Friday, July 31, 2009

Grand Canyon National Park

Flashback Friday
The National Park Series - #1

As you may have gathered, one of our family traditions is to visit a different National Park each year. As we were traipsing along the trails this year, I decided that this subject would make a great "Flashback Friday" series, so here we go!
Our very first family vacation was during spring break of 1984. Technically, this one doesn't count as an "official" national park vacation, because we visited three of them in one week. That doesn't allow time to do any one of them justice.

For Christmas the year before, we got ourselves the proper equipment - tent, cooler, stove, and sleeping bags. The first stop was Zion National Park for a night or two. Then we headed south to the Grand Canyon. At first it was pleasant, but then the snow and cold came! One day Weston and I froze on the rim while Wayne hiked down to Phantom Ranch and back. Most normal people take two days and spend the night at the bottom, but who ever said we were normal? On the way home we stopped for a night at Bryce Canyon National Park. Even though we couldn't really afford it, instead of camping like planned we stayed at a hotel. The temperature was expected to go below freezing that night, and we figured being hauled in for child abuse was worse than spending $60 (or whatever it was).
That was just the beginning of our family camping adventures. The next year the "official" tradition started with a trip to Arches. See if you can figure out why we decided to start with that national park. And I'll see if I can keep the posts coming on a weekly basis.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some Pictures of our Missionaries

or "My visiting teacher is amazing!"

I don't know how she got it, but my visiting teacher emailed me a copy of Jeff with his MTC group. He's wearing a red tie and standing right behind the MTC president's wife. Also somewhere in that group is Elder Godoy from Argentina. After his three weeks in the Buenos Aires MTC (where he served as Jeff's district leader), he went to Resistencia and Brad was able to help him get oriented. Elder Whitaker says Elder Godoy will be a great missionary!We're not supposed to be concerned about the swine flu - the missionaries are shaking elbows, not hands. (Here's Brad demonstrating with President del Castillo.)
Finally, Brad sent us this picture of the zone leaders in the Argentina Resistencia Mission. Some of them were being super obedient to the counsel to wear masks and gloves. (I'm not sure who everyone is, but the people in the chairs are Elder Whitaker, President del Castillo, Sister del Castillo, and Brad's companion - Elder Eliason .)

So, that's the latest for now. They're doing great and we definitely appreciate the examples Brad and Jeff are setting for us of commitment, diligence, sacrifice, service, and love.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's Flashback Friday time!

Flashback Friday
A Couple of Things

Thing One: Happy Pioneer Day! We know this is a big deal in Utah, and I actually saw a little blurb about Brigham Young arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on "this day in history" as I scanned through the newspaper, but it's a busy day here and I'm not going to take the time to devote a post to this holiday. I did that last year, and maybe I'll do it again next year.

Instead we're moving on to Thing Two: I came across this picture as we were trying to come up with ideas for tributes for the 50th wedding anniversary.

16 years ago, Tori and Steven were cute babies! Now they're too big for Grandma to carry, especially both at once, but they cooperated nicely when I suggested they recreate the picture. In fact, this time they even smiled!!We love our family :)

And we love making new friends too. Visit Alicia's site to view and share other old photos.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WFMW - Double Duty

Works for Me Wednesday
Photo Collages

I know I've posted about this before, but anytime I can do one thing and have it count for two, that works for me! Or, maybe it's cheating and being lazy. You decide. Anyway, I love playing around and experimenting with the collage pictures on the Costco website. And I wanted to post more of our vacation pictures. So, here they are:
The whole purpose of our trip to Utah was to help celebrate Wayne's parents 50th wedding anniversary. I wasn't the "official" photographer - for good reason - so I'm still waiting for better pictures. But I took enough to help us remember the fun gathering.We decided we liked the horizontal orientation better than the vertical one. You can choose to have titles or not, and you can choose the width of the border. Unfortunately, you can't choose where the pictures go, but you can keep clicking "shuffle" until you find something you like. And I learned that you can right-click the picture and choose to save it to your computer just so you can post them to your blog!
Just for fun this year, we took pictures of some of the more interesting signs that we saw in Ohio. The most confusing one was the arrow in the parking lot - it was painted the wrong direction!
This was the most interesting sign. It's not in the collage because you have to be very careful and have all your pictures the correct orientation before you upload them to the Costco website. I didn't feel like redoing the upload! But we like the sign, so here it is:
So, fiddling around with pictures works for me when I want to have some fun. To find out what others do, check out We are THAT Family.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Temple Square

Because we moved away from Utah before having a chance to take Steven and Michelle to Temple Square, we figured we ought to do that. They were interested in exploring there as well, so off we went for the day. We enjoyed our tour of the conference center, discovering the work of a couple of relatives in the art display there, the view from the Church Office Building, and the organ recital in the Tabernacle. We even popped into the Family History Library and the Art Museum for a few minutes each as well.However, we forgot that when Dad does something, he is not half-hearted about it. A couple of hours would have been fine with the teenagers; seven hours was a bit much!
The last straw was the little memorial park where Brigham Young was buried.

A treat from the Nauvoo Cafe helped bring back the smiles, but the real reward came the next day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vacation Mondays

Memorable Monday Moments
Food, Hikes and More Food
(or is it really Hikes, Food and More Hikes?)

When we're not at home, we don't normally have formal family home evenings - mainly because we're spending the whole day enjoying family togetherness! And that usually means hiking and eating.
In Utah we joined the cousins and climbed to a small lake above Brighton Ski Resort. We miss the Utah mountains!!! Then we met up with the college kids and just enjoyed being together, while eating yummy food.
The next Monday we were in Ohio at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Of course, that meant some more hikes, although none of them were terribly strenuous.
In fact, there were plenty of places to sit and rest a spell.
But because the goal is to walk every trail, we took advantage of there still being daylight after the yummy barbecue to find one more waterfall.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The First Day

I've been trying to do this all week. The computer isn't cooperating very well. Finally, though, we're making progress. Here are a couple of pictures from the start of our vacation. Or the first night and a day and a night of driving. Last time we drove to Utah it took us 26 hours of straight driving. This time it took 28 1/2 hours. We're getting old!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tuesday Evening Get-together

Flashback Friday
Wrestling with Coach Peek
This week we were invited to a party honoring Coach Peek. He started coaching wrestling at Bloomingdale the year David was a senior, which means he coached Brad and Jeff for their full four years. He is retiring as coach to move on as an assistant principal. The wrestlers and parents thought it would be fun to recognize that and "roast" him with some fun gag gifts. It was a great evening, and since Brad and Jeff missed out on having a great time with their buddies, we tried to get a few pictures for them.
The whole gang.A few wrestlers presenting Coach with their gift (a bet that he would gain weight before the season's over)! In honor of our boys, we gave him a Hotwheel van and a Book of Mormon. He thought that was quite appropriate.The team that won districts - a picture of the cut-out figure for the game one of the parent's made.
Brad and Jeff in February 2006 with the ribbons they earned at the district meet. Wrestling was a great sport for them and they learned a lot from participating. We'll have fond memories for many years.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WFMW - Family Tradition

Works for Me Wednesday

National ParksOur family tradition is to visit a different national park every year. This year it was Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Has anyone ever heard of that one before? Do you know where it is?? Part of the tradition is to drive every road in the park, visit every visitor center (which includes reading all the exhibits), and hiking every trail. We usually don't complete all the trails (although last year we did), but we make a good start in our week there. Part of the fun is the good-natured grumbling that occurs over yet another hike. But this is Dad's vacation, so we mostly do what Dad wants! And if nothing else, it's memorable. That's what works for us.

This will be a short and simple post because there are still a lot of things to do to catch up from being gone! (The pictures are all uploaded, but they still need to be sorted and organized before I can share them. Stay tuned.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Friendshipping with Love

Memorable Monday Moments
More Friend Resources

Friendshipping with Love is another story from The Friend that we used several times. (It was probably prepared as a talk in Primary on missionary work, but we always got double-duty out of those by having the kids share their talk as a FHE lesson.)

Here's just one of the pictures (notice they're using puppets in the picture!). Follow the link above for the rest (right-click to save them before printing).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Abilene, Kansas

Flashback Friday
July 4th, 1968

I remembered that I had another birthday picture - but there's no cake in it. This year we were moving from Maryland (after Dad finished law school) back to California and happened to be in Abilene, Kansas on my birthday. Apparently the waitress in this restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to me, but it was too long ago for me to actually remember that!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Puppet Shows

Memorable Monday Moments
Puppet ShowsThis picture was taken during a FHE at the Whitaker grandparents' house in November 1987, but we often used stories from The Friend and little puppets we made to help make family night more interesting. Corey's Clubhouse is one story that we used. And if you're looking for puppets, here are the ones found in the current Nursery Manual.

Note: Someone has gone to the trouble of putting all the coloring page pictures from The Friend into one place. Isn't that terrific?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Flashback Friday
My 9th Birthday

Other than my 16th birthday, these are the only pictures I have of my childhood birthdays. (Or, at least, the only ones I can find.) So, I thought I would share them with all of you wonderful people!

One of the "blessings" of being born on the Fourth of July is I usually got a flag cake. And I usually got to go swimming and have a barbecue. And there were always fireworks - just for me! You can tell how old I am because I was alive when girls wore dresses all of the time - even to school and birthday parties. (It started becoming more acceptable to wear pants on a regular basis around the time I reached junior high, and in high school I remember alternating pants and dresses every other day.)1971 was the year of the birthday bicycles. My birthday is in July, my sister's in August, and my brother's in September. My parents gave all three of us bikes on my birthday. At first I felt gypped, but I quickly realized that it was much more fun to go bike riding with them than all by myself. Don't I have wise parents?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Foil Dinners

Works for Me Wednesday
Foil Dinners

Because it's a new month, this week's "Works for Me Wednesday" has a theme - easy summer meals. When I think of summer, I think of camping. And when I think of camping, I think of foil dinners. I took these pictures off of my son's camera, so he must have learned something before he went off to college.

The idea behind a foil dinner is fairly simple. Take whatever you want - we usually use a chicken breast, some chopped up potatoes, onions, and carrots, a dab of butter and some cream of mushroom soup - and fold it up in some foil. Plop it in the fire pit and wait for it to cook. Then open it up and eat it.
However, after having burned and/or undercooked vegetables the first few times we tried this, we discovered a few tricks. Here's what works for us:

1) Make sure the vegetables are cut in small pieces. When you're starving, you don't feel like waiting to eat. And fires don't cook carrots as fast as microwaves.

2) Place the butter on the foil, then the meat, then the vegies, then the soup. Don't forget salt and pepper or other seasonings.

3) After wrapping in heavy-duty foil once, cover it with wet paper towels, then wrap in foil again. This is our "secret ingredient!" And it really works to prevent burned foil dinners.

4) Be patient. Wait for the flames to die down so you can use the hot coals.
There you have it. Foil dinners work for us. (They can even be done at home in the oven - no messy pots to clean up!) If you want more fun ideas, visit We are THAT Family!