Thursday, February 28, 2013

Super Miller Stash

Cork, dog tags, plastic knives, ninja turtle, rocket, sand paper, and other boy treasures.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cub Scout Conservation!

The Cub scouts went from talking about animals in the forest, to determining the size of an animal by their footprint to casting a foot print mold. Wow!

The Marshall University Parks, Recreation and Leisure boys were fabulous!
Professor Rick Able was well loved.

Lots of patience while the plaster was drying...more talking about trees, bark, rings, and oxygen.

Finally! Their molds were dry...

Miller's opossum and deer foot prints!
The boys left SO happy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Letter #31

My Dear Family and Friends Who Love Me,

This week's letter will be in Portuguese. . .Okay, no it won't, but maybe one day in the future it will be and I´ll make you use Google translate, Muahaha.  Let me tell you, though. I am not a fan of the information age. I had this roaring way coool first sentence all about the new missions in Brasil and then...way to go internet!

But it is pretty exciting. We got word from our president who had just finished having a conference with the presidency of the area about the changes and he directly had a conference with our entire mission to share. We received word about our new mission president, President Genaro from Sorocaba, Brasil, who happens to be a friend of my companion as he lives in the same city. Cool connections. He should be, it sounds like, a wonderful president ready to go. Let me reiterate the oft stated statement, "What an exciting time to be a missionary!" The best part is that I arrived literally just before the rocket ship took off and it's a wonderful view of the Lord's work that I'm getting from way up here.

Notable events this week or to come: Tomorrow, my first baptism here in Agudos will start seminary. Double cool! I´m excited that he's progressing and growing in the gospel. Better yet, his influence is being felt for good in his own family. This week his mom stopped smoking and drinking coffee. She went to church for the first time Sunday and has committed to pray fervently over being baptized. I am so excited for her and her family, and the blessings that they will receive in the upcoming days and weeks.

Some more firsts: The entire family of the two brothers who were baptized last week went to church and it was wonderful. They are members but have not been for a very long time. I cannot tell you how many members and how many times have said to me that they want nothing to do with the gospel and would never return. Well, caring and hope and love work miracles in this line of work and they have done so again. Not only that, but the mother and grandmother made the long walk uphill back to the church for an activity that night. They too will be blessed.

My companion was more or less sick the entire week, verily suffering from some virus, perhaps the one I had the week before, and the virile effects of, "I've got my date, time and ticket to go home already" disease. Have you heard of that one yet? It's rather frustrating for those who have to watch another suffering from the same, as it is in some cases entirely incurable and the only plan of action is to let the disease work its course. I have taken advantage, however, of his doubly weakened state to invest myself in study. It has been a glorious week reading from the Book of Mormon, The Bible, general conference talks, and Jesus the Christ. I don't expect the symptoms to be as bad this week, they're worse when combined, but I look forward warily to the date of March 12, also known as the next transfers. In the meantime, I work in every way to combat any collateral infecting.

My fun other-world allegory for you this week: Did you know that the moon and constellations are upside down here? It's true. Orion is standing on his head and the moon is much more interesting for its slight revolution. Cool huh? Allegory: Although my world has literally been flipped upside down, it is the much the same world in a different form. Is Orion better right side up? Yes, but he´ll do for now upside down, as will the moon.

My thought for this week, you´ll be excited to know, is in Portuguese, from the Portuguese version of the classic hymn, Ye Elders of Israel. Let´s see what it has to say: "E ao terminar nossa grande missão, descanso teremos na bela Sião. Em nossas famílias a paz reinará, pois já vitoriosa Sião estará." Hunter, did you get any of that? "And to finish our great mission, we will rest in beautiful Zion In our families peace will reign, because Zion is already victorious."

Lost slightly in my more literal translation is this idea, hiding in between the lines: First, that our mission in this life is not a lonely one but with our families. As a general authority stated long ago, you cannot have the fullness of eternal life, living in the presence of God and Christ without your families. They are an essential part of your exaltation and joy. And how will Zion be beautiful and how will it be victorious? For the peace we have in our families. When we have the peace of the gospel as opposed to the contention of the Devil, Zion is already victorious in our homes and families. I feel so blessed that we continue to carry off the trophy in this direction. It brings me unspeakable joy to hear of the good you are doing (and the good food you are eating) and to know that you are MY family, my eternal family, my prize in victory and in peace. I love you all so much,

Look for more surprises in the mailbox. . .
Your Elder of Israel and son,


Sunday, February 24, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

I so enjoyed your last letter. It was full of a few good stories, and you seem very happy where you are. You mentioned that you don't have a lot of breakfast options...can you buy oatmeal? Or any kind of breakfast cereal grain (Cream of Wheat)? Yogurt and fruit is good, as well as bread...but I'm glad the granola bars are being enjoyed. Telling us you're in the most dangerous area was a bit surprising. Please be careful, and watch for dangers and strangers!

I'm sorry I have had no luck finding your mission addresses, they're not generally published. I'll keep working on them...sorry it's taking so long!

I don't know if you've heard or not but: "Thousands of young prospective missionaries have responded enthusiastically to the October 2012 announcement by President Thomas S. Monson that lowered the age requirement for missionary service. As was indicated at the time of the announcement and reiterated later, the Church is working to accommodate the increase in the number of new missionaries who have made plans to serve.

In addition to the previously announced changes in time spent at the training center, and a new training center in Mexico, some of the 347 existing missions will be divided to form an additional 58 missions." Wow! I've copied the new Brazil missions for you. We're getting the Cincinnati Mission back...don't know if that will create changes here again.

Brazil Curitiba South
Brazil Fortaleza East
Brazil Juiz de Fora
Brazil Natal
Brazil Piracicaba
Brazil Santos
Brazil São Paulo West

Monday was a crazy day! All the boys were home as part of the President's Day long weekend. It's hard to be very productive when there's a lot of people around ;-) I spent most of the day cooking food and making two cakes, as I had six missionaries to feed for dinner, and a birthday party to celebrate! Your sister turned two. And her favorite part of the day was probably making the cakes with me. We had to celebrate in shifts. I fed the missionaries early, and they sampled the pink lemonade cake. Then I fed the boys, and our neighbors Larry and Sandy came over for cake and presents, and they got the raspberry lemon cream cake, my favorite. It was SO yummy! Be sure to request this cake when you get back. Breyer blew her candles very softly, very daintily, just as a princess should. A gentle puff on each candle, and in two times she was done for the year. And she took a bite!

As I was looking up last year's cake, and trying to remember what it was and whether or not it was good, I peeked at last year's pictures. I loved that she was in a pretty dress, and you boys treated her with such love and respect. It brought back many nice memories so I decided this would be my birthday tradition with Breyer. Make sure she's in a new dress, and celebrate her birthday with class. So about 6:15 pm I brought the Princess upstairs, and with a few tears and a few "no's from her," dressed her anyway in a dress that was given to her when she was born. Once she was done, she was fine, and played the part perfectly. I hope you can share this day with us more fully with the pictures in your email. Her favorite presents were the little toy camera and phone in a little purse. Her nickname should be "Gadget Girl." And just FYI, she prefers Cheez-Its over Goldfish.

Tuesday Dad had a funny thing happen to him in his class. He was talking to the students on the Native American game of Hoops and Poles, and in a short period of time repeated the name a few times, the last being Poop and Holes.  Good times at Marshall University! There were even some tears shed in the front row from students laughing so hard.

This was also the day that we began painting the Pinewood Derby cars. The boys were so excited to start! We've gotten a later start this year, which I don't like, but the process of creating such creative cars is really fun. Your Dad does such a nice job shaping their car with the Dremel, and this year Cooper helped the boys with whatever they thought they were having difficulty painting. At scouts we built bird houses. At home we built new bridges. Hunter has decided not to play baseball this year. He really wants to work on his golf game, as this is his last year to shine. He'd rather get a golf membership and spend his time on the green. This has been difficult for Dad to swallow, but he's trying to be supportive. He's encouraged Hunter to set specific goals so we can help him achieve them. He'll need to play in some golf tournaments this spring and summer, he'll need to get a few golf lessons, and he needs to upgrade his golfing equipment.

Wednesday for scouts the boys began working on the wilderness survival merit badge. Dad got Bro. Stephenson to help him since he was a Ranger in the Army. He talked about teaching the boys how to kill a snake with your hands, and how to skin a deer, but this week wasn't so exciting. Tuesday and Wednesday are pretty big mail days, and Hunter is counting his daily mail piece as he is on the "come to my college" list you were on. He likes to be the one who gets the most mail, and usually he is. Throw in all his new magazine subscriptions, and he walks in with an armful.

Thursday Hunter and Porter had a home quiz bowl meet. Sis. Parrish came with me again. Hunter and Porter only played the first and last quarters...and Porter did great! He had 11 answers to Hunter's definitely was his game with more science and math questions, versus literature and government/history. This week is Ironmasters, so we'll have more quiz bowl news next week.

Miller and Breyer's favorite activity while the boys are in school is called "couch cushions." Miller empties the two couches,and has been making bridges and forts and playing with Breyer. One day there are alligators they were trying to avoid, the next day sharks. When all goes well, they'll play for a couple of hours. Beautiful! I hope this fun stage continues. She's so happy to follow him wherever he goes, whether it's forts, hideouts, tents or tubes.

Friday was the last day we could paint the cars, and finished very late. Hopefully you can see all the amazing details in the pictures. Miller has been consumed with painting his car every day, and was so excited to go to bed the night before the big race. We made it to Sis. Parrish's house to watch Jeopardy. We've come a long way! When we first went there wasn't much talking or guessing. Now everyone throws out answers, even Imogene. And this week's popcorn bowls had gold fish and M&M's at the bottom, so the little kids were happy. We had two cars there, so Jarrod took the kids home, and Hunter and I stayed for a while to chat. That might be the new routine.

Saturday's race results are in your email, but I'll just repeat them, as your little brother is so happy. Sawyer walked away with the medal for Best Paint Job, and the trophy for 2nd place in the Bear Den. If he was in the Tiger Den, that would be 2nd place out of 4, as there is only 4 Tigers. The Wolves have 6 boys, and the Webelos 6. But my Bear Den has 20 boys! That trophy means a little bit more if you get 2nd place out of 20 competitors! Cooper and Miller, in the open division, were out after one race. They literally waited for hours to race once, and still had smiles on their faces at the end of the day. As long as they can race their cars a few times on the track at the end, against each other, they're good.

I was given a gift card to Outback, and took the boys there after the race. Hunter bowed out to homework, and Jarrod joined us later, but we had fun together. It's been a really long time since we went out to eat...I'm thinking this summer in New York City might have been the last time, which is fine. You can't top eating at two top notch restaurants in the most famous city in America, all the while arriving in a limousine, so why try?

Today we walked into church when the announcements were being announced. I hate that. I have to make the walk up to the organ, and feel every eye on my back. At least they weren't singing. We've had a hard time getting out the door in order to arrive in time on this early morning schedule. It's mostly me just needing to remember what time we need to begin in order to get out the door at a decent time. I start too late, as I like the boys to sleep as much as they can. We'll get better! Sawyer came home from church with a fever. I was hoping we would escape this season's flu, the real flu with a fever and respiratory symptoms, but I'm thinking this is it. He had mentioned several children in his class that had been sick, so I guess we'll wait and see.

The temple president of the Louisville Temple came down today for a special fireside for the youth. Dad stayed home with the three younger children so I could go with the three older boys. President Lunt was a brigadier general in the Air Force, and made a book for his family about some of his experiences, entitled, "Twelve Flying Lessons." He gave me my own copy of his presentation! It was a spiritual feast.

He spoke on 1) How Jesus is like the North star, fixed and perfect, and his use of the stars to find his latitude in training for water crashes. He reminded us to stay out of Satan's territory, as only the Savior's is safe. 2) He talked about how the Holy Ghost protects you from spiritual when the fog of life makes traveling impossible, we can rely on such things as the Spirit to provide safe travel. 3) He talked about how living prophets are our authenticators. They won't deceive us, like other radio transmissions or signals that come across the dashboard, but will translate life's messages from the world, and Heavenly Father's counsel for us. 4) He said the temple is our spiritual "G" suit. When the pressure of gravity weighs upon us, having a temple perspective gives us eternal balance and tolerance against Satan's pull. 5) He talked about how we need to follow the eternal flight plan, that most crashes are caused by not having a flight plan, and Heavenly Father's plan of salvation will guide us back home. 6). Prayer is our spiritual oxygen. Hypoxia, not having oxygen, causes death, and everyone's symptoms are unique. Pilots are trained in an altitude chamber, to help them recognize their symptoms, and just as oxygen is an immediate cure, so is prayer to our spiritual deprivation. 7) Family is the most important formation. The lead plane is the navigator, and others are the wing men. Pilots use formations as it provides protection, just as the family in the gospel plan. 8) Standing alert and being prepared. Inspections in the military show readiness, just as adding drops of oil to their lamps showed the preparedness of the five virgins. 9) Spiritual checklist. Check so you don't forget something important, such as putting down the landing gear. We have the Strength of Youth, and temple recommend interviews, as two examples. 10) Emergency procedures, whether or not our critical emergency training will be automatic when temptation befalls us, and whether or not we handle the unexpected emergencies in a pleasing manner. 11) Our uniform identifies us. In the military if there wasn't a uniform you were treated as a spy. What are your identifying marks (tattoos, immodesty, headphones), and how are you recognized (missionary). 12). Identifying your enemies. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to identify the doctrines of Christ, and how to recognize our enemies. This is just a glimpse into his analogy, but I hope it lifts your spirits this week.

We love you! We're on the unofficial count down to Mother's Day. I have your next package to mail to the mission home...kind of a late Valentines Day gift...but I haven't got the honey yet. Would you want baggies of oatmeal now, and honey later? __________

Love, Mom and Dad

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pinewood Derby!

Dust has been flying around the house for a few days...we LOVE what Dad helps us create!

My kitchen has been overtaken with brushes, paints, sandpaper, the Dremel...

The boys have worked HARD! Sawyer had a lot of dots to make with the end of his paintbrush for this awesome Gila Monster!

Miller painted, asked for help, painted, asked for help, painted...

And his persistent efforts paid off with a very cute "King" from Cars. 

Cooper made Ramone from Cars 

Sawyer was up first...

The Bear Den is LARGE (20), and then there's the Tigers, and the Wolves, and the Webelos, so the boys had to wait...

And wait...

And wait...

 And wait!

And new this year was the Den Leader race...the Pink Panther was debuted!

Finally! The open division!

Go Cooper!

Open division is kind of tough...single elimination.
They wait for a LONG time and their turn is over after one race!

 But they still had smiles!

 The Princess claimed the Pink Panther (kitty) as royal property...

Thus, not allowed to race.
Princesses only cheer.

Congratulations to Sawyer...Best Use of Paint, and 2nd Place, Bears!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Month of Love's Creations

The latest creations around the house include a bird house at cub scouts, 

A really BIG LEGO airplane,

Fashionable clothing for the naked drawing mannequin, 

And a PBS "Buddy" dinosaur for a brother!

Great job, Cooper!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Relay for Life recruiting in full swing

PROCTORVILLE —The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Lawrence County is kicking its recruiting drive into full swing in preparation for its takeover of the Lawrence County Fairgrounds in Proctorville later this year.

Amy Schenewark, recruitment official for the event, said she is excited about the new teams that have signed up this year.

“We have some really fun teams participating this year,” Schenewark said. “The great thing is we have a lot of community group teams such as the Rome Township Volunteer Fire Department, the Proctorville Animal Clinic and the Order of the Eastern Star. It is especially exciting since the event is going to be held at the fairgrounds this year. It is such a community oriented place and is perfect to have an event like this one.”

Schenewark said community is important for Relay for Life as almost everyone has been affected by cancer in some way, whether directly or by knowing someone affected.

Joe Burgess, chief of the Rome Township Volunteer Fire Department, said it was that sense of community that made his department want to start their own team.

“We have really been trying to become more involved in the community so that the community knows who we are and that we are here to help in any way we can, not just in an emergency situation,” Burgess said. “There have been many of our members who have been on other teams or donated to the cause, but this is the first year the fire department as an organization has had a team.”

Burgess said the fire department’s team is currently comprised of about 30 people. He said that includes active and retired volunteer firefighters, friends and families.

The Fire Walkers, as they have named themselves are honored to help out and hope to do so for years to come, Burgess said.

The Relay For Life will begin Saturday, May 18 at noon and go through Sunday, May 19 at 6 a.m. at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds in Proctorville.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Letter #30

My Beloved Family & Friends,

It has been one for the books. And by books I mean journals. Which means memorable. Where shall I begin? Let´s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start:

Monday we took off for the Porteira do Rio Grande do Sul, also known as the best churrasco (BBQ) in Bauru. The location was lacking but the food was very good. (Fogo da Chão, I will have it be known is still the best.) And at 50 reals for lunch I would hope so. We feasted. I tried raw salmon for the first time. It was raw, but lacking in flavor. Kind of like eating eraser. Anyway, to our surprise, just as we were about to leave a group of missionaries walked in with a member from Bauru to eat who not only joined us but paid for lunch too. That´s a sweet (bbq) deal. He´s a very strong recent convert too of less than a year, which was very cool. Talk about fruits of your labors.

Tuesday memorable moments continued on the main street of Agudos. The folks of Safe Carnival were out promoting safe sinning, handing out lots of flyers. The thing is that at first I didn't realize that they were promoting anything other than safety while partying. One volunteer approached Elder Dias with what I thought was just a pamphlet, which he accepted to just be on his way faster. She then asked if I would like one and responding politely said, "No thanks he's already got one. Wellll, she was not just giving out pamphlets on drunk driving but condoms. We had a good laugh. Oh Carnival. . .

Thursday more was to come. President Tavares rolled into town to conduct interviews and a very good training on sanctifying ourselves and our mission. I love it when he comes because it means presents from Londrina. Oh! How I am blessed! 3 packages and 21 letters. The rest of the zone was a little disheartened at the roll call when everything was being handed out: "Elder Schenewark, Elder Schenewark, Elder Schenewark, Elder Schenewark, Elder Schenewark, Elder Simmons, Elder Schenewark, Elder Schenewark, Elder Schenewark, Elder Schenewark...." About like that. Keep up the good work. You don´t know just how wonderful and helpful you all are. The packages were perfect, and I mean that. The cake will be made today, thank you Duncan Family. Aunt are the best!!! The blanket is wonderful, the Clif bars are sustaining me through a time of lacking breakfast foods, I've already listened to about five talks, thank you dad, and the conference Ensign's unspeakably marvelous. I promise the letters will all be  responded to in the coming weeks as they are reread and cherished.

We enjoyed lunch Thursday at a member's home in Bauru who put on ANOTHER BBQ for us. It was superb. Also, another recent convert whose example (and food) is inspiring, and who takes care of his grandfather at home, had some memorable moments for us to enjoy: Squinting at my name tag, trying to discern the name (it is kind of long), he only read the part below that states the name of the church-- "Elder, Elder Christ, Elder Jesus Christ." " Umm, no Irmão, Elder Schenewark." " Well Elder Christ, eat more!" Oh boy. Explaining to me (he's not a member yet, but reading the Book of Mormon) his ideas over religion after lunch, he began to explain the importance of Christ in his life, and emphasizing the point that there is only one Lord, gave me the bird, big time. Nice, Gramps. Good laughs all the way.

Friday I learned from a member that Agudos, not too long ago, was the most dangerous city in Brasil, in terms of most murders per population. And here I was thinking, "What a nice little suburb!" The cows next door have apparently witnessed more than they were telling. I'll try and keep a more, "I'm not threatening to You, Mister Gangster" profile in the future.

Sunday we were blessed to baptize two cousins, one little one who is my favorite. On our second day there to teach him and his family he declared, "I'm going to be a missionary too one day." And he is. Sunday he invited one of his friends playing in the street to come to church with us. And he came!!

Oh, and one more funny moment. On our street is a small booth that sells churros and crepes. They´re very good and I always go for a churro covered in doce de leite and walnuts at the end of a day. But the first time we passed by it was pretty hilarious when the lady announced "We have churros and crepes." Not funny yet I know, but the word crepe in Brasil is pronounced "craps." Come on! It takes a lot of self-composition to say, "Yes, I´d like two craps covered in chocolate, please." But, as this letter has proven, it's the food that counts in the end. My body is resting much better in Agudos than in Tupã and I continue to have more energy to work day to day. This is good.

Sunday I gave a talk to a full house in Agudos on the subject of Holy Prophets, and shared President Monson's latest counsels to the church: "Sometimes letting our brethren know they are needed and valued can help them take that step into commitment and full activity. This can be true of priesthood holders regardless of age. It is our responsibility to give them opportunities to live as they should. We can help them to overcome their shortcomings. We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become when they receive testimonies of the gospel of Christ. . ."The same principle. . .applies to those who are not yet members. We should develop the capacity to see men not as they are but as they can become when they are members of the Church, when they have a testimony of the gospel, and when their lives are in harmony with its teachings." 

I testify that this counsel is inspired from our Prophet, President Monson. I have come to understand that one of the greatest obstacles that inhibits people from being more converted or doing more to share the gospel is the lack of faith often exhibited in these words, "Oh, they would never accept the gospel." or "They don´t want anything more with the church." The answer, I have seen, is love. The Christ-like love shared in simple visits to the lost sheep. Love enough to unloose our tongues and declare the message of joy that is ours to proclaim: The gospel of Jesus Christ is Restored. A prophet of the Lord speaks again. As Phillip declared to Nathaniel about the living Christ, "Come and see." I know Christ lives and loves us; that our Father in Heaven does too. I love you.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

What a week! We've been in the recovery stages from stomach flu and colds. Miller is so much better! His appetite has returned, with a vengeance, making up for all the lost meals last week. I want you to know, since my phone was your phone, and I'm sure there's still some part of you attached to your mobile device, that the phone is working. I put the phone in rice, inside a canning jar, and put it in the oven. I cooked it at a nice slow 225 degrees for three hours on Monday and Tuesday, and it would work for a little while, then stop. So by Wednesday I cooked it for almost 12 hours. It came out toasty hot, and hasn't stopped working. Yeah! And the chunky rice is in the trash. Since we're talking about technology, my camera hasn't been working since Breyer yanked the shutter. I've been using Hunter's camera ever since, but it's pretty lousy. On a whim, I thought I would call to see how much it would cost to fix, and I was told it would be replaced for free! The camera hasn't even been out for a year so I didn't have to find the receipt. The new camera arrived this week. Double yeah!

Monday was a fairly nice day, decent for winter time, and I thought it would be nice for the little guys to get outside during the day. So after finding boots for them, and coats, we went out to check on the bunny. The whole time your sister cried about the mud she was walking in, and kept saying, "Ewwww!" So much for outside adventures! We'll have to try again when the ground is drier. Hunter went to a school board meeting, and contributed to the discussion on firing the football coach. The coach has been appreciative of his efforts ever since. For family home evening we decorated paper bags for Valentine's Day, and took turns writing nice things about each other, including you, on little hearts.

Tuesday Jarrod took Sawyer to a basketball game while I did the cub scouts. Jarrod had to go to Buffalo, when in the dark reminds him of a place you don't want to be near. But he came home alive! As did I, after twenty scouts had their turn hooking up an electric doorbell, popping a GFI switch, and fixing a broken lamp. Good times with tools, that should be the new motto of the BSA. Whenever we have tools, you know it's going to be a good night.

Wednesday was the annual Ashland ward valentine's dance. Up until this year we've never gone, but due to recent policy changes it's okay for those 12 years old to participate in dances during regularly scheduled weekly activities. Dad took Hunter and Cooper to the dance. Cooper is now the youngest Schenewark to attend the dance, but since he wouldn't dance with anyone, I'm not sure it counts. Dad didn't have much luck in getting him off the chair, or away from the food table. Hunter was a willing participant, and was on an unlucky streak for a while! Two girls turned him down, and the third (really young looking) said no because she was a chaperone!  But they did go, all in an effort to support their leaders.

Thursday was Valentine's Day! To show how much I love my children, a large contingency of them had six month dental check-ups, myself included. Cooper and Sawyer are cavity free! Breyer let them brush her front teeth, not much else. we'll be back with the rest. I'm sure at this point you would love a cleaning!

Miller has been waiting all week to open his Valentine bag that has been sitting on the kitchen table. After school we didn't have Porter or Jarrod, so they had to wait until Porter was finished with his basketball game. Since there was no school on Friday, a little winter vacation, Thursday turned into movie night. When we were all together we opened our bags, and enjoyed our new tradition. The hit was definitely Dad's retro valentine's he found and printed off for everybody. These are a few pictures, and yours is in the mail!


Friday Jarrod and I left everybody except Porter at home, and drove to Chillicothe. Porter had a basketball game and Hunter was able to help him get to the school. Jarrod's original Schenewark ancesters from Germany settled first in Ross County, and I've wanted to go their for five years! How cool is it that we lived in the same county in Texas that his Harris family lived, and now we live 2 hours from where the Schenewarks chose to live. We haven't figured out why they lived here, other than a lot of German immigrants were settling there, but we had a wonderful drive together, a great hamburger from Buffalo Wild Wings, and a really fun time looking at old records.

The City of Chillicothe, the first and third capital of Ohio, converted an original 1800's jail into a probate archive in 1996. The metal jail cells house the filing cabinets and shelves, and actually make storing the old material in a safe environment very easy to do as the walls are SO thick!

We found an intent for naturalization and the naturalization record for Charles, and records pertaining to some of his children. We saw the map marked where they lived in 1860, and finally figured out where one of their cemeteries was located. They were only in the area for fifteen years or so before everyone was living in Missouri, but long enough to have left a paper trail of sorts. The old German Evangelical church records were transcribed, so we found information from them as well. We drove straight to Porter's game in Ironton, our county seat, and were in time to watch him play in the freshmen and junior varsity games.

We didn't stay the whole time, as we had been gone all day. We arrived home to find everyone still alive. When you get to have the whole day to yourself, coming home to dried macaroni and cheese dishes, and snack papers strewed all over, the couch cushions on the ground from a previous fort, and plates in the fort licked clean from Ranger, it's okay. Loading the dishwasher, picking up trash, finding dirty dishes, starting the washer...those are all things that get done everyday. But driving with your husband, all alone, for four hours, is monumental!

Saturday I took the three little kids to my morning seminary meeting while Jarrod took the three older boys to the merit badge college at Marshall University. Hunter was a little dismayed to find out he'd been put in disability awareness (and chess), but it turned out to be a wonderful class taught by a blind man, who showed them how to play video games without your eyes. Porter was in chess with Hunter as well as photography, taught by an Optimist member who now wants to bring old camera treasures and film over for Porter. Cooper FINALLY got to work on the robotics merit badge, which he loved, in exchange for taking one required, Citizenship in the World. I picked Jarrod up on campus and he left early to escort me back to Buffalo. Although it was in the day, and the hills and tree shadows not so scary, I didn't mind at all his chivalrous concern from those who might otherwise make my small children their next meal. Sawyer played a good game. That's why we go. He's fun to watch, he's a leader on the court, and the team works better when he's on the floor, which happened to be painted cement. There were kids slipping and sliding the whole game, and when they fell, it was hard to get back up.

Uncle Aaron took Aunt Rachael to Washington DC for a conference on Valentine's Day weekend...I'm sure you'll get his letter detailing the trip, but I thought since you were asking for photos, it would be fun to share one with you.

These are pictures I thought you would enjoy: The Ortons' latest family home evening activity of seeing who can last the longest on the trampoline (Kayla won with an impressive 43 seconds), and playing broom hockey in the snow.

Your cousin Evan and his debate team have done so well they've qualified for the National Forensic League nationals.

Your Aunt Becky and Uncle Steve have had a busy week. JoJo was finally cleared for adoption, and that day happened Thursday. You have a new cousin, Joseph! They were also notified of this award, and are so deserving of this honor. I'm sure they will share more later this week:

CONCORD - Governor Maggie Hassan will honor 28 NH parents as New Hampshire's Unsung Heroes at the State House.
As part of N.H.'s Parent Recognition Month parents who overcome challenges and remain role models to their families and communities were nominated and selected to be honored. 

The 6th Annual Unsung Heroes Awards Ceremony is on Tuesday, February 19 at 4:30 p.m. at the N.H. State House. Twenty-eight parents from the Granite State will be honored by both the New Hampshire Children's Trust and the governor.

In national news, the Post Office has announced that they will be ending Saturday delivery on August 1. They are losing money so badly—being controlled by Congress but not getting any federal assistance.

At the close of this rambling letter is a scripture we spoke about at the seminary meeting that says, "...It is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart...who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it...(DC 123:11-12)." That we may join you in this effort from afar is my thought this week, as you "wear out" yourself in helping others come to Christ.

We love you. More than you'll ever know. Mom and Dad