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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Flat Stanley comes to Northern Utah

My nephew, Max, and his second grade class are doing a Flat Stanley project.  I feel very honored because Max choose to send his Stanley to visit me.  We had about a month of fun with Stanley during his stay.  Here are some of the highlights I wrote to Max in a letter included in the package I'm sending out to him tomorrow:

Dear Max,
          Thank you for sending Max to Pleasant View, Utah for a visit.  We enjoyed having him.  He was a good sport and seemed to enjoy the activities he participated in while he was here.

          It was still pretty warm when Stanley first arrived.  He wore shorts and a t-shirt when we visited Hill Air Force Museum in Clearfield, Utah.  He loved seeing the planes, helicopters, rockets and other displays, but his favorite thing was the Night Hawk Stealth Fighter.
         A week later we went out to Antelope Island which is in the middle of the Great Salt Lake.  They were doing their annual Buffalo Round Up when they gather the herd for the winter.  Stanley scared us when he got a little too close to a mother buffalo and her baby.  Luckily he was wearing his insulated camouflage suit so mamma buffalo didn't chase, trample, or gore him.

           The next week, we took Stanley with us to a Utah State University Basketball game in Logan, Utah (home of the Aggies).  Stanley wanted a USU T-Shirt so he could sit with in the student section to cheer. It was a great game.  Utah State won and the fans rushed the court to congratulate the team.  Stanley didn't get trampled here either.  Can you see him in this big crowd at the Spectrum?  Look really close.  Do you see him yet?  He was famous so his picture was on the Jumbo-Tron in the middle of the arena.  Yep, there he is!

          Yesterday was opening day of skiing at Snow Basin Ski Resort in Huntsville, Utah.  Stanley wore his snow pants, parka and beanie hat.  Snow Basin was the location of the Down Hill, Combined, and Super-G Olympic Events in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.  Stanley wanted to try out snowboarding.  He was pretty good at grinding the rails by the time we left last night.

           Stanley is bringing home a few things to you from Pleasant View, Utah.  He bought you a Utah State University T-shirt at the USU Bookstore, some salt water taffy from Antelope Island, and a little pin he picked out for you at the gift shop at Hill Air Force Museum.  He also is bringing a beanie in case you want to try out snowboarding or skiing on the Greatest Snow on Earth.
          Thank you for letting Stanley come for a visit in Pleasant View.  We hope he'll come back to Utah and bring you with him next time.  When you and  Stanley come, the clothes you should pack will depend on the time of year.  It gets as warm as the high 90s in the summer and it down to about 0 in the coldest part of the winter.  Spring and Fall are really nice and very beautiful here.  If you come in July, August, or September we'll hike Ben Lomond Mountain which is right behind our house.  It is a wonderful hike of 8.4 miles up.  We couldn't take Stanley hiking there in October or November because the trail is already covered in snow.
          If your family will drive you out to see us in Pleasant View, it is 397.2 miles from Parker, Colorado.  Utah is a pretty great state.  We like living here.  We hope you will bring Stanley, your parents, brother and sisters and come soon!
Aunt Georgia
P.S.  The pictures we took of Stanley are on the thumb drive in case you'd like to see them bigger.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Confessions of a New Grandma

Okay.  I've heard it so many times, it almost makes me crazy:  "Being a Grandma is the greatest thing EVER!"

I've rolled my eyes a thousand times and heaved a hundred sighs as I've heard this chant from all my friends who have experienced being a grandparent, many for several years.  When I attended my thirtieth high school class reunion three years ago, I was the ONLY one there who hadn't yet been a grandparent--no kidding!  All my fellow DHS classmates kept quoting the "Best thing EVER" grandparent thing and I kept thinking, "I love being a Mom and I can't imagine anything better than that!"

So, I have to admit that after one day of seeing, holding, smelling, and crying over my little grandson, Calvin Daniel, I'm firmly on board the grand-parenting band wagon.  I have joined the obnoxious minions of chanters saying, "ITS THE BEST THING EVER!"

Here are a few pictures of our only-hours-old, cute little grandson:

My son, Kevin, with his son, Calvin

Gramma Georgia

Proud Grandpa Rob

Sweet sleeper
Mommy and her little angel 
So all the jargon is true!  There is something completely remarkable, yet must be experienced to be believed, about seeing your child's child and immediately recognizing him or her as connected to you forever.  Even though I had nearly seven months to prepare for the birth of this baby, I was completely unprepared for how I would react to seeing him for the first time.  I'm now completely convinced that being a grandparent is the BEST thing ever!

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day Back

Today was the first day of Fall Semester at Utah State University.  After taking off the last two semesters, it was wonderful to be back in class today.  I have enrolled in some interesting classes:  19th Century British Literature, Literary Analysis, and Poetry Writing are the three I'm registered for.  I sat through three hours of 19th Century Brit Lit this evening with a sense of thrill at being back.  I also felt a touch of nerves worrying if I really have what it takes to do all that is required.  I started on the reading immediately because there is a paper due on Labor Day (what? isn't that a holiday??)

I expect to learn A LOT, work HARD, and read a BUNCH this semester.  I was hoping to get back to blogging, but I think I may be too busy studying, reading, and writing papers (and poems---yikes!).  Happy new semester and back-to-school, everyone!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Baby Steps back to Blogging

I've been a bad blogger for a long, long time.  I just haven't had the inclination or the words to work with the past several months.  It's time to get back on track and start living life again.

I'm trying to find a new normal.  My old normal is gone--never to return. It's like I've been swimming in a deep, dark lake and I can't tell which direction is the surface and which way to the muddy bottom.  I thought if I allowed myself to drift, I would eventually float to the top (or simply settle on the bottom), but it seems that I'm not going to get back on top of anything unless I dig in and swim.

I don't mean to sound like things are terrible, because they're not.  We actually had a tremendous summer!   Camille and Robbie were married July 13.   Dani and Kelly drove out from Baltimore to spend four weeks celebrating with us. (See her post about the trip here.)  We had other guests coming and going all summer too.  Mark and Nana brought their three boys from Singapore and were in the United States driving around in a big RV (See her post about the trip here).  They were at our house for awhile and we certainly enjoyed having them here.  Rob, Bryan, and Kevin had a fun few days in Arches National Park hiking and rappelling with the Shumways.  Nana was able to attend the Family Bridal Shower for Camille while she was here.  Ward members, Lisa, Laura, and Celia threw a Neighborhood Bridal Shower for Camille.  I know Cami and I both felt greatly loved after such kindness and generosity!
Shumways in Arches-  The Brave Crew getting ready to rappel 
Camille and I had a fun-packed day doing bridals shots.  Seven hours of strutting her stuff in her gorgeous dress was pretty entertaining.  I especially enjoyed when we moved to the Utah State Capitol Building for some shots and three busloads of Asians flooded into the building and thought they were watching a celebrity during a photo session and joined in by crowding around Camille and shooting their own photos and wanting her autograph.  Our photographers weren't happy, but I was highly amused by it and Camille just ate up the additional attention.

Asian Tourists butting into our photo session

July 13th turned out to be pretty spectacular.  The morning started with a gully-washing rain that cleaned the air and blew out leaving us a gorgeous day.  The sealing at the Brigham City Temple was perfectly beautiful.  The luncheon  at Maddox was delicious and fun.  The Johnson family tradition of clinking glasses to make the newlyweds kiss, brought lots of laughter, kisses, but little eating for the couple.  The reception at Hilton Garden Inn was well-attended and so fun.  Rob's brother, Kevin and his wife, Tanja came all the was from Tennessee for the event.  Rob's sister, Jody, came from Northern California for a week.  All four of my children and spouses were in the temple. Again, I felt so loved.

Beautiful couple outside BC Temple
When Robbie and Camille left on their honeymoon, I still had Dani, Kelly, my Mom, and Rob's sister, Jody here at the house to help sort through things and put stuff away.  We had a huge gift-opening party eight days later when the honeymooners were back.  I felt loads and loads of love then too.

We are anxiously awaiting the next big event.  Kevin and Lindsey are expecting a baby boy on September 1, but the doctor says Lindsey won't make it through August before this little one appears.  We are so excited to meet and love our new baby Crouch.

We've got some situating to do as we readjust here in the house to include my Mom as a resident.  She moved in the middle of May.  We are still trying to figure out a way to work the details of day-to-day living with her.  It is a lot different having a parent move in than it would be to have a child move back home.  The kids are gone and just when Rob and I expected to figure out that 'empty nest' thing, we are thinking about my mother, her belongings, and her health issues.  Hopefully a new normal will emerge soon and we can make her feel loved (because she is!)

I was released from my Relief Society President calling in May in anticipation of my mother moving in, the wedding to finish planning, all the company we had coming, and my on-going health concerns.  I was grateful for the time to devote to those things, but now we are on this side of some of the biggest ones, I've been a bit lost.  A few weeks ago I received a new calling to be a Primary Teacher to the five year olds.  What a blessing this has been!  Little children have a way of making a person feel whole and loved.

A Fist-Pump Kiss
Love These Two!
New and Improved Crouch Family

The Mob
The Sisters
The Brothers
The Mamas and the Papas

 (Rob is much happier about this wedding
than his face would indicate in this photos).

Sunday, April 21, 2013


As I turned my car toward home today, I was suddenly struck by a mighty surge of nostalgia.  It stabbed my heart.  My eyes watered.  The back of my throat throbbed.

Nostalgia is a Homeric word literally meaning 'pain or ache'.  That is certainly how it hit this afternoon—a physical hurting and longing for a time or place now gone.

Was it the way the sun slanted through the clouds? I wondered.  Maybe it was that hint of green at the tips of tree branches lining the street?  Or perhaps it was the song playing on the radio? I'm not sure...  But suddenly I was transported back to a moment I hadn't thought of in many years.

Abruptly I longed to be young.  I ached to be at my childhood home in a more innocent time of life.  The events of this past week may have triggered this reaction.  The bombings at the Boston Marathon occurred on Monday, April 15, 2013.  Another layer of naivety was stripped away from America as this act of horror took lives and maimed many.   Of course the original wound of 9/11 is barely scabbed over.  Shootings at schools rip at that injury.  Other callous acts rake across and reopen the gash. Will it ever heal?  Will we always long for that nearly forgotten time of innocence when people didn't set out to destroy and terrorize others?

I know one of the marathon racers running Monday.  She said the finish line was within sight when she heard the blast.  She assumed it was a celebratory cannon shot or firework.  Other racers reported thinking an electrical transformer had blown or a garbage truck had dropped a huge dumpster.  These are circumstances our minds imagine could be true.  They are the sorts of experiences we've had.  But now, when they hear any bang or explosion will we immediately think, “Oh, no! Another terrorist attack!”?   This is more of the injury perpetrated upon us: changing perceptions and beliefs, altering thought processes, and thrusting us into a state of constant suspicion and mistrust of others.

Rob and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on Monday, April 15.  Between a visit to Huntsman Cancer Institute in the morning and terrible news on the radio about Boston the rest of the day, it didn't seem like much of a celebration.  Perhaps that was the true source of the painful nostalgia which has gripped me recently. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

B.D. Boy

Today is Rob's birthday.  I just want to take a minute and a few lines to honor the man who has been my husband for nearly 30 years (our 30th anniversary is in two weeks!).

I didn't want Rob to go to work today.  I hoped he would stay here and allow us to celebrate the day together.  But today is a payroll day and too many people count on their paychecks appearing in their bank accounts, so he headed out the door for his long, daily drive to Bountiful.

About a week ago I asked Rob what he'd like for his birthday.  He has been mulling it over and finally last night he answered, "I can't think of a single thing I want."  When I pestered him about it again this morning he said, "I'd like a cherry pie."  When I finish typing this post, I'll mix up and roll out a pie crust, dump in a jar of home-bottled cherry pie filling, and make a lattice top sprinkled with sugar.  It will be cool when he comes home from work, but he has a home teaching appointment this evening, which he'll do as soon as he gets home.  Then he and I can have a leisurely dinner and a piece of pie for dessert.

Happy birthday, Rob!  I love you!  I feel so incredibly fortunate you are in my life.  Thank you for being so kind, loving, and thoughtful.  I am so blessed!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Looking Forward

It's been so long since I've written a blog post, I wasn't sure I could remember how to do it.  In the middle of the night, I determined that today I would write and post something.

I usually lie awake either in my bed or on the couch somewhere between the hours of 1:30-5:00 a.m.  I remember when I took sleep for granted.  When I loved bedtime.  When I could fall asleep almost instantly upon putting my head on the pillow.  Those were the days--I mean nights.

This morning when the numbers on my alarm clock read 3:26, I lie there looking at the inky splotches on my ceiling as the wind blew and shadows moved.  In my mind, I thought: "The burning in my abdomen should light up this room."  There is a constant smolder going on in my middle region, but at night it usually flares into a full-blown inferno.  I thought my belly should be generating a glow brighter than the alarm clock.  I pressed my hands across my stomach to smother the flames, expecting to get singed in the process.  But my fingers were uninjured, even poised right over the blaze.  I must have been awfully groggy to be having such strange thoughts.

I have seen 17 specialists since October.  I've decided I'm done with doctors and hospitals.  I had surgery in February which took care of some of the symptoms and problems I had been experiencing.  But the main issue that started me on this 'Medical Madness Tour' is still here.  The Tumor Board at McKay Dee Hospital took a look at my case last month.  They pulled all the previous records of mesenteric masses they could locate.  They discovered that it is extremely rare.  The three cases they found, didn't end positively.  As a result, they've decided to be completely 'hands-off' for fear of severing the mesentery artery or one of the many vessels branching off from it.

Here is a CT image of the Mesentery region in the small intestine (not mine). 

This illustrates how the main artery branches into dozens of smaller vessels 

which supply the digestive system. 

I can appreciate why doctors are reluctant to cut into that region.   

I'm very reluctant to allow any cutting in that spot myself, now.

Now for the good news:  My brother and his family from Singapore are going to spend the month of June in the states (a good portion of it in Utah--I hope!).  My daughter, Camille, is engaged and getting married July 13.  Dani and Kelly will travel from Baltimore and spend that month with us.  Kevin and Lindsey are expecting a baby on September 1--our first grandchild!   

I have a lot to look forward to!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Running the Maze

When I look back at the past few months and realize the number of doctors I've visited, I feel like I've been riding around and around on a roller coaster.  It just keeps flying past the point of disembarkment and making wild loops and lunges over and over.  The good thing about the on-going ride, is that I've become numbed to the sudden, jarring plunges.  I'm no longer shocked by the neck-wrenching turns.  I've come to recognize the places that took my breath away and am no longer surprised.

We went through another series of doctor visits and almost, but not quite, surgical stays.  I was supposed to attempt another biopsy, this time in the hospital under anaesthesia   I went in the day before for my pre-surgical appointment.  They drew blood, took vitals, and ran an EKG.  I left two hours later with several wrist bands and instructions not to eat or drink after midnight, what to wear the next day, and admonitions to not remove any of the plastic straps attached to me.

When I got home, there was a voice mail message telling me that the anaesthesiologist had viewed the EKG and cancelled the surgery.  He saw a strange heart rhythm (the one I've been telling doctors about for the past three weeks, that no one seemed concerned about).   I called back to question what he saw on the EKG and was referred to the doctor who was to do the surgery.  He tried to find out what was happening and if the surgery could be performed some other way.  In the end, everyone just advised me to get into a cardiologist.

The cardiologist was extremely kind--probably the nicest, most personable of all the docs I've seen since October.  He listened to my heart, hooked me up to run an EKG, and just visited with Rob and me about all these recent health issues.  He couldn't see anything wrong with my heart rate or rhythm at that moment, but decided to order some tests and a heart monitor.  We walked out to the waiting room to schedule the tests when suddenly my heart started doing that flip-floppy thing it does these days.  I told Rob and he called out to Dr. Crawford who rushed me back to the exam room and plastered me with sticky electrodes, connected them to the machine, and ran another EKG.  Sure enough.  There was the proof that I have a funny new heart rhythm that kicks in every once in awhile (usually when I'm trying to fall asleep at night).  Dr. Crawford called it a Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC) and didn't seem terribly concerned about it.

So, Tuesday was another long day, this time at Ogden Regional Hospital, having an echo cardiogram and the stress test.  Let me say, jogging on a treadmill in a hospital gown with seven people watching is not my idea of fun.  I hope I never get that opportunity again.

I'm wearing a monitor now that continually beeps and buzzes at me.  I better get used to the noise because it gets to be my little buddy until January 21.  I hope it considers me its buddy and gives the doctors good news so we can get this show on the road.

I've been comparing experience of the past few months to being in a giant maze that has no way out, no solution, or exit.  But that treadmill on Tuesday somehow seems more symbolic.  I'm just running in place, going nowhere, and getting exhausted to boot.