Monday, May 19, 2014

A Video Scavenger Hunt For Brook's Birthday

My friend Brook had a birthday a few weeks ago, and she organized a big video scavenger hunt throughout the city.  We got on teams, and she gave us a list of things we could do to earn points, like get someone to serenade us, or ask a bunch of people, on camera, who the Chief Justice of the United States is (nobody knew).  It was crazy, and super fun.  We went to Stardust Diner and got our friend Ryan, who is a server there, to sing to Brook on video.  The restaurant is a singing waiter restaurant anyway, and he has not shame, so he took our camera and went to work.  Priceless. 

It was a competition, of course, and my team totally won.  Because we were awesome.  But some people might be surprised to hear that I was not the most forthcoming on talking to strangers on the street. (Total actor stereotype that I refuse to play into).  I get weird and shy, true story.  That deficiency in me was totally made up for by Mel and Amy.  They were amazing at just talking to anyone.  Must be a Return Missionary thing.  Or just a no-boundaries thing...but don't worry, when it came time to dance like an idiot in the middle of the subway station to some guy's DJ stand, I was your girl.  Another true story.  And yes, there is video evidence.

Brook.  I like her, and I think I will keep her.  (She's on the right in the pic below).


Sometimes Babysitting Is A Little Like Herding Cats.

But seeing a huge boat in the East River, and getting just as excited about it as the kids do, takes the sting away a bit. 
And then eating your stress in the form of frozen yogurt on your way home makes you almost forget it happened at all. 

The Best

Sometimes I see things when I am out and about in New York that make me really happy.

Like getting out of the subway at Times Square and seeing an inspirational, Christ-focused dance concert happening right in front of me.  These girls were awesome.

 Then, turning around to look at the crowd during said dance concert in Times Square, and seeing this guy.

On another day, I was feeling really inconspicuous while taking a baby in a stroller on the subway for the first time, and looked up and saw an elephant.  I felt much better.

Why yes, I am having a love affair with New York City.  How about you?

Oh My Gosh, It's Spring!

All I can say is FINALLY.  Here are some of my Spring pics.  You're welcome.  More to come, I'm sure.  I just love Spring.  This winter was really tough, for a few reasons, and one of those reasons was that is was a really brutal, long winter.  But, we are finally out of the dark, and the world is beautiful again.  Biiiiig sigh of relief!

These pictures are from various places in the city; none of them really need explanation, but what kind of girl would I be if I didn't give any at all?

Central Park

5th Ave and Central Park South

Central Park

Central Park

A community garden I discovered in Hell's Kitchen area. !!

A piece of heaven, I say.  Not hell. 

I am obsessed with old churches.  West End Ave. on the Upper West Side

West End Ave. UWS

Natural History Museum

Lunch next to the Hudson River, and not mad about it.


Riverside Park, Upper West Side

Central Park

The Conservatory, Central Park.  LOVE.

The Conservatory

The Conservatory

Central Park

Central Park (Much warmer than it looks)

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park

St. Nicholas Park, Harlem

George Washington Bridge
 Welcome, Spring.  Stay a while, won't you?

Monday, May 5, 2014


So, Easter happened at some point this spring.  It was kind of a crazy day for me, so I didn't get the time I wanted to really reflect on the Savior.  But I read the accounts in the scriptures of the last week of His life, and I am just so thankful for Him.  So thankful. 
This year I discovered a tradition in NYC called the NYC Egghunt.  Companies all over the city sponsor huge egg art pieces to be made and "hidden" all over the city.  One day I was at The Rockefeller Center temping, and on my lunch break got to see all of these:

Along with a little bit of spring finally making an appearance, I was happy and alive with spring fever...
And of course, there is the candy.  I can't believe I didn't take some pictures of my Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup Eggs, but those definitely happened.  And these. 
I feel like there is about a 6 month time span of the year when I am just a mess.  Starting at Halloween, through the holidays, then Valentine's Day, then my birthday, then Easter, there is not really an end to the treats and candy opportunities.  Just in time for swim suit season....that's always a good moment for me.

Circling The Wagons

In the days of the Great Emigration, pioneers would travel in wagon trains.  At night, they would line up all their wagons, end to end, in a large circle for protection from the outside.  Inside that circle were the camp fires, family, tents, and safety.  They might hold an impromptu dance or tell stories.  Or just huddle together for warm and comfort.  The design of such a configuration was a protection against any kind of danger on the outside, be it large animals or the Native American tribes in certain areas who would not welcome their presence.  I believe it also aided in bonding that group of people together in one purpose.  Hence, the term, "circling the wagons" was born.

This is a post about my family.  There's a lot of us.  I mean, a lot.  We are an imperfect bunch, but we like each other anyway.  Most people reading know this, but I will reiterate that I have six older siblings, all with spouses, two parents, and 29 nieces and nephews, with little Maggie bringing up the rear as of a few weeks ago.  So, there is no shortage of personality, opinion, and shenanigans.  I love them.

When C decided to end our marriage, I told my parents, but couldn't muster the strength to tell the rest of my family.  So my parents sent out an email to everyone.  Even as I type, the memory of the immediate response of love and support from every corner of my family still makes me emotional, over four years later.  I was totally enfolded into their protection.  As the only member of my family to go through a divorce, no on really knew exactly what to do to help.  But that didn't matter; they were all there for me in their individual capacities, and I felt that, even if they weren't with me physically.

My sister in law, Becca, came from two hours away to help me pack.  The day I left, she came back with my parents to pack up the rest of my things and get them ready to ship.  Then I went to North Carolina where Mom and Dad were waiting for me at Dave and Becca's house.  David then drove across the country with me back to Utah, taking a week off of work to do so.  I will never forget those incredible acts of love and service.

As I moved forward, I came to really appreciate the scripture in the Book of Mormon that says,

And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are adesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
 Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as cwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
(Mosiah 18:8-9) 

My family exemplified that passage for me, especially the parts about mourning with those that mourn, and bearing one another's burdens, and giving comfort.  I guess that's when I started to think more about the phrase and meaning of "circling the wagons."  That's what my family did.  As soon as I needed help, the wagons were circled, and the place of protection was secured.  

Since then, we have had other events or things happen in my family where there has been a call to circle the wagons.  It never fails.  Every time, we respond as a unit. And now, I get to be one of the responders, not the one needing the care and protection.  It feels really good to be able to give back.

 Here's one example: my brother in law, Layne, has stage 4 colorectal cancer.  Two years ago, as he was diagnosed, our whole family pulled together to support him, Teresa and their family on this journey.  It has not been easy for them.  I don't have a lot to say about it in this moment besides, cancer sucks.

Layne used to be a runner.  The year before he was diagnosed, he ran a marathon.  Once his treatment started, his running days were severely curtailed, to say the least.  Well, Layne has been a little more stable for the last few months, so he decided he wanted to run again.  It was really tough for him, but he had a goal of running a 5K to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Center, where he is receiving his treatment.  So, as a family, we decided we would run with him.
On April 19th, those of us who could participate ran/walked/biked/hiked a 5K at the same time as Layne, wherever we were. Becca had this great idea to all wear navy blue, which apparently is the official color for colon cancer.  Then she made these Tshirts for those who would be at the finish line to see he and Jacob, who ran with him, finish the race.

It was a great day to be a Riding!  I was with my family even as I ran by myself in Prospect Park in Brooklyn (gorgeous).  That day we circled in celebration, and after all Layne has been through, it really felt good!

Life is so HARD sometimes.  It just is, and there is nothing we can do about that.  And everyone's hard is different.  The range of trials we have in our family is quite the variety.  But I was so thankful for that circle of wagons when I really needed it.
  And I am so thankful that now I get to be one that brings my little wagon in line with all the rest whether someone else I love needs that safety and protection, or just a big dance around the campfire with a fiddle.  (No one in my family actually plays the fiddle, sadly.  But you can't have everything, I guess).