Sunday, October 31, 2010


October 31, 2010: 21-year-old Sarah finally celebrates her birthday with her family.

On Wednesday, October 27, my firstborn became a real adult.  Not a fake "I'm-still-a-teenager-but-the-law-says-I'm-an-adult-because-I-turned-eighteen" adult (I'm sorry, but being able to vote and buy cigarettes doesn't mean you've achieved adulthood).

No, my sweet Sarah has reached the old-fashioned legal age of twenty-one, and I'm still having a hard time wrapping my brain around that fact.  I'm sure she was still a cuddly armful just a couple of years ago!
October 8, 1990: 11-month-old Sarah at Big Lake with her mom (me!)

Now Sarah is a working girl and college student.  She's been a cashier at WalMart for almost 3 months now, and she has completed all but two of her required classes at Northland Pioneer College before transferring to Mesa Community College next summer to attend the veterinarian technician program there.  She's also an excellent nanny, pet-sitter, and violinist in White Mountain Symphony Orchestra.

As far as adults go, Sarah has a whole lot of living left to do and tons of life still to experience, but she is on her way!

Why am I just now writing about her birthday, which happened 4 whole days ago? First of all, it seems fitting to record her birthday on Halloween since she and I spent her first Halloween in the hospital.  To read more about the reasons for our extended hospital stay after Sarah's birth, go here:  Sarah's Start

Tulips from Tahna!  Every day they open wide and every night they close up tight like this.  Gorgeous!

Secondly, we didn't get to celebrate her birthday until tonight because she's been busy all week.  She has worked from 2:00 to 11:00 p.m. almost every night this past week, including on her birthday.  She wasn't scheduled to work on Thursday, but that's her night for symphony rehearsals and she was off to the Snowflake campus.  Besides all that, she's been staying at her grandpa's house since Wednesday night to dog-sit again, so we haven't seen her much.

However, her good friends Emmi and Tahna saw to it that she was treated right during the week.  On Thursday morning Tahna brought Sarah a beautiful bouquet of tulips and took her out to breakfast at Darbi's.  After her symphony rehearsal, Emmi and Tahna got together and gave Sarah both a manicure and a pedicure, which she loved!
A beautiful gift from family friend Gwen.  Gwen chose this doll for the dark curls that are so like Sarah's!

And so tonight was our night to remember the day Sarah came into my world and brightened my life. 

We celebrated with chocolate cake and Sarah's favorite mint-and-chip ice cream.  We admired her beautiful new doll that our friend Gwen brought to her at church today.  Ed gave Sarah a romantic chick-flick DVD called Dear John, and I promised to take her to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 when it comes to theaters on November 19th.  We'll do a girls' night out!

My little girl is a woman now.  But she'll always be my baby.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Music and Sports

White Mountain Symphony Orchestra

We had another eventful weekend!  On Saturday night,  Ed and I attended Sarah's concert in Snowflake.  The program was called "The Dark Sounds of Music" and featured Halloween-worthy tunes such as "Danse Macabre," "Funeral for a Marionette" (once used as the theme music on Alfred Hitchcock's TV show), "A Night on Bald Mountain," and medleys of songs from The Corpse Bride and Phantom of the Opera

Sarah on violin, second from left.

The concert program began with the room going black and an ominous voice from backstage telling the tale behind the first piece of music.  The invisible announcer did this between every song.  It was a lot of fun and the orchestra was amazing, as always.

Ed watches while our principal, Eric, loads up the grill.

On Friday night it was high school football, which is always big news in small towns like ours.  Sarah and Jacob both had to work that night, but at 5:00 Ed, Dylan, and I headed to the faculty tailgate party next to the football field.  Ed's baked beans were a big hit and disappeared fast!

Ed catches me grabbing another handful of chips!

This was an extra-special game night.  It was Blue Ridge versus Show Low, which is always the biggest game of the season.  This year, both teams came to the game undefeated and with high hopes.

Unfortunately, in our current 3-A football league, Show Low is the only team that ever gives our team a run for the money.  Blue Ridge usually ends up winning over other local high schools with scores like 48-0 or 57-7.  We look forward to some serious competition.

The Blue Ridge bleachers were already getting full an hour and a half before the game began!

This year the expectations were even higher than usual.  Due to a claim by Show Low that our school had illegally recruited one of our players, Blue Ridge was forced to go through a process to prove we had not, which we did successfully early in the season.  However, this caught the attention of the media in Arizona and soon stories about the Blue Ridge/Show Low rivalry were being printed in big-city newspapers and discussed on the evening news.  Interest in our little mountain community was piqued throughout the state. 

Television crews from Phoenix came to televise the game!
One of the rented bleacher stands behind the TV van.

Thus, the big game of the season was expected to be much bigger!  Our athletic director rented four extra bleachers to be sure to have enough seating for the 10,000 fans being projected to attend the game.  In the end there were well more than 5,000 spectators in attendance.*
A helicopter lands on the field during the pregame show.

A special pregame show was planned.  The national anthem was performed by a large choir made up of students from both Blue Ridge and Show Low.  We wanted to show the media that a friendly rivalry is not the same thing as being bitter enemies.

Helicopters hovered high above the stadium and two parachutists jumped out carrying "Go Blue Ridge!" and "Go Show Low!" signs, landing on the field.  Then a helicopter actually landed in the middle of the stadium and delivered both team mascots, the Blue Ridge Yellow Jacket and the Show Low Cougar.
The two teams' mascots disembark the helicopter:
The Blue Ridge Yellow Jacket and the Show Low Cougar.

The game itself was as exciting as we'd anticipated.  Show Low ruled the field for the first half.  At half-time the score was 12-10 after a hard-fought battle.

During the half-time show, Ed and I went to the concession stand to get some hot chocolate.  While waiting in the very long line, we ran into my nephew Justin and his wife Alisha.  They joined us in line and we enjoyed a pleasant visit.  It turned out that Alisha had never even heard Ed and I had gotten married!

Justin is a graduate of Show Low High School.  He and his brothers played football for Show Low, including his brother Burke who is currently playing on Show Low's freshman team (who whipped our freshman team the previous day, by the way).  How can I be a bitter enemy of my beloved nieces' and nephews' school?  Sure, I have school spirit and cheer for my team, but I know there are good kids on both sides, playing their hearts out.
Both teams fought hard for the win, but Blue Ridge dominated in the end!

When we returned to our seats, the game had resumed and Show Low had scored another touchdown, bringing the score to 18-10.  It was looking bad, but then Blue Ridge renewed their efforts and the tide began to turn.  In the end it was another Blue Ridge victory, 36-18.

After the game, Ed and I carried our blankets and cushions to the car, prepared to wait for Dylan to join us (he had watched the game with his friends).  As we stowed our stuff in the back of the car, I heard someone shout, "Blue Ridge sucks!"  I turned around to find my brother and his wife, Jeff and Dana, with all their Show Low young'uns standing behind us, laughing.  We shared hugs and traded mild "my team is better than your team" insults before saying good-night.

It's not over, Show Low.  We will meet again.  See you in the play-offs!

Friday, October 15, 2010

On the Road Again

Ed and Mary enjoy a meal at R&B Breakfast Club.
We survived yet another trip to Colorado and Wyoming over the 4 days of Fall Break. Ed and I drove away from Show Low at 2:30 on Friday afternoon and arrived at his mom Caryl’s house in the prairies of northern Colorado at 4:00 a.m. our time (5:00 a.m. Colorado and Wyoming time) on Saturday morning. That’s a very long drive!

The drive was mostly uneventful, as far as I can tell. I really tried to be good company for Ed, who drove the entire 800 or so miles, but I’m afraid I slept for several hours during the trip. It made me stiff all over, trying to get some shut-eye in the front seat of a truck, but I’d been awake since about 5:00 Friday morning to finish up packing before going to work, and I was awfully tired!

Traffic slows north of Albuquerque.

We did hit some stop-and-go traffic as we drove through the northern part of Albuquerque, New Mexico. We don’t know what held us up for half an hour so late in the evening (about 8 p.m.), but at least we were provided with some entertainment while we waited. As luck would have it, a huge fireworks program was going on in the sky just across the freeway from where we were inching along. It gave us something to look at besides taillights!

Ed’s favorite breakfast restaurant, R&B

Once we reached Caryl’s house, we visited for a few minutes and then went to bed for the next 5 hours. We needed the rest!  After we got up, we headed across the Wyoming border and into Cheyenne for breakfast. (See top picture.)

Other than his mother and his friends, I believe Ed misses nothing from this area more than he misses R&B Breakfast Club, a restaurant that serves breakfast all day. Before we got married, he actually came here every morning, 6 days a week, and ordered the same meal: ham and eggs (over easy), hash browns, toast with strawberry jam, milk, and orange juice. I know this because I’ve now eaten in this restaurant with him many times since our wedding!

Personally, I prefer a home-cooked breakfast. I like my eggs medium-cooked in real butter, my hash browns shredded from real potatoes and fried in extra-virgin olive oil (slightly greasy and sprinkled with garlic salt), and my toast made from 100% whole wheat bread, crispy-toasted and smothered in real, melted butter. I rarely eat like that, of course, but on occasion that’s what I like.

Ed, however, has been having breakfast withdrawals since he moved to Arizona. In his opinion, none of our local restaurants quite measure up to R&B. Besides, he really likes the people who work at R&B, so we head back there for breakfast every time we come to town. The staff treats us like royalty when we walk in, and it’s a nice tradition for us.

Ed and his mom, Caryl, at Denny’s in Fort Collins, Colorado;
I’m always amazed by how these tiny women can produce these big sons!

After breakfast, we returned to Caryl’s house to pick her up, and then we drove into Fort Collins so she could run some errands. After a couple of hours, she treated us to lunch at Denny’s. She is such a sweet lady!

I’ve seen a lot of Fort Collins over the past few months. Ed moved there from his home state of New York when he was sixteen. He finished high school there, made some good friends, and lived there as a young married man before joining the Air Force and again later during the early years of his second marriage before returning to Alaska. He made many good memories in Fort Collins.

Ed spent the rest of the day taking care of repairs at his mom’s house, getting her place ready for the coming winter. She’s still thinking about moving to Arizona, but those plans have been pushed back until at least next summer and meanwhile she has to survive the winter. Living so far from her now, Ed worries about how she’ll get by and run her big place without his help.

What was I doing while Ed was hard at work? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was napping! I slept for 2 more hours and got up just in time for dinner, which Ed cooked for us. I don't know how he kept going on so little sleep.  I think I’m in danger of becoming spoiled!
Dinner at Red Lobster in Denver, Colorado

On Sunday we drove back into Cheyenne and attended church at Ed’s former ward. It was fun visiting with his old friends. As often as I’ve been there over the past several months, I’ve gotten to know and like many of the people of Frontier Ward. They always seem so pleased to see us when we return.

Sunday evening we headed south to Denver, which is slightly more than an hour’s drive from Caryl’s house. Ed had invited his lawyer’s family out to dinner on Monday night, but at the last minute they had to cancel and asked if we could do it Sunday instead. We try to avoid going out on Sundays, but since we thought we were heading home on Tuesday morning we didn’t see any other options.

Ed with his lawyer, Jim, and Jim’s children and wife, Patty

We had a delicious shrimp dinner and a lovely, long visit. It was my first time to meet Jim and his wife, Patty. Ed had told me what great people they are, and he was right. They’re a warm and personable family, and I see why Ed trusts Jim to handle his affairs. It was a wonderful evening.


Monday was a day of frustrations.  Ed spent the entire day working at finishing up all the projects around his mom's property that needed to be completed before we headed back home, but he met with many setbacks throughout the day.

We did get a nice break during the afternoon, when Ed's good friends Kelcey and Cindy stopped by to visit for an hour or two.  After that, though, it was back to business.  
The most difficult task was winterizing Caryl's furnace, which is a complex wood boiler designed by Ed's dad some 20 years ago.  Recently Caryl had a propane furnace added to the system.  Her intent was to switch between the wood and propane systems as needed.  Now that Ed no longer lives close enough to collect and chop the wood or continually feed the fires to keep the boiler working, it's too much labor for a woman of her age on a regular basis. 
To winterize the system, Ed thought he needed to add 20 gallons of specialized antifreeze.  By Monday afternoon, he discovered the job would be far more complicated than he'd expected, due to the newly added propane system, and would actually require 200 gallons of antifreeze!

On Tuesday, three 50-gallon drums of antifreeze are loaded on the back of Ed's truck.
That's a lot of antifreeze!  Luckily, the retailers Ed contacted were able to secure it for us the very next day.  Unfortunately, that was the day we were supposed to drive home so I could return to work at the end of Fall Break, on Wednesday.  I quickly made some phone calls to request a sub to cover my classes and give instructions to my teaching assistant, and we extended our stay one more day.
Ed loads the last buckets of antifreeze on the truck.
We drove back to Fort Collins on Tuesday to pick up three drums of antifreeze and run a few more errands while we were at it.  Then Ed spent many hours filling the boiler system and troubleshooting each new problem that arose.

Dylan and Ed working around Caryl's property back in June.

I meant to take a picture of the wood boiler furnace, but never got around to doing it.  The furnace is an actual shed-like outbuilding which stands several yards from the house.  It's only slightly smaller than the shed in the above photo, except the walls are black.  You open the door and shove wood into the fire inside.

Beneath the furnace is a cement underground room, like a bomb shelter.  Many of the system's pipes and electrical wires are located there.  You enter through a rusty metal tube and climb down these rungs in the wall.  Ed invited me down to take a look around, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  I'm not exactly claustrophobic, but...

Ed had to climb in and out of this hole many times over several days.  It was getting old, as one can imagine.  By the end of Tuesday, he was feeling confident that he had the newly integrated systems figured out and would only need a few more tweaks before we left for home the next morning.


We meant to get up at 6:00 on Wednesday morning, but we overslept by an hour.  Ed still had work to do on the furnace system, so I kept busy with packing up our stuff and hauling it out to the truck.  It was after 11:00 when we drove into Cheyenne for one last breakfast at R&Bs and to take care of some final business matters.

In the end, it was 1:30 p.m. (Colorado/Wyoming time) when we finally got on the road headed toward home.  Thankfully, it was another uneventful drive and we made good time.  We were both sore and exhausted when we pulled into the driveway just after midnight, but our own bed in our own home never felt so wonderful!  There truly is no place like home!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Weekend

Last weekend was a busy one for our family.  It began on Friday, of course, with the exciting arrival of Jacob's call to the California Santa Rosa Mission.  Then after dinner Ed and I enjoyed a pleasant evening together at a reception for a newlywed couple, Dick and Karen Stewart.  Dick is an eighty-something gentleman (who could easily pass for sixty-five) in our ward whose sweet wife Velma passed away last year.  We immediately liked his new wife and we're so thrilled for them both.  As Ed and I know, it's never too late to find love! 

Eric, Dylan (standing), and twins Adam and David at the bonfire

Ed had promised Dylan and some of his friends that they could have a bonfire on Friday night, so as soon as we returned from the reception they lit up the pile of flammable trash Ed and the boys had gathered during their clean-up of the yard and sheds.  (Cheaper to burn it than haul it to the dump.)

Diego chases and eats the falling sparks and ash.

The trash pile made a beautiful bonfire and we gathered around it, enjoying the warmth on a cool autumn night, for more than an hour.  Even our dog Diego had a great time.  He was fascinated with the showers of sparks floating in the sky around him and chased down as many as he could.

Dylan and his friends had a good time following one of my favorite old childhood pursuits, tree climbing.  They spent a good while in the branches of one of the old oak trees near the fire.

Dylan, age 13, gets comfy on a branch.  I'm not sure I'd trust it!

It was quite late when Ed finally sent the boys home and put out the flames.  It was such a hot fire, it was still smoking and sizzling the next morning!

Ed checks out the merchandise.

On Saturday we got up early enough to listen to the first session of General Conference, and then we jumped in the car and headed to a gun show in Hon-Dah, on the nearby Apache reservation.

Jacob and Ed admire some rifles.

Jacob joined us.  Hunting and shooting have never been a part of my children's lives, so my sons are fascinated with Ed's collection of firearms and his hunting tales.  Jacob asked a lot of questions at the gun show and learned a lot from Ed.  In coming years, I expect Dylan will become Ed's hunting partner and get educated about survival and self-reliance.

As for me, I'm not too interested in guns or hunting, although I'm happy to eat my share of elk or venison, and Ed plans to teach me to enjoy shooting a gun someday.  (We'll see...)  I only went along to the gun show so I could spend some time with my husband.

A few of the vendors sold other items alongside the guns and ammo, such as coins and jewelry.  At one point I admired a beautiful necklace with blue stones wrapped in thin curls of silver wire, telling Jacob I thought that was the prettiest necklace in the collection, before we walked on to the next booth.

After we returned home and prepared lunch while listening to the afternoon session of conference, Jacob mentioned that he'd thought about buying that necklace for me (he often does things like that).  Standing over a pan on the stove, I said over my shoulder, "That's okay, I'd rather you put your money away for your mission." 

Just then, Ed's hand appeared from behind me, holding out a small white box.  "You mean, this necklace?" he asked.  He had bought the necklace for me, the one I'm wearing in the photo above.  Do I have the sweetest husband or what?   

Clouds Ed and I saw in today's sky as we drove home from WalMart.
Can you see the cow on the right and the sheep on the left?

Last weekend was full and fun, but it's nothing compared to what Ed and I have planned for the upcoming, long weekend.  Tomorrow my students have their midterm exams since it's the final day of the first quarter of the school year.  Then we get to enjoy a four-day weekend, known as Fall Break, before we begin the second half of the semester.  Boy, do I need a break! 

Ed and I are using Fall Break to make yet another trip to Colorado and Wyoming.  Are we crazy?  Maybe, but there are still things he needs to take care of there.  Since tomorrow is a half-day at school, we hope to be on the road by 2pm and arrive at his mom's house in northern Colorado by 4am.  Ed will drive; I will sleep!

Sarah, Jacob, and Dylan are happy to keep the home fires burning in our absence, and I look forward to four full days alone with my hubby.  I will, of course, take loads of pictures and blog our trip after our return next week.  Stay tuned! 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Call

About 2 hours before the end of my workday on Friday, my husband called me in my classroom.  For a couple of minutes, he rambled on about little things he and Jacob had done that afternoon.  Silently, I was thinking, "That's nice, sweetie, but I already knew you were going to do these things." 

Finally, Ed added matter-of-factly, "Then Jacob went out to bring in the mail.  He has a big envelope from Salt Lake City."

After that, the time couldn't fly by fast enough!

Mom watches over his shoulder as Jacob slices the envelope open.

Jacob knew better than to open the envelope before I came home!  We wanted the entire family together, so Jacob called Sarah and told her to meet us at home.  She's been staying at her Grandpa Butler's place since last weekend to house- and dog-sit while they're out of town.

My aide, Kim, made me leave school 30 minutes early, telling me to call her as soon as we opened the envelope.  At 3:15, I pulled into our driveway just as Sarah was pulling in and Dylan was walking up the street after getting off the school bus.  The timing was perfect!

The tension mounts as Jacob reaches into the envelope.

We all hurried inside, I handed Ed the camera, and we all waited with bated breath as Jacob took a peak inside the envelope addressed to "Elder Jacob Timothy Carter."

Jacob's happy reaction to his mission call.

Jacob and I read the cover page together.  Neither of us felt any sense of surprise at all as we read which mission he's been assigned to serve in.  It feels right.  He was beaming as he read the portion of the letter below:

He's going to Santa Rosa, in northern California!  It's just north of San Francisco and west of Sacramento (the state capital).  That's not all that far from where I grew up (age 5 to 17) in Fresno.  I'm so excited that he'll have the opportunity to live and serve in the state I called home for 25 years, having been born and raised in California.

Jacob is excited, too.  He knows this is where he's supposed to serve.  He is also a little relieved to be staying in the USA and to not have to learn another language.  I would have been thrilled no matter where he was called to go, but I admit as his mother it's nice to think, "California is just one state over..." 

He reports to the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah, on December 1st.  That's only 2 months away, and we have so much more to do to get him ready to go!  The envelope also contained several packing lists and lists of things to do.  I foresee much shopping in our future!

I can hardly believe this is really going to happen, and soon!  Congratulations, my son the missionary.  We are all so very proud of you!