July 31, 2008


Last week Maddy auditioned for placement into the VIP vocal company at Center Stage and yesterday we found out that she made it! We are so proud of her and how hard she's worked over the last year to improve her talents. She's always been a performer for as long as we can remember (as the picture below shows). Congratulations Maddy!

July 30, 2008


A few weeks ago after one of Maddy's performances at the Gateway shopping center in downtown Salt Lake City, the kids and some of their cousins played in the outdoor water park while Jeni did some shopping. Here are some fun pictures that capture their fun in the nearly 100 degree heat. Pictured with Joey are his cousins Gage Halliday, Elise Halliday and Jessika Wallentine. Don't you think that Joey looks a lot like Elvis in the last picture?

Quote 13

At other times [the Bishop] said, “Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing instruction for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, p. 13

July 29, 2008

Girls Camp

Maddy went to her first Young Women Girls Camp last week at Camp Koholowo and spent 3 days and 2 nights (shortened because of the 24th of July) with 13 Young Women from the ward. Interestingly, 12 of those were Beehives if that gives you any feel for the ward demographics.

Her favorite memory? When the Bishopric came up for a fireside testimony meeting. Least favorite memory? Cleaning the restroom for one of her chores (first picture below). Favorite game? Big Buddha (last picture).

Speaking of that game (aka, Big Booty), how does it spread across the church-wide Girls Camps like it does? It was played at the Girls Camp in our Las Vegas ward, our American Fork ward and I'm sure countless others. Is it in the Young Women manual? Maybe its like the jokes we told in elementary school only to hear them 30 years later, across the country out of your own children's mouths! But, I digress.

July 28, 2008


One of Jeni's great ideas for our backyard was a firepit to roast marshmallows, get warm to, etc. Originally we had thought of building one into the ground but Jeni found a moveable firepit that has been perfect for our family. Its been so fun this summer to roast marshmallows and sit by the fire with the Spanish Fork breeze blowing from the mountains. One of life's simple pleasures for sure.

July 27, 2008

Fiesta Days Parade

One of the things we love most about living in a small suburban city like Spanish Fork is the hometown community feel. Even though the city has grown since we lived here the first time 10 years ago, it still is small enough to have just one grocery store, a few restaurants, a quaint, old-time main street and an annual Fiesta Days parade which occurs every 24th of July. Normally our family will find seats by the city library and watch the 100 or so parade entries from there, but this year Maddy and Joey were invited to sit on one of the floats and I was able to sit with the Craigs from Las Vegas who were in town for a family reunion.

The city will be hosting a kite festival and its producers are friends of the family so they asked if Maddy and Joey would sit on the back of their truck and fly kites during the parade. They had a great time although they both swore they would never watch Mary Poppins again after listening to "Let's Go Fly a Kite" for nearly two hours straight!

July 23, 2008

Quote 12

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and godesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in nightmare. All day long we are , in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations...There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

CS Lewis, Made for Heaven, p. 92-94

July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Jeni

Last week we celebrated Jeni's birthday with her family, including the 3 relatives that share the same birthday - cousin Tyson, cousin Kara and aunt Karla (see below).

It was a fun celebration at Grandma Raye's house with over 30 people including Jeni's mom that traveled from Missouri to be there. Happy Birthday Jen!

July 19, 2008

My Sister

I am so proud of my sister, Cailean and wanted to share a picture of their adorable family. She and her husband Nathan just welcomed their fourth child, Lucy, into the world and the picture above is from the blessing day. My sister has a great perspective on life and has amazing patience and love for her children. Somehow she is able to balance raising them with involvement in community events and even serving as her ward's Primary president.

If you haven't checked out her blog, I'd highly recommend it as it will give you a great sense of her personality. I wasn't as involved in her life as much as I should have been growing up but I'm grateful to be close to her and her wonderful family now. I just wish we lived closer! Love you Cail!

July 17, 2008

Quote 11

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. . . .It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.

Vance Havner, The Still Water (Quoted in Guideposts, Oct. 1981, p. 5)
Glory Days

In the space of just two days, I have been painfully reminded about how old I am getting, how out of shape I am and how long it has been since I was in High School. I decided this year to play in the Spanish Fork City Fiesta Days Tennis Tournament. I had only practiced a handful of times in the last year, but I thought to myself that tennis is tennis and I had been a decent player during my glory days of high school. The picture above is from my Junior year (I know, I hardly look a day older) and the article below is from my Senior year, nearly 19 years ago.

Playing tennis is just like riding a bike, I convinced myself. Once you've learned you never forget. So, I signed up to play Men's Singles 4.0 along with 7 other men from the city. My first round match was on Monday night at 10:00pm. Knowing that most of the men playing work during the day, I guess the tournament organizers thought that 10:00pm would be when our bodies would be in peak physical form.

On Monday, I came down the stairs at home and stepped squarely on some sunglasses that Maddy had left on the ground. The good news - the sunglasses were unharmed. The bad news - my foot was not. I ended up with a giant bruise in the middle of my right foot that made walking a little more painful than usual. I reminded myself that playing in pain was nothing new. In fact if you look at the first picture from my Junior year, you'll see a cast on my left hand. I won that in impressive style by tripping on a tennis net and falling backwards onto my wrist, fracturing it during the summer before the season started. I figured a bruised foot was no problem. I did end up winning the match Monday night 6-1, 6-2 but I think I was helped by the fact that my opponent had bruised his ribs two days before when a cow fell on top of him - literally! Something to do with castration and tying up the cow's legs. Needless to say, he dropped out after the first round (my opponent and the cow).

I came home Monday night just before midnight and spent a few hours applying ice to limbs and joints and anything else that moved (or "should" have moved but couldn't). I was discouraged at how completely exhausted I was but determined to get ready for my secound round match scheduled for Tuesday at 10:00pm.

At about 6:00pm on Tuesday I was cleaning up around the house and stepped on a garbage bag that had some broken glass in it, puncturing a few of the toes on my left foot. No problem I thought - a litte bit of antibiotic ointment and a few band-aids and I'd be fine. That turned out to be minor compared to my attempt at about 7:00pm to catch a fly with my finger. I had been after this fly for at least a week and he had finally landed right in front of me on our granite countertop in the kitchen. Completely by instinct I tried to slam it with my hand, missing the fly but jamming my left middle finger into the counter. A friend was over at the time who happens to be a Physical Therapist so he looked at it and figured I either snapped or tore some of the ligaments. He bandaged it up for me and I tried to get ready for my match but wondered what in the world I was thinking trying to play with a bruised right foot, lacerated left toes and fractured finger on my left hand. Had it been during the day, I might have thought more sensibly and withdrawn from the match. But, it was late at night and we all know that our judgment is impaired the longer the sun has been down.

That match was last night. Though I won 6-0, 6-2, I played a man that was picking up his racquets for the first time in a very long time and he was as tired as I was. By the end of the match, neither of us could move and we spent a lot of time gasping for air between points. Two thoughts came to me during those moments. 1. I really should invest in an oxygen tank for between games, and 2. I really should not eat cheeseburgers on match day.

Back to the bike analogy. Getting on a bike after 19 years is one thing. Riding it for an hour and a half carrying extra baggage on your sides, gulping for air and wishing you were dead is another. Today I have barely been able to move. I am walking with a limp and feel like every muscle is on fire. Thankfully my final match is not until Friday (see the bracket below) and I can get some rest, refrain from eating any more cheeseburgers (though I did have two today - work hazard, what can I say?), and try to remember the glory days when I actually knew what I was doing.

Note: On Friday I won the first set 6-4 and was up 3-2 at deuce and ran out of steam. I lost the next 8 games and ended up losing 6-4, 3-6, 1-6. But, I have my right arm and hand intact and I enjoyed a giant cheeseburger after the match. Obviously I need some conditioning before next year's tournament.

July 14, 2008

The Melting Pot

In a post around Christmas time, we shared how much we love the fondue tradition Jeni started years ago. Well, the other night for her birthday we treated Jeni to the real thing at The Melting Pot, one of our favorite restaurants. It was the kids first experience there and we shared a lot of laughs and some fun memories including the kids sucking on lemons and Maddy pretending the lobster tail was still alive. Below are pictures of the cheese fondue, the kids, the main course, the cooking broth, the delicious dessert and the kids lemon faces (Joey looking like he does this every day). What a night!

July 08, 2008

Quote 10

“Monsieur Cure,” said the man, “you are good; you don’t despise me. You take me into your house; you light your candles for me, and I haven’t hid from you where I come from, and how miserable I am.” The bishop, who was sitting near him, touched his hand gently and said: “You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house; it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome. And do not thank me; do not tell me that I take you into my house. This is the home of no man, except him who needs an asylum. I tell you, who are a traveler, that you are more at home here than I; whatever is here is yours. What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it.” The man opened his eyes in astonishment: “Really? You knew my name?” “Yes,” answered the bishop, “your name is my brother.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, p. 67 , (conversation between the Bishop and Jean Valjean)

July 05, 2008

Happy 4th - 2008

We were glad this year to celebrate the 4th of July with family and friends. We hosted a barbeque with Jeni's grandparents, her sister Rebecca, her brother Steve (living with us), as well as the Woodbreys, friends from the Ward. On the menu? Hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs, watermelon, baked beans, corn on the cob, macadocia cake, cinnamon rolls, frog eye salad, jello salad and old fashioned lemonade. We probably could have hosted a few more families with all the food we had left over.

July 04, 2008

Quote 9

(God) will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs - to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters, p. 37-41