Monday, March 25, 2013

Choir Tour!

Last Wednesday through Friday, Mary, Jesse and I got to go on Choir Tour!  We had a ball riding the bus, singing at different High Schools, and going to BYU-Idaho.  We stayed in a hotel two nights, and had fun swimming and hot-tubbing.  Jesse and Mary sang with Madrigals, and they performed Inscription of Hope, Prayer of the Children, and Chile con Carne.  Mary performed with Show Choir, and they danced and sang to Rock of Ages, Under the Sea, a song from Bye, Bye Birdie, and Seize the Day.  It was SO FUN to watch these numbers be performed over and over again.  I was so proud of the girls.  They are amazing performers!!

Here are some pictures from the tour:

Jesse, Tori, Erica, Mary

Singing with students from another High School

Jam session on the piano

Jesse sang by Sarah's side for two years in Madrigals.  Now Sarah is at BYU-Idaho, and she came back to see the Concert.  These two love each other dearly!
Singing Waca, Waca - the Africa song

There's Jesse in the middle, listening to the other choirs sing.


Show Choir!

Mary's in the middle at the back.

Show Choir after their performance

All the kids on Choir Tour

Show Choir again


Anima Mea
Mary, Josh, Sam and Dallin on the bus

Monday, March 11, 2013

Libby's Birthday

Libby turned eleven this week! 

She has been planning her party for weeks.  She created a google document - a spreadsheet - and shared it with me via email when I was down in Salt Lake.  She knows how to do this thanks to her fabulous 5th grade teacher, whose specialty is technology.  Libby takes full advantage of it! 

As is our family custom, we sang Las MaƱanitas to her in the morning.  It was really strange out in the hall for Jesse, Mary and I to look at each other and say, "Is this all of us?"  Bruce and Peter were on a Scout Campout and Josh and Joseph are on their missions.  That only left three of us out in the hall.  So we went in singing and there she was, already sitting up in bed reading.  It was about 7:30 am.  I knew she might be awake, but she informed me she'd been awake for hours!

We had crepes for her favorite breakfast, and she got the "I Am Special Today" plate.  We laugh every time now, about Grandma saying to Joseph on the morning of Joshua's farewell, "You're not special today!" and his gentle reply, "Well Grandma, it's my birthday!".  Oh - poor Grandma.  We'll never let her live it down.  :)

The party started with playing Tellestrations:
Then we moved on to the Treasure Hunt, and here are the clues.
Clue #1

 Clue #2
Clue #3 (OK - so this one was a stretch! ha ha)

 Clue #4
Clue #5
And the Treasure!

We then played two truths and lie, followed by cake and ice cream, and opening presents!

There was one last candle that Libby couldn't blow out because she was laughing so hard!

Ha ha!  She finally got the candle, and then after eating, she soon found herself over at the piano, which happens OFTEN.
Libby had a great birthday and we're so thankful to all her friends who came over to celebrate it with her.

Bruce and Peter had a great time on their Scout Campout.  They went to a warm cabin, but right before bedtime, Peter announced that he was going to go outside and sleep under the stars.  It was around 20 degrees.  At first he was headed out by himself, but then two more boys joined, not wanting to be outdone!  Peter was prepared - he had a good sleeping bag and a bandana over his face.  The next day, the boys went about building an igloo.  Peter's friend Jake gave him a big ol' bowie knife a week or two ago.  I didn't like the look of that thing at all, but Peter was so proud of it and was wearing it everywhere.  Well, when it came time to build the igloo, it came in handy!  Peter pulled out his trusty bowie knife and cut big blocks of crunchy ice like cutting through butter.  They built an igloo in no time, one that could fit six boys and a couple of leaders inside!  When they were telling me this, I just laughed.  Why am I not surprised?!  :)

Jesse was sick for three days flat in bed this week.  Adrenal fatigue finally took over.  She has pushed herself SO HARD, for the last three years, really, and after the audition and the decision making process was over to go to BYU in Summer term, she really just collapsed and stayed in bed literally for three days.  For the spastic bumper car girl (a childhood nickname), this was not usual, but much needed!  Just for the record, she didn't just sleep (that would be too unproductive).  She read one book (I can't remember the name of it), and then she read the whole Twilight series - yes - all four books in three days.  She can speed read like nobody's business.  By the end, she felt well-rested and ready to tackle life again.

Mary had a show choir performance this week at the high school.  I have to add this picture in.  She had so much hairspray in her hair for the performance, that that the next day when she put it in a bun, it stayed!  Without any hair clips, bobby pins, etc.!  Ha ha ha.
The kids also had fun visiting their cousins in Meridian, Nicole and Michelle, for their Grandpa Lamar's 80th birthday party.

This week in Sacrament Meeting, we sang Praise Ye the Lord as the opening Hymn.  I have loved that Hymn ever since we sang it in University Chorale as a freshman at BYU.  As I contemplated the words, I had to stop singing because I felt so strongly the love of the Lord in my life, and in my family's life, and I wanted to praise Him as the song willed us to do.  I am so grateful for my life and the blessings the Lord has given our family.  I hope I can serve and share those blessings with others.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Joy is the Presence of God

Peter has a badge like this, only his is for 2013!
Peter is a new Grade 9 Soccer Referee!  They started a new program a few years back where you could certify as a Grade 9 Referee, which means you qualify to center U6-U14 recreational games.  This is perfect for most referees in our town, so Peter only had to take an 8 hour class to certify instead of a 16 hour class like the rest of the family had to take.  He passed the test with an 80%.  Good job Peter!

The other big news this week is that our furnace quit once and for all.  We've been having trouble with it all winter long, so we knew this was coming.  The replacement is $9000!  I was thinking it would be about three thousand.  I had no idea it would be so much.  At first we just said, well, we'll just have to live on the other side of the house, which actually wouldn't be the end of the world (we have two furnaces.)  But in the dead of winter, you have to have some kind of heat or your pipes freeze.  And it's just not reasonable to give up half the house.  So we financed the furnace, which was hard to do, because we had hoped never to have to finance something again.  We have not built in maintenance and replacement costs into our budget, and that was a mistake.  I hope we can teach our children to do better than we have in that area.    So they are coming this morning to replace our furnace.  This is a good thing, because it is 56 degrees right now in this room.  :)  I'm all bundled up in my winter coat and a blanket.

I had my biggest months ever in Young Living in January and February!  It's exciting to see people take advantage of these wonderful essential oils.  I am grateful to be a part of teaching and sharing.

Our two new calves are an adventure.  Peter and Jesse bottle feed them in the morning, and Mary and Libby do it at night.  Bruce helps a good part of the time.  The calves are named Wild and Crazy, and I guess the names fit.

Bruce sewed some really nice saddle bags for the horses during the time I was gone a few weeks ago.  He tried them out on Stormy last week.  He did fine with them until Bruce tied him up to go get a halter on another horse, and then Stormy worked himself loose, started running around, and got spooked by the saddle bags.  He ended up tearing them up and doing some damage that is going to be a pain to repair.  What a bummer!  But at least Bruce has the equipment and materials to mend them, since he made them in the first place.

Jesse is starting to get connected with a whole new set of friends on Facebook.  She got invited to be part of the Class of 2017 at BYU, so she's been having fun with that.  She has to set a roommate preference this week, so that's going to be interesting!

Libby's birthday is on Saturday, and she has been reminding anyone who will lend an ear that her birthday is this Saturday!  We are planning a part with 5-6 friends.  Should be fun!

Mary lamented this week that I had not given birth to her a month earlier so she could go to Prom.  She said all her friends are going to MORP, which is the girls choice dance a month before Prom.  I told her, "It's a miracle you came when you did, and we couldn't have possibly had you even a month earlier!"  We were blissfully happy in our hearts when we found out we were pregnant with her, and logically in our minds thinking, "How in the heck are we gonna do this???"  Ha ha  To Mary's credit this is the first time she has said anything about not being able to date until she's 16.  She hasn't complained or whined or had any question about whether she could or couldn't.  She has been a delightfully obedient daughter, and her convictions are such that she wants to do this for herself, not just because we ask it of her.
Remember Me, sung by Jesse, Mary Josh, Connor, Josh, Hunter, Holli and Jill
Last Monday we went to hear Jesse and Mary sing in their ensemble for a judge.  They sang Remember Me a cappella, and it was beautiful!  They got a score of 39 out of 40.

Mary is now a piano teacher!  I had a mom call me asking about lessons.  I don't teach anymore, and Jesse is full, so I offered to have Mary teach the two boys at a low price, as she is a beginner teacher, and she agreed!  This is great for Mary, because she has plans to attend many camps and activities this summer.  She has been teaching for about a month now.

The past week we saw some 50 degree days and sunshine!  It was wonderful!  I have to say that I'm always SO glad to see January and February go every year.  I sigh in relief and think, "We made it through!"  Actually though, I have pondering lately on the fact that joy can be found at any time, even in pain or trouble or dark times, if you have the presence of God with you.  I already posted this on this blog, but I want to post it again:

Joy is not the absence of pain (or trouble or darkness or lack of problems to be solved).  Joy is the presence of God.

I am coming to understand this in deep and poignant ways.  Gratitude is the key that unlocks that joy.  As my friend Sharon said recently, "Gratitude moves things that love cannot."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Roots of Human Family Tree

Tonight I found a document that I had copied and saved on 1 July 2006.  I'm so glad I found it, because I found it fascinating.  I have copied it exactly as I saved it.  This information has significant implications for family history work.  It means that the common ancestors will soon have their work done, and it will be the siblings of the common ancestors, the ones who didn't have descendants, that will need to have their work researched and done.  I haven't done any research to see what has been done in the 6+ years since this was published.  If anyone knows, please comment on this blog!

Roots of human family tree are shallow

By MATT CRENSON, AP National Writer 17 minutes ago
Whoever it was probably lived a few thousand years ago, somewhere in East Asia — Taiwan, Malaysia and Siberia all are likely locations. He — or she — did nothing more remarkable than be born, live, have children and die.
Yet this was the ancestor of every person now living on Earth — the last person in history whose family tree branches out to touch all 6.5 billion people on the planet today.
That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. There's even a chance that our last shared ancestor lived at the time of Christ.
"It's a mathematical certainty that that person existed," said Steve Olson, whose 2002 book "Mapping Human History" traces the history of the species since its origins in Africa more than 100,000 years ago.
It is human nature to wonder about our ancestors — who they were, where they lived, what they were like. People trace their genealogy, collect antiques and visit historical sites hoping to capture just a glimpse of those who came before, to locate themselves in the sweep of history and position themselves in the web of human existence.
But few people realize just how intricately that web connects them not just to people living on the planet today, but to everyone who ever lived.
With the help of a statistician, a computer scientist and a supercomputer, Olson has calculated just how interconnected the human family tree is. You would have to go back in time only 2,000 to 5,000 years — and probably on the low side of that range — to find somebody who could count every person alive today as a descendant.
Furthermore, Olson and his colleagues have found that if you go back a little farther — about 5,000 to 7,000 years ago — everybody living today has exactly the same set of ancestors. In other words, every person who was alive at that time is either an ancestor to all 6 billion people living today, or their line died out and they have no remaining descendants.
That revelation is "especially startling," statistician Jotun Hein of England's Oxford University wrote in a commentary on the research published by the journal Nature.
"Had you entered any village on Earth in around 3,000 B.C., the first person you would have met would probably be your ancestor," Hein marveled.
It also means that all of us have ancestors of every color and creed. Every Palestinian suicide bomber has Jews in his past. Every Sunni Muslim in Iraq is descended from at least one Shiite. And every Klansman's family has African roots.
How can this be?
It's simple math. Every person has two parents, four grandparents and eight great-grandparents. Keep doubling back through the generations — 16, 32, 64, 128 — and within a few hundred years you have thousands of ancestors.
It's nothing more than exponential growth combined with the facts of life. By the 15th century you've got a million ancestors. By the 13th you've got a billion. Sometime around the 9th century — just 40 generations ago — the number tops a trillion.
But wait. How could anybody — much less everybody — alive today have had a trillion ancestors living during the 9th century?
The answer is, they didn't. Imagine there was a man living 1,200 years ago whose daughter was your mother's 36th great-grandmother, and whose son was your father's 36th great-grandfather. That would put him on two branches on your family tree, one on your mother's side and one on your father's.
In fact, most of the people who lived 1,200 years ago appear not twice, but thousands of times on our family trees, because there were only 200 million people on Earth back then. Simple division — a trillion divided by 200 million — shows that on average each person back then would appear 5,000 times on the family tree of every single individual living today.
But things are never average. Many of the people who were alive in the year 800 never had children; they don't appear on anybody's family tree. Meanwhile, more prolific members of society would show up many more than 5,000 times on a lot of people's trees.
Keep going back in time, and there are fewer and fewer people available to put on more and more branches of the 6.5 billion family trees of people living today. It is mathematically inevitable that at some point, there will be a person who appears at least once on everybody's tree.
But don't stop there; keep going back. As the number of potential ancestors dwindles and the number of branches explodes there comes a time when every single person on Earth is an ancestor to all of us, except the ones who never had children or whose lines eventually died out.
And it wasn't all that long ago. When you walk through an exhibit of Ancient Egyptian art from the time of the pyramids, everything there was very likely created by one of your ancestors — every statue, every hieroglyph, every gold necklace. If there is a mummy lying in the center of the room, that person was almost certainly your ancestor, too.
It means when Muslims, Jews or Christians claim to be children of Abraham, they are all bound to be right.
"No matter the languages we speak or the color of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who first domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forests of North and South America, and who labored to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu," Olson and his colleagues wrote in the journal Nature.
How can they be so sure?
Seven years ago one of Olson's colleagues, a Yale University statistician named Joseph Chang, started thinking about how to estimate when the last common ancestor of everybody on Earth today lived. In a paper published by the journal "Advances in Applied Probability," Chang showed that there is a mathematical relationship between the size of a population and the number of generations back to a common ancestor. Plugging the planet's current population into his equation, he came up with just over 32 generations, or about 900 years.
Chang knew that answer was wrong because it relied on some common, but inaccurate, assumptions that population geneticists often use to simplify difficult mathematical problems.
For example, his analysis pretended that Earth's population has always been what it is today. It also assumed that individuals choose their mates randomly. And each generation had to reproduce all at once.
Chang's calculations essentially treated the world like one big meet market where any given guy was equally likely to pair up with any woman, whether she lived in the next village or halfway around the world. Chang was fully aware of the inaccuracy — people have to select their partners from the pool of individuals they have actually met, unless they are entering into an arranged marriage. But even then, they are much more likely to mate with partners who live nearby. And that means that geography can't be ignored if you are going to determine the relatedness of the world's population.
A few years later Chang was contacted by Olson, who had started thinking about the world's interrelatedness while writing his book. They started corresponding by e-mail, and soon included in their deliberations Douglas Rohde, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist and computer expert who now works for Google.
The researchers knew they would have to account for geography to get a better picture of how the family tree converges as it reaches deeper into the past. They decided to build a massive computer simulation that would essentially re-enact the history of humanity as people were born, moved from one place to another, reproduced and died.
Rohde created a program that put an initial population on a map of the world at some date in the past, ranging from 7,000 to 20,000 years ago. Then the program allowed those initial inhabitants to go about their business. He allowed them to expand in number according to accepted estimates of past population growth, but had to cap the expansion at 55 million people due to computing limitations. Although unrealistic in some respects — 55 million is a lot less than the 6.5 billion people who actually live on Earth today — he found through trial and error that the limitation did not significantly change the outcome with regard to common ancestry.
The model also had to allow for migration based on what historians, anthropologists and archaeologists know about how frequently past populations moved both within and between continents. Rohde, Chang and Olson chose a range of migration rates, from a low level where almost nobody left their native home to a much higher one where up to 20 percent of the population reproduced in a town other than the one where they were born, and one person in 400 moved to a foreign country.
Allowing very little migration, Rohde's simulation produced a date of about 5,000 B.C. for humanity's most recent common ancestor. Assuming a higher, but still realistic, migration rate produced a shockingly recent date of around 1 A.D.
Some people even suspect that the most recent common ancestor could have lived later than that.
"A number of people have written to me making the argument that the simulations were too conservative," Rohde said.
Migration is the key. When a people have offspring far from their birthplaces, they essentially introduce their entire family lines into their adopted populations, giving their immediate offspring and all who come after them a set of ancestors from far away.
People tend to think of preindustrial societies as places where this sort of thing rarely happened, where virtually everyone lived and died within a few miles of the place where they were born. But history is full of examples that belie that notion.
Take Alexander the Great, who conquered every country between Greece and northern India, siring two sons along the way by Persian mothers. Consider Prince Abd Al-Rahman, son of a Syrian father and a Berber mother, who escaped Damascus after the overthrow of his family's dynasty and started a new one in Spain. The Vikings, the Mongols, and the Huns all traveled thousands of miles to burn, pillage and — most pertinent to genealogical considerations — rape more settled populations.
More peaceful people moved around as well. During the Middle Ages, the Gypsies traveled in stages from northern India to Europe. In the New World, the Navaho moved from western Canada to their current home in the American Southwest. People from East Asia fanned out into the South Pacific Islands, and Eskimos frequently traveled back and forth across the Bering Sea from Siberia to Alaska.
"These genealogical networks, as they start spreading out they really have the ability to get virtually everywhere," Olson said.
Though people like to think of culture, language and religion as barriers between groups, history is full of religious conversions, intermarriages, illegitimate births and adoptions across those lines. Some historical times and places were especially active melting pots — medieval Spain, ancient Rome and the Egypt of the pharaohs, for example.
"And the thing is, you only need one," said Mark Humphrys, an amateur anthropologist and professor of computer science at Dublin City University.
One ancestral link to another cultural group among your millions of forbears, and you share ancestors with everyone in that group. So everyone who reproduced with somebody who was born far from their own natal home — every sailor blown off course, every young man who set off to seek his fortune, every woman who left home with a trader from a foreign land — as long as they had children, they helped weave the tight web of brotherhood we all share.