Monday, July 25, 2011

Pioneer Trek

Yesterday Michael and I were asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting about our experiences on our Stake Trek. A few people have asked for a copy of our talks, and so I am posting them here, though it is more notes than talks. I may even put up some pictures if I can remember how.

This is a map of our Trek course.

A general view of the landscape. We were on a cattle ranch 10 miles from Evanston, Wy.

This was our camp one morning. We figured out how to join the three handcarts of our cooking group together to provide the most shade.

The Wright Family, as opposed to the Trek Wright Family. This was taken at the very end.

My daughters and I on the Women's Pull, just as we reached the top. I spent the whole time pushing with my left hand and reaching behind and pulling with my right. It was 1.2 mile, with a 310 ft elevation gain. Tough, but good.

My Trek daughters: Lauren, Me, Megan, Kaylinn, and Danielle, and a good picture of our flag. We were in the Orange Company, Yellow Family. There were 42 families in 7 companies. Each company was divided into 2 cooking groups that stayed together on the trail and at camp each night.

A picture of the family cart from behind.

Our Family the first morning before loading on the bus:

Nick, Noke', Shannon, Michael, Andrew, Kaylinn, Megan, Lauren, Danielle

Trek Sacrament Meeting Talk, July 24, 2011

As Pioneers had many hardships and joys on their journey, I would like to share some of my hardships and joys on my journey.


· Blisters

· Sunburns

· Bug bites

· Dust everywhere

· Heat

· Cuts and scrapes

· Sore legs

· Stinky potties

· Having our tent area by the stinky and loud potties

· Cold nights

· Hard sleeping ground

· A tent that was far too short and small for Michael and me

· No shade

· Listening to girls worry about how they would look walking through the guys a

t the end of the Women’s Pull instead of seeing the mountain we still had to climb

· Crazy, busyness of camping with 340(?) teenagers

· Knowing I had to give a talk in church the day after I got back

· Packing to get 6 people ready a week after girl’s camp---starting exhausted was hard

§ Read journal #1

“Evening of our first day. Camp is quiet at about 11:15. The thought of not having to get up until 7am is wonderful!”

· Walking miles and miles and miles

§ Read journal #2

“Walked 9.08 miles today. Brother Earl is sneaking in the extra miles left and right.” Our 22 mile Trek was 27.5 miles.

· Wondering Why I was there

§ Was I doing what I needed to do?

§ Was I being what I needed to be?


· Seeing all of the Ward leaders: Bishop, Mas and Pas, Stake leaders from our ward

· Tireless Brother Earl, whom I never saw sit, rest or eat, though he promised he did

· Seeing my old Webelos---(turns out that 20 of the 23 of our Ward boys were in my Webelos Dens). I especially like those who came and hung out with us around our camp)

· Getting discouraged and overwhelmed, and being tired enough that I was scared to sit down, then

walking through the camp and seeing my Ward daughters, especially my Laurels. I spoke with many of them, but saw others laughing and talking with their new families. That inspired me too.

· Having James in my Cooking group, which meant that he was with us the entire time, singing and

impressing me with his strength and endurance.

· Not seeing John much, meaning he had a great time, even though he is slightly embarrassed to admit he enjoyed camping.

· Seeing Katie and Ben around when they wandered by. Seeing my 2nd daughter, third daughter,

and again, all of my daughters from Young Women.

· Listening to Michael challenge the kids with riddles, and being happy when I finally could remember the solutions before they figured them out, especially because I have heard them all


· Finally figuring out how to work together as a cooking group to set up shade and camp, and getting to know people better.

· Seeing my trek daughter, who was battling the effects of a broken arm and homesickness, stick it out and help in the Women’s pull, and staying and finding joy in her experience.

· Singing hymns with my Trek family

· Waiting for the second group of the Women’s Pull so I could see Katie come up, and see her smiling and happy at the end

· Walking alone for 3 miles to catch up to my company after the Women’s Pull and having time to process things alone and in the quiet.

· Having a Trek family who wanted to go to bed at night

· Seeing 2 girls from our ward reach out to another from our ward sitting alone, and go sit with her, and then bring their whole trek family the next day to stand with her again.

· Increased testimony of the inspirations of our Bishop and previous Bishops, who helped me to stand and serve in the places I have, for reasons that I am only seeing now that I have time, increased wisdom, and spiritual maturity to focus and widen my previously cloudy and narrow view.

· Hearing words of encouragement from so many, especially the Young Men of our ward.

· Serving Michael in his time of need. Marriage is a partnership that is not always equal, and me doing more than him at this time just needed to happen for everything to work.

· Seeing my sons, my trek sons and my ward sons at the top of the Women’s Pull. Saying to many of them “When you find a girl who you think is THE GIRL, let me know and I will take her for a walk up this hill. If she makes it, marry her.” And saying to my girls, “Find a man who will look at you with the love and respect that these men showed and marry him. These men looked into your heart and soul, and did not care what you looked like.”

· Knowing why I went to Trek

§ Read Journal #3

“I know why I am here now. It was to see the good and potential of the kids in my ward. To see Dakota there to support me, to see Tanner bear his testimony, to see Jean Louise and Christine, to see Hannah shine, to see all the good of the youth of the Welby 1st Ward and to keep that with me as I continue to serve as Laurel Advisor, or as something else in the future. To know that as I walk the gauntlet of the hall in the church by the bathroom on Sundays, and these big, strapping, and intimidating Young Men, and these gorgeous and equally intimidating Young Women are on both sides, that they would stand for me and help me if I fall, and strengthen me in my efforts to serve the Lord and do his will, or would do even something as simple as pick up my pen if I dropped it. My love for these inspiring youth has increased tremendously. It is another connection with all my old Webelos, my Young Women Daughters, and the neighbors on my street and in the ward.”


Michael's Talk

On being the slowest person in a handcart company

First day lagging behind -- somewhat disheartening. Felt alone and not a part. Passed into the next company.

What about the person who is spiritually being left behind? Who looks "forward" at those "ahead" and doesn't feel like they are able or worthy to be a part of that, but long to be.

2 Nephi 4: Nephi states: Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins.

What does the rest of the Company do for them? What do we as quorums and classes do? Christ admonished Peter: When thou art converted, strengthen thy bretheren.

The Stake Presidency, The Bishopric, Brother Earl and other leaders on trek -- always lifting up, always looking for the good, always telling me that my contribution counted. Not patronizing

The power of a smiling face and an outstretched hand.

The first and most important thing for an individual to learn is we are worthy of God's love now. Period. Satan would have us believe differently, but it is a lie.

Easier to keep up if you keep a hand on the cart. Once I was detached from the cart I fell further and further behind. Sometimes you push the cart, sometimes the cart pushes you.

We all carry weights of different magnitudes.

Elder Neil A Maxwell: “We can...keep moving. Only the Lord can compare crosses, but all crosses are easier to carry when we keep moving.”

The problem with superlatives and the danger of comparisons

I wanted to be Eric Johnson – Strong and running along with the cart at the end of the day’s journey.

Advertising and the world teach us that unless something is the most, greatest, fastest, strongest, -est-est, it is of no value.

We cannot compare strengths, weaknesses, trials, gifts, talents, opportunities, or levels of service.

The only worthwhile comparison we can make is how far we have come on our own path to salvation.

Elder Maxwell: We can know that when we have truly given what we have, it is like paying a full tithe; it is, in that respect, all that was asked. The widow who cast in her two mites was neither self-conscious nor searching for mortal approval.

What do you call the person who had to repent of the most sins in order to obtain the Celestial Kingdom? -- Exalted

We can all make it to the Celestial Kingdom. In the end, we all made it to camp.

Last day, 3rd day without blood pressure medication.

Dizzy, lightheaded, labored breathing. Didn’t know what it was.

Prayed. Received a priesthood blessing. Carried forward.

Brother Arneson was very watchful of our cart. I started to protest, but then didn’t because I realized – That is what Christ does for us. But we must be willing to let him carry our load. Once we have repented of our sins, we must let them go and let Him carry our load. For only then can we move forward to our final goal.

Christ invited "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Megan's Baby Shower

This blog post is supposed to be a copy of the invitation to Megan's baby shower on March 19th at 11:00 a.m. at my house, RSVP, please, especially if interested in going in on a group gift. I can't get it to work :(

Sunday, January 16, 2011

LAWKI Month Updates

Aunt Denise, you will be happy to hear that I am speaking at a Relief Society Activity Night about our LAWKI Month experiment. It is Tuesday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. at our ward building if anyone is interested.

As I have been preparing for this, I have reread everything I posted and realized that I never did mention my 15 minutes of fame from this on the blog. (Remember from the beginning, this is really my non-existent blog that I don't regularly post to, and notice how many times I have posted since LAWKI month.) When I wrote during that month, I did not know how to have the comments people made emailed to me. I would just check every now and again and respond when people said something. (I figured it out now, thanks)

Because of that, I did not notice for a few days that a lady (Karen) from the agency that published the book Life As We Knew It had commented and asked me to get in contact with her. It took my friend Emily mentioning it for me to go and check and follow up with her. Karen asked more about our experiment and why we had done it. She also asked if she could send my name and blog info to a person from Publishers Weekly to write an article about the whole thing. I said yes, wondering if this really was a prank call.

A few days later, a journalist from Publishers Weekly did call and interview me. She also spoke with Mette Ivie Harrison, the author who had the original idea of LAWKI month, Susan Pfeffer, the author of the book. The article was printed on November 4th and can be read here:

Anyway, that is the update from the LAWKI Month front. I have 20 slides done on my PowerPoint for the RS activity. I am trying to not bore people while sharing some lessons learned. If anyone has suggestions for things that you most remembered, or things that made you think about your situations and even better, do some emergency prop or food storage, please comment. I could use the advice.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas

As I am slow this year with Christmas Cards, and they just might not get to you before Christmas, I thought I might post my card here, just in case.

Wright Family Life Lessons of 2010
Can you guess the pupil?

Severe sleep apnea bad, CPAP good
Writing petitions and gathering 450 signatures is exciting
Facebook is Satan*s plan to waste our free time
On occasion, teachers don*t like it when you read a lot
Good things come after a week at camp, like a new kitten, Miso, and a new fridge
When playing tag around a stream bed, the stepping stone is not always where you remember
School is friends, tiring, annoying, *perfect*, busy
Locked keys in car on your first date is cause for a lifetime of teasing
M.L. Foreman, Michael Scott, Connie Willis, and Brandon Mull are great authors
Doing a marathon is easy*on a bike
The Mentalist, Star Trek, White Collar, Adventure Time, Pretender, Avengers, Dr. Who, Castle, Burn Notice, Eureka and No Ordinary Family are fun TV shows
Horton can hear a Who, and sing and dance in Seussical*and gamble in Guys and Dolls
Older, independent Sushi cats do not appreciate new kittens
Many hours installing new perennial garden leads to a Master Gardener Course
Once again, minor disaster in basement brings home improvements
Letting go of the rope too soon when repelling is stupid
Missing a scout campout is a relief
Some Sunday School classes will never be talked about in General Conference
Blogging about bizarre family food storage experiments brings interesting results (and a year*s supply of food lasts at least one month!)
Ramen noodles and Cologne are both emergency necessities
Getting the sportsmanship award in church volleyball is cooler than it sounds
Dad*s Costco Card + impersonation skills = food court hot dogs

Friends, Family and Faith are the center of our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Michael Shannon James John Katie Ben

Friday, October 22, 2010

Final LAWKI Post


Final Thoughts

September 26th

I had hoped that a week or two would give me more perspective on the whole LAWKI experiment. Unfortunately, I think that life is so busy that it already feels like it was about 3 months ago that we did this crazy thing.

A few answers for questions asked of us:

· No one lost any weight. We still had plenty to eat, including the ability to eat lots of unhealthy stuff. While we had the will power not to food shop, I don’t know that that helped the eating will power, at least on my part.

· We did not really save any money. Although we did not spend our normal food budget money during that month, except on Smith’s case lot sale, we sure spent it all last week. $300 at Costco filled our fridges nicely! Most of that was just replacing fresh foods, but there was some stocking up of things that I knew we needed more of in storage.

· We did get our flu shots on Monday, and went to Arctic Circle for dinner and shakes after that. I was not feeling well and everything tasted gross to me, but the kids were in heaven. I did enjoy my Costco hotdog when I went Tuesday.

The final day of LAWKI Month was an interesting one here in West Jordan. We got home from church around 3 pm and I was in the kitchen for the next few hours. As I was cooking, it became abundantly clear that there was a fire burning somewhere close. The smell became overpowering and the sky had a weird yellow/orange tint to it. I could not see the fire from my house, but soon found on the news that the mountain side was burning in Herriman. That is about 8-10 miles from my home. By dark, the smoke was overpowering, even in our house. I felt like I had been sitting next to a campfire for 2 days.

I spent the later part of the night watching the news coverage of the fire. It was a sober reminder of how quickly life could change. We, like most people, thought of what we would do if we got the 10 minute evacuation order that so many thousands of people got. Having just practiced it, we felt pretty good about it. However, we also learned a few things from it. It seemed that everyone who was interviewed said that the message they got from city officials/fire department was to get their important medications and get out. When we thought that through, we realized that we do not have our prescription medications in our 72-hour kits, nor in our travel bags that we had just decided to include in our evacuation plans. Michael has now put a week supply of medication in both of his bags and I will do so when I get my brain working.

It was also interesting to see the pet situation. I read a fantastic book about a year and a half ago called The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley. It was the first time I remember hearing that so many people had stayed behind in Hurricane Katrina because they did not want to leave their pets. I always just planned to leave plenty of food and water out for them and leave them behind. Now it seems that people are told to plan on taking them with us in an evacuation. Emergency shelters are even supposed to have a plan for people’s pets. So, at a garage sale on Saturday, I bought another pet travel carrier thing. This one is even big enough for a small litter box, if it came to that. It would not be so much fun to catch both cats and put them in carriers and then have them in the car with us. I don’t think that we could get out of the house quit so fast if we were dealing with cats.

Of course, a big fire like that wiping out the neighborhood would really put a damper on our food storage situation. It would either be all thoroughly cooked, or soaked in the prevention of a fire. Here is hoping and praying that that never happens.

The Tuesday after LAWKI Month ended, I had the great opportunity to sit down with a neighbor and talk about preparedness and food storage. She moved to Utah about 10 years ago and was not previously familiar with the Mormon traditions of food storage. It was fun to chat with her and show-and-tell about this. I am not sure how helpful it was to her, but I enjoyed it. Towards the end, she asked a question, which I will now ask all of you, and would love to hear what you have to say about it. She asked why the official position of the Church on food storage has gone from 2 years to 1 year to now 3 months of the food you regularly eat and a year of the grains and beans if possible. I gave her my answer, which I am purposefully not saying here because I want to get your answers untainted by mine. If you have a minute, please help me out here.

October 22, 2010

Yes, a month later…

Finishing this has been on my to-do list and finally surfaced to the top part. School has kicked up a notch, school volunteer responsibilities have increased, I am taking the Master Gardener course and most days I am running all the time. How did I ever find time to make tortillas from scratch and then journal about it?!

It is hard to sum up LAWKI Month. If I were to write what I am feeling now, it would be a sentimental review of modern conveniences, with a nod to our great friends and family...kind of an early Thanksgiving moment. I have no regrets about doing LAWKI month, and am excited for the new things we did and tried. I will end this LAWKI blog with the following experience/thought.

I have had such an abundance of tomatoes that I did salsa one more time, and then gave away the final 50+ tomatoes this week so I would not have to look at them anymore. I guess with the snow and cold coming this weekend that will be the end of it. I also did 3 rounds of applesauce, getting about 24 Quarts of it total. What a process. I am not converted to canning. While I enjoy the novelty of the first batch each year, it sure gets old fast. The apples were free, and so were my jars, so it was a matter of lids, a few cups of sugar, and my time. It’s that time thing that is the biggest expense.

When I was whining about that to Michael, he reminded me of the thing that finally pushed us to do the whole LAWKI Month. We had debated it, wondered about it, schemed about it, talked ourselves into and out of it for a long time. We did not really decide until the first of August to go through with it. My Sun Oven, which I got on my birthday the end of July, came with a cook book: The Morning Hill Solar Cookery Book by Jennifer Stein Barker. It is one of those self-published books, written from a very “granola” point of view. (It is also a vegetarian cookbook, so it does not cover all aspects of solar cooking.) The author and her husband live in the mountains of Oregon in a small cabin, with all electricity coming from solar panels. They live off what they can grow in their three acre organic garden, which is a lot of ingenuity and hard work, considering they live at such a high elevation that their growing season is a matter of days and weeks instead of months. The cookbook has a few stories from their gardening experiences in it. After sharing one story, the author wrote the following, which has stayed with me since I first read it, and is, in the end, what pushed us that last little bit to do LAWKI Month:

“Now when Lance says, “What do you think of this idea? Shall I try it?” I say, “Sure, go ahead!” and I think how little we have to lose, and how much we have to gain. A few plants or a day’s work is a small price to pay when our most important harvest is knowledge.”

So when Michael rides his bike 5 miles to work, stands for 13 hours filling prescriptions, and then rides his bike uphill the long 5 miles home, or I spend countless hours of the spring and summer gardening and then 5 hours canning 12 pints of salsa that would cost $10 to buy at the store, or we go off the deep end and do something like LAWKI Month, we remind ourselves that it is but a small price to pay when our most important harvest is knowledge.

Three cheers for an abundant harvest!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Last Day and Final Survey Results

LAWKI Day 31

September 19, 2010

Breakfast: Ben made waffles

Lunch: snacks, sandwiches after church

Dinner: tacos, tortillas, refried beans, horrible Mexican rice

Well, I knew I could not do LAWKI month if I did not try to cook beans at least once. Even though we ate canned ones many times, I needed to get over the psychological barrier of starting from the dried bean. I soaked them Friday night and then cooked them on Saturday. On Sunday, I made refried beans. A friend talked me through how her mother-in-law made them and I started out relatively confidant. It did not last for long. The recipe said I could add more water if necessary, but I felt like I was adding too much. And no matter how long I mashed them and fried the, the skins were still in big chunky pieces. I think they tasted okay, but I was not a fan of the consistency, and I have tasted much better. I am thinking of asking my favorite Mexican restaurant if they give out recipes. As for the Mexican Rice, let me just say that making it with Oriental style sticky rice ruined it before anything else could.

Things overheard in my house in the last 24 hours:

“We have real milk?”

“My trusty egg pan, I have missed you.”

“Yes! It’s real milk!”

“Grapes! Oh yum, oh yum.”

“Hey mom, did you forget what a grocery store looks like?”

Yes, we are done with LAWKI Month. There was much rejoicing.

Final LAWKI Family Survey:

What 3 words would you use to describe your final thoughts on LAWKI month:

Positive, thought-provoking, Done!; Annoying, mean, cruel; Over Over Over; Good, French Fries!!!, Skim Milk!; I hate quizzes; Wasteful, neutral, stupid

What food did you miss the most:

Milk; meat; Eggs! Chocolate Milk!; Beef, Fast Food; Cookies; Fresh chicken, salad, the potential foods from fresh ground beef

What non-food thing did you miss the most?

Freedom, quick dinners; Shopping; Eating out; The Fast Food Drive Thru; Nothing; Driving to church.

What lessons do you think we learned from LAWKI Month?

None; Be grateful; We have a lot of food; That we can adapt, how much eating out is a part of socializing; How to make powdered eggs; Learned to try new recipes and that sometimes they don’t work on the first try, how glad I am to live at this point in time with modern conveniences such as electricity, dishwashers, microwaves, stove/oven, abundant clean water, farmers who grow my food so gardening can be a hobby instead of a way of life.

Did you eat all of your Crazy Shopping Day Food? When did you eat it?

No-ate my Fritos early, potato chips last few days, and did not open the pretzels; No-ate my puddings, but did not use all of the Ramen; No-still had tortillas and Nutella and string cheese (this brand was gross!) left over; No; Nope, but I did not buy any; Yes, finished my Fuze drinks yesterday.

Would you buy the same things again? What would you get instead?

Same drinks but Ramen instead of rice cakes; Yeah, but better stuff (cologne); No, I wouldn’t buy Ramen, I would buy my own eggs!; I would not get tortillas (Shannon can make them J), but I would buy French fries or other baked snacky items; I would get more pudding cups; I was happy about the chips and sour cream, but I would have bought beef and chicken.

What did you hate eating and would never eat again, even if you were starving?

Canned meats all mixed up in things; Tuna casserole, Fried zucchini; Nothing; Rice, canned chicken, nothing I would not eat if I was starving; Beans; Tuna casserole.

What did you like eating and would not mind having, even if it was not LAWKI Month?

Powdered chocolate milk; tortillas; Potatoes fried with bacon; everything; tortillas, homemade pita and tortillas, spam is a tolerable substitute.

What surprised you the most about LAWKI Month?

The traditions of food, the psychology of food; The amount of food we have; How good powdered milk can be; We had regular meals all month; Nothing; How good powdered chocolate milk tastes.

On a scale of 1-10, how crazy are your parents/we for doing this?


On a scale of 1-10, how angry are you to participate in this?

2 (yes! The 10 was finally a 1!)

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you think this affected life?


On a scale of 1-10, how much did LAWKI Month worry you? What worried you?


Worries: worried about being “stumped” about what to cook, worried about giving up or running out of an essential thing that would make us quit; I was a 9 at the start; I was worried we would have to eat rice everyday.

On a scale of 1-10, how much would you want to try this again?

5.5 (2-10s, 2-1s, a 5 and a 6)

On a scale of 1-10, how prepared do you think our family is for an emergency? Do you think LAWKI affected your answer?

8.8 (yes, yes, kind of, yes-but I can see more clearly the holes so it is hard to judge)

I am going to post this much now. It is only 4 days late already. I do have more thoughts I want to write, but that may be another day or two until I get to that. Thanks for the comments and ideas you have shared. They have been one of the highlights of this month.

This was in yesterday's paper (Sept 22). It made me think of when I went downstairs mid-LAWKI Month and discovered that the kids had gone through all of the sodas in the mini fridge and most of the microwave popcorn.

Pearls Before Swine

Pearls Before Swine

And, because I figured out how to do this, I wanted to put this strip in from September 20th. It is commonly stated at our house, and mentioned in a post last week, that all foods can be improved by adding either cream, butter or cheese.

Pearls Before Swine