Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chocolate-Covered ROAR!



This baby comes from my friend Kristi L, who resides in Rexburg, Idaho.

Welcome to USoSL, Kristi!

I love her explanation:

I have been wanting for two years to take a picture of some certain chocolate-colored stone lions to send to you. I thought you might particularly enjoy the fact that there is a stone lamb CHAINED to a flower pot between the 
two lions! Poor lamb! Today, having a day off work, I finally took my camera over there and lo, and behold, they've been decorated for Halloween! Yes, that is a little witch riding on the back of the lamb! As if being chained between two lions is not insult enough!

Kristi has offered to take another photo of the trio once Halloween is over and (presumably) the witch dismounts from her lamb ride.  Here's hoping she doesn't get too busy taking care of her soon-to-be-born son, and forget about this critical offer.  (But Kristi, if you do, I'll definitely forgive you.)

As long as we're talking about stone lions, I have a new development.  After thinking about it for well over a year, if not two, I finally got around to getting a button made up for all you USoSL members.  Here it is:

United Seekers of Stone Lions

(Special thanks to Grandpa P, whose Nashville Lion--or one of them at least--supplied the image for this button.)

(There's also a button exactly like it on the sidebar over there ----->)

Now, no one need feel pressure or anything like unto it, BUT if at any point you have sent me a stone lion to post here, or if you have posted a stone lion on your own site somewhere, then YOU are an official member of the United Seekers of Stone Lions, and you are entitled to and very welcome to take this fine badge of honor (that one, up there) and stick it on any site that you would like!  Woo-hoo!  Yippee!

Or not, it's totally up to you.

And with that, I leave you.  I wish you all a very Happy Halloween, and may you dream tonight of witches riding sheep through chocolate covered lions.  Really, could there be anything better?  I think not.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I'd like to give HER nose a tweak!

To get this, you have to think of Disney's Mary Poppins movie specifically the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" song, and even more specifically, the part where everyone sings "Um diddle diddle diddle Um diddle Eye" many many many times between the verses.

I had introduced Heather to Mary Poppins for the first time earlier in the week.  That point might help a bit in explaining this little snippit:

Heather:  Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE, Um dil-LIE . . .

(You get the idea.)

Me (having listened to Heather sing this same phrase over and over and over again for the past three or four hours and showing my (well-deserved, in my opinion) exasperation):  HEATHER! I really need you to stop singing that song.  It's driving me crazy, and I just can't take it anymore!

Heather (very matter-of-factly):  Mom, I can't.  It's just too much fun.

(I laughed at this, and that laughter bought Heather a few more moments of Um dil-LIE joy.  However, soon even the lift from that laughter wore off, and I enacted a moratorium on singing that song in my presence until bedtime.  It was tough for Heather to choose between quality time with her darling mother and the freedom to sing her favorite song, and she tended to vacilate between us for the rest of the day.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another AWESOME thing about Cache Valley

Every fall, the landlocked Kokanee Salmon change colors from green/silver to this red color (kind of like koi), and make their way up the Little Bear River to spawn.  I first heard about this phenomenon several years ago, but this year (thanks to Heather's cousins letting us hone in on their homeschool field trip, and Grandma Cantwell being our navigator and tour guide) I was finally able to see it for myself.  So interesting!  So fun!  Such a treat!

We went on the 18th of September, and I think we hit it just about right.  From what I've read, it seems that the spawning is usually finished up by the end of September or first of October.

Our first stop was this little waterfall:

You can't see it, but there are probably thirty or forty salmon in the dark areas there, all trying to get up that waterfall.  Every once in awhile, you'll see one take the (literal) leap of faith up the rapid, and probably about one out of ten or fifteen times, one of them makes it up into the waters above.  We stayed here probably fifteen or twenty minutes, and I think I saw four or  five make it up.  We always cheered (semi-softly) when they did.  I also saw one or two make it, then hang out for a little bit too long at the mouth of the mini-fall until it got sucked back down into the churning water below, where it had to make the trek again.  Talk about discouraging!

(For the fish, not so much for me.)

Most of the people pictures I've taken here are of Heather and the backs of the cousins, for privacy reasons.  If you are in the family and want to see more of them, you can check out the private Heather blog, where I've got more full-faced, "up close and personal" shots posted.

Speaking of full-faced shots:

Heather's currently in a "duck face for pictures" phase.  I don't really know why, and it drives me a little bit crazy, but really, does it matter all that much?  No.  Not a battle I'm choosing to fight.  

To see the salmon run, you need to go to Cinnamon Creek Campground just above Porcupine Dam.  It's owned by the LDS Church, and I believe it is primarily used for scout camps and girls camps throughout the summer.  Technically, the campground is private property (belonging to the church and all), but they do allow people to come to see the salmon.  Depending on whether or not the campground host is there (and whether or not that campground host is willing to open the gate for your vehicle), you might have to park on the gravel road outside the gate, and walk a little bit (like five minutes or so) down to where the Little Bear River runs on the south side of the campground.  We were lucky, found the host, and were able to drive in.  Even if we would have had to walk though, it would have been well worth it.

There are several different camping areas within the campground.  They all have signs naming them, and the names all come from the names of different places in the Book of Mormon.  In addition to Deseret, I remember seeing a Bountiful, an Amulon, and a Cumorah, and that's just the beginning.

After our stop on the mini-fall, we made our way up the gravel road, stopping here and there along the way to see how many salmon had made it to any given spot in the river.

It was a beautiful day, with gorgeous scenery.  For some reason I took zero pictures of the beautiful fall leaves, which is a shame, because they were absolutely stunning, but I did get this lovely little stream, so not all is lost now, is it?

It was a uniquely pleasant adventure.  As we got further up the stream, we came upon two different beaver dams, both of which were in the process of being dismantled by the Division of Wildlife Resources, for the simple reason that they make it impossible for the salmon to travel up river, and if they can't get up to the spawning spot, they will all die out, and sooner rather than later.  The beavers are quite industrious and resourceful though, and so the DWR employees have their work cut out for them to say the least.  You can see part of the dam in the upper right-hand corner of this picture below.  Dams aren't as picturesque as autumn tree leaves surrounded by salmon though, so it is not the dam that is the focus of my final shot here.

You knew from the moment you first read the title that I was going to say this sometime, didn't you??  
Well, here it is:  

I LOVE living in Cache Valley.

Should you want to experience the salmon run yourself (next year), here's a link to some pretty thorough and clear directions on how to get there.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Random Photo Friday--The Great Pumpkin Edition

Awhile back, we were hanging out with some of our neighbors, doing a little yard work, doing a little chatting, Heather playing a little Barbies with one of her neighborhood boyfriends, you know, nothing out of the ordinary.

And then, one of the kids in the family showed me this:

It's a pumpkin tree!!!!


Seriously, have you ever seen anything so cool?  Apparently the pumpkin vine just worked it's way up into the tree, and the next thing they knew, here was a pumpkin growing there.  

I LOVE it.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

holding hands

When Eric and I were dating and then courting and then engaged and then newlywedded, He used to tease me about collecting grandfathers (or sometimes fathers).  Which is to say, that Eric noticed that I tended to have a small collection of older men who would watch out for me, care about me, and generally "have my back" so to speak.  I've already written about one of these men, and looking back, I can see that there were and still are others, but at the time, I honestly didn't think it was all that remarkable.  I mean, doesn't everyone have a couple of grandfathers and/or grandmothers looking out for them at any given time (and vice-versa)?  Particularly if you're Mormon and have a warm connection with the people in your ward, isn't that pretty much a given?

According to Eric, it is not a given.  Who knew?

Anyway, I'm pleased to report that our Heather has apparently inherited my ability to attract an extra grandfather here or there.

Enter our Bishop:

This is the only picture I have of him.
He's a much harder worker than this picture would indicate.  Trust me on that.

Heather has absolutely adopted our Bishop as her own, and vice versa.  For example, about two years ago, Heather got wise to the fact that Bishop Groll keeps a jar of animal crackers in his office (which I'm sure has more to do with Sister Groll than it does with Bishop Groll, but somehow Bishop gets all the credit.  Those are the breaks.)  Ever since then, our end-of-church routine is to bee-line it to the Bishop's office after church every Sunday for Heather's 2 weekly animal crackers (one for each hand).  Bishop has been known to stall interviews while waiting for Heather from time to time (which kind of stresses me out, so we try to hurry), and the rest of the Bishopric is well aware of Heather's weekly cookie run, and they know to watch for her.

It kind of hit home to me though, how friendly Heather had become with our Bishop when I was attending a stake baptism recently, one in which we had two neighbors being baptized.  I had brought Heather along with me (at her request), and as we sat in the chapel waiting for the meeting to begin, she pointed out to me, with no little bit of excitement, that Bishop Groll was once again up on the stand, at the very same meeting that we were attending.  After a fair amount of waving and stage whispering on Heather's part, the meeting began.  Songs were sung, short talks were given, and soon, it was time for all the people who were there to witness baptisms of our neighbors to leave the chapel, and go to the font.  As we stood to leave, and waited for the family members to go in front of us, Heather dropped my hand, and made her way up to her beloved Bishop Groll.  Then, hand in hand, the two of them walked out of the chapel, leading the rest of us to the room where we would witness the baptism.

To my knowledge, this is the first time that has happened.  I'm thinking it won't be the last.

Hand in Hand photo courtesy of Chemophilic

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PrimaryFest 2012

(I love adding "fest" on to words to make them more well, festive.  Have you noticed?)

It's been well over a month now, but awhile back, we had our Primary Program.  It was Heather's first time, and my first time being in charge, so it was kind of a big day.

I've learned that being in charge of the Primary Program is quite a bit different than just prepping and leading the songs, but that if you have a good chorister (or two good choristers, as we do), that everything can go pretty smoothly.  It is also a big help if you have an awesome presidency, a happy-to-help-however-he-or-she-can pianist, and teachers who are loving, dependable, and easy-going.  Since we had all of that, not to mention a great bunch of inventive, animated kids, we really couldn't possibly fail now, could we?

So, we didn't fail.  We did really exceptionally well, and I felt like it was a great experience for most, if not all involved.

That isn't to say that there weren't some quirky moments though.  

--Like when Heather and I got into a whispering argument/discussion at the microphone as I was trying to help her say her part (as I had been doing with the other children) because she was adamant that she couldn't give her part until Isaac had given his part, but Isaac had already given his part when Heather wasn't looking and wasn't about to do it again.  Surprisingly (considering how stubborn Heather can be), I was able to convince her before it came to tears or physically picking her up and putting her on the stand in front of all 150+ ward members in the congregation.  At that point, Heather said her part, ("The Holy Ghost can help me to be happy"), flashed everyone a big smile, gave an extra breath into the microphone, just to see what it would sound like, and made her way back off to the side.

--Like when one boy (age 4) finished his part, turned around, and took a flying leap off the stepstool that we had placed to help the shorter kids reach the podium, shouting (fairly softly, but still loud enough for all to hear) Woo-Hoo!

--Like when the two kids after him did the same thing, just to see how it would be.

--Like when the Sunbeams (age 3 class) got a hold of the "reserved for Primary" signs and rolled them up and made little telescopes out of them and took turns looking through them in the middle of one (or more) of the songs.

And there were also some very touching moments.

--Like when we had our final practice on the Friday before the program, and I heard them all sing I'm Trying to be Like Jesus, and my heart swelled up with love for these kids and love for the Lord and gratitude that I was there having that experience at that time.

--Like when little Nora (who was sitting by me) would give my arm a little squeeze during the program, or be sure to point out that she had moved the seat of my chair back down for me so I could sit down with ease after I had helped out some of the children with their parts.

--Like when it was all over, and the children just beamed with happiness at how they felt and how well they had done.

The whole experience of putting on the program has caused me to reflect a bit.  The fact is, serving in the Primary takes time.  It takes time and energy and inventiveness and patience.  But oh my goodness, the rewards that come from serving in the Primary have absolutely shocked me with their intensity, quantity, and value.  I've come to the conclusion that I'll take it.  I'll take it any day.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


This entry is a little personal, but I feel comfortable sharing it, so, I hope that my doing so won't cause any of you discomfort.  If it does, feel free to stop reading for today.  I'm sure we'll have quirky-ness galore again soon.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was having an ugly duckling day.

I was in my twenties and attending Utah State University, living in an apartment with three marvelous girls.  I was doing well in my studies, I had gotten past the homesickness and awkwardness that I had felt earlier that year, and all in all, I was doing quite well.

And yet, on that particular day, I had been feeling a little "less-than" (as opposed to "greater than").  I don't remember exactly what had caused these feelings this time around, but my guess is that I was feeling a general sense of dissatisfaction over the fact that my life wasn't going as I had originally expected it to go, that I wasn't doing what I had expected to be doing at that point in my life.  I have since learned that very few people, if any, go through life having everything go exactly as they originally expected, that we all end up doing different things than was our plan.  At the time though, I was a little naive, and I honestly thought that I was one of the few in this particular situation of living a life that was different from what I'd wanted.

It was a Sunday, and for some reason, all my roommates were out and about, so I had the apartment to myself.  I was reading through some of my papers and scriptures, and I chanced to read my Patriarchal Blessing.*  As I did this, I had an experience that gave me enough hope that I still remember it, all these years later.

I can't explain exactly how it all came to me, as I know it wasn't a voice that I could hear, nor was it anything that I could actually put into words, but as I sat there in that empty apartment, a feeling dawned on me, slowly at first but gathering intensity, that I was going to have it ALL.  Far from being forgotten and derailed, I was actually going to be blessed beyond my wildest dreams.  My life was going to be one in which I would be able to serve a mission, graduate from college, get a graduate degree, find employment that I enjoyed, travel the world, learn to sing, and experience life with many different people.  Nearly all of these were experiences I had already had, and with the exception of the college graduation, none of them had been in my original life plan.  But then, as if that wasn't enough, it was made known to me (or at least suggested very strongly) that at some point I would be able to marry and have children, and enjoy the life of motherhood and helpmate-hood, and home-i-ness that I had always hoped for and planned for.

(Don't think for a minute that I don't know that I just made up two new words in that paragraph above.  Just call me Charlotte Webster.  It's just a matter of time before I publish my own dictionary.)

That's all I remember about that day, but from then on, at times when I would feel frustrated about life, I would think back to how I felt then, and I would be comforted.

As it turned out, it was many many years (like nearly fifteen) before the helpmate-hood came about, and another year or so after that before the motherhood part started, but they both came.

You might have guessed though, that my original life plan included more than one child.  In addition, it did not include me working outside the home, or in the employment of any one other than myself and my family.  It included a houseful of children, and me staying home with them, helping with homework, teaching them to cook and straighten the house, working in the garden, volunteering in the PTA, attending Little League games and band concerts, you get the idea.

That's okay though.  As I've written here before, I've found peace with the differences between what I wanted and what I have, and I've accepted that the Lord's plan for my life and my plan for my life are not the same.  I've learned that given the choice between the Lord's plan and my plan, His plan is always more fulfilling, more joyful, and all-around better, and I will do well to choose His over mine every time.  So I do.  I choose His plan for me, and I trust that whether in this life, or the next, I will have the desires of my heart.  If that means a bunch of kids to raise and a passel of grandchildren eventually, then that's what I'll get, at some point.  And I can be okay with that.  Shoot, I can be better than okay with that, I can be happy, and joyful, and have a whole lot of fun and laughs with the life I have now, while I contentedly wait for the other righteous things that I want to enjoy and experience.  I can do that, and I do do that.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, just when I thought I had made peace with all that I had, and had learned to find joy in my unexpected journey, the Lord turned around and gave me what I most wanted, and filled my house full of kids.  


They aren't really my kids of course, at least not in the sense that I clothe them, and put them to bed, soothe their nightmares, and register them for kindergarten or preschool.  They have their own homes, and their own parents for all of that.  Nor do I see them every day, but on the days that I'm working from home, or on the weekends, it seems that they nearly always find their way over to our door, ready for play and fun and adventure.


It all started out with these two blondies, but over the past few weeks, the group has gradually expanded to include a semi-random assortment of girls and boys who come in and out of our home, stopping here for a break, a snack, some fun, before heading back out on their route of great places and imaginings.

On this day, they each wanted an individual fort.

They made this yarn web, and then started playing some kind of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" game where once they woke up from their web-sleep, they were suddenly monsters who went out to try to get other people into the web and into their monster-hood.  They came up with this entirely on their own, and it totally cracks me up.
(I even left Livy's red-eye un-edited in this picture, in honor of the occasion.)   





About a week ago, I was in the kitchen, chopping vegetables or something all domestic like that.  Our kitchen has a window that looks out into our living room, where there were some kids playing, (building a yarn web like those you see above, if I remember right).  Every once in awhile, I would hear a big "THUD" from Heather's room above, where other kids were presumably jumping off her (not so high as to be super dangerous, but still high enough to be adventurous and a little risky) dresser onto the floor, as well as off the bed.  As I did so, I had a feeling that was not all that different from the one I had lived all those years ago in that empty apartment.

Again, it wasn't really in words as much as it was a feeling, but the feeling I got was one of peace.  This time, I did try to put my words to it, and although this isn't an exact translation, it's not all that far off.  It's a little personal, and some may find it cheesy, but it's as close as I can get, so I'm just going to post it, cheese and all:

"See?  You DO have it ALL.  I told you you would, and you absolutely do.  You have a  husband who is patient and hilarious and understanding, a home that is full of love, a daughter that is all that you could ever want, a circle of friends that is un-matched, a job that you enjoy, a mind full of happy memories, and well, well, well, would you look at that??  You even have a house full of children!  

Did you think I had forgotten you?  Never.  Not even for one moment."

Making a Collage


Some years ago, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk in General Conference that has stayed with me ever since.  It was a pep talk of sorts, filled with a few stories, a few scriptures, some counsel for us to keep going when things seem difficult or even hopeless.  It was a talk that contained a whole lot of hope.

On that particular day, he chose to end his sermon with this:

Some blessings come soon,
some come late, 
and some don't come until heaven; 
but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, 

they come.

I believe that with all my heart.  

(After all, I've got a house full of kids to prove it.)


*Patriarchal Blessing:  My explanation is that this is a blessing given to Latter-day Saints when they reach a semi-mature age (I was 14 when I received mine), by a person with a special calling in the priesthood, (called a Patriarch).  Priesthood Blessings can be given at any point many times over the course of a person's life, but a Patriarchal Blessing is generally given only once.  Unlike other blessings, the Patriarchal Blessing is recorded, saved, and while kept private, is also (ideally) read over and over again many times throughout the person's life.  I feel like mine provides a glimpse into how my Father in Heaven sees me, some of my strengths, some of my weaknesses, and provides guidance into His plan for me, and what may be in store for me in this life, if I am faithful and continue to keep the commandments, and stay close to God.  

For a more official definition, look here.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Random Photo Friday--p.s. edition

So, remember when I wrote about the smells of my childhood (and Eric's childhood)?

Here's another one:



The smell of a chainsaw cutting through pitchy wood carries me back to fall afternoons in the mountains, gathering wood for our winter.  Truth be told, these wood-gathering days were some of my least favorite days of the year, and I don't yearn for them in the least.  All the same, the smell of that wood is a very comforting familiar scent to me, and I love it.

. . . And I love being able to turn on the natural gas in my home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Garden for Next Year

We took down the garden last week.  While I'm thinking of it, I'm going to put some notes here on things that I want to do differently next year than we did this year.  It's not going to be thrilling reading, so don't feel like you need to read it.

To plant next year:
-Tomatoes (4 Early Girls, 2 of any combination of Jelly Bean, Sweet 100s, Sungold)  It might be time to get some new tomato cages, most of the ones I have are getting pretty hammered
-Strawberries (obviously)
-Swiss Chard
-Green Beans (more next time around--this year did 2 squares--not enough)--also, they should be POLE beans)
-If I decide to do Jalapenos, make sure to buy the plants--but maybe do anaheims or banana peppers instead.
-green onions

Notes to remember for next years garden:

1 square of swiss chard is plenty
Don't bother with peas--the growing season is too short in Cache Valley to make it worthwile
Sweet 100 tomatoes are SOOOOO much better than grape tomatoes
Cucumbers like to run, but not to climb
Think about using mom's wrought iron pot arrangement for herbs.
If I get really ambitious, clean out the space by the fence and plant winter squash there.  Spaghetti Squash does not do well in the container garden.

Here's a sample plot of the square foot garden:

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Grand Cedar Finale--a/k/a the last sputtering of pics from our Cedar City visit

Wanna win a pair of fingerless gloves, crocheted by yours truly??  Click HERE!

The rest of our days in Cedar City were filled with . . .

Awesome cousin time:
Nothing like sharing a slice of watermelon with your cousin straw-style.  This was ShaLiece's idea.  I don't think she knows it, but ShaLiece is one of my parenting mentors.  I'm sure you can understand why.

An epic battle of air hockey:
Pure determination right here.


Don't feel like you have to watch this movie unless you are related to us.  It's a little on the dry side.  I do love it though when Ty says, "Come to papa!" a few times, and how Heather says (with her adorable lisp), "I wanna get some points!"  though.
MVI 0342 from Charlotte on Vimeo.

An improptu barbeque followed by ice cream in the backyard:Photobucket

A Cross-Country Meet in St. George, (where we watched my niece Kaylee kick it big time):  

See Spencer in the back there?  I totally took him on in a pool-noodle-light-saber fight.  He nailed me to the wall, and then, not sparing my feelings in the least, was sure to tell me how much he would have rather had Uncle Eric come to visit than me.  Shocker, I know.  (He wasn't kidding, but he wasn't as brutal as it sounds.  It was more like he was stating a fact than trying to decimate my feelings.  I didn't take offense.  Robo Hero Guardians have to stick together you know.)

Heather just chillin' with the bus driver.  Ain't no thang.  (Did I use that phrase correctly?)


And finally, and visit to the Cache Valley Cheese outlet on our way home.  
Does anyone else find it ironic that we live in Cache Valley, but always get our squeaky cheese from Beaver?
What's up with that?

And there you have it.  The last bit of pictures from a fabulous trip, spent with fabulous people, making fabulous memories.  Good times for sure.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Random Photo Friday - Sacajawea Edition

Wanna win a pair of fingerless gloves, crocheted by yours truly??  Click HERE!


One afternoon last August, I was at work, depositing some money from some of our food concessions.  To my joy, I found that the pile of cash included several Sacajawea dollars.

Am I the only grown-up that gets a little jump of glee at dollar coins?

(Please tell me I'm not.)

So, since I was just going to deposit them anyway (for the festival, I mean), I traded them out for several of my own paper dollars, and deposited those instead.  For several weeks after that, I carried the coins around in my wallet, spending them here and there as the opportunities presented itself.  For some reason, it just feels better buying something with a dollar coin, and I had a great time pulling them out as needed.

Little joys.

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