Thursday, 31 January 2008

1 in 100 Hurts

I have a friend who just told me today that she had a stillborn baby this month. It just breaks my heart how common this is. They say 1 in 100 pregnancies end in stillbirth. My friend was away with her family at a funeral for her husband's aunt when everything went wrong. They buried her beautiful little boy in the arms of her husband's aunt. I thought that was a wonderful idea.
I would have been due in two weeks with our little Destiny. Things sure weren't what we expected.

Monday, 28 January 2008

What's this??!! Calgary in January??!!!

Looks like we have 3 days of severe arctic weather that has landed on us. Not sure how we're going to survive this. Then again, we'll do like we usually do when this happens. I think we may just hunker down and stay inside.

Weird things happen when it gets this cold. The door knob on the INSIDE of our front door is all frosty. Our garage door won't open. And of course,there's the problem of what do you do with a little dog that won't go outside to pee. The joys of Canadian winter!!

Nothing like those days where your eyebrows frost up, your eyelashes freeze, and every breath turns to icicles!

Of course, it's a good time for ice sculpture competitions!

....I'm dreaming of California.

'Til We Meet Again

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Gordon B. Hinckley, the Mormon church's oldest president who presided over one of the greatest periods of expansion in its history, died Sunday. He was 97.

Hinckley, the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died of complications arising from old age, church spokesman Mike Otterson said.

"His life was a true testament of service, and he had an abiding love for others," said U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and fellow Mormon. "His wit, wisdom, and exemplary leadership will be missed by not only members of our faith, but by people of all faiths throughout the world."

Hinckley had been diagnosed with diabetes and was hospitalized in January 2006 for the removal of a cancerous growth in his large intestine. In April 2006, he told a church conference he was in the "sunset of my life" and "totally in the hands of the Lord."

By unfailing tradition, at a church president's death, the church's most senior apostle is ordained within days on a unanimous vote of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. The most long-serving apostle now is Thomas S. Monson, 80.

The church presidency is a lifetime position. Before Hinckley, the oldest church president was David O. McKay who was 96 when he died in 1970.

Hinckley, a grandson of Mormon pioneers, was president for nearly 13 years. He took over as president and prophet on March 12, 1995 and oversaw one of the greatest periods of expansion in church history. The number of temples worldwide more than doubled, from 49 to more than 120 and church membership grew from about 9 million to more than 12 million.

Like his contemporary, Pope John Paul II, he became by far his church's most traveled leader in history. And the number of Mormons outside the United States surpassed that of American Mormons for the first time since the church, the most successful faith born in the United States, was founded in 1830.

"His leadership in humanitarian efforts around the world was matched only by his efforts in his own beloved state and community as a committed citizen," said Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Mormon. "He has stood as a remarkable example of selflessness, charity and humility and he will be greatly missed by all."

Hinckley began his leadership role in 1995 by holding a rare news conference, citing growth and spreading the Mormon message as the church's main challenge heading into the 21st century.

"We are dedicated ... to teaching the gospel of peace, to the promotion of civility and mutual respect among people everywhere, to bearing witness to the living reality of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the practice of his teachings in our daily lives," Hinckley said.

Over the years, Hinckley labored long to burnish the faith's image as a world religion far removed from its peculiar and polygamous roots. Still, during his tenure the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention and United Methodist Church - the three largest U.S. denominations - each declared that Mormon doctrines depart from mainstream Christianity.

"We are not a weird people," Hinckley told Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes" in 1996.

"The more people come to know us, the better they will understand us," Hinckley said in an interview with The Associated Press in late 2005. "We're a little different. We don't smoke. We don't drink. We do things in a little different way. That's not dishonorable. I believe that's to our credit."

Hinckley's grandfather knew church founder Joseph Smith and followed Brigham Young west to the Great Salt Lake Basin. He often spoke of the Mormon heritage of pioneer sacrifice and its importance as a model for the modern church.

"I think as long as history lasts there will be an interest in the roots of this work, a very deep interest," Hinckley said in a 1994 interview with the AP.

"Because insofar as the people of the church are concerned, without a knowledge of those roots and faith in the validity of those roots, we don't have anything," he said.

In 1997, Hinckley seemed to drive that point home in his orchestration of the lavish sesquicentennial celebration of the Mormons' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. The yearlong festivities featured a TV-friendly reenactment of the dramatic Mormon exodus from the Midwest by handcart and covered wagon.

Born June 23, 1910, in Salt Lake City, Hinckley graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in arts and planned to attend graduate school in journalism. Instead, a church mission took him to the British Isles.

Upon his return, he became executive director of the newly formed Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee at $60 a month. Hinckley always worked for the church, except for a brief stint during World War II as a railroad agent.

Hinckley was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, whom he married in 1937. She died April 6, 2004.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Birthday Parties for Little Boys and Big Boys

Today Peirce got to go a birthday party for his dear cousin, Evan. It was a Slimy Science party!! I really admire my SIL for being willing to do this in her house with more than one child!! Ewww!!

Later in the day we were invited to a party for someone we consider one of our favorite people - even though he's an Oiler's fan. To keep the rivalry alive they decided to play street hockey at the party. LOL I'm sure the Flames jerseys stomped all over those Oilers! Happy Birthday Brayden!

Friday, 25 January 2008

Adult Peer Pressure??

It's interesting to grow up and realize that some people just never do. For a time I skipped school as a high school student. It wasn't because I hated school. And it wasn't because there was something really important to go do. It was just that my friends did it and I just went along. Luckily I had a other friends that were a positive influence and I didn't get too far down too many crazy paths.

People's response to our decision to pull our daughter out of school and homeschool are, to say the least, interesting. Responses seem to fall into two main categories:

1. I would never do that.
I'm sad for the number of people who tell me that they would kill their kid if they had to spend all day with him or her. If they only listened to their words I think they'd be embarrassed. I hope that they don't hate spending time with their kids as much as they verbalize it to me in those conversations. Then again, there are some pretty sad families in this world. It's too bad that more people don't realize how important it is to have good family relationships. I'm certainly not the most perfect mother, and I do really relish my own time to myself too - but I like my kids and I'm glad to be able to share this experience with my daughter and I'd do it again with either one of my children.

2. I could never know what to do.
It really isn't rocket science. Finding out what we need to do isn't hard. And the work isn't hard. It's just that it's so darn daily....and I think that's what would knock most people out of this game. I have endured lots of tough daily things though - so I've learned how to just do what has to be done and learn to find the joy in it. Not that I am slogging through this like it a horrendeous task, but it is just something that is on my mind almost all the time. It's not hard, it's just daily.

The interesting thing is that when people make these comments to me I find myself shrinking a little and feeling like I should justify my decision to them. Someone today was asking me how things were going. She had heard that we were homeschooling. It became increasingly clear as we continued our conversation that she thought it was a bad idea. She kept asking questions that between the lines seemed to say "Oh ya...well, what are you going to do about this, or that" as if she were to soon discover that I hadn't thought of that and would suddenly, with alarm, shout, "What have I done?! I never thought of that?!" Her final clincher was 'how's your French?' I smiled and told her it was quite terrible, but that a French tutor can work wonders. What I really wanted to say was 'if your child were only half as bright as mine you would see that this really isn't a problem'. LOL

See what I mean about adult peer pressure?! Why do I even care?! Truthfully, I don't, but there is still this high school girl inside that squirms slightly when people seem to look down their nose at me. I only squirm for a moment though. I quit worrying long ago about standing alone on some issues. I suppose if they're comfortable leaving their kid in a class where the teacher uses profanity, belittles and ridicules and uses physical force with kids, well, then we're both happy! They can stay...and we're most certainly out of there! I just feel really sorry for those children whose spirits are crushed and who are essentially being told that it's acceptable for a teacher to act that way towards them. It isn't okay...but I guess I can't change the world. All I can do is make sure my kid's grow up in a safe, secure and happy environment so that they can become all they can be.

Men are afraid to rock the boat in which they hope to drift safely through life's currents, when, actually, the boat is stuck on a sandbar. They would be better off to rock the boat and try to shake it loose, or, better still, jump in the water and swim for the shore.-- Thomas Szasz

Friday, 18 January 2008

A boy and his dogs....

Just warms your heart, doesn't it?!

Peirce just loves to have Chico sleep on his bed. The other dog is his webkinz pet, Nova. Nova is named after my brother's dog that is about 1000 times this Nova's size.

I'm just sitting in a hotel room trying to be quiet. We're in Edmonton. Allen had to go do some appointments in Drayton Valley so he dropped us off at the hotel and the kids and I went out to eat and then swam. Now I'm enjoying a little quiet time on the computer and still should have plenty of time to get 100 or so pages in with my latest book before Allen gets back! We came to Edmonton for the PFS 2008 Kick Off Meetings. Looking forward to all the fun!

Thursday, 17 January 2008


We felt like we were right in style this month with this book selection. White Out is by Ken Follett. Oprah also chose one of his books for her book club this month, as did Charles Adler!

I have read a few of Ken Follett's books and have really enjoyed them. I can remember where I was reading the others I've read because they were so gripping I couldn't go do anything else until I got through the book! For one of the books we were in Arizona. For another one I read we were in Banff. Don't pick up a Ken Follett book is you feel like you should be spending some time on sightseeing while you're on a vacation. You can't sightsee and get through the book at the same time.

While I did enjoy this book, I didn't think it was quite as gripping as the others I've read. I think this book would make a great movie. It's about a robbery that takes place at research company. The kicker is that the person who sets up the heist is the son of the man that owns the company. The family is together for Christmas while the son pulls off (and foils up)the heist. The family is an interesting group of dysfunctional people that have mostly remained true to each other (well, they stick together even though they're NOT true to each other). Ken Follett does a great job of telling the story from all the perspectives of the people in the book and has a way of ending the chapters at crucial moments so that you cannot put the book down.

I'd recommend this well as any others by Ken Follett. I think I'm going to read Pillars of the Earth again and then read the sequel that he just put out: World Without End.

We had a great discussion about this book tonight. I just love book club. I love reading books. I love discussing books. And I love the women in my book club that come over and discuss the books with me!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Christmas $$

For Christmas our kids each got $20 from my Grandpa Jensen. Jill decided to put hers in the bank. Peirce asked if we could stop at Toys R Us on our way home from gymnastics to spend his money. What a tough decision that is! After much deliberation he finally settled on a puppy playdough set. He's played with it for hours today! He's also drawn pictures of it. This is a picture of him playing with it. I asked him to write THANK YOU on it so that we could send it to Grandpa. What a cute kid he is!

Lovin' Reading!!

I'm starting to see some real great benefits in this homeschooling lifestyle we're leading. One thing for sure is that Jill and Peirce and I all seem to be doing a lot more reading. I'm thrilled with Peirce's progress. He and I have been doing a program that teaches kids to read using the Book of Mormon. At first he'd whine and fool around and do whatever he could to get out of doing it - but now he's realized it's a snap and knows that if he doesn't fool around it's finished quite quickly. He's also been playing some great games like Starfall and Reading Heroes. They're both great places for learning to read!

Jill has been writing about books she's read on her blog. It's worth checking out! Jill just wrote about The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (by Kate DiCamillo...the same author that wrote WinnDixie!). We're reading that for the parent-child book club at the library. I'm not quite finished but I've decided I'm going to start over and read it out loud with Peirce. I think it's one of those books that is going to become a classic. You should check it out!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

We Get Our Way Again....

Well, we sort of get our way again.

Tonight was the School Council meeting at our school. The big item on the agenda was that someone from the board was going to attend to talk to us about putting another program into our school. The Chinese Mandarin program has apparently outgrown its school and needs a bigger home - and so the suggestion was made that they come to Highwood. We spread the word around and got a pretty good crowd. There were some there ready to fight to keep Highwood and welcomed another group there if that would help their cause. There were others who figured our program won't match the growth of the Mandarin program so just move us to King George now and get it over with. We were all ready for a big debate - and then the representative from CBE stood and said they've decided to put the program into King George school and they will work on designating new communities to Highwood so that our program grows.

Man!! We didn't even have to have a big debate! I'm starting to believe that when CBE says they listen to parent feedback, that they really do! Imagine?!!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Social Studies and Science - Check!

Well, last week, after a couple of trip ups, we got ourselves registered as homeschoolers. We are registered with CBE....something if you told me 5 years ago that I'd do I would have laughed in your face!! They've really re-vamped their approach and their program and it fits us quite well.

The most exciting thing for me is that they have a blended program where they will take charge of a subject, if you'd like. So we decided to enroll in Science and Social Studies. On Mondays Jill will go to class for four hours (two hours for each subject) and I don't have to worry a thing about teaching those two subjects anymore. She went today...and there was another Grade Four boy and her, and the teacher! (Shhhh!! Don't say anything! If the word gets out everyone will be flocking to that program!)
Now we just are focusing on Language Arts and Math...which is great! I love Language Arts, and Math is a bit of a no-brainer....quite sequential and straight forward. I feel such a sense of relief with this!

This just might work out after all.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Serendipitous Decisions

I have been thinking today about some of my more serendipitous decisions.

The first was who I married. I listened to all those young women's lessons and heard them say how important marriages choices are, but not until I'd been married for a few years and compared my life and marriage to some others that I swiped my brow and gave a 'phew!' I lucked out there!

Another of those serendipitous decisions is the career Allen has chosen and the work I'm involved with. I'm so grateful for the freedom we have with our careers.

Today Allen was awarded the watch at our baseshop kick off meeting. They said lots of nice things about us and all morning I felt as though my heart would burst. One reason was because I'm just so proud of Allen. The other reason is I just feel so much gratitude for the choices he's made. He works hard and though there have been plenty of challenges along the way, I sure wouldn't trade any of it. We are surrounded by caring, inspiring, kind, smart, hard-working people in PFS. Allen's decisions to work hard bring amazing bounty. I'm particularly amazed at how Allen can make big chunks of money in short periods of time. Since losing Destiny we've been extremely blessed fincially. I can't say things have just fallen into our laps - but at times they certainly have, and the rest of the time he's just plain worked hard. I am so grateful that he has the flexibility to be able to take the time when we've needed it, and not had to worry about hurrying back to work.

I'm also amazed at the luck I've had to be able to work from home. I almost want to put quotations around the word luck in that sentence because in many ways it isn't luck. There are a lot of people who think they want a job like mine where they work from home, but not too many that really want to do the work that is required as it is a lot of work. I am often surprised at the complaints I hear about money from people. I will talk to them about what I do and the excuses as to why it wouldn't work quickly follow. I just shrug. To me the benefits far outweigh the costs. If I went to work somewhere I wouldn't have been able to even consider allowing Jill to leave school and be homeschooled the next few months. For Jill, I think this time is vital to her good emotional health. We're so lucky that we can do it.

Another serendipitous decision has been the one to study and pray daily. The time in daily reflection and communion with God have been the perfect ally in the dark days following Destiny's death. These habits have helped me have the storage of comfort I needed to draw on even when I felt alone. I've always thought the Footsteps poem was a little hackneyed - but now it seems to describe the time following November 6 more appropriately than anything could.

I don't know how I got so lucky...but I'm sure grateful.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Worth Repeating!

Okay, I know this isn't the most charming picture...but Jill just thought it was so funny that she had to take a picture.

I'm still in love with The Big Cook. Today Jill and I went grocery shopping. We got home at 2:00 and by 3:30 I had put together 8 meals, had them in the freezer and had the kitchen cleaned up and today's dinner in the oven. Can you believe that??!!

I put the goggles on because I had to cut a lot of onions for the meals I put in the freezer today...worked like a charm!!

I feel like my life is busy beyond reasonable lately - but this Big Cook cookbook is a god-send! It's easy and it's fast and we have great meals on hand!! I love it!

Monday, 7 January 2008


We've been doing the Learn to Read Using the Book of Mormon with Peirce. He is really catching on quickly. I was excited to see today that he had written something on my grocery list on the fridge - marshamllows! I love it when kids start doing this! By george, I think we have a reader on our hands!

Science Sure Can Be Fun!

Today was the last day before Peirce is back to the hard knock life of kindergarten so we decided it was time for an adventure. We decided to spend the day at the Science Center. It was a great day to be there as we practically had the place to ourselves!

We started off in the Creative Kids Museum where Peirce got a whole new perspective on telescopes and shapes and colors.

They have a theatre there where the kids can do a performance. There's even a sound system. At first we just played around. This is Jill doing some filming.

Peirce loved setting up the stage and being in charge of costumes for anyone that came along.

Then Jill found a script! She got a great idea that they should do a real performance so they rounded up as many kids as they could talk into it and performed The Three Little Pigs.

These are two jubilant pigs in a puppet theatre which made do for a brick house - with a seemingly very timid big bad wolf. It was cute to hear her say her line of 'little pig little pig let me in' in her cute little girl voice. :0)

Jill is a TRUE creative kid! This is some lovely abstract sculpture she created.

A lot of the exhibits had to do with sound. Jill played Book of Mormon stories on this life-size piano. Peirce discovered that his feet really have an ear for music. By the time we finished in that exhibit area we were a trio of musical sensations. :)

They had a bunch of booths with clothes and music from different decades. Peirce was a big fan of the 50's!

An electronic theremin! This is the second time we've run into one of cool!

Next was the exhibit called 'Puzzling Things'. Jill is demonstrating that it takes a LOT of concentration to get those magnets to do what you'd like them to do.

Peirce really loved shooting the balls into a big maze on the wall. This appears to be a huge gathering place for little boys (well, and a few dad's too)

Jill is tapping on the hose and Peirce tries to identify which ear the sound is going to (or which tube she tapped). Recently we've wondered if Peirce is losing his hearing. After this exhibit we're sorry to say that the conclusion has to be that he usually just doesn't listen...because he can hear things just fine when it is a game!
Love these huge nail beds! Peirce could have stayed here forever I think. It just feels so cool to make imprints with those nails!

This is a computer game about farming basics and is hosted by an animated character–Rocket the Rooster. Jill was Rocket’s assistant and helped him prepare the fields, plant the seeds, feed the grain, protect the crop and grow it, and then harvest the grain.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

The Friend

We've recently started reading The Friend during lunch time. Peirce is a pretty slow eater and if everyone eats and then gets up and gets on with the day he quits eating too - and it's usually too soon for him to quit and it means he doesn't eat enough. I've started reading The Friend out loud to him and it's been great! We have some interesting gospel discussions - and he is getting more food in him too - which is a good thing.

This week we've read The Holy Ghost is Real , at his request, almost every day (he's a REAL repetition kid still!)

Well, last night the girl that is staying with us came to me and told me that Peirce had gone into her room and eaten her chocolate orange. She wasn't upset about the orange being eaten (as a matter of fact she said it isn't even really something she loves) but she thought I'd want to know because I've talked to Peirce a lot about not going into our guest's rooms when they're not there. So I approached him quietly and asked if he had perhaps taken the chocolate. He told me he had and so I asked him to go apologize. When he came back to me he had big tears in his eyes and we talked about how he felt. He said that he really felt the spirit and it was hard for him not to cry. I was so happy that he recognized that!! We had a little discussion about how the spirit tells us when we're doing something right and how sometimes when I feel the spirit I feel like crying too. He gave me a big long hug and I told him how proud I was of him for choosing the right.

I don't think we would have had this experience quite the same if we hadn't read that story this week. I just love it when you can see the things we're trying to teach our kids really make an impression!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Dawn totally recommends...The Big Cook!

Well, I'm not sure I can give this the ultimate pinacle title of favorite present - but it's one that I think is really going to have an impact on my life! I love it!

It's a cookbook called The Big Cook.

They boast that you can prepare 200 meals in one day....and I believe them! I tried Once a Month cooking for a while - but it totally wore me out. It's a LOT of work. However, the approach they've taken is so much easier! The other night I put together six meals in 90 minutes. We've eaten a couple so far and my family has LOVED them. I'm so thrilled about this. I think it's going to change my life! I totally recommend it.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Happy New Year!

So much to blog little time....

I should write all about Christmas and New Year's and the fun we've had....for now, suffice it to say, it was great. Maybe I'll add some posts on that later.

Our newest venture is homeschooling!

Jill has not been happy at school this year at all. To sum it up, her teacher's style just doesn't match with some things she needs: kindness, encouragement, etc....little things like that. We've gone to the principal a couple times with our concerns and while I do believe efforts are being made to correct the situation, in the meantime we've decided we'll finish out the year on our own.

...and it's been going quite well! Jill is really eager to learn and is eager to get going on everything. We posted a chart on the fridge to keep track of what we need to do - and she basically takes care of keeping on track. I can see where people who homeschool say that they have much more peace in their lives...because we've sure sensed that. Time will tell if we continue to love it over the long term. I have really loved how we seem to have more time for things that are important to us - but just got squeezed out before - things like piano lessons and practising, scripture study, and just plain old time to sit and talk. I can see where things have just nicely been put into place to make this venture all a little easier. God's tender mercies are evident in our lives!