Thursday, November 27, 2008

Daily 5 and then some - Thanksgiving 2008

1. Todd and Lorie
2. Nieces and nephews
3. AA
4. Cranberries
5. Rain

Kamry, Kadyn and Nathan

Today is a day to be truly thankful for all that we have been blessed with. We are so thankful for Justin and we missed him this year, we love being together for Thanksgiving and enjoying our traditions. The parades just aren't the same without him here. He celebrated his Thanksgiving in Canada in October. He will be here for Christmas, so Thanksgiving wasn't an option this year. I will take Christmas anytime, it's the best family time ever.

Emmie, Jamie and Erika

Rick and I went to St. George this morning and spent the day at Todd and Lorie's house with all the Bonzo's except Justin and Katelyn. The family gets a little bigger each year with the addition of more great nieces and/or nephews. This year Nikki and Michael added Kamry, what a happy, content baby she is, and in March Dayne and Cortney will add Piper, another cute little great niece. It is such a blessing to be involved in their lives and get to know them and their kids. Rick and his brothers are great fun to be around. All in all it turned out to be a great day. It rained all day, from the time we left this morning and it's still raining now. That's pretty unusual for November in Utah.
Mom had Thanksgiving with Randy, Collette, Danny, Barbara, DaNeil, Steven and Stevie. Then she got to meet another new addition to our family, baby Maddie. They had a great day too and ate too much like we all did, I'm sure.

So today is the last of posting my daily 5 things to be thankful for. This isn't the end of recognizing my daily 5, just the last day to post them. UNLESS there is something like Jill entertaining her family with squats and jumping jacks, then I'm for sure posting that.

Daily 5 - Wednesday November 26, 2008

1. Wednesday Friday's (no work the rest of the week)
2. My own office
3. Cranberry Sauce (mom's recipe)
4. Rick and Baxter waiting for me at home
5. Sleep setting on the remote

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Daily 5 - November 25, 2008

1. My job
2. Lia Sophia
3. Popcorn
4. Good work friends
5. 26 days and counting

Monday, November 24, 2008

Youth Corrections

For the past almost 2 years (in January) Rick and I have been going to youth corrections. This is a church calling, for us to go out on Monday nights for family home evening. When we first started going there were 10 couples and 10 long term youth in custody. We were trained to not ask what offense they committed to end up in a very secure, youth facility. You don't have to ask, they usually really want to talk about themselves.

Having been raised in a kind, loving home, where we always knew we were important and had the support of our parents, we were totally unprepared for the differences we found in how the boys were raised. Some of the boys had been in custody, in the local facility for more than a year, without any visits from family. Our first boy had been in for about 6 months when we started. He was pretty negative and found it hard to find good things in his life during the week. Each week we could challenge him to come and report of one positive thing in his life. We developed a good relationship with him and really hoped he would be okay when he was released, but having been brought up in a home with drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, there was little hope he would be able to find his way. We have seen him one time since his release and were disappointed in what we saw. Hopefully he will turn himself around and find his way in life.

The boy we are currently seeing is a little different. He comes from a broken home, but really loves his parents and they are pretty supportive of him. His grandparents have taken an active role in his life and they provide the stability that may help him when he gets out. He will be released on December 12th and is planning on staying in a half-way house in the area and attending SUU in January. He wants to get his record expunged and move forward with his life. He has shown some desire to enter the military and also enjoys cooking, so maybe a chef.

This calling has been very rewarding and also frustrating. We just keep going and hope we can make a difference. Tonight Rick will be showing his slides of Iraq and talking about the military and gratitude. I'm sure the boys will all enjoy this presentation.

Daily 5 - Monday, November 24, 2008

1. Fixed smoke detectors
2. Windows live messenger - messages from Justin
3. Pedicures
4. Youth Corrections (at least this week)
5. Another beautiful day, possibly the last sandal day this year

Daily 5-Sunday November 23, 2008

1. Rick having a Sunday off
2. Easy soup recipe
3. Beautiful weather
4. A kind mother
5. "Assisted" patience

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Week of Thanksgiving

Okay, so this week is Thanksgiving, so all of you need to give thanks.

My friend, Jill, in Oregon has been posting 5 things daily that she is grateful for. It turns out that she's been doing this in a "Gratitude Journal" since February 2000, that's a really, really long time. I love to read her "daily 5". She has inspired me, and while she started this on November 7th and will post these on her blog until Thanksgiving, I only have a week to post my "daily 5". I will start this on Sunday - that's tomorrow - Yikes!

In my Relief Society calling we have been worried about this next year and the economic troubles that may lay ahead for some. To set the example, we (the Presidency) will be writing in a gratitude journal. We think this may help others look for the positive in a troubled time. So wish me luck. I hope I can find some humorous things to be grateful, like Jill. One post read:

1. Multi-tasking. Today I did jumping jacks and squats while monitoring the pressure in the pressure cooker (and provided some comic relief for my family at the same time!)

Her blog is really fun to read and she posts the cutest family pictures. Good work Jill.

Tomorrow should be a good day to find things that I am grateful for. My friend Val Meacham just got her daughter home from her mission. Jenny reports her mission tomorrow in our old ward, Garden Park Ward. Then tomorrow evening Rick and Shay are providing a fireside for the Garden Park Ward. They will be talking about gratitude, imagine that! Having served together in Iraq, they will have many great things to talk about. I hope someone shows up to listen, besides family. You know how firesides go.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Sweetheart Mom and Grandma

Today is my mom's 87th birthday. We celebrated by going to Rusty's for dinner. Those of us that were able to go were Randy, Collette, Barbara, Rick, myself, mom, Shay, Whitney, DaNeil, Steven, Stevie, Lindsay and Nate, Danny had other commitments and couldn't go. We had a great time and it reminded me once again of what a great family I've been blessed with.

Mom was born in Preston, Idaho on November 18, 1921, the oldest child of Hershel and Ethel Neeley. The family moved to Cedar during her teen age years. She met our dad, Max Cowan while going to school here in Cedar. They married after he came home from serving in the Navy in the Philippines. They were blessed (I think we were blessings) with 4 children; Terry Gordon (deceased), Randy Ray, Danny Neil, and me, Wendy Kae. If my count is right there are 7 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, hope I didn't miss any. Daddy is smiling down on all of us today and also being very thankful for a wonderful family.

Here is a picture that was taken at Cedar Breaks, Labor Day 2006, grandma and Rick.

Mom is an amazing mother, grandma, sweetheart grandma and friend. Lindsay's oldest, Treyson, started referring to her as sweetheart grandma when he was just little, and it stuck. She is a sweetheart with a heart of gold and loves her family unconditionally. She's a feisty little lady who is still very independent, lives alone, but loves the family to overtake her home on Sunday's.

We have been going to moms on Sunday evenings for dinner as long as I can remember. We started with Sunday dinners when dad was still with us and it's evolved over the years, adding new family members then the little ones. Now those little ones are bringing little ones of their own. Mom, Collette, Barbara and I take turns bringing the food, rotating each week what we bring. We are also blessed to have Lindsay, DaNeil and Whitney living here and they are great to help us too. We love going to grandmas on Sunday and I worry about the day this will end, but for now, we party on, celebrating another great year with our mom.

Here is a picture from Christmas Eve 2005. Tanner, Grandma Cowan and Justin, the reining royalty of the evening.

My prayer for mom, on this her special day, is another year of happiness, fun filled days and good health. We love you mom and are so blessed to have you in our lives.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A year without Otie

On November 6th, it will be one year since our Otie dog went to see Grandpa Cowan and Tobey Dog Bonzo. Otis and Baxter were litter mates. They had never been apart for even one night until one year ago when Otis spent the night with Dr. Esplin and wasn't able to come home again. It seems he had cancer and it was better to not make him suffer. He tried so very hard to get well. Danny and Shay lovingly brought him home to stay. It was a terrible, no good, very bad day.

He was such a funny boy. This picture is Otis sticking his head through a fence covered with ivy at our other house (Shay and Whitney's). He was so funny, I ran in the house for the camera and he was very cooperative and kept sticking his head back through. All he was doing was looking at the other side, which he could have walked to, but he was playing and being his silly self. I enlarged this picture and sent it to Rick in Iraq, where it hung on his wall the remainder of his tour.

Baxter Bartholomew really fits Baxie. He's kind of dignified, mellow, quieter. Then there's Otis Buckwheat whose name also fits perfectly. He was the chewer, from little plastic purses to lamp cords. I finally started giving him fabric softener sheets from the dryer when he was a puppy, he couldn't rip them apart as easily. He and Baxter would tug-o-war with them then leave pieces for me to pick up as they moved on to the next adventure.

Otis really was a happy-go-lucky dog. He weighed about 118 lbs and was like a bull in a china closet. His tail was a major weapon, because it never stopped wagging. He was always moving. He loved to have something in his mouth from an empty plastic milk carton to his very favorite, a stray shoe. Justin had to remember to keep his shoes inside his closet when he was home, or Otis would bring them to me or just prance around the house with it hanging out of his mouth. He was my cuddle bug, he loved me to lay on the floor with him in the mornings and snuggle with him.

He always got blamed for things, like he was the trouble maker. But if you watched he and Baxter play, you soon found that it was Baxter that would lie in wait and broadside Otis, making him roll. They really loved each other, sharing everything, including their food. I don't remember them ever fighting.

I remember the night I moved us into our new home. Rick was still in Iraq, we had a fenced yard with dirt, rocks and no shade. There I was moving them from a nice grassy, shady yard to the desert. I felt so bad for them that I sat out in back, on a lounge to feed them. This started a ritual that still exists 2 1/2 years later. Whether it's Rick, Justin or myself that feed Baxter, we have to sit outside with him until he eats, or he doesn't eat, period.

Otis and Baxter really were best friends. They slept like this a lot, always touching, with their toys nearby. Otis is on the left and Baxter on the right.

One of his favorite things was to pack around one of their food bowls. Sometimes there would still be a lot of food in the bowl, he'd pack it around spilling it as he went. Here he is during the winter of 2007 having fun in the snow.

Otis was only 3 1/2 when he left us. Justin described it best, he said that Otis knew he wasn't going to be with us long so he had to squeeze his entire life into a short 3 1/2 years. We miss our Otie Dotie, but wouldn't bring him back and have him suffer. I'm sure he and Tobey, who was about the same size, are having a ball and watching over us till we see them "Over The Rainbow Bridge".

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Iraq and Back continued

I thought I'd add some more pictures, details and thoughts about the 571 days.
Rick left with the forward party on a cold January day in 2005. It was a pretty sobering time, seeing him leave and knowing there were some hard times ahead. This is a picture I took of Rick at the Armory that day. They were standing in final formation, just prior to going to the airport to fly out. The look on their faces pretty well sums up the general feeling that day. It was pretty somber.

After spending 6 months in Camp Shelby, Mississippi, they spent about 3 weeks at the NTC in California. Rick said this was the hardest part of the training, very hard living conditions and even harder training. They were able to spend 2 weeks at home before heading back to Mississippi prior to deployment to Kuwait and into Iraq. Justin came down during this time and was able to spend some quality time with Rick and I. Justin and I took Rick to Las Vegas to fly out the day he left. It was a pretty emotional day, not knowing when we would see him again.

As I was telling Rick good-bye, Justin was snapping pictures of us. I love the pictures he took, they were totally unstaged. They still make me cry, they remind me how sad we all were that day. This is one that shows our emotion and how tender Rick was with me that day. I promise I will post some happy stuff too, this is just such a big part of our separation, how can I not share it?

We spent a long time in the hot Vegas sun, most of the families gave up and left because the planes were so late leaving. Danny and Barb's family and Justin and I were among 7 or so who braved the heat, waiting to see them fly out. Justin paid later with a pretty good sunburn. It turns out that we were very lucky to be there. Someone on the plane took the Battalion flag into the cock pit and the pilots allowed them to fly it out the front window. I took this picture as the plane taxied away from us. Pretty awesome sight!

On a lighter note. After they left Justin and I went to the Aladdin Hotel, where we were staying. We cleaned up a little and drowned our sorrows by shopping 'til we dropped. We also ate at one of our favorite places, PF Changs. It was a great temporary fix.

I would never have survived the 571 days without Justin. He was my strength and my sounding board. I know it was very hard for him, having his dad in harms way and being so far from home. We talked almost daily and he was always doing nice, thoughtful things for me. He just made me so happy and reminded me to be ever so grateful for the family I've been blessed with. LYT!! Me