids more how much I love them and focus on what’s important in life.

Easter~~another lovely day. The kids searched for about a million eggs (okay, 72) which was great fun. Church was nice, but emotional, as ward members handled the loss of our former ward member, Lizy, and sorrow for other life-threatening health issues going on in our ward right now. That reminder of the fragility of life definitely made Easter more meaningful.

Gabe chose a college~~After much discussion, prayer, and fasting, Gabe came to the decision to go to Oregon State University, his second choice. Scott and I unfortunately had to veto his first choice, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, because the expense of that private school was just more than we could reasonably handle, even with the scholarships he had earned. There were other reasons we felt really good about Oregon State, though, and he seemed very content and relieved with the decision. Mostly I’m happy to have him within a reasonable distance (about an hour and a half) from home and every time I’ve been there I have felt good about it as a place for him to be. Very exciting!

More sports~~Besides Noah’s sportiness, we also had Gabe in track, Josh in baseball, and Sammy in water polo. It makes for a lot of driving and coordinating schedules, but I think it’s so good for them!

No sugar~~I mentioned this in other blog posts already, but I went this whole period not eating sugar and it went really well!

So there you go! A little taste of the first half of April around these parts.  Recreating that time period from Facebook posts, messages, calendars, emails, and pictures was an interesting exercise. It would definitely be easier to stay on top of it!

P.S. Maybe I should explain Gabe’s ice cup in the first picture. Here’s what he did. He filled one of our plastic cups with water, froze it until the ice was as thick as he wanted (since it freezes from the outside in) and then used a metal rod that he heated on the stove (he used a hot pad to hold it) to melt through the top layer and then the inside was still water so the ice part was shaped like a cup. Cool, huh?

Posted in Birthdays, Brothers, Family, Gabe, Josh, Kathy, Noah, Sammy, Scott D, Sports | Tagged | 2 Comments

Not Eating Sugar Totally Rocks!

I am super busy with work, but I had to quickly follow up my last post to say I really think I’m seeing the effects of giving up sugar. I don’t have scientific proof of cause and effect, but here is some of what’s going on and I’m feeling pretty confident there is a relation.

My brain~~I feel smarter, more focused, more on top of things, less forgetful. I’m functioning at peak mental capacity, baby!

My sleep~~I should probably be getting a little more sleep than I am (6-7 hours), but I have energy during the day and haven’t been taking naps.

My weight~~I have lost four pounds, which wasn’t my reason for doing this, but I’m not going to complain about my clothes fitting better.

My house~~Getting a little cleaner and more organized day by day!

My appetite~~I eat when I’m hungry and don’t count calories or limit portions or anything, but most foods that don’t have sugar don’t support endless snacking. I get full. Why did I never get full eating rocky road ice cream?

My sisters reminded me of when I was in high school and gave up chocolate for year. I remember at the end of that year I had no real craving or desire for it. I didn’t eat any until my brother’s birthday when he had a chocolate pie I think. I just ate it to eat it, as part of the social occasion, and because I’d reached my goal. It didn’t take long to love chocolate again! I suspect that will be the difficult thing here. It hasn’t been a big issue yet, but I think the social occasions will be the times when it might be hardest, although I handled Scott’s birthday and Easter just fine. If I keep feeling this good, it may be easy to see sugar as the enemy and stay far, far away!

Posted in Food, Self-improvement | Tagged | 5 Comments

I Stopped Eating Sugar

If that surprises you, believe me, it doesn’t surprise you as much as it surprises me. It’s not something I have ever even remotely considered doing. If you know me very well, you probably know I have strong opinions about food and eating.  I find it an interesting subject. I have gravitated toward certain writers that make the most sense to me, Michael Pollan and Cynthia Lair being the top two influences for me behind the Word of Wisdom. Neither of them advocate never eating sugar, although Cynthia Lair did post a video a couple of years ago that she had seen about why sugar is so bad for us and what exactly it does in our body. I didn’t watch it for a couple of reasons. First, it was an hour-and-a-half long. Second, I didn’t want to know. I had no intention of ever giving up sugar.

I have never really gone along with the idea of giving up foods or food groups unless medically necessary. It seems that you just build up cravings and feel so deprived that when you do eat it you go overboard, binge and do more harm than good. I thought the book “Intuitive Eating” made a lot of sense and that’s one of the ideas from there. It’s better to learn to recognize the signs of our body that we are hungry or full and respect that. If we really crave something, have a little but do it in moderation, and that is probably still what I would recommend to someone else.

So why did I stop eating sugar, you may well ask? It came completely out of the blue. I’ve heard of others that have decided not to eat sugar or refined flour or gluten or whatever it is and I respect other people’s food choices, but I had no intention of doing anything like that, at least I didn’t until the morning of March 30. That morning I just felt like I shouldn’t eat sugar. I can’t even remember or explain the feeling exactly, but it came from so outside of myself or my way of thinking that I decided maybe it was inspiration. I figured I could give it a try and see what happened. That was the day we went with Gabe to Oregon State. They served cookies at lunch, but I skipped those and didn’t feel bad about it at all. Scott stopped at a convenience store to get candy bars on the way home and I passed. That first day went just fine, so I figured I could do it again.

Over the last two weeks I have been faced with Scott’s chocolate birthday cake (which I made myself) and ice cream, brownies, untold amounts of Easter candy, chocolate chip cookies that Josh made, and many other sources of sugar including cereal, brown sugar for my oatmeal, sweetened yogurts, and so on, although I do have small amounts of milk with its natural sugar and I don’t limit fruits, even though it has its own sugars as well, because they are whole foods in their natural state. (I wonder what sugar cane tastes like, ha ha.) I also don’t limit my fat intake at all. Fat serves an important purpose in our bodies. (Excuse me while I climb on my soapbox.) It helps your brain and nervous system, which also affects moods, and it sends signals to your body when you are full. (Combining your fat with lots of sugar will get you in trouble though.) For years I have only bought whole milk, full fat yogurt (unsweetened now), and nothing that says reduced fat or low fat. I use generous amounts of butter and olive oil. It has been proven that science got it wrong when it came to pushing low-fat diets. When I eat meals with enough fiber, fat, and protein I stay full for ridiculously long amounts of time and overall eat less.

Has it been hard to give up sugar? The strange thing is that it hasn’t. I have not once craved it and almost every time I’ve been presented with it I am able to just see those foods as objects without any source of temptation or any negative feelings either. They are just there. The chocolate chip cookies were the only thing that I hesitated a little over because they did look good, but it wasn’t even particularly hard to pass on those. That was just last night.

I would never have believed this if I hadn’t experienced it, because you hear all the stories of people that try to give up sugar and crave it horribly. I’ve never heard of anyone thinking it was no big deal, especially not with a sweet tooth like mine. I can only think that this was some kind of divine intervention. Maybe this will be my answer to countless prayers for increased health and energy. Have I noticed any big chances in the past couple of weeks? Nothing drastic. I did start running again and today I downloaded an app called HomeRoutine, which works on a system similar to FlyLady, to help me get organized and running my life a little better (I love the app by the way! Super easy to use!) and I have worked hard on those tasks today. Does my increased energy and motivation come from not having sugar or is it just sunshine and spring? I can’t say for sure. We’ll see where this goes. I’m not making any long-term commitments on this sugar thing, just taking it a day at a time. If I give up, I won’t consider it a failure because I’m really not putting a lot of pressure on myself over this, but if I stick to it then don’t feel bad if I take a pass on any delicious goodies you may happen to put in front of me in the future.

Oh, and after being sugar-free long enough to realize I was actually succeeding at this, I decided I could handle watching that video. If you want to learn more about what sugar does to your body and how it works like a poison, watch Sugar: The Bitter Truth. If you need to wait a couple of years before you’re ready for it, I totally understand! One take-home message is to avoid sweetened beverages like the plague (sodas, juice–yes, even 100% juice, sports drinks, and so on). Just say no! But seriously, these are my opinions and experiences and I honestly don’t judge anyone who chooses differently. I have felt no annoyance or bad feelings for anyone around me that has been eating sweets, but I have realized how utterly obsessed our society is with them!

Posted in Food, Self-improvement | Tagged , | 3 Comments

A Musical Outing

Last week my friend Sue invited me to a piano concert in Portland called “Ten Grands” and Sammy was interested in joining us, along with a couple of Sue’s other piano students. The concert was a matinee geared toward kids and there was a stage set up with ten grand pianos and pianists of all ages, but mostly young. They each had a chance to play solos and they also did some fun group numbers that involved all ten pianos. There were some classical songs and some popular songs, a wide variety of styles, and a range of talent from the very good to the how-in-the-world-can-someone-do-that. There were some singers as well, one of which I particularly liked and would have liked to hear more from. They played a really fun Michael Jackson medley. Sammy and I had to laugh when they started playing Billie Jean. He learned that recently and plays it all the time, so it was fun to hear their more complicated, multi-piano version. The whole thing was so much fun and very inspiring. It was in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, referred to as “The Schnitz,” and it is such a beautiful and interesting building. I always enjoy outings to downtown Portland and throwing in some amazing music made it that much better. It made me want to get one of those master teachers and learn to play at that level, not necessarily to perform, but just to be able to. How awesome would that be?! Here are some pictures from our day.

Before the show--Sue, Abby, McKenna, and Sam

Sue took this fun shot outside the theater

Waiting in line

Foyer of The Schnitz. I was loving the chandelier and the old elegance of it all.

The stage and performers. It was hard to capture in a picture in low light, but it really was beautiful and dramatic.

The outside of the theater

On the way there Sam was pretty quiet. I guess I failed to mention there would be a couple girls his age going and he was a little surprised. On the way home, though, they all chatted (and giggled) up a storm. We stopped at Sonic for lunch and sat outside in the lovely sunshine. All in all it was a great day!

Posted in Friends, Fun outings, Music | Tagged | 2 Comments

All Hail the Spring

This week feels like it has turned a real corner and we are officially in spring. Even the rain feels warmer and more spring-like. The temperatures are mild with a breeze that doesn’t chill, the air smells lovely with a mix of flowers and cut grass, and there’s just a new life and vitality in the air. It’s amazing what a little spring can do for mood and motivation.

Last week, when it was still cold and just pretending to be spring, we had a freak hailstorm. For some reason whenever it hails it feels like it’s such a strange and out of character event, although it actually happens just about every spring here. It seems to always take us off guard. This hailstorm in particular felt unusual and I took lots of pictures. Actually, I started taking pictures before the hail started. The rain was especially heavy and the sun was shining and I just thought it looked cool. Then the hail hit.

Posted in Noah, Sammy, Weather | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Late March~Snow, Sports, Separation, Sickness, Scouting, Setbacks, Spring Break, School Visits, and Saturday Sermons

Couldn’t help myself on that title, ha ha. Sometimes I just can’t resist the call of alliteration!

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This twice-a-month collage thing seems to be working for me now, at least to somewhat keep up with life’s little activities without being completely overwhelming, so I’ll go with it until I don’t anymore. How’s that for a plan? Then I’ll throw in extra posts when I feel like devoting a single post to something.

What did the second half of March bring?

~~Winter collided with spring.  A decent amount of snow fell on spring flowers and blossoming trees and the kids even got a 2-hour late start out of it, but no snow days. There was a multitude of rain and a little bit of sun here and there, but mostly rain and cold.

~~The boys had plenty of opportunities to use up their energy. Gabe is doing well in track, making some new personal records (PRs). Josh continued to have his baseball practices (and Gabe his track practices) in spite of the rain and near freezing temperatures. Their mom felt sorry for them from the warmth of home and car. All but one of Josh’s baseball games were cancelled due to weather, but their team won that one game! (Josh didn’t get any playing time, though.) Sammy is enjoying his introduction to water polo and Noah did well with his swimming lessons. He is now gearing up for T-ball, which will be starting shortly.

~~Scott finished up his annual 2-week military training, which meant I was on my own, but I survived it pretty well. I did finally get better and was healthy and energetic for a week or two, then came down with something fierce right at the end of the month. Darn March was not very nice to me health-wise!

~~Gabe had his Eagle scout board of review. Unfortunately it happened while Scott was gone. If I had known what it was like, I would have had him make sure Scott could be there. It was a really neat experience, being able to talk all about Gabe’s history in scouts and actually in school and life in general too. All told, we were there for probably 2 1/2 hours. We talked about his personality, his progress, his achievements, and his goals. I was interviewed extensively (without Gabe in the room, though he was in the hall and heard some of it through the door). There were six or seven people asking me questions around a table. It was a little intense, but everyone was positive and friendly and I enjoyed talking about my kid and hearing everyone’s thoughts, memories, and stories about him. Gabe was interviewed as well, but he’s so soft-spoken I could only hear the questions through the door and not his answers. His scout leader was also interviewed and then the team all deliberated and the decision was that he was approved as an Eagle scout! It was very exciting and I am sure proud of him. The next step will be his court of honor, probably in a month or so.

~~Spring Break turned out nice, even though not how I wanted since I couldn’t make my way to Oklahoma. That was disappointing, but I enjoyed spending the week with Scott and the boys and taking a couple college trips to University of Oregon with Josh to check it out and Oregon State with Gabe for an engineering scholar’s luncheon. Still no decision on college from Gabe. He has until May 1. I could go on and on about the decision process on that one, but I won’t. You’re welcome.

~~And the month ended with Saturday’s General Conference. I always look forward to that and feel uplifted and inspired from the talks (even if I was miserably ill). Often it falls on Scott’s drill weekend, so it was nice having him home this time.

And that’s it for March!

Posted in Family, Gabe, Good kids, Illness, Josh, Kathy, Noah, Rain, Sammy, School, Scott D, Scouts, Snow, Sports, Vacation, Weather | Tagged | 2 Comments

On Your Mark, Get Set, O!

It’s Spring Break around here and Scott actually got this week off for the first time ever. We had great plans for a fun family vacation this week, but money got in the way. Then I was going to fly standby to Oklahoma to visit my big sister, Shannon, but millions of spring breakers taking all the seats got in the way. So our plans this week are becoming more modest, but still fun. After giving up at the airport yesterday, I had a highly enjoyable time with Scott shopping on that side of Portland that we rarely get to. We ate at Ikea and got a few really fun, inexpensive things for the house. We also hit a bunch of thrift stores and got some things we needed, particularly church shoes for boys that won’t stop growing!

I kept thinking yesterday what an absolutely amazing husband I have. He woke up with me at 3:30 to take me to the airport without a word of complaint. I was hoping I would have luck with the first flight of the day. Then, after realizing my efforts that day and week would be completely futile, and even if I did get to Oklahoma eventually I’d never get home at the end of the week, he came and picked me up. He walked through Ikea with me and all the thrift stores, completely patient and uncomplaining about the amount of time I was spending (and I was being quite leisurely). He came home and did dishes and made dinner while I rested (I woke up at 3:30 if you remember, and he had napped earlier while I was at the airport). When I suggested reading scriptures, he surprised me by presenting a whole family home evening lesson that was really nice. The kids seemed to really respond to it. I went to bed feeling totally overwhelmed with love for this good, kind, and patient man who never criticizes me, even when I deserve it!

Today Scott had set up a campus visit with Josh to go see University of Oregon. Josh doesn’t always take school very seriously or think grades are that important, and Scott thought going on a campus visit to the school he’s most interested in would maybe light a little fire and get him motivated to work harder in school. We’ll have to see if that works, but he seemed to really enjoy it and he got a better sense of what college is all about. I decided to join them and I’m glad I did. It’s always nice to give that middle child some extra individual attention and we had a really good conversation with him in the car for the 2-hour drive there. (On the way home he slept.)

Get ready for a barrage of pictures from our day.

Waiting to get started on the information session and tour. I thought this building was super cool.

I laughed when I noticed what shirt he wore. Wrong college, Josh!

An Einstein gargoyle. I thought that was kind of cool and funny.

Another super cool building. I was loving some of the architecture on campus.

Same building as the last picture, looking the other direction.

Part of the campus

An interesting fountain

A statue of a pioneer.

The oldest building on campus

A strange piece of "art" on campus. The little squares apparently flutter in the wind for interesting effects. It wasn't windy so we couldn't observe that.

Good looking father and son!

These O's are everywhere!

Looking toward the edge of campus into the town

I think that the state plant of Oregon should be moss.

Listening to the tour guide

There was a huge snowstorm in Eugene last week and a lot of tree branches were down all over campus because of the weight of the snow that they weren't at all used to.

Looking down the street as we crossed

Josh was pretty impressed with the rock wall in the rec center.

I loved this building and all the daffodils around campus. I wonder if they chose daffodils for the yellow! I took the title of this post from the sign above the door there.

Track and field is really big here and this looked like a really nice field.

Fun sign showing some Olympic cities and how many miles away they are.

A residence hall we checked out

A fallen tree from the storm. Crazy!

Back to that awesome building we started in

Me and my boy!

It was a great day! I’m not convinced it is the perfect spot for my Josh, but I’m not convinced it’s not either. Either way, it was a good opportunity for him to find out more about it and he can compare other schools to it later as he visits more. It was nice to learn more and get a feel for the university. Our dear, sweet, beautiful niece Vanessa goes to school there, but sadly she was in California for Spring Break so we didn’t get to see her and have her show us around.

And now I’ll end with a little picture. I like to mess around with the camera and took some self portraits in the car mirror while I was sitting and waiting for Scott to run into a store on the way home. The funny thing was when I uploaded them on the computer and saw the thumbnails, the picture below totally looked like my sister Heather instead of me. When I pulled up the big picture I didn’t see it as much, but I swore that thumbnail could have been her. If you know her (or you are her, ha ha), do you see what I mean? (You can click on it to see it normal sized.)

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Early March

Here is some of what has been going on in the first half of March around these parts.

~~I had a birthday! It was a busy day for everyone but me, at least while the kids were in school, so I made myself lasagna and a carrot cake and bought myself some balloons. Sometimes we just have to throw our own party! Between sports and scouts we managed to all get together and celebrate and everything turned out delicious and fun. The highlight of my day was Noah’s excitement over it being my birthday. “Happy birthday!” was the first thing to come out of his mouth when he woke up and he was a big part of the reason I felt I just had to put on a celebration. For a couple of weeks he had been working on a birthday present for me, keeping it a big secret and spending a fair amount of time on it. It was a book for me to practice my handwriting, with a page for each letter. Possibly my favorite present ever! What a sweet kiddo.

I love that cute koala and the motivational “do it great” on the elephant page. Another highlight was the arrival of a package from my sweet sister Heather with her fabulously delicious and beautiful chocolate caramel pretzel rods and a book about Sisters. Made me so happy!

~~We got into the swing of spring season of sports. Gabe is in track, Josh in baseball, Sammy in water polo, and Noah started swimming lessons. Whew! That’s a lot of running around, but I think it is really good for them. Josh was sure excited to make it on the high school freshman baseball team!

~~I got sick right after my birthday. Eating straight junk food for two days in a row may have had something to do with my defenses being down after successfully avoiding the sore throat, cough, and cold that have been going around this house for over a month. I am still not feeling great, but am getting better I think. At least my sinuses seem to have eased up a bit, which is a relief.

~~The weather has been snowy, rainy, and sunny, sometimes all in the same day! The daffodils are in bloom and spring is peeking around the corner.

~~Gabe visited Oregon State University with Scott and Sammy for an interview for early acceptance into their engineering internship program. (We found out later he wasn’t accepted for early admittance, but could still apply later. Interviewing is not a strength for him.) I was busy with a baptism and baby shower that day or I would have liked to go. The next week Scott and Gabe went to a reception for students accepted into Embry-Riddle, which got Gabe jazzed up about going there again. That day I was sick so I didn’t go. Gabe received his rejection from Caltech, so the other two are the front runners, with Embry-Riddle seeming to be in the lead for Gabe right now.

~~I spent a fair amount of time watching the show I had heard so much about, Downton Abbey. I haven’t quite caught up to the end of the current season, season 2, but I’m definitely hooked. It’s like all those period British movies, like the ones based on Jane Austen or similar, but the disadvantage of a TV series is that you never seem to get your happy ending. They just have to keep throwing in new drama to stir things up. It is absolutely beautifully filmed and acted, and such an interesting time period to represent (WWI era).

~~I also spent probably too much time playing “Ticket to Ride” on the iPad. Definitely super fun and addicting. I’m getting good!

~~I got a haircut yesterday! I tend to go too long between them, so it’s always an event. It worked out to be on the same day that Scott and I went to his basketball referee banquet, so it was nice not to have to worry about my hair for that. Scott has been doing his annual training for military about 2 hours away, but came home last night for the banquet and it was good to have him home and to go out with him. I just wish I had been feeling better.

~~Then there was all the other usual stuff–transcription, Primary, piano, laundry, dishes, errands, motivating kids to do homework, etc. I sadly haven’t run yet this month. After my 5K when it was so cold and gross outside I justified taking a little time off as a rest and then the very day Scott and I were going to go out and run is when the sick bug hit me. I’ll get back out there though soon!

And how about another collage to wrap things up?

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