Monday, March 24, 2008

Jonas Brothers Concert

Andrea was furtunate enough to be invited by a friend to go to the White House Easter Egg roll and festivities on the Mall in Washington, DC. Tickets are free, but her friend's dad had to camp overnight to pick up the tickets.

The girls didn't care if they missed the other events. They just wanted to see the Jonas Brothers in concert. They were way in the back and couldn't see anything during the first concert, but as soon as it ended they went up to the front row and waited there for 4 hours--holding tight to their spots until the next concert.

She was amply rewarded by being almost close enough to touch them, [and to get these close up shots] and she's pretty sure Nick actually waved to her. :)

Flash Back to 4 years ago

Dave at the front doors of the famous domed cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, (Il Duomo)

Four years ago today Dave and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary (a few weeks early) in Florence, Italy. David had an emergency appendectomy just two weeks earlier. However it didn't stop us from walking all day long each day to see the great museums and cathedrals of the world housed in this one city. We rented an apartment for the week to live like the Italians. It was on Via Delle Terme near Palazzo Vecchio in the center of town. We would come home for lunch and both take a few aspirin for our aching legs, and then go out again. It reminded me a bit of all the walking I did many years earlier as a missionary in Italy.

My favorite story of our trip, though, is eating at a trattoria that had been recommended in my Frommer's book-- 'Il Pennello' on Via Dante Alighieri. The food was excellent, and our waiter was friendly. I said to him in my best Italian, "I understand that many famous painters used to come to this restaurant. Is that true?" Rather than just give me an answer, he asked us to come with him. He took us through a hall and up a few steps to another room that was empty--except for a full size painting that covered one wall. The painting was by Mariotto Albertinelli. He was a painter by hobby who opened the restaurant in the 1500s. The portrait was of the room we were in. We could match up the columns and architectural features in the painting with those of the room. In the portrait, facing us in life size was Michelangelo, and other celebrated Flortentine artists of the time like Del Sarto and Cellini who liked to hang out at Albertinelli's place.)

I was almost speechless. Of all the paintings we had seen in all the museums this one was powerful because it was in the original location. I could easily imagine these great artists in this same room 500 years ago! And they were talking and eating there just like we were. The waiter could see how deeply impressed I was by this unexpected surprise--and then told us that 200 years before Albertinelli had owned the place, it had belonged to the great writer, Dante!

He kindly gave me this postcard that tells of the history of the place. Though it may not be known with certainty that this was the actual house of Dante, it is agreed that Dante lived on the block--which was named for him. The sense of history and all the many great people who lived in this one town is absolutely astounding.

We were also able to tour Michelangelo's house and to walk by Galileo's house, the church where Amerigo Vespucci attended, the burial place (SantaCroce Cathedral) of Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, and Niccolo Machiavelli. We saw the great works of Brunelleschi, Ghirlandaio, Boticelli, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Donnatello, and Della Robbia. We took a day trip to nearby Fiesole where we saw models of Leonardo da Vinco's inventions as well as Roman baths and an Etruscan temple.

This year's anniversary will be great in another way--I'll be with the same great guy! You can check back in a few weeks for details on this year's 24th anniversary.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

We celebrated a quiet Easter today. At church, Daniel, Andrea and I performed Easter music with the ward choir.

On Friday afternoon we had our family egg hunt in our yard.

Daniel used his counter to help him keep track of all the eggs he found.

That night we colored eggs as a family. Everyone had an egg 'dedicated' to them including James (in California), Erika (in China) Kara and Luke (in Colorado) who weren't with us.

Sunday afternoon we relaxed together and everyone helped make part of our dinner.

We had a roast, sauteed asparagas and baby carrots, a green salad, mashed potatoes made by Daniel, a braided bread with cinnamon icing made by Julia and strawberries and whipped cream over angel food cake made by Andrea.

This day renewed my gratitude for Jesus Christ whose atonement erases my sins that I repent of, heals every kind of sorrow, and whose resurrection promises each of us the gift of being resurrected to a glorious life hereafter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Andrea's Room

Andrea has been wanting to change her room around. Since all the walls really needed to be painted, we started by clearing almost everything out of the room, leaving the heavy furniture in the middle. A friend gave us a bed frame which I painted white.

I shampooed the carpet and Monday Julia helped Andrea and I paint trim and doors white and put on a primer coat on all the walls as we listened to music from Hairspray and Jack Johnson. We came back to it on Thursday, painting all the walls Laura Ashley lavender in 2 shades (which you can't tell apart!).

Friday I touched up and we moved the furniture back in with new lavender gingham bedding. We had also painted her bookshelf (soft green) and a shelf and some picture frames white. This was the first time Andrea had this much say in her decorating, and I'm pretty sure it will always look this tidy :).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break

This year for Spring Break we decided to do something separately with Daniel, Julia and Andrea to have some time with each of them to do something they wanted to do.

Dave drove up to NYC with Daniel. We went as a family last spring at about this time, but there were things Daniel still hoped to do there. They drove up early on Tuesday and walked through Central Park. Daniel was interested in seeing the various statues in the park. Here's Dan with Balto.

They saw the Julliard School of Music and its bookstore. Dan also wanted to see the Nintendo store at Rockefeller Center. Here he is playing the new Super Smash Brothers Brawl game on a Wii there.

They also went to see Ground Zero and were on a tour by a fireman who was the only survivor from his unit.

Click the pic to see Dad and Dan in NYC-2008

Julia and Andrea and I enjoyed "Horton Hears a Who", had lunch and shopped for clothes at the mall.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Service Project for Women with Cancer

For the past four years I have been the President of our women's group, Relief Society, for about 175 women in our ward. [In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we all receive unpaid callings to serve as teachers, leaders or in other ways we are asked.] One of our Relief Society goals is to strengthen each other and to serve those around us.

This 2 1/2 minute 'movie' made by Christie Wall shows a service project that women from our ward completed last Saturday to benefit local women with breast cancer. Some women learned to knit or crochet to assist in this project. I knit two scarves (before the event) and made pillows. We were excited to present over 40 scarves and 100 small pillows to comfort women in our area.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gymnastics Performance

Last week we attended Andrea's end of the year gymnastics performance. Here she is on the trampoline. After these amazing jumps the coach asked her if she wanted to be a cheerleader.

We saw her climb a rope,

on the balance beam
and other fun things.

Here she is with her participation awards.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

James Flies to California

James called yesterday from the Salt Lake City airport. He and his companion, Elder Rogers, were getting ready to fly to California after nine weeks in the Mission Training Center in Provo, UT. He was in good spirits and excited about the 60 degree weather he was going to, the new bike we bought him that should be waiting for him at the Mission Home, and the "awesome" part of his mission that awaits him in California.

Here is the latest picture we have of him as he exulted in finishing the training portion of his mission, and a bit of his latest letter. For more of his letters you can go to 'Elder Meiners' blog on the sidebar.

Vini, Vivi, Vici

I came, I saw, I conquered. The MTC is behind me. At least it will be by the time you get this letter. As I wrote before I'll be in the airport the 11th. And my plane leaves at 11:30, or 1:20 your time. I think I get to make a call to you at the airport.

At the reference center I did a call in Spanish. We could actually understand each other. I got a hold of some lady and asked if so and so Garcia was there. She said in Spanish something about how he didn't live there. And then I said thanks and bye. Obviously this means I can speak Spanish and don't have anything to worry about.

For our devotional we had an apostle. It was one of the more loud-spoken and energetic apostles. It was...Jeffery R. Holland. He was really good. He got us all pumped to go. He said that missionaries were pretty much superheroes without capes. And other things about not having regrets.

I can't wait to see how I fare in the field with my limited Spanish. It will be interesting the first while.

--Elder James Meiners