February 15, 2010

Bowling for Family Home Evening

The other day our boys rediscovered the plastic bowling pins (and ball) and have been playing with them non-stop. Usually they are taking setting up the pins in our "bowling alley" in the basement. The last time they had the pins out Michelle had put "X"-s on the ground so the boys would know where to set up all the pins. She even place a "ball guide" on the floor showing the boys where to roll the ball to hit the pins. So the boys have been playing bowling (until the get bored and decide that it's more fun to play swords with the pins instead of simply knocking the pins over).

David has been begging to go bowling ever since this recent discovery. We decided that going bowling as a family would be a fun activity. I was especially keen on the idea because I've spent so much time studying lately that I feel like I don't hardly see my boys at all, let alone have any time for being a good daddy. This would be a chance to spend some time with them. And we've always had good memories when we've gone bowling. And we always do a lesson for Family Home Evening and this would add a little variety to our lives.

So bowling was our Family Home Evening activity. We started off with some well behaved boys, sitting quietly waiting their turn to bowl. That lasted for a full 30 seconds, until David wanted to throw the first ball and Donovan couldn't stand it standing still. Michael and Aleky were right behind and so the sitting thing and taking turns was a challenge.

Having completed an intensely close and competitive game, the boys come together just long enough for one picture. David still can't believe the score.

I managed to pull off a 100+ bowling game. However, the stunning victory came from Donovan. He did us the bowling ball ramp for most of the game but the final frames he decided he was big enough to throw the ball unaided. (David was also throwing the ball unaided for the last part of the game.) In the end, he almost broke 100 and he beat mommy by 1 pin! Way to go Donovan!!!

Based on our score it would appear that we all need to head to the bowling alley to practice our aim, throw, and sense of fun and togetherness. What good times for our family.

February 14, 2010

Storytime with Grandma Jones

And so the bedtime process has begun when all of a sudden...Grandma comes! We had a surprise visit from Grandma Jones tonight! Cheyenne and Larissa were with her too and their arrival put new life into the boy's sails. That's not always a good thing just before bedtime however.

Fortunately Grandma new just what to do. While Cheyenne and Larissa took turns holding Quinten, Grandma read a few bedtime stories to the boys. Each boy picked a book and they gathered around to hear each story. Only Aleky seemed to escape the quieting effects of story time.

Once the boys had calmed back down we finished getting them ready for bed. Grandma and the girls were only here for a short visit but all of us were very excited about their unannounced arrival. Hopefully we'll get another surprise visit in the near future. Thank you for stopping by.

Surprise Visit From Elder Jensen

What a hectic morning...

There I was lying peacefully in my bed when I happened to look at the clock...6:53 am! While that isn't very early it happened to be just 7 minutes before my first meeting of the morning. And as happens when you discover your about to be late I received that adrenaline rush and jumped out of bed landing perfectly in front of my closet (almost). Actually I just jumped out of bed and began to hurriedly getting dressed.

I aroused Michelle as I hurried down the hall so that she could begin getting the rest of the family ready for church (it takes us that long to get ready for church in the morning). Somehow I managed to arrive just slightly late for my meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting I raced home to provide what little assistance I could to help the rest of the family get ready for church. As usual, Michelle had everyone ready and waiting, playing quietly in the living room. I swallowed a quick bite to eat, brushed my teeth (finally), and grabbed scriptures and church bag. In spite of our level of preparation we managed to arrived at church in time for the sacramental hymn.

As we walked in to our usual seat on the second row we noticed that there had been a change in our bishopric! The seat usually occupied by Brother Brienholt was by a distinguished looked gentleman that looked strangely familiar. We quickly took our seats. The hymn happened to be the hymn we have been practicing as a family this past week during our scripture reading in the morning, "God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son (Hymn #187).

Our boys sang the first verse of the hymn, sat quietly during the passing of the sacrament and then busied themselves playing games on our phones during the talks (presented by our new High Priest Group leadership). Each person shared a shortened talk obviously leaving time at the end of the meeting for our visitor, but having missed the announcements because we were late we had to wait until this mystery speaker was announced.

Finally it was announced that Elder Jay E Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy would be our concluding speaker! No wonder he looked familiar!!! He shared some great thought is just a few minutes. The main idea that I received from his talk was the parable of the pearl and the box. This parable was originally related by Elder Boyd K Packer:

“The parable: A merchant man seeking precious jewels found at last the perfect pearl. He had the finest craftsman carve a superb jewel box and line it with blue velvet. He put his pearl of great price on display so others could share his treasure. He watched as people came to see it. Soon he turned away in sorrow. It was the box they admired, not the pearl.” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 7)

Elder Jensen then related several examples of how we, as church members "admire the box" instead of "the pearl." Several examples, as I remember them include the following: Boy scout camp and girls camp activities are the box, the spiritual experiences are the pearl. The church buildings are the box, the gospel is the pearl. The temple is the box, Jesus is the pearl.

After the closing prayer, an eloquent oratory by Michelle, we expected the chapel to rush our position on the second row to shake the hand of this visiting General Authority. Surprising, we were not stampeded and we took advantage of our position to let each boy (except Quinten) to shake Elder Jensen's hand. After shaking the hands of the three speakers Elder Jensen came down from the stand and stopped at our row as we were trying to clean-up and repack our things.

Elder Jensen had some nice things to say to us as he surveyed our five boys and related his experience, having had 4 boys and 2 girls of his own and more than a dozen grand baby boys. He then asked my name and gave me a hug. It was a special experience to have those few special moments with someone of such spiritual stature. Both Michelle and I were able to feel a special spirit this morning.

Apparently Elder Jensen was originally scheduled for a large area training for the Eastern United States. But due to excessive snow those member's church meetings had been cancelled, freeing up Elder Jensen's Sunday. He had intended to visit a Spanish Ward in our area (not our stake) only to discover they were having ward conference. And having been acquainted with a previous stake presidency and thus being somewhat familiar with our ward/stake building he decided to visit us instead. We certainly feel blessed that the Lord would go through such great lengths to guide this servant to our ward to visit with me and my family (I'm just sure that's exactly why it happened...).

Regardless of the reasons or circumstances, this was a truly wonderful surprise visit from Elder Jensen. Once we got home we pulled out the recent Conference Ensign and showed the boys a picture of Elder Jensen and we had the opportunity to explain the various levels of church leadership (based on the row their picture happened to be in). What a fabulous Sabbath day.

February 13, 2010

Little Annie Oakley (Eleanor)

Our ward has a fabulous cooking group and every month Michelle wants to go and learn some new cooking tips, gather great recipes and visit with wonderful friends. Tonight was the night and she was really wanting to go but I've had a lot of studies, up-coming tests, etc. But I also knew it would mean a lot to her to go so I decided to sacrifice some study time to allow her the opportunity (I figured I could make up some of the study time over the holiday weekend).

Since I was going to be home I invited Eleanor to come over and play. From the pictures below you may notice that it isn't hard to babysit one additional child, especially if that child is a cute little girl. The boys were flocking to her where ever she went. Eleanor thought it was great fun to shoot the boys and watch the "die" and bounce up to be shot again (even better than an arcade game and it doesn't cost anything).

As you can imagine, Eleanor had plenty of practice and was dead on in her aim, killing all 5 boys (of course I wanted to play too, I just couldn't take a picture of me being shot). It worked out to be lots of fun. The boys were very disappointed when the finally had to go to bed (45 minutes after their regular bedtime).

Michelle had a great time at cooking group and I had a great time at home with the kids. It was so much fun I think I'll have to do it again sometime. Now let's see...when is my next vacation day?

February 4, 2010

Going to the Park

I've been studying pretty hard lately trying to handle 3 intense classes: anatomy, physiology and microbiology (and psychology but it isn't quite so intensive). This morning I took another anatomy quiz which included studying until midnight (again) last night and back to campus first thing this morning.

While that has been pretty tough Michelle has been stranded at home with 5 boys 6 years old and under. That may be slightly more intense than my rigorous studies. So after my exam I came home and let Michelle escape for a few hours. While she was gone I was able to feed my boys lunch and then go to the park. So off we went, Donovan, Michael, Aleky and Quinten to the park across from the church.

The boys had a fabulous time. And they were going full speed the entire time. I was able to catch a few precious moments.

Michael and Aleky wanted to swing on the swings like Donovan. So I gave 'em a push (or three) and they thought that was the best. That lasted for at least 3 minutes before they were off to more exciting parts of the park.

Donovan has learned how to pump all by himself and can get the swing pretty high. Here is an action photo of one of his dismounts.

The slides captured the attention of Michael and Aleky, especially Aleky. He was going non-stop the entire time.

This shows Aleky's mounting technique for sliding down the slides. (No, I didn't teach this to him...he figured it out all by himself.)


All the boys were running full speed. This was my speed trap where I could catch 'em in action.

And I got a few precious moments in the sun with my boys! What a great mid-day activity.