Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Graduation!

Our baby girl is graduating from college! 

Typing that brought tears to my eyes. Oh, dear. I'll post pictures of this year's festivities later, [her friend already took some great ones - see here] but thought it would be fun to do a "remembering" post today. So, here you go!

Once upon a time, many years ago, we graduated from BYU. Such an exciting time, with no idea of what lay ahead!
1984 ~ B.A. Music History ~ B.S. Finance/Marketing/International Business
It's been a wonderful journey, though, much of it spent helping and encouraging and supporting these wonderful children as they traveled the path to adulthood. Four years ago we crossed "our children's high school graduations" off the list of goals we set for ourselves.
And in one more year we can cross "our children's college graduations" off the list. (There are still a few advanced degrees to be awarded, but those aren't our goals; our kids are great goal-setters themselves!)

Nine years ago we made the trip to BYU for Weston, who received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Three years later he graduated with both an M.B.A. and a Master's in Engineering. Elizabeth graduated at the same time with a degree in nursing. Megan received a BYU degree in Communication Disorders the year before.

We weren't able to make the trip to Utah, but the next year it was David's turn to graduate with a B.S. in Construction Management. Cody graduated at the same time in Statistical Science.
We did make it three years ago for Brad's graduation in Electrical Engineering. Alicia graduated at the same time in Elementary Education, but we didn't know her then.
Last year it was Jeff's turn to graduate with a B.S. in Exercise Science.
Next year it will be Steven's turn; he's working on a degree in Electrical Engineering. And in 20 years or so we hope we'll be able to help the next generation celebrate this grand achievement.
Wyatt thought it should have been his turn already!
However, this year we're celebrating Michelle and her B.S. in Technology and Engineering Education, or TEE for short. We're so proud of her and her accomplishments and look forward to seeing what the future brings!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Baby Blessing in Pennsylvania

Before we leave for the next big event in our family, I better finish the post on the last one!

After our pleasant stroll along the Brandywine Creek, we enjoyed relaxing at the house for the rest of Saturday.
Clark is a very new addition to the family, but Thomas the Dragon Tail Betta Fish (I think that's the type) is an even newer one. We also tried getting a picture of the three boys in the elephant shirts Aunt Michelle sent them for Christmas. Getting Sam to sit still and smile at the camera continues to be a fun adventure. At least this time he was happy to smile at his little brother.
Does anyone have an explanation for why adults think children's gifts should have animals on them? Just wondering.
Sunday was the special blessing day. We're so grateful for the power of the priesthood and for eternal families. We're especially grateful for the wonderful men our sons have become and for how beautifully they're fulfilling their responsibility to raise the next generation, made possible because they each chose an awesome wife.
Megan's parents are awesome, too, and it was great sharing this special day with them.
We created some beautiful memories and look forward to having many more such memory-making days in the future.

So that they're easy to find, here are the other Baby Blessing posts:
#1, #2, #3, 
[Oops! Apparently I have some work to do.]
#4, #5, #6, and #7
#9 will be this fall!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Struble Trail in Pennsylvania

Ready to start our adventure - the 2.6 mile Strubel Trail heading into Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
 We found a bridge, or two, or three.

We found a sign to read.
 The remains of the Dowlin Forge.

 We passed a few old barns.

We stopped to take a picture.
 East Brandywine Creek
 A small stream
 The end is in sight!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

FHE and More in Pennsylvania

Part of the fun of this trip was just being there for the normal, every day activities. The big stuff is nice, but it's the little things that really make a family unique and wonderful. So, here's documentation for some of the ordinary things that make each day an adventure.

It was a joy to be able to participate in their family night. In honor of Clark's arrival, Megan prepared the special "A Child of God" lesson from the Family Home Evening Resource Book. One of the neat parts of the evening was when Weston asked Wyatt to choose the opening hymn, although he gave the caveat that if his mom wanted a special hymn to go with the lesson (she wasn't in the room at the time), they might have to change. Wyatt picked "I am a Child of God" which is exactly the one the lesson suggested. I loved how they pointed out to him that he was listening to the Spirit to help him pick the perfect hymn.

Another special part of the lesson was when Megan shared each of the "how you came to our family and how you got your name" stories for each of the boys. So much love was present. And fun, too - can't end the evening without blowing some special R2D2 bubbles and eating some cookies, and maybe even playing a game.
It doesn't have to be family night to play a game, and we did a lot of that, plus reading stories, throughout the week.
Trying to get a picture with everyone looking at the camera, with their tongue inside their mouth and their limbs not in front of their face is asking a bit much, but we tried anyway as part of family home evening, and the boys were good sports about it.
Outside play is essential for growing boys.
I loved watching their imaginations at work. Wyatt finally found the treasure chest he had buried and then promptly re-buried it, but with new treasure inside. Sam had to do some digging as well. The play structure was turned into a sailing ship, and became the base for several adventures. The beautiful flowing cherry tree became their cousins' home across the ocean. (The other cousins'  home was the hill in the backyard.) We had a great time sailing to visit them.
We don't have the normal four seasons in Florida, so watching spring arrive was a real treat. And the pussy willow tree brought back great memories of when I lived in Maryland when I was 5.
 Imaginations were at work indoors as well.

The creative juices were flowing also.
I learned all about Octonauts and their Gups (or vehicles). Here's Wyatt drawing a Gup A for me.
Here's a Gup H. There are a lot more!
When you're 5, part of the daily routine involves going to school. Kindergarten is half-day, but the buses only do full-day runs, so Wyatt gets the best of both worlds!
When they purchased their house they were told the street used to be called Mormon Hollow, and there was a historical marker a few houses down. I decided I couldn't leave without reading what it had to say, so one day I took a short walk.
Basically it states that this seminary building was built by a Quaker, Edward Hunter, who donated it to the county under condition that any group could use it for educational or religious purposes. The prophet Joseph Smith preached to the Brandywine Branch here in January of 1840, and in October of that year, Edward Hunter was baptized. There's a great article about his life in the Ensign. It's actually quite fascinating, almost as fascinating as daily life with our own family members.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

One evening we decided to take advantage of "Mormon Night" at the natural history museum in Philadelphia and drove into the city. It should have taken about an hour, but for some reason Siri navigated us there using side roads. Driving by old homes and businesses was actually fascinating and I loved the sense of history I felt. Besides, it didn't take too much longer, and we weren't in any hurry anyway. After getting the kids settled in the stroller, we were off on our adventure!
The museum is within walking distance of the Philadelphia Temple, so organized tours were part of the night's activities. It was still a little light when we first saw the temple, but it got dark quickly.
More proof that I'm not a very good photographer, but also proof that we were there. Besides, I kind of like the shadowy blotches of light.
Then it was back to the museum for more exploring. 
All in all, it was a quite enjoyable evening. Thank you for the fun trip!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Exploring in Pennsylvania

One afternoon we took a walk with bikes along the Struble Trail, which follows the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek. (Click here to see the map.) It reminded of the New River Trail in Virginia.

The trees are still bare, but they're beginning to bud, and we did find some colorful flowers.

How would you pronounce Uwchlan?

This cutie stayed at home with his mama. Unfortunately, it won't be long before he's running along the trail with his big brothers. Time flies so quickly!

Another day we went to Marsh Creek State Park, where the activity of choice was throwing rocks into the reservoir.

But we also took a short hike along the "red" trail
 to find a picnic table, and another rock-throwing spot.
When Mom's along for the adventure, there are snacks in the backpack!
Looking forward to coming back some day. Maybe we'll walk the entire red trail and have a picnic. Grandpa would like that.

Another day we visited the Lower Merion Baptism Cemetery in Bryn Mawr. I noticed that the family I was researching just before this trip immigrated from Ireland to the Pennsylvania area. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to do something while in the area. Fortunately, Weston and Megan thought it sounded like fun as well. And we did have a good time exploring the cemetery looking for recognizable names. Go here to see what we discovered.

However, the boys had more fun at the nearby playground. Hooray for the internet for letting us know Ashbridge Park was so close to the cemetery.
One day we enjoyed lunch at Far Away Farm's Country Store, a local business just down the road from their house. They make delicious sandwiches and desserts!
We had one more adventure, but the trip into downtown Philadelphia deserves its own post. Pennsylvania is a great place to visit. I hope these cute grandkids stay there long enough so we can do a lot of visiting and exploring!