Sunday, August 31, 2008

"You're Killing Me Smalls!!!"

Last night Greg was working late and Emma and I were trying to find a good movie to watch. I was fumbling through all of our DVD's and came across "The Sandlot". I had forgotten what a great movie this is. If you have not seen this, you have got to watch it. This is probably one of the best family movies out there. Emma and I were cracking up. Squints is definitely my favorite character in the movie. I love the scene at the pool with the lifeguard, Wendy Peppercorn. Very funny.

This movie was filmed in Utah and it really captures the awesome summer nights here along the Wasatch Front. I highly suggest renting it (or borrowing it from me) and popping a bag of popcorn. I give it two thumbs up :D Oh yeah...make sure you watch out for The Beast-Hahahaha!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Produce Coming Out of My Ears

"President Spencer W. Kimball called upon Latter-day Saints everywhere to produce their own food. For several years, he asked each family to have its own garden. He said: “We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments … can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods. Make your garden … neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 170–71; or Ensign, May 1976, 124).

I was reading Gina's blog about her garden and she inspired me to go outside and take some pictures of all of the produce we have just out our back door. This year we seem to have a lot more than usual and I feel like I really need to try to preserve as much of it as possible for the winter. The above picture was taken last week sometime. That was from one day of picking just as all of the vegies were starting to come on. Since then I have been up to my eyeballs in squash, green peppers, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and green beans. I have decided to freeze a good portion of it. I have found that freezing is just more economical and also preserves the flavor of the food. Now I just have to find time to get it all done!
This peach tree was planted before we purchased the house. It is actually pretty small but seems to produce quite well. I do not really like fruit, so I have a hard time knowing when the fruit is ready to be processed. This morning I took a peach over to my neighbor, Holli and had her be my test rat and taste it for me. After one bite she told me that they are simply amazing. Who knew? I have since picked all of the ripe ones and have them in the dehydrator now drying.
This is one of my favorite vegetables. It is okra and I first discovered it when we lived in Georgia many years ago. Most people here have no idea what it is or what to do with it. My favorite way to prepare it is to fry it. Not too healthy, but definitely worth it! Next year I have got to plant a lot more of this. Almost everyone in the family loves it.
We also had some grapevines already planted when we bought this house. Sadly, I have not been too good at taking care of them. They are just beginning to ripen and I have big plans this year to make grape juice from them.

In addition we have two large Golden Delicious Apple trees. These are completely loaded this year. I find myself wishing that I lived close to Kirk and his apple press to make some yummy cider just like the good ole' days :) I try not to think too much about the apple trees yet so that I do not become completely overwhelmed! I imagine that sometime in the end of September I will have to figure it out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Vanilla Joy" Giveaway!!!

I have to share with you one of my favorite new websites. It is called "Vanilla Joy" and all this week they are having some fantastic giveaways! If you look at my favorite websites listed in the bottom right hand corner of this page, you can just click on Vanilla Joy and it will take you directly there. Kelsey, a friend in my ward, is the brains behind this site and she has some great ideas to help with anything to do with homemaking and families.

I encourage all of you to please check out her giveaway this week and put your name in the hat to win some of these great prizes.

Some of the prizes include:

(Monday) A Cricut Cutter from Robert's Craft valued at $185.00

(Tuesday) Embellishment Tools and Supplies from EK Success valued at $155.00

(Wednesday) Sidekick Machine (Sizzex), Portable Ribbon Dispenser (Creative Options) and an Ultimate Trimmer (Purple Cow) all of these valuing $165.00

(Thursday) Gorilla Go-Go (Joby), Memory Manager (Creative Memories) and a Storybook Creative Plus all totalling $130.00

(Friday) Desktop Carousel (Making Memories), Decorative Trimmer (Creative Memories), Ribbon Ring Starter Set (Ribbon Ring) and Crop A Dile II Big Bite (Roberts Arts and Crafts) altogether valued at $104.00

Good luck and pass on the word to your friends :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Youth Conference 2008

We had our annual Youth Conference a couple of weekends ago and it was terrific. Our theme was "Mission Possible" and we had arranged for the kids to go to downtown Salt Lake City and help people they might not normally come in contact with. Our goal was to get the kids out of their comfort zones and think outside of the box. Before the conference began we had not told the youth what they would be doing and where they would be going. When we all met on early Friday morning, we told them their assignments and I could tell from their looks that they were a little uneasy.

We had three groups with three different assignments. The first group went to a refugee daycare center. Josh was part of this group and afterwards told me what a great time he had. They basically ran the daycare for a little over two hours and spent time with kids from Africa. Very few of these kids spoke any English. I was later told that Josh found a little boy there that kind of latched onto him.

Tara was in a group that went to the Catholic Community Services and had a tour of a facility that helps to shelter people who may need help. They also went to St Vincent de Paul and had the opportunity to serve lunch to hundreds of homeless individuals. She later told me that although she was a bit nervous at first, it was a really good experience. She was amazed to see all of the people waiting for a meal.

I was a leader in the last group and we started at the Outreach Center in downtown Salt Lake City. Here we organized hygeine kits to be distributed to homeless youth on the streets. We also helped sort books to be given to at risk youth through their Red Rock Reader program. In the afternoon we went to an Adult Detox Center. This was probably the most powerful part of our day. There we had a tour of the facility. It housed approximately 60 adults, both male and female. This facility is for individuals who voluntarily need help in the detoxificaiton process. We interacted with some of these individuals and came to realize that they are just people who were trying to better themselves. We were also able to provide much needed service there as well by sorting donations, cleaning out bins, and cleaning and weeding an outside garden area. It really touched my heart to see these children of God who just needed a helping hand.

Later in the afternoon we all met up the Provo Canyon and camped along the Provo River. As you can see from the picture, Tara was a bit concerned at the prospect of rain. You can certainly tell that she is NOT a northwest girl :) I have to keep telling her that even if she does happen to get wet, she will not melt. After all, it is only water.
That evening we had testimony meeting and you could clearly hear from the testimonies that everyone there had somehow been touched by the experiences of the day. Every youth that I talked to wanted to return to the facility that they had been to and help more. They also expressed how it made them realize that they take a lot for granted. They appreciated what they have so much more and many of them want to find a way to help. I really enjoy my calling and being able to interact with this great generation. They always seem to make me have hope for the future. All in all it was probably one of my better experiences since being in the Young Women organization.

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of School 2008

Today is the first day of school for the year! This summer has gone by so quickly and it hardly seems possible that we are beginning another year of school. We have had a great time these past few months and I am kind of sad to see them all go back. However, I love having my quiet time in the mornings all to myself and having everyone back on an early schedule.

Emma is in the 4th grade this year and very excited to have her very first male teacher, Mr. Bezzant. She was also looking forward to seeing all of her friends that have been gone all summer.
Josh and Tara are both in high school this year. They wanted no part of having pictures taken this morning...I guess they are both just getting too old and that is fine. Tara is a senior this year and will graduate in May with 24 college credits. Wow. She makes my head spin. Josh is a sophomore and is happy that we live close enough to the school that he can come home for lunch with his friends. Not sure how I feel about having a daily invasion during my lunchtime :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Great-Nephew, Will

This is my great-nephew, William Roy Garrison (that makes me sounds really old). This little guy is just the cutest baby ever! I have even had the opportunity to babysit the tiny dude and I can honestly say I am smitten. My Mom has been visiting in Utah the past week and these pictures are from her first visit with him. Brandt and Elyse's dog, Sophie, is a proud big "sister" as well, as you can see from the way she sits waiting for his next move. Brandt is a very proud Dad and Elyse is a wonderful Mother. I am very excited for this new little spirit that has come into our extended family. I can't wait for all of the times I have ahead of me to babysit him again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Letter From Elder Williamson

Dear Dad,

Wow, I cannot believe that the summer is pretty much over. Man, it needs to slow down. As you know, I got transferred and I was pretty sad at first, but I knew I was going to leave. I loved San B and I had a great time serving in the singles ward and seeing how they do things. I am now in Adelanto, which is much like Phelan except we have paved roads and there is a whole lot more black people. The area is doing great and we are teaching a lot of people. We actually don't eve tract that much because we go from appointment to appointment. I have never been to an area where the people are so prepared to hear the Gospel.

My new companion is Elder Marc A Philips. He is from Colorado and has been out for almost 19 months. We get along great and are having a blast. He is my favorite companion since I have been Zone Leader. Dad, this Gospel is so powerful and it can bring joy and love in your life. Not only does your love grow for your Father in heaven, but also for our families. My testimony still continues to grow. My love for the Saviour is indescribable. I have come to an understanding of the gospel and why everyone needs it. Elder Phillips and I have had some powerful lessons together. We teach very well together and we just have awesome companion harmony.

We also had a 2 week missionary who turned out to be an 8 day missionary. He had an accident and I will have to send the tape home to let you know what happened. Long story short, he hurt his foot and had to get stitches.

So yesterday I had a powerful experience. I got to go back to Fontana in the Live Oak ward and baptize Brother Guerrero. It was amazing to see him in white and to hear him bear his heart felt testimony. When I was teaching him a few months ago, his family was having a hard time and he and his wife were struggling. At the baptism they were holding hands and they just looked so happy. Knowing that I was an instrument in our Father in heaven's hand to bring eternal joy to a family just touched my heart.

I have found it hard at time to recognize the spirit and he is always talking to us and giving us direction. We just need to listen more clearly. On August 4th we are having a Zone Meeting and we have the opportunity to train the Elders and Sisters in our Zone. I am training on opposition and overcoming hard time and using the Atonement in our lives. The training went pretty well and I think the Zone really enjoyed it. So this coming weekend on the 9th our ward is having a luau. The thing that is so cool ab out this ward is how diverse it is. We have alot of polynesian families and also a couple black families. I just love the variety. So anyways, about the luau. My companion, Elder Phillips and I are doing some kind of Somoan dance. I guess this luau is a huge thing and people from all over come to this. I am very excited to wear a lava lava with a shirt and tie with flip flops!

So being in leadership just drains the energy right out of you and I never realized how much work it is to be in leadership. You always have someone else on your mind and I really want to do all I can do to help the Elders in my Zone.

Dad, I love this work and I will re-dedicate myself. I know what I need to do. I just need to do it. You get so tired, but I know the Lord will bless you when you do all that you can.

Well Dad, I love you so much. I enjoy getting letters from you. Our relationship has grown so much and I also believe it is because our testimonies have grown together.

I love you,

Elder Williamson

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Great Family Story That I Found While Doing Genealogy

While searching for information on Greg's family line, I stumbled across this golden tidbit of history. I was so excited when I read this story about Greg's great, great, great Grandparents, Milledge & Mary Elizabeth Cook. Not only did it give me dates and places, but it also provided me with a wonderful story of the civil war that we had never heard before . We will be sure to share this with future generations. If you click on the image, it will enlarge so that you can read it too!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy 15th Birthday Josh!

Today is Joshua's birthday. I can't believe that fifteen years have flown by. He was always such a fun little child. He was born on a Sunday morning at 11 am and when he arrived he barely cried for the doctors. He just sat there for the longest time looking around and taking everything in. He has always been like a little sponge and I distinctly remember one morning as I was getting him ready for Kindergarten. I was combing his hair and he proceeded to tell me all about matter. He told me that there were three kinds and that some forms of matter could change form...he even gave me examples. I knew right then that we had a very smart little guy. He is still a fountain for information. He is in the process of writing a trilogy of books. These are not just little books. These books are about 200 pages long and they are like mini Tom Clancey novels. He really has the gift of writing and I would not be at all surprised someday to see one of his books on a best seller list. He also loves to read, play the piano and consume large quantities of hot chocolate regardless of the temperature outside :) We love you very much Josh and hope that you have an amazing birthday!