Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Craig and Savannah came home last night from their whirlwind Utah trip.  I can't tell you how excited I was to have them back.  It's one thing for Craig to leave on regular business trips, but it's another thing entirely for him to take one of the kids with him on a non-business trip...that lasts for almost a whole week.  (...have I mentioned that we will not be attending any future family gatherings separately?)  I am SO happy that all of my little chickens are back home.  We spent the evening looking at all the pictures from the trip, and filling each other in on all the events of the past week.  Craig and Savannah talked about how big all the cousins have gotten and how beautiful Maddie's wedding was.  We snuggled in front of the TV and watched our new favorite show Whodunnit.  Then the kids played several rounds of Clue until Savannah was finally satisfied with a win.  At 11:30p, we forced them all to go to bed.  And let me tell you...my little heart was overflowing to have a complete family around the table saying family prayer.  

Savannah had quite a lengthy list of things she hoped to do on this Utah trip.  Typically, when we travel there in a pack, we spend most of our time in a very small vicinity, so there isn't a lot of touring taking place.  Since they had more free time, and fewer siblings to accommodate, Savannah took full advantage of Craig's undivided attention, and led him to all of her dream Utah destinations.  

One of the things Savannah most wanted to do was to take a picture in front of every Temple in Utah (she was a little disappointed to find out that a handful of them were way out of the Salt Lake City radius.)
Brigham City
Mt. Timpanogas
Oquirrh Mountain
Provo City Center (under construction)
This one is my favorite in front of the SLC Temple doors. 
Understanding the eternal nature of the Temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the Temple."  - Gary E. Stevenson, April 2009 General Conference

"As we touch the Temple, the Temple will touch us." - President Thomas S. Monson (Jordan River Temple dedication)

I am so grateful for a daughter who longs to be in holy places and who delights in the chance to hop out of the car and take a picture in front of all the Temples in Utah.  I am grateful that she has a vision for her future and the strong desire to achieve her goals.  And I am so grateful for a husband who indulges his daughters.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Have a Lovely Day

I saw this on Pinterest this morning and LOVED it.  
It is totally and completely accurate.  

I have figured out, during this very lazy summer, that the sunny-ness of my disposition is in direct proportion to the amount of time I have taken to get ready in the morning.   On the days that I lounge in bed for a really long time and then putter around the house all day in sweats with my hair up in a pony, I find myself gradually getting more and more gloomy.  I'm sure that's because every time I walk past a mirror and see how un-lovely I look, it chips away at my desire to be charming.

Appearance isn't everything of course, but getting ready for the day definitely has an effect on my outlook.  I'm much more likely to smile and make eye contact when I've brushed my teeth and put on a little lipgloss.  I'm much more likely to give a compliment when I feel confident about myself.  I'm much more likely to open the door and connect with a neighbor when I haven't been laying on the couch all morning in sweats. 

In the mornings, I always pray for opportunities to connect, to uplift, and to use my little handful of talents to be an instrument in Heavenly Father's hands.  This little list makes all that stuff so much easier.  

So...let's put on a little perfume and HAVE A LOVELY DAY!  :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Photo Contest

So...I need a new lens for my camera.   It's just a little one, but super functional.  Great in low lighting.  Fast shutter speed.  And good for those depth of field shots where the background is all blurry.  I LOVE those!  Unfortunately my little lens keeps getting bumped to the bottom of our wants/needs list.  (...something about a Florida vacation, and instrument rentals, and baseball registration...blah...)

But I'm a resourceful girl...and I know that there are many ways to skin a cat, get a new camera lens, achieve your goals.

If you've been hanging around here much, you've probably noticed that I have a new little widget over on my sidebar that says "VOTE FOR ME"  (I don't know why there are two, but when I try to delete one, both go away, so...there are two.)

I happen to be a regular reader of the Herald Journal, the local newspaper in Logan, UT.  A couple of months ago, I noticed an announcement for a photography contest.  I read all the contest rules and there was nothing requiring entrants to be Cache Valley residents.  Only the picture had to be of the Valley, and I happen to have oodles of them AND they're pretty darn fantastic.  So I entered.  I took this picture last November when we were in Utah for Thanksgiving.  
And guess what the prize is!?  A $250 gift card to a camera store in Logan.  Well, that's convenient isn't it?  Just enough to buy that little lens!  Fortunately I still have people in Logan who would be happy to pop over to that camera store and scoop up my lens for me if I win the gift card. See...I've thought of everything.  

But what I need now are votes.  So, if you have nothing to do over the next ten days, I would SUPER LOVE it if you would click on that box over there and login to the voter page and VOTE for my Mendon barn picture.  You can vote once a day until August 4th!  

Thanks so much for being my bloggy friends.  Winners will be announced on August 11th. Keep your fingers crossed!  

High Five for Friday

Here's the H54F post where I live vicariously through my daughter and my husband who are in Utah this week...without me.  

1.  Planes

2.  Golfing

3.  Cousins

4.  Newlyweds

5.  Bridesmaids

They're having so much fun with all of Craig's family.  I've talked to one sister-in-law and texted the other two.  I heard both Savannah's voice and Craig's today while they were driving to the reception.  I've only had two or three meltdowns.  I've slept for a total of 7 hours in two days.  And the very best part is that they're coming home in 4 days so I can get all the details I'm missing.  I'm not missing the next wedding...even if it means being ridiculously impractical and taking TWO summer vacations.  Lesson learned.  :)

Hope your weekend is amazing!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chasing the Sunrise

I don't sleep as well as I'd like.  Usually I'm so reluctant to end the day and give in to sleep at night that I'm awake until well after midnight.  I justify that by thinking that I'll just sleep in the next morning.  Somehow that never happens, though.  By 6:00am, I'm wide awake, laying in bed trying to figure out what to do that will be productive, but still quiet enough to allow everyone else to sleep in.

This morning, after I checked emails, checked the weather, checked my favorite blogs, and checked everything else I could find on my phone, I finally couldn't stand it anymore.  I got up, threw on some sweats and flip flops, grabbed my poor, neglected camera, and decided to go chase down the sunrise. 

The thing about living in Texas is that there are no mountains.  There are no places high enough to see beyond the buildings and the trees.  So I could see the sky getting gradually lighter, and I could see a gorgeous pink stripe-y sky in front of me, but I couldn't catch more than a glimpse of it between subdivisions and buildings.

The other thing about Texas, though, is that you don't have to drive very far before the city gives way to amazing rural countryside.  As I kept driving further and further east to find some wide open space to take a sunrise picture, I drove through some beautiful places.   And I was still only 10 minutes from my house.

I have no idea where I was but it was beautiful, and I knew I had a GPS to get me safely back home, so I just kept searching for a spot where I could catch the sunrise.

I finally found a little road that led to a little farm so I stopped and took a couple of pictures.  I missed all that beautiful pink stripe-y sky, though.  

But I did make a new friend.  Doesn't she look so peaceful laying there in that comfortable damp grass with the sun coming up on her back?  That's what I feel like in the morning.  Lazy, reluctant to get up...

I spent a few more minutes watching the sun come all the way up over those trees, and then I started back home.  And my GPS led me past this beautiful place...

Who knew all these gorgeous treasures were right outside my door?

I loved taking a little drive this morning and escaping for a little while to someplace I've never been.  I blasted the Mary Chapin Carpenter music and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the morning.  Amazing way to start the day, for sure.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Best Day Ever

Isn't it funny how one person's not-so-great day is another person's Best. Day. Ever??

I drove Craig and Savannah to the airport today to go to his niece's wedding on Thursday.  A few months ago when we were being practical and dividing up our time and vacation budget, it seemed like a great idea to let them go to Utah without the rest of us.  

Today, not so much.  

But...Savannah is thrilled about the trip.  She was so excited to pack her entire bathroom into her ridiculously huge make up case.  She was excited to fly on a plane.  And she is SO excited to be a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding.  

I dropped them off at the airport and after excessive hugging let them go inside.

Two minutes later I got this text...

She told Craig that this was officially the Best. Day. Ever...and she hadn't even left Dallas.  

I'm so happy that Savannah and Craig are going on a little adventure together.  They almost never do that.  I'm grateful for frequent flyer miles.  And I'm grateful that Mack Brown made Savannah's day.  

I will try to pull myself together tonight and not miss them, not long for my Utah family, not wish that we hadn't been so dang practical in May, and just wait patiently for the report about their trip.  

Wish me luck... 

Monday, July 22, 2013


Emma is the luckiest girl I have ever met.  She wins drawings, contests, bingo games, pretty much any random thing she writes her name on.  At the Allen Celebration, we all stood in line at the Allen Americans (local hockey team) booth to spin a giant wheel and potentially win a prize.  If you combine Thunells and Rodriguez's, there were about 8 of us who spun.  The first 7 of us won little flags, or 8x10 posters, or those awful snuggy things you put around cups to insulate them.  Do you know how many of those I have in my kitchen??  And then Emma walked up, spun the wheel and won four tickets to the hockey game of her choice this season!  AND she got a bonus spin and won a hockey stick used in a previous winning game and signed by the entire team.  Serious??  She went on to win Chick-filA sandwiches, free drinks, and other little trinkets throughout the day.  We've all gotten used to her unbelievable luck.  (I really should have that girl fill out a few Publisher's Clearing House forms for me...or maybe not, after what I now know.)

So...last Monday, Emma informed us that she had entered a Radio Disney contest to see a One Direction concert and she had received a call that she was a finalist.  One of five contestants chosen from the random text entries they had received over the last three months.  Craig and I weren't totally convinced that it was a legitimate contest, so we looked up the website and read the email that Emma had received from the contest official who had called her.  It looked pretty legitimate.  

Here's what she had potentially won...

Round Trip tickets for three to Los Angeles to see One Direction in concert.   Hotel accommodations, transportation, concert tickets, and the opportunity to see a live sound check the night before the concert.  Oh, and $1800 spending money.  

But...there were catches.  Because aren't there always catches?  As we read further, we realized that this concert trip would occur over the weekend of August 1-4 (right in the middle of our two week vacation to Florida.  We're scheduled to be in the Keys that weekend.)  And then we noticed that there was a 1099 form attached to all the liability and press release forms we needed to sign.  I did some research and found out that contest winnings are taxable at a 30% rate, which for an estimated $8900 prize value, would be $2700, which we would be responsible for next April 15.  Ugh...even if we used the $1800 contest money to offset the taxes, we would still have to come up with $900...for a One Direction concert???  That's $300/ticket...!!  We had already said no to the $80 concert tickets to see them in Dallas.  Why would we pay $300 to see them in LA?  

We received the notification on Monday night and the paperwork needed to be signed, notarized, and faxed back to Disney by Thursday at 12 CST, in order for Emma to qualify as a possible contest winner and be announced on the premiere of Teen Beach Movie on Friday night.   Craig left on a business trip on Tuesday morning, and Megan's friend challenges started Tuesday night.  Oh, and McKay had a small meltdown on Thursday morning when he accidentally deleted the saved Lego Batman Wii game he's been playing for 4 months.  (I have no idea what that means, but he was distraught for the entire day.)

Craig is mostly unavailable when he travels so our conversations about this contest dilemma were brief and mostly via text.  He wasn't much help.  So for 48 hours I stewed.  I Googled.  I calculated.  I polled the audience.  I considered.  I called the Disney contest rep and asked her all my questions.  She said we could not change our concert location to the Dallas concert on July 20.  She said we could definitely fly out of Miami to see the LA concert.  And she assured me that they would be reporting the exact amount of our contest winnings to the IRS.  And as I was about to hang up, she said, "By the way, there really is no difference at this point between a POTENTIAL WINNER and a WINNER.  If you return that paperwork, Emma's name will be announced on the Disney channel and she will be able to go to Los Angeles."  (great...)

Finally, after exhausting all of my other options, I sat down with Emma and laid out the whole thing.  We talked about missing part of the vacation.  We talked about how FREE isn't always FREE.  We talked about how if we did this, we would have to come up with $900 between now and next April.  She offered to give up her allowance for the rest of the year.  (Which was a grand gesture, but $5/week for even a whole year wouldn't quite add up to $900.)  We talked about the dangers of spending money NOW and then hoping to be able to cover it LATER.  It was a good talk.  She was very reasonable and very understanding, but at the end of it, I saw her little eyes fill up with tears, and I almost changed my mind and signed all that dang paperwork.   But, we decided that night...together...that we would not be returning the paperwork, and therefore would forfeit our prize.  She slept in my room that night and the next morning we got up early and re-read all the paperwork again to see if we had missed anything.  We hadn't.  12:00 came and went.  Later that afternoon, the Disney rep called to confirm that we were forfeiting the prize.  

Part of me wanted to give her the opportunity of a lifetime and see the concert of her dreams.  But the practical part of me who knows that there are show choir costumes, private lessons, instrument rentals, sports registrations, and a cruise coming up in the near future, was not willing to take out a $2700 loan for a One Direction concert.  

I wonder if my parents would have let me win that contest if it had been The Osmonds??  I'm sure I would have been more devastated than Emma if they had said no.  

Blah...the things we have to do as parents.  I had more conversations last week and more distraught children than I've ever had at one time all by myself.  I let Craig know that his timing was crappy last week, and that in the future, I would appreciate it if he could schedule trips when everyone is happy and no major decisions need to be made.  He said he would try.  :)

I'm so grateful for a brand new week.  What an amazing blessing it is to be able to have a blank slate every 24 hours.  We are all looking forward to going back to our regularly scheduled summer laziness this week.  

Happy Monday!  

Friday, July 19, 2013

High Five for Friday

Well, it's been an eventful week for sure.

1.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.
This week I taught my daughters that the most fool proof cure for cramps and emotional upheaval is Diet Coke and M&Ms (unless you love Diet DP...hence the picture.)  Because you know what...four women in one house who are all on the same cycle and who have had a particularly exhausting week without a calm, patient Scout Master to temper them will do what they have to do to survive.  

2.  Turbo
My kids talked me into this movie...one in particular whose shift was cancelled at Aero and who loves to go to movies.  I was not thrilled.  Honestly, the previews looked a little silly and I didn't think a movie about a snail was going to be riveting.  But it was SO GOOD!  It was uplifting and inspiring and we all left that theater feeling like, "No dream is too big and no dreamer too small!"  You gotta go see it!

3.  Hobby Lobby Treasures
Emma and I went on our monthly Hobby Lobby treasure hunt this week.  All the spring and summer stuff is 80% off...that's practically free.  We got that owl for $1.20 for Megan's room.  The little pink glass picks were .70, and the fabric was $6/yard.  Amazing!  

4.  Genghis Grill

Since Craig travels so much, we have a pretty great plan for his departures and arrivals.  I drive him to the airport so I can use the Jeep all week and then I pick him up when he comes home and we debrief the happenings of the week over dinner.  Last night we needed a LONG debriefing session, so went to Genghis Grill.  Super fun, make your own stir fry.  Well, you don't actually MAKE it yourself, you just pick the stuff you want in it, and the sauce you want, and they cook it for you.  LOVED it!  

5.  Favorite Pin of the Week
Since we've had such a tumultuous week at our house (I've only blogged about half of the trauma that has occurred here) we decided that this would be our theme for next week.  We are going to have good thoughts so they "shine out of our faces like sunbeams."  

Let the glowing begin... 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I was 17 when I graduated from high school, and wouldn't turn 18 until the following February.  I had only been driving for a year and a half, when I drove my little blue VW Rabbit ("Bunny") to Austin in August 1987 to start my freshman year at the University of Texas.  I'm shocked that my parents let me do that.  But I was so dead set on being free and getting started with my independent, parent-free life that I'm sure I didn't give them much of a choice.  I was living on campus, so technically I didn't need a car, but I wanted mine anyway.  

In that first semester, I became an expert parallel parker, squeezing Bunny into the tiniest available spots.  My previous car had been a 1976 Chevy Caprice (think: very large boat with wheels) so Bunny was a breeze! 

When I applied for dormitory housing the spring before I graduated, there was a tiny little mix-up and they assigned me to a men's dorm.  My maiden name was George and with my uncommon first name, they just assumed I was a boy.  I was notified by mail sometime in June that George Haunani would be heartily welcomed into Roberts Dormitory in the fall with a roommate named James or Jack or something more masculine than was acceptable to my conservative parents.  (eek!)  Phone calls were made, new letters were sent, and in August of that year, I walked into my reassigned female dormitory with an adorably cute roommate named Jennifer Brown.  
We were instantly best friends.  She was from Houston, too.  She played the piano.  She talked incessantly.  She loved Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.  And she was bubbly and outgoing...the perfect complement to my tentative, cautious personality.  

Jennifer and I quickly made friends with the two girls next door, Tamara and Gail, and we were inseparable for the next four years.  

Jennifer and I spent almost every free hour in Tamara and Gail's room.  Jennifer was a complete mess, so our room was never as inviting as theirs.

We ate together, studied together, went to football games, shopped on the weekends, and socialized with our companion dorm (which, coincidentally, was that Roberts dorm I had previously been assigned to.)
Spring dance with Roberts dorm
Co-ed softball with Roberts dorm.  I was so pitifully uncoordinated that they let me keep score.  :)
Halloween party with...yep...Roberts.  Sheesh...with 49,000 people on that campus, you'd think we would have branched out a little more.  
We were all so different, but so compatible.   Tamara was a Marine Biology major.  Gail was a Mechanical Engineering major.  Jennifer was a music major.  And I filled in all the gaps for us.  I was a Psychology, then Architecture, then Oceanography major until I finally settled on Elementary Education with a minor in music and Latin.  That either makes me sounds really impressive or really flighty...I'll let you decide.  :)

I loved these girls and could not have asked for a nicer group to help me make that transition from sheltered teenager to independent adult.  I was so excited to leave home and start my own life, but I really had no idea how to do that.  Neither did they.  We learned together and made tons of mistakes, but we all came out of it relatively unscathed.  We saw each other through mounds of homework and finals, boyfriends, heartbreaks, questionable parties, student teaching and summer internships.  We stayed friends through the whole thing...and we all graduated!  
Tamara's graduation party in 1991
my graduation...a year later
Tamara's wedding. She married one of those Roberts Dorm boys!
And that's Gail and I in the mass of flowered fabric. (sigh...80s bridesmaids dresses...)