Sunday, December 24, 2017

High School Christmas Concert

The other day, I said I'd share a couple of videos from the High School Choir Christmas concert. I realized today that it's now or never if I want to get this done before Christmas!

Here are three of my favorite numbers.

Sterling had a solo in The First Noel, performed by the school a cappella group, Maximum Forte.

White Winter Hymnal is a song they got from Pentatonix. Maximum Forte learned the hand motions and it's so cool! I wish they were sitting farther back on the stage so we could see the whole group at once. They were sitting on stools really close to the audience so the camera was only able to get so much, but the sound alone makes this worth posting.

This last one is all the choirs combined, singing Variations on Jingle Bells. It's super fun. Soren is tucked behind someone near the front. Sterling is easily seen.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Choose Happiness

Spencer has been doing so well on his mission. He's had 2 great companions so far and he's really been embracing his experiences and learning all he can. But last week was hard and some discouragement and even a little depression started to set in. During a routine interview with his mission president later in the week, Spencer was given some very wise counsel. President Nelson told him that when he's faced with a decision of how to feel, he will always choose happiness. Spencer said, "I really like that, so I wrote on a sticky note and put on my desk: 'I will choose happiness. -President Nelson' so I can always remember that."

The video for Day 19 of the Light the World campaign really touched me. It's the journey of an autistic young man named Aaron Jepson. At the end of the video are the words, "In the face of adversity, Aaron chooses happiness." It's a needed message and one that I've been hearing from many different sources lately.

"Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think." I don't know who said it -- it's been attributed to several people including Buddha, Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar, but I believe it. It's our thoughts, not our circumstances, that determine our feelings.

Just taking a minute to reframe things may be all it takes to see the blessings and happiness right where we are. Choose happiness. :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Opus 23 Concerto in G Major for Violin and Piano by J B Viotti

It's that time of year! Last week was filled with recitals, concerts and parties. It was a great week! I'll post a few of my favorite songs from the high school choir concert in a day or two. For now, here is Sterling's Violin Recital piece. He played it so well! Enjoy. :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Light the World - Day 1

Today is the start of the Light the World campaign by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are challenges each day leading up to Christmas - different ways to Light the World through service. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in. Just think of what a difference we can make!

Today's challenge is found in Matthew 10:8 - "Freely ye have received, freely give." 

I love today's video. I wish there were vending machines like this in my little corner of the world!

What am I doing today? I'm going to make a donation to my favorite charity, Educate the Kids. It's run by a friend of mine from Scotland. 100% of donations go to help the children in a small village in Kenya. Educate the Kids has built an orphanage and two schools for these kids. They also provide lunch (and sometimes breakfast) each day for the school children. For some, this is the only food these kids get. I've been feeling so, so grateful for all my blessings and know that a little bit will go a long way to help those in extreme poverty. Educate the Kids is working miracles for these children through education.

Go to to find out more about the campaign and to see all the challenges. Are you in?

Let's do this! We can #LighttheWorld. :)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Shrimp Bug Contraption

You've probably never heard of a shrimp bug. That's because we made up the name. Years ago at certain times of the year, we would find these large bugs in our basement that sort of looked like a cricket, but they were brown with super long antennae and really long legs that could jump like 3 feet or more. They were terrifying. Their bodies sort of resembled a shrimp so we named them shrimp bugs and we all hated them. 

We later learned that they are actually called Camel Crickets, but we still call them shrimp bugs. We still get them. We still hate them. Unfortunately, we've had more than usual this year.

Sadie found one on the stairs last week after everyone had gone to bed. It was pretty late, but she was determined to make sure it wouldn't crawl (or jump!) into her room during the night. Here's the contraption she came up with:

You can see a few purple and pink ponytail holders on the stair behind the black folder. Sadie initially fired those at the bug to see if she could just annihilate it outright. It never moved so she thought maybe it was dead. See the markers and highlighters under the tub against the wall? She tried those next, throwing them at the shrimp bug which annoyed it enough that it crawled up the wall. She trapped it against the wall with the plastic tub, but then she was stuck. She couldn't let go or the tub would fall. She reached as far as she could and was barely able to grab Sterling's music folder which she propped against the bucket while she ran for tape. Once she secured the bucket to the wall, she kept the folder there for extra support then put her trash can next to that for added peace of mind. 

When I went downstairs the next morning, this note was on top of the bucket:

"Caution Massive Shrimp Bug!!! (caught by me so give me a medal of bravery)... or a blizzard  -Sadie Stowell
What a funny girl. :)

Fortunately for us all, camel crickets aren't invasive. They don't bite or get into food or otherwise cause trouble. They are just really big and ugly and terrifying. Sadie is the only one who sleeps in the basement and that's the only place we've found them, but I'm not worried about her. She's obviously got it under control.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Too Many Ducks

I know, I know. It's been forever. Life is good, it really is. I just haven't taken time to document the good stuff. But tonight I realized that there have been several things lately that have made me laugh or smile and I need to share! This one is definitely good for a laugh. I've watched it four times so far and I crack up every time!

Gotta love it! :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sterling at ReMix

In August, I mentioned that Sterling attended ReMix Vocal Academy at BYU during the summer. It's a pretty intense and amazing A Cappella camp, run by the director of BYU's Vocal Point. There were about 120 kids at ReMix that week (session B). They were all divided into 8 different groups. Sterling was on the Blue Team.

The final concert was pretty cool! It started off with all 120 kids for the intro "Unpack Your Heart." You can't see Sterling in this video, but he was there and he was a beatboxer during this number.

That was great, but it wasn't my favorite. After the opener, each group did their own number. Sterling's group sang "There's A Place For Us," by Carrie Underwood. Again, Sterling was the beatboxer. I think he sounds pretty good!!

That was great, but it wasn't my favorite. During the concert, they had a few beatboxers come out for a demo. Sterling (in blue) was selected to participate along with a Red Team member and one of the counselors (in green).

Okay, that was awesome and was definitely one of my favorites! We all loved it and the audience was going crazy. It was pretty cool! :)

The final number was a Mashup and Sterling was the second soloist.

That piece was a favorite as well. There was so much energy and you could tell these kids had worked hard and were having a great time out there!

Sterling loved his experience at ReMix and can't wait to return - along with Soren - next summer. We're all looking forward to it! :)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Paint Louis

The city of St. Louis has a graffiti event every year, cleverly called Paint Louis. Graffiti artists paint sections of the flood wall south of the gateway arch.

Having previously studied this art form, a missionary serving in the St. Louis area decided last year that he wanted to be a part of the event. He was accepted to participate, received permission from his mission president and he and his companion got to work. The event was held a few weeks ago. I love how they were able to share their message in such a unique way. And I love the final result, right down to their graffiti "tag" in the top right corner.

Click here to read the whole story. It's pretty cool!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Saying Goodbye: It Doesn't Get Any Easier

Spencer reported to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah this afternoon. His two-years of missionary service has officially begun.

I'm so happy for him! We've wanted him to have this opportunity and experience, literally, since he was born. That's what makes the pain of separation so ironic. We wanted him to go, but wish he could stay here forever. Yeah, it doesn't really make sense. But I felt the same way when Sam left for his mission and again when I dropped Savannah, then Sam, off at college. It's hard to let go, but it's in the going that they learn and grow and become.

Spencer flew out yesterday, but before we left for the airport he had to get in just a little more of his favorite game...

We've played a ton of badminton over the last 5 months as is evident by the dirt patches on the court. Spencer is the man to beat. Even in their suits, Spencer and Jeff couldn't resist one last opportunity to play. Now we all have two years to get good enough to beat Spencer when he gets home. ;)

One last picture of the gang. It's sad to see these good friends separated.

Still smiling on the way to the airport.

Mercifully, Spencer flew out of a small airport.
We were given extra time together because security was taking a break.

Spencer had a one-hour layover in Chicago which turned into a 4-hour layover. I, of course, was worried about him because...well, because I'm his mother. Mercifully, a member of the church from Utah who happened to be at the same gate as Spencer texted me and we were able to communicate briefly so Spencer knew we were all aware of his delay (especially those waiting for him in Utah) and I knew he was doing well. We were all super happy when he finally reached the ground in Utah.

He stayed with my brother, Rob, last night and they went to lunch with Sam and Savannah before reporting to the MTC. He called me for one last tearful goodbye after lunch. The tears were mostly mine. Spencer didn't break down until he said goodbye.

Within thirty minutes of his arrival at the MTC, Spencer sent me a super quick e-mail. He said, "I know I'm doing the right thing," and also mentioned that his district (the other missionaries he would be in classes with) was "crazy awesome." Those are words to calm a mother's heart.

Spencer is ready. He knows how to work, and he's easy to get along with. He has a strong testimony of the Savior and His Atoning Sacrifice.

He's going to be just fine.