Thursday, August 30, 2012

Testimony blocks

Last time I served in Young Women's, the then president had the girls make "testimony blocks" to help them remember the 5 parts of a testimony.  I decided that it was time to revive this fun craft and the Laurels made them last night.  They had a blast decoupaging and cutting up dozens of old issues of church magazines to find the perfect pictures to remind them of what they believe.  I have to say, the blocks came out beautiful! 
My husband cut out the 4x4 blocks of wood, routed the corners and sanded them to perfection.  We (the girls) decoupaged (we used Mod Podge from Walmart) opaque gold or silver tissue paper as the first layer around the block, covering it tissue completely with the Mod Podge for a nice glossy finish.  We cut out pictures (Savior, current prophet, the prophet Joseph Smith, churches or temples, scriptures or something to remind them that they are daughters of Heavenly Father) and glued them to the block and covered with another layer or two of Mod Podge.  Voila!

You can see the old one that I had done with white tissue paper years ago.  The opaque tissue is a much better base.  Unfortunately the pictures faded after about 6 years too, but I don't know what can be done to prevent that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I tell my kids to go out and weed the garden - they go out and come back in after half an hour every day.  This is what is being done -

 weeds still growing . . .

Friday, July 13, 2012

Girls Camp!

How excited I am to be back in the Young Women's program and to go back to girls camp!  People ask me all the time how I am liking being in young womens (awkward sentence :/) and I inevitably answer "it's great".  In all honesty I can't express how wonderful it really is.  I love the girls and being a part of their lives.  I only hope I can be an influence for good in their lives.  But, back to girls camp . . . It was a weird experience this year, being there without having a real relationship with any of the girls since we have only been in for a little over a month.  I found myself as more of an observer than a part of what was going on.  But I felt like a learned a lot about the dynamic of the girls.  It was a great year with no drama or incidents - just a lot of love and fellowshipping and bonding.  I was so excited to see that!  I was able to get to know a few of the girls that I didn't know at all and feel like we established a few bonds.
We realized one night that the old gang was all there, minus Suzie Bassett.  Charlotte is the stake camp director, Rachelle is the ward camp director and Cheryl came up when Brynne had to speak to the girls as the Wednesday night devotional.  We were all together again at camp for one night! :)
 We loved the fiber optic hair extensions that Rachelle got for us.  They were definitely the hit of the week!  Sydney looks like one of the girls, but what a great leader she is.  Hailey (her sister) and Baylie definitely love her too!
Marin was SO excited that her hair was long enough to be braided too.  The upside down braid was the hair trend of the week. 
Talia is so sweet and kind that even butterflies are not afraid of her. 
Our presidency, minus LeeAnn who couldn't come up because she couldn't leave her girls. 
Can't wait to see what the next year will bring!

Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver, . . .

Back in 1987, the day after I graduated from Cheshire High School, my family up and moved across the state to the little podunk down of Brooklyn Connecticut.  With this move, my ties to my friends in high school,  Southington Ward and New Haven Stake were severed.  I had no idea what ever became of any of them except for the handful that went to BYU. 
I was so excited to find some old friends on Facebook - what a marvelous creation - the last few years.  I discovered that Kelley Corcoran was just a hop, skip and jump from me in Las Vegas and I was able to reconnect to Darcy Ainsley and Kelly Wright.
Wonder of wonder and miracle of miracles, this summer I had the opportunity to visit with both Kelley and Darcy.  We had to head down to Las Vegas to pick up Tomo from her friend's house so she could stay with us for a few weeks and, while there, we headed to the hills to visit Kelley in her home.  What fun it was to see her again and renew our friendship!  She was so important to me in high school and it is nice to connect to someone who knew you "way back when". :)  Kelley hasn't changed a bit and it was fun to hear all about her kids who are about the same ages as mine.  Here is a very non-attractive picture that Marin took of us - thank a lot, Marin! -

Then, just a few weeks later, Darcy happened to be in Utah to drop her daughter off at BYU for the summer semester.  She stayed an extra couple days after her husband and son left so that she could spend time with me.  Yay!  I was so happy to see her.  She was one of my very best friends through teenage years even though she was Jeff's age, not mine.  I went to visit her at BYU when I was in high school and even went down to Georgia and drove cross-country to Utah with her in her Duster.  What a great time that was!  I hadn't seen her since her (first) wedding and we had totally lost touch for many years.  How exciting it was to get a message and "friend request" from her on facebook a few years ago.
Darcy and her daughters came over and spent an afternoon and then, after taking her older daughter back to her dorm, Darcy and Brooke came and stayed with us for a couple of day.  We spent time reminiscing (she has a MUCH better memory than I!) and catching up.  I sure love that woman!  We spent an evening in the mountains roasting hot dogs and marshmallows too, before Darcy and Brooke had to head back to Georgia.  Here's a picture from our little picnic up American Fork Canyon -

Unfortunately we never got a picture of Darcy and I together.  Guess she will have to come back so we can do that! :)  Her daughter is at BYU so she has a good reason to come out to visit more often. 
I am so blessed to have these wonderful women as friends again and I am grateful for the opportunity to renew friendships of those that were so important to me during my "formative years".

Thursday, July 5, 2012

First and last recital together

Marin started hip hop this year, joining her sister's class.  Markee was a good sport about having her little sister in class and so was Tamsyn.  Yes, the 4 musketeers danced together this year - Markee, Tamsyn, Megyn and Marin.  How wonderful it was to see them ALL on stage together for the recital.  I have say, though, and I am totally non-biased (!), that Markee stole the show.  This dance was totally made for her in my opinion - thanks, Lee!  - and although ALL the girls did a phenomenal job, Markee's performance was captivating.  I hope that she will continue to dance, finding opportunities as an adult to find people to hip hop with. :)
I loved the Indian flair to this dance and their costumes were fantastic, all the way to the bindis on their foreheads.  Marin and Megyn are excited to have Halloween costumes already made up for them!
 Next year, Markee and Tamsyn will have moved on to bigger and better things in the grown-up world, but hopefully Megyn and Marin will continue the tradition of the hip-hopping cousins.
And, of course, in the Randall/Jones tradition, we went out for ice cream (frozen yogurt) after the recital.  I quite liked this new find - USwirl.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vegas, baby!

We were so excited when Tomo Ogino, our homestay student from 4 years ago, sent a message saying that she was going to be in the States, going to college in Oklahoma for a year and wanted to see us.  She has the summer off and is travelling around and we invited her to come visit this month.  She was ending up with a friend in Las Vegas on the 4th so we decided we would take a little road trip to go pick her up.
We headed out on Sunday and stayed overnight in good old Beaver with Mom and Dad.  It's so nice to have them as a stop-over point. :)
Monday we hit the road again, arriving in Vegas around noon.  Just like when Yuna came to visit, we stayed at the Excalibur hotel (does that make it a tradition?).  Fortunately, unlike when Yuna came, the weather was beautiful and warm and we spent the afternoon in the pool.
After our fantastic New York style pizza experience in San Diego last year, we have been craving some great pizza so we googled and found New York Pizza and Pasta on Jones Blvd (how apropos).  It was not quite Luigi's caliber, but it was quite good and we stuffed ourselves and had a blast.
 The evening was, of course, spent on the Strip, mostly at the new Cosmopolitan with its VERY high end stores. What a beautiful place! Markee especially loved being in the midst of high fashion.

On the way back to Excalibur we ran into a zombie and discovered that there is a Zombie Apocalypse Store in Vegas!  Oh yeah, that was definitely added to the plans for Tuesday.

So Tuesday, as we were leaving the hotel I noticed that the front right tire was showing metal - not good.  It was definitely something we were going to have to get fixed before leaving town.  Our first stop, however, was to visit Kelley Corcoran Brasier, one of my best friends in high school.  I can't believe we have lived less than 6 hours away from each other for years without getting together.  She lives out in the mountains of northwest Las Vegas, which was a hike for our van with a metally tire, but we got there just fine.  How fun it was to catch up with her.  She hasn't changed a bit - honestly, not a bit!  The picture is definitely not a flattering one, but I was glad to have it anyway. :)
We stopped at Costco to get a new tire and grab some lunch and snacks before heading - you know it - to the Zombie Apocalypse Store!
 What a fabulous idea!  It's an emergency preparedness store mixed with zombie fun.  We could have stayed there for a long time, but the road was calling our name.
We did make one more stop before heading back to Utah; we stopped to visit Marcia's parents in Mesquite.  Todd and Kay are so great!  They were generous hosts, having the pool ready for us along with cookies and lemonade - could you ask for anything more?  The kids and Jared had a great time in the pool and I just enjoyed the beauty of their home, neighborhood and the area in general.  What a paradise!  How fortunate we are that Mark brought Marcia's family together with ours!  Love those Wooleys!

Finally, back in the car for the long rest of the drive back.  The tires were fine and we arrived home around 10pm with no incident.  A quick trip to Vegas chocked full of new memories!  Now we have a week and a half to enjoy with Tomo!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mom's Beaver beachfront

We pulled up to Mom and Dad's house Sunday and I was thrown back to Cape Cod. I love what she did with her adirondack chairs. Simple as 4 cans of paint and a brush! Wish my chairs had survived the Eagle Mountain wind so I could have beach chairs!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Headline: Markee Graduates From Westlake

Yes!  Once again it was down to the wire and we were sure if she was really going to graduate until a week before the actual event.  How happy I was to have her text me these pictures after she finished her math packets!
Westlake students have this tradition of getting this GRADUATE "tattoo" stamped on their bodies and they wear them proudly as long as they last.  I had to go into the seminary building to bring Markee a paper the day that she got her stamp and made the mistake of saying, quite loudly, "I want to see your tattoo!"  The seminary receptionist glanced up in surprise and Markee was embarrassed and assured her that it was not a "real tattoo".
The big day went off without a hitch, except for trying to find Markee and Tamsyn after the graduation.  But it all ended happily ever after.  Here are some pictures of the big day:
I love that Tamsyn and Markee went to jr high and high school together and were able to graduated together!

Yeah, sometimes they like each other!

Even Daina made it out to graduation

Proud mom and dad!
The whole crew!

Not only did get get to go to school with one cousin; this lucky girl had two!  Kaila Donaldson, Kiera's daughter went to Westlake with Markee and Tamsyn too!

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day, the kickoff to summer.  It was pretty laid back for us this year as we knew that graduation was the next day and trying to plan two big days back to back was rather daunting.  We spent most of the morning putting in the garden since we are way behind this year.  As of the date of this posting (June 2nd) we STILL have not finished the garden.  We still have just under half to do.  Yikes!
After doing work around the house and garden we headed down to Jeff's to barbeque.  And, as you can see, we made the first homemade salsa of the season.  Summer=salsa to us and although this is obviously not fresh from the garden (although we did get the tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro planted) it was from fresh ingredients from the store. :)  Chips and salsa is the highlight of every summer get-together!

Afterward we played some games - Rage and Telestrations - and "hung out".  Here are the boys hanging out.

My little pioneer

Every year each grade does some kind of "program" at school.  Because the 4th graders study Utah history they did a pioneer program, singing many songs about Utah's history and performing dances.  Nicolas sang his little heart out and did a great job with his dances, in spite of his family laughing at him and being disgusted through the "boot scoot boogie" or whatever the heck that atrocity of a country line dance is called. :)
We tried to get pictures of his dances, but they are all blurry because we had to zoom and he kept moving!

Friday, June 1, 2012


My sweet Marin is much like her mom, always wanting to please and afraid to disappoint.  Fortunately this characteristic is paying off in school.  She is so smart, but more than that she is determined and willing to put her all in - to do her best.  She carried a 4.0 all year long in 7th grade.  Not only making sure she had a A, but going above and beyond and making sure that she was as close to 100% as possible, if not over.  She took advantage of every "extra credit" opportunity whether she needed it or not, and ended up with 103% -104% in some classes!  What a treasure she is!  I appreciate all her hard work and love to see her excellence acknowledged. 
She received a letter in the mail a few weeks ago that was addressed to parents and informed us that she was receiving an award in an honors assembly and we were invited.  At first I figured it must be some kind of junk mail as the only letters that have ever been sent home before were to inform me that I had a student failing or missing credits for graduation. :)
With great delight I went to the honors assembly (unfortunately Jared had to work and couldn't make it during the school day) and watched Marin walk across the stage and receive a "certificate of excellence" for maintaining a 4.0 all year.  I love this girl and hope that some day I will have a graduate with cords around her neck showing her accomplishments.  She will go far!
On a side note, her major goal this year was to get on the yearbook staff for her 8th grade year and she did it!  She's already making plans . . .

Young Women - back where I belong

Many exciting changes/events have taken place this past month.  May was a very good month.  I will post a few of the highlights in separate posts in chronological order.  First of all, on Easter in April I was released from my calling as first counselor in the Primary presidency.  We had served for almost 4 years and I really loved everything about the position.  I loved the children; I loved teaching sharing time; I loved getting to know the teachers; I even enjoyed helping to write the sacrament program each year. :) 
It was a sad day when I was released but I was surprised that I recovered quickly - not like when I was released from being the Laurel advisor almost exactly 6 years ago.  I mourned that calling for over a year.
I spent over a month calling-less, which is unusual in our smaller ward and after teaching indexing in Relief Society one week I was worried about being called as family history representative.
In the middle of May I was called to meet with the bishop who extended a new calling to me - Young Women President.  President???  Are you sure???  I'm the fun one, advisor-ish, not in charge-ish!  Of course I accepted hoping that with the help of my Heavenly Father I can fulfil and magnify this calling.  I love the Young Women and am SO excited to be back with them.  I have a lot to learn, but loving the girls comes naturally.  I have some great women to work with also, and I think this will be a labor of love.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring break 2012 - day tripping style - day 2

Day two of spring break adventures finds us at the Thanksgiving Point gardens.  Once again the older boys were off doing their own thing so it was the girls and Nicolas and Cody.  Today we added Dana Harrell, who is Markee and Tamsyn's friend and my friend Laurie's daughter.  
The weather held out for us until just before we left when the wind started whipping.  The rain began after we had returned home.  Perfect!
The gardens were beautiful and the girls had a great time together.  I am so blessed to have wonderful sisters-in-law and fabulous nieces.  How fantastic that the cousins are all such good friends!
 The younger boys had fun hiding from the girls and spying on them from afar for much of our walk around the gardens.   The tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, etc were in full bloom and we were able to enjoy the splendor without the hassle of the crowds who will descend on the gardens for the Tulip Festival later this week. 
One great addition to the gardens is the "Light of the World" garden which features full-size statuary of scenes from our Savior's life.  It is a work in progress so right now there are only a few life-sized statues, although there are many models of the work to come.  It is going to be incredible! 
We, of course, had to finish up our adventure with ice cream from the ice cream shop at Thanksgiving Point.  It isn't an adventure unless ice cream is involved!
 Here are pictures of our day:
Posing on the bridge

See a statue, be a statue

Feeding the fishies

Not sure exactly what was going on here . . .

But now they are all the fiercest models they can be.  Unfortunately Tamsyn was hidden behind Markee. 

Marin mid-leap

Spying on the girls . . .
"It is I, be not afraid". I was touched by this amazing statue. 

Best friends

Planking in the secret garden

Yoga in the secret garden

I love hyacinths!

Rolling down the hill, of course

Markee being Spidey up the hill - psst! is the sound of her webslinging.  There is a story that goes with this.  When we were at LegoLand last year a little boy was walking by Markee.  He looked at her and just held out his hand, Spiderman-style, and said, "psst" and kept walking.  It was hilarious!

 Can't go home without a stop for ice cream!
What?!  The ice cream is gone??