Monday, September 18, 2017

Peter's Talk on Honesty

Peter got to give his first talk in Sacrament Meeting yesterday:

Honesty is choosing not to lie, steal, cheat or deceive in any way. Two of the ten commandments talk about honesty: "Thou shalt not steal", and "Thou shalt not bear false witness." In the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet it says, "If you lie, steal, shoplift, or cheat, you damage your spirit and your relationships with others."

President Monson once shared an experience where he learned that honesty is the best policy. He said:
Finally, honesty is the best policy. I learned this truth in a dramatic manner during boot camp when I served in the Navy 55 years ago. After those first three weeks of isolated training, the good news came that we would have our first liberty and could visit the city of San Diego. All of the men were most eager for this change of pace. As we prepared to board the buses to town, the petty officer commanded, “Now all of you men who know how to swim, you stand over here. You will go into San Diego for liberty. Those of you who don’t know how to swim, you line up over there. You will go to the swimming pool and have a lesson on how to swim. Only when you learn to swim will you be permitted liberty.”
I had been a swimmer most of my life, so I prepared to get on the bus to town; but then that petty officer said to our group, “One more thing before we board the buses. Follow me. Forward, march!” He marched us right to the swimming pool, had us take our clothing off and stand at the edge of the deep end of the pool. Then he directed, “Jump in and swim the length of the pool.” In that group, all of whom could supposedly swim, were about 10 who had thought they could fool somebody. They did not really know how to swim. In the water they went, voluntarily or otherwise. Catastrophe was at the door. The petty officers let them go under once or twice before they extended the bamboo pole to pull them to safety. With a few choice words, they then said, “That will teach you to tell the truth!”
How grateful I was that I had told the truth, that I knew how to swim and made it easily to the other end of the pool. Such lessons teach us to be true—true to the faith, true to the Lord, true to our companions, true to all that is sacred and dear to us. That lesson has never left me. (President Thomas S. Monson, "The Call to Serve", General Conference Oct 2000)
 Another part of honesty is integrity. Integrity is thinking and doing what is right at all times, no matter what the consequences. Joseph Smith showed integrity by not denying the church, even though people threatened to kill him. There are many examples of being honest in the scriptures. One of them is the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors. This group was the sons of the people of Ammon and they fought to protect this land because their parents took an oath not to take up arms against their enemies. Their children, however, did not. So Helaman takes the sons to battle. And in verse 20 of Alma 53 it says, "And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all- they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted." I know that this church is true, and that if you are honest that good things will come from it. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hannah: College Student

Friday morning, Steven took John and Josh to seminary and then to school, then came back home instead of continuing on to work. Before it was time for Peter to leave for school, Steven, Hannah and I were on our way to Rexburg, Idaho. 
The radio in the van stopped working a couple weeks ago, but we acquired a small speaker we could use with a cell phone, and we listened to sound tracks from musicals during most of the drive. 

We arrived in Rexburg about 4:50pm, with a whole 10 minutes to check in at the office before they closed for the day. We unloaded Hannah's stuff from the van, and Hannah and I unpacked while Steven went to find a place for the two of us to spend the night. (We hadn't thought to reserve a hotel room early enough, but he found us a great campsite on the north end of town!)

After Steven returned, the three of us went to have dinner at The Burg, a cute little hamburger place with a stage for live music, although no one was performing that evening. After we finished eating, we wandered across the street to the BYU-I campus, and explored the beautiful gardens and wandered around the various buildings on campus. Hannah had a talent show to attend that evening with her roommates, so we dropped her off back at her apartment, and Steven and I went to our campsite for the night.

The following morning, Steven and I packed up our stuff (Camping is so easy when it is just the two of us!!!) and then picked up Hannah to take her grocery shopping. When her fridge was stocked, we returned to campus for another walking tour, this time exploring the inside of the I Center, the library, and even wandered over to see the Rexburg temple. Around noon, we took Hannah back to where the freshmen were gathered for lunch and tours, gave hugs and said our goodbyes, and then, with my eyes stinging and wet, Steven and I returned to our car and the journey home. 
I crocheted a few creatures in the car on the way there, and
we left them hidden around Hannah's apartment when we left.
We stopped at my sister April's home in Green River, WY that evening, and enjoyed visiting with her and her little ones. The following morning we attended sacrament meeting with her - it was their ward's Primary Program, and then continued on our way home. 

We arrived back in town around 5:30 Sunday evening and collected the boys from where they had been staying at a friend's house. They had attended the ward campout Friday night, gone swimming Saturday afternoon, and attended church on Sunday, so they hadn't missed us horribly.

So now our family at home is smaller by one person. Peter told me when he got to school Friday morning he was crying because Hannah had left. Poor kid. I spent much of Monday finishing cleaning out Hannah's old room and preparing it for John to move in. I think the boys will appreciate being able to spread out a little. 

I will admit, I miss Hannah. I am grateful for modern technology - I can text her and we can Skype, so I don't feel like she is totally out of touch, but it isn't quite the same. I know she will do well in college and that this is an important step in her life, but I think in my heart she will always be my little girl. And I miss her.

Hannah's 18th Birthday Celebration

Last Tuesday, (the 5th!) we celebrated Hannah's 18th birthday. Now, I realize that we were early by almost two weeks, but we wanted to celebrate with her before she left for college, and time was ticking down and that was the last evening before she left that we all would be at home, so that's when we did it.

I was actually impressed when I took the boys birthday shopping for her. They were so conscientious about getting her things that would be useful in college. They gave her rubber scrapers for when she makes brownies and a strainer for her mac n cheese as well as a food chopper and serving utensils. Peter gave her a jar of Nutella because, well, it's Nutella. She also got a crock pot, baking sheets, a candle warmer and a pocket knife.

She asked for an ice cream cake, but it was too hard to stick candles in, so we put the candles in the box it came in instead.

Eighteen years ago, Steven and I were sitting around our little one bedroom apartment in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, looking at our newly acquired crib and changing table and stacks of tiny clothes and we were wondering what it would be like to be parents. And here we are now, with our daughter on the brink of adulthood.

I hope that we have taught her well. I hope that she knows what she needs to know, or at least knows how to find out what she needs to know in life. I'm proud of her and the person that she has become, and I trust that she will do well.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Family Temple Trip

Saturday morning, Steven and I took our children to the temple. We had a big pile of family names that Steven had found and we wanted the kids to do the baptisms and we only had a few months between when Peter turned twelve and received his temple recommend, and before Hannah leaves for college. With work schedules, vacations, and other events, it was a challenge to find a free weekend when we were all available, but this last Saturday worked and it was wonderful to have our entire family in the temple together!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Canine Encounter

When I was a child, I was TERRIFIED of dogs. I didn't have a whole lot of experience with them; we didn't have one. But the neighbors had two HUGE BLACK DOBERMANS. Whenever we were in our backyard, they would stick their noses through a hole in the fence and bark and growl as though we were invading their territory.

As a missionary, my experience with dogs grew and I learned to tolerate them. I realized they weren't all out to bite me. Some were actually friendly. Over time, my terror has settled into a quiet, respectful indifference. I don't go out of my way to meet dogs, but if I happen to encounter someone with a friendly dog and the dog wants to come over and say hello, I'm okay with it.

A similar looking dog to the one that chased me... maybe.
This one looks a lot calmer.
Today, I had left Peter at his school and was continuing my morning walk when as I passed one house, I watched a large, brown dog claw his way over the wooden fence from the back yard and come racing towards me, howling!

???   What was I supposed to do   ???

I debated. Was I supposed to turn to face him? Should I try to knock on the door and tell his owners he had escaped from the backyard? His whole demeanor told me he wanted me away from his territory, and I had no idea what he would do to me if I approached his house! In the end, I retreated. I didn't run, but I did continue my walk, with him following me, baying at me at the top of his lungs. I passed the property line, and was halfway past the next house before he stopped following and the barking stopped. I didn't look back. I hope he went home, and didn't remain to terrorize others. I was just praying in gratitude that he hadn't bitten me and wasn't following me home!

Friday, August 18, 2017


"The house is quiet;
the kids must be back in school,"
I hear myself think.

So, yeah! The kids are in school. I'm back on the computer with time to spend (without a child standing at my shoulder asking how long until I'm done so he can get on to play Pokemon...) Not that I plan on spending a lot of time on the computer today, but I thought I should wrap up blogging about our summer before it is too far in the past to remember well.

It has been a busy summer, I'll start by saying that.

Mid June - Hannah, John and Joshua all got to attend our stake trek in Wyoming. They had a good time and I think it was a good experience for them.

The following week was Peter's birthday, John got his drivers permit, we had 11 year old scout camp (see first two paragraphs here), followed by our two week vacation (See here, here, here and here.) While driving in the car on that vacation, I crocheted a bunch of minions which I gave to my nieces and nephews on Steven's side. (Hannah took them out for a photo shoot the evening before I gave them away.)

We returned in time for the 4th of July. Then we had a couple weeks of "normal" summer, with the boys spending as much time as possible on their computers, and Hannah working at Sonic.

The week after that, John had his birthday and turned 16!

The day after John's birthday, we attended a Rockies game, compliments of Steven's work. I didn't take any pictures, but instead crocheted a couple pink pigs, which we gave to the granddaughters of one of Steven's colleagues. 

The week after that, Steven, Josh and Peter went to Peaceful Valley Scout Camp, leaving Hannah, John and me here at home. Hannah spent a lot of time at work, and John spent a lot of time on his computer (he's writing a computer game) so it was pretty quiet. 

The following week with Josh and Peter at home was not so quiet even though John was gone at high adventure camp for the entire week and Hannah had her wisdom teeth pulled. She was uncomfortable for a few days, but it seemed to heal well. 

And then last week was Josh's birthday.


And then we had our "last hurrah" fiasco of a campout (see here).

In spare moments over the summer, I continued to crochet small projects:

And now the boys are in school. Last night was back-to-school night at the high school where I got to go around and meet John and Josh's teachers for the coming semester or two. Some of the faces were familiar, others were new. Hannah came with us to say 'hello' to some of her previous teachers. It's interesting having three or four kids going through one school. One teacher saw Hannah and John together for the first time (He was Hannah's French teacher, and John just got into his French class) and just made the connection that they are siblings. Another teacher (who has had Hannah and John and now gets Joshua) referred to getting siblings as like collecting trading cards, and trying to collect the whole set.

Hannah is still here for a few more weeks before she will be off to school, too. 

When I say that I'm grateful that school is back in session, it isn't that I'm glad my kids are gone most of the day. I do miss them. I think it is a return to "normal life" that I enjoy. It's having a predictable schedule that I appreciate. I like having everyone home at night and not having this one or that one away at a camp for an entire week at a time. I like that my children are spending their time more productively - learning and growing in different ways than they did during the summer. 

That being said, I'm positive that by next summer, I'll be looking forward to summertime again. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Fiasco of a Campout

A few months ago, when Steven and I were looking at the summer months ahead, we decided that we wanted to go on a short family camping trip sometime this summer. Between trek, 11 year scout camp, our big trip to California and Arizona, boy scout camp, and high adventure camp, and the fact that July is generally a busy month for Steven at work, our summer was looking pretty booked. But we thought we could squeeze in a campout the week before school started as a "last hurrah". Steven did some research and reserved a campsite for three nights at State Forest State Park, about a 3 hour drive from home.

Early last week we began our preparations for this campout. We made a menu plan, and then a food/equipment packing list, and a shopping list. I went shopping, and then gathered the food and stuff we would need for meals. I made a packing list for clothes that each of us would need, and each of us packed our clothes. Steven gathered the camping equipment and loaded the car, and Wednesday morning around 10am, we were off.

We arrived at the campsite in the early afternoon. It was a nice campsite, within 50 steps of a beautiful lake, and our first order of business after looking around was to pitch the tent. That was when Steven realized he packed the wrong tent. Instead of our big 8 man tent with three divisions that fits our family perfectly, he had accidentally packed a four man tent belonging to the scouts in our ward... which was at our home because it was broken and one of the poles needed to be replaced... and the broken pole wasn't even with us. In other words, we were three hours from home with a tent that was too small to fit our family and couldn't even be erected properly. And there was rain in the forecast.

Should we give up and return home? Should we go home, get the right tent and return? In the end we set out in search of a new tent. We asked around at a few places, and learned that the nearest place that *might* have a tent was a mini-mall/grocery store in Walden, 20 miles away. Luckily, they did have a tent big enough to fit most of us, and so we bought it and returned to our campsite where we set it up, as well as the broken tent - as well as we could.

That evening it rained. The broken tent door had been left unzipped, and water got in. The new tent wasn't designed very well, with netting across the top of the tent under the fly, and it, too, took on a lot of water. Steven bailed water from both tents with a cup, and then with a couple towels. One of our books had been accidentally left in a tent and got waterlogged.

After dinner we were enjoying s'mores over a fire when John's stomach rebelled and he raced for the outhouse, throwing up on the way.

That night it there was a huge thunder storm. Rain pelted the tents, winds buffeted them. Steven and I lay awake listening to the storm in the new tent we shared with Peter, while John and Josh slept in the broken tent and Hannah slept in the van. We didn't get much sleep that night.

The next day (Thursday) we explored the park, toured the visitors center and went on a couple hikes. It rained lightly in the evening, as we were making dinner, but we pulled a tarp over our heads for the few minutes it rained hard, and we were fine.

That night John decided to sleep in the new tent with us, since the broken tent didn't really provide enough room for two. Around 2am, he woke with an upset stomach again, and only made it to the door of the tent before his dinner came back up. He spent the next few hours travelling between our campsite and the outhouse, while Steven and I laid in our tent listening to some local bovine bellowing so loudly that the noise echoed off the hills around us, and more cows across the lake mooed back in response.

Friday morning after breakfast we climbed in the car and realized that the low pressure tire light was lit on the dash board. We found a maintenance place where a young woman helped us fill a couple of our tires. I hoped the low pressure was caused by bouncing over the rough dirt roads and not by anything more serious. While we were there, we also took advantage of the water spout there to refill our water bottles and wash dishes... there was no water in our campground and we didn't realize that before we came so we didn't have anything big to hold water in besides our water bottles and our cooking pot.

A frequent visitor to our campsite was a brave and inquisitive chipmunk. He had no fear of any of us, and even ran up my leg a couple times! He burned his paws on the dutch oven once, not realizing it was hot, and dashed off for a few minutes to dig his paws in the dirt... but he returned a short while later.

Friday we went on a couple short nature trails. We discovered another water spigot on the other side of the lake that we could use to fill water bottles. That afternoon we relaxed around camp, carving, reading, fishing. Steven and Hannah drove back to Walden to fill the car with gas.

That evening when we were pulling out the ingredients for the stew we had planned for dinner, I realized I had forgotten to pack the stew meat... (It had been in the freezer, and not with the other things in the refrigerator so I forgot to grab it.) The stew was fine with just the vegetables and seasonings...

That night I actually slept well. I think John got up to throw up again sometime during the night, but I was so exhausted I must have rolled right over and gone back to sleep. I found it interesting that John was fine during the day, eating normally, drinking water, etc. but every night we were out there he threw up.

Saturday morning I realized that somewhere between making the menu plan and actually packing the food, I hadn't packed anything for breakfast that morning. (They were the same ingredients as we'd had for other meals... but I hadn't packed enough for two meals...) Anyway, we had hot chocolate for breakfast, took down the tents, packed up and drove home. We were done.

This campout will be memorable, if only for how unprepared we were.