Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy (Belated) Birthday Steven!

Okay, so several weeks ago (on his actual birthday!) I started a post for Steven's special day, but I couldn't think of anything more than "happy birthday" and "we love you" to write. That sounded kind of lame and uninteresting for a blog entry. Since then I've done more "blog surfing" and discovered this cool new way of posting pictures (thank you Wendy). You can find the program I'm using here (although our old computer needed an earlier version).

In my surfing, I've also noticed a popular way to honor the "birthday boy" is to make a list. So, here goes:

15 Adjectives to Describe our 15 year old:
  • careful
  • determined
  • diligent
  • faithful
  • loyal
  • methodical
  • obedient
  • orderly
  • persistent
  • polite
  • quiet
  • reliable
  • smart
  • spiritual
  • strong

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Turn to Try Something New

A couple of weeks ago we had the Relief Society "cooking class" over at our house. Everyone brought a fresh fruit or vegetable dish to share. Since we had lots of watermelon to use up, we tried two new recipes. The Watermelon Ice was delicious! The ladies enjoyed the Watermelon Gazpacho, but the Whitakers prefer the tomato-based version. Enjoy!

Watermelon Ice
6 cup watermelon chunks, seeded
3 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
Puree watermelon with lemon juice. Transfer to sieve and press juices through into bowl, removing seeds and fiber. Set aside. In medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk together sugar and gelatin. Pour boiling water over gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin and sugar. Pour over watermelon mixture, stirring to combine. Chill until cold, about 30 minutes. Pour into shallow cake pan, freeze until solid, about 6 hours or overnight. Break into chunks and whiz in a food processor until smooth. Serve immediately or pack into an airtight container and serve within 3 hours.

Watermelon Gazpacho
2 1/2 cups fresh watermelon

2 tomatoes; chopped
1 small cucumber; peeled and diced
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients. Chill several hours before serving.

3 cups tomato juice
1 tsp beef bouillon dissolved in ¼ cup water
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ cup chopped cucumber
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients. Chill several hours before serving.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Record Setting Week

Michelle had an eventful week to write about to Elder Brad:

ONE sleepover (first of the summer)

TWO movies at the theater in TWO days

THREE trips in the car with Steven driving

FOUR hours of yardwork

FIVE pages completed in her scrapbook

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Pioneer Day!

In honor of Pioneer Day, I decided to do a little research on which of our ancestors crossed the plains to Utah between 1847 and 1868. I thought I had done this a couple of years ago, but I couldn't find my notes. Hopefully, I'll do a better job of filing and remembering this time! Here's where I started the search: Pioneers who came across the plains. My kids already know about their 4th great-grandpa George who was in the Edward Hunter Company of 1847 with John Taylor.

However, they had another 4th great-grandpa George who also made the trek. Here's a history of George Washington Hickerson who was in the Willard Richards Company of 1848 with his wife, Sarah, and their oldest children.

Another 4th-great grandfather was John President Porter. He was part of the Charles C. Rich Company of 1847.

And because I know my cousins might be interested in their relatives, here's a history of Karl Johan Beckstrand who was in the Samuel Wooley Company of 1861 with his brother Elias. Altogether I counted 22 direct line ancestors of our children who were considered Mormon Pioneers. I appreciate that heritage and I hope my kids do too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Carlos Benegas

Some of you have already heard this story, but some of you haven't. Since I want reading this blog to be an edifying, uplifting experience, I figure I need to include more entries like this. This comes from Elder Whitaker's last email.

I would like to share with you today the conversion story of Carlos Benegas. Carlos is 54. When he was 8, he started smoking. When he was 13, he left home to start working for his own support. 35 years later, he found himself sitting on some steps, mentally beaten and destroyed from his bad habits. He wanted to stop smoking and drinking, but he didn’t have the will-power. He needed someone or something to give him a little push. As he was sitting on the steps, two young women came by and said hello. They introduced themselves as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was sitting on the church entrance. They asked if he would be interested in learning about the Gospel. He accepted the invitation, and the two Sisters went by his house. He accepted the commitments, and they continued visiting him. After 4 or 5 visits, the Sisters taught him about the Word of Wisdom. That was just the push he needed. After the lesson, he threw his cigarettes in the fire, and ran to the next city and back (about 15 miles). Since then, he hasn’t smoked one cigarette, and he hasn’t tasted one drop of alcohol. All of that happened before going to church once. One Sunday, he woke up early and it was raining. He didn’t have anything to do, so he decided to go to church. He enjoyed it, and kept going. A few weeks later, the Sisters came by looking very depressed. He asked what was wrong, and they told him that one of their investigators who was going to get baptized on April 5th didn’t want to hear any more about the Church. He said, “That’s okay. I’ll get baptized on April 5th.” And he did. Now Carlos is the Elder’s Quorum President, and he runs marathons. I guess people really can change…

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trying something new

Every summer it feels like crazy parents are trying to get their kids into stuff other than sleeping in and video games. Maybe this will be the summer to try that. This is the Jeff-bomb attempting to create at least a portion of entertainment to our local bloggers. If it's funny I might do more, but if it isn't I'll just blame my mom and say she made me do it. (I can only sleep and play video games so much in one day...)

So, my first story I think will be about what went on while everyone else was camping. It's true, I was home alone for like 9 days living it up. It was awesome. But it was different than usual. Usually when my mom goes out of town she makes the house super clean and prints out these awesome charts with every day and every thing I would need to do. This time she didn't do that and I spent the first day trying to figure out where the dishes went. She left a drainer full of dishes. Big mistake. The problem is when I'm home alone if I get something out, I know where to put it away. I don't know the last time I made a cassorol and I really don't know where it goes when it's clean. And to make it worse, all these dishes I guess where to put them away I forget where I put them origionally 9 days later when my mom wants to know where they are. On the bright side, that's about as bad as it got while the fokes were out of town.

What else happened? Oh, church was great! Everyone wanted to know where the bishop was, so I gave them a sad story about how they're camping and they left me nothing but Top Ramen and Salteen crackers. I probably got about 6 meals from the families of 3 buddies. I even got some leftovers which lasted even longer. You see, the problem wasn't that there wasn't food, it's just a pain (in my opinion) to cook for yourself. But heck, It was good practice for the future when mom isn't around.

Oh yeah, almost forgot about the night when I accidentally pulled an all-nighter. It was Sunday's fault. On Sunday I woke up, went to church, took a nap, ate dinner (at a friend's house), and then some more meetings. The point of that is I slept a whole lot when I wasn't tired and I used about 100 Calories walking the whole day. So that night I try to go to bed. I can't and because I'm a nerd and there's NO ONE around I play myself a spectacular adventure via the Gameboy. Then I try to go to sleep later. I did this 3 times and gave up at about 3 AM. What does a teenager do at 3 AM? Well, I already played my video games and I couldn't sleep, so I ate breakfast, cleaned the whole area of the house I was using, blasted my music, read the morning paper, and gave myself a haircut. I actually mowed myself a mo-hawk, but it only lasted about 30 seconds. I have a picture on my phone, we'll see if I can't get it uploaded. So at about 6 I ran out of things to do and believe it or not I was waiting for the sun to come up so I could take a load of yard waste to the county dump. One weird night.

So by the end of the week I found myself actually missing my family. it was so quiet I would find myself yelling random phrases just to hear noise. I even found myself texting some of my friends (and believe me, I'm the slowest texter on the planet and I rarely do it). But at one point I was so lonely I found myself mowing the grass and having a textversation at the same time. I don't know how people drive and text at the same time because I could walk faster than our mower and i was still cutting crooked. I bet it would have been funny to see though, some dork on his orange mower texting in one hand and trying to both steer and swat bugs with the other, listening to the oldes most ghetto mp3 player in existance.

Well, maybe this was funny, maybe it wasn't. I might devote the next one to making fun of Steven. Or an update on the Bishop, who still has yet been to Africa...

Our Week in the Mountains

I won't post all 200+ pictures, but we did have a great week. And this time, it was actually a "vacation" and not just a "change of scenery." I guess things DO change as the kids grow up!

First, I was told to sit in a chair and read while camp was set up Then, we all worked together to do the cooking and cleaning.

We also had time to relax with some card games. We heard the story of why Wayne knows how to play poker, but decided the rest of us didn't need to learn that skill! Instead, we taught the kids how to play Rook, in honor of Great-grandmother Beckstrand.
If you've ever wondered why these mountains are so green, it's because it rains a lot! However, for the most part we stayed pretty dry, thanks to Wayne's skills with tarps.
Here's the frog we discovered as we were packing up. Steven wishes he had stayed undiscovered!

Our Week ON the Mountains

The view from Look Rock Tower
The view from Andrews Bald
The view from Newfound Gap
Fire Tower on Mt. Stirling
The view from the Mt. Stirling fire tower
Wayne's favorite hike: the mountains around Smokemount Campground

More Pretty Mountain Streams

Cosby Creek
Oconaluftee River
Laurel Falls
Kephart Prong
Kephart Prong
Indian Creek Falls
Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Creek
Hen Wallow Falls
Bradley Fork

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Battle of the Waterfalls

One of my favorite things to do is sit and watch waterfalls, so I really enjoyed the pretty mountain streams we hiked to this past week. However, Brad's pictures show that I have a lot to look forward to when we visit Argentina next year!

Iguazu Falls is on the border of Brazil and Argentina. President Faust gave a memorable talk recalling his experiences visiting here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

If it's July 4th, it must be camping time!

We're heading back to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Unlike Congaree, which had only 35 miles of trails, so that we were able to hike them all in one week, Great Smoky has over 800 miles. Wayne may never hike them all! But it won't be for lack of trying

Last time we went (2004) our favorite hike was to Chimney Tops (see below). We probably won't do that one again, but maybe we'll find a new favorite. We also figure we'll have another memorable "hike in the downpour" but if we don't, we won't complain!