Steve's Job: The Lame vs. The Cool

The lame parts about Steve's job:

1. The long hours. It's almost midnight and he is still at the restaurant. And we are supposed to put in two hours on the new menu tonight when he (eventually) gets home.

2. When he has to work on Friday nights. And Saturdays. And holidays. (Like the Fourth of July.)

3. Mean reviews. He takes them very personally. People love to complain, but rarely make the effort to compliment. Most people have no idea how hard we work to keep that restaurant going so we can pay the bills. If you want to make Steve's day, tell him something you like about Sonora Grill here, here, or here (scroll down until you see Reviews by Google users and click on Rate and review). If you do, I'll give you a prize.

The cool parts about Steve's job:

1. Eating at Sonora Grill. When I go out to lunch with friends, sometimes they offer to go somewhere else, wondering if I am sick of eating at Sonora Grill. I'm not. (And I don't think I ever will be.)

2. Excuses to eat awesome food at other places too. Like Vegas. And this place. We've had our tickets since March, and I am so, so, so excited.

3. Free passes to cool things. Like iFLY.

Ever since our neighbor went and spoke to Rachel's class on Veterans Day about jumping out of planes as a paratrooper, we told him we were going to take him to iFLY with us. So when Steve got some passes a few weeks ago, we scheduled our date.

Tuesday wasn't best day for me. I had a terrible sinus cold. The dishwasher broke and leaked all over the kitchen floor, leaving some of the wood warped. Kaleigh dumped a tall glass of milk off the counter. There were dirty dishes (and dirty laundry) everywhere. I might have yelled at my husband and kids to get off my sheets with their dirty clothes (and shoes) on. (Duvet cover was in the wash because Adam peed on my bed in his sleep.) But we had our reservations for iFLY, and we were going.

We left the house ten minutes late. And then Steve ran over Adam's rake in the driveway. The tire deflated instantly. We transferred car seats into our neighbor's vehicles (it took two) and finally made it the six blocks to the Solomon Center.

Rachel is an old pro; it was her third time:

Lucy was a little nervous for her first flight:

And I was a little nervous about Adam. Mostly because the flight instructors remembered him from a year or two ago. . . as the boy who pulled down his pants and mooned someone in the tunnel. These days that might not phase me, but back then, it was so bizarre. He had never done anything like that before. And then all of the sudden, there he was, with his cheeks up against the clear, acrylic wall of the wind tunnel.

Here is the whole group, pre-flight:

Adam was all set to go until it was his turn and he looked down the air chamber:


The instructor was really nice and tried to help him feel comfortable:


But as soon as that air turned on, Adam's legs started kicking:


More jumping around, trying to ease him into it:


There was more kicking. But he finally calmed down enough to have a good flying experience:


A fun time was had by all, but we should have just taken Adam to go jump on a trampoline.


My Favorite Tees for Less Than Three Bucks!

These are my favorite t-shirts:

The Women's Perfect Tee from Old Navy.

The shirts are available in tall sizes at oldnavy.com. They are nice and thin for warm weather and fit long and lean. (Long enough I can even put them through the dryer!)

They offer a variety of very dark, boring colors. (Just my style.) And also bright, vibrant colors. (I tried to order some, but I just couldn't do it.)

They are on sale for $4.00, so I decided it was time to replace the ones I've worn for the last couple of years.

I went to place my order and . . . surprise! A coupon code for 30 percent off!

At $2.80 each, you really can't go wrong! But you need to hurry. . . the code expires on 6/28.

I love Old Navy. And Gap. And Banana Republic (when I can afford it.) I bet we spend 75 percent of our clothing budget at those three stores alone. I love that they each carry a wonderful selection of men's and women's clothing in tall sizes. Just wish they offered them in-store and at the outlets.


Picking Strawberries

Today's adventure was strawberry picking at Day Farms. We have now completed eleven activities off our summer list.

I missed going with Audrey and Becca on Monday. Too bad because Becca takes awesome photos like this one, which is among my all-time favorites of Lucy.

But so glad that Steve was able to go with us. And that I caught this sweet moment:

North Ogden Home For Sale by Owner

My parents are moving to Idaho.

That means they are selling their home in North Ogden. The home is For Sale by Owner at a super low, rock-bottom price for a couple of weeks, until they list it with an agent.

4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 fireplaces, 2300 square feet, central air conditioning, two-car garage, fenced backyard,0.24 acre, two sheds, automatic sprinklers, fruit trees, mountain views

Only $179,000

Pre-qualified buyers only, please.

For more details and photos, click HERE.


Raising Daughters

When I envisioned myself as a mother, I saw boys. All boys. I wasn't much into fancy hair-dos, painted nails, or cute outfits, so I never imagined myself with girls. (Let me just say that I am so thankful for daughters and unsure whether I could have survived any more sons.)

It turns out that you don't actually have to be into hair, nails, and clothes to raise girls. We dressed Rachel in "boy clothes" for the first year of her life. (Now, she often wears them by choice.) And I apparently broke some sort of unwritten rule when I took six-month-old Lucy to the salon for a haircut. Sure, she had lots of dark, beautiful hair. But I could barely keep up with Rachel's hair. If I had to make hair look presentable for two girls, I was never going to get out of the house.

(It should be noted that I have since learned how to do hair, my sister-in-law does fabulous nails, and my girls are generally better dressed than me.)

People say boys are more difficult when they are young and girls are more difficult as they get older. Agreed. Little boys don't like to sit still. Or follow rules. Or use toilets. But raising girls to become the type of women that they should be (that we need them to be) requires great effort. I want to teach my girls to rise above worldly expectations (and acceptances) and be virtuous, confident, independent, pleasant, balanced, remarkable, noble.

And that is why so many quotes and ideas from this book have been on my mind. After my surgery, I cruised through a number of books until I hit this one. It was not a fast read, but it has influenced me as a mother. I don't agree with everything. But there are plenty of valid points. . . points I wish I would have had on my mind eight years ago when I started this parenting thing.

Here are some of the things I underlined in my book. I will put them down word for word, without any personal opinions or interpretation.

And I would also like to echo the author's statement: "I am hardly one to judge other mothers' choices: my own behavior has been hypocritical, inconsistent, even reactionary." Yes, it has. And, unfortunately, it still is.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

It is tempting, as a parent, to give the new pink-and-pretty a pass. There is already so much to be vigilant about, and the limits of our tolerance, along with our energy, slip a little with each child we have.

Don't our possessions reflect who we are; shape, even define our experience?

Whether you love or loathe Barbie, you cannot have grown up in the last half century untouched by her influence.

Fifty years later, baby boomers and Gen Xers who had treasured the doll were so eager to share her with their own daughters that they didn't wait until the girls were eight to twelve (Barbie's original demographic); they presented her to their three-year-olds. That instantaneously made her anathema to her intended market.

The innocence that pink signaled during the Princess years, which seemed so benign, even protective, has receded, leaving behind narcissism and materialism as the hallmarks of feminine identity.

I found myself mulling over why we parents want to- even need to- amplify the differences between boys and girls.

How much do we want our children to be products of social engineering? As long as we don't consider the behaviors and interests of one sex as inferior to the other's, who cares? Does gender segregation matter, for either the good or the ill?

Toy choice turns out to be one of the largest differences between the sexes over the entire life span.

Nurture becomes nature. "Think about language. Babies are born ready to absorb the sounds and grammar and intonation of any language, but then the brain wires itself up to only perceive and produce a specific language. . . "

At any rate, gender is a pretty weak predictor of a child's potential gifts or challenges; the differences within each sex in any given realm (including math and verbal skills) tend to be far greater than the ones between them.

Years of same-sex play leave kids less able to relate to the other sex--and can set the stage for hostile attitudes and interactions in adolescence and adulthood.

. . . Young children who have friends of the other sex have a more positive transition into dating as teenagers and sustain their romantic relationships better.

Where does desire end and coercion begin? When does "get to" become "have to"? I'm not sure parents how are that deeply invested in their children's success are able to tell. And if love, however subtly, seems conditional on performance--whether on the playing field, in the classroom, or onstage--how can a child truly say no?

Marketers call (it) KGOY--Kids Getting Older Younger. The idea, similar to the rejection of Barbie for Bratz by six-year-olds, is that toys and trends start with older children, but younger ones, trying to be like their big brothers and sisters, quickly adopt them. That immediately taints them for the original audience. And so the cycle goes.

I have often idly wondered, since those same KGOY theorists claim that adults stay youngerolder--fifty is the new thirty!--whether our children will eventually surpass us in age. Or perhaps we will all meet at a mutually agreed upon ideal, a forever twenty-one.

As it is, girls are going through puberty progressively earlier. The age of onset of menstruation has dropped from seventeen at the beginning of the twentieth century to barely twelve today. . . Yet, although they are physically more advanced, the pace of girls' psychological and emotional development has remained unchanged; they only look, and act, older on the outside.

I will leave the world of boys for someone else to explore, but it is clear that children of both sexes crave larger-than-life heroes. They need fantasy. They also, it seems, need a certain amount of violent play.

. . . After twenty years of writing and talking about girls, I know what to say: I have delivered the script hundreds of times at colleges and high schools, in churches and temples, to parent groups, teachers, Girls Scout leaders. So, for the record, here is what you are Officially Supposed To Do: stress what your daughter's body can do over how it is decorated. Praise her for her accomplishments over her looks. Make sure Dad is on board--a father's loving regard and interest in a girl, as the first man in her life, is crucial. Involve her in team sports. . . Volunteerism can give girls greater perspective and purpose, reducing body obsession. Media literacy can raise consciousness about marketers' manipulations.

I would have rattled off those solutions with the greatest confidence and authority--before I had a daughter of my own. Because the truth is, regardless of what we say, from the get-go everything else, everyone else, in our culture tells girls that their weight and looks matter--a lot. Though appearance shouldn't dictate how they are treated by others--let along their self-worth--it does.

Talent? Effort? Intelligence? All are wonderful, yet by middle school, how a girl feels about her appearance--particularly whether she is thin enough, pretty enough, and hot enough--has become the single most important determinant of her self-esteem.

Though I applaud its rebel yell that women can remain attractive as we get o-l-d-e-r, I also feel a creeping despair--like dang, now I have to be. I was secretly looking forward to letting it all go to hell at a certain point.

"Should women simply grow old naturally, since their looks don't define them, or should they fight the signs of aging, since beauty and youth are their currency and power?"

So--stick with me here--that means that girls are now simultaneously getting older younger and staying younger older.

The phases of our lives have become strangely blurred, as girls try to look like adult women and adult women primp and preen and work out like crazy in order to look like girls.

. . . I notice my own habit. . . of greeting my young subjects by commenting on some aspect of their appearance: their earrings, a new shirt, their hairstyles. I decided, as an experiment, to stop cold turkey, to find another way to connect: asking how a play rehearsal was going or what they were reading in English class. Anything. It felt surprisingly forced; physical compliments grease the conversational wheels among women and girls.

. . . I would speak about that experience, encouraging my audience to give it a try themselves for a few days. "You mean we shouldn't say anything about their looks?" How about this, I would counter: try not commenting on your own looks-- on the size of your thighs or the tightness of your jeans. At least not in front of your daughter. Girls receive enough messages every day reducing them to their appearance without women they love delivering them, too.

Although my body and I have reached if not peace, at least a state of detente, "fat" remains how I experience anger, dissatisfaction, disappointment. I feel "fat" if I can't master a task at work. I feel "fat" if I can't please those I love. "Fat" is how I blame myself for my failures. "Fat" is how I express my anxieties. A psychologist once told me, "Fat is not a feeling." If only it were that simple. As for so many women, the pathology of self-loathing is permanently ingrained in me. I can give in to it, I can modify it, I can react against it with practiced self-acceptance, but I cannot eradicate it. It frustrates me to consider what else I might have done with the years of mental energy I have wasted on this single, senseless issue.

Give all of that, I wonder how I could expect--or even hope--to raise a daughter who is both less invested in and more confident about her appearance than I was.

I recalled the conversation I'd had about the Disney Princesses with the mothers of Daisy's preschool classmates. One of them felt the answer was to shower her daughter with compliments about her looks as a kind of inoculation: she wanted to impress upon her girl that, regardless of what anyone might say, she was beautiful. Besides, the woman said, if you never tell your daughter she is pretty, rather than realizing that appearance is unimportant, she may suspect you think she's ugly. Maybe. Yet over-emphasizing a girl's looks is clearly hazardous--and that overemphasis is pervasive. How to find the sweet spot?

"'You're beautiful' is not something you want to say over and over to your daughter, because it's not something that you want her to think is so important."

"That said," she continued, "there are times when it is appropriate to say it: when she's messy or sweaty, when she's not dressed up, so that she gets a sense that there is something naturally beautiful about her as a person. Ant it's also important to connect beauty and love. To say, 'I love you so much, Everything about you is beautiful to me--you are beautiful to me.' That way your'e not just objectifying her body."

If Disney could try to brainwash my child, I suppose I could, too.

Like so many moms, I was willing to compromise to find some mutually acceptable middle ground.

The gift of power elevates but also isolates.

I had tired to explain my aversion to Cinderella. Had my worst fears during that episode come to pass? Rather than becoming more conscious of manipulation, had she instead learned that the things associated with girls--and by extension being a girl itself--were bad?

Certainly, I didn't want her to think that all things snips 'n' snails--like, gulp, superheroes?--were superior. It was one thing to reject the image of girlhood being sold to her, another to reject girls who might embrace it.

Segmenting play by sex, remember, may be good for sales but not necessarily for kids' development.

But I have heard it said that we adults are immigrants to this land of technology; our kids are natives. They use it differently than we do. They experience it differently, without our old-world accents or values. Much as the mall was for a previous generation, the Internet has become a place where they experiment with identity, friendship, and flirtation. The fact that none of it is real does not make it any less revealing.

Now their thoughts, photos, tastes, and activities are laid out for immediate approval or rejection by hundreds of people, many of whom are relative strangers. The self. . . becomes a brand, something to be marketed to others rather than developed from within. Instead of intimates with whom you interact for the sake of the exchange, friends become your consumers, and audience for whom you perform.

Apparently, teenagers are not the only ones at risk of turning the self into a performance, though since their identities are less formed, one assumes the potential impact will be more profound.

In the early days of the Web, people feared their daughters would be stalked by strangers online, but the far bigger threat has turned out to come from neighbors, friends, peers.

Gossip and nasty notes may be painful staples of middle school and high school girls' lives, but YouTube, Facebook, instant messaging, texting, and voice mail can raise cruelty to exponential height. Rumors can spread faster and further and. . . there is nowhere to escape their reach.

Watching the unparalleled social experiment being conducted on our children, it's worth considering--for boys as well as girls--how Internet use enhances their real lives, their real friendships, their contributions to the real world. And if we can't answer all of that in a satisfying way, maybe it is time to give their second lives some second thought.

If we can force change in the food industry, why not do the same for toys and media?

Talking to little girls about body image and dieting, for example, can actually introduce them to disordered behavior rather than inoculating them against it.

Though it may sound like a big old duh, the best approach is to put reasonable limits on the girlz-with-a-z stuff for as long as you can and, over time, engage (without nagging) in regular dialogue with your daughter about what she consumes. Watching TV or listening to music along with your child is also a good idea, if you're willing to discuss the content; otherwise, your presence comes off like an endorsement.

The point . . . is not so much to raise children who are cynical about the media as ones who are skeptical.

Our role is not to keep the world at bay but to prepare our daughters so they can thrive within it. That involves staying close but not crowding them, standing firm in one's values while remaining flexible.

I think that last one is my favorite. I'll end with that.


The Barbie-Q

I thought if I waited a few days, then maybe it wouldn't seem like it was so bad.

But then someone called it a white trash BBQ. And told me she would rather go to Chuck-A-Rama than another BBQ at our house. (And she hates Chuck-A-Rama.)

So I guess it really was that bad.

(Or good, depending who you ask.)

. . . . .

Steve had just got back from four days at Girls Camp. I was tired from Steve being gone for four days. And there were eight kids at our house who were getting hungry.

I actually wanted to take the kids to a buffet. I didn't want to hear any more complaints from my kids about what I was cooking. And I wanted the kids to eat and eat and eat until they were full.

But Steve needed to set the tent up and let it dry out. And he was anxious to spend some time in the yard. He suggested we pull out the grill and have a barbecue. (Mistake #1 Don't have a BBQ unless you have something decent to grill.) Steve's sister was in town with her family, so we called and invited them to come over and join us. (Mistake #2 Don't invite people over for a BBQ unless you have something decent to grill AND a decent place for them to sit.)

We needed more buns and chips, so I took the older girls with me to Rancho Market. I walked in and saw cucumbers and tomatoes on sale and decided we should probably be eating Mexican hotdogs for dinner. Sadly, Rancho Market only sells Western Family buns. We grabbed them anyway and bought Jarritos Mexican Sodas to make up for it.

On the way home, we stopped by our neighbor's house and invited him to join us. (Mistake #3 Don't invite MORE people over for a BBQ when you don't have something decent to grill or a decent place for them to sit.) He had just eaten dinner but said he would come by a little later to visit.

Looks pleasant enough, right?

Not once you get close.

Now picture Steve's pile of stuff from Girls Camp. Mexican music blaring from the apartments behind us. Camp chairs strewn about the driveway. A small lifetime table holding watermelon, chips, Jarritos, and hotdog fixings. Our messy garage. Kids playing in the dirt pile. Stepping on sticker weeds.

And then our neighbor walked in the backyard. With more guests. We have two neighbors hosting Raptors baseball players this season, and Rachel and Lucy have been dying to meet them. Perfect timing.

The two baseball players signed hats, baseballs, casts, pieces of papers. We sat in camp chairs and made small talk. Steve shamefully hid by the grill. Embarrassed to admit that he owned a restaurant. Tyler, the conversationalist, stepped up to the plate. The food was finally ready. (Maybe Steve thought if he was slow enough, they would give up and leave.)

The food was gross. There was barely enough to go around. At one point, I asked if they had enough to eat. They said they did. Steve laughed, "What were you going to do if they said they were still hungry? What were you going to serve them next?" Good point. (I would have sent them to Sonora Grill.)

The kids opened up the bag of gigantic marshmallows. Did I mention the kids were filthy?

Those gigantic marshmallows are ridiculous. They take forever to cook. Especially if you are roasting them over a propane grill.

Pretty sure the kids didn't notice anything was wrong. They were having a great time, especially when they were playing baseball with the baseball players.

The music from beyond the fence stopped and we concluded with a quick photo, releasing the baseball players from our pitiful barbecue. They were good sports and didn't even act too put out. I'm sure it's exactly how they wanted to spend one of their few free evenings before the season started tonight. They will play over seventy games over the next three months!

We look forward to cheering them on at their home games at Lindquist Field. Especially if they pull off more wins like tonight (@Idaho Falls, 20-0).

We probably ought to try to redeem ourselves and invite them over to a more respectable dinner in the future. Or just send them to Sonora Grill.


Cotton Candy Fest

We are big fans of Summerfest. Especially Rachel, who has a thing for traditions. (She's never missed a year.)

The kids love the art tent (they let me drop Adam off this year, even though they had to barricade the exit to keep him from running away). And I love walking around and looking at the booths (my favorite artists were missing this year). But somehow, cotton candy has become the highlight of the event.

Check out the size of those things. How could you not be excited?

I tried to get a good group picture, but they were too busy eating so it was hard to get a shot where you could actually see their faces.

Some of the kids ended up with sticky fingers:

Some ended up with sticky eyes:

But India was clearly the winner:

We also fit in appointments with our pediatrician, a visit with my sweet Grandpa, some craziness at Sam's warehouse, dairy treats from Gossner cheese, and a quick stop at the Whittier Center Adventure Playground.


Sunday Evening Bliss

On Sunday, we went to the feed the ducks at Weber State. Fairly aggressive seagulls dominated the pond. (Wish I had a picture of the seagulls pecking at Mindy's purse.)

I couldn't resist taking a few more pictures of our cute neighbor who fell in the pond and, subsequently, spent much of the evening in his underwear, waiting for his clothes to dry.

I kept telling the kids ten more minutes till go time, but it was so pleasant that I didn't really want to leave. So ten minutes turned into thirty minutes and then an hour. And then Steve finally sent me a text asking if we were okay.

. . . .

Tonight wasn't so perfect.
And I'll just leave it at that.


Look What I Found

Now that Rachel and Lucy both have their own blogs, I was wondering if I could turn the reigns over to them and take a break for a while.

But then I found this gem:

Lucy certainly wouldn't have posted it on her blog. And she might be a little embarrassed when she sees it on mine!


Adam's 24-Hour Pet

Steve brought Adam home a pet last night.

He found it on the grass at the church.

It was a big deal in the Ballard home, which is generally pet-free.

The clear, plastic salad spinner became it's temporary home.

Adam named it Leafy. Lucy named it Shelly. Rachel named it Meatball.

I say "it" because snails are hermaphrodites. We learned that and a number of other things about snails on the internet this afternoon.

When snails are three years old they lay eggs. (The average snail lives for five years!) They bury their eggs in the dirt. A newly hatched snail will eat whatever is left of its eggshell and any eggs that have not hatched yet. The largest known snail was a Giant African Snail named Gee Geronimo. It weighed about 2 pounds and measured over 15 inches from snout to tail. Fascinating.

Almost as fascinating as when the snail was hanging from the top of the salad spinner and Kaleigh pulled the cord.

We decided that was enough torture for one little mollusk and returned him to the great outdoors tonight.

Goodbye, snail.


Things Happen for a Reason

We had a busy weekend. Doctor appointment, Select25 Award Luncheon in Salt Lake, First Friday Art Stroll, June Thirth party, softball game, wedding rehearsal lunch, the 3rd annual neighborhood BBQ (or barbie-q, if you are Debra who wears a sequin shirt and rides her skateboard to the library), and the big wedding.

It was partly because of the upcoming busy weekend that I decided I needed to go see Dr. Steppacher. The little spot on my incision wasn't healing up and every time I started hurting, I worried I was getting another infection. I figured if something was wrong, it was time to find out. Dr. Steppacher saw me on Friday morning and told me I would need to have another little surgery on Tuesday to fix the problem. The stitch had popped through and I had a "wound sinus" he called it. (Don't google that because it pulls up all sorts of awful pictures that will horrify you.)

We spent eight hours at the wedding in Millcreek Canyon. The setting was gorgeous, the ceremony was fascinating, and the food was divine. I'm quite confident that I ate twice as much food as anyone else there. (I suppose most of the others drank their calories in alcohol.) While we were eating dinner, Alan, one of the managers from Sonora Grill, asked me what I missed most that I haven't been able to do since having surgery.

That's easy: lifting and carrying the kids. It has not only created inconveniences and required lots and lots of help, I miss carrying my kids and holding them close without worrying about them hurting me. (Next on the list was not being able to vacuum the stairs.)

The wedding was a long day, and I ended up sitting in the car reading a book for the last hour or two of the night. I was tired and sore and kept thinking of more and more things that I haven't been able to do. Like stand up straight for an entire day or participate in things without having to go hide away in the car. Although purely unintentional, Alan's question was really getting me down.

As soon as we dropped everyone off I started crying. I knew the surgery was supposed to be quick and easy, but I was upset that I even had to go through it again. I didn't want to go to the hospital for my pre-op labs. I didn't want to have to get another IV (which can be quite a process and often involves fainting). I didn't want to wake up from surgery nauseous. And I didn't want to have to try to stand up and walk around without passing out and pretend to feel better than I do so the nurses would let me go home. And what if something went wrong or he opened me up and found another infection and it was a big deal?

I went to the hospital on Monday morning for my pre-op. Chelsea, the registration nurse, came out to the waiting room to call my name. She was beaming.

I met Chelsea when I was registered and did my pre-op for my original surgery back in March. Like everyone else, she was curious about my surgery and asked a few questions. She suffers from chronic stomach problems and after listening to her symptoms (which were more similar to mine that anyone I have ever talked to before), I told her she needed to get a gastric emptying study because it sounded like she had gastroparesis. I assumed it was too unlikely that she had MALS, but told her all about it and gave her my contact information.

Two weeks later, she took the stomach emptying test, was diagnosed with gastroparesis, and was put on a super bland diet that sometimes helped and sometimes didn't. Her doctor ordered a CT scan, but wasn't looking for the right thing and scanned the wrong area. Meanwhile, Chelsea misplaced my contact information, couldn't remember all of the details of our conversation, and couldn't figure out which Dr. Robert Moesinger had diagnosed me. (There are three in Ogden.)

We talked about my surgery and I encouraged her to call Dr. Steppacher, adding a caution that recovery hadn't been easy. But she was hungry and hopeless and kept saying it didn't matter, she would do whatever it took to get better. She asked me more than once if I could really eat whatever I wanted. Steak, really? With watery eyes, she told me that I was a godsend; she hadn't ever talked to anyone else who had given her so many answers. And hope.

That night, when I was back to crying again, Steve reminded me that everything happens for a reason and maybe, just maybe, I needed to have this little surgery to help Chelsea find an answer to her problems. It was less than six months ago that we felt those same feeling of desperation. It gave me a much better perspective and made me feel better about having to go through this again.

Chelsea saw me walk by when I arrived at the hospital on Tuesday morning. She has an appointment with Dr. Steppacher on Monday. And she is so excited. Before surgery, I talked to to Dr. Steppacher about her and asked if it he thought it was likely for her to have MALS, even though it is supposedly rare. He said he has learned that Utah has a bit of an "island effect" and issues that are rare in other places can be more common here, and vica versa. And that whether she had MALS or not, he would help her get taken care of.

Dr. Steppacher also told me that my case has been the most fulfilling surgery he has ever performed. He said as soon as he opened me up and saw the artery, he knew the operation was going to change my life. He is just thrilled with the outcome. (We are too. . . it will just be easier to enjoy once this incision is completely healed up.)

Surgery was easier than ever. The nurse got my IV in on her first try. There was no infection. My fascia has healed up well. Surgery took less than an hour. The problem area was fixed. I only needed two stitches to close up the small incision. I woke up without any nausea. And stood up without any dizziness. I was in and out of the hospital in five hours.

And I learned another important lesson.

"Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?" Mormon 5:23


Antelope Island

On Memorial Day we took a little trip out to Antelope Island with the Loosli Family. It was chilly and windy. (Perfect to avoid the bugs.) Count 'em up. That's seven kids:

Plus two more:

We hiked up, across, and down some rocks to the beach near Lady Finger Point. It was a good thing we had Steve and Jared with us because a couple of kids fell (Adam & Lucy) and a couple of kids needed to be carried. (Adam & Kaleigh).

I woke up on Tuesday morning so sore that I pretty much needed to be carried.

Ashton, King of the Mountain:

Eliza and Rachel:

Lucy would have stayed and played on the beach all day. My assignment was to hold her hand and walk with her and try to minimize her distractions. But after a while, I decided she should be allowed to play:

I sat in the car with Adam and Kaleigh while everyone else went up to Buffalo Point. The highlight of that hike was the snake that Ashton caught:

Then we drove over to Field Garr Ranch. Every single parking spot was filled in both the upper and lower lots. (Never seen that before.) There were big crowds and a handful of vendors set up for the Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival. The kids played around on the dummy roping steers, and we ate our picnic lunch. (All with cowboys serenading us in the background.) Then the older kids went around to each vendor and completed a little activity or craft and then turned their booklet in for a free bandana. Adam ran around looking for puddles to jump in.

We got out of there while everyone was still happy:

And stopped for the obligatory photo on the way out:

We started towards home, but then I realized how close we were to Day Farms and decided we needed to make a little detour:

The asparagus was pretty sparse:

But Steve and Rachel found enough for dinner:

(My main purpose in going to Day Farms was to check on the strawberries. We can't wait to go pick, but they won't be ready for a while.)