Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pen Perfection

I will admit it, I am a pen snob. I have had favorites over the years, but I have never loved a pen as much as I love the Pilot G-2 with the 0.38 tip (ultra fine point). My handwriting is better when I use this pen. I love to doodle and practice various fonts and lettering techniques with this pen. I have placed them in strategic locations around the house, in my car, in my purse, so I can avoid using inferior instruments whenever possible. 

As I was shopping online this morning to replenish my supply, I came across a rather convincing review on Amazon. I was laughing through tears as I read the following to Jeff:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was written with a G-2 pen. The only thing Thor’s hammer cannot crush? This pen! Harry Potter was only able to defeat He Who Shall Not Be Named because his wand contains a single Phoenix feather and also a G-2 Pen. When Navy Seals perform emergency tracheotomies in the heat of battle – they only use the shaft of the G-2. And no matter how intense the fight becomes – No G-2 is left behind! When Rambo writes love letters to his knife – what does he use? The G-2. Yo momma’s like a Pilot G-2. …Everybody wants to get their hands on her. Kevin Costner didn’t have gills in Waterworld. He was just snorkeling with a G-2 pen. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to a G-2 pen! And with the G-2, no more chicken scratch – just beautiful calligraphy. Why won’t Donald Trump change his hair style? Because that is where he hides his golden G-2! Where have all the cowboys gone? They’re in Office Depot doodling on tiny paper scraps with sample G-2s. What is truly in Area 51? The Ark of the Covenant filled with G-2 pens. That's why you die if you touch the Ark. NOBODY steals God's G-2s! Captain Hook's favorite hand replacement? His G-2 attachment. How did Stevie Wonder go blind? He looked directly at the shimmering glory of the G-2 pen. How did Houdini pull off the impossible so many times? The answer was always a G-2. Little Known Fact: When Ghandi died he had only 10 possessions. 9 of them were Pilot G-2s and the 10th was a tracking number for ink refills from Amazon. Stephen Hawking can actually talk. He's just speechless after experiencing the unmatched brilliance of the G-2. What was the secret behind Mother Theresa's kindness, enlightenment, and peaceful tranquility? She owned a Pilot G-2. Why isn't Tony Stark content with his billions of dollars? Because he has not been able to invent the G3. The G-2 is virtual perfection!
Thank you, R. Fuqua, whoever you are. You made my day. :) 

And yes, my new box of G-2's should be here next week. Hooray!!

For the record, this is not a paid endorsement. I don't get paid to promote anything on this blog. I don't get money or brownie points if you click on a link or if you buy something. I just wanted to share something that made me laugh (the review) and something that makes me happy (the pen). That's all. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

#lighttheworld


Tomorrow is Day One of the #lighttheworld campaign for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. #Lighttheworld issues a challenge to follow the example of the Savior and be a light to the world (see John 8:12). There is a different challenge for each day of December through Christmas. 

I love this video. My favorite part is how it shows Christ helping someone and then it shows someone in our day performing a similar service. I got all teary-eyed the first time I watched it because it reminded me of my last days with my dad. I would sit with him for hours, even as he slept, and it didn't feel like a burden. His last night at home, he was up every five or ten minutes - in too much pain to sleep and needing to clear the mucous out of his lungs by gargling and spitting. It hurt too much for him to cough and he couldn't swallow. We wiped his face and made sure he had what he needed. We tried to make him as comfortable as possible, but it was heart-wrenching to be so helpless to relieve his suffering. I know that any of us who were caring for him would have done anything to give him even a few minutes of relief. It was a blessing to serve him. The video above shows that spirit of service.  

Tomorrow the challenge is to participate in the Worldwide Day of Service. Just find a way to serve someone else, big or small. 

If you go to mormon.org, you can download the "In 25 Ways. Over 25 Days." advent calendar. (Just scroll down a little from the video.) It spells out the challenges for each day. Maybe this link will work, too.

I'm excited. :)


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful for Dad


Before my dad passed away, he was involved in making many of the arrangements for his funeral and burial. One of his requests was that each of his kids would speak for five minutes at his funeral. This was a heavy task for many of us. How could I sum up his legacy in just five minutes? How would I be able to talk through my tears? 

In the end, I was grateful for the assignment - not only because I was able to pay tribute to my amazing dad, but also because I was able to hear about him from the perspective of each of my siblings. We each focused on something different and, having grown up as the second oldest child, I learned things about my dad that weren't necessarily a part of my experience. Again, we laughed and we cried, but overwhelmingly, we expressed gratitude for our dad and the wonderful man and father that he was. 


Chantal, my dad and me.


For what it's worth, here are my five minutes...

My Dad was no stranger to hard times. He lost his Mom when he was 21. His youngest brother was killed ten years later in what was called an automobile homicide. His Dad passed away a year later from cancer.

He suffered financial setbacks, like when he got a second mortgage on his home to loan his best friend $30,000. His friend never did pay him back but somehow the friendship survived. Years later, while working as a stock broker, Dad was sued for 3 million dollars. His brokerage license was eventually reinstated as they could find no evidence of wrongdoing on his part, but by then he’d moved onto other jobs to support his family and to pay for the $20,000 in legal fees. He was never the type to sit around collecting food stamps.

As we all know, Dad didn’t escape health problems. Most of his teeth were knocked out in a car accident shortly before his marriage. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003. When Dad called to tell me this news, he said “Everyone should be given a chance like this to look at their life through this lens.” When they found out the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, Dad didn’t change his tune. He said, “I’ll treat this to a point, but I’m not going to jump through hoops to spare my life. I don’t fear death.” After all was said and done, he said he felt better than he had in 20 years.

Despite many trials and setbacks, Dad has always been an optimist. He always saw the glass as half full. More than once I’ve heard him say, “I refuse to worry about this.” On the other hand, I’ve heard my Mom say, “Dad refuses to worry about this so I have to do all the worrying for both of us!” While growing up I remember thinking Dad would be really upset about something only to find his “no sweat” attitude shining through. Take for instance the time I was driving his little car around and noticed some smoke coming out of the hood. In my limited understanding of cars, I passed it off as steam from the snow that was melting on the car. However, when I got home and walked to the front of the car, I saw that the front grille was covered with black oil. I was scared as I walked in the house and said, “Dad, there’s something wrong with the car.” He followed me out, saw the oil, popped the hood, and calmly said, “It looks like we’ve lost the oil cap. No biggie. I’ll take care of it.” And that was the end of it.

My dad and I both owned shares of the same stock. Once I called to ask his opinion when it dropped in price. His response was, “It’s on sale! I just bought more!”

Part of Dad’s optimism was a great sense of humor that took me several years to appreciate. My siblings and I were not allowed to date until we were 16. About the time my older sister turned 16, there was a rumor that if you wanted to ask her out, you had to have an interview with my Dad. One brave young man, accepting this rumor as truth, called and asked Dad when he could come for his interview. Dad, happy to humor him and torture his daughters, invited him over. My sister and I were horrified and I imagined how miserable I’d be throughout my dateless life! Following the date, my sister informed Dad that he would never do that again. And he didn’t. After that, what usually happened is that Dad would just chat with our date when they came to pick us up. They never knew they were being interviewed and I remember comments like, “Your Dad is cool!” as we left the house.

Then there was the time that I was riding shotgun with my dad in his 1961 Ford Econoline van. Embarrassed by the van, I ducked as we drove past someone I knew. Insisting I had offended his van, dad pulled over and wouldn’t leave until I apologized and kissed the steering wheel.

I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl. A few weeks before I got married, dad encouraged me to invite my fiancĂ©, Jeff, to spend the night at our house the night before our wedding so I could ride with him to the temple the next morning. I extended the invitation, but as the wedding date approached, I started having second thoughts. After all, I would not be coming back home after the wedding. I would be Jeff’s. While I love Jeff and didn’t have reservations about marrying him, I decided I really wanted to ride to the temple with my dad. So the day before our wedding, I uninvited Jeff. I found out after we were married that Jeff was pacing the streets of Salt Lake at 4:00 in the morning the day of our wedding worried that I wouldn’t show up. I showed up and I’ve been happily married to Jeff for over 21 years, but I’ll always be a daddy’s girl.

More than anything else, Dad has always loved his family and loved having them around him. I remember the time I was living in Columbus, Ohio with my young family. Dad had a business trip 3 ½ hours away from us. As soon as he got off the plane, he drove the 3 ½ hours to see us, spent the night, then drove the 3 ½ hours back in the morning. To him this 7-hour detour was no big deal. He just wanted to see his grandkids. Then there was the time we flew from Columbus to Utah without telling Dad we were coming. My sister arranged a family gathering at her house. When Dad arrived and saw that everyone was there, he cried and said it was the best surprise he’d ever had. Twice while I’ve lived in Illinois, my dad rerouted business trips so that he could show up at Grandparent’s day at the elementary school. My kids have always known, without question, how much their Grandpa loved them! Last Thanksgiving, realizing that my parents and all of my siblings would be together in Utah, my family decided to drive from Illinois to, once again, surprise my parents. My dad said he would never forget that special surprise. I count that trip as a tender mercy from the Lord as it allowed us more time together during what we didn’t realize would be the last year of dad’s life.

I’ve learned so many lessons from my dad over the course of my life such as:
  •          “If you see something you don’t like in someone else, change it in yourself.” It’s amazing how often that simple statement is the solution.
  •          “Go Right on Working.” That’s a lesson he learned from his mother and passed on, by example, to me. After all, life is full of setbacks. Pick yourself up and keep moving.
  •          Make the temple and The Book of Mormon a priority. Dad attended early-morning temple sessions often throughout my life and it’s not an exaggeration to say that he read The Book of Mormon more times than anyone I’ve ever known!


I could go on, but I hope that through these memories, I’ve been able to communicate my gratitude for the privilege of being raised by this great man. My dad had a great respect and love for his maternal grandfather. I can say the same of my dad as was said of his beloved grandpa by one of his sons: “To have such a person as a father doubles a person’s responsibility to make a success of his life. Not financially, not in the worldly things, but in the ways that really count: spiritually, morally and religiously. All the good things I have I owe to my parents.”

I love you, dad. I’ll miss hearing your voice say, “How ya doin’, baby?” when I answer the phone. I’m not sure how I will live without you, but I hope I can make you proud. And I can’t wait to see you again.


(If you are interested in hearing the rest of the funeral, a recording can be found here. Scroll to the end of the obituary and push play on the "recording of service." It's long, but it was really beautiful. ;) 





Dad's sister, MaryAnn's wedding. My dad in white
with his younger brothers - Robert, Randy and Leonard.
Dad's friend, Marty Yeager, is in black.

{Happy Thanksgiving. As you can see, I have so much to be grateful for!}

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

So Many Tender Mercies

Remember when my family drove to Utah last Thanksgiving and surprised my parents? Or when my parents and siblings were all gathered in the temple last June? Those were definitely tender mercies, but I had no idea how cherished those memories would become.

Let me back up...

You may remember that my dad suffered a stroke at the end of September. It was scary, but other than a slight facial droop, there was no paralysis and the doctors expected a full recovery. He was only in the hospital overnight and we were hopeful he would soon be back to normal.

A month later, right about the time I left for the Virgin Islands, things still weren't right. My dad hadn't been able to sleep because, for reasons that couldn't be explained, his back hurt really bad. He couldn't eat solid foods. He could sort of tolerate soft foods and liquids, but it was hard to swallow and food just wouldn't go down. His symptoms were dismissed by his doctors and he was getting frustrated. Finally, after being told there were no appointments available, dad walked into his doctor's office on October 18th insisting that something was wrong. They gave him a muscle relaxer and sent him home. The next day, he went to InstaCare insisting that something was wrong. They gave him a steroid and sent him home. The next day, he went to the Emergency Room insisting that something was wrong. They admitted him.

Dad - finally resting in the hospital
To make a long story short, dad was in the hospital for 6 days. They found lesions on his liver and suspected a curable lymphoma. But after an endoscopy found a large tumor in his esophagus causing a 70% blockage to his stomach, they did a biopsy and the result was esophageal cancer. The same cancer was confirmed in his liver which meant it had spread. Stage 4. Terminal. No wonder he couldn't eat. No wonder his back hurt.

Dad left the hospital on Wednesday, October 26, the day he was diagnosed. By Thursday night, my brother was worried dad wouldn't be around long and encouraged us to come to Nevada. I headed out the next morning.

That weekend was another tender mercy. All seven kids were there and we had some really special moments with my parents. Dad told stories and shared memories. We discussed his treatment options. Dad needed to know that we were each okay with his decision to forgo treatment. We cried a lot, but there was plenty of laughter, too. Dad was too sick to attend church, but he wanted each of his kids to be there. Afterward, my brothers administered the sacrament for my parents which was a sacred experience I'll never forget. In typical dad fashion, dad took the biggest piece of sacrament bread even though he hadn't eaten any solid food for at least a couple of weeks. But then he asked if we had any question about his standing with Heavenly Father. We didn't. That's another tender mercy, knowing that dad was right with God and realizing the blessing of being raised by this great man.

The whole family together for two days. 
I stayed in Nevada from Friday to Friday. My brother, Rob, was there, too. Amy came back on Tuesday and we were so glad to have her RN experience. We had a couple of really rough days and nights as the pain intensified and dad could no longer tolerate his medication. That was the hardest part, seeing him in so much pain and being helpless to ease his suffering. I can honestly say that I cried more that week than I think I've ever cried before, ever.

When we called his oncologist to ask about hospice, she was shocked. She had seen him four days earlier and estimated he might make it six months without treatment. Even when hospice came in, I don't think they realized the magnitude of the situation. No one seemed to realize how rapidly dad was declining but us. Some meds were switched, but we were left alone to sit up with dad during the long, grueling nights. He had pain in his chest, his back and up and down his right side. He couldn't swallow his own mucous, but was too weak to cough. It was heartbreaking. For whatever reason, hospice nurses couldn't give him IV meds at home so the night before I left, he was taken to a hospice facility to try to manage his pain. Shortly after arriving, he slipped into a coma. We thought the new pain meds were finally helping him sleep. We didn't know he wouldn't wake up again.

I said my goodbyes as I left early the next morning. It was hard to leave knowing it would be the last time I'd see my dad alive. I wished I could hear just one more, "I love you, baby." I arrived home late that afternoon. Early the next morning, on November 5, my mom called to tell me that my dad had peacefully passed away.

Ten days from devastating diagnosis to death. But even in death, the Lord was merciful. We had time together at the end and dad didn't have to suffer for long. For those tender mercies, I am so grateful!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

St. Thomas, VI

This past month has been a whirlwind of unexpected and emotionally draining events. I feel like I lost a month of my life. Maybe a better way of looking at it would be to say that I just had a month-long deluge of real life. Sometimes that happens. I'm going to need some time to recover.

I'll start with St. Thomas. That's a pretty happy part of this journey.

Me at Magen's Bay.
I've had some pretty sweet babysitting gigs over the years. When I graduated from Ricks College in 1990, my favorite aunt and uncle were living in Puerto Rico with their two daughters. They needed to travel to New York and asked if I'd come stay with their girls in PR for a week. Um, yes, please! I spent an amazing week there and it's been a cherished memory for the past 26 years.

Magen's Bay at dusk.
So when my sister-in-law, Tanya, called me a few months ago and asked if Savannah and I could come out and babysit their youngest kids in St. Thomas, we jumped at the chance. We were excited to visit them in their new home and spend some time with my cute nieces and nephews. Bonus for the prime location! :) From October 18-24, Savannah and I enjoyed their tropical home.

The view from my brother's front porch,
The Pros:

  • Magen's Bay and Lindquist Beach were our favorites. The clear blue water and white sand is every bit as pretty as the travel images make it seem.
  • Sand castles. We had so much fun building them each morning at the beach.
A coconut upstaging our pretty cool, seashell-lined sandcastle at Magen's Bay.
  • Night Kayaking in (plexi)glass lit-bottomed kayaks was so cool! We saw stingrays, a sea turtle, and plenty of big fish. 
  • The locals are SO friendly. It's always "Good morning!" (or afternoon or evening). Their accent sounds Jamaican (at least to me) and it was fun to hear their unique phrasings.
  • Fresh Mangoes. Oh. Yum.
  • The church branch was so welcoming and friendly. They are a tight-knit group who feel like family.

  • My cute niece and nephews. We had a great time while their parents were away! These kids were SO good, too! 
  • We got a kick out of the wild chickens that roam freely throughout the island. And I saw my first mongoose. They are as common there as squirrels are in my little corner of the world. 
  • Seashells. Lindquist Beach had the most variety, but we enjoyed the pearly white ones at Magen's, too. 

I can see how staying in a hotel and spending a week on the beach would be paradise. But for us there was no hotel and we saw first hand that living there is HARD! 

So now for the Cons: 
  • Mosquitoes. These were by far the worst part of the trip for me. We even took super-strength-military-formula-mosquito-repellent and it didn't matter. The mosquitoes regularly mocked me by biting me right after I applied repellent. Savannah had it worse than I. A few days into our trip, she counted 65 bites on her legs. Ugh! It wouldn't have been so bad if my brother's family had not recently suffered through Zika virus so you can understand our paranoia!
  • Humidity. I get humidity, I do. Our summers here in the midwest are hot and steamy, but I always have the escape of my air conditioned home to relieve the misery. In St. Thomas, everything is so expensive that homes aren't generally air conditioned. We had A/C in our bedroom so nights were comfortable, but during the day we relied on ceiling fans and prayed for a breeze. As a result, food spoils quickly and gnats, ants, and the dreaded mosquitoes are prevalent. 
  • Driving! It is scary!! They drive on the opposite side of the road, but the steering wheel is on the same side as the US. Add to that the super narrow, windy, hilly roads and it's all pretty terrifying. 
Overwhelmingly, it was an amazing trip. Savannah and I feel so blessed and lucky that we got to babysit some of our favorite little people in such an amazing place! I'm grateful for the experience. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

AWOL

This is just a quick post to tell anyone who cares that I have not abandoned my blog. I'll be back, I promise.

It's been a whirlwind few weeks with a babysitting job in St. Thomas then a week with my dad in Nevada after a cruel diagnosis. I'm heading out again today for his funeral. :(

I'll be back next week and plan to catch up!! Thanks for sticking with me.


1942 ~ 2016  

David Paul Martin, age 74, of Boulder City, Nevada, passed away peacefully on November 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV surrounded by family. Dave was born in Salt Lake City on May 15, 1942 to Paul Hawkins and LaVera Hardy Martin. On June 30, 1967, he married his eternal companion, Peggy Dawn Peterson, in the Salt Lake Temple.

Dave was an active member of the LDS church. He served as a missionary in the French East Mission from 1962-1964 and in countless church callings throughout his life. He was an avid walker and enjoyed gardening, reading, doing puzzles, and missionary work. Most of all he enjoyed spending time with his family. 

Dave is survived by his wife, Peggy Martin; seven children: Chantal (Jeff) Brown, Missy (Jeff) Stowell, David (Tanya) Martin, Steve (Jenny) Martin, Amy (Levi) Ernest, Rob Martin, Jeffrey (Katie) Martin; two brothers: Robert (Camilla) Martin, Randy (Debbie) Martin; two sisters: Mary Ann Loveless, Nancy Peterson; and 23 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Leonard Martin. 

Funeral services will be held on Friday, November 11, 2016 at 11:00 am at the LDS Chapel located at 916 5th Street in Boulder City. A viewing will also be held there on Thursday, November 10 from 6 to 8 pm and again on Friday from 10 to 10:45 am. Burial will be on Saturday, November 12 at 3:30 pm at Larkin Sunset Gardens in Sandy, UT. Immediately following the burial will be a memorial service at 5 pm at the LDS Chapel located at 11420 S 700 W in Draper, UT. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Candy Bomber


Sam is posing with one of my favorite people! I've blogged about Gail Halvorsen, a.k.a. The Candy Bomber, before. He provided so much hope to a war-torn Germany in the darkest days following World War II. I must admit that I'm a little bit jealous because Sam got to meet Mr. Halvorsen today at the BYU library and get this picture with him. Sam also walked away with a personally autographed picture.

I've posted the following video before. In it, Tom Brokaw tells The Candy Bomber's story which shows how a small act of generosity took off and ended up blessing countless lives. I'm a fan!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Today

Grab a tissue. You're going to need it.

I'm a big fan of Brad Paisley. He always has the best lyrics and just tells it like it is. This song is no exception. It's about our happy todays that make our tomorrows more bearable. Be sure to listen to the lyrics, but it's the video that will make you cry. Don't worry, they'll be happy tears!



"Bring on tomorrow, because a memory of a day like today can get you through the rest of your life."


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cosmo - The Coolest Mascot

Jeff and the boys were in Utah last weekend. Spencer went on a BYU tour which got him pretty excited to fill out his application in a couple weeks. They were also able to spend time with Sam and enjoy several campus activities as well as time in the mountains. The main reason for their trip was to attend the Priesthood session of General Conference, which was a great experience!

One of the highlights of their trip was the BYU vs. Toledo game on Friday night. It was a close one from start to finish! BYU squeaked out the win, 55-53, with a field goal in the last 2 seconds of the game. It was definitely a nail biter, but we couldn't be happier with the results!

This video is from the halftime show. Our Cougarettes are the best, literally. They have won the Hip Hop National Championship 16 times! Throw in Cosmo, BYU's school mascot, and you're in for a real treat! This cougar can dance!! At the time of this posting, this video has over 1,300,000 views. I'm not surprised. If you're anything like me, you'll be watching it more than once! :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Good Advice

This is the back of a sweatshirt spotted at one of my boys' Cross Country meets. It works great for runners, but I think it applies just as well to life in general. What do you think?

Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.