Saturday, March 21, 2015


I've been so reclusive this week.  Not on purpose...mostly.  The week looked pretty packed when I looked at my calendar on Sunday night, and I despise packed weeks...especially after spending all of Spring Break out of town.  I think I must have subconsciously decided that I needed a week at home more than I needed Institute and Book Club and Enrichment and all the other things I conveniently skipped this week.  

And even though I didn't do half the stuff on the list I made Sunday night, I did do a lot of things around the house that I didn't even know I wanted to do. 
A LONG time ago, I bought this paint sample off of the Lowe's reject rack.  Because I loved the color.  And because it was only .50!  Remember the dining room paint experiments from way back here?  
Well, I tried this color on the wall, too, and even though I loved it, no one else really did.  I have since found other uses for this perfectly perfect dark delicious turquoise paint.  I painted a pair of cupcake holders a few months ago.  And this week, I painted this cute H.
...which then meant that I needed a place to hang that H.  Which led to reorganizing my whole desk space upstairs.  Which led to repainting that lamp on my desk to match the H on the wall.  (It was previously a yucky mint green color.)



I may have painted a few other things, and cleaned out some clutter, and made a few trips to donate those things that I decluttered, too.  Nesting this week, and being a recluse, turned out to be pretty great ideas, I think.  And now I have a tidy and beautiful office space that makes me want to come upstairs more often and do things like update my blog, dig through family history boxes, and write thank you notes.  

Next week, I'll go back to my usual "socializing, spirit seeking, leaving the house" self.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Savannah Update

Savannah's adorable roommate received her mission call to the Missouri Independence Mission last week.  She reports to the MTC on June 10th.  We're SO super excited for her and so happy that she and Savannah will be roommates for a few more weeks before she moves back to Idaho to prepare for her mission.  They are such great influences on each other, and we could not be more grateful for this amazing girl.  

So there's this cute boy at BYU who has been heavily pursuing Savannah for the past few weeks.  She's been out on a few dates with him, but from what she's told us it sounds like the interest level is a lot greater on his end.  He's persistent, though.  And he keeps conveniently showing up everywhere that Savannah is.  And in my experience, repeated exposure to a thing helps you learn to like it.  

You know, like broccoli.  When my kids were little, I figured out that if I was persistent in putting green things on their plates, over time, what was initially a new and undesirable green vegetable became a familiar and much loved favorite.  Really.  All of my kids love broccoli to this day. 

Alex is a little bit like that initial experience with a new vegetable for Savannah right now, I think.  She's not sure what to make of him.  She might not have picked him if given the choice.  But his persistence is paying off.  A few weeks ago she was mostly irritated every time she texted me about him.  But here's the text she sent me last night...

I happen to be a huge fan of persistent people and find that to be a very endearing quality, so I'm giving Alex 1,000 points for his efforts.  (Too bad my points are completely random and count for nothing in Savannah's mind.)  

I'm grateful for spring that is springing up everywhere, especially in Provo.  And I'm grateful for a very happy college girl.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kitt Peak National Observatory

Have I mentioned that Craig really likes surprises?  And adventures?  And taking us to see and do things that we would never choose on our own.  I think that must be some kind of spiritual gift, to be blessed with the ability to see beyond what you've already done and have the desire to try it anyway.  I did not come with that gift.  But in the 20+ years that I have lived with this man, I have come to admire and respect it in him.  

This was the first of our surprises on our most recent Spring Break adventure to Arizona last week...

...and what a spectacular adventure it was!   

It took us 40 minutes to drive from our hotel in Tucson to the Tahono O'odham Indian Reservation.  From there we drove up a 7 mile winding road to the top of a mountain overlooking half of Arizona.  (6750 ft in elevation...eep!)  Megan and I made Craig stop every 100 yards or so to let us take pictures of the view, so it took us awhile to get to the top.  Our group of 50 people was scheduled for a 5:00pm nighttime observation, and we arrived at 4:59.  Why be early, when you can take a million pictures along the way and still get there right on time?

It was considerably colder at the top of the peak than it had been in Tucson, so after some instructions from the three astronomy students/presenters, we layered on some additional clothing (thankfully a Scoutmaster planned this trip) and ventured onto the patio of the observatory where they fed us a cute little dinner (sandwiches, granola bars, dried fruit, apples, you know...scientist food.)  With a little bit of daylight remaining, we toured around the telescope buildings and listened to some very technical explanations of the functions of each of the 25 operating telescopes on site.  Pretty amazing, actually.  But shortly after the walking presentation started, I got a little distracted by the sunset happening in the distance, and I stopped listening to the science-y stuff.  

After it got completely dark, we split into two smaller groups and a few of us went outside to identify constellations and planets.  I happen to love stars and constellations.  And as I looked up into that gorgeous, clear sky, all of my (limited) 8th grade astronomy knowledge came flooding back into my mind, and I loved it all over again.  It's truly remarkable how much you can see on a clear night from a 7000 ft peak in the middle of the desert.  We went back inside for a brief lesson on stargazing with binoculars, and 20 minutes later we walked back outside, only to see TWICE as many stars!   Absolutely amazing!  

I'm sorry I have no pictures of the stars.  Even if I had had the capability to take any that night, I'm sure I could not have focused my attention on anything other than just looking up at the sky.  But, if you close your eyes and picture the clearest, most star-filled sky you've ever seen and then triple might be close to what we saw.  

I was overwhelmed by a few things on this adventure:

1.  That people all over the world were seeing the very same stars we were seeing (well, you know, not all at the same time. but we all make our way through the seasons and that rotation thing that the earth does...) and that they have for hundreds and hundreds of years.  

2.  That the earth and all of us on it are so VERY VERY small in relation to the entire universe. 

3.  And light years...I still don't really get that whole distance measured in time thing.  

We ended our night at the giant telescope. And I was amazed once again at all that we had missed when we used just our eyes or just the binoculars.  There is SO much beyond what we can see on our own.

Four hours later, we made our way down the mountain in the dark, tired and cold, but completely uplifted and exhilarated by the whole experience.  The kids said this was 2nd only to the cruise on their list of memorable trips.  

I am so grateful for opportunities to travel, for a husband who insists on taking us with him to explore the world, and for such awesome things to experience in mortality.  

I love the earth.  And I love space.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Blossoms

Spring happened overnight here.  Apparently it rained all week while we were out of town, and today was the first sunny day Allen has seen in awhile.  Megan and I noticed all the pear tree blossoms this morning on the way to school, and as I drove into the high school parking lot, I made a mental note that I needed to find a tree and take a picture of it today before those blossoms disappear.  They always seem to go away as inconspicuously as they came.  

My day was mostly futile.  I had a list of about 200 things that I needed to do and only got through two of them...and it's a stretch to say that those two are actually finished.  I also added about 7 more things that I had forgotten to write down on Sunday night when I made the original list, and 5 others crept in after I picked up the mail that's been on hold for us for the past week.  So, after 24 hours, my list has gone from 200 to 210.  Not exactly a stellar productivity rate.  

While I spent the day running around, I noticed a few more beautiful trees that would have been excellent candidates for that spring blossoms shot I was looking for, but I either didn't have the time to take it, or I was driving.  It's always difficult to take a picture when you're holding onto a steering wheel (although, I have done it before.)  

At 6:30, after many hours of spinning my wheels, I pulled into my driveway and remembered I hadn't yet gotten that picture I wanted.  And then, I looked out of my car window and noticed this gorgeous blossoming tree next to me.  

All that hunting, when all I really needed to do was walk outside my back door.   

So I added "take a picture of a spring tree" to my list and then promptly crossed it off.  Still 210 left for tomorrow, but at least there's one more gratifying orange line on my sheet.  

Hooray for orange lines, for spring blossoms and sunny days, for unexpected beauty in my backyard, and for 24 more hours...

Friday, March 6, 2015

Snow Days

One of the best things about living in Dallas, I think, is the variety of spontaneous weather we enjoy.  We've had such a mild winter and then all of a sudden the last few days of February and the first week of March have been FREEZING and snowy.  Yesterday the kids had SNOW DAY #3, which we'll have to make up for at the end of the year sometime, but's kind of nice to have an unexpected break in the week...especially when everyone has already done all their homework.  

This is what we woke up to his morning...after rainy weather ALL day Wednesday and then a temperature drop to 23 degrees that night, the whole neighborhood was covered in SNOW!  

I love the way snow converts things from their typical function into something entirely different...this is the golf course down the street that has been quite fun for the kids to use as a sledding hill.  Amazing isn't it?

And the best thing about the kind of snow we see in Dallas is that it doesn't last very long.  That hill up there is back to its usual grassy green and as soon as it dries out I'm sure all the sledders will be replaced with golfers again.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Easter Music

DMCO rehearsals have been well underway since January, and our next concert is rapidly approaching.  As usual, I am woefully unprepared and nothing is memorized yet.  But, Craig added all the music to my phone so I can listen to it in the car, and I can't even tell you how amazing that has been.  I've abandoned all other music for the entire week and have listened exclusively to concert music everywhere I've gone...which has also trickled into everywhere I the house, in the carpool line, on walks (which have been few this week because of winter weather,) dropping kids off here and there.  Everyone around me has also been listening to concert music.  And that is a great thing.  I caught McKay whistling one of the songs the other day.  

I haven't been at my best this week.  The weather has been gloomy for way too many days and I've been dragging a dismal countenance around for almost a week now.  But something about listening to lyrics like this over and over again has brought tiny rays of sunshine to and otherwise dreary existence.  

  1. 1. Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
    Thy sweet message now impart.
    May thy Spirit, pure and fervid,
    Enter ev'ry timid heart;
    Carry there the swift conviction,
    Turning back the sinful tide.
    Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
    May each soul in thee abide.
  2. 2. Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
    We are weak but thou art strong;
    In thy infinite compassion,
    Stay the tide of sin and wrong.
    Keep thy loving arms around us;
    Keep us in the narrow way.
    Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
    Let us never from thee stray.
  3. 3. Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
    Thou wilt bind the broken heart.
    Let not sorrow overwhelm us;
    Dry the bitter tears that start.
    Curb the winds and calm the billows;
    Bid the angry tempest cease.
    Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
    Grant us everlasting peace.
  4. Text and music: H. R. Palmer, 1834-1907
I am so grateful, this week especially, for good music and the opportunity for purposeful listening.  Exceptional music invites the spirit and brings peace to the dark places.  
Ticket Info

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sister Missionaries

On those days when I think I don't want to do anything, or interact with anyone, or make any effort to talk to another human being, I always find that if I do it anyway, I am happier.  

Last night, the sister missionaries texted and asked if they could come over to teach a lesson.  I texted them back first thing this morning and said, "Absolutely yes!" not because I was super enthusiastic about having them over, but because I knew that as the day progressed, I would talk myself out of saying yes.  

At first I didn't want to let them come because we had a few things scheduled.  
Then, as the snow continued throughout the day and thing after thing was cancelled due to weather, I didn't want to let them come because snuggling up on my couch in my fuzziest jammies sounded so much more appealing.  

But fortunately, I had already said yes.  

Not two hours before they arrived, I had hit my 5:00 slump where everything feels heavier and even the smallest of challenges become monumental in my head.  I prayed for sustenance to get through dinner and the missionaries, and then I had planned to crawl into bed early and sleep off the weight of the day.  

But those sister missionaries are delightful and excited about their purpose and that is contagious.  We chatted and connected with the newer missionary for a few minutes and then they started their lesson...on family history.  I LOVE family history!  Within the short hour that they were here, they lifted my spirits, reminded me that I am not struggling through mortality on my own, and resecured hope and purpose for me.  

And I was reminded of one of my very favorite quotes...
"In the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that.  When disappointment and discouragement strike - and they will - you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see, riding at reckless speed to come to our protection.  They will always be there, these armies of heaven."  - Jeffrey R Holland
I am grateful that there are numberless concourses of heavenly helpers available even when I have forgotten them.  I'm grateful for a sincere lesson from two 19 year old girls to remind me of the strength that is available beyond my own.  And I'm grateful for tiny truths that lead to great reassurance.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow Days

I am constantly amazed at the beautiful things that seem to jump out of nowhere.  I was driving home from a doctor's appointment the other day, on an unusual route, because I had to stop at the post office, and amid all the dreary, leftover ice and snow, a gorgeous snow-dusted green tractor sat in an empty field.  (It's shocking how beautiful anything can look when you coat it with a little powdered sugar.)  So, of course, I drove home, grabbed my camera and came back to get the shot before the snow melted.  I really should learn to just carry my camera bag with me everywhere I go...even to the doctor's office.  
"The Universe is always speaking to us.  Sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more." - Nancy Thayer

Thursday, February 19, 2015

21 Years

This morning, Craig cancelled his entire work schedule and went to the temple with me.  Hooray!  It rarely happens anymore that our schedules coincide for us to both be at the temple at the same time and in the same city.   And it happened to be a beautiful day, too!  You'd never know that it's February around here.  
After the temple, we went to my very favorite restaurant for lunch...because it's BIRTHDAY coupon week!  Also hooray!  

Our date ended promptly after lunch, and life started right back up again.  Carpooling, conference calls, homework, lessons, the 6th grade Bake Sale, and DMCO took up the rest of the night.  But how nice to be able to sneak in a mid-week celebration of 21 whole years together!  

1994 seems like forever kids, barely any responsibilities, a brand new life waiting to unfold...sometimes I can't even imagine anymore how that actually felt.  But I don't think I would go back.  Too many great things have happened in the last 21 years.  I am grateful every day for the things we've learned and continue to learn, for this amazing family we've made together, and for the life that we have.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

High Five for Friday

It's been a nice, uneventful, uncomplicated week around here.  

1.  Lots of Sunny Days
...and that means capris and cute flats in February!

2.  Dessert
It's always so nice to have unhurried Sunday dinners with Craig home from traveling and no plans after church.  Unscheduled Sundays always equal dessert.  

3.  Homecoming

Another Elder Thunell has completed a successful, honorable mission...this one in California.  How happy we are that he is home and prepared to start the rest of his life.  Savannah is thrilled that he will be joining her at BYU in the spring.  Welcome home, Jed!

4.  Valentine's Day
The decorating this year was more understated than it has been in previous years.  There are only a handful of pink and red heart-shaped things sprinkled around the house, but it's just enough to bring back a little of the color that has been missing since Christmas.  I love February.  

5.  Haircuts
What better way to greet sunny, pre-spring days than with a sassy new haircut?  I love that Emma wanted to make such a big change.  This cut is adorable on her!

I thoroughly enjoyed a week of fewer obligations, no drama or heartbreak, and plenty of time to drive around and look for beautiful things to take pictures of.  Hope it's sunny where you are, and that you have a long weekend to look forward to as well.