This is the eleventh in a series of blogs I’m writing for Mommy’s Piggy Tales . Janna has provided a forum for members to write and share stories from their youth. It’s a great adventure! Feel free to join in here.

On the day before my fourteenth birthday we took our first load to our new home in Hollister, a long fifty miles away. I was just old enough, then, to attend stake dances and there were a lot of neat guys in old San Jose 18th Ward, and none in the Hollister Ward. Mom said not to worry, they’d all drive to Hollister to date me when I was sixteen. They didn’t, but it was no great loss. I saw them occasionally at regional dances and they changed a lot. We had a super garden that year, and also the next. Sometimes it gets really tiring picking a ton of beans, but it sure is nice being alone with nature. I always enjoy watching the garden grow and taking care of it. The strawberries, raspberries, and grapes became my special area of the farm. I would wake up early on Saturdays and during the summer to pick the produce before the dew had even gone away. I’d also do the weeding after the sun had risen, but before it got too hot. It’s not much fun weeding in the hot, sticky afternoon summer weather, but I do like weeding because you can see the weeds disappear and the garden become neat and orderly.I started high school in September 1976 at San Benito Joint Union High School in Hollister. Since the school had “feeder” schools from all over the county, everyone thought I had come from another junior high and didn’t realize that I knew no one. However, it didn’t take too long for my to have friends that I could at least talk to. My classes that first semester were Geometry, Plant Science, English Grammar, Choir, Anthropology, P.E., and French I. Because I was taking Geometry, many students thought I was a sophomore; they continued to think I was a class ahead until I was a senior. I enjoyed that math class, but I could never really get into it; it just wasn’t the same as Algebra. One of my good friends, Debby Libby, was also in that class. We would walk over to the high schools from seminary at the church building and have a chance to visit and read. Debby also encouraged me to go to the stake dances, and I did enjoy them. She was a sophomore, and turned 16 that December, so it was different for me to be with her. I was a homebody and didn’t care about boys at all. I usually ate lunch with one of my friends, another freshman, Lisa Jones. After a while though, I realized that her standards, along with her other friends, did not coincide with mine. I felt it would be healthier for me not to spend lunch hours with them, so I joined “Debby’s group.” Lisa was still my friend, but I’m glad I made that choice. Because of our new 5-acre farm, Dad wanted me to take Agricultural Science, but I just wasn’t interested. I compromised and took Plant Science. That was a fun class with a lot of practical application, though it’s kind of hard kneeling, weeding, and shoveling in a dress. Most of the time, however, some nice boy would move the wheelbarrow for me and other things like that. I continued to wear dresses to school about every other day just because I liked being feminine.
For piano lessons, I continued to go to Mrs. Lillian Parrish in San Jose, making the 100 mile round trip once a week for four years. It was kind of hard on Mom until I got my license, and then I did the driving. My sophomore year, Lori Ross, one of our neighbors, also took piano lessons from Mrs. Parrish, so our moms switched off driving.

The second semester of my freshman year, I joined Camerata as their second pianist. Charrie Cheshire had been it, but she was also doing stage band which met at the same time. I still don’t understand why Mr. Molina let me in, because I don’t think they really needed me. About three weeks into the semester, Carol Rose went to Taiwan with the AFS and they asked me to take her place. This was very unusual, first because I didn’t audition, and second because I was a freshman. I felt kind of out of place, but I did enjoy the association with the other kids.
In Seminary that year we studied the New Testament. Now I wish that I had gotten to know my Savior better than I did through reading about his life. It was a good class, though, and I enjoyed having it before school. I was able to participate in the stake scripture chase and that really helped me to learn the scriptures pretty well. I truly do love the scriptures. Hopefully, I will always continue to learn more of them.

In July of 1977, Holly Ann came into our home. She was then fourteen months old and an absolute doll. Around February Mother received the inspiration to try and adopt another child. We really wanted a baby but knew that was practically impossible since we had six children already. We looked into adopting someone from another nation, like Korea, but that didn’t work out. Then the social worker asked Mom what she thought about a physical handicap like cerebral palsy. Mom read the book Karen and felt that we could handle it. We she learned that Holly was only eight months old, we could hardly believe that it would be possible to adopt anyone that young so we didn’t even think about it. However, the social worker did, and starting around June, Mom started going to Holly’s doctors with her and her foster mother, Emma Snyder. The rest of us met her at a swimming party at the Snyder’s. Then one day the social worker asked Mom how she’d like to take Holly home with her in a few days. No one believed that it would happen so quickly; it usually takes forever. Mother and Father had prayed about it, as well as the rest of us, so we knew it was meant to be. The paperwork went so fast because it was important for Holly to feel she had a permanent family. The Snyders are absolutely wonderful people, who have now moved to Bellevue, Washington, and they still keep in touch with Holly. My sophomore year in high school I was MiaMaid president. That was a big responsibility, but I did learn a lot, and I grew to love the girls in my class. The first thing I was assigned was to be in charge of the food for the stake opening social. That was so frustrating because others would keep forgetting about what they were assigned. Delegation is really a tough principle to follow, but it is also very important. I’m glad I had experience in this area early. All I know was that we had sloppy joes, potato chips and carrot/celery sticks. The most frustrating part was my co-helper, the Priest’s first assistant. He just did not seem to want to do anything. However, things pulled together at the end, as they usually do, and it turned out well. I’d much rather go to an activity and work with the food than participate, but I need to achieve a balance in all things. Consequently, I need to learn to enjoy being in a group of people and socializing. We had other activities throughout the year. Some of them were terrific and others not so good. Some were a joy to plan and others were a giant headache. However, I think I learned something from all of them and it really strengthened my testimony. That fall I received my patriarchal blessing. Since Grandfather Beckstrand was the patriarch of a neighboring stake, I was able to get special permission to have him give it to me. That was a special privilege. I remember we drove all the way to San Jose and I found out that I had left my recommend at home. That was an awful disconcerting filling of irresponsibility. However, since Grandfather knew me, he gave it to me anyway, and I mailed the recommend to him the next day. My patriarchal blessing is really special to me, and it lifts my spirits and reminds me of my potential every time I read it. I think my most favorite line is where it says my children will obey me. I know I’ll have to teach my children obedience, and then live worthy myself, but that is such a neat blessing. I can see how my parents are hurt whenever we disobey them, and if it can be helped, I don’t want to go through that pain. San Benito Joint Union High School

My classes at the beginning of my sophomore year caused me a lot of problems. I challenged, and passed, grammar so I needed another class. In order to make my schedule work out, I had to switch English, Algebra II, and P.E. This put P.E. first period and Algebra II sixth, both with different teachers. I was quite upset because I didn’t want morning P.E. or afternoon math. And that was just for the first quarter; the second quarter my math teachers were changed, and then changed again third quarter. That year there were three Algebra II classes, and I was in all of them. In the spring when it started getting hot, I even appreciated having P.E. in the morning. From that experience, I learned that Heavenly Father knows what’s best for you, and if you look hard enough, you can find something beneficial in every experience you undergo.

(the “girl” cousins – Becky, Louise, Heather, Ida)

That year I was in Camerata, the audition-only, small choir, and in the spring we went to Southern California for a competition. That was the first time I’d been away from home except for girl’s camp and it was a good experience. We stayed in a motel in Huntington Beach right across from the ocean, and that was really fun. We sang a lot of places, but we also did some sightseeing. We toured the Queen Mary, went to Knott’s Berry Farm, attended dances and went swimming. The Sunday we were there was the day for Disneyland; that was kind of disappointing. Because I had no way of getting to a church and I was supposed to stay with the group, I went into the park but I didn’t go on any of the rides. It was a nice day, so I picked a bench and read and watched the people and surroundings, and my friends enjoyed using my spare ride tickets (this was before the days of unlimited passes). The whole trip was super fun and I really appreciated that opportunity.

The choir always sang at the high school graduation and I was really excited about that. However, about two weeks before then I became ill. When the fever and cough didn’t go away, I went to the doctor’s. There I found out that I had bronchial pneumonia and I had to stay in bed for awhile. It was kind of fun being pampered, but I hated being sick. I like doing things, not staying in bed, although I did do a lot of reading and helping around the house. Sometime during this period, Dad and my home teacher gave me a blessing and that was really special. I missed my finals and spent the first week of summer vacation in bed. I made up my English final at home, and I went back to school when I was better to take my math final. I was really kind of sick often during my sophomore and junior years in high school. I think I missed school because of it about three times a month.

At Christmas I was taking in-the-car training for driver education. It was really an awful experience. I was at the head of my class in written work, but I got C’s in practical training and barely passed the final. I was the only girl along with three boys in a group and I had never driven a car, and they had. We did the twelve hour course in two weeks – two hours each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during vacation. I was so awful because I didn’t have any time to practice; Mom and Dad were busy with holiday activities. One day I had to ride my bike home (about two miles) and I had just left town when I got the most awful case of cramps. I backtracked about a block where the Taylor’s and Wein’s lived to see if they could help me but they weren’t home. I remember laying on their lawn and just crying because it hurt so bad. I had to get home so I said prayer and started walking down the street. At the corner a man was working in his garden and I asked him if I could use the phone. Mom was kind of upset when she found out (you’re not supposed to talk to strangers) but I felt it was the answer to my prayer. His wife gave me some aspirin and called Sister Jukes who came and took me home. Once I got there, I threw up and went to bed. By that evening I was feeling much better. The family who helped me were the Hill’s and they are truly special people, although now he is a widower. That experience was my favorite Christmas present that year because it proved to me that prayers are answered and that I have a loving Heavenly Father who cares about what happens in my life.