Friday, August 29, 2008

Appetite and Stomach Shrinking

I have some more things to add about my "diet". Yesterday, I roasted a chicken for dinner. Usually I am such a pig that I can eat half of the breast plus more. The bird I cooked was a 5 pound chicken so it was medium sized. Well, I had quite a bit of salad and one piece of whole grain bread with Country Crock Spread on it. I was surprised that after eating the half of a breast plus the salad and toast, I was full!!!! This means that after a month of cutting portion sizes down, I am finally feeling full sooner! Quite the little scientific discovery for me. I am not feeling as hungry all of the time, but I still desire to eat quite often. I try to just snack on things that don't have many calories. Today I looked on a package of cream cheese that is 1/3 the fat of regular cream cheese. It was only 70 calories for one ounce of it. Then I looked on the package of mozzarella cheese sticks. One of those packages is an ounce of cheese and have 80 calories. The cream cheese actually had less calories. I spread some of it on a lightly salted rice cake and had a great snack for 100 calories!(the rice cake had only 30 calories) It was pretty filling. I have also found that eating a good sized salad as a snack can be quite filling as well. The Kraft brand has some good "lite" dressings that taste good such as their Lite House Italian dressing. Some people like the Zesty style, but I prefer the creamier taste of house. I didn't like the way slimfast suggests using many different types of spritzers and sprays. Each one costs 2-3 dollars and you don't use them up very fast. Ryan says that is how slimfast makes their money- by getting people to try and use more expensive products which is advertising for the other companies. You can still eat healthy without having to buy so many different sprays, spritzers, butters and vinaigrette's. They do make otherwise bland foods taste better though! If anyone tries out the slimfast plan, you will notice the amount of garlic that is used in the dinner menus. I loved it but my family complained about the smell when I cooked and they wouldn't eat the veggies very often. Their loss I guess. I thought it all tasted great- especially when you are starving! Ryan eats everything I cook and he tries to get the kids to taste the foods. Dallin is our best veggie eater since he has grown up on soy milk. It tastes more "natural/dirt like" while cows milk is much sweeter/fatter and kids get used to that flavor. I have been better at getting Dallin to eat veggies at an earlier age and continuing to give them to him even if he didn't like them for a while. My older two won't even try things again that they hated in the past. Someday their taste buds will change. I will just have to keep presenting them with veggies. I used to be the worst about eating veggies. So if I can change, anyone can change!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Neither of them talk.....

Yersterday as we were getting ready to go to school, Sydney began tell a riddle that she made up about flies. "Which would you rather catch- a fly that can fly or a fly that can't?" I said, "A fly that can't fly- since it is easier to catch". Then she said "But you don't know if it is faster at walking" and then she began to laugh at her little riddle. I then started thinking about the riddle that says "Which is heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold?" I then changed it and asked Sydney, "Which has more volume, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold?" She replied, neither of them since they both don't talk!"

My Daughter the Drama Queen

For the first day of school, Sydney came to me actually asking me to do her hair and nails! Who was I to turn her down? Of course I could do her hair since she never lets me. She wanted to use the rollers and insisted that I put them in. Never mind that her hair is much shorter now and so her hair would be frizzy curly. The next morning her hair was a version of a poodle-doo and she made me straighten it out as much as possible. It had a little extra volume that day! We still had fun doing her nails and watching the closing ceremony of the olympics together while I rolled her hair. Fun times!

Sydney is a ham for the camera and this is how she wanted to show off her nails.

Next, she wanted to go for a partial rap look.

The next two pictures were taken after she insisted on posing and begging me to take the picture. No, She is not scared or sreaming- she is acting and it looks pretty convincing to me!

Sydney- My Drama Queen......

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday Weigh In

I lost a pound and 1/2! That brings my total to six and 1/2 pounds! I'm now at 176 lbs. This week was the hardest week for me yet. I was getting over a sinus infection that I needed antibiotics for. I didn't feel up to cooking anything intricate so I tried to just be careful of my caloric intake. Usually Slimfast would have me cooking for about an hour or more at dinner time. I didn't feel like thinking too much so I didn't follow the plan. One night we had a stirfry that used frozen veggies and a pre-made sauce in a packet. I thought it would still be good since it's veggies. We also had brown rice with it. I noticed the next morning that I still had gained an extra pound of weight. The stirfry had a lot of sodium. My theory is that whenever I eat foods that are high in sodium, my body just packs on the water. I think this is why when I am pregnant I gain so much weight. Especially with my last pregnancy I was carrying excess amniotic fluid and just a week after giving birth I had lost 25 lbs. Dallin was only 6 lbs, 2oz so a good majority of the weight was excess fluid. Even the placenta and amniotic fluid would not weigh 18 lbs. I do plan on getting pregnant sometime in the future- just not for a little while. I even had another dream a week ago about the next daughter I will have. It reinforced the fact that now is not the time for her to come. But she will come. I have another daughter after her that will come as well. For me and my family, it is important to know this. I don't exactly know why God has decided that I should know my kids so well before they are born, but for some reason I do. I think everyone can feel their presence them if they ask God and really seek to have this experience. It is really about God revealing to you your personal best family situation. For some families this is one child and others it is many. Still for others they may not have children in this life. I enjoy spacing out my kids so that they get sufficient time to themselves with me. Also, my kids don't sleep well at night until about age two so I get very tired easily. Dallin is actually sleeping well now so I don't have anymore problems with him. He is 21 months now. Okay, enough about kids, and right now I really wish I knew HTML so that I could create another paragraph. I should just look it up on the internet. But I need to take the kids outside to play so I don't have time to look it up now. Back to weight loss- I need to loose weight before I get pregnant again. I have not been following the slimfast plan directly now since I know the basics of how to eat healthy for my height/bodytype. Meals are about 300-400 calories and snacks are about 100 calories three times a day. It's better to eat the majority of those calories in veggies and fruits with just 1/4 of it in starches and 1/4 of it in protein during meals. I have to watch portion sizes and sodium content. In order to control hunger I have found that having three scheduled snacks a day helps. If I am still hungry after eating everything for that meal or snack, I try to judge if I'm thirsty, anxious or tired. Then I'll add maybe a little food if I'm truely needing more. I noticed that on the days that I'm most hungry, I'm probably loosing the most weight if I don't add more food. The next day after feeling unusually hungry, I loose a pound. If I do more work or exercise than usual, I seem to be able to eat just a little more calories and still lose the weight. Knowing that I have to report on my weight loss makes me motivated to keep eating healthier. This is working for me!! I'm so excited! One major milestone I want to hit is having someone that doesn't know I'm trying to lose weight, say "Julie- have you lost some weight?" I will have to post something about that person and tell you how I know them. For some reason I think it will be someone from church since I see them only once a week yet they know how big I was before. I wonder who it will be!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pumkins in August?

Well, I got ahead of myself this year and planted the pumpkins a little early. It really was an experiment to see if any of our old seeds from previous years would manage to grow. Well, they worked! We had a carving type pumpin grow and the type you can make pie with. Ryan and I planted about six different types of tomatoes and they are growing well. I haven't been as diligent with fertilizer and bug killer so some of the plants are looking anemic and the squash eating bugs are taking over the zuchinni now. The corn has been good to eat and the grapes are just starting to ripen. Earlier, the snap peas were yummy. We've had some apples, peaches and raspberries and a boat load of Shiro plums. The strawberries were not watered well enough and so the morning glory took over the bed. Really, I've been very busy with the child care business so I haven't been out in the yard enough. Here is a picture of our still growing garden!

Friday, August 22, 2008

We have a new member in our family!

Welcome Molly! Sydney has been bugging us for a bunny. She earned her own money and bought this little female Rex bunny from a breeder. She is show quality and could be brought to the county fair next year if Sydney takes good care of her. As you can see, our dog Sampson loves her and just after this photo was taken, licked her. She likes Sampson as well. We didn't plan on her being the same color as Sampson. It just happened to be the bunny Sydney picked out.

Sydney begged me to use the camera. She had Sampson pose nicely for her. This is her photo of him and all I did was crop it and sharpened it a touch. Good job Sydney!


I was tagged by Heidi! Rules Once Tagged:1) Link to the person who tagged you.2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post.5. Let them know they are tagged and leave a comment on their blog.6) Let the tagger (who tagged you) know when your post is up. Random things about me:

  1. I know nothing about HTML! (I can copy and paste things in order to change my blog though!) If I did, I would make sure I had correct spacing between my paragraphs and whatever else. Any help here is greatly appreciated! I did figure out how to use the button for making lists like this.
  2. My life is flown by the seat of my pants (so-to-speak). I'm not an orderly person- but I do admire people who are. I am impulsive in some ways but I manage to stay out of major trouble.
  3. My daughter is going through a "Princess Diaries" faze and is watching the same 2 movies with Anne Hathaway over and over again. What does this have to do with me? I'll tell you- I learn a lot from good movies like these! I think everyone has an inner princess just dying to come out. I think we all need to feel important to someone. Maybe we want to feel important to a lot of people! When we follow our heart- we are more likely to be influential to others.
  4. I love animals. If I go to a persons house and their dog comes up barking, I lean down and offer the back of my hand to them. If they respond nicely, I will attempt to pet the dog and tell the owner that it's okay the dog is barking and that I love animals. I'm so bad that if a dog is in a car with the window rolled down a little, I will attempt to get the animals attention and just observe how the animal reacts. Some dogs react ferociously, others act interested and seem to beg for attention. I may say to the dog- "Hi pup" or something similar and then go on with my business. I don't pet dogs while they are in someones car. I like my fingers!
  5. My claim to fame is that I am related to the Crocodile Hunter's wife- Terri Irwin. She was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon and we have the same Great- Great Grandpa or something. My mom can trace the linage and is in contact with her since my mom is in charge of that side of the families' genealogy. I like to say that it's in my blood somewhere to marry someone who likes reptiles and to have many animals. We literally have hundreds since we raise the mice to feed the hundreds of snakes Ryan works with. My daughter hasn't met Bindi Sue yet, even though she came with her mom and brother to a reunion a few years back. I think those two would be like two peas in a pod since they both love animals. Sydney and Bindi are just a year apart in age.
  6. When I was in high school I seriously thought about starting a Badminton club. I thought I was pretty good at it in P.E. and it didn't require endless running. I have bad knees and that kept me from playing basketball and soccer. Now Badminton is in the Olympics and I really feel bad I didn't keep up with the sport. (Are you laughing yet? I am!) We recently got a cheap badminton set for the backyard. Sydney took to it quickly and wanted to play it daily. I found out how out of shape I was. It was a good work out! I was just thinking the other day, how could I get to the next Olympics in London? Maybe I need to take up badminton again!

I now tag Ann, Anne, Katie, Kendra, Denise and Heidi C. (it doesn't count if Jared does it!).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wednesday Weigh In

I've decided to start a "Wednesday weigh in" so that I have a time frame to work in and then I report on how I've done. This way, if you are interested in my healthy eating, you only have to check the blog once a week. The rest of the time I will post whatever I feel like! So, to start off, I've lost 5 lbs!!! I started my quest to eat healthy and exercise more often about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I've been eating just about 1500 calories a day I think. It is more than the recommended 1300 calories that slimfast wants me to eat. I figured why not start out a little easier and not cause such a shock to my system. I still desire to eat fast food, but I also just want to eat more veggies- to fill me up! I think it takes a while to "shrink" your stomach so that you don't need so much food to "feel" full. I still have the remnants of a major cold and it may be turning into a sinus infection. This makes it harder to want to eat better. I added a few calories last night by making a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup before bed. I did that to help loosen my congestion. It seemed to help. Well, I hope I can get rid of this before I need to get antibiotics.

Let's play a game....

On the camping trip to Moon Lake, we saw many different animals. I really wished that we had a telephoto lens or a much better zoom lens. Since I didn't have one, we get to play "spot the animal"! The first one is easy since I blew up the picture to get a good look at the squirrel. you should have seen the original picture! If it helps, you can click on the picture to make it a little bigger.

Next, spot the moose!

Now, spot Sampson.

This one is more challenging. Spot the squirrel.

The last one is easier- another Moose!

Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Camping at Moon Lake

This gorgeous rock formation was located about 10 miles south of Moon Lake.
As you get closer to the lake, you go through some tribal lands that let the animals have free range. This was the first time on our trip to see cows in the road. It wasn't the last! Just look beyond the cow and see the beautiful view!
This was the view of the lake from our camp site. It was a beautiful setting!
This was another view right at our campsite. The opening in the fence was how we got down to the water. The next day as Ryan was taking the kids to gather firewood, I saw two deer come bounding up right towards me between the opening in the fence. I was startled and pointed and yelled "deer"!!! Ryan stopped the van and the kids saw the deer. Sampson started barking at them and they turned around and ran back into the forest. They came at me so fast, that I was scared. I probably scared them as well when I yelled. Later on, you will see pictures of the same two deer in our camp. Tyler and Dallin staring at the fire. It was Dallin's first big fire and he was leary of it- good thing!

Sydney also staring at the fire! We roasted hotdogs and made smores each night. The kids loved cooking on the fire. We even had trout for breakfast each morning. There was other foods to eat, but Sydney loved eating the trout that we caught. She loved fishing and went at least twice a day. Tyler caught quite a few fish as well. He loved playing in the mud/sand at the beach area. Dallin wanted to follow everyone to the lake whenever anyone left. This is why we chose a site away from the water, but it had a great view! Sampson loved going into the water and fetching sticks! All of us were so happy to have him with us so that he could be a water dog. I had looked forward for a long time to taking him to a lake. Unfortunatly, the lake has bugs called Buffalo Flies that has a bite worse than a mosquito. Sampson was bitten terribly by the time we looked at his stomach that first night. He had many big welts from where the bugs ate him up. We had to put deet on him just to keep him safe. Poor thing. Luckily the mosquitos were very few in number.

The mornings were cool but when the sun came up, it was refreshing.

Tyler trying to warm up in the morning.

This picture of a moose was taken on the last day but it wasn't the first moose we saw. The first day we saw a female moose drinking. The second day we saw probably the same female moose but this time she had a baby moose with her. The third day we saw the male moose in the same area as the female that we had seen before.

One of two lizards that Ryan caught on our trip. When you flip it over, it has a bright blue stripe down its belly.

This porcupine wandered near our camp when the kids were fishing with Ryan. I grabbed the camera and Dallin and followed at a safe distance. It was sure ugly and slow.

This doe wandered in between our camp site and the neighboring camp site.

A minute later I saw her fawn. They took off together into the bush. We had a great time camping and the kids said it was the best camping trip ever. Next time we will be getting a bigger tent though. Fitting five of us in a small dome tent didn't work very well. We managed to get some sleep but we could have been more comfortable. I thought Ryan had packed a smaller tent for Tyler and Sydney to sleep in with Sampson. I guess he thought we could all fit in the one tent! Sampson slept in the van instead. I fought off being sick with a bad cold but I am glad I went!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Random thought......

As I was going about my work today I had this thought come to mind. "Pity the man or woman who's life changes magically in a day without hard work, toil or strife. Instant riches, power, beauty or fame don't make a person great- for they have learned nothing. "

Friday, August 15, 2008

Been on vacation....

.....and we just got back. I have many photos to edit and stories to write but they will have to wait since my house is a mess. Camping in a small tent with five people for two nights w/o showers means two things. 1. You will be very dirty. 2. You will be very tired. I am both of those plus one more- I got a cold the day we left! I knew it was going to be a doozy when taking two ibuprofen only took the edge off the sore throat. I used a nasal spray decongestant and sucked it up so that our family could have a good camping experience together. It turned out to be a great trip. Ryan, Tyler and Sydney fished everyday. Both of the older kids said it was the best camping experience they ever had and they actually thanked Ryan and I a number of times for taking them. Awwww. I'm so glad I went. Dallin and I both came down with the same cold but Dallin was a couple of days ahead of me. It's hard to judge just how sick a toddler is. Since I was not feeling great, I just hunkered down with Dallin when the wind picked up at the lake. He actually wanted to take naps in the van in his car seat since it was familiar to him. This ended up being a great way to get out of the wind that would occasionally whip up. Hear I go telling a story when I should be getting to bed- it's 11:15 pm. Tomorrow I will be mowing the lawn and the doing the grocery shopping for the week as well as washing a ton of clothing to get out the campfire smell. Gotta love the smell of a good campfire- but I don't like smelling it on my clothes when I get home. For now it's bed time!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

White Trash

This recipe is not for those trying to eat healthy! It comes from my sis-in-law Katie who got it from her sister Lindsay. It has been called other things but Katie and I both like the name "White Trash".


One package of white almond bark

2 cups of already shelled, salted peanuts

5 cups Golden Grahams Cereal

2 cups pretzel sticks (Katie and I both use about 4 cups for the salty flavor)


Melt bark, mix together all of the ingredients in a big bowl until well coated. Spread on wax paper until cool. Break apart and store in an air tight container.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Healthy Eating

What an interesting thing it is to change your diet. I have been tempted so often it's not funny. I have driven past fast-food restaurants a couple of times this week without stopping. When I was grocery shopping, at the checkout I was tempted to grab a candy bar. I bought a pack of tic-tacs instead! Even if I ate the whole pack at once, it would only be 70 calories verses a 220 calorie candy bar. Of course I didn't eat the pack all at once. I just had a few pieces. I even bought happy meals for Dallin and Sydney on Saturday, but only a water for myself!!! I had already had an early (healthy)lunch but Sydney rushed us out the door to see the pets at Petsmart before I fed her and her brother. I did eat a couple of fries and a nugget that Dallin didn't want. That is still waaaaaay less calories than what I normally would have eaten if I didn't start to change my eating habits. I'm a sucker for chicken sandwiches and I love to add a slice of cheese to them. Tonight the diet plan called for veggie burgers with a slice of cheese and whole wheat bun and a yummy fresh green bean skillet recipe that includes teryaki sauce and garlic. The veggie burgers were okay but I really liked the green bean recipe. The veggie burgers use soy as the main protein. They were only a hundred calories for a patty. Later this week we are going camping and so this will be a challenge to eat healthy. I plan to pre-make redbeans and rice using our pink beans from our home storage. If we go out to eat, I will get a salad. Or I can just eat a meal bar and add something like a small bag of fries:). We'll see.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Farmington Canyon

A couple of weeks ago Ryan, Katherine, the kids and I went up Farmington Canyon with the goal of going to the top by the observatory. Katherine had never been up that far and we were excited to show her the beautiful views. It was a very pretty, hot day and so going up the mountain was a good way to escape the heat. The first picture was taken on the way up the canyon, looking over the Salt Lake Valley. As you are looking at the photo, the first mountain range in the distance on your right is actually part of Antelope Island. The mountain range on your left is the Oquirrh Mountains (pronounced oak'-er).
After we went up about 5 miles, we got out and checked a spot that Ryan new a few cars had gone over the edge in the past. Sure enough, there was at least 3 car bodies and an old refrigerator down there. Ryan climbed down a trail that went to a cliff edge. It was very steep!
How would you like to own this little cabin nestled in the canyon? It is next to a great hunting area Ryan said.
We were traveling up the canyon on a two-lane dirt/rock road and Ryan suddenly hit the brakes. "Snake", he yelled as he excitedly exited the van. Sure enough, there was a young gopher snake. It's only a couple years old and will get much bigger. A couple of trucks slowed behind us and and decided to pass. They asked if we were alright. Ryan just smiled and held out the snake and said we stopped to take a look at it. The people in the first truck just gave him a look like "whatever dude" and drove off. The second truck followed the first. After that Ryan hopped back into the van after letting the snake go in the grass.
We arrived at a big open parking lot about 2/3 rds of the way up. It had a great view and a very short trail. We mainly wanted to get out of the van and stretch our legs. This photo shows how Tyler is growing up so fast. He is going to be as tall as Ryan in a couple of years- or sooner! He will turn 12 on September 8th! Ryan is 6 ft tall and Tyler is 5 feet 3 and 1/2 inches tall.
The view looking east from the parking lot.
We finally arived at a different parking lot just south of the observatory. There was a snow bank holding the last remnants of the snow from winter. We decided to hike out to it and check out the view. It was fairly steep and we let Dallin down to give our arms a rest. He loved being in the grass and shrubs. He got mad whenever we picked him up. We decided that he is a nature boy and so far has been the easiest one of our kids to take on an off-road adventure. He loves rocks and will spend quite a while looking at the different ones by his feet.
I couldn't get the colors in the previous photo to work for me since the sun was setting and we were on the east (shadowy) side. I got tired of playing with that photo and just left it as you see it. The next one is shadowy also, but I love the blue flowers behind Dallin. He looks so content to just sit and watch the view and play with the things at his feet.
Here are some pretty plants on the way up.
The next couple of pictures were from as high as we went! The view is looking south-east and the mountains just seemed to go on forever! Very inspiring.
Tyler and Sydney playing on the snow bank. On a hot summer day- the snow was inviting!
Aspen and wildflowers in another part of the canyon.
As we headed down the canyon while the sun setted, the creek begged to be played in. Well, it was too fast to play in but we stopped to take a look. I'm not sure why, but this area of the creek was once developed and had cemented walls. The water has erroded though the concrete and created its own passage. Ryan helped Dallin up the side of the bank.
A shot of the once develped farmington creek. We had a great time as a family and really enjoyed taking Katherine with us. She is very smart and knows quite a bit about nature. We wonder how this will inspire her in her paintings. She likes to take cues from nature and then turns them into surreal settings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Changes to previous post

I made a couple of changes to the previous post about the song "How to Save a Life". I learned a couple of things about the story attached to the song. Check it out!

Weight Loss Update

I lost 2 lbs according to my scale yesterday! Those have been the hardest for me to loose. My body seemed to be set on staying at the weight it was. Now, I hope it has reset itself to keep on loosing. I have done very well keeping with the food plan. I like having the freedom to substitute something if I want. I also been able to keep up with doing some sort of exercising for atleast 30 minutes a day. Today we went swimming. Yesterday I did a mix of pilates (20 minutes) and a lot of housework. Now for the honesty session. It is very hard to be around food constantly and not eat it. My littlest one Dallin is supposed to gain weight since he is isn't even on the weight chart. Since he can't have milk, I can't fatten him up with cheese etc. He has to have lots of snacks. In the past I have just eatten them with him. Now, you add my daycare into the mix and then I am exposed to many high caloric foods. With the daycare federal food program, I am required to give meals that are approved by a dietician with the company I work with. The meals are supposed to have more calories than what an adult needs because growing children need more. I used to just eat what the kids were having, but of course it was way more calories than I should eat. So, now when they are eating, I just eat my diet food and maybe let myself have a bite of something from their meal. Way less calories and fat than I was previously eating. As far as my energy is concerned, I am more tired than usual. I think it has to do with several things but I know if I drank more water, it would help. Water just isn't tasting good to me the past few days so I started putting just a little Vita-splash mixed in with it and now I seem to drink more! Vita Splash has no sugar, lots of vitamins and comes in little packets that you add to water. It has so much flavor that I don't use but one packet every couple of days. If someone wanted to use it for the vitamins, you would need to follow the directions. I'm just using it for the flavor. At this point, whatever works for me I'll do- within reason!

Monday, August 4, 2008

How to Save a Life

This song just stands out to me and strikes a chord in my soul. The writer/singer of the song, Isaac once was a councelor to a troubled young man that was on drugs. The young man was told by his friends and family that it was either them, or the drugs, he couldn't have both. The man left the counceling session and Isaac wished there was a training manual to help the young man. The video gives ways to help "Save a Life". Just watch and listen to your heart. You may just be the person someone is needing right now. I just found out that International Suicide Prevention has made "How to Save a Life" its theme song. Check it out.

Pioneer Day- July 24th

Here are some pictures of some things the kids and I did on Pioneer Day. For us it was a day of spending time as a family. Ryan had to work that day so I took the kids down to Randy and Katie's place. We raided Kristi's pool at her new apartment complex. She is completly moved in and is now a Utahn! There were mostly college kids around since it is on campus at BYU. No, She isn't going to school there. She is looking for work as a photographer. She took the photos of us in the pool using my camera. She knows way more about it than I do. Hers is even better than mine but she left it at the apartment. I just love this photo of Tyler and Dallin. They have the same expression and look alike.

My boys
Katie and Malia tried to enjoy the water, but Malia thought the water was too cold. She is used to the water at the local pool that is much warmer. Isn't this a great shot of Katie?!

Sydney and McKenzie are 18 months apart. Having a cousin close to your age is so fun!

After spending the afternoon together eating and swimming, we headed over to Randy and Katie's church ward bar-b-que. Keep in mind this is before the slimfast diet. The party was held at a member's house and they had a pool in the backyard. The backyard was right on a ridge that overlooked Provo, BYU and the Temple. It was a beautiful day. Here is a pic of the pool and the next one is of Provo Canyon.

Now, bear with me as I originally intended to write a small blurb about Pioneer Day, but it ended up writing an essay about Pioneers. Hey, I thought I wasn't in school anymore!

Living in Utah has it's perks. We have an extra holiday that is recognized by most businesses. It is Pioneer Day. It's to remember the sacrifices and lives that were lost as well as the people who helped found this great state. When the pioneers came and President Brigham Young looked over this valley, it was a desert. Yet "this is the place" was the visionary statement from a Prophet of God. It truely blossomed like a rose and is still blooming. It didn't happen overnight and not everything was rosy from the beginning. There was a lot of work involved. People died, families were seperated in some cases as some chose to stay back east. But the people banded together and supported one another. God blessed them as they learned to do whatever was asked of them. I am lucky to have actual pioneer ancestors that crossed the plains during this period of time. They were from England and had been converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a Missionary (future Prophet) Elder Wilford Woodruff. They came across the seas in search of Zion. They were poor and arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They joined the ill-fated Willie Handcart Company that left too late in the season to ensure a safe journey across the plains. They became stuck in the snow and bitter cold hundreds of miles from their destination- Utah. My ancestors endured frost-bite, sickness and starvation but held onto their belief that what they were doing was what God wanted them to do and where they were going was where God wanted them to be! Their love of God was greater that any desire for a comfortable home or milder climate. They could have stayed back in England or even on the East Coast. Instead they pressed on to their ultimate goal. This is the "stock" of people I am from. Now, I believe a person can be a pioneer in their own right. The Webster's Dictionary definition of pioneer is 1: one that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity. 2: a early settler. Many different people can be a pioneer of many different things. My mother joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a young adult. This changed the pattern of thought that was followed by her ancestors and her own family. She is a pioneer in her own right. So, having a pioneer heritage is great, but personally knowing a pioneer is more life altering. They were the ones to take a courageous leap that ultimatly changed the course of mankind. Martin Luther King was a pioneer. Marco Polo was a pioneer as well as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstien. But for me to be able to say that my own Mother is a pioneer is awesome. I can say that I was raised by a pioneer! Now, a person can say that by joining a religion is hardly worth being called a pioneer. Tell that to Joseph Smith. Tell that to any Jew, Muslim or Islamic believer. By changing or joining a religion, you are shaping the moral fibers of society. Without morality, chaos exists. When chaos rules, no one is happy and life is confusing. I am so glad I know some basic truths about being humble, prayerful and hopeful. I am thankful to know that life does exist after death. I am thankful to know that if I choose to lead a good, moral life, I will be rewarded in the next life as well as blessed in this life. I may not have an easy life, but God will help me as I seek to chose the right. I am thankful for religion being in my life as well as the good people of other religions or non-religious believers who seek to be the best they can be. I am thankful for the guidance that the religion I belong to has given me. God bless the pioneers!