Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gratitude Today

On this Thanksgiving Day, I want to take this opportunity to express a little about what we currently are each grateful for.    

for two days off of work to spend with family.
for me sleeping in past 4:30am finally.  My jet lag was keeping him up and driving him bonkers!

for the wonderful opportunities for travel we've had this past year.
to have finally lost the extra weight I've been packing around since right after Spencer got sick.

to have been able to see Europe for the first time.
for mom being excited to cook again (and cooking something besides soups)!

Cami (currently known as Soeur G.):
for her first baptism which is scheduled for later this week!
for the opportunity to share the gospel with the wonderful people of France.

to have this opportunity to live overseas and explore that part of the world more.
to be able to spend all this time with cute little cousins that adore her.

for all the cool adventures he's been on this year.
for finding clothes that actually fit (it's been a struggle!)

for the opportunity to mother's help for people.   She LOVES babies!
for the Hamilton soundtrack, which she plays nonstop!

I'll be baking pies today and eventually we'll all head to my brother's house for dinner!  The Sister missionaries from our ward are supposed to drop by this morning and we are looking forward to that too.  I hope your day is filled with good food, the warmth of a loving family, and a spirit of gratitude in your hearts.    


I got his picture from an American? family that shared a pre-Thanksgiving lunch with Cami yesterday! 
Taking long hikes on a beautiful fall day is one of my favorite things in life.
I have finally lost my post-Spencer PTSD weight!  

Ellie LOVES hanging out with young children! 
The sky looked sooooooo cool, just before a storm blew in while we  were hiking last Saturday.


“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”  
Maya Angelou


Wednesday, November 23, 2016


The only reason why we ended up visiting Lisbon was that was where my brother and his family were for fall break.   Truth be told, Lisbon had never really been somewhere I'd thought of visiting before that.    That's why I was so surprised when I ended up falling in love with it.  

I was completely enamored with the architecture....

 the narrow cobblestoned streets and sidewalks....

the gorgeous tiled walls....

the striking red roofs....

the hilly landscape....

 and most importantly, the company we were keeping!

 Really, the tiled walls were quite stunning and I  wished I had more room in my luggage, so I could have brought a few decorative tiles home.

 I also had a special place in my heart for this Golden Gate-esque bridge that dominates the landscape as you come into town.    It's called the 25th of April Bridge, which as some of you may know, just so happens to be my birthday.    Apparently it is the date of a bloodless governmental coup that took place in the 1970's and a lot of things around Portugal (streets, this bridge, etc) are named after the 25th of April.

We took a tour bus around Lisbon one day and saw a whole lot of things.

My iPhone says that these pictures were taken at the Praça do Comércio   (Commerce Square)...

but unfortunately I don't remember much about them.  Wikipedia says that Praça do Comércio was mostly destroyed (along with most of Lisbon) in the great earthquake and ensuing tsunami and fires of 1755.   It was rebuilt as a center for commerce (go figure!) and was the site of the assassination of King Carlos I in 1908.

Lisbon is a very lovely city and we very much enjoyed our time there...

and I hope to get back here someday to explore it with Glen!

Stay tuned for one (or two) more Portugal post(s) and then onto the rest of our trip....

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Surprising Emma

When I was 14-years-old, my family took a trip to Europe.  We weren't rich by any means, but it  was important to my parents that we kids got to see a little of the world, and so we rented a cargo van with seats  and camped our way through 14 countries.  It rained almost every day and we were cold and wet most of the time, but it was a life-changing and unforgettable experience for all of us.

That trip instilled a burning within each of us to see more of the world and to experience foreign cultures.   My brother in the glasses and my sister in the pigtails, in the picture above,  have now been to more than 50 countries each.   The rest of us aren't quite that well-traveled (probably because we have a passel of kids between us), but we still daydream about traveling and occasionally find ways to make travel happen.   

When we went to Europe this past May, it was the culmination of a goal that Glen and I had set for ourselves when we were first married.   It was important to both of us and we really wanted our children to be able to experience a foreign culture before they left home.    We considered it a once-in-a-lifetime trip and did not even dream that in six months time, some of us would be back for another visit.   

Yes, Cami's on her mission in France and Emma's staying with my brother in England for a study abroad, but on October 27 Spencer, Adam, and I took off for Europe: Part 2!     This trip happened mostly because my sister, Kristina, was anxious for a trip before some busy new developments in her life make traveling impossible and no one in her family likes to travel.    She called me looking for a travel partner and was even willing to share her frequent flier miles with us to make it happen.  So we decided to make it Adam's 8th grade trip (a family tradition) and invite Spence to come along, since he hadn't been able to come with us in May.  

It all came together rather quickly (and we left only one day after we had returned from our trip to Utah), so I didn't have time to stress over this trip at all.   We met Kristina at the  Philadelphia airport.... 

and laughed at our matching rainbow of backpacks.    (this was all of our luggage!)

We flew through the night and arrived at our first destination of Lisbon, Portugal!

After arriving to Lisbon, we dropped off our luggage and headed to that big castle you see at the top of the hill there.

It's called Castelo de São Jorge (Saint George's Castle) and it marks the location of our big surprise of the trip!

In addition to boasting gorgeous views of Lisbon...

it also was the stopping place of my brother and his family on their fall break trip to Portugal, which meant that we got to MEET EMMA THERE!!!!!!   She knew nothing about our visit, so was completely surprised when showed up in the background of this picture!

This was her reaction after she realized we were there....

It was such a joy to see her and spend time with her again, especially because we got to be together for her sixteenth birthday, which was on Halloween.    

Stay tuned for more blogposts about our trip coming soon!  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Project du Jour

I like me a good project.   
I enjoy putting my heart into something and having some creative product at the end that didn't exist before.   Unfortunately, I don't often have the time I'd like to put into these kind of extra projects that almost always get in the way of daily life.  

So, when I found out that Cami's Christmas package had to be sent by mid-October, I got a little nervous that I would struggle to pull together meaningful gifts for her.   After all, it wasn't that long ago that I was shopping with her to buy all of her mission clothes and supplies.    And she is not the easiest person to shop for in the first place.   

Actually, though, it probably ended up to be better timing than I expected, since I didn't have the rest of the Christmas expectations to keep me distracted.    I bought a few things, but then got the idea to make her a day-by-day quote and photo calendar.  I had a very specific vision in my head of what it was supposed to look like and got very excited.    It took me many, many hours of work, but in the end, I am very happy with how it turned out.     I can't wait for her to open it and for us to be able to follow along with our calendars too.   There's something kind of exciting knowing that we will be turning the pages each day and seeing the same photo and reading the same quote.  

And since Cami can't look at my blog, here are some pictures of the finished product, which turned out every bit as cool as I wanted it to!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


What happens when you find a steal of a deal on tickets to Utah?    

You pack up and make it a mini-vacation!

Here's the recount of our trip, as I wrote to Cami and Emma in their most recent letters:  

We are having a great time here in Utah.  The weather has been exceedingly lovely.  The boys have been off fishing the last two days--Friday with Alex, Devin, Nicholas, and Daniel.   And Saturday with an old friend from Baltimore and his two boys.   Dad flies out today (on Sunday), so he can get back to work.    We leave on Tuesday.    

Here is the fish dinner that Adam prepared all by himself, so that he could finish up his Fishing Merit Badge.  

Today I took a break from the project I'm working on and went to SLC with Heather, Spence (who decided to skip fishing today), and Ellie.   We went to the Hogle Zoo, which was fun, but not near as cool as the National Zoo.   

We stopped by the SLC library, which ended up being a surprisingly awesome place.  
In addition to the beautiful building, it had very interesting displays.   We saw a copy of the Bible from the 1600's, an original folio of William Shakespeare, saw an "elephant size" Audubon book, and some amazing Shakespearean costumes.    We also randomly met a very interesting man from Lyon!   He was Native American, born on a reservation here in the US, adopted by the Catholic church and sent to Spain, then ended up in Lyon, and is now in the US.   He speaks 22 languages and knew absolutely nothing about missions, so I got to tell him a little about what you're doing there.  

Finally we went to "The Pie" for dinner.  The pizza wasn't quite as good as The Brick Oven, but the atmosphere was cool (except for the U of U decor everywhere).   

 Here are some random pictures from our trip....

And now we're off on our next adventure....

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