Monday, December 27, 2010

Gifts of the Heart

My mother has always been a great example of what being a "giver," is all about. She has taught me lessons based on that subject for many years. I will always remember the night she "encouraged" me to help her take dinner into the home of one of my seminary teachers. That family had been in a nasty car accident about two days prior, and their youngest child, an infant, had been killed. I didn't know what to say or do, but my mother taught me that what matters most is simply being there.

There were other lessons, like the time I tripped over a garden hose lying in the front yard and dropped a plate of cream puffs. It was to be part of the dinner she had planned for a family whose mother was home, recovering from major surgery. She didn't lecture on my lack of grace, she merely sighed, helped me pick up the mess, and then instructed me to retrieve the second plate of cream puffs from our house, a treat intended for our family. Not only was I entrusted with carrying the second plate, but I was allowed later on to create a different dessert for our own family.

Years later, after my father's untimely death, my mother was working as a CNA at a nursing home. At the time, she worked with the most difficult wing; her patients had all been diagnosed with a form of Alzheimers. One lady was blind and had been assigned into that unit simply because it was more difficult to care for her. That Christmas Eve, my mother asked all of us to accompany her back to the nursing home. We brought plates of homemade sugar cookies we had decorated earlier that day, and my guitar. We went from room to room, singing Christmas Carols, and sharing treats with those who were alone. I've never forgotten how I felt that night, nor the tears that raced down the face of the blind woman who had felt forgotten and discarded.

This past year, my mother has faced a series of major changes in her life. She had been living with my youngest sister. But when this same sister announced her engagement and upcoming wedding, Mom decided it was time to move on. She wanted to return to Bear Lake, where she had lived for a time after my graduation from high school. We found her a cute apartment in a nearby retirement complex, and now I see her on a daily basis. It has been a fun experience, and she is still teaching me lessons on giving. She gets by on a frugal income these days, but her heart is still very much intent on helping those around her.

This past Thanksgiving, we took in 3 plates of food to ladies who live in Mom's retirement complex. These were some of my mother's new friends, and none of them had plans to do anything special for that holiday. So before we consumed our own feast, we helped our mother take plates of food into these sweet ladies. We later heard how thrilled they had been by the tasty treats we had brought to them that day. In a sad twist, one of these women passed away about a week later. Here is the rest of the story:

We didn't know it at the time, but this dear lady had avoided celebrating Thanksgiving for years. It was on Thanksgiving Day that her only daughter died of a drug overdose. For understandable reasons, Thanksgiving was a time of mourning. Before this year's Thanksgiving season, this same woman had told my mother that she wasn't going to do anything for Christmas either. But after the plate of food was brought into her apartment, this woman caught a bit of my mother's holiday spirit. The next day, she went out and bought gifts for her family, and Christmas cards. She began decorating her apartment for Christmas. People who knew her, said she was happier than she had been in a long time. Then she collapsed upstairs while doing her laundry. She was rushed to a hospital, but her heart, which had undergone a loving transformation, gave out.

I accompanied my mother to her friend's funeral. It was a bittersweet day. Earlier, my mother had been given a Christmas card made out to her by this same friend. We talked for quite some time about how my mother shouldn't feel regret, since she had brought such joy into her new friend's life during her final days in mortal mode.

To me, that's what the holiday season is all about: bringing joy into the lives of others. This is a time of year when we lovingly share with family, friends, and those who need it most. And as I have learned, compliments of my mother, it isn't so much what we give, but how we give. When those gifts are from the heart, they possess the power to change lives and boost spirits. And those are the best gifts of all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The White Stocking

Several years ago the bishop of our ward gave every family in our small town a small white Christmas stocking. He challenged us to gather as a family and privately decide on an individual basis what our gift to the Savior would be for the coming year. Our gift would be written on scraps of paper, and then folded and placed inside of the white stocking for safe keeping. During the holiday season, this stocking would be kept on the Christmas tree as a reminder of what we had pledged to do in the coming months. After that it was to be placed in an area where it could be seen often to help us remember what we've pledged.

Our family took this challenge to heart and each year on Christmas Eve, we gather as a family to retrieve our personal pledge from the white stocking. Silently we reflect on how well we came through on whatever our gift to the Savior was that year. Then after some thought, we decide what next year's gift will be.

As you may have guessed, these gifts are not of a material nature. They are gifts of the heart and mind, promises of self-improvement. Most in our clan select Christ-like attributes---the choice is up to each individual.

Wouldn't it be a remarkable thing if each year at Christmas-time, the entire world population would take a few moments to reflect on a gift to the Savior? Instead of focusing on the materialistic trends we see this time of year, simple gifts of the heart would be rendered.

This time of year I think of the shepherds who were the first to see the Christ-child after his humble birth. The gifts they brought were simple in comparison with those that were later given by the wise men, and yet I'm certain they were treasured most by our Elder Brother. They were gifts of humility, kindness, and love. Faith, hope, and charity were at the heart of these oblations. These are the character traits our Savior longs for each one of us to embrace and share.

So this Christmas season, as we bustle about preparing for this sacred time of year, let us reflect on how best we can celebrate the birth of our Lord. I think most of us will find that the most joy will come from sharing the simple gifts that were given long ago in a humble stable where the Prince of Peace was born.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Surviving the Aftermath of Suicide

When you first receive word of the suicide death of a loved one, it’s as though the world has tipped on its side. I’ve survived this nightmare twice, and both times as the news descended I felt as though the ocean was roaring inside my ears. There is no way to prepare for this kind of loss. After the initial blow, thankfully a sense of numbness prevails. This is followed by the welcome intervention of the Comforter. Somehow you get through those first difficult days carried by the Spirit. In a state of shock, you handle things you never dreamed you would ever face. Then finally, the funeral, the visits, the final decisions are made. That time passes in a blurred haze—and then the pain descends.

Suicide goes against everything we’ve ever been taught about enduring to the end. As such, when a family member chooses to exit this mortal world by their own hand, we are left without the comfort of knowing it was their time to go. We are inundated with emotions that threaten to tear us apart. Guilt, anger, and grieving pain alternate for attention as we struggle through a loss we can’t put into words. It helps to know that this life isn't the end, nor does progression stop on the other side of the veil. I know that loved ones who commit suicide live on, and receive the help they need on the other side of the veil. That witness has come after years of prayerful research, talking to priesthood leaders, and sacred moments within the temple walls. What a comfort that knowledge has been in my life. It is not our place to judge--we do not fully understand the mindset of those who commit suicide. That task is left to a loving Father in heaven who will take all things into consideration. Our responsibility lies in continuing on, letting go of the pain, and finding peace in forgiveness.

I was told in the days following my father’s suicide that this type of loss is comparable to the trauma experienced by those who survive a war. I would agree with that analysis. Thankfully, we are not left alone in our suffering. It has been my experience that heaven’s eyes are upon families torn apart by this type of tragic loss. We witnessed miracle after miracle in our family following my father’s demise. Hearts around us were touched to help when the need was great. How grateful we are for those who followed through on important promptings.

Since we’re all different, we tend to heal in varied ways. In our family it took a combination of things to repair our broken hearts. We learned that heartache is truly a physical pain. For the longest time I felt as though a stone was wedged tightly inside my heart. Then one day I stumbled onto something that eased that discomfort: serving others.

Nearly a month after losing my father, I was called upon to take dinner into a sister who had been ill. At first, I was resentful. Because of the way my father had died, I had been treated like a non-person. This loss had taken place during a time when suicide was a rare occurrence. Most people didn’t know what to do or say; I can count on one hand the number of people who were brave enough to wade into the mire of grief that became my life. So when I was asked to help someone else, I wasn’t overly thrilled. An overactive conscience prevented me from declining.

I’m fortunate I didn’t cut off a finger as I angrily chopped vegetables for the homemade clam chowder I had decided to make. I was still upset as I toted that kettle of soup inside this sister’s home. But when I saw how sick she really was, the iceberg that had settled inside my heart began to melt. Her need for help was great, and as I did minor household chores before leaving, I pulled outside of my own grief to serve. That was a turning point for me. Serving others proved to be a healing balm for my aching heart. Soon I was looking for ways to help those around me who were struggling. Each time I rendered service, the pain I carried lessened.

On the nights when I couldn’t sleep, I found that if I wrote out everything I was feeling, it also eased the pain. I shredded those pages and with each tear, peace replaced the anguish. I later learned that I had been guided toward taking care of my own therapy. Writing things out is an important release, and something that is recommended when facing traumatic loss. Writing became another healing balm for me and in time, I would become a published author. I truly learned that when much is taken, much is given in its place.

Something else that helped: letting go of the guilt. We had done the best we could under extremely trying conditions. We had to realize we were not to blame for Dad’s death. He was very ill at the time and committed an act he never would have considered had he been in a healthy state of mind. I suspect this same fact is true in most cases, including the more recent suicide death of my brother-in-law. The “what-ifs” can eat us alive if we’re not careful. Prayerfully seek help to heal from this volatile emotion. Professional counseling is a great way to work through this part of the healing process.

Holidays and special family events tend to bring back intense grief. For years I spent nearly every Father’s Day in the bathroom at the church, trying to paste myself back together. In time, those days soften. But at first, they rub salt in an extremely tender heart wound. Prayer, scripture study, temple attendance, and remembering there is strength in numbers are all crucial helps to surviving difficult days. We still gather together as a family to weather the holidays. We try to focus on the good memories of the past, and aim to make fun memories for the future.

Another tip to enduring a difficult day: reflect on the blessings. I would often make a list of the good things happening in my life. It was a needed reminder that despite all that we had lost, numerous positive blessings were also taking place in our lives. Instead of blaming God for what had happened, I tried to realize it was through His help that we were surviving.

I am living proof that it is possible to work through the devastation of a loved one’s suicide. That darkened tunnel can be survived. If this has been your challenge, place your hand in God’s and take each day as it comes. Step by step move forward knowing that eventually the pain will cease. The sun will return to your life and you will feel the warmth of knowing you are not alone in this trial.


It was mentioned to me at the completion of this article that it might be helpful to know how our family did in the years that followed Dad's unfortunate demise. Here is a brief run-down. As you'll see, we were each able to go on with our lives and enjoy a certain amount of success despite the tremendous heartache we endured:

I was a twenty-two year-old wife and mother when my father passed away. My two younger sisters were both in high school, and our brother was nineteen. Our mother was forty-three when this tragedy struck. A remarkable woman, she moved the family to Logan, Utah so everyone would have access to a college education. She then attended a trade-tech where she graduated as the valedictorian of her class. She worked for several years as a dental assistant and is now retired. She is still a great example of perseverance and fortitude.

My brother was able to serve a mission compliments of some friends of our father who wanted to finance that opportunity in honor of Dad's memory. He left for the mission field about 6 months after we lost our father.

Both of my sisters graduated from college. They are married, have great families, and enjoy wonderful careers. One works as a technical writer for a software company. Her first novel was published this year. The other works for a medical research company where she is a Clinical Research Coordinator.

Our brother served a successful mission in Montreal, Canada. He returned to Logan where he majored in psychology. He eventually obtained a master's degree and he works for the state of Utah, counseling those who are injured in accidents. He is also a talented web designer. He and his wife have three beautiful daughters, and they reside in Utah.

Kennon & I are the proud parents of three sons, we have welcomed two wonderful daughters-in-law to our family, and we love being grandparents to a cute tiny girl. I am a published author with nine books to my credit at this time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Survived NaNoWriMo!

So about a month ago, I was challenged by a family member to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo In a nutshell, this is a writing challenge. One has to commit to writing 50,000 words in one month's time. Wow!!! I've dabbled in the writing world before, but I'm not sure I've ever written 50,000 words in 30 days---until now. I'm proud to share that as of this afternoon, I have indeed completed this remarkable feat. (You may hold the applause for later.) ;) [Kidding!]

I have to say this challenge was just that---a challenge! And yet it was a refreshing way to break through writer's block. I used a storyline that has been rattling around in my head for a couple of years. Now it's finally down on paper . . . actually typed up on a word processor on my laptop, but I digress. True, it needs a bit of polishing and such, but it has morphed into a workable manuscript, complete with a plot-line.

Would I have completed the story without this little nudge from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? I'm not sure. All I know is despite all of this past month's adventures, which included feeding 23 people for Thanksgiving dinner, I squeaked in under the wire to finish. What a feeling of accomplishment. Even if this story never succeeds in getting published, what a rush to know I completed what I had pledged to do.

Will I tackle this challenge next year? That remains to be seen, but at this point in time I wouldn't be at all surprised. After all, my future bestseller will possibly be in need of a sequel. ;)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God's Tapestry

This past month has been a blur in our neck of the woods. So many challenging trials are taking place all around me. A couple of those have had quite an impact on my own life.

I've served as the YW president in our ward for nearly 5 years. In that time, I've grown close to the young women that I serve. A month ago, one of my Laurels was involved in a horrible car accident.

My husband and I hurried to the hospital as soon as we learned the news. Samantha was in ER, still unconscious. As I'm also a visiting teacher to Samantha's mother, I spent some time trying to offer comfort as we all prayed that Sam would wake up.

Sam didn't regain consciousness and it was decided that she would be flown by Life-Flight to a hospital in Salt Lake City. However, the weather was nasty that night and fate had other plans. Instead of taking Sam to Salt Lake, the helicopter flew her to the hospital in Idaho Falls, where she has been ever since.

It was a tough few days in the neighborhood. The accident had taken place on a Thursday afternoon. That Sunday she was still in a coma. I had to face a room full of grieving young women and didn't know quite how to handle things. Our Father in heaven did, however. After a heartfelt prayer, an inspired idea popped into my mind. We would make a cassette tape for Sam, one that would contain messages of love from all of the girls and YW leaders.

As we made the tape that Sunday morning, we decided to include a few musical numbers since Sam loves music and she was our main pianist in the YW realm. We saw a tiny miracle take place during YW as tearful frowns turned into hopeful smiles. Making that tape for Samantha was healing for us all.

We were able to get the tape to Sam's family two days later, and it was transferred to the hospital in Idaho Falls. We were later told that Sam had tapped her foot in time to the music as it had been played, and she had moved around in her bed during the messages. Still unconscious, Sam's reaction to the tape gave us hope that she would eventually wake from the coma.

We've seen several miracles with Sam the past few weeks. Prayers have indeed been answered. Despite the brain shearing injury Samantha sustained, she finally woke up, and she is recovering at an amazing rate. She is now in the rehab center of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, making impressive progress each day. You can see daily updates on this link: Sam's Blogsite

Every bone in Samantha's body should have been broken in that accident. Aside from the brain injury, she was fine. That in and of itself is amazing, and a testament to how watched over she really was.

My husband and I stopped in for a quick visit at the hospital in Idaho Falls this past week. It was heartwarming to see Sam's smile, and to hear her call my name. Though she has a ways to go toward a complete recovery, an inner light radiates from her eyes, indicating she is determined to win this battle.

How grateful we are that the Lord is truly at the helm. We have to put our trust in Him, especially when things spiral out of our control. Though life's trials continue, we know that things generally work out for the best. We can't see the entire picture now, but someday it will all make sense.

Along those lines, I will close with a favorite poem that pretty well sums things up:

Written by B.M. Franklin (1882-1965)

My life is just a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaves so skillfully.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And explain the reasons why-

The dark threads are as needful,
In The Weaver’s skillful hands
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Standing At The Crossroads

We've all been there, we've all endured moments when we stand at an intersection and try to decide which way is the best direction to head. We ponder the consequences, all that can be gained or lost, then venture forth, hoping we've chosen wisely.

Choices seem to be part of our mortal existence. We begin making decisions early on. Most of our early adventures in life revolve around the food we will or will not eat, what toys we will select, and which colors we will wear. Some decisions don't change much through the years. ;)

There are also milestones in our lives when we ponder items that will have a huge impact on the remainder of our days. What do I do after high school? After college? Who should I marry? What do I want to be when I grow up? No pressure. ;)

We find ourselves standing once again at the crossroads upon reaching the status of empty-nester. Now that the children have all fled the family home, what do I do with my life? Do I return to college and pick up the rest of my degree? Should I tackle the writing world again? Would I be better off polishing new talents and interests? And what about this silly body of mine that keeps trying to show me who's boss? What colors should I wear? Which toys do I want? These and other questions keep me awake at night. Silly, I know, but I find that as I enter this newest phase of my life, there are decisions to make yet again.

I suspect it will always be that way. There will always be new decisions to contemplate. This keeps us from becoming stagnant. Fresh ideas and perspectives are crucial to further growth and development. This keeps us alive and hopefully heading in the right direction.

So on days like today when I'm not sure what I want to be when I grow up, I will carefully weigh all of my options and then aim for the best direction, knowing there will always be another crossroad ahead to navigate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunny With a Chance of Showers

How often have we heard weather forecasters predict that we will experience a sunny day with a chance of showers? Probably too many times to count. ;) Today was one of those kind of days. It dawned bright and cheery, the sun peeking out over the mountain tops. "Aha," I though to myself as I prepared to face the day's events, "the weatherman lied last night." Last night's prediction was for rain . . . rain . . . and more rain with a chance of snow in the higher elevations. There was no mention of sun . . . and yet it has burst through the clouds off and on all day.

I went about my list of errands this morning, believing the storm fairies were having fun with the local weatherman, when all of a sudden, it began to sprinkle . . . and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It sprinkled all the same. It did this for quite some time . . . and then the sky grew dark with menacing clouds. "Ah, here it comes," I commented . . . and it did indeed . . . for nearly two solid hours. It rained, poured, and provided an impressive gulley-washer as we call it around these parts.

Then the sun came out and warmed things up nicely . . . before the next storm descended. The battle between clouds and sun took place most of the day. Currently, the sun is shining but I can see a glimmer of darkened clouds on the horizon, indicating that the storms aren't quite finished for the day.

It's like that with life; storms and sunshine seem intermixed. On one of the most beautiful fall days imaginable a darkened storm surfaced into my life 27 years ago. On that day my father chose to end his life. I remember walking outside later that morning after receiving the news, and wondering how anyone could do such a thing on a day that was so gorgeous. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and yet it rained steadily inside my heart for several weeks.

Storms come into our lives for important reasons, like the need for new growth. Sometimes they spring out in a surprising manner, clouding our lives without warning, due in part to the fault of others. However they descend, I know that eventually, the Son will reappear, drying our tears, warming our hearts, and reminding us there is always hope, no matter how dark the skies may appear on the horizon.

(Note: I composed this post a week ago for another LDS blog group that I belong to {V-Formation}. I had no idea at the time that another storm was brewing in our lives. On Thursday of last week, one of my Laurels was seriously injured in a car accident. As of today, she is still comatose. She is showing positive signs of coming out of this {she opened her eyes for a few moments last night while I was talking to her mother on the phone} and we are confident that eventually, Samantha will return to us. Until then, our prayers continue to be with Sam, and with her family. You can access a blogsite her oldest sister has put together that contains updates on Sam's condition here: Sammy's Blogsite )

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Falling Into Place

I do apologize for not posting much of anything lately. As I glance back over this past summer, it's rather a blur. A good blur for the most part, but a blur all the same. In three months time our family survived 2 weddings, a couple of funerals, a plethora of reunions, girls camp, and the discovery that I have a food allergy (MSG). Never a dull moment, and I suspect that is how life is meant to be.

To atone for my absence the past couple of weeks, I will post a series of pictures I shot on a recent camping adventure in the hills behind our home in Bennington. I love this time of year and savor the fall colors. I trust most of you feel the same way. As such, enjoy the beauty of our world.

This shot managed to capture most of the vivid colors Mother Nature has provided this fall.

Though some of the trees are already losing their leaves, the colors are still inspiring.

Here Kennon is posing beside one of my favorite fall colors.

He talked me into posing beside one of his favorite colors.

We rode the trusty 4-wheeler up on top of one mountain. Here is the view below.

And this was the view from another side of that same mountain top: the famed Bear Lake as seen from on high. The sun was about to set, so the colors were impressive that night.

And here was our mode of transportation that night: Behold the mighty 4-wheeler!

Another view from the top of the mountain.

It was a gorgeous sunset.

I love sunsets! This one was extremely colorful.

That's it for now. Tune in soon for shots I snapped on the way up to Periodic Springs above Afton, Wyoming.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Media Frenzy

We truly live in a remarkable era. People can communicate in a variety of ways via such things as cell phones, texting, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, blogging, and so forth. Computers that once filled entire rooms, can now be held in the palm of one's hand. It will be interesting to see what will be invented next.

I remember typing my first novel on an electric typewriter---top of the line for its day. The down side of using this device was that whenever something needed to be corrected, it usually meant retyping an entire chapter.

How excited I was when we purchased our first desktop computer. It was a 286 IBM compatible complete with a word processor, and other software programs designed to make several tasks easier. To understand it all, I took a computer class that was being offered locally. There are still items I can do compliments of this training, despite the fact that my newest computer is now a Toshiba laptop with a 287 gigabyte hard-drive. Windows 7 is its operating system, and this laptop possesses the technology to create and play DVD's. I'm still amazed by how fast it runs in comparison to my first laptop.

This new technology has made it easier to compose manuscripts. My cell phone makes it possible for my family and friends to contact me, regardless of where I might be. It even possesses a tiny camera, if I should feel the need to snap a photo to share. And while I am grateful for these and other improvements in our world, I am also a little concerned. As with everything else, there needs to be a balance.

I've heard it said that one day books will be obsolete. That thought saddens me, and I, for one, doubt that will ever be true. I suspect there are several of us who prefer holding a book and savoring the pages, as opposed to reading text online, or via something like Kindle.

My other concern is that we aren't spending near as much time enjoying "face to face" communication. It doesn't seem that long ago when several of my neighbors and I would gather most mornings for a refreshing walk about town. Not only was this a great way to exercise, but it gave us a chance to touch base with each other. Everyone's schedules are so crazy now, we're lucky if we get a chance to wave at each other in passing. I see more of some friends online, than in person.

While I will be forever grateful for the technology that has made keeping in touch easier (I loved being able to receive e-mail from my missionary sons each week, as opposed to waiting for handwritten letters to arrive) it saddens me that so many of us are leaning toward online communication that may or may not be a healthy alternative. People can be deceiving online, taking on a persona totally different from who they really are. I believe it's much easier to discern who someone is when you can actually see their face.

I also think it's important to disconnect from all of the gadgetry periodically and to embrace life around us. We all need to spend more time outside, appreciating the beauty God created for us to enjoy. I think it's sad that so many people are caught up in make believe worlds online and in video games. I enjoy playing games . . . mostly old-fashioned board games or card games that have been family favorites for years. ;) I believe that games of this nature are a healthier alternative and a great way to bring families closer together.

So while I will always be grateful for the technology that has preserved my life (I've been an insulin pump patient for years. Just call me the bionic woman.) I think it's important to balance this progressive technology trend with old-fashioned values that in my opinion are never outdated.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wedding Bells

I apologize for not posting lately. Things have been slightly crazy---but good. =) Our youngest son got married a week ago. What a wonderful experience. And now we have yet another daughter to add to our ranks. This means the female to male ratio is increasing in our clan. =D

I figure pictures do indeed speak a thousand words, so I'll post a few that were taken last weekend during the wedding adventure. Devin and Emily were married in the beautiful San Diego Temple. Several of us flew there for the occasion, and a good time was had by all. Welcome to the family, Emily----and good job Devin!!! =)

Here is a shot I took of the San Diego Temple.

Presenting Mr. & Mrs. Devin Crane!

Parents of the groom: Mr. & Mrs. Kennon Crane.

The five of us flew to San Diego for this event: Kennon, Moi, Kris, Verdene, & Bob.

Parents of the bride: Mary Ellen & John Holman posing with Emily & Devin.

Parents of the groom (Kennon & Moi posing with Emily and Devin.)

The wedding party!

Devin hanging out with his best man at the reception.

The fun wedding cake! (It was delicious!!!)

The reception was beautifully decorated. The wedding colors were the colors of the interior of an abalone shell: coral, sky blue, & turquoise.

Emily dancing with her father during the reception.

All in all, it was a wonderful day, and now we're gearing up for the party here in Bennington on September 10th!!! Never a dull moment!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Case of the Missing Month

Okay . . . am I the only one who feels like we skipped straight from June to August this summer? ;) Where did July go? I am amazed by how quickly that month disappeared. I would actually like another 30 days before August. All in favor?

I know there were at least 2 family reunions, a couple of camping trips, girls' camp, and wedding preparations for our youngest son going on last month . . . but still---August is really here already? Je suis sure!!! or better yet: Zut Alors!!! (French for "What the crap?!!!" or words to that effect.)

I'm sitting here this morning, looking at my growing list of things I need to accomplish before the end of summer . . . and I'm not sure it's all going to happen. I didn't even get a garden planted this year, which says something, since I always plant a garden.

To make myself feel better, perhaps I'll share a few pictures that may help me discover why the past 4 weeks sped by so fast:

We began the month of July with the annual Crane Clan Reunion. This year we camped at Heise Hot Springs near Kelly Canyon.

A good time was had by all. Here's a shot of Kennon, two of his siblings, and his mommy.

And here's a picture of Kennon's Aunt Marie, and his mother, Verdene. The two sisters don't get together very often, so it was good for them to spend some time together.

On the 4th, we all headed down to see the fireworks display at Idaho Falls. Here's a shot of Kennon's cousins from Oregon: Spencer, Nicki, and Steve.

Kennon and I traveled to the Elkhorn Campground near Palisades after that reunion and camped for a day or two. While Kennon fished, I made new friends.

We then camped for a couple of days at the scenic Cottonwood Lake Campground near Smoot, Wyoming.

Here we met up with some of the members of my family tree who were also there camping that weekend. Pictured are my Uncle Ben, Aunt Judy, and their daughter: Carrie. We had a great time visiting and hanging out.

We also did a little bit of fishing last month. Here Kennon is posing with the fish he caught.

And here I am posing with the fish I caught. ;) What can I say, I am my grandfather's granddaughter. =D [Kennon caught two of the perch and one of the trout pictured. But I caught the rest!!! Brag, brag, and brag some more.]

We also enjoyed Girls' Camp with our stake last month. Here's a shot of our faithful 3 who attended the entire camp this year, plus my 1st counselor, Tricia, and myself.

And here's a shot of just about everyone else who was part of the Bennington experience at girls' camp this year. (A couple of our girls traveled back and forth this year. Also shown is my 2nd counselor, Lanette, and our camp director: Kim.)

This is a shot I'm pretty proud of---possibly the best picture I've taken all summer: a horned owl that happened to glance down at me as I took his\her picture. This is a wild owl that inhabits some cottonwood trees near Menan, Idaho.

We also played at the famed Bear Lake last month. Our son: Derek, daughter-in-law: Kristen, and their tiny daughter, Aari, came up for a fun weekend.

Aari had a good time playing in the sand and water.

She also savored corn on the cob during our lovely grill fest held later that night.

The coolest day of the month\year\decade!!!

So . . . I guess when you look back through the pictures of what took place this past month, it does rather put everything into perspective. July was a blur because we packed so much into those precious weeks. I suspect August will follow suit. ;)

Enjoy what's left of the summer. I know I plan to do just that before the sun sets on the month of August. =D