Tuesday, December 23, 2008

God Bless Us, Everyone!

A star of light and guidance was prelude to the Birth of Light over two millenia ago.  While we celebrate the Lamb of God's condescension to this earth, we declare the "good tidings" and "great joy" of His humble birth, His exemplary life, His noble ministry, and His infinite and eternal sacrifice for the Life of all.  

In celebration to the Light and Life of this world, the Great Hope of all mankind, I bear my testimony that the only Begotten of the Father came to earth to mark the path, show the way, and provide grace and mercy to all men, as he succors us and strengthens us in our progression on this earth, preparatory of the world to come.  And He still lives!  May our faith and hope in Him--even though the size of a seed--continue to grow into a tree of everlasting happiness and life.

Joy to Everyone this Christmas!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The World (As I Now Am Beginning to Know It . . .)

Barbara Walters.  That's what I thought of too when I first heard "twenty, twenty" from the lips of one of the mischievous teenage boys that I work with.  He walked right up to me and said, slightly sheepishly, "I need a twenty, twenty."  

"Uh, okay.  What does that mean?"  

So then he explained, and thus began to open up the window shedding light upon the workings of teenage boys' minds.  "It means you need to stand twenty feet away from everyone for twenty seconds."


"Well, because, you know.......you don't want to make it smell bad with everyone else around."

Oh, okay.  Since as a recreation therapist one of the primary goals I have with the kids that I work with is to make sure that they are well-rounded and appropriate in the many and various social situations they find themselves in, I had to give props to the kids.  I mean, he--or whoever it was--came up with this one, and he was actually using it!  One, he was saving himself and others embarrassment.  Two, he was being considerate of others.  And three, he wasn't drawing attention to himself (as long as he was far enough away, and wasn't asking out loud in front of everybody for the space and time).

Thus, "twenty, twenty" has another definition in my head, and it's now the one I think of first when hearing the double-word phrase.  Who knew that teenage boys could broaden your vocabulary, AND your world by making this a simple part of your weekly routine?  Gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Come What May, and Love It!

As my way to tip my hat off to an exemplary man, I thought it would be good to post some of his last words here.

Oliver Wendell Holmes penned, "If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around.  Trouble creates a capacity to handle it.  I don't say embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy.  But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and you had better be on speaking terms with it."  Elder Wirthlin just took it one step further--thanks, Elder Wirthlin.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

O Remember, Remember

At this time of year, a glance back has gotten me to think about a few things that I'm grateful for in my life.  While it is custom to take time once each year, to look back as Thanksgiving approaches, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans took many occasions to give thanks for the simple bounties that their God bestowed upon them.  It is something that I hope to take time to do a bit more in my own life; it influences my own relationship with Heavenly Father, helping me to humble myself and recognize my dependence upon Him.

As a bit of a history treat and a way to remember our loving Eternal Father's hand in our lives, and His continued outpouring of blessings upon this promised land, I decided to find some of the original official Thanksgiving Proclamations made by William Bradford, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln in the United States.  Enjoy, and give thanks!

Friday, October 24, 2008

American Tim Tam Slam

Since it's been close to four years since I was living Down Under, I haven't had a Tim Tam Slam in a long time.  With wanting a warm drink and cookie dessert one Sunday evening, I came up with this nice little recipe:
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 or 2 chunks (equal to 1 or 2 spoonfuls) of Milo that you can scrape off from the solid mass that is left from a few years ago
  • 1 heaping spoonful of dark Belgian hot chocolate mix
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk
  • One chocolate chip cookie, warmed up in the microwave for somewhere between 10-15 seconds, depending upon your microwave
Pour water over Milo chunks in mug.  Stir for about 20 seconds to make sure all chunks are dissolved.  Add heaping spoonful of hot chocolate mix and stir in.  Then add just enough milk to top off the mug (about 1 to 2 tablespoons).  Dip the warm chocolate chip cook in the hot Milo/chocolate drink, and let it almost start to dissolve before pulling it out and taking a sumptuous bite.  Then drink in chocolate-ty goodness.  Repeat the previous two steps until finished.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

PIcture Tag! If You're Reading This, You're IT!

The rules of the game: go to your "Pictures" Folder and take the fourth picture from your fourth folder and post it; then write a little bit about it--it's fun!

As for the picture above.....really it's from my fifth folder "Bryce Canyon", and it's actually not even the fourth picture, but it's probably my favorite picture from our little jaunt throughout Bryce.  (My fourth folder has only three pictures of me counting coins....a once favorite pastime of my childhood).  That's Shelley Barrett, a good friend and past roommate, Christy my sister, and moi.  A much more talented and knowledgeable photographer used my little digital camera to take this picture through a natural tunnel on the Peek-a-Boo Loop trail.  Pretty awesome, if you ask me!

We also stopped by Zion's on our trip this past April--we were taking our own spring break--and thus the picture below from Weeping Rock.  It's not raining in the background, that's just the drippy waterfall from the weeping rock.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Pebble in a Pond

Recently, much news has begun to swirl around us, giving us bits and pieces surrounding the upcoming Proposition 8 voting to be held in California.

While I am not always the fondest the Wikipedia, it seems to have the most brief, straightforward and complete explanation of the reason for Proposition 8, and I found it very helpful in understanding the reason for the issue at hand.  Click here for that link.

As a Latter-day Saint, when I was first given news about all of this, my thoughts first turned to the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, where it states "that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."  This statement--as well as the entire Proclamation--are principles that I believe in.  At http://www.preservingmarriage.org/ there is a link to the Proclamation, as well as links to the LDS Church's official stance on the issue.

Following my thought process, my first stance was that I should support those voting for Proposition 8.  But, then I thought,  was it intolerant and unfair to those who had chosen another lifestyle?  What if my choice didn't pass--was it really so bad to let marriage be defined in another way if the only thing to happen would be the change of the definition?

While at first it seems that there are no ramifications, other than the actual definition and recognition of marriage to be between a husband and wife, the passing or non-passing of Proposition 8 will generate ripples that will be felt hereafter.

If Proposition 8 does not pass, marriage will be defined as a union between two persons.  To ensure that there is equality for same gender unions, rights of free speech and actions based on religious beliefs will be challenged in the arena of public policy.  This may* happen in:
  • Churches.  Religious institutions may be banned from actions based on their doctrines or beliefs to ensure equality for same gender unions, and will thus lose government support or tax benefits if not following suit.  This may happen with church operated adoption agencies that will be required to allow adoptions for same-gender couples; performance of same-gender marriages will be required to happen in churches and other sacred sites; the teaching and preaching of doctrines that do not condone same-gender relationships will be seen as a violation of equality, and may be banned.
  • Schools.  Public education will most likely be required to include a curriculum that equates heterosexual and homosexual marriages and relationships, and will be taught in public schools.  Student religious organizations that do not allow same-gender beliefs or members will lose their campus recognition and benefits; universities will lose their accreditation if they do not provide married housing to same-sex couples.
If Proposition 8 does pass, marriage will be defined as a union between a man and a woman.  Domestic partnerships and civil unions (same-sex couples) will still have the same rights and marriage-related benefits.  Religious and educational institutions will still be able to teach doctrines, principles, and ideas, along with receiving the same support from government as they have in the past.

From a moral standpoint, I also believe that the Proposition will have a far-reaching effect on our children, and thus the future of all on this earth.  Research has concluded that children raised in a home with a mother and a father are given the best and opportunity for becoming socially adjusted, developing their own identity, and understanding their gender identity.  Just another thing to consider in the mix of all of this.

A more thorough look at the issue is in place before one votes.  I have found the following websites--for, against, or neutral--on Proposition 8 to be helpful in understanding the issue from legitimate sources.

Each site has additional links, articles, and sources of information.

*States in the United States and countries within the European Union where marriage has been redefined as a union between two partners have already taken steps in their governments to enforce equality of same-sex unions in religious and educational arenas, as cited in "The Divine Institution of Marriage" news release on 13 August 2008 at the LDS Church's website.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Are you his mom?

Ummmm, no.  Not even close.  

When a boy befriended one of the boys that I work with at my residential treatment center, they came over to me to ask permission if they could begin the corn maze (we were at Thanksgiving Point enjoying the multiplicity of corn maze activities they have they aren't even mazes).  With only about 20 minutes left before we were going to gather up and leave, I told them that we wouldn't have time for the big maze, but that they could try the kiddie maze, and then we were all going home to have dinner.  Thus proceeded the question about whether I was his mom.

While totally warranted by my explanation that we were going home to have dinner, I felt unhip...maybe I really am getting wrinkles and the few white hairs I have really are showing through?  Do I really look that old?

But, when we got back into the car, the boys wanted to listen to my iPod, so that made me feel hip again...at least I have cool music to teenage boys, for however old I am.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Odds and Ends

This weekend is General Conference, and on Friday night I was worried that I might miss it.  With Christy and I moving into the lovely new town home she bought, we weren't so sure how long our grace period for free cable would be.  However, when we plugged in the TV last night to see if we could catch some of the BYU vs. USU football game, we quickly had a little set-up going and watched the game.  Thus, today, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Conference at our new little place, albeit the TV is on the floor at the moment.

Unfortunately for me, I totally let sleep overcome me about two-thirds of the way through the afternoon session, so I'll have to wait for my podcasts to come in to listen to those.  One thing I really enjoyed this year was President Monson's welcome to Conference.  What a very aware, observant, and open man he is.  While President Hinckley set us up to be more of a world-wide Church, President Monson--I believe--has carried on and furthered his, and thus the Church's, outreach to all; he doesn't just tell them who we are and answer the questions, but offers a very friendly and sincere invitation to all to come and partake.  What a man to follow--he holds a worldwide vision while simultaneously conversing and becoming friends with the one.

Between the two sessions, Christy and I went singing in the rain (well, just jogging in the rain, and the singing happened afterwards while I was in the shower).  I love it out here.  Cute little kids in their rain jackets waved to us--or stared at us--as we ran past, the main attractions were a park and a descent sized field full of ready to be harvested pumpkins, and maybe two cars drove by us on our route the entire time.  As we ran up to a bridge that goes over a small stream, we noticed a newly paved trail lining the stream's southern bank.  Since we were pressed for time, and just a wee bit wet, we never saw exactly how far the trail extended east of 900 W (it stopped maybe 40 yards west of it), and will have to try that one again.

I looked up my goals on one of my previous blogs, and figured that I at least needed to update everyone on my progress on them since I haven't posted any official documentation of what I've committed myself to really do this year.  Thus, things to check off the docket:
  1. I am on an all-ladies Ultimate Frisbee club team that will travel to weekend tournaments this winter.  This sounds mighty elite, and in a way it is, but each practice I go to, I'm learning tons, and the gals on the team have been awesome to teach me a few tricks of the trade and answer my endless questions.  I may not be the best player on the team, but hey, I apparently made cuts.
  2. I did cultivate one plant for a friend, and have been keeping up on mine quite well, except for those that need to be repotted.  But the Christmas cactus just got a nice trim today and is looking much better.
  3. As far as the 2012 Olympics in London, its looking like it's a definitely possibility for me to compete for......the cheapest plane ticket over there as a tourist.  Speed walking is a bigger sport than I ever realized, and thus I don't think I have quite the chances for being the next Michael Phelps for women's sports like I thought I did.  Ah well.
  4. Did get a bookshelf, and yes, I did finish one book I was reading last night, The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz.  True story that just makes my mind reel.  Four thousand miles on foot over about twelve months at about 20 miles a day, through Siberia, the Gobi Desert, and over the Himilayas to freedom in India after escaping a USSR concentration/work camp.  Slavomir's telling of his experience freely flows, and often caused my mind to wonder what the human mind and body can ultimately endure, and how much grace God showers upon us day to day.  This may be the subject of an upcoming blog....
  5. And, yes, I am in the process of applying for grad school Fall 2009.  I went in and talked with three of my professors, and they even all remembered me quite well.....that bodes well for me, but it also means I have quite the standard to reach and live up to.  Talking with Brian Hill, the graduate coordinator and my professor down in New Zealand, he was slightly disappointed in my above average scores on the GRE, and told me that he thought I would at least score above 1300, which he also told me would solidly solidify my spot as one of the nominees to begin the program.  I need to have a strong showing since I already have two strikes against me: I'm from BYU, and I've already graduated with a degree from the RMYL department.  Another quandry that I must address is if I really want to quit my job.  I was thinking that I could work and go to school part time, but it looks like it is a full-time program only, and it is highly recommended that I don't work.  
Oh, and the picture?  That is a picture of Mike Haney and I, riding donkeys, all the way back from May.  Since I didn't have any cool pictures to post yet, I thought this would keep things interesting.  Probably about the coolest first date I've ever been on, Mike was a true gentleman and really kept things interesting as I rode Pedro, a past circus donkey.  

One fun part of the night was when we turned around to head back home on our trail in Hobblecreek Canyon, and the donkeys knew it, and started trotting home, just like a horse.  It was so funny that they really are as stubborn as can be and really whined and complained about going up the hills, but ran for home, even down steep hills that I thought they would be scared of with their poor depth perception.  I think Pedro took on his fears, and sensed I wouldn't like going down a steep hill too much, and thus proceeded fearlessly.  Feeling uneasy about my prospects of staying on Pedro, I quickly dismounted at the first sign of trouble (me starting to slip forward, feeling as if I might just use Pedro's neck as a slide if I slid any further)--Mike laughed so hard about my dismount, because the hill was so steep, I had to put my foot down and swing the other leg over, kind of like a cartwheel with no hands.  As soon as Pedro recognized that I was off, he took off running, and Mike and I after him until when cornered him into some brush oak.  Ah, that was a fun night.  Good times.

Labor Day Trip to San Jose and Northern California

It took me a while to get this blog posted because I was way too impatient with how long it took to upload all of these images in the order I wanted; thus, I would add a few at a time every few days or so, and now I finally finished adding them tonight. 

 So, now you have a picture timeline of my trip, which was fantastic, thanks to Tierney and Jared who really made it worthwhile with their generous offering of their home, time, food, and chauffering skills.  People like people with skills.

Friday: Santa Cruz!  While there was a heat wave sweltering over San Jose, Santa Cruz was carefully blanketed in fog, and thus we sported the sweatshirt look.  We enjoyed garlic fries, the Big Dipper Roller Coaster (which I absolutely was not scared of as you can see on my face), and ended up leaving early from a disappointing concert--a little too liberal and on-the-end-of-th-limb-and-about-to-break-it type of stuff.  Gotta love California.

Jared makes me look like even more of a wuss.

Lights, crowds, and fog . . . typical California beach line.

Fantastic tour guide Tierney, and excellent chauffer Jared.

Saturday: The Oakland Temple, San Francisco, and the John Muir Redwoods!  A little bit of everything was fit into this day--even expensive metered parking (even I didn't bring enough quarters to cover an hour)--as we began with the Oakland Temple (wanted to start the day right!), hit Ghiradelli Square, China Town, and a windy ride down Lombard street in downtown San Fran, drove over the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate en route to San Fran and the John Muir Redwoods, and finished up the day in the quiet and solitude beauty of the redwood trees.

Alcatraz . . . never leave California without a picture of this beauty.

Ghirardelli would bring a smile to any chocolate lover's face. 

A quick picture peek at China town . . . of course I got a picture of tourists instead of Chinese, just my luck.

Wow.  Beautiful!

Bridges are cool, but no need to take choreographed pictures of them.  Rearview mirrors and dashboards frame them quite nicely for me.

Did you know I love nature?  Little known fact . . .

Monday: Monterrey Bay and Carmel!  Monterrey Bay has the coolest aquarium I've ever been to--you could seriously spend all day there.  While the jellyfish exhibit is amazing and affords some pretty sweet pictures, I wish I could have gotten a picture of the all to0 rambunctious sea otters, and seen some shows of trained animals--who wants to see them act natural when you can train them to be otherwise?  But you can't expect to enjoy all those things when you show up on a holiday.  And while the Carmel coastline is all brown in these photos, driving out there we drove through thick wooded forests of all sorts of trees, even my favorite, the fragrant eucalyptus.

In the background is a shark . . . this odd looking specimen, called the sun fish, is keeping itself at a safe distance.  At least he's no dummy.

Shafts of light, fish, and vegetation.  Need I say more?  It's just beautiful.

Jared is hoping to get into yachting (i.e., the upper tier of the business world all owns yachts to enjoy keeping them in a bay, and maybe taking them out once a year).  I told him he could always invite me along.

Old meets new.

He really didn't want to sit still, so I went for the action shot.

Tuesday: Yep, while the rest of the working world went back to work, I went to the beach, going to Rio Del Mar, just a little bit south of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  As you can see, I had it all to myself, and enjoyed the waves, sand, sun, and time to myself to relax after a whirlwind weekend--I was quite rejuvenated before coming home on Wednesday.

The end.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Those darn ink spots

Tierney and Jared let me in on a very enlightening home-do-it-yourself-this-really-works-and-is-so-awesome trick.  Whenever you get those blasted ink spots on your shirts from work, and you feel as if your shirt is ruined forever, because no matter how much you try to spot it and pre-treat it, they only slightly fade.  Well--who knew?!-but use hairspray.  Just spray the ink spot, and it will have a chemical reaction with the hairspray, and start to lift.  When you wash, and it should come completely out.  

I wonder if Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray knows about this one, because it's pretty awesome.  Now I'm actually excited to get another ink spot on my shirt to try it out.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.....ahhhhhh

It's been a while since my last post.  Since that time, three major events have happened.  The most recent event was going to LA with my boss for work doing a Parent Support Group.  He had me along for fun and entertainment, which didn't bother me since I got an all expense paid mini vacation from my work (wow, what a contrast to how I felt about my work in the last blog) besides having to do the support group on Saturday morning.  I had an entire room to myself in a Marriott (very, very nice, especially since I have I never travelled for business before).  Below is a picture from my little patio on the 14th floor.

Friday we checked in, went across the street for some dinner at the PF Changs at the mall, sat by the pool and read and relaxed (and I fell asleep, classic me) and then Larry and I split to our rooms across from each other and enjoyed the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in the privacy of our own rooms.  

The next morning, we woke up, ate a sweet continental breakfast, and then did our support group.  I had the participants play Tangoes, and then discussed with them what they experienced, how they felt, and how it was an example of what I do with their kids.  After Larry gave his lengthy, but very informative, schpeel about why the kids we work with do what they do, we then headed off to the Santa Monica beach on a mountain highway, ate at Gladstones (which has some awesome ceviche and fresh seafood, and is the very first picture on the blog), and then drove back to our hotel via the major freeway system that goes through LA, and ended up passing by the LA temple.  We filled out all our paperwork, and then went to the mall to window shop, get milkshakes, eat french fries, and philosophize, talk, and just people watch.  

Sunday we left, flew back home, and Larry gave me a pep talk about how I can be the main presenter at the next LA Parent Support Group I go to..........right (in a Kronk-like voice).
One weekend before that, my family had a sweet reunion up in Idaho for the Johns.  Love those people.  We have entirely WAY too much fun.  You can the pictures for those at my brother's blog, which is: dnewmanfamily.blogspot.com. 

The other momentous occasion was our family's hike up to Lake Mary and Catherine in the Wasatch Mountains for our celebration of Pioneer Day.  Enjoy the pictures of snow, moose, wildflowers, and of course, a family portrait. 

Even with the forecast of 99 degrees tomorrow, fall is coming.  Football is in the air, kids are starting school, and the days are starting to get a wee bit shorter.  I love Indian Summer.....kudos to Mom and Dad for working it out so I was born this time of year.

As Meg Ryan exclaims in the movie, You've Got Mail, the smell of a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils brings to the mind the happy occasion of fall and the beginning of school.  For me, I have always associated it with rededicating oneself to past goals, committing to new ones, and prepping for the challenges that might lie ahead.  Since my one-year anniversary for work will be on October 8, I feel it is appropriate to reflect and continue this tradition, as a "new year" is approaching.

So, some things that I think I will work on for this coming year:
  1. Work: compile all my plans and information from my activities this year into one binder, make a basic outline for the year, and come up with some pretty set-ready-to-go therapy plans for my groups that cover social skills.
  2. Talents: practice the piano at least once a week, cultivate some plants for family and friends (and my enjoyment, too), find some tennis buddies, and join another ultimate Frisbee team to get even better.  Also, after watching Michael Phelps and realizing the need for a lifeguard at work, I really want to take some swim lessons to learn how to swim the RIGHT way (yes, I can swim, thank you very much, just not the way you're supposed to).  A more lofty goal would be to try for the 2012 Olympics in London.....I figure I have the best chance at speed walking.  We'll see if I can't make it.  If not, maybe I'll just plan to go there for a vacation :)
  3. Personal: finish reading the three books I'm currently in the middle of, and then see if I can't get a pretty sweet bookshelf for all my books that are all over the place in my apartment, at Mom and Dad's house, and at my work.  A paper shredder and a more intense filing system is also on order here.  I got a hiking book, and I need to go on at least two new hikes in there.  And, possibly most important, apply for the RMYL Grad program at BYU for Fall 2009.
  4. Financial: set up a savings account completely dedicated to vacations/travel.  Part of my intense filing system would also include some sweet and intense financial files that have my information at your fingertips for lightening fast checks of my net value.  I may be dreaming, but hey, what can I say......it all began with a dream for Martin Luther King.
  5. Service: keep working at the Temple, but maybe check out a few other service opportunities at the BYU service center.  And keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities for my kids to work on service opportunities.
  6. Gospel: consistently work at least once a week on the Family History assignment from my mother, do an in-depth study of the Pearl of Great Price, and have 100% Visiting Teaching for the year (I've come close, but not quite, and there's no excuse for that--this is a totally attainable goal).
  7. Family: figure out how to go on some one-on-one outings with my family members, maybe twice a year with each of them.  They are some pretty cool people, and it sure is nice to spend some tete-a-tete time with them (that's French).
If you have any suggestions or comments on my goals, all are appreciated.  Look for the cool spreadsheet of them in coming attractions.....

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Passed!

A while ago I posted a blog about the Jazz and the GRE, and the tough time I was having studying.  While I never studied quite as diligently as I was hoping I would discipline myself to do, I did go on ahead and take the GRE on Saturday, July 19.  

To throw some other distractions into the mix, just a week earlier the CEO of Provo Canyon School, my employer, decided to make a bunch of cutbacks and layoffs in order to please upper level corporate and save his little toosh.  As my mother can attest, I've never been so distracted or upset about something....my job was secure (for now, until he decides that recreation therapy isn't something we need and costs too much), but I was so disappointed and frustrated that the cutbacks weren't fair to the employees that I knew, weren't fair to the kids who needed the help and guidance of some of these people, nor was it fair that layoffs affected those of us who were still working and would thus be pulled in more directions to try and cover everything, and thus the kids were going to suffer as well.  Needless to say, I was very upset.  And I wasn't sure if I should take my test on Saturday with such distraught emotions.  I tried to change it, but I was past the deadline, and so decided I might as well take a shot at the test.

All I can say is that there was a lot of divine intervention in my behalf.  I was totally calm the day of the test, went in with some confidence, and was able to endure the 4 hour test with mind clarity and focus--that's a lot of help, I know.  I haven't received the scores for my written essays, but for the rest of the test I passed with scores that even surprised me--I scored 150 points more than I had ever scored on a practice test.  Talk about rising to the occasion!

Now, all I have to do is get into grad school to make these scores worth it....... :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Yes, those were the words coursing through my mind during FHE on Monday.  As an athletic girl, this was a very humbling evening, and probably good for my pride in humbling me to be much more thankful for the gifts God has blessed me with, particularly a knack for sports.

Our ward decided to do a tee-ball tournament for our FHE activity.  I was excited, and even felt good warming up to Kelson batting some line drivers to me in the in-field.  I threw them back with ease, and felt very confident and comfortable that I would have no problems at bat--especially when the ball would be just sitting for me to hit there on the tee.

Our team had plenty of girls who had played softball before, and they made things look super easy.  While not getting a chance to bat during the first inning, I was the first up for our second inning.  I placed the ball on the tee, wound up, and--SLAM!--knocked over the tee and heard the ball drop to the ground with a chorus of "hey, batter batter batter!" from the opposite team in the background.  I know that most of these people know that I'm athletic, so I'm sure they were enjoying this little mess up by me.   

I lined up a second time, swung with all my might and--BAM!!--the top half of the tee went flying into the infield while my ball dropped once again to the ground.  Now I was feeling pressure.  I got the ball on the tee again, took another whack, fully expecting my ball to go flying out into the outfield.  Nothing.  I was defeated and deflated.  

I figured since it was strike three, my turn was over, but no, I was to keep this publicly humiliating feat going with the instructions from the ump, a member of our Bishopric.  It took me two more swings before I finally hit, and when I did, I still hit under the ball and managed to send it flying up in the air.  At least I got a base hit, with a little help from my speed, which helped to dig me out the my deep whole of humiliation. 

I keep hitting under the ball, and I can only think that I had a tendency to do this in large part from my tennis training and in small part from my golf experiences.  Who knew that hitting a ball off a tee could be that difficult?  Those little five-year-olds who play the sport have just earned a ginormous amount of respect and admiration from this fan.

All I can say is that you never know when you'll be humbled.  Remember to be grateful for EVERYTHING you find yourself super capable of doing--you never know when you'll find yourself struggling to hit a ball that's a sitting duck.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Super Charged July 4th!

Wow!  I just finished watching one incredible Wimbledon final.  I didn't watch the whole thing, just the 5th set of Nadal and Federer duking it out, playing with enough spryness and energy to convince you that it was the 2nd set if you didn't know the score.  Incredible athletes and gentlemen.

What an end to an incredible Fourth of July week and weekend, a cap to some great activities that I participated in around the state--maybe next year I can extend the activities of this week to around the nation :)

The week kicked off with a little bit of a roller-coaster of emotions as I planned a trip to Moab, UT for 17 boys and 5 staff that I work with.  Monday we loaded everything up, drove down south, and enjoyed testing the Moab waters (literally).  We hiked up what is called Negro Bill's Canyon, an excellent canyon to hike during the heat--it is shaded with much vegetation and the stream is easily accessible for a quick dip.  In our case, we spent about an hour in the stream catching and releasing crawdads--an excellently fun activity for all, a good "heat-breaker" for the week.  We then drove a few miles down the road to our camp site and set up our tents in an afternoon thunderstorm--quite a refreshing break for the oven temperatures in the desert.  That night we grilled hot dogs and had s'mores over the fire.

Tuesday we got up early to go and hike Delicate Arch, before the oven completely warmed up.  All of my boys did it without complaint, and were super excited to get to and see their destination.  With the incredible heat that had us even sweating a bit in the shade, we decided to cut out our afternoon hike and go back and have a quiet hour before we went and swam in the river.  While the boys were at the river, I went into town with KJ and took care of paperwork for our river trip the next day, coupled with a few other errands.  We came back and grilled up hamburgers--two grilled meals in a row in the outdoors is was quite the tasty treat!  Dinner was followed by a solo--time for the boys to explore camp and be out on their own, to look for an object (or two) that could represent themselves to the group the following night.   Due to the boys' bad behavior the night before (not going to sleep and inappropriate conversation), we didn't have any s'mores and sent them straight to bed to get rested for our river trip the next day.  

However, having them go to bed earlier also meant that KJ and I could go and get a shower (since we missed the swimming) in the river.  So, that night I had my first skinny dipping experience, but I can say that it was all well worth it---I was so sweaty and smelly, I'm sure everyone else appreciated it as well.  I've never worn garments in Moab before, and don't recommend it--find activities to do that require you to go without them; even if you're super active and sweaty, it's not as bad as wearing two layers! 

Wednesday morning lived up to all that we hoped it would, with quite a fun river trip.  What was so funny, though, was to watch the boys watching and drooling over our young female guides--boys are boys.  And, while they would struggle to paddle in sync when listening to commands, they were completely synchronized taking out their paddles and leaning into the middle of the boat when they were frightened....it made me laugh, especially when they would act all excited and brave for the rapids, and then pull themselves inside the boat!

We went back to our site for lunch, and then headed off for an uncomfortable hike--uncomfortable due to the heat and due to half of the group being blindfolded while their peers led them.  Then they traded off.  As a therapist, it was good to see emotions, frustrations, and fears come from the boys during this one.  I had my youngest boy, 10 years old, cry because of the heat.  But we quickly got him laughing and he was fine.  To cool ourselves off, we went swimming once again and I joined them on this trip, scrubbing myself down while making sure all were safe.

That night we were treated to Dutch Oven chicken and veggies before we headed off into the sunset to check out some Native American petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks.  While the Petroglyphs were delightful to stop and see, the dinosaur tracks were completely safe, as swarms and swarms of mosquitoes bombarded us as soon as we stepped out of our vans.  We quickly retreated and headed back to camp for our final ceremony and ice cream.

The next day I led our caravan as quickly as possible (it took forever for the boys to pack), where we we greeted with 100 degree temps at our campus as we unloaded and put things away.  The weather was just as hot as in northern Utah, but we had much more delightful activities and scenery to enjoy.

That night I slept....alot.....and even missed tennis with the family the following morning.  However, I didn't miss watching Wimbledon or our family croquet matches, which were quite hilarious and entertaining.  When we go to Wimbledon one day, I'm sure that we'll be practiced enough to make a good showing on their lawns.  Nobody will suspect our kamakazi or poison death-strikes.  And we have our own wicked wicket to prep us for anything that will come our way....

Saturday was the icing on the cake, and Mom, Dad, and I sacrificed our sleep to make it to the 9:30 a.m. session of the Manti Temple.  Beautiful rolling hills and canyons, along with small towns dotting the way made for an enjoyable drive.  And the Temple was much more than I could have hoped for.  Our session was small, only about 15 people large, and watching the session live was very instructive, while the room decor added more depth and meaning (as well as focus) to the session.  We got quite the lucky deal, as we were also asked to help with sealings, which was a beautiful and sweet experience as well.  And to top that off, we got to go and see the spiral staircase!

After our spiritual hunger will filled, we satisfied our physical hunger at Miller's Drive In, just a few blocks south on the main drag from the Temple.  The onion rings and fresh raspberry shake were worth it, but the chicken salad was eaten for nutritional purposes only.

The final part to this super charged, ultimate holiday week and weekend was......me cleaning and organizing my paper files.  They had been waiting for me a while, and now my desk and filing area are so much cleaner.  

So, a bit of everything this week.  I even got in a few naps.  All I can say is that I love my life!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do You Have Your Hiking Buddy? It's Going to Be a Great Hike Today!

An absolutely gorgeous view of Utah Valley from only half way up Grove Creek Trail (by the G in Pleasant Grove).

This past Saturday Christy and I planned to go hiking.  As an apartment, Shelly and Christy and I decided that we should try and go hiking once a month together.  While Shelly was with her family due to the new arrival of a beloved nephew, the two Newman sisters decided to take their chances on the ominous storm clouds and chilly weather and go for a hike.  It was probably one of the best decisions we made!

With lots of wildflowers, a waterfall for a destination, and views of the gorgeously green desert environ to enjoy on every break--including parting clouds, sunshine, and a pleasantly warm temperature--we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!  Below are some pics so that you can feel like you went on a cool virtual hike yourself.

The end.