Thursday, August 21, 2014

Adventures of a middle age college student

Here I sit, in between classes, at my first day of school. I feel a bit like I did in High School; not knowing what to do with myself and not sure where I fit in. I had my first class this morning on HTML and Javascript where I learned where the internet came from and that Al Gore didn't, in fact, create it as he loves to claim. He was just in charge of the sub-committee in congress that pushed the legislation through which allowed everyone access to it, not just the government and big businesses. Just a little tidbit of information for you. And for all you conservatives, it was actually George Bush, Sr. who started the bill and went to congress to get approval. So he could claim that he invented it too, but obviously he knows better.

Anyway, I think I will like the class and it doesn't seem nearly as difficult as I had first imagined. The instructor is easy going and funny and seems like he is open to questions and discussion. I was one of only three women there and definitely one of the oldest in the room, aside from my instructor. I sort of expected that, but it still took me a little by surprise and left me feeling somewhat out of place. It's funny that I am going into a field that is mostly male dominated and Shawn went into a field that is female dominated. I guess we balance each other out that way. I just hope that I can do this. By the end of the semester I think I will know. I hope. In the meantime, I will just do my best, work hard and try to squash that tiny voice in my head that's telling me I am out of my league, I'm too old to succeed, and I might as well give up now before I get my hopes up and fail miserably.

Well, it's almost time for my next class. This one will be a bit more of a yawner, but it's one that I need to take for practically every other class that's required. So off I go. College student extraordinaire!

Wish me luck. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

warm fuzzies

I woke up today with this yucky, stubborn, selfish feeling. I had a service project to go do and I wasn't looking forward to it. I was going to be gone for half the day and I knew it was going to be hard work. I know...I'm supposed to rejoice in the service of others and I had a terrible attitude, but it's the truth. I'm just keepin' it real, folks. So I drove up the canyon to a girl's camp called Oakcrest to help close the camp for the summer. Since the girls in our stake get to participate in the camp every year, we get the assignment every couple of years to help set it up or take it down. Anyway, there's lots of cleaning involved and it's a huge piece of property with probably 20 cabins and a giant lodge. You get the picture.

But the most interesting thing happens when you spend some time helping others. I don't know how many times I am going to have to learn this lesson, because I am no stranger to service projects, but it's amazing to me how your attitude can go from downright nasty to warm and fuzzy in a matter of a few hours. It was a simple assignment. I wasn't changing the world or anything, but I came home feeling rejuvenated, motivated and just....happy. I cleaned my house, I hugged my kids and for the first time in several weeks I felt grateful for my life in all it's craziness and dysfunction.

So I have learned again today that if you really want a change of heart, it comes from helping others. From getting out of yourself and giving your strength to someone who needs it.

It's a road to all things warm and fuzzy.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A few random things

School starts in two weeks, people! I recently purchased my TWO books for my classes at a whopping $245. Seriously? And they are used books too. I was completely disgusted. You would think that after going through years of school with Shawn that I would be past the sticker shock, but apparently I'm not.

What else... ok, our camping trip last weekend was fun. I have not a single picture to prove we were there, however. I forgot my real camera and I am out of space on my phone. But that's ok. We had a great time, despite a few little scrapes and bruises on my two eldest children who think they can just long board or bike their way down a steep hill without any consequences. Plus one of them was not wearing helmet at the time, which sent me into a fit of motherly rage while simultaneously giving me a nice, big serving of motherly guilt. Hey! Everyone! I'm the mom who let her kid bike around recklessly without a helmet! Oh the shame!

Mother of the year right here, folks.

Everything else in our lives is what you think it would be. Getting ready for school, mourning the end of summer, trying to calm the extreme case of jitters caused by my first real semester of college since 1995 looming in the near future. Sometimes I think I am just out of my mind. I opened my book about HTML and thought I was going to have a heart attack. It's like someone just dropped me into some foreign language class and assumed I already knew how to conjugate the verbs and ask "where can I find the bathroom?" I'm scared. Really, truly scared.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another Abby moment

Abby:  "Mom? Is Dad good at home stuff AND work stuff?"

Me:  "Ya, Dad's pretty much good at everything."

Abby:  "You're only good at home stuff. Like doing laundry. Oh well! Dads will be Dads!"

Well, at least she thinks I'm good at something.

Monday, July 28, 2014

What? Again?

Yup. Here we go again! This weekend is our annual Crockett Camping Extravaganza. Due to some technical difficulties, we had to cancel our reservation at Wolf Creek because a) Amy and I drove up there and the campsite was the suckiest one I have ever seen and b) we found out (through very weird circumstances) that a particularly rambunctious group of people were going to stay there during the same time as us. We knew that there was going to be a lot of partying going on until o'dark thirty about 20 yards from us and thinking of that just made me feel cranky. And when I'm cranky I can actually be very rude and possibly make Shawn start a fight for me. I need my sleep and I really don't want to hear the alcohol induced frivolity that will ensue until who knows when. Plus there isn't a camp host on site to keep them under control. Of course, we could always let the younger kids wake up early and ride their bikes all over the campsite screaming at the top of their lungs the next morning, which is probably what they would do anyway. That would be mildly amusing. But not enough to make me want to stay there for any length of time. The party animals can just have at it.

But luckily (through more weird circumstances) we got reservations at a campground near Payson Lakes. I am so excited about it! It's looks like a nice place and I love the fact that we are going somewhere new. I love camping!

But why do I love camping? Why do I persist? Why do I voluntarily drive hours to the middle of nowhere so that other people can hear me yell at my kids? I'm not sure what drives me to this madness, but for some reason, we continue to go every year. It really is a lot of work, don't you think? Whenever I start packing, I feel a little like we are planning an evacuation. With all of the stoves, axes, firewood, lanterns, food to feed us for days on end and various types of clothing in case of extreme temperatures like rain, or in my case a few weeks ago, SNOW, it seriously feels like we are expecting a zombie apocalypse or something. But, ahhhh....there is something about the mountain air and getting away from the routine of life that is so appealing I will literally do anything, including all the work that comes with camping, for a little taste of nature at it's finest. Not to mention those stars at night. They make me feel like a tiny speck in the universe. It helps me get out of myself and get out of my head for just a few days. It really is a glorious feeling.

So there ya go. I guess I just answered my own question. A'camping we will go. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Communing with nature

Well, we are back from our adventurous camping trip where many memories were made, some good, some bad, some downright ridiculous.

We went up to Moosehorn Lake this year and it was absolutely beautiful! The campground isn't as nice as we are used to, but the view of the lake with the mountain in the background made up for it.

When we got up to the campground around 11:00, we found a perfect spot just 50 yards from the lake and set up camp. We were so excited! We ate lunch, visited the lake a few times, played a couple of games and then 2 hours later the camp host came around to tell us that someone else had come up early in the morning and paid for the spot, so we had to move. We didn't think that was really the way it was supposed to work, since it was a first-come, first-serve site and they weren't even occupying it, but apparently the first one with the money always wins. They didn't even leave a tent or a chair or a dang roasting stick to show that someone was staying there! We were more than a little upset about the situation because in the mean time, the campground had filled up since it was now late in the afternoon on a Friday. Luckily, a family staying across from us had reserved 3 spots, but had decided not to use one and offered to give it to us and we could just pay them for it, they wouldn't lose their money, we would still have a place to camp and all would be well. The camp host didn't like that, of course, because she wanted us to pay her for the site and let the other people forfeit their money because they weren't occupying the space. So essentially she would get paid twice, but Shawn basically told her where to go and we paid the nice family instead.

Anyway....once we broke down camp and set it all up again, we had a GREAT time!!! I really love the mountains and it was so neat to be up there with our family. We laughed a lot and I was so grateful to have the opportunity for us to be together without any distractions. As my family has grown up, I have noticed that those times you have with just your little family grow fewer and farther between. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I got a piece of it back again. Even with the campsite fiasco, this was such a fun trip. Here's a few highlights. I am bad at remembering to take pictures, so there are literally only a few:
Seth and Abbers exploring Moosehorn lake. These pictures really don't do justice to how pretty it was.

Chillin' with a game of Okinawa Gin

Doing some more chillin' by the fire

Hiking time! On our way down the trail to Fehr and Shepard Lakes. 

Our first stop: Fehr Lake. Not as pretty as Moosehorn, but still nice.
Abby making sure we are going the right way.

Fehr Lake

Nate contemplating nature as we took a little rest.
I need to interject here to talk a little about this hike. First of all, Shawn couldn't go with us because he had tweaked his back the day before and was walking like he had a bent hanger up his wazoo. So I decided to take the kids alone. I can do that, right? I am a Camper with a capital C! I can hike the heck out these mountains! So anyway, when we were at home before we left for the trip I went online to look up hikes in the area and this one was described as "family friendly" and something that would be good for children. The hike included three lakes: Fehr, Shepard and Hoover and was about 3 miles round trip. We figured we could easily go to Shepard lake and back with no problem since that would only be two miles and it's going to be so family friendly, right? We got to Fehr Lake with no problem. It was only half a mile in and was more like a casual stroll. No big deal. That was probably the part they meant when they said "family friendly." Then we started the next half mile to Shepard lake. As we descended further and further into the valley, I was starting to get a little worried about the way back. So I'm having this conversation with myself that went something like this:

"Hmmm...this is going to be rough going for Abby, oh who am I kidding, for ME, on the way back up the trail. Plus that sky is getting awfully dark. Was that thunder I just heard? Wow, these rocks are getting bigger. But it's only half a mile, right? I mean, that's only two times around a track. We can SO do this. Yup, that was a definitely a rain drop I just felt. But it's all good; it's just water. So we get a little wet. I mean, so what? Ok, I am looking down the trail and all I see is that we are heading vertically down into a sea of pine trees. But I'm just being a wimp. This is family friendly. Family...huff...huff....friendly."

30 minutes later:

"Ok, I'm getting worried because it's raining and thundering a little, the rocks are slippery, but I'm playin' it cool. Don't want the kids to freak out because I'm freaking out. It's all good. We're almost there. Should we just turn around? No, we aren't turning around. It's only half a mile for cryin' out loud! But I'm starting to think about all of those articles I've been reading about hikers getting lost in the woods. Man, now I'm just psyching myself out. The trail is my friend. The internet said so. It must be true."

15 minutes after that:


And then like a miracle from heaven, I could see the tiniest bit of lake peeking through the pine trees. It took us close to an hour to navigate that last half a mile of friendly trail. When we reached Shepard Lake, the sky was about to dump on us for real, so we paused just long enough to take this picture to prove we actually made it.

Shepard Lake. Not sure if it was pretty or not, because we literally made a run for it after this photo was taken.
So back up the trail we went. Much harder that way (at least for me; my boys would have been running if it weren't for us sissy girls). But especially harder because it was raining and the rocks were slippery and I was holding the hand of a precious little six year old who is most definitely not used to walking very far. So it took us well over an hour to hike the one mile back to the trail head. However, in Abby's defense, she did VERY well. There was minimal complaining, other than the occasional "Can we go back to our trailer now?" and one time when she said she just wanted to go home. I, on the other hand, have no defense. I am just an out-of-shape, 40 year old, paranoid mother who should not be allowed to take her children hiking.

Needless to say, I was a little bit relieved to return to the campsite, but also proud that I only freaked out on the inside. But we really did have a good time and it was a very pretty hike. It would have been a piece of cake if we would not have taken Abby with us. She slowed us down a bit, wanting to hold someone's hand the whole time and being a little afraid to jump down the big rocks. Plus the rain didn't make it any easier, but if I ever go on the same hike again, I will probably come prepared with a husband, a rain coat and a possibly a Xanax.

That night was awesome. After the clouds cleared, the stars came out and took our breath away like they always do. We played cards, we ate junk food, we lounged around in our awesome new tent trailer, and basically had a great time spending some much needed time together away from the stress of life.

Now it's back to reality, baby. (Like school that starts in 28 days! Eeek!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nothing and everything

I'm not sure where I am going with this one. I just know I need to write. About nothing and everything at the same time.

I guess I'll start with the life update.

Shawn had one of his patients die the other day at the ER. I know that it happens all the time in an ER and in a hospital but this was the first of Shawn's actual patients that died and I think it hit him harder than he thought it would. How does a person really get used to that? I guess you don't. Humanity won't let you. But you build up defenses against it and right now Shawn's defenses are in their beginning stages. So there's that.

The kids are doing pretty well. They are bored, of course. It's summer, they've been waiting all year for it and now that it's here, they don't know what to do. But we're planning a camping trip this weekend with just the six of us so that will be interesting. We've never actually been on a camping trip with just us. We've always been with cousins or friends, so I am interested to see how the dynamic changes and if it will be a great experience or a disaster. Maybe a little of both and probably a memorable experience either way. As a side note, I was wondering if any of you have any bright ideas about how to keep a six year old girl occupied for 4 days in the wilderness? I think that will be our biggest challenge.

I am stressed beyond belief and wondering what the heck I was thinking when I thought I could do school and kids and callings and life all at the same time. Who do I think I am anyway? Super Mom? Wonder Woman? Elastigirl? I will just need to find a way to be flexible, organized and keep up my motivation. I'm also thinking that this whole stay-up-til-one-in-the-morning-doing-homework business isn't going to work. I'm exhausted and I don't think I get much out of it anyway when I'm trying to stay up that late. I'm thinking that once everyone starts school, I will treat those 7 hours they are gone like my full time job. I will go to classes and spend the time in between studying. Then when they come home I can go into Mom mode and do my thing. I know Shawn has pledged his allegiance to my school plans and will help me as much as he can. So...all will be well. I need to stop worrying, keep breathing and know that everything will work out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Asleep at the wheel

It's late. I am supposed to be studying for the dreaded math test, but here I sit, falling asleep at my computer. This is not a good sign. I only have two classes and I'm already tired. I'm hoping it's like exercising; the first few weeks are a killer, but after a while you get into your groove and while it's still hard, you don't run out of breath quite as quickly. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.

But for now, I feel like my brain is going to explode. It's harder than I thought it would be because this part of my mind hasn't been used in a long time. I had to do some math as a pharmacy tech; proportions and that sort of thing, but polynomials and distributive property are terms I vaguely remember hearing, but for the life of me I can't seem to remember how to use them. Honestly, I'm not terribly worried. I make it sound much worse than it is. It's slowly coming back to me, but I've never been a patient person. If I have to start at the bottom of the math barrel, then so be it. That's probably what I need to do anyway so I can have a firm foundation to build on.

So for now, I'm trying my best. But still...they should have an airbag installed on computers for when you fall asleep and and hit your head on the screen.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Do you want to build a snowman?

Here is a picture of Pine Valley in my beloved Uintah Mountains in the middle of June, due to some freakishly cold, winter-ish storm that blew through for the three days that our Stake Girls Camp was scheduled to stay. If you didn't know better, you would think I took a trip to Canada, eh? And this picture was taken at an elevation of 7000 feet. I can only imagine what it looked like up at the top of the canyon at 10,000 feet. I found out later that most of the areas above us received 4-6 inches of new snow.
Let me just start by saying that we knew well before camp that we were in for some cold and wet weather. I mean, we do live in Utah after all, where the weather forecast is really just a lucky guess. We notified and warned every leader we could get a hold of, hoping that the girls would look past the 90 degrees they were feeling in the valley and try to picture themselves in the Uintah wilderness where weather forecasting is impossible, temperatures are just a shot in the dark and Mother Nature bats you around like a child's play thing. But alas, our warnings were ignored by some and not everyone was as prepared as we had hoped they would be. Some wards were ON it though! We had one ward in particular that had all their girls bring over their stuff to the leader's house the night before camp. She would quiz the parents and the girl on what they had packed and if they didn't have it, she sent them home for it and if they didn't own it, they better go beg, steal or borrow it or they weren't goin' to camp! Yay for great leaders!! They were by far the warmest and driest in our campground.

Our camp started off pretty normal; the stake and youth camp leaders got to camp around 5 on Monday, did some planning, roasted hot dogs and shivered around the fire for a while until we all decided to go to bed. The rain in the forecast had yet to start so we thought that just maybe the predicted cold front would miraculously move around our tiny camp.

The next morning it started off pretty cold, but nothing terribly unusual. The other campers arrived and had to set up in a drizzle of rain. It stayed pretty dry on and off for half the day and then it started to rain in earnest. Then it started to hail. Then it started to snow. Rain and cold we could do, but snow was definitely not on the agenda. Tents started to cave in and as we made our rounds to the different ward camps we realized that the girls were not prepared for this. The likelihood that temperatures would dip below freezing during the night, combined with the fact that most of them were already soaking wet (because they didn't listen to their mothers), made us seriously concerned for their safety. So we made the difficult decision to jump ship and head down the mountain to find somewhere warm and safe for the night.

Luckily (or maybe not luck?) we had some connections to a Bishop in Kamas who put us in touch with a ward who agreed to house us for the night in their ward building. When we got there, we set up our own gigantic slumber party in the gym and...surprise!...another stake girls camp was there already, snowed out of their campground as well. We felt extremely grateful that we had a warm and safe place for our 109 girls and I can't even describe how relieved I was that everybody was going to be ok and that these girls would be going home with all of their fingers and toes, plus an awesome story to tell. (I should take this time to mention that there were quite a few hysterical mothers who were very relieved as well.) As we pulled into the parking lot of this stake center, I was overwhelmed with this feeling of relief and peace and I knew that we were in the right place. The Bishop cranked up the heat and the Relief Society president showed up to make all 200 of us hot chocolate while we thawed out.

Later on the next day, the sun started to peek out and most of the snow on the ground was melting, but the temperatures were still cold enough and all of our gear was wet enough that we were worried for the girl's safety for the coming night as well. We found that many tents that we had left up the night before were caved in from the weight of the snow and some had an inch of water sitting at the bottom. I imagined what it would have been like to be up there the previous night and I once again felt so relieved that we were spared that experience. So we decided to pack it in and send the girls home. Someone left this little surprise for us when we went back up to break down camp.

A snowman in June. It reminded me that no matter what obstacles you're up against, it's still ok to let yourself have some fun.

I learned quite a few other lessons from this experience. The first one I seem to learn over and over and over again and that is: never underestimate the Uintah Mountain weather. Those mountains create their own weather and I will say, at the risk of sounding very hippy-ish, I am certain they have their own souls. The hills are alive. How they must laugh at our feeble attempts to brave the elements!

"You think your $800 dollar tent will keep you dry? HA! I will show you what I think of you and your silly little tent!"

And down comes the snow that is so heavy, you can practically drink it. And then down comes the tent.

I also learned the value of listening. Really listening. To yourself, to your leaders, to the spirit. (To your mother.) I learned to trust what I have to say and what I have heard whispered to my heart.

I learned that you should Always. Be. Prepared. Those boy scouts have a good thing goin' on with that whole motto. While I was surprisingly comfortable, many were completely miserable. How much easier is life if we just take a few minutes to prepare?

I learned how hard it is to be a leader. Well, I guess I already knew that one, but it was reinforced to me that it is difficult to be the one of the people who makes hard calls and who receives the criticism that comes from it. It's usually not a comfortable place for me to be.

Last of all I learned that I have it in me to rise to a challenge. There are so many reasons why I always tell myself that I am not up for challenges; I am too weak, too sick, too afraid. But the reality is that I CAN do difficult things, make difficult decisions and let those decisions take their course. What's even more surprising is that I am OK with it. Even with all of the negative comments toward us about how we didn't prepare and warn everyone, how we should not have gone through with it and so on...I can just let it go. It seriously doesn't bother me! How awesome is that!?! I know we did the best that we could and while hind sight is 20/20, all we can do in the moment is make a decision and go for it, come rain or shine (or snow).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Panic attacks and other fun stuff

I can't even begin to explain how incredibly busy I have been lately. But apparently not so busy that I can't blog about it, right? Ha!

Birthday parties, mission farewells, anniversaries, father's day, homework, homework, homework and more homework. Did I mention that I have homework? Can you believe it? I HAVE HOMEWORK! My instructor (because that's what they're called nowadays...none of the "teacher" business) opened the class early, so I have been working my tushy off trying to get ahead so I don't fall behind when I go to Girls Camp this week.

Ahhhh... Girls Camp. In capital letters because it has been all Girls Camp, all the time here at my house. I cannot stop thinking about it. I eat, sleep (or in my case, NOT sleep) and drink it. It keeps me up at night and makes me slightly sick to my stomach. The other day I literally almost had a panic attack when I found out how cold it's going to be up there in the Uintahs this week. Highs in the 50's, lows in the 30's. Dang. That's frickin' cold. And we all know how much Megan loves to be cold.

Then there is the kids. Alex is off to go on tour to LA this week, Nate has a youth conference to go to and Seth has a birthday sleepover with his cousin. Abby gets to hang out with super cool Aunt Amy since I won't be around for this week, which we will now refer to as a hot mess. Thank heaven for my sister who is rescuing me in all sorts of ways and keeping this hot mess from literally going to my head.

Shawn gets to run around in between all of this hot mess and then go work his butt off like always. Ahhh...good times.

Well, I suppose I shall go sleep in my comfy warm bed for the last time before freezing various limbs off of my body this week in the mountains. Hopefully I will still have fingers to blog all about it.