Thursday, January 31, 2008

Madison's Birthday

We started the festivities with a girls trip to Red Robin, where Madison enjoyed her complimentary hot fudge sundae. Ryan was in school all day so he had to miss it. I think we have officially become locals, because half the people in the restaurant were friends of ours. Seriously, there were about ten tables surrounding ours and four of them had close friends and two others had wave-able people.

The next day was the official extended family birthday dinner aka all the Caress side. Madison chose the menu: french dip sandwiches, oven roasted potatoes, ceasar salad, and a fruit tray with mango, grapes, blueberries, kiwi, fresh pineapple, and blackberries. For appetizer: hot cheetos, chips & salsa. For dessert: peanut butter blossoms (peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss) and brownies (that was the "birthday cake.") She wanted Limeade (Brooke Jensen's famously addictive recipe) so I had to call around and eventually call Brooke (welcome to blogging by the way and thank you -it was delicious) for the recipe. She got cute clothes, a CD, and her favorite: cash.

One tradition we have at Caress parties is to fill out a questionnaire about the person. This is a fun way to see how well you know the person and to get to know them better. Madison came up with her own questions.

All About Madison (the answers are in parenthesis)

What is Madison’s favorite color? (green)

What is Madison’s favorite game to play at recess? (handball)

What is the name of Madison’s blog? (Madison's Memories)

What is Madison’s favorite restaurant? (Souplantation)

How many states has Madison been to? Which one was her favorite? (19; Montana)

What job (that pays money) does Madison want to have when she grows up and where does she want to go to college? (chef; Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park , NY)

What is the name of Madison’s soccer team? (Tikibirds)

What is Madison’s favorite Disney character? (Tinkerbell)

What do you like best about Madison? (this was just pure gushing as everyone's answer was different)

On her actual birthday, I picked her up during her lunch hour and we went to her new favorite place: Panera. She got her favorite: Turkey Bravo with Broccoli Cheese Soup. Then back to school. This is a little tradition we started last year. I figure taking her to lunch in the middle of the school day isn't too indulgent when it is only once a year.

Then on Friday, we had the party. Madison invited four of her closest friends to a mall hang-out session. We had Amanda, Kiki, Breana, and Katy with us. First, we picked them all up and drove to the mall. We ate dinner at Pat & Oscar's. The very kind and very generous manager kept those breadsticks coming. They did not eat too much salad, pasta or pizza; but boy can they eat breadsticks. Luckily we sat in a little corner so as not to disturb the other patrons. They had a "krumping" contest. They were pretty impressive.

Next we hit the stores: Bath & Body Works (where we got some party favors) and Limited Too (where they sales girl tried to get me to buy party favors - I don't think so) and of course the essential Claire's (we bought the best friends necklaces for the party favor so all five can wear matching necklaces to school.)

Then we hit the photo booth. Now I have always been a big photo booth fan. I seemingly have passed this gene to my daughters because there is nothing they like more than the photo booth. So for the last party favor they each took a set of pictures with Madison. Well then they could not stop, so they took a few more sets. Needless to say, if you were there that night, good luck getting a chance at the photo booth. We dominated the machine for about 40 minutes. Off to Cold Stone where they ruined every scoop with gummy bears (that is my own editorializing.) It was fun. No clean up, very little planning, small: everything a good party should be and of course: they all loved it.

On Saturday, we took out both older girls to Ruth Chris Steak House. (Thank you Lowells for watching the little ones.) We had gotten $200 in gift certificates during Christmas so we thought it would be nice to take them out for their birthdays (McK's was a little late but she is so sweet about knowing how busy we are in Dec.) So we ordered salads and steaks and lobster. We had tons of sides, we were living large knowing that we had our gift cards to cover the meal. We got two desserts. The check came and the server told us it was covered. No charge. The bill came to $250 and the general manager took care of the whole check. So not only was the food great, but then, it tasted even better. AND we still have our $200 for a later use. It was a nice surprise. (Ryan knew the GM and he had come to greet us and talked a little business with Ryan. After, as we were leaving, Ryan said "thanks, you didn't have to do that." the GM said "I know, I wanted too." What a total sweetheart of a guy.)

Happy Birthday Madison. We love you and are so proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. I just don't know how we are going to top that next year. But your gratitude, constantly saying thank you to everything, never throwing a fit when you don't get what you want, and complete lack of greediness, makes us want to be generous with you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

FHE: Gordon B. Hinckley

For Family Home Evening this week, we talked about some of the things we will remember about President Hinckley. These are some of the reasons we love, respect, and admire Gordon B. Hinckley.

His testimony, his humor, his love for the youth, his love for the work, his vision, his broad knowledge of both spiritual and temporal things, his respect for the past, love of the here-and-now, and vision of the potential of the church as a whole and as individuals.
We hope President Hinckley is enjoying his reunion with his wife, parents, and other loved ones who have been waiting for him. We will miss him but will strive to make him proud of us.

Here are a few more things we love:

1. Building dozens of new temples was not just about numbers, but bringing the blessings to every member. There are 124 Temples with 12 more under construction.

From the April 1998 Conference, closing remarks:
Now, in conclusion I wish to make an announcement. As I have previously indicated, in recent months we have traveled far out among the membership of the Church. I have been with many who have very little of this world's goods. But they have in their hearts a great burning faith concerning this latter-day work. They love th
e Church. They love the gospel. They love the Lord and want to do His will. They are paying their tithing, modest as it is. They make tremendous sacrifices to visit the temples. They travel for days at a time in cheap buses and on old boats. They save their money and do without to make it all possible.

They need nearby temples--small, beautiful, serviceable temples.

Accordingly, I take this opportunity to announce to the entire Church a program to construct some 30 smaller temples immediately. They will be in Europe, in Asia, in Australia and Fiji, in Mexico and Central and South America and Africa, as well as in the United States and Canada. They will have all the necessary facilities to provide the ordinances of the Lord's house.

This will be a tremendous undertaking. Nothing even approaching it has ever been tried before. These will be in addition to the 17 buildings now going forward in England; Spain; Ecuador; Bolivia; the Dominican Republic; Brazil; Colombia; Billings, Montana; Houston, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; White Plains, New York; and Albuquerque, New Mexico; and the smaller temples in Anchorage, Alaska; Monticello, Utah; and Colonia Juárez, Mexico. This will make a total of 47 new temples in addition to the 51 now in operation. I think we had better add 2 more to make it an even 100 by the end of this century, being 2,000 years "since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh" (D&C 20:1). In this program we are moving on a scale the like of which we have never seen before.

2. He not only wanted every member to improve their lives, he made it happen by developing the perpetual education fund. This blesses lives in a way that a hand out could not, because it invests in the individual and allows those blessings to influence their family, community and nation.

From April 2001 Conference:
"Where there is widespread poverty among our people, we must do all we can to help them to lift themselves, to establish their lives upon a foundation of self-reliance that can come of training. Education is the key to opportunity."

3. He looked to the needs of the future while respecting the past. He saw that we needed more gathering places in SLC, so he took the opportunity to refurbish the Tabernacle. He restored, redesigned, and added to all of the church history sites. He was a great storyteller of our pioneer heritage.

Oct 1999 Conference, Last session:
As today we close the doors of this Tabernacle and look forward to opening the doors of the new Conference Center next April, we do so with love, with appreciation, with respect, with reverence--really with affection--for this building and for those who have gone before us, who built so well, and whose handiwork has served so long.

A building develops a personality of its own. The Spirit of the Lord has been in this structure. It is sacred unto us. We hope, we anticipate, we pray that the new structure will likewise radiate the same spirit.

4. He was such an optimist, but not naive. He preach love for all in spite of differences, but to not sink to the level of those who would drag us down.

From the Oct. 2001 Sunday Morning conference session:
Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).

Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.

5. He wanted us to be strong educated women:

From the Sept. 2007 New Era:
In this day and time, a girl needs an education. She needs the means and skills by which to earn a living should she find herself in a situation where it becomes necessary to do so.

The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. I am grateful that women today are afforded the same opportunity to study for science, for the professions, and for every other facet of human knowledge. You are as entitled as are men to the Spirit of Christ, which enlightens every man and woman who comes into the world (see D&C 84:46).

You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part. Set your priorities in terms of marriage and family, but also pursue educational programs which will lead to satisfying work and productive employment in case you do not marry, or to a sense of security and fulfillment in the event you do marry. Education will increase your appreciation and refine your talent.

6. When he issued the challenge to Read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, I wanted to be a part of it as a family, but we were not reading as a family at that point. I guess I kept thinking that the girls were too young and we would start family scripture reading when they were older. When he issued the challenge, we decided to do it. By reading two-to-three chapters a day (pretty challenging for a second and fourth grader,) we were able to finish just days ahead of the new year. Because we had that habit, we just kept on reading (I chose to coordinate with the Sunday School curriculum.) So we read the Old Testament (not all, but 365 days worth,) the New Testament, and this year we are reading the Book of Mormon. We have a great habit and we are now reading the way I had always hoped. Thanks to following the prophet on that one challenge, we continue to be blessed. I know that if we hadn't followed President Hinckley, we would either not be reading or it would be sporadic. This was one principle that following his counsel made ALL the difference for us.

Some of the many things he accomplished as President of the Church:


12 March - Set apart as 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

23 September - Read "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" at general Relief Society meeting

20 December - Announced new logo design for the name of the Church


7 April - Interviewed by Mike Wallace of CBS’s 60 Minutes

26 May - Dedicated Hong Kong China Temple

13 October - Dedicated Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple (We were there.)


4–5 October - Announced plans to begin building smaller temples around the world


8 September - Appeared on CNN's Larry King Live


24 May - Linked by satellite broadcast between Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., officially launched FamilySearch™ Internet Genealogy Service

24 December - Interviewed on Larry King Live


22 February - His book Standing for Something: Ten Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes went on sale

1–2 April - "Special Witnesses of Christ”, a video production of the testimonies of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was shown between sessions of general conference

6 April - Dedicated Palmyra New York Temple; an estimated 1.3 million members participated in the dedication in stake centers in six time zones (We attended)

21 June - Announced that the two-year Ricks College will begin phasing into a four-year institution to be known as Brigham Young University–Idaho

1 October - Dedicated Boston Massachusetts Temple, marking the fulfillment of President Hinckley’s goal to have 100 operating temples by the end of the 20th century

8-Oct - During Sunday morning session of general conference, dedicated 21,000-seat Conference Center as a gathering place for members


13 January - Named one of the most admired men in the world for the second consecutive year by an annual survey of Americans -- included on the list were Pope John Paul II, President Bill Clinton, Gen. Colin Powell and President-elect George W. Bush

31-Mar - Announced Perpetual Education Fund during priesthood session of general conference

14 September - Appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and delivered message of hope and comfort to citizens of the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks


7-Feb - Participated in Olympic torch relay

27-Jun - Dedicated rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple (We attend, then went to Nauvoo a week later.)


14-Sep - Dedicated Redlands California Temple (We attended this open house)


6-Apr - President Hinckley's wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, passed away at age 92

23-Jun - Was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in the White House


28 August - Dedicated the Newport Beach California Temple (We attended this open house)

23 December - Conducted and spoke at a Church wide meeting from the Joseph Smith birthplace in Sharon, Vermont. It culminated a year of activities celebrating the prophet’s 100th birthday


31 March - Saturday afternoon session of the 177th Annual General Conference is held in the newly renovated Tabernacle

26 June - Announced Church membership has surpassed 13-million

26 June - Announced one-millionth missionary since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We Are The Champions . . .

Disclaimer: The following is the gushing of an EXTREMELY proud parent. If it is too much for you, feel free to skip.

McKayla's team did it. Through the last few weeks, we have been in playoffs. The Breakers were 8-1-1 for the season and 5-0 in the playoffs. She plays left defender in the first quarter, goalie in second and third, and then sits out in the fourth quarter. That is pretty much the pattern that the coach discovered works best.

Last week, we played the Beat. Their record was 9-0-1 (their only tie was when we played them.) We won that semi-final game 6-3 and they went to the losers bracket. We met them again in the finals. We knew we could beat them because we won pretty handily in the semi-final game. In order to win first place, we either had to win the game or, if they won, we would have to turn around and play them again.

As the game started, it was obvious that the Beat had learned a few things about playing us. They were defending us aggressively and we went through the first half with a 0-0 score. McKayla was awesome, blocking everything that came near her. We finally got a score in the third quarter. Then McKayla blocked one that the ref called a goal. Even the other team admitted it was a very bad call. But what can you do. Tied up again. She blocked a few more. The last quarter, we scored again with four minutes to go and then just kept the ball on the offensive side of the field for the rest of the game.

When that whistle blew, we all went nuts. It was way too close. We did the "tunnel of love" as we like to call it. One of the parents brought a boom box and played "We Are the Champions." We jumped and hugged and passed out treats while the ref went to go get the trophies. The coaches told the girls that they needed to thank McKayla for winning that game. They told them that her saves in the goal is what really won that game. Now I am not one to start crying on the soccer field, but I was crying out of pride for my baby. Even Ryan was tearing up.

The trophies were passed out and the coaches had wonderful words of praise for each girl. They complemented the team for playing so well as a team. When they gave McK her trophy, once again they gushed about what a great goalie she was and how she saved the game. This time everyone saw us crying and the whole group gave her a special cheer. (We have great players and they all got a lot of support from the parents and each other.)

That was honestly one of the greatest moments as a parent I have ever had. Not because it fed my ego, but I was so touched how appreciated she was. Every parent sees wonderful things in their own child, but to have others acknowledge it was really awesome. I am starting to cry again just writing this. She was the MVP of the number one team in the final!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

أنا أحتاج حديد

As soon as I got back from our big trip, I started getting these really bad headaches and I was exhausted. I figured it was because of traveling and the stress of trying to get everyone back into the swing of things while I worked on laundry and mail. I popped a few pain relievers over the next couple of days and did not have much relief. I normally never get headaches unless I am sleep deprived (so I take a nap) or dehydrated (so I drink water) or hungry (so I eat.) I tried sleeping and drinking water since I knew hunger was not the issue and nothing was working. The headaches were still there. So after a week, I started getting a little desperate: I told Ryan. Monday night I sat down with him and told him about my headaches and how worried I was because I could not figure out the problem or the solution. I really have no desire to die of a brain tumor, but that crossed my mind because I am a naturally paranoid person. He told me I should probably go to the doctor. So Tuesday morning I was praying to figure out what I needed to do, should I go to the doctor or Google it or just keep sleeping and drinking water? I pleaded that I would know what I should do.

Later that day I was picking up Ryan's dry cleaning from the usual place, from the usual Muslim woman that I have seen every other week for the past two years. We have never had a conversation beyond what I was dropping off, when I could pick it up, and the cost. BUT, today she looked me in the eyes and said "I have been getting headaches lately and I was exhausted so I went to the doctor and he told me I was anemic. So I got a transfusion and have to take iron everyday and now I'm fine."

I have had anemia since McK was born and I am usually really good about taking my iron. For some reason, I stopped and I have not been taking it for probably a year. I had not really felt any different up until last week. I went home and took my iron (checking that it hadn't expired yet) and literally within a half-hour my headache was gone. I have taken my iron the last two mornings and still no headaches and lots of energy.

I have had prayers answered many ways. But never like that. Thank goodness for righteous people who follow the Spirit regardless of their background or religion. (the title of this post is "I need iron" in Arabic.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Disney Family Reunion: The Cruise

The cruise was fun and relaxing. This is Ryan and I on Castaway Cay (pronounce "key") which is the Disney private island. This was the perfect way to finish up after five days in the Disney parks that was also fun, but quite exhausting.

We took a bus from the resort to the port. Here we are walking through the mouse entrance. The whole family was in five cabins that slept five all right next to each other on the top deck, so it was quite cozy. We all had balconies next to each other and it was fun to step outside and talk to each other (although my niece Robin for some reason kept throwing french fries on ours (she said it was to wake us up but I'm not sure if any fry, hitting any window, would ever do that.)

They had great pools and kid centers. One day, all the kids went to their centers and Ryan and I had some relaxing time in the adult only section of the ship-very quiet and relaxing. The girls are shown here in the Mickey pool, taking a break from the waterslide.

The food was great and plentiful. 24 hour buffets, a grill, pizzeria, room service, and of course, the restaurants. On Castaway Cay, they had a big BBQ, shown here with my nephew Mitchell. Ryan's goal was to gain 15 pounds. Fortunately for him, he did not achieve this, but that does not mean he did not try.

One night they had a pirate party. Even Ryan wore something on his head (this is quite significant because Ryan does not believe in adults dressing up - yes he is a party pooper, but we still love him.) That night on the top pool deck they had a pirate party with all the characters swinging around the ship, while Captain Hook and his cronies tried to take over the ship. Of course Mickey saved us all. It was fun to see all the characters dressed as pirates. They had a fireworks show to celebrate (the only cruise ship that has fireworks in the middle of the ocean.) Then they had the buffet. All over the ship they had food: the appetizer tables, main dish tables, salad & fruit and here is the dessert (that is a ship made of cake and chocolate.) They showed the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which was kind of cool to watch. At night in the fog. In the Caribbean. It was cool.

We went to Nassau and then Castaway Cay. The rest of these pictures are from that beach. Here is my niece Kathleen doing her super model walk as my sister-in-law Maggie (and her mother) laughs at her. We had a great day on the beach with temperatures in the eighties-perfect beach weather and crystal clear, calm waters. We all went snorkeling. We explored a sunken ship with tons of tropical fish (hey-its Disney-why wouldn't you expect perfection?-and yes the fish were real.) Everyone who had their scuba certification went diving, some went parasailing and jet skiing. Everyone had fun on the beach and swimming in the water.

In the background of this pic of McK and my sister Karen IS, INDEED, the FLYING DUTCHMAN from the Pirates movies. It was amazing to see the details. Not an inch of it was not carved with extraordinary aquatic and skeletonial detail (that is probably not a word, but it works.)

We loved every minute. We probably needed more time. But life was calling. We left, ready to go, but not ready to say goodbye to all the family members. My mom's goal in taking this trip was to create memories that would keep us all close. The goal was achieved.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Disney Family Reunion: The Parks

The purpose of this trip was to celebrate what would have been my parent's 50th anniversary. (My dad died just over four years ago.) My mom also turned seventy and wanted to have all her children and grandchildren with her. There were twenty five of us (including my sister Karen's mother-in-law who my children call Grandma Ulla.) Since my mom was on a mission for our church until last August, she asked me to do all the planning. I am NOT cut out to be a travel agent. Keeping everyone happy and hoping everything goes smoothly for that big of a group was stressful. But worth it. It was a wonderful trip. This is my sister Karen and nieces Megan and Shannen with three of my girls. They are wearing the t-shirts that my brother John made. It features a tree with all family members listed in family groups. The best part of the trip was seeing all the cousins play and giggle and hang out together. So, as you see by my sidebar, I am attempting to put together an ambitious book. This post will be a quick summary. And yes, there are even a few pictures of me thanks to Ryan forcing me to be in some pictures and my siblings snapping away.

We went to Magic Kingdom. They have a ride based on Aladdin and the Magic Carpet ride (similar to Dumbo) that Maya just loved. This is the group coming off the Autopia. The castle at night was decorated with the thinnest strings of lights. My mom called it the Dr. Zhivago castle. I though it looked like it had been dusted with powdered sugar. My girls thought they had used real frosting on it. It was truly breath-taking and this photo does not do it justice.

We went to Animal Kingdom. This is Expedition Everest in the background. It is the newest and best coaster I have ever been on. Mck and Mad thought it was the best ride in all the parks (I agree.) You go along a pretty good coaster with Yeti sounds. Then the track stops. It is all torn up. You fall backwards, but while you were up, the track changed so you go down a different way and it is thrilling and unknown 'cause you can't see the track in front. Then Yeti tears up the track again (the track changes) and you go forward through some really cool drops and turns until the Yeti is after you. (By the way, this Yeti is much, much better than the Abominable Snowman in the Matterhorn.) It is really cool.

We went to Hollywood Studios (it used to be called MGM, but they changed the name the day we got there.) They still had the Christmas decorations if you could not tell. We loved their Tower of Terror (better than ours.) They had Fantasmic (we love ours better, but they do have a stadium with seats!)

We went to Epcot. This is our group in the Japan pavilion. Don't worry about the wheelchair (my sister-in-law has a sports injury-she is a cheerleading coach and her ankles were killing her after three days of parks. They rented her the wheel chair and after she went back to the resort, the kids had fun pushing each other.) We loved all the countries and eating snacks at each one. Ryan had a real thing for the German Bratwursts.

Monday, January 14, 2008

We are back home.

We are back. I am back. With a pile of laundry, mail, messages, homework and a soccer playoff game tonight. I will blog complete sentences within the next few days: here are some pictures as a tease.

Here is the Magic Kingdom. We were at Disneyworld for four days before the cruise.

Here are the girls at the Beach Blanket Buffet. This was the welcome aboard meal as everyone is getting on the ship.

One night they had a Pirate Themed Night (just have Ammon slowly breathe in and out - sorry my friend's son is a pirate nut and in everything we did and saw and ate that had a pirate theme, we thought of him) so we took pictures with Minnie before we donned our pirate gear.

We got home at about 2 am. I told everyone: just go to bed and when you wake up, we will decide whether you will go to school. McK and Mad were only an hour late. Ryan was up and out at 8:00. I think I am the only one who really wished everyone would sleep until noon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bee Mills

Bee Mills is an amazing woman. She is 87 years old and lives in Spanish Fork, Utah. She was in my ward growing up and was my nursery leader.

One of the reasons the children in the nursery loved her so much is that she was only a little taller than us. Bee Mills is a dwarf. In every step of her life, she was always told she could not or would not. She would not marry, she could not bear children, she would not live past 40, she would not be able to raise them, the boys would never walk, they would never do well academically, etc. She proved all of them wrong. She did marry, but the man was an alcoholic and was physically abusive. He beat her up once when she was pregnant and that is when she left him and divorced. Being a dwarf meant that the chances of her getting and remaining pregnant were slim. When they discovered she was pregnant, the doctors painted hopeless pictures for her.

The had two boys named Jayme and Jerry. They told her of all the damage they had, both physically and mentally. They told her they would never walk. She enrolled them in dance class. They were able to learn how to walk and even though they needed braces and other aids, they both eventually were able to overcome it and walk normally. They told her they would always be behind in school. She did not care: she exposed them to music, languages, culture. She was living on church welfare because she felt strongly that she needed to take care them - that no one else would or could give them the level of care they needed. When they started school, she went back to work.

In every aspect of their lives, she disregarded the experts and professionals and then set her expectations even higher than the average. She would come to our house to do laundry. She would always hold the callings nobody else wanted, and then performed them diligently. My father was the boys' seminary teacher. He served as their Bishop when they were ready to serve missions. Bee had decided that one would go at a time and the other would stay home and work and financially support the other and then they would switch. My dad said no, they should both serve at the same time. He would find the people to contribute.

Did I mention that not everyone liked her? She had a speech impediment, as if the other problems were not enough. It was hard to understand her at times. She looks different, talks different, walks different, and is the most stubborn woman. It think my parents and one other couple were the only ones who could ever talk her into anything. And that was mainly because they were her Bishops and she listened out of obedience.

Both sons served missions and graduated from college, married and have large families. One works in the computer industry. The other has a gift for languages and has worked all over the world in the State Department. He has adopted children from every country they have lived in (at least five countries.) Most are special needs children, some with physical handicaps. He and his wife apply the same principles that his mother used and they are all thriving. Most of the countries he has lived have been fairly remote and he has been instrumental in helping establish the church in those countries. He starts with just the simple permission to hold their own meetings in their own home and then step by step has gained permission for the recognition of the church in those countries, particularly Malawi in Africa.

Bee moved to Spanish Fork after her sons had grown. She needed a small house in a small community. She wanted to be close to a temple. Family History is her passion and she has diligently done her work and went to the temple on a regular basis. When I was at BYU, I frequently ran into her in the Provo temple.

Two summers ago, while my girls were at BYU Sports camp during the day, I took the two younger ones and decided to visit Bee. I woke up one morning and the thought came to me that I needed to visit Bee. I looked up her info in the phone book and we went over. We visited for a time and she showed me pictures of her children and grandchildren. She showed me her family history work. She loved Maya and kept on remarking on how bright and aware she was. She kept talking about how special she was. As Maya's mother, I was quite pleased. We had a nice visit and then I left.

I always send Bee a Christmas Card. I received this note from her on Feb. 14, 2008 in the mail:

Dear Lisa:
When I received this Christmas Greeting I thought Lisa will forgive me - maybe I can forgive myself. The only way I can explain my actions is I was very close to a breakdown -- physically and emotionally. [She had to move into a board and care facility because she could no longer live independently and this sent her into a depression, as a result of this she had been inactive in the church.] Your visit - especially little Maya's was the answer to prayer. She talked so strongly with her eyes. Her grandparents, Bishop and Dixie McCabe supported me often when times were tough going. I ask myself "What and how would they counsel me if I told them about my situation?" Realizing that my prayers were being answered with your visit and especially with Maya's eyes kept haunting me. I soon started making changes in my life. It didn't happen over-nite, but I'm back into church activity.
I truly know you have forgiven me--I'm trying to forgive myself. I am truly sorry for my actions BUT THANKFUL you came.
So greatful is my love for you and your family.

Bee Mills

PS. No excuses ha ha I'm only 87 years old now. I tried sending this by email, but couldn't figure it out - so I'm mailing - If at first you don't succeed, try, try again - Love Bee.

I am so glad I followed the Spirit that day. But the astounding thing is that at three years old, Maya was the answer to her prayers. I wanted to include this is in our family history so that my children know Bee and that Maya will look back and understand that even as a young child, she had gifts of the Spirit that were used to help others.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

New year . . . new layout . . . hopefully one that I won't get tired of. I just downloaded my entire 2007 postings to the BLURB site. I am half-way done editing the book. I am so excited that I will actually have a"Caress Family History for 2007" in hardcover form. I have always wanted to be very good at journaling. I have always wanted to have beautiful scrapbooks (still do.) I have always wanted to document stories and experiences and funny sayings from the kids and on and on and on. I finally figured it out: attach it to my ego. Assume hundreds of people are passionately wanting to know every detail of my life. Put it out there for the public. Get motivated by all my friends and family who truly are creative and leave me several comments that keep me motivated. Wouldn't it be nice to be the type of person who keeps a journal/family history because it is the right thing to do? Well, regardless of my motivation, I am so excited to finish my book, order it, and put it out for the family to thumb through whenever they want. Regardless of my motivation, I am thrilled to say that I did do it. Thank you to all who inspired me and encouraged me and read my ramblings. (Is this beginning to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech? Yes.) I am just so happy. Thank you all. And Happy New Year.