Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

November 2017

Almost forgot to update the blog for November with Thanksgiving and more hours at work due to the holidays (luckily, Fountain Books is a WAY better place to work more hours at since we still close early enough to be with family and it’s not a big store to tidy.)
Lucky for all of my blog readers, I woke up today after going to bed early, with a big cold so since I already had the day off, I’m going to do this and then rest and read pretty much the rest of the day.

So many things happened in November: TOFW/TOFG, School Activities, Thanksgiving, New Clothing at Fountain Books, Primary Program, School Concerts, a new window, and more (like planning the whole Ward Christmas Party).

Elizabeth and Olivia went to Time Out For Girls in Portland when I went to Time Out For Women (same place/same time).  My mom, cousin, sister in law, Andy’s aunt and cousin and her daughters, and many others we knew were there.  We took three girls with us who are friends with Elizabeth and Olivia.  We all really enjoyed the talks, music, and refreshing Time Out we received there.

Me and my girls, Elizabeth and Olivia. We were all helpers at the event, so we had to dress a little nicer. I helped at the TOFW doors with bags and greeting.  Elizabeth helped at TOFG with registration.  Olivia was a door greeter as well.

The girls all rode with me in our car.  They had a fun time getting to know each other better and being with other girls who believe the same way, but were starting to get a little tired of each other by the end of the second day.

My cousin Danette drove my mom to Portland following me and my carload of girls.  Andy’s sister Sara met us there.  It was so great to go with such a fun group!

We had to have a picture! My cousin and mom and me.

Olivia’s a pretty adorable door greeter if you ask me.
So glad Sara could make it! It was awesome to visit more with her and spend time together.

 

Most of the girls ready to start again after a break.

 

My favorite presenter at the TOFW in Spokane was these fantastic ladies.  Zhandra and Tamu.  They are so funny and spot on spiritually and down to earth.  Still my favorite in Portland.

Picture with my mom and girls.

We had to meet up with Andy’s aunt and cousin and cousin’s girls for a snapshot too.

Andy was out of town for much of November.  Actually, when I was on my way to TOFW, he was on his way home from a trip and his flight was cancelled and he was stuck in Seattle (it snowed a tiny bit there).  Vincent and Abby were at friend’s houses after school until Andy was going to be home, but when his flight was cancelled, he ended up renting a car and driving home instead.  His sister Torrie picked up Vincent and Abby and took them home with her for the evening until Andy was able to get back to town.
The Saturday of TOFW was also Ribbon Festival for area pianists.  Vincent was able to go this year.  He performed a duet with Andy.
For each category you participate in, you get a special ribbon at Ribbon Festival.  They have a church set up that has nearly 30 pianos in it that the kids can go from room to room and pass off their songs.
Lucky to have some help in the kitchen!  Abby likes to wear the apron and hat Aunt Sara made her and make french toast or tacos or anything!
I took Olivia, Vincent, and Abby to a science night at the middle school.  There were cool things set up all over the school to check out and touch (some of them) and learn.  They all loved it.  It was done very nicely!
Olivia had an orchestra concert at Hanford High School.  They invited her middle school orchestra to join them.  They sounded great!  Watch and listen here or here.
After the concert.
Olivia is good about making sure Abby’s hair is fixed and that she matches and is ready on time.

She had my friend’s daughter over for an afternoon and they decided to make denim purses from old jeans.

We hung these painting up soon after I painted the living room gray, but I didn’t get a good picture of them.  I love them!  Elizabeth did an amazing job painting them.  She’s wants to paint more of them for other people too as a job. Several people have told her that they’ll send her some pictures to get started, but they haven’t yet.
Vincent and Abby are getting to be really great roller skaters.  It’s fun to watch them with their friends at the school skate night, plus they are really tired when the two hours are over.

We had a very nice, relaxed Thanksgiving.  We went up to Andy’s parent’s place in the mountains and hung out, cooked, played games, and rested the whole day.  I absolutely LOVED not having to eat in a rush and go to work (I had to work the next few days, but not on Thanksgiving.)

As we were heading out the door to go to the mountain, Olivia and Vincent practiced one of their piano duets they like to play together.

Elizabeth helped Abby get ready before we left.

We showed up in the middle of the day.  Their regular power was out and the generator was on, so the oven wasn’t able to run on that.  Luckily, the turkey was cooked on the special grill outside.  There was plenty of help in the kitchen to get the meal ready.

(And yes, the picture above was taken while I was sitting on the couch hanging out watching the other ladies and girls work…)

Great kitchen helpers!

It was just us and Sara’s family with Andy’s parents for Thanksgiving this year.  We had a wonderful time!

I helped when it was crunch time and I helped to clean up the kitchen after the meal.  It was really nice to not have to run to work.  I hardly knew what to do when I had time to just rest on a couch.  Abby came over to keep me company.

Andy’s sister Sara brought a Thanksgiving Bingo game.  The kids played it with M&M’s for the markers.  When they got a blackout, they could eat their treat.

Wanted a family picture on Thanksgiving.  Love these guys!

I took Sara and David’s family picture while we were there too.  They are so cute.  I’ll let her post those ones though.  We were happy to have them come to our house to stay Friday night.

Andy’s cousin’s wife let me know they were coming to town for Thanksgiving so we arranged a special game night on the Friday after.  She ended up not feeling well, but sent Andy’s cousin and their four girls over to play.  Adults played Apples to Apples in the family room and we sent the older kids in the living room to play Apples to Apples Junior.

That Saturday after Thanksgiving, Andy’s dad came down to help him put in our new giant living room window.  The window guys delivered it on Monday so we had to strap it to the fence post to the side of the house and hope it didn’t break before we could put it in.  (They were supposed to call and arrange delivery, but didn’t.)

On Saturday as I left for work, Andy and his dad were taking out the old window piece by piece.

It looked great when I got home.  We still have some work to do to finish it, but it’s nice.

The last week of November Fountain Books got the permission from Deseret Books to sell clothes again!  We got a huge shipment of Sweet Salt Clothing.  They asked me to kind of take the lead on setting it all up.  We didn’t get skirt hangers for another few days, but this is the corner area where the clothes are.  Really cute blouses and dresses and skirts!

It took most of the week to get it all set after we got the skirt hangers and in between customers if I was the only one there, but it looks even better now and things are selling. I wasn’t sure I’d like having to fold and hang clothes again or empty the fitting rooms, but our customers are pretty respectful and don’t leave things on the ground or in a heap on the tables like at regular retail stores, so it’s been great!

December is busy with more days and hours to work at Fountain Books, but Andy is home more this month too.  Still loving my new job!

 

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October 2017

Carryover from September:
Andy was called to be our Elder’s Quorum President at church the end of September. Here he is with his two counselors.  They are figuring out how everything works (and no, they aren’t releasing me yet from Primary President.)
I helped a few awesome ladies with the Jog-a-thon at Jason Lee this year.  I didn’t do tons, but I did enough that they weren’t quite so stressed out about it. ;)
It’s always fun to be there to cheer them on during the run.
Abby started gymnastics the beginning of October with a lady in our ward who is an experienced gymnast and gymnastics coach.  She went to sign her daughter up for gymnastics when school started and couldn’t find any with availability, so she started her own in her basement.  She ordered all the pads and other equipment once she had enough interest.  Abby goes over there for an hour a week with several other kids and I believe there are four or five classes during the week.  This has turned into a fun side job for her. Little Gems Gymnastics
I probably don’t need to tell you that this kind of thing is right up Abby’s alley.  She’s loving it.  It’s just long enough after school for Abby to walk home with Vincent and change clothes and eat an apple before going there.  Abby says that apples make her strong.
Abby’s grade had their annual First Grade Hoedown.  They learned a few songs and dances and then chose a family member to join them for one of the dances.  Then there are haystack cookies (melted butterscotch chips mixed with chow mien noodles-tastes better than it sounds) and apple juice.  She colored one of the scarecrows to decorate the school too.
All of my kids have now had a First Grade Hoedown at Jason Lee.  The music hasn’t changed and neither have the crafts or snacks, but it’s always fun (and done in about 45 minutes).  Pictures of all the kids at their hoedowns.
I have been following a friend’s photography blog since she started it and happened to win a family session for pictures.  We finally took them in September, which is okay with me because then they can be holiday pictures.
She did a great job.  This one seemed to be a Facebook Favorite.  I think I’m going to print it for the living room wall.
Love this picture of the kids.
And another family shot.  I kind of like this one because I’m taller than Elizabeth in it.
A little collage I made of my favorite photos Jessica Howard Photography took.
I helped with school individual pictures this year.  After all of the kids had their own picture taken, the whole school gathered outside for a picture of everyone taken from the photographer on the roof of the school. (This one is just from my junky camera).
Olivia finished up 7th Grade A team Volleyball early in the month.  She worked hard and learned a lot.
Olivia had her first choir concert in the middle of the month. They actually have two seventh grade classes that combined for this choir.  There was also a sixth grade choir, eighth grade choir, and special treble choir composed of eighth graders who have to try out for it.
The Open House was later this year, but great.  It lined up with the Book Fair night and the school’s trick or treating.  Students were invited to dress up.  We hadn’t figured out their real costumes yet, so they raided the costume box.  I love the self portraits they draw of themselves.
Abby and Vincent have been excellent leaf rakers.  But now the leaves are pretty much all down and were rained on, so no more playing in them.  Now we’ll just have to clean them up and toss them into our yard garbage can.
There was a Stake Youth Dance for Halloween.  Our neighbor joined the girls for it.  They all had a wonderful time.
Olivia made her own gumball machine costume.
Elizabeth made her own costume.  She is Impa from a Zelda video game.
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Abby raking away after school.  She may have earned some coins for taking care of the leaves this day without being asked and without complaint.
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The Saturday before Halloween one of the local shopping areas in town had a community fall festival and then trick or treating around the stores. Andy had Stake Conference Priesthood Meetings, but Nathan came to hang out with us. (Elizabeth stayed home.  She doesn’t like crowds or waiting much.)
There were a lot of places where princesses were ready for a picture along the path.  Abby wanted pictures with all of them.
They had some free pumpkins at the festival, but they were gone before we were done, so we headed to our local Winco to pick our pumpkins for the year.  Best prices and so easy!
Vincent is Boba Fett and Abby is an Ice Queen (not Elsa-she says). We found their costumes at my favorite thrift store for $5 each.
We carved pumpkins the night before Halloween.
Elizabeth made a helmet to go with Vincent’s costume out of cardboard and tape the night before Halloween and I painted it.  Andy touched up a few spots that weren’t quite right.  It looks pretty good with his costume.
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Andy had to go out of town for work on Halloween, so I took the three younger kids to the Uptown Shopping Center right after school (picked up Vincent and Abby with costumes ready in the car).  Nathan met up with us there too and then loaded them up with candy since he doesn’t get trick or treaters at his apartment.  While Elizabeth was home, she finished up the soup I made in the crockpot and started the bread dough.  We ate just a little bit after we got home and then we went over to Kennewick to visit Andy’s Grandma Ellen and Paul.  We met Grandpa George and Grandma Shirley at Grandma Ellen’s house and had a nice visit.  Then we went and visited Andy’s old boss Sam at his house and then came back home to let Elizabeth pass out candy to our trick or treaters and we went around our own neighborhood with a girl from our ward.  We got home just before 9pm and the kids didn’t get much candy to eat until the days after Halloween.  It was a lot of fun!
Before Andy left on his trip, he replaced the light in the bathroom and blew out the sprinklers.  This light is brighter than it looks.  I like that it’s so easy to clean.
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Very busy October with all of those activities, plus church and work and regular school stuff.  (Still loving my new job at Fountain Books!) It was a really fun and enjoyable month! Onto November’s Primary Program and planning the Ward Christmas Party and THANKSGIVING!
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September 2017

The Spring Break quilts Elizabeth and Olivia made with Grandma Mary were in the Walla Walla Fair.  They both received blue ribbons and Elizabeth also received a Champion ribbon for the Youth quilt division. They both did a wonderful job piecing their quilts and using Grandma Mary’s pattern.

Elizabeth’s is the black, red, and white.  Olivia’s is shades of blue and white.  It’s the churndash block.

My mom’s quilt is the one with the giant maroon ribbon.  She was awarded Best in Show by the judges.

A few weeks later, my mom took their quilts to the Walla Walla Quilt Show.

Elizabeth’s whole quilt at the Walla Walla Quilt Show with a rainbow ribbon.

Olivia’s whole quilt at the Walla Walla Quilt Show with a rainbow ribbon.

We played at the photo booth a little bit before heading out in the heat to play.

Our friend Nathan came along with us to enjoy the Walla Walla Fair.

We ended up with all free tickets, so we splurged a little more than normal and let Vincent and Abby play in the big hamster beach balls.

Vincent and Abby tried out a kiddie rollercoaster. Elizabeth and Olivia decided that they would rather use the money we would have spent on rides to buy food and trinkets.
Andy and I rode the Orbitor/Octopus/Spider ride while Vincent and Abby stood next to a light pole and took pictures. Nathan rode this ride too.
Vincent snapped this adorable picture of Abby while they waited.
Andy, Nathan, and Abby went on the Eruption/Round Up ride.  Abby was a little nervous about it.
Holding her breath while she waited for the ride to start.
Abby LOVED it!  She even wanted to go again!  Vincent decided to try it too, so I went with them the next time.  SO much fun!

Vincent begged five dollars off Andy and Nathan to throw darts at balloons in one of the game booths. He got to throw five darts and popped a balloon four of those five times.
He picked out this fun stuffed toy for his prize.
We headed up to Andy’s parent’s place for Labor Day.  Shirley did a Relief Society activity where they painted rocks for decoration or to hide places (it’s really popular in our area.  Is it popular where you live??)  She had some extra rocks so the kids painted some for Grandma Ellen’s garden and a few to keep.
Abby painted a LOT of rocks!  She painted even more after this picture was taken.
Obligatory ride around the property to check it all out.
Olivia is playing on the middle school 7th grade Volleyball A Team.  She is having a good time and learning a lot about the game and trying really hard to get her serves over the net.  (And she is now #8 because her team had two #2 and that doesn’t work very well…)  We gave her the volleyball for her birthday.

We had a free weekend so we decided to drive over to see Andy’s sister Sara and her family several hours away.  We had a scenic pitstop and needed a picture.

We played and visited the Friday night we were there (and exchanged birthday gifts all around so everyone had a little something because that’s easier than mailing all of it.)

Saturday we went to the Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Vincent liked the touching pools.  He loved this stingray.

Olivia was very helpful with Emma and Sami helped her too.
Daphne and Abby.  Such good cousin bonding time!
Most of the kids in the basement of the aquarium.  Sami and Emma stayed outside with Sara to rest.
One of the favorite sea creatures in our visit.
Asian Elephant viewing.
We saw a lot of other animals and had a really fun time hanging out with Sara’s family.  Our kids all get along so well.
Cousin picture with all of them at the end!
We had a really quick trip with six hours on the way there and around 5 1/2 on the way home, but it was worth the visit and time spent with family.
The next week was PROJECT WEEK!
I started with cleaning the carpet in the living room which needed it desperately.  A nice refresh is so much easier since I own the machine, but it’s still hard to carve out the time to do it. I LOVE clean, fresh carpets.
Next up was the countertop refinish.  I used a dark gray automotive primer spray paint first to cover up the old white formica and then used gray hammered finish spray paint to finish it off.  We used several layers waiting a few days between for the final layers.
The only real trouble was that the dark spray paint didn’t stay in the counter area.  It liked to go on the floor and then be tracked around the kitchen.  We did some major mopping afterwards, but the kitchen still has some paint residue and so does the bathtub.  I need to do some more scrubbing.
Because this is just the extra counter in our family room and won’t be wiped daily like our kitchen counters, this finish works well.  I LOVE the way it looks with our black countertop base I painted in June.
Project #3 for the week was painting the living room and hallway.  I invited a friend over to help me choose a color for this room and she thought gray would look nice.  (I liked the tan too, but it was there when we bought the house 11 years ago, so it was time to update).
I spent one afternoon filling in holes and cleaning.  Another morning taping and starting to paint the hallway (with Elizabeth who was home sick that day).
Changing the colors!
Progress! I love it!  I ended up doing two layers of paint throughout to make sure it covered everything.  It looks even better now that the tape is off and the room is put back together.  The paint does have a blue tint to it, but I still love it!

The next week (and the reason for Project Week) I started a new job at Fountain Books.  It’s a LDS based bookstore with books-of course, music, beautiful pictures, home decor, and more.  I’m working very part-time so far and really, really liking it.  The store is only open Monday-Saturday from 10-6 and no major holidays.  The music is peaceful and nice and the customers are polite and kind and don’t make messes like in other retail environments.  I’m getting the hang of how things are arranged and being trained how to do everything.  My mom came to visit me on my first day because she was in town and took my picture for me out in front.  (The sun was shining and I couldn’t keep my eyes open…)

Abby was invited to a friend’s really awesome Pottery Painting birthday party. These girls have good time together!
Great way to have a party with so many kids.
Abby painted a ladybug box.  Once it goes in the kiln the colors darken and get shiny.  It looks great now.
Elizabeth and Olivia had a Young Women’s Evening of Excellence to show some of their talents and hobbies and some of the projects they have worked on throughout the year.

 

The elementary school had a skate night so I took Vincent and Abby to that.  These two know how to skate pretty well!
We played my Grandma Zora’s Scrabble game at our weekly game night with friends at the end of September.  I looked at the date on the box and it was copyright in 1953.  My dad was born in 1954 and I think that this could have possibly been a wedding gift. It has been around a long time and Grandma played many, many games with it.  We played with her often when we stopped by to visit because Andy likes Scrabble too.
I thought of Grandma almost immediately when I got my letters.  I can remember playing with her when Andy and I were freshly married and her telling me, “If you have an E, you could play it here.”  I got to open the game with sleeve and I beat a few guys at game night by kind of a lot.  Thanks Grandma for all of the tips and encouragement! Great memories.  We are nearing the two year mark of her passing and I still think of her nearly every day and try to think about what she would do in situations and how kind and loving she was to everyone.
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August 2017

Andy headed to Oakland, California for work for the first week of August.  He visited the Oakland Temple where his parents were married.
While Andy was gone, a friend who sells Mary Kay was looking for friends who wanted to do facials.  She had a goal to do 60 facials in August, so I offered a few of our faces.  This is the charcoal mask, but it wipes right off with a rag instead of the ones that you have to peel off and it hurts, but this one has the same benefit as the other one.  (We had our neighbor friend over a lot of August.)
These three girls did some blue masks Olivia bought that same day in the morning.
That same day I decided it was the day to finally paint Vincent’s room and get it organized.  Vincent and Abby helped to wash down the walls that they spent a lot of time drawing on.  They seemed to enjoy it a little too much…
But we got it wiped down and taped off and then Olivia and our neighbor Ally helped me with all the painting.

I ran out of the rest of the can of paint we had before we could do a second coat on the door (covering fingernail polish), but everything else looks fresh and clean.

I bought some shelves on Amazon to replace the armoire that was in this room when we moved in.  It was broken and overloaded.  I switched this up a little more after the picture too.  I sewed up a curtain and bought some boxes that didn’t have diapers on them and moved Vincent’s hanging clothes to the end of his bed by the other cabinet.

I started a little job at the mall working for a friend who started a company there, but after just a few times, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.  I worked there for about a month very part-time and gave my notice after I interviewed somewhere else and was hired.  I’ll tell more about that in the September update when I start there.  I am really excited about it.

Andy’s Aunt Tricia came into town and asked us to get together with her and her boys who are the same age as Elizabeth and Olivia.  We met at Howard Amon Park and had a picnic and they all played.

We considered going to the wading pool at Howard Amon, but decided that these kids would like the river more, so we headed down the road to Leslie Groves and played in the river in the swimming area.   They like to hang out together and it was great to visit with them!

Our ward campout was the second weekend in August.  We went to Crow Butte State Park.  The Sunday School Presidency was in charge of the campout, so that means that our friend Nathan as the President and Andy as the Counselor planned the campout.  The spot was great.  It was sunny and nice all afternoon on the Friday.  Several families came to camp, but others canceled due to the smoke in the air that made it hard to breathe for a month in summer this year.
Crow Butte has a fantastic playground.  There was a fun zipline and climbing rocks and slide that had rods that you rolled down and cool swings.  Everyone loved it, from two year olds to teenagers.

 I took the kids down to play in the water Friday afternoon and took other pictures on Friday night, but somehow accidentally deleted them from my camera when I was shifting them to my computer, so I don’t have all that I wanted.

I did get a picture of some of the kids playing at the playground.

 These main three kids in this picture are all in the same grade, so I plan on saving this photo for when they are seniors. (Our ward has a senior honor night where they talk about the graduates and have a slideshow.)

 Abby wanted to make faces too.  She kept trying to jump off this tall rock.  I seriously had to tell her not to jump several times after I noticed her bouncing and counting down to jump.

After dinner we made a circle to visit with the Bishop and his wife when they came up for a short visit and the older kids played a fun game in the middle.  We ate treats too.

It got really windy that night.  Here is Nathan’s tent that was right out our tent window with Elizabeth in the background working on their tent (their tent fell apart when both of them got out) and another family in our ward whose tent collapsed on them.):

 Really, really windy!  It slowed down enough for us to pack up everything, which was done by 7am.  While we finished packing Vincent and Abby found some stick bugs to play with.

 They really like bugs.

 I helped with the quantities of food for the breakfast that was planned. They originally wanted to have a hot meal, but the plan for the grill fell through, so they decided to do a cold breakfast.  There were a total of 70 people who signed up saying they would be at the campout, but when I went shopping with Andy and Nathan, we happened to run into two people there who said the smoke was too bad for their family to camp.  We planned for about 50 and 25 people were actually there, so we had PLENTY for everyone who came to make sure they ate enough and plenty to send home and we were still under budget.

We had big muffins, packages of mini muffins for kids, mandarin oranges, bagels and cream cheese, bananas, cold cereal, milk, juice,  and chocolate milk.  Everyone said they liked it.

We had a short devotional that morning over our breakfast and then finished packing up before heading to the playground again.  We walked down to the playground from our big group site and it started to rain, so we didn’t play long and we hurried home.

We had a friend over to play one day and Vincent made her a special mask like his and Abby’s masks.  She thought it was fun too and said she wants to be this for Halloween now.

 Two of my out-of-town brothers came into town so we had a reunion and whole family picture time.

Tuesday they all came to Tri-Cities and Janessa’s husband Jes gave us a tour of the Life Flight helicopter and airplane that are only a few miles from our house.  Luckily, they didn’t have to leave on an emergency call while we were there.

There were a lot of us out there.  Milton’s family wasn’t in town yet, but the rest of us were there.  Someone posted a picture of us out there next to the plane and put it on Twitter.

Abby and Vincent in the helicopter.

I invited everyone over to our house for sandwiches and fruit for lunch after the tour.
Olivia showed Caleb her violin and let him try it out.
We got to meet our youngest niece, Anna. She’s lucky and has four brothers and a sister to play with in Wyoming.
We headed over to Joe’s house to play in their backyard before dinner.
It was good to see and visit with my brother Jeff.  It’s been too long since we had a visit.
The kids played on a blowup waterslide, pool, playground set, trampoline, and drove around these fun battery powered cars.  I think we successfully wore them out.

We took a day off from the fun because we had a lot of things going on Wednesday in our family, especially in the evening.  We had Pack Meeting for Vincent’s Cub Scouts, a Trek Fireside for Andy, Elizabeth, and I with the stake, Olivia had a violin lesson with a friend, and it was good to have a little break to rest.

That Thursday we had our big family pictures.

Janessa took a selfie of us during pictures. It’s so great to have a sister!

Each of our families picked a color to wear for the picture.  Green for Milton’s.  Blue for Joe’s.  Black for us.  Red for Brant’s.  Gray for Jeff and his girlfriend.  Navy for Janessa’s. And my parents wore purple.

There are 34 people in this picture.  14 adults and 20 of 21 grandchildren (Jeff’s son lives in Ohio.)

The photographer took a photo of our family too.  Abby was sad because she had to put her sticks down she was playing with.  She was inconsolable.

Picture of all of the grandkids with grandparents.

And all of the adults (plus my mom trying to picture take the picture taker.)  There’s a better one of this…

Abby and Derek are very close in age and sat on the hanging branch before the picture.

Andy worked Thursday in Walla Walla at the library so he could come over for the picture and then join us again for dinner.

After pictures we headed to a waterpark to play.  They had big slides to go down and a smaller kid area, a warm pool, and a fairly deep laned pool, as well as a section with diving boards.  There was something for everyone.

This lilypad across the pool was very popular.  It was hard for people to stand up on it to run across unless they weighed very little.  Vincent opted to crawl across.

We had dinner at my sister’s house in Walla Walla and said goodbye to everyone that night since they were headed home the next day.

We had a Sunday that I was the only regular one in the Primary Presidency/ Chorister/ Pianist group.  Except for we planned subs for the pianist and chorister and they ended up being able to come afterall.  That made life easier for me!  One reason people were out of town was to get in a better location for The Total Eclipse was that next day.  Andy took Olivia and Vincent up to the Mountain to meet his parent’s and go with them to find a better spot to see the Eclipse.

Elizabeth needed to pick up her high school schedule, so we stayed in town where we still had a 96% eclipse.

Elizabeth in front of her new school!

The new seminary teacher at Elizabeth’s high school is in our ward and they were going to be at the seminary building to meet students that morning, so I asked if Abby could hang out with them while I went with Elizabeth to pick up her schedule.  We told our friends across the street where we’d be so they could use our extra two pair of special eclipse glasses so we had parking lot eclipse party after they got their schedules.

Abby caught a grasshopper that freaked the other kids out.

This one is my favorite.

Elizabeth with our neighbor friend who goes to the high school with her.

Me and my oldest and youngest girls.  The crescent shapes on the ground are the moon shadows.  It was slightly darker and got chilly as the moon covered the sun.  The light on the shed behind us came on as it got darker.

Elizabeth and our neighbor friend again.

She opened some of the gifts from Vincent and Abby the night before.  She saved some for later.  Vincent and Abby have been wrapping up trinkets from around the house in napkins and paper towels all month for Olivia and put them in a laundry basket. Note the big pile of gifts in front of her.

Olivia made birthday invitations that were cupcake boxes with a balloon with the invite inside along with a cute poem and a doily on top of the box with each girl’s name.  She invited ten friends and nine were able to make it (the other planned on coming, but had a last minute family trip.)

Olivia made all of the decorations.  She combined three plastic tablecloths into a backdrop, made that cute arrow banner across the backdrop, and even made those cute reversible bags hanging from the hooks in the top of the picture to give to each of her friends.  She stitched every stitch.  I just bought the fabric.

She asked for these fun photo props and took a picture with each friend.

We fed them an easy lunch of taquitos, tatertots, and pop along with chips and pretzels.

Close up of the cute bags Olivia made.  She found the pattern on Pinterest and figured out just how much fabric she’d need and picked out complimentary fabrics and did all the work.  We put a pencil and a notebook and some candy inside.

The girls played Apples to Apples and decided that the green cards you won described your future husband, so that was pretty funny.  They didn’t want to win the green card “Disgusting” for some reason, but they all tried really hard to win that “Handsome” card.  Very fun and nice girls!

Olivia asked for cupcake cheesecakes for her cake.  That was nice and easy.  She loves those!

Olivia had them play a circle question game where they all sat on each other’s laps.  So funny!

Happy 12th birthday, Olivia!!!

 

 Olivia started some more volleyball training to be ready for the season for two hours a day (even on her 12th birthday). She made the 7th Grade A Team which is exciting because I know she’s been working really hard at learning how to play volleyball and she gets to practice right after school instead of coming home for a bit and going back to the school to practice.

 Olivia had to go pick up her schedule before school started too. We took a few girls on our block who are in her grade with us. It’s nice to have friends close by.

Olivia by her school. She’s excited for seventh grade!

I took the girls out for some ice cream after we picked up schedules.

Olivia was officially welcomed into the Beehives in Young Women’s at church.
Elizabeth had to go to a Freshman Day at the high school Monday, but Tuesday we got a partial group picture with Vincent, Olivia, and Elizabeth. (Abby was still asleep.)
Vincent in front of his school. He’s a fourth grader this year.

 We had a conference with Abby’s first grade teacher (and so did all of the other families) before they had the kindergarten and first graders come to school.

She was really ready to go to school on Thursday!

 For mutual the first week of school, our ward was invited to the stake center building’s mutual for a dance.  Our girls both invited a friend to go with them and they all had a fantastic time and asked about the next dance already. (In our church and stake 12-13 year old’s don’t normally go to dances, but they make a few exceptions a year for the back to school dance, Halloween dance, and Valentine’s dance. 14 year old’s and older have monthly regional dances they are invited to.)

 We have had a very busy end to our summer and have had a wonderful time with family and friends and each other, but we are so excited that school is back in session now!  I love the routine, even though Elizabeth and Olivia both have zero hour classes that start at 6:55 and 7am, which means I have to wake up EARLY and it also means I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier than 2am now.

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July 2017

We went up to Andy’s parent’s place for a visit on the 3rd of July and stayed the night so we spent the 4th of July with them. We attended their ward’s breakfast and played most of the day.  We also went up the Saturday before so we could see Andy’s sister and family who were in town for a few days.  Home again Sunday to do our callings and back up.

It doesn’t seem to matter to Abby if it’s a day to play outside.  She still wants to wear skirts all the time. She’s holding a little rubbery fish her grandparents found in the Bahamas when they went with Andy’s sister in June.

Airheads and Sprite.  Vincent was quite color-coordinated.

Elizabeth with Grandma Shirley and Olivia.

Andy with two of his little sisters.

Fourth of July breakfast flag ceremony.  These scouts did a great job!

I like to get a picture of the mountain each time I go up to the mountain.  I zoom in a lot to get this shot from their porch.

We went home on the 4th to play games with friends and then made popcorn to eat while we sat on the front lawn to watch the neighbors shoot off fireworks.

They were a little crazy this year.  When they started teasing each other with fireworks, we decided it was time to take the kids inside….

Free Slurpees at 7-11 on July 11th.
Olivia went off to Beehive Camp.  She’s not 12 quite yet, but had special permission to attend since she’s in the same grade as all of the other first year girls and turns 12 this summer.  We had Stake Beehive Camp because our stake had trek this summer.  They just had some YCLs to help for the older girls this year.  She had a great time!

Olivia next to the A frame our girls stayed in.

One day Aunt Torrie came by to pick up whoever wanted to go play at a park with her girls.  She even took some pictures for me.  I couldn’t go because I had other plans that day. =(

Looks like they had a good time!

Olivia has been fixing Abby’s hair all summer and takes pictures sometimes.  I think she likes having her own little doll to play with (at least when Abby holds still!)

Cute braids!

We were invited by a friend to crash a neighboring ward’s party at their pool and park.  They were playing Slip and Slide Kickball.  The bases were blow up pools and there was a slip and slide along the third base to home side.  The kids liked it a lot!

Vincent was the first one to try out the slip and slide.  It had to get wet first. (They used a hose from a ward member’s house on the other side of the fence.)
We are lucky to have friends we can call when we NEED a swimming afternoon.  Elizabeth often wants to stay home where it’s quiet so she can draw or read or just relax without everyone here.  All the girls who were in the pool piled onto the blow up alligator and were tossed over a few times.

Abby is starting to get more confident.  She is able to swim a few feet without floaties now and even keeps her face in the water.

When we stop by the library Vincent and Abby always want to play chess.  This day I let them.  They did pretty good for beginners.

 

 Olivia came with us to the elementary school library a few times.  Sometimes she’d even walk Vincent and Abby over if I was busy with other things so they could return their books.  She and Vincent played some checkers and she creamed him.  They have arranged several chess/checkers tournaments this summer at our house.
My Uncle Derlyn passed away this month.  He is my mom’s older brother.  It was unexpected, but without suffering.  He was always so fun and nice and ready to go and do things.  He used to be a firefighter a the Grand Coulee Dam and would take us on tours there in the summertime when we were little and then we’d watch the laser light show overlooking the side of the dam.  We’d go tubing behind his boat and one summer we were there for the Fourth of July and my oldest brother brought a suitcase full of fireworks to light off and joined up with everyone else’s stash of fireworks and it was fun to watch.

He did a lot more in his life than I had ever heard about until his funeral because I wasn’t around for most of his life and didn’t get to hear all of the other stories.  He was good friends growing up with a man in our ward in Richland and he was able to speak at the funeral about him.  They kept in touch all of these years and even spoke just a few days before he passed away.  Really cool.

He requested one last ride in a fire truck.  The fire department did a little ceremony and took him on his last ride.

Andy and I bought tickets to a Jack Johnson concert for our anniversary.  It happened to be the same day as the funeral was so we made a little road trip of it and left the kids at home.  It was hot, but a lot of fun.

John Craigie opened the show.  He’s from Portland and is a songwriter.  His songs were fun.

The Avett Brothers were the next opener.  I hadn’t heard of them before, but liked their music and instruments and songs.

The sunset at the Gorge in George is so pretty!

The Columbia River is right behind the Amphitheater.  Gorgeous!

Jack Johnson’s concert was awesome!  I’ve never been to a real concert before (I don’t count the time I went to a Barry Manilow concert with my mom using the tickets she won from a radio station when I was 15…)  I’ve seen a few performers passing through the fair, but don’t really count those either.

I like several other singers/bands more than Jack Johnson, but I do NOT like that so many of them have songs that are cleverly edited to be on the radio so the swear words are cut out and I didn’t want to hear that filth, so I chose Jack Johnson knowing his songs are clean and fun and not full of stuff I don’t like.

SO much fun to listen to his music!  Love his Hawaiian roots approach and fun sounds.

I made up a Powerpoint game for my sharing time the 23rd of July (luckily I made it the Sunday before so I was all ready even after the day trip.)  Elizabeth helped me make it better since she knows how to animate things on Powerpoint.  I came up with 8 questions based on the game “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.  I changed Millionaire to Pioneer.

I asked a lady in our ward to dress up like a pioneer (I took a bonnet, apron, and long skirt for her to add to her church clothes) for “Ask a Pioneer” instead of “Phone a Friend”. We had a Poll the Teachers instead of Poll the Audience.  I changed money to miles as well so it would be more appropriate for Sunday and pioneers.  I had everyone raise their hands to choose the right answer instead of putting one on the spot.  It worked out really nicely and they learned some new things.  I shared it on a facebook group I’m a part of that shares ideas for Primary so people all over used it in their pioneer sharing times too.  Loved it!  Once in a while I come up with clever ideas.

Olivia started a little violin boot camp with a friend learning from a friend of ours who is a sophomore this year and an excellent violinist.  We will meet with her several times in August so Olivia and her friend will be more ready for seventh grade orchestra and they can ask any questions they have.  We are paying the high schooler friend too so she’ll get some good experience with this and it’s worth her time. 

We are looking forward to the last month of summer and don’t have too much planned to finish out summer since we did so much in June.  We didn’t have any official out of town family reunions this year, but have a few next summer.  The kids have enjoyed playing with Legos, drawing, reading, watching too many movies, and hanging out with neighborhood friends.  Andy has been gone on work trips several weeks this summer, so we are having dinners that are easy and things he doesn’t like.  I’m working through my reading pile and even cleared out enough downloaded books on my kindle to do a factory reset to clean it up (couldn’t do what I needed to do without doing it that way unfortunately.) I still have tons of real books to read and hundreds of kindle books in the stash, but the downloaded ones I got other places are almost all off of it.

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Richland Stake Trek

It was forecast to be up to 107 degrees the first day of trek when we looked the night before.  I posted on FB for some prayers for us that we could do it safely and that the meteorologists would be wrong.  I actually said that if they go outside and feel hot to say a prayer for us on trek. When we woke up Monday morning the weather forecast had changed.  It gave a 20 percent chance of precipitation and the temperature was forecast to go down to 98 degrees instead (I’d take that over 107!)  When we went outside, the grass was wet with dew, so we thought that could be all the precipitation we got that day already done.

Cottonwood Ward Youth 14-18 headed out to the Trek. (Elizabeth’s in the front in the bright orangeish shirt.)

Andy and I headed out to the church owned property where the trek happens (Bing Canyon).  It’s on a part of AgriNorthwest, a church farm.

We collected all of this stuff because we are Pa/Ma and needed to have a lot of things ready for our family.  They told us we could have up to ten kids, so we opted to bring kind of large tents to make sure there would be plenty of room.

The carts all lined up and ready to be loaded up for the next several days.

Ma and Pa Ransom ready to go (and still clean and not super hot yet.)

The wards started showing up with the youth from the stake.  130 youth participated in the trek this year!  Elizabeth with her cute pioneer outfit.  She and Grandma Mary made the apron the week before.  She got the bonnet and skirt from our ward and I found the shirt at a thrift store for her to match her skirt.

All of us together before we were assigned our families.

After we were assigned our ten children, we headed around to different stations to collect some supplies in Iowa City.  At the hospital we all got babies.  The three families in our group (one from each company-including ours and Elizabeth’s) all got twin babies.  Other groups had babies with broken arms, some with colic, and another set that was adopted babies that they had to take to other families to feed them. Mostly I took this picture because that lady is super awesome and I helped a friend paint the canvases behind the shade in Iowa City.  She traced everything out and we had a painting party one morning.  It was great.  (I painted the sod roof on top of the hospital).

Our Ransom Family.  Six girls, four boys, and newborn twins.  We were ready to go!

Elizabeth’s family photo (don’t have an official one yet.)

Our company was the last one to leave, but eventually we headed out on our journey.

We had a flag to design.  One of our girls took charge of that when we had a few minutes to sit and rest.

We pushed, pushed, pushed the water with our kids.  The clue on the sole of my hiking boots that I bought before the trek four years ago melted due to the hot sand!  That’s how hot it was!  Andy guesses that the sand was close to 200 degrees.  There was duct tape holding shoes together all over the trail and we even passed by a few soles at the start.  Crazy!
I had to duct tape my left shoe together because the sole was starting to come loose.
Took shoes off at a rest stop to duct tape them and let my feet rest.  Had a little leaning party with my trek daughters so we could all rest our backs.
The first afternoon of Trek on June 26th when Richland and surrounding areas were experiencing a pretty terrible storm, with a lot of rain, hail, wind, broken branches, house fires from lightning, and flash floods, we were out on the trail with our families. The company Pa and Ma Ransom were in the green company which was assigned to be the last company of the day. We were down in the bottom of a canyon (best place to be when there is lightning) waiting out the storm.
Picture taken when we were at the bottom of the canyon with the other three carts in our company at the top just before they made them come down.
Our family got out a tarp and rested and talked about things and watched the sky.   We started to see lightning flash all around where we were.  The other carts that hadn’t come down to the valley yet were left at the top to get the kids down to safety.
Andy resting on the tarp.
One of our trek sons curled up a few inches away from Andy.  It was kind of cute.  He fell right asleep.  He was tired!
We were experiencing a lot of heat earlier in the day so the cloud cover was welcomed, but the storm didn’t seem to be hitting close to us. We looked up at the clouds and couldn’t even see ANY cloud movement above us. We were watching lightning strikes all around us, but missing where we were, right in the middle. We had more family time with our ten kids resting and talking and getting to know each other and also talking about faith. Other groups in the green company opted to do a more formal Family Home Evening and had their buckets out, sang songs, which was just what their family needed right then.
Some of our girls resting and waiting out the storm.
Eventually, they gave the signal that the rest of us could go up the huge hill, which the cart had to be tied with a rope and hauled up pulling on the rope like a tug-of-war, and the rest of us climbed up.
At the top of the huge hill after everyone was up, the wind started up again fiercely. Our family had to hurry and get out tarps for cover because the rain pounded down on us along with the dirt! It was wild!
Sorry these pictures are blurry.  The wind was too fast to make the camera focus.

After dinner I was shown a picture of the weather radar map that someone from Richland had sent to another trek mom that showed a donut looking shape of storm surrounding a hole in the middle directly where we were.

I know that we were protected from the storm with all of the prayers from those in Richland and beyond praying for us to be safe and protected. We did see a hill that seemed to be a long ways away that was on fire and there were trucks up there taking care of it. The next day we actually passed that fire while we were hiking. We heard that our Stake President, Don Powell was very busy with phone calls from concerned Richland Stake members worried about our youth out on trek because of the flash flood warnings and adverse weather conditions in Richland and the area. We were protected! What a miracle!
Wonderful week full of spiritual experiences: planned and unplanned.

That evening brought a beautiful sunset!

We set up camp when the wind settled down a little bit and made dinner in the back of a huge truck along with everyone else.  Dessert was a bundt cake that was steamed in a larger pot.  Ours turned out okay, but my friend’s didn’t.  She said it was terrible.  The water kept getting into her pan and making it a gooey mess.  I took her the rest of our cake that our kids didn’t want anymore of and they loved it.

Cooking breakfast the next morning in the huge truck.  It had been very windy all night.

Due to the fire danger in the area, this was the only place we were allowed to cook.  The rest of our meals were delivered to us.

We had someone take another family picture before we headed out Tuesday morning.

We came across a ‘rancher’ who happened to have a field of watermelons he wanted to share with us.  I think the food stops are the best.  Fresh, juicy watermelon is SO refreshing!  It was really hot this day too!

I like seeing when the wagons are all spread out.

A friend in our ward stopped by our house and picked up my tennis shoes for me so I could hike the rest of trek with a little traction instead of duct tape on the bottom of my hiking boots.  She was coming back for activities, so I switched out my shoes at lunchtime.

Another stop was ‘milking’ Bessie.  They had several stops that would determine what kind of lunch was given to each family the next day.  This is Elizabeth milking Bessie actually.

When we stopped for lunch, Elizabeth’s blue company was just leaving.  We snagged a picture of Elizabeth.  She was working hard and having a good time with her family.

We walked past the fire that happened the previous day.  So crazy!  So blessed!

Elizabeth at the end of day two.  Andy went around and made sure he had pictures of all of the kids in our ward for our ward newsletter.

We had a speaker who talked about choices and all about pioneers.

I didn’t take many pictures on the third day, but I did get some of my favorite part:  the steep downhill part where we turned the cart backwards to steer it down the hill.

They actually tell the Pa/Ma that we don’t need to help with the cart, but I wanted to help with this part.  Our oldest boy was helping with a backpack water sprayer for our company and another boy went home the first night because his feet that were already hurt from something else were hurting too bad (but he didn’t complain or even mention them the entire day and worked really hard all day!)  Anyway, I wanted to jump in and help here.

We had five of us across the bar and it was so much fun!

We took the cart across the ‘Sweetwater Crossing’.

And made it to Zion on Wednesday night.  Our green company and yellow company came into Zion together.  They wanted everyone to wait and come in together, but the blue company was struggling and was way behind us so they sent us in.

We parked our carts and went to wait on the grass for the blue company to come in so we could cheer for them.  Instead, one of the company leaders said that whoever wanted to was welcome to go and rescue the blue company who were struggling so much.  Nearly ALL of the kids jumped right back up and ran out to help.  At that point over 100 kids were on the trail trying to help with five carts.  They were so quick to jump up and help each other and I loved seeing that enthusiasm and love of each other.

Blue company heading into Zion.

Elizabeth’s family cart was the first one in for blue company.  She was right there in the front with some boys and they were running as they passed the gate.  I thought it was so wonderful that she was ‘running into Zion’!  She said they were pushing so hard that the kids in front had to run to keep up, but I like it anyway. She said most of the time she was up front with the boys in her family pulling the handcart.

There were several people in the blue company who were really hurting.  One had a super swollen knee that she’d had surgery on the previous year, a Ma had blisters all over her feet, another had a hurt ankle.  A few were super close to being sent home because they weren’t feeling well.  I’m glad they were able to stay and made it to Zion with their families.

That night we set up camp in Zion and had a feast!  The activities committee set up a pie eating contest for the Pa’s.  The Ma’s had to be behind them to help them wipe their faces afterwards. (There were a few stand ins because one Pa wouldn’t do it and another has diabetes), but Andy did it and nearly won.  If you are looking for us, I’m in the brown shirt.

They had a hoedown that night and a few moments of reflection as well.

The next morning we had a morning-side devotional. They shared some stories and then divided us into groups of two families to share testimonies before coming back to have the rest of the devotional.  It was wonderful.

Picture of Elizabeth next to her trek Ma on the last morning.  As soon as they got into Zion, both of Elizabeth’s Ma and Pa came over to Andy and I and told us how awesome she is.  I’m so glad she had this experience!  

We survived!  It was kind of nice to get home before noon since mostly Thursday morning we just had to break camp and put everything away.

It was hot.  It was hard.  It was tiring and exhausting.  But it was WORTH IT!  Every bit of it.  The messages received, the answered prayers, the service rendered, the testimonies built, the friendships made.

I decided that four years ago I was in better shape physically and this time I was in better shape spiritually.  I spent quite a bit of the two months before trek reading all about pioneers in my own family line and others.   Andy and I read talks about the subjects that each day was going to be devoted to learning about on trek.  We researched our own ancestors and learned things we didn’t know before.  I rewrote a few histories so they would be easier to read and understand and with one compiled several different accounts of her life that I found because they asked each person to come with the name of someone they could walk to honor.

I learned that no matter how slow you go, if you have faith in every footstep, you will get to where you need to be.  Life isn’t a race.  Head in the right direction and you’ll be okay.

I learned that children really are sent to the right families.  We had a few daughters who told us that some other kids thought our family wasn’t a very good one to be assigned to and they were trying to convince them otherwise because they thought our family was the best and I just told them that the people who assigned the families prayed about it and sent them to the right one for them, just like their real family is the right family for them.  And it’s even better if you believe that YOUR family is the best one.  Loved all those kids!

We really did enjoy hot showers on Thursday afternoon though!  I expect that the city water people were trying to figure out why there was so much dirt going through the pipes all afternoon and extra water usage.

I got all the laundry started, including sleeping bags, started washing the kitchen stuff and boxes we took because everything was covered in dirt, and got the things we borrowed ready to return.  Andy and Olivia went to the store and picked up a little treat to deliver with thank you notes that Andy and I took around before going out to dinner.

And now Andy’s mustache-less.  Thank goodness!  I don’t like facial hair at all, but put up with it occasionally when there’s a real reason for it like trek or a Halloween costume.

Elizabeth had a great experience too and says she will remember it the rest of her life and now has lifelong friends in her trek siblings.  When we returned a bucket to a member of the Stake Presidency with a treat on Sunday night with Elizabeth, he asked her if they should continue to have trek and she said that they absolutely should because it builds their testimonies and strengthens them and that she had a great time and made lasting memories.

A HUGE thank you goes out to Grandma Mary who watched our other three kids for the days we were on trek.  It was so nice to know that they were taken care of and would be safe.  We didn’t worry about them at all knowing that she was taking care of them.

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Cape Disappointment

We were invited to go to a friend’s 10th anniversary camping party with their family and friends the last weekend in June way back in September when the spots were open for registering a spot.  We registered for all four days; Friday-Tuesday and kept having to cross our fingers that the school date changes due to snow wouldn’t affect trek.  They did though.  We ended up having to adjust our camping reservations and drive home on Sunday instead so we could start the Trek on Monday.  It all worked out.

We left early Friday morning to go to the Washington Coast.  Cape Disappointment is just on the Washington side across the Columbia River from Astoria, Oregon.  Although we had been to Astoria several times since we got married, we hadn’t been to Cape Disappointment.  And we weren’t disappointed.

On the way there, we came to a standstill and waited for probably 20 minutes at a stop along the highway.  Eventually a police car, firetruck, and then two ambulances came past.  We decided to turn around and try to find another way to where we needed to be.  We couldn’t find the right turn off and turned around again and got back in the standstill line on the highway much further back from where we were initially.  We discovered later that we had passed the turn off we had been looking for and took it and never did quite figure out what had happened ahead of where we had stopped.  This ended up adding at least an hour to our trip.

We played some car games, MadLibs, Alphabet Animals (like if the first person says, “alligator”, the next says an animal that starts with the letter B and it continues), and Alphabet Train where if you start you say a word like “Coast” and the next person has to start their word with the letter T and so on.  This was really good for Abby especially to be able to sound them out, figure out which letter it was, and then think of the right thing to say.  We also played a guess-the-character game the way you’d play 20 questions.  So one person thinks of a character and then tells us to start asking questions.  We can ask if it’s a cartoon character, from a tv show, movie, color of the character, if they are in more than one episode, etc.  Pretty fun.

The car was LOADED (actually I finished packing for trek Monday and packed and loaded the car Tuesday with everything I could for the coast so we could relax a little the rest of the week.)  Elizabeth is back there next to the pile of stuff.

We were stopped next to this pretty flower some of the time as we waited for the accident.

When we got to the coast we unpacked into our Yurt we rented (permanent tent with wood floors, a high ceiling, heat, electricity, and lighting, plus a twin/full bunkbed and a full futon).  Elizabeth opted to not share a bed, so Olivia and Abby shared the top bunk twin and Vincent slept on the futon still in couch shape.  We brought a foam mat for Elizabeth to sleep on the floor (her choice). Some people brought their trailers, others brought tents, we had our yurt, and my friend’s parents stayed at a B&B close by (it’s their anniversary too!)

We headed over to our friend’s trailer spot to see if they needed help with dinner (we were eating all the meals there together), but they were still waiting on the chili for the fritos-banditos to get there in his parent’s car, so we headed down to the beach to check it out.

The kids played in the little circular driveway that was separate from the main road that was shared by each set of ten campsites.

Ready to play at the beach!  (Elizabeth opted to stay in the yurt and draw.  She’s working on some projects.)

Found some tide pools to play in.

So, so sad that this picture turned out blurry… =(

View of the lighthouse from the beach.  It’s actually under construction right now so we couldn’t go inside.

Some of the tidepools were pretty deep!

Abby found some pretty shells she needed to save.

Abby and two friends to play with.

Me and my buddy Ally.  So glad they invited us to go on this campout with them.  We had a good time hanging out with them and their family and other friends.The next day we had breakfast with our friends (bagel sandwiches-egg, canadian bacon, cheese and fruit to eat) and then our family headed out to do a little bit of touristing.  We visited the Astoria Tower and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse (and Fred Meyer, but that’s hardly a tourist visit).

Vincent at breakfast.

Abby helping walk our friend’s dog around with her buddy.

Abby found some wildflowers to share.
Olivia ready to go!  The sooner we could finish errands and tourist visits, the sooner she could play at the beach!

 

Vincent waiting for us outside the yurt.

Vincent, Abby, and Luke checking out the yurt from the screen window on the side.

Vincent by the yurt.

Astoria Column.  There are 164 stairs in a spiral staircase inside that leads up to a small overlook at the top.  We all climbed it and the kids tossed a little balsa wood airplane (purchased for $1 at the gift shop) from the top. There are different main parts of the area’s history wrapped on a mural all around the column.

This is what it looked like from the top.  To the left of the walkway, by the man in the red shirt, is one of our planes flying down.

Abby, Elizabeth, Vincent, and Olivia at the top.

Andy and I at the top of the Astoria Tower.

This photograph looks like a painting to me.  Beautiful view!!!

A little depiction of what the inside looks like.  That’s a LOT of stairs!

Photo of the HUGE bridge connecting this part of Oregon to Washington. You can hardly even see that on the far side there’s another big bridge closer to Washington.  We liked going over this.  Our friend’s mom said she didn’t know what she was going to do because she might have to stay at the campsite and have her husband visit her there because the bridge freaked her out so much.Related image

Love to see the ships and barges in the river!

We hiked over to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse after we got back to Washington.  Had a little photo op there too.

 

Elizabeth was our photographer most of the day.  She took this picture of all of us except for her close to the lighthouse.

And a little snapshot of Elizabeth with Vincent.

And all of our kids together!

Another shot of us on a bench.

We stopped by a gift shop at the lighthouse and there was a bird’s nest with baby birds to peek at.  So tiny and cute.

We got back in time for sandwiches for lunch and went to the beach again.  We forgot to pack sunscreen but didn’t notice until after we had already gone to the store, so we skipped it.  I got a bad sunburn on my chest… and because of the wind pulling my shirt collar, it’s not even even.

These three most wanted to play in the waves.  Andy and Elizabeth went out exploring by the jetty for a bit.

Vincent at the ocean.

Abby posing by the ocean.

Olivia LOVES the water at the ocean!

Abby wrote her name in the sand.

And Abby flew her kite for a little bit.  The wind was CRAZY strong!

Vincent and Olivia jumping waves.

When Olivia got bored of jumping waves, she sat down and let them come to her.

Vincent flying his kite.

We walked down to another part of the beach and ran into Andy who got back from the jetty.  He kept Vincent with him because Vincent wasn’t done playing on the beach yet and I took both girls back to the yurt to change.

Some of the group playing games in the afternoon.

Ally and Jason with the crabs they bought.  Happy 10th Anniversary!

Ally made some Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.  They were delicious!

Abby ‘started’ the fire.

Abby sweet-talked Ally’s brother who gave her a clam to try.  She ate it and saved the shell.  She didn’t like it much though.

Vincent tried the crab meat.  He wanted to try the clams, but they were already gone by then.

Vincent liked the crab meat.  Saturday evening was the planned big dinner crab dinner.  Most of the people (30!) went and bought some crabs locally to bring back to cook.  We opted to just eat the side dishes for dinner since we don’t like seafood.

It was great to go camping with one of my best friends!  We always have a good time together.

The whole group who was there on Saturday night.  SO much fun!

Andy and I headed down to the beach to watch the sun set.  It was beautiful!

There were some thin clouds on the horizon distorting the sun, but I thought it looked really cool.

Gorgeous waves!

And after the sun set, it was still so pretty!

When we got back to the campsite (we left our kids there with our friends) they had added some vitamins to the fire to make fun colored flames.

Sunday morning we packed up our yurt and stopped by our friend’s place for breakfast. We had pancakes, bacon, and eggs with hot chocolate for breakfast before heading out for home.

When we got home we took all the camping stuff out of the car and immediately reloaded it with all of the trek stuff that I had set aside ready to go.  I went over to my neighbor across the street who was outside watching this to explain a little why we were reloading as soon as we got home and chatted for a bit about what the trek is and why we are doing it along with a ‘pray for me. it’s supposed to be 107 degrees Monday…’ and I mentioned my sunburn and showed it to her.  She came over a few minutes later with some miracle cream that took all of the sting of the sunburn right out and made me comfortable again.  I am going to need to buy some of that.  I used it twice on Sunday night and once Monday morning and didn’t need it again!

Our friends are thinking about making this an annual tradition.  Sounds fun to us, but we’ll see if it works on years we have family reunions.  This year is an odd no reunion year so this was pretty much our only summer trip.

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June 2017

Our trip to the Pacific Ocean and Stake Pioneer Trek will be separate blogs.

Because of the nine snow days this winter, school was extended to June 15th.  Early in June The Reptile Man came to visit the students with an assembly and had an evening show families were invited to as well.  Abby and Vincent really liked it.

Abby with the giant tortoise.
Vincent and Abby with a friend and the huge python.

The kindergarten classes had a fun concert full of Mother Goose songs.  Abby really got into it.  She’s a little dramatic.
This one is my favorite.
Luckily, they had a daytime performance because the evening show was during one of my last shifts at work.  You read that right.  I gave my notice at Kohl’s and had my last shift there.  I needed less stress and a break from all the frustrations there.
Olivia, Vincent, and Abby had a successful lemonade stand early in the month.  Vincent rode around advertising it and they made quite a bit of spending money.
Andy and I hiked Candy Mountain three times this month (maybe once last month is in that count.)  Nice hike to get us ready for Trek.
Pretty view from up on top.
Our Stake had a special Stake Conference with Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visiting along with Joni Koch of the Seventy.  The talks were so great and the spirit was felt.  Truth was taught.  And the kids remembered many of the things that were taught there too, even weeks later!
The dentist recommended that both Olivia and Vincent have checkups at the orthodontist to see about getting braces.   It’s kind of a mess.  Some baby teeth are still working their way in, others don’t have room to come in, and many of the teeth coming in are coming in crooked.  The plan is to start him with a brace on the roof of his mouth for six months to see if that will give him more room and make his other front teeth come down and then start braces after all of his permanent teeth come in.
This is Vincent’s x-ray of his mouth.
The plan for Olivia is to wait six months until her last permanent teeth come all the way in.  Luckily, our new dental insurance will cover some of the orthodontist cost.
Before school got out, I hurried to finish a project I’ve been wanted to do.  I sanded and painted the base of our family room cabinet under our long bar counter.  My friend Ally came over to help and the sister missionaries stopped by too.  We got it all done before the kids got home on the last day of school.  We painted THREE coats of black paint.
I kind of love it!  I’m going to work on the top of the counter next.  I think we’ll find some texturing paint to just cover what’s up there already.
The little doors are covering the skinny cupboard that is really there just to have access to the plumbing for the kitchen sink on the other side.
On the last day of school Olivia’s sixth period class was invited to a laser tag party by a boy in her class whose dad just started this business.  We paid the $10 and dropped her off in the rain to play for a few hours.  She loved it.  She said it was her new favorite sport.
Pretty good group of kids to play laser tag in the rain.  Even her teacher came with two of his kids to play.  So fun!
We had a chance to go and watch a cousin play baseball when we had a free afternoon and it was close by.  Vincent and Abby used some of their lemonade stand money to buy a treat while they watched.
One of Abby’s friends had a birthday party.  They had a wonderful time playing and crafting and running around.
The school library is open twice a week so we went to check it out and check out some books.  It was well attended and there were friends to do things with there.
We spent a few afternoons swimming at a friend’s pool since it was so hot!
Our neighbor across the street came over and invited us to pick raspberries in her backyard.  Abby and I picked enough to make some delicious freezer jam.
I celebrated another birthday!  After quitting Kohl’s I had a solid week before the kids were out of school to get some things taken care of.  One day I went shopping with a friend at the mall and helped with the yearbooks at the school.  Another day I went to the Temple with a few friends and then out to lunch (where they told them it was almost my birthday so they sang to me and brought over a treat.)
Andy was gone on a trip until the evening of my birthday/our anniversary.  We went out to eat at Olive Garden.  Very good!
My parents stopped by to drop off a birthday gift too.  So nice!
My first ever best friend Desi came up for a visit.  She and I were best friends starting in kindergarten until I moved away to Burbank.  We were penpals after that and never lost touch.  So great to catch up with her.  We visited all day and then Andy took us out to eat at Red Robin for dinner.
I scanned some old pictures and made them into a collage for fun.  This one is from when we were little.
And this one is from after I moved away, plus the one from her visit.
The friend who went to the mall with me helped me pick out this yellow skirt so I found a blue shirt to go with it.  I thought it looked pretty nice.
We bought Andy a giant light up Rubik’s Cube for Father’s Day.  He seemed to like it.
Grandpa Paul invited Elizabeth to go and help him with Walla Walla’s Cub Scout Day Camp.  Grandma Mary picked her up early enough to put the rest of her Spring Break quilt top together.  Looks great!
One of our former cub scouts got his mission call to Bangkok Thailand. So excited for him!
Elizabeth finished a summer goal of painting her siblings like her self portrait she made at school this year in art.  She wants to make more for other people and sell them.  If you are interested, contact her at easyransom@gmail.com
I love how they turned out!  I need to frame them and find a place I want to hang them.
Still to come from our June-Coast Trip and Trek.
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May 2017

The quilt Olivia made over Spring Break with Grandma Mary was in the quilt show in Pendleton this month.  It’s SO pretty!  She did a great job and is lucky to have a talented Grandma to teach her useful skills.
My mom and I went to an author signing about an hour away to meet Wanda Brunstetter.  She writes a lot of Amish romances, which are clean, spiritual, and fun to read.  My mom started reading her books because there were some set in a quilt shop and lent that series to me and since then I’ve checked almost all of her books out at our local library.  It was a fun little roadtrip.
I had another road trip to see my cousin to cut my hair this month.  She did some highlights for me and thinned it out a little so it lays nicely and chopped off several inches.  I’ve been wearing it straight more often this month.
My mother in law had a big crafting party at her mountain home the day before Mother’s Day.  Andy drove me up there and then took Vincent and Abby with him to go and see some sites and drive around.  I made these HOME letters that have a different O for each season (Snowman/Flower/Watermelon/Pumpkin) and they each even have another little seasonal thing to go with them.  I made it for my buddy Ally.  She was going to come, but has been under the weather a lot of the last few months and just couldn’t do it.
George made a delicious lunch for all of us crafty ladies.
I had a nice Mother’s Day morning.  Elizabeth made me some breakfast and Abby and Vincent helped her.  They all gave me nice cards and little gifts from school and church.
The youth took Primary over for the third hour so our teachers and presidency could go to Relief Society.  We had an excellent lesson all about the Savior.  I decided that if I could only go to one RS lesson a year, that was the perfect one!
We ate an early dinner and headed to Walla Walla to visit my mom.  
One of my brothers brought his three kids and my sister came over with her two boys.
It was a little too much for the living room at my parents and most of us ended up at the park a block or so away to let the kids play.  It reminded me of playing baseball in our backyard as a kid on Sunday evenings when the weather was nice.
Elizabeth said she’d play if I batted too.  I think I surprised her when I agreed.  I hit the first pitch even in my dress and without playing for a few decades.  Unfortunately, it was a fly ball right to my nearly professional nephew who caught it, but I hit it!
A nice picture with Grandma Mary and nine of her 21 grandchildren.
The elementary school had a volunteer breakfast the morning of the PTA Carnival.  The classes all made signs that said thank you and I found the hand Abby colored.
They had a photo booth that we had to try out.
And then I went home for a half hour nap before going with a friend to pick up ALL of the food for the concessions at the carnival.  It completely filled my Hyundai Veracruz. I made all of the back seats flat and Amanda even had the nacho cheese cans by her feet in the passenger seat at the end.  I helped in the concessions during the carnival.
Olivia has been practicing “Love at Home” with three other girls (two violists and two flutists) and a young lady who accompanied them on the piano.  They shared their song at the rest home when our ward was in charge of a Sunday evening service.

I know you want a video.  Go HERE to watch it. (This is with just two practices all together.)  They also played the last Sunday in May during Sacrament Meeting at church.
I thought that it would be fun to go on a hike as a family on a Monday evening since Andy, Elizabeth, and I need to make sure we are ready for the Trek this summer.  I heard that Candy Mountain trail was new and a little easier than Badger Mountain’s hike (which is mostly hard for me because one of the sides starts with a HUGE section of stairs).  We parked where Google said the trailhead was and started up.  We quickly figured out that this wasn’t quite as easy as advertised and actually wasn’t even the right trail!  The path we went on was a service road that firetrucks use if the mountain catches on fire or to do other maintenance at the top.  We forged on anyway.  Vincent, Olivia, and Abby are fast little hikers.
When he could see the top metal satellite/radio tower sticking up and we were close to the real trail, Andy told Olivia we’d meet them at the top and to wait there.  We took the winding path that led us mostly to the other side of the mountain (and lost Elizabeth somewhere along the way because she didn’t keep up and didn’t know where we went when I thought she was going to just give up and walk back to the car).  When Andy and I got to the top, no one was there and we couldn’t see the kids.  I thought I spotted Elizabeth at the car, but when I zoomed in with my camera, she wasn’t there.  Andy went back down the steep path (and I should have too!) to check on them (they were all at the car when he got down and they were just fine.)  I decided I wanted to try out the real path, so I went down the other way.  It took longer even going down because of all of the switchbacks and distance.  Eventually I shot out at the parking lot and started walking along the road to meet up with Andy and the kids and the car.  I left my phone at the house charging so it was just me and all peaceful and beautiful, but I wished I’d had it so I could call Andy and tell him where the parking lot was.  I walked a few more miles before I got to a gas station (where they wouldn’t let me use their phone) and borrowed a phone from a nice guy who was buying something there.  Andy and the kids had been waiting at the car for about 45 minutes for me to get there assuming the parking lot was closer or that I’d be there soon.  Needless to say, this was not the most successful hiking trip and everyone was GRUMPY when I got back to the car.
Andy and I hiked the real trail the next day without the kids and it was a nice, smooth, gradual climb with gravel trail and good weather.  My legs were sore though since I hiked so much the previous day.
And Wednesday the Young Women in our ward had a 5K Color Run to celebrate their Personal Progress.  They invited parents to come and Olivia threw some of the color along the path.  Elizabeth asked me to walk with her (and then ditched me for two other walkers and they were just ahead of me). This is the before picture when everyone was fresh and clean.  I don’t have the after one yet.  Everyone had a great time though!
Vincent is doing well in 3rd grade.  He and a buddy of his from church/cub scouts both memorized all of their multiplication facts.
With this nice weather comes a lot of testing for third graders.  As a treat their teacher did a bunch of fun things for them in the afternoons.  They each got sunglasses one day, outside chalk time for math another day, and reading outside.
We went to Rollarena for a school skate night early in the month.  Vincent and two of his friends hung out a lot there.  He’s getting really fast!
Another funny Vincent thing was that he wanted to give some of his donation at church to the Dearings (a family we know).  That’s not quite how those work… but I had to take a picture and send it to them.
Elizabeth and Abby were both featured artists in a school district art exhibit held at Washington State University Tri-Cities this month.  Their art teachers decided which works to add to the show.
I asked Elizabeth to stand next to her self portrait and try to make the same face.  She’s quite the artist!
She drew this portrait of Chief Joseph too.  I liked her detail.
Abby drew and colored the fish WAY up at the top of the area designated for our school.
Close up of the cutest fish ever.
We had Rory with us to go out and check out the art from students in our school district.
Abby was the only one who wanted a picture by the WSU in flowers.  I teased on Facebook that the clover in the front of the WSU sign spells out Cougars (their mascot).  Look really close!
No, no it doesn’t….
Abby’s kindergarten class had ladybug day.  The older three kids all had the same teacher, so I kind of know what to expect.  Elizabeth’s Ladybug Day HERE. Olivia’s Day HERE.  Vincent’s Day HERE.
They sang cute songs about ladybugs and showed a bunch of things they learned about ladybugs and then had a little snack and Abby and I read an adorable Ladybug book.
Abby REALLY liked singing!
Saturday I took Vincent and Elizabeth to the local library where they tried out for a local fanfilm of a Zelda story the son of one of my friend’s wrote.  I’ll let you know what comes of their audition sometime this summer.
Monday was Memorial Day.  I went to work in the morning and in the afternoon we headed over to Pasco where the traveling Vietnam memorial wall was set up.  I had no idea how many names were on the wall.  I thought each line was one person, but each line is several people!
I love this country and I’m so grateful to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Some cool military trucks were set up.  Abby pretended to drive this one.
We are in front of a medic van.  The big black things between Abby and Vincent are walkie-talkies.  They are very big!
There are Veteran Memorials all around the park here.
One of our kids said they felt sad seeing all those names on the wall.  We told them that what they are feeling is a good thing because that means they know that it’s important to remember them and appreciate them.
We dropped off a bag full of Hot Wheel cars and Polly Pockets to a friend’s house on the way home.  She has a nephew on a mission in Africa and the missionary sees kids playing with Hot Wheels in the dirt there, sometimes even without wheels!  What happy little souls he must be meeting there.  Anyway, they are collecting small toys for the missionary to give away to kids while he’s out so we went through all of our small collections and found a lot to give away to kids who need them.
And after all the good stuff, we headed to Jason and Ally’s for a Birthday BBQ Swimming Party.  It was a great day for swimming.  I like their pool because in the afternoon there is a part in the shade and part in the sun, so if you get too hot in the sun you can move to the shade (mostly for me with fair skin since I don’t want to burn.)
Vincent can do little backwards somersaults now in the pool.
Elizabeth and Olivia played a bunch of games together and were laughing and having a good time.
Abby isn’t super confident in the water so we borrowed a swim float for her to wear to kick around the pool.
Happy birthday, Jason!  Thanks for the BBQ Ally!
Olivia likes their dog Demi.  Demi doesn’t like the pool much.
Last week I took the kids over to Ally’s pool to swim one day after school when it was really hot.  I got the kids all sunscreened and blew up the giant shark a neighbor gave us and when Abby tried out the shark, it tipped her right off.  Olivia and Rory were on one side of it and couldn’t get to Abby (who wasn’t wearing the vest then) so Ally jumped in to rescue her.
We decided the whale needed more air and a spotter to help steady it.
Abby even tried again a little later.  Rory helped her out with her special horse trainer skills.
In other news, I’ve given my notice at Kohl’s.  I’m too stressed out there and I’m frustrated by a lot of things and a part-time job shouldn’t be this hard both on my body and well-being.  I’ve decided to stay home with the kids this summer and reevaluate in the fall what I want to do/if I want to work.  I’m excited to play more this summer with the kids and be together!  I just have a few shifts left before I say, “Adios!” to Kohl’s (at least working there.  I’ll still shop there because I love the deals!)
Olivia had a final sixth grade orchestra concert tonight (the last day in May).  She was in the middle in the back though so I couldn’t see her during the performance this time, just her bow moving as she played.  This is the most I saw of her face just before they started.
I caught her afterwards.  They did a great job!  She’s always improving.  We have arranged with a high schooler we know to teach her and a friend this summer once a week.  She’s excited about that!
Video clip of the first song HERE.
Second song HERE.
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April 2017 Part Two: 2 Weddings and a Funeral + Reunion

I’m super sad that these went together.  Like shocked and still cannot think very hard about that last one without crying, but I’m grateful for the beautiful reminders of the blessings of the Temple Sealing promises that helped me so much this month.

Andy’s cousin on his mom’s side was married Easter Weekend in the Columbia River Temple (a cousin’s son was married the previous day in San Diego as well).

Congratulations to Sammi and Donald! (We weren’t actually there when they came out because we had to hurry to the Easter Egg Hunt for our ward).

I did get a nice picture of Andy and I in front of our Columbia River Temple though.

There was SO much fun dancing at the reception.  Three of our kids danced nearly the whole time.
Andy and I joined them too.
Felt pretty good to be out there dancing!
So many people having so much fun doing big group dances.

Andy’s cousin on his dad’s side was married in Logan, Utah Temple the following weekend. My mom was kind enough to come over and hang out with the kids for Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday so we could get away without the kids. She blogged a little about it here.

I left the kids each a little list of chores to do while Grandma was here.  They didn’t do much of it, but they got a good report from Grandma.  (I made them finish the chores over the next few days after school.)

Andy and I went over to the Logan Temple early on Saturday morning to do a session before the sealing.
Gary and Tricia have eight children.  This is their picture with ALL of their kids, spouses, and grandkids so far.
Congratulations to Jason and Jennie!
We drove home the Sunday after the wedding.  It was pretty rainy during parts of the drive, but Andy and I had a good time visiting and singing along with the songs on the stereo.

One of my sweet cousins who was only 25 years old passed away due to complications with pneumonia.  I’m still confused about how that happens to someone so young and full of life, but regardless, it happened and her husband and three beautiful daughters under five years old are left without their wife and mother.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting, child and stripes

One time our Crowther family went bowling. I can’t remember why or when, but I know we had a good time.  I always had fun anytime we were able to hang out with our cousins.  Picture below with Brenda and Shannon (I’m that young one in the striped shirt.)

Shannon was so talented.  She excelled in sports and music and was an excellent seamstress.  She made her own wedding dress and also made dresses for her daughters on many occasions.  These sweet dresses were made for Easter just a few weeks ago using the same fabric for each, but a different pattern. I think these girls are so beautiful and sweet and my heart aches for them.

We had a Crowther reunion planned for the last weekend in April since last November.  We met at a local park and ate lunch and the kids played and played while everyone caught up with each other.  One of the benefits of having 25 grandchildren in your family is always having someone with a kid the same age as your kid.
One of my cousins brought water bottle rockets.  Elizabeth helped out the younger kids by holding the bottle down while someone else pumped so it could fly farther, even though that meant she had most of the water shot at her too.
Vincent on the pump.
An audience.
Abby made good friends again with Shannon’s little girl.  We had them over on Olivia’s birthday last summer while their mom went to a college class and then hung out longer at a local park.  I asked the two older girls if they remembered coming to play at our house and at the rainbow park and they both acted like they remember.  I really hope they remember things from this stage in their lives.

There were open tennis courts at the park too.  That kept the kids busy.
There are 25 grandkids on my dad’s side.  18 are pictured.  One was at a ball game for a child just a few miles away by the time we took the picture.  Others weren’t able to get away this weekend.
But we did leave a space for Shannon, who I’m sure was there in spirit.  We lined up in age order, just like old times.
April 30th is the day Grandpa and Grandma Crowther were married which is why this weekend was chosen. Picture of everyone at the Crowther reunion.  Quite a crew and this probably isn’t even half of our big family now.  We always miss those who aren’t able to make it though.
Just for fun, I cropped this picture my aunt took of a group because I like how cute my husband is.
I have LOVED being in the Temple often this month.  Twice for weddings and two others for ordinances.  In the midst of trials, the spirit of the Temple can bring great joy and peace.  I need to spend more time there.
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