Sunday, March 31, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

How are you? What a wonderful letter...perhaps the longest you've written to us on p-day. Thank you! And we too are truly grateful for all the mail you received. Our family letter writing tradition is a wonderful thing in so many ways. Who was the other package from? __________

I loved that your companion was able to take such good care of you. That made my mother heart happy! And your description of the physical change that happens when someone is baptized was wonderful.

Hot off the press: To better accommodate the recent increase in new missionaries, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is expanding its missionary training operations by securing the use of additional buildings near the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC). Missionaries will occupy the Raintree Commons apartments at 1849 North 200 West and portions of the BYU-owned Wyview Park apartments at 146 West 1940 North in Provo, Utah. This temporary arrangement is one of the many ways the Church is accommodating more missionaries entering into missionary service around the world. 

This was the really spring break week. Instead of just having Dad off, like last week, I had all your brothers. Wow. Crazy times here at the homestead. We did a little bit of staying up late, and sleeping in, just a wee bit, and just those two things alone are vacation enough. Dad brought home his school projector, and made a few trips to the library, and a good portion of the evenings were spent watching old movies besides the elk head. We moved the pool table / ping pong table way to the back of the room, and brought in the small couch, and had a mini movie theater. Add in a speaker or two, and surround sound completed the event. We only went over the top with popcorn, one night, and ice cream another, but there were always lots of snacks.

Hunter got in a couple of golfing excursions this week, but I only remember the last scores of 35, 35, 36. He's come down over ten points since the fall, and close to playing the course par REGULARLY!

The boys also enjoyed a few of the basketball tournament games. Most of this week Uncle Rich was in the lead, with Aunt Tina a close second. I do believe the final four consist of #9 Wichita State versus #1 Louisville, and #4 Michigan versus #4 Syracuse. Cooper's the only one in our family with a chance left to compete.

The Duncans were pulling into town Friday evening, late, and we thought it would be fun to have a surprise Easter egg hunt waiting for them first thing Saturday morning. So Dad and I drove over there Friday evening at dusk, in the VW Jetta, and while he drove up and down their lawn, I leaned out the window and dropped eggs. I counted up to 200 and stopped, so the grass was pretty loaded! Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful, the truly first spring day we've had this year, and the boys were pumped to surprise them, and collect some eggs. As they were running around finding eggs, I was having a hard time finding some for your sister to put in her basket. I kept thinking, "Wow, these kids are fast!" Turns out there might have been a few visitors the night before, probably their neighbors, who helped themselves to a few of the eggs. I think they left about half of the eggs for the ten kids that morning. I was a little sad. I didn't care that my kids came home with less candy, just felt a little violated. But Sawyer fixed me up by saying, "It's okay, Mom, it still was really fun!"

Speaking of the Duncans, Noah, because of your influence, really likes bow ties, and has wanted one for a long time. They brought one on their trip so Porter could teach him how to tie one, except your brother isn't quite as adept as you. He's been relying on the clip-on versions too much. But, your legacy lives on!

Saturday Porter had his first track meet. He's decided to make track his primary sport, and baseball his second. Like he said, "Mom, it's pretty simple. Varsity track or j.v. baseball." He cleared 10'6", and tied for first place. Such a great job as a freshman. It was a district meet, so all the usual schools were there. He also ran the distance medley relay, the 400 leg in 58 seconds; and the anchor leg of the 4x110 shuttle hurdle relay (second place). Fairland won the meet by four points.

While he was enjoying that beautiful spring day, Dad took Hunter to a house for some yard work. He had to chop down some tree branches, and get the leaves out of her ivy and flower gardens - by hand! She wouldn't let him use the rake! He also didn't know he was responsible for finding some way to dispose of the ten 100-gallon garbage bags filled with tree clippings! I can't tell you how dirty the van is! And how big our burn pile will be someday as we help her burn her yard debris, but I can tell you these are all good lessons he's learning about accepting yard jobs.

Dad wanted to know what kind of toys the kids play with. Have you seen any Legos? You've mentioned the television before, is that their main "toy?" __________ Speaking of Dad, he was contacted about a paper he had published in The Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics last year, and was told he was one of the three best papers as decided by the editors, and was nominated for an award. He will go to the college sport research institute conference this month at the University of North Carolina to see if he wins the award: a plaque and $150. Marshall University is very excited, and are paying for his trip down. He was also contacted by the Dean's office for an interview to be published in the college magazine, and the university's magazine.

Speaking of Dad again, he has a special guest lecturer tomorrow coming to speak to his facility management classes, a NASCAR executive formerly of Marshall University. There was a terrible accident at Daytona this year when chunks of the car flew into the stands. The tire with the front suspension landed right on an occupied seat. Almost thirty people were injured, and the next day the big Daytona 500 raced like nothing had happened. Dad says he must be a marketing genius, as there have been no news reports since the original accident. We couldn't find any on Google, and he's excited to ask him how they kept the story buried. He said outside of baseball, NASCAR is the next best thing to listen to. He doesn't know any of the drivers, but the announcers change at every turn of the track, and he likes the change up. This is his second guest. His first was Rick Reed, the professional baseball player. One more thought about Dad's job...he was talking about candle pin bowling, and how it was like the sport of skittles from Colonial America. He brought Uncle David's ball into the classroom, and only one student even knew what he was talking about.

There was an interesting article at Business Insider this week that ranked the top 25 Colleges "Where Students Are Both Hot And Smart." The article stated, "Brains and beauty. It's a winning combination that's hard to resist — especially in college students. Our friends at College Prowler created an exclusive list of American schools where the students are both hot and smart, ranking schools based on input from real students at the schools. They have more than 700,000 student reviews on nearly 7,000 schools. #16 BYU-Idaho. #15 Yale. #8 Stanford. #1 BYU. That's right. Your Mom set the bar high ;-)

Today is Easter Sunday. What a great day! The church meetings were of the speaker's message was about the ennobling power of the atonement. Uncle Rich will be mailing you a letter that talks about the lesson he gave on this...can't be a coincidence. I must need to study this more. 

But he quoted from Elder Bednar's talk, "Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things” (Jacob 4:6–7). "The word grace frequently is used in the scriptures to connote a strengthening or enabling power: “The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. Thus, the enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity. I testify and witness that the enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement is real." 

As a missionary I know you have talked about the cleansing power of the atonement...your mission president has trained extensively on that. But I've been thinking of the ennobling power of the atonement. The strength to do hard things that otherwise you wouldn't be able to do. Think about this when life becomes difficult. It's something I'll be pondering as well. 

We love you! We do! Mom and Dad

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Having a Ball!

It's not too often I can convince the boys to go to a dance...and then get them to dress up! 

But they were semi-willing, and off they went looking uniquely dapper :-)

Except they had the wrong address, an empty building, and no cell phone.
So they looked dapper in Walmart instead.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thanks to You!

Thanks To You

March 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Operation TLC thanks support of volunteers

We at Operation TLC (Tidy-up Lawrence County) have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the huge group of volunteers who came out Saturday morning, March 16, for our first cleanup of the year.
Our county commissioners, municipal judge, Chesapeake fire chief, Chesapeake and Fairland high school students, boys from the juvenile center, Ironton community service workers and many loyal TLC'ers covered more than 12 miles of roadway collecting 260 bags of litter. What a beautiful picture of community pride and spirit. 

We are making a difference, one "Litter" step at a time. Thank you again for a job well done.

Billie Smith
Operation TLC

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Einstein May Never Have Used Flashcards, But He Probably Built Forts!

This is a fascinating article on how important play truly is to children. Actually, it makes me feel good as a mother because I let them take apart the couch cushions, and build forts. Here's to messy houses and happy kids!

It is loosely edited from the original  article, found at

by Lory Houghhttp - an alum who is part of a growing movement to bring play back into the lives of children

In some ways, this headline is almost funny, the idea of a young Einstein, wild hair flying, throwing his mother’s quilt over a couple of chairs and crawling underneath. But, a headline like this is not a joke. We’re a busy-by-design society that’s become so concerned with turning kids into baby Einsteins that something critical to childhood is fast becoming extinct: free play. Drive around American cities and towns to see for yourself; there are very few kids outside.

Beyond the obvious — play helps kids stay in shape — it also promotes creativity and teaches skills such as negotiating and how to be around others. Play takes many forms. It may be best defined from within as a spontaneous human expression that relies on imagination and a sense of freedom. Players invent alternative contexts for conversation, visualization, movement, and interaction with real objects. They discover release and engagement, stimulation, and peace. Although play can arise anywhere, even in a cement cell, children are naturally beckoned by the living world to enjoy perception and the sensations of being alive.

Headlines calling for more play and less structure are endless. There are also a small but growing number of child development experts, medical researchers, space planners, and other educators focusing on this issue in an attempt to keep play from slipping even further from the lives of children.

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that one of the biggest factors in the loss of free play has to do with parents being programmed by the ever-expanding “baby educating industry” into thinking that in order to survive in today’s global economy, kids need to be better, brighter, and busier than ever before.
It’s a competitive foot race from the womb, this sense that you’ll miss out. Adults have picked up the pace so quickly. What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?

In an age where we clearly know more about how brains operate and how humans function, parents take parenting seriously. As a 2001 article in The Atlantic Monthly stated, “Your child is the most important extra-credit arts project you will ever undertake.” As a result, by the time these baby wonders reach college, they’ve become goal-oriented, resume-building “organization kids” who “work their laptops to the bone.” What adults need to understand, is that free play isn’t a waste of time — it actually helps children learn. It is clear that young children who explore, investigate, and experiment through play build strong foundations in every important area of development, including intelligence, language, social competence and emotional security.

The child’s capacity to pretend and imagine is not a symptom of immaturity or absence of logic. Rather, it forms the foundation for a more mature mode of thought toward another’s point of view.

To be fair, parents aren’t solely to blame. Gone are the pre-cable TV days when all you got were four or five stations. Today, the lure of satellite and cable TV is strong. (One recent survey found that 69 percent of American kids ages 6 to 14 had TVs in their bedrooms.) Add the Internet, TiVo, and video games and most kids don’t feel the need to play, especially outside. Other factors include sprawl, which has taken away the woods and open areas in many neighborhoods. Fear of violence also means many parents no longer open the back door on a nice day and tell their kids to come home when it gets dark. (In the last 25 years, the average “home range” for suburban kids, in fact, shrank from one mile to less than 550 yards.) Working parents are also crunched for free time.

Parents are working longer hours so children aren’t getting the outdoor time. Even if there are outdoor sports, it’s not the same as that deep connection to the earth. It’s not about the outdoor world.

This connection to the earth is critical. Play can certainly happen indoors — young Einstein building the fort out of his mother’s quilt, for instance — but outdoor memories are what really stick. Research has shown that outdoor play takes a far bigger role in people’s memory than indoor play time, even if hours outside are fewer than those within. This is especially relevant today: kids are shuttled back and forth all day in cars. So often they don’t travel on foot. They’re driven everywhere in SUVs.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Kids Walk-to-School: Then and Now — Barrier and Solutions, 42 percent of children ages 5 to 18 walked or bicycled to school in 1969. By 2001, the number dropped to 16 percent. Reasons cited include families living further from schools that are increasingly being built on large parcels on the outskirts of town, traffic concerns, and the fear of crime. No one wants to have their kids shot or kidnapped, but that’s actually a declining risk in the last decade. Still, kids spend too much time now indoors, especially at school.

In fact, some schools nationwide are doing away with recess altogether. According to the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education, more than 40 percent of elementary schools nationwide have reduced, eliminated, or are in the process of eliminating recess
from the school day.

What started as a survival skill — building shelters and going out into the world — doesn’t exist anymore. Everything we do now is many times removed from the natural world. That’s why some kids say they’d rather be indoors where the [power] outlets are. It shows the atrophy of adults who don’t know how to enjoy time or the outdoors, especially with children.

For some kids, their only outdoor time is spent at local playgrounds, austere concrete and plastic gyms. Usually there’s a climbing object and a swing, all on a flat surface. The problem is that this kind of space only develops gross motor skills like balance and coordination. It does little for creativity and sensory exploration.

This focus on the physical goes back a long way. When freestanding playgrounds were first created in the late 1880s, one of the beliefs was that physical activity, especially muscle control, had a moral dimension that would create better citizens. Eventually playgrounds got dulled down even more as safety concerns grew. In 1999, 156,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms because of public playground-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Add to this a lawsuit-crazy culture and public playground design has become an exercise in restraint and caution.

Of course, not all cities and towns are doing away with recess, and some are starting to understand the importance of free play. Even New York City, a haven of traditional playgrounds, is creating new “playscapes” that encourage exploration and imagination. Based on child development theories, the new spaces will include trained “play workers,” water features, ramps, and open-ended objects.

Play is not an option for kids; play is how children learn to build community, how they learn to work with other people; it’s how they learn to kind of engage their sense of creativity. Think of imagination as important a muscle as running.

Think about what motivates children to find secret hiding spaces, “just for me” places. There’s an unforgettable thrill of being apart from the rest of the world.  It can be modest — hiding in a cupboard or under a chair — but that capacity to be able to look out and not be seen is very powerful.

What's concerns is that when you take away the choice — you give a child a toy with a single monologue that’s pulled by a string — you take away imagination.

As we continue to lose this sense of imagination and space, and along with it, free play, it’s a downward spiral for children, documented by research: a rise in stress, diabetes, and obesity, for starters. Children also lose an appreciation for the environment and the opportunity to “find their niche.

In our highly programmed, commercial world, down time and away space slip away. Children need the space and time every day to do nothing, so that who they are can grow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Science Fair Adventures

Porter's science fair project involved Ranger's ears, yeast infection, and petri dishes.
Using the vet's prescription, peroxide, alcohol, and tea tree oil, he determined the peroxide had the most effect on the infection.

But while the judges were figuring all that out, the took a trip to one of three reasons to visit Portsmouth: Hickies, a local hamburger joint

Porter making Hickies look good!
(Mr. Brown Sign does not recommend stopping here.)

The other two reasons you might want to stop? Portsmouth Flood walls, and a restaurant called Ribbers.

The flood walls are about two miles of walls, to prevent the river from flooding the city, that have been pained with murals. Each panel is a different picture.

The flood walls are a definite must-see!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Letter #35

Dearest Family,

This week has been truly, truly marvelous. In fact, I would consider yesterday as the best day in my mission to date. If I was happy last week, you really ought to see me now: ) Exuberant, doesn't quite cover it. It's more of an inside happiness. The kind that lasts. But so you know a little bit why, here´s what happened this week:

Last week by all accounts was a difficult one, with no one in Church. And then, as if the seven days of rain in a row weren't foreboding enough, I got my first case of Brasilian allergies that were compounded by a cold. Wow! You must be thinking, "This wasn't a really good week, he just has a great attitude." Maybe I do, but maybe I don't. It really was a very good week. Let me get there.

We headed to Bauru this week for our Zone conference training (which was fantastic, I might add) and of course this meant, PRESENTS!!! ***New Record of Goodliness*** 25 letters and 2 packages. Did I get more than the rest of the zone all together? I did. (Did I share? I did, a little bit ; ) Forget Christmas, forget birthdays, BE a MiSsIoNaRy! It's better than Christmas every six weeks. Ahh, alas, I hope that the little letters I send back in recompense export some measure of the joy that I get from you.

Although, that number really should be 24, as I received a letter form an unnamed Uncle in Connecticut, that was the exact weight of one envelope and one stamp, minus one letter. Ooops. (It was pretty funny.) Perhaps this seems trivial to you in light of more devastating losses, but in the spirit of filial revenge that abounds in this season of March Madness, may I calmly announce as a neutral third party that I do believe Uncle Aaron now has the official Letter Leader title all to himself. The prize, I have determined, has yet to be determined, but rest assured the victor WILL receive his due benefits. It's no small task sending the equivalent of a pine tree a month to Brasil. no. But as that sounded permanent, may I remind everyone to (1) check all envelopes before posting, and (2) point out that it never hurts to send a personal, just to Tanner extra letter every now and then that might just put you in the lead of Letters. . .

Who really won the prize this week? Elder Beaudoin. In my blinded, blundering, allergized state that kid came through better than a clutch three pointer. (I assure you, not the end of my basketball analogies.) He makes honey/lime tee (ladies. . .) which actually cures sore throat-edness; He makes mickey mouse shaped pancakes---and here is the kicker---without the mickey mouse shaped pancake maker. Yes. He´s wonderful. And I am better because of him, spiritually and allergically.

And baptismally. Yes, this week ended and was special because one of our investigators was baptized yesterday with the approval and support of his family. He´s a 12 year old kid who is simple, sweet and I don't know why but special. He reminds me of Sawyer. Which means he also likes to climb on stuff, play ninja, and laugh and smile a lot : )

Sometimes the imminent change that comes when someone is baptized takes a while or is not readily seen until the next week after the gift of the Holy Ghost, but it was immediate with him, someone I think already that close to our Father in Heaven. It's something I can´t really explain well in the time I have here, but is real, as the sun, as the moon, as you and me. It's my favorite part. Like the cleaning of a window darkened by grime, or maybe just dust, baptism washes away anything obscuring what lies inside-- a son or daughter of God, resplendent in His glory.

This story was not without its ups and downs though. As every missionary knows there is no such thing as an easy baptism. As much as we work, Satan works too. That is as clear to me, and as much as a testimony that this work is real, as the change that is effected by the ordinance. Satan is not content, in fact thoroughly, deeply miserable at the imminent change that baptism and the Holy Ghost effect, he goes to all efforts to put a stop to it, or to nullify its effects soon thereafter.

Case in point: One investigator who was baptized recently, was confirmed Sunday. Soon after sacrament meeting she received a call from her older son asking her to go to the store to buy things for him for lunch before he left for work. She promptly left, against the admonition of several members and myself who urged her to stay, it was worth the sacrifice. (To be fair, this son is grown and can get some lunch for himself.) But she left. We passed by later in the day when we were asked by her child. Well, as we often see, it was more than fortuitous that we did so because as we entered the house there was the new member smoking the first cigarette in over 4 weeks. I asked to see it and throwing it on the ground, ground it to pieces with my heel. We had a good lesson afterwards talking about what needs to be done to resist temptation, a plan of action for this and then we left. We received a call later in the day, in which she expressed how miserable she was, she didn't now why. But we did. That holy gift, even the Spirit of God, which had been bestowed only that morning, had been trespassed upon, and had left. And with him, any peace or happiness she had before. We work and Satan does too.

The second instance, or rather the second battle as it may well be called, occurred earlier that morning when we walked to an investigator's house to ensure that they awoke, etc. The entire morning, the walk there, the moment I woke up, I felt what I can only describe as an inextinguishable urgency. Not bad. Sweet in a way, but very, very urgent. As we made the 30 minute walk there it was as if there was a hand on my back pushing me there and a whispering in my head that I must go, I must hurry. I don't know, but it was real, and at the same time entirely peaceful.

When we arrived, we clapped our hands (how they knock) and the reply came back harsh and unexpected: "I´m not going, nobody´s going and he's not going to be baptized." If that´s not a sock to your stomach. But, because of the already described feelings, it felt very expected. Still we entered the house, turned off the t.v., and really just sat down. Elder Beaudoin said a few words. I just sat. I pleaded in silent prayer that I would be given what to say, to bring back the harmony that had seemed there just the night before. I sat some more, and I don´t think I've ever felt so utterly helpless or at a loss.

Then, slowly, I felt prompted to speak, and I did so, speaking what came to mind to the mom. After about 2 minutes, I stopped and she said okay, he can be baptized and I'll go. For all its desperateness, the despair that filled the air, this moment was one of the moments that I will never forget in my mission. The Lord wanted very much for him to be baptized and left it up to our diligence and our heeding of the Spirit to ensure that it happened.

The night before there had been a fight between the mom and her sister, her daughter had run away from the house and the husband had actively, actively opposed the baptism. We talked to him that morning and he gave his approval, in what was I know another conversation guided by the Spirit. Talk about some opposition.

In conjunction with this account I relate my message for the week, from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 11:20-21: "Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength. Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men."

Well, that's what happened to me. I am profoundly grateful to be a part of this work, a very small part. Nevertheless, I have tasted of the joy and peace that passeth understanding that the Lord grants unto his faithful servants, and it is worth any effort or sacrifice. When I talk to families, or moms, I think of my family, and my mom, my dad, my brothers and one adorable sister. I think of how eternally happy they are, how blessed we are, and then I just go out and try to help everyone else have the same thing. Oh! I don't think I'd like to be an angel but I'd sure love to be able to share what we have with everyone! I guess if being white and glowing gets it done than that's good enough for me : ) I love you. I pray that you know it.

Have a wonderful week!

Love, Tanner

Sunday, March 24, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

Very fun letter last week, again! The pillow curse is awesome! Your hammock is a great find, and I loved your baseball analogy! We just love hearing from you!

I'm not sure what to think about the new email policy...I'm trying not to be jealous...I just don't want to lose the letter writing time you have for us! Has your time increased to use the computer? _____ Did you want me to share your email, or will you do that?

Speaking of getting emails, this was in our inbox Monday morning: "Imagine my surprise and delight at having my phone buzz with an email from Tanner this morning! This rule change was rather fortuitous. He's been on my mind and in my prayers more than usual lately. Do you know how he listens to music? There is a playlist I would like to send him. How would be best? A CD? Or some other way? It sounds like he's doing well! And that his new companion is going to be just splendid for him. Matt

Your roommate's letter talked about his experience as a trainer. He said, "I have grown so much already from the experience and it is only my first week! I think that my favorite thing about being a trainer is that it pushes me to not be lazy and to do my best in everything that I do."

My dear friend sent me an email. She said, "This is what  son said about his night in Bauru before he left.  I’m so glad they are still such great friends: “Oh yeah, almost forgot: My last night at Bauru I slept in the zone leaders’ house and Elder Schenewark did too, because his companion was leaving on the same bus as the rest of us. I got to have a good long talk with him, so that was great. We laid awake in our separate beds talking, It was so good to get to just talk with him again!! He is such a great friend!! And he is right, it is so hard to not see the old slug bugs here in Brazil!!"

Another email I received was from your new A.P.'s mother. She said she was chatting with a friend last night who works for AAA and does international travel. "We were chatting about visa's and she said that one of the consulates, she thinks the one in San Francisco, has opened back up and is letting the visas go through to Brazil.  She thought there is probably a back log and so it may take a little longer but I thought it was great news!  Bring on the visa's so these missionaries can get to Brazil."

Also, a snippet from the parents of your new companion. They shared a portion of their son's email, which said, "Elder Schenewark is awesome. He´s from Boston. He´s 4 days younger than me, and we got baptized on the same day, so we knew things would be good from the start! He went to BYU and is dang smart! Might transfer to Harvard after the mission! But I like him a lot and he´s willing to work hard. What more can I ask for?"

Finally, an email I read which I thought was good advice to pass along: "A good recommendation for the missionaries in Brazil is to avoid eating raw vegetables/fruit that are prepared by others. When eating at home, soak them (I.e lettuce tomatoes) in a sink of vinegar water. The water in the tap is treated (at least in the big cities) but not to our standards."

Monday was a normal day, except there was no seminary (WV on spring break this week), and Dad was home for Marshall's spring break. Hunter went golfing (40), and we ended the day with our traditional Family home evening. Right before we were to begin, Sawyer announced he needed to "squeeze the lemon," and ran for the bathroom. Miller decided to join him, and ran after him. I asked Miller to wait, but I was probably lost in brother excitement, and as Miller approached the bathroom door, it was closed on his left pinky, near the hinges of the door. That was the conclusion of FHE. We did try singing a few songs, but Miller's voice was the only one that could be heard, a wailing. So Dad took him to the clinic for an x-ray. He came home with a finger brace, and went right to bed. The skin split on each side of his knuckle from the force, but there was no break.

Tuesday Hunter's National Honor Society Relay for Life team was having a bake sale after school and Hunter wanted cinnamon rolls to sell. He sold them all for $2 a piece, when everything else there was under $1. They were done in ten minutes. (On Friday they celebrated all the kind deeds the students had done, as part of an anti-bully campaign, and recognized his team for the $5,000 they've raised, a large part by fellow students buying American Cancer Society cupcakes for $1.00). Dad took Porter to his basketball banquet. This year they collected $10 per family, and served popcorn chicken...a big hit over school salisbury steak or pizza. I took the cub scouts to the Herald-Dispatch for a tour of their newspaper facilities.

Thursday was the annual TAG (talented and gifted) camp. Cooper left in the morning on a bus, but because we don't DO sleep overs, we had to pick him up at 9 p.m. Dad's so good about doing that kind of stuff. Portsmouth and back. Then, first thing Friday morning Dad was out the door to bring Cooper back to the camp for breakfast. That whole trip deserves a blog page of its own!

Hunter wanted out of school a little early...he had a bit of spring break I busted him out at 1:30 and a golfing he went. He came home at 9 p.m., after having played 27 holes, with a 37!, 40, and 41. That was a great way to begin his spring break.

Saturday Dad was up early to take Porter to the regional science fair competition. He got an excellent rating, but not good enough to go on to states. We've mentioned in the past how Dad and the boys like to pick funny names when they eat at Penn Station. A few trips ago they all used different names of U.S. Presidents. The last temple trip they were the "Free" family. They wanted to hear "Cheese steak for Free!" Or, "Order for Free!" This day Porter went with one of his fancy aliases and said Piscagaglioni. The guy said, "Spell it." Caught Porter off guard. So he spelled Pisgaglioma instead.

I went to a seminary in-service (3rd day in a row at the church), then picked up the boys and Breyer and took them to the cub scout blue and gold banquet. From there we headed to Miller's first baseball practice. He thought he would be scared of the pitching machine, but stood at the plate and hit nine balls straight. The coach told us when he picked Miller at the draft, several coaches in the room said, "You can't go wrong with that family. All the boys are very athletic!"

Today Dad spoke in church and did a beautiful job. He talked about how we're given gifts from our Heavenly Father, but don't always make use of them. He told how gave Hunter a telescope when he found out we'd be in Texas, because of the wide-open skies, and because Hunter was only eight, the telescope didn't get used for about six years. He related this to repentance, and how we don't always use this gift that's been given to us by Heavenly Father, that we might be "clean" before him. He spoke of Hunter's desire to become better in golf, and how he had to learn about the traps and hazards on the course, just as in life, and if he fell prey to the course tricks, he literally could be digging himself out of the sand. We always love it when Dad speaks!

Dad wanted you to know that major league baseball begins in one week. There are always moments through the week where I think, "I'll have to remember to share that with Tanner," but sometimes I forget. I do try to jot a little note, but often times that isn't convenient. Like the time Breyer drank jam. A few sips of the homemade pomegranate jelly from Sis. Kirby, and her day was more complete. Or, March Madness. It is that time of year. I'm trying to hunt down the jock strap plaque, and have your name title put on it. Sawyer is SO excited about watching the games and checking the brackets. Biggest upsets have been 14 Harvard over 3 New Mexico, 15 Florida Gulf Coast over 2 Georgetown, and second round 1 Gonzaga over 9 Wichita State. Right now Uncle Rich is in the lead, with Tina second, and yours truly in third.

From the Church news room I liked this article: "After working thousands of hours in homes devastated by Hurricane Sandy, missionaries from the New York New York South Mission marched in the 38th annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 2. The crowds in the Rockaways — a community still recovering from the disaster — went wild; their “little yellow army of happiness” had returned to a hero’s welcome. Donning the yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests they wore in the weeks after the disaster, the missionaries marched along the parade route carrying a huge sign: “We Love You Rockaways.”

Crowds on the parade route hurriedly made their own signs: “We love the Mormon Helping Hands," where the missionaries were cheered and given a standing ovation. The Church provided 11 truckloads of relief supplies (approximately 400,000 pounds), including food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, generators, pumps, tarps, cleaning supplies, and fuel, according to a Church welfare report. More important, 28,000 Latter-day Saint volunteers provided 300,000 hours of service. Much of that work was fueled by the local missionaries, who worked every day for nine weeks.

President Calderwood said that because he doesn’t want there to be any confusion as to why the Church helped after the disaster, missionaries will not proselytize in the area in the near future. Marching in the parade was a unique experience. “As missionaries, we don’t get applauded very often. For the first time, maybe in history, the Mormons were applauded as they walked down the street.”

I think that's about it for this week. I hope that's enough to put a BIG smile on your face, and fill up your heart reservoir with love from us. To you. We love you! Mom and Dad

Friday, March 22, 2013


Miller was very creative!

He made a cut-out of a dinosaur, and waited a long time until it was dark.

What's in your bedroom?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Princess Ball

The partner...

The anticipation...

The curtsy...

The dance...

The dip...

The end!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Posing in a picture for a night reporter, more than half of the Bear den ventured out to take a tour at The Herald-Dispatch...

An iconic 1950's building, downtown Huntington!

We learned how technology has dramatically reduced the work force, such as the advertising artists, formerly 85 strong are now 8.

Even the parents loved learning about the whole production process!

Each page has its own exposure, from silver...

Which are then recycled and sold to jewelry makers!

The plates for printing are tin sheets, currently $6.50 each.

The silver exposures are used to make the tin impressions for printing.

The boys got to ride in a huge elevator sub-terrain, where the rolls of paper and ink barrels are stored for printing.

The paper cave!

Empty paper rolls...

Ink barrels...

Yesterday's plate hot off the press...

The paper press...ready to roll at midnight...

A 1950's Wood press still cranking out papers the old-fashioned way!

The paper travels through the rollers, up two floors, to the distribution center...

Where the carousel rotates through any paper inserts.  

Bundles ready for distribution.

It was a fascinating tour, especially in light of today's real-life drama where paper companies are folding, and electronic news is news.

Boy Scout Pack tours The Herald-Dispatch

Members of Boy Scout Pack 36, who meet at New Hope Methodist Church in Proctorville, Ohio, participated in a tour of The Herald-Dispatch Friday evening.  

The Herald-Dispatch is a daily newspaper serving Huntington, W.Va., and neighboring communities in southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky. The newspaper was founded in 1909 when two Huntington newspapers, Herald and the Dispatch, merged. The first issue was published Jan. 17, 1909. The Herald-Dispatch welcomes local groups to tour its headquarters at 946 5th Avenue, on the corner of 5th Avenue and 10th Street.