Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nie Nie

I have found her story to be quite inspirational. Watch this video. If you're on my blog, click play below. If you're in e-mail or facebook, then click here.



If you'd like to check out her blog:


If you'd like to check out her sister's blog and read about what it was like while Stephanie was in the coma:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WOW

WOW!
I feel so empowered.

I just called Washington, D.C. Crazy, right? I totally expected to get an answering service and voice mail, but right away a HUMAN operator answered to transfer me to my representative, and then when I got there, another HUMAN answered the phone and asked what my concerns, etc., were. I voiced my opinion and stated where I lived, and my opinion was marked down.

IT WAS SO COOL.

I don't know why I'm so shocked. I mean, she's an elected official. Surely it is her job to hear from her constituents, but I mean, you can't call practically anyone these days without having to push a million buttons to get to the right department (and then you usually still end up in the wrong one!).

Anyway, I feel pretty spiffy right now. That was even cooler than voting.

I recommend that you call your representative the next time you feel like something should be done. I called because someone is trying to push through a repeal of the military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy, and I feel strongly about that issue. If you think it should or should not be repealed, then you should call, too. It might get voted on as early as Thursday, so there is no time to e-mail. I strongly feel that Congress should not act until the review is complete in December.

Call the Capital Switchboard at 202-225-3121. Someone answers that 24 hours a day. And if you're calling during office hours of your representative, then someone should answer then as well.

If you live in one of the states below, then you should call your senator, too, because those are the senators who sit on the Armed Services Committee.

Evan Bayh (D-Indiana)
Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia)
Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska)
Bill Nelson (D-Florida),
Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)
Jim Webb (D-Virginia) 

 Some background information
In 1993 Congress passed a law specifically prohibiting homosexuals from serving in the military.  President Clinton, in attempting to weaken the intent of the law, instituted the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy which effectively allowed homosexuals to serve in the military if they were not open about their homosexuality.  The military services were prohibited from asking military personnel if they were homosexual. 
For years, homosexual activists have demanded the repeal of the law on which DADT is based.  Along with such things as including “sexual orientation” as one of the categories protected under nondiscrimination or hate crime legislation and legalizing homosexual marriage, this demand is part of their strategy to mainstream homosexuality in U.S. society.  As such, it directly undermines the family and family values.  Candidate Obama and most Democrats have promised to repeal DADT.
While polls generally show public support for repeal of DADT, there are clear danger signs for trying to impose this new policy on the military while engaged in two wars that most of the public is not aware of because most of the media have ignored them.  One is a letter to President Obama and Congress signed by over a thousand retired flag and general officers opposing repeal of DADT because of the harm it would do to the military.  Another is a poll of active duty military personnel conducted in 2008 that found that nearly 10 percent of those surveyed would not re-enlist if DADT was repealed and another 14 percent said they would be less likely to do so.  Several high ranking active duty officers have also stated their opposition. 
An apparent compromise was reached several months ago when the Defense Department undertook a review of the impact of repealing DADT on the military.  The report of that review is due in December, and it was generally expected that Congress would not act until that review was completed.  The surprise announcement of a vote in a couple of days effectively scraps that review, even though as recently as last week, the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs asked Congress again to hold off until the review was completed.  The amendment will supposedly accommodate the review by delaying implementation of the actual repeal of the law until the report is filed and both the Defense Secretary and the President determine that it would not harm military readiness.  No one actually believes that such a determination is likely after Congress has voted for repeal no matter what the report finds.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Marriage Lists

Sometimes when I think, I like to think in the form of lists. Recently, I've been thinking about what Jeff and I gained in our marriage—the deeper, nitty gritty, if you will. :)

When I married Jeff, I gained . . .
  • someone to kill undesirable (okay scary) insects and creepy crawlies;
  • someone to go out to the shed during the night;
  • someone to take out the trash;
  • someone to enter the crawlspace;
  • someone to be Jill's "horsey";
  • someone to drive whenever we're both in the car;
  • someone to bring "home the bacon," so I can stay at home;
  • someone to give Priesthood blessings;
  • someone to take me out on dates;
  • someone to teach me patience;
  • someone to always care about my day;
  • someone to love;
  • someone to reach the top cupboards; and
  • someone to calm me down.
When Jeff married me, he got . . .
  • more than he bargained for!!
Haha, okay, seriously, the real list. :)

When Jeff married me, he got . . .
  • someone to birth babies;
  • someone to nurture children;
  • someone to make him breakfast and dinner;
  • someone to do the dishes;
  • someone to love;
  • someone to clean his laundry;
  • someone to teach him patience;
  • someone to buy the groceries;
  • someone to care about his day;
  • someone to be his biggest cheerleader at any of his sporting events;
  • someone to go to collegiate and professional sporting events with;
  • someone to greet him at the end of the day;
  • someone to write and mail all the birthday, thank you, and congratulations cards; and
  • someone to remember birthdays.
So, who do you think got the better end of the deal?

I know, I know, we both made out like bandits!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Unintentioned

When you share a home, a bedroom, a life sometimes issues pop up that are really meaningless but take on new meaning because two people don't agree. A few examples . . .

Early on in our marriage, Jeff was adamant that the top shelf in the refrigerator is for beverages and food items belong on other shelves. I have trouble remembering that, but it really doesn't make that big of a difference, so I tried to abide by that rule. I followed it, and now four years later, he doesn't care either.

When we moved into our second apartment in Provo, we didn't have rods to hang our towels on; we had hooks. I believed they looked more attractive hung horizontally, but Jeff thought they dried better vertically. And I really thought they didn't look good if they didn't match. (I know. Who really cares how our towels are hung?) So, every time I noticed his hung the "wrong" way, I would switch it. Since I didn't force Jeff to rehang it, he didn't really care if I switched it. Now in our new house, I have the rod and he has the hook, and he hangs his towel the way I always used to change it to be.

Jeff thinks it is a waste of time to put the contact solution away. He uses it twice a day, and he likes to have it on the counter. He also thinks it is a waste of time to put the cap back on the contact solution. The cap has become more of a joke between us. He thinks he has gotten rid of the cap, and somehow I find it again and it reappears. :) Sometimes I let the solution stay on the counter, and every now and then I put it back in the medicine cabinet. Again, no one cares, and there is no contention.

The example that is most relevant recently is that of the sides of our bed. Jeff is more of a let-the-clothes-stay-on-the-floor-until-right-before-laundry-day kind of guy, and I'm a if-the-clothes-stay-on-the-floor-I-won't-know-when-I-need-to-do-laundry kind of girl. We have tried many different routines for me to get Jeff to stop putting his clothes on the floor. Only one has worked, but unfortunately it can't continue long term. We've tried designating a chair in the bedroom as his. He can throw all of his clothes on that chair. Nope. They still go on the floor. We got him a hat rack thing for him to put his clothes on. Still nope. What ends up happening is that I keep picking the clothes off the floor and putting them on his rack and they just pile up and I never know which are dirty or clean. I try picking them up and putting them on his side of the bed, so he'll notice them and do something with them. Nope. They just go back on the floor until he puts them all in the laundry basket at once and all of a sudden it is past time when I should have done laundry.

My side of the bed is usually clean. You can usually see the floor. Every now and then I'll have a late or lazy night where my clothes from that day will pile up, but it usually never goes past accumulation of a day or two. I just like a tidy bedroom. When I was a teenager, you could always tell if I was entering a depression period, because I wouldn't make my bed. If life isn't worth living, there is no point in making your bed. But when I was happy, my bed was always made, because happy people like to live in cute bedrooms. :)

Anyway, so last month, I stopped tiding up my side of the bed. I had a lot of items that I didn't have a place for in our bedroom yet, and then we went to Tennessee, and Jeff unpacked the suitcases but left my clothes on my side of the bed (sound familiar?), and I wanted to sleep, so I piled them on the homeless items. Then there was so much stuff that I just started adding my clothes from every day on top of it. After two weeks or longer, there was just one tiny little walking trail next to my bed and a whole bunch of stuff.

Amazingly, while my side of the bed got messier, Jeff's got cleaner. Every day I added an item to my side, he seemed to remove items from his side until his side was neat and tidy and completely clear. This lasted about a week or so. Meanwhile, Jeff couldn't believe it. Numerous comments were made about the condition of my side of the bed, and he asked me to clean it quite a few times. Hmm.

After almost a month the mess started to depress me, so I tidied it up. That was about a week ago. Now as I look at Jeff's side of the bed. I see two pairs of shorts, one pair of jeans, a few books, some dirty socks, three shirts, and some papers.

The best part is that in between asking me to tidy up my side of the bed, Jeff would ask me what I was trying to prove. What point I was trying to make. Haha. I was making no point—I was just being lazy, but he didn't buy that. So during my unintentional point-making I learned that Jeff will be tidy only if I am not.

This story, Sara, is why Jeff laughed when you commented that my house is always tidy. It was during the time period that my side of the bed was not tidy. :)

Great Song!

Here is one of my favorite songs right now. I couldn't find an actual music video for it, but the video has the song playing along with the lyrics.

It's "There Is A Way" by newworldson




If you are watching this not on my actual blog or if it is not working for some reason, then click this link.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Year Old Cousins

Here are the Boling cousins in pictures close to their first birthdays. (In actuality the oldest and youngest are just under a year and a half apart.) Emily and Hallie both have blonde hair, and Annibelle definitely has red hair. Jill's so far is somewhat in between red and blonde. I'm not sure which is predominant at this point. Emily, Annibelle, and Jill all have blue eyes. Hallie's seem to be a bit green-brown, perhaps hazel. Annibelle has these sweet curls, and she's unique with those! The rest all have straight, straight hair at this point. Which do you think look the most alike?

The other three definitely had more hair on their first birthdays than Jill did. Sigh. Time . . . just give it time. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Disasters

This post will have no pictures, because while I thought about pausing the clean up for a moment to take a picture, I decided I did not want to have pictures to remember these moments by. Haha.

I didn't post about this, but last month, I broke a lamp at a store. I had a curtain rod poking out of my cart, and when I turned the cart to follow Jeff and Jill, the rod swung across a row of lamps, knocking quite a few over, but blessedly only one fell to the ground and broke into a bunch of tiny pieces. Jeff, an aisle or two over, heard the break and felt pity for the person. Then he heard my shrill voice yell, "Jeff!!!" and he realized his pity was for his wifey. The clean up person told me I would have to pay for it, but the cashier told me I didn't, so that was a blessing. I assume stores have insurance for those types of accidents. Embarrassing.

Remember a few posts ago where I talked about dropping the frosted cake in my doorway? The hot glass pan shattered and the cake and frosting were all over my foyer and front porch. That was not enjoyable to clean up, and I am still finding shards of glass in my flower beds and sidewalk. The blessing about that disaster is that my mother-in-law was holding Jill way down the driveway, so Jill did not get injured. At her height, the glass would have hit her just perfectly I think.

Earlier this week, Jill and I were at the grocery store. She was properly seated in the cart but was quite bored. She likes to hold the groceries that I get to hold, so I often hand her things. She drops the lighter items every now and then, and I got tired of picking them up, so I sat something on the seat next to her that was heavy, so she wouldn't be able to throw it. Well, she managed to get the extra large container of applesauce out of the cart. Sigh. It slammed onto the ground, shattering and spraying applesauce everywhere. Again, I was blessed that there was no one near by me, so at least I didn't have to apologize for splattering applesauce all over his of her clothes, but it was embarrassing. A nice man went to notify someone, and I waited until the clean up person came for me to thank him for his efforts and offer to pay for the applesauce. I didn't have to pay for it. Next time I'll find the applesauce in a plastic container . . .

Then about half an hour ago, I decided to make crock pot chili, because I had the ingredients for it, and there won't be much time this evening to make dinner. The meat goes in. The beans go in. Tomatoes go in. I put in one container of my grandparents' homemade tomato juice. I try to pop the lid off the other glass jar (my can opener doesn't have the do-hickey to pop it off, so I have to get it with my finger), and to my horror, the glass jar slips off the counter and shatters on my kitchen floor. Jill runs into the kitchen, and I quickly scoop her up and put her in her booster seat at the table with lots of rice cakes. Then I notice to my dismay that my SUPER cute new slippers for mothers' day that Jill (cough) picked out for me were covered in tomato sauce, so I carefully cleaned them off, but then they were wet. Then I realized I had stranded myself barefoot in a kitchen covered with glass and tomato juice. So, I strategically went across to get some flip flops. As I cleaned up the tomato juice, I wondered if it was karmic justice (ha) since I didn't have to clean up Jill's applesauce. I was envious of that clean-up man, because he had this powder that he poured on the applesauce, and it bubbled up, and then cleaned up quite easily. I did not have that powder. I wonder what it was. Glass is surprisingly difficult to find when it is in small pieces and hiding in tomato juice. I finally got that all cleaned up and went to get Jill when I discovered . . .

the next mess. I had a gardening shovel in my house, because it somehow hadn't made it to the shed with the rest of the tools. It has been raining, raining, raining the past few days, so I haven't wanted to go outside and put it in the shed. Jill finally found its hiding place, so I put it on the kitchen table where she can't (normally) reach. However, the shovel was on one edge of a notebook, which Jill must have grabbed, because she was completely covered in dirt. Time for a wash up, Jill!

Amidst all of this, I wonder what I am supposed to be learning. That I'm a klutz? That I shouldn't let Jill play with applesauce and garden shovels? I know that I'm incredibly blessed that neither Jill nor I have gotten cut yet.

Posts really feel incomplete without pictures, so here is a picture from 2005 when Jeff and I were dating and he was completely embarrassed because of his dropping a cake.

He had already picked up most of the cake off of me, but the frosting remained still to be cleaned. Sometimes it is worth it to pause and take a picture. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers


I think we all know what today is—Mother's Day. I imagine that today must bring joy and sadness to many, depending on their experiences with mothers, or as mothers, or as not getting to be mothers. I have enjoyed today as a mother, and I enjoyed talking to my mother and spending time with my mother-in-law. I missed my grandmother today. It is near the anniversary of her death, and it is hard not to miss her, but I do know she is happier where she is. My other grandmother I don't have to miss yet, and I am grateful for that.

Among those feelings of love and some sadness, I also feel another sentiment profoundly—that of gratitude. When I was younger, I thought that girls grew up, became women, and then blessedly got to become wives and mothers. Then I actually grew up and realized that the journey to becoming a woman is long and varied. And then some women never get to be wives, or get to be wives and then don't get to be mothers. And that some women don't actually want to be wives or mothers. So many things just never occurred to me as possible when I was younger.



Every day I look at Jill and am grateful that she is my daughter and I am her mother. Every time she sleeps longer than I think she should, I worry that she has slipped away and gone back to heaven. It's actually somewhat stressful, but I never ever take for granted that I have been blessed with the awesome responsibility of nurturing and rearing this sweet little soul.

I am not sure yet what all Jill will inherit from my mothering, but I have been mentally compiling a list of what I have received from my mothers.


First, I must obviously begin with my mother. Vickie. Beautiful. Mom. GranB. She is intelligent. She is curious. She is interested. She is giving. Her house was never so full that she couldn't find room to squeeze in one more person who needed to be loved by Sister Boling, or Mama B. She is always willing to play on the floor with the kids, giggle with the girls, talk with the boys, and make some delicious pancakes for everyone to enjoy. She remembers your conversations and shares your joys and sorrows. She keeps secrets and pays attention to your stories.

From my mother, I learned acceptance. I learned how to love people, no matter their appearance, education, status, personality, etc. A person should be loved and treated kindly just for being a person. From my mother, I learned sacrifice. I learned putting children first. I learned the importance of going to games and concerts, of being on field trips, of knowing all of my children's friends, of trust.



Next let's discuss my mother's mother. Grandma Homer. Verda. From my grandmother Homer, I have learned how to be strong. I have heard stories of sleeping out with the cows on the prairie. Of serving a mission. Of keeping a family together while moving across the country. Of keeping food on the table and a smile on your face even when times are difficult.

My grandmother Homer taught me to endure and enjoy to the end.


My father's mother comes next in discussion and equal in love. Marcia. Grandma Boling. From her I have learned grace. Sophistication. The art and skill of communication. She is a beautiful, intelligent woman who speaks her mind.

She is valiant in her beliefs and shares them. She is the matriarch of her brood, and she watches over us with love. She is tradition and consistency. She is adventure and tenacity.




One characteristic that my mother and both grandmothers share is supporting your husband and letting him be a man. A man with foibles perhaps, but still the father of your children and a very good man in heart.

One of the wonderful things about marriage is that you gain not just a spouse but a family. With Jeffrey, I gained a wonderful mother-in-law named Laurie. She is a woman who discovers the needs of others and then does what she can to quietly fill those needs. She opened her heart and her home to me. She has enthusiasm and vigor. We started out as strangers, but around her I have always felt at home. She has taught me to love pepper and extra sharp cheddar cheese, and I will always be grateful for those two things!! :)


I know, I know. How many mothers can one girl have? Well, I have one more "mother" to discuss. I have an older sister, and perhaps as others of you with older sisters can attest to, sometimes older sisters can be like mothers. Amy and I are pretty close in age, so she was not a mother in that aspect, but she has always been my role model of what I wanted to be like, and she got to become a mother before I did. And her example in that department has always shone for me.

Amy is an example of patience and selflessness. She is supportive and kind. She is intelligent and funny. She teaches and entertains Hallie all day long, and I have no doubt that she will do the same with Hanna.

I have always hoped to grow up and be a little bit more like Amy.

She is an example to me of conquering fears, of turning weaknesses into strengths. I have fought many battles knowing that she would never stop cheering for me no matter how low I tumbled before I was able to turn around. She has always been there through every step of my journey.

Even though we do not get to share a room any more or even get to live in the same state, I know that she would, for example, drop everything (even when pregnant) to fly across the country just to drive back across it, so I could have some help.

Thank you Mom, Verda, Marcia, Laurie, and Amy for helping to mold me into the mommy I'm becoming.


I really loved a poem that was shared in my ward today, written by a husband to his wife.

To Melissa:

There is no day too busy
For a laugh to make a smile. 
There is no need too untimely
For a moment to squeeze it in.

There is no crisis too big
For a listening ear to make it bearable.
There is no disappointment too devastating
For a hug to take the sting.

There is no choice too significant
For a nudge to give direction.
There is no chore too mundane
For determination to complete it well.

There is no accolade too lofty
For humility to modestly deny.
There is no honor too majestic
For the mother of my children.

—Dr. Roger Cass

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Butterflies, Beans, and Blue

It has been a week of Bs apparently. It began on Monday with butterflies. Jill and I went to Krohn Conservatory with our neighbors to see the Japanese butterfly exhibit. It was amazing! I've never seen that many butterflies at once before. They have one room that you can look at through a window; the room contains hundreds of chrysalises. (Which brings up a point. I always thought that butterflies came from cocoons. The exhibit called them chrysalises though. Are chrysalises just a specific type of cocoon?) Anyway, it would be cool to watch a butterfly emerge. I didn't catch any of that happening when Jill and I walked through though.


I had one land on my arm, one on my head, one on Jill's leg, and two on the stroller. I felt like we got pretty lucky! (In the picture on the left, there is one hanging out on my arm.) The whole Conservatory was quite beautiful. There were different rooms, like an orchid room, the butterfly room, a desert room, etc. There was one room with a waterfall and another with a stream. I definitely know what I'd like to do with my parents the next time I am here. You had to pay to see the butterflies, but the rest of the Conservatory is free. (I believe.)

If you look closely at the picture below, you'll see two butterflies in flight on the top left, and you'll see two rather camouflaged butterflies on the tree trunk. Well, I zoomed in, so maybe you won't have to look closely, but I glanced at the tree quite a few times (when I was at the exhibit) before I noticed there were butterflies on it.

I thought this butterfly chair was pretty unique. If you'll notice, Jill is wearing a shirt with a large butterfly on it. I thought that was very appropriate, considering.

You might also notice that her shirt and shorts are blue. But, the shirt does have a butterfly on it. Her sneakers had flowers on them, and her binkie that day was pink. However, none of those could overcome the power of a blue shirt. I am going to put her in that shirt again, next time with a bow in her hair and a skirt instead of shorts.

Stay tuned to see if that will be enough to overpower the mightiness of a blue shirt. I've decided that blue shirts are powerful. No matter what else your daughter is wearing, if she has a blue shirt on, everyone will assume she is a boy.

Now I don't mind if people assume she's a boy (the shirt is blue after all), but it puts me in an awkward situation. I usually don't correct them, because it doesn't matter, but sometimes questions are asked. Then I have to decide, well do I lie and go along and say "he," or do I say "she" or "Jill" and then have the person feel bad and apologize for the mistake. Sigh. I don't like those moments. I'm not deliberately out to trick people. I just think Jill looks good in blue, because her eyes are blue.


Jill does not have very many words yet, but she is getting very good at telling me what she wants through very subtle physical actions. For instance, in front of the waterfall at the Conservatory, she put her mouth on one of the bars on the bridge over the stream and started sucking on it. Hm. She was thirsty. Very thirsty. Haha. We promptly found a drinking fountain. :) In the picture above, I believe she's making it clear that she would like the camera. Well done, Jill. Good communication.

One last thing about the Conservatory, if you click on this picture to view its large size, then you can read the sign, but for those who don't want to click, I'll type it for you:
"This tree is from the petrified forest of Arizona. This section was taken from a tree which was 110 ft. long and weighed hundreds of tons. It is blood red in the interior and takes a beautiful polish. It probably was used as a shade tree by prehistoric monsters." Don't you love signs with a sense of humor?

The rest of the week was spent organizing music for the ward choir and going out with the sister missionaries. We did get to attend a graduation open house for a friend. That was a lot of fun. The cake was divine! It was made with bananas. So it was kind of like banana bread, but cake. I did get to go to Zumba at the Y this morning, and that was a lot of fun.

Part of today was spent on Laurie's present for Mother's Day. Laurie was away from the house all day at the golf outing she helped organize to raise funds for the high school boys golf team, so she was completely surprised to come home to the finished product.

I think it turned out great! Check out the before and after shots.
Also today, Jeff went golfing with his best man (haha) (seriously though, he was the best man in our wedding party), and I got to go to a choir concert with one of my friends. We listened to the Cincinnati Choral Society, and I thought they did a great job. Their pieces were varied and performed well. They had some really beautiful solo voices. It would be a fun group to join maybe. I do really miss the Mapleton Chorale, but obviously I am too far away to still be in that group!

A highlight of the concert was the guest performer, Michael Chertock. He did a Gershwin number and another piece called "Bring out the Clowns." (Or something with "clowns" in the title . . . ) They were both amazing. It was pretty humbling. Sara and I were seated way to the left, so I could see his hands as they performed magic on the keyboard, and it was somewhat unbelievable. I am currently in the process of teaching myself how to play the piano, and I'm awful. I'm positive that there are many five year olds out there who play the piano better than I do, and well, yeah. It was humbling to watch a master at work.

Before Jeff finished golfing and after I went to the concert, Jill obviously needed a place to be. Our wonderful friend Amy took Jill during that time. When I dropped her off, she mentioned her family was about to eat dinner, and I asked what they were having. She mentioned beans, and I said, "Oh, Jill loves beans!" Amy later sent me this picture.

Jill did not make a liar out of me!

It has been a great week.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tennessee

Okay, I promised in two different posts that I would write about Tennessee. So, here ya go, peeps!


First of all, thank you Mom and Dad for letting Jeff, Jill, and I use your points and stay at a Bluegreen Resort. The resort was beautiful, the mountain it sat upon was majestic, and the cabin was larger than our first and second apartments. It was a wonderful retreat.

The car trip took about five hours and went all right. We were lucky to have Jill sleep through most of it. We listened to a Nancy Drew mystery on CD that my mother lent us, and that passed the time quite nicely. It rained the first two days that we were there, but we were not in any of the dangers that other parts of Tennessee experienced.

The resort had four pools, but only one of them is open year round. We took our suits and bought swim diapers with high hops of splashing fun, but Jill wasn't a fan. She's gone swimming before, but I think the water wasn't warm enough for her. It was heated, but it was an indoor/outdoor pool, and since it was raining and not the warmest, I don't think the heated water could keep up with the outdoor part of the pool.

Jeffrey says that in this smile she is modeling a smile that he taught her. It's kind of a fake smile, or sarcastic smile. It's definitely not her huge grin or the cute smile shown above. I'll take it though!

All was not lost though, we kept our suits on, went back to our cabin and all hopped in the jacuzzi tub. Jill had lots of fun playing with us there, but it was a little bit crowded.

The second day there we went to a deer farm and petting zoo. Since it was raining, we had the entire place to ourselves. That was kind of cool, but it had the downside that the animals were attention deprived, if you will. They were very aggressive to get food, and I doubt they usually are when they are fed all day long. It was a large petting zoo with a wide variety of animals.

It differed from other petting zoos we've been to in that two of the pens were available for us to enter. We were allowed to go in with the goats and the deer. That was really cool! We avoided the goats. There were maybe thirty of them, and they were VERY jumpy. We didn't think that would go over well with a baby. There were so many babies though. It would have been special to hold a baby goat. We did go in the deer, and they were very nice and soft. They were my favorites. Apparently after I left to get more food, they got antsy haha and started trying to eat Jeff's and Jill's clothes, so Jeff was not a fan of them.

You would think that Jill would have loved the petting zoo, because she is a little girl and little girls love animals, but alas. She was very distraught that she had to keep giving away food that she thought she should get to eat. Gross.

They had some wallabies and a kangaroo. The kangaroo seemed kind of old, but he loved visitors. He would stand up tall and clap his hands when you came to pet him. He also got a bit excited, too. He would pee. Haha. You have to be careful where you stand around him!

The most surprising to me were the camels. I had not realized how large camels can be. There were two camels there, and one was huge. HUGE! Their bodily fluids are proportionate, unfortunately. Camel snot is not delightful. Sigh. Animals!!

A first for the trip was a sad one for Jill. She got car sick for the first time. After we ate, we jumped in the car to go to the petting zoo, and it was not incredibly close to where we were staying. We decided to avoid the strip in Pigeon Forge and take a nature route that ended up being really windy around the Appalachian Mountains. Jill threw up every where. Repeatedly. I had a backup outfit for her, but it was a sundress, and that wasn't quite enough on a rainy day. It reminded me of the Las Vegas incident of '09 with Ryan outside of a In and Out. Tee hee. The throw up chunks were all over her, her car seat, and parts of the car. Sigh. We went to a dollar store to buy new clothes and some Febreeze.

"Um . . . Mom? Dad? Guys?!"
Side note: This is the outfit I picked up at the Dollar Store, both of them. 
(She's wearing pajamas underneath the shirt and pants.)

The third day, it was our fourth anniversary, and the sun came out, so we decided it was time to finally tackle the Great Smokey Mountains and perhaps see a bear! We ate breakfast with gusto and vigor and then had a massive let down when we realized that our hiking backpack was sitting in our family room back in Cincinnati. Huge bummer. So, our grandiose plans of hiking to waterfalls and being out all day somewhat crashed and burned. We went back to the map to find shorter hikes and tried to decide how much we thought Jill could walk and how long we thought we could carry her. We settled on a very short hike (under a mile) that included an old cabin, barn, mill, and water shute. It was cool.

Doesn't she look like a marshmallow or the Michelin man in all her layers?

Jill seemed to enjoy herself. Even with the sun out, in the foresty shade it was not very warm during our morning hike, so Jill was layered up. Three layers. I like my girl to be warm! :) We did not see any bears, but we saw a lot of rocks, and Jill found those fascinating. I think Jeff understands a bit better why I feel daunted at simultaneously trying to garden and keep Jill from eating everything she can get her paws on.

After leaving the beautiful national park, we parked the car and walked around Gatlinburg. There were a lot of shops and restaurants and many ways to spend money. I was impressed by how cutesy and quaint a lot of the architecture was. I bet projects like that are a lot of fun for architects, designers, and landscapers. We ate a delicious lunch and played two rounds of miniature golf.

Jeff endeavored to teach Jill golf. (I helped a bit.) She was very good at carrying her ball and club, but she didn't grasp the whole "knocking the ball away from you" concept. She really wanted to keep the ball. All of the balls. Mom's and Dad's, too. Whenever they ended up in the hole, she seemed to think she could no longer get to them. It was pretty cute.

The course was amazing. It was up the side of a hill, so a lot of going up stairs was involved. It was quite a work out. Every hole included a sign with historical facts about Gatlinburg, so I felt like I learned a lot. There were even model historic buildings around it. You should really check out my facebook pictures of it to see more of its awesomeness.

We were worn out by the stairs and sunshine, so we opted to not do the mountain course and do the indoor black light course. (This was at Fort Fun.) Jill really thought the black light course was cool. It was under the sea themed, and there was a lot to keep Jill distracted from the fact that we had ditched her ball and club.

That evening we had pizza and watched Bandslam, which I loved! I was so happy to get to watch a movie that I ended up liking so much. Favorite lines:
"I think if you tried signaling people would honk less."
"They don't need to know my business."
"I really don't think it's a privacy issue."

"Inappropriate!! Inappropriate!!"

"She's wearing a hat!!!!!"

"Dewey! Dewey!"
"Do we want to rock?!"

I really liked the movie. Sorry that those probably weren't funny if you haven't seen the movie. Well, the last one isn't funny, but it is inspiring. I was so impressed. I would love to watch this movie again.

I'll include part from a review of the movie by Bob Smithouser:
"The prevailing theme is that, like a gale-force wind impacting a glider, a difficult past can either knock us out of the sky or—if we position ourselves just right—help us soar to new heights. Will, Sa5m and Charlotte are all broken to some degree. From mistakes. From a crushing disappointment. In one case, haunted by the sins of a parent. But at key moments, each of those teens manages to rise above fear and pain by unselfishly choosing to stare down personal demons for the benefit of others. The 'happy ending' isn't happy because everyone gets what they want in fairy tale fashion, but because they've grown as individuals and united as a community."

Even Jeff laughed sometimes, and he watched the whole thing with me. :)

Thursday was the fourth day, and we had to go home. It ended up being the sunniest, warmest day. Isn't that how it always seems to work?

We drove back through the strip of Pigeon Forge on the way home, and I took some pictures of the outlandish buildings. This one was particularly awesome.

Yup, it's upside down. Again, I included more on facebook, so you can look there.

So cool! (This building.)

I think we were in Sevierville driving along, when I said to Jeff, "your GPS is wrong. Go straight here." He's completely confused and why I would know that, since I'm not familiar with the area, but I said it with such assurance that he knew I really meant it. Haha. I was reading a huge traffic sign up ahead that he just hadn't noticed yet. It was really funny, because he was really confused about why I was so adamant that the GPS was wrong about how to get on the highway. :)

On the trip back, Jill did not sleep as much as we would have liked, but she didn't get carsick, so that's a plus! We listened to a Mary Higgins Clark mystery on CD, and again that took up the time quite nicely. I definitely recommend books on CD for long car trips.

Oh yes, I recommend all of the places at which we dined: Guarino's Italian Restaurant, Geno's Pizza, Brass Grille, and Steak 'n Shake.

And that was our trip to Tennessee.

Since I've been home, life has been back to normal. However, I've had repeated moments of "Well, it's a good thing I didn't think I was perfect, because if I did, I would be awfully disappointed right now." Sigh. I dropped a cake. A frosted cake. The glass shattered everywhere, and I was walking out the door. It was a huge mess and awful to clean up. Then the next day, I deleted a visiting teaching district on the computer at church. That caused all of the companionships in that district to come undone. I couldn't fix it, because I didn't have the most recent changes printed off, but luckily our Relief Society president has a copy, so I can fix it on Sunday. Sigh. I hate doing dumb things.

Today, Jill and I went to a live butterfly exhibit with our next door neighbor and her daughter. I'll blog about that soon. Promise. It was so cool!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Warning: You Might Cry

First Video: Let Us Be Men
D. Todd Christofferson

Here's the link if the video didn't work for you.
I know I can't be a man, but hearing about men striving to be better men makes me want to be a better woman.


Second Video: Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time
Quentin L. Cook

Here's the link if the video didn't work for you.
This video is full of truth for all hardships. A cure for  heartache is going to our Heavenly Father in prayer and serving others.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tired?

This is what I did today.
I think I'll go to bed now.

And, haha, no worries, there were a lot of other adults at my house, too. There was even a two month old that didn't make it in the picture. Jill seemed to enjoy her birthday party very much. :) Some day soon I'll post about the fun that was Tennessee.

Promise.

Here is an idea of what most of the party was like.
There was a little crying but no tantrums, and I think all the kiddos had fun.

These two little girls are the closest in age at church to Jill: Naomi (left) and Bailey (right).

Happy Birthday, Sweet Jill Bean! Mommy and Daddy love you very much!