Saturday, July 15, 2017

Peach Perfect

Or maybe I should title this post "Peach Plenty." Either way, we have beautiful, sweet, ripe peaches coming out of our ears.


The peach tree at our rental home next door has exceeded all expectations. Jeff pruned it pretty heavily last fall. This spring, when we saw that it was producing more peaches than it could possibly support, Spencer thinned it, completely filling a five-gallon bucket with nickel-sized peaches. He thinned it a little more after the bucket was full then decided that was good enough. 

Fast forward a couple of months and several of the branches are dragging on the ground. This picture is the underside of just one branch. Isn't that crazy!! I've never seen anything like it.


It's kind of fun. We've been giving away peaches left and right. I've been eating them for breakfast every morning. I'm making a peach crisp tonight and peaches-and-cream cheesecake tomorrow. Between me and my friends, we've picked well over 400 peaches and still, the tree looks untouched. 


Good thing we like peaches! :)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hens and Chicks


A couple of summers ago, while visiting my brother, Steve, and his family, Spencer was admiring their backyard landscaping. He was intrigued by their hens and chicks that were planted in various locations around their yard. When he asked his Aunt Jenny about them, she easily pulled several little offshoots or babies from the masses and put them in a box for Spencer to grow at home. 

Those babies have multiplied! They have filled in the area under our tree house and I love them! 

This is just one small grouping of the hens and chicks that started from one offshoot two years ago.

This one is larger than the rest and, like a protective mother hen,
you can see the little babies growing under her "wings." It reminds me of the scriptures
about how Christ will gather his people just like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. :)

I'm thinking about bringing some in the house to plant in small pots. They are so easy to grow, they require very little effort, and they make me happy!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Golden Girl

It's Sadie's golden birthday! Hard to believe my baby is twelve! I feel like I say "How did that happen?" a lot lately, but still... how did that happen?


Sadie is funny, kind, smart, organized, and beautiful. She is a great friend and a fun sister. She definitely holds her own with her brothers! She's often my little sidekick and is always willing to play me in a game of Five Crowns, Phase 10, Ligretto, 3 up 3 down.....

Sadie loves to learn new things including baking and crafts. She is making great progress on the piano and she has the sweetest voice. One fun fact about Sadie is that she really likes looking at houses. Let her loose on realtor.com and she'll be occupied for hours. Future realtor, maybe? :)

Sadie will be in 7th grade this year. She's excited and a little nervous for middle school, but I know she'll do well. She is very conscientious about her schooling and always tries her best.

I can't imagine life without my Sadie-bug.

Happy Birthday, baby. I hope 12 is your best year so far!

Here we tried out Sadie's new face-painting kit. :)



Saturday, July 1, 2017

25 Years Ago Today

Twenty five years ago today was a big day for me.

Saying goodbye to my dad at the MTC. (I've always had a hard time saying goodbye to my dad!)

On July 1, 1992, I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah in preparation for my service in the Scotland Edinburgh Mission (SEM). I was in the MTC for only 13 days. At the time, missionaries going to English-speaking missions stayed in the MTC for 3 weeks. However, the SEM was getting a new mission president and the outgoing president wanted to get us there before the change to lessen the load on the new president.

The classic MTC picture - my district pointing to Scotland on the big MTC map. I'm in the floral skirt.

I loved the MTC. Two districts totaling 21 missionaries had all been called to Scotland so we were a pretty tight group. 

My MTC district. I'm the one in pink.

I have so many great memories of my time in the MTC and my mission. If I had to do it over again, I definitely would!

Friday, June 30, 2017

50 Years

Happy 50th Anniversary, mom and dad! I'm so glad you were married for forever. Anything less wouldn't be long enough. Even though dad is gone for now, I know we'll be together again.


XO

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pioneer Trek

My boys have had quite a week! Monday morning they left for Mammoth Cave in Kentucky with their Scout troop. They went caving and hiking and pretty much wore themselves out until they left for home on Wednesday morning. They got home in time for lunch then hurried to repack and switch to pioneer gear before they headed out that same afternoon for our stake's youth conference Pioneer Trek.

For the next three days, they pulled handcarts, danced, cooked and ate in the great outdoors, and tried to stay dry during a thunderstorm. And you know what? They loved it! They all had a great time honoring our many pioneer ancestors.

This is my favorite photo from trek. Don't my boys just look the part? I love that Jeff was with them, too.

The whole group:

Here is Spencer (far right) with his trek family.

This is part of Sterling's trek family. It's hard to tell with the smoke (though I love the effect), but Sterling is second to the right. His Ma and Pa are in the center.

Soren (left) with part of his trek family:

A couple of months before trek, the youth were encouraged to submit stories from their pioneer ancestors. Here, Spencer is sharing one of the submitted stories.

Here, Soren is helping his "family" stabilize the handcart as they walk down a hill.

On the last day, on a steep segment of the trail, the girls had to pull the handcarts alone while the men and boys watched helplessly. My boys said that as each group of girls reached the summit, they left their handcarts and hurried to help the girls still on the trail.


Monday, June 19, 2017

An Early-Morning Walk

Sadie and I are enjoying some girl time this week while the boys are off camping. The boys headed out bright and early this morning so Sadie and I headed out, too, for a beautiful morning walk. Last week we had some serious humidity (over 90%) that made it pretty miserable to be outside for very long. Today, the humidity has been between 30 and 40 percent which makes a world of difference. 

Here are a few photos from our stroll along the walking/bike trail near our house:






We're hoping for another beautiful day tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Where in the World? Spencer Edition

Imagesource

Here we go again! Spencer's mission papers have been submitted and he's waiting for his mission call. It'll probably take two or three weeks so we're taking guesses while we wait. Leave a comment below with where you think Spencer will be assigned to serve for the next 2 years. (For a list of all 421 missions, click here.) We did this with Sam back here. No one guessed correctly that time around (Arizona). Maybe we'll have better luck this time!



I'm excited for Spencer. I know he'll be a great missionary! If you want more information about the missionary program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, here's a pretty good overview. You can watch a 5-minute video about missionary work here.

Here are the guesses so far, in no particular order:

1. Texas
2. Finland
3. Hong Kong
4. Ireland
5. Brazil
6. Guatemala
7. Chile
8. Australia
9. Switzerland
10. Japan
11. Arizona
12. Malaysia
13. England
14. Alaska
15. Albania
16. France
17. Iowa
18. Russia
19. California
20. Hawaii
21. Mexico
22. China
23. Spain
24. Scotland
25. Argentina
26. Denmark
27. Florida
28. Democratic Republic of the Congo
29. Jamaica
30. Estonia
31. Czech Republic
32. Vancouver, Canada
33. Honduras
34. Ecuador
35. Louisiana
36. Utah
37. South Africa
38. Germany
39. South Korea
40. India
41. Washington DC


Keep them coming! I'll update the list as we go. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sunflowers


Last summer, one of the farmers up the road planted sunflowers all along the street edge of his field. There must have been a quarter mile of sunflowers. It was such a happy sight every time we headed north.

As we drove along the main road the other day, we were excited to see that the sunflowers are back. No blooms yet, but it won't be long! :)



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tshotsholoza

We are 10 days into our summer break and enjoying every minute!

I had grand intentions for my blog during May, but between recitals, concerts, church functions, graduation and celebrations, our calendar was CRAZY! Blogging definitely took a backseat. I know myself well enough to not make any promises for June, but I'm hoping to post more consistently. We've had lots of happiness around here!

For now, enjoy Soren's shining moment from his middle school choir concert last month. It's a fun African song and I think he did a great job! :)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Let It Be

Gentri posted this sweet song just in time for Mother's Day. I didn't know the story behind this popular Beatles' song until I watched this video (read the text at the start), but it's pretty good advice from a mother to her son. And the song is so much more meaningful now that I know the inspiration behind it. Of course, the men from Gentri sing with such beautiful harmonies that it just adds to the message.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Graduation Day

Today is Spencer's big day! Tonight he will graduate from high school - an event he's been looking forward to for a long time. I, on the other hand, wonder how we got here so fast...

Isn't he handsome?


A couple of weeks ago, Spencer got a packet of papers in the mail from his first grade teacher, Mrs. England. She saved them for 11 years and then made Spencer's day when they arrived. Can you believe that? There were several worksheets that Spencer had completed as a first grader along with a few pictures and a note from Mrs. England congratulating him on his graduation.


Isn't that just the nicest thing? I can't get over how thoughtful it was!

Spencer has a lot to look forward to. He's been accepted to BYU and he'll start filling out papers for a full-time mission in a few days. He's got a lot going for him and I can't wait to watch him embark on his very bright future.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

You Will Be Found

It's always a great day when BYU's Vocal Point releases a new video! I accidentally stumbled upon this a few days ago and then purchased the song. :) It's a good one.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Violin Recital: Rondo

Jeff's parents drove out from Idaho last week to see Spencer and Sterling in Guys and Dolls. They planned on leaving early this morning for Colorado to see more grandkids, but we were able to talk them into staying an extra day for Sterling's violin recital.

Boy, was it worth it!!!

Sterling played the Kreisler arrangement of Mozart's Rondo. It was AMAZING!!

I hope you love it! (It made me cry.)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Guys and Dolls

The high school production of Guys and Dolls this weekend was amazing! The boys were gamblers: Spencer played Harry the Horse and Sterling was Scranton Slim. I wish you could have seen the Crapshooters Ballet; it was my favorite scene!

One thing our little town consistently does well is musicals. Every spring, we are wowed by a quality production. Music is a high priority and the stigma that exists in some areas isn't as present here.

We've had at least one of our kids in eight different high school productions over the years - including the year Sam and Savannah were in The Music Man as 5th and 6th graders - and we have six more years to look forward to. I'm telling you, it doesn't get much better than this at the high school level.

We're sad to see it end, but we're counting our blessings that our kids have such great opportunities here in Small Town, Illinois.

Just look at those suits! All the gamblers had on wildly colorful suits. I love it!
Just for fun, here's a list of the musicals our kids have been in at the high school...
The Music Man (Sam and Savannah)
Oklahoma (Sam)
Honk! (Sam and Savannah)
Anything Goes (Sam and Savannah)
South Pacific (Sam, Savannah and Spencer)
Bye Bye Birdie (Savannah, Spencer and Soren)
Shrek the Musical (Spencer; Sterling played in the pit)
Guys and Dolls (Spencer and Sterling)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Rain Delay

At 11:00 this morning, I received this message from our school superintendent: Due to expected continued rainfall and its impact on road conditions, all schools in the district will dismiss 2-hours early today. 

School has been canceled due to snow and ice several times, but we have never missed school because of rain. I wasn't completely surprised by the cancellation; we've never seen rain like this. We've got little streams running through Jeff's office and our storage room downstairs. We have some rental properties and a couple of them are sporting huge lakes in their backyard. They don't normally have lakes in the backyard...


This next one has a creek that runs just behind the bushes at the front of the photo, but right now you can't tell where the creek ends and the backyard starts. The bridge to the backyard is completely submerged. Do you see the burn pile in the middle of the photo? That sits in the backyard and is several feet tall. But right now it's just a little mound sticking out of the water.


Tonight was supposed to be opening night of the high school production of Guys and Dolls. Spencer and Sterling are gamblers in the play and we've been so excited to see it! But they postponed tonight's show because of the rain. We're hoping for sunshine tomorrow. The show must go on!


Friday, April 21, 2017

GENTRI

Have you heard of GENTRI? It's short for The Gentlemen Trio and we are fans! We've been playing their music on repeat for the past week and can't get enough.

They also have some great videos to go along with their music. Here are just a few of my favorite songs...

Guide Me To Thee: I bought the sheet music for this one and I want my boys to learn it. So pretty.


Dare: We all love this one. It's also a sweet video. :)


Enough: This is a beautiful song, but the video is a total tear jerker. You might want to grab a tissue. Make sure you watch the whole thing, but don't say I didn't warn you!

I hope you love them as much as we do! :)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lip Sync Battle 2017

My boys were a hit at the Youth Lip Sync Battle on Saturday. Their number was a definite crowd pleaser and lots of fun! The competition was a little stiffer than last year so they didn't bring home the trophy, but from the many comments they received afterward, they should have! :) It was all in good fun so there were no hard feelings.

I love seeing what these three come up with. The choreography is all theirs and came together pretty quickly once they decided on a song. They were having a blast! Enjoy their performance of "Once There Was A Snowman," by Inside Out.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Prince of Peace

I'm home! :) I was gone for a week where I was able to spend time with Sam and Savannah out at BYU. Then my brother, Rob, and I drove down to spend time with my mom in Nevada. It was a great trip and I'm so happy I was able to go, even at this busy time of year, but it's always good to be home.

I don't want to wait another minute before sharing this beautiful Easter message from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is what I believe. Reflecting on the events of the past 6 months and everything that happened with my dad's illness and death, I don't know if I could have made it through without a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atoning sacrifice. I can testify that the Savior really is the Prince of Peace.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

US Air Force Museum

Our Spring Break plans were foiled before they began.

We had arranged to drive to Washington DC on Monday to stay with friends and spend a couple of days seeing the sights. Coming home, we'd tour Gettysburg then stop to visit friends in Columbus. Last Saturday night we realized that we'd likely be driving in a snowstorm all the way there; the forecast was still awful for our only full-day of sight seeing. Both DC and Gettysburg looked like they might be buried by snow. Yuck! Driving on snowy, icy roads is bad enough around town. I didn't want to do it for 12 hours - that could easily turn into much longer - on the freeway, not to mention the conditions once we arrived. So we canceled our trip. Fortunately, the kids weren't devastated. We decided to make the best of our week together.

By Wednesday, we were ready to venture out for the day. Jeff and the boys were able to attend the temple in Indiana to do some work for extended family. From there we drove to Dayton, Ohio to visit the US Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

This museum was a favorite of our kids when they were small. We visited a few times when we lived in Columbus. It's been several years since we've been there so the kids were excited to explore it again. It was definitely worth the trip. The museum is HUGE! Four giant hangars display everything related to flight from the early days (Wright brothers) to space exploration and everything in between.


These missiles are HUGE!

Sadie and Soren loved exploring several former presidential "Air Force One" planes. We could actually walk through those and see the differences over the years. Spencer enjoyed seeing all the old war planes. They even have "The Bockscar" which dropped the final atomic bomb on Nagasaki to end WWII. Sterling liked the Cold War planes. That hangar housed an SR-71 Blackbird. My dad introduced my boys to the SR-71 years ago and they've loved it ever since.




We spent 3 1/2 hours at the museum before it closed. We could have easily spent twice that or more. In some parts we just did a quick walk-through to see what was there, but had to forgo all the cool displays and information. My feet, however, were happy to go. We did a LOT of walking. It was a great day and worth the four hour drive each way. By the way, the museum is free. :)

One of the smallest planes we saw.


A beautiful sunset for our drive home.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Beatboxing Battle

We attended a showcase performance of our high school's a cappella group last week. They had a beatboxing battle and invited audience members to volunteer to go against the group's vocal percussionist. Sterling was quick to volunteer. You can see his performance below. (We edited out most of the other not-so-serious contenders.)



Sterling is pretty reserved at school so a lot of people were surprised at his ability. Someone asked me, "Does he ever do this at home?" Only all the time.

After the competition, we learned that the audio techs were instructed to turn off the sub-woofers during Sterling's turn in an attempt to rig it against him. Nice try. :)

Sorry for the terrible video taping. That would be my fault...


Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring Break

I've mentioned what amazing and unseasonably warm weather we've had. Sadie picked a jar full of hyacinths for her room from our flower bed this afternoon. Jeff took this picture on campus yesterday of a tree in full bloom.


Our weeping cherry is starting to bloom and the grass is green and ready to be mowed. Spring is bursting out all over the place.

That's why the snow in tomorrow's forecast is so disappointing. Instead of the 50 and 60 degree weather we've been enjoying over the past few weeks, today started a week in the 30's. So while the weather is taking a break from spring, we're officially starting our spring break.

Yep, school is out for a week and, come Monday, we are looking forward to some new adventures. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

As You Wish


We were all pretty taken with Moana when we watched it as a family over Christmas break, but none as much as Sadie. She LOVED it! She has been talking about it ever since and has tried to be patient while waiting for the DVD release.

This morning she said to me, "Mom, if I came home from school and found Moana on my bed, I'd be so happy!"

I was planning to buy it anyway and I couldn't resist making Sadie's day. It's fun to make wishes come true.




Monday, March 6, 2017

Great Aunt

I'm a great aunt. Yep. My niece on Jeff's side of the family had a baby last week and, just like that, I became a great aunt.

Doesn't that sound so old? Seriously. There's your grandma and then there's your ancient and grumpy great aunt. It reminds me of a scene from one of our favorite and most quotable movies, The Emperor's New Groove. Watch from 1:43 through 2:04.




I've had that scene running through my head all week. It cracks me up, especially when my kids imitate it. Yzma is only pretending to be the great aunt in this scene, but it works so much better than if she had pretended to be their grandma. She is the picture of old.

We're super happy for Briana and her new little guy, Liam, so I will try to dismiss my perceptions of the term "great aunt" and wear it as a badge of honor instead. :)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Praying for Sunshine

 

Remember Sam and Savannah's snowy drive to Provo back in January? Well, today was the sequel. Savannah went to Idaho for the weekend to see her cousin's new baby and spend time with friends and family. Somehow, today's weather forecast was misleading and she ended up in a blizzard before she was halfway home. (It's amazing how quickly my anxiety flares up when I learn one of my kids is in danger!!) Luckily or maybe miraculously, with about 2 hours to go, she found a friend she could stay with for the night and they'll drive the rest of the way together in the morning.

We're praying for sunshine!