Tuesday, November 10, 2015

9 Fall Traditions

When you have an exchange student living with you, you get excited to share with them all your Fall family traditions. (You also try not to yell at your kids as much)
So, besides the foliage and the pumpkin patch, I already posted about, here are some other must-do's of the season, according to our family.
1. Homemade donuts.
I am sure nothing could have been invented to mess up a kitchen quicker but they are oh so good and yes, worth the mess. It takes an assembly line to make these--one to cut out, one to fry, and another to glaze. These must be shared with neighbors.

2. Haunted Corn Maze
We didn't get there early enough to ride the redneck roller coaster but dark is when the corn maze turns haunted and we like a good scare. Finland and Norway came with us. We may have been few in number but you never would have known with the volume of screams from these girls.
3. Family Halloween Party
limbo, piƱata, cake-walk, pin the nose on the witch, donut contest, scary story, monster mash dance, riddles, soup and rolls...There was a LOT going on at the family party at the church...but the best was back at the house for the hayride through "Haunted Haskelville." Some of the uncles and older cousins go all out to make this a really fun tradition. I swear it gets better every year.  

4. Caramel apples 
5. Jumping (or burrowing) in the leaves.
That there is a pile of boy cake with leaf frosting.

6. Pumpkin carving
  J was proud of her first ever Jack-o lantern. B used a drill on hers. I look forward to the day when ALL the kids can carve their own pumpkins because my cut job didn't quite live up to the expectations of the 7-year old.

7. Turkey Trot--5k
We had 3 runners in the family, well 4, if you count me jogging alongside Bud to help him keep his pace. A and C ran the kids 1-mile run. BD did the 5k. He and A won our family a couple of turkeys!
It must feel good to win!

8. Pine-nuts
Roasting pine-nuts is more of a Christmas tradition but they are harvested in the Fall. Apparently pine nuts are abundant right up in the hills above town! We headed up there on Sunday, only we were a little late in the season. We found them alright. They do exist. But they were old and dried up and we got very pine gummy...

You'll notice a theme here with our traditions: MESSY, STICKY, GOOEY.

9. Trick-or Treating
We are down to 3 this year. They all went with friends which left BD and I to answer the door 150 times. You might think this one isn't messy but you'd be wrong. I have picked up at least 150 wrappers in our house since the night of the big loot. I think after the family inservice on how to load the dishwasher we'll do one about putting garbage in the GARBAGE CAN.

Oh well! It's Fall and we are loving it!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

8 Hour Spiritual Feast

I like to learn. I like to watch TED talks while folding laundry and talk radio while driving. I like to gather good information from all sources. Nothing is more inspiring and more a feast of spirituality for me than LDS General Conference. 
 I LOVED it this year!
This year, as is tradition,  my niece and her little family came down to visit. We went to Christensen's Department store and everyone picked out their favorite candy to share while watching talks on TV.
We also have a vegetable tray, fruit, and cheese and crackers. But, who cares about that. 

For these guys it's all about the candy!! 

You know something's up when it's too quiet. We caught this kid a couple of times--the best was under the ping pong table feasting on the entire tray of candy. What a happy, secret, world he was living for a minute...

Shenanigans during conference. Dad is "stair patrol" for those who think they can grab a handful of candy and skedaddle.

As I mentioned, I LOVED Conference. I gleaned so much. Here are a few of the gems that spoke to me personally and didn't the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing amazing, "Come, Come Ye Saints."

What lack I yet?  Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion  The gospel is so simple, a child can understand, yet so complex it would take more than a lifetime to completely comprehend. You are rich if you can live happily within your means/avoid debt. We marry potential not perfection. A mother's love is the closest example to Jesus' love for us. The world fights for children's identity and mind. We must win this fight. This calling is not about me. It is about the Lord and his work. When you get an impression, DO IT!! Women are distinct and different than women of the world in happy ways. PONDERIZE weekly. The Lord gives us commandments because he LOVES us. Obedience is our expression of love toward HIM. When you can't do what you've always done, you only do what matters most. FAMILY is the center of life and the key to eternal happiness.


Our annual trip to the Pumpkin patch after conference was a success.
How could it not be with Golden fields dotted with ripe orange pumpkins and being together as family in the crisp fall air.

We took the first hayride out and got busy treasure hunting for pumpkins.

Pumpkins make great props!

If you don't have grit in your teeth, you haven't been aboard the dusty train ride. 

Spinning around redneck style while the storm clouds gather. 

Fiery Fall

Fall is amazing. I think it's a perfect example of how God created this world with beauty and variety. 
We took a Sunday afternoon walk through the woods 20 minutes away. 

We took our traditional fall foliage photos. Josefine from Norway was pretty impressed by the fall colors. She said brown was the only fall color she remembers seeing in her woods. 

Goodbye Uncle

My dad's only sibling passed away this week. I attended his funeral in Provo, UTAH.
The most tender thing was watching all the grand kids and great grand kids as they sobbed near the casket of their loved one. They were going to miss him so much. He was truly a part of their lives. 

Burial took place at the Provo City Cemetery. It was a beautiful sunny day but not hot. The view of the mountains was amazing.

Like my dad, my uncle served in the Army during the Korean War. Because my dad was a good typist, he was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany doing office work for the war. He maintained close friendships with those whom he served up until he died. My uncle's war experience was very different. He was in Korea, building prison camps, bridges, and doing other hard work on the front lines. The military played taps and did the special flag folding ceremony which they then gave to his wife. 

My dad and my uncle grew were a lot alike. They both played sports, knew how to farm and garden, had an idyllic childhood in a small town where their dad was a teacher. When they grew up, they married very different women, and their family lives were very different.

Pictured are all my cousins, including their Indian foster-child. They are all each other's best friends and supporters. Living within 30 minutes of each other and their parents they are always the first ones to help each other. They are quick to say, "I love you" to each other and give a hug. They get together every Sunday for dinner.

Pictured in the foreground are the graves of my dad and both his parents. 
Of my dad's family, all his children live on opposite sides of the country, West Coast and East coast, with a couple of us in Utah. We used to gather once a year for a reunion and after my parents' passings' we don't even do that. Our family valued more adventure, travel, and fun than family closeness. One example of this was from the remarks  at the funeral. My uncle had a bucket list and on it was the wish to go skydiving. His son, told regretfully, that he had never accomplished it probably due to the fact that the family including his wife thought that would be a terrible idea. They even threatened to hide his keys if he pursued it. 
I found this somewhat amusing as seated next to me was my sister who has been skydiving 4 times and my brother who basically did this for a living on the SEAL team. On the other side of my was my 12-year old, who accompanied me, and on the drive up had told me how much she wished to go skydiving. 

Here is my skydiving sister and me (yet to try that) next to our dad's grave. I am sure he with his brother and parents are so happy to see each other again. 

My mom was cremated, so we don't have a grave to visit. Her remains were spread just this year in the ocean at Dana Point by her grandchildren. I'm okay with that, I think. That was much more her style anyway.  Conveniently located in the same cemetery are her parents.
I've been to a lot of funerals in my relatively young life. This one in particular really brought home the value that my uncle lived "family is everything." My cousins and I made a pact to do better at keeping in touch. Well, they are already pretty darn good at that but now they're going to be adding us to their gatherings.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


My exchange students have arrived! I have had so much fun meeting them. They come from GERMANY, FINLAND, SPAIN, BELGIUM, FRANCE, and COLOMBIA. What a great year we are going to have together! Just as fun as meeting the students, is getting to know their wonderful host families. I am so grateful to them for making the American dream come true for these students!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

County Fair

It was County Fair week!
We enjoyed looking at all the exhibits, the stinky farm animals, and new to this year--the elephant show.

The very best part is finding our entries to see what we won! This year everyone except Dad entered something into the fair. Cannon won 2nd with his lego racer. All the girls submitted art and poetry. Kate won a big Reserve medal for the photo she edited of our camping trip. I got a Reserve medal for my digital scrapbook. We won a few bucks for all those ribbons. It was a pretty good year for us. Next year we may even be able to add some garden produce.