Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Pains, Rains and Automobiles

So, Yesterday Sarah and I decided to do a little hiking.  I live in an amazing area where there are so many hikes and wonderful things to see.  Yesterday we decided to hike Peekaboo Canyon and Spooky Gulch slot canyons.  You really should check them out.  They are amazing!

WHAT WE DID WRONG:  Well, we made the #1 mistake in hiking.  Do you know what that is?  Of course you do...everyone knows you should ALWAYS TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING. I had called Ron earlier, because he left his cell phone in the car we were driving, and I was wondering if we needed to come to his work and bring his phone to him.  He said he didn't need it, so I told him we were going hiking, we just didn't tell him where. Oh well, no biggie, we're fine.  It's not like we are going off to a remote place where people won't be.

The day was beautiful, so we packed a nice lunch and took off. The drive is about 2 1/2 hours to Escalante from my house. In Escalante, the weather was a bit more chilly, Sarah and I were wearing shorts so we stopped and bought some sweats to wear and set off again. From Escalante there is a 30 mile long washboard dirt road you have to take to get to the trail to the slot canyons.  Once you get there, there is a parking lot where MOST people park, but people who have higher clearance vehicles can go an additional mile up the road to get even closer.  We had an SUV, so we went further up.  Then where everyone else stopped, we decided to go a bit further and park right at the trail head.  We ate lunch and had plenty of water, locked the doors and were ready to go.

It was a beautiful and challenging hike...especially for me. It was a perfect day to go hiking.  There had been a little bit of rain, and so there were hardly any people there.  We kind of had the whole canyon to ourselves and it was wonderful. It was so fun exploring.  Those slots can be challenging as some areas are narrow, and bending and climbing up high all at the same time.  At one point Sarah had to pull me through this super narrow bend that I had a hard time climbing up into.  I was lying on my side, wedged between two walls while she pulled me through, and I was wondering if this was where I would never stand up again.  We were honestly laughing hysterically at my predicament.  I eventually was able to worm my way out of that  and we climbed a little more until I decided I had had enough.

Here are some pictures of how cool it is:

Isn't it amazing?  We had a great time hiking and talking and laughing at each other.  At almost 6 PM (Arizona time) we were still hiking, but realized that we had a long ride home and also that we had no cell phone service and Ron would begin to worry.  So we hiked out and got to the car, only for me to realize I HAD LOST THE KEY TO THE SUV!!! This was really bad!  Suddenly thoughts began to go through my mind...NOBODY KNOWS WHERE WE ARE!  I HAVE RON'S CELL PHONE! THE SUV IS LOCKED AND THERE ARE NO PEOPLE HERE TODAY! IT IS GETTING DARK AND COLD, AND IT IS 30 MILES TO THE NEAREST TOWN.  ( and I am sure glad we stopped to buy sweat pants.)

Do you know what time it is when you are in that situation?  It is time to pray!  So we stopped and said a prayer.  We asked for help, we asked that Ron would know we were safe, we asked that we would come across people who would be nice and would help us.

Then we began walking back toward the nearest parking lot, only to find that ALL of the cars were gone.  Images of breaking a window of our truck and sleeping a long cold night, while Ron called the police and search parties began looking for us with the only information "they went hiking" to go on, flashed through  my mind.   Well we had driven a mile up the road past the first parking lot, so there was still hope that we could walk that mile and find some help.

So cold and exhausted, we continued walking.  Around a bend, we were relieved to see 2 cars left in the far away parking lot.  We picked up our pace and tried to hurry to them.  At one car we saw some shuffling around and I was afraid they would leave before we got there leaving us only one last hope of getting out of there.  Well, fortunately they didn't leave.  On the contrary, it appeared they were there to camp for the night.  I thought, I bet they would be just thrilled to drive an hour on a dirt road to take us into town and then an hour to get back to their camp spot.

As we approached, Sarah told them our predicament and asked if we could use a phone.  It appears T Mobile (which we have) doesn't work as well as Verizon in remote areas.  Fortunately they were extremely nice and willing to do anything to help,  and they also had Verizon.  Only who am I going to call???  Did I mention that I had Ron's cell phone in the car? And we are kind of new here and don't know many people.  Fortunately, I remembered that we have one of those rare and almost extinct things...a Land Line!  I called Ron and explained the situation.  By then it was 7 PM and I am sure he was thrilled to know that he now needed to drive 3 hours to bring us a spare key. (A key he had only made just the day before, by some stroke of inspiration).  While I was making arrangements with Ron, we noticed the owners of the other car that was in the parking lot were coming back.  I sent Sarah there to see if we could get a ride into town from them.  She came back and said we could go with the other couple.  The first people offered us some food and before we left they handed us $40 (remember all of our belongings are in the SUV) and a couple of Cliff bars.  As we protested, they insisted saying that people had done as much for them.  Amazing, super nice people!

We thanked them, and got into the couple's car and began our one hour journey back to Escalante.  I had told Ron and we would meet him at the Subway in the Phillips 66 gas station in Escalante.  The people we hitched the ride with were really nice.  They were from Yuma on a 9 day adventure of their own.  After about a long, dark and bumpy ride, we arrived at the Phillips 66 station.  We went in and explained our situation to the attendant in the store and asked if we could hang out until Ron came to save us.  She told me that the store closed in about an hour, but we were welcome to stay until then.

It would be about 2 hours before Ron arrived, and it was beginning to rain and snow outside.  So I imagined me and Sarah sitting outside, huddling inside the small blanket we had with us.  And we just kept laughing and hoping Ron would come quickly.

Well when the time came to close, the lady called a local lodge and told them about us and they said we could stay in their lounge and wait.  Whew!  The kind lady gave me paper to leave a note for Ron and then drove us up the road to the lodge where we waited and tried to plan our next move.  We figured once Ron got there, we would need to drive an hour on that dirt road to get back to the parking lot, then walk a mile in the rain and mud to get to the truck, and then drive about 3-4 hours to get back to our home in Fredonia.  It would be about 3 AM by the time we got home.

After waiting for a longish while, the manager of the lodge offered his LAST available room at a largely discounted rate if we wanted to stay in his hotel.  I explained that I had no purse, no money and no ID.  Regardless, he let us have a room and said he would settle up when Ron got there. What a relief to have a place to get warm and comfortable...even if we were in dusty, dirty clothes.

Ron finally arrived, but we were all so tired we decided it would be best to just start again in the morning.  I found someone to work at the library for me the next day and Ron called in a family emergency.

So, this morning, we got up and began our journey to get the SUV.  It had been raining which at first made the washboard road seem a little easier to take, but soon washboard road turned in to a muddy, mucky, slippery road.  Mud like we had never driven on, which is about as bad as ice to drive on.  We fishtailed and spun out and crashed into the bank a couple of scary times.  One time we thought we might flip on our side and one time we got stuck so Sarah and I got out in the thick muck and pushed the car as hard as we could to get unstuck.  (So grateful that worked) Finally we realized that it was unwise to attempt to get our vehicle under those conditions, so we carefully turned back; warning anyone who passed us to turn back as well.  We would just have to come back sometime when the road was drier.

So if that wasn't enough, on our way back on the dirt road we began to hear this WHAP-WHAP-WHAP-WHAP sound coming from the front tire. When got out to inspect we saw that the tire was coming apart and knew it was just a matter of time before the tire blew.  Fortunately we made it back to Escalante, and amazingly enough the small garage happened to have just the tire we needed.

While we waited for the new tire to be put on the car back at  the Subway we hung out at the night before, Sarah, tired from so many problems, asked why everything was going wrong.  I chuckled when I realized that everything was NOT going wrong, that in fact many things in this unfortunate situation had gone very right.

If there had not been people at the parking lot we would have had to break a window and spend a long cold night in the back of our SUV with Ron having no idea where we were and surely search parties beginning to look for us.  We would have waited out the night hoping, in vain, that people would arrive in the morning and rescue us.  Fortunately there were extremely nice and generous people there to help us.  Just before I called Ron, growing more concerned about us had prayed got a reassurance that we were OK. (We called him like 5 minutes later.)  While Ron was driving to get us a deer ran out in front of him and he barely missed hitting it.  We got a ride to our destination safely and the nice woman working there gave us a ride to a safe place to stay, where we were able to get the last room at a discount.  Also, that tire, the condition was scary and it is a blessing that Ron was able to get to us safely without it blowing out on the road. Even the fact that Ron made an extra key just the day before was a huge blessing.

This situation had the potential to go very badly for me and Sarah and even Ron, but it didn't. My Great Aunt Thelma used to say "The Lord had His finger on us" to explain how we might have been protected in one situation or another.  In reflecting on the circumstances of yesterday and today, while seeming like one bad thing after another...I realized that once again, The Lord did indeed have His finger on us.    We are home safe, and gratefully...we can laugh about it now. (We actually laughed most of the time.)

If the Army and the Navy Ever look on Heaven's scenes, They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines.

I have dropped my kids off at many places.  Dropped them off for their first day of school.  Dropped them off for their first slumber party.  Dropped them off at their first dance, their first job.  Dropped them off at the Missionary Training Center.  But none of the places I have dropped them off have been as bitter sweet as dropping Jacob off at the Marine Recruiting Station in St. George, UT today.(I accidentally forgot to post this blog. I actually dropped him off on Monday, February 12, 2018)

Jacob Andrew Johnson, age 20...almost 21, is officially a Marine Recruit.  He is at MEPS in Salt Lake City tonight, but tomorrow morning, he will fly to San Diego where there will be buses waiting to pick him up and deliver him to Camp Pendleton the Marine Corps Base Camp. Where he will experience the hardest 3 months of his life.   Here is a video to give you an idea of what it will be like. Pretty intense huh?  Tomorrow night...between 10 PM and 3 AM, I will receive a phone call from him that will say something to the effect of...   “I have arrived safely at MCRD San Diego. Please do not send any food or bulky items. I will contact you in 3 to 5 days via postcard with my new mailing address. Thank you for your support. I love you. Goodbye for now.”
They are allowed to say this and nothing more, to provide you with the peace of mind that your son or daughter has arrived safely and their training has started.   I am so looking forward to that phone call. 

Jacob made the decision to join the Marines last year in October.  When he first talked about it, I objected.  When he told me he was going to go to the Recruitment Station to get information, I made him promise me he would not sign ANYTHING.  He took the ASVAB test while he was there and scored a 94..which meant he could practically pick just about any placement area he wanted and that his future with the Marines looked very good.  He didn't sign on the first time, but soon after, he signed, without saying a thing.  When I found out, I was not happy and tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't be swayed.  For a while I continued to try to convince him to re-think his decision, but to no avail.

I finally came to accept that this was his decision and even came to agree that it was a good one.  He has chosen Air Traffic Controller as his MOS...(Military Occupational Specialty).  It's a good career, with a good future. I am excited for him...and truly, after much reconsideration and much consternation and then reconsideration...I truly could not be more proud of him.  He wants to be a man, he wants to be independent and he wants to serve his country.  I truly could not be more proud of him.

We left early this morning from our home in Kanab.  We drove him to the Recruiting Station where we met his Recruiter. We took pictures and then, with a little time to spare, we got him a Jamba Juice for the road.  Then after a long hug and a teary good bye..he went inside and we left him there.  We drove away with a melancholy feeling; reflecting back on my little boy and on all our happy memories together, and realizing how really proud I am of the man he has become.  It is so hard to let him go, but it is so wonderful to realize that he is confident in doing exactly what our kids are supposed to be doing...moving on.  I am grateful for the years we have spent together and I am so grateful that he has been such a good son.  I tell people that I have had many hard things in my life...but  my kids weren't.  Jacob has always been a good boy, and now he has grown into a good man.   Boot Camp will be very hard, but its purpose is to jump start him on his journey into manhood.  It will be hard, but anything worth doing often is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


This was a talk I gave back last summer.  I am posting it here so I can remember it.

I have a favorite little book written by Carol Lynn Pearson called “The Lesson – A Fable For Our Times”  It is the story of a boy named Robert who goes to school where he is taught lessons on how to solve problems.  At first the problems are simple like 1+1=2, but as he successfully solves the simple problems the problems become harder like “If you are outside playing and you have three cars and one truck and Joey comes along and grabs two cars and the truck, how many times should you hit Joey?”  Sometimes Robert gets the answer wrong, like when he answers this question with “two times”, but after some thought and the help of a patient teacher he gets the answer correct…  “I know, no times”.    After he has solved enough problems, he moves up to the next grade, he gets bigger and so do his problems.  There are the fun times like recess or playing ball or roller skating, but always there are the problems.  With the problems, Robert often asks, “Why are you punishing me with all these problems?”  To which the teacher answers “I am not punishing you.  It ‘s just that you have moved up a grade and are ready for harder problems”

Throughout  Robert’s life here are some of the he problems faces: 
          Robert, if your family moved to a small house in a big city and you had to leave behind two aquariums and one dog and your best friend…

OR    Robert if you were a teenager and you were not doing well in school and you were not popular and you had pimples all over your face and your parents were getting a divorce and you thought it must be your fault and you felt that life was the pits would you  A. take drugs to make the pain go away, B. Kill yourself,  C. Hate your father or D. Think of another solution?

Robert really struggled with that one and continued to ask the teacher “why are you punishing me?”  To which the teacher answers “I am not punishing you, you are a big boy now and you have big boy problems…You are here to learn.”  So Robert works on those problems, he drops a few tears, makes a number of mistakes, and he wonders if he will ever smile again.  But with the help of his patient teacher, he finally gets it right and he does smile again…and he moves up to the next grade where the problems are even bigger. 

          Robert if you had 7 dates with one girl and fell in love with her and four months later asked her to marry you and she said no and you felt like a complete zero..

          Robert if you really wanted to go to college and it cost five thousand dollars and you only had two thousand…

          Robert, if your wife, who was really a very good woman, had ten habits that drove you absolutely crazy and was thirty pounds overweight and spent half her time on things that were important to her but not to you…

          Robert if you had 3 children and one of them was born with a birth defect that added to your sorrows because it subtracted from her possibilities and divided your attention and multiplied the problems of caring for your family…

          Robert, if you knew that your boss at work was cheating 45 people in seven states in 12 different ways, and if you said anything there would be a 90 percent chance you would lose the best job you’d ever had…
Robert, if you woke up 14 mornings in a row wondering if it were worth it to get out of bed because you felt like you’d been giving 100 percent to 2 dozen people and getting only 30 percent in return and you felt yourself going down and down and down and your brother’s house went up in flames and your wife’s mother was in a terrible accident and your daughter wanted to marry a jerk and the pollution thickened and the ozone thinned…

Eventually, Robert learns to stop asking why he is being punished. His teacher and those who love him, encourage him with his problems, but he realizes that his problems are his own and he is here to learn. 

Then one day, when Robert is very old, he gets one more question:  Robert, if your body had three heart attacks and one missing kidney and you got weaker and weaker until you could hardly breathe, … much would you have loved and who would remember you after you were gone? 

Suddenly, Robert realizes that all the lessons and problems in his life had only been one problem…”Robert, how much do you love?”    At this realization, Robert leans back in his chair, sighs and smiles.  The teacher smiles and …Robert moves up a grade.

I bought that book at a particularly difficult time in my life, just following a divorce when I was at a very low point.  It has served as an inspiration and to give me perspective for many years since.  I must admit that there have been times in my life when I, like Robert wondered Why, why was I being punished?  There are times when I dropped many tears..and I admit I even stomped my feet and yelled that these problems were too hard and I didn’t want any more.  There are times when I even stopped talking to the teacher altogether.  I determined that He was the source of these problems, that it was His will that I have these problems, and if this was His will, I didn’t much care for Him.  That point in my life lasted for a number of years…and you know what?  I still had problems.

From birth to death, Jesus had a difficult life.  He had moments of joy and hours of pain.  If the Savior, being perfect had a life filled with problems, why should we expect a trouble-free life?  I have learned that whether or not we have faith in Jesus Christ, there will be problems.  But when we exercise our faith in our Savior, we can be confident that he understands our troubles.  Not having Faith will not make our trials go away, but having faith will allow the Savior to Succor us.  I did not know what the word “succor” meant so I looked it up…  To succor means “to give assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.”  Having faith in the Savior allows Him to give us assistance and support in times of hardship and distress. 

I am not always a willing and humble student of life’s lessons, however humble or willing or not, lessons were learned.  Through my trials, I have gained experience and wisdom to better know how to deal with future problems.  I have also gained compassion and understanding.  Occasionally people come to me and ask how to handle some of their problems and because of my experiences, sometimes I can relate to their struggles.  I am able to share some of the wisdom I have gained from having gone through my own trials.  The same has been done for me by those who have experienced hardships.

We have a Savior who has felt all the pain and fear and sorrow we have felt.  He knows what we are going through, and He knows how to help.  The only thing we have to do is have faith in Him, to ask Him in faith for guidance, and then to put our trust in him and His will.  He will do the rest. He will guide us and help us know how to best solve our problems…if we will listen. 

Through our trials, we learn how strong our faith is.  C.S. Lewis wrote that  “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”  I know that in my life, I have found myself wondering if I believed enough to hang by that rope.  Did I trust the Savior enough to let His will be done in my life?  Did I trust Him enough to remain calm during times of turmoil?  Did I trust him enough to pray and to wait for help.  Did I trust him enough to do what He asked of me? 

In the book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, also compares faith to his experience with anaesthetics.  He says that he knew that anaesthetics under the hands of trained professionals do not smother the patient and that a properly trained surgeon will not start to operate until the patient is completely unconscious.  However once on the table and the mask clapped over his face, he would begin to panic.  He would start thinking that he is going to choke,  and become fearful that they will start cutting before he is properly under.  In other words, He would lose faith in anaesthetics.  He goes on to say “It is not reason that is taking away my faith; on the contrary, my faith is based on reason.  It is my imagination and emotions.  The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other. 

How often is that the case for us?  When things start to get scary, how often do our emotions and imaginations get the best of us?  During some of my more difficult trials, I have pondered a couple of stories in the scriptures. One is the story in Matthew chapter 14 of Peter walking on the water to Jesus.  Even while Peter is looking at the Savior, he becomes fearful and he begins to sink.   There have been times in my life when I felt like Peter.  That even though I was doing the right things I was beginning to sink.  I was reading my scriptures, praying, going to church, yet my world was in turmoil and I was sinking.  Also the story about the Savior calming the tempest in Mark4.  Many times I have asked the Lord, “Carest thou not that I perish?”   Some times we get anxious.  Our ship is sinking… or worse, we are sinking…or our emotions and imagination make us think we are sinking, but when we remember that Heavenly Father is in charge we can find calm in the storm. 

Last year I began writing in a journal.  This journal was given to me when I was on Trek a number of years ago.  On the front cover is written “We traveled on, trusting in God.”  On the inside of the journal is written an excerpt from a pioneer journal which reads…   “READ JOURNAL”     Then on the first page my Ma and Pa wrote “Remember…you can do hard things”.  And D&C 6:36 which says “Look unto me in every though; doubt not, fear not.”  Last year when things were particularly difficult  for me, I picked this journal up.  I thought it was the perfect journal for an experiment I was about to try.  I began getting up on some mornings, and instead of just saying my prayers and reading a few scriptures, I decided to write my prayers in this journal.  Not just my regular daily prayers…but the prayers that reflected the desires of my heart as well as my most concerning problems.  Prayers for my family, for my health, for peace of mind.  As I wrote these prayers I also looked up scriptures or other inspirational quotes that went along with my concerns or requests and wrote them down as well. This exercise alone brought me peace and comfort.  Also I knew that, as I wrote these things down, I was trusting my most difficult problems to the Lord.

One of my most recent entries…  “Please help me to write my talk for Sunday…and to have it prepared by Saturday so I won’t be panicked on Sunday.”  It worked! ( Perhaps I alone can truly appreciate the miracle in the answer to that prayer)  Not only was that simple prayer answered, but having a record of other, perhaps more critical, pleas for help to look back on, allows me to see that Heavenly Father is hearing and answering my other prayers.   Usually not in some remarkable way, usually  they are answered with small changes or impressions that help me see or do things a little differently, but  I can see that my prayers are indeed being answered. This strengthens my faith of knowing that He will also answer my prayers in the future. 

An old Gospel song says, “Our God is an on time God, He may not come when you want Him to, but He'll be there right on time.”  In times of trial and tribulation, we must remember that God will not be late.  He may never be early, but he will not be late.  By trusting in Him, we find that God’s timing is always right on time.
A poem that I memorized many years ago has been helpful to me when things look overwhelmingly difficult, it is called
“Let Go & Let God”.
As children bring their broken toys,
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
Because he is my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help,
With ways that were my own.
At last, I snatched them back again
And cried, “How can you be so slow?’
He said “My child what could I do”
You never would let go”

Through years of trials I am finally learning to “let go and let God”.  Really, what choice do I have?   I am learning that no matter how much it hurts and how many times I ask the question, “Why?”, my faith carries me through.  I don’t like what I have to face in life at times, but I do know that if I remain faithful, God will bless me.  He finds a way to bring back my focus to His plan for me, if I remember to “be still and know that He is God”, remember that he loves me very much and remember  that He wants me to be victorious through my faith and love and belief in Him.  As I face my uncertainty and fears in life, I know that I can face them with the understanding that if I allow the Savior to take it from me and trust in Him, I can face anything even the really hard things.  Hopefully, I am learning as Robert, from the story at the beginning of my talk,   that all of the problems and trials I have faced and will face are really only one problem…  Robin, how much do you love?

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Last Wednesday we flew up to Utah with Sarah to drop her off at the Missionary Training Center in Provo.  We had just had a whirlwind trip to San Diego with Jacob and a couple of her friends.  She stayed up all night packing and we got up at 3:00 AM to catch an early flight so we could spend the day together.  What we ended up doing is napping for a few hours after we got there and then getting lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory, picking up a few forgotten items and then she was off.

Sarah has always been a joy to raise. (After about the age of 3...3 was kind of hard)

She has always been a wonderful big sister.  What a wonderful example and friend she has been to Jacob and her other two siblings, Kyle and Katrina. 


More than being my daughter, she has been my friend.  She is smart, fun, funny and so much fun to be around, and I am going to miss her. 

They warned me that "they grow up fast"...and it is true, they do.  She is all grown up now.

  She has things to do and a mission to complete.  

I was so sad to say goodbye, but I know she will be an awesome missionary and she will serve well.  It is time for my little girl to spread her wings. 

The people of the Spokane Washington Mission are going to love her.  What's not to love?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Jacob !!

6 years ago I posted a comment on Facebook that said "I enjoyed seeing Jacob for the first time in over 2 weeks...if only for a few minutes. As much as I missed him in just 2 weeks, I can hardly imagine him on a mission."  I guess Jacob had been gone for summer vacation with his dad.  It popped up as a memory on my feed yesterday.  Well, the time has come and Jacob "on a mission" is soon to be realized.  He will be reporting to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday June 22 where he will spend two months learning Japanese and how to teach the Gospel in it.  After which he will begin his service as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the South Tokyo, Japan mission.

What a privilege and a pleasure it has been raising this boy.  I am sure going to miss him. 

 Jacob has prepared his whole life for this and I know he will be as wonderful a missionary as he has been as my son...maybe even better! (If that is possible.).

I have 2 more days to spend with Jacob.  Tomorrow we will spend the day together in Provo...probably check out that new Temple.  On Wednesday morning we will all get breakfast at IHOP and then we will drop him off at the MTC and say our goodbyes... for 2 years.   I think my heart is breaking...It is also bursting with pride and joy!!  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

It Has Been a While... Anniversaries... How am I Doing?

It has been 4 months since I last blogged.  I've been meaning to because there is so much I want to "talk" about.  So if you find this blog to be a bit ramble-y...I apologize in advance.  I have found that blogging my thoughts and experiences is so useful to me personally.

 Sometimes I just stop and re-live last year in my mind and I am amazed.  Amazed at what I went through, amazed at my thoughts, amazed at how much better I feel.  It really does seem like a dream. For the ladies...  It is somewhat like giving birth...we know it was painful and miserable, but the memory fades. That is how I feel, so when I re-read my blog, I am amazed.

Last night Ron commented on how yummy some strawberry freezer jam was, and I remembered that I made it on that day last year.  Last year on this day I received my first dose of chemotherapy.  I have come a long way since then.

I am often asked how I am doing.  I tell people that I am getting better all the time.  I am surprised at how long it takes to recover from chemo and radiation.  I found the radiation to be a piece of cake compared to the chemo.  The burning and blistering healed quickly.  I think I can see a faint shadow of where the radiation was, and on my back (the exit point) in a place just out of my reach I have an itch.  It can be maddening, but fortunately Ron knows where it is now and can offer relief quite adeptly when this itch strikes.

I am so relieved to say that the neuropathy that was so miserable for months following the chemo has mostly resolved.    Oddly enough...  When I got married in 1992 I wore tight pumps that squished my very wide feet.  Since that day I had always had numbness and tingling in the last two toes of my right foot.  That seems to be gone...after over 24 years.  However there seems to be a similar spot on the sole of my left foot beneath my middle toe that was never there before.  Go figure.

The arthritis in my fingers is resolving itself.  I have not worn my wedding ring for quite some time due to my fingers swelling.  I think soon I will be able to wear it again.  The pain in my shoulders seems to be getting better.  My right shoulder is pretty much back to normal, but my left feels like the rotator cuff is torn. Also there is still stiffness in my back when I haven't been moving for a while and my feet still hurt a bit when I get up at night.  Until things warm up, I am quite a sight getting up and moving.  I used to tell people that I felt like I aged 20 years from all the treatments...I truly did.  Now I would say maybe 5-10 years.  Things are getting better.

I gave up two things for Lent this year.  Sugar and Facebook and I made it a goal to lose 15 lbs during the period of Lent (Feb. 10 - March 27)  I did very well with the Facebook and have pretty much kicked the habit.  I check it now and then...but not like before.  The sugar was about 80% successful.  Most days I did very well.  My birthday was Feb I took some time off for that...boy was it hard to go back to no sugar afterward though.  I would say I consumed about 80% less sugar than I usually do.  That is really a huge amount considering that I am a sugar junkie.  I did manage to lose 14 lbs as well.  However since Lent is over...and I "can" eat sugar again...I am having a tough time with that last pound...  I think I finally go it off today.  Why is it so hard to what is good for us?  Without sugar, I eat better and feel better over all....but not as good as a fast hit of sugar makes me feel. **sigh**  We keep trying.

Ron and I have been going to the gym regularly.  We go in the mornings before he goes to work, for 30 minutes.  I am seeing progress.  I am trying to strengthen my upper body because it has become extremely weak.  In the beginning I could barely lift the lowest weights on some of the machines without straining and sweating.  Just this week, I moved up a notch on all the machines.  I am  also getting back into running.  I can now run 2 miles in 24 minutes.  It seems my heart rate gets up pretty high when I am 170 bpm, but it feels so good to be running again.

Yesterday I thought I could perhaps handle a game of racquetball.  I felt pretty confident since we have been working out for the past 4 months.  I was unpleasantly surprised at how far I still have to go to get back to anywhere near the condition I was in last year (and that really wasn't that great).  Every racket swing felt like it took all my strength.  I was truly panting by the middle of the 2nd game.  But it felt so good to play again.

My hair is short and gray.  I haven't decided what to do with it yet.  Surprisingly, I get so many compliments on the color of my hair.  Strangers will come up to me out of the blue and tell me how much they like my hair color.  The problem is, I'm really not crazy about it.  Granted it is low maintenance, but I don't like me in gray just yet.  I think it makes me look a bit older and it must be so because the lady at Goodwill the other day gave me a 25% 55+ discount without my asking for it.  She just assumed I was old enough.  I'm not sure whether I like that or not.  I mean a discount is a discount...but 55?  Some days I am on the verge of dying it, and then I change my mind.  When it first came in, it was pure white, however it is getting darker and with two trims, the frosted tips are disappearing and now it is just a me.  Gray hair changes the way  colors look on me.  Earth tones are not so good anymore as the cooler colors are.  I like earth tones better.  Anyway...I am just trying to figure out what to do and have decided to not be hasty in my decision, because once you start dying your is a commitment.  My hair was also fairly curly when it came as curly as some people I heard of after chemo, but a nice little wave.  Now it seems to be super straight.  No curl...not even what I had before chemo.  I have always wanted straight hair...I wonder if it will stay that way.  I guess I'll just wait and see. 

I have been busy getting back to my work of selling things on Ebay, and more recently, I finally did something I had thought about for many years... I opened up an antique booth at a new Antique Mall.  (It is on the Southwest corner of Country Club and Southern...for my local friends.   Here is a picture of my booth:

My mom just opened one across from me as well.  Here is hers...

I have always been afraid to do an antique booth, but I finally took the plunge, and it has been fun and so far, in only one month, I have made a profit.

Between Ebay, and my booth, I have been very busy, however, since setting up my booth, I have decided to take some time off of Ebay, because priorities have been re-focused.  I have just a couple of short months to enjoy with my before my kids go on Missions, and I want to spend as much time with them as I can.  Jacob and Matt got their mission calls a week ago.  Jacob will be serving the next two years in the Japan, Tokyo South Mission, reporting on June 22 and Matt will be serving in the Arcadia, California Mission, reporting June 8.  ...and my daughter Sarah is patiently awaiting her call which will come any day now...we are thinking Tuesday though.

With the three of them graduating in May and then at least 2 out of 3 leaving on missions in June, we are very busy...but extremely excited!  Ron and I will be sudden empty nesters...for 2 years at least.  We are planning a vacation of our own, still trying to decide where.  We are debating between finally taking that trip to Washington D.C. where Ron has always wanted to go (and I have been 4 times) or to Hawaii...The last state for me to visit (and Ron has already been)  I am voting for D.C...and Ron is pitching for Hawaii.  First things first...we have a lot to do to get the "kids" all prepared. 

Speaking of visiting states...  Today, I am cleaning house and packing for that trip to Alaska that Sarah and I were planning last year when everything abruptly changed.  When I took my kids on our road trips through the country, I told them I would take them to 48 states...but they had to take me to Alaska and Hawaii.  Well, Sarah is making good on her end of the deal this weekend.    We are hoping to see the Northern lights...that is why we are going in April.  It looks like pretty good the high 40s/low 50s during the day.  Pretty chilly for this Arizona Girl.  We will be staying in an Air BNB home near Fairbanks.  It is on the outskirts of if the Northern lights are visible...we will get a good view.  From there, we don't exactly know what we will be doing.  We have some kind people putting us up in Anchorage tonight who have offered us a salmon dinner before we fly out on Monday...we are looking forward to that.  So nice!  We are planning on driving up to the Arctic Circle and to Chena Hot Springs.  We will also see some glaciers and of course Denali National Park.  It is not the best time of year to visit Alaska...but  we really just want to have a chance to see the Northern Lights. The rest is just some exciting extras, and I am looking forward to a wonderful girls road trip with Sarah!  I am so excited to visit my 49th state, and so excited to be picking up from where I left off last year.  Moving on...onward and upward!!