Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Heritage of Service

Memorial Day…It’s about more than cookouts and swimming. It is a day to honor those who have given their lives to keep our country free and to protect our opportunities to enjoy the cookouts and swimming, or whatever we choose to do. I would like to take this time to extend my appreciation to ALL who have served our country, past and present, and to their families who keep the home fires burning.

Our family has a heritage of military service, and for Robert and me, it strikes very close to home.

Robert’s father, Grant, served in the Army, and returned home safely from two tours of duty in Vietnam:

This is my father’s father, Giffin Blaine Tucker, who served (as a very young lad) in the Navy in both World War II and the Korean War. He returned home safely from his time in the service:

My father, Larry, was an excellent soldier (he made it a career), and although he returned home from Vietnam in one piece (after receiving two purple hearts), he was never the same:

My mother, Dee Dee, joined the Army and went through basic training when she was 33 years old (what a woman)! She was never involved in war, but her military duties and experience did leave their marks on her health, and today we routinely visit the VA hospital:

Robert and I were both “military brats”; I truly believe that this may be the origins of my wanderlust, since I never lived anywhere longer than two years when I was a child. Being part of a military family is a unique experience, full of sacrifice, but full of blessings, too. I saw many things and met many people when I was growing up, and the military can be like a little family when you are away from your extended family back “home”. Military families learn to adapt to almost any situation (except standing still!). And I have to say that there is a sense of pride that comes from having a family member serve that I can't imagine having any other way.

To all veterans, I want to say, “Thanks, and God bless you!”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Welcome Guest

As many of you know, I have been learning to garden -- this is my third spring to start a garden, and I must say it is going a little better this year. Except for the wildlife, that is. Every year the squirrels and the birds get my blueberries and my raspberries. This year is no exception. I also have a new threat: the Golden Marauder (you can read about her in my gardening blog, "The Gan-Green Thumb").

I was out watering the garden this afternoon when I came across an unexpected guest. This little guy doesn't eat berries or grape vines (just bugs). You won't see him at first:

But if you look really close, there he is, looking absolutely adorable and enjoying the mud:

Oh, my little guest, welcome to my garden! You are welcome to eat all of the bugs that you can hold. Just please stay away from Cookie, Toffee, and the Golden Marauder!

“Pod Watch”: New Pictures of My Grandbaby!

I was so tickled when I opened my e-mail: Mandy had sent me some pictures that were made during the ultrasound that she had Monday. Even though Robert and I had gone with her and had seen that ultrasound in person (amazing!), it is so fun for this old grandmother-to-be to have something to look at over, and over, and over again!

Here is the shot that told us that Pod is a girl for sure:

And here are two pictures of her face, taken “straight on”:

And here is my favorite, her profile. Mandy and I both LOVE her little, round nose:

Mandy was able to buy a DVD of the actual ultrasound, just as we saw it, and she has posted it on her blog, “Lackey Antics”. If you are a geek at heart and like that sort of thing, click here to watch the ultrasound.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Very Special Day

Saturday, May 15th, was a very important day for our family: Mandy and Jeromy were sealed for “time and all eternity” in the Dallas Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Mandy’s Dad and I were able to be there for the big day, and Robert felt especially privileged to be Jeromy’s “Escort”, since this was the first time that Jeromy had gone through the temple.

Mandy and Jeromy had been married a couple of years ago in a traditional church ceremony, and it was a beautiful ceremony:

While this ceremony is recognized by our faith as legal and lawful in every way, it was for “time” only – that is “until death do them part”. It is within the walls of our temples, our most sacred buildings, that the ordinance of marriage “for time and all eternity” takes place – performed by those with the sacred authority to do so. When couples live according to the covenants which they make within the temple, they are on the way to being a family unit into the eternities (a great blessing, indeed!).

"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." ~Matthew 16:19

"Marriage partners who come to the house of the Lord and partake of its blessings are joined not only for the period of their mortal lives but for all eternity. They are bound together under authority not only of the law of the land that joins them until death but also through the eternal priesthood of God, which binds in heaven that which is bound on earth. The couple so married has the assurance of divine revelation that their relationship and that of their children will not end with death but will continue in eternity, provided they live worthy of that blessing." ~Gordon B. Hinckley

In addition to having her Dad and me, Jeromy and Mandy were tickled to have the Elders (missionaries) who taught Jeromy about the church (they also attended Jeromy’s baptism) share the day with them.

Mandy and Jeromy with Elder Ranger and Elder Strong:

They also had their good friends, Jesica and Evan, there. They were the couple who taught the “Temple Preparation” class that helped Jeromy prepare for his big day:

The day brought back memories for Robert and me, because we were married in the same temple (in fact, in the same sealing room) on a very WINDY day, oh-so-many years ago:

Since Jeromy and Mandy were sealed in the temple before Pod was born, Pod will automatically be sealed to her parents when she is born (this is called “born under the covenant”):

This was not Mandy’s first experience with the temple. Mandy was 2-1/2 years old when I met and married Robert (we only dated three months – yes, oh yes, I would probably croak if one of my kids pulled that; we have truly been blessed that it worked out so well). Because she was not “born under the covenant”, we were able to take her to the temple after we were married and have her sealed to us. This truly was a wonderful day for us. (Her brother was "born under the covenant" and we did not take him to the temple for this ordinance.)

Mandy and her mother on the day she was sealed to her parents:

I am so grateful for the gospel: for the peace that it brings, for the guidance that it gives, and for the opportunity that we have to be “forever families”. It is a wonderful thing to be able to see your children claim those blessings for themselves!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Making Tracks - Day 6 of Our Trip

There are no pictures to post since we are going home the same way that we came. Yep, everything looks pretty much the same.

Dee Dee and I made it to Hays, Kansas, which is where we spent the first night on the way to Yellowstone. We are ready to get home; hotels and eating out are fun for the first couple of nights, but it gets a little old after awhile. We are ready for our own beds, a bologna sandwich, and there are several little fuzzy creatures at my house that probably need kissing by now. Also, Dee Dee has had trouble breathing almost everywhere that we've been (except Bozeman, Montana).

I just read Alan's first blog entry from Yellowstone, and it made me so happy! It looks like he's having a good time so far, and that's all any old mother wants.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Yellowstone Adventures: Days 4 and 5

Bozeman, Montana, was our destination (a bus would be picking up Alan and other workers and taking them to Gardiner, Montana, where they would spend a couple of days in training). The drive from Sheridan to Bozeman went fairly quickly, and we were at Bozeman before we knew it:

We arrived in Bozeman a day before Alan was scheduled to leave, so we had some time to drive around. There are all kinds of businesses in cute facilities:

And more cute houses to see:

Even the Wal-Mart was scenic, and we went in to get Dee Dee some more pajamas. There was a “Montana gifts” shop in the front of the Wal-Mart and it had the cutest things. I got a T-shirt for Pod (I can’t wait until she’s big enough to wear it), plus there was a little more shopping that occurred. The clerk in the shop was very sweet and I learned a lot about Bozeman from her.

We eventually got tired, so we headed back to the motel, where I took a picture of Alan:

We watched the local news on television, and I’ve always said that if you really want to know about an area, just watch their late news or buy a paper. Back home, at the time that we left, one of the top stories was about a man who had beheaded his wife with a chain saw (while she was still alive) and then had thrown her body into the street. The lead story on the news in Bozeman was about the fact that Montana’s governor was happy that Montana is one of the very few states that still has money in the bank (about $400 million). There were also stories about an exercise program for some school children and another about some important legislation that passed to help veterans (apparently some Montana Senators/Congressmen had helped to work on it). On Thursday morning, the top news on the radio was about two grizzly bears being relocated because they had become too comfortable around people. What a contrast!

It had started to snow late in the day, and Dee Dee took this picture while looking out of our room:

On D-Day (Day 5), Alan woke up bright and early, and was ready to go:

The bus station was directly across the street, and there was already a little flock of people waiting to begin their summer work season at Yellowstone. The bus finally arrived and everyone huddled close to listen to the instructions:

Before I knew what was happening, I heard someone say that they wanted the workers who were going to Old Faithful to load up first. Alan helped heft his bags into the baggage compartment, and then disappeared into the bus. I didn’t even get to hug him good-bye and embarrass him to death!

It didn’t take long at all, and pretty soon, the bus pulled out of the station, and my baby boy was gone:

I had told myself that I wasn’t going to cry, but I ended up breaking that promise!

Dee Dee and I waited for awhile to leave, because it had been snowing all night, and it was still snowing. There were reports that the mountain passes were cause for concern, and since we knew that there was a mountain pass between Bozeman and Billings (if it is technically a "mountain pass" by Montana standards, I don't know -- but there was a stretch of road that sure felt like one), we actually had considered staying another night. However, there was some kind of graduation in town, and our room was already spoken for; the clerk told Dee Dee that most likely ALL of the hotels in town would be booked, so the decision to leave was made for us.

Snow was coming down when we left:

Even once the snow let up, the roads were somewhat curvey:

With a little bit of “ups” and “downs”:

At one point, we had trouble seeing a truck that we KNEW was just ahead of us:

Want to know the exciting thing? We did it! We actually drove through the snow and sludge and wind. Maybe those who live with this all the time will roll your eyes and think, “Whatever!”, but it was pretty exciting for this Texas girl to know that she could get around if she had to.

Another thing that was neat for me was an observation that Dee Dee made when we stopped at Big Timber to stretch our legs. There was snow all around, and the wind was just slightly blowing, and as she got out of the car she said, "It doesn't really feel cold at all! It should, but it doesn't." This is something that I had told my family members after our trip to Yellowstone, only to have them look at me as though I had totally lost it. Now my mother was learning what a dry cold feels like for herself.

Mom was intrigued with all of the houses nestled among the trees and hills:

And she also loved all of the interesting rock formations:

At the end of Day 5, we seem to be out of the snow and hope to make lots of progress tomorrow. I hope my boy is having a good time! I thought of him all day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day 3 – Sheridan, Wyoming

We had made good time on our trip and decided to cool our heels for the day in Sheridan, Wyoming. I had wanted to see Sheridan for quite some time. Three years ago, while performing a job search for the Old Coot for jobs in Wyoming, several jobs in Sheridan popped up. Sheridan? Where on earth was Sheridan? Luckily for me, they have a website with tons of information, and they even have a webcam on certain parts of town, so I was able to learn a little bit about this "Sheridan". When I decided to let “Tom Tom” plan my trip for me, I was delighted to learn that Sheridan was on the route, and I would at last have the chance to check it out.

Although it is not a sprawling metroplex by any stretch, I was surprised to find that it was a little bigger than I had imagined. Their webcam does not do justice to the amount of traffic that goes down Main Street (which is very, very LONG). Luckily we were able to settle in for the night when we got here without having an accident, and we rested up before plotting our adventures for Day 3 of our trip. Dee Dee seems to have a little trouble breathing here, and she has been hitting her inhaler pretty regularly since we have been here. Still, she was ready to check out some things on our driving tour this morning.

When we went outside this morning, we were surprised to find a little snow on the car:

We drove out to see what the airport was like (small, but it works), and were tickled to see that the UPS facility was directly across from the airport (Hello, QVC!):

Although you see the mountains from almost anywhere in town, we wanted to get a little closer:

How cool would it be to be one of the houses nestled down nearby:

Obligatory wildlife shot: Was this taken up in the mountains? No! These little sweeties were actually snacking and frolicking in someone’s yard:

I have always thought that a log cabin was my dream house, but this little “story book” cottage would make me pretty happy, too:

There are lots of “vintage” style houses for sale in town, for those who don’t want to hobby farm:

And of course, I had to visit at least one quilt shop (I even bought something!):

I had wanted to get some pictures of all of the shops on Main Street, but not getting hit by oncoming traffic seemed more important at the time. If you would like to learn more about Sheridan, I would encourage you to visit their website: