Monday, April 29, 2013

Concerts, Graduations and Blessings!

Mary, Peter and Libby were in the Show Choir Conert last week.  This is a highlight of the year!
Mary did the following numbers with the Show Choir:
  • There's No Business Like Show Business
  • A Lot of Livin' To Do (from Bye-Bye Birdie)
  • Rock of Ages
  • Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat
  • Under the Sea (from Little Mermaid)
  • Seize the Day (from Newsies)
 Here is a picture of Mary in Seize the Day.  This was one of my favorite numbers!  I took a video which I was hoping to upload, but the video quality was too poor, so it didn't work out.
Mary in Seize the Day
 And then Mary did a really fun side act with her friends Kalli, Jill, Jessie, Tori, Erica and Kylie to "I Won't Say I'm in Love" from Hercules.  She was a backup singer dressed as a Greek Goddess. 

Mary had so much fun in Show Choir this year.  She did a fantastic job, and looked SO GOOD up there dancing and singing.  She didn't look like a first-year member in the least.  Congratulations, Mary!!

Peter, Libby and Mary all got to do Hakuna Matata, from Lion King.  During one part of the song, Libby did a roundoff back handspring, and then immediately following, Peter did a layout backflip with a push-off from his friend Taylor.  It was awesome!
Libby is on the left side, upside down!

Later in the week, I got to travel down to Utah this week with my Mom and Dad.  My niece Whitney graduated from Utah Valley University and they also blessed their new little baby, Penny.  I got to hold her for an hour or more while she slept.  It's great to be a great-aunt!

One of the most fun things about Penny's blessing is that Sean, Stetson's old missionary companion, and his wife Heidi were there with their little girl Evette.  They live in Texas, but they were up in Provo for a graduation, so they were able to come to the blessing!  So fun to see them!
Mis Elderes favoritos
And my other niece Lindsey, Whitney's sister, graduated from UVU also!  I'm so proud of them!  They both graduated Cum Laude.  It was great to be with my sister Julie (Whitney and Lindsey are her daughters) and her husband Bruce.  I haven't seen Bruce in a long time, so it was good to be with him.  I also got to see my cousins Annette (who graciously allowed us to stay at her house), Renea, Elaine and Sylvia.  I just LOVE these cousins.  I laugh and laugh whenever I see them.  I told Julie that we need to have an overnight reunion with them.  (A whole weekend would be asking too much!)

In the meantime, Bruce was supposed to be taking the girls on an overnight daddy-daughter campout, but Jesse and Mary had a dress rehearsal for their choir concert, so Bruce postponed it until this weekend.

Bruce was also gone to St Louis this week on business.  He got to go on a tour of the Gateway Arch.

So the kids had a day at home with neither of us there.  They did a great job of being self-sufficient!  Libby even got herself up and off to school one morning by herself because Jesse, Mary and Peter had gone to the Temple!  She is eleven, after all, so she is OK to do something like that once in awhile!  Before long, she'll be able to go to the Temple with them.

Jesse and Tyler doubled with Caleb and Macey, and they went horseback riding.  Jesse rode Strawberry, and Bruce told her that Joseph would be really proud of her!

Last night was the Young Women's Recognition Night.  Jesse conducted, and did a great job, and bearing a beautiful testimony about personal progress.  Several people commented on how poised she was.  Mary sang a musical number with two other girls, while I accompanied the song.  Mary sang beautifully!  The fact that I played this song decently was a miracle. I was handed the music 90 minutes earlier, and had never played it before.  It really was a miracle.

On the way home driving from Utah, I listened to several chapters of Our Heritage, A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I listened to the chapters from about 1833-1847.  Wow - it is so humbling to listen to what the Saints went through in those years.  I came away with a renewed understanding that sometimes in mortality, we have a boatload of problems with very few answers.  In 1838, when the Saints were driven out of Clay County, and Joseph Smith was sent to Liberty Jail, that's the situation they were in.

Do you feel like you have a lot of problems and very few answers?  Well, join the crowd.  Join the crowd that included some of the best people that ever lived on the planet.  But they persevered, and much good came from their perseverance.  Perseverance to me means that faced with daily choices to turn to the light or to turn away from it, we consistently choose light.  And if we make a mistake and choose darkness, we repent and choose light again.  We make clear and consistent course corrections to aim for the light.  Ultimately, our life and destiny will reflect those very tiny course corrections made on a moment to moment basis.  Light or darkness?  I choose light!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Appraising April

Jesse and Mary had Festival for Madrigal last week.  They sang Solemn Shore, Prayer of  the Children and Chile con Carne.  They did a fantastic job.  The judges changed the scoring system this year, and they got a 95 out 100.  After three years of Madrigals, this is Jesse's last performance of serious Madrigal songs!  That's always a sobering thought.

Josh, Calvin, Drew, Brighton, Joseph, Hunter, Josh, Connor, Travis, Freddy, Braden, Dominic, Holli, Jesse, Brianna, Sam, Amy, Kimi, Brighton, Kylie, Jill, Kalli, Mary and Elizabeth.
 Congratulations Madrigals!  I loved hearing you sing this year!

My friend Todd has been encouraging bugging me for months to read Way of the Kings, by Brandon Sanderson.  Alright, already!  He said he has read it seven times.  So I started it Tuesday night.  I read all day Wednesday and into the wee hours of the morning, all day Thursday and into the wee hours of the morning.  I finished Fri morning at 4 am!  It was a really good book, but can I confess that I was totally confused!  Have no doubt that it's entertaining - it keeps you enthralled.  But what in the world is going on?!  Anyone that is reading this and would like to discuss this book with me, please do!  No wonder Todd has read this book seven times - it would take that many times to understand it.  And add to that a cliffhanger at the end...  Aaaahhhh.

Mary got new glasses this week!  She doesn't wear them all the time, like Libby does.  She just needs them to read.

Thursday was Senior Skip Day!  Here are some fun pictures:
Mattresses stuck in Kalli's car for the sleepover

Jesse and Erica

Sophia and Jesse

Riding bikes on the Greenbelt


Sophia and Travis

Tyler (and Kayla not far behind)

Skyler, Kalli, Travis, Sophia, Kayla, Tyler, Kalli, Jesse, and Tamzen taking the picture

Friday, I taught a Raindrop class and then had a Foot Zone Open House in the afternoon.  Only Janet showed up, but it will still fun to give a FZ and receive one.  I did much better than last week - not nearly as sore, so I was happy about that.

On Saturday, Peter, Libby and Mary all went to the FX Show Choir Camp.  The dance this year will be to Hakuna Matata.  Jesse said that Joseph always wanted that to be the song.

We also got a visit on Saturday from these fine returned missionaries.
Connor and Josh
Josh has been begging me for a Raindrop, so I gave him Raindrop in the afternoon before going over to Andrew and Lisa's reception and going to the Adult Session of Stake Conference.  Bruce was supposed to meet me there, but he fell asleep and came late.  And then he wanted to leave early afterwards.  We had to have some discussions about this.  :)

Life rolls along, and we're so grateful for wonderful blessings.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Senior Prom

 I started out the week doing a booth at our local Preparedness Fair.  It was really fun to see who would stop by and check out Young Living Essential Oils.  I handed out a great flyer about why you need essential oils for preparedness.  Mostly it was fun just to visit with good friends, like these guys!
Drew, Connor and Todd
Peter and Libby have both started RAD (Race Against Drugs) practice.  Peter has a solo with the "surfer dudes" and Libby is dancing in several songs.  They have a lot of fun  with this musical presentation at their school.

Bruce was gone all this week on a business trip to TelAviv.  He got to go to Jerusalem on his last day there.  He was following a GPS and found himself driving down a walking only street in Mea Shearim!  That is the neighborhood in Jerusalem where all the Orthodox Jews live.  So he turned around and found another way to Jaffa Gate.  He went to visit Omar's, where we bought our olive wood Nativity Set years 23 years ago, but it was closed for the night.  He bought three clay olive oil lamps in East Jerusalem.  They were wrapped in newspaper that was written in Arabic.  It was pretty cool to see what that looked like!  He got home on Saturday afternoon, and we were so glad to have him home!

Libby got her new glasses this week!

She ran around for hours saying, "I can see this!  I can see that!".  She looks so cute!

I got the great idea to have a Foot Zone Open House at our house once a week.  I invite all my old students, and they come and give and receive a foot zone.  It's so great for practice and also just getting the therapy.

We had a meeting Friday night for the people who are going to Martin's Cove.  Bruce got nominated to be the Trek leader, which is right up his alley.  He will have fun doing that.  We did this back in 2009, and we are excited to do it again.  Only this time we will only have half of our children there.  Only four years later, and half of our children have left home.  Jesse will be starting BYU in the Summer Term, and she won't be able to skip classes that early in the term.  We will miss those three oldest yahoos!  But now it's time to focus on Mary, Peter and Libby.  They are ready to get full time attention!

I was able to get to the Temple early Saturday morning.  My friends, Shauna and Teresa, and I have been doing an in-depth study this week on the Creation.  We studied Genesis, Moses and Abraham's accounts of the creation, and then we each went to the Temple on Saturday to compare what it teaches about the Creation.  It was great to discuss and talk about it with them!  I just love being in the Temple.  I am SO grateful for the peace I feel there, and the closeness I feel to my Father in Heaven.  I truly feel like I'm going to his home, and I'm welcomed in and loved.  I'm fed (spiritually) and nurtured in knowledge and truth.  I love to sit in the Celestial Room and have an open line of communication with heaven.  I am so grateful for the Temple.

Thanks to Kristie's mom, Susan, I figured out how to alter Jesse's dress to fit her better.  She and Tyler went on a "day-date" at about 8:30 am.  They got back about two o'clock, and then the frantic "getting ready" began.  Jesse went to get her make-up and hair done with Crissy, and then she came back and waited while I finished up the last few stitches.  I was really proud of myself for altering the dress the way I did.  I felt like jumping up and down like a little girl.  I did it!  ha ha ha

I woke up Bruce from his "jet-lag" nap, and he went and got his rifle and rifle cleaning kit so he could be "cleaning his gun" when Tyler came.  Ha ha!  It was all for laughs ahead of time, of course.  He later said, "I never even cocked my gun!"

Tori came over and we had fun sitting around waiting for Tyler to come.

 He brought a beautiful corsage!

 Later, we took some pictures with the big group.
 Jesse was excited to go with someone that she was actually friends with and talked to on a regular basis!  She looked beeeeautiful!!  

Austin and date, Holli & Caleb, Kylie & Braden, Jesse & Tyler, Brianna & Josh, Macey & Caleb

They ate dinner ate a Japanese Steak House where they make the dinner right in front of you.  Jesse had never seen that before.  Then they went to the dance at the High School and had a lot of fun there.  Afterwards, they went and watched a movie and then came home.  She said there was one word for it:  F-U-N.

We got to see Joseph on a clip that aired on KSL-TV in Salt Lake last weekend.  He is singing in the MTC Choir!  We took a screen shot from the video and here it is:
They show him for about 2-3 seconds.  So fun!

Josh wrote home that he and his companion set a goal to have 25 investigators in Church last Sunday to see la Conferencia General.  He said they prayed really hard and then went to work.  They worked closely with the members, and that Sunday, they had 24 investigators in Church.  WOW!  I never dreamed of having that many people in a meeting my whole mission.  What a great blessing, with the members working hard along side the missionaries.  That is truly inspiring.  Go La Union!!

Joseph said last week that he had just been to the Consulate, and that his visa was going to be here probably in the next two weeks.  Yea!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Conference Weekend!

We always hear from Josh on Mondays.  He told us that in a week where they should have had many fewer appointments than normal, because it was Semana Santa (Easter week), he had 20 lessons during the week with members, the most he has had his whole mission.  Wow!  We were thrilled to hear that!
Here are two pictures that he sent home this week.  One is a picture of a lady that he and his old companion found a few months ago.  The other Elders taught her, and now she is getting baptized.  Isn't she beautiful?

And here he is all ready in the morning, except for his shirt, which is still being washed.  :)
This picture really makes me miss him, for some odd reason.  Just like I could walk up and put my arm around him and talk to him, just sitting there like that.

Well, it's Springtime, and with spring time comes farm work.  We went out on Monday night and our family home evening activity was to lay pipe out at Bruce's Dad's farm.  I was going to say parents, but as of Feb, 5th, his Mother is no longer on this side of the veil, so technically, it's Dad's farm now.  This is still a little bit of a shock, every time we think of it.  Bruce and I, Jesse, Mary, Peter, Libby, and Libby's friend Macy went with us.  We put out the pipe on the house zone, around the lower edge of the lower field, on the upper field, and a few pipes at the top of the lower field.  It took about 4 hours to do it.  Afterwards, we went to Arctic Circle and grabbed a bite to eat.  These guys were great farm workers!

On Tuesday, we got a great letter from Joseph.  He said this,
"Being a missionary is amazing. Every day the Lord puts people in our path that are in need to talk to us, and it amazes me every single time. For instance, somehow we always seem to run into people who just had something traumatic happen, or are in need of comfort, or were looking for someone to talk to, to help them have more good in their life. Totally awesome, and I'm getting a stronger and stronger testimony that the Lord really does prepare people. I love this area, and I love the people. Mom, you're right, our experience in the Spanish Branch really prepared me for what it is here, and it's helping me to realize what needs to be done, and how it needs to be done.

It's been an amazing experience helping, serving and blessing people one at a time. I've met some of the most troubled people I've ever met, and so I've come to understand the Atonement and Christ's sacrifice in a way that I've never been able to do before. I've also come to feel His love for each and every person as an individual. We've had lots of experiences just testifying of God's love for people, giving blessings, comforting and blessing people. I love it!"

On Thursday night I had the privilege of going out with the Spanish speaking missionaries in our area.  The appointment fell through, so I said, "I know some people we can go visit!"  Just that day, I had facebooked my friend Cindy and told her I wanted to go visit her and her baby.  She responded almost immediately, and gave me her apartment number.  Cindy is one of the converts that the missionaries baptized when we were serving in the Spanish Branch.  She and her sister came to live with us for about two months in 2007.  When we left the Spanish branch, they were without transportation and support, so eventually they stopped going to Church.  Both Joshua and Joseph, within a week of each other, wrote to me and said, "Mom - you've got to get in touch with Cindy and her family".  In fact, I had already had that impression months earlier, and her name had been on my "to-do" list for awhile.  So when this opportunity sprang up, I had no doubt about what I could do with the missionaries.  We went down to their house, and they were home eating dinner.  They welcomed us in, and the missionaries were able to teach a short lesson about the basics of scriptures, prayer and church attendance.  Cindy was completely ready for it.  It was WONDERFUL for me to see her and her baby, Amor, who is 3 months old.  When I left, I started to cry, and said to myself, "I forgot how happy this makes me!"  I love bearing testimony and witnessing of the truths of the gospel en español!  I called her again on Saturday to make sure she know about Conference.  She was excited to watch it!

Early Friday morning Bruce left to go on a business trip to Tel Aviv.  He is always deeply missed when he goes!

On Friday afternoon, Peter had his first soccer game!  He played great in the midfield, and also was keeper for about 1/3 of the game.  They won 5-4!  This is a new league they are playing in, and it went well their first game.  Peter is across the field in orange cleats.
 After the game, we had to pick up one of our horses from our friends' pasture.  I was more than a little worried about how we were going to make that happen without Bruce.  Just when I was feeling pretty desperate, Scott, one of our friends that also has Blazer horses like we do, came by to pick up a binder that his son had left at our house.  I explained our situation, and he offered to come by and help us pick up Stormy.  Oh my word, I was so grateful for his offer.  We took a bucket of hay with us, and as the horses gathered around to eat, Peter managed to slip in right by Stormy and get a halter on him before he knew what was happening.  After that we got him home with no problem.  I was SO grateful!  I knew it was a tender mercy from the Lord, and I felt his kindness and love wrapped around us.

Earlier in the day, Mary traveled down to Conference with our friends David and Elysia and their family.  On Saturday after the first session of conference, I got a text from Mary saying that she was with the Elders that live with Joseph!  I called her and she said, "Mom - we're on our way to see him!"  Oh my word!  I couldn't believe it!  Mary said it was so great to see him.
And then, lo and behold, I get this picture from my nephew, Devyn!
This was the same Food Court where Mary saw him, too.  Devyn said that he was standing in line at the Food Court, and someone tapped on his shoulder.  He turned around, and there was Joseph!  I just love these pictures.  While I was talking to Devyn on the phone about seeing Joseph, he said, "Oh, there he is, just going up the stairs.  I'm waving to him right now."  Oh, man, that just weirded me out!!  "You're seeing him right now?", I yelled into the phone.  ha ha   On top of that, our friend Jaylen got to see Joseph at the Priesthood session.  AND, if that's not enough, I got to see him in this clip on KSL News TV, singing in the choir at the MTC.  He's on minute 1:03 to 1:06.
 I don't know how long it will work, but there's the link.

Between all that commotion with Joseph and listening to inspiring and wonderful conference talks, my heart was full of joy on Saturday afternoon.  Peter went to the Priesthood Session with our neighbor Norm and his boys.  I was so grateful they were able to take him.  We got "the report" from them afterwards.

The Sunday sessions were just as good.  In the afternoon session, I always feel a little lonely, feeling like, "Is it over already?"  And this time I also felt that something was "incomplete", and then I figured out that it was because Bruce was gone, and I missed him.  :)

On, they had the video and audio recordings of the talks up in record time.  I have already watched or listened to six talks!  I LOVE these talks.  I love to ponder them and think about them and soak them in.  I love to integrate them into my teaching and my conduct and behavior.  I love to meld them into my goals and expectations.  They are life-changing.  They are truly a feast for the soul!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break and Easter!

We had a mellow spring break, but everyone got a lot of rest and relaxation.

Jesse has decided to go to BYU starting in the summer term.  Orientation day is June 21st!  Since she doesn't turn 18 until August, we gave her an early going-away present.

The t-shirt says, "I am 17 years old".

Bahahahaha!  We laughed so hard over that t-shirt.  Bruce wants her to wear it on anyone she goes on a second date with.  Ha ha ha!

Joseph's Visa to Argentina did not arrive, so while he waits for it to go through, he is serving in the Utah Ogden Central mission.

Joseph and his trainer

One of the neatest things to come out of this Ogden stay is that he got to see Jose Roberto, from our old Spanish Branch, that is serving in that mission!  So cool!  We were hoping that he would be his trainer, but that wasn't the case.

Joshua sent home these beautiful pictures last week.  Happy day!
This last picture is so poignant.  This sweet hermana had a broken arm, and they hadn't been able to do a surgery yet.  It took them five times, but they finally got her, and her clothing, totally immersed in the water!

Bruce, Jesse, Mary, Peter and some others went on a ride on what Joseph termed "The Gauntlet":
Jesse and Mary went on a bike ride with Erica on the Green Belt.

We got a visit from Josh's friends, Connor and Drew, who have returned from their missions recently.  It was so fun to see them!
We also went to Josh's Homecoming (not our Josh), who just returned from Ecuador.  Both he and Connor gave wonderful homecoming talks on Sunday.

On Saturday, we took five horses and went on a horseback ride in the mountains.  This was the first time we have done this - with our own equipment, horses, trailer, and just by ourselves.  It was fun!
Jesse, Mary, Peter, and Libby and I.

Libby and I on Sleepy River McGee.

Romance on the trail! (It looked like Man from Snowy River)

Peter had a hard time on Zenos.  She needs more training!

The view was the best part.  The landscape, not so much.

Here is a picture of Jesse and Denise, her dear friend from Madrigals.  Denise is headed off to Panama for her mission!
Pictures of Mary and Libby on Easter:

For dinner on Easter Sunday, we had grilled six T-bone steaks, one for each plate.  Wow - it was yummy!  We went for a walk as a family, and sat in the green grass in the Commons area of our neighborhood and talked.  It's fun to talk like that with no distractions.  The kids played Qwirkle, and we made commitments about what we're doing for our town's "Unplugged" Month, where we go off of electronics for entertainment.  We then gathered some Easter Eggs and went through the Easter Story with the little props in the plastic Easter eggs that Jesse made years ago in Activity Days.

It was a wonderful day, and we loved thinking about our Savior even more than we usually do, and the incredible gift He has given us in the Atonement.