Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
I am so grateful that we were all able to go. The trip was full of family and fun. We arrived in Utah on Friday afternoon and pizza at Spencer and Korrin’s house with all of my siblings (even Angie and Hyrum, who cut their vacation short and traveled around the world to be there) before attending the viewing for my grandpa. The viewing was a very relaxed environment, and I had a great time visiting with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Sally and Austin wandered around and played with their cousins, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the viewing was, well, the viewing. I hardly recognized my grandpa and was sad to see how gaunt he had become in the last few weeks of his life.
The next morning was the funeral. While I shed quite a few tears, I really enjoyed the funeral. The talks were touching and at times humorous. My dad and all of his siblings but one spoke (my uncle Mark, who later dedicated the grave). I accompanied my sisters and female cousins in a song that my grandma wrote for my grandpa. I really felt the Spirit during the funeral and felt a lot of comfort in the knowledge that I will see my grandpa again, that he is happy, and that he had lived a righteous life and was ready to graduate to the next phase of his existence.
One of the best parts of the funeral was that there was a nursery for the children provided by some of the young women in my grandparents’ ward. What a huge relief for me and Neal (and the other parents with small children) to be able to sit and enjoy the service without trying to entertain our children. Sally and Austin seemed to have a good time, and got to spend time with their cousins. Bless those young women!
Another highlight of the funeral was visiting with several of my cousins that I hadn’t seen for years. It was fun taking with them, and touching to see the sacrifices they had made to travel so far to be at the funeral. I miss being able to spend time with my extended family. I am thankful that I am able to see them from afar by reading their blogs and emailing (and I’m sure that Facebook would be helpful if I were into that sort of thing!).
After the funeral was over, the rest of the trip was all fun and games. On Saturday night we all (parents, siblings and their families) got together at Al and Tyler’s house for a “Fantastic Mr. Fox” party. I didn’t see the entire movie, but I liked what I saw. Sally had a fantastic time watching the movie and playing with her cousins, as did Austin (although he didn’t actually watch much). Neal and I enjoyed being with the family and relaxing, as well.
Neal went home on Sunday right before the big family dinner at my parents’ house (the bimonthly family dinner). More talking and laughing and cousin play time for Sally and Austin. I think that Sally’s favorite thing in the world to do is to play with her cousins. She was on cloud 9 the entire time.
Monday was Ada and Kate’s birthday party—the highly anticipated event that was probably the highlight of Sally’s trip. Sally and I helped Alison with the cupcakes—5 color layered rainbow cupcakes. They were fun to make, and I’m glad I could help out. The party started at the Kangaroo Zoo, a play center with lots of inflatable slides and play areas for kids. Both kids loved it, and I would have had more fun if I hadn’t been going crazy trying to keep m y eye on both of the kids. After the Zoo we met at Al’s house for dinner and cupcakes. Alison set up a table with several jars of candy with scoops in them. It was decorated like Candy Land and was very cute. Austin, being the smart little guy that he is, quickly learned that if he hung out near that table, he could pick up the candies that fell to the ground whenever a little girl for boy scooped out some candy. I don’t know how much candy he ended up eating, but let’s just say that he was incredibly happy, and a sticky mess by the end of the evening. He also loaded up on ice cream and cupcakes. Between the Squire family and the Dickson family, there were lots of kids at the party, which meant lots of dessert plates left unattended, which led to Austin getting much more dessert than he needed.
On Tuesday Ella and Grace were at my parents’ house while Korrin went to work, and Sally had a fabulous time playing with them. Sally and Ella played “beach” in the backyard together for quite a while after running through the sprinklers. It was fun watching them play. Little children are so full of energy and imagination! That evening the kids and I went to 7 Peaks Salt Lake (formerly Raging Waters) with Abby, the Squires, and the Marstons. I wasn’t initially thrilled about going, but ended up having a great time. Hyrum watched my kids for a while so I could go on slides with Abby and Ang (Al , being pregnant, opted out of the slides). I was pushed into going on the super scary steep slide that you go down on a sled, and I’ll never do it again! It was fun, but too scary for me! The highlight of the night was going around and around the lazy river. Austin wore a puddle jumper and Sally wore a life jacket, and we all just floated lazily along.
On Wednesday my mom took the kids and I to the Living Planet Aquarium. Austin loved looking at the fish and the penguins, and Sally loved being with my mom and eating macaroni and cheese for lunch. I thought that the aquarium was very fun and well-done. It was fun seeing the penguins dive and flip in the water. They seemed so carefree.
Thursday we went home, but not until packing in a full day of activities. In the morning I went with my dad and the kids to visit my Grandma Dickson. It was the first time that I had seen her new house since it was finished. She had gifts and a little tea party waiting for me and the kids—she is very creative and thoughtful. Sally loved how “fancy” her house was, and composed a little song for the occasion. I spied on her as she played the piano and sang to herself. This is the gist of what she sang:
“My mommy’s grandpa is gone. He has gone to heaven, and now my grandma is all alone. But she will be alright because Jesus is here to watch over and comfort her. My grandma is so fancy and her house is so beautiful. Now that I’ve seen her beautiful decorations I love her even more!”
We finished up our visit just in time for me to drop the kids off at my parents’ house, put a dress on, and head with my mom to the Mt. Timanogos temple to see my best friend, Kim, sealed to her husband Christian. The date was July 21, her anniversary as well as mine. To make a long story short, Kim and Christian had several stumbling blocks along their road to getting sealed, and got the happy news that their request was approved just a few days before their anniversary. They called the temple and made the arrangement to be sealed July 21. When Kim told me the news, I extended my trip so I could be there (I was supposed to leave the previous day, and had I not purchased a ticket on a bereavement fare, I wouldn’t have been able to change my flight—I guess it was meant to be). I was so grateful I was able to attend the sealing. It was a beautiful ceremony, and while it was uncharacteristic of me to be so emotional, I cried through the whole thing. I was so happy for Kim and Christian, and I was also reminded of my own wedding day.
After the sealing, I flew like the wind to pick up my kids and head to the airport.
Our flight went from SLC to the O’Hare airport, then to Kansas City after a quick plane change. I was incredibly nervous about the flight, by it couldn’t have gone any better. Both kids were on their best behavior, the plane change was a breeze, and we arrived in Kansas City right on schedule. Neal and I were able to spend about 1.5 hours of our anniversary together, which is more than can be said of some of our anniversaries!
It was a great trip, and I feel so blessed to have had such a great experience.
Since this post isn’t quite long enough yet, here are a few of my memories of Grandpa Dickson:
Before his health and memory really began to decline, Grandpa was always cheerful, friendly, and talkative. He called me Emma Lee from over the sea. He loved telling jokes, and often had a hard time telling the punch line because he was laughing too hard. He loved telling stories about his family, his missions and his ancestors.
He was intelligent, quick, and witty. When my dad told him that I had won my elementary school spelling bee, he quickly began spouting off obscure words for me to spell. I didn’t know how to spell some of them and tried to change the subject, which worked for a time. At the end of the visit, he didn’t let me off the hook, and when I spelled a word incorrectly, he quickly set me straight.
He liked trying to stump his grandchildren. When I was 5 or 6, he and my grandma took me, Alison, and Abby to the zoo. He asked me what direction we were going, and asked if I knew all of the directions a car could go. After I answered north, south, east, and west, he said that I was missing two. I had no clue, and he finally told me: up and down.
He had a very strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the Church. He loved to read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, and would often quote scripture. He always served faithfully in his church callings, and was kind and generous. He had a library full of books by apostles and prophets and could always be found reading one of them. I never doubted his testimony, his commitment to the Church, or his desire for all of his posterity to be faithful. When I told him that I was engaged to Neal, he questioned me to make sure that Neal was a faithful member of the Church, a returned missionary, and had a good family background. I knew that he wanted only the best for me.
He loved taking care of his yard, and had a beautiful lawn and productive garden. I especially remember his sweet corn, walnuts, cherries, and raspberries.
He loved sports, cold cereal, and chili. He would often make a huge pot of chili and invite all of the family over for a chili party.
He was happy, easygoing, hardworking, and loving. He left a great example and legacy for his posterity to follow.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Angie and Hyrum came from Chicago to celebrate with us. Rather than doing the whole feast at my house again, we went to Cookie’s house and joined with the Petersons, Martins, and Gessels. It was a fine feast and fun sharing it with so many great people.
A few of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving holiday:
-Driving with just Neal and Austin (who slept the whole time) to the Martin’s house (Sally rode with her auntie and unc). It was fun to talk to Neal without any interruptions. We talked about what we were thankful for. I really felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what I have in my life, including my children, my home, my education, Neal’s education, and our families.
-Making and eating pies. I love making pies, and I had fun making a new kind of pie—it was a free-form apple cranberry pie. I thought it was beautiful and was so proud of it, but I was certainly put in my place when my 10 year old nephew said to me, while pointing to my prized pie: “Hey Emily, I know which one is going to be everyone’s LEAST favorite! I mean…look at the form of it! And all those raisins!” I still get a good laugh when I think about it. The pie was delicious, by the way, and contained no raisins. I’ll be sure to make it again next year and save none for Dallas!
- Going to see the movie “Tangled” with Sally, Angie, and Hyrum. It was Sally’s first in a theater, and a very fun movie. I enjoyed having her snuggle up to me during the scary parts, and seeing her smile and laugh during the silly parts.
We did lots of fun things during the month of December, including ice skating (after an attempt at Crown Center failed due to an incredibly long line, we went to the Independence Events Center with Neal’s family), visiting the tree and train displays at Union Station, shopping at the Plaza (just me and Neal), getting a real Christmas tree, baking lots of stuff and delivering it, checking out some local Christmas lights, and reading lots of Christmas books.
We had a fun Christmas Eve party at our house with lots of our friends lacking family in the area to celebrate with. We had a dinner buffet and program. Every family was asked to either tell a story or perform a musical number. We had a good mix of both, including a reading of the Cajun Night Before Christmas and a violin solo of “O Holy Night”. Then the kids did the nativity play, which was very cute. I’m not sure how everyone felt about having a program (some perhaps thought it was a bit cheesy), but I personally loved it. I guess one benefit of hosting an event is getting to have things your way!
Christmas Day was so fun. I loved enjoying a low-key morning at home with my family and watching my kids open their presents.
A few of my favorite memories of the Christmas season:
-Reading “A Little House Christmas” (an anthology of all of the Christmas chapters from the Little House books) with Sally. I loved being reminded of a simpler time. I couldn’t hold back the tears when I read the chapter about the Christmas horses—a very sweet account of unselfishness and family love.
-Watching “It’s a wonderful Life” with Neal on Christmas Eve night, and crying together during the final scene.
-Rushing off to TJ Maxx at the Legends after calling and finding out that they had one more pair of the exact Marmot gloves that Neal wanted for Christmas, after failing to find them other places. And then seeing him open them up on Christmas morning.
-Learning that Neal had scoured the countryside (and the internet) to find the perfect black dress for my Christmas gift, which he eventually found. While I loved the dress, I even more loved the fact that Neal put so much time and effort into the gift.
-Receiving ANOHTER black dress from my mom. She couldn’t find one to buy me, so she decided to send me her own black dress, which she knew I would like, even though it was one that she herself really liked. I was very touched and felt very loved. Additionally, she sent me enough money to buy myself a black dress of my own choosing (if I didn’t feel like I already had enough black dresses, that is)!
Neal and I went on a date during the day on New Year’s Eve. We were supposed to go to a movie, but missed the one we wanted and ended up playing arcade games instead. It was not what we expected, but we had a lot of fun. Later, Sally and Neal went to watch “Tangled” (since Neal was working the day after Thanksgiving and missed it) while I prepped our dinner and party food. The party included Neal’s parents, his sister Bonnie, and us. Small but fun. We had homemade pizza, spinach artichoke dip and veggies, and ice cream sundaes. After putting the kids to bed we played a fun word game called “Quiddler”. My new favorite game. The Petersons didn’t last until midnight. I barely lasted myself. After the party left, Neal and I attempted to watch a movie, but I couldn’t follow it and fell asleep.
I currently have no idea what we did on NYD. If I remember I’ll add to this.
I tried to make the day very special for Neal, but I don’t know if it worked. Sally and I made cupcakes the day before for Neal to take to work, but it turned out that the department secretary had also brought treats (LOTS of treats), so the cupcakes were not hot items. And while I got him a gift, he didn’t love it—he liked it, but did not love it. Anyhow, Neal turned 31. I tried a new homemade pizza recipe and made a chocolate trifle, which was to die for in my own humble opinion (chocolate bundt cake cubes layered with homemade chocolate pudding and whipped cream). Austin thought so, too, when he grabbed a big handful when Neal got it too close to him. I think his first experience with dessert was a positive one. So I guess there was one bright shining spot in Neal’s day.
Uneventful except that Neal got me an awesome gift—two North Face coats. He got an awesome price, too, which made me feel less guilty about the gift. One of the coats is a knee-length down parka with a fur-lined hood. I can’t wait to wear it next winter—it will keep me nice and warm. My friend Rosemary brought me some ice cream and a very cute FHE chart that she made for me. She is very thoughtful. Unfortunately Sally and Austin were in bad form. They were both incredibly grumpy after church and cried a good part of the day. The fact that I made cream of roasted carrot soup and spinach salad for dinner didn’t help their moods. I thought it was delicious, though. We ate chocolate Bundt cake leftover from Neal’s birthday that I kept in the freezer. It was just as good.
I had planned on making Indian food—butter chicken and naan, for dinner, but when Neal called me from work in the early afternoon and asked if I wanted him to bring home some dinner, I agreed and didn’t start on my meal. Things got busy at work for Neal, and he ended up not being able to pick up his takeout after all. Silly me decided to go ahead with my original dinner plan, much, much later than I should have. By the time dinner was actually ready, everyone was starving, the house was a complete mess, and I wasn’t feeling the love of the day (like I did earlier when two friends unexpectedly popped in with some Valentine treats). The meal was okay, but not awesome, so I felt a little down about that, and I also was feeling guilty for not making any Valentines for anyone like I have always done in the past—sugar cookies, truffles, homemade cards, etc. By the time the kids were in bed and the gargantuan mess I had made in the kitchen was cleaned up, the day got better. Neal gave me a gift that I’d had my eye on for a while—a dessert decorator (it does the job of a pastry bag, but is a tube with a plunger and different screw-on tips). He also surprised me with homemade Italian sodas. We watched our wedding slide show and looked over notes that we had written to each other when we were dating. It was a lot of fun and really got me laughing hard—something I don’t do as much as I used to. I’m not sure why that is.
We invited some friends over for a low-key party for little Austin C. I had grand aspirations like I always do, but decided to keep things simple, especially because the party was planned kind of last-minute (my parents were supposed to be in town but ended up canceling their trip). Sometimes even really simple isn’t all that simple—I was in the kitchen a good portion of the day. I made a chocolate cake and yellow cupcakes, and had fun decorating them with my gift from the previous day. The chocolate cake was very tasty, but the cupcakes were just fair. Just FYI, I LOVE the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but if you have it, don’t bother making their recipe for simple yellow cupcakes. It isn’t that great. Anyhow, I digress. I found inspiration in Austin’s favorite blanket for decorating the cake and cupcakes. The blanket is brown with green, blue, and tan polka dots. He loves it like Linus from Charlie Brown loves his blanky. We had a great turn-out at the party, and it was a lot of fun having our friends and their children celebrate with us. Sally and Austin both love being around other kids. Austin loved his cupcake. He put a death grip on it, and didn’t let go until it was all gone, which wasn’t long. Austin is such a fun, sweet, and delightful little guy. It is amazing how fast his infancy flew by! I hope he felt loved on his birthday—we sure love him!
The day before Easter we attended an egg hunt followed by lunch at the Longmore’s house, and had a lot of fun. Sally knew the drill from the past two years of egg hunts in my backyard and collected more eggs than she knew what to do with, but Austin was content to fill his basket with leaves and dirt. I had fun socializing and not being the host (THANKS, Rosemary!). I really enjoyed Easter Sunday, as well. I taught the lesson in RS (I don’t remember why), and the lesson went well and I felt the Spirit. After church we enjoyed a quick family photo shoot and lunch with a little more style than usual. I brought out the white tablecloth and spring table runner, and we ate pb&js cut into flower shapes, leftover salad I had made for the party the day before, and fruit and yogurt parfaits garnished with fresh blackberries. I think Neal thought I was somewhat silly, but in my book, holidays should not feel like any other day, even when eating lunch after church.
My favorite part of the day was watching the Easter declaration video on LDS.org and “The Lamb of God” video with Sally while Austin napped. I think that Sally understands a lot about the gospel at her young age, and I love being able to have experiences with her that allow us both to feel the Spirit and learn about the Savior. In the evening we went to Blue Springs and enjoyed dinner with Neal’s parents, two youngest brothers, and his sister Cookie and her family. Sally and Austin had a great time playing with their cousins. It was fun watching Sally and Allyson play in the hammock while playing HORSE with Dallas with the Nerf basketball set. Dallas is a lot of fun. After returning home, Neal and I watched part of “The Ten Commandments”, an Easter tradition from my childhood. It was the perfect way to end a great holiday.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I think she did a great job, and I got just what I wanted (except a shot of the two of them smiling at the camera, but that was probably asking too much).
On a side note, I'm thinking of giving up blogging, but I'm torn. Any thoughts?
Saturday, June 11, 2011
When I was a student:
I went to class every day. I studied hard. I wrote papers. I took tests. I turned in my homework on time. I got A’s. I got to know my professors. I sat on the front row. I made friends with my classmates. I learned. I stayed in the library until it closed. I knew what was expected of me, I did it, I saw the results I wanted, and I felt good about what I had done.
What I was a full-time employee:
I went to work every day. I worked hard. I wrote programs. I learned. I got bonuses. I got raises. I sat in my cube all day. I went to meetings and helped make decisions about my projects. I met my deadlines. I followed the rules. I made friends with my coworkers. I stayed at work long after the janitors went home. I took my computer home with me and worked more. I knew what was expected of me, I did it, I was respected for it, and I felt good about what I was able to do.
Now that I’m a mother:
I take care of two children every day. I work hard. I make meals. I wipe bottoms. I play with toys. I sit on the floor. I wear out my jeans. I am tested. I make rules, which are sometimes broken. I stay up long after they have gone to bed. I teach, but mostly I learn. I get to know other moms. I make friends with baby dolls and teddy bears. I know what is expected of me (kind of), I try to do it (but sometimes fail), and I feel good about what I am doing. And I wouldn't trade my time with these little ones for the world.