Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Wishes from West Virginia

Yeah, yeah. It's been awhile. Well, what can I say? Life is its usual busy. And I've been sick. And I moved two months ago. And on and on and on. Lame excuses, I know. Well, I am revived and determined to show you all my new life. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is an interesting place. Stay tuned for a slide show of the new house. I just need to clean it up before I snap pictures of each room. Guess I could just shove things in corners and take the pictures "creatively".

Let me just say, moving is a pain. Don't do it if you don't have to. I anticipated the packing and unpacking, the new school adjustments, the change in climate, etc. What I didn't think about is how much time it would take to find new pediatricians, preschools, grocery stores, places to work out, orthodontists, music teachers, dentists, and Costcos. I definitely am a fish out of water, but slowly the pool is filling. After visiting multiples of the above list, I think we finally have all the frontrunners narrowed down and committed to. I was just getting settled in, and then, boom, the kids are home for the next two weeks. That will unsettle the most settled of souls.

Funny story: Christmas Eve, we spent the evening with some new friends here, having dinner, reading the Christmas story, and playing games. When we got home, we found a lovely and delicious danish on the table. While we were gone, our bishop (pastor-type leader) broke into our house to "deliver" it (not really, the door was unlocked). This made quite an impression on our children, however. The next morning, after all of the presents were opened, the kids found a mysterious gift left on the kitchen counter. They opened it only to be sent on a treasure hunt around and outside the house. Santa went to great trouble to set this up for them. At the end of the hunt, our family received a new Wii video game system that was already hooked up and set to play. Josh called it a Christmas miracle, and the kids all believe that our bishop delivered it secretly along with the danish. I keep telling them that Santa brought it, but somehow it's more exciting to believe that Bishop Harmon left it when he broke in. Forgive them their "trespasses". I know, corny!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The rest of the story...

I know that it is beyond later on...but just to continue on. After Nauvoo, we drove to St. Louis to see Mark's sister Sara and her family. Sara, major high fives to you for putting up with all of us for a few days and graciously hosting us in your home. Sara's husband, J, is a resident at a local hospital and works crazy hours. Somehow, we managed to see him while there. In fact, we all went downtown to visit the St. Louis Arch. It is an incredible work of architecture and design. Underneath the Arch, there is a national museum and park. We watched a "vintage" 1960s movie about how it was built. The kids thought that was really weird, but the older people felt right like we were in high school science class. We also took a ride up to the observation deck at the top of the arch. The ride was a strange experience to say the least. You climb into this tiny space capsule thing inside a concrete and steel tunnel. Claustrophobics, BEWARE! Then, you ride up an elevator, ski gondola track thing to the top. There are windows in the capsule so you can watch how quickly you go up inside the tunnel, but no windows to the outside. Once at the top, you can look out the windows to all of the beautiful sights in St. Louis including the Mississippi River. However, you also feel a bit dizzy due to some swaying that takes place. Grandma Dee, Lori, JJ (Sara's little boy), Andrew and Sydney were all ready to head back to the ground shortly after arriving. I'm so glad we went to the top, but I'm not sure I would do it again. Kind of scary!!

My kids loved hanging at Sara's for a few days. JJ and Sydney are pretty close in age. One night, they had a "sleepover", but I'm not sure much sleeping happened. I think I nearly shushed myself to death as midnight became the wee hours of the morning and those two were still awake. Sara's baby, Tyler, is so cute, and a really happy baby. Sara fed us, let us crash hard, do our laundry, and generally just be bums while there. Thanks again, Sara and J!! We are excited to see you this summer.

After we left St. Louis, we drove through Kentucky and West Virginia to arrive home. We made very few stops over the next two days because we were ready to get to our new home. We did go to Mammoth Caves, but were too late to go on a tour inside. We did walk down to the gates though. Definitely, going back there sometime. We also stopped at Tudor's Biscuit World in West Virginia. It is a fast food restaurant that serves breakfast all day. The food was really pretty good. When we first walked in, Josh was checking out the menu, and beginning to feel a bit skeptical about his new home state of WV. His opinions were somewhat solidified when a young lady came up to the front and asked for a "bah-ayg fer mah fer-eyes". (In Western American English this translates to a "bag for my fries".) I wish that I had a camera to capture the look on my son's face. He knew that we weren't in Colorado anymore for sure. After eating, we were packing up to go. Josh had some leftover on his plate, so I asked if he was done. He said, "I think I need a bah-ayg fer mah fer-eyes." We are so proud of how he is acclimating already.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beautiful Nauvoo

Next stop was at Spring Hill, Missouri, also known as Adam-Ondi-Ahman. It is a beautiful place in the middle of nowhere. We went to a couple of scenic overlooks. There are fields and fields surrounding the area, with groves of trees, small streams, and even ponds throughout the property. This is an important LDS church history site. We took pictures of this tree because it had a weird fruit on it that none of us had ever seen before. We asked one of the missionaries about it while in Nauvoo, and he told us it is called Osage Orange. The fruits are larger than grapefruit, and good for keeping bugs away. If you want to know more about Adam-Ondi-Ahman, go to
for a great article about the events that took place in Missouri.

Our next destination was the Beautiful City of Nauvoo. We stayed at a great place called Nauvoo Family Inn and Suites. I would highly recommend it. There are not a lot of hotels in the area, but this one was great. We got a great room with a kitchen, three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and could sleep 10. It's perfect for a large family who doesn't plan to spend tons of time in the room as the common spaces are kind of small. There is so much to do in Nauvoo for both adults and children. It is a very family friendly place. Mark, Andrew and I all went into the temple to do Baptisms for the Dead on the afternoon we arrived. Andrew had never been inside the temple before. He was so excited. This was a huge highlight of our entire trip. The Nauvoo Temple is exceptionally busy during the summer months, but in the fall and winter it is very quiet. The workers were so thrilled to have a "youngster" there to do baptisms that they really gave Andrew the royal treatment. He was even given a small tour of areas in the temple that most people don't get to see. It was a really special experience for us.

The next day, Gramma Dee and I went to the temple while Mark walked around town with the kids. I ran into a distant cousin of mine there in the temple. The Flakes are serving a mission in Nauvoo. They wear pioneer clothes and talk to people about what life was like there during the "Mormon" period--the mid 1800s. After the temple, we went to the Visitor's Center and on a horse drawn carriage ride and tour. The kids loved it. The cute missionary "grandpas" who gave the tour were so nice. We really felt the Spirit as he talked to us about many of the early settlers in the area. We took tours of some of the historic homes, and visited the Smith Family Cemetary where Joseph, Emma and Hyrum Smith are buried. The entire city is so picturesque there on the Mississippi River. We only wished we had more time there. We may go back next summer. I really need to finish chronicalling our trip so that I can tell you of our current goings-on here in West Virginia. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Missouri--this is Zion?

We made it to Independence, Missouri later on Sunday. It was a weird experience. The Church owns a lot of property around there and it is just beautiful. They have a really nice visitor's center with great exhibits about pioneer life. We also saw the Community of Christ's Temple that is there. It is an interesting building architecturally. The kids loved running around the temple lot and being just goofy generally. We also went by the Harry S. Truman home and presidential library. It's interesting that these men who went on to lead the country came from pretty humble beginnings.

We couldn't go to Independence without stopping at the old Historic Liberty Jail. It has been restored at its original site by the LDS Church. Scary, sad place. I would never want to be locked up there. The ceilings were low. The floor was stone. It was bitterly cold during the winter that Joseph Smith and his companions spent there. They were rarely fed, and when they were it was rancid and sometimes poisoned. There was even rumors that they were fed human flesh. Can you imagine sleeping on a stone floor? We learned all about his imprisonment there and how difficult it was. Our favorite little bit of trivia we heard: Porter Rockwell alledgedly tried to sneak tools to Joseph Smith to break out of prison through the tiny shafts in the walls. He was a character! Joseph received some very important and beautiful revelations while imprisoned there: D&C 121, 122, and 123. These revelations contain some of my favorite passages about enduring to the end, finding peace in the midst of conflict, and how Heavenly Father is always there for us. I felt the Spirit strongly here building my testimony of Joseph Smith and his role in the restoration of the Gospel.
Well, after the jail we found a hotel in Kansas City, only to realize that Mark had left his wallet at the Red Robin in Topeka, Kansas at lunch. So Mom and I hung out with the kids while Mark backtracked 100 miles to Topeka to retrieve his wallet. By the way, he still claims that it was my fault because I am supposed to be the babysitter of all of his personal possesions. My husband can be counted on for many things--working hard, taking care of his family, and losing his keys/wallet. Gotta love him!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A very long drive

We finally made it. We left our beautiful home in Colorado on Saturday, Oct 11, with tears on our cheeks to head off to our new adventure in West Virginia. It was a sad, sad day, and the weather imitated our feelings with rain and sleet. I just have to give a shout out to our neighbors, Jeff and Melanie, and Ric and Thelma for all of the support and help they showed by just letting our kids run in and out of their homes over the few days prior to us leaving. The kids were feeling homeless, and our friends truly took them in. We already are missing our good friends and lovely neighborhood. On Saturday night, we arrived at "America's Best Value Inn" at rip roaring Salina, Kansas. I hate to be cliche, but "you get what you pay for". However, we were too exhausted to really care at that point.

On Sunday, we travelled through most of Kansas. Everyone says that it is so boring, but I really enjoyed the beautiful farmland. We also stopped at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and his childhood home in Abilene. My mom insisted, and I'm glad that she did. We toured the home and the gravesites. Their home was small and simple, probably less than 1,000 square feet altogether. I wish we could get back to a simpler life. People were grateful for a roof over their head, and food to eat. They didn't need the biggest and the best all of the time. Dwight D. Eisenhower was an incredible patriot for his country, an honorable, good man. Wouldn't it be nice if we felt like that about our presidential choices?
I have lots more to write about, but I have got to get everyone ready for church. Will fill you in on all the rest soon.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My first entry in blogville

Hey, we are taking off to our new home this week and my friend Lisa (who is sitting right here, making sure I follow through) is helping start a blog to keep everyone up to date on our crazy lives. Keep checking for more once we arrive back East.