Monday, March 31, 2014

The Same Sky

Sometimes it's all about your perspective.

Tonight the eastern sky looked a little foreboding. It was overcast and dark.

But it was deceiving. A 180ยบ turn revealed a different picture.

The sky to the west was breathtaking.

How can two views of the same sky, taken only seconds apart, tell completely different stories?

Perhaps it is because things always look better when you look to the sun.


In our quest to relive Butterbeer from our Harry Potter experience earlier this month, I searched the internet for recipes. I found several, some much more complicated than others, and we tried to doctor up some cream soda to achieve the right flavor. Sadly, nothing we tried was close enough to satisfy. 

Little did I know, we had the closest thing to Butterbeer on a shelf at our local farm store. Some friends, after hearing of our failed attempts, happened upon this Vanilla Caramel Creme Soda and left two bottles inside our door. Pour a bit of lightly whipped cream on top and we've got ourselves a winner! Oh Yum!

The next best thing to Butterbeer!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Welcome to the Eagle's Nest

Sam was awarded his Eagle Scout pin last night at a special Court of Honor. Several friends and teachers came to support Sam. We don't have any family within 1,000 miles, but I think Sam felt like he was surrounded by family last night.

My good friend Jessica made the amazing cake pictured below. She wanted to do something special for Sam and, boy howdy, she went all out! Her mother-in-law, also a good friend of ours, provided the supplies and Jessica put in the long hours. Isn't it awesome? Sam loved it!!

Let's look at that a little closer!

While I will admit that Jeff was much more involved than I in getting Sam to this point, I gave Sam a big push at the end to finally finish the last of his requirements and get those papers filled out and turned in. Sam showed the video below as a fun hats off to all the scout moms out there. It is a clip from "A Century of Honor" commemorating the 100 year relationship between the Boy Scouts and the LDS church. 

My nephew, Jacob, had his Eagle Court of Honor last weekend in Utah and my sister made these adorable Eagle cookies. She sent me a photo and I couldn't resist. I had to make some, too. They were a big hit! (Don't look at them too long or they start to look like Gonzo from the Muppets. Ha!)

Several of Sam's favorite teachers came out to support him. Rather than request the traditional letters from the President of the United States or other political leaders acknowledging his accomplishment, I asked those who have mentored Sam over the years and had an impact in his life to write him a note. While I knew Sam would love the letters (he did!), I loved reading them just as much. Sometimes it's easy as his mom to worry about him and how he's ever going to navigate the big world outside our door. Well, if the letters he received are any indication, Sam is going to be just fine! There are a lot of people out there who think the world of Sam. He's really making a splash in this world and has made the lives of many, many others a lot better for his being in it.

Sam with his AP Chemistry and Physics teachers
Congratulations, Sam!!

Now go set your little corner of the world on fire...wherever you may be!

{Now if you'll excuse me for just a minute, I'm going to jot down a few notes to myself so I remember some other details from the evening to help me when I have to plan another of these events.... 

Our scout troop posted the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Savannah sang the National Anthem. After a simple program, Sam said a few words, showed the video, then was presented with his award. I read parts of several letters sent to Sam then Jeff said a few words about his time with Sam in scouting.
A small table displayed a handful of photos of Sam at various camping trips and scouting activities. Food consisted of cake, eagle cookies, four other kinds of cookies (1, 2, 3, 4), a veggie tray and tortilla wraps. The drink was a choice between water and lemon water. (Lemon Water = 1 gallon water, 2 cups sugar, 2 T citric acid, 1 T lemon emulsion [or 2 T lemon extract] - I prefer to use the emulsion: no alcohol and it goes further.) We were expecting a table display from another troop, but it didn't show. No one missed it. Letters were requested from Sam's favorite teachers throughout his school career as well as Dr. Rossi from ESO. They were beautiful letters! Through a connection, I was also able to get a letter from The Piano Guys who Sam has looked up to for quite some time. He was completely surprised and thrilled! They also sent an autographed picture. A letter requested over a month ago from NASA's online request form for Eagle acknowledgement didn't come. No worries. Sam loved the personal connection letters so much more! :) }

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tackling: Good For A Laugh

I know we're in the thick of March Madness and not even close to football season, but since all of our brackets are busted and we have a few days in between basketball games, I decided a little football humor might be a nice change of pace.

Just the way I like it. Go Cougars! :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feelin' Groovy

It's Decade Day for Sadie. Two years ago she looked just like me in the 80's. Today she opted for tie dye and frizzy hair. Cute little hippie!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

As If Sadie Wasn't Crazy Enough...

It's crazy hair day at Sadie's school today. I'd say we accomplished our goal!

Cute little bug. :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Called To Serve

No big white envelopes were waiting for us upon our return from Florida, but the mailman got quite a warm reception when he arrived, envelope in hand, this afternoon. Sam and Savannah weren't home and I think the 3 hours we had to wait between the time the call arrived and the opening were more stressful for me than the 3+ weeks we've been waiting since Sam submitted his papers!

So the wait is over! Watch the video below to hear Sam read his call. And, by the way, nobody guessed where he would go.

Sam is super excited! He hates to be cold (understatement) so it looks he's set for the next couple of years. :) July 16th is a full four months away, but I fear it'll be here before we know it.

We're so happy for you, Sam!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 3 - Exhaustion Sets In

We are beat! I don't even have any pictures today. We headed back to Islands of Adventure again this morning and did everything we could until the park was overcrowded and the lines way too long. With a chill in the air and aching feet, we unanimously agreed to head back to our hotel around 1:00. The sun came out so we swam and ate lunch and headed back to the park around 6:00 when the crowds had thinned. We drank more butterbeer - it may be a while before we get that again and it's SO good! Think of the best cream soda you've ever had and it's better than that! - and went on a few more rides and still left before the park closed. We've had a great time and loved our first trip to Florida.

A full day in the van tomorrow! It's a good thing we like each other. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Universal Studios

We enjoyed Universal Studios even with the rainy morning. It turned out to be a beautiful day and we had very little wait for most rides and attractions. The biggest hit of the day was definitely Minion Mayhem. The kids loved it and we all found it clever and funny.

We were able to do everything we wanted to do by about four or five in the afternoon so we headed back to the hotel for a swim and then dinner. We're getting pretty exhausted! Our feet are sore and we've gotten some sun, but we're ready to do it all again tomorrow!

My Minions.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Islands of Adventure - Hogwarts and Hogsmeade

Our view as we walked to Islands of Adventure from our hotel this morning.
Today we started things off with breakfast at The Three Broomsticks, complete with butterbeer. Oh Yum!! The Harry Potter part of the park was really impressive and didn't disappoint!  My favorite ride of all was the Dragon Challenge. I want to love roller coasters, but I hate how jerky they are and how they hurt my neck. The Dragon Challenge is so smooth that you get all the best parts of a roller coaster with plenty of upside downs and loops without any of the jerkiness. It is so fun! I laughed all the way through!

Here are a few pictures of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. So authentic and well done! We loved it!

I promise Soren had more fun than it seems from this picture. :) We always wear matching BYU t-shirts when we go to amusement parks, at least the first day. It's SO much easier to keep track of everyone and we love our BYU!! Savannah hates the matchy-matchy thing, but at least she's a good sport!

My favorite shirt of the day! :)
We did a lot more than just Harry Potter today -- getting chased by T-Rex, for example, in Jurassic Park. :) It's been a great day!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Florida - We're Here!

After 16 hours in the van, we are here and mostly sane. :) Florida is beautiful and just what we were hoping for! It's been a brutal winter and we're all looking forward to three days of sun!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Florida or Bust

Tomorrow morning we're off to the Land of Sunshine! Spring Break couldn't have come at a better time. We are all in desperate need of a vacation and we couldn't be happier about our destination. Happy Trails! :)

By the way, no mission call yet. Hopefully a large white envelope will be waiting when we return!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

When We're Helping We're Happy

Sadie is one of our best helpers. Give that girl a job to do and she's happy as a lark. She focuses in on her task and often goes the extra mile. I had to smile when I opened the cupboard after she unloaded the dishwasher. :)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Too Busy?

One morning when I was up early and the kids were all asleep, I sat down to scroll through the Mormon Channel on my Roku and ended up watching a few commercials produced by the church. When I came across this one, I had tears running down my cheeks before it was through. A great message!

More commercials can be found here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mr. Bean

Are you familiar with Mr. Bean? Maybe I have a weird sense of humor, but he cracks me up! I first learned of him in Scotland and then Jeff and I used to watch old episodes on a PBS station when we were first married. This is apparently the first episode of the original show and it's pretty good! It's long -- especially for this blog where I try to keep things short and sweet -- but if you have a half hour, Mr. Bean is always good for a laugh. We sure get a kick out of him! :)