Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Birthday Celebrations for Ryan!

After Deb’s shower on Saturday, Papa & Ryan met the rest of us at The Pizza Factory for Ryan’s birthday dinner with the fam. We had a great time, and we always love The Pizza Factory!

Sunday after Ryan’s ordination and Rara & Papa’s church, we had another birthday dinner at Rara’s & Papa’s, complete with ice cream cake! Ryan just LOVES all of the help he has blowing out his candles!

Ryan’s Priesthood Ordination

Many family members and friends who read this blog are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So I feel that I need to give a quick explanation about the events of our day.

Most people know that our church has a lay ministry. Our leaders are called from the congregation and serve, rather than being formally trained and/or paid. Our young men are ordained to the priesthood at age twelve, and then progress from there. Every level has service and leadership responsibilities. So, even though we do not have a formal theology training to be a professional religious leader, our young men really do begin their training for leadership and service (not just religious, but in all aspects of life) at age 12.

Sunday, April 29, Ryan was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and the office of Deacon. Papa gave Ryan a beautiful blessing. In addition to Pap & Rara, Marc & Frances, and Alice & Claire, Uncle Randy and Aunt Dott were able to join us. We also invited our home teacher, Jeff Novak and his wife, and also Kevin Lemon and his family. The Lemons are our close friends. Kevin has taken Ryan to many BYU football games over the years, and is now in the Young Men’s presidency. Of course, our wonderful bishop, Bishop Bart Nelson presided.

These were the men who participated in Ryan’s ordination.

And here’s our family after Ryan’s ordination.

I’m so proud of Ryan! He is such a wonderful young man!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Deb’s Shower

Saturday, April 28, we had the baby shower for Deb. We were going to have it at Aunt Jean’s house, but just a few days ago, Deb was put on bed rest, so we had the shower at her house.

Rara & I went in together, and then we met Frances & Alice & Claire there. Aunt Dott & Misty were both able to come since they are up here with Cam at Primary Children’s Medical Center.

The cake pops were a hit, and so were our presents!

Almost all of the cousins together!

Ryan’s Last 11-year-old Scout Campout

Friday afternoon, April 27, I dropped Ryan off with all of his gear for his last campout as an 11-year-old scout. The guys went to Clover Springs, where they have gone before. Our ward and the ward next to us combine for scouts, so Ryan’s best friend in the neighborhood was also there, even though he is in the ward next to us.

They cooked hamburgers, hotdogs, and grilled vegetables for dinner (Ryan’s request). When they turned in for the night, all of the boys were together in one big tent. One boy, who was at camp for the first time, talked and talked. The other boys were a little bit frustrated at his exuberance and desire to stay awake all night. But then they all got up early and ate breakfast by the time the other kid finally rolled out of bed.

For breakfast Saturday morning, they had blueberry pancakes, hash browns, bacon, and orange juice (again, Ryan’s request). They enjoyed playing a bunch of games, and then broke camp and came home. They actually made it home about 2 hours before I thought they would. I was pulling out of the driveway when they pulled up. I hopped out of the car and helped them unload. I was ready to go to Deb’s baby shower, but after a hug from my returning scout, smelled like boy sweat and campfire smoke! Papa came over and hung out with Ryan and got the report of the trip while Rara & I went to Deb’s shower.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Robot Cake Pops

Rara, Frances, and I are helping Aunt Jean and Lisa throw a baby shower for Deb. She is decorating the nursery in bright primary colors, with monsters and robots. Friday after I dropped Ryan off for scout camp, Frances and I spent about five hours making robot cake pops for the shower! We had a lot of help from Alice & Claire!

National Donate Your Hair Day

A couple of summers ago, two of my good friends, Kim Ulmer and Cindy Riley, were both fighting cancer at the same time. Cindy lives in Mississippi, but came to Salt Lake for a week for WGU meetings. I had introduced them online a few months before. Although they were fighting different types of cancer, I thought maybe having each other to turn to might help them.

Cindy had chosen to wear a wig after she lost her own hair. Before Kim’s treatment, she had beautiful red hair. She opted for hats during her treatment, partially because she couldn’t find a reddish wig that was “her.” When the three of us got together in July, Cindy decided to go sans wig since Kim was going to. In the middle of July, they were relatively cool (also partially due to treatment side effects) while I was roasting with my long hair. This is the only picture I have of all of us during that visit. I hate this picture of me, but my friends are beautiful.
Friday, April 27 was National Donate Your Hair day. I had been thinking about cutting my hair again, but when I heard about this day set aside for women all over the country to cut and donate their hair, I was in!

Here are articles about it in the Huffington Post and on the Pantene Beautiful Lengths website, where I donated my hair.

Ryan wasn’t sure about me cutting my hair. Donations have to be at least 8 inches long. I ended up cutting and donating 10 inches! My stylist knows I never style my hair straight (it’s naturally curly, and the time and amount of product to straighten it just aren’t worth it to me). So she straightens it whenever I go to her. Here’s the short hair and the two pony tails for donation right after the cut.
I definitely received mixed reactions to my decision. I heard everything from, “That’s the ugliest hair I’ve ever seen” to, “What possessed you to do that?” And two 3-year-olds in my life didn’t dare come near me since I looked different. But once I washed it and let it curl again, the responses were 100% better. Here’s the look the next day.
And the hair for donation…
I’m not sure how (maybe Cindy), but my hair donation was even written about in our department newsletter for work! I’m glad I did it. Someone will benefit from my hair.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ryan’s 12th Birthday

Ryan had a pretty hectic birthday!  He had a student council meeting before school, so he got up bright and early to get ready and be there on time.  He took birthday doughnuts to share with the student council.
I mentioned in this post that he gave his 7th grade officer speech right after lunch.
Toward the end of the school day (after the speeches and voting), I took donuts for his class.  I was hoping that they’d announce the winner of the 7th grade officer campaign while I was there.  As I was getting ready to leave, the teachers called together all of the candidates to tell them the results.  It was my carpool day, so I decided to just go and read in the car until the school day ended.
One of Ryan’s friends came up the stairs toward me first.  He let me know that another girl had won.  This girl has been one of Ryan’s good friends over the years, and will be great as an officer.  But that doesn’t make the disappointment any easier.  Ryan came out to the car and was very upset.  Once we dropped off the other kids, we talked it through.  He has an interest in trying out for many of the school sports teams next year.  When we met with his junior high counselor and told her he was running, she made a comment about how difficult it is to participate in sports when you have so many after school responsibilities as an officer.  After our discussion, he decided it was ok that he didn’t win.
Ryan’s only birthday request has been a cell phone.  I have gone back and forth about it, to be honest.  But he is involved in so many things, especially during the summer, that I think it will actually be easier for both of us if he has one.  The new Android phone was released today.  No, he didn’t get one.  But representatives were there with balloons and gift bags full of stuff.  We mentioned that we were there to get a phone for his birthday, and they gave him one of the gift bags, too!  You know I love free things!
That evening, we picked up Rara and Papa and went to Ryan’s favorite restaurant – Brick Oven.  We ALL love Brick Oven!  (And…speaking of free…we got his birthday meal free.  Yea!)  Ryan enjoyed the attention of having the cute waitresses sing to him. And that dessert!  Good thing they brought four spoons!

Ryan also decided that he wanted to go to scouts one last time before moving up.  They have a campout this weekend and were going shopping for the trip.  The leaders told Ryan that he could choose all of the food for the campout, since it would be his last one with the group.  How could he resist?
At the end of the day, Ryan reported that even though there was the initial disappointment of losing the election, it ended up to be a great birthday!

7th Grade Officer Campaign

I mentioned in this post that I was able to be in Ryan’s classroom on the day he gave his classroom speech for 7th grade officer. He was one of the students selected from his class to go on to campaign in the entire 6th grade. He decided to use a Forrest Gump theme for his campaign.

His poster…

(It's hard to tell from his picture, but we used 3-D pop dots to attach the picture of him running.)

His campaign speech/skit to the entire 6th grade was given on his birthday. He had borrowed one of Papa’s old briefcases for his skit, and couldn’t get it open at the last minute! He called Papa, who ran up to the school to help. They ended up having to pry open the briefcase with a screwdriver! The assistant principal jokingly asked if anything was going to explode as the briefcase flew open. They were able to open it, and Ryan gave his speech:


From the time I was young, my friend Jenny used to say, “Run, Forrest, Run!”

So here I am… *running* for 7th grade office.

My Mama used to say, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

(Ryan held up a box of chocolates that he pulled from the briefcase.)

You know what you’re gonna get with me. I’ve been on the student council this year, and I’ve worked my hardest to make this school and school year great.

My Mama used to say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I want to make sure that no one feels stupid due to bullying or because they don’t have what others may have.

My Mama used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

As we go into junior high, we want to keep the friends we have from Muir, but we also want to make new friends that went to other schools. Remember to say nice things about others.

My Mama used to say that you can tell a person by their shoes, where the go, where they've been. I've worn lots of shoes.

(I gave Ryan a pair of my old, trashed running shoes. He took a pocket knife to them and destroyed them even more. He wore them during his speech/skit.)

As you can see by my shoes, I’ve been working really hard this year. If you vote for me, I’ll work just has hard next year.

Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!

(Run around)

My name is Ryan Olson, and I’m *running* for 7th grade officer.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mother of a Hero

On January 29, 1991, LCpl Dion J. Stephenson was killed in action in Saudi Arbaia.
Photo from

Dion was a high school classmate of mine. He was on the swim team and the soccer team, as well as involved in many other sports and activities. Although I did not know him well, his death literally hit close to home.

I was not able to attend Dion’s funeral. I had just started a new job at Salt Lake Community College the first week of January, and was unable to take the time off. Several friends attended the funeral, so I made a copy of the funeral program.
But as I left work that day, I drove by the State Capitol and then Woods Cross High School and took pictures of the flags at half-staff in his honor.
I drove through the cemetery and took pictures of the memorial placed in his honor, as well as any others who would be killed in action. Some of Dion’s funeral flowers were placed by the memorial.
Later I made a scrapbook page with the funeral program, my pictures, and the newspaper coverage of his death.
Dion’s parents still live about ½ mile east of me. I see them a couple of times a year around town. I always make sure I stop to talk with them, and they always thank me for remembering Dion, and remembering who they are.

Saturday when Ryan & I were grocery shopping, I saw Dion’s mom. I reminded her who I am, and then introduced her to Ryan. I asked Ryan if he recognized the name Dion Stephenson. He said, “Isn’t he that Desert Storm guy?” Not as eloquent of an answer as I would have liked, but I could tell that she was impressed that Ryan knew.

I told her that Ryan is a swimmer. Our pool is named after Dion, and a sign is painted right above the door with his name and other information.
Dion’s mom mentioned that she hadn’t been back to the pool since the dedication ceremony. One of Dion’s best friends from the Woods Cross soccer team and swim team now has a swimmer on the Tsunami swim team with Ryan. Dion’s mom was thrilled to hear that. I mentioned some other classmates with kids on the Tsunami team, too. With a few of us having kids who are now swimmers, she asked me to let her know when the next home swim meet is. She wants to come and see the next generation of swimmers competing in the pool named for her son, the war hero.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


You all know that I weep easily. My mom says that I get that trait from my little Polish great-grandmother. That makes sense, since I also inherited her physical characteristics (round, mostly!).

The past couple of days, my mood has reflected the grey, wet spring weather. I don’t know if more water has fallen from the sky or my eyes.

Over the past year, three boys Ryan’s age have had mothers fighting brain tumors. Two of them passed away last summer, and we just found out this morning that another is losing her battle, and is not expected to make it through the week. My heart is breaking again that children so young are losing their mother. Our prayers are with our little swim team friend, Cameron, and his family.

Sunday, my cousin’s 2 ½ year old son was hit by a car near their home in St. George. Interestingly, his name is Cam, too. He was brought up to Primary Children’s Medical Center, where he will undergo extensive surgeries the next few weeks. His first surgery is scheduled for Monday – an 8-9 hour surgery which will remove muscle from his back and skin from his thigh in order to reconstruct his foot. He will be sedated for a week in order to begin the healing process. We were able to visit with his parents for a while, although he was asleep following the exploratory surgery on his ankle. Our prayers are also with Cam and his family.

Recently I was talking with a long-time family friend, with whom I have shared many tears over the years through our life challenges. We have both lost family members in a tragic manner, and we have both conquered life-threatening illnesses. (When I first saw her after I had recovered from bacterial spinal meningitis, she rushed to me and hugged me with so much exuberance! She told me how happy she was to see me. We don’t see each other often, but she still greets me with that same love and exuberance.) During our discussion, I mentioned to her that I was always so embarrassed at how easily I cried when talking with others who were facing challenges (or when I’m listening to some church talks, or expressing my love and appreciation to those who have done so much for us, etc.). She scolded me! She told me that she had been impressed by a talk many years ago where a well known institute teacher talked about the shedding of tears in this manner was a strength, not a weakness. She looked at the sharing of tears as a spiritual gift, and the empathy to truly mourn with those who mourn. She made me look at myself in a whole new light. Although I’m sure I’ll still be embarrassed by my easily flowing tears on occasion, I’m going to remember her perspective.

“A strong person is not one who doesn’t cry. A strong person is one who is quiet and sheds tears for a moment, and then picks up her sword and fights again.”


On Monday, April 23, Cam underwent an all-day surgery. The muscle and nerves were successfully removed from his back and his foot was reconstructed. Then the skin graft was taken from his thigh and successfully attached to cover his foot. While it was expected that he would be fully sedated for a week, he made sufficient progress to only be partially sedated, and was awake from Tuesday night on.

On Tuesday, April 24, at about 3:30 am, our friend Heidi passed away.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You Rock!

I saw a really fun idea on Studio 5 (I think) a couple of weeks ago. Like with most things I see, I used the general idea as a starting point, and then made some changes to make it my own.

I started with a picture frame ($1 at D.I.) and a rock (free). For many years, I have collected heart-shaped things in nature. This is my somewhat-heart-shaped-rock. I thought it would be perfect for this project.

I found a piece of scrapbook paper in my stash, as well as a couple of large silver 3-D letters. I also found a picture of “I love you” written in sand on the Internet, and cut out the “you” to use. I glued the “you” and the “at” in silver letters on the scrapbook paper, and put it in the frame.
I used liquid nails and glued the rock on the outside of the glass. I then used a white-board marker to write “public speaking” on the glass. (“You *rock* at public speaking.”)
The fun thing about this project is that I can erase the white board marker and write different things (swimming, basketball, vacuuming – he does rock at vacuuming, etc.) depending on the circumstances.

He LOVED it! It took less than an hour of work, and $1 to make his day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

7th Grade Officer Classroom Speech

Ryan has enjoyed being on the student council this year. He is a natural leader, and is always so kind to everyone; most of his classmates really like him. He has decided to run for 7th grade officer for next year. Since several elementary schools feed into each junior high school, and since student government officers have responsibilities before the school year begins, there are elections at each of the feeder elementary schools. Each elementary school chooses one student to represent them in the 7th grade officers.

There are three 6th grade classes at Ryan’s elementary school. All students who wanted to run for office had to make a speech to their own class. The classes each then chose two students to run. The week of Ryan’s birthday, each student will put up a poster in the 6th grade common area, and then will give a speech to the entire 6th grade. The students will then vote, and the student with the highest number of votes will be the representative. Conveniently, since Ryan’s birthday falls that week, we’ll be taking treats. Non-bribery, of course.

I was able to hear Ryan’s classroom speech, since I was there for my volunteer time. He did a great job. He is hilarious, and had the class laughing, even without his *laughter* and *applause* signs. He talked about how much he had enjoyed serving on the student council this year, and then talked about some of the things he would make sure that the students had in junior high – like access to indoor plumbing, lunch EVERY DAY, a choice of classes that they could take. They thought that was pretty funny.

It will be fun to see how he does!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Junior High Registration!

Ryan is registered for junior high! AAAHHHH!!!!!

Classes: Honors Science (first place in microbiology in the district, after all!), Honors English, Honors Social Science, Honors Math, German, Exploring Technology, Art, and PE.

Even though I have high school friends with kids getting married, going to college, and going on missions, it’s still hard for me to believe that my kid is going to junior high!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

6th Grade Rocket Launch

Wednesday, April 11, was the annual 6th grade rocket launch at Ryan’s school. Ryan and Papa have spent the last week working on the rocket. Since so many different components had to dry before the next step could be completed, they had to work on it a little bit every day.

The students had the option to pay to upgrade the body of the rocket, the motor, or both. I was the one who did the order forms for Ryan’s class. Some students spent as much as $40 to upgrade their rocket and motor! Sorry, that’s just not in my budget.

The day of the launch, I had a meeting at about the same time as the launch. :( But Rara & Papa were both available, so they both went to watch. Ryan’s rocket apparently had a fin broken by the student who put it on the launch pad. As it launched, it went up in a spiral, came down in a spiral, and continued to spin on the ground! I was at the school later that day doing my volunteer math tutoring, and most of the students were talking about how cool Ryan’s flight pattern was! See, no $40 upgrade necessary! (By the way, many of the upgraded rockets went so high and/or so far that they were lost forever. Might as well throw a couple of $20s into the wind!)

Thank goodness Rara took pictures. :) Ryan is in a turquoise blue hoodie. The largest upgraded rockets are the pink one on the left and the orange one on the right.