Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That....

Manor Market is just down the street from Lindsay (my daughter).  It's about the size of a 7-Eleven.  We pass it nearly every time we leave her house, as it sits on the corner of a fairly busy intersection.  Sometimes we stop for a drink or for her to get gas.  It always brings a smile to my face when we do.

Eclectic doesn't even begin to describe this place!  You name it; they sell it.  You can buy "freshly made" sandwiches, beer kegs, wood for your fireplace, lottery tickets, disposable phones, snacks, maps--the list is endless.  And, there is no rhyme or reason as to how it's shelved.  Last time we stopped, they had potato chips and motor oil on the same aisle.  Just trying to maneuver through the store is incentive to stick your diet.  Not only are the aisles filled to overflowing, they are very narrow.  As you can see from the picture, merchandise spills out the front doors onto the sidewalk and even hangs from one door.  The other door (on the right in the photo) displays photos of anyone who has bounced a check in the store.  Not exactly how you want to earn your fifteen minutes of fame!

It makes me smile just thinking of Manor Market. And who doesn't appreciate something to smile about on a beautiful fall afternoon?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Combat Croquet

About 10 or 12 years ago Tommy and Matt tweaked the game of croquet and dubbed it "combat croquet."  We have a very hilly backyard.  They designed the course so that most wickets are on the edge of a hill, which makes it very difficult to get the ball through the wicket without rolling it downhill.  Their way of thinking (and the battle cry) is "anybody can play croquet on level ground."  Then they added two extra wickets that come with monopoly-style "chance" cards--everything from "lose a turn" to "one free hit of another player's ball" to "take an extra turn."  Oh, and you play with two croquet sets.
Just about every year, we have a group of people over for dinner and then a game of combat croquet.  And each year, we try to add a few "newbies" to the mix.  We hosted the combat croquet evening last Monday.  It had been several years since we'd done so.  Everyone had a great time!  The pictures hardly do it justice, but you'll get the idea.

We start with dinner (on a level surface).

Then the fun begins!

Choosing colors.

Behind the fence.

Battling back up the hill.

Levels of the hill.

In the rough.
And where are the ladies, you ask.  We know better than to get in the way of men in competition.  We sit back, relax, visit, and watch the guys try harder to keep someone else from winning than trying to win the game. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


You've heard this joke, haven't you?  One of the nice things about getting old is that you can hide your own Easter eggs.  Something similar happened to me this year.  Although, I'm certainly not old and it wasn't Easter eggs, but flowers.

When the snow finally melted off my front flower bed in May, five small green stems poked their heads through the dirt reaching for the sun.  I remembered planting bulbs last fall.  But, for the life of me, I had no idea what kind or why.  You see, I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening; so I always plant the same thing.  Petunias.  They grow well here, don't require much upkeep, provide plenty of color for the front of the house, and are hearty enough to survive my touch.  These were definitely NOT petunias.

I watched and waited hoping for a clue.  The stems grew taller and taller.  No buds.  Still taller--still no buds.  June gave way to July.  Finally, long slender buds formed.  And took forever to open.  Two weeks later, when they finally did, lo and behold--stargazer lilies!!

And it all came back to me! Last year after my mom died, two dear friends gave me a basket of the lilies.  They had no idea that stargazer lilies were my mom's favorite flower.  I enjoyed them in the pot until all the blossoms were gone then transplanted them to the front flower bed.  It's the only place in my yard that gets direct sun, which is what the little tag in the pot said these particular flowers needed.

Somtimes being forgetful can bring surprises like finding Easter eggs you hid yourself.  And, sometimes forgetfulness brings wonderful blessings.  The surprise of a beautiful flower.  The memory of my fantastic mom.  The thoughtfulness of two special friends.  God is so good!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Passing of an Era

Did you watch the final launch of a space shuttle?  It was an almost flawless launch--only one brief stop of the countdown.  Spectacular, even after 30 years!

As I watched, I reflected on what an integral part of my life space exploration and travel has been.  You see, I grew up in Texas City, Texas.  Less than 20 miles from the Johnson Space Center.  I remember the race against the Russians to be the first to launch a man into space and the palpable disappointment when Yuri Gagarin blasted off on April 12, 1961.  (Coincidentally, Tommy's 9th birthday.)  Alan Shepard followed on May 5, 1961.  Sooooo close.  Can you believe that was 50 years ago?

The space program progressed from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo missions.  Each time there was a launch, our school teachers would bring a television to class so we could watch.  Small--probably 12" screens--with a grainy, black and white picture.  The rabbit ears had to be positioned just so in order for us to even get that.  Yet, the entire class would be riveted to the picture.  I was in the second grade when John Glenn blasted off the first time.  History in the making.  And, I got to watch!

We took several field trips to see "Mission Control" in my later years of elementary school.  I doubt I was as impressed as I should have been.  Mostly it was a day out of the classroom.  Although it was cool when the lights that tracked a space flight's path were turned on for us. Yet, every time I see mission control featured in a movie or a television program, it takes me back.  How many people can say they've actually been there?

Where you were July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong took "one small step for mankind; one giant leap for mankind"?  I was sitting in my boyfriend's family room once again riveted to the television (this time a color picture).  Only eight years from the first manned launch to putting a man on the moon.  Wow!

Before he reported for active duty with the Air Force, Tommy's spent a year working for McDonnell Douglas designing crew procedures for the space shuttle.  That was in 1974.  Just seven years later, Space Shuttle Columbia launched.  April 12, 1981.  We were living in Utah, home of Thiokol (now ATK) who makes the solid rocket boosters used to launch the shuttle into orbit.  Once again riveted to the television and living near an integral part of the program.

Let's not forget the Hubble telescope or the twin Mars exploration rovers or the Cassini spacecraft that orbited Saturn.  Between 1998 and 2000, three separate launches carried space station modules into space to later be connected so men could live there.  Enormous technological advances have come as a result of the space program.  I read somewhere that most watches today have more computer technology in them than the first space modules did.

And now, it's over.  Johnson Space Center employees 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff.  Many will lose their jobs.  A high school friend who has worked at NASA for 23 years said today was a very emoi\tional day.  She just felt empty.  Layoff notices are expected at ATK as well.  How sad.

Hopefully, this won't be the end of our space exploration.  As my friend said, "the sky's the limit."  I hope we find a way to continue to explore the final frontier--to continue "to go where no one has gone before."

Sunday, July 3, 2011


July 4th has become my second favorite holiday (Christmas is the first in case you wondered).  Hometown parades, picnics, the first homemade ice cream of the season, fellowship with friends, city fireworks shows, and great colors to decorate around.  OK, that last one is pretty lame. But, I do enjoy the colors on my white porch railing; and it was cool to see how many people dressed in some combination of red, white, and blue for church today.

And how cool to see flags flying on homes and businesses around town!  What a reminder of the freedoms we enjoy in this great country--to speak our mind, to worship as we desire, to bear arms, just to name a few.  In the busyness of the day, let's not forget those who fought to make sure we had--and continue to enjoy--those freedoms.  They were bought at a great price.

There is another freedom we should remember and for which we should be especially thankful.  Not just on July 4th but year round.  That is freedom from an eternity in hell.  That, too, comes at a great price.  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NLT)

We sang Stuart Townsend's, "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" in church this morning.  It is a favorite of mine.  These verses make me cry every time we sing it.

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there,
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life,
I know that it is finished.

Not the nails, but my sin held Christ on the cross!  He willingly endured the most horrible of deaths so that I might enjoy eternity in heaven.  Amazing grace and costly freedom, indeed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Three Fathers....

There are three very special fathers in my life.  First, my dad, Arlon Ray Pope.  I used to love watching The Waltons; and, recently, I've been watching reruns of the show.  After my dad died, watching Ralph Waite as John Walton really reminded me of my dad.  Still does.

Ray Pope

Ralph Waite

They don't really look a whole lot alike. I think it's more the character of the two men.  John Walton was a quiet man of simple tastes.  He was wise.  He was gentle with his children, disciplined with love, and taught by example.  He worked hard to provide for his family.  He stood up for what was right.  My dad was all those things as well.  He left us way too soon, and I still miss him terribly 12 years after he died.

Second, is my wonderful husband, Tommy.  He is such a great dad!  He taught both kids how to ride their bikes.  He helped with homework and used to keep the kids entertained in the car by creating intricate math problems for them to solve in their head.  He introduced all of us to the theatre--even taking each of us individually to see The Phantom of the Opera. (I think he's seen it about six times.)  He taught the kids it's more important to make memories than to buy things and worked hard to create special memories with both Lindsay and Matt.  He has modeled how to live a Christian life and set an example of serving in his church.  And, he prayed with both Lindsay and Matt to receive Christ as their Savior.

And finally, my son, Matt.  He will welcome his first child in November.  How can it be that my baby is going to have a baby of his own?  Wasn't it just yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital?  But, I have no doubt that Matt will be an awesome dad.  He is strong in his faith.  He has a wonderful wife.  He's had an excellent role model in his own dad.  I can't wait to watch it happen.

Thank you, Lord, for these special fathers.  What a blessing they've been in my life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Yesterday was our 36th wedding anniversary.  Quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself!  Tommy and I always play the "what were you doing at this time the day we were married" game throughout the day.  It's good to reflect back and remember that exciting time.

We also reflect on previous anniversary celebrations and milestones in our lives.  He was in Spokane for winter survival training our first anniversary.  Little did we know what a foreshadowing of things to come that was.  Between a military career and a job with the airlines, we've probably been apart as many times as we've been together on May 24th.  We've learned celebrations don't have to be on a particular day to be special.

We've taken some wonderful trips around our anniversary--San Francisco twice, once driving the Pacific Coast Highway south and once driving it north; Hawaii to celebrate 30 years; and Charleston to name a few.  Our kids and a good friend feted us with a fabulous surprise party for our 25th anniversary!  But, we've also had quiet evenings at home or simply gone out to dinner.  Just yesterday, we spent the day installing the mirror and towel holder in the half bath we've been remodeling and watched American Idol.  Pretty boring day, but we've learned celebrations don't have to be fancy to be special.

Sometimes there are gifts, sometimes not.  We usually buy something for the house or that we can use together.  A beautiful mantle clock for our second anniversary.  A new grill one year.  A hot tub for number 25 (not something silver, I know, but we LOVE it).  We've learned it's better to make memories than buy things.

As I reflected on our marriage throughout the day, another thought came to mind.  In 1967, I went with a friend to First Baptist Church, Texas City, to listen to a report from the youth group about their recent mission trip.  The excitement about what they had done was amazing!  I remember thinking, "I want to be a part of something like that" and asked my mom and dad if I could move my church membership to FBC.  Making this change meant they would have to drive me across town to church rather then letting me walk around the corner.  Yet, they agreed to the change.  I became active in the FBC youth group, and two years later went on my first mission trip to McAllen, Texas, where we led Vacation Bible School.

Want to guess who I met on that mission trip?  Yep, Tommy.  We became friends; and two years later we began dating.  Four years after that we married.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

All those years ago, God spoke to the heart of a young baby Christian, who didn't even know how to ask for His direction, and moved her to the place where she would grow in His word and meet the wonderful Christian man who would become her soul mate.  We've learned God is faithful and truly does direct our paths.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Twice in the last week I've heard Taps playing as the sun sets.  That lone trumpet sounding the end of another day is so moving--even if you're standing in Lowe's parking lot as I was.  It made me wonder if military people are more patriotic than others, or if we just have more opportunities to express our love for our country.

Tommy reported for active duty with the Air Force two weeks after we married and retired from the Reserves 23 years later.  All 36 years of our marriage have been spent near an Air Force base, and we have been so blessed by our military life.  Friends all over the world.  Opportunity to live in Germany and travel throughout Europe.  Visiting East Berlin before the wall came down.  Minds opened by living among different cultures and people groups.  Children who can make friends easily and quickly.  Standing in the hot sun to see countless air shows and being wowed when the Thunderbirds perform--even after seeing them a bazillion times.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of negatives to a military life.  Tommy missed 17 months of the first two years of Lindsay's life while on a remote assignment to Korea and attending school in Nevada.  Crazy schedules!  Some weeks we communicated via notes on the kitchen counter, because we were never home and awake at the same time.  A dangerous profession. We've lost friends to airplane crashes, which always brings the, "it could have been me," thoughts to the forefront of you mind for a bit.

Even with the difficult times, I wouldn't trade our military life for anything.  It's difficult to put into words what it means.  Tears when airplane passengers remain seated and applaud as returning soldiers are allowed to deplane first. Standing when our flag passes by, singing the national anthem with my hand on my heart, stopping what I'm doing when Taps is played--all remind me of what a great country we live in.  And what privileges it provides.  And the cost to keep it that way.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Country Girl in the Big City

I am blessed to be able to travel frequently and love seeing new places. We often stay in nice hotels as a special treat. Last month we traveled to Las Vegas and stayed at Mandalay Bay. It is gorgeous--and HUGE! There are actually three (or is it four?) hotels within the resort in addition to an aquarium, the requisite casino, a theatre (where we saw The Lion King), and multiple restaurants and shops.

Our room was a king suite with TWO bathrooms. Who needs two bathrooms in a hotel? The master bath had a flat screen TV mounted so you could see it from the giant soaker tub, and a phone. Who exactly does one call from the bathroom. The sitting area included leather couches, a desk, flat screen TV, and a bar. Robes and slippers were provided, and the armoir was as big as some closets I've seen. The "do not disturb" sign was electronic. You pressed a button in the room, and the words were illuminated on the sign outside your door. Can you see it in the lower left corner of the picture? There was even a doorbell! It's the yellow button in the center.

I most definitely felt like the country bumpkin coming to the big city. All I could think of was Gomer Pyle saying, "Golly" in that long, drawn out southern way. But, it sure was fun!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Birthday Blessings

March is my birth month. I love celebrating my birthday!!! It doesn't bother me one bit to admit that I turned 57 on March 5. Not doing so certainly doesn't change how old I am. Besides, you're only as old as you feel, right? Which makes me somewhere around 30. It's especially fun to spread the celebration out as long as possible, which was really the case this year.

My first well wishes came almost a week before my birthday on February 28th when a couple of ladies at church said "Happy Birthday" as I passed them in the hall. Tommy and I flew to Las Vegas Wednesday through Friday before the 5th to see "The Lion King." It's an awesome production, by the way. My son and daughter-in-law called the night before my birthday with a nice surprise (more on that below). Many people took the time to post birthday greetings on Facebook. I got several calls on my actual birthday. My boss took me to lunch the Monday after. Cards came in the mail for a couple of weeks. I had lunch dates to celebrate with friends on the 11th and the 14th. And just this week, a surprise package arrived in the mail. All in all a very good birthday celebration lasting almost a month!

There were two extra-special gifts this year. First, Matt and Amber called the night before my birthday to say they had decided what to buy with some money I had given them and wanted to see what I thought. They then texted this picture to me and Tommy. What a special way to let us know our first grandchild was on the way. And, what a wonderful birthday present! This was the first birthday since my mom died, and I missed her annual call. Lindsay pointed out that perhaps God knew it would be tough not hearing from my mom, so He blessed me with another pretty great phone call. Isn't God good? And wasn't my daughter insightful?

Secondly, a friend sent this darling mug as a surprise. It says, "My idea of a good birthday is shopping for new shoes while wearing new shoes." I haven't seen her in over a year, and we don't talk except via Facebook posts. But she remembered how much I love shoes and took money from her budget and time from her busy schedule to buy this and ship it to me anonymously. That she would do that touched me more than I can say. It took me a good portion of the day and some searching on Facebook to figure out who sent it. Thank you again, Betsy.

My life is truly blessed--whether it's my birthday or not.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Maybe tomorrow......

Raise your hand if you procrastinate. I KNEW I wasn't alone!! It's true, I work better under pressure. But, that is probably because I put things off until I have no choice. The worst is when I put off a project or task because I think it's going to be difficult.

It gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger while I continue to do nothing. Instead of getting the task done, I worry over it for days before even beginning. Nine times out of ten, the task isn't nearly as hard as I imagined. So, I've wasted time, stressed for no reason, and still have to work under pressure. You'd think I would know better after 57 years. Obviously, this old dog isn't learning any new tricks.

Perhaps I should heed these words from Matthew 6:34, "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (The Message)

Easier said than done, though.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Continuing to count...

In my valiant and sometimes successful effort to count blessings and not whine, here are a few more.

6) Heater repairman who was willing to work the broken furnace at my office into his schedule yesterday.
7) A friend who loaned me her sweater to wear until he got the work done.
8) The modern methods of communication that allowed me to easily let my boss know what was happening at the office even though he was in Atlanta.
9) Temperatures that were warmer than the previous week, which kept the pipes (and me) from freezing even though the furnace was out.
10) Sunshine on the snow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lesson Learned........Again

One of my biggest fears is being a negative person. You know, the type who always sees the bad in a situation and complains loudly about it. The glass half-empty team. Lately, I fear that describes me more often than not.

Just this morning, the sound of my neighbor snow blowing his driveway woke me at 5:45 (my alarm was set for 7). There I was tossing and turning and grumbling about not being able to get back to sleep. So, I gave in and got up and decided to go ahead and clear our driveway. What a treat I had when I stepped out the door! The full moon sitting just above the horizon in all its glory. (No this is not an actual picture of what I saw; it came from Google. But, it's close.) Thank you, God, for that blessing.

The second thing I noticed was that the newspaper delivery person had driven in the driveway and packed down the snow. More grumbling on my part. "Now there will be places where I can't get the snow off, so it will take days for that snow to melt, and he/she didn't even toss the paper on the porch, just dropped it in the snow, good thing I saw it before running over it with the snow blower," etc... We had rain last night before it got cold enough to snow, so there was ice under the snow on the driveway. Our driveway slopes toward the street. Because of the ice, I had difficulty getting the snow blower up the driveway (even though it's self-propelled). My feet kept slipping--until I stood in the lines of packed snow from the newspaper delivery person's car. Thank you, Lord, for your provision.

"And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord." Psalm 35:9 Thank you, God, for the reminders. Once again, I set out to count my blessings rather than grumble. Here are a few:

1) A snow blower to make clearing the driveway easier.
2) A neighbor who cleared the sidewalks in front of my house as well as his.
3) Good tires on my car that keep me from sliding on the icy roads.
4) A roof over my head, hot chocolate, and warm gloves on a cold morning.
5) The winter wonderland of tree limbs coated in snow with the sun shining through them. It looked like a forest of glistening rock candy.

My glass is definitely half-full. Perhaps I'll jot down blessings here from time to time and watch as it fills to overflowing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


If you know the Wards, you know we seldom travel by car. But in the past year, Tommy and I have made several long car trips and have enjoyed the sights from the ground rather than from the window of a plane. Last spring I blogged about our Utah/Colorado/Arizona/Utah loop. Today I'm going to highlight two other trips.

Trip 1Last August, we bought a new car from CarMax. CarMax will transport used cars to the dealer closest to you, but they won't do that for new cars. And, not all CarMax dealers carry all makes of new cars. Naturally, the one we wanted wasn't anywhere near Salt Lake City. It was in Baltimore. So......we flew to Baltimore, picked up the new car, and drove it home. Nothing like putting 2,500 miles on your new car in less than a week. But, what a great opportunity to break it in.

I'm a note taker when we travel; always jotting down interesting things we see or people we meet. We saw license plates from 30 states! And crossed the Potomac, Wabash, Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi, and Platte rivers!

Day 1 we drove out of Maryland and through Pennsylvania (including a stint on the Pennsylvania Turnpike), West Virginia, and Ohio. I had driven in Pennsylvania a couple of years ago and loved the rolling green hills. It was just as pretty this trip--white clapboard houses; red barns with ads for milk, tobacco, or local restaurants painted on the side; churches with steeples and bell towers. We even passed a horse and buggy near Quaker City.

Day 2 took us out of Ohio and through Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. This was what greeted us as we entered Indiana. Have no idea who put it up, but it was awesome to see! Lots of antique malls here. Wish I'd had time to stop and browse. The rolling hills gave way to farmland; there were cornfields as far as the eye could see with numbers periodically placed on the ends of the rows. Saw my first Denny's with a drive-thru window, but we skipped that and stopped at Steak and Shake for lunch. Yum! While we were eating lunch, we noticed several ladies peeking in the windows of our new car. Nice to know others appreciated it as much as we did.

We detoured a little to the south in order to stop at the famous arch in St. Louis. My first time to visit there. It was awesome! I loved the "stair step" feel of the elevator ride to the top. And, we were blessed with good weather and an even better view.

On Day 3 we hit the 1,000 mile mark just outside Columbia, Missouri, and turned north at Kansas City to press on through Iowa, Nebraska, and into Wyoming. We're talking serious farmland in Iowa and Nebraska. Farmers must be doing fairly well. We passed a farm with a Leer jet in the front yard.
I was surprised by the number of wineries here. And by the number of billboards advertising adult entertainment venues. And by the highway patrol officers on duty. We passed three in a quarter mile stretch who each had a car pulled over. Talk about eclectic scenery!

We wanted to stop for lunch in Lincoln but weren't sure where to do so. Tommy decided to use the GPS to find us a restaurant. It told us to exit I-80 down this two-lane dirt road past a gas station and between rows of corn. It was obvious there wasn't an Applebee's there, so we turned around and got back on the freeway grumbling about how stupid the GPS was. After just a couple of minutes, traffic slowed to a crawl. An RV traveling eastbound had crossed the median and both lanes of westbound traffic and was lying on its side north of the freeway. Had we not detoured, we would have been in the path of the RV! Thank you, Lord, for your protection even when we aren't aware we need it. Perhaps we can rename the GPS, "God's Protective System."

Day 4 took us through Wyoming and home to Utah. Wyoming is windy! Always. Most overpasses have windsocks attached with warnings about high winds. Snow fences (placed along the side of the road to keep snow from drifting across the freeway), wind turbines, and cows are now the "crop" of the state. We passed Buford, Wyoming, billed as the nation's smalled town with a population of 1, but it included a convenience store. We drove across the Continental Divide and ever closer to our beloved mountains finally pulling into the driveway about dinner time.

It was a great trip. We were thankful for electronics--using the iPad to make hotel reservations each day and singing to the iPod as we rode along. Tommy got the owner's manual read. We thought of friends who live in the states we drove through and how they have impacted our lives. But, it sure was nice to sleep in our own bed knowing we didn't have to drive any further than the grocery store the next day.

Trip 2In January, we drove from Scottsdale where our son lives back to Layton in the Jeep. The Jeep is our "toy" car. We keep it garaged in the winter but thoroughly enjoy driving it in the summer. We had loaned the Jeep to Matt and Amber after a hailstorm destroyed their car, and God had provided a car for them; so this was a good time to bring it home. The weather cooperated, traffic was light, and we made the trip in record time (for the Jeep).

Not so many notes on this trip, but pictures of the drive. It is amazing to see the way the scenery changes between Arizona and Utah. I didn't take most of these pictures (it's a bit bouncy in the Jeep).

Matt and Amber live in Scottsdale. Like so many large cities, it's hard to tell where Scottsdale ends and Phoenix or Chandler or Mesa begins. Although I am NOT a fan of the summer heat, I do love all the outdoor malls, beautiful desert colors, and the many things to do such a large metropolis offers. There are a number of ways to get from Arizona to Utah, but we usually go north rather than west through Las Vegas. As you travel north on Interstate 17, you leave the heat behind as you climb into Flagstaff. This is the view out the windshield as we approached the city.

Coming down out of Flagstaff takes you past the western edge of the Navajo Reservation. This landscape is beautiful in its own way, but it is also desolate and discouraging. I am saddened every time I drive through it about what we did to the Native Americans as we pushed westward. This picture is from further east near Monument Valley, but it gives you a sense of the poverty.

Next comes Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Gorgeous! The picture doesn't do it justice.

That brings us into Utah where we turn left, drive through Kanab and begin the climb to Beaver.
Kanab is home to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter for dogs, cats, horses, and other animals. I had just read a magazine article about the director, who visited the shelter on vacation and ultimately moved from New York to Kanab to work at the shelter as a volunteer before being named the director.

You can stay on Highway 89 and drive through all sorts of small towns between Kanab and Layton, but it takes much longer. Given this is a 12-hour drive by interstate, and we wanted to get home before the predicted snow storm of the evening, we opted to press on towards Interstate 15. That takes you through central Utah, which is grazing land; and on into Salt Lake City. Sounds quick, but it's another four hours plus to our home. After 12 hours in the Jeep, we were more than ready once again to sleep in our own bed and not have to drive very far for a while.

I did notice in putting this blog together that, when we do take road trips, we seem to drive in a straight line. Google map instructions from Scottsdale to Layton say something like "turn north on I-17 and drive 200 miles, turn left at Page and drive 117 miles, etc. Perhaps we are so accustomed to flying that we automatically take the route the crow (or should I say airplane) flies.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


What is MFF, you ask? "Mandatory Family Fun," a phrase coined by Tommy when the kids were younger. Any parent--especially of teens--has experienced the eye rolling and whining when children are required to participate in a family activity. Don't worry. Calling it MFF didn't take that away; Lindsay and Matt still complained when we forced them to go on a picnic with us or to work as a family to get the yard in shape or anything else they believed was beneath the dignity of a child/teen. But, the name stuck; and as they got older they actually enjoyed family time.

Well, MFF came back to bite Tommy in the behind while in Phoenix for our Christmas celebration. He does NOT enjoy playing board games, and the rest of us love it. Amber got "Pit" for Christmas and wanted to teach us how to play. Lindsay and Matt played the MFF card and forced Tommy to join us. This is the adult version of eye rolling and whining.

Oh yes. The kids gave him infinite grief.

Ward Family Christmas

There is one bright spot in January. The Wards gathers to celebrate our family Christmas. It's not exactly the same as exchanging gifts in December, but it works for us--less expensive airfare, you can buy gifts after Christmas when there are LOTS of sales, and it's much easier for Tommy and Lindsay to get time off work. This year we rendezvoused in Phoenix at Matt and Amber's. Sunny skies and 70 degrees are always a treat for the Utah and Washington Wards.

Whoever hosts usually leaves some Christmas decorations up so it feels like Christmas. Amber's mom and I both bought decorations every year for our kids to take with them when they left home. You can see their tree is pretty full. What fun to reminisce over the ornaments and remember where they came from or the special occasions they represent! And to see what special ornaments Amber had.

We don't cook a big Christmas dinner, although we did make hamburgers one night. It's the time together, not the food, that's important. We worshipped together Sunday, which is always a treat. Love to hear my son play drums and Amber play bass in the praise band. The girls managed to sneak in mani/pedis. Ahhhh........ We played games, talked until way too late, wandered an outdoor mall one afternoon, and just generally relaxed. What a blessing.

Have you ever seen such concentration playing Wii?

Amber's uber excited to get her workout clothes. I love her wonderful, expressive personality

Lindsay left the Gap this summer after working there for ten years. Because she could purchase with a discount, and we took advantage of friends and family days, we've had a generous supply of Gap boxes over the years. This may be the last Gap box we'll ever see. :)

Three of the best kids a mom could hope for. Proverbs tells us that children are the crown of old men. We definitely have glorious crowns! I am so proud of the young adults they have become and so blessed to have them in my life.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.