Sunday, July 21, 2019

John, John, Baptism, John

(Another excerpt from a letter to Hannah)

This week has been a busy one for us. John got his Eagle stuff submitted to the scout office on his birthday (after running around earlier in the week trying to get signatures and laboring over writing a statement of his life purpose), so that's all good. Now he just needs a board of review and he will be done!

Also, we have been working hard trying to get John's visa application stuff ready. Emails were sent to seminary and institute people, notaries were visited, and birth certificates were procured - I managed to order and receive a new one, but by then the one they used to get John's passport was returned so now we have two, so if the one we submit with his visa isn't returned, we still have one. Also fingerprints were taken, twice. On Monday, John went to the city place to get them taken, but they informed him that they don't do that anymore, and they sent him to a website where he found out they do that once a week at the College Hill Library. So he made an appointment and went to the library on Wednesday to have them taken. They took them digitally, and then sent them... somewhere. John told them he needed the fingerprints to get his visa and so they sent them wherever travel visa fingerprints are sent, and I'm not sure where that is, or what they'll do with them when they get them. So on Friday, John took the bus(!) downtown to get his fingerprints taken again, and this time they actually rubbed his fingers in ink and then stuck them to the card that we could mail to the one place for the FBI clearance, as our instructions told us to do. While he was downtown, he also got the apostilles that he needed. We have everything we need now except the FBI clearance, but as soon as that comes back we can mail the whole thing to the travel office. And pray that his visa arrives in time.

Yesterday there was a baptism. Sharon R.'s granddaughter was baptized. (Do you remember Sharon? She was my cute, short elderly ministering companion.) Also, three children were baptized by their father. The dad is a returning less active member, and he was ordained a priest last Sunday so that he would be able to baptize his family. The wife also wants to be baptized, but she was having a really bad day yesterday and wasn't feeling up to coming. I'm sure she will be baptized too in the next few weeks though.

John is supposed to be ordained an elder today. And he will probably receive his temple recommend and be endowed this weekend. It seems so strange to think that two of my children are now official adults. We celebrated his birthday yesterday and he got things for his mission - umbrella, camera, watch, socks, etc.

I'm attaching a couple photos. The first one is of the hail storm last week, taken from our front porch. The second one is John blowing out the candles on his cake. He baked it and decorated it himself. It was supposed to be a castle, but he had a lot of difficulty getting the turrets to stand up, and they fell over. It tasted good though!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Hail, the Gang's all Here

(This is an excerpt from the letter I sent Hannah last Sunday)

This week has been a very quiet one for me. The boys were at high adventure camp all week, doing ropes courses, river rafting, kayaking, hiking, shooting bows and arrows and rifles, having cooking competitions and other fun stuff, as well as getting sunburned and feasted on by mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, I had plenty of quiet time at home to clean (which I did on Monday and it stayed clean all the rest of the week... imagine that!) and read and prepare the RS lesson I taught today and go for long walks, and paint. Yes, I did mention painting... but it isn't finished yet, and I'm afraid I kind of messed it up last time I worked on it, so I'm not going to show it to anyone yet.

Tuesday evening we had a RS activity. We called it an "Instant Pot Night" but when we were passing out invitations before Sunday School last week, some of the men in the ward pointed out that here in Colorado, that could be misleading... people might think we were peddling a drug rather than discussing different ways to use a trendy pressure cooker. Oh well. The activity itself went really well. We had at least ten sisters there (which is a good turn out for our ward!), and we had great food and great discussion. I even invited and gave a ride to a sister who just moved into our ward and who was just baptized about six months ago.

On Thursday we attended a community dinner.... Anyway, our stake has teamed up with a few other churches to provide a free dinner to the community that is held every Thursday at the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Our ward gets to be in charge of it two days a year, providing the food, serving, setting up and cleaning up. I think it went really well.

The boys got home yesterday afternoon, dirty, sunburned, mosquito bitten and tired. Honestly it is nice to have them home again. I realize that [Steven] and I are only about 5 years from being empty-nesters, and there are some things that I look forward to, but I do enjoy having my children around.

Last night after dinner, we heard thunder rolling as a storm moved in. I hurried to put the van in the garage. I'm wishing I had taken a few more precautions. It poured rain in torrents, and then hail began falling - marble sized to jawbreaker sized hail, just pelting down. We got a lake in front of the house and the playroom flooded. When we went out after the storm had moved on, the ground was strewn with tons of fallen leaves and twigs. The poor plants in our garden were broken and sad looking. [Steven] and I walked the path through the park to see the river (maybe not the smartest thing since there was still lightning flashing not too far away, but oh well), and the water level was about as high as I have ever seen it.

My lesson today was on Elder Renlund's talk from the last conference, "Abound with Blessings." It basically teaches that if we want blessings, we need to act in faith to obey the commandments on which those blessings are dependent. I encouraged the sisters to search for the "if-then" statements in the scriptures and in the words of modern day prophets: If ye will obey my commandments [then] ye will prosper in the land. [If ye] bring the tithes into the Lord's storehouse [then] he will pour you out a blessing. If we embrace the Come Follow Me curriculum, [then] we will survive spiritually, increase our gospel joy and increase our conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I think the lesson went well.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Walking, Hail, and Orthodontics

From this week's letter to Hannah...

This past week hasn't been a particularly busy one. I'm still going out for walks in the morning, and John and occasionally Josh come with me. On Monday, Josh, John and I went to the little park behind the Thornton City buildings, and behind the Sam's Club - the one you can only really see from the freeway. It's a nice little park. On Tuesday the three of us walked from the Johns' neighborhood to the Savory ponds (near where the giant mushroom can is on Federal). On Wednesday we walked the normal loop around the library, and on Friday John and I walked the trail where John did his eagle project. It had rained the night before, so he wanted to see how effective it was. It looked like the wall definitely helped. There were other spots on the trail that could use retaining walls too - places where the mud was an inch deep, but the area where the wall was looked pretty good.

On Independence Day, we enjoyed talking with you. It was a nice day to relax and not really have to worry about stuff. We didn't end up going to see fireworks that night - the boys weren't anxious to go be amid the crowds and the noise, and it also rained off and on through the evening. We ended up watching a movie at home, and then around 9pm, Dad and I walked down to the park to see what fireworks we could see from there - with lightning flashes in the distance too. It was sprinkling on us again as we made our way back home.

On Friday evening, Dad and I went to the temple. After the session, we got to stay and help clean. As we were sitting in the marriage waiting room waiting for our instructions - and for the temple to clear out a little, we suddenly heard a loud noise from outside - it had suddenly begun pouring rain really hard. When we finished cleaning and came out of the temple, it had stopped raining, but there were tons of leaves and hail like snow on the ground. As we were driving home, we noticed that both the side view mirrors on Dad's car were cracked, presumably by hail stones hitting them! When we got home, the boys told us that the storm had hit there too, creating a lake in front of the house and flooding the playroom.

Yesterday was a little busier. John was trying to finish filling out the paperwork for his eagle. All three of the boys needed to pack for scout camp next week. We had the missionaries over for dinner. The boys had to drop off their gear at the bishop's house.

We also had to make an emergency appointment with the orthodontist for Peter because his expander came off his teeth on one side and needed to be reattached before he leaves for scout camp early Monday morning. I felt bad because the office is closed until Monday, and so I had to call the orthodontist's personal phone, and he was out mountain biking somewhere out of town, and he then contacted one of his techs, who was at a birthday party that day, but was able to come after the party... but yeah, she was able to get the expander reattached for us. I am very grateful that they were willing to take the time during the holiday weekend to help us, and I really hope Peter doesn't have any more issues with it at scout camp!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

John's Eagle Project

On Saturday, John had his eagle project. He chose to build a retaining wall for the city of Thornton to help keep mud off a trail. Early on, he realized that he was going to need a lot of bricks - like 400 bricks. A major endeavor for him was asking multiple Lowe's and Home Depots for donations of retaining wall bricks. A sand and gravel place donated the 1.4 tons of pea gravel he needed for the foundation, and between six different stores he got 425 bricks (he expected some would break in transition.)

On Thursday, John and two people from the Thornton Parks and Rec Department went around to all the stores that had agreed to donate bricks to collect the bricks and put them on a flat bed truck. That took several hours.

On Friday, John went to pick up the gravel and had that loaded onto a Thornton truck.

Finally on Saturday we showed up at the site at 7am. (Or the men folk did, anyway... I was walking a dog, but I joined them later.) The trucks from the City of Thornton delivered the gravel and the bricks to the site. Several men and boys from the ward came to help as well. They dug a trench six inches deep and a foot or so wide along the side of the trail. They had to remove some concrete as well, which I hear was a challenge. Then they poured gravel into the trench and laid the bricks, checking that they were level. We ended up with a wall about five bricks high and almost 90 feet long.

Later Steven and John went back to glue the top bricks down, and then the job was done! Now he just needs to get it all written up and approved before his birthday in a couple weeks.

Steven put together a photo album with comments and the like. You can see it here. But here are a few of the pictures:

Friday, July 5, 2019

Josh's Eagle Project

Josh had his eagle project on May 11th. His project was to install sprinklers in flower beds at various parks throughout Northglenn. He had the sprinkler materials donated by our local Lowe's. People from the City of Northglenn demonstrated to him how to install the sprinklers, and then the day arrived.

We met at a park where Josh showed the group how to install the sprinklers. Then we divided up into four groups, and each group received the materials they would need and a map to the parks where they would install the sprinklers.

Steven was in a group with the two Tanner boys. The first park they arrived at already had flowers planted in the flower bed! They had to very carefully dig the dirt out and onto a tarp, install the sprinklers, and then carefully shovel the dirt back in, with the women who had planted the flowers watching very closely. The second park they did didn't have flowers planted and went a lot faster.

 The Bishop and his son installed the sprinklers at this park in record time. 

 John, Josh, Peter and I ended up in one group. We installed sprinklers at three different parks - two we started out assigned to do, and one more that the fourth group (that didn't take pictures) didn't have time to finish.

In all, I think we installed sprinklers at seven different park flower beds. On Monday, June 24th, we got to attend a city council meeting where Josh was honored for his service to the city.
Picture from City of Northglenn's Facebook Page.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Dog Sitting

Last week we got to dog sit for a friend of mine, who went on a three day vacation with her family, leaving a 7 month old puppy behind. We didn't think it a good idea to watch him at our home - our house isn't dog-proofed, and the hyper puppy would have terrorized our poor cats. Instead we went over to his house three times a day to clean up his cage and walk the dog.

Have you ever tried to walk a dog who didn't want to be walked? As energetic as this puppy was, he was more interested in investigating an interesting smell in the grass, or selecting the perfect stick or pine cone to gnaw on than in walking. Maybe he was just watching another dog. Maybe he just wanted to roll in the grass in the shade for a little while. But one thing is certain... unless he was chasing a ball, or even better - a rabbit or a flock of birds, or maybe coming for a treat, this dog wasn't terribly interested in walking. I think he was lonely, missing his family, bored of being in his caged off area at home, and so was enjoying being out and being able to look and smell and play.

I was happy to help out my friend. At the same time, I was reminded that I am really more of a cat person. Cats don't have to be walked.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


June 11, 2019 is a day that Josh and Peter might be happy to wish never happened. Both of them got braces that day. Josh will likely have his for 18 months, while Peter is looking at 2 years. Josh gets to wear rubber bands on his teeth, and Peter has an expander on his top jaw that we get to turn with a key every day from almost a month to widen the jaw. Meanwhile they are learning new ways to eat, what foods they should avoid entirely, and which they merely have to cut into bite sized pieces before they put them in their mouths. 

Peter, who wasn't eager to have photographic evidence of the braces, is mourning that his vampire fangs will be pulled back in line with his other teeth. The baby canines didn't come out, so the adult teeth pushed out in front of them, higher in the gum... they look very much like vampire fangs. We finally had to have the dentist pull the baby teeth out before he got the braces. You can see the crooked teeth in this picture taken last year... Anyway, for better or for worse we have begun the process of straightening them.