January 2002

(Anna immunizations, Lewis dentist, cats spayed/killed, huge power bill, Sam allergic to milk, sugar, and wheat, cupboard door for linen closet, ordered furniture for living room, “staycation”)

I guess our New Year’s resolution for January was to take care of some of those things that you know need to be done but somehow don’t get around to. I took Anna in for immunizations.  Lewis and I went to the Dentist and I took our two cats in to be spayed.  All did not go well.  Lewis needs 4 crowns (translation: we need to come up with $1800) and one of our cats is now dead.  She panicked and bit a technician… that’s not okay, so animal control put her to sleep.  I was so embarrassed, I felt responsible for something I had no control over.  Also our dog had a destructive temper tantrum because the cats got to sleep in “her” garage in preparation for surgery.  Pets…aagh!

For some reason our January power usage was 5X what the previous month was and I about fell over at the bill. Lewis is currently turning off and on breakers trying to pinpoint what happened. We now understand why dads stereotypically walk around turning off lights. Our super insulated home has been delightfully successful in keeping heating costs down; I wish there was a magic solution to electricity problems.  After much research, trial and error we discovered the source of the problem.  We have a small ceramic heater in the garage for the dog’s comfort and apparently the heater got a “short” in the wire and sucked up all the energy.  Needless to say we tossed the broken heater in the garbage.  Oh boy was that an expensive heater.

My biggest stress factor for January was discovering that our dear Samuel is not only has issues with milk but also sugar and whole wheat. He’s been off these things for a few weeks now and his behavior is noticeably improving. We’re all struggling with the change because, of course, if he can’t have it, it can’t be in the house for anyone. I’ll be frank… I hate it! But I love my son so what do you do?

Although January was mostly stinky, some good things happened too. We finally got cupboard doors for the linen/game closet at the end of the hall so my messes are not visible to everyone. And the best news is we selected some furniture for the living room. We won’t get it until March, it’s being custom made which sounds fancy but costs the same and we get what we want. I hope it’s beautiful in real life, like it is in my mind.

We wanted to take a family vacation, but the budget was meager so we decided to do it from home and it was fun. We took the kids to see the movie Monsters, Inc. (cute show!) and played at an indoor playground called “Some Dude’s Playground”, where they have inflatable play equipment like boxing, jousting, bungee, slides, balls, etc. The kids loved it; we stayed under budget (Lewis happily disposed of the remainder in the Home Depot power tool section). I think that should be a repeater.

February 2002

(Olympics in SLC, saw copy of Declaration of Independence and painting of Valley Forge, serving in cub scouts, Valentine’s Day, Samuel bribed to say prayer for the first time, DI couch for basement, Lewis working on planes in garage and basement, says when these are finished he’ll never build another one…)

February brought the Olympics to Salt Lake City, and although we didn’t get into it as much as a some people, we did participate in a few activities. We watched the Olympic torch go down the street, we watched the opening and closing ceremonies and some of the events on TV, we got to take our family to a live event to see Kristy Yamaguchi and Katarina skate and instruct, we went downtown and saw some of the venues.  Some other special events came in conjunction with the Olympics, there was a tour of an original broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence and the original Arnold Freiberg painting of George Washington praying at Valley Forge at the state capitol building so we got to see those.

I have been busy with scouts (I’m the Webelos den leader), substituting in primary for the month of February, visiting primaries for ward conferences and a stake appreciation breakfast for my stake calling, donating blood, teaching school, working on finances, preparing taxes, trying to keep the house clean, running the kids to gymnastics, teaching piano, helping children prepare talks, visiting teaching, visiting neighbors, etc. I don’t know if the blood donation thing set me over the edge or what, but I have been so tired. We’re trying something new asking the children to pick up more of the housekeeping load and that is helping so much. With so many things demanding time how do you stay focused on the “needful things” and dump the extras? Any ideas? Anyone?

Valentine’s Day was different as we are trying to watch sugar for Samuel’s sake. Instead of giving the children treats we got them a little present and they seemed to like that.  Also we had a wonderful party with our home-school group with food and valentines.

One of the most exciting things that happened in February was that Samuel was willing to say the family prayer for the first time.  The other kids were willing and happy to say those cute little kid “repeat-a-prayers” where you say the words and the child repeats them, but Samuel always refused.  “Do you want to say the prayer Sam?” “No.” Then Lewis came up with a new idea, he remembered that Sam had been eyeing some fancy kites at the store, so he tried a new tactic.  “Sam, do you want to say the prayer?” “No.” “If you say the prayer I’ll get you a kite.” Instantly he bowed his head, folded his arms, and uttered a quick prayer.  He didn’t need any help.  He knew how to do it, he just didn’t have the right incentive.  Immediately after saying “Amen” he grabbed his coat and headed for the car.  He wanted his kite right now.  Was it worth it? Definitely.  Now he not only has his kite, he also has gotten over his initial fear of praying.  Now he thinks it is fun and wants to do it all the time and he always says thanks for the kite.

We bought a used couch from the DI for $25 to go in the unfinished basement and are amazed at how much of a difference it makes when there is a place to sit down.  Lewis has been working hard on his airplane projects and although he is still overwhelmed at these projects, he has a glimmer of hope that there might actually be an end to this tunnel. Currently there are airplane parts in the shop, garage, and basement. He says that when these are finished he will never build another plane… I’d like to see that in writing.

March 2002


(hired a landscape artist, been in home 1 year, living room furniture arrived, attended Paralympics)

The sunshine and warmer weather of springtime refresh my soul. Our thoughts are focused outside as we hope to conquer the dirt, mud, and weeds this year. We hired a landscape artist to come to our house and give ideas since a blank canvas overwhelms me. She taught us how and where to prune and fertilize our existing trees. They were planted so close to the fence/property line I thought they would have to go so I was overjoyed that there was a way to keep them. We’re trying again to grow grass and pray it works this time. We’ve been working hard and are seeing some progress and are excited for the future. We have been in our home for 1 year now.

Our living room furniture finally arrived. It took 10 weeks instead of the 5-8 they predicted, but it’s so pretty. It shocks me to see it in the living room; I’m used to it being empty.

We attended a Paralympics ice sledge hockey game. It’s inspiring to watch them play.

April 2002

(Melanie, Sarah and Joseph all lose a tooth, Sam breaks a crown, Anna gains 6 teeth, visit with Becky and Steve’s family, Lewis’ birthday, piano recital, Lewis new calling as ward finance clerk, cousin Elyse gets married, General conference, pruned apple trees, Lewis re-stains chess table, curtains and rug in living room – company ready, paving stone sidewalk, little frog fountain, begin sprinkling system)

April was the “month of the tooth” in the Bjork household. Melanie and Sarah each lost a tooth the same day, then later in the month Joseph and Sarah each lost a tooth on the same day. Sarah looks so cute. And Anna went from having no teeth to having 6 teeth. Also Samuel broke off part of his crown on his front tooth so it looks like he lost one, it looks terrible, but it doesn’t count. So I guess we had a net gain of two.

We celebrated Lewis’ birthday and I had a piano recital. Joseph, Melanie and Sarah all participated and each did a great job.

Lewis received a new church calling. He is now a ward clerk over finances. This is new territory, but he’ll do a good job. We enjoyed General Conference. We are so fortunate to have apostles and prophets today.

My cousin Elyse got married this month. She is my age and we played together as children when they lived in a home nearby. I’m so happy she found someone who could make her happy. I look at my dear husband and wonderful children and feel so grateful to be where I am right now. I have few regrets and hope for a bright future and that is a good feeling.

Our house made excellent progress this month. We had the apple trees pruned and they are currently in full bloom and just beautiful. We finally got our couch, chairs and the all-important chess table that we ordered back in January. They are so pretty, but the table was stained so dark you couldn’t see the chess board, so Lewis refinished the top, added a glass top and now it’s perfect. We also got a rug, pillows, simple flower arrangement and made curtains and the final picture is lovely. I am so pleased. It is tasteful, clean and peaceful. Now that we’ve lived in our home for over a year we finally have one “company-ready” room. Yea!

The outside has made some progress as well. We put down some paving stones for a sidewalk and bought a cute little fountain with frogs and lily pads. Now Lewis is working on a sprinkling system which I am so excited about. Maybe we can actually succeed in growing grass on our next attempt???!!!

May 2002

(Anna:  sitting, rolling, creeping, crawling, horrible in church and during movies; Melanie flexes muscles in the mirror, Sarah loses another tooth, Joseph reads, Samuel gave scripture and prayer in primary, Lewis:  put in sprinkling system, fabric covering on one wing of Pitts, flew with Gary Nelsen, dates and family dates; year- end tests and final reports; peach fuzz grass in second attempt)

Our little Anna has heretofore been a very relaxed and mellow child. She’s been a little slower than the others to sit up and roll over and things like that, but pleasant and delightful. Well this month, she has changed so much. Suddenly, she is awake and alert, she went from only sitting to rolling, creeping and crawling in a very short time. It has been delightful to watch this little butterfly emerge from her cocoon. However, there is a downside. She is now horrible in church and worse during movies, so we’re to that stage now… again.

You can often find Melanie flexing her muscles in front of the bathroom mirror, and for good reason. If I looked like she does, I’d be in front of the mirror too. I’ve never seen such definition on an 8 year old before. Gymnastics is a good thing. Wow! Sarah lost yet another tooth and just gets cuter and cuter. When I see her smile I want to sing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.” Joseph often has his nose in a good book and he remembers what he’s read, I wish I could do that better.  He’s also strong and a good helper. Samuel gave his first scripture and prayer in primary.

Lewis had a great month at work. He had a “reserve line” (or “on call”) and they didn’t call him in very often. So he dug up the yard and put in a sprinkling system, put fabric covering on one of the wings of his Pitts, flew with his friend in his airplane once a week, we had family outings about twice a week, and a date with me once a week. It was great. Next month it’s back to the grindstone, but that was delightful while it lasted.

We finished up the school year with year-end achievement tests and final reports. The children did well and are ready for summer break and the swimming pool.

We have green “peach fuzz” covering much of our ever-present mud and I think it could actually be the real thing this time!!! Two weeks ago, we had the front and side hydro-seeded and I put seed on the back… again. How did people ever get grass to grow before automated sprinkling systems were invented?

June 2002

(creative ideas to cool house, swimming, grass growing, Joseph, Melanie and Sarah participate in gymnastics mini-meet, Joseph cub scout day camp, Melanie and Lewis daddy-daughter date for achievement days, Anna’s birthday, Linda called as Relief Society president, Elizabeth Smart kidnapped, cousin Sharon and Bruce hit by drugged driver – Bruce killed)

It’s been quite hot and that seems to make us feel sluggish around here.  Lewis has been creative in trying to cool the house down. He installed a house fan to draw the cooler evening air into the house and then we close the windows during the day and try to keep the cool air inside. That helped quite a bit, but lately the night time lows are around 80 and it just heats up from there. Today he installed ceiling fan/light fixtures in the children’s rooms to replace the old bare-light-bulb hanging from the ceiling. Quite an improvement. Also we often go swimming in the evenings and that helps and besides it’s a lot of fun. But I’m so looking forward to air conditioning… maybe next year?

It’s been 7 weeks since we planted our grass and it’s looking beautiful. Sure it’s full of weeds and there’s a bare spot or two, but we can take care of that in time and it’s such an improvement.

Joseph, Melanie and Sarah participated in their first gymnastic mini-meets and each one brought home blue ribbons for excellent performance in each of their events plus a trophy. I was proud of them.  Joseph also enjoyed going to Cub Scout day camps for 2 days.

We thought it would be funny to celebrate Anna’s birthday by going to visit the place where she was born.  She was born in the car in the parking lot of a hamburger drive through called “Central Park” – that was obviously not the original plan, but that’s the way it worked out.  So we drove there and took a few pictures before going through the drive through to get hamburgers.  The girl attending the drive through window had been watching us and asked why we were taking pictures.  We briefly explained about Anna’s unusual birth story and the girl totally took it in stride.  “Cool,” she said, “did you stop for French fries afterwards?”  “No,” we laughed, “you were closed.  Maybe next time.” We were joking of course, in case you didn’t catch that.

Melanie and Lewis went to a daddy-daughter date for achievement days. We had a stake activity with a little parade and games and dinner.  I got to help with that as one of my duties in my stake primary calling. I was just released from that calling this week after almost 4 years.  I was also released from being Webelos den leader and my other Cub Scout leader calling as well. Actually I was thought I was ready for a change anyway, but I wasn’t prepared for the change that came. Last Sunday my bishop called Lewis and me into his office and asked me to serve as Relief Society President. I almost fell off my chair. I’ve shed many tears already and I haven’t even started yet. I feel like a sparrow being called to lead eagles.

Some sad things happened in June that should be recorded and remembered. A young girl named Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her home and all of Utah has been searching and mourning with her family.  And my cousin Sharon White and her husband Bruce were in a terrible auto accident.  A man high on drugs hit them going 110 miles per hour and Bruce was killed and Sharon badly broken. Sharon said she’s had some wonderful spiritual experiences and feels that this was meant to be, but it will be a long, hard road.  Our love goes out to their family.

July 2002

Melanie at gymnastics

(Samuel learns to swim, Sarah level 1 gymnastics, Melanie level 2 gymnastics, Joseph is chemist and plays racquetball with Lewis, Linda plays racquetball with Lewis, Anna can stand, Lewis: Pitts wing almost ready to paint, “spend mode,” Linda quits teaching piano lessons, visit Devonna Arnold’s property and cabin)

Last night at the swimming pool, Samuel had a breakthrough.  With Lewis’ patient coaching, Samuel is now swimming! His little face could barely contain his ecstatic grin. He is a cute little boy. Sarah has progressed to level one in gymnastics up from the beginning class, and Melanie progressed from level one to level two. They are always doing cartwheels, round offs, splits, etc.  I’ve had to re-sew the crotch seams of several pairs of pants. They refuse to wear Levi’s because you can’t “do anything” in pants like those.

Joseph is our resident chemist. He is forever taking little bottles of whatever Lewis brought home from his latest trip (shampoo, lotions, etc.) and mixing it with other things. He also mixes his own “soil” by adding nutrients and dirt and sifting it through an old window screen. I need to get him a chemistry set for Christmas. Joseph has played racquetball with Lewis a couple of times and we’re going to try to make that a habit.  Lewis plays with me too and it is so much fun.  He played competitively at a college level, and I’m a beginner.  He plays left-handed, lobs the serve and is so gentle and patient with me. My goal for each game is to score at least one point before he wins. Once I even got three whole points before the game ended! Whoot! Anna can stand and walk as long as she’s holding on to something. She’s in no rush, but when she’s ready she’ll get it quickly I’m sure.

Lewis has been working on his Pitts wing and it’s almost ready for paint. He found a nearly-finished airplane of the other plane he’s building (Osprey) and was sorely tempted to buy it and sell his partially finished project to reduce his oppressive “to-do” list, but wisdom prevailed and the original plan still stands. The only problem was that he’s been in “spend mode” ever since. I guess the money he “saved” by not buying the Osprey is burning a hole in his pocket. I’ve had to limit his visits to the Fred Meyer parking lot where people keep parking tempting items for sale like trucks, camper vans, trailers, motor homes, boats, etc.

My new calling has been keeping me busy as I try to learn the ropes and become familiar with people and their needs. Lewis and the children have been very supportive as I share my time with others. I decided to quit teaching piano lessons when school starts so I don’t go completely crazy. I feel really good about that decision and my mom has kindly taken all my students so they’ll actually be better off and I don’t feel guilty about “dumping” them.

We spent a wonderful day with some friends at their recreational property in Morgan and ate lunch and fished in their private fishing pond. Melanie, Sarah, Lewis and I all caught fish. It was a small step closer to “real” fishing (we only seem to be able to catch fish at commercially stocked fish farms) and it was encouraging.  We also had a wonderful time at the cabin with grandparents and cousins. We played games, enjoyed each other’s company and spent some time at the reservoir.  I especially enjoyed a leisurely rubber-boat ride with Lewis around the lake.

August 2002

(Parade of Homes, faux painted bedroom, stage in basement, made ping pong table, poured cement patio, Joseph “brain damage”: [half] back flip on floor, sat and leaned on cake, flushed water balloons down the toilet, Melanie sick and throwing up, flooding in kitchen and basement, Linda teaches RS lesson, Enrichment activity, family reunion at Lagoon, Willard Bay, new family [Kirkham’s] in home school group, cousin’s baby funeral)

August was packed as we squeezed every last drop out of summer.  Lewis and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Parade of Homes and then fell to work trying to implement new and inexpensive ideas to our own home.  I painted our room using leftover paint from previous projects.  I faux painted it using the “Wooley” and marbled it using a feather, it turned out beautiful and it was free! Then we turned to the mess downstairs and tried to make it livable. We rearranged the furniture, made a little stage complete with curtains and lights with a painted backdrop of sky and clouds, we turned an old worktable into a combination chalkboard/ping pong table and I’m especially enjoying ping pong games with Lewis and teaching the children how to play. Then my mom helped me re-arrange the kitchen/family room (again) and it looks open and spacious. We had been trying to work around the eventual installation of our free standing stove, but I guess it’s just not going to fit in this room. We also poured a cement patio in the back. Our “a la carte” house is coming along (slowly) and I love to see progress.

My dear Joseph has frustrated and amused us this month with his normal 11 year old “brain damage” as Bill Cosby puts it.  First he tried a back flip on the floor and half way succeeded, landing on his face.  No permanent damage done thankfully, but it banged him up a bit.  Then he sat on the cake I carefully prepared to share at our  family reunion.  The un-presentable confection was returned to the kitchen and I brought a bag of M&Ms for our shared treat.  Finally he tried flushing filled water balloons down the toilet in a scientific moment to see if they would pop. He was surprised at my announcement that the toilet was plugged, the bathroom flooded and does anybody know how it happened? To his credit he did mop up the floor.

Oh the joys of parenthood.  Of course the latter event happened when Lewis was out of town and he was still gone for the encore the following day.  For some reason Melanie was sick all night keeping me awake with her cries and moaning.  After a restless night, morning greeted me with vomit on the toilet seat, bathroom floor, walls, bedroom carpet, sheets, bedspread, etc.  The cleaning process was not complete when Joseph informed me that Anna was playing in the water.  What water?  A pipe fitting came undone under the kitchen sink and all the water draining from the dishwasher was going directly to the floor.  I fixed the pipe as quickly as I could then had to change Anna, clean the floor and re-wash every pan that was stored under the sink.  I almost had that disaster under control when Joseph informed me that the basement was flooded.  I went downstairs and there were large puddles in two places in the basement. One obviously came from the upstairs sink and wasn’t too difficult to clean, but the other being clear across the room had me worried and water was still coming!  Was the washing machine broken too?  Finally I realized that the water had gone down the heater vent under the kitchen sink, through the duct work and had found its way out through a seam of duct tape.  I can live with that. Now to finish cleaning up the vomit.  I felt that the universe was conspiring against me and I fell apart.  It was a hard day.

I got to teach a lesson in Relief Society, we had a fun enrichment night of learning to line dance. We had dentist visits for the kids (again).  For fun, we went to Timpanogos Cave, which is always such a treat. We had a family reunion at Lagoon was fun, but the lines were too long.

The first day of school we donned our backpacks filled with gear and headed off for… Mount Baldy for a day of hiking.  I love home school.  We have a new family in our home school group, the Kirkhams, now we have four families and it’s just right. We’re getting back into a routine and things are going well so far.  (A note from the future: We didn’t know at that time that Joseph had met his future bride, Aubrey Kirkham, from this new addition.  At first he hated her, she was so smart and sassy and obviously a worthy opponent.  Soon his loathing turned to admiration and then he loved her secretly for the next ten years, but it was unrequited.  A decade after they first met, she finally noticed him and realized how awesome he was, after a whirlwind courtship they are now married with children).

The last day of August was the funeral for my cousin’s baby who lived only one week. His name was Samuel.  Seeing the little baby in the casket, watching his brother and sisters and mother kiss him goodbye, and seeing his father carry the casket down the hall in his arms broke my heart.  I felt so sad, like I could never be happy again. It was a hard day.

September 2002

(Anna:  walks at 15 months, loves to eat, digs through the garbage, hates doors; Sam is spider man; Sarah turns 7 and likes jewelry; Melanie turns 9; Joseph earns Arrow of Light award and gets an awful haircut from Lewis; Lewis & Linda 13th anniversary; rent a trailer for trip; visit Thanksgiving Point dinosaur museum; Hansen Planetarium; Beehive house; Whitaker Cabin; Linda tries to take a bath – it doesn’t work)

Anna walks! One day after turning fifteen months old she stopped refusing to try. She exchanged her rubber legs for working ones and we are delighted.  Not to say that she doesn’t still enjoy taking rides on her bipedal coach (that would be me or Melanie or Lewis or…). She directs like a born princess.  Arms up stretched means pick me up followed by pointing which direction she wants to go. She is a fun baby.  She loves to eat anything and everything, especially bananas.  She loves digging through the garbage can and gets frustrated when we take things away or move her “treasure chest.”  She also hates doors. Doors are exclusive. She does not like to be excluded.  It is not unusual to find her lying on the floor in the hall, peering under a door, and giving the occupants of the room a good tongue lashing.

Spider-man may be Peter Parker in the comic strips, but in our home he is Samuel. He wears his Halloween costume daily, I’m sure it won’t last until the end of the month, but he is happy and he sings the spider-man song so cute complete with actions.

Sarah turned 7 and when Lewis took her birthday shopping she never made it to the toy section, she couldn‘t make it past the jewelry counter. With wide sparkling eyes she selected a small jewelry box and filled it with treasures.  I guess we have two princesses.

Melanie turned 9 and wanted a birthday party with friends. The house was bustling with 15 children running around in a treasure hunt. There were no casualties during the piñata bash and subsequent scramble for treats. And they had fun performing skits on the stage, and I survived the ordeal even though a few stragglers stayed several hours after the party officially ended so I guess it was a success. Personally I prefer family parties. Small. Low stress. Hmmm.

Joseph received his Arrow of Light and several other awards as he graduated from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. He also got a haircut.  A memorable hair cut. As usual, I procrastinated cutting his hair until it got to a mop-like state and Lewis was sick of it… so he decided to give me a break and do something about it himself. After all, he’d seen it done and it didn’t look that difficult. When I finally ventured a peek, poor Joseph looked like a chemo patient, nearly bald with random tufts of longer hair. “I can’t get it even; this is harder than it looks.” I wanted to cry. Of course the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program was to take place that Sunday.  Lewis consented to letting me even it up and Joseph has his first “buzz,” not my favorite hairstyle, but now that we’re used to it we think he looks good.

Lewis & I celebrated our 13th anniversary with lunch at a wonderful Italian restaurant and “The Music Man” at the Hale Center Theater.  Lewis had two weeks of vacation and we my brother’s trailer for a few days and camped along the Mirror Lake Highway.  My parents brought their camper and we enjoyed camping together in the mountains in autumn. We also visited the new dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point, the Zap show at the Hansen Planetarium, a tour through the Beehive House, and three days at the Whitaker Cabin.  It is good to play together as a family. Now we’re getting back into a routine again, and that’s a good thing too.

Last night, I wasn’t feeling too well and thought a hot bath might be helpful.  Soon I was reclining in the warm water hoping to relax… what was I thinking? It was a matter of seconds before the pounding began. Mom, can you get me a drink of water?  Mom can I come in? I want to tell you something… Mom can I come in? I want to show you something. Mom can I come in? I want to give you something. Mom, let me in… and so on.  When I kept answering “no” Sarah complained, “You know I don’t like talking to a door.”  Since I wouldn’t let anybody in, the children begin shoving notes under the door.  Anna is crying in her crib, she didn’t want to go to bed yet.  In the kitchen I hear the other four children stomping, wrestling, dancing, fighting, and shooting rubber bands, with alternating bouts of laughter and languishing cries. Coupled with frequent trips to the bathroom door to pound again to see if I’ll let them in THIS time. Meanwhile, as I’m trying to ignore the external noise, things aren’t perfect in the bathroom either. Remember that I said “warm” water, not “hot” water.  I tried to add more hot water, but there wasn’t any so I inadvertently added more cold and by the time I turned it off the water in the tub was slightly better than lukewarm. I gave up. I got out of the tub defeated, played judge to the plaintiffs and defendants crowding around the bathroom door all vying to tell their version of the story first, and went to bed.

October 2002

(Brother-in-law in Bosnia, we collect school supplies for refugee school, Joseph: gets braces, goes on first camp; two toilet house; Halloween party for homeschool group with piñata; sniper in Washington D.C.)

My brother-in-law Dale is currently in Bosnia serving in the military. He has requested help gathering school supplies to help a refugee school there.  We headed an effort to gather school supplies and send them to him.

And now for the news… Joseph looks like a different boy in his new braces.  He’s becoming a young man.  He went on his first scout camp and we learned a few things so hopefully the next time he’ll be better prepared.

Lewis’ work has been keeping him really busy lately but he still managed to work on the house some too.  We now have the glorious privilege of having a “two- toilet” house!  He finished the tile work and we have a functional shower and toilet in the master bathroom. Yea! Someday we’ll get a vanity, sink and mirror. That will be nice too.

We had a fun Halloween party with our home school group.  We made a piñata that could really take a beating and played games.  Relief Society is going okay, everything is busy right now and probably won’t slow down until after Christmas is over.  So I guess we’ll just hang on for the ride.

My sister and her family live in the Washington D.C. area and we were concerned when hearing on the news that a sniper was randomly shooting people in the area.  We were so glad when the sniper was caught in D.C. and that our family was all okay.

November 2002

(Joseph braces, Samuel dentist, Sarah hospital EKG, van broke down, house insurance payment due, Linda: hives and flu; Lewis: impetigo; church callings; Detective wants us to organize neighborhood watch; animal control call; service project school supplies for Bosnia; food drive; toy drive; Lewis works Thanksgiving and Christmas)

November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving and we truly have so much to be grateful for. I am thankful for my wonderful husband, my children, parents, supportive brothers and sisters and their families, the gospel of Jesus Christ and all that it includes, health and strength, normal bodies and minds, a house, food to eat, clothes to wear, peace in our home and our community, a job, etc. etc… Remembering all our blessings helps when things don’t go the way we’d hoped and to be quite honest this month was a tough one. We’ve been challenged on many fronts.

Health: I got a severe case of hives and was covered from head to toe with huge, ugly, red, extremely itchy blotches. The first case lasted about a week and I had a recurrence that lasted another several days.  I have no idea what caused them so I don’t know what to avoid so they don’t return for “part three.”  I got the flu so bad that I couldn’t stand up and Lewis was out of town (of course). I called my mom for help. My health improved enough to nurse the rest of the family when they each got their turn with the flu. Samuel went to the dentist twice for three crowns and a couple cavities, Sarah went to the hospital for an EKG to check on her heart since she was complaining of pain in her chest and shortness of breath (she’s okay, her heart appears to be normal).  Lewis is stressed and impetigo popped out on his lip.  Etc.

Financially: property taxes were due this month, Joseph got braces, the van broke down, a house insurance payment was due, multiple trips to the dentist, and a trip to the hospital did not help matters. Christmas is coming, etc.

Church: We’re not the only ones who had a lousy month and I’ve tried to help and comfort many families during financial struggles, break ups, surgeries, divorce, depression, mental breakdown, attending baptisms, new families moving in, etc.  It’s been a heavy month, I’m so glad that I will never have to serve as bishop, Relief Society president is work enough.  We had stake conference which took a lot of time and after listening to all we were supposed to be doing I just cried because I feel so inadequate.

Community: A certain police officer got my name as a “concerned citizen” and he called or came over every day for two weeks to “check on us” and encourage us to organize a neighborhood meeting so he can teach us about crime prevention and set up and rejuvenate a neighborhood watch program.  I got a call from Animal Control to check if our dog had a current rabies shot (which she didn’t) so I had to quickly take her to the vet and take care of that. Lewis’ sister Shawna called and asked me to head a service project in our neighborhood to gather school supplies for a refugee school in Bosnia (where her husband is currently stationed in the military). We were asked to help with the food drive for the Utah Food Bank.  I’m also in charge of collecting toys for Christmas for those who need help.

Family: Lewis had to work on Thanksgiving… again. The schedules are horrible right now and he’s gone all the time. He hates it as much as I do, but I still think it’s harder on me. The environment in Lewis’ parents’ home became so toxic that they called for help.  Their son (Lewis’ brother) and his young family had been living with his parents.  Unfortunately the marriage dissolved, but the former daughter-in-law would not move out and they finally had to ask her to leave.  Lewis’ parents asked Lewis and the other siblings to be there to support them during the process, it wasn’t pretty.  There are children involved and divorce hurts no matter how you look at it.

Misc: I organized a field trip for our homeschool group, Joseph went to scout camp, I taught a Relief Society lesson & went to book club, the girls are preparing for their Christmas shows in gymnastics, Anna is almost ready for Nursery.

Among my list of blessings, I will include that I’m glad that November is over.  We survived.  We’re now excited for Christmas and we get to have it early! Lewis will be working the 25th so we will be celebrating on the 24th. Working on Christmas is pretty much the least of our concerns.

December 2002

(Anna delighted with Christmas, air hockey table, Melanie and Sarah gymnastics show – Melanie level 3; Joseph swimming merit badge; Samuel = superhero; Christmas activities)

Anna loved everything about Christmas. She loved the lights, the tree, and the presents.  It was so fun to see her examine each new thing and point it out to me. Everything was so new and exciting to her, it made it all the more fun for me.  Our children are at such fun ages to enjoy this time of year.  Our big family gift was an air hockey table.  It was such a fun secret and the children were amazed that we could hide it from them.  We’re having fun playing together.

Joseph got to go swimming with his clothes on for scouts.  You know, you get to make flotation device out of your clothing.  Very cool.

Melanie and Sarah performed their gymnastic routines for a Christmas show and both did very well.  Melanie was promoted to level three, congratulations Melanie!

Samuel lives in the fantasy realm of superheroes to the embarrassment of his older brother especially.

We enjoyed a ward Christmas party, a visit to the Festival of Trees, a family Christmas party, a primary activity, a Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert, and other activities.  We were blessed with lots of goodies from neighbors and I’m afraid my waistline shows it.  The forecast for January is extra time on the stair-stepper to undo the damage.

My brother had a new home built, their house is finished and they’ve just moved in.  Melanie asked why we’re so slow.  Other people can start and finish their houses and we’re still not done.  “Sorry Melanie, it’s hard to be patient.  It’s hard for me too.  But we’ll get there… eventually… I think.”

Click here for link to previous year (2001)

Click here for link to next year (2003)