Today was Jenna's first day of high school, and it was Heather's last first day of high school. A Freshman and a Senior. Hard to believe we're finally here at this season of our lives. Heather met friends at school. She is so happy to be nearly done with high school. Jenna met friends at Abbey's house, and they walked to school together. It's great that Jenna has such a huge posse to lend support on this big day. Time is moving way too fast! How many times have I said THAT on this blog?
Soaking up the last days of summer today with Heather at Disneyland. Jenna had volleyball practice today so, Kelly and I tag teamed. Heather and I went in the morning, and then Kelly arrived and switched with me in the afternoon so I could help Jenna get to her practice.
We had so much fun hanging out at our favorite place today. We photographed the Tower of Terror which will be transforming into another theme at the first of the year and had silly fun. Then Kelly and Heather rode their favorite rides and had adventures with Chewy as well as a yummy dinner.
A perk of helping with the volleyball pictures is getting to snap a couple while the photographer is working. Can't believe Jenna is in high school and beginning her high school volleyball career. She made the Frosh/Soph Blue team which is the higher level Freshman team. We're super proud and can't wait to see how she does this season.
8/17/16 Preparing and packing while watching the Olympics...
8/18/16 Meeting Kelly in Los Angeles (Jodi and I drove the girls up) so they could get a head start on their journey...
8/19/16 Backpackers camp in the valley...
8/20/16 Day 1 Bus ride to Tuolumne Meadows and Hike from Tuolumne to Lake Evelyn...
8/22/16 Day 2 Hike Lake Evelyn to Merced Lake...
8/22/16 Day 3 Hike Merced Lake to Little Yosemite Valley...
8/23/16 Day 4 Hike up Half Dome and back out to the valley...
Kelly took Heather and MacKenzie to Yosemite for their traditional summer hike. This year they started hiking from Tuolumne Meadows and hiked over 50 miles in four days. They saw beautiful scenery, but it was some serious hiking. Kelly ended up having issues with both his stomach and his knee and had to stay behind on the last day while the girls hiked Half Dome on their own. Oddly, I wasn't nervous. I knew the girls were super safety-aware and responsible, and both girls had made the hike a couple of times. They knew the trail and knew the precautions. We knew there would be rangers and other nice hikers along the way. They were prayerful in their decision to make the hike, and they did it amazingly. We reflected on the perfection of this experience as the girls will be heading out into the world as adults in just a year. The confidence this trip gave them was priceless for this time in their lives. After hiking back to Kelly, they packed up and hiked out to the valley to come home. An amazing adventure with amazing memories.
At Girls Camp I met Sister Sander who turned out to be Kera Wishart from Yorba Linda. Michelle and I used to go visit Aunt Kathy and go to church with her when we stayed. Kera was a super nice girl in Young Women who befriended us. It was so fun to discover our long ago connection. Kera is also mamma to Taylor who was playing in the summer Olympics on the men's volleyball team. We'd been following volleyball all summer, knew of Taylor, and had no idea he was from our stake. Anyway, he returned home from the Olympics today and lots of neighbors and church friends met for a little surprise at the Sander house. Jenna was at volleyball practice, but we ran over immediately after her practice so she could meet Taylor. The Sander family is so nice, and it was awesome to get to feel an Olympic medal (they're heavy!) and meet Taylor.
Kelly, Heather and Jenna were all involved in Summer Youth Conference this year. It took place in Murrieta, CA on some land owned by one of our members. A life size replica of the tabernacle of Moses was built by our stake and assembled on the land. Tents were pitched around the tabernacle, and the youth were divided into tribes. Heather was a tribe leader which involved keeping track of and teaching her tribe. The experience gave the youth an idea of what it was like to visit the tabernacle in biblical times, and the the week was designed to teach the youth about the symbolism of the tabernacle. It was a very spiritual experience, and so popular that the surrounding communities came to visit after the youth left. The conference ended with a dance, and Brother Boyack took some great pictures of the kids.
The tabernacle is traveling to our stake for tours in November, and it will tour the country as well ending up on BYU's campus.
Cousin Kasey drove to CA with a friend to hang out at the beach for a couple of days. She asked if they could stay with us, and we were happy to oblige. We took the girls to Paul's Cafe one morning for breakfast. It was fun to be with her for this short visit. Come again anytime!
Several of my friends recently participated in the "Love Your Spouse" challenge on Facebook. I was nominated by a friend, but I didn't have a lot of photos of us handy, so I declined to participate. That was one reason. Another was that I wasn't sure about participating with spotlight photos of us that would present a "picture" of us for everyone to see...and compare to.
Do you ever look at photos of married couples who look so perfect and so happy and wonder, "Do they ever have challenges that cause them heartache? Are they always loving like that? Do they ever doubt?" An article posted today by a blogger who refused to participate in the challenge said something like we know and see one hundred percent of our lives, but Facebook only shows five percent. And we compare that real-life one hundred percent with everyone else's five percent of perfection. She then went on to post pictures of her and her husband fighting, driving in the car while lost and late, sleeping on the couch while trying to watch a movie because they're so exhausted. It was funny, but it was also more accurate. This girl was a young mom in the throws of nursing and sleepless nights with babies. She was tired and feeling real.
After reading that article I thought about my friends who posted. It occurred to me that I didn't have many young friends who posted. Most of the posts on my feed came from older couples. Not old in age, but more seasoned in marriage. They posted pictures of their marriages years earlier and of more recent trips and current activities, and all with appreciative comments. Why were most of my friends who posted more seasoned couples? I have a theory.
The good stuff, the really good stuff comes later in the journey.
The true appreciation we gain for our spouses comes later. It comes after the honeymoon years, after the kids are nearly grown, after illness, the loss of parents, the gut-wrenching, drive-you-to-your- knees trials...after refining experiences that help us see through different eyes. I see many young people declare that they married their best friend. I didn't. But he became my best friend on our journey. He's had my back through some difficult periods, and I've had his. When I look at that cute (very young) couple in the picture posted above, I no longer think, "young love birds," or "what a beautiful couple," or any of the idealistic things we think about the couples in wedding photos. At this stage in life I think, "They had no idea what the journey would be like." And I see how far they have come. I don't even feel like that girl in the photo anymore.
To sum up my thoughts I would give the following advice--As you look at those "Love Your Spouse" challenge photos, remember that they are not perfect couples. That they've been through some tough trials. They argue like you do, they cry like you do, and they've been on their knees many, many times just like you have. The joy is in the journey, and the reward comes later on.
After twenty nine years of marriage I can boast that we've hung on. We've stayed together through doubt, discouragement and despair. Our faith is the reason that we keep walking. We both have loyal personalities, but we both have strong testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We keep trying because we want to make it. We also love each other deeply and appreciatively. I can't imagine going through life with anyone else. I married the person that was going to challenge me to grow, although I didn't know that at the time. He's funny and sweet, hardworking and diligent, resilient and compassionate, and the best partner in parenting. I learn from his example, and I am lighter because of his sense of humor and positive personality.
Next time you come across one of those challenges and look longingly at the perfection, remember that there's ninety-five percent of that story not showing. Don't compare. Do your best and keep walking forward improving yourself and your relationship wherever you can. Appreciate your journey and embrace it.
I'm a wife and mother of two of the sweetest girls ever. In my former life, I was an elementary school teacher. I love learning and sharing experiences, and the chance to journal for posterity. I wish I knew as much about my ancestors as my posterity is going to know about me!