Thursday, December 30, 2010

I wish vacation would never end!

You know me... I love to cook. I tried this hummus my friend had at her house from Costco- it was totally green and spicy, and she said to just make regular hummus and then add cilantro and jalapeños to it. So this was my lunch today (okay...I shared a little). Mine wasn't that green, but I loved it!
Our vacation project was making this storage bench. I'm proud to say that I made it up, measured, bought the wood and supplies and then Pat helped me saw it since we don't have any electric easy saws, and then used his drill to get it all put together, and then I stained it and VIOLA! It's slightly over 6ft and fits 5 food storage buckets plus extra space for whatever and people can sit on it, or lay on it, and we are going to draw car tracks, like a whole neighborhood on the top of it for the kids to enjoy. The only part left I have is to make the top cushion seat. I liked doing it so much I've decided that I want to make my own entertainment center since ours is falling apart. Then they'll match and be just how I want them. But I'll wait a while. It was a bit difficult to make the bench, which is just a box! I'm going to actually have to plan the entertainment center out well. In the picture below, the bench is actually going to be along the right wall under the window.
And I just had to lock this into memory- Dal's Christmas card to his brothers. He made games! I don't even know how he did that word search, but I found my name in it!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Thank you Santa! I told Dallas and Sam when we got an anonymous package containing the below, "I REALLY don't know who sent this". (I didn't want Dallas to think it was us.) "Who could it be from?", he asked. Sam said, "Santa Claus", in his matter of fact way. Wow. He sure was right.
I am overcome.

This picture shows the gifts we received. We are so thankful for all of them! (Wii, games and the flannel story board!) The boys also got a new book each, and a small transformer and some emergency supplies in their stockings. It was a very simple Christmas. We are all mostly better now. I was worried (we never even got out to buy candy and the stockings were pretty empty), that the boys would be disappointed. I am happy to report that they never showed the slightest disappointment in their gifts, or the lack of gifts. It made me cry, I was so pleased with them! And then the icing on the cake, the last present they opened was what Pat and I were pretty sure was going to be a Wii from some unknown generous person, and when they opened it they were SOOO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bless you Santa, wherever you are. Here's Leia Nora with her gifts. Three books and a little dog that she LOVES from Papa Scott! Also clothes from Elle!
Dallas made Pat and I this card below. He also made cards for his brothers and gave them each a dollar. He is so neat.
Merry Christmas everyone! May God bless you and your families. We can't thank you enough. I feel so loved, and I can honestly say that I BELIEVE in Santa Claus!

I believe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The best thing about Christmas...

...may be the music!!!


Here's a gem I found from Pat's cousin Ryan's blog. I wish I was a part of this group.

Funny conversation with my mom recently:
I was so pleased that she is tutoring a neighbor's child in exchange for the neighbor (Joe) taking care of her yard, and I was telling her so. She also told me of some twin girls of a family that moved in that she tried to talk to when they were out riding their bikes, but they refused to talk to her. The rest of the conversation went SOMETHING like this...
Me: Well, you know Mom, you do look pretty dangerous.
Mom: Yea, ever since I got my mow hawk...and tats.
Me: (laughing) And they thought once you retired you'd just sit around and do nothing. You sure showed them.
Mom: (More funny stuff that I can't remember- use your imagination.)

I am thankful for my sense of humor and that it is similar to my Mom's. I mean, this is the woman who after falling flat on her face and while being collected by the ambulance people to be taken to the hospital with broken bones, tried to hit on the ambulance guys. She is nuts.

Warning: Depressing post

Well except for some parts, like these cute pictures! Early Christmas present from Papa Scott and Janis- matching jammies that we wore to our ward Christmas breakfast this year! (Pretend like this picture came in an envelope with a fantastic Christmas letter right to your mailbox!) Merry Christmas!
And Miss Leia Nora above is sporting a dress by Kreutzian's, shoes by Romero's, bow by Gibb's, and tights by my brother Jeremy, Kim and Elle! What would we do without gifts!

Now the depressing part:
It happens every Christmas.
We are sick.
Evan sick all week last week, and Pat being out of town all week and being snowed in.
I didn't get any gifts in time to be mailed. Pat got his family, but that's it.
I don't even know what to do about my kids. I don't have any presents for them. Sam is 100% sure that he's getting a Wii. Why? "Because I asked Santa for it", he said simply. I need to keep my kids away from Santa.
I spent ALL day Monday trying to do all the shopping and mailing for my far away family (with my crew).
It was an awful day. We all wanted to go home.
I was sick. None of the presents I hoped to find appeared.

Leia got a fever- so I opened up a new bottle of Tylenol and gave her the dose right in the store so I could keep shopping. She never complained unless I tried to set her down in the cart. She just laid her head on my shoulder and cooed this tiny high pitched sound non-stop.

I regret doing this. My kids are more important.
On the other hand, I regret missing the chance to do something for family, friends at church and neighbors.
I never remember to go out right after Thanksgiving... but I should...get it done early.
Lessons learned.

Sam wrote me a letter when we got home because I was so upset. It said, "Meary Crisis" (perfect), and "I love you MOM." It made me feel better.
The boys all wrote nice cards for their teachers on Sunday and all the kids in their class, and they wrote such nice things! Except for one of Sam's teachers. He wrote, "Dear Tario, I like you. Make sure you bring snacks." Hmm... I wonder what was important to him in class?

On a happy note, we had a fun girls night and I didn't get home until 2am Sunday morning. My friend Chantelle who drove me home got pulled over for going like 3 miles over the speed limit, and the cop said, "You guys look like a bunch of moms." It was hilarious... Balderdash...

...and mere hours after that, the primary/Christmas program is done and we (the primary and I) had a lot of fun on Sunday. (Wore myself out- performances and puppet show- which is probably why I'm sick.)

And after church I was given a blessing to help me do a new job they just asked of me. I'll be doing the food again for girls camp. I bless my Savior for giving me this opportunity. It will be difficult in many ways, but all I could feel was deep gratitude and just a real spiritual connection with the aged High Councilman who asked me. It was a deeply spiritual conversation- we just connected and talked of many things (his music loving mother who had just passed away) and as he laid his hands on my head, he said that my presence at girls camp was very important, and not just for the food aspect, but for my testimony and for who I am. That means a lot when sometimes you don't feel like much. I hope it works out that way. When I did the food for girls camp before, it helped my testimony grow and was a blessing to me.

... and I cannot run faster than I have strength...
I just hate feeling like everything flopped... and I can't make plates of goodies for my neighbors that I had planned when I'm sick. (Who would want them?)

But I have such great neighbors... I hate not doing anything...
for the third year in a row! I have so much Christmas spirit, and being ill just snuffs it out! I'm hoping things will brighten up soon!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, the things these kids do...

Evan: Mom, do you know what bad guys do when they're really bad?
Me: What?
Evan: (In a very serious tone) They drop kick sheep.

I was confused until I saw the page he was looking at in his book. It's a good book with silly pictures. This part is about the Book of Mormon story where the great missionary Ammon offers himself as a servant to the Lamanite king, and is consequently put in charge of the kings sheep, and then other Lamanites come to scatter the kings sheep, which is what is happening in this picture. Isn't it great? You've got to enlarge it to see it good.

Leia helping Sam with his math.
You know that Disney cartoon movie, Robin Hood? Remember the part where that monk dude says, "Quiet! It's the sheriff!"? That is the same voice that the boys used one morning when I told them to quit being silly and do their work. "Quiet! It's the boss!", I hear them saying to each other, and then shushing each other like the picture below. "Get to work!", I say.
"Yes master", they reply. They crack me up.

Speaking of school... we've been learning about space rocks, and every day they write in their journal what we learned and draw a picture, and everyday, Sam has been drawing me with meteors, comets, asteroids, all about to land on my head. I know he does it because he likes seeing my reaction (I usually act really surprised and scream and stuff)... but I said, "Sam, if I do get hit by a space rock, you'd better not laugh at me, you'd better help me."
"Mom", he said, like I was really dumb, "if you get hit with a space rock, you will be dead."
Thanks- I didn't know that!

Me: "Time for science!"
Dallas: "Can you decipher this code first?"
It's a code he made up, and it made me smile.

The joy of having a boy in scouts. Mom! Can you sew all these patches on for me RIGHT NOW!? (Scouts was starting later that day, which is about how long it took me to sew those darn things on. I really need a thimble.)

Let it snow!

I really need to get out and do Christmas stuff, and I've been waiting for Pat who was gone all week on business to get home, and now I am completely snowed in!!! I love the snow! I'm so glad for the water for my trees! I just feel the pressure of Christmas being NEXT WEEK!!!!

Pat spun out into a ditch last night in Edgewood trying to get home from the airport and our wonderful neighbor Warren went and brought him home! Actually Pat was running an errand for me on the way home from the airport (picking up some food from someone's house I'm supposed to cook for the ward party tomorrow). We really need to switch Pat's car out for something that can handle bad weather since neither of our cars can. Living out here we need at least one, so we don't get stranded like at present! But it's is beautiful. The kids have been out snowballing each other, and sledding!

P.S. I'm going to get to Ireland! I promise!!!

Evan wins sickest child award!

The above picture show an attack by the bullies/brothers at Leia's school. Those older kids actually took the pants off this youngster and put them on her head! Fortunately she is too little to know that it was anything but a great time!

Just some cute pictures!

Poor Evan got so sick, last Saturday, that finally on Wednesday I took him to urgent care because I feared he needed an IV.

He had been throwing up, diarrhea, wouldn't drink ANYTHING, and kept having nosebleeds. He was feverish, and completely lethargic. He even stopped talking to me at all, and there was no reaction from him (crying and such) when I said we were going to the hospital and they were going to put a needle in him. I was completely freaked out. I had just talked to Pat on the phone and mentioned how Evan had only had maybe 1/2 cup of liquid in the last day or two and he said to get down to urgent care immediately. Evan couldn't walk, I had to carry him and Leia at the same time with Dallas and Sam carrying the bags and throw up bucket etc. Evan had had about 5 really bad nosebleeds in the last two days, and his body was just shutting down. So at 7pm we left for urgent care which is right at the hospital a 45 minute drive from our home. Me and ALL THE KIDS because Pat was out of town for work, and I just didn't feel like calling someone and arranging where to put kids. Plus it seems everyone at church was throwing up last Sunday, and I didn't need to expose my kids or anyone else's to more bad stuff.

In the end it was a huge waste of time and money. I got there and it always bugs me that they don't live up to their name "Urgent Care"- yea right. After waiting an hour in a room packed with sick people and their families all mingling together with no place to lay Evan down, they finally saw us, and the doctor basically said, Well, he needs an IV (after they tried to make him drink something and I told them it wouldn't work) but to tell you the truth, we are closing in about an hour, and the IV will take longer than that, and since we can't stay late, I'm going to have to send you to the Emergency Room. But just to warn you, they will see him as a low priority since his eyes aren't sunken in yet, so you could be there all night. Or you could come back tomorrow when we open at noon and we'll do the IV.
I knew I could not do the ER with all the kids all night or come back the next day- Evan was too sick to wait that long. I knew if I didn't get help soon we'd probably end up at the ER before noon anyway. I took the medicine dropper filled with 10cc's of gatorade that they had given me to try and feed him, and forced it into Evans mouth and shot as much in as I could before he spit it everywhere. The doctor just watched. Then the doctor walked out, and an overly perky girl came in to fix the computer and kept asking us why we all looked so sad. I didn't know if I was supposed to stay or go. I remembered something I had failed to try... Evan?, I said... Do you want a popsicle? He weakly nodded. (Note to self: When juices, sodas, jello, straws and everything else you can think of fails...try popsicles!)

So I gathered up my crew, Evan in one arm and Leia in the other and we walked out. I made a big scene because apparently the doctor was coming back, so I had the doctor and nurses and techs watching me as I said, "I'm sorry, I've waited long enough, I need to get my kids to bed, I'm not trying to be rude, but you said there was nothing you could do, so...", (I need to get a popsicle now!) I stopped at the first store I saw which was a Walgreens and got popsicles, and he slowly ate most of one as we drove the 45 minutes home.

The next 24 hours have been me slowly nursing him back to health. The next day, he allowed a sip of water, then about 1/4 c. of broth, then another popsicle, etc...etc..., and suddenly yesterday afternoon he got off of the couch where he had been since Saturday, and sat next to us at the table to paint Chinese calligraphy with us for our History lesson! And he started talking again! And making jokes... and jokes... and's nice to have him back!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Funnies...

Teaching Sam to write. His topic was Dal's baptism.
He wrote, "Then dad put Dallas under the water, and at the balloon fiesta I saw a mushroom."

Evan: "Mom! I know the three things that suck! (After a thoughtful pause...) No, I know the FOUR things that suck!"

Me: Okay...

1)Whirlwinds (he means like tornados),
3)Straws, and
4)The Medicine Things (like the droppers that suck up medicine and deposit it in the mouth).

Me: Yes, Evan, that's right! (It really sounded like he had given this LOTS of thought. I didn't want to throw him off by mentioning the vacuum.)

Evan: But MOM! Whirlwinds suck EVERYTHING! They can even suck your house.

Me: Yes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dal's Baptism Birthday!

It was a wonderful baptism, and very emotional... at least for me! Grandpa's confirmation was very powerful and full of the spirit. The talks by Grandma Brenda and Sister Ellibee were wonderful. Sister Mink, who I always tell Dallas, is really an angel here on earth just in disguise, played piano for us, and those who showed up to show their love and support for us just made my day- Dallas' teachers and friends of ours- I tell you, I am such a cry baby. Our primary president expressed her feelings about what a special boy Dallas is, and how he is one of the reasons she loves her calling. We just all felt what a wonderful person Dallas is, and I think the Spirit just knocked us over testifying of that fact and of the truth of following Christ and being baptized into His church. When Dal came out of the water, he immediately hugged Pat and said, "Thanks Dad!", in just a really grateful tone. What a sweetheart. We got him a journal and everyone wrote in it, and Dallas wrote a full page all about his baptism and it was very detailed about how he felt and every thing that happened. It made us so pleased yet again.
I had some great one on one time with all my boys this last week. Sam and I went running together with Kathryn (Pat's sis), and Dallas. After we ran out a mile, Sam and I walked back together just talking. Evan and I made the birthday cake together, and he worked the beaters all by himself while I cracked eggs in and poured chocolate in, etc. Dallas and I raced and he can definitely outrun me now. We also went to his speech therapy together and he told me jokes from Calvin and Hobbes. I have no idea how he can remember them word for word. So below was the one he told me that cracked me up and made us laugh a lot. I decided to put it onto his cake... but first here are the baptism pictures. I just love how the pictures turned out! We were so excited to have Pat's parents here and Brian, Kat and Beth too!

Now later that day since it was D's birthday, we had a party. I did an entirely green party because Dallas' soccer team was green and he was a star player, but also because I thought it would be fun to do one color! We did have a piñata and it was hilarious to watch the kids whack it around! Sam and Evan especially!

Here's a Top Ten (or more) list of things Dallas likes:

10. Baseball, swimming, Star Wars tapes, Riding Bikes, and Reading (The Great Brain, Spiderwick, My Father's Dragon, etc...)
9. Piano and music
8. Building clubs and forts with charters, rules, schedules, etc.
7. Service- he is always helping
6. Church friends... and he is a brand new SCOUT!!! We just went to our first pack meeting and he understood nothing but is excited!
5. Mario and Zelda and other video games.
4. Soccer!
3. Calvin and Hobbes
2. Avatar- The Last Air Bender (more the cartoons than the movie).
1. Baptism!!!!!!!!
The comic strip starts with what is on the cake, where he has just walked up to Susie, and said:

Calvin: ME, TARZAN! KING OF JUNGLE! (Hitting his chest-Thump! Thump!)
Susie: Nice underpants. Does your mom know you're over here like this?
Calvin: I don't think Jane EVER said that to Tarzan.

Family Fun

Two sisters, my mother and one brother (about the tenth time through the song):

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I LOVE her!

I just thought that she looked darling today...

She was starting to get upset wanting someone to pick her up in the above picture, and in the below picture she is crying and sticking her rear up constitutes a fit.
Much better. Dad rescued her. This is a trick she learned while we were away. She is walking holding on with only one hand.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Defrosting/brining the turkey in a bucket, because what else does a turkey fit in? We had Thanksgiving today (Saturday). I don't know what to blog about Ireland. On the one hand I want all the pictures on my blog for when I print out the book, and for those who are interested in seeing them. But on the other hand, how do I choose just a handful? So many pictures, and so much to say...
Irish brown bread... make a loaf in an hour start to finish. More like a bisquit, but very dense because it is made of mostly whole wheat flour. I grew to love this bread, and it is perfect for food storage, quick and very filling. No yeast! I know it looks ugly, but this is how it is.
Our Thanksgiving dinner this year minus the rolls which I forgot to make. Pat made pumpkin pies. My favorite was snacking all day on spinach dip. (Pat and I are pretty much alone in that joy.)
What I'm most thankful for is my family. I missed my children of course while in Ireland, but tried to not think about it so I wouldn't be paralyzed and I knew that Grandma Brenda was taking good care of them. But by the time we were almost home I was jumping out of my skin. We got home at 10pm, and they were all asleep so I decided not to wake them, but as soon as I saw Leia's head I couldn't help but scoop her up and hold her and cry. She had been sick while I was gone too. I'm soooo thankful that Grandma took such good care of her. She gave up 11 days to be here so we could go away and I know it was a tremendous sacrifice for her and Grandpa and Pat's younger siblings who had to pick up the slack. Thank you so much! I was sooo glad to get home safely and see my kids again and have a super clean house as a bonus. I thought this picture was funny because Leia Nora and our dog Bella were so happy to see me that they just kept really close to me for a couple days, so finally I had Pat take a picture.
We asked the kids to name three things (aside from our family) that they were thankful for. A person, place and thing.
Dallas is thankful for Jesus, Heaven and electricity.
Samuel is thankful for Dad (we let him get away with that since he didn't want to participate at all), and then with more help Sam is thankful for Mom and Dad's bed where he can go when he's scared at night, and piano.
Dad is thankful for Joseph Smith, Ireland, and his car to get him where from one place to another.
Evan is thankful for Bella (Pat let him get away with that and it's not even a person!), our house because "it keeps me warm", and trees for climbing.
Leia is thankful for Dad (she was touching him), the hospital in case she chokes (at that time she had something in her mouth we had to fish out) and the floor for crawling.
Karisa is thankful for her sister Stephanie her best friend, the temple because it makes me a better person, and music and plants.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Andrea in Ireland 2010

November 22, 2010
I still can't believe I was lucky enough to see this wonderful singer in Ireland of all places!
(Here he is with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir- I like it... just thought I'd share!)

I guess I'll start with the last night in Ireland which was the Andrea Bocelli concert.
My complaints: the brand new O2 venue in Dublin was the ugliest place I'd ever seen. Huge and brand new but it was all made out of concrete!!!! There were no nice chairs or couches or a nice lobby while you waited before you took your seats. Just concrete, people standing around and the harshest BLUE fluorescent lights everywhere. It certainly didn't give the ambiance that this concert deserved. That along with the hard plastic seats just made you feel like you were there for a basketball game. It was TOTALLY inappropriate. I think it was made more for Lady Gaga type concerts.

Now that I got that out of the way, the concert was WONDERFUL! Below I snapped a picture of the program and as wonderful as it was, the best part was that we got Andrea to come back for 5 or 6 encores which is when he sang some of his most popular songs! As soon as he ended one encore, we were all so thrilled and we all went crazy with excitement. I leaped out of my seat yelling, "BRAVO!", "MAGNIFICO!", and "ANDREA!" at the top of my lungs, and screamed and clapped and stomped my feet, and luckily, I wasn't the only one (that would have been embarrassing). It was so thunderous, and we did it after each encore with no sign of being tired or letting up because seriously I could have gone all night. Finally he came out with everyone for the last encore and said something to make us know that there would be no more.

We still tried, but I guess it had to end sometime. Of course I told my seat companions where I was from and showed them pictures of my kids. It was so fun!

After the concert, everyone had to take the light rail back to their various locations, and since it was so packed and since it was our last night in Ireland, and since we were so energetic from the fabulous concert, we just decided to walk back to our hotel- a distance which Pat says was only two miles originally, but we got so lost I think we crossed most of Dublin.

It was around midnight by then, but we finally found our hotel. The map below shows where we should have walked if we had done it correctly. The O2 is right by the water- both the Dublin Bay that leads to the Irish sea, and the river Liffey that runs through Dublin, and most of the way we were walking with other concert goers along the river Liffey.

We saw some beautiful things on our long walk!
Here's a snapshot of Pat's neighbor's program. They wanted 20 Euro for it! There was a fantastic female opera singer that did a couple songs, and a quartet of female opera singers that sang one of my favorite opera songs- the one by Offenbach in Part 2. I also loved the Romeo and Juliet song.
I wish I had written down his encore songs. They were all favorites. All I can remember is Canto de la Terra. (This is a younger Andrea Bocelli singing Canto de la Terra, but you've got to listen to this if you don't know him.) It's what really got us into him. Before that we just heard about him on our missions singing 'Vivo per lei'. In fact there's a video of me and my companion doing that song for a ward Talent Show that's pretty funny... but I have no idea how to get that VHS tape onto this thing, and it's just depressing to see how skinny I used to be!!!

The next morning we went to the airport and flew home ALL DAY LONG.

Church in Galway

Written by Pat to end Saturday:
We made it to Kinvara and stopped at a Bed and Breakfast but they didn't have a bath (Karisas wanted to soak with her sore legs). We continued on to Galway and it was big and confusing to get around after dark. We eventually saw a Best Western and stopped here for two nights.

We went back out and after getting lost again (we almost stopped for some cheap American food like Papa John's but decided to keep going) we found some parking in the town center. We walked around the very trendy and very busy part of town and passed on several expensive restaurants. We settled on fish and chips from a very famous place. I got the catfish and Karisa got chicken! (I'll never stop making fun of her and she loves fish!  She doesn't even know why she got chicken!) We grabbed desert at a crepe and ice cream place and then made it back to the hotel. We called our children and miss them so much!

Back to Karisa and Sunday:
One of our best days was Sunday. I'll always regret the lack of pictures, but I didn't want to seem touristy, and it made a difference just enjoying.

Got up and had a delicious breakfast at our hotel. Then we went up to the church. At first it was strange because it was in a business park with a Curves and other stores around it, but it was wonderful! Apparently they usually get tons of tourists in the summertime but we were the only ones in the off season today.
We've seen and paid for so many of the attractions that are so popular. But going to church today was my absolute favorite part of this trip.
To be automatically included into an Irish family, linked by the faith we each hold so dear, you cannot help but feel linked together. It is a joyous thing! It was a very small branch, like the ones I knew on my mission, but since people are more well off here and steeped in the Catholic culture (not so much the religion) the work here is very difficult for the missionaries. This branch covers a vast area, and the Irish still fly to London I believe for their temple. The branch had people from Russia, Brazil, the States, and all over.
The branch president (like the bishop) was my sort of person-very direct, powerful, yet humble and kind. (Kevin O'Toole?) After talking with the missionaries a bit it was time to start.
A lady from Utah spoke first about her son who is deaf, the new church manuals, and the importance of families. I wanted to shout in agreement when she said, "You want your family with you!", like when anything important happens be it a vacation, baby's birth, baptism's, a car wreck, temple sealing, baby's birth, and after this life!
I can tell I'm not going to in any way do this meeting justice of the Spirit felt there! So here's the basic notes:
*Bro. Livingston's mission to Russia...Teodore not member like wife and daughter. Did not like the idea of church. If God really cared about all of us, why not kill us right before we turn 8?
*Bro Livingston was inspired to say: You daughter is very good at chess, in fact a Russian chess champion, right? Yes. Do you believe she would be so good if you had taught her from all the chess books and watched videos, and studied moves IF you had never actually allowed her to play? No.
*To succeed you must practice the game. The game of life. This is why we had to come here w/o the memory of our former life, to see if we would choose the good from the evil, and how we would live our lives and treat others.
*He used to read anti-mormon stuff and apologetic mormon rebuttals and finally determined that IT ALL COMES BACK TO JOSEPH SMITH.
*Temple overflowing in celestial room- patrons shushing everyone from their joyful chatter... "Yes but isn't it a beautiful noise!"
* There are some Sundays or maybe long stretches of Sundays where you may not leave church edifyed and uplifted. If you've got kids distracting you constantly and busy callings, you may actually leave more exhausted than when you came! Answer to the age old question of why is attending church necessary? Can't I get to God on my own? Yes, but he's called us to meet together off and love one another and serve and lift one another.
*Bro. Livingston said, Sister ? just did a WONDERFUL primary program last week with 6 children! How can we repay her for that?! It was better that wards with 10times that many kids. We never know when a kind word may affect someone's testimony or simply being there!
*Ever notice how a piece of wood removed from the fire looses it's flame pretty quickly- but even after loosing it's flame, if it is placed back in the fire the heat immediately causes it to burst aflame once more... This is like the Spirit of the gospel how it affects us when we meet together.

Pat and I got to pray. We stayed all 3 hours. The Spirit flowed so strongly that tears fell silently from my eyes often. The branch president taught sunday school (Old Testament- Shepherding- Sheep will break your heart) and then the R.S. was taught by a nervous girl who did a terrific job on her topic of the Holy Ghost.
She gave me a bookmark I'll cherish. It reads,

"God allows us to be the guardians, or the gatekeeper's of our own hearts. We must, of our own free will, open our hearts to the Spirit. For he will not force himself upon us."

She told of when she was hit by a car and thrown and after the woman who hit her drove away, she started walking and was about to have a breakdown and the Spirit told her go to EYRE (pronounced Air) SQUARE. She obeyed and found her sister and brother just happened to be there and she bawled and fell into their arms.

Another lady told of her conversion. She kept putting the Elders off because even though she knew the church was true, she was afraid of going under water to be baptized. She said that they often came to her work to verify the time that they were meeting with her later and it always made her nervous because she could be fired for having personal business going on, so she wished they would leave, BUT THIS DAY, she looked up from the store window and saw them standing there, looking at her, and she said it was like someone had poored hot water over her to entirely cover her body as she looked at them and she knew that everything they'd been teaching her was true. They asked her why she was looking at them so funny. She said that they still don't know to this day about her experience.

Towards the end of R.S. the president who was also the speaker in Sac. Mtg. from Utah said to me, "I hope you don't mind me singling you out, but I feel like I already know you and your husband, the minute you walked in." Others in the room agreed immediately. I wish I knew what that meant, but I had the same feeling that something magical was happening this day. All I can say is that it was a wonderful day!
I cannot come close to remembering all the comments, stories, and lessons learned in church today. Nor can I bring down the Spirit upon you to feel what I felt- though I wish...
What a blessing it is to know the truth! What a blessing to have a dark haired Irish man testify of Nephi and the Book of Mormon in his deep Irish brogue. I am so grateful to belong to the church of Jesus Christ...

The Livingston's invited us to dinner after church (Sarah, Jason, kids-Alex, Adam, Kat). They are from Austin Tx. He works for Bio Games running a call center for a new Star Wars game coming out next year (Star Wars-The Old Republic). I don't know much about video games but he showed me some stuff and it looked like nothing I've ever seen before- so above everything else. The Livingston's are both really neat and it was fun to talk to them. Sarah made ham, cabbage and potatoes with cooked, coined carrots on the side. After dinner we walked into town because the Clarinsbridge Hurler team had just won the country finals- going to nationals. UP THE BRIDGE!! The pubs were packed so we crept in and out among the crowds. After that we sat and talked about Star Wars, 80's shows and fashions, etc. They had a really nice house with a stone corridor, skylight and 9 bathrooms!! One in each bedroom and extras. It was the largest most beautiful, modern house I've ever seen.
They had been in Austin Tx the last 2 years and only ended up here 4 months ago but plan to stay here about 10 years. I think it's all very interesting because their kids are kindergarten to 4th grade which means they'll have Ireland as the most significant memory of they're growing up years. They said in Ireland teachers are allowed to yell at the students, and everyone watches out for everyone's kids. They can send they're kids to the corner store with no worries.

Before Tx they lived in Luxemberg (tiny country in Europe) for a few years. She said that her oldest started school at age 3 learning Luxembergese (?). Then in their schools, at age 10 they switch entirely to German, then at a later age French, I think. So WOW. Her son leaves that environment and goes to Texas! And now Ireland for 10 years. I wish I was them!

Cliffs of Moher and The Burren

Written by Pat:

The cliffs of Moher were expensive ($15) but impressive. Karisa's legs/knees were hurting making it difficult to walk from the bike ride so we had to take it slow to get to the top. We walked back and forth at the top and took a bunch of pictures.
All those people past the sign aren't supposed to be up there, but as you can see, no one pays attention.  It's too bad though because the wind blasts over the cliffs with such force that people die here every year.  Some commit suicide and some are accidents.  This gave Karisa nightmares after she heard about a mother jumping off with her 4 year old.  These are indeed, the Cliffs of Insanity in the movie The Princess Bride.

After that we started for the fastest road to Kinvara, but it was closed so we had to backtrack a bunch. We saw the edge of the Burren – a desolate part of Ireland, full of rocks and peat moss. They shovel chunks of peat moss to burn like wood in their fireplaces. I ran from a car stop to the ocean, about 20 feet up and took some pictures.