Friday, August 26, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
It's hard to believe that summer has come to an end! As I've been looking through photos from this summer I decided to condense a whole bunch of activities into one post, lest you get bored.
We had a full, fun summer... but alas, it is time to get back into the groove of school.
**What are your summer highlights?
Coleman and Olivia started school today! The summer seems to have gone way too quickly, but I think both of them were excited to get back. I felt a lot more busy this summer than I wanted to be... so I am hoping that the transition back to school and our fall schedule will prove to be a good one. Maybe I'll even be able to tackle a few of the organizational projects I wanted to do over the summer.
**What is your favorite school memory?
**Are you looking forward to the new fall schedule?
**How often do you nap?
Every year Ryan's company has a convention where their consultants gather to get new ideas and get excited about new products. As a programmer, Ryan doesn't get many chances to be a superstar, but this is a time that he gets to present his department's work for the people that are using (and selling) the software. His work this year included changes that consultants have been asking for for a long, long time. His announcement brought the crowd to their feet:
My favorite comments on their facebook site said: "Ryan Harper, Director of Technology, HM, you now have a whole room full of BFF's!! Thank you so much for all of the studio enhancements coming our way!!"
and "I think we need to start a Ryan Harper fan club! He had no idea how just one specific change could cause a group of grown women to cry! Lynda said we would freak out and we did! Wow! What an exciting day!"
Ryan has groupies! Fun for him.
They also have a fancy banquet to end the convention, and they invited me to come along. It was a fun chance to dress up and get my hair done (by my ultra-talented friend Raylyn).
Doesn't the back of my head look cool? I should have her come over and do my hair more often!
The thing I loved best about the banquet was seeing how much Ryan is valued at work. His coworkers the consultants couldn't say enough good things about him, and it was fun for me to see that everyone else sees how great he is. Way to go Ry!
Ryan's family has been going to Bear Lake every August since he was a baby. It is something our little family has grown to love and cherish--the activities are fun and exciting, and it's relaxing to be away from the pressures of home and work, but we love, love, love being with our family and spending time with them. One of Ryan's wonderful aunts mentioned in a Family Home Evening that we had last year that Bear Lake for her was like a sanctuary--a safe place she could go where she knew she was loved and accepted.
After Mikayla's accident last year, we honestly didn't know if we would ever be able to go back and still enjoy being there. That day was traumatic and horribly difficult, and the days and weeks and months following have been equally hard. There were several family members with us that day, and many of them decided that they wouldn't be going back to Bear Lake. I can understand and appreciate that, and in many ways I felt the same thing. At the same time, I felt drawn to go back. I felt like if we returned we would be able to continue on our journey of healing. Ryan and I discussed it at length with each other and with our older children, and decided that for our family, it would be a good step for us to go back there and continue building good memories.
As we pulled into Garden City and drove toward the condos where we were staying (and have stayed for the past several years, thanks to the generosity of Ryan's parents and grandparents) we were all flooded with memories of the day that Mikkie left. It was particularly hard to drive by the pool house and get out and hear helicopters flying overhead (they were there this year for Raspberry Days as part of the fair). The last time we were there, we sat on the lawn and watched and prayed as the helicopter came and took Mikkie away. Her sweet older sister Faith said that the helicopter was taking Mikkie to Jesus. The weekend ended up being full of bittersweet moments--hard memories from the day of the accident, but also great memories with Mikayla and all of our other family members.
While we were in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday Ryan's cousin Jen shared her testimony--and while she was speaking I felt strongly that Bear Lake is a sacred place for our family. I don't know if that sounds crazy, but we have spent so much time with our family members there, and it's the last place that we were with Mikayla before she left her earthly existence, and to me it feels sacred. It was Ryan's grandma Lucille's favorite place... she passed away in 2005, and Bear Lake hasn't quite been the same without her, but when we are there, I can feel of the love that she has for us. I can imagine Lucille and Mikkie, taking an afternoon off from whatever they are doing and sitting together, eating a raspberry shake, and checking in on us, making sure we are being good to each other and having fun. I felt very blessed to be there again.
When it was all said and done, we were very grateful to have spent a few days at Bear Lake. It will of course never be the same after last year's accident. The heartache that we feel because Mikayla isn't with us will never go away, but I am convinced that because of her, we can choose to be better. We will remember and cherish her always, especially her cute little smile as she dug into Laura's purse one more time for gum and lip gloss, or her giggle as she hopped from person to person in the wagon to get one more bite of a famous raspberry shake from whomever would share with her.
Bear Lake is a part of us, and will continue to be.
Friday, August 19, 2011
One of the mornings we spent several hours at the High Ropes Course. When I was 15 or 16 our youth group went to a high adventure camp in Beaver ("B is for the B in Beaver High School..."). I have strong, negative memories of not being able to climb up over a wall and being pushed over by some of the young men. It was humiliating and painful. This Ropes Course brought back some of those same feelings, but now as a YW leader I was able to see the lessons that could be applied to each activity. The leaders were invited to participate in the zip line, which required climbing up a pole and walking across a wire before getting to the jumping off point. I was afraid, but wanted to appear confident and able in front of the girls. I think I was trying to fake myself out into believing I wasn't afraid.
It was so neat to see the girls cheer each other on. I got teary-eyed with several of the girls that were very, very scared, yet did it anyway. I was grateful that all of our girls were willing to cheer me on... they believed in me! That is a great feeling.
I just wanted to make it safely to the Eagle's Nest so I tried to go as steadily and quickly as I could. I felt so relieved when she clipped me in there.
I have tried to learn some life lesson from climbing the pole, walking the wire, and going down the zip line. There are all sorts of parallels to the gospel that I can make... I wasn't really excited about doing it, but I knew I wanted to conquer it. I didn't want to stay afraid. Many times in life there are challenges that can hold us back if we let them. I ran into some small challenges along the way. We always encounter things that are hard or hinder us in our progress. I loved that I was never alone. Particularly during the hardest and scariest time, I was safely anchored in and the missionary was there to save me from really falling when I slipped. I had to make some course corrections and get back on track. Even when it was over, I was in pain, and it lasted for several weeks (I'm still a little sore). Why is that? I survived the challenge! Many trials in life leave us different than when we started, sometimes that pain is lingering, but when it's all said and done, we can be stronger for having done it. My attitude about this particular course... I've done it. No need to repeat, thank you very much! (Hopefully the hardest of life's trials are like that too... one time only!)
**Do you have any experience with Girls Camp?
**Would you have done the zip line?
Sunday, August 14, 2011
This year has brought many opportunities to reflect again on the things that I know to be true... families can be together forever--Jesus Christ made that possible. The atonement is not just for forgiveness from sins, but also to help our hearts heal. We need to take time for the most important things--particularly cherishing the moments and experiences we have with our loved ones.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
On our last day we went home by way of Lake Powell and met Mike there who took his boat. We stopped for a "short" hike to Horseshoe Bend, which is just outside of Page, Arizona. Yes, it is as hot as it looks. I think it was 105 degrees that day.
The kids complained a lot on the way there. Both of them thought they were going to melt. (I thought the same thing!) But, we tried to teach them the lesson that good things come after hard work and perseverance. There would be a pay-off for all they were doing to get there.
Sophia was a good sport... she got carried, of course. We plastered her fair little head and body with sunscreen... we still couldn't get her to keep her hat on.
Isn't it cool? I think so. I thought it was amazing... the kids were underwhelmed. Coleman said, "That wasn't really worth it." Bah!
The best part of Page was finding Sonic for some cool drinks!
When we got to Lake Powell we met up with Mike. Ryan, Liv, and Coleman went for a boat ride with Lindsey and her boys. Coleman did some tubing...
...and he even got to drive the boat. They all went for a swim in the lake and had fun!
While they were out on the boat Sophia and I went to the "swim beach" a ways down the shore. It was so hot... we couldn't stay on the towel or play in the sand... and going in the water (also hot!) was a joke. There were prickly things and floating things and rocks that hurt our feet, so we lasted there for only a short while. I tried to call Ryan and got this message when I tried to turn on my phone:
Overall it was a fun and exhausting trip... I'm not sure if you can call five days, four national parks (and recreation area), and 1,000 miles in the car a vacation, but we did have good times and saw lots and lots of beautiful sites. We especially loved being together and being with our extended family!