Monday, April 30, 2012

The extra special something......

The extra special something of Graduation weekend was that I was able to meet up with some special people that I have not been able to see for many years!!  We traded cell phone numbers and hoped that maybe we might just accidentally be able to see each other!

While waiting at the Marriott Center on Thursday, Ramona Zabriskie and I were able to catch up!!  We were in the same dorm at Heritage Halls our Freshman year.  She was the first to get married, so of course we always remember the first one to do that....and then several years later we ended up in the same Ward in Murray, Utah, with both of us having disabled daughters!  She has a very inspirational blog on marriage with a huge following, she and her husband wrote a musical on the Tree of Life that was performed at Education Week several years ago and she is currently writing a book on husband/wife relationship and I was so thrilled to get to see her again, in person after so many years!!

Friday, while waiting for the Fine Arts Convocation to start.....I had to go all the way to Provo, to see my friend Cindy Skinner, from Texas, but I'm so glad that I got to see her!!  Since both of our children have gone off to college we have not been able to find a time to get together and that is shameful!!  But you know you are good friends when it doesn't matter when you see each other...its like you've never been apart and it was nice to see each other and to watch both of our College Graduates walk across the stage!!

Cindy Skinner with her awesome kids!!

Most touching, because I wasn't sure I would actually get to meet up with her is my friend from Kansas, Teri Orr.  I grew up with her husband Dale, but didn't meet Teri until she married Dale and joined the church.  We ended up in the same Ward where I had the honor of being her very first Visiting Teacher!!  A true friendship that will last through the eternities was made with this woman that is so dear to me!!  We both got tears in our eyes when we saw each other.....and we just happened upon each other....we were coming out of the Harris Fine Arts Center having just finished Allison's graduation exercises, and they were just getting ready to go in for their graduation exercises for their daughter!!  It was perfect!  Teri is always perfect!  and it made the day perfect!!  I really miss getting to see her all the time but with facebook etc... we still can keep track of all that is going on with each other and our families!!

Alan & Lois, and Teri & Dale Orr

I call this post the extra special something, because I knew that the weekend was about John, Allison and Jessica graduating and I was not going to take away from them and their plans trying to meet up with my old friends, but if miracles of miracles we just happened to run into each other at places that we were all going to be anyway............wouldn't that be something...........and it really was!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The fun of staying together.....

For Graduation John and Allison wanted all of us to stay together and do everything together so there would be no having to choose who they were going to do things with......excellent plan, especially since they had the room for all of us at their Condo.  It also is a great plan because the Rex's and Brown's have always been able to work/socialize well together!!  This way we all went out to eat together,  bowled together, went to the Jazz game together, and had a party for the graduates with no worrying of how it was all going to work just did!!  Alan's mom said to me when I was telling her about the arrangement, "Isn't it so fun when the kids make the plans" and I would have to agree, yes!!

Thursday night was dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

Friday afternoon was dinner at Big Al's BBQ - which was awesome BBQ by the way!!

Picture of Allison and John with Grandma and Grandpa Jackson

The Open House Friday night for the Graduates - Jessica, John, and Allison

Saturday morning  we got up and took pictures at BYU landmarks with the kids in their caps and gowns.  I already posted ours in this post.  But here are the Rex's!!

Saturday was also about bowling...........

J Dawgs and The Jazz Game......

And if you haven't ever been to J Dawgs - you must was started by a BYU business student as a class assignment and became so popular he has two locations now!!  It is too yummy!!
and the important thing you need to know about the Jazz game is that they WON!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

College of Fine Arts Convocation

I shared in my last post the enormity of the moment I felt at the Commencement Exercises at the Marriott Center on Thursday in my previous post.  Other mother's that were there felt it too.....John's Mom asked me if I cried, to which I said, of course!  I asked Cindy Skinner, if she cried Thurs. at the Marriott Center when I saw her on Friday waiting for the convocation to start and she said yes to that as we talked about what an amazing moment in time that was!  So I know it wasn't just me, it was a huge thing.   But to me just as exciting as anything that happened at the Marriott Center on Thursday, was the College of Fine Arts Convocation Exercises on Friday where we actually got to see Allison walk across the stage and get her Diploma from the Deans of her school!!  Maybe more so.  It was really nice that it was a little more intimate!  It was great because the program was awesome with everyone graduating in theatre, dance, and music you know there are going to be some awesome performances, and there were!  But mainly, this is when all our family was coming to be a part of the experience!  Alan's mother, Grandma Brown Jackson came, my brother Edward, Anne Marie was able to be off work and class and come for this special day, Aileen, Alan, and I were all there and most importantly to Allison - John was with us as well!!  He had the good camera and took pictures so when I get those I will upload those but for now we will go with what I have!!  It was a thrill to watch her walk across the stage!!  Well done, Allison!! 

Seated waiting for exercises to begin - Aileen, Uncle Edward, John, Anne Marie, Alan, and Grandma Brown Jackson.
Excitement of meeting for the first time - excitment of going in to see Allison Graduate

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Graduation could not have been more perfect!!

At one point, Allison and John had discussed not walking for Graduation because of expense, hastle, etc... both sets of parents new that this was their right as Adults to make this decision, but we did counsel, that they might be sorry if they didn't celebrate this time in their lives, and Allison might say, that I insisted strongly encouraged her to walk, and I am so glad that they decided to do this.  This is purely selfish on my part it seems but I hope that they felt the hugeness of this moment too.  The big Commencement Exercises that happened in the Marriott Center really was a moment that parents never forget!  First, there were 6,000 students graduating either with PhD's, Masters, or Bachelors degrees.  To watch that sea of blue come into the center and fill up a large portion of the Marriott was moving, but I have to tell you the moment that really got me was when Elder Samuelson asked in this order.....Will all those who are getting their Doctoral degrees please stand, then he asked if all those receiving their Master degrees would please stand, (both groups in this context were relatively small in comparison to what came next) then he asked if all those who were receiving their Bachelor degrees please stand.....and when those thousands of students stood, I cried as I watched, and said to myself, I'm so thankful that Allison and John gave me this moment in time that will be such an amazing memory!!  And a moment to be proud of all they have accomplished and will yet accomplish!  It really was an awe inspiring moment!!

To not fight the crowds for pictures we got up early Saturday to take pictures - they were good sports!!

I love this picture - it's too cute and definately like John!!

The only bad thing about this picture is that Anne Marie had a test Saturday morning and so could not be there for pictures....
More to follow!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bragging rights are mine as a mother!!

So, yeah, Allison and John are graduating this weekend from BYU in Provo, Utah and we are on our way and very excited to seem them as well as our other daughter Anne Marie again!! It will also be wonderful to be with John's family!!

But last week was Allison's Department banquet for graduation and she called to let us know that she received "Outstanding Theatre Student" award of which they only gave out 2 . And she also received "Outstanding Director" that they only gave out 2 of as well. Alan and I are so proud of her and how hard she has worked! Her Grandparents were pretty impressed too!! We've always known she was outstanding, but it's really nice when others acknowledged it as well!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

TOFW 2012 - Part IV

Not going to lie, some of the best parts of TOFW are meeting up with and seeing old friends. I saw many of the ladies from my Stake that were in the Musical Parable of the Ten Virgins with me, see earlier post, that was delightful in many ways to see each other again. I saw a friend that I only know through blogging and I always love when we end up at the same place doing "good things". And never to leave out or play down the importance of just getting to be with women in my Ward, in a way that we don't always get to be together was wonderful.

But kind of special this year is that not only did I get to be at the amazing conference with my sister, but we also were with our Stepmom, Barbara, who is the RS President in my Ward, and our Aunt Debbie (Barb's sister). Nothing will ever be as wonderful as if our Mother was still alive and could be with us, but this was quite special and a good bonding time as a new blended family!!

Saturday's favorite lines/quotes/statements:

Mary Ellen Edmunds - What if we got merit badges for all we do?

When we think of someone good who do you think of? We rarely come up with ourselves

1. Goodness is a Choice
2. Goodness is contagious spread it around.
3. Look for the good in others and in life - Don't wait for the funeral
- Don't gossip, never find fault or mock
- Focus on their hearts
4. You were born good
- Elder Neal a. Maxwell "No one was sent here to fail"
5. Goodness can only happen because of and through Jesus Christ.

Sara Wess & Kate Jones - Our Best Bites:

Enjoy the little things because when we look back they are the big things

Notice talents in ourselves

D. Kelly Ogden - What soever you do, do it heartily

"Greatness is best measured by how well an individual responds to the happenings in life that appear to be totally unfair, unreasonable and undeserved"
- Elder Marvin J. Ashton

The Lord told us to "Let our light so shine before all men..." and then he told us that "He is the light" so what he is telling us is that we hold him up and let him shine through us.

See the good in you, then seek the good in others!

There is no end to the amount of good you can do if it doesn't matter who gets the credit.

Unless you are fully engaged in living the Gospel you can never push back the darkness.

Our Heavenly Father is the greatest being in the universe - and I am his daughter!

Julie DeAzevedo Hanks - Most Authentic Self

When you put Heavenly Father's will + Our gifts and experiences = your authentic self.

Emotions aren't "good" or "bad" its just information.

Myth - I should be happy all of the time.

Truth - It's normal to experience a broad range of emotions - we don't have to be "fine" all the time.

You can't give up something you don't have -- How can you be selfless if you don't know yourself.

Myth - Taking good care of myself is selfish

Truth - Taking good care of myself is key to developing my authentic self.

In the dictionary it says - Selfish is doing what's in your best interest without regard for others.

So we hopefully can take that to mean that when we do what is in our best interest with regard for others that it is not selfish.

Myth - Acknowledging my strengths is prideful.

Truth - Acknowledging and owning my God given strengths is humility.

81% of us feel guilty about what we haven't done.

Instead of a "To Do" list - make a "Ta Da" list

Then I loved the song she sang that talked about "The Savior who performs all miracles can make enough of me to go around"

Emily Watts - Hints for the game called "Life"

Hint #1: Sometimes good needs a catalyst

Question: What can I do to be a Catalyst?

Hint #2: Good does not always reside within our comfort zone.

Question: How can I reach outside my comfort zone?

Hint #3: Good often appears in disguise i.e. Joseph in Egypt; Book of Mormon the Musical

When Joseph met up with his brothers again in Egypt he said "You meant it unto bad, but God meant it unto good.

When the Broadway Musical about the book of Mormon came out we all thought it was so terrible - how could they make fun of us about something so important etc...

But now the bookstores in Manhattan are calling up and asking to order stacks of Book of Mormons because people are coming in and asking to buy them.

"You meant it unto bad, but God meant it unto good"

Our trials are where the good is hiding!!!

Question: What good might be hidden in this trial?

Hint #4: Good takes Patience.

at some point its not going to seem like that long of a time --

Question: How can I increase my trust in the Lord?

Hint #5: Good is primarily other-centered -then it comes into our life!

Story from RS Book - "It's o.k. now, the Mormon Women are here!"

The Musical group - Mercy River - was spectacular I loved so many of their songs but particularly loved:

"Better than Hallelujah"

"Beautiful for Me"

"Just Like a Father Would"

So many spiritual moments its hard to share it all!!

Front row L to R: MaryAnn Stephens; Rosa Tillman; Linda Davila; Elizabeth Lundwall; Barbara Clay; Shawna Rhea Back row L to R: Lois Brown; Bridgette McGuire Missing: Becky Wangler; Debbie Zelenske

TOFW 2012 - Part III

Oh, such wonderful speakers! I learned/remembered so much!! I say remembered because most of us know what they are teaching us....we just need to be reminded sometimes!!

Theme this year is "Seek the Good"

Some of my favorite lines/thoughts/quotes:

Dean Hughes (love his books about World War II):

In speaking about "What is Zion? Does it Still exist? What does it look like?"

"Being Unified, does it mean we all have to think a like?" "If we all think a like, no one has to think at all".
"We change the world when we think the best of someone instead of judging".
"We are so eager to have that we forget Zion is about bringing us all up together".
"We need to be more careful with words"

Heidi Swinton (biographer of Pres. Monson's book):

Sis. Swinton asked Pres. Monson "how did you picked me to write this book?" "After all", she said, "I'm not in your inner circle!" Pres. Monson replied "there are 14 million in my inner circle"
Her talk about seeking good was about "Seek ye this Jesus of whom the Prophets and Apostles have Spoken"

What does it mean to seek Jesus, and find him often, and especially when we need him.

Great stories about Pres. Monson's life, but also really special ones with her family and Pres. Monson about adoption, infertility, and faith! And that sometimes when we are seeking this Jesus we have to look far and wide!!

The Friday Night Musical guest was Dallyn Vail Bayles - a professional actor/singer -

As a person who loves Broadway Musicals and because I love a person who really can sing, this was really a treat!! Many of the songs that he sang were from Broadway shows that he has performed on the staged.....and some were personal from the struggles he and his family have had in life.

One song in particular really hit me this night - the lyrics went

"You know better than I
you know the way
I've let go the need to know why
for you know better than I"

Another one that I loved was "Not Too Far From Here" That talks about all the ways that people are down on their luck, or suffering "Not too Far From Here" The Chorus is

"And I may not know their name, but I'm praying just the same that you'll use me, Lord, to wipe away a tear 'cause some body's crying not too far from here"

Beautiful evening!!

Eating dinner at the Cheesecake Factory before Friday nights events.

They were so slow about getting us our food, that we had to leave before we could order dessert!! Can I tell you we were highly disappointed. But Saturday after the conference end we stopped back by for dessert -- oh, how I love Cheesecake!!

TOFW 2012 - Part II - Bad hair, bad, bad, hair!!

This picture is of a "GOOD HAIR DAY" (Today as a matter of fact)

O.K. funny story...... this is not the funny part, but Wednesday, I got very sick -- how or from where I know not....Thursday I had to work all day because the Doctor's wife needed the morning off, so I took big time cold medicine and powered through. By Friday morning there was no powering through, I couldn't sleep, my alarm in my head went off at 4:00 am because when I have to be to work at 7:30 am on Friday's that is when I get up to type transcriptions for the I showered and washed my hair, blew it dry, put the big Velcro curlers in my hair that you put in to then heat up with your hair dryer, let them cool, and then take out for volume....but because I need a hair cut and my hair is long, I just leave them in for a few hrs while I type. Well, when I finished typing, I realized, I just need to go back to bed, so I called in sick, then went back to bed.......slept until about 2:00 pm when I decided I better get up and start getting ready to go to TOFW, because a few of us decided we were going to eat out before at the "Cheesecake Factory" as that is in Arlington and only about 15 minutes away from the Convention Center. By now, I'm feeling much better and like I will live after all so I get all dressed up and start to fix my comes the funny part.........I pull out all the curlers, throw my head of hair upside down and blow my hair like this with the hair dryer - while my head is still upside down, I grab the "Big Sexy Hairspray" and go crazy spraying my hair......but wait a minute something doesn't seem quite right..........I come up from my bent over position to standing and look in the mirror and I have just sprayed moose all over my hair and it is all foamy white!!! I did not just do that......Oh, yes, I did. so I call my friend, MaryAnn, and tell her what I did and she just starts laughing and while she is laughing and gasping for breath she says "I'm so sorry" It seems a little hard to believe that she really means it as she is laughing her head off, but because I know her and her heart.....I know that she really is feeling sorry for me....but just can't stop which point I bust up laughing I try to salvage the hair because I don't have time to redo everything. And that my friends is how you get "BAD HAIR DAY" for TOFW even though it took you hours to get it that way!!! Only me!!