Friday, December 28, 2007

James 19th Birthday

December 28th, after a full morning going to the temple, we celebrated James' 19th birthday at home. James seemed happy, though not surprised with things like dress shoes, slacks, sweaters, alarm clock, etc for his mission. Julia made him some handmade stationery and decorated envelopes for writing home.

James had already shopped with us for his new suits--that once altered looked stunning. Another customer at Macy's said, "Macy's should pay YOU because you make their suits look good!"

A last game of frisbee (in January!) with his friends Rex and Reggie.

It's been nice to see the friendship of the two sets of brothers over the years.

Happy Birthday James, and best wishes on your mission!

Washington D.C. Temple

Proud Dad and Mom with future missionary, Elder James Meiners.

James went on his nineteenth birthday to the Washington D.C. temple in preparation for his mission. He flies out on January 8th and reports at the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah on January 9th.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas morning

Here we are on Christmas morning by the tree--James and Julia,

David, Daniel and Andrea

and Erika.
Julia and Andrea wear the scarves I crocheted for them.

Christmas dinner--turkey and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and other yummy stuff. We departed from our pie tradition and had cheesecake for dessert.

We were thankful to be together and for Jesus birth!

Christmas in Denver

Kara and Luke left for Denver a few days before Christmas.
They had already picked out an apartment and Luke was ready to start his new accounting job on January 2.

They seemed happy to settle into and start furnishing it

Wow, they look nice in the scarves I made them for Christmas :)

Christmas Eve Dinner, Christmas Brunch

We have tried to combine Dave's German family traditions with my Danish ones, so Christmas Eve follows my family traditions, and Christmas--his.

One of the important ingredients of our Danish meal is Red Cabbage. Partly because it's red, and it's traditional. Would you believe that I was so prepared that I still had the jar of Red Cabbage in the frig from last year? I'll leave it to you imagination as to whether I served it again--Ok, I did because it's pickled and it was still fine! and because no one eats it anyway. :)

A more loved tradition is the rice almond pudding with loads of whipped cream and raspberry topping. The person who finds the whole almond traditionally got a marzipan (almond paste) pig--but we've Americanized it to be a large Almond Chocolate bar--(and we let all us others losers share a bar.) James was the winner this year.

Kara Americanized it further and used regular store-bought pudding, but since she had just moved into their apartment in Denver that week we allowed it. :)

Next morning for our Christmas Brunch we typically have bacon (the only time all year!), sausage, scrambled eggs, Danish and Italian Pannetone, orange juice and grapefruit with cherry halves. Similar story. The cherries were still in the frig from last year. Aren't I efficient?

Everyone wakes up and opens their stockings. Then after Brunch we open the presents. We were sorry not to have Kara and Luke this year (though we celebrated with them a few weeks earlier in Idaho.) We were happy to have James and Erika home though--and of course Daniel, Julia and Andrea, too!

(Here's my handsome husband David goofing around --seeing how we'd like him with marshmallow teeth. )

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reservoir Music Concert, Pt 2

Daniel and Julia had their first Music Concert last Friday. They both performed in the Concert Choir. Unfortunately we were in Idaho and didn't see them.

Last night was great. James, Erika and Andrea were also able to be with us for Part 2. Here is Daniel (in suit jacket) playing trombone in the jazz band.

Julia, (in green) sang "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus"with the Women's Chorus.

Daniel sang with the Madrigals. We had the special treat of seeing that Daniel was the student director of the group. Because he has perfect pitch he gave them one starting note, then directed the beginning and ending measures on the songs.
They entered the room with each young man escorting a young lady with a matching costume. It looks like they have a lot of fun!

Here is Daniel in the school's advanced band. Julia is also in the band playing clarinet, but I couldn't see her while she was playing.

This band (and the jazz band) learned their four songs in the past 3 weeks since Marching Band ended.

I was so proud of Daniel and Julia and I'm pleased that music is a part of their lives.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gingerbread Houses

One of our newer Christmas traditions is to make gingerbread houses. It has something for everyone--engineering, architecture, creativity..CANDY!

Unfortunately this past Monday night, which we reserve for family activities, Daniel and Julia had a music rehearsal for their upcoming concert, and weren't able to participate.

Daniel and Julia both correctly guessed the creator of each house. Can you? Contestants: David, Cheri, Erika, James, Andrea. (Answers at the bottom) 1





(Key: 1-Andrea, 2-James, 3-Cheri, 4-Erika, 5-David)

Utah-Idaho trip

Dave and I left with Andrea on Dec 12 to see family and attend the graduation of Kara and Luke. After a smooth flight we rented a car and drove to Logan to see my Dad and his wife, Susan. They had just returned from a 5-week trip to Thailand the day before, and so were still recovering from their trip. (They had gone for the wedding of Susan's Thai brother's daughter, but unfortunately Susan became ill and spent 4 days in the hospital--missing the whole wedding and guests. Then her son Chris, 25, who was with them, had to have his appendix out there!) They had some exotic gifts for us from Thailand, and we spent the night with them.

The next morning we drove up to Rexburg--with some snowy roads. We met Kara and went to her school where she just student taught second grade. I was asked to read one of my books to the various second grade classes. I had fun doing it and seeing how they had enjoyed Kara.

That night our whole family had dinner

--(except Julia and Daniel who had to stay in Maryland. They did a great job of getting themselves to seminary and school each morning, their Music concert which we had to miss, and church.) My mom and Craig had driven up from California and met us there. Immediately afterwards James and Erika ran off to finish a couple more finals before midnight. We stayed with Kara and Luke in their roomy 2-bedroom apartment.

Friday was the graduation luncheon and ceremonies (noted on a separate post.)
After the ceremonies our family and Luke's parents, sister, nephews and grandma had subs and cake at their place.

On Saturday we helped James and Erika pack up.
We took some extra things to my Uncle Monte's in Idaho Falls and had a nice visit there with Monte, Violet and my mom and Craig who stayed with them. Later that night we exchanged Christmas gifts with Kara and Luke.

We got James and Erika on the shuttle at 6:15 am on Sunday (with 15 pieces of luggage) and then left for Salt Lake. We met them at the airport and checked on our combined 15 pieces of check-in luggage--and 10 pieces of carry on-- in 3 shifts. Big thanks to Brother Mumford, our home teacher, who took and picked us up from the airport in our van.

Kara and Luke Graduate

On December 14, 2007 Kara and Luke Decker graduated together from BYU-Idaho. This was the largest December graduation at the school with about 1114 graduates--including 54 couples like Kara and Luke who graduated together.

We had a luncheon first. Susan Tanner spoke (and was the keynote speaker later.) We were in the same ward as youth. She's a year older and is someone I admire. She is the General Young Women's President for the church.

She shared this anecdote. Once at a meeting with our prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, she was happy to see all the leaders together and remarked to him, "I'm so glad that you're all here." To which President Hinckley quipped, "I'm glad that I'm all here, too!"

After the general commencement where all the graduates walked in, we went to the various colleges where they each received their diplomas. Kara walked with Luke at the Business college.

Kara with Grandpa Craig and Grandma Varna

Kara with Erika and James who have also been attending BYUI, and Andrea.

Kara and Luke with Dave and I

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Psychology lab--Rats!

David and I went last week with Andrea to BYU-Idaho where 3 of our children and 1 son-in-law studied this semester.

Erika had a psychology lab where she trained a chicken to peck at a dot, and then trained Sandi--this rat--to do tricks like leap across a table,...
climb up a rope and over a bridge of thin sticks.

Here's Sandi and her trainer with a coveted Olympic medal.

See Sandi in action! (for about 30 seconds)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nifty Fifty

I celebrated my 50th birthday on Sunday--waking up to breakfast in bed and singing by Andrea and Dave. When Dave asked what I would like this year, I had a couple things in mind that required construction and installation. Besides the fact that it was my birthday, he had a 4-day holiday weekend to devote to projects I had in mind. :) It was great to shop with him for a chandelier-type light for our kitchen and have him install that the next day. He hung a heavy mirror for me and some other odd jobs.

The best project was our joint design/jointly constructed headboard. I had recently worked on a fabric headboard, but it needed some help. Dave brought up some old kitchen cabinet doors that we had saved for such a use. I painted the wood and constructed the fabric panels while Dave attached the appropriate boards to the panels and wall and voila! we have a new headboard. (While the design shows would have you think it just takes a few minutes to create furniture with power tools, it actually took most of Saturday.) Here's our finished creation:

By the way, (BTW as Julia says) the comforter and drapes were my Grandma Nita's and made probably 40 years ago. I just added a section for height.)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And the Envelope, Please

Today was a red-letter day for our family. THE LETTER arrived from Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet and President of the church, telling James where he has been called to serve his mission. We called James, and he asked that we read it rather than mail it for him to open. He and Erika went to Kara and Luke's place and called us from there. When we were all together on the speaker-phone, David read it.

It said,in part:

"Dear Elder Meiners:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the California Riverside Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

You should report to the Missionary Training Center at Provo, Utah on Wednesday, 9 January 2008. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language."

We are so excited for James, and proud of all he has done to prepare himself throughout his life for this selfless opportunity.

Here are a few highlights and memories:

Wuxi, China

Erika will be taking next semester off of school and has just received her assignment for her winter job. She will be going to Wuxi, China--about a half-hour north of Shanghai. She will be teaching English to kindergarten age children. It sounds very exciting. She is going with a program based in Rexburg, where BYU-Idaho is located, though it's not officially associated with the school. She'll be going with a friend, and several other young people from BYU-Idaho and BYU-Provo will be nearby.

She'll have her own apartment and will be assigned to a school where she will teach English classes. She writes her own curriculum. She is taking Chinese this semester, which should help her somewhat in teaching children who don't know any any English. She will eat lunch at the school, and will prepare her own dinners. For her birthday (in 3 days) she has asked for money to spend on her trip. She's already thinking about the great things she's planning to buy and fun places she will travel. She would like to visit Hong Kong by train before going home. She'll be gone from mid-February to early July.

Penny the Pig

Andrea has a piggy bank. She has aptly named the pig Penny. She goes around the house with soulful eyes saying, "Feed my pig". Some people actually do.