July 30, 2008

No one rents space in my head!

At least that's what a caller told Michael Medved once (as told by his #1 Meadhead Gold Platinum Fan Club fan, JoLynn Bell. Btw, i just learned a month or so ago that the L in my mom's name is capitalized. Dis. Kind of like learning in the MTC that the B.O.M. had an account of Jesus visiting the Americas. Double Dis. Parental oversight, apparently). My mom thought that was so funny, and I did too, especially when spoken by a NY or Boston tough guy (Reba and I have actually been to NY for a few days and miss it to death! We formed such deep roots there and miss our city life and our dear, dear friends so much. But now we have a New York room in our house, and are naming our next kid Brooklyn Bridge, or Brooklyn Bridgette, if a girl) .

Anyway, point is, I was recently reminded, by some lame jokes on my lame brother's blog, of something that once rented space in--but as it turns out, not on--my head. Male pattern baldness. One day, a few months before I was through with my mission (we have a North Carolina room too. And a North Carolina back yard.) I was shampooing my hair in the shower and happened to look at my shampoo covered hands and saw a few hairs. "Weird," I thought. Sometime after I looked at the back of my head in the mirror and wondered if my natural part or cowlick or whatever you call that, was the beginning of a bald spot. Over the next few weeks I became convinced that it was. I was going bald. Fast. It didn't help that my companion was a 19 year old Hispanic guy whose hairline was locked in battle with his eyebrows for real estate. Let's call it the Spanish-Amhairican war.
The few fellow God's Army commandos I confided my woes in inspected my head and told me I was crazy. But I knew they were just being nice. Guys are pretty sweet when missionaries, you know.
But going bald isn't the biggest deal, right? Happens to a lot of good fellows. You have to understand that some dudes look good with shaved heads. I'm not one of those dudes. Under the best of circumstances, my sister in law tells me I look like the giant in Big Fish. Now imagine him with a buzz. Exactly.

Anyway, it turns out I wasn't going bald, and am still, 7 years later, keeping it real in back (Hey, we all have troops who retreat a bit in the front, right? Just to hold the line? If you don't it means you're immature and know nothing about military science, or that you just have hair plugs, like this guy). Problem solved. But I only realized this after a few months of serious neurotic misery. After that, I decided to not let anything rent space in my head.

Except Sharks. They still have a definite cubicle in there, i'll be honest.

And one corner office for rivers. I'm haunted by them.

July 27, 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The Good...

I made one of Jake's favorite desserts for his going-away dinner at Outback with us, Spencer and his wife, Sara. Oliver has just discovered the perks of helping Mommy in the kitchen. He loves all things doughy.

The Bad...

You got that, Oliver is trying to be "bad" just like his Daddy on the long board. He's actually pretty skilled at getting on and off it. (Better than his Mommy, anyway, who last time she rode (3 years ago) broke her foot, no thanks to Christian for leading her right on to a busy street.)

The Ugly...

I failed to capture a picture of the ugliness, but I'll tell you. Our really good friends, the Haymore's, are moving and invited us to join in their garage sale. I drove up there, laid all my stuff out, then not even an hour later, it started to rain. I quickly packed my stuff back in to my car and drove home, determined to have another garage sale next weekend at our house. So, with Jake's recently vacated room, I put all my stuff in there. I know the room is in desperate need of some decor, but it's last on my list. On a side note, we were REALLY sad to say goodbye to Jake. After about 6 months here in Albuquerque, he made the trek back to Georgia to start school in the fall. We loved having him here and miss him a lot already.

July 22, 2008

Uh, Oh

Oliver found both of his Range Rovers at the same time.

I just went last week to Wal-Mart to buy a replacement Range Rover Hot Wheels car because Oliver is totally obsessed with having one with him at all times. This even extends to night time. If he happens to turn over in his crib at night and doesn't feel his Range Rover, he will wake up screaming. After enduring a few nights of this charade, I got him another identical car in case one of them got lost. He found both of them at the same time on Saturday. We're in trouble.

July 17, 2008

Take a Minute

I realized this week that it has been a long, long time since I had broken out the old mission scrapbook, so I whipped it out, remembering those 1 1/2 years in the Philippines. I must admit, I have both really good and bad memories of my mission. It was, without a doubt, the most difficult 2 years of my life, but it was also a time in my life when I felt the most purposeful, clear sense of priorities and joy. I was also really surprised while looking at my scrapbook how many of the difficult times I had forgotten (no running water, bucket showers, piles of dead cockroaches in our apartment, the unbearable humidity, and just the daily, grueling work). I was also brought back to a particular zone conference when somehow I was convinced to sing a solo part of a group number, in front of our whole zone. We sang, "Oh Lord, My Redeemer." Wow, what a flood of memories. Sometimes, I really ache to be back there- to feel that peace, determination, and burning desire to share the gospel.

The rainy season hit us hard. We walked in this stuff all day for months.

On another note, this has been a somewhat difficult week for me. As most of you know, Christian and I have been really wanting to have another child. We have been trying for nearly a year now, with no luck. I was really trying to gain some understanding into our situation a few days ago, really praying and reading the scriptures. I read a scripture that I love and I want to share it. It's in Mosiah 3:19. "For the natural man is an enemy to God...unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." I know that one year isn't much in the scheme of things and I don't want to come off as totally dramatic and pitiful. I also know that there are far worse things that we could be going through and I'm grateful beyond words for the little boy that we do have, but I know the Lord is trying to teach me something here. It's taken me a year now to finally see a little bit of the light. I hope that I can be as this scripture says, "yielding, submissive, patient..."
I must say that the whole reason that I even got up the courage to write this really mushy, emotional post is that I was reading in this month's Ensign, a talk by Elder Ballard about sharing the gospel using the internet. I am fighting myself even as I write, but I just wanted to share these things. I know the Lord is mindful of us. I know He hears our prayers and will comfort us in times of pain, heartache, or difficulty.

A Must, In My Opinion

I'm going to make a book recommendation, which is not something I often do because I know people have such different tastes and I hate for them to be disappointed. But, I really can't pass this up. Christian and I just read this book and, let me tell you, it was fantastic- so applicable and the things he talks about really rang true for us. Also, it's a really quick, fun, and easy read, which always helps. I would recommend this to ANY and ALL married/engaged/seriously dating couples. If you've read it, let us know if you agree!

July 7, 2008

"My Country Tis of Thee..."

The day got off to kind of slow start after a failed attempt at the gym (childcare was closed), so I had to run with Oliver in his stroller to the park where I managed to do a little exercise routine there with some tubing. I couldn't very well miss a day of exercise when I knew the amount of chunking out the upcoming day would bring, right??!! So, after that, it was pretty much just a party. We started with some friends here on the west side of town for a BBQ with the most colossal burgers you've ever seen, topped off with yummy, not to mention healthy, red, white, and blue fruit parfaits. Our next party was with our friends on the east side of town for a little more BBQ at their beautiful house. Christian and Jake played a few rounds of redneck golf in the backyard while the girls chatted it up around the food table. I also must mention the not only delicious, but fabulously fancy 4th of July cake that Jill made, complete with red velvet, blueberries, and raspberries. It looked like something out of magazine- yum yum! The fun night ended with the exchanging of ghost stories and childhood fashion memories. It was soooooo fun!

The theme of these pictures is how scared Oliver was of the sparklers...?!

Family pic- Oliver's still scared.

Jason, Steven, Christian, Jake, and Eric, after a grueling round of redneck golf.

Oliver wasn't really interested in the meat- he's kind of a carb guy.

Brittany, me, and Rachel.

Brittany, me, Jill, and Rachel, chatting it up.

Can I get a light?

Oliver was pooped after all that partying! He loves his Uncle Jake!

July 6, 2008


I'm doing a challenge with the Jewkes Family that involves doing a set of things every day (involving health, spiritual routine, etc) and one of the things is writing in a journal/blog, so you might see some more blogging out of me for the next couple months. Here's one of many to come:

For you political types looking to challenge your conservative orientation, let me recommend a great book and a very informative documentary. The book is The One Percent Solution, by Ron Suskind. It covers the Bush administration's war on terror. It's amazingly well documented (I don't know how he gets so many inside sources) and, I think, very fair.

The documentary is Why We Fight, and it's about the history of the U.S. military/industrial complex. Very well researched and presented. Being a military history buff, I was surprised by everything I didn't know about the industrial side of our military's history. This documentary makes me question previous beliefs about the wisdom of certain military engagements and the mammoth size and spending of our military at all times in general.

If you read/watch them, let me know what you think.

July 3, 2008

"Family: Isn't it about time?"

It wasn't until I was in the MTC that I finally figured out the double meaning in the Church commercials that said at the end, "Family: Isn't it about time?" Well, we made the time this last month, to attend TWO family reunions/vacations. The first, with the Jewkes, was in Breckenridge, CO, and the second, with the Bells, was at Wolf Creek, UT.
It all started with some buddy passes, given us so generously by a friend, and then we were on our way to The Mile High City. We rented a car and made the almost 2-hour drive to Breckenridge where a beautiful, impossibly huge cabin, parked right at the intersection of two rapid rivers awaited us. The name of the lodge, aptly so, was Two River Ranch. As we spent the afternoon waiting for all the Jewkes families to converge on this place (Keep in mind that there's 11 kids and we were coming from all around the U.S.- Florida, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico), we played in the rivers, chose which of the 10 rooms we wanted to sleep in, and unloaded a huge trailer full of food for the week. We started the festivities out right: with an "animated" production to introduce us to the weeks' activities, including rules to the "candy shop" overseen by Jake which basically meant that there was free reign to whatever candy was left over after Jake got his hands on it. I'm not going to go on about every little thing we did, but just to give you an idea: We shopped the quaint little town of Breckenridge, went on an amazing bike ride from Vail to Breckenridge, Christian made his way down the rapid river by our cabin on a deflated raft from Wal-Mart, we held a "world cafe" at one of our nightly discussions (if you'd like to know what that is, well, you'll have to hire Gary Jewkes as your consultant and he will gladly take you through the process), and last, but not least, we went on a short, but sweet hike on a cliff with 20 kids in tow, overlooking a picturesque lake, surrounded by mountains, (who ever said anything about scared of heights???), stopping off to feed an enclave of chipmunks living there. WOW!!! Does it get any more action-packed??!! The only bummer of the whole reunion was that Christian and I had to leave a few days early. So, we made our way back to the Denver airport, dropped off our rental car, and listed ourselves on the buddy pass standby list. Only AFTER we checked our bags did they mention that we were seventeenth on a list of standby passengers on a flight was oversold and would be for 2 days! After contemplating a couple night stay at the cushy Denver airport, we called and amazingly got a ticket on a flight out that night. Whew!

Christian was, of course, the adult spearheading the kids playing at the river.

Oliver was perfectly content to throw rocks in the river all day. And, if we tried to pull him away, we got major protests. Like Father, like Son.

Christian decided it would be a good idea to carry Oliver across the ragin' river. This was after all the kids had been thoroughly instructed by their parents not to get within 3 feet of the river.

I had the honor of being the MC for the night's production of, "This week at Breckenridge."

There were some pretty funny mini-plays put on by these girls.

The "candy store."

Christian and Dave braved the river. They started with a raft. They ended with scrapes and a deflated raft.
You like our reunion shirts?

On Father's Day, we had the men do a sort of Father's Olympics and Q&A contest. I'm proud to say that Christian was the winner!

Story time with the kiddos- Dave was telling them the story of David and Goliath.

And guess who Goliath was???

On the bike ride from Vail to Breckenridge.

Oliver got to ride with his cousin, Jonah, and they dozed off together.

Thus starts the Bell Vacation (I've been instructed to call it such, as it was not a full-blown reunion). After a few days to relax in Farmington with the fam, including an obligatory trip to Cafe Rio, we headed up to Wolf Creek (That's up the Ogden Canyon and for those of you that have never been, it's probably one of the most beautiful places west of the Mississippi.). We rented condos up there and Christian and I got the privilege of bunking with two of my favorite people, Greg and JoLynn (Christian's parents). As soon as dinner was over, we headed straight to the pool where Christian showed off some of his amazing high-jump tricks for the kids. We ended each night at Wolf Creek with the traditional stay-up-as-late-as-humanly-possible Bell family discussions. The next day, we headed out to Pineview Dam for the much, much-anticipated boat/lake/wakeboard/ski/tubing day. And yes, even with 29 people, we all got a chance to do all that. It was seriously one of the funnest days I've had in a long time (and that's a big deal since there was sand and a baby involved). Oliver loved the boat, though, and he LOVED playing with JoLynn in the sand (Thanks for taking that duty off my hands, JoLynn!). We headed back to Farmington the next day, but not without a stop at a local park to play a mean game of soccer. The rest of the weekend was filled with chatting, chatting, and more chatting with each other. Oh, and we took some family pictures.

The uncles took all the kids to the Farmington River one afternoon.

JoLynn taking kid duty in the sand- thank goodness!




"5 little monkeys jumping on the bed..."

You just know these three are up to no good.

JoLynn, taking over kid duty again.

Not the greatest pic, but you get the idea.

JoLynn gave Oliver this hat and he wouldn't take it off for the entire day. He even slept with it.

Now- do I get an award for the longest post EVER????