Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Forward Ho to Washington!

Turn around time from Trek to Washington trip was short-luckily mom and dad were there to help us get ready! We made it off and headed up to South Weber to see the Tuckers!! It was so good to see them and they treated us like royalty. It is so fun to have life long friends (Brady road tripped with us to our wedding, and the Tuckers have been to Monroe-it doesn't get much truer than that!)
The only bummer was that Viana and Brooke weren't there-the girls would have had a blast together.
We made it to Washington Monday night-just in time for FHE at the trampoline park! Our 10 hour drive Monday was super great. Funny how sometimes 10 hours can fly by! We took our family, Jared's kids and Uncle Ron to the tramp park. We've never been to one, but we fell in love! It was super fun! CharlyAnn had the time of her life on the kids tramps and everyone else loved the big tramps!
Grandma, Char, and Ram

Haha, face plant.
Emily! And I'm realizing these pictures make it look more like we went to a foam pad park!

Uncle Ron!

Daddy :)
It was super fun, and I don't know if I've ever seen Eric sweat so much! It was super fun!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


This marks the SIXTH trek I've adventured on in my life: 4 organized through stakes, 2 organized through family. Not too shabby for starting when I was 14. That's an average of one every three years! Anyway, our stake trek this year was AWESOME! (like every other trek ever:)

Mom and Dad are the BEST to come watch the 3 babies (two big girls were with grandma enjoying their perfect behavior school year reward) and mom for outfitting at least 6 different people at the trek!
We met in Annabella at the church Thursday morning and loaded up our carts! It was overwhelmingly joyous and I was so happy to be there and the buzz of excitement was awesome!
 We then squished 450 people into the gym for a nice opening devo (piano player: got a cool angle for the picture:) We were split into 4 companies by color. The blue and green group took off first and the yellow (me) and red groups watched some Joseph Smith movies until our turn.
So, I had this YW that isn't a member but has been coming to our activities and forming really good relationships with us. I was the aunt in her family. So, as we left after the movie I asked her if she knew who Joseph Smith was. She did not. So I basically gave her the first discussion and taught her nearly all the basic doctrines. I asked her how she felt after that and she said, "I usually feel heavy right here (pointing to her chest), and after that I feel much lighter." It was awesome!! Needless to say, I told the missionaries and she met the missionaries, and that is sweet!!
 So, we had that sweet experience before we even made it out of Annabella!
Goodbye Annabella...
 Welcome to the wilderness of our trek!! So, we just went 5 miles out from Annabella to a place called Saul's Meadow. It was PERFECT. And uphill. :)
 We had 4 vignettes on the way up. The first was Joseph Smith. This is one of Eric's past students. He memorized most of JS-H and recited it. He retold it so effectively and I really felt the spirit. The second one I didn't get a picture of...becasue I was too amazed and touched. They re-enacted the story of Joseph Smith being dragged out of his house in the middle of the winter to be tarred and feathered, while the adopted twins were little (one dying the next week as a result of exposure). The actors literally beat the crap out of Joseph Smith and tarred him (with syrup maybe? Something very sticky). It was so powerful and moving. They had real babies there and they were crying their eyes out (did they pinch them? Or just sense the reality of the situation?) It was the most brutal thing. They dragged and kicked nad punched and struggled and fought and ripped his shirt and tarred him. It was insane (and the actors did that 4 times?!) Such a unique experience.
 My family was ridiculously perfect. It was the picture perfect family. We had 9 kids, 4 boys and 5 girls. The best Ma and Pa ever, and me-the crazy aunt :) We had Jaaron Nielson (18, leaving for a mission to Irvine, CA in July), Quincy Flake (17), Hayden Nowell (15) and Eli ANderson (13). Lelie Grant (17), Taylor Can'tremember (14), Brookelle Brindley (12), Brecklyn Gale (12), and Adia Estes (12). Jason and Staci Kling (ps Jason is from Warden, WA-teeny town by othello!!) These two big boys-Jaaron and Quincy pulled us up all the hills like champs!
 Lunch (the carmalized poop cave our family hiked to is just to the left of this picture)
 The 3rd scene we saw was Haun's Mill. Very well done also. The 4th was a stake presidency member telling the story of the Nauvoo exodus. It was very instructive for me as he focused on the reason why for all of this: to keep our covenants!!
 I thought this picture was cute-good reality of the hard work we were enduring!!
 Our cute cart! Nevermind that our flag only has 5 of the 9 kids handprints on it...

View from the meadow at camp :)
 The first night our fireside was the Nashville Tribute Band. I hadn't ever heard of's a collection of musicians (like 10-15?) that split up to go where needed around the world for musical firesides. They were SOOOOO good. It was AMAZING. Different than what i expected, but SO good. They had the kids come up to sing with one song :)
 Here's my whole family the next morning. (BtoF, LtoR: Jaaron, Brecklyn, Taylor, Staci, Leila, Brookelle, Adia, Eli, Hayden, Quincy. I guess Jason is missing)

 The first day we traveled on the mountain road, which was great, but the second morning we traveled on the back trails through the canyon of the mountain. A lot more realistic-rocky and bumpy and narrow and BEAUTIFUL!!! We had one stop that day with Brigham Young! It was sweet! We also had the women's pull on a pretty tough hill (I even slipped and drew blood!) The first day focused on the Legacy of Joseph Smith, the second day focused on the Legacy of the Sevier county pioneers. It was awesome!
 So we trekked down into the town of Glenwood. We stopped at the park to play pioneer games and have lunch.
 Each pioneer game had a Sever county pioneer story that applied to the game. It is so cool to hear these stories about people who a lot of the students are related to!!
 We dominated the tug of war.
 After the park we went to the church building and they had made this movie with all 73 missionaries serving from our stake-it was AWESOME! That is like what Eric and I strive for-missions and temple marriages! So it as really powerful (plus Eric mad a sneek appearance in one of the pictures in the movie!) Then we played a matching game with all the missionaries to their missions-I dominated that guy! Then we went out to the DUP relic cabin in the parking lot of the church and heard the story of the founding of Glenwood (it was bought from two indians for an ox) and an incredible story about obeying the prophet. Then it was time to head back to camp! We had to go up this huge hill and we were supposed to use ropes to add man power...but the yellow company opted to just go for it! No ropes! We were strong and proud :)
Take note of all those clouds in the sky. The forecast was 92 degrees. It would have been so hot and so miserable. But, Heavenly Father loves his children and sent this miraculous cloud coverage. It was such a blessing and so wonderful.
Yeah family!
 So, Brookelle was like, "Is that your daughter?" and this girl I had never seen-who turned out being Brecklyn's cousin was my doppleganger! We like totally look alike huh?
 So Eric was coming up that night from SLC (which will have to be a post in itself!) so we were hanging out at camp playing games and bonding and internally I was getting so excited to see my husband! So, I was trying to be patient, but finally I had to go see if he had come yet. So I walked up to the parking area and little blue was there! So then I just started running to the meadow to see my husband!! Someone saw him and saw me running and I sensed that they took a picture of our joyous embrace and reunion...hopefully they will send that picture to me...but until then, here is a cute picture of Eric and the other actors for the fireside. :) The pony express came in before the fireside started which is always so fun. And throughout the year all the youth had been submitting their "weapons of war" (anti-nephi-lehis) into this sweet box, so we also dug a huge whole in nature and buried our weapons!!
 Our trek director wrote this awesome program. There were 3 scenes: Carthage and narrative by Willard Richards (Eric being Joseph Smith, with his own doppelganger Brad Eyre as Hyrum-people seriously confuse them all the time), 2 modern day missionaries re-telling their conversion story and defining moment of the death of his little brother in a car accident, and a dying pioneer woman talking to her teenage son and then being reunited with her dead husband-ending with Eric's music video that he made-which of course was AMAZING! and as the song ended the three groups (Joseph and Hyrum, Missionaries with dead brother-white clothes, and dead pioneer couple-white clothes) spotlighted on the hill; so epic and good!!
Then we went back to our camp to read the pony express letters and have family testimony meeting. I told everyone I expected them each to share and they did and it was POWERFUL!! Evidence of the life-changing nature of TREK!!
Eric and I then slept in our two man tent and woke up ready to go home! The morningside was soooo good. We all got shirts for our company, Eric climbed to his spotlight on the hill spot to take this great picture! So, day one, Joseph's legacy, day two Sevier county legacies, day 3 was our legacy-Come take your place. So we had the stake patriarch and temple presidency member speak on that =so good!! They gave us 20 minutes for stake testimonies. I could have sat there ALL DAY to listen to that.

Stake presidency!!  Such holy men. We are so blessed to be led by such wonderful men.
Then it was on to home! It was very fun to trek with Eric :)

Jaaron-so great. We were already bonded through track, but had such good, testimony strengthening chats on the trek. Plus, I had cute bloomers.

Hayden and Eli really stepped up and carted us home!
 The streets of Annabella were lined with families. It was so welcoming. Especially since I had told my parents about it without Eric knowing! Surprise! It was the most joyous reunion I have ever been in. Emery was indescribably excited to see me. Dad-you better post those happy pictures or send them to me :)
So there ya go! Trek! I'm sure Trek actually stands for Testimonies Really Explode, 'Kay?!!! It was the best! I had my YW share their favorite part about it and they were bursting with joy and stories and love and testimony and it made for one happy CJ!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pride cometh before the fall

So, everyone knows that I am not the best cook, nor am I the one who loves to bake. But lately I have been trying to be more domestic and have cooked and baked way more than ever before. And I've been successfully making some good stuff! Well, last night after the kids were in bed I looked at Eric and said, "I feel like making cookies!" And Eric looked at me and said, "no way, I was just thinking I wanted to eat cookies!" So Eric said he would help me and I was feeling so confident and happy to bake that I almost even tried making the cookies from memory...but I still pulled out the recipe just in case. Well, as it turns out, when Eric and I make cookies together I bake and he sits at the counter with me so we can talk. So we're talking away and the dough whips up, I slap some cookies in the oven and then I pull them out and they looked like this!
I was an utter failure! I realized that as Eric and I were conversing that when the recipe said 2 and a diddle cups of flour, I distractedly only put in one and a diddle. Luckily, we caught it in time to fix the rest...and as luck would have it, cookies short on flour taste like cookie dough--but the eggs have been safely cooked!
The rest of the cookies had enough flour and were great! 

The moral of this story is 3-fold;1) the good company of Eric was completely worth the failed cookies 2) there is a safe way to eat cookie dough 3) butterscotch and white chocolate chips are a worthy replacement for chocolate!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Dear Dad, 

Thank you for loving my mother. And for making a kissy face with kissy sounds until she beckoned to your call and smooched you and you patted her bum whenever you came home. Thank you for loving her home cooked meals, they were always the best you had ever had. Today. Thank you for spoiling her with the spoils of war (or shooting competitions) and bringing her exotic ducks from across the globe. And for letting her put up with you-you lucky duck.  Thank you for assuming the position with her every night you were home, both on your knees and then her in your arms. And for publicly re-telling the Abraham Lincoln story time and time again. Thanks for letting mom cut your hair all of your married life. And then learning to cut hers too. Thanks for taking our family on road trips and letting us kids bond in the back of the car while you dissected every station with mom in the front of the car. And for letting her pull for you, and then letting her pull for us in other ways when you got the Ventriloquist. Thanks for never raising your voice or a hand to mom. And cleaning up the spilled grape juice when mom just couldn't do it anymore. Thanks for taking her to Puerto Rico, and Russia and D.C. and China. And leaving us with your great in-laws. And for having such great in-laws! Thank you for loving my mother, and for giving me the perfect example of what a husband should be.
 It worked out pretty good for me-your perfect one-to find a perfect husband. And what I knew all along, and what I can see even more clearly now, when you work so hard to be such a great husband, being a wonderful father falls right into place. 

Thanks Dad, for being my dad and loving me; leading to me to my wonderful husband and fabulous father to my own children! Happy Father's Day!