Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

One of these years I'm going to start a new trend for our family and send our Christmas Letters. I really do think about it, and I do try, but I rarely get it together. I've been looking through posts though, trying to get my letter done (still not finished!) but it's been fun! I thought I'd share my favorite posts of 2009:

1. I can't pick just one for January 2009. I had two great surprises in January. One was my dear friend and former companion,, and the other was when Allen bought Jill and I tickets to Stomp!

2. It's hard to believe that Jill has only been swimming competetively for a year. I think this was her second meet. Seems like forever ago!! Swim Meets and swim practise have become a mainstay in our life.

3. One great thing in 2009 was that I started a new job. This post in March marked the day that I could officially move on as all my work from 2008 was finally paid. I've really enjoyed this year with the new company I work for. The recession caused things to not quite be as lucrative as I'd hoped, but I'm still glad to have made the change. It's a great company and I'm glad to work for them.

4. In April I got to go on a fieldtrip with Peirce's class. They got to to attend COP school. It was a really great experience to attend. I love the pictures in this post. I wish school could be like this more often. The learning there seemed to be so memorable and so authentic. I loved it!

5. In May I got called as the Primary President for our ward. I can't this is a great post or anything, but being called to work in primary has been really great, and I think deserves mentioning. I've loved it so far!

6. In 2009 Peirce learned to ride a bike. It was life-changing. The funny thing was we had to work so hard to convince him to give it a shot! I had a post that I had written where I took pictures of videos of a FHE where we decided we were going to make him learn to ride (which didn't go very well) but Peirce really hated those pictures and videos so I deleted the post. After a lot of tears we talked to him about bike-riding and said we would never force him to ride his bike and that he could just learn on his own when he thought he was ready. Well, he tried and tried and tried...and he finally did it! This summer he spent a LOT of time bike-riding. It was really great. Here's one of my favorite pictures of him riding his bike.

7. In 2009 we really made great strides on our efforts to accumulate a better food storage. It's interesting because our income was not stellar at all in 2009...but through it all somehow we were able to accumulate more food storage than we've ever had. What a blessing! I've really appreciated the Provident Living co-op and our stake's Provident Pantry workshops. What a blessing!

8. In the summer we had a lot of fun! Attending a drive-in movie of Grease (the sing-along version!) was quite memorable! Good times!

9. I've wanted these lunch boxes for so long...and I still love them! The truth is, I don't mind making lunches at all. I made some 'systems' this year to help me make lunches more interesting and I think it's least I feel better about the lunches I send with my kids to school!

10. We've always talked about going away somewhere for General Conference weekend - and this year we finally did it. We went to Drumheller. Kind of seems like an odd destination of choice, but we sure had a good time there! Definitely a memorable weekend.

11. Not my favorite topic, but it can't be ignored in significant events in 2009. My dad was diagnosed with cancer in the Spring. In November the diagnosis became more dire and they determined that he had two to six weeks to live. We've had many blessings along the way, and move of all we're grateful that the predictions were wrong and he's still fighting! We're still hanging on for a miracle.

12. Visiting with family in December has been really wonderful. Also very memorable was our family's experiences, thanks to Allen's assignment, with the Pageant. It was a lot of work, a lot of memories, and we'd do it again!

So that's it. 2009 has been full of great memories and great blessings.

Oh, and here's a fun post I ran into today. 12 Oddest Stories of 2009! Enjoy!

Looking forward to 2010!!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Raising Independent Thinkers and

I've been thinking a lot about teaching, and how to bring up kids are passionate about their own reading and learning. Today while I was reading the Book of Mormon I reflected on this again. I read about Lehi's vision and all he learned from his vision. Nephi was so touched by this he wanted to have the same experience. He then goes and prays and has the same vision and is taught the meaning of it all. Right after he experiences this he goes to his father's tent and finds his brothers are fighting. He tries to help stop the fight, and ends up telling them all the great things he's learned (1 Nephi 15). It must have been quite an experience for Nephi to learn all this. He actually ends up spoon-feeding his brother by telling them everything about the dream and what it all means. Their response must have been disappointing. They said what he'd told them was hard to take, and they were even angry with him!

Why did Nephi go pray and gain understanding on his own?
And why was it his brothers just couldn't get it and wouldn't do that on their own?

It's interesting too thatright after that they get the Liahona (1 Nephi 16). It's as if the Lord was trying so hard to get them to hear him and learn from him.....he gave them something that would absolutely tell them where to go.

Gospel says:

(1 Ne 10:17) I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and
know of these things

One of the reasons Nephi was privileged to see
the things that he did is that he had a great desire to know the things of the
Lord. The Lord blesses us according to our desires (Alma 29:4). Another prophet
who was blessed with visions of heavenly glory based on his faith and desires
for righteousness was Abraham. Although raised by an idolatrous father, Abraham
desired to be a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed
great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a
greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and
desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became
a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers
(Abraham 1:2). Paul emphasized the other important component which was Abraham’s
exercise of great faith, For the promise, that he should be the heir of the
world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the
righteousness of faith (Romans 4:13). Thus, we see that faith and desire open
the heavens to those who diligently seek the Lord.

Bruce R. McConkie:
“The Holy Ghost, as Nephi expresses it in a passage
of superlative meaning and beauty, ‘is the gift of God unto all those who
diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should
manifest himself unto the children of men. For he is the same yesterday, today,
and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the
world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently
seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the
power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well
in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one
eternal round.’(1 Nephi 10:17-19.) In harmony with these words of transcendent
beauty are those of latter-day revelation that say simply to every member of the
Church: ‘God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the
unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.’ (D&C 121:26.) Such is the promise, and
the promise is sure. The sole need on the part of any individual is to comply
with the law that entitles him to receive the promised revelation.” (A New
Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 489)

I would think that just giving the information isn't the best idea. Although, the Lord did, in effect, do that by giving them the Liahona. Perhaps sometimes it is appropriate.

How do you move from that to the next level though? How do you encourage, inspire, teach them to go and learn on their own?

In Lehi's vision he sees that some of his children are eager to taste of the fruit of the tree, but others don't care to. Is it that some of us are just more apt to follow and taste the fruit for ourself? Or is there something that can be done to cause them to want to tase it? It seems clear to me that no explanations can ever replace experience.

Our Own 12 Days of Christmas Carol

12 siblings and spouses all together for once

11th hour shopping

10 days of vacation

9 pounds gained...because I

8 too much dinner

7 bags of wrapping paper

6 foot tall cousins

5 hours of driving

4 nurses a day stopping by

3 siblings in my family having fun together

2 happy children

and 1 van dead on the side of the road!!!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Hanging Out With the Dudleys and the Nobles

On Sunday we got to hang out with the Dudleys and the Nobles. Nickee is my cousin. I spent a lot of summers with her. Now she lives in Las Vegas and I don't seem to see her a lot - but it was great to visit with her and her family!

Ashley, Aunt Marvelle, Nickee and Gaylene

Taylor, Cam, Lauren and Uncle Clifford

Dillon and Jordan looking on while Gaylene marshalls everyone for dinner.

Brad being our lovely hostess.

Jordan was one tired boy!

Preston and Peirce are the same age....only a month or so apart. They became friends quickly and had a great time playing together. I especially love how Jordan's smile is just like his dads!

Merry Christmas!

I forgot to take pictures at our own house. We spent Christmas Eve at the pageant being costume assistants, make up artists, parking attendants, and donkey kickers. Good times!

Our kids were up bright and early on Christmas Day (5:30 am kind of early!) We opened presents then went back to bed for some needed rest.

Christmas at the Jensen's:

After we opened presents we headed down to Lethbridge for Christmas dinner. Everyone was there in our Jensen family!

The coveted NY jersey signed by Brian Trottier!

Dad is home now!

Christmas at the Ackroyd's

Later that day we went to Raymond and spent most of Boxing Day there. Everyone in the Ackroyd family was there: Two grandparents, six kids, six siblings, 17 grandchildren, a cousin and cousin's son, and 1 dog. Talk about a full house!

Lots of snuggling time

Movies on a big screen!

Babies to hold and cousins to play with!

Lots of food and lots of visiting

Babies for everyone to hold!
Lots of catching up to do.
Family pictures, of course!
And interesting new books to read!

A great time was had by one and all!!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

So sorry to hear, Crystal

I really love Facebook. Some people think Facebook is creepy...or that people that enjoy it have issues. I have really loved connecting with old friends though!

Recently I found a good friend of mine, Crystal. I was saddened to learn that her dad died this week.

On December 19th, 2009 Bert Jensen passed away at the Kelowna General Hospital.
Survived by his loving wife Pearldene of 60 years, daughters Jane and Crystal
(Daryl) and son Kevin and three grandchildren. He was a wonderful, loving family
man and father. A devout follower of the LDS Church. He was an avid pilot and
flew in WWII. He moved his family from the farm outside of Youngstown, AB, to
Lethbridge where he worked as a realtor before finally settling in Kelowna, BC.
It was during his time on the farm that he developed his keen eye and was a
great shot. While enjoying his retirement in Kelowna Bert played slo-pitch and
also umpired many games. He will be forever missed and remembered for his calm
and level headed disposition. There will be no service as per his request. In
lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Kelowna Diversified Industries ,
550 Fuller Avenue, Kelowna, BC in memory of Bert would be appreciated.
Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting , December 22, 2009
I always really liked Crystal's dad. My heart goes out to the Jensen family!

Our Bishop and his wife (both just a little older than me) both also just lost their fathers. I have another friend, Sandy, that also recently lost her dad:

CHARLES EVAN STEED, beloved husband of Dianne Bohnet Steed, passed away in
Raymond on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at the age of 70 years.Besides his wife,
Dianne, he is survived by his son Jim (Shonna) Steed of Raymond, his daughter
Lori (Richard) Hall of Rosemary, AB, his son Robert (Linda) Steed of Raymond,
and his daughter Sandy (Chris) Autry of Provo, UT. He is also survived by 17
grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, and a sister Lois Bourne of
Magrath.Friends may meet the family on Sunday, December 6, from 7:00 to 8:00
p.m. at the Taylor Street LDS Church, Raymond; or prior to the funeral service
at the church on Monday, December 7, 2009 from 12:00 noon to 12:45 p.m.The
Funeral Service will be held on Monday, December 7, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. at THE
400 West, Raymond, with Bishop Greg Peterson officiating. Interment to follow in
the Temple Hill Cemetery, Raymond.Southern Alberta Generations Funeral Home
I remember when it seemed like everyone I knew was going on missions, then the getting married phase, then the having babies phase. Now am I in the age where people start losing their parents? Eeesh. I don't know if I like this!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Nativity Pageant

So, Allen's spare time (and more) has been filled with Nativity Pageant for the last couple of months, and especially this week. We are acting in the Nativity Pageant as shepherds...and he runs around and puts out fires, helps with parking, security, or whatever else has to be done.

Last night he helped with putting the sheep away. Apparently they need to demand more respect from these sheep. Or maybe they just need to trust that those sheep don't need someone to tell them where to go!

His cousin, Sam, is the director for the pageant, and the professional videographer of this escapade:

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Pageant Rehearsal

This year Jill and Peirce and I are shepherds in the Nativity Pageant. Here's a shot of us as all the shepherds arrived at the stable in Bethlehem to see the baby, Jesus.

Jill really wanted to be an angel this year - but she's a little too short for the costume. Not too short to take a chance to go stand in the angels' spot though!

We have new donkeys in the pageant this year. They've used the same donkey for about 20 years, but that donkey recently died. So now we have a new donkey and her baby. It's not going that well. The baby can't stand it when it's not near the Mama, the Mama doesn't like people trying to leader her nor is she particularly fond of Mary riding her, and neither like the lights or noise. But they're cute!

Peirce and he sheep. Peirce said, "They all have names on their tags....and they all say ewwwww" on them.

No Peirce...that'd be 'ewe'!

Better be good!

Peirce got a message from Santa!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Fun Meet

Peirce had another fun meet. It's fun to see him get so much better at this! It was really a good time!
What the boy really wants is to win a ribbon though!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

I never knew.....

I never knew being a swimming parent would be like this

I never knew it would take up so much time

I never knew I'd enjoy being at the pool from 7 am - 9 pm all weekend long

I never knew I'd feel so disheartened about a timer telling my daughter to swim on the left when they meant the right

I never knew how hard it would be to get that straightened out mid-race

I never knew it would be so fun to cheer all the kids on the team on

I never knew there'd be so many good races

I never knew I'd be so glad I'm good at packing lots of food to take with us

I never knew my daughter would take off time practically every time she raced

I never knew it would be so heartbreaking to see your daughter get DQ'd

I never knew I'd enjoy visiting with other parents so much

I never knew it would be political

I never knew there was so much to learn

I never knew my 7 year old would enjoy having out watching swimming and playing with friends so much

I never knew my kids would form such great friendships with their swimming friends

I never knew those close races would give me such a flipsy stomach

I never knew I'd end up being a treasurer and spend hours volunteering and at meetings

I never knew I'd have to help with the coach evaluations and contracts

I never knew I'd appreciate coaches so much

I never knew it would be so inspiring to watch these kids compete and train

I never knew I'd get such a hoarse voice from all the cheering

I never knew I'd spend so much time driving to and from and watching practises

I never knew the coaches would be so influential in my kids

I never knew kids would make such amazing improvement from meet to meet

I never knew I'd rely so much on experienced parent swimmers

I never knew I'd form friendships with parents from other clubs

I never knew I'd see people so often that I don't know but recognize them since they're at every meet I'm at

I never knew owning a DS would be so handy

I never knew I'd want one of those big long lenses to get better pictures at meets

I never knew there'd be so many tears

I never knew there'd be so much joy

I never knew it would so great

I never knew I'd feel so proud

Jill's Meet Results from this past weekend:

100 free: seed time 1:33.13 new time: 1:23.84 (B time is 1:21.90)
400 free: seed time 6:26.41 DQd (time was 6:22:23) *Would have been a B,
but is a MQT
100 back: seed time 1:36.86 new time: 1:32.73 (B time is 1:32.60)
200 back: seed time 3:30.00 new time: 3:12.12 *B
50 breast: 51.04
100 breast: seed time 1:46.04 new time: 1:44.04 *B
200 breast: seed time 3:50.00 new time 3:44.63 (B time is 3:44.00)
100 fly: seed time 1:52.00 new time 1:32.76 *B
200 IM seed time: 3:21.99 new time 3:28.78 DQd (MQT is 3:26.90 and B is
3:22.70) Jill said she realized she was going to DQ and so he figured why push
herself on this one :0)

She also swam 2 with the preliminaries and getting into the finals she ended up swimming 12 races this weekend. WOW! What a weekend!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Two Tests Tomorrow!

We have two programs at our kid's school. One is the French program that our kids are enrolled in. The other is called TLC, or Traditional Learning Centre. It is an alternative program within the board and is apparently academically rigourous...but not reserved for elite students. They have a bunch of things that parents have to agree to - most of which make me squirm. And whenever I get into a discussion about a parent to find out more about the program I become less and less interested.

One of the things that really gives me the willies is the emphasis on daily homework. Right from kindergarten they do homework every day. I often hear parents complain in casual conversation about the homework - but whenever I say something about it they're quick to jump to the defense and say, "Oh, it's really not that big a deal."

I'm not sure why I get some different responses. It's those casual conversations that make me uncomfortable.

Yesterday when we were going into the gym I ran into a friend whose child is in the TLC program. She said to me, "Man! The buses were sure late today."

I had to stop and think....they were? Oh ya...maybe they were.

She added, "Oh ya! Totally stressed me out. My sons has two tests tomorrow you know! There isn't much time to do homework when the bus is so late."

It really took me back. Her son is in Grade two. I had to wonder...two tests? Are these tests in a doctor's office? Allergy test? What are you talking about?

Nope. She was talking about school tests. A spelling test and a math test...for her Grade Two child...that they had to study for. Seriously.

I couldn't really say anything so I just gave me best, "Oh really" and tried to sound sincere.

But my thought was that if you're hurrying your child home from his 7 hours at school, to do some homework and prep/studying for a test to ensure he does well...something is wrong!

1. I don't believe kids need homework...especially in elementary school. I think it's nice for the parents so that they know what's going on in school - but I don't buy that it helps them be more successful in school.
2. If your kid hasn't learned the stuff after being in school all day, it's too late. So what's the point of the homework? Maybe it should just be assigned to mom and dad!
3. If your kid has been in school all day - don't you think he should have a little down time to play with his/her siblings, roll on the floor, chase the cat, make a snow fort, or maybe even watch tv?? I would dare say that these days especially, kids need time to just be kids! There's too much structure and planning and hurrying.

Life's too short!! Lighten up! Let kids be kids!

Seriously. Those push push push school programs make me really uncomfortable. And the funny thing is the more I talk to parents about them, the less I like the idea. We're just really glad to be where we're at!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Concert: Teach the Children

Our school has had the most terrific Christmas concerts for the past two years...and they really are Christmas concerts!
Peirce got to play the role of Santa in the concert. The story was the 'Teach the Children' story where Santa asks someone to teach what all the symbols of Christmas mean.

Peirce's class all read their Christmas wishes. Peirce's wish was that his Papa's health would improve. Brought a tear to my eye (and apparently a few others as well!)

This video is hard to hear....but I posted it because it shows the beginning of the concert. Peirce was Santa and put an item on the "mantle: for each for each symbol of Christmas that they talked about.

Here's Peirce's class singing their song:

Quand la pere noel....

Sing for peace....

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


"A miracle is an extraordinary event caused by the power of God.
Miracles are an important element in the work of Jesus Christ. They include healings, restoring the dead to life, and resurrection. Miracles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith is necessary in order for miracles to be manifested"
(Guide to the Scriptures, 165).

Last Sunday in Primary we got talking about miracles. Since the conversation miracles have been on my mind a lot.

In Primary we were actually talking about remembering the Savior during the Sacrament. I found a great talk by Elder Holland that really helped me realize how I could do a better job of being focused during the Sacrament. He said:

  • Think about the Savior's childhood - and think about your own childhood

  • Think about the Savior's parents - and think about your own parnets

  • Think about the Savior growing up and learning - and thinking about your growing up and learning.

  • Think about miracles he did - and think about miracles in your own life

  • Think about how he taught - and think about lessons you need to teach

  • etc.

When I got to the miracles all the Senior Primary kids gave me this look like I was speaking Greek. I said to them: "What? You guys haven't seen miracles?"

We got into an interesting conversation about miracles and whether or not we have miracles today. It made me think that we need to make sure we're telling our children when we see miracles happen!

I think we had a bit of a miracle this week. We drove back from Lethbridge in the middle of the biggest snowfall we've had here in 10 years...and the roads were amazing. And when we got home there were no drifts blocking our way into our neighborhood, like so many other people in Calgary experienced. The sidewalk and roadway in front of our house was actually almost bare! At least there was enough bare space that we could park, unpack, and move the car with no problems at all. All this week I've gone to places where the roads are just terrible and people get stuck in huge piles of snow....but we haven't had any of these problems. It's a miracle!! I really think the Lord has been looking out for us this week. It's like we had a cloud of safety over us - while the clouds showered down snow everywhere else. I can't say if it was a real miracle or not...but I sure am grateful

Reminds me of the Israelites:

Ex. 40: 34-38

34 ¶ Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

36 And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:

37 But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

38 For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Good Books!

We are reading the greatest books these days!! It's funny how reading goes through phases. We sometimes travel through these dry deserts where there's nothing great to read anywhere..and then we suddenly find we're in a feast of great books! We're feasting right now. :0)

A friend introduced us to the Hank Zipzer books. They're hilarious! Peirce and I are reading Niagra Falls, Or Does It? They're by Henry Winkler...and if that isn't cool enough by itself I don't know what is! The books are laugh out loud funny. We get a good chuckle going every chapter, it seems!

Jill and I are reading Number the Stars again. We picked that book for the school book club. Can't wait to discuss it with them! I love reading books with Jill.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Not since March 1998!!

In March 1998 I was pregnant with Jill - and we had a doozie of a snow storm. The one this weekend rivals that one!! It's not that cold...but man, is there a lot of snow! Today we drove from Lethbridge back to Calgary. The highways were good...but when you get into the city streets, especially the side streets, it's a challenge! So much for our mild winter!

Here are a few pictures I borrowed from other websites! The links are noted under each picture.,%20ab/upload/

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

School Book Club

I've wanted to do this for so long...and finally have the chance!

I'm paired up with a teacher and we're doing an extra curricular club....grade 4-6 book club. It's so fun!

Today we discussed The Invention of Hugo Cabaret. It's so fun to discuss books with kids! For an activity we played, "I'm reading Hugo Cabaret and I've read about....."

B=Booth (as in toy booth)
G=gar (as in train station?)

....and so on and so on!

It was fun!