Friday, February 28, 2014

Motley Crew

Left-to-right: Jacob, Ryan, Shera, Chris, Sarah, and Dylan.

On Tuesday night we all went out to dinner at China Wok. Partly to celebrate Ryan and Shera's new jobs, partly because we all love China Wok, and maybe mostly because everyone was too tired to do any cooking, now that we're all working!

Taking us all out to eat is to risk humiliation. Note Dylan's intelligent expression and Jacob's toothy grin made up of chewed food. During the course of the meal, Dylan put salt in Sarah's soda (she didn't notice) and followed Ryan into the bathroom to snap a picture of him in front of the urinal. (No, I'm not posting it, so don't ask.) Shera passed one of her peel-and-eat shrimps to Jacob across my plate, and one of the little critter's legs fell into my food. I never found it, and I still cringe to think I may have ingested it. Sarah got to giggling and couldn't stop, which made us all laugh uproariously. Many good-natured insults were flung back and forth across the table. I spent a lot of time saying, "That's not appropriate" and "Put that salt shaker down." It was a typical night out for the Carter/Reynolds brood!

We are a group of assorted oddities. And I make no apologies for us. Well, except maybe to the demure little Chinese employee who handed us our check with a polite expression that plainly said, "Please get out of our restaurant."

This is my family, and I love each and every unique one of them! I'm so grateful they are mine!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

All Roads Lead to the Temple

At the Snowflake Temple on 22 Feb 2014: In front, Sarah and Chris. 
In back, Danielle and Jacob, and Shera and Ryan.

Okay, I suppose that's not strictly true, but lately it seems that our road keeps leading us to a temple. Last night we ended a great day with a sweet visit to our local temple, the Snowflake Temple.

Shera, Mary, and Sarah at the Women's Conference

We ladies started our day at the church, attending workshops at a Women's Conference put on by the Pinetop-Lakeside Stake. We enjoyed workshops on "Marriage is a Battlefield" (and how to defend it), "The Eden model of Parenting," "Receiving Personal Revelation," and "Keeping Our Spiritual Reserves Full."

We'd have invited Danielle to join us, but she and Jacob both had the day off from their jobs, so they spent the day in Snowflake, working on their wedding plans.

Beautifully decorated tables for the luncheon.

Our Stake Presidency (Presidents Shumway, Jensen, and Beeler) and the brethren of the Stake High Council prepared a wonderful lunch for all the ladies and served us. We enjoyed delicious pulled pork barbecue with baked potatoes, salad, and chocolate chip cookies.

Chris and Sarah at Red Onion in Heber-Overgaard.

Later that evening, the three couples in our family decided to have a group date, making the 45-minute drive to the tiny town of Heber-Overgaard to eat at a popular restaurant there, the Red Onion. Jacob and Danielle drove there from Snowflake to meet the rest of the group. It was only a 30-minute drive for them.

Danielle and Jacob at Red Onion in Heber-Overgaard.

Since Dylan and I were going to be left home alone, I thought the two of us could go out to dinner someplace closer to home. But then, at the last minute, he got invited to a party for a friend's girlfriend's sister's friend. (!!!) 

Shera and Ryan at Red Onion in Heber-Overgaard.

So Dylan left, and I figured I'd just go out to dinner by myself. I was single until I was 34, so eating out alone doesn't bother me. But my kids insisted that I join them on their date, saying they couldn't bear to think of me eating out alone. Almost made me cry!  

Jacob, Ryan, and Shera play some pool at the Red Onion after dinner.

Thus I got to join in on the fun, and get some great pictures of my six kids (all but #7 Dylan), to boot. We had a yummy meal with good company at the Red Onion, and after dinner Jacob, Ryan, and Shera decided to play a game of pool.

Ryan and Chris watch Shera play some pool at the Red Onion after dinner.

They were surprised when they all had to show ID before they were allowed to play, since the pool table is located in the bar. Everyone was legal to be in the bar area: Chris is 35, Shera is 30, Ryan is 29, Sarah is 24, Jacob is 22, and I am . . . well, never mind about that! So everyone was legal. Everyone, that is, except the baby of the group, Danielle, who's only 20! So Sarah and Danielle waited at our table while the oldsters made it a quick game and I took pictures.

Shera, Ryan, Danielle, and Jacob walk around the grounds of the Snowflake Temple.

Jacob and Danielle suggested that we all drive back to Snowflake to visit the temple there. We were all willing, especially Ryan and Shera, who had only seen the Snowflake Temple from a distance once when we drove by on the highway through town.

Angel Moroni atop the Snowflake Temple.

This particular temple is special to me, because this is where Ed and I were sealed to each other on May 21, 2011, and where we were sealed to all three of my children on November 24, 2012, soon after Jacob came home from his mission in California. Despite the pending divorce, I'll always love my husband and hope we'll be companions in the eternities when all is said and done. 

Ryan and Shera in the fountain at the Snowflake Temple.

The Snowflake Temple will become even more sacred to us as the place where all my children were sealed to their eternal companions. Sarah and Chris were married there on July 30, 2011. Jacob and Danielle will be married there this coming June. And Ryan and Shera plan to be sealed there in January 2015.

Sarah and Chris in the fountain at the Snowflake Temple.

Jacob and Danielle in the fountain at the Snowflake Temple.

It was the most wonderful ending to an amazing day!

Young lovers!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Temple Road Trip

The new Gilbert Temple lit up at night on
February 10, 2014.

My last post about our road trip to tour the new temple in Gilbert was focused mostly on the two new couples in our entourage, what with Jacob and Danielle getting engaged and it being Ryan and Shera's first time to visit an LDS temple and travel to the Valley and all.

Also on the trip were Mary, Sarah, and Dylan.
Dylan and I are single, but Sarah's husband, my son-in-law Chris, 
missed out on the trip due to his work schedule.

There were three more of us along for the ride, though, and there are many more pictures to be shared. Lots, lots more.

A view of the Salt River at the bottom of Salt River Canyon.
From this height it looked more like a stream, but when we were quiet
we could hear the roar of the river's rushing waters.

This shot shows more clearly how far down it is to the floor of the canyon.
The river would be much deeper if we weren't under drought conditions.

My three boys--Jacob, Dylan, and Ryan--explored the side of the highway
while we were stuck for 30 minutes due to roadwork ahead.

Shera and Ryan posed with the Christus when we stopped by
the Visitors Center at the Mesa Arizona Temple.

Sarah and Danielle hammed it up while we took a break in the
Visitors Center restroom.

Shera and Ryan by a pool between the Visitors Center and
the Mesa Temple in the background.

Sarah wanders the beautiful Mesa Temple grounds while
Dylan, Jacob, and Danielle check out a plaque.

The temple is closed on Monday, so Shera and Ryan
have the steps to the Mesa Temple's entrance all to themselves.

Shera is pleased to have two new brothers in Jacob and Dylan.

Ryan and Shera had never seen saguaro cactus until 
we drove through the desert that morning.
They decided they must have their picture taken with one.
This cactus garden is located on the grounds of the Mesa Temple.
They were loving the 80+ degree temperatures in the Valley.
Their friends and family in Missouri are enduring temps in the teens.
(At home in the White Mountains it's been in the 60s and low 70s.)

Jacob and Ryan took a break at Deseret Bookstore near the Mesa Temple 
while the rest of us explored the delights to be found inside.
I asked Ryan, "Isn't that Jacob's shirt you're wearing?" He said it was.
I knew then that I'd truly gained another son. They're wearing each other's clothes!

My youngest, Dylan, checks out the tie selection at Deseret Bookstore.

Dylan, Jacob, Mary, and Sarah outside the Gilbert Temple after our tour.
Just me and my original 3 children. These days our family is exploding with growth!

Danielle, Jacob, and Dylan share a moment on the Gilbert Temple grounds.
Plenty of shady spots, benches, and fountains abound.

Ryan and Shera are feeling amorous as Jacob and Danielle watch from the left.
We were still anxiously waiting for Jacob to pop the question at this point . . .

What are Dylan, Danielle, Jacob, Shera, and Ryan pointing at?

They were pointing up at the Angel Moroni atop the Gilbert Temple!

Ryan saw this shot, grabbed my camera out of my hand,
and captured the moment!

The Gilbert Temple is huge and amazing. Utterly gorgeous.
The last time a temple of this size was built was 17 years ago!

Ryan and Shera plan to be sealed for eternity in January 2015, 
one year after their baptism. They were so impressed with the beauty of this temple,
they're considering coming here to be sealed.

Shera photographs Danielle, Jacob, and Dylan while Ryan stands by.

After our tour, and after the proposal, we went to my sister Karla's house in Mesa. After briefly visiting there, we all went to Mi Amigos for a delicious dinner of Mexican food. Our group included the 7 of us; my sister Karla; her daughter Genevieve with husband Scott and their 4 kids; her daughter Celesta with husband Riley; her daughter Brianna with husband Bryce and their baby son Carson; and her youngest daughters Mariah, Gabby, and Addison.

I wish I'd remembered to take pictures of everyone at dinner, but I was too busy quizzing Karla about her love life! However, all those dinner photos would have required another post!

Riley and Celesta met us at the Gilbert Temple after dinner.
These are my newlywed niece and nephew whose wedding we attended in November.
They were thrilled to announce that they are expecting their first baby next summer!

Ryan, still on the Gilbert Temple grounds.
It had been a long, full day. We didn't leave for home till about 10 pm.

One final picture of Shera and Ryan before heading back up the mountain toward home.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sweet Valentine Revenge

15 Feb 2014: Shera keeps a lookout for Danielle, 
in case she comes out of the store on break.

After Danielle "heart-attacked" Jacob's car on the night of Valentine's Day, he knew he had to step up or forever acknowledge having been bested in the romance department by his new fiance. So Jacob and his two "partners in crime of passion," Ryan and Shera, sneaked over to Walmart while Danielle was working on Saturday night.

This shot came from Danielle's camera after she discovered Jacob's surprise later that night.
I "borrowed" it from her Facebook page. Whatever did we do before cell phone cameras?

They had a great time decorating her car with belated-Valentine messages. Does anyone doubt that these two, Jacob and Danielle, are crazy about each other?

I see that I need to teach my son the difference between "your" and "you're."
Oh, the woes of being an English teacher's child. But it's the thought that counts!

You may notice that Danielle's car (her mom's car, actually) looks very much like mine.
In a funny coincidence, we both drive red Pontiac Vibes, 
although her model is a year or two newer than mine.

I love the party hat on the antenna. Nice touch!

 I borrowed this shot from Danielle, too. Jacob's picture of the back window was too blurry.
I think we can tell which parts were written by Jacob and which by Shera's fancy hand, 
but every word came straight from Jacob's heart!

Jacob left Danielle this beautiful, romantic card with the car.
The verse inside:

You're the only one I love, the one I'm always thinking of,
The one who will forever be the one and only love for me.

Whatever he wrote inside is unknown to me,
but it made Danielle happy and shall remain between the two of them.

Please don't get the idea that the rest of us ignored Valentines Day. My simple tradition over the years is to buy those cute little $1.00 heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for my children. Since the number of my children and their significant others have increased in recent months, I bought a record number of 7 candy boxes this year!

Like Jacob and Danielle, Ryan and Shera exchanged their gifts on Monday. She gave him a shiny new 2014 fishing license. He gave her a lovely bracelet and a cute purple owl she named "Hoot." Shera is very into owls. Chris cooked Sarah a special dinner, which she tells me was delicious. The rumor is that Sarah's gift to Chris involved some lingerie . . . and I hear he really appreciated it!

It was a little hard to be single for Valentines Day this year. I do miss my husband. (He's not my ex, not yet.) Nonetheless, I feel so blessed to be surrounded by family who care about me. 

On Saturday Sarah came by with a bag full of those little $1 heart-shaped candy boxes for everyone. Everyone except me. Oh, don't be sad. She knows I'm struggling to get back to eating right and losing weight now that the holidays are long past. So she brought me a box of the new Atkins low-carb peanut M&Ms (my favorite candy) and one of my favorite movies, The Time Traveler's Wife

She knows how to make me feel loved!