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I invite you to share your thoughts, but I do ask you to keep your comments appropriate. I won't feel badly about removing comments that are offensive. That doesn't mean you can't be honest—I want honest feedback—but I also like to fill my life with positive people and positive things. I guess that means if you have to say something negative, say it nicely! :-)

More than anything, I want you to leave here feeling inspired and valued—and like we've had a fun chat!



A Gift with a Personal Touch

Happy birthday to two of my sons-in-law!

Last week both Jon and Sean celebrated their birthdays. At this age, we’ve discovered that our adult kids generally prefer cash as a gift—I guess there aren’t many toys (at least affordable toys) that appeal to grown-ups. All of us (parents and siblings) combine to give a gift of cash so the birthday boy or girl gets more bang for their buck. And although it may seem impersonal, it’s what they want and it definitely makes it easier to shop, so I’m not complaining.

But, of course, I can’t just tuck cash inside a card or envelope. . . oh, no! That would be impersonal!



So I thought I’d share the gift packaging from last week’s festivities. One is made from our regular Kraft box and the other is a modified Decorative Window gift box, with a little masculine décor added. I think they turned out great! And they do turn what might seem like a rather impersonal gift into a heartfelt birthday wish!

Happy birthday, Sean and Jon!



A Fond Farewell

Sterling and I had a great date night this week—we saw Les Miserables at the Hale Center Theater. Believe it or not, it’s the first time I’ve seen the show, and I enjoyed it! I am a huge fan of theater in the round; as an audience member I feel more involved and caught up in the production. So I enjoyed watching Les Mis from that perspective.

And as always, Hale Center did an amazing job—I have never seen a poor performance of any production there.

One of the reasons we went to see this particular show is that one of our Brick Canvas employees is in it. Kelly Coombs Johnson is actually leaving Utah after the show closes; she and her husband are heading to California to pursue other dreams. She was in the ensemble, and it was so fun to see her in various roles throughout the show. Every time she came on stage, Sterling and I would nudge each other and say, quite proudly, “There’s Kelly.”

We—along with all the Brick Canvas family—will miss her and wish her and her husband our best in their new adventures!


Our Scripture Camping Trip

Last week Sterling mentioned to the Brown kids that maybe we could go camping this week. Well, we learned (again!) that you can’t say “maybe” anything to the Brown kids—they remember everything. So when they started to ask us when we were going camping, we figured we better come up with a plan. . .

We decided last night would be perfect. It was Jon’s birthday, so Jon and Shalae could plan a night out and we could enjoy a fun overnighter with the grandkids. We invited Kona and Makai to come as well. . . the other Utah grandkids were out of town for spring break.

The kids wanted to sleep in the trailer, but we didn’t think we had the time to de-winterize the trailer quite yet, so we came up with a Plan B. . . a living room camping adventure. In retrospect, I think Sterling put more time into planning the living room adventure than it would have taken to get the trailer ready, but it was definitely worth it!

We decided to re-enact a scripture story with the kids—the story of Book of Mormon prophet Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem and camping in the wilderness while searching for their new home. When the kids arrived, we had a canopy sent up in the living room, with tarps attached on three sides, creating a tent.

We went hunting for food with the kids. Cooper had saved his own money and bought a bow and arrow that he brought with him; Sterling found some cheesy smaller bows and arrows for Ashton and Kona and foam swords for Phoebe and Makai.

We took those with us as we went “hunting” for food in the yard (Sterling had hidden turkey targets for them to find). We talked about the story of Nephi repairing his broken bow and praying for guidance to find food for his family.

We ate dinner (pulled chicken, not exactly turkey but the kids didn’t seem to mind) then “crossed the ocean” (went swimming). We ended the evening with S’mores for dessert and a movie while camping out in the tent.

We let the kids stay up later than usual—typically we stick to their regular bedtime even when they’re enjoying an overnighter with us. But we made an exception and watched part of the movie; we finished it this morning before the kids were picked up.

Sterling and I slept on a bedroll and foam pad on the floor, while the kids slept on the couches around us, and while it wasn’t the most comfortable night’s sleep I’ve ever had, it was definitely a great camping adventure!

That said, Sterling and I agreed that we’re too old to have young children! They were amazing—well behaved, patient, kind to each other. . . and I loved every minute of it. But it takes lots of energy and time to parent young children—we are definitely glad that we’re the grandparents!


The Tooth Fairy's Helper

We just wrapped up another conference weekend. I say it twice a year—I love these weekends! I enjoy the opportunity to lounge around, makeup free, in pajamas and sweats, and relax with whoever decides to join us. I also look forward to the amazing opportunity of listening to our church leaders provide timely and timeless words of wisdom, guidance, and comfort.

And this weekend was no exception.

We headed to the cabin, along with the Hoopiiainas and the Browns. The kids built tents, where they quietly listened and played during the television broadcasts. We all enjoyed yummy (and mostly healthy) treats. We chatted and relaxed and just made the most of being together.

One thing that made this weekend particularly memorable was the pulling of teeth. Sterling recently told the kids that if they let him pull their loose teeth, he’d pay them $10. Well this weekend, Phoebe took him up on his offer! She was a little reluctant, but the promise of a very generous bonus (over and above the normal tooth-fairy prize) proved to be irresistible, and Sterling plucked out her tooth.

Then, less than an hour later, just as the Hoops were driving away, Kona decided he wanted in on the action as well. He was actually already belted into his car seat when he changed his mind and dashed back inside to ask Grandpa to help out.

So, apparently we’ve started a new tradition—Grandpa as the tooth fairy’s helper! 


First Ride of the Season

Yesterday was the first endurance ride of the season—for Sterling. I went with him. Originally I had hoped I might be able to actually ride, but while my recovery has been wonderful, earlier this week I had to admit it was too soon. I cried when I told Sterling I didn’t think I was up to it, and I thought when I went with him it would be emotional, but it turns out I was wrong. Mostly, I just felt relief. .

I felt the excitement and energy in the air, and watched the horses nervously wait, and saw riders jump up into and down out of the saddles, and I knew I didn’t have the strength I need yet to do an endurance ride. And I was OK with that. It was good for me to be there, see friends (including the doctor and the couple who helped out right after my accident), and support Sterling, but I truly felt relief that I wasn’t on Kadie heading off for a 30-mile ride.

Instead, I got to watch Sterling head off, then I drove to the vet check and watched him and Grey (his horse, who was doing his first-ever endurance ride) come in. We chatted about the adventures of the morning, ate some lunch together, then I wished them well in the afternoon portion of the ride. While Sterling and Grey rode, I went back to camp and worked and read, and was there to greet them when they came in.

It was a fabulous first ride for both of them. Although Sterling is a little sore and Grey is a little tired, Sterling felt great about the ride and thinks Grey is going to be a great endurance horse—he performed well and didn’t shy or startle much at all. Sterling said when they rode past the bison and antelope (the ride was on Antelope Island), Grey just walked calmly up to the huge animals, and then rode on by, while a lot of the other horses went a little crazy.

I was kind of crazy about the bison as well—I’ve never seen them up that close and was surprised at how big they were. Apparently I wasn’t surprised enough to take a picture though. . . completely forgot about that. I was focused on Sterling and Grey, so didn’t think about much else. But it was fun to see the bison and to enjoy my first trip ever to Antelope Island. It was a perfect day for a ride. . . crisp and clear and beautiful, and it set a great precedent for the rest of the season!