(Highlights – Christmas – Barbie clothes for girls, Zorro costume for Joseph, community service, mention of Grandma and Grandpa Smith’s mission call)
We had a delightful Christmas. The children are old enough to be excited and it is so fun (also they’re still young enough that their toys aren’t too expensive which is also nice). I made Barbie dresses for Melanie and Sarah’s Barbies and they love them. I also made a Zorro costume for Joseph which was a lot of fun. We were so blessed to have Grandma and Grandpa Smith and Grandma and Grandpa Bjork there for Christmas morning so the children had quite an audience.
For part of our home school we have tried to incorporate some community service as well as academics. For example Joseph and Melanie each earned and donated money to the Salt Lake City Mission to contribute for a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless and we bought and donated Christmas gifts/toys for those in need locally. We also learned about “Newborn Kits” where people assemble necessary items for underprivileged mothers and their newborn babies that can be sent anywhere in the world where there is a need. We purchased the items and donated the kit to the LDS Church’s Humanitarian Center and then we took a tour of the center. The LDS Humanitarian Center was established in 1991 in Salt Lake City to (1) prepare emergency relief supplies for shipment worldwide, (2) train those desiring to develop employable skills and become self-reliant, and (3) offer service opportunities. During our tour we learned that in some places, mothers who have nothing for their new babies, wrap them up in used newspapers because there isn’t any other option. It was both sad to learn of harsh conditions and hopeful to know that people are actively doing something about it, and we got to be a part of something beautiful. I hope my children learn to be compassionate and service oriented.
My parents received a church mission call to serve in Nashville, Tennessee and will be gone for 18 months. It will be strange not to have them around, but I’m proud of them for doing good things.
(Highlights – Grandma and Grandpa’s farewell and MTC, Linda visits former BYU roommate in Las Vegas, lots going on)
Who would have thought that January, traditionally a slow month, would be busier than December? We had ward conference and with my stake calling I visited six wards and gave a talk in two of them, helped host a primary appreciation dinner, birthday lunch, achievement days, baptism fireside, and Grandma and Grandpa Smith’s mission farewell & send off at the Mission Training Center, our Japanese dinner to finish our home school unit on Japan, made and delivered dinner for a new mom and another for a family who recently moved-in, spent a day in Las Vegas to visit with a former roommate from BYU who lost a baby a few months ago, visited with our local missionaries, visited neighbors, attended a baptism, gave piano lessons, taught home school, had field trips to the Bean Wildlife Museum and the state capital building, top it off with remodeling and painting and that was our month.
(Remodeling house – tile, oak railing, ceiling fan, painting, Pitts landing gear arrives, parakeet eaten by cat, “Leap of Faith” story included in Liahona, sick kids, Linda has a broken rib, Greek dinner for homeschool, Joseph taking violin lessons, Melanie registered for kindergarten, Sarah hates primary, Sam mischief and walking at 11 months)
Lewis has been laying tile in the kitchen, new family room, and hall; making an oak railing for the stairs; putting up a new ceiling fan, and painting. Our place is really coming together. Thanks Lewis! His landing gear for his Pitts biplane he’s building arrived via mail and he’s excited about that too.
Our little parakeet which adored Lewis and would fly onto his shoulder when he came home from work (we left her cage door open), met an unfortunate end. One day our cat came inside while the bird was taking a scenic flight around the house and the cat caught and ate our bird right under our noses and we didn’t even know it until we found teachers on the floor.
I got a letter from LDS Church Magazines letting me know that they included my story “Leap of Faith” in their international magazine called the Liahona which is translated into 36 different languages and distributed around the world. I was pleased.
On the down side, the children have been sick off and on for over a month, in fact this morning Melanie blossomed chicken pox all over her body so it looks like we’re in for another round (Later we discovered it was really rosiola not chicken pox). To make it worse, the live-in-nurse (me) has not only been arguably the most sick, but also broke a rub from coughing so hard. It’s hard to be full of patience and kindness for an eternally sick household when you don’t feel good yourself. We’re really looking forward to warmer weather and better health.
We had our Greek dinner to finish our study unit on Greece and discovered that my brother Paul likes Baklava. Both Joseph and I learned a lot and I love to read his reports, he’s getting better at them. He’s also getting better on the violin. He’s about to perform in his first violin recital. I registered Melanie for kindergarten next fall. She’s excited. I hope I made the right decision.
Sarah’s struggling with the transition from nursery to primary. Samuel is able bodied and ready for mischief. The other day he climbed onto a chair to reach the peanut butter on the table and helped himself to several handfuls and dumped the jelly before I caught him. He loves “chariot rides” where he’ll stand on the seat of a chair holding onto the back while one of the other children push him around the kitchen. He also made his own “walkers” by holding onto a chair seat and pushing it around the room, but he doesn’t need them anymore because he toddles around on his own and he is adorable. He’s 11 months old now.
(Easter camping in the snow, Linda’s birthday, season tickets to Desert Star playhouse, Sam gets rosiola for his 1st birthday, studying Italy and Ancient Rome, Joseph and Lewis taking a karate class, remodeling – new counter-top)
Easter was a little different with no Easter egg hunt at Grandma’s since they’re away serving an LDS mission, so we went camping Friday night in our camper and had an Easter egg hunt Saturday in the desert between snow storms. We had a great time and even got some sleep during the night which was a pleasant surprise.
I was spoiled for my birthday with season tickets to The Desert Star playhouse. We celebrated early with a family lunch date since Lewis had to be out of town for work on my actual birthday, but then my brother and his wife surprised me with a birthday cake so the actual day was celebrated as well and I also got a phone call from my missionary parents who are in Tennessee, so that was nice.
Poor Samuel got rosiola for his first birthday but he’s all better now. He’s such a pleasant easy-going baby and we all adore him.
We finished our home school study unit on Italy and Ancient Rome by creating a time line and preparing a wonderful Italian meal. We learned a lot through this unit. If you think it’s hard to be a Christian nowadays just imaging living in ancient Rome where whole families of Christians were burned to death or mauled by wild animals in the Colosseum for public entertainment. Even though there is ample corruption in our government today, we still enjoy so many freedoms and are so blessed compared to most of the inhabitants of the earth throughout its entire history.
Joseph and Lewis are starting a karate class together and Sarah and Melanie are taking a dance class.
Remodeling update: we got a new counter top in the kitchen and tile back splash. We messed up the dimensions when ordering the counter-top so it was too short. We made lemonade out the situation by making a tile section of counter-top so you can set a hot pan down. See… we meant to do that.
(Bad luck with pets, Sam decorates with toilet paper, Sarah wears frilly dresses, Melanie smart, Joseph earns trophy at violin recital, double date with Lowell and Lauri – airplane ride, find a bird nest during pre-flight inspection, Lewis 33rd birthday, get a van, family home evening – Sam [age 13 months] leads us in game – he’s paying attention)
We have had bad luck with pets this past month. We bought a new bird which died the very night we brought him home, so we got a replacement which is healthy, but the orneriest cuss I’ve ever seen, he bites and fights. We’ve tried several names on him, but “Panic” seems to be finally sticking. We bought three goldfish which took less than 48 hours to make the transition from fishbowl to toilet bowl. And our cat Missy died in childbirth complications. That was by far the saddest. Our dog Belle is healthy and overall a very good dog, but even she caused us grief by stealing and chewing up a pair of the neighbor’s boots which we get to replace. Eh tu Brute?
Now that Samuel is weaned and sleeps through the night, we rearranged the bedrooms so the girls share one room and the boys share a room upstairs. The house is coming together and finally seems orderly like we know what we’re doing. I love it.
Samuel is delightful. He abhors bottles, loves his “binky friend,” enjoys bananas, peanut butter sandwiches, decorating the house with toilet paper streamers and throwing everything he can find into the tub when any of his siblings take a bath (the last two activities may be combined).
Sarah is our platinum blonde beauty who prances around in dresses every day and likes fingernail polish and lipstick (Vaseline).
Melanie is a wonderful helper and is sharp as forty tacks. Joseph doesn’t like her around when he does his math because she can come up with the answers before he does.
We went on a double date with my brother Lowell and his wife Lauri for the first time ever, it was so fun! We took Lauri for her first little-airplane ride (I think she liked it although both she and Lowell were nervous and excited all day in anticipation) and then went for ice cream. During the pre-flight inspection of the airplane Lewis found a bird nest I the engine complete with 5 blue eggs. We had to take the cowling off and remove the nest. The poor mother bird seemed so lost and confused that we felt sorry for her as she watched with a twig in her beak ready to add to her nest. We took the nest and eggs home and are keeping a light on them to keep them warm. I hope they make it.
We had a combined piano and violin recital with my students and my sister-in-law Angela’s students. It went well and we were pleased overall. Angela’s parents came and her dad accompanied her violin students on the piano. They make me a little nervous because music is their life and I’m kind of a casual teacher. Last year her dad called our recital “cute” which it was I guess. This time he was all compliments and that made me very pleased. Joseph won a statue-trophy for his efforts on the violin and he practically flew home he was so excited and proud.
Lewis turned 33. He commented that this was how old Jesus was when he finished his mission. He got the Star Wars Trilogy (Joseph was thrilled) and we went to the Desert Star Playhouse and saw their hilarious rendition of “Joseph and the Forever Plaid Dreamcoat.”
We traded in our 1985 Cutlass Ciera with 169,000 miles on it for an 8-seat van 8 years older with 100,000 miles less. It’s fun to have a new-to-us vehicle, even though it’s far from new. We even let Joseph and Melanie sit on dad’s lap in the parking lot and steer. They thought that was great.
One more thing, at our last family home evening when we were just finishing up the lesson, Samuel walked over to the door, knocked a few times, babbled a little and then squealed and started running around the room. He was playing “colored eggs,” a game we often play as an activity for family home evening. Lewis and I were both shocked that a 13 month old could recognize and remember that this was family home evening, a time when we play games together and he had a pretty good idea about the rules. It’s a lesson to us that we’ don’t know how much our little ones pick up from our examples or teaching. Let us hope that our examples are worthy of emulation.
(Lewis training in Montreal and 3 weeks in Fresno for captain upgrade training, Linda brings kids to Fresno to be with him, sequoia trees, cannery row, aquarium, swimming pool, city approves plan to subdivide lot, field trips, Pitts airplane progressing)
Lewis got to upgrade from co-pilot to captain at Skywest Airlines and spent a month away from home for training. The first 8 days of training were in Montreal, Canada followed by another 3 weeks Fresno, California. He passed his check-ride, not to our surprise, but still to his (and our) relief, so now he’s officially ‘Captain Bjork.’ It wasn’t easy having him gone for a month, but I took the kids to meet him in Fresno for one weekend and had a ball! We went to Kings Canyon and saw HUGE sequoia trees, drove through (and got lost in) the beautiful and fertile San Joaquin Valley, ate clam chowder and fish and chips on Cannery Row, and visited the Aquarium in Monterey, but ask the children what their favorite part was and they will eagerly reply, “the hotel!” It had a lovely atrium with live plants surrounding a swimming pool area with a waterfall. When they weren’t IN the pool they were staring longing out the window of our room AT the pool.
Lewis is obsessed with the goal to be completely free from debt. I would still like to live indoors (i.e. have a house). He has come up with some crazy ideas including having us sell our house and live in our beat up old camper. I didn’t like that plan. One day he came to me bursting with excitement. “Linda, I know how we’re going to get out of debt,” I rolled my eyes waiting to hear his next hair-brained scheme. “We’re going to subdivide our lot, sell our house and build a new house in the backyard.” Although my knee jerk response was to reject yet another crazy idea, his words resonated with me and I knew he was right. That’s what we’re going to do. The first step was to talk to the city planning commission to seek approval for a lot subdivision. With Lewis gone all month, that job was placed on my shoulders, but it turned out okay and we received a nod of approval. If we play our cards right and fate smiles upon us we could make this work, but not without a lot of hard work and stress first.
We enjoyed a few field trips before the school year ended. First a ride on the Heber Creeper historical train and second field trip to Thanksgiving Point gardens. Now we look forward to summer and a change of schedule with less responsibility for mom.
Lewis loves getting very large packages in the mail/UPS. You’d think it was Christmas morning as he beams while admiring and caressing welded steel fitting, drag wires, and various nuts and bolts. His plane is progressing and it makes him so happy.
(Linda licked by giraffe, baby birds, taking down granary, put up chain link fence, new Taylorsville Pool, Sarah in dresses and high heels, draws on everything [including Sam’s head]and cuts her bangs, mention of pine trees in the back yard, Samuel sneaks out the door… a lot, Joseph end of year testing, 8th birthday and scouts, Melanie’s teeth)
The summer is zipping by and so much has happened, I’m glad to sit and take a minute to remember what we did or else I’ll forget it all. We’ve had some unusual animal experiences this month, the first was when a giraffe tried to suck up my arm. How many people can say that? I took the children to the zoo and while we were next to the giraffe enclosure I reached up my hand and marveled, “Look, they’re so close, it almost seems like you could reach up and touch them.” To my surprise the giraffe reached down and wrapped her 18 inch long black tongue around my hand and arm then slurped her tongue back into her mouth. I lost all decorum as I screamed and jumped back which my spectators found highly amusing. Too bad we didn’t get that on video. In addition to learning first hand that giraffe tongues are really, really long, I also learned that I am allergic to giraffe saliva. I must have rubbed my eyes at some point because they were swollen horribly for several days. I even bought sunglasses for the first time in a long time to help hide them. I’m okay now.
A neighbor found two baby orphaned sparrows which we loved and hand fed for two and a half weeks. They were so beautiful and I loved them, but eventually they died. It was so sad. We also brought in a baby starling whose nest we disturbed while taking down the granary (we’re still working on that huge project). The starling had mites and had been abandoned for a few days. I’m wondering if it didn’t get the other birds sick. Nutrition was a trick too. Now we understand why zoos get so excited when they’re able to figure out how to keep animals alive. It’s hard to know what they need.
Lewis put up a 6’ chain link fence around the backyard and it looks great. Also we built a rail fence along the driveway in the front by our raspberries and it looks good too. Melanie and Joseph enjoy building secret huts in the back yard among the pine trees. They’re enjoying the freedom of summer. We bought a season pass to the new Taylorsville Pool and love to go swimming often. Little Sarah often comes in dresses and high heels; she lives in dress-ups. I made a new dress-up dress for Melanie and Sarah and they prance around in their shiny dresses and veils. Cute little girls. Samuel likes to be outside and has learned how to push open the storm door and sneaks out at every opportunity. It’s horrible – it leads to the carport and he doesn’t have any fear of roads or anything. We really have to watch him.
I had Joseph take a standardized test similar to the SAT to see how we’re doing in home school. It was kind of difficult for me because I felt like it was me who was being tested, my ability to teach and so on. He put up with me and did a pretty good job. He had a birthday and turned 8. We look forward to his baptism in one week and he’s already started scouts. Lewis and I took him to the Desert Star playhouse and had a date with just the three of us.
Sarah is an artist and believes the world is her canvas (including walls, tables, books, newspapers, her bed, her arms and legs and Samuel’s head). She’s driving me nuts. She also found a pair of scissors and cut her hair (just the bangs). She didn’t scalp herself like Melanie did on her self haircut, but nonetheless Sarah made an effective change in her appearance. The sad thing is I’ve been waiting to get the kid’s picture taken for months. We needed to let Melanie’s bangs grow out then I waited to get Melanie’s dentist appointment to fix her stupid top front tooth which has a crown that keeps breaking. I can’t wait for it to fall out and now this. Oh well.
(camping at Nunn’s Park, Joseph baptism, NTSB decision – Lewis turns in pilots license)
My sister organized a multi-family camping trip at Nunn’s Park. It was a family reunion and a chance to play together, but we couldn’t enjoy it at all. We had so many projects at home, we couldn’t relax. We’re planning to get our house ready to sell, find plans for a new home and all that goes with that, also Lewis still has a partially finished airplane to build. We ended up leaving the camping trip early so we could get back to work. We added a new phrase to our family lexicon, it’s called “Nunn’s Park syndrome” which means you have too much on your plate to be able to relax, all you want to do is get back to work.
Our Joseph was baptized and the service was excellent.
Lewis just received the NTSB decision over our FAA mess. They upheld the judge’s decision. Lewis turned in his pilot’s license to the FAA today and will get it back in 40 days. He’s not happy about it, but we’ll be okay. Since Lewis moved over to the training department, temporarily losing his pilot license shouldn’t affect his work. It’s okay, but not the “okay” we were hoping for.
(Lewis in Montreal, pilot’s license still suspended, tornado in Salt Lake, working on tearing down granary, Melanie jumps off diving board, Sarah says, “Mom put Samuel back in your tummy!” Sam climbs on piano, essay comparing American and French revolutions)
Lewis is in Montreal, Canada. He will return home tomorrow after being gone 6 days. I’ve been spoiled having him home in the evenings since he’s been teaching. I miss him. His pilot license suspension ends September 17thso we’re more than halfway through. We have come to an increased understanding and appreciation that God’s judgments will be just. I wish such a promise were available on earth too.
We were fortunate that we were not affected by the tornado that ripped through Salt Lake City earlier this month, but we feel we can empathize with those who are cleaning up as we continue the saga of tearing down and cleaning up the granary. Our house is an old farmhouse and the property has a giant granary, a hay barn, and a small forest of pine trees which the previous owner (my uncle) planted in an effort to use the land productively to grow Christmas trees after he got tired of raising cows If we’re going to sub-divide the lot and build a house in the back yard, we have to clear the land of the current buildings. You never want to try to take down anything that Uncle Joseph put up. We’ve filled a 30 yd dumpster, a 12 yd dumpster, a couple of pick-up loads, a huge pile of saved wood and still have 8 pilings to go. At nearly a ton a peace, we can’t move them. We’ll have to hire that out. I’ve got blisters-turned-to calluses on my hands and growing biceps from swinging a crow-bar and a sledge hammer.
The children enjoyed the summer. Little Melanie jumped off a diving board for the first time and seasoned Joseph now dives and does flips. Sarah is our princess, always decked out in frilly dresses, high heeled shoes, fingernail polish and “lipstick” (it drives Joseph nuts).
Samuel is the apprentice: always watching and imitating, and always into mischief. Sarah declared her exasperation by demanding, “Mom, would you put Samuel back in your tummy!” Today I heard him playing the piano and came in to investigate. It’s a good thing I did because I discovered he was “playing” it with his feet, as he’d climbed onto the keyboard in his ascent to the top in search of my dish of piano lesson candy. Nothing is safe anymore.
I got to substitute in Primary, then Young Women’s, and completed the round with a Relief Society lesson on “Earthly Governments and the kingdom of God.” I learned so much in preparing this lesson. Brigham Young said that in order for a freely elected government to last it had to be based on God’s laws and its leaders had to be men of integrity. I found historical examples of two countries who tried to accomplish the same thing at about the same time, one used the principles Brigham Young mentions and the other did not. It was quite interesting. I am including part of what I found. Click here to open. I hope you enjoy it.
(Melanie 6th birthday, Sarah 4th birthday, Lewis and Linda 10th anniversary – camper in mountains, Lewis flying again and wins suit against FAA, Melanie NOT starting kindergarten, Money-bags Melanie)
September is a busy month for our family. Melanie turned six, Sarah turned four and Lewis and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. We went to dinner and camped overnight in our camper without the kids – the camper seemed huge without them – but we were happy to return to reality the next morning.
We are pleased to announce that “Captain Bjork” is once again flying higher. What a relief to finally have the FAA certificate action over. Additionally he won his suit against the FAA for their atrocious and illegal conduct while the case was pending. He gets $1000 and the satisfaction that at least some justice was served. So we can finally put the whole FAA stress behind us.
We are enjoying home schooling again so far this school year. I love teaching, it keeps me intellectually stimulated and occasionally I get some wonderful “pay days.” For example, the other day as I was reading to the kids, Joseph commented “why do African stories always use onomatopoeia?” (Words chosen to imitate a sound like “splish splash,” “ding dong,” etc) He was right and I was pleased with his observation and level of understanding. Another day, Melanie surprised her uncle when he asked, “What did you wish for?” after she blew out her birthday candles and she replied, “I wished we’d get out of debt.” By the way, it’s a long story but the school helped us decide to home school Melanie rather than sending her to kindergarten.
Is there anyone else out there who has to borrow money from their kids? It’s sad. I had to borrow $4.00 from “Money-bags Melanie” to go to a garage sale across the street. I didn’t have any cash, but she did. Later that same day Lewis teasingly said, “I’m going to need some cash tonight… do you think Melanie will still be open?”
(moving, new neighbors Dennis and Marie Rogers, working with Taylorsville City for permission to build, Sarah’s finger caught in van door – losing fingernail, Sam hits Melanie in head with a rock, home school African dinner, Halloween, Sam figures out trick or treating)
I’m writing amidst several boxes in a messy kitchen. Moving is a lot of work. We have been blessed with wonderful soon-to-be-new-neighbors, Dennis & Marie Rogers. We should close next week. We’ll be moving into my parents’ one bedroom basement apartment while we build our new home. It will be squishy with 4 kids, but it’s not forever and we’re grateful to have a place to go. Additionally, since it’s so close it will be convenient for building. We have begun the dance with the city of Taylorsville for permission to build and so far it’s been as frustrating as last time and we doubt it will get better, but we feel things will work out eventually.
We’ve been busy with church assignments, work, school, house stuff/stress and so on.
Sarah’s fingernail is coming off today. It was accidently smashed in the van door a couple of weeks ago. It was awful, but our wonderful bodies heal and it’s a good thing too because Samuel threw a rock and hit a Melanie in the head – she came in the house screaming, her hair matted with blood. It was a little scary – she’s okay too.
We had a fun African dinner with extended family to finish up our home school unit on Africa. Halloween was fun. Joseph was Zorro, Melanie designed her own Happy Face costume, Sarah was a beautiful princess and Sam was a fireman. He figured out that if you knock on a door and say “treat” people give you candy. He loved it. We noticed that too much candy makes grouchy kids though and we had to intervene for our sanity’s sake.
Well I’d better get back to work. ‘Till next time.
(Christmas, sold home, moved into Grandma Smith’s basement, trying to get city to approve plans, Lewis book contract, lots of trips to the doctor, Sam mischief – makes “chocolate chips,” Linda book club)
We want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas! We love this time of year – the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, anticipation, love and especially turning our thoughts to our Savior. The word Christmas comes from joining the words Christ and mass, meaning rite or celebration. So as we enjoy the season we are also celebrating Christ.
Last month we were grateful to close on the sale of our home. We haven’t started with the new, we’re still trying to appease the city on our plans – this could take a while.
Lewis has been awarded another book contract. This one is a compilation of five books which he is going to organize into one. It’s due in March. I’m proud of him.
We made sure the doctor would have a very prosperous season by making several visits to his office. We’ve been through rolsiola, impetigo, and strep and don’t want to play anymore. But we are grateful for doctors, accurate diagnoses and antibiotics.
We’re adjusting to downsizing from our old home to living in Grandma Smith’s one bedroom basement apartment. Sam loves it. He has access to all kinds of trouble. The other day he dumped a bag of potato chips all over the floor, then dumped the cocoa over it. Joseph said, “Look mom, Samuel made chocolate chips.”
Some friends invited me to join a book club and I love it. We all read the same book and get together and talk about it and then just talk about whatever. It’s only once a month, but I look forward to it. It’s so fun to get together and visit with friends once in a while.