May 20, 2010

Paver Stairs

When we bought our house several years ago, our builder constructed a small wooden set of stairs going out our backdoor. Within the first year the nail-gun nails it had been built with started coming out and the stairs started getting very wobbly. I tried to brace it the following year using screws but that only lasted a short amount of time (no surprise there given my complete lack of experience with tools).

This year, along with our landscaping, Jeni had the idea to start over with the stairs and use pavers. Enter again Duvall Landscaping. They tore down the stairs and built a wonderful paver staircase. Not only am I thrilled with how it turned out but I am amazed at Jeni's talent for combining beauty with functionality, even outside. I would never have thought to do what she envisioned but I think it turned out great! Here are some pictures of the step by step process.

May 19, 2010

Father and Sons 2010

I am not a camper. I have never liked camping and I don't know that I ever will. I have the worst camping luck ever. Don't invite me to come camping with you unless you want a torrential downpour... in July... in the middle of a desert. I'm talking sideways rain, biting cold winds, soaking wet sleeping bags. That's my luck. All of that being said, there have been a few times, mainly for Joseph, that I have braved the elements, sucked it up and gone camping with the scout troop or at the ward Father and Son's campouts. The picture above is from our ward Father and Son's camp last Friday night. The picture below is from 8 years ago at Joey and my first Father and Son's camp in Las Vegas.

Two things from that picture still hold true. Joey still loves gummy worms and I still intensely dislike camping. Despite this, we did have fun last Friday as we roasted marshmallows and enjoyed the beautiful nature at Diamond Fork canyon. The pictures below are of Joey, our friend Hugh Black (die-hard camper) with one of his sons, and an amazingly bright rainbow that appeared after... yes, you guessed it a major downpour.

The picture below is not a picture of our tent from that night. Nope.

This is the picture of Joey and my tent. Yes, that's right. It's in our living room. We came home that night around 10pm and camped out next to a nice fire and watched a Batman movie with treats in our sleeping bags. No rain, no wind, no smoke, pure comfort. My kind of camping.

May 15, 2010

Nieces and Nephew

Several weeks ago I visited my sister Cailean and her amazing family in Seattle. I love visiting them in their older home by the University and playing with her and Nathan's adorable children, Elizabeth, Julia, Elijah and Lucy. They all have such unique personalities and are incredibly fun to be with. For dinner Cail made an amazing blue cheese and walnut salad and we ordered pizza. And for dessert I made chocolate raspberry twists with the children. Thanks Cail for always being such an incredible hostess and for being so welcoming. Hope to see you this summer!

May 08, 2010

Halliday Math

Madelyn + Joseph + Elise + Gage + Mason + Lea + Brynn + Halli + Pagelynn + Emma = A unique picture opportunity with all 10 of the Halliday grandchildren.

This week we had the privilege of hosting Whitnie (Trent's wife) and her two adorable girls, as well as Whitney's sister and her two little girls. Bob came over with his four, and Becky came with her two girls. Add Jeni and my two and there you have it. Since Whitnie lives in Arkansas, this was the first time all the Halliday grandchildren were able to be together. Cute aren't they!
My New Life

What a powerful video showing how the gospel of Jesus Christ helps us to see things as they "really are," (Jacob 4:13) and teaches us to put what is truly important first. I love this message, especially today on Mother's Day. As Elder Ballard once taught "There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood." (GC, APR 2008)

May 07, 2010

Choir Concert

Last night we attended Maddy's year-end vocal concert at the Jr. High where she sang several numbers with the Concert choir and a few more in some smaller groups. Our favorite was her and her friend Landon singing "The Prayer." We were also excited to watch Maddy get awarded the "Top Female Vocalist" honor for the year. Way to go Maddy! Videos of both as well as a few pictures from the night are below.


We had the privilege this last week of attending another Jr. High Orchestra concert to watch Joey perform on the violin. He played great and is enjoying the newer violin we bought him from the local music store. I guess the $35 one we purchased on just wasn't cutting it. After Joey's performance we went to Red Robin and indulged in some yummy burgers and an even yummier dessert. Great job Joey!

May 04, 2010

Goodness Defined

I am continually amazed by Jeni and her rock solid perspective on life. She has always been able to find the lesson in the trial and the sunlight in the storm. Though I'm sure that some of her ability to take a step back and look at the bigger picture has been honed and refined through her health challenges, I have always known her to possess Charity. I strongly believe that her test in mortality (besides putting up with me) is to not lose that Charity. She already has it.

Some people may look at Jeni and her inability to do the things she would like to do or that they would like her to do and think that she's a failure. I know differently. In a great General Conference sermon in 2000 by Elder Oaks entitled "The Challenge to Become" he taught "that 'the Apostle Paul said that persons who have received the Spirit of God 'have the mind of Christ' (1 Cor. 2:16). I understand this to mean that persons who are proceeding toward the needed conversion are beginning to see things as our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, see them. They are hearing His voice instead of the voice of the world, and they are doing things in His way instead of by the ways of the world."

When the kids and I woke up this morning we were greeted by the note above. Wonderful wisdom from Jeni, and this after she was up most of the night, unable to sleep due to her health condition. Her night was anything but "good" and yet instead of thinking of herself and what she was going through, she focused on me and the kids and what would make a difference to us. This kind of selfless service has been Jeni's hallmark ever since I have known her. Thanks Jen for not only what you do, but more importantly for who you are.

May 01, 2010


Jeni and I have the world's worst black thumbs. No matter how we have tried to keep any kind of plant material alive over the last 15+ years, we have failed miserably. We were faced with quite the dilemna, wanting to finish our landscaping yet having no idea where to start or how. Enter Liz Binks, a friend from our ward, and Jeff Duvall, a former neighbor, with Duvall Landscaping. Last year Liz was kind enough to take a map I'd made of our yard and design a full landscape including shade, sun and fragrant perennials, herbs, shrubs, trees, hostas, groundcover and an area for a vegetable garden. We started on her plans last summer but to our dismay nearly everything we planted was dead as the snow melted about a month ago. Realizing our complete inadequacy in this department, we hired Jeff to finish Liz's plans. He came this week and we couldn't be happier with his company's work. Below is a picture of Liz's plan as well as before and after pictures. Most of the items planted are small but we're hoping they'll grow considerably this summer. Thanks Liz and Jeff for all of your help!