Jul 31, 2014

Field Trip

You all know the Dog Walker is attending the local community college and he is getting so close to graduation! If all goes well he will graduate in December with his AS degree in pre-education. He is pretty excited to never have to worry about taking a hard math class again.

Anyway, we are in the last week of the semester and then finals are next week. That means tons of assignments and big projects are due! It's been a rough go between that, putting the little ones back in school, and starting dance and football.

Weeping Mulberry
One of his classes is Conservation Biology and he had an opportunity to take a field trip (several actually) for extra credit. So today, the Drama Queen, Bossy, Baby Doll, the Dog Walker, Crafty, Fajita, and I all headed for the Conservation Water Park in West Jordan. It's an interesting place full of different landscaping ideas for water conservancy. They mostly use drought-resistant plants and drip irrigation systems.

Testing the grass
The girls thought their garden boxes full of veggies were cool, especially the green beans with the red flowers. We have only ever planted the variety with white blooms. Their favorite tree by far was the Weeping Mulberry. It was seriously cool! The girls all hid beneath its drooping branches like they were in a little hut. I would have loved a tree like that when I was a kid!

Bossy loved all the grass displays since she is trying to decide on a variety for her backyard. It's amazing how much more water some types take than others. It might be fun to go back on another day and do senior pics for Princess. They have some beautiful little arbors and benches. We talked to the Head Landscaper and asked him all the questions we needed for the Dog Walker's final report. He was so helpful and very willing to tell about his work.

It was definitely something I would recommend if you live close by. And the best part?
It's free!

Jul 30, 2014

Letters from Teach in Texas

I was just thinking how few of these letters I will be able to share with you before Teach comes home. It's only 3 weeks!!!

I love this story. Please realize I had to take out the real name of the church.

So, I have to tell you this crazy story. I'm going to tell you the name of the church but if you choose to share this story please take out the name. So I went on an exchange with my Sister Trainer Leaders this week. In that city there is a massive church. City Book Church. I'm pretty sure it is truly the whore of the earth. It takes up about a block and a half and is about 3 times the size of one of our buildings. They teach how to "protect yourself from Mormons" The preacher is a huge anti-mormon man and spreads vicious lies. They have classes just talking about anti-mormon "doctrine" so obvi this is a huge trial for anyone that serves there. 
But my STL was telling me a story about a man in their ward. Elder Martino of the Quorum of the Seventy is in their ward and he is... very well off. One time about 3 years ago, this church had a pair of garments on display. So, Elder Martino goes into the building and confronts the preacher and tells him to take the garments down. He says no. With the power and authority that this man has to prophesy he says, "Take these garments down or you will go to Hell." This "man of God" from City Book Church refuses to and doesn't care that it will send him to Hell. Elder Martino says, "Take these garments down or I will buy this entire church and demolish it to the ground and no one will ever hear of City Book Church again." The man took down the garments.
How cool/crazy is that?!?! First of all, the persecution is so real. But second of all. I admire Elder Martino's willingness to always stand as a witness of God and to stand for truth and righteousness. He was willing to buy this church just so it could be demolished. I just.... wow.

And I can't believe there is really so much awful ... hatred, lies, and persecution against the church. Obviously the church is true.

Obviously. :)

Can't wait to give you a big hug, Teach!

Jul 29, 2014

Last Big Hurrah

I told you already that my little ones started school this morning, so that meant this past weekend was our last opportunity for one big party! So we did. All weekend...

On Thursday we had our Pioneer Day Celebration and the grandkids wanted to stay and spend the night, but I convinced them that Friday night was the backyard camp out. I bought hot dogs, chips, and s'mores stuff and asked the Dog Walker to set up the tent for me. Then the Drama Queen filled the air mattresses while the kids set up the firepit.

We roasted hot dogs on forks rather than throw them on the BBQ and we burned a few marshmallows, but most of them made pretty tasty s'mores. The kids played cards and night games. I helped the Dog Walker post the last of his homework, but the kids were a little annoyed that he was reading Conservation Biology when they wanted to play.

We settled in about 1:30 am and I finally got a little sleep. Emphasis on "a little." The Drama Queen and I were up at 8:30, she was making pancakes for everyone while I made lunches and the kids dropped the tent. We ate at 9:15 and then got everyone dressed and out to the Lowe's class to build little Taco Trucks by 10:00.

Back home we all changed into our swimming suits and piled into the van. We were off to Seven Peaks in Provo. Princess's dance group was going there and we weren't about to miss the opportunity to see her. (Besides, it was free with our Pass of all Passes.)

It was a sweet reunion and a very hot day. Crafty got stung and I had to take her to first aid. Prima Donna got an awful sunburn and I constantly chased Baby Doll around to try to keep her from drowning.

Fajita got a little lost with a boy from school and it was all more than crazy. Did I tell you that other than our dinner on Friday night Bossy and Gamer didn't join us in any of these activities? Yeah. It was a kid/grandkid thing.

We stopped by Krispie Kremes and picked up the kids' free donuts for their grades and then we headed for home. We arrived around 7:00 and the Dog Walker was totally stressed about the two assignments he still had to finish before midnight.

No rest for the weary.
Or the sunburned.

Jul 28, 2014

The Dog Walker's Concert

The Dog Walker has been singing with his Institute Choir all summer. Remember when I told you he had to be downtown at 5:45 am on Pioneer Day? Yeah, they sang in the Tabernacle that day. His smaller choir is combined with choirs from the main campus institute and another from the university.

Today they sang at the Historic Church on 8th East and 4th South. It was so beautiful and so was the church!

We also celebrated the 20th birthday of our home with fireworks and ice cream. I'll mostly leave you with some pics today, but I promise I will post on the rest of our fantastic weekend tomorrow.

My life starts back up now. School for the little ones, dance classes, football tryouts... it will definitely be a busy week!

I want you to know that I feel just like Curly...

...it was a long concert!

Jul 27, 2014

Guest Blog: Missionary Letters by Elder Dog Walker

I've been asked to Guest-Blog since Mom was feeling a bit tired ever since we've had a camp out in our backyard and a lot of other fun things we've done this weekend. I just wanted to explain another mission thing that I've done during the mission. I guess I probably should've told you who the mission president's name is. His name is President Happy. He's President Happy because he's always happy to hear about my mission and to know how it's going. Every week, my mission president was always expecting me to write a letter to him every week after Sunday to tell him about how the mission is going and see if there's any suggestions he has for me to make my mission feel like it's a very good opportunity to do. I just wanted to show you a few letters that I've sent to President Happy.

Dear President Happy
I know I haven’t written a letter to you much, because I accidentally left the last letter 3 days before I remembered to send the letter to you. Anyway, I guess I should tell you that my mission is still going great, even though I accidentally let Heavenly Father down by missing half of the day at Granite last Friday, because it was celebrating three special events at restaurants. It was 7/11 at 7-Eleven where you get a free slurpee, 72nd anniversary of Krispy Kreme’s where you get a dozen doughnuts for less than 75 cents, and Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A. I wanted to go to all these events and I kind of thought they were more important than the mission. I apologized to Heavenly Father about that and I promised that I’ll do better next time. They weren't upset with me at the seminary, but I was upset with myself. I should be a more dedicated missionary.
Anyway, I wanted to point out that I’m in choir at SLCC and there’s a choir performance coming up in the Assembly Hall. I have a feeling that it’s on Pioneer Day and the performance call time is at 6:00 in the morning. That means I’ll have to go to bed really early and try to get some homework done before the last minute. Maybe I should pray that I’ll manage to get everything done before the last minute. I hope to hear back from you soon.
Elder Dog Walker
P.S. 5 weeks left until Sister Teach comes home! :)

Dear President Happy,

I'm writing a letter to you this time on the day after Sunday. I know that I still need to tell you about my mission, but I was just thinking that I should tell you that I'm almost done with the Spring semester at SLCC. I'm on Finals week and I'm working on trying to make sure that I'm catching up and getting good grades before it ends. The end of the Semester is supposed to be next Friday. I can't wait to take a break from that and just do a little more hours in the seminaries, if I can.

Anyway, I know that there is Fathers and Sons camp going on in May, but some of my brothers are doubting that they'll be able to come, because they have a baseball game and they have Scout-A-Rama going on in that weekend. I'll be a little disappointed if I never got to go, because I was thinking that I could bring wolf-em sticks that a couple of friends of Sister Princess's have invented on their own. I think they're cool and I wish they could've been made when I was in Boy Scouts, but that's okay, Sport could use them in Boy Scouts when he starts doing it. The mission's still going good and I'm hoping I'll have more hours to help in the seminaries once the semester is over.

The other cool thing that happened to me this week was that I got to sing in the Tabernacle for an institute choir concert last Friday. It was very amazing to be sitting in the choir seats and singing so beautifully. They even recorded it for some reason I guess I will find out later. I wish you could have heard us. Mom said her favorite song was I Believe in Christ.

Elder Dog Walker


Dear President Happy,

It's the last week of the semester, and I still have to study for the final exam in my math class. Even though I'm studying, I still have a feeling that I haven't studied enough to get a good grade on the exam on Wednesday. My mom suggests that I pray more and that I won't doubt about taking the test so much and think that I'll fail it if I've worked hard and done my best to prepare. 
Anyway, I have a question for you. My parents have been telling me that there are some parts of living at home on my mission where I have to avoid things that aren't missionary appropriate. They say that I'm not released from my mission even though I come home from it. Have you ever heard of this YouTube comedian named Julian Smith? He films some videos that some people would find hilarious. My mom, however, thinks that they're not funny and she thinks it's not missionary appropriate. She says that these videos he makes are mean-spirited and rude.
I just wanted to ask for your opinion. Do you agree with my mother when she says that Julian Smith is a mean comedian? If you do, then I understand and I'll stop, even though there's got to be something that would give me a laugh-out mood. Do you have any suggestions of laugh-outs that are appropriate for a missionary? If you do, then, where will I find them? 
I hope to hear back from you,
Elder Elder Dog Walker


Dear President Happy,

I enjoyed that Priesthood meeting with Bishop Burton talking on Sunday morning before the Sacrament meetings began. So I thought I could tell you about my thoughts of the talk. I thought it was amazing that he could tell us the story about President Hinckley's challenge on the membership of the Church. I liked it when he was saying how Church membership is increasing. It made me feel like that we are making great progress on how we can get a lot of people around the world to accept the fact and know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true religion in our world today. 
I like to point out that it really is true and I know that if we live righteously, we'll live for eternity with our families and our friends. I'm hoping in the future there will be more members of the church, like it'll probably lead to 1 billion members. I'm hoping to hear back from you and to know of what you thought about the talk in Priesthood meeting. 
I also talked to the missionaries and Brother Scott White about doing some splits. They will call me soon. I am off this week from my mission since all the seminaries are closed until next week, but I am going to go to the temple tomorrow, I hope. I have never been to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple before so I am a little nervous, but I think it will be okay.
Elder Dog Walker

I hope you have enjoyed these letters that I have been writing and sending to President Happy. I hope it makes all of you happy to hear that my mission is going really great. :) By the way, after today, there are about 3 weeks left until Sister Teach comes home from her mission! :) I hope y'all are excited for that!

Jul 25, 2014

Pioneer Day 2014

Remember last year's Pioneer Day celebration? We did the pioneer games and Dutch oven dinner. The kids had so much fun they were super excited to do it again this year. The Drama Queen and I started planning the day before so we had time to get things together. We decided we wanted to do a craft so we tore more than 500 strips of fabric to make authentic rag dolls.
Tossing rings

3-legged race
We also looked up some new games and pioneer stories on the internet. My sweetie had to work since it was a state holiday only, so Drama Queen peeled a bunch of potatoes and carrots for the Dutch oven chicken stew and I prepared a peach cobbler in the 2nd one. Drama Queen also wanted to make bread in the bread maker (not quite the authentic way, but delicious!) so she spent time making 4 loaves. It took her about 15 hours total to get them all cooked.

We had so much fun! The Gym Rat brought his cute girlfriend and my Little Sis and her family came as did Bossy and her family. We started with the pioneer stories and then we played the hoop toss game. Fajita and Sport were amazingly good at it and they set a new record of 22 catches. Then it was time for the 3-legged race. I got to judge the race this time. It seems that the winners were always the ones closest in size who work well together. The Gym Rat totally lost after I put a moratorium on carrying...

Then we sat in a circle and played the Elements game. My favorite part was watching the Dog Walker pretend to be a dolphin! Although the Drama Queen did a great job with her bird impressions too.

Making rag dolls
We had just gotten the rag doll stuff out when my sweetie called everyone over for dinner. The food was amazing as usual and everyone enjoyed the Drama Queen's hard work. Then we went back to our rag dolls before eating the peach cobbler.

Let's eat!
I was a little sad that the Gym Rat and his girl had to leave before square dancing and fireworks, but the rest of us had so much fun! Even Little Sis got her hubby to dance and he actually admitted it wasn't all that bad. Sorry, no pics, I was enjoying myself too much to even remember that part.

I hope you all had an amazing Pioneer Day too!

Summer Swimming..Having a Blast!

It's become a tradition in our family to sign up for swimming lessons each summer.  A wonderful neighbor of mine is our go-to and she does wonderful at helping the kids.  My little ones finished up their two week session yesterday and we wanted to be sure to share a few pics.  This was little Baby Doll's first year.  I just love this picture of her doing the back float.  Bet you recognize her helper..that's Sport!  He was the aide for both hers and Curly's lessons.  It was sure nice because I know I could count on him to take care of them both.  Thanks to Fajita for snapping all these sweet pictures for me.  As you can guess, I was still home making jam with the Activity Girls. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Pioneer Day.  Ours was full of hard work and lots of fun.  (But isn't that how we do everything around here?)  I'll get pictures and post up tomorrow about our shenanigans.  Kids start school Monday.  I am so not looking forward to going back to such early wake-ups!  For now I'm going to see if I can maybe get some sleep before the last "day-off."

This summer has gone so fast!

Jul 23, 2014

Jam Anyone?

Remember I told you on Monday that we picked all the apricots off our tree? Well, yesterday was Pack Meeting, so they just had to sit in buckets for a little while. But sometime on Tuesday I had this brilliant beyond brilliant plan... I could teach my Activity Days girls how to make jam!

So on Tuesday about 5:00 I ran fliers to all of their houses, suggesting that they come over at 10:00 this morning if they wanted to learn to make jam. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to see very many of them. It was such short notice and it's summer, but I figured it was a great way to make sure I got myself out of bed and started early.

I was wrong.

By 10:15, I had 8 girls here all excited to learn some new skills. None of them had made jam before, but they were all willing to do whatever I asked of them. In no time they had pitted all four buckets of apricots.

Then they helped the Drama Queen put them through the food processor to make pulp. Some girls stirred and others measured sugar. We had a great system and in an hour and a half we had completed 6 batches. The girls loved using bread to wipe up the remaining jam that clung to the pan so they could sample the yummy sweetness.

By noon they were all gone home, each with a hot pint jar of jam tucked safely into a paper sack so they wouldn't get burned.

It was so much fun! I think maybe we just started a new tradition.

Dance Auditions for Princess

Princess loves to dance! Did I tell you she made the Ballet Intensive program at BYU? She was super excited back in February when she was accepted, but I think she is pretty nervous to be away from home for 2 weeks.

Oh, she has been at camp before, but never for more than 5 days, and that was Girl Scout camp and she usually had Prima Donna with her. It is so amazing to see how beautifully she is growing up! Do you know that she will be 18 in just a couple of short months?!

Anyway, she has a new opportunity to audition and because she is at BYU, she can't audition in person with Crafty and Prima Donna. The Girl Scout National Convention is going to be in Salt Lake City for the first time ever and they are having an opening ceremony. Of course they need to have dancers!

So before she left, Princess and I went to the studio and filmed her dancing. I thought you might enjoy watching her for a minute or so. We have Drama Queen to thank for the professional video.

Jul 22, 2014

Days of 47 Float Preview

In Utah our big Pioneer Celebration and parade is on July 24. LDS stakes are invited to prepare a float about a year in advance and it takes about 15 years for their turn to come around again. The Gym Rat was a young boy scout the last time we had this opportunity.

I knew our stake had a float assignment this year, but because my girls are all busy already on the 24th, and it's mostly for the teenagers, we didn't get involved.

Princess left this morning for 2 weeks at BYU and their intensive ballet dance camp. Crafty also took off for a week at Oakcrest, a girls' camp run by our church. And Prima Donna was already committed to march in the parade with the band.

Interestingly enough, the band was also marching at the float preview tonight, so that gave us the perfect excuse to support Prima Donna and have a fun free activity for FHE at the same time. The float preview is at the expo center and it includes all these amazing floats made by the various stakes. I couldn't quite figure out how the band was going to perform for a whole hour.

Let me tell you, it was the easiest "parade" they have marched in all year! They simply marched up and down the rows between the floats and played each of their songs several times. Since we were indoors it was nice and cool and they had a great time dancing and showing off to the audience.

When we were finished, we spent the rest of the evening picking apricots and pulling weeds in the sand pile. It was a good combination of work and play, two things I really want to teach my kids.

Now if I could just figure out a way to teach them that work can be play...

Jul 21, 2014

Filming a Video for BSA

Earlier this week I got an email from Bill at the National Boy Scout Council. He told me they were making a promotional/informational video about scouts with disabilities and inclusion and they wanted to know if they could interview the Dog Walker while they were in Utah.

First let's just say I was shocked! It's been almost 3 years since the Dog Walker earned all the merit badges offered by BSA and I was pretty sure his moment of fame was over.

I was wrong.

After several emails with Bill, we finally settled on making this movie on Saturday at our home. He said his film crew would be there at 9:00 am.

Film crew?

When the Dog Walker did interviews before, it was just one person doing the interview and someone else with a portable camera. This was a whole different ballgame. Four people showed up on my door with all sorts of equipment. They had one camera, but they also had reflectors and light poles, stuff like that. It was a little crazy!

They interviewed the Dog Walker first. He was a bit surprised when they even did a little makeup, but he was so excited to be part of something so big that he didn't even care. He did a great job answering their questions. At one point the cameraman even confessed to doing a job with George Lucas...

I got to be next, but only after they moved everything from the living room to the kitchen. It was all pretty much a blur, but my sweetie said I did a good job. They shot a bunch of footage, but likely only a few minutes will make the actual video.

Then our Bishop showed up because they wanted to interview him as well since he helped Nate with a bunch of the badges.

All in all, it was pretty cool! I'll be sure to share the link with you on the BSA website when the video is finished. Until then I suppose the Dog Walker can look forward to a tiny bit more fame.

But hopefully no more makeup!

Jul 20, 2014

Rocky Mountain Raceway

Remember I told you we bought the Pass of all Passes? Well one of the activities on the pass is to visit Rocky Mountain Raceway. We had never seen a car race before, but Sport really wanted to try it. He loves cars!

We headed out there about 5:00 so we could get in on some of the qualifying rounds. I wasn't sure if the kids would enjoy it or just be bored and it was so hot outside!  I didn't have to worry. Most of them were totally into the races as soon as we found our seats.

It was pretty fun! Some of those drivers are SOO crazy! The thing the kids really wanted to see was the double-deckers, which is one car on top of another one. The driver in the top car is in charge of the steering and the guy in the bottom runs the gas and breaks. Sometimes they careen around those corners so fast they are balancing on 2 wheels, but we didn't see anyone roll.

Curly was super disappointed that we didn't hang around for all the final races. I think he and Sport could have watched all night.

Right before we got ready to go, the mascot was tossing water balloons into the crowd. He would point to someone and then toss them a balloon. All the kids were hoping to be chosen so I made Bossy stand up with me so we could attract more attention. You can probably guess what happened. Yeah, he pointed at me. When he tossed the balloon, it didn't break, so I picked it up and tossed it back. Unfortunately, the balloon wasn't balanced well and it went a foot or so to the side. He was not very happy with me but he gave me a free ticket to come back on another day anyway.

By about 9:00 the kids had finally had enough. Well, most of them anyway, so we gathered our things and hit the road.

We stopped at the 7-11 on our way home and picked up our free small Slurpees from the 7-11 app.

The kids had so much fun at the track, I think we will plan another trip back out there.Maybe I'd better practice my water-balloon tossing skills...