Friday, February 27, 2009

A Few Things I Am Looking Forward To This Summer

With the warmer weather we have been having the past few days, I began thinking of everything I am looking forward to this summer. Here is part of my list...

1. Friday's spent at the pool with Marja and the kids. Towards the end of last summer, Marja and I would take her boys and Emma to the pool around 10 am and stay until 4 pm or so. We would pack a cooler and just have a relaxing day at the pool swimming and sun bathing. Man...that sounds so good right now.

2. Planting a garden. I have great plans to plant a bigger and better garden this year. However, my kids will not be too thrilled when they learn that they will have more weeding :)

3. Sitting on my front steps in the evening and feeling the cool breeze come down from the canyon. I love this! Nothing like summer nights in Utah.

4. Watching all the kids play at the park across the street from our home. I especially love to watch them on the giant slip and slide on the hill. It is great and the kids love it!

5. Taking the family up the canyon for a picnic. We are so lucky to have these wonderful canyons so close. It is so nice to just drive a few miles and get closer to nature.

6. Watching all the little kids play T-Ball games in the evening at the park. These little dudes are so cute, not to mention hilarious.

7. SLEEPING IN!!! Not every morning, but if I feel like it, I can :)

8. The mornings that I do not sleep in, going for a walk in the crisp, cool air.

9. Watching the city fireworks from my porch. We have a great view of the fireworks each year. Many people come to the park to watch them and we always giggle watching the people gather. Every year at around 10 pm the city starts their daily sprinklers. I know it is evil...but we get a good laugh watching the people scatter. I just cannot believe that word does not get out year after year. It is a great side show :)

10. Grilling out! Nothing like a barbecue in the summertime. I love a good hamburger or crunchy hot dog. Mmmmmm. I guess I could have this in the winter too, but for some reason, it is just not as good.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lil' Will

Yesterday our family had lunch at Mark and Lezlie's. Brandt and Elyse came with their cute little boy, Will. He is my great nephew...I really do not like saying that. It just makes me sound so old :( However, he is just the cutest, roundest little kid! I cannot believe how quickly he is growing up. You just want to hug and sqeeze him! I wish that I had a better picture to show all his rolls, but this one will have to do!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mission Complete :)

Yesterday was the definitely one of the best days of my life. Christopher is home from his two years mission and he is wonderful!!! It was a day we had looked forward to for a very long time and I have to say that we were not disappointed. I find myself just looking at him in awe and taking in everything about him. He not only has grown into a man but also into a spiritual giant. You don't even need to talk to him to notice-there is just something about his mere presence. He glows. He has a poise now that was not there before. He has a calmness and confidence that just seems to surround him. You almost need to meet him in person to experience it. Pictures cannot translate this transformation. It is incredible.

Our day started out very early. His plane was to arrive at Salt Lake International Airport at 8:47 am. The night before I watched the weather forecast and saw that a "major" snow storm was on track to arrive just as we were to be traveling to the airport. Bummer. We got up at 6 am and began getting ready for our departure. Christopher's best friend, Craig (who had just returned from his mission one month earlier) arrived at our home at 6:30 am to help put up the large sign that covered the garage door. I did not want to put it out earlier because of the storm coming through. Craig also accompanied us to the airport. We were out the door at 7:30 am and ready to go get our missionary. I had purchased yellow balloons the night before and my neighbor, Holli, agreed to put them outside around 9am so that they could have some chance of survival through the snow. I had already resigned myself to the fact that they may not make it through the cold temperature, but I thought it was worth a try.

The picture above is not the best, but it is the only one of the family that was in focus :( Hopefully I can get some pictures from Bobby and they will be better.

Christopher had to be to the airport in California at 4 am and he told me later that he only got about an hour of sleep because the other missionaries were playing guitar and ping pong in the next room. He had gone to bed at 9 pm, but was not able to sleep.

This is in the mission van heading to the airport. Christopher had driven this van a lot during his mission taking other missionaries to and from the airport and during transfers.
Here we all are at the airport waiting for Christopher's plane to land.
More visiting at the airport...

This was our welcome wagon gang. The snow storm prevented some of the other families members from arriving and honestly, I am kind of glad. When he did finally get here I could tell he was really overwhelmed. I think that more people would have pushed him over the edge!
Emma and Abigail waiting for Christopher to come down the escalator. Emma stood there for the longest time waiting. It was so cute! She wanted to be the first one to hug him :)
FINALLY!!! We spotted him coming down the escalator! It was the best feeling in the world. All kinds of thoughts quickly traveled through my mind. I cannot even think of any words to could do justice to my emotions. All of us were teary eyed and soooooo happy to have him home!
Christopher hugging his dad. Not many words were spoken just lots of smiles, hugs and tears from everyone.
Christopher hugging his Grandma.
With his best friend, Craig.
Christopher showing us his California driver's license while we waited for his bags.
Heading to the car with our RM :)

HOME!!! The balloons were struggling, but he got the idea.
Going to lunch at one of the his favorite places, Rumbi's. When we took him to the MTC, this is where our family ate lunch. We have now come full circle-ha!
Later last night he visited with the stake president and was officially released. It was hard to watch him take his badge off when the stake president instructed him to. I even shed a few tears. The mission was a great ride and I am strangely sad to see it end.

We then returned home to a family dinner with all 7 of us at the dinner table for the first time in 2 years. How wonderful was that! Jenni and Christopher then headed to the mall to get him some "civilian" clothes. He had lost so much weight that nothing fit him. Later that evening we had numerous people drop by and say hello to him. It was great! I think things finally calmed down around 10:30 pm. What a day to remember...a little glimpse of heaven :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Achievement Days Etiquette Dinner

Emma just completed her Achievement Days with the 8-9 year olds and she is moving on to the next age group. Marja and Jeanne were wonderful as her leaders and she really looked forward to attending twice a month. For their last activity, Marja taught them all about etiquette and how to have manners. It was really cute. Emma came home and quickly became the "Manners Nazi" at the dinner table. Everyone in the family quickly learned to heed her instructions and comply with her orders. Sometimes Greg and Josh will have awful manners at the table just to see her reaction-Men! Greg wants to have an "Unmanners Day" at the table and just have everyone go for it and make Emma crazy-Ha! What am I going do to with them?

Marja even planned a dinner for the girls to practice what they had learned. Emma loved it! A big 'THANK YOU" to Marja and Jeanne for all the hours they put into planning these wonderful activities! Emma will miss having both of you as her leaders.
Some of the girls at the table they set waiting for their first course of dinner to be served.
Pictures oft he girls practicing their manners while having dinner.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Going Home

Last Saturday Jenni and Val said goodbye to a very dear friend, Bronson Willard. Bronson has been friends with Jenni and her best friend, Val, since they were in junior high school and during this past year they have spent a lot of time together. Jenni and Val have spent many evenings visiting Brons and taking him places. Even when he was not able to walk, Jenni and Val would go get him and carry him to their car. Bronson's parents told Jenni and Val that their visits to him where his bright spot in his day. And while my heart breaks for my daughter who is so distraught at this loss, I can't help but be proud that she was such a good friend especially when he really needed one.

Bronson was diagnosed with bone cancer two years ago and fought an incredibly valiant fight. Today was the funeral and I have to say that I have never been to such an uplifting funeral for someone so young. The day that Bronson passed away, he told his mother that he was going on his mission. During the funeral today, the opening song was "Armies of Heleman" and I could not help but think of the last time I had heard that song sung by a large congregation. It was the day we took Christopher to the MTC almost two years ago. One of the speakers even mentioned that Bronson was at last on his mission and that this earth was his MTC. I thought of Christopher's mission and how he is coming home in five short days and how excited we all are to see him again. I thought of all the preparations we are making and how much we have missed him. That made me start to think about our Father in Heaven and how excited he must be to see us again after our earthly mission and how he must long for us to come back to Him.

Bronson will be sorely missed but we all have comfort knowing that we will see him again and that he will be waiting to greet us when our mission is over. How grateful I am for this gospel and the knowledge I have of the Plan of Salvation. I am sure that Bronson has indeed been "Called to Serve" and that he will be a GREAT missionary.
Jenni and Bronson at her first High School dance 2005.

Jenni and Bronson with their group at the same dance. Val is in the blue shirt right next to Jenni.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Super Scribbles

We have the funnest, little (well, actually he is kind of big) kitten. We named him Mr. Scribbles because it looks like someone took a Sharpie marker and "scribbled" all over him. We added the "Mr." because Scribbles just sounded way too blahhhh. On a good day, we call him "Sir Scribbles". He is 6 months old and constantly makes us laugh. He is the most laid back cat I have every seen and will even "fetch" pencils. At first I just thought he was plain nuts, but now I realize we are in the midst of greatness. We have now decided to add the title "Super Scribbles" to his list of titles due in a large part to his latest trick...Let me explain :)

Right beside my side of the bed I have a nightstand that has a small drawer. Inside the drawer I keep Emma's hair ribbons, clips and some elastic headbands. Scribbles LOVES her elastic headbands. I have been finding them all over the house chewed up and I kept telling Emma to stop leaving them laying around because Scribbles is destroying them. She kept telling me that she was not leaving them around the house, and just like a bad mother, I did not really believe her. After all, I had the evidence of mangled headbands to prove it.

Well...a couple of nights ago I was laying in bed reading my book. Mr. Scribbles jumped up beside me and snuggled up to me. As I was reading, he walked right over me and stood on top of the end table. I was curious as to what he was doing, so I put my book down an watched him. He then proceeded to take his paw and after some effort, opened up the drawer and peered inside the drawer for a moment. The next thing I knew, he had plucked out an elastic headband and was heading out of the room with it! That crazy cat!!! I thought that maybe it was a fluke, so I ran after him and retrieved the headband, placing it back in the drawer. I called to Josh to come watch this so that I could have a witness. Well...Scribbles, followed me back into the room and this time he attacked the drawer from the floor. He stood up on his back legs and pried open the drawer with his front paws. I could not believe it! Once again, he looked inside and after some surveying, grabbed the headband. Yes...We are in the presence of a "Super Kitty" :) And I need to apologize to Emma for my horrible accusations.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Emma's Birthday Party

Yesterday Emma had her long awaited birthday party. We have a rule in our home that the kids only get a party with friends every other year. Otherwise it just gets out of control. Usually when it is the year for a friend party, we just have them pick 2-3 friends to go to the dollar movie with or swimming or some other fun activity. Well, this year I decided that it was time to go all out for Emma and give her a real party. She invited some of her friends from school and we had a great time. A couple of friends were not able to attend and that was fine! I still had my hands full. I even pulled out the cake decorating box and got to work on making her a doll cake. I had not made one since my high school years, so I was a bit concerned that it would not turn out. However, I was rather surprised. Thankfully it held together and Emma seemed to really like it.
We played lots of games, but the flour game was by far the most popular. We took a small bowl and packed flour into it. We then inverted it onto a cookie sheet and the girls took turns one by one slowly cutting away the edges of the flour with a butter knife. If the mound of flour collapsed on you while you had your turn, you had to put your face in the flour. It was a hoot! The girls had flour everywhere and all of them insisted on having a chance to dunk into the flour.
This is a picture of the whole gang at the end of the party. Emma had a really good time and thankfully next year is her turn for a "Family Party" and we will have a much calmer event :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Emma!

Today is Emma's 10th Birthday! I can't believe that 10 years have gone by so quickly. She was our "surprise" baby and we just can't imagine our life without her energetic spirit in our home.
The picture above was taken just a few hours after her arrival. This is one of my favorite pictures of that day (aside from the fact of how tired and worn out I look-I can't believe that I am actually posting it on the world wide web). Anyway, I love the look on Josh's face in the background. He was not too thrilled to have a little sister. She pretty much rocked his world, and not in a good way. It took him a long time to even acknowledge her presence. He would not even utter her name for almost a month. I think that he was not happy about being replaced as the baby of the family. Ironically, she was born on his 1/2 birthday and that just seems to be another little jab in his heart!

I also love how chunky Emma's cheeks look. She weighed 8 lbs and we jokingly said that her cheeks were 7 of that! She was such a rolly polly baby and anyone that knows her now would find that hard to believe. She is very lean and fully of energy. She was named after her great, great, great grandmother, Emma Mae Miller and her middle name is her great grandmother's, Laurice Brinkerhoff.

This was taken at her 2nd birthday party. That is Christopher leaning over trying to coach her on how to blow out her candles.

This was Easter when she was about 4. Aunt Dayna bought her this dress and all the bling bling to go with it. She looked so cute and we could not resist taking a few pictures of her.

Happy Birthday Emma and we love you very much!!!