"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Casual Prayer Won't Be Enough


This makes me want to be better.

Provident Living Tip

If properly cured a bar of soap can last for weeks or longer. Unfortunately, in the interest of profit, most soap is sold uncured and becomes soft, slimy, and invisible after a few days. In our home the youngest family member is the "soap unwrapper" & I keep all the bars stacked on the top shelf in the hall cupboard for them to cure.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Story - Book 2 Ends

Sometimes, in a book series, a book will end with the death of a beloved character & heartache. I usually finish those books with tears streaming down my face, a lump in my throat, puffy eyes, and a headache. I also can't wait to start the next book in the series to get past the heartache and on to the next adventure. Lately, I have been thinking of my life as a series of books, not just chapters in one book. Book 1 includes all of my childhood adventures and misadventures as well as my coming of age years in college and my mission. Book 2 began with a beautiful wedding 12 years ago and is full of joy, heartache, travel, family, adventure, laughter, frustration, tears, challenges, triumphs and disappointment. Today, that book ended. Our divorce is final. As I finished the final page in court today, tears trickled down my face & the lump in my throat made it hard to answer the questions. I am going to bed with puffy eyes and a headache. It was a very good book, but the ending has been very hard. I had my ring cleaned and polished today. You can't see it well in the picture but I have always really loved it. I patterned it after one I saw in a jewelry store and a wholesaler in Logan, UT made it. I loved it because it was original, the band was thick and parts of it were symbolic to me. The large diamond in the center represented Christ. The swoops of gold on the sides represented Tim & I - both of us looking to Christ & reaching out to each other. In each swoop are small diamonds that represented any children we may have - it was up to us to carry them toward Christ. As a whole, the ring represented the promise of eternity, as well as the teamwork and sacrifice it took to design & pay for it.
Closing the lid on the small box felt like the closing of the book.

The good news is that my story is not over - I get to start the next book tomorrow. And the adventures waiting are not to be missed!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Uncle Pat!

My Uncle Pat is a few years older than me. I think that we figured out there is a 3 year difference, but I grew up thinking that it was a lot more. He is kind, loyal, and very hard working. He fills his life helping other people. He has taught me more about changing your life, forgiveness, and the atonement than any other person. He spends hours working with his local AA chapter helping others overcome their personal demons. He is an amazing guy and I am so glad that he is a part of our family. Love your guts Pat!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dream Teacher

What would your dream teacher look like? If you could have anything in a public school teacher for your child what would you want? What things have you loved, what have you hated? What would you look for in the classroom, homework, academics, etc.?

I was hired today to teach 3rd grade at the school where I worked last year. I have a lot of the same feelings I had when I opened my mission call to see the Lord was sending me to Chile and I had 6 weeks to learn Spanish. I keep telling myself to breathe, it will be o.k. It just feels like such a huge responsibility. Homeschooling was one thing - it was my own kid. But this, this is very overwhelming. 20+ kids - how do I not mess up at least one of them?

So, I am not above groveling. Please, please, please leave my your best advice via comments, email, phone, letter, or carrier pigeon. And thank you!

Couch who?

The other day I was working at the computer while Ryan was playing in his room. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. When I opened it, I found this:
Ryan had made me a handbag out of duck tape, crawled out his window and left it on the door step for me. I have such a great kid!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The House of the Lord


Yesterday I was able to go to the temple. My spiritual bucket was filled to overflowing. So many prayers, so many answers, so many thoughts. I stopped for a few moments in the sealing room and stared into the mirrors on the wall. I realized something. You can not see yourself for eternity in the mirrors. Always before I have stood in front of those mirrors with family and I could see us reflected to eternity. I was focusing on each of them and could see them forever. But yesterday, by myself, I could only see my own single reflection. It made me realize that our families are our eternity. They are our blessing. Isn't the gospel amazing? Afterward, I went out and sat in the shade by the fountain. It was so beautiful & peaceful.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who's on the Lord's Side, Who?

My sister started a blog and posted this beautiful slide show. I had seen it before but really appreciate seeing it again today. I love the hymn "Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing" - it is in my top 5 hymns.

This expresses so many of my feelings lately. Life is hard. Really, really, hard. I don't want to discount that but it is so beautiful too. So wonderful. So sweet. At times, it feels like darkness, evil and the world surrounds me but then I remember - I am on the Lord's side and I feel invincible. I know how the story will end and my heart floods with joy and gratitude and compassion and love and strength. One of my favorite scriptures is Joshua 24:15 "...choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." I am on the Lord's side.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I passed my elementary exams!

I have very mixed feelings. I am grateful that my money wasn't mis-spent. I am grateful that I can now accept the position that has been held for me. I am a touch sad as I really don't want to work away from home. It is silly, but I was thinking that if I didn't pass then maybe something would come along where I could stay at home. I also really don't want to teach 3rd grade. I would much prefer to work with the second grade team of teachers. This is just one of those blessings that takes a while to appreciate.

Anyway, thank you to all who have prayed for me. I do appreciate it. It is comforting to know I will have a job & insurance.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad-

Today my dad turns 61! I have been blessed with an amazing father. He was born & raised on a dairy farm in Northwestern Ohio. From an early age he learned to have an amazing work ethic which continues today. He was hospitalized for a month during his first semester in college which meant that he would not have passed his classes. He knew he would be drafted into the army when his grades came in, so he enlisted in the Navy as he thought he had a better chance of surviving the Vietnam war on a ship than on the ground.

He met my mom while stationed in Portland, OR (she was attending nursing school). They dated for a couple of months and decided to marry a few days before he shipped out. My mom decided that she would meet the ship anytime it was on the west coast, so for the next four years, she packed up their belongings into the back of a car and moved to the next city. Because I decided to linger in the womb, my dad had to ship out and was in the Philippines when I was born. He first saw me when I was 4 months old. Once, he and a navy buddy carried 4 large boxes of china dishes that he bought in Japan on the their laps for my mom . She wasn't able to meet the flight for some reason and he was going to hitchhike home with the boxes of china when his buddy's mom took mercy on him and gave him a ride home with all the dishes. We still have those dishes.

Some of my best memories of my dad are of us working together. Most of my life we had a wood stove for heat and I have countless memories of our family gathering wood. Dad would run the chain saw & we would stack it on the truck. When we would get home late that night, we would all work together by the back porch light & moonlight and stack the wood & cover it. Over the years we work together to remodel our homes, plant huge gardens, build barns, dig out septic tanks, lay drain fields & water pipes, dig out & seal the basement of our home, & tend to hundreds of animals. My dad did give us chore lists but if he was home, he would work along side us. I am sure there were many times that 6 kids underfoot added to his work, but he never said a word. Instead, I always felt like I was helping and along the way, he taught me so much.

My dad loves to sing. For years we would go to our friend's home and spend the day cutting wood. After dinner, Jack would get out his guitar and they would sing together. Sometimes my dad would accompany him with his harmonica. They loved the folk songs and we kids would sing along to "I'm in Love with a Big Blue Frog" and others. I still remember sitting next to him in church and sharing a hymn book with him and singing together. We would sing in the car - I learned the "Quarter Master Store" song in the car. Once, dad decided we should learn "Do What Is Right" and we sang that song every Family Home Evening for months. Not my favorite song, but I do know the words.

My dad loves to read & tell stories. One of my all time favorite memories is of my dad reading. My dad started reading to us at the close of dinner each night. We would quietly finish our food and then start our dinner chores while he read chapter after chapter. The deal was that if we were talking or arguing he would stop and none of us wanted that so we quickly learned to get our jobs done without arguing. He read "Little Britches", "As Wide As the River" and its sequel (I can't remember the name), and a bunch of the Patrick McMannus books. My dad loves to laugh and sometimes we couldn't understand him because he would be laughing so hard. Sometimes we laughed because he was laughing. "Little Britches" is one of my all time favorite books because of my dad. My dad would always go to Priesthood session of conference and tell us in detail about it the next day on our drive to Conference (over an hour each way.) He always made the stories come alive and we hung on every word. He would go hunting every year with a bunch of friends from our ward. He would keep us entertained for hours telling us all the adventures (& misadventures) that they had had.

My dad loves to dance. I didn't grow up knowing this. Oh, I remember him teaching me how to dance in the living room as a teen, but it wasn't until he re-married that I realized how much he loves to dance. And every time I see him dance it brings a smile to my face. He loves life.

More than anything, my dad is a man of integrity. He embraced the gospel and has never looked back. He loves people and serves others to the very end. He was devoted to my mom through years of illness and early death. He loves my step-mom and her kids as much as his own. He would give you the shirt off his back and the food off his table and never think twice. Once my dad gets to know you, you are family forever. His word is his bond.

Dad- I love you. Thank you for everything you have done for me and for the example you have set for me. Have a great birthday!
Love-
Julie

Monday, July 14, 2008

Angels Around Me

"Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with a light of love."
Alabama/Diamond Rio

I have been so humbled by all the true friends in my life over the last few months. I don't know how I will ever be able to re-pay their kindness or even get thank you notes out to everyone. I struggle to find the right words to express the depth of my gratitude. All of you have been my angels, answering prayers that I have barely uttered. I risk forgetting someone, but as this blog is my family journal of sorts, I want to recognize the angels in my life & thank Heavenly Father for each one of you.

Bishop Baclawski- He was the first person I turned to. He has been a rock for the last few months, quietly checking up on me, meeting with me weekly, making sure my needs have been met, providing love & support.

My Dad- I am so blessed to have a wonderful dad. He has been another rock for me. He has called at least weekly to check on me and just give me an opportunity to pour out my heart. He gave me a father's blessing when I went home. It has meant the world to have him to lean on.

Dr. Mike- Ry's counselor has been a true angel. He has helped my boy get through this and I will be forever grateful.

As I sent out the email with our news that Sunday night, I was so apprehensive. How would people treat us? I should have known that I was surrounded with angels. The first call came in 15 mins. after I hit send. The last few months I have been truly protected and lifted by so many. Phone calls, cards, packages, and emails began arriving from out of state. Our names were put on many temples across the US. Locally, angels filled my gas tank, remodeled my new home, arrived with paint brushes and cleaning supplies, provided needs (a lawn mower, table & chairs) and wants (flowers & garden veggies), treats & gifts appeared on my doorstep, invitations to dinner were given out, text messages appeared out of the blue, jobs were offered, cars repaired. Friends drove Ry to practices & games, and surrounded him with love & support. Family pooled their money to pay for a vacation home. So many have offered a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and words of wisdom, all without asking questions that I couldn't answer.

I can never say thank you enough. Each of you truly have been an angel in our lives. I don't know how I could have made it through this without you. You have taught me so many lessons of love & charity. I love you all. Thank you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wax Found

It was in his back pack. Of course. Why didn't I think of that? It is now safely in the fridge.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cleaning Ry's Room...


A few days ago Ry & I picked up some wax for the bottom of his skateboard. We walked all over Walmart to find the stuff (it is found in the jam section- NOT the canning, or craft, or candle sections!) So, today, I decided to clean his room while he is gone to camp so various items can mysteriously vanish when I found this...

NO WAX! I did not find any bars of wax in his room. So now the million dollar question is, Where are 4 blocks of wax? I was going to clean out the car today, but I am a bit afraid what messes I am going to find there...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Multnomah Falls

I have hiked to the top of this falls. It is quite a hike (over a mile almost straight up) but it is an unbelievable view. One of these days I am going to camp in the Gorge and hike it again.
Ry in front of the lower falls.

Vacation Pics

Ry & my nephew Caleb walking away from my mom's headstone (with the yellow flowers) heading to the sprinklers to play.


Ry & I playing - I am tickling a smile out of him as he is beginning to think that 10 yrs old is too cool to smile. That is Mt. Hood in the background. She is buried in one of the most beautiful places. It is a tiny country cemetery surrounded by orchards. I love going there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Going Home

We have spent the last week+ in Washington state visiting family. The trip has been the normal chaotic mix of personalities, fun & a few tears. Last week we drove to Hood River, OR to visit my grandma. Hood River is my home town and it is beautiful. This website has the best pics I have seen to show you a little bit of my home. I have been to every place pictured except Latourell Falls. We drove to our family farm, and then on to my mom's grave at the base of Mt. Hood and got pictures of the grandkids playing in the sprinklers & sunshine - she would have loved that. We drove on to my grandparents orchard & fruitstand. It is now a beautiful winery. What is very interesting is how little everything has changed. There are some changes, a few more traffic lights, a different store here & there, but I was amazed at how much it is exactly the same. With all the change in my life right now, it was a sweet gift to go "home" just as I remembered it. It felt peaceful, comforting, & secure.


The next day we headed to Ft. Clatsop on the Oregon Coast. We had a great time touring the fort, learning about the Lewis & Clark expedition & walking the trails. That evening we camped at Cape Disappointment Campground which is on the southern most tip of the Washington State Coast. It was beautiful! Gorgeous weather, friendly racoons, warm ocean water with no wind, tons of s'mores. We had a wonderful time with all the cousins. We climbed mountains, swam in the ocean, toured another Lewis & Clark interpretive center and explored the view from the lighthouse. I took some time and sat on the beach by myself and just soaked up the peace that only an ocean sunset can bring. Later that evening, my sister Tracy & I sat on the beach by ourselves, wrapped in blankets & stared at a million stars at midnight. My peaceful bucket is full.


I love that I have grown up in the Hood River Valley - not only did I have an amazing childhood here, but I have such a beautiful place to come home too. Seeing all the orchards, mountains, forests, oceans, stars & waterfalls has been a much needed breath of fresh air. It has felt cleansing, refreshing, strengthening, and peaceful. For those of you dear friends in the Northwest that we are not getting to see (Russons & Miletas) - we love you dearly and hope to get to Salem next visit.