Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I think I forgot that we have a blog. Here is a rundown of the last 2 years:)

Year 2015: I am going to upload the pages of a book that we created:

Year 2016: Pictures still to come.

  • January: We had an enjoyable Christmas to end the year 2015. We had converted our garage into a game room/bedroom the last couple of years, and we had a new year's party with some friends in the garage playing games. It was a little cold, so we didn't spend too much time out there. We also bought a new car (Toyota Sequioa) from Brother Hammond. He buys cars from the auction and fixes them up. We have enjoyed having a bigger car that fits our family much better. 
  • February: Dee tore his miniscus playing a church basketball game. I thought I would need to get surgery to repair it, but Jill has done two sessions of emotional releasing with me, and I can run and exercise almost like I could before. Jill has been a blessing to our family as she has been able to release many emotions from all of us. Because of this, she and our kids can now eat Gluten (although we try to still stay away from it), the kids are better behaved (I think), and my knee did not need surgery. Jill became certified in the emotion code last year and has helped many people so far.
  • March: Me, Jill, and Grant took a trip during Spring break to Florida. We have decided to take each our kids on a trip when they are a teen-age so that we can spend time with just them. Grant wanted to go to Universal Studios to see Harry Potter. We also visited Miami, the Cape Canaveral Space Station, Sea World (in Orlando), and visited Jill's Sister Stacey and her family in Gainesville. It was a fun trip! We got scammed in Miami and found out that we actually didn't have a place to stay, so we drove to Orlando a day earlier than planned and went to the Kennedy Space Station. It was great!, and the best thing about it was that night there was a space launch that we got to see from the beach! When we got back to Pocatello (where our kids were staying), Jill dropped me off at my parent's house and I went right back to Utah with them to attend my Uncle Gregg's funeral. He had been suffering with poor health the last several years, but it was still sat to see him go. How blessed we are to have a savior who has suffered for our sins and pains so that we can be forgiven and have the opportunity live in celestial glory when we are resurrected.
  • April: We said goodbye to our home of 11 years and the 16th Ward, and moved into our duplex on Maple Street. We really enjoy our ward (Caldwell East Stake 2nd Ward). Our ward and stake do many activities. Last night (October 8, 2016) was a fun dance at the stake center -- "Dancing with the Stake Presidency."
  • May: School is out! It was a fun but difficult year for me as there was a big learning curve. The kids all did well at Heritage Charter School. We have been blessed!
  • June: We were a little delayed with our Duplex repairs as we waited to see if the Homeowners insurance would help us fix the exterior wall that is cracked. In the end, they would not help us, so we finally had someone frame a new wall right next to it to take the pressure of of it. Josh Quarders from our ward has done a lot of work framing and putting in Windows for us (in the basement), and Chris Nailon has done the plumbing work for us. We are currently putting up sheet rock.
    A highlight of this month was the youth trek that we went on with the Caldwell 2nd Ward. The week we moved into the ward, they mentioned that they needed more volunteers to go on trek (
    The Caldwell 2nd and 3rd wards were planning the trek together). The week before we moved in the Stake was reorganized a little and the Caldwell 1st ward was dissolved into the other wards, mainly the Caldwell 2nd ward. Because of this change, they needed another Ma and Pa. Me and Jill volunteered and started preparing. I was a little worried with my knee, but was very blessed on trek as it did not hurt much at all. The location of the trek was the mountains between Ola, Idaho and Banks, Idaho. It was gorgeous! Both Grant and Sage were able to go as well and both their testimonies grew stronger. The day we left on Trek we were assigned our families. Both Grant and Sage had wonderful families and leaders (Ma and Pa). We are grateful to them! This trek was much harder physically than the Wyoming Trek. We encountered some pretty steep hills every day. The youth were very tired but loved it! It was a great experience. 
  • July: We attended both the Winegar and Christensen family Reunions. This year, Letitia was in charge of the Winegar Reunion, and we camped at an RV park in Bear Lake. We played at the beach one day, and took a trip to the Minitonka caves and Bloomington lake another day. It was fun. The Christensen reunion was held at Cabin Creek Cabins campground (church campground) at Alturas Lake. We spent a day at Redfish Lake and had fun at the cabins. Me and Jill decided to start a family tradition while we were  there. It is this -- wake up the kids early and hike to see the sunrise and read scriptures/share spiritual thoughts. The kids fought against it, but we did it! Our attempt at Bear Lake was a little more successful, but met with lots of resistance as well. Hopefully next time will be easier, especially because we are waking the kids up early every morning and exercising. 
    Towards the end of July, my and Jill went to our 20 year class reunion. It was good to see everyone and we had lots of fun!
  • August: Dee attended a Career Technical Conference in Twin Falls at the beginning of the month and paid for an extra night at the hotel so that Jill could come and join me (She was in Pocatello, so she left the kids with her parents). We went out to dinner the night of the 4th and did a temple session in the Twin Falls Temple the next morning. It was nice! I have been very blessed to have a great wife!
    We had a ward activity later in the month -- It was a dinner at the outside pavilion at our new stake center (Caldwell East Stake). During the event, Moriah suffered a scary concussion. She was running at full speed and so was another teen age young man in our war. They collided and she hit him and the ground pretty hard. When I got there, she was not responding and appeared to be unconscious. I was able to give her a blessing with the assistance of another elder in our ward and we took her to the emergency room. She opened her eyes once we goth there and ended up being just fine. We feel that this was a miracle due to the power of the priesthood. We are blessed to have this power and authority on the earth!
  • September: We decided to go to Utah and attend the Finch family reunion on labor day weekend. My parents reserved my Grandparents cabin in Payson Canyon, so we stayed there. Saturday was the Finch Reunion and Sunday we met together with the Winegar Family. It was good to see everyone. On labor day, we stopped to see a couple of friends on the way hoe -- Sarah Laacke (and her family) and The Barnett's. Sarah Laacke was Jill's good friend and our high school class president. The Barnett's were good friends of ours when we first got married and lived in the Cedar 1st ward.     
  • October: We enjoyed general conference messages. On Sunday, we went to a family's house in our ward -- the Strikwerda's. Brother Strikwerda is our hometeacher. They are a great family and we enjoyed watching the Sunday morning session of conference. A big message I got was that we need to repent, and without repentance we cannot progress!
    I (Dee) am currently writing this post in the Dallas Airport. I am returning from a customer service certification training that was held at the Tall Timbers Baptist Conference just outside of Alexandria, LA. The conference was beneficial because now I am certified to teach and allow my students to receive industry certification (From the National Retail Federation) in the area of customer service.
    Towards the end of the month, Jill will be taking a trip to St. Louis for a Juice Plus conference. I will write about that when she returns. I am stuck in the Dallas airport for another few hours, so I'll try to get some grading done. The 1st quarter grading period ends this week. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The year 2014 is quickly coming to an end. We were blessed to have a great year. As everyone grows, changes are a sure thing. Jill is teaching swimming lessons and continues to take classes to enter the nursing program. Dee took a new job in a different school district. Grant is getting pretty good on the Violin and Sage is doing well on the Piano. Gabe was baptized, John continues to keep us on our toes, and Moriah started school. More changes and developments are sure to come in 2015.

This video of Grant and Moriah was taken Christmas Day, 2014 

Fresh New Year

A fresh new year
Is bringing, one by one,
Unopened days,
Each laden with a miracle.
In countless ways
Its gifts will lift our spirits
And make us sing.
What can I bring the fresh new year,
Oh, what to bring?
Greet the year with courage and trust,
A wealth of love; and, oh, you must
Bring wonderment and a happy heart,
A spark of humor; then impart
A glowing warmth, free from fear,
And gladness for each day all year.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Summer 2014

Here are some pictures of our Memorable Summer

Overlooking the Boise River during our Bike Ride on Labor Day, September 1, 2014.
Taken from theCanyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell.

 Start of School Year, 2014
Grant -- 7th Grade, Sage -- 5th Grade, Gabriel -- 3rd Grade, John -- 2nd Grade, Moriah -- Kindergarten

 Bear Lake, 2014

 Sage's Birthday Celebration in Bear Lake

Gabe was in Pocatello During the Rocket Derby, so John raced in his place.

 Stake Pioneer Trek 2014: Wyoming Pioneer Trail & Temple Trip to Utah

The Trek was a highlight of our summer. It was nice to be disconnected from our busy lives for a week. It made me realize that one of our challenges we face today is distraction. There are so many things that fill our lives and distract us from what is important (jobs, technology, media, wealth, etc). Satan has too much control and is trying his hardest to keep us from the Savior. The pioneers amaze me with their faith and courage to press forward in difficult circumstances. They did not take their sight off what was important. 

The preparation for the trek was a little challenging. It wasn't always easy to get our trek family together, and I think we could have done a better job of preparing each of the youth spiritually, but we were blessed to have a family that worked well together and to have Ma & Pa leaders that were responsible during the trek. Our Pa was Jed Cowling (who is on a mission now) and our Ma was Page Lookhart. Page sprained her ankle a few days before trek, so her cousin Hailey (from Switzerland) became our Ma. She did a great job! The boys in our family (especially Luke Holcraft & Ian Dina) really respected Jed and did everything he asked. It was fun to be with Grant on the Trek and to have him in our family as well. The other Girls in our family were Elizabeth Naillon & Amy Cowling. 
We all represented someone on the trek. I represented George Davis Grant, who was the Captain of the relief party sent to rescue the Martin & Willie handcart companies. Grant represented George Wilson Grant, who was George D. Grant's son and was part of the rescue team. Here is a video that explains one of the heroic acts performed by George W. Grant and 2 other rescuers. 

Jill represented Mary Priscilla Griffiths. All three of these individuals were ancestors of ours and made the trek much more meaningful. We started our Trek week on the last Sunday in July around Midnight. We traveled all night and part of the next day until we reached the Pioneer Trail in Wyoming. We did a short hike near the Sweetwater river that afternoon and set up camp. That night after dinner we did some dancing (pioneer style -- square dancing). The next day we hiked 16 miles over rocky ridge into rock hollow where we camped. It rained throughout the day and was much colder than anyone expected. Many weren't dressed for the bad weather. Setting up camp and then packing up at 4:30 a.m was not very fun! The weather, however, was a blessing in disguise as it helped us appreciate our experience. After a rainy morning trip on the bus to Martin's Cove, we enjoyed beautiful sunny weather. Our Stake President was told in preparation for the trek that our stake would be blessed with the weather that we needed. I think more people were humble and teachable as a consequence of the unexpected weather. We had a great experience in Martin's cove and the spirit was very strong. It was in this area that we pulled handcarts across the river. I was inspired by the beautiful mountains surrounding the cove, and the Hymn, "Carry On" played in my mind.   

  1. 1. Firm as the mountains around us,
    Stalwart and brave we stand
    On the rock our fathers planted
    For us in this goodly land--
    The rock of honor and virtue,
    Of faith in the living God.
    They raised his banner triumphant--
    Over the desert sod.
  2. (Chorus)
    And we hear the desert singing:
    Carry on, carry on, carry on!
    Hills and vales and mountains ringing:
    Carry on, carry on, carry on!
    Holding aloft our colors,
    We march in the glorious dawn.
    O youth of the noble birthright,
    Carry on, carry on, carry on!
  3. 2. We'll build on the rock they planted
    A palace to the King.
    Into its shining corridors,
    Our songs of praise we'll bring,
    For the heritage they left us,
    Not of gold or of worldly wealth,
    But a blessing everlasting
    Of love and joy and health.
As a person who loves mountains and the outdoors, I could almost here the mountains singing. I used to think the cove acted as a trap for the pioneers, but as I felt the spirit and learned more about the events that took place there, I wondered if the mountains gave them strength and courage to carry on. After the women's pull (which consisted of the women pulling the handcarts up a steep hill -- to help us witness and recognize their great faith, strength and courage), we proceeded to our last camp in Wyoming. We had a great fireside that night were President Larson talked about exact obedience. I actually missed his talk, but heard from many the message he gave. Obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings miracles. The next morning we got back on the busses and headed to Salt Lake City. There we toured temple square and had a fireside in the stake center located near the conference center. President McCune, who was our former stake president and is now the President of the Provo mission, came and spoke to us. One thing he mentioned is that if we are to be good missionaries, we should never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. After a somewhat restful night in Salt Lake (at least we were clean), we got back on the bus and went to the Logan Temple. There the youth performed baptisms for the dead. It was a neat experience, especially, since I was able to find several names of ancestors (closely related to George W. Grant) and we were able to do the baptism work for them. Since the baptisms, Jill and I have been able to return to the temple several times to continue to compete the work for these ancestors. We survived the trip home and will cherish the experience forever. We thank our parents, Karen and Ginny, for taking good care of our kids while we were gone. My mom came to Caldwell for most of the week and then took Sage, Gabriel, and Moriah to Pocatello when she returned. 

The kids did lots of cleaning with Grandma Karen while we were on the Trek. Thanks Mom!

Nice Pic!

John playing Water baloon toss with David (Birthday)

John's 7th Birthday Celebration at the Church Pavillion

Camping Trip to Sage Hen Reservoir, July 2014. We hiked around the lake and picked Huckleberries. What a beautiful area!

Hike up the Mountain outside of Downatta Hot Springs during the Winegar reunion

Winegar Reunion 2014 at Downatta Hot Springs. The Theme was Harry Potter. We tried gross jelly beans (Barf & Skunk) and mixed potions. Swimming at Downatta is always fun!

Camping Trip to Celebration Park (South of Nampa & Melba along the Snake River)

 The boys participated in the Idaho Youth Games in Caldwell.

 Moriah's 5th Birthday Party

 Our Camping Trip to Leslie Gulch (located in the Owyhee Mountains near Owhyee Reservoir)

Grant's final orchestra concert of the 2013-2014 School Year

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Summer/Fall 2013
Our summer wasn't too busy as Dee was working and could not get too much time off. We did enjoy family reunion's in Pocatello at the Christensen's house and with the Winegar's at Downatta Hot Springs. We enjoyed summer birthday's, the 24th of July celebration, a couple small camping trips, and we are now enjoying some great fall weather. Here is a letter Jill wrote to the family a couple of weeks ago:
"It is a beautiful Sabbath morning. Grant will be giving his first talk in church today. His topic is President Monson's talk "Come all ye sons of God". Given in the spring general conference of this year. He was nervous, but I told him not to be nervous. He would soon grow to love talking in front of people because it is in his genes. I explained that his Great Grandpa Vee, was never happier than when he was in front of an audience talking or entertaining. I then reminded him that his Grandpa Bruce spoke in front of people all the time as Stake President. He protested by saying, that it was his calling. I told him that with practice, he would get good at it, too. That seemed to help him a little.
He just finished his cross country season this week. Dee was his coach. He is also the deacons quorum secretary.
Sage wanted everyone to know that Rascal turned 4 this week. We celebrated by getting him some special dog bones. She reminds us often that he is her best friend and it makes her happy to know he is safe. Sage does excellent work in school. She inspires me. 
Gabriel was able to run in practices with the cross county team this season. He was a great asset to the team because he inspired the other runners since he was usually faster than them. He couldn't compete because he is too young.
John wanted you to know he is doing fine. His handwriting is looking very nice this year. Hid teacher often puts a heart around his letters because they look so nice. And he is behaving very well in school.
The kids' charter school has raised from a 2 star school to a 4 star school this year. We are grateful for all the efforts of all those who help them with their classical, bilingual education. 
Moriah went on a field trip to the pumpkin patch with her YMCA preschool. She didn't like going to preschool for about a month, but recently, she decided she likes it. It is a blessing because now I can leave sooner to go to my anatomy and physiology class. It is a challenge to find time to study.
I recently got called to be the humanitarian coordinator in our ward. I am supposed to coordinate so that the needs of the people in our ward and community who are not members of the church can be met. The Albertson's scholarship I received for the year also encourages the scholars to work together on community service projects, so between the ward and the other scholars, hopefully some good will be done.
Some of you saw my comment on facebook about Dee's race to the summit. He did a half marathon up a mountain and back down and got second place in his age group. Thanks Richard and LeOni for taking care of the boys while he ran.  
We went to a ward lunch activity yesterday. Afterward, they had the kids shoot bottle rockets. Grant brought the bottle rocket launcher he got from Shauna and was able to use it the whole time while everyone else had to wait it line to launch theirs. They had fun. 
Our family did a fun run, rollerblade/ripstick, and bike ride yesterday after the ward activity. We ran first, then rollerbladed or ripsticked, and finally rode our bikes around around our neighborhood. One time around is 1.4 miles, but there is also a shortcut option which makes it about a mile. The kids did great on their 3 or 4 mile adventure. Hope you and your families are doing well."

Here are a few pictures of our summer and fall (so far)
John 6th Birthday, 7/20/2013

John's new backpack

Sage's new CTR ring

Sage's 10th Birthday 8/7/2013

Grant, Gabe, John with the Shurtleff kids on a hike at Sucker Creek State Park, Oregon

Hiking at Sucker Creek 

Moriah at her concert
Moriah at the pumpkin patch she attended for a preschool field trip

Grant and Gabe on the dunes at Bruneau Sand Dunes (just this weekend). This was a scout campout for Grant, but I was able to take Gabe along as well.

Winegar Reunion 2013

Winegar Reunion 2013

Family Picture at our stake's 24th of July celebration. Isabel joined our family for the week and Grant joined the Christensen family for the week in Pocatello.

Jill and Moriah in the 24th of July parade around the church

Sage and Isabel in the 24th of July parade around the church

Moriah's 4th Birthday, 6/25/2013. Lots of ponies!

Sage and Rascal
Grant at one of his cross country races. His team did very well this year!
Getting ready for our family race. This picture looks like it could be a cover for a song album:)

Family Race, October 2013. We ran, roller-bladed, & then biked around our neighborhood

Jill and Moriah get ready to roller-blade