Dear Grandma,

Last Thursday my sweet Grandma Salvesen left this earth life. We saw her health declining, but began to realize it's seriousness a month or so ago. About three weeks ago, she collapsed and spent a little less than two weeks in and out of the hospital (mostly in) before passing away. 

Although I am so grateful she didn't suffer for long, I couldn't help but find my Grandma's death a little jarring. She's the first death I've had to experience since my childhood. It wakes you up and makes you realize you're getting older and those you love won't live forever.  

I hate more than anything that I couldn't have been there with her to say goodbye. To give my grandpa a big hug. To be with my parents--my dad--while they figure out the funeral. To be with my siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles to reminisce and recieve that peaceful closure that is so nice after something like this. I've missed out on a lot of things living far away, but this is the one I probably regret missing the most. 

As a gift for our Grandpa and an effort to get all of our thoughts compiled in one place, each of the grandchildren wrote a letter to our Grandma to express our thoughts of love and gratitude for her in our lives.  Here was mine:

Dear Grandma,
I have a distinct memory of you placing a framed, photograph in front of me. You said, “Now, tell me, who does that look like?”. In the frame I saw a vintage photo of a girl my age who, I had to admit, had an uncanny resemblance to myself. “Me!” I proudly replied.   Not only did I love you thinking I looked like you, but I also remember feeling quite pleased with myself thinking I might be fortunate enough to spend the sunset of my life looking as beautiful as you. (A girl can hope, can’t she?) 

And not just on the outside, but beautiful on the inside as well. As your granddaughter, I  was always very aware of two things: how much you loved me and your testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am forever grateful for the loving and encouraging words you showered on me throughout my life and the example of faith you set for me. In my book, those are the most important things. 

But aside from all of that important stuff, you were fun. Your house was a special place to be. I have dozens of happy memories there with you and Grandpa. I will also be forever grateful for that road trip I invited myself on when we drove up through Canada and down through the Dakotas to see Aunt Michele. I remember sitting in the back seat of your car asking you all sorts of fun questions like how you two met. (See, I didn’t sleep the whole time.) I consider it a blessing to have gotten the opportunity to spend that special time with the both of you.

And as another small, but rather important side note--thank you for bringing my dad into this world and raising him to be the man that became my father. He is and always will be one of my most treasured blessings in this earth life. 

My fondest farewell, Grandma. Thank you for being mine. My life was blessed to have you in it and you will be greatly missed. I love you. 

Until we meet again,

G&G Shorten Visit: Blue Mountains

While Phil's parents were here we took a little daycation to the Blue Mountains. We took the bus to the train, took the train to Katoomba, and then hopped on a bus in Katoomba to Scenic World where we rode a couple of skyrails, walked around on paths and rode down their 51 degree railway (which essentially feels like you're standing up the whole way down). 

"For the power of Gray Skull!" #randomhemanlove

(Phil, myself and the girls were riding in that one. Grandma and Grandpa Shorten hiked back Ryder and we were able to see them take this picture...kinda fun:)

G&G Shorten Visit: Sydney

Our half-way point here in Sydney was happily celebrated with visitors! We've spent the last couple of weeks showing Phil's parents around our beloved Australia.

We spent the first few days showing them our favorite spots where we spend a lot of our days. Those spots included Toronga Zoo, Balmoral Beach, Darling Harbor, George's Head and Manly Beach.

Toronga Zoo:

 Darling Harbor & meeting Phil for lunch at Hurricanes:

After lunch that day, Phil's parents took a little detour home via the Sydney Opera House:

Manly Beach:

George's Head (that day was coincidentally Aznac Day in Australia--the equivelant to Veteran's Day in the US):

Easter 2013

Things are going to be quick and to the point around here for a little bit while I get caught up on all our posts. No funny business and I mean it.

Now. Let's talk about Easter. Easter weekend here in Australia was a beautiful summer day. Saturday we spend with Claire and her family dying eggs, doing an Easter egg hunt, followed by playing at Little Manly Beach. Thanks to Claire's wonderful in-laws who were "in-town" we got to experienc the delicacy of real Easter candy they brought with them from the States. You don't realize the value of mini eggs, malt ball eggs, sweetart bunnies and jelly beans until they're gone. I even saw a Peep and devoured it like I was starving to death.

And before you ask, yes, I'm the mom who made my kids use a nasty grocery sack for their "basket". Wouldn't be the first time and I can't guarantee it won't be the last.

Sunday we enjoyed a nice day at church. I actually had to sing with my friend in Sacrament meeting and then we had a little BBQ at a park with some friends in the ward afterward. For being away from family and our usual Easter candy traditions, we ended up enjoying ourselves quite a bit.