August 30, 2008

7th Birthday Party

The Saturday after school started (yes, we've been busy) we had Mary's birthday party. She chose to have a "Chef Party." First, all the guests decorated their own apron and we made paper toques.
Then they each made their own pizzas. I didn't realize doing the dough would be so hard for kids this age. It was a little crazy because they all needed help, but they enjoyed it. After eating their pizza, they decorated jumbo-sized chocolate cupcakes (notice they had ditched their hats by this time). All the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves, and Mary said it was her best birthday party ever. I'm glad. It was kind of a lot of work, but it was worth it. Very fun!

First Day of School

Just a couple of days after we returned from the ranch, Collin and Mary started school. They both have great teachers and are doing well.

Jack also started preschool with his same teacher from last year. One of Jack's buddies is in his class and they play together a lot and have a great time.

Ranch Trip - Part 5

My dad took us on a long quad ride/tour of the ranch. He showed us some the projects he has been working on, including this solar powered well/water tank.

We road through some rough terrain up to the top of the mesa to the edge of the property (about 8000 acres) where I had never been before. The ranch borders the national forest and we went in a ways. It was so beautiful! (The view from the top of the mesa)
On Sunday we went to church in Ramah, a neighboring town where some of my ancestors lived. We had a tour of the historial society museum housed in this pioneer home.
We were excited to discover in the museum this photograph of my great great grandfather who settled the ranch. He was the first postmaster in Ramah, and his photo was on the wall along with the other postmasters.We left for home straight from Ramah since it's kind of on the way. It was a great trip and I look forward to going next year.

Ranch Trip - Part 4

Evening activities at the ranch including singing around a bon fire, and roasting marshmallows... and Starbursts. Go figure.
... a variety show put on my all the grandkids. I helped them put together two group numbers that we rehearsed each day. The younger kids did "Put on a Happy Face" (performed here)...

... and the older kids did "We're All In This Together" from High School Musical. (I didn't get a still photo of this because I was in the back of the room doing the choreography with them because they were a little unsure, and Jay was running the video camera.) They all did a great job!

Mary sang a solo, "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 (Sarah McLachlan). It was sweet.

Saturday night was the annual fireworks show, but I didn't get a photo of that either. But you know what fireworks look like, right?

Ranch Trip - Part 3

This is how the kids spent their time at the ranch:

Playing with their cousins....
.... playing Ultimate Frisbee on the front lawn....

... a little golfing on the front law....

... playing with Jimmy (Christian and Stephanie's dog)....... riding quads/begging for quad rides....... building forts....... talking about girl stuff with their cousins....
... wandering the ranch with cousins....
... and playing in the barn.
Of course, at the ranch, the kids find it necessary to wear cowboy boots. Fortunately, grandma has a collection of thrift store boots. Mary wore a red pair the whole time (see photo with Jimmy) even though they were several sizes too big.Jack was pleased to find a pair that fit him. He wore them every day. He didn't even care (or didn't know) that they were "girl" boots.

Ranch Trip - Part 2

We spent 5 days at the ranch. Of lot of that time was spent in the kitchen (a big giant open room), cooking, eating, washing dishes, visiting, and making crafts. A lot of the eating including the bounty from the huge garden (it looks more like a small farm!). Yum!
There was so much zucchini (enormous!) and we discovered a creative way to use it.... "Apple Crisp!" You would never know it was zucchini and not apples. It was delicious! It was so much fun to watch people eat it, and then see their shocked faces when we told them what it was. (see recipe below)

The younger girls spent lots of time making jewelry from the plethora of beads....
... and the teenagers and women made tote bags. Here is one of several I made.
"APPLE CRISP" aka "Ranch Apple" Crisp

8 C. zucchini, peeled, seeded and diced (about the size of canned pineapple chunks)*
2/3 c. lemon juice
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

In a large saucepan, cook zucchini and lemon juice over medium heat until zucchini is tender. Add sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook for a few minutes more. Remove from heat and let sit.

4 C. flour
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. cold butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir 1/2 of mixture into the zucchini and spread in 10x15" jelly roll pan. Top with remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle on additional cinnamon is desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with real whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

OPTIONAL VERSION: Cook the apples in a very large cast iron skillet and just bake it in the same pan.

*Make sure to peel the zucchini completely and remove ALL of the seeds!

Ranch Trip - Part 1

I have been so wrapped up in everything going on with Christian and Stephanie that I never finished posting about July and the beginning of August. Since this is my journal, I need to do some catching up, so, here goes:

The day after Mary's birthday (end of July) I worked at registration at the school. I am the treasurer of our school's parent organization so I had to collect dues and money for shirts. (I am so glad our school just collects $20 dues from each family once a year, rather then send the kids door-to-door selling junk.)

The next morning we left for the ranch. We took our time, making a couple of stops... first in Holbrook, where we visited the 100+ year old county courthouse that is now a museum. The building is beautiful, and was used until the mid-1970's. (the kids on an old wagon out front)
We explored the courtroom and the kids got to pose in the judge's bench. The had a law library still filled with old law books.
But the coolest part was the old jail. Here the kids posed in one of the cells (gross). They posed for the camera and smiled as usual. We told them to look sad instead. "Pretend you are in jail!"
Later we exited the freeway and drove part of historic Route 66, stopping in Gallup to visit a local historical society there.

We finally arrived at the ranch in the late afternoon. The ranch looks so good! It's been in our family for several generations so it's been showing it age. But my dad and brothers have made a lot of improvements over the last few years. I have to admit that I really enjoy going to the ranch now; I didn't used to because it wasn't very comfortable, but it is now... and lots of fun too!
P.S. See Stephanie's posts about the ranch trip here, here, here, here and here.

August 28, 2008

Little Bits of Good News

I spent some more time at the burn center yesterday and today. Yesterday I was with my mom. Christian had his eyes open and was making eye-contact with mom while she spoke. He kept trying to sit up, which he is not allowed to do of course (he has a fractured lumbar vertibrae), and so I kept gently pushing him back onto the bed. He is a fighter! He also lifted his arms a lot and kept reaching toward mom.

Today I went with my sister. Christian wasn't as alert as yesterday, but would open his eyes for brief moments (especially when I mentioned Stephanie), though he didn't seem to really focus on anything. He also lifted him arms a few times. (The nurse said he had been really feisty earlier that morning so she had given him some extra medication to calm him down.) I just kept stroking the top of his head, and my sister put on a CD of peaceful music.

Yesterday they were doing some tests on Stephanie to check for internal problems. I asked about it today and they said so far nothing turned up, which is good. Her swelling has gone down a lot. She had skin grafts done on her right hand and they said it went well. Lots more to go.

My older brother and my dad visited the crash site this week and were able to talk to the neighbors who responded and got a few answers, although we probably won't have all the answers for a long time, if ever.

I live for the little bits of good news and keep praying for miracles. Thanks again for your prayers and support!

Wanna see a baseball game?

Check out this auction for Diamondbacks' tickets. It's for a good cause.

August 24, 2008

Balloon Launch

Yesterday was the balloon launch in honor of Christian and Stephanie. I am amazed and touched at the number of people who participated. (read about just some of the launches here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
My family gathered in my parents' cul de sac with their neighbors (Christian and Stephanie lived with my parents for a while right after they moved here from New Jersey, so all the neighbors know them).
Afterward we gathered as a family at my parents house to eat and visit. I have always loved being around my family, but times like this make me want to spend even more time with them. They are all wonderful and I love them so much. I am truly blessed!P.S. I forgot my camera so I stole these images from my sister who did bring hers. Thanks Liz!

My visit to the hospital on Friday

I spent the afternoon at the hospital on Friday. Both Christian and Stephanie are hanging in there but have a long way to go. Every day is different and it's still kind of touch and go. I was there with my sister Diane, and later my parents arrived. One of the nurses handed us a huge stack of cards and letters that had been delivered to the hospital. Most were from people who had never met Christian or Stephanie, but had been influenced by their example.

We got to visit Christian for a while but Stephanie was still in surgery where she had been all day. When she was finally returned to her room they said it would be still be over an hour until we could see her. My dad had to leave for an appointment after a little while but my mom stayed to ride home with us. We went out in the waiting room to read all the mail.

We had just finished reading all the kind well wishes from strangers when Stephanie's oldest sister Page walked in. She had just arrived from the airport (lives in Utah). Page is an RN and wanted to know all the details and had lots of medical questions to ask. It was such a wonderful bit of luck (probably not luck) that Dr. Matthews (the surgeon who had been working on Stephanie all day) happened to walk through the waiting room just then.

I was the only one of our little group sitting there who had met him (I had two good talks with him earlier during the week) so I don't think he would have stopped except that I went out of my way to make eye-contact with him and he recognized me (bless his heart) and came over. He talked with us for a good hour giving us lots of details and explaining the latest information to us. And he answered Page's questions. At the end of our conversation it was about time for Stephanie to be seen so he took her back. Jay had arrived during this time so he and I headed home.

Dr. Matthew is a quirky guy, but I really like him. He is patient and takes the time to explain things in a way that those of us with no medical background can understand. It was late in the afternoon on a Friday after he had been in surgery all day, but he didn't rush or seem put out at all. What a nice guy. He described himself as a "god-fearing man" and said he was praying for them as well.

I won't go into the details, but the bottom line is that we are grateful they have no internal problems.... all organs are functioning well. Their lungs weren't damaged and their bodies seem to be responding well so far. They have many many many more surgeries ahead and months and months and months of recovery to go but I have faith that everything will work out.

People have been so generous with their offers of help, and have been donating to the recovery fund. What a blessing! Thank you all! Jay's co-workers got together and made a nice contribution, which was really thoughtful. There are so many good people in the world. It's nice to know that.

August 21, 2008

A Way to Help

You may have noticed something new on the side bar. Many of you have asked how you can help. If you would like, you can donate to the recovery fund for Christian and Stephanie. (click on "donate to NieNie") The cost of their care is going to be in the millions, and they will max out their insurance very soon.

Thanks again for all of your love and support!

August 20, 2008

Some Thoughts

*I spent most of the day at the hospital yesterday. (Thank you for keeping Jack all day Teresa! And for bringing dinner!) I was able to talk to the doctor before and after Christian's surgery yesterday and he said that things went well. It was the first of many surgeries to come.

*I spent the afternoon at the hospital again today. (Thank you Jenni, for helping with my kids!) Stephanie was in surgery when I arrived, but I got to "talk to" Christian for a while.

When I spent some time in the hospital after a bad car accident about 9 years ago, my father sat at my side and read to me from the Book of Mormon during a particularly difficult time... I had just come out of surgery and was in a lot of pain. He read for over 2 hours, and while he did so I was calm and peaceful. He said that whenever he paused to clear his throat or take a sip of water I would begin writhing in pain again. It is a wonderful testimony to the power of scripture.

So, today I took a copy of the Book of Mormon with me and read to Christian... until they kicked me out so they could prep him for surgery. I held the book in one hand and kept my other hand on his shoulder where there are no burns or bandages. He seemed to respond a bit while I read... plus it was comforting for me as well. I don't expect him to remember it, but I think a part of him knows.

*I have been so impressed with the doctors and nurses and staff. I have been told a number of times that this burn center where they are is top notch. One of my dear friends emailed me yesterday to tell me how she worked there while in nursing school and what a great place it is. I know that Christian and Stephanie are in good hands (both a great medical staff, and the Lord's hands). Everyone has been really kind. Both yesterday and today there were "cookie packages" delivered from friends. Obviously, Christian and Stephanie can't eat them, so after removing the cards I invited the staff to eat the cookies, which they were more than happy to do. :)

*My sister-in-law Darin had the wonderful idea of putting photos of Christian and Stephanie in their rooms. My sister Liz followed through today and put up a bunch of wonderful photos. It was fun to look at them with all the nurses as they "ooh-ed" and "awed" and asked me about each one. They said they felt like they were getting to know them through their photos... and that was the whole point.

*Liz also hung a few quotes from Stephanie's blog, one of which mentioned the Family Proclamation. The nurses asked me what that was and I had the opportunity to tell them a little about it. Combine that with them hearing me read the Book of Mormon to Christian, and I think I did a little bit of missionary work today. :) Which reminds me....

My brother-in-law said the other night that this is what would be referred to as a "hard blessing." I think that is right. It is certainly difficult, but has changed lives forever.... for the better. So many people have been touched by this event, and I have no doubt that there will be many more.

Christian and Stephanie are wonderful examples and have been bold about sharing the gospel with their neighbors.... who love them for it! At the prayer service the other night, there were tons of people who are not member of our faith (particularly many of the close neighbors), but know and love Christian and Stephanie and have been touched by their testimonies and their exemplary lives. Even their mailman was there!

*C & S's bishop happens to be the brother of my brother-in-law. He came in this afternoon while I was there. We talked for a few minutes about all of the tender mercies that have been evident in all of this. I don't have time to list them all now, but in my prayer last night I thanked Heavenly Father for such things as the fact that my aunt and uncle were able to be on the scene of the crash with them, that my dad was able to meet them as they arrived at the hospital, that the plane didn't crash into a home or the propane tank that was only feet away, that they didn't take the children with them on this flight.... you get the idea.

Thank you to everyone for all of your well wishes, offers of help, words or comfort, and especially prayers. Please don't stop.

August 19, 2008


Read an entry from my sister's blog about Stephanie here.


In case you aren't already following it, please check CJane's blog (Stephanie's sister) for updates on Christian and Stephanie.The man piloting the plane (Christian's flight instructor), Doug Kinneard, passed away Sunday night surrounded by his family. They are amazing and strong. Please pray for them as well.

August 18, 2008

Thank you everyone for your prayers and well wishes! You are all so kind. It means a lot to know that so many people care and are praying.

The prayer service tonight was wonderful. Christian and Stephanie's stake president gave a wonderful prayer of comfort and a bold blessing for their complete recovery.

Here is a news article and video.


If anyone is interested in fasting with us today for Christian and Stephanie we would appreciate it. There will also be a special prayer service at 6:00 this evening at their church if you would like to join us. Email me for directions.

August 17, 2008

Please Pray

I think many of you know my brother, Christian, and his wife, Stephanie, through the blogging world. Yesterday afternoon they were in a small-plane crash. Please pray for them and their children.

August 14, 2008

Mary's Birthday

It's been a little crazy around here and I have a lot of catching up to do. So, I will have to back up a bit.

At the end of July, Mary turned 7. We didn't have time for a party because we left for the ranch a day later, but we did have cake and ice cream. The party had to wait until after our trip.

Mary is such a good girl. She is always so responsible about doing her chores and her homework. I am so glad she wants to do what is right. She is a hard worker and always does her best. She is always smiling and is so much fun to be around.

Happy Birthday Mary!