Saturday, December 13, 2008
We were able to eat lunch with my friend Cindy and her family. They are so nice and Cindy sure knows how to cook! She made the best rolls and sent two dozen with us on our trip. It's been a long time since I've had rolls that good. They are a great family and we had a nice visit.
Nicole is good friends with Sarah. They keep in touch on email and on Sarah's blog. I'm so glad they were able to spend a few hours together.
I was able to visit an old college roommate and her family. They were so nice to have us stay overnight at their place. We weren't able to spend much time visiting on the first weekend, but we stopped for a few hours and visited the next weekend. She made a delicious homemade salsa and we played Phase 10 and bowling on the Wii. It was a fun visit. It was fun to see her family and how well they're doing.
It snowed while we were in Wisconsin. We haven't seen much snow for a few years and the kids were so excited to play in it even though we didn't bring all of our snow gear. Sarah was so happy with the snowman that Riley helped her finish. She named him Bob.
We visited with some of our old neighbors and the kids had a lot of fun playing with their friends again. Two of the families who lived behind us shared yards with us. The kids would take turns going from playset to playset. Both families were able to spend a few hours with us and it was so fun to see how all the kids have grown and changed. Here's Nicole with Willie and Leah. Willie looks tough, but he's a big teddy bear and the kids all love him. He works as a security guard for the school district and the schools fight over him.
We ate lunch with the Oliphant family. Paul (center in the back) was our bishop before we moved. They have a big family and Mie (mint green shirt) made it look easy to feed 20 people. She's currently the Relief Society president and he teaches Seminary. The kids had a blast playing hide and seek in the basement. I miss having a basement.
Some other friends who used to live in Madison happened to be visiting the same day we were and the Oliphants invited them to eat over as well. They moved to England in August and it was a great surprise to see them on our visit. Here is a picture of Sarka and I. She's originally from the Czech Republic.
Sarka's oldest daughter, Misha, is good friends with Nicole. It was so good to see them again. They seem to be enjoying England and Bruce really loves his new job. He's a pilot for a large international airline. I can't remember the name right now, but he flies all over the world. It's been his dream for a long time.
For some reason we didn't get any pictures with the Kienitz family. They also had us stay overnight with them on the first weekend. We had so much fun visiting and catching up with them. We used to get together often and play games with them. We were able to visit again on our way home and we played some more games and had a Smarties war. Imagine flicking Smarties across the table at anyone who dared be there. It was crazy and fun.
As you can see, we were able to visit with so many people on this trip. We just showed up on the doorstep of some other neighbors who happened to be home and had a nice visit. We also went to church and saw so many people there and also noticed how much the ward had changed. We felt very welcome even though we've been gone for 4 1/2 years. We were sad that we didn't have time to visit with everyone and could only spend a few hours everywhere we went. We're so grateful to know such great people and that they're a part of our lives.
Friday, November 21, 2008
We're going to Neenah, Wisconsin to spend Thanksgiving with Robert's sister Kelli. We're leaving tomorrow morning around 4:00. We're stopping in Madison to visit a lot of friends from when we lived there. We're really looking forward to the trip and I'll fill you in. You might get lucky and I'll blog about it while we're gone, but no promises. I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for reading!
It's sometimes difficult to get older, and I think 40 can be a tough birthday. Robert's had a kind of mid-life crisis. He felt the need to buy a good gun. That qualifies as a crisis to me, but he's having a lot of fun with it. We had a surprise birthday party for him with a lot of our friends. Thanks guys for coming and helping so much! He also got to have a homemade Olive Garden meal, which was by his special request. The food turned out really good. I hope he enjoyed his birthday, and doesn't feel too bad about his age. Everyone still loves him anyway!
I was glad they played anyway since they probably wouldn't reschedule the game again. Riley's team had a rough season. It started out with them getting beat pretty badly the first several games. I mean like 10-0. In soccer that's a huge score for the other team. They did have a few games in the middle of the season that they won, which was encouraging. Then they started losing pretty bad again. So they had this game and I was hopeful that they could finish the season with a win.
Riley usually plays center or midfield. It requires a lot of running, which he doesn't do much unless he's in a soccer game. There were only 11 boys at this game and that's how many play on the field at a time, so there were no subs. It was a long game, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Riley hadn't had a chance to score all season. The kids played their hearts out and pulled it off! They won 2-1! But this is the best part. Riley scored both of the goals! I was so happy and so was he. It was a perfect way to end a difficult season.
Jared is a Jedi (not sure which one). Sarah is a bat, who apparently likes to curtsy for pictures.
This particular neighbor happens to be Jared's teacher at school and we've had a few laughs over it, since there wasn't any serious damage done. We needed to replace our trampoline anyway because my kids have worn it out. A few of the welds on the legs are broken and it's cheaper to buy a new one. I offered parts of ours to fix up theirs since they happen to be the same kind. Needless to say, it was quite a surprise to see that scene.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
They had recently gone to Red Rock Canyon State Park and enjoyed it, so we tried it again. This picture is of us about 75 feet above the road and camping area. It was a fairly steep climb on slippery red sandy rocks to get up.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Why did we have a picture of this anyway? An orthodontist's office isn't usually a great picture place. I think it was simply because I was carrying the camera with me everywhere this summer and we had nothing better to do while we were waiting. Pretty boring, huh?
Monday, October 13, 2008
There are some very real, very powerful joys that come from being a parent. Watching your baby take their first shaky steps, watching them ride a bike, and listening to their observations about life are some of the most joyful parts of being a parent. As our children get older, their assignments in school become more challenging. No longer are they supposed to "color three chickens," but they are getting into algebra with fractions, cellular biology, and hairy word problems involving two trains, one leaving Chicago at…. Well, you get the point…
This week Riley was given an assignment to write a short story. It had to be about Halloween and it had to use some rather difficult vocabulary words. I fancy myself rather good at vocabulary, but there was one word I had never heard of before, and one word I had the wrong (but very very close) definition for. (To be honest, I think 99% of the people who use the word, use it incorrectly, after looking it up in Webster's…) If you want to play a game, post what you think, before you read the story, the definition of "Ambivalent" is in the comments. Don't cheat and look it up, just write what you think it means.
Well, Riley wrote his story, used all his vocabulary words, and reading it brought Laura and I to laugh until we almost cried. It was honest, simple, and used words that I bet most folks have never heard of. Good job Riley. I hope others find it as wonderful to read and your mom and I did!
The vocabulary words have a link to the definition just in case you need it.
By Riley Neal
Once upon a time there were four kids who were all friends. Their names were Josh, Dylan, Emily and Lyndsie. Josh was a belligerent fellow; he was 5ft. 1in. and always bouncing off the walls. Dylan was a cordial boy; he was very tall and skinny, 6ft. to be exact. Now Emily was ambivalent. She could never make up her mind about something; “I could go do this but this might happen.” Lyndsie was abstruse and altruistic; nobody really understood what she meant. She always had a metaphor or simile that never correlated with the subject they were talking about.
These kids lived downtown in an archaic and austere neighborhood so they always got together in their fort by an abandoned factory. I guess you could call this neighborhood daunting because of being antiquated. Living downtown means a lot of people and that leads to a lot of candy on Halloween. They lived in an arid place but just barely arable for wheat. Well anyways, they waited for what seemed forever until Halloween came around the next year.
This year was different than all the other years. This year Josh broke his leg one week before Halloween. The cast adhered right to the gauze. The cast was like a large conflagration, flaring red. He had to use a wheelchair for Halloween! This ruined the whole group’s plans. They were going to go from house to house to house, but now they couldn’t. Josh told them to go without him, but they said that if one person’s not going, nobody’s going. So they corroborated this ingenious plan to push him around in his wheelchair and he could be an old man. Josh would wear long jeans and get a white wig and get bags full of candy. In the end, Josh got three times as much candy as the other three and they all had a happy Halloween.
This might not have been the kind of Halloween story you were expecting. Nobody got scared, nobody died and nobody was condemned. It was just a happy Halloween. Josh, Dylan, Emily, and Lyndsie had one of the best times of their lives.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
It was General Conference Weekend. It is interesting the different feelings I have had over the years about this event.
When I was 8 - it was to be avoided like the plague. It wasn't only worse than church (longer, more boring and irrelevant) but it had the audacity to take away my Saturday too! Nothing ever did that, ever. It was bad.
When I was 16 - I had a testimony, and knew I should spend time listening but it was hard with all the things a 16 year old has to do. I didn't so much mind Sunday, but Saturday was simply too much. Did the Lord really expect me to waste all that time, when I had things to do?
When I was a missionary - There was nothing more important. I tried regularly to bring folks to church. I hoped they would feel the spirit, and understand what we were trying to say to them. But if I could get them to watch 10 minutes of General Conference, they would have an experience that they would never forget. They would see prophets of God, teaching, pleading, not for money or weird doctrines, but rather begging people to be better, be more honest, more patient, more loving. I knew, if I could get them to watch, I could baptize.
When I was a RM - It was an exciting thing to go to Temple Square to watch. I knew the apostles by name, and understood their speaking styles. It was a great time to show girls how spiritual and devoted I was. The trips were always fun too.
When I was a young husband - It was a great time to spend a quiet weekend with my wife. We could watch at our leisure, listen for advice, learn what things we should be doing better.
When I had young children - it was a nightmare. How did God expect me to bring my kids to the church and sit through 8 solid hours of church when 1 hour a week was almost too much to ask! I was horrified to inflict my loud, cry-baby, busy-body infants to the sacred chapels during conference. I wasn't getting anything from them and anyone within 2 square miles wasn't getting anything either.
Now that I have older children - it is a joy again. Especially with the internet making it so I can see and hear. I hear what I can do to be a better person, better husband and a better father. My wife hears things that help her in her life. Even my kids learn. They hear parts of talks that stick to them.
Dad - "Jared, what did you learn in conference?"
Jared - "I liked that jump rope talk. Sometimes we don't know how to do stuff, but if we see others doing it, this it isn't that hard, and I have good examples to show me how to be good. "
I am grateful that Father loves my family. I laughed the other day and I told Laura, "Ya know, I don't mean this to be silly, but God knows us, he know you and me, and I have rock solid evidence that he even knows my phone number!" (more on that later). I told Laura that to me knowing that "God loves everyone (and therefore must know them) is somehow not as intimate as knowing that God knows your phone number!" I love the Bradleys, Thompsons, Riddocks, even my wonderful Sister Kelli, but I have to look up each of their numbers each time I call.
It's good to know we are known and loved. Nothing brings that home more than General Conference weekend.
This is a very good thing. People (actor Matt Damon comes to mind) says that this is a nightmare, that because of her lack of experience, it is ludicrous to consider her a viable contender. I find her being an outsider a good thing. A very good thing. She should scare the people who have been around. They are "around" due to money from lobbyists, and they are beholden to them. As an "Outsider" Palin isn't encumbered that way and is free to act as a politician should, based on their judgment and experience, not on lobbyists.
The good-ole-boys club is nervous, and they should be. She is honest, (admitting when she isn't sure) hard working, (got herself to the governorship without the support of the Big-Boys) and down to earth. I am sorry but the world I live in, is full of soccer moms and grocery stores. That IS America. That is what she knows, and I couldn't support her more! Biden has a great smile, but it was mirthless, trained and well executed. Palin knows how to pay a mortgage, run a business, fight off oil CEO's, and raise a teenager (not perfectly, but who does!!!).
I think what made me most happy today was reading the news about the debate. As expected the focus was still on her, and the worst they could say was... "Palin deliverers, but doubts linger..." Was the debate supposed to remove all doubts on all things, from all people! Where is Biden! My doubts linger about him too! The headline is an affirmation, that she is doing a great job in shaking up the establishment and the worst they could say about her is... "she didn't crash and burn". They are right, she didn't, she did great, and I couldn't be happier to vote this November.
Monday, September 15, 2008
- I could say it was business (its not),
- I could say there was a great sale on breathable shoes at the forum in Caesars (there wasn't)
- I could say that the aliens flipped a switch and caused her to goose step zombie style to the mother ship to become more familiar with the phrase "How to serve man" (for those of you who don't know my sense of humor... go here...) (but they didn't…I'm not saying some day they won't!)
Monday, September 01, 2008
We started making a movie on the 18th of August. Not that Spielberg has anything to worry about, but we are trying to create a DVD movie for Christmas this year. It takes a few minutes and highlights each member of the family and one of their talents. We started by filming Sarah making chocolate chip cookies. There must have been 15 takes, and we learned that it is hard to coach a 6-year-old. We all had a good time and we are looking forward to the other shoots we have planned. Some of these include the neighborhood pool, at the church, out on a street, and even train tracks. We will keep you posted on what is going on as the events progress.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I wasn't ready a week ago, but I've adjusted. It's good the kids go back when they do. It's always just in time before I lose my sanity. Okay, the summer wasn't that bad, but I was running out of ideas to keep them busy. I was also trying to work, and that isn't very exciting for anyone. It was a great summer and we were very busy.
I'm so glad my kids are good students. Nicole (8th grade) and Riley (7th grade) are in advanced classes and Nicole even has three classes that count for high school credit! Jared (3rd grade) is reading beyond a 7th grade level and Sarah (1st grade) just loves school and learns everything quickly. I hope this year is fun for all of them, and me too. Next year I'll have a high schooler...that makes me nervous. I don't know if it's because I have to be pretty old to have someone in high school, or because of seminary, or because she'll be closer to driving, or what. I'm just nervous.
I got pictures of Jared and Sarah leaving for school, but my brain wasn't all the way awake when Nicole and Riley left. I'll have to get pictures of them coming home from the first day. I promise to add them to this post.
Notice how the first two pictures look a little hazy and the third one is clearer? I cleaned the lens of the camera. It's amazing the difference it made. I don't know why it's constantly dirty... Also, Jared got a haircut last night. I think his hair was two inches long. Now it's a much more manageable 5/8 inch. Yay!
Nicole and Riley came home from school very happy. I didn't expect them to be thrilled about school, but I had hoped they would be able to get by without too much trouble. They were both sooooo excited about their teachers and friends. I was very surprised at their enthusiasm for this year. That sure makes things nice for everyone. Middle School can be hard and I hope they continue to enjoy this year.
She's really behind all that hair. She was really patient with me and was actually okay with me chopping about eight inches off. I wish I was trained even a little bit in giving haircuts. I had all these great ideas of what would be cute, but I just couldn't do it. I was too nervous to do what I wanted to try and mess it up completely. So she got a straight cut and I actually did have to recut the next day because I'm not very good.
It turned out very cute and now headbands actually stay inher hair. I'm glad that she's still got nice hair left on her head after my inexperienced haircut. She's getting so big and is such a good girl.
After I was comfortable that he wouldn't use my house for a bathroom, I let him loose. Guess where he wanted to be most of the time? He was almost constantly under my feet. I guess he noticed who fed and walked him. He followed me everywhere and I almost tripped over him multiple times.
Oreo and Jedi got along great, although Oreo wanted to play rougher than Jedi did. Those two dogs have opposite personalities. Jedi just lays quietly and Oreo is constantly jumping up whenever anyone comes close. Oreo growls and Jedi just takes about anything. Oreo is black and Jedi is white. I'm glad it went so well or that 10 days could have been very very long.
This is Nicole in case you couldn't tell. She looks like she's supposed to be in the Middle East somewhere. Or else in a really cold snowstorm. Since it was about 100 degrees outside, and we have always lived in North America, I'm guessing she was just being silly. Thinking more about it, she kind of resembles a certain Sesame Street character who loves cookies.
I bet you didn't know I had gangsta kids. Jared can barely keep the smile off his face and Nicole can't pull it off in that pink hat and shirt. The look could almost kill though. (Don't pay attention to the picture on the wall. I have no idea how it got that way.)
Sarah had to get in on the action too. Look at that dazed expression. Is that how you're supposed to look when you're wearing two hats and your hair is too long and in your face? I don't think she quite pulls off the gangsta look either.
Okay, poor Oreo. Isn't it bad enough that he's a dog, let alone a male, and forced to wear human accessories? The fact that they're pink is pure torture! I don't think he looks like he appreciates it very much. I'm surprised he let them get away with this in the first place.