July 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Point Gardens

















A few weeks ago Maddy's group performed at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens in Lehi, Utah. I had never been there and was amazed at how big and beautiful the gardens were. It was nice to walk through them with the family. We took a beautiful picture of Maddy smelling a flower and so Joey thought he'd get in on the fun too, only his flower picture didn't have quite the same effect as Maddy's.







































































July 26, 2009

Quote 41















Faith is the bird that feels the light,
And sings when the dawn is still dark.

Rabindranath Tagore

July 25, 2009

Ambitious Card

Here's Joey performing his favorite card trick called "Ambitious Card" which he learned from the street magician in Seattle. Don't let your eyes fool you!

July 22, 2009

BBY Camp















Maddy and her friend Madisen attended a weeklong camp at the U of U a few weeks ago called BBY (Be the Best You). The camp is girls only for members of the Church and is centered around the Young Women values. Among the many activities the girls did were reading to underpriviliged children, making blankets for a local hospital and adopting a grandparent at a local rest home. It wasn't all service though as there was also a pajama party with fashion pictures taken in their PJ's, a 4th of July party and an American Idol talent show. Below are the pictures of Maddy - cute!


































July 20, 2009

ABBA Kidz















You may remember from an earlier post that Maddy was involved in the creation of an ABBA Kidz CD, similar to the Kidz Bop CD's that are out on the market. Her group sang almost all the songs from Mamma Mia. Well, the CD is finishing being mastered by a company in Italy and is expected out within the next month or two. The kids that participated took a group picture a short time ago as you can see above. Maddy is in the back row, 4 from the right. We're proud of her and can't wait to hear the CD. Last we heard, she was the solo on at least two of the tracks and sang backup on many of the others.

July 19, 2009

Quote 40





















But back to the personal relevance of patience, which, among many things, permits us to deal more effectively with the unevenness of life’s experiences. I recorded the substance of this speech about three months ago while driving to a stake conference in Elko, Nevada, across that rather barren, but beautiful in its own way, stretch of desert. Incidentally, as soon as most of this speech on patience was dictated, my car threw two fan belts!

During that drive it was brought forcibly to me that the seeming flat periods of life give us a blessed chance to reflect upon what is past as well as to be readied for some rather stirring climbs ahead. Instead of grumbling and murmuring, we should be consolidating and reflecting, which would not happen if life were an uninterrupted sequence of fantastic scenery, confrontive events, or exhilarating conversation.

Patience helps us to use, rather than protest, these seeming flat periods of life, becoming filled with quiet wonder over the past and with anticipation for that which may lie ahead, instead of demeaning the particular flatness through which we may be passing at the time. We should savor even the seemingly ordinary times, for life cannot be made up of all kettledrums and crashing cymbals. There must be some flutes and violins. Living cannot be all crescendo; there must be some counterpoint.

Neal A. Maxwell, Patience, BYU Devotional, November 27, 1979

July 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Jeni!

















My wonderful wife celebrated a birthday this last week. She's pictured above with her cousins Kara and Tyson Ficklin, both of whom share the same birthday. Her aunt Karla shares the same day as well but they weren't able to make it from Springfield, Missouri. We celebrated with family by having some yummy dessert and then I also made Jeni a 6 course meal of some of her favorites. The menu is below. I am grateful for Jen and also she does for me and for our family. She is an amazing wife and mother and keeps us all grounded in the simple things that keep us happy and productive. Happy Birthday Jeni! I love you.

July 16, 2009

Hancock Tower

















While in Chicago on business this week, I visited the Hancock Tower. It has the fastest elevator in North America, climbing nearly 100 stories in 40 seconds at 20 miles per hour. I now know how Charlie felt in the Great Glass Elevator, only ours didn't go sideways but it felt like it could have at any time. The building stands 1127 feet tall and has an observation deck a few floors from the top where I took these pictures from. At its pinnacle, the building is the fourth tallest in the world and second highest in North America (behind the Willis Tower, also in Chicago). My stomach got queasy a few times as I got too close to the glass and also while I was outside on the deck where you could feel the wind right on your face, but it was worth it. What a view!












































July 13, 2009

Girls Camp 2009

















Maddy returned home this week from 3 nights at Girls Camp at Bear Lake. One of the Young Women leaders owned a cabin there and so the girls (24 of them) slept in bunk beds and had a pretty comfortable time, though they did do a 5 mile hike (with a stop for Raspberry Shakes on the way!) Maddy had a great time and I was glad to have been able to go up on Thursday night and spend some time with her there. Maddy is lucky to have such great Young Women Leaders - they do a great job and make all the girls feel important and welcome.













































































July 12, 2009

Quote 39
















If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature – while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 122-123

July 11, 2009

Landscaping

















After living in our house for nearly 3 years, we have finally started planting trees, shrubs, etc. I have the world's worst black thumb and have absolutely no knowledge about what kind of plants survive here in Utah, what goes well together and how to design a nice looking yard. So, I solicited the help of one of our friends from Church, Liz Binks.

Liz should win a Nobel prize for her landscaping, and for her kindness. She took an arial view of our home and designed an incredible landscape consisting of Sunburst Honey Locust, Winter Gem Boxwoods, Limemound Spirea, English Laurel, Dappled Willows, an herb garden for my cooking and Lavender plants, just to name just a few. All in all, 5 kinds of trees, 9 kinds of shrubs, and over 14 kinds of perennials. And, as if it could get any better, she mapped out where every one of these should be placed. All of this in exchange for an interior design consult from Jeni. Though we're just getting started, we can't wait for this to all be done. If our yard looks even half as good as the Binks', we'll be in great shape. Thanks Liz!

PS - Jeni had the great idea to put Spiraled Boxwoods in the front.

July 10, 2009

Kitchen Aid

















Jeni bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer several years ago for Christmas. I was just starting to play around with cooking and I honestly didn't really know what the mixer was or how it worked. Consequently, it sat on our kitchen counter for almost an entire year, unused. There was something about it that scared me. Friends encouraged me so finally the day came that I turned it on and I have used it non-stop every since. I love that machine! And little did I know how versatile it really is! For Father's Day this year, Jeni bought me two attachments for it - a Pasta roller and a Fettucini cutter. Simply whip some pasta together in the mixer (a little flour, water, egg, oil, etc.), knead it with the hook attachment and then cut it into small pieces. Attach the roller and then slide the pasta through.

















Then, tighten the roller and slide it through again.

















Lastly, attach the fettucini cutter and you're ready to eat (see the first picture). I hear there are some other great attachments too but I've not looked into them yet. If you know of any good ones, let me know! And if any Kitchen Aid marketing representatives are reading this, send my royalty check to my home address, please.

July 09, 2009

Techno Dentist

















This week was dental cleanings for the kids. I am continually amazed at how the technology in dentist offices have changed over the years. Growing up, my dental visits consisted of the following:

1. Sit in the waiting room and read the "Highlights" magazine to see if I could find the hidden items in the picture.
2. While sitting in the chair getting my teeth pulled (a frequent occurrence), listen to a cassette tape on the Walkman. I remember listening to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album for the first time while I was in the dentist chair. With all the teeth that I had ripped out I "Wanted to be Starting Something" with the dental staff or I was going to "Beat It" out of there.
3. Waited for what seemed like forever for the flouride trays to come out of my mouth, that is if I didn't gag them out first. Those things were in there a long time and they were huge!
4. When done, pick out a small toy from inside the treasure chest.

Now, 25+ years later, here is what my kids' experience:

1. While waiting to see the Dentist, play video games in the video game room.
2. While sitting in the chair getting their teeth worked on, continue to play video games or watch one of several new release DVD's on a flat screen tv mounted into the ceiling, all of this taking place with wireless controllers and headsets.
3. When done, get a token to use in a machine full of bouncy balls or necklaces.

I am grateful I grew up in the 70's and 80's but there are some things about this day and age that I really get jealous about and this is one of them. With all the teeth extractions I had as a child, tempering the pain with Pong or Night Driver or Missle Command would have been a welcome experience.

July 08, 2009

Time Stood Still

















I suppose every parent has one or more experiences as their children grow up where they feel, even for a brief moment, that they have arrived as a parent. A moment where time stands still and you look at your child as they've just done something or said something and you realize that you've done ok, that you're not such a bad parent after all. A moment where all the years of doubt and worry about what you've done as a parent fade away and you are left alone in the moment, just you and your child, wishing the experience and raw emotion of it all would last forever. Well, I had one of those experiences this week. Joey made crepes all by himself! And not just mixed the batter, but he actually learned (with some practice with a piece of bread) how to flip them in the pan. The proof is in the picture above. Ok, so I'm probably being a little overdramatic about the whole "time standing still" bit, but look at the height of the crepe! And Joey's grace, his concentration, his form. And the crepes were delicious! Today crepes, tomorow....?

July 04, 2009

Hope of America

Joey's school class performed with several other schools in this program at the BYU Marriott Center several months ago and I thought it would be patriotic to post it today. It was fun to see Joey perform like this with over a thousand kids his same age. I had some trouble finding him at first but once I did, it was easy to get back to him. Hope you like this - Happy 4th of July!