Monday, March 26, 2018

Resurrection Rolls

For family home evening this week, we discussed the significance of Christ's resurrection in our lives both temporally and eternally.

The kids help make resurrection rolls for dessert. I tried it a couple of years back and they did not turn out as expected so this time I bought the freshest and largest marshmallows that were at the grocery store. They were twice the size of the standard 'large' marshmallows.

We set eight apart for our activity, the kids sample the rest. The ones we picked were dipped in melted butter and then a cinnamon and sugar mixture.  We then set them on crescent rolls dough and wrapped the dough around the marshmallow.They baked for 15 minutes.

After they were done we took them out of the oven and gave each of the kids one to eat. Stella was so disappointed that her marshmallow had disappeared. I guess she didn't get the point of the object lesson ;)

Just like Christ was placed in the tomb and was not there on the third day, the white marshmallow was placed in the crescent roll dough but was gone when we got it out of the oven.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ward Easter Breakfast and Egg Hunt

For the past month, my presidency and I have been planning our Ward's Easter Breakfast and Egg Hunt.  Today, the day finally arrived!

Our centerpieces were containers of grass with plastic Easter eggs hidden among the blades and paper butterflies hovering on top. They turned out amazing and did not require a lot of work.

Two weeks ago Sara, one of my counselors got the dirt and seeds are planted. I took the containers and grew them for the past two weeks. I couldn't believe how fast the grass grew. In a matter of 10 days, the grass was getting so tall that it had begun tipping over from its own weight.

For the breakfast, we served parfait, oatmeal, breakfast casseroles, mini cinnamon rolls and pull apart monkey bread. We still had a lot of food left over by the end.

Teresa, my other counselor, gathered the kids and had a brief discussion with them about Easter. She then helped the kids with a craft depicting Christ's resurrected tumb.

We played a powerful video called "Because He Lives." Unfortunately, the sound was not very loud so many people did not even watch it. They kept on talking, which made it even more difficult for others to enjoy. There were no words, only music but it would have helped to have a quieter room. The kids were all sitting on the stage watching the video, so it was the adults who were being loud for a change.

After the video, we separated the kids into three age groups in the foyer for the Easter egg hunt. The youngest ones went first, followed by 4-7 years old and the 8+ group.

Every year, it seems I am either away or in charge of the Easter egg hunt and I never get to be, let alone take pictures of my kids hunting for eggs. This year, because it was held on a Saturday morning instead of having it in the afternoon, Todd was there to help out. So he was able to get some good photos of the kids.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March Happenings

There were several things that happened throughout the month that I wanted to blog about. None of them, however, needed an entire blog post, so I am combining them all in one post.

First was Pi (π) day. On March 14th ( 03.14) we celebrate π by eating pie. So I made a chicken pot pie for dinner and had a chocolate peanut butter pie for dessert. Delicious!

The weather was rainy for most of the day but in the afternoon we had the most beautiful rainbow. Stella loved all of the puddles. After gymnastics, she put on her rain boots and walked through the parking lot looking for the biggest puddle to jump into. I love how kids can remind us to find joy even in the most inconvenient things.

Saint Patricks' day was a great day for the kids. We didn't get a chance to set traps out, but that didn't stop the leprechauns from coming over. Stella's scrambled eggs and milk turned green. Even the toilet water turned green after she cleaned it.

The apple juice in the fridge was green. They even got into mommy and Stella's make up. The lipstick and lotion were both green also.

For dinner, we had... Mexican food :) but added guacamole to make sure to stay in the theme.

On March 18th we celebrated my nephew Bennett's fifth birthday. He, Stella and Carson are buddies. He has been so excited for his birthday to come, and then so patient to wait to open presents until the family got together.

I asked the kids to make a silly face for me. They outdid themselves! I really dig Bennett's new Pikachu glasses. I might have to borrow them to shield my forehead from the sun.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Letha Loveland Funeral

On February 27, 2018, Letha J Loveland, Todd's maternal grandmother, passed away.  She was born on August 15,1923 and had lived a long life surrounded by her family.  Although there were times when it was hard for the kids and grandkids to think of the temporal finality of this event, it was actually an occasion for the Loveland family to get together again.

The funeral was held on March 10, 2018 in Pocatello, ID. We traveled to the viewing on March 9th and stayed at a local hotel where several other families were also staying.

We stopped briefly at the funeral home in the evening when we arrived into town. The kids got to see great grandma Loveland and visit with cousins.

Having had the opportunity to go to the temple with the kids for Andrew's sealing to our family, it was easier for them to understand that this was only a temporary separation. Her body was still with us but her spirit was no longer in it. The sealing covenants we had made with the kids in the temple were the same Letha had made, and she was enjoying the blessing of being able to be reunited with her parents and her late husband Bud.

We were also able to talk to the kids about the temple clothes that grandma was wearing. They were similar to what we wore when they saw us in the temple.

That evening the kids went swimming with cousins in the hotel room. Stella is a little fish. She is the one who cannot reach the bottom of the pool at every depth, so I have to keep a close eye on her because she will still swim across the length of the pool, but I am not as confident in her skills as she is. But she did well.

On Saturday morning the family gathered at a local Stake Center where we said our last goodbyes and had a family prayer, prior to closing the casket. I think that was when I was hit the hardest by the idea that I would not be seeing Letha for many years to come.

The funeral services were wonderful. The talks shared were happy and inspiring memories of the many ways Letha blessed the lives of her family. The great-grandchildren sang I Am a Child of God.  Letha had 63 great-grandchildren, enough for a Primary choir. They were so darling!

Following the funeral, the family traveled to the cemetery for the burial. The day was bright and sunny. We couldn't have had a better day.

I loved the opportunity to reconnect with Todd's cousins, aunts, and uncles at the luncheon. The knowledge I have gained through the restored gospel makes such a difference during these times in my life. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that he is my Savior and that because of his atoning sacrifice I can choose to partake of the blessings of eternal life and share those blessings with my family. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Bryce Canyon & Page AZ - Day 4

Sunday, February 25
This morning we awoke to a crying Andrew throwing a fit. I think that the unfamiliarity of traveling is hard on him. He is often unhappy and demanding. I am hoping that he will outgrow it once he gets a little older.

After breakfast we loaded our luggage into the car and left our hotel to head home. We briefly drove to some overlooks in Glen Canyon State park. At 9 am we met up with the Davis’ to begin our drive back home.

We stopped at the Best Friend Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. It is a 3,700 acres property in Angel Canyon started in the 1980’s by a group of animal lovers from California. The area is expansive and encompasses a lower canyon where the hooves animals are kept and an upper canyon where Dog Town and Cat World are located.
We took a two-hour orientation tour through the Sanctuary. Cat World really is a city in it of itself, with multiple buildings dedicated to various types of cats and uses (rehabilitation, training, neutering). Dog Town is also large with a puppy center, a puppy pre-school, old dog building, small dogs homes, etc. There are also buildings dedicated to local wildlife
rescue, parrots, bunnies, pigs and large grazing land for horses.

The goal of the organization is to eliminate pet euthanasia in animal shelters by providing a network of support, training and assistance among various organizations in the US.
I was blown away by the kids of treatments available to animals. I wished other human populations such as our veterans would receive the same level of care.
The wonderful thing about Best Friends animal sanctuary is the way they have organized themselves as a vacation destination for individuals wishing to volunteer. There are a variety of drop-in tours, a selection of volunteer opportunities based on age, animal preferences, and types of interactions. They even have their own cabins, RV camps sites, and restaurant to accommodate visitors.
I would consider making a trip here to adopt one of their puppies after Arthur passes away. In addition to spade/nurturing, vaccinating and chipping the puppies volunteers train the dogs to become accustom to all types of sounds i.e. lawn mowers, babies, thunder, vacuums, fireworks, doorbells, etc.  By the time a puppy finishes its 40 day quarantine time, they are well adjusted to a lot of loud sounds and used to interacting with children and strangers.

Bryce Canyon & Page AZ - Day 3

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Can you guess how many churches are in Page, AZ? There are 23 churches for a population of 7,600 people. Our hotel is off of ‘church row’. I counted ten churches one next to the other: Catholic, Seventh day Adventist, Baptist, LDS, Lutheran, Assembly of God… I can’t even think of that many mainstream Christian religions. I wonder how busy traffic gets on Sunday mornings 😊

This morning we awoke and went down to the lobby for breakfast. At 9am we met the Davis’ at the parking lot for Horse Shoe Bend Overlook. It is a .6 mile walk to the viewing area. The weather was still a little chilly. It was 28F when we began our hike, but the exertion of the walk kept us warm.
The site is dangerous. There is no fence or barrier keeping people from falling off its edge. There are many boulders that seem solid when you step on them only to realize they could give up at any time due to fracture lines that can only be seen as we walked along the rim and view the boulders from a different angle. The crazy thing is what people will do for a picture. It’s incredible how close to the edge tourists will get.

It was beautiful to see, yet still a very tense experience. We took some photos and happily left the overlook.
We stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor center to reserve our tickets for the afternoon tour. It is a federal facility so there were armed security guards on site. The visitor center is run by the National Park Service so the kids were able to earn their Jr Ranger badges. It was one of the easiest badges they have earned.
We then traveled to Canyon X Outfitters for our tour of Antelope Canyon. I polled our family to see what their favorite part of the trip was. They unanimously agreed the experience was by far the best part of our trip.

We pulled up to a dirt parking lot where we left our cars and were shuttled through a dirt road to the top of the canyon. We hiked down a steep dirt road to the slot canyon opening. The area is on Navajo tribal land and can only be accessed through a guided tour. Our tour guide, Sergio is the grandson of the Navajo tribesman who acquired and defended the land from being mined for minerals in the early 1900’s.  I am glad he chose to preserve it for us to enjoy. It was truly an awe-inspiring site. I can see how some people describe it as a religious experience.

The narrow canyon has been eroded by water, sand and wind over thousands of years. Leaving 60 feet high walls that protrude and recede in unpredictable ways allowing the visitor occasional views of the contrasting blue sky and beams of light to penetrate to the ground.

Sergio stomped on the ground to demonstrate the sound was hollow.  There is a lot of underground water and oil in this region.

On the way back we got to ride a side by side ATV up the steep hill. It was a first for most of our family.
Once we got back to our car we rushed through lunch to make it to our scheduled Glenn Canyon dam tour. After passing through a metal detector, we took an elevator down to the top of the dam. Todd got a kick out of the swearing elevator announcing “damn!” once we reached our floor.  The dam was completed in 1966. The flooring, wall tiles and color have never been updated making our experience a trip back in time.

The dam equipment has been updated for better efficiency and some of the original pieces are on display for tourists to understand how it operates. In essence, water from Lake Powell gets channeled down through pipes to the Colorado River. The drop in height creates pressure that pushes a turbine to spin. The spinning, in turn, moves a copper wheel across a magnetic casing creating electricity.

The dam powers the four corners area and Navajo nation. There are eight generators powering the region. They only produce power to meet daily demand. When we visited, one was being repaired and four others were running. In the hot summer months, all eight are running consistently.

Another power source is a coal mine a few miles away. We learned the mine will be closing next year laying off 800 people. In a population of 7,600, that is a large unemployment rate. Unfortunately, the cost to produce coal is not as profitable as natural gas or other sources of energy, so the owners are pulling the plug on the factory.

I was surprised not to see many solar panels in use. The region’s sunny weather year-round would make it a prime location for solar.

The kids ended the afternoon swimming at the Davis’ hotel indoor pool. I stayed in our room with Andrew who sorely needed a nap. We met up with everyone for pizza at Stromboli, a popular restaurant in town.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bryce Canyon & Page AZ - Day 2

Friday, February 23rd

Today, after breakfast, the kids went swimming again. The weather outside was COLD! The temperature at breakfast was 14F. We had four inches of new snow on our car. We left our hotel at 11am and drove to Bryce Canyon National Park.

The road was closed due to snow past the Bryce Point lookout. We drove to it and enjoyed some beautiful views of the canyon. The path was plowed in some areas, part of the way was covered with compacted snow. The kids enjoyed goofing off in the snow and made up a new game they called skleeing - part sledding, part skiing.

We also stopped to see Inspiration Point. The views were amazing. The snow shimmered in the sunlight. Even though the outdoor temperature was only 24 degrees Farenheit the bright sun and no wind made it really enjoyable.

We planned on eating at the Lodge, but it was closed during the off season. Instead we had an amazing lunch at Bryce Canyon Pine. They are known for their pies, so we decided to try the banana blueberry and boysenberry. They were both incredibly good.

After lunch we drove two and a half hours to Page, Arizona. The temperature there was twice what we had in Bryce.

After checking into our hotel, we hiked down to the Glen Canyon Overlook. The view of the dam and Lake Powell were breathtaking.

Stella took some great pictures of Todd and me. Every time she snapped a picture her whole face dissapeared behind the camera. Totally adorable!

We stopped for dinner at a mexican restaurant named Tapatio. The food was really good, large portions and really affordable. Several tables ordered flaming fajitas. The waiter would bring the platter to the table, pour alcohol in front of the customer and light it on fire. Andrew was intimidated by the fire. It was ‘too loud’ - that is how he describes anything that scares him.