Tuesday, June 29, 2010

18 Years Ago

18 years ago yesterday, I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was the most important decision of my life.

I was fifteen-years-old. I had questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the purpose of life? Is there life after death? These are the questions many through the ages have asked. I was trying to find meaning in my life. I felt depressed - I think it's a common feeling among teenagers trying to figure out what life is about and how they fit into the big picture. I am grateful I received my answers.

On an Easter Sunday, I was flipping through the channels and saw part of "The Easter Dream", a production by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the end of the program was an offer for a free video, "Our Heavenly Father's Plan". A free video? Cool! I called the 800-number to request it. A few weeks later, two young missionaries delivered the video and shared the first discussion with me. I felt the spirit. They taught me the gospel and I accepted it. The message they taught me answered all my questions.

I am a child of God. I am here to experience life and to choose whether to follow God and Jesus Christ. Each person on earth has a purpose and a mission. Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve into mortality, a Redeemer is necessary to provide a way back to God. Jesus Christ is the only person qualified to perform the atonement which allows us to overcome mortality and gain eternal life.

The truths and principles I learned have guided my life since then. My conversion has literally changed my life for the better. The teachings of the gospel has helped me to become a better person and to make better decisions. I was able to face my challenges with greater perspective and to not let them discourage me too much.

Before I joined the church, I didn't understand the role of women. Even after baptism, I didn't think too much about it. However, through the years I have come accept that because families are essential to Heavenly Father's plan, the most important thing I as a woman can do is to be a mother. Of course, there are some women who do not have the opportunity to be mothers but they are still valued. The idea that motherhood is sacred and divine became evident to me when I became a mother myself. Contrary to our society's views, motherhood is not a denigration of womanhood. Men and women are equal in the sight of God and neither is less than the other. Husband and wife work together to make the family a successful unit of society.

I am grateful that I found the truth when I did. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have been blessed with strength to endure my personal trials. I have joy and peace in my life. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Joseph Smith, Jr. was an instrument in the hands of God in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, as is the Bible. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today.

Monday, June 28, 2010


We recently got back from a trip to my old stomping grounds in Maryland. It's always a treat to go home and be among family and friends. This was Ellie's first trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa Chu. My parents and my sisters have been to Wyoming so it's not their first time seeing her. It was however the first time some dear friends and my Aunt Rose got to see her, which was very fun.

We got to stay with the Fergusons, a wonderful family for whom I used to babysit. Their three daughters are now grown up; their youngest, Michelle, just graduated from high school. It makes me feel old that the kids I babysat for are all graduating from high school and going to college! The Fergusons lived a few minutes drive from my parents' so it was very convenient.

Our trip started off with a little more excitement than we'd expected. First off, right out of Cheyenne we missed the exit to the highway down to Denver which led to a 10 minute detour. Luckily, we had left home with plenty of time to get to the airport for once (most people know we're usually running late). When we got to the airport parking lot, I suddenly realized my driver's license was not in my wallet. Usually it is but this one time it wasn't because I'd taken it out a couple days earlier and had put it back in my purse but not in my wallet. When I was packing, I didn't pack my purse and just brought my wallet. Dan thought that for sure I wouldn't be able to board the airplane without a photo ID and that we'd have to reschedule our flights. He suggested that we just leave the luggage in our car and take the bus to the airport terminal to get our flights rescheduled. I said that we should just bring all our luggage just in case they do let me on the plane. Amazingly, when we talked with the Southwest agent about the situation, she said that Southwest doesn't require a photo ID to fly and that the security personnel would just do additional checking on me. I was so glad we brought our luggage along anyway and didn't have to pay extra money to reschedule flights which we would've had to do if we left our luggage in our car because there wouldn't have been enough time for us go back to get the luggage.

So, with a sigh of relief we got to the departure gate in time for our flight. However, our adventures were not over! On the airplane, Ellie got sick and was very fussy. We didn't know what was wrong with her. She cried a lot and wanted to be held. Then she threw up. Fortunately, we'd traveled enough with our kids that we were prepared and had packed a change of clothing for everyone. I cleaned her up as well as I could and changed her soiled shirt. Everything seemed fine for a bit, although Ellie was still a little fussy. A while later, she threw up again. This time it was a bigger mess and I didn't have another clean shirt. So, I used one of Charlie's shirts. It was obvious something was wrong but we still were clueless. So, I just held her and tried to get her to drink fluids and be as comfortable as possible. By this point, I was looking forward to getting to our destination ASAP! However, we had a stopover in Cincinnati and then another one-and-a-half hour flight to Baltimore. After the stopover, we continued on in the same plane to our destination. I was not surprised when Ellie threw up a third time. What a mess!! I got to clean it up again because Dan was sitting across the aisle from us. With no clean shirts left for either child, Dan had wisely decided to wash the first soiled shirt since it wasn't too badly soiled. So, by the time we needed it it was pretty well dried.

Sorry to bore you with all the details of our trip there! We were just glad to get there in one piece and to look forward to having our visit go a lot better than our experiences thus far. The next day we were able to take her to a walk-in medical clinic and have a doctor look at her. They couldn't tell what was wrong - it was probably a virus. We figured as much but wanted to have her checked out just in case, especially because she was wheezing a little and seemed to be taking quick breaths. We got a nebulizer for helping her inhale some medicine for the wheezing. We only had to use it a couple times but that seemed to help her breathing get back to normal.

Anyway, we did have a great trip overall. Besides seeing my parents and sisters, we also got to see my dear friend, Jaya. I'm so glad we were able to see her since she is super busy. Jaya and I were best friends in the fourth grade and have been good friends since then. It's amazing that we've been friends for so long despite living in different states and leading totally different lives. Seeing her again made me realize why we are friends and that we will remain friends always. She is a great person!! Love you, girl!

It was wonderful to spend time with my family. We were crazy enough to go down to DC one day. It was SOOO HOT and HUMID!! I'm not used to the climate anymore. We went to the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum. I can't believe how many people were at each place - it seems like there weren't very many people all the previous times I'd gone. We didn't stay long at the Air and Space Museum because the kids were just really tired and Ellie needed a nap. Before we went to the Air and Space Museum, we saw a carousel and I went on it with Ellie and Charlie. Ellie just LOVED it and cried when we had to get off.

Aunt Rose was off on Monday so we went to lunch with her at the Wheaton Mall - a place at which I've spent a lot of time as a teenager. On the way from the restaurant to the park, I showed Dan the neighborhood where we lived when I was a child. It was strange to see all the changes that had been made since my family and I moved to the house where my parents live now. The Catholic high school right by the apartments we lived in has been replaced by a new development of townhomes. There were more storefronts and other buildings in the area. The library still looked the same though! Ah, what a trip through memory lane!

After lunch we went to the park. Ellie was really excited to see that there was a carousel there and, of course, the kids got to ride on it with my dad. There was also a miniature train and we rode that too. I had ridden on it as a child. Charlie was in heaven! I was amazed that it was about 10 minutes long - a lot longer than any little train ride I'd taken Charlie on.

We also got to see some wonderful friends of mine from church, the Connors, the Fergusons, and Charlene Weaver, who was in Young Women's with me. Brother Connor was my seminary teacher and my employer for one summer. I also babysat his kids during high school. Sister Ferguson was also one of my seminary teachers and Brother Ferguson used to drive me to seminary. Can I just say these are amazing people? I count them among my eternal friends.

Charlie was excited to have his own little backpack to bring whatever he wanted on the trip. Guess what's in it?
Sid and Melody Connor. Sarah Connor & Charlie

Ellie on carousel in DC. Charlie in spinny thing on carousel.

Dan & kids at lunch with Aunt Rose. Kids with Grandma and Grandpa Chu.

On the train ride, Aunt Rose in white hat & shirt. Another carousel ride!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Our New Lawn

We have a new lawn!! When we bought the house, we weren't too excited about all the rocks in our front lawn. We love greenery and so after a couple years of talking, we finally acted. We debated for a long time about how to get it done, whether to do it ourselves or contract it out. I'm so glad we decided to have a landscaper do the work because we did not have the skills, tools, or time to do a good job on this project.

Here are the before and after pictures. Sorry they weren't taken around the same time of day so there are shadows in the before picture.

It took 4 or 5 guys at least a day to get the old grass and the eight tons of rock out. I'm sure just this part of the job alone would've done us in!

It's so nice to be able to look out the front window and see green grass instead of ugly rocks and weeds. I love it!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a great weekend! Friday, the 28th was the last day at Charlie's preschool. They held a graduation that evening in which all the parents got to watch their kids perform songs they'd learned throughout the year. Charlie did not want to perform so he sat by me in the audience and sang most of the songs. I wasn't surprised because he has yet to go up to the stand when all the kids sing at church. I hope this is a phase because he sings very well and usually knows the words. I am so glad Charlie had a good experience in preschool; it'll make the transition to Kindergarten this fall that much easier.
Charlie and his preschool teachers, Miss Cathy and Miss Barbara
My little graduate!

Dan's brother, Andrew, and family came to visit for the weekend. We had a wonderful time with them! The kids especially enjoyed being with their cousins. On Saturday morning, we had a pancake breakfast and then we went to downtown Cheyenne. It happened that this weekend was Depot Days, an annual event celebrating Cheyenne's railroading heritage. There were lots of activities related to trains, which as you know is my son's passion. Charlie's two boy cousins, Nathan and Matthew likes trains too, so it was a great activity for all. We chose to go to the Union Pacific Roundhouse Openhouse. This is where the public gets to see the steamshop, where workers repair steam engines, and the Roundhouse where they house many engines and railcars. It was thrilling to be able to see the old steam engines up close. They were humongus! The adults enjoyed learning more about the inner-workings of the steam engines and some railroad history from one of the UP employees.

Later that day, we grilled some tandoori chicken, one of our favorite recipes. It was our first grill-out of the year and turned out very nicely.

On Sunday, we attended church. Before dinner we went to our favorite park and took a walk around the lake. The kids enjoyed seeing all the doggies and playing at the playground. I heard a group of people speaking Chinese and asked them where they were from. We ended up talking a while in Chinese. It's always a surprise to find Chinese people in Cheyenne because there aren't many here. Actually, there aren't many of any ethnic people in Cheyenne, except Hispanics. I miss the diversity of other places.

On Monday, Andrew and his family left. We were sad to see our guests leave. Charlie was especially sad and even a few days later he'd say that he was sad the cousins left.

In the evening, we had a barbecue with a few friends from the ward. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend!!