Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We're Home!

I would have written earlier, but I am SOOO tired! Trek was fun and tiring! I learned so much about the pioneers and myself. First lesson--entertaining/distracting youth from the work, walking, and weather wears me out! The first day we had a word riddle that worked well and we played Ninja Tag on water breaks. The second day our "uncle" (who played the harmonica, sang, and was just plain silly) made up a kind of pig latin that distracted the kids. Do you know what this says? "Hong-ee wong-a-song fong-uu nong-nong yong". The third day was our "Sunday" so we didn't trek, but we did play lots of fun games. Vince and I were a little competitive during the tug-of-war and earned our family a pom-pom award. On account of our cheering. But hey, our side won 8 of 10 pulls. We had a great time! The last day we were too tired to think of anything to distract the kids with, but they distracted themselves by RUNNING their cart up every hill. There were several hills the last day, some bigger than others, and they would spend all the flat parts kind of regrouping and then run up the hills. I had to jog uphill to keep up with them. It was pretty impressive!

I have decided that pioneer clothing is genius, which was a surprise to me. The long-sleeve dress kept me cool and warm (I think you have to test this to truly understand it's true), kept my arms and legs from getting any scrapes/scratches, kept the bugs off (YAY!) and the bonnet kept the sun and rain out of my face. I'm not sure what we wear now is progress at all! Except for the shoes. I didn't wear shoes like the pioneers and I'm perfectly happy with my fancy waterproof hiking shoes and nylon socks!! Also I appreciate sunscreen and bug spray and hand sanitizer because even long sleeved pioneer dresses and bonnets can't keep EVERYTHING off!

The day before I left I found a testimony of a German/Russian relation that was very inspiring to me and I left kind of wondering how this man had such a deep love and understanding of the Savior. I decided that it's because he lived a life of hardships, much like our pioneer ancestors, and it's during these hardships that we get to know Christ in a very personal way and find the value in maintaining a great friendship with Him. There were a few times on the trek where I felt just desperate. I know that's a strong word, but let me give you some background. The first day we trekked about 12-13 miles. We ate a good breakfast at 6:30 am and then got a little snack bag of trail mix and a fruit leather at about 3:00 pm and at 5:00 we had a piece of jerky, an apple and a string cheese. After "dinner" we had a women's pull. This is where the girls and their mas had to pull/push the handcarts up a hill without the help of the guys. It's difficult but very inspiring! Of course right before the women's pull it started raining buckets! We did the women's pull in a drenching rain and mud, which made the hill even more difficult because it was slippery, etc. We got through that all right and then had a little testimony time and then got ready to trek another 5 miles. The rain had stopped during our testimony time but as we got ready to leave it started raining again. LOTS of rain! This was a great time to discover that some kids didn't have coats and/or ponchos. So now it's about 7:00, it's dark, it's pouring rain and we are trekking another 5 miles in serious mud. There were some serious puddles of very wet mud in different parts of the trail so we would have to leave the trail sometimes and come back to it (I fell a few times because it was so slippery and dark). We got in to camp about 12-12:30 PM. Or is that AM? It was the middle of the night! We still had to create a shelter for our boys and raise a tent for the girls. Everyone had to change into dry clothes and this took quite a while as there were almost 300 trekkers and 4 changing tents. Several times in this process a disoriented youth would need help finding their "family" and I was called on to help with this. None of the youth had flashlights, but mas and pas did. This was a great time to discover that one of our "sons" had not brought a sleeping bag. Needless to say, I wasn't able to get in warm clothes until 1:45 AM after we had got our "family settled". It was so cold. My clothes were drenched because of the rain and because of my falls in the mud. It rained hard all night and when I woke up in the morning it was still raining. Here is where I really got a taste of what some of my ancestors endured. I lay in my sleeping bag, still chilled from the night before, listening to the rain, and totally discouraged at what this meant. I had only two dresses; one wet, one dry. If I wore my dry dress it would soon be wet and then I would have no more dry clothes. I had no choice but to put my wet clothes back on. I was so cold I could hardly button my dress and there was no way to deal with the cold except to hurry and get outside and move around. In the rain and mud. UCK. I had read stories about this but I don't think I ever understood before. We all do what we have to do to get through challenges in our life, but I was grateful for this experience because I don't often have to meet any challenges while being so physically miserable. Just taking care of our "kids" and trekking several miles and creating shelters, and then packing them up the next day, and cooking outside... seems challenge enough but this rain and wet clothes bit seemed like the last straw, if you know what I mean. Of course I didn't want to go home and I was grateful for the experience, but at that moment in time it was SOOO tempting to just stay in my sleeping bag, and ignore the rain, and let Vince take care of everything. Our condition that morning was so extreme that the missionary responsible for the land where the treks take place rode out on his 4 wheeler to offer to evacuate us. At that moment I would have been tempted to go, but our great trail boss said, "No way!" and I was glad that we stayed. It would have felt too much like giving up. I guess I learned that our trials are the price we pay to get to know our Savior. We have to work through difficult things in order to become who we need to be.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Suzuki Camp

Ev is gone all this week for Suzuki Camp. Before she left Et was VERY annoying! I finally suggested to Ev (who was getting very irritated) that he was probably getting all his little brother duties for the week done that morning before she left. He giggled so I think I nailed it. It's good to be missed, isn't it? She is having a great time! One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish has a great picture of E playing with cousin A.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forced Family Time

Doesn't sound good, does it? Forced family time--like when my mom made me eat black bean soup. And it wasn't that bad, really. Vince had taken Et into Salt Lake for Cub Scout Day Camp and I needed a few things at a craft store. We don't have a craft store near so I had to go to Salt Lake. Ev, Iv, and N and I ran in for a quick trip, but it didn't turn out that way. First of all, it was a fairly nice day and I was enjoying myself and so I took some back roads to get home. We left Salt Lake around 11 and we got on the 201 and were turned around because the road was closed for some reason. No big deal. I turned around, got on I-80 only to find out that it was CLOSED. Yes, they had closed all major routes to our town and we were stuck in the middle of it. We couldn't turn around or go forward, we could only sit there. For a really LONG time. We must have got in this line around 11:45 or so. At 3:30 we finally reached a turn around point where we were given a choice to either go back to Salt Lake or wait some more. After 4.5 hours of being in the car we decided to turn around and do something unique like, use a bathroom and find something to eat/drink. I had a cell phone with me and had been in touch with Vince and so we met up with him and did last minute trek shopping. All our "family" trek gear was due that day at 8:00. So we finished our shopping, filled up our cars with gas, (yes, I was almost out on the interstate and that was a little stressing) and then heard on the radio that they had opened a westbound lane so we decided to just go home. We should have stayed and gone to a movie and dinner or something, because as I feared, the 10-mile line of two lane cars plus the one lane coming from 201 meant that I-80 was still a parking lot and so poor Ev, Iv, and N had to spend several more hours in the car. We reached the end of the line at about 4:45 and we got home at 7:30. Ev made mac and cheese for dinner while Vince and I hurriedly worked on packing our stuff. We didn't deliver our trek stuff until almost 9:30 after which we had to run to the store for groceries. When we got home we had family prayer and put the kids to bed. Iv said the prayer and I thought the best part was when she prayed that tomorrow "everyone would get to eat breakfast AND lunch AND dinner".

The kids were really good in the car--I was impressed. We actually had a rather pleasant day in spite of everything. We kept counting our blessings. Truthfully, if I hadn't felt so peaceful that morning we would have been a little closer to the accident and I wouldn't have liked the kids to witness it. It was really awful. Every time we would start to feel sorry for ourselves, we would think of a reason to be thankful. Once we passed a pig truck and we were SOOOO grateful that we hadn't had to spend hours next to it--what a smell! The funniest part of the day was when Iv (after listening to the radio off and on all day trying to hear news) asked "Mom, what is MY sleep number?"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Late Reports: Mom Dates #3 & #4

Thursday N and I went on our mom date to Pizza Hut. It was really sweet and he LOVED it! I say LOVED it because on three separate occasions as we were waiting for his personal pan pepperoni he gave me a big hug and said, "I love you mom." All day yesterday he asked me when we were going out again. We had a sweet visit. N insisted on sitting next to me, not across from me which was different than the other kids. I should also mention that about a week or two ago both of my boys started opening doors for me. N is really cute about it and when I got in the car the other day he was telling me that he had opened it for me and he was right--when I came out of the house the car door was open and waiting for me. I also heard from the lady that took him to school the other day that when she dropped them off (N and my friend's little daughter) N ran ahead and opened the door to the school for the little girls. So CUTE!

Friday Iy and I went to Applebees together. And no one tried to seat us in the bar, which was quite a relief. We enjoyed playing the dot game while we waited for our food to come. We were there a LONG time! Because Iy is the slowest eater in the world, I think. Sometimes I wonder if there is a medical reason for it. OK--one reason could be that she talks a lot. And she was playing with the little girls in the family at the next table. The next table had little 9 month old twin girls that kept looking at us and smiling and babbling and even I was a little distracted! Still, even after the other family left, it took Iy quite a long time to finish her grilled cheese sandwich. At home, Iy will take at least 20 minutes longer than anyone else to finish a meal. She doesn't eat more than anyone else, she just takes little bites and chews her food. Maybe that means she is normal and the rest of us should chew our food more. But I don't know--I once tried to make my meal last as long as hers and sit with her but I found that my food just got cold. She's just a slow eater--she doesn't talk as much when she's eating at home, either. The waitress wanted to bring us a receipt but I told her we would be ordering dessert. She came by 3 times to ask if we were ready to order dessert but Iy still wasn't ready. I should also say that the waitress waited proper intervals before stopping and asking each time. When it was finally time to choose a dessert she chose chocolate mousse. That's my girl! As I was reading her the choices (she could read but then it would slow the whole eating process)I knew that's the one she would want--she loves chocolate! She told me proudly that she ate her dessert really fast! I will say that it went down faster than the grilled cheese (no chewing) but I didn't tell Iy that Ev finished her dessert (same size) at least three times as fast! I'm wondering how this is all going to play out when she's dating...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Word Play

Yesterday we went to the library and then Ev and I ran into a store. I say ran because there was a DOWNPOUR--it was so bad the others waited in the car while we ran in. When I got back Iv was sitting in her seat with her arms folded, eyes closed, and very still and quiet. I instantly thought "don't really want to know". Et pipes up with "Mom, Iv ran outside and ran away and this is just a dummy of her." A few seconds later Iv calls out, "Just kidding! I'm still here!" They had obviously been planning this the whole time we were in the store. Iv and N were quite proud of themselves and so was Et, which I thought was a little strange, since this seemed a little juvenile for him.

It made sense two seconds later when Et said, "Hey, Iv, did you get that I called you a dummy?" Iv either didn't get it, didn't care, or is finally mature enough to just ignore him. We had a pleasant ride home! :)

Found on the side of a roll of tape:
"I Et have won again. Booyah! Ha ha"
"Yeah Right!"
I'm pretty sure the Yeah Right was from Ev. I have no idea what this is about...

Mom Date #2 Report

Wednesday afternoon Et and I went on our date. Actually, he told me I couldn't call it that. For lack of a better word I called it our trip, place, outing, etc.--he rejected all my ideas. He suggested "time out". Which I thought was hilarious.

Anyway, I took him to Great Clips for a badly needed hair cut. A mom there told her son in a surprised voice that it had been 8 weeks since his last haircut. Like that was some kind of record. I'm certain we broke her record but I did NOT ask them to look in the computer to tell me--I'd rather not know.

After the haircut we went to Cold Stone. Et had been planning this visit all week. He ordered the biggest bowl of ice cream in a dipped waffle bowl and insisted he could eat it all without ANY help! I got one of their fruit smoothies and watched him eat. At first he really plowed into it but about halfway through he started to slow down. This turned out to be quite pleasant because not wanting to admit he was having a hard time finishing he started talking. He talked about school, friends, etc. I haven't had this much conversation with him in the last several months combined. After we visited for a while I pointed out the obvious--he couldn't finish. At which point he finally laughed and admitted I was right. He claims his downfall was the dipped waffle bowl--the chocolate was too much for him. I had such a great conversation with him that I'm considering taking him back before school and letting him try it with an undipped waffle bowl.

As we were leaving Et surreptitiously gave the gift card with the rest of our money on it (a little more than $7) to a member of the military that walked in. By surreptitiously I mean that he somehow got it on their table (the place was kind of crowded) without them noticing and got away but still got to see them pick it up. Apparently I had used all his words and he had none left to say "Thanks for serving our country."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mom Date #1 Report

I made it a goal to have a one-on-one mom date with each child before I leave for trek next week so today I went with Ev to Applebee's. It was lots of fun and Ev and I had a great conversation with Ev--she is most excited this summer to go to Suzuki camp next week and stay with Aunt K (She said nothing about Uncle S) but ADORES the baby. She is also excited to stay with Grandma L sometime this summer. I can afford to do mom dates because the kids get to choose a destination for which I have a free coupon from school: Cold Stone, Burger King, Pizza Hut, or Applebees. We walked into Applebees and were promptly led through the half-empty restaurant to a table right next to the bar. Am I the only one who thinks this was a "bright" idea? Why would you seat a kid in the bar section? The other funny thing was that the employee who led us there was obviously pregnant. And blonde. For real, and normally I wouldn't notice, but the baby is obviously taking whatever is left of her brain! Here's hoping she gets some brain back when it comes time to raise the baby. I politely asked if we could have a seat at a booth. Our waitress was pretty nice--she was a multi-tasker. She would call out to table one for their appetizer order while carrying drinks to table three and dropping a receipt at table two. I guess table one was just supposed to shout out their orders as she walked by and then not be surprised at her interrupting them to ask table three if they needed anything else. We were at table two. It should come as no surprise to anyone (except I was a little surprised) when they seated a couple at table 1 (the bar is now empty) who promptly had to have the manager "id" them before they served them their alcoholic beverages. Normally I would have not noticed or cared, but after they tried to seat my 11-year-old daughter in the bar I found it ironic.

After lunch we ran to Wal-Mart to grab some bread and kitty litter. Great grocery list, huh? This is because yesterday I went shopping with all four kids. 'Nuff said. As we pulled into the parking lot today there was a little boy, all alone, crying, half running and half walking around the parking lot. Obviously lost. So I told Ev to get out of the car and get him and take him inside until I could park and get there. By the time Ev got to him he was on his way inside and she helped direct him to an employee so they could help him. They paged his parents THREE times and no one came. I mentioned to one customer service employee (out of earshot of the boy) how he was initially found and then went to pay for my stuff. We bought the poor boy (he was about 7) some M&M's and then went home. I was thinking about it on the way to my car and it kind of made me mad! I mean who loses a 7-year-old boy in Wal-Mart or the parking lot?!! I even said at this point to Ev that they should just call the police.

Then I remembered that when I was a little girl we left Uncle K at a random gas station on a road trip once. And I remembered my shopping excursion yesterday and then my attitude changed. I pictured a harried mother in the first week of summer with all her kids in the store doing whatever it is that kids do in the store: running not walking, yelling not talking, teasing, begging, whining, hiding, begging, touching EVERYTHING, "helping" their siblings,... Then I pictured this poor mother in the frame of mind as I get in these situations. Must. Get. Out. Of. Store..... NOW! I can picture her at the checkout counter and all the kids are asking for all the stuff they try to sell there to drive mothers crazy and then one of them asking if he can have a drink and her just saying, "Yes! Everyone get a drink while I pay for this!" And then one wanders off or goes to the restroom and then she's done and getting everything together and then hurrying them all to the car and getting them all buckled in and then putting the cart back and then trying to ignore the cacophony of "I wanted candy....He's touching me... She looked out my window.... He's not buckled..." You know--when they each make enough noise for three separate individuals. And really, in a situation like that who WOULD miss one? And then maybe she went home and tried to convince people to help her unload and then all but one or possibly two disappeared. Surely I can't be the only one who has magically disappearing children. Imagine her surprise and concern and shock 20 minutes later when she tries to remind one to clean his room only to discover he is missing....

Now I wish I had wasted more time in Wal-Mart. I probably missed meeting a kindred spirit mother... At least I hope so. At least it's a much nicer story this way than some other scenarios.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Pioneer Ancestors...

I have spent the last couple of days trying to learn what I could about my pioneer ancestors so I could share stories with my trek "family". I'm not done, but I have loved what I've learned so far. Here are a few highlights:

Thomas Rich, 3rd Great Grandfather passed through the persecutions of the Saints in Missouri and was a participant in the Crooked River battle, acted as a body guard to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and came to Utah in 1850. His son Landon, my 2nd Great Grandfather was 10 when the family crossed the plains. The family came with 5 people (Dad--32, Henrietta (mom)--26, Landon--9, Thomas--2, and I don't know who the fifth person was. Thomas Rich was a captain and had 1 wagon, 4 cattle, 1 gun, 1 1/2 lb black powder, and 6 lb lead.

John Ormond, Jr was a 3rd Great Grandfather and I found a journal excerpt for him. YAAY! It's kind of long so I won't put it all here. He describes some encounters with Indians, treaties, herding buffalo, stampeding animals,... Fun reading.

Joseph Bates Noble, a 3rd Great Grandfather was a loyal friend of Joseph Smith. Three are many great stories of him before the Saints migrated west but I could only find one story about him during the migration, although I do know he was also a captain. The story is really good. His friend's wife, Caroline Grant had her 2nd child, Margaret, in Winter Quarters, leaving her in a weakened condition when she came west. Cholera struck the camp on the Sweetwater River and claimed the baby, Margaret, on Sept 2. She was buried along the trail four days before her mother died. Carolyn succumbed to the disease at the Bear River crossing, 75 miles from Salt Lake City. On her death bed she asked her husband to bring the baby to her and bury them together. He was devastated to lose them both and promised her he would. Jedediah, the husband, drove night and day to get to Salt Lake, where she was buried 4 days later. He and my Great Grandfather Joseph Bates Noble went back to recover the body of Margaret and found that wolves had ravaged the grave and body. Before they reached the grave, Jedediah had confided to Joseph, "Bates, God has made it plain. The joy of Paradise where my wife and baby are together, seems to be upon me tonight. For some wise purpose they have been released from the earth struggles into which you and I are plunged. They are many, many times happier than we can possibly be here." Even with this knowledge and testimony, Jedidiah and Joseph were understandably discouraged at the condition of the baby's grave and wept.

Edmond Durfee and Magdalena Pickle were my 4 Great Grandparents. Edmond was killed by mobs leaving Magdalena with two unmarried sons. One son left the valley without her and the other stayed with her at Council Bluffs, making wagons for the emigrating Saints. Magdalena died at Council Bluffs.

Tamma Durfee was one of Edmond and Magdalena's daughters and my 3rd Great Grandmother. After her father was martyred, her husband died from sickness brought on from suffering mob persecutions leaving her with 7 children, the oldest just 14. She traveled west as a widow with her 7 children with 2 yoke of oxen, two yoke of cows, one wagon supplied with a limited amount of provisions, and the same clothing. Tamma doesn't say much about her journey, in fact she writes far more about the persecutions she suffered before the trip west. Here is what she did write about the trip: "...started with one hundred wagons June 10, 1850. We traveled across the plains with ox teams. We had many a hard struggle although we got along much better than we anticipated. The first of September we landed in Salt Lake City without any home or anyone to hunt us one, we were very lonesome indeed." After she had arrived in the valley she ended up marrying my 4th great grandfather (yes, this is a weird family tree), Enos Curtis, who lost 6 of his 14 children. His wife later died on the plains and he came the rest of the way a widower with the rest of his children and their families.

Cornelius Peter Lott, my 4th Great Grandfather has a most interesting history. He was a close friend of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and was responsible for the church's herds of animals at winter quarters. But he is most known for a different kind of story. You know the one about Mary Fielding Smith who wanted to go with a company and the leader of the company told her she wasn't ready and that she should wait or else she would be a burden on the company and on him. She told him she would go that year and she wouldn't ask help of anyone and she would beat that man to the valley. And she was right. Well, that man was Cornelius Lott, my 4th Great Grandfather! There's lots more great stories about him and I'm glad my mom sent that information today!!

Joseph Knight Sr was my 5th Great Grandfather and this means something to you if you know my church's history. His boy Joseph Knight Jr is my 4th Great Grandfather and he traveled across the plains but I only know he came with his wife and three daughters, one which was just 1 and died a few years after they reached the valley.

John Mills and Jane Sanford were my 4th Great Grandparents. He was baptized my John Taylor in Canada--they had to break ice for the baptism. They came to Nauvoo, were forced to leave and took up residence in Winter Quarters, helping to build wagons. He came west as a teamster for a merchant by the name of Livingston. Jane came a year later with her mother, the Ashtons (Sister Ashton was her cousin), her sister,Joseph and Mary Ashton and her sister's baby. She started with "two wagons and provisions...I had on my wagon one yoke of four year old steers on the tongue, and two yoke of cows, and one yoke of two year old steers for leaders." Later she writes "I had to leave an ox after I had traveled 150 miles which seemed a great loss and there was yet about a thousand miles to travel to the end of our journey but I put a cow at the side of the other ox and rolled on."

I know this may not be interesting to most people but it has been fun researching for me. What surprises me is how LITTLE information was recorded by these people! Of course I can get a good idea of what their migration was like but I still wish I could find more about these specific individuals. I guess maybe they thought that they weren't doing anything unusual, after all, everyone they knew was doing the exact same thing and living the exact same lives. Also, I guess they were kind of busy... In some ways maybe I get thinking the same kinds of thoughts and should keep a better record of my life. But there is still a part of me that things in our modern world there is TOO MUCH information out there about TOO MANY people!! Another topic for another day...