Wednesday, July 30, 2014

easy-peasy travel and a little bit of Salt Lake City

I am head-over-heels in love with these traveling companions of mine:
As I sat there on the plane with them after our adventures in South Carolina, I couldn't help but have a little bit of joy in my heart as I admired their impeccable behavior. 

Yes, sometimes I mourn that they are growing up so fast.  But not on airplanes (well, at least most airplanes...see back HERE).  

I had to stroke Lucy's sweet, messy hair as she colored to her heart's content and asked politely for a drink from the airline attendant.

I smiled as I thought of a not-so-distant trip where she lost her clothes:
...because of a little "accident" and the adventure that ensued because I had packed nothing extra (back HERE).  Then there was the crying for three hours straight on another flight.  Serious reflux on others.  The sick-to-my-stomach feeling I would have for weeks before I would travel from one coast to the other with two little babies in tow to see my family in the summers.

But there I was, with smiling helpfulness surrounding me.

We don't fly all together very often, so they were all in hog-heaven to be on an airplane, and I was in hog-heaven that I had four little assistants in place of exploding diaper changing in those little teensy-tinsy airplane bathrooms.

They kept me situated and on time, checking to be sure we had all our bags and checking the monitors for our flight.  It was a total role-reversal.

And man oh man I liked it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...let's back up for just a sec.

After South Carolina Dave flew home for meetings and work and the girls and I were on our own.  (We had already said goodbye to Max back HERE.)

Poor Dave had driven back and forth from Pawleys Island to the Charleston Airport over and over again...to get Elle from her Legacy tour, to get me from the BBS conference, to take Max to catch his flight to Nationals, and then again to take off.

Our flight was a little later, so much to my girls' chagrin I seized the half hour before our flight to cram in some Charleston sights.  Oh man I wish we had longer there, but it was fun to drive through the beauty of that place and picture how it was way back when all that Civil War stuff was going on.

Then we waved goodbye to that wonderful place and turned our faces toward Utah and the family reunion we were heading to.

My four assistants helped me find the right Trax to get to a car we could use...
...and we headed to have a sleep-over with my dear high school friend Maureen.

The next day we went to Temple Square.

Lucy was dying to take a picture in front of the temple:

We went to church at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. 
(Elle wasn't feeling great so she stayed with Maureen.)

I am so so so grateful for this amazing friend of mine, for the friendship we have shared for over thirty years, and for any opportunity my girls get to have her rub off on them, even just a little.

From there we did a little bit of Tetris to squeeze all those bags of ours into my parent's little car:

And headed up to the lake to join the beginning of the gatherers for the big annual Eyre party/reunion.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

memories from my freshman year and a book give-away

There are a few poignant things I remember from my freshman year at Boston University.

I remember my Art History class.  Being submerged in the darkness of the auditorium while watching slide after slide of the history of art.  I was enthralled.  I drank it all in...the medieval times two-dimentionality to the Impressionists to the Realists who pulled my heart into their work.  We were assigned to write long papers on individual pieces of art at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.  I sat for hours pouring over those paintings, dissecting each brushstroke and expression as the museum became like home to me.

I remember the church building I attended each Sunday where Clayton Christensen, tall and wise, was my Bishop.  Students from Harvard, Tufts, and MIT to name a few all mulled together in a ward where the intellectual conversation was often over my head, but the spirit filled up each room with love.

I remember Elie Wiesel, the author of "Night" came as a guest speaker to one of my classes one day, and how his gruff voice led us into snippets of inhumanity that was the Holocaust.

I remember reading the BYU "rules" aloud to my roommates and some "extra" boys who happened to be around, their jaws dropping on the floor in confusion that I would want to go to a school so strict and tight-laced after this free-roaming one.

I remember Red Sox games and riding the clickety-clackety "T" to my dorm room close-by.  And my roommate who collected all kinds of penguins.

All those velvety memories were spurred on this week as I have been reading over different portions of my parents' new book, The Turning.  The thing that brought all that Boston University hoopla to mind is that in their book my parents quote Alexis de Tocqueville.  We studied his book "Democracy in America" in one of my B.U. classes, and we studied it well.

I figured back at the time that that book was unique and obscure: something my teacher just happened to love.  But, like most things of any importance, once it plants itself into your frame of reference you hear it mentioned over and over and over again.  Over the years my ears have perked up as it's been referred to time and time again in myriads of different conversations.

That French man was wise.

"If America is ever destroyed, it will be destroyed from within," he almost prophesies.  

My parents take that to heart, and believe that although where we live is an exceptional place, the gradual and escalating break-down of family is the seed that could cause a great deal of destruction.

They also quote the sage warning in Malachi:
Here's a quote from the book:

"The warning of this book is simple and frightening but by no means new:  America's most basic institution, the family, is breaking down.  This breakdown is the direct cause of steep increases in social problems: crime, violence, gangs, teen pregnancy, drugs, poverty"....and pretty much every other "curse" you can name.

My Dad goes so far as to say this:

"This world's current generations--our generations--parents and grandparents who are now raising children, running companies, creating media, making laws, teaching, writing, voting, consuming--essentially the adults of this current world--may be this worlds' last chance.  If we continue to ignore (or accept temporary solutions for) the symptoms, and if we fail to understand or combat the cause, the world we have known will not exist for our children.  But if we recognize and restore priorities of families and values, we can rescue our own happiness, even as we turn aside the forces that would destroy our childrens' future.

Dave and I have had quite a few conversations about this book.  The first part brings out all kinds of scary statistics and worries about the gradual breakdown of families.   A summary with lots of statistics is HERE

And then there is a whole "book within a book" with all the boiled-down best practices my parents have come up with over the years to create strong families.

But what I like to think about most, or really, what worries me the most, is the question: what do we, as families who care about the continuation of strong families, do to stay strong and to stand up and protect what we have?  How do we help families who need to be fortified?  How can we seek harder for solutions?  I want so much to help families because I believe whole-heartedly in their divinity.

We need families!  I believe that with all my heart (HEREHERE, and a whole slew of other places I can't find right now).  I know there are so many out there who come from dysfunctional ones.  Heart-breaking ones.  Troubled ones (hence the worry my parents have that they are gradually becoming more and more that way).   I believe we need to stand up for the good ones and not take them for granted.  We need to find ways to make them stronger and support the ones who need help.

So I'm excited because I get to give away TEN copies of this new book scheduled to be released in September.  I'm excited I get to spread the conversation.

How important is the family to you?

Do you believe, like my parents and I do, that the family can be the unifying force to hold our systems together or is that a bunch of hogwash?

Is our country, as Tocqueville prophesied all those years ago, really being destroyed from within?

If so, what can we do about it?

How can we fight to keep families strong?

I'd love to keep this conversation going.  So leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy to start up conversations with those you love.  Check out the facts and figures on the new website HERE and come back to leave a comment about what you think for another chance to win.

I will select ten book winners on Friday.   Since the book won't be released until September, my parents will send the winners a portion of the book in email format and then the real-deal as soon as it's released.

In the meantime, I will go study more Tocqueville and be even more grateful that that dear family of mine encouraged me to spread my wings and go to Boston University all those years ago.  Little did any of us know how deeply it would work into my heart.

Monday, July 28, 2014

he has returned...

...and we are all happy as can be about that little fact.  (I talked HERE about why he went to China...he was gone for three weeks.)
(We're even putting up with the mustache he grew cause we're all just so darn excited.)

He had a little added unplanned bonus adventure at the end of his trip (last night) which made us all the more excited to get him home.

When he was taking off from Shanghai they had some weird weather going on.  So he had to sit in the plane on the tarmac for three hours.

By that time he had missed his first connecting flight from L.A. home.  So Dave, knowing he would be late, changed that leg of the flight (different airline).

But then the flight was more delayed.

So Dave changed the flight again.

By the time Max got in, they had to bus he and the other passengers to another totally separate terminal since the normal customs place had some issues going on (???)  So Dave changed his flight one last time and because of all that crazy customs hoopla he missed that one by fifteen minutes.

So the poor kid was stranded in L.A. for the night.  Airport hotels were booked (he was so jet-lagged anyway he was sure he wouldn't be able to sleep).  Dave and I were sick to our stomachs but I'm sure Max's stomach was much worse.

Our welcome home banner Lucy worked for hours on sat lonely in the corner, and the requested welcome home cookies were put away in the freezer.

But we all woke up extra early this morning and ran to get that boy of ours.



So happy to have him home.

Now to get over the jet-lag so we can hear more about the big adventures...

Friday, July 25, 2014

the 4th in the South

The 4th was super low-key in South Carolina (Pawleys Island for those who asked in the first post).

Dave and I beat our bout of jet-lag and got up for a semi-early walk on the beach.
It was a great way to start off the 4th.

That followed by our own personal little neighborhood golf-cart-and-bike parade?  Can it get better than that?
Apparently everyone in Pawleys Island was caught up in the whole decorating-your-vehicle hoopla that day because the only thing the boys could find at the local convenience store were cleared out empty shelves and these two little doilies the girls are holding below.  Luckily the house we were renting had a little bit of festiveness we could add to our doilies. 
But our small amount of decorations in comparison to all the other decked-out carts and bikes didn't seem to daunt the jubilance of the passengers and the "captains."

 I mean, they got to be in a parade, for crying out loud!  Not much better than that.

Lucy had a vice-grip all day long on an American flag she found.

Claire morphed into a mermaid:

...and some others joined in.  Mermaids scream "I love America" like nothing else, don't you think?  Ha!

After a day in the sun and sand and mermaid-land, we had a bbq.

And watched the gorgeous sunset over the marsh.

The night before the 4th we had assigned each child twelve and up to give us a little report about one of the Founding Fathers to help celebrate the next day.

I loved the feeling of sitting out on this deck listening to these great kids report on fabulous men who did so much for our country.

The sky became darker and richer filling in around us, my heart became fuller, and the sound of the first fireworks going off on the nearby beach became louder and more frequent.
 ...and of course, a little volleyball never hurt any ambiance in my humble opinion:

After our little 4th of July Founding Fathers reports we headed to the beach to watch fireworks go off in every direction while listening to the waves roll in beside us.
SO grateful for this great country of ours.
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