Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Miraculous Journey

Tonight Ella and I completed our reading of
The Miraculous Journey
of Edward Tulane

I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a remarkable story for all ages. It is one of those rare books that I would prefer to read over and over again rather than trying to find another story to match up. It is perfect for reading alone or aloud.

The story seems to have been influenced by powerful and classic tales such as Pinocchio, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Alice in Wonderland. I feel that it, too, is destined to become a classic.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Tip for Carving Pumpkins

Last night we carved pumpkins as a family. The best part was watching the kids draw their designs onto their self-chosen squash. The second best part was using my Dremel (my very favorite tool) with the jigsaw attachment to carve. It was messy. It was smelly. It was fun.

The pumpkins are cute, and just the way the girls wanted them.

For four years, Ella has chosen and carved a pumpkin named "boo". The face is always a variation on the round eyed, round mouthed original of 2004.

A Quick Tip: If you cut out the top you end up reaching into your pumpkin with a match to light the candle. By cutting out the bottom of the pumpkin instead of the top, you can set the candle on the base of the pumpkin, easily light it, and place the pumpkin over the base.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sweet Notes to Daddy...

...on his 35th Birthday.

Ella and Louisa spent the morning creating darling cards for Steve as a celebration of his birthday. (All while Steve was on call and working at the hospital.)

Ella's note (with the letters DAD created by gluing beads to the paper) says,

"I love my
You hellp me.
We hellp echother.
and llaff
and mack
the best
you are the
best Dad.
love Ella"

Louisa also created a cute note, with drawings and commentary, which she promptly cut into pieces. One drawing was salvaged. It is a picture of Steve where, in Louisa's words, "He looks like a smile." "Daddy with legs and arms so big." And a couple scribbles which translated to "You say I'm handsome, but I'm not. Dad, you are." and "I love it when you come home."

Louisa's main note said, "Happy Birthday! I love you. You are a good daddy. You help me to go fun places (like to the dollar store). You tuck me in bed and read me stories. We play the toothpaste game and I pull on your arm. It makes me laugh. Love, Louisa"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UEA Day-in-Review

After a late night, filled with hours of chatting as adults, the little girls awoke Saturday and scampered outside with hopes of seeing the sunrise. Fortunately, they were early enough to see beautiful colors in the sky. We caught them sky-gazing and giggling together. They do like to giggle. And we can't get enough of those sweet sounds.
Mid-morning we ventured off to beautiful Snow Canyon. The canyon's name honors brothers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, pioneer Mormon leaders who settled the area after 1850.

Pioneer Names

Amidst the red-rock cliffs, we hiked a quick trail and found pioneer names written (in axle grease) overhead on the wall.

Ella, Whitney and Brooke conquered the steep ascent.
Little "Q" tried his hand at some serious climbing, complete with the binkie.We all enjoyed a great day! Good friends, wonderful children, beautiful surroundings, fun adventures: what more could one want?


After Whitney told us of his drive to be fit (with no gym equipment needed), the kids put him to the test. End result: A great workout (?!?) with the kids enjoying plenty of air time.

St. George Highlights

While in St. George, we were joined by the remarkable Clayton family. We enjoyed every minute with them: spent hiking, eating, swimming, talking, and playing with the kids.

Especially memorable was our visit to Tuacahn for the show "Big River" where the talent, scenery and special effects (including a flowing river across the stage, rain and zip-line entrance by Tom Sawyer's gang) were first class.

Family Fun

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This is How We Hike

Hugs fuel our hearts and give purpose to the journeys of our feet.

Adventures in Snow Canyon

We enjoyed visiting Jenny's Canyon, a slot canyon in picturesque Snow Canyon on the first day of our vacation. The hike was just the right length for our girls... short.

Digging in the Dunes

A good portion of our first afternoon in St. George (Friday) was spent at the sand dunes in Snow Canyon. With a few tools (purchased at the local Dollar Tree... is any trip complete without a visit there?), we were able to create a labyrinth of tunnels, holes and hills.

Monday, October 20, 2008

UEA Weekend

We enjoyed a fun weekend getaway in St. George, Utah.
More pictures to come...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Recommended Reading

Our school librarian recently introduced us to a great read (just in time for Halloween, but marvelous for storytime all year round), titled "The Spider and the Fly" written by Mary Howitt and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi.

The book begins “‘Will you walk into my parlor?’ said the Spider to the Fly…”. You would think the fly would know better, and at first she resists his invitation. However, he flatters her lovely colors and bright eyes, and eventually she falls for his flattery.

No, there’s not a happy ending (for the fly), but, as the spider says in an afterword, “What did you expect?”

This book breathes new life into Mary Howitt's 175-year-old warning against those who use sweet words to hide their not-so-sweet intentions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Self Portrait

by Louisa

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Heavenly Day

We wake this morning to a world blanketed in white. The clean snow is a reminder of today's heavenly significance. We throw balls of snow, hoping that in doing so, we are close to touching heaven. We recommit as a family to live clean and pure lives, to draw nearer to God, to rely more on our Savior for strength, and to actively await an everlasting and grand reunion.

Today we reminisce, think on eternity, cry, and count our many blessings. We eat cake, visit the cemetery, teach truths and listen as Ella and Louisa talk of their angel sister Eliza -- born 10 years ago to eternal glory.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today's Events

I wish I had pictures of some of today's happenings, like:

* Louisa with her hair triple wrapped around the round brush. It stayed that way for about an hour as we worked, strand by strand, to unwind and salvage her lovely locks.
* Ella attempting to pierce her own left ear with a sewing pin. Perhaps it is time to get this done at a reputable establishment by someone with training (or appropriate tools).
* The pure joy on Louisa's face as the first flakes of falling snow touched down in our neighborhood.
* The panic in Emi's eyes after realizing she was to teach the RS lesson tomorrow on the three degrees of glory (Beyond the Veil: Life in the Eternities).
* Steve's happy face being doubly-treated to a Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait as well as an afternoon of BYU football.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Life Lessons

A few weeks ago, we attended as a family the baptism of four of Ella's older friends. At that time, Ella asked the Bishop how she could best prepare for her own baptism in just five short months. To that, the Bishop responded, "Go to church and learn from your teachers. Have Family Home Evening, and learn from your parents. Pray often. Read the scriptures."

Ella took his advice to heart, and asked me if we could begin reading the Book of Mormon together. We began immediately and have been quite consistent (which is not my strong suite). There have been just a few nights that felt too short to fit in our scriptures, and on those nights, when I sent Ella to bed, she later would appear (sometimes hours later) and say, "Sleep won't come until we read the Book of Mormon!"

Sometimes we read a whole chapter, sometimes just a few verses. I cherish the time with Ella, but mostly cherish her insights. Each night, I ask Ella what she has learned, and she quickly responds with a comment that teaches me. I write these comments at the top of the page.

Following are some of the lessons learned:
* If God tells you to do something, you should obey.
* You should not let things like silver and gold stop you from going to God.
* Life is good when your heart is soft. Life is hard when your heart is hard.
* Records are more important than items.
* You don't always get what you want immediately.
* You shouldn't do mean things.
* God is stronger!
* Do what the Lord tells you, no matter what. Follow your feelings.
* Nephi gets strength from all the hard things he does. The Lord will help you in any good thing you do.
* Do what is right and everything will be okay.
* You should marry.
* I can be very strong in faith like Nephi. I can be like the daughter of Ishmael that saved Nephi's life.
* If you do what is right and people make fun of you, don't listen! Because you know what is right.
* God has the power! He uses his power to bless us.
* God gives prophets a signal of the future. Lehi knew that Jesus was going to be born and he would be a Savior and a Redeemer.
* Jesus died and then rose from the dead. That is just what will happen to us too.
* You should know that God is the most desirable thing. I can learn about God by praying and by receiving answers.
* Jesus represents the Love of God.
* Angels are very powerful because of their spirits.
* Jesus is the Lamb of God. He was the Son of God. He died on the cross for our sins. I think being forgiven should be called being "re-given" because you're getting something back for a second time. It's like you don't have to live with hard things.
* Don't take sight of temptations.
* God doesn't care if your're wearing beautiful clothes. He cares about how you act.
* If you're bad, you may have some power but not as much as if you're good. You get the power of the Lord if you're good.
* Things can be restored. Like the Gospel.
* If you make covenants with the Lord, He will bless you with gifts of the spirit.
* Having children blesses the whole family and the whole earth.
* The kingdom of God is the best place you could ever imagine.
* Heavenly Father helps me.
* The things that are in the Book of Mormon are true.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

James Flies Away... to P.A.

by Louisa

James flies away today to Pencil-baynia.

Can I write him notes (lots of notes?) and put them in a snail?
On my notes I'll write, "Please James could you be home tomorrow night?"
But I'll still be happy. Happy and sad.

I like to do these things with James:
* Run in the hall at Nanna's
* Slide down the stairs
* Go down slides
* Ride bikes
* Feed ducks
* Eat popcorn together
* Have races. I am fastest. I get ahead of him. And then James wins second.

James taught me:
* About being kind to Andrew
* About dinos - how to roar and build them with blocks
* How to hide behind things
* How to laugh, laugh, laugh!

Why are you crying mom? I don't have tears -- see?

Smile! You're in Pennsylvania.

Today my brother Jess, his wife Annie, and their family move across the country to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I rotate between being so excited for them and this new season in their lives, and being selfishly so sad to see them go.

Jess has been my bosom buddy since his birth in '76. He is an amazing guy, with great preparation propelling him to a career that will utilize his professional skills as well as his education (3 separate masters degrees in Business, Public Health and Health Administration). I will miss him. I love his unique outlook on life. He always brings a new perspective to family discussions. He has taught me many great lessons on parenting, as I watch him care for two darling boys.

Annie quickly became my "missing piece" when we first met (she flew out to Chicago when dating Jess in 2002). I love Annie's sweetness, and how it is paired with a keen sense of humor. I love how her positive outlook is paired with the ability to realistically portray the ups and downs of life, including the waves of sadness over missing her angel mother or her more-than-occasional frustration after a long night with a sleepless baby. I have enjoyed stroller walks with her, trading babysitting, chatting on the phone, and endless house hunting (trying to find them a place in my neighborhood... that didn't work!). Annie is a dear friend, a sweet sister and a great support.

James and Andrew (Jess and Annie's boys) are babies I would love to steal. I don't know if I can let them move with their parents! I will miss seeing them grow on a daily and weekly basis, especially since James and Louisa are best buddies. They are as close as it gets to the re-creation of Jess and I as kids - a big chunk of sweet, a huge helping of silly, and a little pinch of naughty. These two love to play together.

Farewell Jess and Annie. May you be blessed in this next phase of your life together.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Halloween Preview

Our sweet angel.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Dalton Gang

Together on October 6th, 2008 prior to Jess & Annie's big move.
Steve E. is the only one missing... he was working late.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Louisa asks every day, "When can I be a mommy?"

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Photography Class

I am taking a photography class, and trying to be a bit more "artsy" in my photos of the girls. Do you think it's working?

Friday, October 03, 2008

In the News...

My amazing mom is featured today in the Deseret News. We have a hard time keeping up with her, even if only in print form!

As a result of the responsibilities of her calling - as well as her great love for the young women of the church - she feels the weight of the world. Yet somehow she is able to reach out to so many young women and their leaders collectively and individually.

We are eager to hear the messages of General Conference, one of which will be a talk by my mom in the Sunday morning session.

You can view the article online here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008