Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Perks of Living in Utah

You get to meet apostles at the grocery store.

I was at Smith's picking up my thyroid medicine and letting Emma and Josh pick out some candy for the movie we are going to see this afternoon. I forgot I needed some black pepper and headed back toward the baking aisle and lo and behold, I saw Robert D. Hales and his wife. I did a double-take, thinking "Did I really just smile and say "Hi" to Elder Hales?" I turned around and checked him out again and yep, it was him. I went to the next aisle and called my mom. She thought it was pretty neat. I told her how I wanted a picture with him and the kids and she said it would make a good blog post. That's all I needed to hear. I told her bye and went back to find him. I introduced the kids to him and he smiled and shook their hands and told them "You are lucky to have a mom who loves you so much." He asked our names and then I asked if the kids could get a picture with him (yes, I know... a little annoying. Jake already told me I'm probably one of the thousands who asks for a picture but I didn't care. What a cool thing for the kids to have to remember him!) His wife said she would take the picture so I could be in it, which was really sweet. I only had my cell which doesn't take the best pics, but at least it's something.

For those unfamiliar with the LDS faith, Elder Hales is an apostle in our church. There are fifteen Apostles in the LDS church, living on the earth today. They make up the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet and his two counselors are Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. These three men make up the First Presidency. Then there is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Hales is one of the twelve. Apostles are chosen as special witnesses of Christ to all the world and being an Apostle is a lifetime calling. The First Presidency, along with The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, govern all 12 million+ LDS members.

Below is Pres. Monson, Uchtdorf, and Eyring.
Below are the 12 apostles and Elder Hales is on the top row, second one in from the left.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Foreign Service... Here we go again

Invitations for the August A-100 training class in DC are going out this week. Jake is ranked 52 out of 159 which most likely means no call for August. We still think there might be a slim chance for September, and if there is an October class (won't know until the funding for the 2011 fiscal year comes out) he could possibly get into that one. We were talking the other day, though, about the craziness of the Political register and how if he had signed up for any of the other four tracks he would have been invited to the June A-100 class. That got us thinking about him trying to get on another register and this morning he signed up to take the FSOT again. I have mixed emotions about all this. It's such a long, grueling process, which I mentioned a few months ago HERE. Thankfully, once he passes the OA in DC the second time he can go on the register pretty quickly because he already has his security and medical clearances. Assuming he passes the FSOT, QEP, and OA, he would get on the Consular register sometime in November. I'm not sure if he will have to pass his French off again so we will cross that bridge when we get there. For now, we are trying to gear up for Round Two, but of course hoping we won't need to be on another register and Jake gets an invite in the next couple months. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Friend, Susi

In November 2007 we moved into our house. I was ready to make our house a home, ready to meet the neighbors, and hopefully make lasting friendships. Well, a few days after we moved in this cute family across the street came over to welcome us to the neighborhood. I remember Susi was wearing an apron, hair swept up in a clip, and she was very warm and kind. She gave us a pie and I remember thinking “Oh no. This woman makes home-made pies. I can’t compete with that.” (Little did I know, it was a Marie Callender’s frozen pie she had bought at the grocery store and thawed out earlier that day. It helped knowing that. It made her a little more ‘human’ to me.) That night we talked with Gordon and Susi about the neighborhood, their business, etc. We talked with Gordy about his drums and Malissa about her piano playing in the jazz band. I loved the Mabey’s instantly. Over the past 2 1/2 years they have become family. And so, I’m heartbroken that they are moving in 5 days. Yes, I know it’s only 3 miles, but it still hurts knowing we can’t just cross the street anytime we want to get our Mabey-fix.
My kids love Susi like a grandma (I think Emma has even called her ‘grandma‘ a few times.) They love giving Brighton, their miniature schnauzer, lots of hugs and kisses. They watch out our front window to see when they come home (yes, this could be considered stalking) and then when they see a car they yell “Mom, Susi is home.” or “Look, it’s Gordon!” They look forward to Susi offering whatever sugar she has in the house (which isn’t much because she’s a health nut) and jumping on her trampoline when the weather is nice.Susi loves to be in on the action. She seems to have her hand in everything and knows everyone in Davis county. She introduces me to people like I’m her own sister. She listens to my concerns, gives me advice when I need it, and is always there with a hug and a smile. Susi lets me drag her to Body Combat classes (despite struggling with shoulder pains.) She willingly pairs up with me to bring dinners to families in our neighborhood. She helped me put together a neighborhood BBQ 2 years ago. Susi came over when Truman was having problems after his neuter surgery and got him to take his medicine (none of us could do it!) She went to Emma’s dance recitals and brought her flowers, which Emma cherished for weeks, even after the flowers had died. She hemmed my dresses and gave me advice when I attempted making Josh some pjs for Christmas (nope, they still aren’t finished!) Susi helped us replace an electrical outlet, let us borrow every yard tool they own, and helped me calm down when I realized I painted the wrong color of paint when I was touching up the living room walls. She asked me to be a judge at Woods Cross High School’s Battle of the Bands and I was really honored that she would think of me to do that. Susi helped us when our basement flooded, took me to choir practice multiple times, gave the kids huge Christmas stockings filled with food and toys to keep them occupied on our drive to Oregon last year, and made a “Welcome Home” sign and posted it in our front yard when we got home from our 3-week Oregon trip last summer. She enjoys talking politics with us, even knowing we are democrats. ;) She likes being my guinea pig and is always willing to eat one of my new creations (and always tells me it is the ‘best she’s ever had.’) Within a few months of moving in, Susi gave me the code to open her garage. That was a dangerous move on her part. Since then I have popped in to ‘borrow‘ all sorts of things. Jake is embarrassed for me. I remember one time needing 2 eggs. No one was home so I snuck in, took the eggs and left. Even with me replacing them, Jake was still mortified. He asked what would have happened if Susi and Gordon were “busy” and I had just walked in. Well, it would have been a funny story to talk about later. ;)

In March 2008 we had only lived here just over 4 months and I asked Susi to help me deceive Jake, covering up his surprise party. We told Jake that Susi and Gordon were having us over for his birthday. Jake wasn’t all that thrilled to go over there and celebrate with neighbors he didn’t really know, but we went anyway. Susi had made a huge “Happy Birthday” sign and hung it on her stair railing. She had set out appetizers, bottled water, cute plates. She went all out, pretending this really was a little birthday celebration. Jake was fooled. A few minutes later she sent him to the house to get some ice and he discovered his friends there in our kitchen. Jake was shocked and the Mabey’s helped me pull his surprise off. It was awesome!

A few months later I announced to Susi that I was going to change my life and start being healthier. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders. She constantly asked how my running was going, how my training was, what sort of things I was eating, etc. She complemented me and told me often how great I looked, and helped me gain confidence all along the way. When I ran my first half marathon, Susi was the first person I wanted to talk to about it, so I hobbled over to her house after the race to share the great news. When I asked her to run the NSL 5K with me last year, she didn’t even hesitate to answer. We drove down together and had a great time.

She made my birthday last year so special. She made a big sign that said “HONK. It’s my birthday!” and taped it to the back of my car. I had no clue she had done that and wondered half the day why I was getting honked at. She gave me a beautiful necklace, which I wear at least once a week.

In November last year I got really sick. I went to Instacare on Saturday, the 14th, with a 105 temp and feeling slightly delirious. I was diagnosed with pneumonia. That night Jake had to go to a work conference, then 6 hours later he flew to DC. I was left alone with the kids, thinking how on earth was I going to survive the next few days?!! Then Susi came to my rescue. She brought over a huge delicious turkey dinner which lasted the kids two days so I didn’t have to worry about cooking. She checked in on me multiple times those few days, making sure I was okay, and asking if I needed anything. Over the next few months my cough still lingered. It got to the point where I couldn’t sleep and worried I would pop out a rib or something. Susi pulled out her Essential Oils book (I call it her witch potions) and she made an organic concoction I rubbed on my chest and put in my humidifier. She even massaged my feet with it.
Susi is very spirited, full of life. She has an unwavering testimony and relies completely on the Lord. She is a great mom and takes such good care of her kids. She is a great listener, always willing to lend an ear. She makes me feel like I’m the best cook, mom, wife, and friend. She treats me more than just a friend, though. She treats me like family. She treats my kids and Jake like family. I know I will never get another neighbor like Susi. No one can replace her and I’m just so glad we have had these 2 1/2 years to be 30 feet away from each other.

Susi, I love you. Thanks for being my angel. 3.1 miles really isn’t that far, right?! You better keep that door unlocked (or give me your security code) because you never know when the Schipaanboord’s will pop in. See you soon!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I have a lot of great memories of my grandma, many of them sweet, some funny. Well, this is a funny one. For years she had this special toilet seat which sat pretty high up so she didn't have to sit down very far to do her 'business.' All of us grandkids remember seeing it every time we came to visit (heck, some of us probably even used it a time or two because we were too lazy to take it off... yes, I'm admitting to this.) Anyway, when grandma passed last summer my cousin Tonya held onto it for months, waiting to wrap it up and give it to her brother, my cousin Richard. He had no clue she even had the thing. When Christmas morning rolled around, Richard opened up this little jewel and had the same reaction any of us would have had... yuck! A few days later he re-wrapped it and drove up to our house and gave it to me. It was packaged in a really pretty Christmas bag, with glittery tissue paper. I thought "He shouldn't have!" Well, that was right. He shouldn't have. I freaked out, knowing exactly what it was. Then I re-wrapped it and gave it to my youngest sister, Whitney. She wouldn't even keep the thing in her apartment, so we plotted to save it until our other sister's birthday and give it to her. Fast forward to Monday morning. I sent Ashleigh her 'special package' via Priority and it actually got there this afternoon, on her BIRTHDAY. She called me during the day to tell me my package arrived and she was so excited to open it. By this time the guilt started setting in and I was regretting (just a little bit) my decision to send it. Well, her husband Chad caught her reaction on tape and it's classic (the exact reaction all of us have had.) Ashleigh even blogged about it HERE. I think she should feel honored to be in the circle of recipients. She makes #4 and we have instructed her to plot out #5 so family... be prepared. Happy 25th, Ash! Just know there was lots of love sent with that toilet seat. ;)