Monday, May 26, 2008

Thanks, Grandma Sally!

I've been thinking about my Grandma Sally the past few weeks. For those who don't know her, she was a textbook study in determination. Her mother died while giving birth to her, and her father died when she was only an infant. She was raised by her aunt and grandmother, who from what I have read, were also very determined women. She went to nursing school and graduated in record time. She married my Grandpa Petersen, and didn't have the first of her six children until she was 36 years old. At just over five feet tall, she was a tiny, red-headed, determined lady with a mind of steel.

We now live in my Grandma's house. Growing up just down the road, I spent much of my childhood in this house with my Grandma Sally. She was always reading, trying to learn everything there was to know about almost anything. Every time I traveled anywhere, or had any kind of a new experience, I knew that Grandma would expect to hear about every detail. As a teenager, I would try to get by with a quick explanation of my excursions. This simply would not do. She would keep asking questions until she had explored every nook and cranny of my adventure. She loved to learn and she expected us to do the same. She constantly corrected my grammar. I knew to never say "Mom and me." It was "Mom and I". The worst possible mistake was to discuss my "belly" or "belly button" in front of grandma. It was NOT a 'belly' and I did NOT have a 'belly button'. I had an abdomen with an umbilicus!

In her later years, all of her determination was sometimes a bit exasperating. Having been injured in a car accident years earlier, she had some leg injuries which she had never had repaired. This made walking and getting around a bit difficult. However, a cane or a wheelchair were unthinkable. Either of those things, mind you, would have made her appear as a tottering, old lady. And even at age 90+, this was not an option! She could get by on her own, thank you! (I remember several occasions when I followed close by while she stubbornly worked to get up the stairs or into a car. Often, the thought "pride goeth before the fall. . ." ran through my mind!)

As long as I can remember, I have been told that I look a lot like my Grandma Sally. I have her fair skin, freckles, short stature, and okay. . .maybe a little bit of the stubborness. When I'm having one of these moments, Courtney often says, "hello, Sally". I like to tell him that I'm not stubborn, I am just strong willed. While this is not always the easiest trait for others to live with, I've decided I'm thankful she passed it along.

Just last weekend my sister Jodi and I finished the "Women of Steel Triathlon". When I signed up back in January, the thought that I would be six and half months pregnant had not really occured to me. My doctor told me that as long as I wasn't pushing for speed (I'm never very speedy), and didn't fall off my bike, the baby and I would be fine. However, somehow I miscalculated how big I would be by this point. I must have been thinking optimistically, because unfortunately, inheriting Grandma's height means I also inherited her extremely short torso. This means I start showing about the second I concieve. Anyway, a month or so ago I realized as I was trying to fit my gigantic belly (sorry, Grandma) into my tight, spandex bike shorts, that this triathlon might not be the easiest thing I ever attempted to do. The thought reoccured to me a time or two as I was buying the biggest speedo suit available (maternity swimsuits tend to create quite a bit of drag!), and again as my knees were about hitting my stomach as I attempted to bend in an almost 90 degree angle to do my bike training. I learned it's hard to get into any kind of 'aero' position when you resemble a whale. But not doing the triathlon after I had already signed up and committed to finish it? Not an option.

So, last Saturday, I squeezed into a swimming suit and lined up at the pool with Jodi and almost 500 other "Women of Steel". After finishing the swim, I moved into the transition area to mount my bike and begin the 12 mile ride. I had been warned by a few other ladies earlier in the morning about the steep hill in the bike course. It was not pretty. At .8 of a mile, it was long, steep, and we had to climb it twice. I quickly found that getting any kind of momentum to go up a hill with a twenty pound weight around my middle is not very easy. In fact, it seemed nearly impossible. It was about half way up this hill that a little voice appeared inside my head, sounding something like this. . . "Why are you doing this? This is not fun. You have the perfect excuse to not be doing this." Just as I considered getting off my bike and hiking it up the hill, I thought of Grandma Sally. I smiled to myself, and thought, "You know why you're doing this! You're doing it because you can!" Then I said a little thank-you to my grandma and kept trucking up that hill.

Since that day, and again today on Memorial Day, I've been thinking quite a bit about my Grandma. Her stubborness was a bit frustrating sometimes, and I didn't always quite understand why she seemed to be so determined to do things that were difficult for her, especially when she didn't have to even do them! But I think I understand her a little better now. I think she did those things because she could. And as long as she could, she was going to do as much as she could. She wanted to live life as much as she could for as long as she could. And she did it with a mind of steel!

I went on to finish the triathlon, although very slowly! And while I realize that I didn't win a medal, Jodi and I had a lot of fun. I'm so glad I did it. I may have looked a bit funny, and I'll definitely never be a pro triathlete. But, I've come to a conclusion. I may have thighs of rubber and buns of jelly, but I can thank my Grandma for my mind of steel!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Important Life Lesson: Keep Your Cracks Covered

Last night, Grandma & Grandpa Croney took the girls to dinner while Courtney and I went on a date. They had a great time and were very impressed with their first trip to the Golden Corral. They especially liked the ice cream bar, where they had such a wide variety of toppings with which to "decorate" their ice cream. Kate figured out that it worked out best if she put her ice cream in one bowl and the toppings in another. This way, she explained, she could "decorate" her ice cream, eat the top off, decorate it again, and so on. That's my girl.

Grandpa Bop apparently told the girls that they ate enough that they shouldn't need to eat again for a week. This morning when Kate awoke to the smell of raspberry muffins (one of her favorites), she remembered his comment and told me with a touch of sorrow, "Grandpa says I don't need to eat for a whole week".

Anyway, at breakfast this morning, the girls were telling us about their exciting dinner. At one point in the conversation, Ryenne told us about a girl she saw who was wearing a "tank top dress". She then told us how the girl had "this much" (about 3 inches) of crack showing between these two big round things that were hanging out, too". She had the look that said "I know you know what I mean, but I can't say it." Courtney couldn't help but laugh. This made her a little embarrassed. All of this led to a quick, but well-timed father/daughter discussion on what Courtney called "Important Life Lesson's to Remember".

It was unanimous. Regardless of which big round things you are talking about (upstairs or downstairs), it is best to keep your cracks covered.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Baptism Day. . .It's Great to be 8!

Ryenne's baptism invitation.
Our good friend (and the girl's adopted Grandma), Tracy Gardner offered to make these invitations for Ryenne to send to her family. She made 4 or 5 different ones for Ryenne to choose from, but when Ryenne saw this one, she just loved it! It fit her perfectly!

After much anticipation, Ryenne was baptized and confirmed on Saturday, May 3. She and her Dad were both a little nervous, but so excited! It was such a special day, and everything went perfectly. She had so many Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins there to share the special day.

Ryenne and her good friend Hailee were so happy to be baptized on the same day!

Aunt Haylee made Ryenne this cute magnet board for her room. She loves it! We had so much fun visiting with all of our family after the baptism when everyone came to our house for lunch. The girls were so excited to have so many cousins to here play with!
For her birthday, Ryenne received her first set of "big girl" scriptures and a cute case to carry them in. She also received the Showtime CD from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, so she can listen to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". She's been learning that song at school and just loves it. Kate and Emmy were so excited to give her a watercolor set they had picked out for her. She was thrilled!

Ryenne loves to have all her Grandparents come for cake and ice cream each birthday. This year she picked out a monkey cake. We had quite a bit of fun decorating it and she loved how it turned out. Best of all for mom, it was an easy one! Grandma Croney & Bop gave her a set of glitter & paint markers. Nothing better for a budding artist! Grandma & Grandpa Jones gave her some money to use for what she chooses. She has great plans for it! And Grandpa Lloyd & Grandma Tam gave her a Hannah Montana doll and some lip gloss. She's feeling pretty sassy!

Ryenne's Big Day

Ryenne is officially 8 years old! She is thrilled, and Courtney and I can't believe it. It's hard to believe our little girl is that old already! Ryenne has been looking forward to this birthday for a long time. To celebrate the big day, Courtney and I planned a special day out with just Ryenne and the two of us. It turned out to be a great day. We woke early the morning of her birthday and and started with a bit of bacon (her favorite food), and opened presents with her sisters.
Then it was off to Thanksgiving Point Gardens for the Tulip Festival.

Ryenne had been so concerned there would not be flowers for her birthday, so Courtney thought we could surprise her by taking her to see the tulips. As it turned out, there weren't many tulips in bloom yet because of all the cold weather this year, but she still loved seeing the flowers. We had beautiful weather, and loved seeing everything in the gardens. They are amazing! There is about 50 acres with all different kinds of gardens and landscaping to see. It was perfect for Ryenne! She especially loved the waterfalls and the Secret Garden. The Secret Garden had a tunnel, made from vines, leading into it. She thought it was really funny when she and I sneaked into the garden and hid from Dad! She also loved the big, grassy hill. She somersaulted, rolled, and did cartwheels all the way down!

After a fun afternoon exploring the gardens, we headed to the Temple Square and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to see the movie, Joseph, The Prophet. It was incredible. All three of us absolutely loved it. Ryenne's new favorite song is "Praise To The Man"! While we were waiting for the movie to begin, she and Courtney went exploring. (I was too pooped!) They went up to the top of the building, where they saw the temple and even glimpsed a few pigeons on the roof, which Ryenne thought was really funny!

After a long day, we ended the night with dinner at the Olive Garden. We had to walk several blocks to get there. Ryenne was excited (and a little bit embarrassed) when the waiters/waitresses came with ice cream, lit up with a candle, and sang to her! After dinner, we headed out for the trek back to the car. Ryenne was so exhausted from her big day that Courtney ended up carrying her piggyback the last few blocks. She was asleep by the time we reached the car! What a big, fun day for such a sweet eight year old little girl!