Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Week - the Happy and Sad

Peter started out the week before Christmas with a school concert.  He played the violin with his Beginning Orchestra class and did a great job!
 One night we went over to Grandma and Grandpa's and helped them set up their tree.  Well, the "we" was really Mary.  She decorated the whole tree, and Libby helped with some Nativity sets.
On Christmas Eve, we went caroling to our friends.  We initiated "Randolph, the Bowlegged Cowboy" as one of our songs.  I'm not sure we should continue with that tradition.  Ha ha  In the evening, we were presented with the Nativity play by our kids and the neighbors' kids.  It was beautiful!  And made all the more special because they did the whole thing themselves - costumes, props, songs and all.  It is fun to have big kids!  :)
Mary on the left, and Shailor on the right

Joseph, Mary (very convenient), Libby, Zoey, Shailor, Peter Emily, Tori, Jesse and Logan.

Then we had our traditional pozole dinner on our china dishes.  Mom came over earlier in the day just to make sure I was doing it right.  After dinner, the kids cleaned up and milked the cow while Santa Claus got some presents ready.  The kids had no idea what they were (NOT).
And here is the famous PAJAMA picture!  Joseph said it felt all weird to have his arm hanging down like that.  We missed having Josh in the picture!
The kids made their traditional FORT.  This was taken on the Sunday after Christmas Eve, but it gives you an idea of what the FORT is.  It's every mattress, blanket and pillow in the house, except for our bedroom and the guest bedroom, piled up in the ER.  And then all the kids sleep on it all through the break.

Here is the "morning photo shoot" before going down to see Santa.  Peter was faking the eyes closed.  Libby was driving us all crazy, bouncing around like a rabbit.

Joseph and Jesse made this bookshelf for Libby, with some help from Dad and Peter.  She is getting started on a bookshelf like Jesse's!
 Jesse got some cute bling for Christmas!
Everyone gets their favorite cereal for breakfast.  Yes - Joseph's is Corn Flakes, and Jesse's is Wheaties, if you can believe that!  But there were also Froot Loops, Cap'n Crunch, and Cinnamon Trackers. 
 Mary in her new Christmas outfit.
We can't have a Christmas blog without a picture of the olive wood Nativity Set that we got in Jerusalem.
 A highlight of the day was getting on Skype with our missionary! This is kind of a weird picture because on the bottom is my laptop monitor with a picture collage of Joseph, Josh and Jesse with their Senior Pictures.  And then on the top is my external monitor, and that's Josh on Skype from La Union, El Salvador.
It was so fun to talk to him!  We were all gathered in my office, and we got to talk to him for about an hour.  The last 15 min the reception came through really clearly, and we got a video of him bearing his testimony in Spanish.  Oh, I think I'll watch that ten thousand times in the next year.  (A little hyperbole there...)  He looked and sounded SO GOOD.  I still can't believe we talked to him.  What a treat!  He was out 11 months to the day.

All in all, we had a wonderful Christmas Day.

On Wednesday, the 26th, we went to see Les Miserables, the movie.  WOOOWWW.  It was incredible.  The story in itself is packed with human emotion, but the raw emotion that was portrayed on the screen was searing.  Joseph read that they filmed the singing right on the set, instead of recording a soundtrack, and it made it so real.  There were some scenes that I wished they had left out, but overall, it was an incredible movie.  I don't know if I can see it again, though.  It was so real and heartbreaking, and yet so beautiful also.  Jesse said she loved the ending - that it was the best ending of a movie she'd ever seen, to see the people free and happy.  It is basically life in its fullest sense.

After the movie, Bruce and I took off to go on our Anniversary Date, and the kids got to go eat at Panda Express.  Bruce and I got to go clean the Temple from ten to midnight that night.  I dusted the Baptistry and Bruce vacuumed.  It was a great time, especially because Jesse and Mary were in there the very next morning doing baptisms for the dead!

Joseph and Peter slept out in the fort (the outdoor one) on Wednesday night.  We have lots of forts!

They rode Lady and Mackee over there and hobbled them.  Mackee got away and came home.  Lady got out of hers, but the best we can figure out is that when she was running home, she tripped and fell.  She broke her right radius.  Joseph called us early on Thursday morning to tell us she was down.  We came home quickly and Bruce went out with our trailer to see if they could get her in it.  After several failed attempts, he went and borrowed a low trailer from a member of our ward.  They were able to get her in it.  Joseph and Bruce took her to the Equine Hospital, and they said there was nothing that could be done.  So they had to put her down.

Oh, OUCH.  Not Lady!  That was everyone's first reaction.

Not Lady - who from the time we got her in 2007 has been our best horse.

Not Lady - who is Peter's horse - the one that loves to ride the most, who wants to go ride almost every day.

Not Lady - who Peter told Joseph that very morning that he was going to train her to come to him when he whistles, so he could jump on her back and go riding, just leading her with her mane.

Not Lady!
Lady with her now foal, Cookie - April 1, 2009
Joseph said that on Thursday morning, after Lady had already broken her leg, that he and Peter were walking back to try and find her in the morning fog.  They saw a brown mound, and Peter whistled.  Lady raised up her head and looked, and then, after several attempts, even with a broken leg, she stood up to greet him.  She was that kind of a horse.

We had a little Memorial Service for her on Saturday morning.  Peter said he liked Lady because she could do things that none of the other horses could do.  She was fast - she would win all the races that Peter had with Dad.  And he would ride her straight up "the gauntlet", (a big hill of dirt).  She was the one that pulled the four-wheeler home when it was out of gas.

I made a slide show of all the pictures that we had of her.  (Sadly - we had NONE of Peter riding her - he always had to give her up to the neediest rider, because she was the best horse, and all the pictures were of others riding her.  Blah!)  There is an abbreviated version below.

The music on this video is written and composed by Jesse.  When I told her about Lady being put down, she was at the piano, already in a composing mood (which she hasn't been in since she wrote a great song in 8th grade).  So she wrote a song with a hauntingly beautiful melody from what she was feeling.  I suggested she title it "For Lady".  She said, "No, I already called it 'Free Lady'."  Then I started to cry - again.

Needless to say, there have been a lot of tears around here.

But that was three days ago, and already a door has opened.  I was asked to speak today in Church on the Sacrament.  As I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting, waiting for my turn to speak, I had the distinct impression that I needed to tell about Lady being put down, and our deep feelings this week. So I did.  I talked about it being Peter's horse.  And I talked about how even in sorrow, there is a sweetness because of the love of the Savior and His Atonement for us.  After Church, a brother from our ward, Alan, came up to Bruce and said that he has a registered Quarter Horse that he only wants to ride once a year when he goes hunting.  He said that he didn't want to sell it, but knew it needed more attention, so he asked Bruce if we wanted to keep it here at our house and ride it and take care of it.  Bruce told Peter this on the way home, and Peter whispered a quiet, but emphatic, "Yes!"  This is wonderful, because yesterday when Joseph suggested they go horseback riding, Peter flatly refused.  Although this was to be expected, it still worried me.  But this quarter horse might be a great opportunity.  Isn't that amazing?

I have to add that we went and saw The Hobbit on Friday!  Another Wooowww!  It was delightful to see Frodo, Elrond, Galadriel and Gandalf again.  Gollum and Saurman - not so much.  And Bilbo - what a great character, and all the dwarves.  Couldn't they somehow have brought Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas back?  :)

To end the blog, I want to show off one of Libby's creations of the day.  She made this origami Christmas Tree.  This is not from a pattern - she made it up herself - and it's really intricate.  Way to go Libby!

And now we clean up from Christmas and get ready for our New Year's Eve Party!  Good bye 2012!  We're still here!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Christmas Blog!

2012 was a wonderful year for our family.

I'll start out with the last Family picture we'll have for four years, if all goes as planned, of course.
Joshua started out the year with a bang by leaving in January to serve a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the El Salvador San Salvador mission.

He has been in several areas, including Moncagua, Sensuntepeque, Amatepec, and now he's in La Union.  His companions have been great, and he has had many baptisms.  One of his favorite was the Argueta-Cruz family - a mom and a dad, and two children - from his first area, Moncagua.

He even got to have lunch with them when they came to visit him in La Union.
Josh and his companion Elder Encarnacion from the Dominican Republic.
He is now training a new missionary from Mexico, and they are teaching, baptizing, and learning a ton!  His service has been an incredible blessing for our family.

Joseph had a big year!  He was one of the audience favorites in the school production of Oklahoma!  He played the father of Ado Annie, Andrew Carnes, and he really played it well!
He graduated in May with many happy memories of his high school years.  This is one of my favorite pictuers of his graduation - hugging his soccer teammates.
Joseph and Oscar
One of the highlights of his year was to go with our good friends Laren and Caralee and their family to be in the Nauvoo Pageant.

 In September, he went off to college at BYU-Idaho, and had a fantastic semester there.  He got a 4.0 in his his first semester in college.  Who does that??
Joseph and his best friend Jacob, from Ohio

The Friday before General Conference, he received his mission call to serve in the Argentina Mendoza mission!  He went through the Temple the Friday after Thanksgiving.  He served faithfully in the Rexburg Temple - from the time he got his call in early October, with very few exceptions, he attended the Temple every day. Joseph said that in the Nauvoo Pageant, he came to love the Temple as they built the set during the show every night.

Now he has two months at home while he prepares to leave to the MTC in Provo on Feb 13th (this was moved back three weeks from his original report date of Jan 23rd).

Jesse is in the middle of her Senior year in high school, with all it's exciting memories, big decisions and preparations.

She has narrowed her focus this year by not trying out for Show Choir, which was a hard decision, but she has not regretted it.  All her work, besides keeping up a 4.0 grade average, has been dedicated to preparing for the Piano Performance audition at BYU in January.

She has paid for her own lessons with the dean of piano performance at BSU, and practiced at least two hours a day (during the school year), and 4-6 hours a day during the summer.  She also teaches 5-8 piano students a week, in addition to being the Ward Organist and the Choir Accompanist.

The one extracurricular activity she did not let go of in order to practice was Madrigals.  She wouldn't dream of giving that up because she loves it so much.  In her 3rd year as a Madrigal, she is the only returning Alto, and has been a great leader for her section.

Last Monday, she sang with the Madrigal Choir, and accompanied one of their songs, and then accompanied all the choirs and audience members in the Hallellujah Chorus.

Mary is a sophomore in high school right now, and has six LONG months until she can date.

She is having the time of her life right now - dancing in the Show Choir, singing in Madrigals with Jesse, and going to ballroom dance classes on the weekends.  She has been helping friends with Math and other classes, and they really appreciate her help.  Jesse and Mary got to be in the Youth Cultural Celebration for the Temple Dedication.  They both sang in the Choir and loved it!

Mary has really grown up a lot this year, and Bruce has to sit on her every once in awhile to keep her humble.  (If you don't know Bruce that may seem like unsavory comment, but, well - it's just Bruce...)

Peter, who is in 6th grade, is getting "all growed up"!  In the last few weeks he started to gel his hair in front.  He even takes his gel and brush to the Temple on Fridays to fix it after he does baptisms for the dead.  Ha ha!  Peter loved riding horses this year!  His favorite is Lady, but he'll ride other horses too.

He and his friends built a "fort" out in some empty property behind our subdivision, and he is planning on going out there to sleep in the next few nights to get his "Wilderness Survival" Merit Badge.  He is progressing nicely in Scouting and doing a great job being self-motivated.  He also started playing the violin this Fall!  He is now taking private fiddle lessons, and he has come a long way in a few short months.  He also loves playing soccer and is developing into an awesome midfielder!

Libby is part cat and part human right now.  She and her friends are into the "Warrior" book series, by author Erin Hunt, and they are all about cats and their clans.  Every day at recess she plays an elaborate game with her schoolmates, and they have their roles, games, etc. that go along with these books.  Sometimes we have to tell her to turn off the cat stories...  :)
Joseph and Libby "slow dancing" at the Street Dance

She LOVES her 5th grade class at school, partly because she has one of the best teachers on the planet.

Libby started out the year moving up to a competitive gymnastics team, working on Level 3 and Level 4 routines.  She loved it, and worked hard enough to get the "star" almost every week.

Unfortunately, the cost became prohibitive, so we switched her to a ballet/tap dance class that was a little more reasonable until we can get back to gymnastics.  The dance experience is good for gymnastics anyway.  She is still playing the piano, and doing great at that also.

Bruce is enjoying his work as a software engineer, and especially because he gets to work from home.  He loves the fact that he can go out and feed the animals, repair fences, or do other farm work for a few minutes here and there between work meetings.  He does a great job teaching Gospel Doctrine, trading off with another teacher every other week.
His prize Christmas present this year is a 5th saddle, so now we can take all five horses out at the same time.  Yeah!

I, Lorena, have had a marvelous year of growing and learning, loving and taking care of our family and others, and being taken care of.  Besides caring for the home and children, I have been taking classes and teaching classes, learning about new healing modalities and connecting with many new cherished friends.  One of my favorite things was to start a new blog,, which has been a ton of fun.  My love for the Savior, and appreciation for this latter-day work has grown tremendously this year.  One of the highlights of my year was going to Indiana and Nauvoo to see my friends Shauna and Teresa, and to see Joseph in the Nauvoo Pageant.  Going through a session at the Nauvoo Temple was something I could cross off my bucket list!

Lorena on the steps of the Nauvoo Temple

I hope this year coming up is just as good as this one has been!

My Mom and Dad moved here in March, and we've loved having them around!
Jesse's 17th Birthday - Grandma made the cake!
4th of July with the "Uncle Claire" look-alike!

Mom is productive - always!

Here are a few pictures of fun family trips and reunions:

When we took Jesse down to Summerfest Music Camp at BYU, we stopped by my old stomping-grounds when I was a Freshman - 174 Carroll Hall!

Peter and Libby at Thanksgiving Point

Our first family picture from the iPad

Family Pack Trip to Jenny Lake

Beautiful meadow by Jenny Lake

My side of the family - pack trip to Blue Lake!

Bruce's side of the family - reunion on the beach at Yahatz, OR

A whole bunch of cousins!  This was the day of Joshua's farewell.  I LOVE this picture.

Merry Christmas!