Amid all other influences

Amid all other influences
"reaching for the light"

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why Does Christmas Have To End So Soon?

Even though Christmas has past, with snow still on the ground, icicles hanging from the roof, and the outside temperature is 18 degrees, it still feels like Christmas.  Well, at least the gift giving or in this case, the celebration of a significant milestone for Erin (30 yrs. old), the season is joyous.  
This evening, New Year's Eve, we went to the cultural hall at the chapel, and enjoyed a birthday celebration for Erin and also welcome in the New Year.  Well, we left at 10:00PM, our curfew for older, wiser folk.  It was a fun event with friends and their families, music by Diamond DJ, food, and fun time visiting with others.  I think they're still at it.  We brought our grandson Teddy home to put him to bed.  He was enjoying the evening and started to tire out.  
While we have received Christmas cards for dear friends and family, the news is happy and we are pleased to see others are well and feel blessed.  We've heard from friends a long distance away as well as close by.  With news posted on blogs, we are able to keep up with the goings on with our loved ones and friends.  
So, the purpose of me updating this blog, as the very last moment of the present year 2008, is to let you know that we appreciate and love you for your thoughts and well wishes in our behalf.  We miss you, our children, their families, including our 17 grand children, our dear relatives, and friends.  
Even though the year has been a down one for many, we feel blessed because of
 our family.  During the year, we were able to visit with the families of four out of five of our children.  And the fifth that we missed, we've been able to keep in touch with them over the phone.  So, we're never really far away.  Earlier in the year, our eldest daughter Leslie and her family came for a visit at April Conference time.  Following her, our youngest daughter Rachel and her family came for a visit.  Since our daughter Erin is the only one closest to us, just around the block, each time was a great family visit with the siblings and grand children.  During the summer, we travelled to visit our daughter Nicole and her family.  Along the way, we met up with our daughter Leslie and her family and enjoyed part of the trip together and again met up at Nikki's home.  Wow, all those grand children having fun with their family.  That was the big visit until Thanksgiving when Leslie and her family came for a surprise visit.  So nice to get together and visit the family.  
For Christmas we spent with Erin and her family and enjoyed the time together.  
Our joy is with the fact that each of our children have special spouses who are the best eternal companions.  They are wonderful in every way, they are the best match for our children, and they make the family special.  
So, you see, we are blessed beyond measure.  To them, to you all, we wish you the best in the New Year, may joy, peace and love fill your hearts, may you always know of our love for you, and may Heavenly Father bless your lives beyond measure.  Hauoli Makahiki hou!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hustle and Bustle of the Season

With Christmas just over a week away, winter has manifested itself in such a profound way. At our home we have probably 3 - 4 inches of fresh snow. The high today is about 28 degrees, so that means the snow won't melt as expected.

For me personally, it's a white knuckle type of driving. This morning was no exception. Most people are being cautious, others in big 4 wheeled drive are intimidating and show-offs, and the rest of us just putter our way to work. Well, I was nearly rear-ended several times, just about slid off the road twice, and slid to a sidewalk trying to avoid an idiot who decided to observe an imagineable stop sign. I did avoid that car and made it to work safely.

Today is another busy day at work here on campus. Besides finals being conducted, there are lots of people in need of our assistance. We always try to accomodate them and be polite as possible. Most customers are patient and know that the only person they should blame is themselves for their own procrastination. I venture to say when they leave here, they have a sense of peace and joy, one more thing to check off their list.

On a more profound note, my ward family is going through the stresses of finals, tougher economic times, and trying to make the best of things during the Christmas Season. Sunday was a majorly busy one for me, conducting tithing settlement interviews. The line was long, the time spent was well worth it, and the testimonies of these young families was something to behold.

After a stressful and busy day yesterday, I was expecting a quite evening, for me to catch up on a long list of things. One of my young ward family members came over to drop off a plate of cookies, a gesture of their appreciation and most of all, a way to spread the spirit of Christmas. I had not expected that, even on a cold snowy night. They drove all the way from Provo, found our home here in PG, and they didn't get lost. (Maybe they had a GPS unit or something.) That was truely a blessing in action.

We are blessed to have wonderful children, who are bless with wonderful families. Their lives are simple proof that Heavenly Father loves each one of them. They and we are blessed beyond measure. The joy our grandchildren bring to us can only be measured in the smiles, giggles, and energy they all have. This year has been great to us, we were blessed with two new grandchildren, Wyatt and Ruby Jo. They are number 16 and 17 respectively.

To all our friends, Mele kalikimaka.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving, Family, and Christmas Beginnings

As the Thanksgiving Holiday approached, we plannned to celebrate the day with our family who live just around the corner and up a block from us. Dinner plans were made a week in advance, who would make what and when. It's also the time we put up our Christmas Tree, and have a family activity.

Then on the Monday, we called our eldest daughter to wish her a happy birthday. She had received her birthday gift (see her blog) and we had a nice visit on the phone. An hour or two later, I get a call from Jo that Leslie, Troy and the kids are travelling down to join us for Thanksgiving, surprise! Wow, it really got things moving, because in our family, when we have more family members to celebrate the holiday, the better the visit. Anyway, it made our holiday week visit, and the grandkids had loads of fun with cousins.

Of course, the Thanksgiving meal was wonderful, and we had fun making sure we had enough dessert. Then of there is planning for Black Friday, which personally didn't excite me at all, so I slept in. But our visit with the family was righteous. Our other daughter Erin setup her photo studio and took our picture, (we'll put it up on the blog in our next post) then used Photoshop to remove the extra bulge and 10+ pounds just for good measure. We had a great time with that.

On the Saturday, we planned to visit Temple Square to see the lights, so did some 50K people at the same time. It was crowded but the lights were really done well.

Well, now that family have left for home, the left overs are almost done, it's clean up, clean-up, you know the song or rhyme. Anyway, here are the picture for your enjoyment.

Monday, November 03, 2008

More New Baby Pics!

We just returned from visiting our daughter and new granddaughter at the hospital.  Both mother and daughter are doing well.  Babies always look better after the day they are born.  Erin said that the baby was feeding well.  Our visit was short but anyway, there will be more time for longer visits when they return home from the hospital.  So enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A New Granddaughter Arrived!

The things that matter most in life is family.  Family members are generally born in to a family, adopted in, and by choice, choose to marry in to a family.  Well, today, we add another family member to our extended family, that of a new baby daughter to Erin and Mark's family.  She has the facial features of their youngest son, Teddy, and resembles her older brothers also.  We are all excited and mother, daughter and dad are doing fine.  Even Grandma and Grandpa survived watching the grandsons and Bubba, the dog.  So her are a few pictures hot off the camera within the last hour.  

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween Fun!

Halloween is kind of a oxymoron when it comes to living in the middle of Happy Valley.  Since we work at the "Y" we have standards to maintain or in keeping with the "honor code."  Nevertheless, we aren't the stuffy shirt type, and like to have fun.  In my office, I encouraged our workers to dress up for the 31st, and they mostly did their part.  Not everyone likes to dress-up in costume because if you have to move about campus, it can be a tedious task, depending on the costume you wear.  For the most part, the best is going through the "Wilk" and the bookstore.  Their, they even have employees dress up and have a contest.  Well, this year was no different, except Jo got the competitive spirit in her and she prepared well, choosing her character, and all the needed costume to portray the character.  There were some spooky ones and some well done costumes, all adding to the fun of the day.  What do you think of Jo's costume?  This year, she won the employee's best costume category, so on Monday, she gets to collect her prize.  
With her winning like this, we'll be preparing far in advance for next year's costume contest.  
In the evening, we attended our home ward chili dinner and trunk o treat.  We had a nice time there and it was fun. 
 Some members even decorated the trunks of their vehicles for the evening.  Last weekend, my married student ward had it's chili cook off with halloween costume dress up.  The costumes were great, the chili wasn't.  Our members there haven't learned the art of making good chili.  Oh well, give them time.  
My comment about the oxymoron is because here in the middle of Utah, where the predominant religion is so prevalent, people really like to get into the Halloween dress up.  There are seasonal things such as corn maize, haunted houses, and all forms of costume dress up.  I saw a couple of people whose costume looked a bit like a cross dresser.  I guess, they didn't get the memo or hear the talk relating to the appropriate nature of dressing in your own gender.  Now, this is the second time in a row where we've observed this in our home ward.  Last year's 
contest winner for best costume was a teen dressed up as the opposite gender.  I am sure it was all in fun but if you let things become a norm, then you've got bigger challenges.  
I enjoyed reading the experiences of our family member's eventful halloween fun.  
So, now, it's starting all over again and finding a costume for next year's contest.  Enjoy the pictures of Jo's dress up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's been a long time since I last updated this blog.  Sorry for the slacker attitude, or forgetfulness.  I'll try to keep up more often.  
We've been trying to keep up with our family's growth and progress by living vicariously through their blogs and phone calls since most of the family live far away.  Their blogs are great.  I must say that we are proud of our family members accomplishments.  The grandchildren are really awesome and talented.  They are living a full life, with the help and guidance of their parents.  
Our children are such a blessing and joy to us. Their lives seem so full and productive, just makes us proud and feel good, only one thing, wished they lived closer.  Let me share just a couple of tidbits:
  • Our children, five of them, are trying to be the best parents they can be.  They and their spouses take seriously the business of being parents.  We are so thankful for their dedication.
  • In their own way, we see each family making a positive contribution to society by their participation in the community, by example, support, and just being good citizens.  We applaud their efforts.
  • Our children have given us such great grandchildren.  Each grandchild is such a special little spirit with gifts and talents that make them so precious in their family.  They are so intelligent and are being nurtured by their parents so well.  We praise the patience and gentleness of their parents.  
  • In their own lives, our children have excelled knowing that there is so much more to life to learn, enjoy, and live.  They have not even come close to meeting their full potential and that makes their lives so exciting.  With support and encouragement of their wonderful spouses, our children are actively participating in such things as neighborhood co-ops, developing a small production business of such things as beaded socks for little girls, leading a special interest group in archiving or scrapbook making, promoting healthier living though leading a weekly aerobics class, starting ones own photography business specializing in portraits and weddings, home schooling, and food storage through home canning and much more.  We marvel at their capacity to help their spouses meet the needs of the family, and making the family the top priority.
  • Their spouses are so patient, supportive, kind, talented, and above all awesome.  
  • They have made Heavenly Father a vital part of their lives through following his commandments and teaching their children to walk uprightly before God.  They and their spouses fulfill callings in their home wards and are active in their attendance.  Our grandchildren are learning from the examples of their parents.  We are grateful for all their examples.
You and they are wondering who I've been writing about to are doing all these good and great things.  Well, they don't have to be shy or embarrassed.  Just keep on being the wonderful people they each are.  We are so happy to be part of yours and our family.

I have so much to catch up on and pictures to post.  Later . . . .

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Road Trip Highlights and Lowlights !

When you take a road trip, plan to have a purpose, like seeing some sights, taking pictures, visiting friends or family or both, enjoying the ambiance, food, and finding all the rest stops that have clean bathrooms.  No matter how you plan, small family, large family, here is always the unexpected rest stops.  So, our trip was filled with excitement and purpose.  
This time around, we were especially conscious of the price of gas at each stop.  After filling up, getting a large fountain drink, something to nibble on while driving, and listening to the GPS say "Recalculating, recalculating, repeatedly," we were ready to roll.  If we happen to come across a sizeable community, we looked for a Wal Mart or a JoAnns.  Those are landmarks you just don't pass up.  
Our nation is so large and the landscape is different in each area we travelled.  That is what so neat, that you can drive for miles and see different things.  If it gets boring, say such as from Evanston to Rawlins, WY, we were prepared for the silent times, so we listened to a good book on CD.  It captured our imagination and was interesting.  We've come to appreciate that no matter how different our interest or talents, listening to a good book on CD during a road trip helps to make the trip enjoyable.  While I drove, Mom crochetted (sp).  
So, here are some pics we took along the way.  Hope you enjoy them.  

From top to bottom, they are:

Giant tire rim turtle
Canola oil field
Storm approaching
Thunderstorm brewing
Huddling cattle
Devils Tower 
Independence Rock
Devils Gate (near Martins Cove)


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Road Trip Pics

On our trip, we were joined by Troy, Leslie, and the children, little buddy, Anna, and Emm. Then we arrived at frozen north to stay with the W family. Again, thanks to the hospitality of Dan, Nikki, Pookie, Gabby, Bun, and Ham, we had an enjoyable time. Seeing all those grandchildren in one place or at the same time was awesome. They played, enjoyed each other's company, made friends, and gave Grandma and I all big, big hugs. Seeing them grow up is awesome.

The best question asked to Grandma, by Pookie, "Do you have any children?" They were being introduced to the fact that they were related, and how that came about.

Here are the cousins giving us their best smiles.

Shopping at the co-op in Canada was fun, especially for the young folks because they had shopping carts just their size. Here, we were looking for all dressed chips, smarties, and anything unique. We had a blast.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I don't exactly know when I asked our daughter Leslie to plan a family reunion for all the siblings that live on the mainland. Well, as time marched on, we had an inkling of an idea to hold some sort of family get together. Trying to coordinate everyones schedule was the hardest challenge. In the end, we had to make some alterations and call it a vacation trip or road trip instead of a reunion.

Rachel and her family could only come in June and they did so. Any later than that, then she wouldn't be allowed to travel, our grandson Wyatt is soon to arrive. Also our daughter Erin is expecting, making long road trips a bit of a challenge, plus Mark's new job is a priority. So, in the end, we asked Erin to watch the Ipo doggie while we left for North Dakota. Praise to Erin for watching the Ipo doggie because Mom was really concerned the whole trip. The only thing Erin needs to work on is learning how to spot the vegetables among the growing weeds in the garden. I checked it yesterday, and came away with several large zucchinis and tomatoes.

Prior to leaving, we coordinated our trip with Leslie, Troy, and the family. We planned to meet up in Buffalo, WY. They had their agenda and made it to Wyoming alright. We did alright, making it to the hotel earlier in the day. We had a fun time visiting and had dinner together. The next morning, we switched navigators, little buddy was my first officer and worked the navigation using the Garmin GPS, or as Mom called it, "your lady." It has a ladies voice giving directions.

Little buddy and I drove to Devils Tower National Monument and waited for the rest of the family to finish their fabric shopping to join us. We had a great time. I was very impressed with little buddy's rightfulness or honesty. We had the opportunity to park in a more convenient spot using Mom's handicapped parking placard, but little buddy thought that wouldn't be honest, so we didn't use the parking card. He did a great job navigating.

After visiting the monument, the rest of the family caught up and then we split up again, this time, Mom and I drove to North Dakota to Minot, while the rest of the family went further into the Black Hills of South Dakota. Later they came up to Minot and we again had a grand time with all the children playing together. We had a fun visit with our Minotian family.

We celebrated Bun's birthday early so the family could participate, visited Canada, looked for missile silos (interesting stuff), visited the North Dakota State Fair, and visited, shopped, and played together. We thank Nikki and Dan and their family to sharing their home with us. We certainly enjoyed our visit and sad to have to part again. We miss them all. Those evenings playing "Catch Phrase" was a lot of fun.

On our trip home, we did a photography shoot of the countryside, and visited Yellowstone NP. It was a beautiful place to visit. We finally made it home and are glad we did.

Gas prices were high but not as high as I thought they would be, lowest was $3.88 in Wyoming, highest in South Dakota at $4.25 and the average was at $4.099. We did our best to find the cheapest places off the main roads. We're glad to make it home, everything was alright, and we need some rest now.
I'll post more pictures of the trip later.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"the grass is always greener"

We recently celebrated the "4th of July" Independence Day. The warm weather made it more of a necessity to stay in doors or go to a beach. Here in PG, we don't have a beach.Our daughter Erin and her family headed to camp up in the mountains. We used to love camping, when the family was younger and for economic reasons. Now that the children are grown, have their own families, and moved away, we don't camp much. If we do, it's at places like La Quinta, Ramada, Days Inn, etc.

Now there are some upsides to camping out doors, such as fresh air, building an out door fire, roasting hot dogs, marshmellows, making smores, etc. There's also the fun of setting up tents, packing everything but the kitchen sink, sleeping bags, bug repellant, food, ice chests, etc. Then there is the camp itself with bugs, bears, both in the tent and outside, finding a suitable potty, and the lack of all the conveniences of home.

Bottom line, if you like to camp out doors, have fun and have at it. Enjoy nature, the great out doors, and all the blessings of a fun camp. For those who don't anymore, be at peace indoors, with the cable TV, nearby refrigerator, a comfy bed, and a convenient potty.

Now moving on, ever since we decided to install our own automatic sprinkler system, I've been consumed with getting it put it. First there was the city charging us automatically for "secondary water" usage, even if we didn't yet use it, having to design the layout, getting all the parts, and more parts, the trenching, laying the polypiping, clamps, valves, funny pipe, connection tees, etc., etc.

Once you lay it out, install it, you've got to test it, hook up the wiring, and then its burying the trenches so the dog doesn't fall in it. It's on and on. With an automatic sprinkler system, the intent is that the water will come on when you want it to and you don't have to drag the water hose around.

So, what I've learned is that doing it yourself does save you money. Because we're doing it ourselves, we also get obsessed with making it do everything we want it to do, such as having 7 watering stations with the possibility of adding in another one in the future. All of the stations are wired in to the timer controls conveniently installed in the office. If I had purchased a different timer box, I could have had it controlled through our PC. Isn't that the height of laziness or is it a sign of technology in action?

Since we're on the last stages of completing the job, here are a few things I experienced:

  • If your clamps aren't secure, the hose will come off the connections and water will explode everywhere.

  • Polypipe is a hose but it's tough to insert connection tees or elbows. PVC is straight forward and cost less.

  • Water pressure varies at different times of the day due to others accessing the same water source, so adjusting your sprinkler spray can be tricky.

  • Trying to take advantage of this cheap water source can make one obsessed to dream up, design, and attempt to install water feeds to various portions of the garden or yard.

  • Burying the trenches as soon as you can will allow for your lawn to recover soonest.

  • What do you do with all those rocks that the trencher brought up?

  • You probably still have to get some topsoil to fill in some portions of the trench and grow some grass from seed. Last resort is to buy sod and trip and fill places.
So now that you've heard my rantings and ravings, I need to thank a few people who have helped make our yard what it will become shortly and not a yard of "death".
  • Mark, for helping with the bulk of the work, like helping with the trenching and wiring.
  • Erin, for telling make to come and help.
  • Jo, for trying to help with the filling in the trenches, even with her being tired and aching and for insisting to install the sprinkler system.
  • Jase, for spending some of his vacation helping to fill in the trenches and install a couple of sprinkler heads.
  • Grandkids Klailea, Rykell, George, Henry, and Teddy, for picking up rocks from the yard.
  • Bubba and Ipo for laying down a few mines in the yard.

One day soon, we hope that the great lawn will be revived enough to resemble a yard again without weeds and be green with lush Kentucky Bluegrass. We hope the well worn foot path that Ipo has made along the back of the house will be filled in with lush grass. And lastly that our yard will look like a realy yard for the grandkids to enjoy.