Thursday, April 30, 2009

April's Activities

It's been a busy month!
And I haven't had time to post everything I wanted, so here we go --

First of all, Wayne and Steven completed segment two of the Florida Trail. That deserves its own post!
But we ended Spring Break with a visit to the Tampa Bay History Museum. That was a lot of fun, and motivated us to try a few new recipes.
Michelle went to Girls' Camp over Spring Break. They were kept as "busy as bees" with cooking, cleaning, hiking, certification, and daily devotionals. She had a wonderful time, and thoroughly enjoyed being a "princess" (one of the perks of already earning her Personal Progress award).

Because she still has years of Young Women's to go, Michelle's going through the personal progress goals again. This month she started a project of sewing her own dress. It's hard work, but she's doing great.
And while we were in the sewing mood, we whipped up some new pajama pants with her favorite Sesame Street characters!We were able to celebrate Easter with the traditional egg dying. (Scroll down the recipe blog to see what we tried this year.)

There were still chores that had to be done -- cleaning out the gutters --and installing a cabinet in the shed.
We had the great opportunity to help clean a neighborhood park (notice no more moss in the fence or leaves on the tennis court) as part of the regional day of service.
Steven's long-awaited Math League competition came and went, and Jeff honored the occasion by giving him an early birthday present - direct from the BYU math department. Because, yes, JEFF'S HOME!!

Now it's time to take a deep breath, and dive into a new month that's sure to be just as eventful.

The Florida Trail - segment two

We're used to the instant gratification of digital photography! But the hikers didn't want to take a digital camera on their trek, so we had to wait for the disposable camera's film to get developed and uploaded. Finally, we're ready to "finish" the adventure. Since it's been a while, you can check out previous posts here and here.

Finally, time for a few details! Here's a map of the Florida Trail (marked in red).Segment one is about 8 miles long and starts at the southern end, in Big Cypress National Preserve. Segment two comes next and is about 30 miles long. It was a beautiful day to begin hiking!

Typically segment two is under water, and so the plan was to go at the end of the dry season (i.e., Spring Break) to minimize the trudging through the wet everglades. However, Florida is having a drought. It turned out the problem was not enough water. That made the backpacks VERY heavy, because they couldn't count on finding drinking water and had to carry it all with them.
Here are some pictures of the world's driest swamp. There are whispy pine trees and palmettos and cyprus trees, none of which provide a lot of shade. The first two days weren't too bad, but the last day was long and sunny and hot! However, they made it, and that's what counts.
The end of the trail - at least for now - the I-75 rest area on Alligator Alley.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WFMW - You can do it too!

Works for Me Wednesday
Picture Collages
Maybe I shouldn't share my "secret" but I don't feel I can take credit for finding something that's so simple to use. Last year I made one of these picture collages for my husband to hang on his wall at work (using our recent camping vacation pictures). Our daughter thought it would be a great "first anniversary" gift for our son, so we did one for them this week. When Wayne saw it sitting on the counter, he said his boss had just commented on the one in his office. So, they're great attention getters!
Making one is really quite simple (although you do have to be a member at Costco, or know someone who is). Just go to their photo website, log in and upload the pictures you want to use. Then select "create gifts," choose "collage prints," and follow the instructions. The placement of the pictures is randomly generated, which is one drawback, but you can keep shuffling until you find a combination you like. And the prices are extremely reasonable. I also discovered that you can right click and save the picture so it can be posted on your blog!
It's a fun idea that works for us! For more tips and things to try, visit We are That Family today.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cornerstones of a Happy Home

Memorable Monday Moments
Cornerstones of a Happy Home

One of our recurring family night themes is what it takes to have a happy home. Several times we've reviewed President Hinckley's four cornerstones:

Mutual Respect
The Soft Answer
Financial Honesty
Family Prayer

These were orginally given in a fireside broadcast in January 1984, reprinted in a pamphlet that our home teachers brought to us, and now the talk can be found in the Eternal Marriage institute manual (on pages 127-130).

Here are just a couple of our favorite quotes:

"It seems to me that communication is essentially a matter of talking with one another. Let that talk be quiet for quiet talk is the language of love. It is the language of peace. It is the language of God."

"I know of no other practice that will have so salutary an effect upon your lives as will the practice of kneeling together in prayer."

"Your children will be blessed with a sense of security that comes of living in a home where dwells the Spirit of God. They will know and love parents who respect one another, and a spirit of respect will growin their own hearts."

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's a Small, Small World

Friday Flashback
Having friends is a wonderful thing!

One of the perks of growing up in California was the opportunity to visit Disneyland a few times. I loved the "It's a Small World" ride. This past week I've been remembering some of the neat experiences we've had that prove that's true. We really are all brothers and sisters.

Wayne's parents spent a couple of weeks in Israel this month. As Wayne was talking with them about their trip, they said, "Oh, by the way, the Firmages say hi." That was a surprise. It was amazing that these friends from California recognized his parents - who they briefly met once or twice 10-15 years ago. (It may help that Wayne and his dad look alike.) And it was even more amazing that they were half-way around the world on vacation at the same time!Wayne is working in Prague this week. Tonight he gets to meet up with good friends who are there serving a mission. (Here's a picture from their visit a year ago.) These friends are amazing people, and their daughter wrote a wonderful tribute to them that describes just how I remember them. You can read it here. We've missed having them around, so it'll be nice when they return.

There have been several times when we've recognized someone we hadn't seen in a while and that's always so much fun - Gary and Sally in the Orlando Temple, Bishop Cook stopping David in the hallway at BYU, our little miracle with President Packard a year ago, even Corey & Kelly, and Mark & Lauren showing up at church last Sunday. This is one of the reasons I love blogging. You never know when you're going to meet someone you haven't seen in a while (Hi Julie and Shayla and Andrea and Sarah and everyone else!). And you also get to make new friends.

To all our wonderful friends, here are some thoughts just for you. Have a terrific day!

Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
- Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

A real friend is someone who knows all your faults, but likes you anyway.
- Charles M. Schulz

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Real friends are those who, when you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel that you've done a permanent job.
- Anonymous

Memory builds a pathway that goes winding through the heart and keeps friends close together even though they are far apart.
- Anonymous

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WFMW - Family Almanac

It's time for another edition of Works for Me Wednesday. Remember to visit here to find lots of great ideas!

Having a Family Almanac is a fun tradition. (Go here to find the original post with directions on how to make one.) Here's today's entry:

April 22
1985: New apartment managers (Clearfield) FINALLY fix stuff.
1989: Weston report card dinner
2006: Brad & Jeff attend Prom with Amanda and Katie (and Krystle and her date)
The Family Almanac is a great tradition that helps us remember the little things that make our family unique. That works for us.

But wait! There's a bonus "works for me" idea on the April 22nd card. And that's our family tradition of "report card" dinners.

We'd always heard stories of families who paid their children for getting A's and B's on their report cards, and that just didn't sit well with us. We wanted our children to enjoy school and get good grades just because it was the right thing to do. We knew there was the possibility that some of our children might naturally do better at academics than others, and we wanted them each to succeed. We also knew that positive reinforcement is a great motivator for doing your best. And that's what we wanted - just for each child to do his best.

So this is what we decided: Every time a report card was issued, we'd compare it to the previous one. If our student showed improvement, the reward was dinner with Mom and Dad at a restaurant. (Since we always ate a home, even McDonald's was considered a super treat, especially to our first and second graders!) If you couldn't "show improvement" (i.e. you had a straight-A report card), you just had to maintain the same high standard. As it turned out we've had a LOT of straight-A report cards over the years. If we had gone with the monetary reward, we would be broke! This system worked even when older kids received letter grades and younger kids received "satisfactory or unsatisfactory." Our high school kids tried to get us to change (use the money you'd spend at Applebee's and buy us a video game instead), but it didn't work. After all, tradition is tradition! And for twenty years, that's worked for us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marriage Prep

Memorable Monday Moments
or "This was fun. When's David getting married?"

That quote from Jeff was the entry in our family almanac after a family home evening a year ago. Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly what we did that Monday night! So, if Weston or Jeff can enlighten me, that would be great.

However, I'm pretty sure we discussed the importance of preparing properly for marriage - listing specific things that our teenagers should be doing now. And I'm pretty sure it included sending notes to Weston and/or Megan - probably something like "Why Weston will make a good husband." And I imagine the advice was bordering on ridiculous, and thus the impatience to do the same thing for David.

Since it's been a year, I figure it's time for another "what are you doing to prepare for marriage" family night lesson. Tonight we'll discuss the following October 2008 conference talk by Elder Hamula. He isn't specifically talking about marriage, but as I heard this talk yesterday I was reminded that somewhere out in the world there is a young man preparing to be Michelle's future husband. (There are future daughter-in-laws out there too, but this was a priesthood talk, so that's where my thoughts went.) This is what I would want his parents teaching him, and so I need to do the same!

"Now, you may wonder how to acquire the faith, testimony, and consecration of spirit necessary to overcome the adversary. Let me assure you that these qualities are already within you. You simply need to recover them. To that end, allow me to make three suggestions.

"First, do as young Joseph Smith did. Find a quiet place and pray to your Father in Heaven. Do so regularly and earnestly. Prayer is a precondition to revelation. The more regular and earnest the prayer, The more frequent the revelation. When received, revelation provides the evidence or assurance of things unseen, which is the foundation of faith.

"Second, learn to hear the voice of the Lord. His is a still, small, and whisper-like voice. It is one that is felt more than it is heard. It comes in the form of thoughts, feelings, and impressions. To hear such a voice, you must be still and quiet in your own soul, laying aside your excess laughter and light-mindedness. While it may not seem easy to so discipline your life, hearing the precious, loving voice of the Lord will sustain you in every circumstance and is therefore worth every effort.

"Third, obey the word of the Lord as it is given to you. His word will not only love and comfort but invariably instruct and correct. Do as He bids you to do, no matter how hard it may seem to you, and do it now. It is in doing the will of the Lord that knowledge of Him and love for Him accrue to your soul, which leads you to be ever more willing to lay down your own life and follow Him."

Friday, April 17, 2009

16th birthday party

Flashback Friday
Even more memories of Grandmother Beckstrand

I discovered some pictures this week. And that brought back even more memories of my grandparents.
Here are Grandmother and Grandfather standing in their backyard. It looks like Grandfather is wearing his barbecuing apron. We loved exploring behind the shed and garage while dinner was cooking! Grandmother (on the right) with her sister Mabel
I'm not sure when this picture was taken, although I suspect it's about 1961. I'm also not positive who everyone is, but these are my guesses:
Back row: Nadine Nalder, Beverly Nalder, Mabel Nalder, Judi Beckstrand, Shelley Beckstrand, Thane Beckstrand, Carol Beckstrand, ?, ?, ?
Front row: ?, Vernard Beckstrand, Nels Beckstrand, Ethel Beckstrand
(I thought the man on the right might be Martin Nalder, but he never married, and this man looks like he belongs to the lady and two little girls! Anyone know who they are?)
I turned 16 while we were on vacation in Utah. When we arrived back in California it was time to celebrate with the grandparents. Unfortunately, Grandmother had broken her ankle and was confined to bed. So, we had the party in her bedroom. Opening presents on her bed was definitely a unique experience!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Each Life that Touches Ours for Good"

We said good-bye to an dear friend this morning - definitely someone that "touched our lives for good." (Find the arrangement we used here, or listen to the hymn here.)

We heard the sad news on Friday, and while Wayne and Steven were off helping the family, I tried to deal with shock by blog-surfing and came across the following quote (on this blog, but on a couple of others as well):

"Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come." (from Elder Wirthlin's Oct 2006 conference address)

This message of Easter was a little more poignant this year. We're all so grateful for our knowledge of Heavenly Father's plan of happiness and thankful for our Savior and Redeemer. Apparently Wayne wasn't the only one whose favorite conference talk was Elder Holland's (we heard this quote a couple of times in sacrament meeting):

Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”

Funerals provide amazing opportunities to learn things. For example, this kind unassuming man was one of the original Navy SEALs, commissioned by President Kennedy in 1962. I think I knew that before, but I was fascinated by some of the stories told. The anchor that sits in front of their headquarters (or something - I wasn't taking notes!) was dredged up from the bottom of the sea by Richard and his buddies.

And this book was mentioned as well.
from the Google book site: In The Teams six SEALs recount how the program got started - including their excruciating training sessions, first missions and amazing stories for Vietnam - showing how they became one of the most effective special military forces in the world. Richard Brozak takes readers thought the rigorous courses the SEALs took, where he lived off the land in the frozen Canadian Wilderness. Jack Rowell describes covering for his platoon chief in the midst of fierce cross fire during a mission to capture a VC commandant, and James Tipton - recipient of three Purple Hearts - recalls barely escaping in an assault boat while under heavy fire in Vietnam. The secret to the SEAL mystique is perhaps best summed up by Brozak, who characterized the SEALs as men "who knew how to keep going through almost anything without giving a thought to quitting."
Not only did that quote characterize the SEALs, it characterized his life. Richard never gave up and he was always serving others. He loved the time he spent at the Bishop's Storehouse and he was always fixing things for people. (He's the one that repaired our leaky pipe several weeks ago.) That's how I remember him. Here's how Wayne remembers him:
He would always tell me that he didn't have a lot of knowledge of the gospel and that he had a hard time learning gospel concepts. That may be, but he didn't have to learn the essential ones because he lived them every day of his life. He didn't need to learn about charity, because he lived it. He didn't need to learn about loving others, because he lived it. He didn't need to learn about service to others, because he gave it.
We'll miss him.

WFMW - Organizing Spices

Works for Me Wednesday
Organizing Spices

Last night as I was reaching for the curry powder (we had a delicious lamb curry for dinner), I realized that I like the way my spices are organized. So, here's what works for me:
All the small containers and little used flavorings are tossed in this red basket. I usually write the name on the lid so they're easier to find. When I need something, I just pull the basket down and rummage until I find it. And that usually only takes a few seconds.The medium-sized containers are stored on this lazy Susan. For the ones I use frequently, I buy the Costco-sized containers which I keep in the pantry, and I just refill these as I use them up. Chili powder and cinnamon are used a lot, so I just keep those "super-size" bottles accessible in this cupboard. It's not the neatest method, but it does the job!
For more "works for me" ideas, visit We are THAT Family! And have a wonderful day!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Playing Games

Memorable Monday Moments
card games Last Monday our family night activity was to play a game of Phase 10. We've decided this is a perfect "camping" game because after each round someone can tend to the fire or the dinner without missing any of the action.
Just so we don't get too bored, we alternate with UNO. That brings back memories of UNO tournaments with Grandpa and Aunt Holly. But sometimes we like to send the memories back even further and play Rook. This was Grandmother Beckstrand's favorite game and it was a true sign that you were growing older when she taught you how to play and allowed you to join the game!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

In honor of Easter, and to help me remember the true meaning of this day, I thought I'd share a chiasmus that my dad wrote years ago. (Hopefully the formatting will turn out okay, because seeing the "X" is part of the poem!)
Chiasmus in the Spirit of the Easter season
Jesus Christ, the first born son of our Father in Heaven
The Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh
Was born of Mary,
To die.

Obediently suffering death,
Now offering exaltation
To those who accept him as
Their Savior.

With sorrow
He atoned for our sins.
Being wounded on the cross, his heart burst
Broken for our transgressions –
To heal us if we will repent by
Sacrificing a contrite spirit and a broken heart.
We thus abandon our sins
For peace.

His children
Are those who serve him,
Nurturing hope in eternal life,
Enduring faithful to the end.

We live
Born again
Of the Spirit, children of Christ,
Sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.
(By Shelley M Beckstrand, 15 April 1987)

Friday, April 10, 2009

They're Home!

It was a LONG hike. Details later.

"Made Especially for You"

Flashback Friday
More Memories of Grandmother
It's Spring Break and we're keeping busy today, but here's another one of my favorite Grandmother Beckstrand memories. She was always busy, too, and loved to crochet. The best part about it was that her grandchildren were the recipients of her work! She even had labels made that said "Made especially for you by Grandmother B" which she sewed into her creations.In 1977 all the "girl" cousins received hats and scarves for Christmas. (If you'd been born, Karyn, I'm sure you'd have received one too!)
As soon as each grandchild was born, she started an afghan for them. I think the original idea was to give them as wedding gifts. However, one year she decided she was tired of storing them in her closet and she passed them all out at once. I love mine! And every day when I make my bed, I remember Grandmother and am thankful for her influence in my life.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WFMW - Shopping List

Works for Me Wednesday
Ultimate Shopping List I guess "ultimate" is kind of an exaggeration, but one of the things that makes our weekly schedule work is the habit we developed as a family to make sure we didn't run out of things. The kids know I do errands on Tuesday. The kids have also been told over and over "If it's not written down, it won't get done. If it's written down, it will eventually get done."

Whenever someone either uses something up or opens something new - whether it's a bottle of salad dressing or can of peanuts, a box of tissue or tube of toothpaste, a package of paper or roll of tape - they are supposed to write the item down on the handy-dandy shopping list kept by the kitchen phone. OR they can write it on the white board in the laundry room. (See how accommodating I am to give them a choice?)

It didn't take long for them to learn that remembering to keep the cupboards stocked is a family affair. It's no fun taking a shower without shampoo, or having hamburgers without any pickles, or watching a movie without any popcorn, or completing a school project without colored ink in the printer.

Then, before my weekly shopping trip, I would add both lists to the main shopping list in my planner and take care of everything (as long as it fit within the budget). Writing the item down before it was used up usually gave us time to make it be in the budget. And having to wait until shopping day helped teach delayed gratification as well as the principle of planning ahead.

In addition, this little habit has saved me a lot of time. It's been years since I've had to drop everything to run around town finding poster board for a school project that was "due tomorrow" or even just to the corner market to replenish the toilet paper supply. Good habits are a wonderful thing, and this one works for us.
For more ideas, or to share something that works for you, visit We are THAT Family today!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Adventure has Begun!

This man is excited!
He's hiking segment two of the Florida Trail right now. (They did segment one a couple of years ago, which is the 9 miles below the black road on the map - US 41 which goes through Big Cypress National Preserve. Segment two is the 30 miles north of the road. We're not sure he'll be able to do the whole 1400 miles of the Florida Trail in this lifetime, but it won't be for lack of trying!)This adventure, the first backpacking trip with one of his sons, took a lot of planning, including weeks of gathering equipment and supplies.The packs were loaded between conference sessions, and bright and early Monday morning we began the drive to the Everglades.Does it seem quite fair that they each get their own bench??
After setting up camp, there was time to read, play games,
And watch a beautiful sunset.
We thought this pancake looked just like someone eating a hamburger - the one Steven gets to look forward to having on Thursday afternoon . . .
when the adventure is over!

He's such a good sport. They're off! We'll let you know the "end of the story" later.