Monday, January 28, 2008

President Hinckley

More than half of the readers of my blog are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, yet all of you know me well enough to know our beliefs. I appreciate those of you who have e-mailed me the past couple of days to express your condolences about the death of our prophet and president of the church, President Gordon B. Hinckley. Thank you for thinking of me, and knowing the significance of his death to me.

President Hinckley, the fifteenth president of the church, passed away at 7:00 pm on Sunday, January 27. He was 97 years old.

This is actually a very bittersweet time for most of the members of the church. Although we will miss him greatly, there was no one more prepared to be greeted by those on the other side. His sweet wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, passed away on April 6, 2004. He has frequently commented on how lonely he is without her. I can imagine what a joyous reunion that has been.
One of Ryan’s favorite books is “The Story of the Walnut Tree.” It is the story that President Hinckley originally told in the April 2000 conference, about planting a black walnut seed in the yard at his home, the growth of the tree and his care of the tree, and finally, the tree being cut down and used to make the pulpit at the Conference Center. We love the book, because as each page talks about different elements of the care and growth of the tree, there are corresponding stories of the care and growth of President Hinckley and his family. We are reading the story again tonight for Family Home Evening. I also recorded a special broadcast that aired last night after Ryan went to bed that we are going to watch. We will also review some of President Hinckley's direction and challenges to us from past conference talks.For those of you in my WGU family, our friend Kevin Schlag shares President Hinckley’s birthday, although they were born exactly 60 years apart. (Kevin is now serving as a Bishop in Laie, Hawaii.)

As we learned of President Hinckley’s death, Ryan and I reflected on the wonderful opportunity that we had to see him in person twice in the past four months. We know that there are millions of members of the Church that would love to have that opportunity even once in their lives. We are grateful that we were able to have that amazing experience twice so recently. We will miss his smile, his sense of humor, his endless energy, his absolute conviction and testimony, and especially his love.(Photos from

Saturday, January 26, 2008

LASIK Report

I know several of you are curious about how things went yesterday. Since I have now passed the 24 hour window of not reading or working on the computer, it’s time to blog! (Sorry, no pictures.)

First of all, Debra, thanks for covering for me. I hope my students didn’t have too many “emergencies.” I guess I’ll find out on Monday. Let me know when you re-reschedule your Murphy’s Law trip. I’ll be happy to cover! Second, Kathy, thanks for the referral. They were awesome!

My appointment was for 10:30, and they told me to expect to be there approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours. They said my actual surgery would probably be at about noon. I went through all of the paperwork (medical releases, etc.) with them, and then had a brief meeting with the surgeon. She was great to talk me through every step of the procedure – what I would see, hear, feel, smell, etc. You all know that I like to be fully prepared and know everything to expect, so I really appreciated that. She gave me a Valium, some numbing drops, and some dilating drops, and then I waited in the waiting room for my eyes to dilate.

(Kristin, you may want to skip the next three paragraphs. Although, I’m going to say that after all of the nasty medical things you’ve endured, I think this would be a piece of cake for you. How did your sister’s go on Thursday?) When my eyes had numbed and dilated, one of the medical assistants came to get me. She had me sit on the little operating-table-thingy, and she drew on my eyes. Yep, drew right on my eyeballs. I, being me, asked exactly what, why, how, and with what she was drawing. She said they make little marks at “three-o-clock” and “nine-o-clock” on your eyeballs, and then draw a line connecting those marks. There is a corresponding line on the machine that they line up with the line on your eye. Oh, and just in case any of you are wondering, they use the same kind of marker that other surgeons use for marking body parts before surgery.

They actually used two different machines for me. The tables and machines are really interesting. You lie on the table, and then it moves into position under the machine. They put a pillow under my knees, and had me hold a stuffed monkey named Seymour (Get it? See-more.) So, first they put this ring thing around my eye, and it kind of pressed down against my eye socket. Then they put the machine over my eye that did this weird suction thing. (Kristin, if you’re being brave and still reading, I admit, this part was kind of freaky.) It seriously felt like they were going to suck my eyeball right out of the socket! It is at that point that they cut the cornea to make a little flap to lift up. Then they did the same thing on the other eye.

After they made the “cornea flaps,” they had to put more numbing drops and dilating drops in, and had to wait a few minutes for those to take effect. Then they had me lie on the other table, and it moved into position under the other machine. I appreciated that they all talked to me the whole entire time. Just like with my meeting with the surgeon, they told me everything they were going to do, everything I would see and feel, etc. It was pretty comforting to know what was going to happen and when to expect it. So, at this point, they actually started doing the work with the laser. It was kind of a weird sound, and there was kind of a weird smell. I tried not to think about it, and tried really hard to picture myself on a beach on Kauai. When it was done, they put my cornea back in place with a little spatula thing. I could see it running across my eye, and as they ran it across my eye, I could start to see things a little bit. Then they did the same thing on the other eye. When that one was done, they had me sit up and look at the clock. It was five minutes to noon. I was done quite a bit before I expected.

Kristin, you can come back. :) They taped “shields” over my eyes, which are like the lenses from glasses, but with little vent holes all over. They also gave me three sets of eye drops – one to do every 20 minutes, one to do every hour, and another one to do every four hours.

I went to my parents’ house and rested for a few hours. I was supposed to sleep for about four hours, but I only slept for about an hour. (Thanks for calling to check on me, Rick!) When I got home to my house, I wasn’t supposed to read or work on the computer. That was extremely difficult. So I cleaned out the fridge & freezer. Hey, Syd, I kept thinking about the day I had my wisdom teeth pulled – and we went dancing that night! I was impressed when the surgeon called to check on me - to make sure I was doing ok and to see if I had any questions or concerns. I thought that was cool.

I had my check up this morning at 8:30. Things were still kind of cloudy, but not blurry. Both the O.D. and the surgeon said that’s normal, and that my vision should continue to improve for another couple of weeks. Yea!

So…in case anyone is interested in having your own little LASIK adventure, I have discount coupons that I can pass along! I’ll continue to give you updates. But, so far, so good!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ryan's NEW "Best Day So Far This Year"

A couple of weeks ago, Rick and I went to the Clark Planetarium for a 3-D film. We saw posters for another 3-D show about the space station, and thought that would be a really cool one to see. We also knew that Ryan would love it. When Ryan and I were at the “Super Reader” party last Saturday, the Clark Planetarium booth had posters advertising it, too. The three of us made plans to see it last Saturday (January 19).

Rick picked us up and we went in to the Gateway. We got our tickets, and then were able to walk around the planetarium for a while before the show started. The show was amazing! It was all taken in, on, and around the space station, so when the astronauts did space walks, it was like we were doing it right along with them. There was one part when a rocket was blasting off, and debris and rocks came flying, that Ryan kind of hunched down in his seat and held his hands up to block his face. It freaked him out for a few seconds, but then he laughed it off. It was hilarious watching him reaching for things that were floating around, seemingly right in front of us. It was a very cool show.

We had lunch at Costa Vida in the Gateway, and then drove out to Antelope Island - Rick’s great suggestion. Rick loves photography, particularly anything in the outdoors. Ryan also enjoys taking pictures of cool things, usually from very unique angles. We thought it would be fun to go exploring a little bit out there, seeing what interesting things we could photograph.

We started at the Visitor’s Center, where we also got the Junior Ranger book for Ryan to work through. We did most of the activities in the book there in the Visitor’s Center. Ryan enjoyed watching all of the birds (Rick taught him the names of each one they saw) and a little jackrabbit.
There were a couple of activities that we needed to do out on the island, so we took off down the hill. We saw two buffalo – one was scratching his head on a rock. Ryan thought that was pretty funny, so Rick pulled over so Ryan could take a couple of pictures.
We had seen a larger herd of buffalo further south on the island, so we drove over to check them out. The late-afternoon sun was shining on the Wasatch Mountains to the east, and it was beautiful! Ryan immediately wanted to hop out and start taking pictures. Rick put his camera together and went out with Ryan. It was fun watching them both trudging through the snow, kneeling down right in the snow for good shots. I had a great time sitting in the warm car watching both of them. (Ryan apparently enjoys taking pictures at a 45-degree angle. Yes, he did that on purpose. He took 38 pictures during the day. I have chosen my four favorites.)
We started driving to the ranch, but then realized that if we did, we wouldn’t make it back to the Visitor’s Center before it closed. After all of Ryan’s hard work, we needed to make it back for him to be “sworn in” as a Junior Ranger, and to get his pin. When we got to the Visitor’s Center, they were literally locking the doors. The main ranger looked through Ryan’s book, and then asked him some questions about some of the things in the book. Then he had Ryan read the Junior Ranger pledge and sign his name below it, and then gave him his pin. Ryan was so proud!

We wore Ryan out. He fell asleep on the way home.

In church on Sunday, Ryan drew a picture of himself and Rick taking pictures of the buffalo herd. I have scanned it, and will post it within the next couple of days. The original is on its way to Rick, and I want him to see it first before he sees the scanned version here.

Ok, here it is...
Thanks for the great day, Rick! It was wonderful! I’m going to have to say that it was MY best day so far this year, too!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

“My Best Day So Far This Year”

This is what Ryan dubbed today on our way home this evening. It WAS a very fun day.

A few months ago, we started participating in the KUED 15th Annual Reading Marathon. We read together every day – a lot – and thought it would be fun to track our minutes for the marathon. When it was over, we turned in our chart at the library. A few weeks later, we received an invitation in the mail to the Super Reader party which was held today. It was held at The Grand Building at the Utah State Fairpark, and it was great! Ryan’s highlight was having his picture taken with Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat.
Several of our favorite places around town had booths. We learned about magic in the SLC Library booth…
Made Tagua Nut jewelry (looks like ivory) and learned about Rainforests in the SLC Boys & Girls Club booth…
Learned about space (and made helicopter toys) in the Clark Planetarium booth…
Pet a boa constrictor and observed the skulls of various animals at the Hogle Zoo booth…
We also made our own kaleidoscopes, watched a few fun shows, got free passes to a show at the Planetarium and admission to the Utah Museum of Natural History, and got some free books! WOO HOO!

Today was also “Capitol Discovery Day” at the newly renovated and re-opened State Capitol Building. After leaving the Super Reader party at the fairgrounds, we headed to the Capitol. We had a great time exploring all of the areas that we normally don’t get to see. There was an “I Spy” scavenger hunt with 22 items to find throughout the Capitol – in the Hall of Governors, The State Reception Room, The Rotunda, The House Chamber, The Senate Chamber, and on the outside of the building. There were several different performing groups in the Rotunda while we were there, and we enjoyed listening to those.
There were several fun craft activities for kids set up in the Rotunda. We had a great time creating our own mosaics…
Creating our own wyvern (a mythical creature that resembles a dragon; often used in medieval heraldry, coats-of-arms, and decoration)…
Creating our own Capitol Building and dome (sorry about the gumdrop in the nose, bud)…
And going through the construction training (complete with construction “license”)…
We had a lot of fun today, and I am so glad that we have so many fun pictures and souvenirs to remember the day.

Oh, and when the Jazz beat the Magic 119 - 115, that was the icing on his little cake!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


At a recent Sunday family dinner:
Ryan: “Mom, when you were little and did something bad, how did Rara & Papa punish you?”
Me: “I never did anything bad.”
Ryan looks at me with a “yea, right” look and rolls his eyes.
After a thoughtful pause…
Ryan: “Marc, when you guys were little and my mom did something bad, how did Rara & Papa punish her?”
Marc: “She never did anything bad.”

After seeing how long he could hold his breath in the tub:
“Have you ever held your breath for so long that you see purple dots and giraffes and stuff? And, like, milk?”
(Please do not report me to DCFS. He now appears to be fine.)

Trying to remember “pineapple”:
“You know…the fruit with armor!”

As Ryan and a friend were watching “Between the Lions”:
Friend: “We could make a show called ‘Between the Ryans.’”
Ryan (whispered to me): “He’s taking my name in vain!”

In the car during a pelting rain storm:
“It sounds like when you’re typing on your computer!”

About a guy I was dating a while ago (with a slight middle-age spread):
“He’s really funny, and I like him. I’m just worried that if he ever took his shirt off, it would gross you out.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Oh, those holiday pounds!

So, you all know that I've been working with a personal trainer for a few months. Yesterday while I was at the gym, she saw me and pulled me into her office "to see how I did over the holidays." Can I just say that is not something you want to hear from your trainer on January 7? But I tried to be really good, and made sure I was there at the gym almost every day through the holidays, so I was hopeful.

I LOST 13 POUNDS!!! The last time I met with her was December 4. Thirteen pounds in just over a month! I was so excited! So was she! She was giving me high fives all over the place. We changed my routine to something much harder on December 4. I now do some pretty serious weight lifting instead of the easier machines. That must be the difference!

As I left her office, I saw my friend, Kim, hopping on the treadmill for her workout. She has also been working with the same trainer (Rachel). I had to tell her my good news! She meets with Rachel tomorrow. GO KIM!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Parties! Parties! Parties!

We’ve been able to spend some fun time with family and friends the past couple of weeks. On Thursday, December 27, we had our annual Jensen family Christmas party. For the first 38+ years of its occurrence, it was held on Christmas night. Last year, we were on our trip until the 27th, so we changed the date so our family could attend. We drove straight home to the party. Literally! We all looked so lovely (thus the absence of photos). This year, we decided to keep it on the 27th. Up until about ten years ago, it was at Grandpa & Grandma Jensen’s home. After they passed away, it has primarily been held at the Strands’.

The timeless traditions of the party include dinner (and the “kids table”), the chocolate fountain, piñata, “Must Be Santa,” and pictures with George the Giraffe. (Thanks, Stephen and Susan for the picture of Mike, Sandy, Randy, Dott, Jean, and Ted.)This year, the most hysterical thing was the piñata. Here are pictures of Aidan, Josh, Abby, and Ryan doing their best to decimate Sponge Bob.
“Must Be Santa” is either loved or hated by family members. I think it was Misty's idea to get it going again with the new generation. Our newest addition to the family, Susan (Stephen's wife), was a great sport.
My "proud mom" moment was when Ryan performed his first piano concert - a duet with Rara. They played "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas."

Six family members were very conspicuously missing. We missed them, and hope they’re able to join us next year.

New Year’s Eve this year was a lot of fun. Ryan attended the Temple Square/Joseph Smith Building First Night activities with Rara & Papa, and then had a sleepover at their house. I went out to dinner with a date (whom I will not name, since I’m not sure if he’s willing to be publicly identified). ;) After dinner, we also went in to the Temple Square/Joseph Smith Building First Night activities. We enjoyed the variety of music, walking around in sub-zero temperatures to view the Temple Square and Main Street Plaza lights, and running into Ryan, Rara & Papa. Ryan thought that was especially cool. After the festivities ended, as we drove into my driveway and got out of the car, about five neighbors started shooting off fireworks (the REALLY cool kind), so we stood out in the driveway and watched them. It was a great evening.

On New Year’s Day, we made our annual trip to Orem for Frances’ dad’s birthday party. His birthday is January 1, so the Andersons always have a New Year’s Day party in his honor. Marc & Frances met us in Sugarhouse and rode to Orem with us.

It was fun getting their trip report. Among other New York touristy things, they went to the top of the Empire State Building (Ryan wondered if they had gone to the VERY top. When Marc said yes, Ryan asked them how they climbed up the pole!) The highlight was Frances’ grandparents’ 50th anniversary party. It sounds like they had a great turnout, and were able to see many friends that they hadn’t seen for a long time

Every time we travel to Utah County, Ryan points out all of the features of Mt. Timpanogos that we’ve taught him over the years, and then asks us to tell him about our climbs to the top. He said he wants to climb to the top. I told him that maybe we could start with the hike to the caves and see how he does. I guess if he can do Diamond Head in April, he could do the Timp caves!

Frances’ dad’s party was pretty fun. The food was great, and it’s always fun to visit with Frances’ extended family. They are the group we went on the cruise with, and we haven’t seen many of them since then. The Andersons also have a Wii, (theirs is on a huge plasma TV). Janell got “Rock Star” for Christmas – there are actually plastic guitars that you hold, and it tells you what notes to play. You choose your character (a variety of rock-ish hoodlums) and rock on! About 10 of us went downstairs and did that. Just a note – be careful how much you flip your hair around when you’re OLD! Neck kinks reminiscent of the hair-flipping shampoo commercial may occur!

After the party, we went to University Mall for a while. I ran into one of my roommates from my senior year at BYU. We have stayed in touch through Christmas letters, but the last time I saw her in person was at my wedding reception! We saw each other across the store and pointed at each other, then ended up talking for quite a while. It was great fun. I met her six kids in person, and we got caught up a little bit more than just in our Christmas letters. That was a really fun coincidence running into her. If you’re reading this, HI DEBBIE!