The new year plan

The new year plan

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I love January!  In spite of the cold temperatures (although it was almost 70 degrees yesterday) and the snow that takes FOREVER to melt from the street in front of our house, I am invigorated by the invitation of clean calendar pages and pristine to-do lists.  I am excited at the thought of 12 whole months spread out in front of me waiting to be filled with whatever I choose.

I’ve googled, pinterested, instagrammed and facebooked looking for my focus for 2015, and I keep coming back to blogging.  This is my journal.  This is my family history. This is my love.  This is my job!  I miss writing and documenting my life.  And as I read back through previous posts, loving the memories they invoke, I know that this is what I want to do.

I had a rather rude awakening at Sunday dinner one evening several months ago when Peter commented that he hadn’t heard many of our Middle East experiences. Later conversations with Mark confirmed that we have been very negligent in sharing and recording our family history.  How did we let that happen?  Every kid deserves to know that his dad was held at machine gun point against a bus, and that his mother gave birth to his brother in a hospital where the bathroom lacked even a fundamental toilet seat!

And so I’m committing to getting back in the blogging groove again.  I’ll divide my time between this blog and my family history blogs – Butler family  and Berrett family.  Even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve continued researching and organizing and gathering stories and pictures that I’m anxious to share.

And since those 12 months are almost now just 11, I’d better get busy!

 

 

Because I want to remember everything about our 40th anniversary celebration

Because I want to remember everything about our 40th anniversary celebration

After celebrating 40 years in fine style with the whole family, including a fabulous dinner, Don and I decided to extend the anniversary celebration just a little longer with a get-a-way to our just about favorite campground.  Olive Ridge is a Forest Service campground about 10 miles south of Estes Park that my parents discovered I-don’t-know-how-many years ago.  The giant rocks, gravelly road, and mountain trees have  been host to Berrett family reunions and family camping trips enough times that when I think of camping, I always think of our little tent trailer parked at Olive Ridge.

Arriving early on a Tuesday afternoon, we had our pick of spots.  Don backed the trailer in, we leveled it, put out the slides, and felt like we were home!

The Cougar Lite was made for this!
The Cougar Lite was made for this!

 

Our bedroom was in the trees
Our bedroom was in the trees

 

We walked through the campground and reminisced about the times we’d been there when our kids were younger.

It rained and even hailed a couple of times, but we loved hearing the rain on the roof while we played Qwirkle.

Chips & salsa, rain on the roof and Qwirkle - a real vacation!
Chips & salsa, rain on the roof and Qwirkle – a real vacation!

 

We hiked Deer Mountain and biked around Lake Estes.

And every night we had a campfire – because isn’t that what mountain camping is all about?

Phase 10 by the fire brings memories of my mom!
Phase 10 by the fire brings memories of my mom!

Best vacation we’ve had in a long time!

 

 

The Anniversary Dinner – Middle Eastern Style

The Anniversary Dinner – Middle Eastern Style

Just after Don received his Master’s Degree from BYU, we set out on a Middle East adventure by moving to Iran.  After three years there, we continued that adventure with seven years in Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States and settling in Greeley.  With a child born in each of those countries, and many great experiences involving friends, travels, sights, sounds and smells from that part of the world, we have very fond memories of our time spent there.

So we were delighted when our kids surprised us with an anniversary dinner at Rumi’s House of Kabob right in our very own Greeley.  No, it doesn’t look at all middle eastern, but that actually adds to the authenticity of the whole experience.  Because why wouldn’t a middle eastern restaurant be housed in an old  home on Colorado’s eastern plains?

Rumi's - Greeley, Colorado
Rumi’s – Greeley, Colorado

The kids had reserved a private room upstairs, those windows over the porch, and Nikki and Brittney handled the decorations.

Celebrating 40 years
Celebrating 40 years

The menu brought back so many memories – nothing is printed to any particular standard in the middle east!

We started with hummus, which was some of the best we’ve ever eaten.  That was followed by a fabulous red lentil soup (recipe, please?) and a traditional salad.  When the main course was served, we determined we’d probably ordered way too much food!

Don and I especially loved the Lamb shank with Kabsa Rice – #3 of the family style choices.  The first luscious bite was enough for us to remember that we had eaten that dish at some Saudi weddings we had attended.  The smell and taste transported us right back to Dammam.  Don was grateful that this time he could eat at the table using a fork instead of on the floor eating with his hand as he had done at the weddings!

Warning – this group shot was done as a panorama and the resulting picture is a little distorted.  At least I’m telling myself that it’s the picture . . .  But I’m posting it here to remember that we were all together.
The whole group
The whole group

After several hours of eating and reminiscing and a very pleasant evening, we remembered that we had the next generation of Butlers who probably needed some parental attention.  Those children and the fact that the restaurant had closed moved us reluctantly down the stairs and out the door.

The happy couple
The happy couple

Thanks Mike and Emily, Nate and Nikki, Mark and Kate, Pete and Brittney!  It was a fabulous meal, a very fitting celebration and an evening we will always remember.  Your thoughtfulness has not gone unnoticed!

Butler Family Meet up – 2013

Butler Family Meet up – 2013

About the beginning of the year, Don and I mentioned that for our 40th anniversary in June, all we really wanted was to have all of our family together.  Well, the kids took notice,  picked a date that worked for all of us,  and early in July made their way by land and by air for a proper Butler family gathering.

Group at dinner
The only group picture – minus the babies who must have been sleeping, Mike who hadn’t yet arrived, and Nikki who was thoughtful enough to document the moment.  But it’s the best we’ve got!

While the kids were all making travel plans, Don and I worked on the back yard.  Knowing our group is large in number – we total 20 now, and the grandkids span a huge number of years – including two one-year-old toddlers and one 17 year old high school senior with a variety of ages in between, we decided that the back yard had to be the attraction.  No house is big enough for all those people – especially one that’s only 2300 square feet with no air conditioning!

We hit up the thrift store on half-price Saturday and found a badminton net for $5.00 and 6 racquets for $.50 each.  We felt like we’d hit the jackpot!

And during the week we spent hours in the back yard.

On a day trip to the mountains we discovered a great multi-generational hiking spot.  The Lily Lake trail, which some of our more experienced hikers were afraid would be just another walk in the park, proved to be easy enough for the littles and interesting enough for the bigs.  Definitely a hike we’d do again.

 

Other highlights of the week included lots of water, crazy jumping and bouncing, and even a little bit of fire.

Slip and sliding through the wall of water
Slip and sliding through the wall of water

 

3-D Shrek in the 5th wheel theater
3-D Shrek in the 5th wheel theater

 

What?  You don’t have a bounce house in your family room?
Thanks to Mark & Kate for supplying the bouncy fun!

Bounce house beginning to take shape
Bounce house beginning to take shape
They loved it!
They loved it!

 

Only one old grill was harmed in the making of these s’mores.

 

And then they all said good bye and took to the road and the sky once again.  And we were left with

The aftermath
The aftermath

which cleaned up very quickly and reminded us of the great week we had spent together.

Thanks, kids, for making it happen.  It was a celebration 40 years in the making, and you did it up splendidly!

 

A huge highlight of the week was the anniversary dinner at an authentic Iranian restaurant.
So memorable for us that it deserves a post of its own.

 

Go and Do

Go and Do

Butler Family - December 2012
Butler Family - December 2012

“Time is the raw material of life.  Every day unwraps itself like a gift, bringing us the opportunity to spin a fabric of health, pleasure, and content and to evolve into something better than we are at its beginning.  Every passing instant is a juncture of many roads open to our choice.  Shall we do this or that?  Go this way or that?  We cannot stand still.  Choosing between alternatives in the use of time is evidence of one of the noblest of God’s gifts – freedom of choice.”
– Thomas S.  Monson

When we gifted the whole family with matching sweatshirts sporting “GO & DO” down the left sleeve, we talked briefly about making the most of our time and opportunities we encounter.  Some in the family are facing new opportunities in employment.  Others are making positive inroads in healthy lifestyles.  Grandchildren are focused on good friends and schoolwork.  And we’re all interested in making the most of our leisure time!

But my reality is that in spite of all that cheerleading,  I’ve had a hard time getting into a productive routine since we returned from our Christmas vacation.  The January slump has reared its ugly and lethargic head.  But no more!  The other day when I put on my Butler family “Go & Do” sweatshirt, I thought, “Yeah!  Just go and do – get a move on!”  After all that was the point of choosing that family theme. . .

And so here I record a portion of my seemingly inexhaustible, but very enticing, to-do list for this new year:
Not in any order of interest or importance
So many passions - not in any order of interest or importance
  • Exciting projects to complete – that headboard I thrifted a couple of years ago is just calling for some chalkboard paint in an awesome color
  • Childhood memories to record – do you realize that in the 1960s it wasn’t against any law to put down the back seats of the station wagon, spread out some quilts, and line all 6 children up to sleep while driving non-stop from Michigan to Utah?
  • Skills to learn – just beginning to crack the ins and outs of blog publishing with blurb using Grandpa Lou’s World War II stories
  • Books to read – I’ve got a list going, but feel free to send me your suggestions of must reads
  • Responsibilities to fulfill – Primary music time is so much fun with well planned activities and visual aids.  I’m compiling an arsenal of resources.  Music memory game, anybody?
  • Family history to share – 10 years worth of letters we wrote while living overseas are still languishing in binders on the bookshelves downstairs
  • Creativity to embrace – will this be the year I complete even a small quilting project?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

I’m ready to use my raw material and freedom of choice to create full and happy days.

What are your plans?