Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prom 2009

Another Junior/Senior Prom has come and gone. The Junior class did a great job of planning and executing an amazing event and everyone enjoyed a magical evening.
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The tickets for Prom were quite imaginative as well as practical! It was issued in the form of a sparkling keychain shaped like a theatre ticket. Way too cool!
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Here are Jacob and his date, Nicole, a beautiful Native American. She's in Jacob's culinary arts class and they've become good friends.
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They went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, Los Corrales, before heading over to Prom at 9:00.
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This year's Prom was held at the Hon-Dah resort on the nearby White Mountain Apache reservation. Hon-Dah means "Welcome."
This picture didn't come out so well, but the professional photographer hasn't posted the pictures on his site yet, so mine will have to do.
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After arrival, the kids walked upstairs to this landing to pose by the Prom 2009 props. Then they proceeded down the stairs on this side to the red carpet leading them into the resort.
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The theme for this year's Prom was "Unmask the Night." The students were encouraged to make and wear fancy, old-fashioned masks like those once worn at the masqued balls of old. Some creative teens painted sparkling curlecues at the corners of their eyes. I wish I'd thought of that!
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Here are Jacob and Nicole at the bottom of the stair. They made it down unscathed, unlike one poor girl who was the evening's only casualty.
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This poor girl posed for her picture not long after Jacob and Nicole passed through. She was wearing a mask over her glasses and she had on high-heeled strapless sandals, a bad combination! She caught her heel in the "2009" prop and fell head-first down the stairs. It was awful.
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I supported her head while others disentangled her and we got her back on her feet. She was shaken but said she was okay and seemed to have fun after that, but I bet she was sore and bruised the next morning.
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Here, Jacob and Nicole walk the red carpet to the ballroom. She's smiling at her mom and brother, who were also taking pictures. They live about a mile from the resort and came to capture the grand entrance!
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This was my first chance to meet Nicole's family. Great people!
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I used to chaperone Prom when my kids were little, but then I stopped for many years. It's a whole different perspective when your own children attend!
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Everyone looked so beautiful and grown up in their lovely formal wear. It made me wish I'd attended my own Prom so long ago.
The DJ had quite an amazing set-up. Behind his station was a huge wall studded with random sparkling lights. It was like looking into the blackness of space sprinkled with twinkling stars. Above that wall were various colored lights that scanned the crowd to the beat of each song.
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The music was much too loud for comfortable conversation, of course, but the kids loved it and danced the night away.
I got a shot of Jacob and Nicole dancing soon after we arrived, before the crowds got so thick that I'd be unable to find them.
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You can see that the ladies were the first on the dance floor. By 10pm, though, the floor was packed wall-to-wall with hundreds of kids. The DJ was really good, inviting participation by the dancers. There was lots of energy out there!
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As for me, I wore the beaded gown Sarah wore to Prom last year and received lots of compliments. All of the white design is actually little white pearls, and the black is filled in with tiny glittering black beads. It's quite a heavy dress and the beads rubbed the insides of my arms raw by midnight, but it was sure fun to dress up and feel glamorous for one night!
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It was a great evening for both students and staff. The kids were excited and having a great time, but they were also on their best behavior, as if they'd all suddenly become mature adults. I just love to watch them being young and having fun.
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It's one of the perks of being a high school teacher!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dimples and Curls

Today is my sister's birthday. Born April 26, 1960, Karla is 49 today.
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Karla is the fourth of 6 children, born after me, Gerald, and LeRoy, making her a "middle child." Like most middle children she's good with people, likes to keep the peace and make people laugh, and has a lot of patience. It's a good thing, because she and Brian have 10 children! (6 still live at home.)
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She lives in Mesa, AZ, where she helps operate their family roofing business, Custom Shingle and Shake. She also babysits the occasional child and totally dotes on her 4 grandchildren (so far).
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This is Karla at about 5 months old, held by our maternal grandmother, Alta Fern Haley. Karla was named for Grandma Haley: Karla Fern Butler.
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Karla was the kind of beautiful baby everyone cooed over adoringly. She was born with thick golden curls, curling dark lashes, and deep dimples. And not just in her cheeks, mind you, but also the coveted Butler dimples in the backs of her shoulders.
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If you've been following this blog very long, you already know I was a bald, fat, uncurly blonde-lashed, completely dimple-less baby.
Hold on there! I have more hair now, but I'm still roly-poly, completely dimple-less, and need an eyelash curler/mascara to make my lashes visible! Life is so unfair...
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Here's Karla on her 1st birthday, surrounded by several of our cousins.
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One of Karla's distinctions is that she is the only one of our parents' six children that Mom actually named. Our mother was apparently quite unimaginative when it came to coming up with ideas for names.
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When Mom couldn't come up with my name, Dad suggested naming me for his old girlfriend, Mary Frances Renning. (?!?!) Mom tacked on her middle name and I became Mary Jane.
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Dad chose Gerald Lynn's name (Lynn was Dad's oldest brother, who died of a congenital heart defect when he was 21). Mom was given LeRoy Thomas's name in a dream. Jefferey Alan was named after a TV show, The Files of Jefferey Jones, and actor Alan Ladd. And Darryl William, well, Mom was sure he was going to be a girl and was torn between naming him Kathleen or Sherrilyn. She had no boy name, so our Grandma Butler said she'd always liked the name Darryl. Mom added the middle name of her father, our grandpa Loyd William Haley.
The picture above is a favorite. Karla was 21 months old at Bass Lake, July 1961. I tease her that she developed her womanly figure at a very young age!
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LeRoy and I had a sweet deal, being the only daughter and son until Karla came along. But we weren't bitter. I swear we never tried to do away with her and bury the evidence!
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Karla was convinced that if she couldn't see you, then you couldn't see her. She just magically vanished from view!
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This is my proof that she occasionally did things she knew she shouldn't. So if she gives you her usual line about what an angelic child she was, hmmm. Just ask her why she was hiding in the corner in her underwear!
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We celebrated Karla's 3rd birthday a month early, along with LeRoy's actual 4th birthday in March 1963.
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At the time, Mom was pregnant with our final sibling and she was just a month away from her due date. She wanted to have all the birthdays taken care of and out of the way before she went into labor.

June 1964: Karla broke her arm when she was 4. I'll have to have her remind me how it happened. Either she was pushed off the T-bar laundry-line pole by LeRoy, or he was getting revenge for when she pushed him off the pole. I can't quite recall.

As a teenager almost 6 years older than Karla, I had little time for my tag-along sister, so she was stuck with all boys, who liked to make her laugh till she wet her pants or hide under her bed and giggle when she changed clothes. I'm amazed she doesn't have Post-Traumatic Stress!

As for Karla, she always tried to mother her rowdy brothers. July 1971, left to right: Karla (age 11), LeRoy (12), Jeff (9), and Darryl (8).

And here she is on her 9th birthday, April 1969.
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We've come a long way, little sister, from the days when you were the messy half of the bedroom and the annoyance who followed me everywhere, to today when you're my best friend and keeper of all my secrets.
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I hope your birthday is amazing. Enjoy it--just one more year until you join LeRoy and me in the Old Geezers Club! Love you!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ghosts of Prom Past

It's that time of year again! Tomorrow night is Prom, so expect pictures of the big event sometime next week.
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I've chaperoned Prom several times, but last year was my first as a chaperone and Mom of attendees. I thought I'd share pictures from last year's Prom to set the proper mood.
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It all starts with the asking. Jacob's friend Bryce asked Sarah by filling our house with balloons, some of which contained small papers with words on them. She had to pop the balloons, find the papers, and assemble them: "Sarah will you go to prom?"
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Sarah answered with a piece of gum and the message "Yes, I chews to go to Prom with you!"
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Jacob agonized over how to ask his date, long-time friend Becca. We spent ages in WalMart trying to get ideas. We ended up with a Beauty and the Beast theme, including a crown, a light-up wand, a pink-and-blue ribbon-bound scroll, and a champagne glass full of pink and blue M&Ms.
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Becca responded with a bag of chocolate-covered nuts and a glittery note that proclaimed "I'd be nuts not to go to Prom with you!"
What mother doesn't love to see her son in his first tux? He was so dashing. I asked for his best GQ pose!


The cost for Jacob's tux was gasp-worthy. In fact, he opted to wear his suit to tomorrow's Prom and save $150+!
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We worried about finding a decent dress for Sarah here in our little rural area, but we were blessed. Our friend Gwen had seen this beautiful, perfectly-beaded black gown in a nearby thrift shop. It was an exact fit and it cost only $20! Sarah found dressy sandals for $20 and her friend Tahna did her hair, so she spent the rest of her budget on having her nails done.
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Who would ever have thought it would be cheaper to dress up your daughter than your son for Prom?
We were joined at our house by Sarah's good friend Kristin, who opted to go stag, and then we headed over to pick up Jacob's date Becca. We took the traditional pre-prom photos at her house.
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Left-to-right: Bryce, Sarah, Kristin, Becca, and Jacob. What a gorgeous group!
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The kids entered the prom on a red carpet, complete with a slew of paparrazzi flashing pictures.
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The venue was unusual, with Prom taking place at our local theater. Dancing and Prom portraits were in the lobby, with free sodas and popcorn. The businesses located in the theater plaza were also open, with free games at the arcade and free food in the deli and ice cream shop. A DJ provided music for the dance, but several live bands played outside in the plaza.
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At midnight they showed the horror/slasher flick Prom Night. A grisly end to a great night!
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Jacob and Bryce were both sophomores last year. Since the Junior-Senior Prom is for--you guessed it--juniors and seniors, they had to ask upper-classmen to be their dates so they could attend. Luckily, Sarah was a senior and Becca a junior last year.
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This year Sarah is a college freshman, of course, but Jacob is a high school junior and headed to his second Prom with his friend (and date) Nicole tomorrow. And I will be there to chaperone, armed with my trusty camera to capture every possible memory.
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Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Passing On

I received word a few hours ago that my children's paternal grandfather passed away last night. My former father-in-law, Timothy Lyle Carter, was just 61.
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He hadn't been well for a long time. He weathered bouts with esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, strokes, and heart attack. On top of that, he was a heavy smoker and was obese most of his life, but each time he got knocked down he got back up again.
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When I married into the family, Tim and his second wife Mary (Mark's step-mom) lived in Iowa and I'd only met them once.
This picture was taken on July 2, 1995, just 5 weeks before Mary passed away from heart and lung diseases. Thank goodness we'd decided to visit them in Iowa before her death.
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Mary was 74 and Tim was 47, a 27-year difference. So no one thought it was a big deal when Mark married a woman merely 14 years older than himself (that's me)!
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Tim came out to visit us in Arizona twice, when Sarah was an infant and again when Jacob was a baby. Mark was Tim's only child, and Tim was so proud of his grandchildren.
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Here he is with Sarah in October 1991, a few weeks before her 2nd birthday.
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Like his son, Tim was a quiet man, but he had an offbeat sense of humor and a ton of patience. I think there were many times he wasn't sure what to make of me and my often strong opinions about family and children. He preferred a laid-back approach to life.
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This is Tim with Jacob (Jacob Timothy, after his grandpa and his dad, Mark Timothy), also in October 1991. Jacob was 3 months old and we had spent an afternoon picnicking here at Woodland Lake.
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A couple of years after Mary's death, Tim retired from John Deere, sold his house in Davenport, Iowa, and moved to Arizona. He bought the house right next door to his mom's house in Mesa. They've been taking care of each other ever since.
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Tim's mom, Helen (my kids' great grandmother) isn't sure what she'll do now. She recently turned 82. You aren't supposed to have to bury your children.
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It was nice to have Tim living here in Arizona. Not only did we know that someone was looking after Helen, but my children were finally able to get to know their Grandpa Carter because he was just a 3-hour drive away!
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He wasn't the kind of grandpa to get on the floor and romp with the kids (that was Helen's domain!), but he was so patient and always had time for them. They know he loved them and was proud of them in his quiet way.
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Here he is feeding Dylan a bottle when Dylan was 4 months old. He was very attentive to his grandchildren's needs.
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This 4-generation picture shows Helen, Tim, Mark, and Sarah and Jacob in October 1991. I wish I'd thought to do another after Dylan was born.
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There will be no funeral. Poor Helen is laid up with a broken ankle, but as soon as she can she'll fly to Iowa with Tim's body, where he'll be laid to rest beside his wife Mary. He picked out his headstone 12 years ago, when she died. There will be a simple graveside service.
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Helen told me Mark cried when the call came. I cried, too, for their grief. I'm grateful to know death is only a temporary separation. Families are forever.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mini Missionaries

This morning we had our quarterly activity for the Primary children in church. The theme was missionary work and it turned out to be a lot of fun!
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We started by sending each child a "mission call," like this one for my son, for one of 5 locations: Mexico, Japan, France, Russia, and Hawaii. They were invited to attend the "MTC" (Mission Training Center) at our church building and encouraged to bring their friends. They were so excited!
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As they arrived each child was issued a missionary name tag ("Elder Carter," "Sister Snow") and escorted to their "plane" (rows of chairs) heading for their assigned country.
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From there the children participated in a relay, Elders vs. Sisters (the girls won!). They had to run to a suitcase, unzip it, and dress in their missionary clothes before running to touch the flag of their country, and racing back to the suitcase to peel off the clothes, put them back in the case, and run back to tag the next person in line.
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The kids were so cute, racing back and forth in too-big shoes with jackets hanging halfway off, intent on winning the competition. They had so much fun they begged to do it again!
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After the relay, everyone attended the "MTC," where the 4 young missionaries serving in our area spoke to the children about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
They did role-playing activities and answered the kids' questions about what a full-time missionary's life is like.
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The children gasped when they learned the missionaries get up at 6:30 every day and spend 2 hours studying their scriptures!
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Next the kids went to their assigned missions.
Here we have a group listening to Brother Blake telling about life in Mexico.
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The presenters were people who either lived, worked, visited, or served a mission in the countries they taught about. They brought in native handicrafts, told stories, described the native people and their food and customs, and even taught a litle bit of the language of each land.
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Finally, all five groups gathered again to share some of what they learned and sing a missionary song (see the video clip below).
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Then came the yummy refreshments. Dylan was clearly enjoying his plate with foods representing each land: orange chicken, mini tacos, cream puffs, pineapple, and Russian orange tea cookies.
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As a Primary teacher (of the 3 year-old Sunbeams), Sarah attended the activity to help out. By the end of the activity, of course, she managed to get her hands on the Blakes' new baby girl. Sarah loves those babies!
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Here is a shot of our Primary presidency. Left to right: Wyndie is the president, Bridgette is the second counselor, Crystal is the first counselor, and I am the secretary.
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Working with these ladies can be a challenge, but I do the best I can. Just kidding! They are great women and I love helping them run the Primary. Our presidency meetings seem to last much longer than they should because we always have so much to share. We have a good time together!
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All in all, the children had a great time learning about other cultures and getting excited about missionary work.
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"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."
Romans 1:16

video

Friday, April 17, 2009

Unfinished Business

It's been another full week, with no time for blogging until now. (Yes, I know it's sad that I'm sitting at home on a Friday night...**sigh**)

The FEA sponsor posted pictures from last week's competition, so I "borrowed" a couple. Here we have my son Jacob and another student receiving their silver medals.

Below is a pic of our winning FEA chapter, with their wonderful sponsor, Mrs. Schindler.

On my drive home from school today I listened to Jacob on the radio at 101.7 FM! He was doing an announcement for SADD Club, and he'll be doing another on Monday morning for another radio station, either 95.7 or 96.5, he's not sure which.

He said it was a lot scarier than he expected. At one point he forgot what he was going to say. Cute!

FEA sponsored a highly successful blood drive on Wednesday. They hoped to collect 45 pints of blood, and they ended up with 58! Jacob planned to give a pint (he donated at their last blood drive), but he ended up in the nurse's office when he kicked a door and painfully jammed his toes.

Since I couldn't get a picture of Jacob's donation, I sneaked up on Wyndie while she donated instead!

Here are the last of my Easter photos that I meant to post several days ago.

Dylan announced that he's too old now to color Easter eggs (he's 11), so he went to a friend's house. Guess what they did there: they colored Easter eggs!

Jacob left for the stake dance, so Sarah dyed the eggs all by herself on Saturday night. The tradition lives on!

Look what the Easter Bunny brought! Here is Dylan with his basket of goodies, which were totally devoured by Sunday afternoon.

I'm not sure how the tradition began, but long ago the Easter Bunny started bringing videos (and now DVDs) to my children. The kids always look forward to seeing what new movies will be joining our ridiculously large collection.

Every summer at our yard sale we sell off any old videos the kids no longer watch, usually for $2 to $5 each. It's our little way of spreading the joy!

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I think one of the hardest things about watching my children grow up is letting go of some of the traditions that used to light up their little faces, like Easter egg hunts and dying eggs and anxiously waiting for the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

I comfort myself that someday I will get to relive the joy of bright eyes wide with wonder when I have grandchildren. I can't wait!

Here we have Jacob with his Easter haul. I don't think his candy lasted much longer than Dylan's!

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Lastly we have Sarah and her Easter basket. She actually saved some of her candy, but one of her brothers (I'm not pointing fingers) found her stash and made off with it.

In my general conference post on April 5, I briefly mentioned the Easter message shared by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Apostles who lead our church. I didn't go into detail because I knew I couldn't do the message justice. Not even close.

To hear the message in Elder Holland's own words and voice, click on the link below. Images have been added to this clip, but the retelling of the ancient story is powerfully touching. It's about 4 minutes long.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rboSk1p06BQ

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Greatest of All

Now that Easter morning has come, I wanted to pause a moment to remember the amazing reason we celebrate this blessed day.
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During the week we reflect on the terrible sufferings our Savior endured for our sakes, to atone for our sins and bear our tribulations, to give His life that we might live.
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But today we remember His triumph over sin and death, when He rose from the tomb and ensured that we will all be participants in the Resurrection.
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What a joyous victory! What greater cause to remember and celebrate?
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O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
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But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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1 Corinthians 15: 55, 57
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And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
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Moroni 7: 41

What is this thing that men call death?
This quiet passing in the night?
'Tis not the end, but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.
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O God, touch Thou my aching heart
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.
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There is no death, but only change
With recompense for victory won;
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.
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-- Gordon B. Hinckley

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Snow

Every year our town holds an Easter Egg Hunt at Woodland Park. We have attended every year since 1991, when Sarah was a toddler and I was pregnant with Jacob.

Usually the weather is sunny even if a bit chilly. Sometimes, like this year, there is snow. That's Sarah in the red shirt, standing between two trees after we arrived this morning.

Dylan never liked the Easter egg hunt, even when he was small. I practically had to force him to pick up an egg just so I could take a picture of him participating.

Now that he's older he likes to volunteer. That's him in the gray sweatshirt running the bean bag toss booth for the little kids who do like to participate.

Wyndie's husband Eugene does these Easter games every year for his business, A-Alarm Lock & Key. His sons and Dylan helped run the booths.

Besides the egg hunt, the event also includes an egg decorating contest, a hike around the lake, pictures with the Easter Bunny, and a huge raffle. That's my kids' favorite part. We usually come home with at least two stuffed-toy bunnies.

No one stayed for a raffle today. After the egg hunt was over, a new storm system came in and heavier snow started to fall. The temperature was 36 degrees. Sarah, silly girl, didn't wear a jacket and her arms turned blue. My fingers started going numb with cold.

People with little children didn't last nearly as long as we did.

Before we left, though, we took a quick hike down to Woodland Lake. The snow was falling pretty heavily by then, but I love the lake. It has a nice 1.5 mile trail all the way around it. We didn't attempt the trail today, of course!

There were ducks all over the water. They didn't seem to mind the snow at all.

Here's another view of our beautiful little lake. That lone dead tree rising from the water has been the nesting place for a local eagle for many years.

Jacob wasn't with us today. He stayed home to clean house so he could hang out with friends in the afternoon and attend the stake dance tonight.

Here's a blast from the past: 30 March 1991. Sarah was 17 months old and Jacob was due in just 3 months.

Notice the little lavender bunny in her basket. Her very first raffle winnings!

The following year we had an extremely cold spring and Woodland Lake was frozen solid. I remember standing at the edge of the lake, holding 9-month-old Jacob in my arms and nearly having a heart attack as Mark walked with Sarah out to the middle of the lake. I was terrified that the ice would break and my 2-year-old darling would fall through! Fortunately, they made it back to shore safely.

Here is Sarah with her dad, meeting the Easter Bunny. She loved animals and had no fear of them, not even giant-sized ones in costumes, even as a small tot!

That same Easter Bunny still arrives on a big red fire truck each year to thrill the children and pose for pictures!

Ah, good memories! May you all be blessed with happy Easter memories of your families and friends this weekend!

Have a happy Easter!