That Look – 6/22/17

My girl, I will call her SM, produced this look since she was very young! It involves pulling up one side of her lip, and squinting her forehead. (So funny!) That was usually her confused look, but sometimes it was donned for no reason. My kids have created memes from this picture! (The best was- When someone says you owe them money.) This kid metamorphed from a shy preemie who never talked to a crazy daredevil who can seriously talk your ear off! (She’s a hoot!) SM possesses an awesome personality and is my resident peacemaker! She still generates that face, but now it’s being comical. “She’s got the look…”

Boating – 6/15/17

Nothing says summer, like a day on the lake. Sitting back on a reclining chair, refreshing drink in hand, the sun’s blistering rays beating down on you, the kids recklessly splashing in the water, and the sound of the recreating boat in the background. I named the family boat “Holy Mackerel” since my husband says that quite often. (Glad I googled mackerel, not how I would’ve spelled it!) My work vacation days were chewed up a few hours at a time, as I would escape from work a few hours early to hit the lake. I didn’t enjoy driving the boat (too much stress,) but I made great ballast at the front of the boat. Since little kids weren’t that heavy. I’ve seen many fun-filled rounds with someone behind the boat on assorted apparatus. My times behind the boat were few and far between. (I enjoyed spectating more.) Usually, it was at the insistence of one of my children. (They just wanted to see mom get wet!) 

We all had our time on the boat, but I usually ended up on the beach watching kids play in the water while the big kids went to play. I preferred it that way. I worked on my tan and carried on a nice conversation with my sister or a child. There was always a spectacular view in front of me. An occasional, “look mom!” would interrupt us, but we didn’t mind. (Kids are crazy!) I always made sure there was food available for famished fun-seekers. The nacho cups, I would purchase in bulk, made great plate-like bowls for a snack or a sandwich. Water toys, towels, t-shirts, and sunscreen lived in my trunk all summer for everyone’s unexpected (expected) needs. Life was good. It will be good again. We will go out again on a regular basis. We are going to employ an assistive needs company to show my guys how to get me in the boat. I’ll wear a life jacket. It will be like it was, someday. We have just been interrupted by this bump in the road of life. “Good things are worth fighting for!”‘ Boating is a good family activity. It builds comaraderie.

Our Wedding 29 Years Ago – 6/8/17

29 Years? Wow, has it been that long since June 7, 1988? I remember it like it was yesterday. The utter anticipation was unbearable. I was getting married to my best friend. We had known each other (and saw each other everyday) for almost an entire year. (11 months!) He picked me up for the temple marriage, that morning, and said, “You can get out of it right now… you wanna run?” No, I was ready to be with him, as a married couple, like, forever!

Our wedding was picture perfect, although we decided against having a professional photographer. It wasn’t like today, with multiple shoots, including still and video. We had various family and friends take them, and we had to wait weeks to ever see what we got! (Oh the 80’s!) And a Facebook event? There was no Facebook. We had to gather the addresses the old fashioned way, phonebook.

I created our invitation in calligraphy, then we had them printed. (Like on a press!) I also addressed them all in calligraphy. (Yes, all of them!) Back then, we didn’t compile a database and have them printed. We glued the picture in with a glue stick. Everything was pretty basic.

My aunt, Candy, rented wedding dresses, so she kindly let me borrow one. Our colors were peach and teal. (Doesn’t that scream 80’s?) I thought they were great. The bridesmaids and flower girls had shiny taffeta puffy armed dresses. We put teal suspenders on the nephews. The moms wore matching print teal dresses. All in the height of fashion. My flowers were silk peach and white roses with fern.

Our reception was at USU in the Walnut Room, because my dad was the food service manger. (So no worries about food!) It was a dark venue, which was not conducive to pictures. They were mostly dark. Poor Darin had tuxedo stress. He used a company that went out of business right before the wedding! So Darin had to run to another place very last minute. They got him a snazzy white tux, but they only had white shoes a size too small! He spent all evening in agony. He stood in the line while smashing the back of the heels. I can’t remember all the refreshments, but I do recall the chocolate covered strawberries. They were the ultimate in fancy! No dancing, cuz it wasn’t the thing. I regret that. We did have an ice sculpture that my dad made. That was cool. (Pun intended.)

Even though, I would do a lot differently, I am glad I married my best friend. (Next year is the big 3 0!) Our goal is a cruise next year. (No rest for the weary.)


Wood Creations – 6/1/17

I have an uncle, Burke Gunnell, who worked with wood. He was the kindest guy you would ever aquaint. He consistently said yes. We kept him busy often with our numerous crazy and far-fetched ideas. My mom reigned as one of the guiltiest. She was always hatching some sort of project. But he could not deny his little sister. (And he had many creative sisters!) He made puzzles and stools and shelves. (Oh my!) Some were utilitarian and some decorative. Me and my sisters were budding tole painting artists, therefore we were kept sufficiently occupied. Some creations were painted decoratively, and some were stained. 

Around Christmas of 2000, my mom decided all the cousins needed treasure boxes, and a fun family bonding project would be to allow them to decorate for themselves together. So we got the kids assembled, armed them with paint and brush, and the kids artistically attacked. (Messy, but fun!) Some embraced the idea, and some were just there for the treats. It was an entertaining day, and they all departed with a keepsake box for their little treasures. 

I recall many hours spent in Uncle Burke’s workshop assembling and sanding our assorted projects. (He put Santa to shame!) One very excellent project he built was utilizing a scroll saw. He created square lamps with intricate cutouts for the light to eminate through. We could replace the design to fit the season. Each lamp came with multiple inserts. (They were extremely cool!) 

Many cherished memories were created in his shop. (Thank you, so much, Uncle Burke!) He has passed on now, but I have learned from his kindness, willingness and happy attitude. We have countless memories and mementos of love he constructed for us.

Birthdays – Throwback Thursday 5/25/17

We have a tradition in our house. When it’s time for cake everyone, who is home, gathers around on the window seat in our dining area. We sing  (Happy Birthday to you, cha, cha, cha!) the birthday boy (or girl) blows out the candles! and so one takes a group picture (Cheese!) A great way to chronicle time. (What a crazy bunch of youngins! The kids, too.) Ahh the memories!

See many cute pictures!

But I’m a little biased!

Italy & Adriatic Coast 2012  – Throwback Thursday 5/18/17

My husband’s family planned a trip to Venice, Greece, Croatia, and Turkey. I was resigned to the fact that I was working full time, kids had school, and we had herd of dairy cows that could not be left for very long. No chance. But one day, slaving away at my desk, I got a phone call from my husband. He said I should go on the trip, at least one of us should have a good time. (Husband of the year!) In October or 2012, we headed off on our long three-stop flight to Venice to stay a few days before we met our cruise ship. The picture above shows Arsenale streets where we stayed. This was the military complex for the city. We walked this street many times to get back to our second floor flat. I attempted to learn Italian before we departed, but when I got there the speaking speed was way faster than this beginner was could fathom!

Venice is an island build away from the coast of Italy pretty much on other structures and a little land. The beauty of the historic buildings and the age-old art is extraordinary. You walk the car-less colorful streets and ride around in the Vaperetto (water buses) and just stare in amazement. (And take many pictures!)

We visited a neighboring island, Murano. They are well-known for glass blowing and glasswork. We saw many awesome works of glass, but my quest was for glass beads. Much money was spent for a handful of wearable treasures. (My passion!)

We devoured the authentic cuisine and ravenously enjoyed one (or two) cups of gelato each day. (Ice cream on steroids!) The food was served in many courses, but we Americans want one thing with maybe soup or salad and bread for one price. The food had weird names, and they charged for each course. We were happy to get on the cruise ship with Americanized food that we were familiar with. If you didn’t ask for “stille” water they would bring you sparkling bottled water. (I guess it’s an acquired taste.) When I first got there, I sat down at a sidewalk cafe. I put my feet up on a chair. Big mistake! (Note to self: putting your feet up there is unacceptable!) My mother in-law was my roommate throughout. (My travel buddy!) And I was the designated shopper since I knew a little Italian, I could haggle.

Piazza San Marco is the tourist hot-spot in Venice. It was the ancient gathering place. I found this statue-type head sitting high on the corner of a building with a angry scowl. (I don’t know why? If anyone knows, please comment to tell me the reason.) There is a cathedral, a clock tower, and many other government buildings. I started collecting money, they round up when they give change. So they just give you their small change, they don’t use it much. They use Euros here. They were about 1.30 to 1 dollar.

Our first stop was Dubrovnik, Croatia. I thought it was a war-torn country. It was until about 1991. Now it’s a quaint, European tourist city. I was totally awe-struck at the charm it possessed.

Dubrovnik has new city and an old city. Dubrovnik’s old city is on the coast with a wall around it. The harbor is very famous and picturesque. We rode a tram to see it from on high. The city is very beautiful, and my nephew says the women are the cutest in Europe. (I wasn’t looking!) Croatia’s money is the Kuna, and it is worth about 15 US cents right now! It’s where the necktie was invented. (If you care.)

Our next stop was Athens, Greece. The Parthenon was very historic and all, but they were restoring it. So we were lucky patrons of all the scaffolding, too. There were a lot of photo ops. I’m not sure how I felt about Athens, because you’d see many ugly grey buildings then an lovely peice of history would pop up. On our tour we came across a riot. It made me very uncomfortable. The tour guide said it was not a bad one. It was young people wanting something done about the 55% unemployment rate. We got out to see the old city, Plaka, but I think the tour guide had an ulterior motive. She disappeared, then we were ambushed by little old Greek women selling tablecloths. (They got us all pleading poverty!) I finally found a Dr. Pepper, but it tasted different. The gyros were tasty. Dogs could be seen everywhere. (I hope there wasn’t dog in my gyro, no, probably lamb!)

The next place we docked was Thiebes, Turkey. We took a bus to the site of Ephesus. This is where the Ephesian civilization lived. They were unearthing the ruins. It was quite a large area, with many artistic structures. Paul, the apostle, taught the people Christianity back in the early A.D.s. It was very interesting to behold a site that was in the Bible. Ephesians was the book that talked about “putting on the whole armor of God.” Paul spoke of things they could relate to. They performed a renactment of royalty and soldiers. The countryside looked a lot like Utah, I had to remind myself I was in Turkey-a. (That’s how they say it!) Turkey’s Lira is worth about 28 cents in USD. There were many cats loitering around. The first picture is of the library. We then went to see rug making and silk worms! (I thought they were only in China!)

Coming back, the last town we ferried into was Split, Croatia. It was a very beautiful place. The town was quite interesting with that old-world feeling. I would bet it was very expensive to live there, since most of the cars and people looked high-class. I enjoyed Snickers flavored gelato at the beachfront cafe. There was a famous 28 foot statue of Grgur Ninski, or Gregor of Nin, he was a famous Croatian bishop who was a rebel towards the pope, and made great strides in making Croatian rather than Latin (which no one understood) mandatory in the churches. Legend says, if you rub his toe, you’ll have good luck. It was quite worn and shiny. They had outside fish markets, but the most interesting thing was there were no flies! This was seriously the most scenic place since Venice!

We disembarked in Venice, and took a train to Milan, Italy where we stayed a few days and flew home. The countryside was not much different from Utah, but now and then you would see something that was definitely Italian. Milan was a big city with lots of buildings and traffic! I was feeling ill, so I spent that evening in bed while they saw some sights. I watched “Twilight” in Italian. (With my limited language skills and solid knowledge of the movie, it wasn’t bad!) The next day, we visited the Duomo, which was a large awesome cathedral. They had former popes (or what was left of them) on display. The interior was as spectacular as the exterior. We spent most of the afternoon people watching. At one point, we heard a bunch of teen Italian girls screaming “One Direction, One Direction!” There were all of a sudden so many people around, I couldn’t get close enough to capture a good picture. Then the place emptied just as quickly. We also visited the church where Da Vinci’s Last Supper was displayed and he frequented, but we couldn’t get in. (I guess the tickets are a rarity!) We went to Sforza castle, the fortification and fountain. My brother in law was almost pick pocketed on the subway, but he was too fast. (They felt that in the morning!) Gelato was consumed many times. Milan is supposed to be the fashion capitol, but I went in a few stores and was not impressed.

Aside from being long and arduous, it was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime trip. I would highly suggest! (Get out there and see the world, I’m so glad I had the chance!)

Picture credits: D. Blauer and I

Four Wheelers & Hookers – Throwback Thursday 5/11/17

The four wheeler on our dairy farm is like a modern day horse. They drive it and drive it until they’ve racked up thousands of miles, and it is run into the ground. It gets us from point A to B, it herds (chases) cows, hauls heavy bags or buckets, even hauls baby calves to their hutches, and sometimes even ridden a bit for fun! We purchased our first ATV in 1999. The kids were in heaven! Darin bought Zack a hitch and a trailer for his eighth birthday. We knew he’d undoubtedly adore it, because he spent countless hours backing a toy tractor and wagon. (You’d think if it was parked crooked, he’d just straighten a plastic wagon with his hand. But no, he had to attempt backing it over and over again!) We wrapped the hitch with a note telling him of a surprise behind a stack of hay. He just continued jumping around saying, “I got a hooker, I got a hooker!” The trailer elicited a pretty good response, but not exciting as this eight year old who got his hooker. (I know, good parents!) That trailer was used and abused out on the farm. We have owned at least six (if not more) four wheelers to serve our family. They just die of overwork. The boys constucted obstacle courses including jumps to run with the four wheeler, and all the girls learned to drive at a young age on them. Many extended family members have also ridden them through the wringer. Riley’s dog, Annabelle, always hops on anticipating a ride! We have snow and grass sledded with a rope and sled secured behind. Our four wheelers have been mostly utilitarian, but in the many thousands of miles we’ve put on them, there have been a few for fun. (What do you expect?) Good times.