March 31, 2010

Happy 80th

Last night our family traveled to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City to celebrate the 80th birthday of LaRae Ficklin, Jeni's grandma. LaRae's children had put together a wonderful dinner and slideshow and tribute to this amazing woman whom I have come to love since joining the family. Everyone wants to be like Grandma Rae; patient, kind, faithful, hopeful, loving, and always with a great spirit about her. Below are some pictures from the night. Happy 80th Grandma Rae!

March 28, 2010

Farewell Jenny

I was a missionary in the Washington DC South mission for the LDS church from 1992-1994. During that time I met so many amazing individuals; people and families that made a great impact on my life for good. Among these was the Hamula family who served as our Mission President for my last few months in the field. They were a younger family with 4 young children, one of whom was Jenny who was 4 or 5 years old. Last Sunday we had the privilege of going to hear Jenny speak in Sacrament meeting as she is preparing to serve a mission of her own to Montreal Quebec, french speaking. The picture below is of me and Jenny from so many years ago and the picture above is from the open house last Sunday. Farewel Jenny - you'll do great!

March 26, 2010

Perfect Princess Pageant

The Junior High musical "The Perfect Princess Pageant" started this week and is running for 4 nights. The storyline follows 20 princesses in their quest to be crowned "The Perfect Princess" and incorporates music from various broadway musicals. With nearly 50 kids performing, Maddy was cast as Snow White and Joseph was cast as her dwarf, though during the musical he plays nearly all of her 7 dwarves at one time or another. Not bad for his first ever production! Maddy had several vocal solos including "Almost There" from Princess and the Frog, "Find Your Grail" from Spamalot, and "I Know the Truth" from Aida (my favorite). Videos of her singing are below as well as some pictures from opening night and a video of a scene with Maddy and Joey together.

March 21, 2010

Chiang Chinese

A few weeks ago some friends, Matt and Rachelle Chiang, treated us to a homemade chinese dinner from scratch. Matt came to the US in his teens and so his dinner was as authentic as you can get, and wow did it taste like it. I love chinese dumplings and it was fun to have Rachelle teach me how to fold them perfectly. All in all, it was definitely one of the best homecooked meals we've ever had and we were so thankful the Chiangs were willing to give us such a treat in our home. The food included dumplings, egg rolls, black bean chicken, chinese noodles and caramelized sweet potatoes for dessert. Matt even gave us a taste test with three different kinds of soy sauce - what a difference the higher quality ones make. Sorry Kikoman. See you... never. Below are some pictures of the amazing food and the above picture is of Matt. Glad to find another guy that loves being in the kitchen just as much as I do!

March 20, 2010


13 hours later, I finally finished my latest calligraphy project; 530 hand addressed envelopes for an Oriental Rug Company Open House in Salt Lake City. Though I've been doing calligraphy for some time and enjoy it very much, someone remind me next time how long it takes to count to 530.

March 19, 2010

Farewell Baxter

A few weeks ago Jeni and I made a very difficult decision to sell our dog Baxter. He turns 3 in May but with all the activities our kids have been in and some of the challenges with Jeni's health, we just weren't able to provide him the kind of active lifestyle he needs. Thankfully we found a wonderful couple that lives in St. George who came by today and adopted Baxter into their family. They have a dog of their own that is getting older and were looking for someone just like Bax so we trust that he'll be taken care of and will love his new life in St. George. Farewell Baxter. We will miss you.

March 17, 2010

Like Father, Like Father, Like Father, Like Son

Saturdays were usually errand days at my house growing up. My dad would make a weekly trip to downtown Bellevue to visit the post office and other various places. Fascinating to me was the way he planned out his day. On a small piece of paper, he would list where he needed to go as well as what time he planned to arrive at each location. The times listed were always to the minute, for example: Post Office 11:17, Grocery Store 11:24. My Dad found it a challenge to see how close he could get to his anticipated times and if I remember correctly, he was usually pretty close.

Needless to say, I grew up following much of his example of time management. Though I've never planned to the exact minute, I have made it a habit to plan and organize my time as efficiently as possible over the years. At times (ok, almost always) it drives people crazy, mainly Jeni and Maddy, but its become a big part of who I am. As a child, I organized all the books in my room and placed categories above them on the wall. On my mission, I used the blue planner in very detailed ways (see below - names / phone numbers removed). Today in my career I like to keep things extremely organized. And the same goes for my cooking. OCD? I prefer to call it OC. There is nothing disorderly about it.

Sometimes I feel like my desire to plan is a curse because it prevents me from being as spontaneous as I should be so I've had to temper my need for structure with a healthy dose of living life in the moment. Still a work in progress for sure as most that know me well would attest.

Last Saturday I told Joey verbally what his chores would be for the day and he had a few other things he was already working on. I later found the pad of paper pictured above on his bed and I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry - he is 12! What have I done to my son! Or is this hereditary? It's my understanding that my dad's dad was very much the same way; a planner and an organizer, very structured. He was an engineer in his career, just like my dad was at the beginning of his career. So, I'm convinced that this need for structure must somehow be in the genes through the male line. I'm sure if Joey has a son that he'll be the same way, and his son, and his son, and his son....

March 15, 2010

True Friends

Last night Jeni and I hosted a dinner for three of my old middle and high school friends, Kathy Whiting (Dixon), Tali Landry (Thompson) and Cherelyn Marley (Linde). It was such a fun evening reminiscing about middle school and high school and catching up with what we're all doing now. We even pulled out the old Tyee and Newport yearbooks. It was amazing to me that after 20 years, we could pick up right where we left off as if we had seen each other just last week.

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." (Elisabeth Foley)

Thanks Kathy, Tali and Cherelyn for a wonderful night.

March 05, 2010

The Tender Mercies of the Lord

When Elder Bednar gave this conference talk in April 2005, I knew it would become one of my all-time favorites. I too am so grateful for the "Tender Mercies of the Lord" (Psalms 145:9) in my life; there have been too many to name or even remember. Click here for the full text of the talk.