PUERTO RICO: day five

Breakfast early and out the door, to beat the Saturday beach crowd, this morning. We chose Caracas Beach (on the island of Vieques) today. The kids liked it so much they didn’t even ask for food. The sand was white, soft and WARM! The water was clearer than any ocean water I have been in. We even saw a crab (the size of a salad plate) walking by along the ocean floor without goggles!

We left the beach just before two. We were headed to lunch (Buga’s Restaurant) and saw some missionaries on the side of the road. Danny, Dan and I all served missions so we have a soft spot for the elders (and sisters). We pulled over and asked about church tomorrow. We also asked if we could take them to dinner Monday. They said YES! One of them, Elder Poulton, is from Bountiful!

We ate lunch at Buga’s and then ice cream at a shop around the corner from that. There were showers and naps when we got back to the beach house. Kate was up and ready before anyone else so we took my little Olympus and did a mini shoot-

Soon after the photo shoot we made spaghetti dinner. We cleaned up quickly and headed out the door for a bioluminescent kayak bay tour at Mosquito Bay. I am telling you, it was amazing. My Canon 5d might have been able to capture some of it, but the GoPro and phone camera were no match for the darkness. Seeing the water glow in glass bottom kayaks was something we hope we never ever forget. The sky full after stars was fantastic too. This is a BEAUTIFUL part of the world!

PUERTO RICO: day four

We woke to the sound of ocean waves (!!!!!) and roosters. In fact, we heard both all night long. The house we are renting has its own access to the beach. Danny and I went out there as soon as we were up. We didn’t quite make sunrise, but we were close. I love the long shadows of the early morning.

We are SO grateful for this beach house. It was actually quite an ordeal to get it. When we arrived yesterday we had a different reservation. We went into that house and were not thrilled. There was a leaking generator next to the dining room table, a toilet that wouldn’t flush, a mouse trap on the kitchen floor and a cockroach that met has at the door. (among other things). Our friend Dan made the executive decision-we weren’t staying there.

This house wasn’t listed when we were looking because they were doing some improvements. It has the most understanding property manager who patiently waited while we tried to sort things out with Airbnb. Much of this day we (especially Dan & Heidi) worked on struggling through negotiations.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a few beaches and this home we call ours for a few days more.

We were released by 11:00 pm tonight (over 30 hours later!). We slept easier knowing we wouldn’t be paying for two house rentals! 😜

PUERTO RICO: day three

I don’t know what the rest of our time in Puerto Rico has in store for us, but the tour we had this morning made the whole trip worth it!

We met Alex from Paradise Tours at 8:00 am. We piled out of our Thrifty Car Rental Van (which had “Thrifty Car Rental Van” detailed all over the van) dressed in clothes we could get wet and shoes that would stay on our feet (I was grateful for my Keens!) There were two additional adventures we met on the tour. Kara and Christian were a mother and son duo from the outer banks North Carolina. We quickly became fast friends. As a group, we cheerfully followed Alex who was a fantastic guide. He took us on the trail to El Yunque National Forest. We climbed through mud, slippery rock and river beds. Alex led us to beautiful pools for swimming, rope swings for jumping and cliffs for falling. There was even a natural water slide! We absolutely LOVED it! Sadly, because there is so much water involved they ask you to leave your cell phones behind. We did bring our GoPro- with a dead battery (UGGGGG!) Danny remembered to plug it in the night before, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. But unfortunately, it never charged. They do take photos of you as part of the tour. I will include some of their photos here. The rest can be found on their Facebook page.

The girls and Danny jumped, slid and swung with every opportunity! They are AMAZING! I am happy to report that I slid down the slide and took the plunge after one swing on the rope. All of the LOWE/DAVIS kids took full advantage of every adventurous opportunity. We all left the experience thrilled to have been part of it. Dan (Lowe) had a mismatched pair of flip flops to remember the adventure by.

Thank you Alex!

We piled back in the van for some traditional sandwiches! They were delicious! And we were HUNGRY. Then straight to the ferry for the next leg of our adventure- Vieques Island!

Danny dropped us all off at the ferry and raced to the closest Thrifty Car Rental to return the van. We bought the ferry tickets and lugged all of our bags to the waiting area near the dock. We watched the clock as the boarding time got closer and Danny wasn’t back. We were hoping for inefficiency so he would have a few minutes to spare. Unfortunately they boarded the ferry quickly and it pulled away from the dock at 2:29 instead of the scheduled 2:30. Danny pulled up at 2:33. We had to board without him, because it is no fun sitting for hours with 7 restless children AND our car rentals for the island were expecting us. So we went on and Danny got a two hour nap while he waited for the next ferry over.

Vieques! Here we come!

PUERTO RICO: day two

We woke up this morning on a beautiful coffee farm- Cafe Pomarrosa. The rooms/cabins were beautiful, clean and comfortable. Eva and Kirk, the owners and hosts are two delightful people, passionate about their work. The breakfast they served was delicious- especially the fresh fruit and fried plantains.

After breakfast we enjoyed a fascinating tour of the farm and their process of making specialty Puertarican coffee. We loved it!


After the tour we headed into Ponce for lunch and ice cream-

And then our home for the night…and more importantly, it’s beach

I didn’t get to the shore fast enough to snap a photo of Kate. She jumps in for a swim as quick as she can and stays the last minute possible. I love how much they love the ocean!

PUERTO RICO: day one

Our friends Dan & Heidi called us in December- “Hey wanna come with us and take the kids to Puerto Rico!?” We checked flights and told them we were in the next day. We flew on different airlines. Our family of 5 landed a few hours earlier. We rented a large passenger van grabbed some gelato at Piu Bello and went back to the airport when it was time for them to land!

Some of the highlights of today:

lunch where fried plantains, rice and beans, with cornbread sticks were the highlight.

tour of Castillo San Felipe

Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Frankie’s 10th birthday today! (I can’t believe she is 10!)

The sights are beautiful, but truly the warm ocean breeze has put all of those smiles on our faces. It feels so good to defrost!

GNOME GNOTEBOOK

I was asked to give a talk at church Sunday. My assignment was to speak about THIS talk given in General Conference October 18, 2018. This was my talk:

Organizing storage recently, I ran across this book.  It is a gift that was given to me when I was 9 years old, from my Great Aunt Dot (she is from the East so it is “aunt” not “ant”).  The inscription says, 

“A…diary-or place to write little stories of things that happen-or for autographs of your friends”

As I looked at the cover, I was flooded with memories of brilliant fictional stories that I had written through its pages.  I loved writing then, even into my teen years.  I wanted to be a writer.  I remember loving this book with my stories, and the feedback others gave me.

Opening the book after many years of it being stored in a box, I was surprised by what I actually found.  Instead of the brilliance I remembered, there were:

  • shallow storylines
  • misspellings 
  • grammatical errors

As a child, as shy as I was, I would share my stories with anyone who would listen…NOW only the flaws in my work stand out to me. 

In her book GRIT, Angela Duckworth reminds her readers,

“infants and toddlers spend most of their time trying to do things they can’t, again and again—and yet they don’t seem especially embarrassed or anxious. No pain, no gain is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply to the preschool set…Watch a baby struggle to sit up, or a toddler learn to walk; you’ll see one error after another, failure after failure, a lot of challenge exceeding skill.”

What if as we age…we decide that is still noble to do something…just because we don’t know how, or it’s fun, or we want the experience.  Just think of how we would grow…and really how much fun we would have.  

Elder Richard G Scott said,

“Attempt to be creative even if the results are modest…creativity can engender a spirit of gratitude for life and for what the Lord has woven into your being”

“attempting to be creative, even if the results are modest…” requires a childlike spirit…

A spirit that…

  • -finds joy in creativity, regardless of the outcome
  • -takes pleasure in the simple joys of life

And especially a spirit that…

  • -trusts our Lord and Savior

Elder Gong shared an experience this last General Conference.  Elder Richard G Scott, an apostle and an artist, invited him to watercolor with him.  Elder Scott was experienced and Elder Gong was a novice.  Although he describes feeling apprehensive, he focused on what he could learn instead of what he lacked.  Elder Gong found joy in trying something new, in fact, he was really touched by the opportunity, enough to base his general conference talk around the experience.

What can finding joy in creativity…without concern for ability or outcome change for you in your life?

A childlike spirit finds it easy to take pleasure in the simple joys of life.  

Last weekend my youngest daughter, Sophie had a friend over.  They decided to play hide & seek.  The rules were laid down:

outside + garages were a no hide zone,

Ellie’s room too (her oldest sister)

everything else was free game.

After one round…Kate, my 14 year old, asked if she could play too.  As I stood at the sink, doing dishes, I knew exactly where I would hide if I were playing.  I was thrilled that my 9th grader was playing, as social stress & teenage-hood had been weighing on her lately.  Their laughter and joy lightened the whole atmosphere of our home.  I loved it.

So that night before bed, as we gathered for prayer and scriptures, Sophie asked if WE wanted to play HIDE & SEEK, I quickly said YES….and the rest of the family agreed.  So 4 of us hid in crevices, closets, and bathtubs while one searched.  

Now before you get the wrong idea, that I am a fun mom, let me confess that In the almost 17 years that I have been a parent…this week was the first time I had played HIDE & SEEK with my children…or at all.  And now this week we have played several nights before bed.  And guess what!  Every time I hid I was the last one found.  Who knew I would be so good at hide & seek!?

I had forgotten a lot about the game since I played as a child… 

  • -the thrill and anticipation of trying not to be found
  • -the strategy required to play the game
  • -the suspense of searching

(it’s SO scary to pull back a curtain, unsure if someone will jump out at you!)

As an adult, I realize that I have let the distractions of the world pull me from some of the JOYS of the simple things in life and the gospel.  

Yesterday, I was privileged to attend the Stake Activity Day meeting.  To begin the activity, we sang in unison, I AM A CHILD OF GOD.  Those beautiful primary girls filled the chapel with faith as we sang.  When was the last time I really appreciated the JOY of knowing that I am a child of a divine, all knowing, all loving, eternal Father…that knows me, that loves me?  And that pleads with us,

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

A childlike spirit allows our hearts to be filled with more trust in our Father in Heaven and our Savior. 

Elder Gong teaches,

“There is joy in imagining, learning, and doing worthwhile new things.  This is especially true as we deepen faith and trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  We cannot love ourselves enough to save ourselves. But Heavenly Father loves us more and knows us better than we love or know ourselves.  We can trust the Lord and lean not unto our own understanding.”

One of my very favorite scripture stories teaches this principle in a beautiful way.   In Matthew 14 we read,

“…when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

…when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.”

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

This story causes me to reflect each time I read or hear it-  Where is my focus…? Is it on the boisterous wind? On my fears? Or is my focus on the invitation of our Savior, “Come…”

It is my hope that as children of God…we will remember, regardless of our age…we are children, we are ALL children.  We are all children of a Father in Heaven…and that is a gift.  Especially when we take time and effort to soften our hearts and:

  • find joy in creativity, regardless of the outcome
  • take pleasure in the simple joys of life & the gospel
  • And especially, trust our Lord and Savior with our focus on Him

Winter Concert

Utah Youth Philharmonic Winter Concert was Monday, January 14, 2019. Ellie loves participating in this group. She began in the Utah Youth Junior Symphony many years ago. I think this is the third year she has played with the Philharmonic. They played:

Lieutenant Kijé Suite Op. 60 by Sergei Prokofiev & Symphony no. 7 Op. 92

The music was BEAUTIFUL! Barbara Scowcroft is a joy to watch as Conductor. It might have been my favorite of their performances. We obviously have a special preference for the bassists.

Danny, Kate, Sophie and I were all there. Nana, Dede and Chase came too. We all had a late dinner at Rio Grande Cafe after the concert.