Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Last Time I Will Ever Go on the Roof

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. Glory to God in the highest.

I love this season of the year. We were surprised to wake up Wednesday morning to snow! In southeast Texas! There were 3-4 inches on the yard and on the roof tops. It was gone by afternoon, although there are a few tiny patches that linger in shady places on Saturday morning. I wish it had been dark enough to turn on all of the Christmas lights in and under the snow.

House first thing in the morning under leaden skies.
Moose wasn't sure that he liked the snow. His legs are too short to keep his belly out of it.

Road to our neighborhood. If we move, this is something I will miss.

Under beautiful blue skies. Glorious.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Birthday at Burroughs Park

We had a great time on a beautiful November afternoon at Burroughs Park with friends and family to celebrate Maddox's birthday. For Maddox, it was all about cake.

Weekend in Houston

And Caroline's soccer game - sports for three-year-olds at it's finest!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wish We Could All Enjoy Fall Together

Southeast Texas is beautiful in the fall. The weather is perfect and the trees have begun to change. In the Big Thicket there are maples that turn a brilliant red. The tupelos (black gum) also turn red. American holly is putting on bright red berries for the winter. And, of course, the pines and magnolias are just the same. We went walking this morning in some light ground fog and enjoyed the chill in the air. Moose escaped shortly after we got home, so he is out in front of the house now annoying the neighbors.

I have to post this picture to prove that I sometimes have to perch on the edge of the bed. I was having one of those sleepless nights and had to take a picture. Janet never stirred - in spite of the brilliant flash. The picture doesn't do justice to positioning - which was basically right down the middle.

Following is a montage of pictures taken at Cassidy's 10th birthday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Time Slips By

Mom hasn't gotten into posting things, and I haven't found a lot of time. I feel like I should post pictures. That's what I enjoy most about the family's blogs. I love to see those pictures of the grandkids. But we just don't take a lot of pictures. Now that the nest is empty, we'd be taking pictures of each other mostly.

I found out yesterday that I will likely have a new work assignment effective December 1. I have no idea what that may be. The guy who is responsible for my "career" is in Virginia, and he assures me that it is something that he thinks I will like. What a tease. How about just talking it over with me? Oh well. I have learned to live with uncertainty and with the company bureaucracy. Silly as it sometimes seems, this is the way things are generally done.

We are marking time waiting for December and the opportunity to see all of the family in Mesa. I know a couple of the kids may not be able to come for financial reasons, but being with Brad and Shirley and all of their family and most of ours is going to be awesome. And we can't wait to welcome Kristi into our family circle.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Catching Up

At last night's General Relief Society broadcase, Elder Dieter Uchtdorf - a counselor in the First Presidency of the church - encouraged all women to develop their talents. Mom has this burgeoning talent and interest in flower arranging. Here are two fall arrangements she put together for our church chapel. They are beautiful and just right for the chapel. One is on a table on the stand and the other is suspended in an alcove at the front of the chapel above the stand.

As a result of Hurricane Gustav, we were "forced" to spend an extra day with Dave and Mimi and family on our way home from Utah. We took the opportunity to capture a few pictures of the grandkids.

Aren't they great? And mom got this great picture of Katherine, Caroline and a neighbor girl playing on Erin's new living room floor. Put your tongue in, will you?

Finally, here are a few pictures of the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. These are local to us, and there were communities that were devastated by tidal surge and flooding. Bridge City has 3400 homes. After the storm, there were only 15-16 that were considered habitable. They will be a long time recovering.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back On Line

We got internet and phone service back yesterday. I don't have to commute to Houston today!! That 5+ hour daily commute was wearing me out. Now that we have service back, you can email us and we will try to post some new things. Love to all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Home at Last

We visited the Joseph Smith Historical Site operated by the Community of Christ (formerly called The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The site includes the Nauvoo House (never finished or occupied during Joseph's life), the Smith family homestead (block house originally built in 1805 and already there when the saints arrived - doubled in size by Joseph Smith III for his family later), and the Mansion House which was operated by the family and others as a hotel. Emma lived in the Mansion House until she died in 1879.

The Red Brick Store contained an office that Joseph used and was the site for the creation of the Female Relief Society in 1842. The Community of Christ operates a gift shop on the first floor that is very nice - they sell really good cold root beer and other nice things.

Friday evening we sat in the Outdoor Theater to watch "Sunset by the Mississippi," a variety show put on by senior and young performing missionaries - a little corny, but a lot of fun. Great to see these elderly people singing and dancing and really having a good time. The EFY kids were all there for the show, so we got to see Jessi. The variety show was followed by Vocal Point, the BYU Men's Accapella chorus (9 guys). They put on a great show.

We drove home through Missouri and stopped for the night in North Little Rock, Arkansas. When I was putting luggage in the car this morning, I held the door for a lady, and it was Judy Roberson. We have known her, Ray, and their family for years. They were on their way to Indiana and just happened to stay the night in the same hotel. Is that amazing?

We got home about 7PM tonight, and it is good to be home where we can sleep in our own bed. I'm off to Houston Tuesday for one night, and have a lot to do this week. Then we are headed to Provo next Sunday afternoon after our stake conference. Wow, this feels like a busy month.

Carthage Conspiracy a Fascinating Book

Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith by Dallin H Oaks

My review

Meticulously researched and an interesting window into the past of frontier American justice and the travails of the latter-day saint community that led to their migration westward.

View all my reviews.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Nauvoo, Thursday Aug 14

We walked about 5 miles this morning. We left the hotel and walked south to Parley Street and walked out into the country to the Old Nauvoo Burial Ground. It was early morning, and we were alone in the beautiful cemetery where many early saints are buried. Many of those buried in his lovely place were children, and we felt a quiet reverence for the place as we wandered the shaded grove and looked at the old limestone tombstones.

After clean up and a light breakfast, we toured more of the sites in Historic Nauvoo, including the Riser Boot Shop where we saw a demonstration of shoemaking (soles held to the shoe with small wooden pegs). We enjoyed the demonstration at the Webb Blacksmith Shop and came away with a ring made from a horseshoe nail (everyone gets one). We also visited the brickyard, but for some reason we didn't take any pictures. This was a shame, because the missionary actually took us into the kiln building and the elder there walked us through the process they use today to make the small souvenir bricks that are given to each family. The industry required of those early residents or Nauvoo was amazing. There were 350 brick buildings when the saints left, and only 49 remain from that period. They made as many as 4 million bricks in a season. And the walks of the homes and other buildings were generally made only of brick stacked three deep - lumber was scarce for framing. Anyway, the three layers of brick made for fairly tornado proof homes.

The Seventies Hall is on Parley Street and it was used for training missionaries who left from here to take the gospel to many countries. It's a beautifully restored building, and we particularly warmed to the older sister who was our tour guide. I got to stand at the podium for a moment, and imagined being there to hear men like Brigham Young, Parley Pratt, or Joseph Smith.

Down Parley Street are placques which record the comments of saints who were involved in the exodus from Nauvoo to the west. At one point in February, 1846, there were 4,000 wagons lined up on Parley waiting to cross the ice choked Mississippi to Montrose, Iowa.

We stopped for a visit with Gabe and Gary, the two oxen, and rode the wagon around the grove. At the end of Parley is a monument to the exodus - Joseph Smith and Brigham Young gazing west across the river, holding a roughly drawn map in hand.

We drove to Carthage and visited the jail where Joseph and Hyrum were assassinated. This is a very sobering experience and leaves one feeling a little melancholy.

We love you. The last few pictures are of an old stone bridge that was built just after the saints left Nauvoo and cross a drainage that was constructed by the saints to rid the swamps or water and make the land habitable.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13

We spent the day visiting sites in Historic Nauvoo. The missionaries are charming and share so much, including their personal convictions and testimony of the gospel. The demonstrations are great, too. We learned about rope making, barrel making, spinning, weaving, baking (in what is called a "bustle oven"), candle making, tin-smithing, and printing. We even went to school - I had a little trouble with the slate. We finished the day by driving across the Mississippi to Fort Madison, Iowa, for dinner. The sunset on the river as we waited for the drawbridge going back to Illinois, was breathtaking.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vacation to Nauvoo Aug 10-12, 2008

We just wish all of you were here with us. This is truly what the early saints called Nauvoo the Beautiful. The spirit here is peaceful and sweet. Jessi is having a wonderful time at EFY, and Mom and I are enjoying the time together. We attended the temple this morning and drank in the peace and tranquility of the beautifully restored building. I sat for some time in the celestial room of the temple with sun streaming in a window in my face. Mom and I ate on the patio of Zion's Mercantile across the street from the temple and had it all to ourselves. This afternoon we went to the Lands and Records building and got hundreds of pages of information related to Ormus Ephraim Bates, my great-great-grandfather. Ormus was married in the temple here in January, 1846, just before the saints abandoned Nauvoo and the lovely temple they had labored so hard to construct. His brothers and sisters owned or leased lots in the city and outside in Hancock County, Illinois. I'll share it all with anyone interested when we get back. I tagged the pictures in the slideshow I'm posting, but I'll have to explain some of them later. Love to all. See you soon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pioneer Spirit

I missed this great activity at church that celebrated the pioneer spirit and included a country store, demonstrations or quilt making, butter churning, and other pioneer crafts. There was also an appearance by our talented young people as a our musical performers. And there were treats like homemade scones, homemade ice cream, cookies, rolls, etc. Fortunately for me, at least one cookie and some rolls made it home. Of course, Mom had to defend those from Jessi and David.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Gramps Camp 2008 Day 2

Day 2. Grandma took everyone to the park to give Grandpa a break. He didn't wake up feeling too good. After lunch, we all headed to downtown Beaumont and to the Texas Energy Museum. The exhibits are great, but the kids (including Grandma and Grandpa) were most fascinated by the Brainteasers exhibit - a room full of puzzles. Everyone had a good time trying to assemble a cube and do other puzzles. We tried again for Gator Country, and this time the weather cooperated. It was pure Bubba, but the grandkids had a fine time. The highlight was the opportunity to hold a young alligator and a Burmese python. After mac and cheese and corn on the cob for dinner, everyone is watching a movie about a cheetah cub raised by a young boy and then released to the wild. So, it's all nature, all the time.
And to close the post, we have an all-star performance of "On Top of Spaghetti."

Gramps Camp 2008 Day 1

Up early for a nature walk. We gathered leaves and bugs. Grandpa pushed over a rotting beech trunk in the woods, and we found a large family of stick bugs. After breakfast we headed to Gator Country. Unfortunately, when we got there it was pouring down rain Southeast Texas style - that is, rain blowing sideways and in buckets. We ate lunch in the car waiting of the rain to stop, but Mother Nature didn't cooperate. Grandma and Grandpa had a plan B for rain, and we went to Tinseltown and saw "Wall-e." Grandma had a nice nap - the kids and Grandpa enjoyed the show.

After a stop at home, we all went to the local water park and stayed about 4 hours. We came home, made pizzas out of English muffins (good, by the way), and then drove downtown. We went to Grandpa's office and sat at a floor-to-ceiling window in a small conference room on the 9th floor to watch the fireworks show. After we got home, everyone had a popsicle, brushed their teeth, and went to bed. Grandpa is reading "The Whipping Boy" to our campsters, and they wanted more and more Thursday night, but Friday night one chapter was all they could handle before they were headed to dreamland. Here's a montage of our first day activities - mostly at the water park. I'm still learning how to use OneTrueMedia, so there are some glitches, but it is pretty good.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Getting Ready for Girls Camp

Well, we spent the day making stage props, key chains, and necklaces for girls camp. I took some pictures of our handiwork. The theme for the camp is "Anchored to Christ." Camp is near Ville Platte, Louisiana, deep in the heart of Cajun country. The anchor was cut from plywood (my old model railroad board - sorry, Dad, but the track was in a state of disrepair and couldn't be rescued anyway). I've never seen a stainless steel anchor, but Mom wanted silver. I put the yardstick next to it so that you could see the size. The key chain and necklace are apparently to thank adult leaders and the girl leaders (respectively).

Last week we were on the high adventure trip near south Padre Island. We camped in a great place on the Arroyo Colorado, about 15 miles north of the Mexican border. The waterway leads to the Laguna Madre. A pod of dolphins swam up the river right by our campsite - lots of fish in the river for hungry dolphins. We had an Altamira Oriole nest in the tree above our campsite, and there were a flock of wild turkeys - at least 7 of them - that wandered through camp in the mornings.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

So, the highlight of my day was making homemade buttermilk biscuits for Jessi and her two best buddies Laura and Paige. They are some of my favorite kids, too. Then I went to work on the yard, and came in late in the afternoon. Now I feel worse for wear. I used to not be such a wimp.

The same thing happened on Saturday past. We took the Scouts to the beach for a sprint triathlon - 300 yard swim, 10-mile bike ride, and 5k run. I had a great time, but by the time I finished cleaning the car and came in for a shower, I was done in for the day. I guess I need to work on my endurance.
Well, the word came today - Rachel is leaving the ABCs and headed back to PR. She'll have to brush up her Spanish and get back to work. She knew this might happen, but she definitely wasn't ready to leave Aruba. But that happens in missionary service. You go where you are called to serve and do what the Lord wants you to do - the best you can wherever you are asked to be.

Friday, May 23, 2008

New Clothes for the Sister Missionary

Rachel asked for some new clothes, so Mom bought the two skirts you see in these pictures and some blouses and sent them to her. She says they are sweat stained, but who can tell? She clearly hasn't changed her personality, and that must shine through to investigators and members alike.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day

Erin and Michael had the best Mothers Day gift of all - a visit to Grandma with Katherine and Caroline. We kept Katherine (and obviously Michael) busy watching "Anastasia" while we took turns talking to Rachel on the phone. That was fun. Poor David found it bittersweet - sweet to talk to her, but bitter to say goodbye.

David did have a consolation prize. Caroline finally warmed up to him. He had to coax her, but she did finally agree to sit by him so that he could tell her about his new bicycle.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Prom Night

Isn't she lovely?

This is our baby, all grown up (well almost). Tonite is Prom. Then it will be recital, then graduation. She has a busy summer planned with High Adventure with the Stake Young Women at South Padre Island, snorkeling, sailing, etc. (w/parents, too, whoo hoo!) Youth Conference, EFY in Nauvoo in August and working making fresh pizza for the residents of Lumberton. Then, off to school with a future exciting and wonderful waiting for her. I hope that future is ready because she will take it with grace, joy, and passion. Her heart is honest and open, her mind quick and capable, her body strong and beautiful. With all her gifts, her one desire is to know and serve the Lord. Her example is humbling and inspires me to be better.

At 18, she is mature and childlike all at once. Mature in her understanding of the gospel and relationships, childlike in her humility and her playfulness. She is an affectionate and obedient child, willing to work and anxious to please. How will we live in a home empty of this shining light?

We will live proud and content, happy and full of expectation as we watch her life unfold. As we have with all of you. Each of you are a joy to us. We just bask in the beauty of the lives you have created for yourselves and continue to be in awe of all you are. Thank you for the gifts you have given us in your spouses and children. This Mother's Day, I want to pay tribute to the power you have had to make my experience as a mother such a satisfying, fulifilling and wonderful one. I truly have delighted in motherhood and will continue to do so for all eternity. Because of you.

Thank you thank you thank you

Monday, April 28, 2008