The Watchman

The Watchman

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Important Book by Lela

(This was our Christmas gift from Lela.  So sweet I had to share.)

The important thing about my mom is she's kind.  She is crafty, she makes us all scrapbooks.  She's also always right, she knows everything. But the important thing about my mom is she's kind.

The important thing about my dad is he's strong.  He builds everything and fixes them.  He will take my sister and I on bike rides anywhere.  But the important thing about my dad is he's strong.

The important thing about Hunter is he's responsible.  He also knows what is right whenever things happen.  He's athletic and encourages me in sports.  But the important thing about Hunter is he's responsible.

The important thing about Wil is he's playful.  He's funny he can make anyone laugh.  He's also weird and a super nerd.  But the important thing about Wil is he's playful.

The important thing about Jon is he's helpful.  He's smart so he can help me with my homework.  He's also musical, he plays lots of instruments.  But the important thing about Jon is he's helpful.

The important thing about Emily is she's special.  She will listen and do anything I tell her.  She's also fun to play games with.  But the important thing about Emily is she's special.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pine Valley Adventure

One of my favorite things about living in Southern Utah is the weather.  I have never been one who minded the heat, but have not been a big fan of snow and cold for a long time.  I think Hunter stated it best today when he said that he and snow have come to an understanding - It can do what it wants as long as he doesn't have to be out in it.  Unfortunately, snow does not usually cooperate.  So I love Southern Utah, because I can look out my window and see the snow on the mountains where it should be and I don't have to shovel it from my driveway. Then if I want to play in the snow with my children, we can jump in the car and drive to the snow and play.

Driving to snow is what we did today with my parents.  My dad had read about all the snow in Pine Valley and wanted to go see where Pine Valley was.  My mom commented that the Pine Valley Chapel is the oldest LDS Chapel is the oldest LDS still in use.  The drive to Pine Valley is absolutely beautiful through many differing landscapes found here in Southern Utah.  We drove through Cedar Tree Forests and my mom shared a story with my children of getting a tree for her grandma when she was about my daughter's age.  We drove past lava flows and cinder knolls and of course the red rocks the area is known for.  

Pine Valley is a charming town nestled in the Pine Valley Mountains.  It was from this starting point that my husband and other leaders started off with our local scout troop in what ended up as a 51-mile hike.  As we came into town today, my boys and Rick reminisced fondly on that experience.  One of the first sites to greet you as you enter the town is the Pine Valley Chapel.  Of course we had to stop and take a few pictures.  We then drove through the town and enjoyed the mixture of old pioneer homes and more modern constructions.

Unfortunately, the Chapel and Historical Society were closed while we were there, but I was able to find this video tour on YouTube:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas (Scrapbook Project) Wrap-up

Christmas Day has come and gone and all indications lead me to believe it was a merry one at our home.  Merry for me was that I was able to complete my scrapbooking project (In Over My Head) without staying up all night Christmas Eve.  In fact, I was able to get it done in time to finish a few other things, including wrapping presents, before we took off to visit family a few days prior to the big day.  This probably was the worst kept Christmas secret ever in the history of our family.  In fact I think only the oldest was unaware of what he would find come Christmas morning and that is only because he was sequestered at college.

Even though the children knew what was going on, they all exercised restraint and did not peek.  That is everyone but Wil.  He peeked more than once and actually sat in the office with me watching Psych while I scrapbooked.  The hoped for reaction on Christmas morning was achieved as after opening the box containing their scrapbook, each child paused to look through it before moving on to other gifts.  Then they all looked through them again together and commented on the various pictures and their memories of those times.

It was most gratifying, when Jon said I should have ended each book with "To Be Continued..." because they hoped this wasn't the last time I would do this for them.  After I caught my breath at the statement, I thought that at least next time won't be so overwhelming.

(Product Endorsement Section: I used Creative Memories 8X8 Albums with Side-Loading Sleeves. Each book ended up being approximately 60 double-sided pages.  I also ended up with a small Power Sort Box for each child that has one compartment of pictures that did not make it into the album.  I have to say that doing a project like this was made a lot easier with the coordinating paper and embellishments from Creative Memories.  My normal scrapbooking style is usually a mix-and-match approach, but I liked how fast these books were able to come together and how coordinated/similar the books looked at the end by using the same products.  I will still keep my usual style for my other projects, but still use these products for future chapters for this.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lesson in Faith

I saw this quote today, "Faith in God includes faith in His timing."  These simple words really struck home to me.  I consider myself a person of faith, but I often find myself asking why a thing happened or why another thing hasn't happened.  I often find myself saying, "When I get to heaven I am going to ask God why?"  To me faith is not always needing to know the why or how now, but knowing that one day I will be able to have the answers.  Faith is acting in the way my conscience guides me to act without knowing the why.  Faith is knowing that my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me and want me to be happy.  They see the "Big Picture" and my view is just a megapixel of that design.

What does faith mean to you?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Vote Is In

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election. - Bill Vaughan

Much is being made in the media about the pending race for the Presidency of the United States.  While being the leader of one of the largest countries in the free world and a super power one at that is a glamorous position, the real workers in this great nation; those that impact the everyday lives of each of us; are our city or town councils.  Yet the candidates for these positions receive very little media coverage in the days leading up to the municipal election.

In my little corner of the world, communities are facing very hard choices.  Revenues from development and sales tax are not keeping up with costs to maintain city infrastructure, services and programs.  Incoming council members will need to make hard decisions on further cuts or increasing taxes. I was saddened to learn that overall average voter turnout for the election on November 8th was less than 20%.  In some municipal elections here voter turnout was approximately 10%.  And it needs to be noted that this it not 10% of eligible voters, this is only 10% of those that registered to vote.  Even local communities that voting is done by mail, only 70% of ballots were returned.

Many of the comments I heard regarding the choice not to vote showed the apathy of most.  Comments such as "I didn't vote because I didn't know the issues or I didn't know the candidates" were most troubling to me because they show a lack of accepting the role each of us have as a citizen of the United States.  It is our responsibility to learn what the issues are and to determine who will best represent our opinion on those issues.

Many brave men and women have fought for our right to have self-determination and not be ruled by the will of another.  I was raised to know that I was blessed to be able to live in the greatest nation on earth, but where much is given much is expected and it was my duty as a citizen to be educated and to serve my community as I was able.  Many of my early years were spent campaigning for my father as he ran for elected office.  Many nights he was away from home as he served on the Planning Commission or Board of Adjustment.  Just as he offered tithes of money to his church, he offered tithes of time to his community.  I have tried to live this principal and to instill it in my children.

I am grateful that I live in a community that did better than the average.  22% of the registered voters in La Verkin made it to the polls this week.  I am sure that issues in the community helped fuel that turnout, but I genuinely believe the citizens here do care.  Unfortunately, 22% falls far short of 100.

Another election is on the horizon.  Voter turnout for that election will be higher because it is the glamorous presidential election, but there will still be county and state races on the ballot along with a few referendums I am sure.  My wish is that as Americans, we will step up and fulfill our role as citizens.  We have a year to become educated in our choices and to prepare to cast our ballot.  Then we need to SHOW UP!!!  And not just next year, but the year after and the year after and then the next.........  There is much written about the write to vote, but it is also a responsibility each of hold.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Civic Responsibility and Fortune Cookies

Today was another milestone day in a child's life - Wil voted for the first time.  Unlike myself in 1984 or his older brother in 2008, whose first ballot was cast by mail, Wil went to the polls with Rick and I this morning.  On the way in I asked him if he knew who he was voting for and he rolled his eyes and said not to worry, he had it covered.  When I took him to register to vote last month, it felt like it was something he was just doing to humor me.  Sunday in church the teacher asked the class if anyone knew what Tuesday was.  Wil said it was kind of cool to be able to say that he was going to be able to vote.

After voting, Wil and I drove to St. George with Rick so he could pick up some plans from the Town's engineers and to pick up our copy of Inheritance from Barnes and Noble.  The boys in my home have been counting the days till this book would be released.  There was much wailing and complaining when the expected trilogy did not end with the third book, but went on to be a series.  Luckily I also ordered a copy for the Kindle, so I will only have to referee between Jon and Wil for possession of the hardbound book.

After all the errands were completed, we went to Panda Express for lunch - one of our favorite dining establishments.  After eating we took turns opening our fortune cookies.  Part of our family tradition is guessing at the meaning of the little pieces of paper.  They seemed particularly appropriate today.

Rick's - You have made a brilliant choice today. (He voted and then spent the morning in with his wife and son.)

Wil's - Your laugh and enthusiasm pleases those around you. (If you didn't know this already about Wil, check out the above picture.  I mean seriously who wouldn't think he was just so adorable.)

Ann's - You are broad-minded and socially active.  (I think that one is pretty self-explanatory.)

So remember to get out and fulfill you civic responsibility.  These are the elections that should matter the most to all of us, since it is our town and city councils that make the laws that impact our daily lives.  The polls close at 8 PM.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dancing the Night Away

After last night, actually after the last week, I am feeling the need to get on my soapbox this morning.  This past evening, we were privileged to attend the La Verkin Elementary 3rd Annual Dance Festival.  This performance wrapped up a week of performances by my children that started with the band/orchestra concert the Thursday prior.

What makes the Dance Festival so spectacular is that every student in the school participates.  Unlike other programs, there is no direct cost to families for this program; no instruments or costumes needed.  Practice is during regular school hours with the teachers choreographing the dances.  Some might say that this takes away from the real purpose of schools - instruction in reading, writing, math and the sciences.  To them I give this quote by Albert Einstein: Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.

I am currently reading Crossed by Ally Condie.  It is the second book in a series depicting a future society where the needs of Citizens are met by the Society, but choice is strictly controlled.  One way the Society maintains control is limiting the arts.  There are the100 paintings, the 100 songs, the 100 poems, etc.  These are all that are allowed to exist.  Anything else is destroyed and those found to be in possession of an item not one of the 100 faces punishment.  The books are excellent and I would highly recommend them.  

The series cannot help but make me realize how empty my life would be without the variety provided by the arts and the variety of expression found there.  I look back at this last week with my children - band concert, orchestra concert, choir performances, dance festival.  All these things add to life and fill my spirit.

As I said previously, every student in the school participates.  I was touched when I saw the 2nd graders dance and saw the aides helping three severely handicapped (not sure if that is the politically correct term) students with their performance.  Those students had the biggest smiles.  Even more poignant was the performance by the 4th graders when a student in wheel chair was guided through the routine by another student.  I thought of my own nephew and how he is often ostracised by others.   What a great lesson in acceptance these students received in a positive and fun atmosphere.  

Performance Art develops the same sense of cooperation and teamwork that you find in athletics.  While often no expense is spared in maintaining a football or basketball team, funding for the arts is usually near the first on the chopping block when money is tight.  This approach to funding for our schools needs to change.  More students can participate in the arts than ever will in sports.  An appreciation for music, the ability to dance or sing or draw will far outlast the time spent on the playing field.

But most important, the arts allow an individual to use and expand a different part of the brain than the part used to memorize and regurgitate facts.  It is this part of the brain that makes a man a genius and allows the progress of mankind.  Steve Jobs did not have all the answers, but his ability to look at things and put them together in a different way is what made him a genius.  Clifford V. Smith, President of the General Electric Foundation stated: GE hires a lot of engineers. We want young people who can do more than add up a string of numbers and write a coherent sentence. They must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities.

So my plea to all is to do your best to support the arts programs in your schools and in your community.  Volunteer to teach or aide a class in drawing or dance, play the piano or lead a school choir, attend the local drama department's production and your community theatre, become an advocate when needed and let those for whom you vote know the Arts are an integral part of education and society.  And most important, remember you are never too old to learn, so take a class and expand your brain.  And in the meantime, you can enjoy some of what I saw last night.  Thank you to all who made it such a great evening.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monsters Come Out to Play

This last week, everywhere I went, I was surrounded by monsters, aliens and visitors from other lands.  Some of them were scary and others were very sweet.  Some were very talented or athletic and others just wanted treats.

Luckily I had my phone and my camera so I could document these sightings.  I wonder if I could sell them to the National Enquirer or maybe World News.

Thursday, I attended a benefit concert at the local high school.  The auditorium was packed. Not so unusual, but the site that greeted us on stage was.  The performers all seemed a little different.  Here are a couple of the performances, so you can judge for yourself.  (Sorry for the poor quality, but not expecting what I saw, I only had my trusty Droid to capture the occurence.)

These two visitors decided to come home with me.  Luckily they are kind of cute and seem very bright.

On Saturday, I was participating with my daughters in a benefit race for their school.  The thought was that this would be a good test race for me before my big race this Saturday and would hopefully convince my girls that I wouldn't die in Grafton.  I guess the name, The Monster Mile, should have given me a clue that this would not be an ordinary race.  We were greeted by all sorts of strange characters at the check-in station and a few of them even raced with us.

I think for a first time, the girls and I did okay.  Emily even managed to sneek up and scare her dad after finishing the race.

And then there was Monday.  But now I was prepared.  I knew what to expect.  Besides, the calendar let me know that it was Halloween, the day the monsters do come out to play.  So I was not at all surprised to attend a choir concert at the Elementary School and see this:

I guess knowledge that I was documenting of these peculiar sightings spread, because I did receive the following photos.

After so many days of being surrounded by all these strange guests, I was saddened yesterday to find that they had all disappeared.  But as these little visitors said, "It's a small world."  I look forward to seeing them again next year.  Besides, I understand that an overly large elf is getting ready to come visit in just a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So Sings My Soul

Billy Joel once said, "I think music in itself is healing.  It's an explosive expression of humanity.  It's something we are all touched by.  No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music."  Bono said, "Music can change the world because it can change people."

Before I was married, I was advised to fill my home with music.  I am not a musician.  I did not sing.  In fact I had actually been asked once upon a time to not sing with a choir group.  I do not play any instruments other than being able to pick out the melody on the piano for a few favorite songs.  But I knew the power music can have on a home and I knew the importance of this council.

I have tried to heed that council.  As infants, my children listened to lullabies.  The boys had their own cassette player and cassettes, then CD player and CDs.  They girls have their own, and now everyone has their own MP3 player.  At home, we listen to rock, gospel, country, Broadway and Mormon Tab depending on the mood.  We have taken our children to concerts, ballets and Broadway plays.

When they were old enough, piano lessons were provided and upon reaching junior high/middle school, the boys joined the band.  Each of our sons can play multiple instruments and two have served as the drum major for the high school marching band.  Our oldest daughter is already playing the violin and both girls take piano lessons.  All the children have sang in different choirs, both for school and church.  I love church when our choir sings and all my men are standing up filling in the bass line (although Wil does try out the soprano part with his falsetto when he is feeling mischievous).

Recently we attended our youngest son's jazz concert at the high school.  It is so great to watch him play while tapping his foot along with the music.  The boy really does have rhythm. This week we have Lela's orchestra concert and Jon has a band concert.  Next week is the elementary school's dance recital that the girls are excited to participate in.  Lela will be dancing with her class to a song from Phantom of the Opera and Emily's class is dancing to a song from Grease.

Music has opened many doors for our family.  In college, Rick performed with the BYU Marching Band at the Citrus Bowl.  My boys have performed with the Army Band.  They have been selected to perform with other bands were able to receive instruction from professional musicians.  While on his mission, Hunter was able to participate in a recording of gospel music and helped with many special musical programs that testified of Christ.  Hunter was also able to perform with his school choir at Abravanel Hall during the 2002 Olympics as part of the Cultural Olympiad.  Wil has chosen to make music his career and will be majoring in Music at SUU when he returns from his mission.

Sunday at church was the Primary Program.  This is when the children's group in our congregation presents the worship service.  The children and their leaders work all year to learn the songs and each child is given a special speaking part.  Lela and Emily were asked to participate in a quartet for a special musical number.  As I listened to their beautiful voices sing of the importance of putting on the Armour of God, I again received a witness of the importance of filling my home with good music, because nothing touches the soul and awakens the spirit the way music can.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn in Zion

On our recent camping trip, we took our friends on one of my favorite hikes.  I particularly like this hike in the Fall, because it allows me to experience the vibrant colors of my childhood autumns in Northern Utah.  As my friend pointed out, you don't expect to see maple and oak in the desert.  I especially love the contrast with our blue, blue sky; the red rocks of the canyon; the white sand and the green of the pine trees.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from this year and previous years:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Welcome To Camp Wixom

There are two things I require when camping - accessibility to clean water and flush toilets.  If I have those two things, there isn't much that a little ibuprofen can't cure.  Luckily, I have a husband who likes his toys and  camping is a favorite pastime, so we have lots of camping toys.  Each year for Fall Break, we load up the family and go camping in Zion National Park.
Camp Wixom

Camp Bee

This year, our friends the Bees came too.  They didn't have quite as many toys, but since we were in adjoining campsites, this was not a problem.  It was great having them with us.  Here are the top ten things we do when camping:

1. Hang out around the campfire:

Wil, the Eagle Scout, helping Logan, a new Scout, 
Jon reading his book.  This year he brought two, just in case.

Warming up in the morning
2. Climb rocks:

If you go up, you must come down.

3. Play in the water:

4. Look for wildlife:

This deer walked right through our camp

5. Eat:
Rick cooking another delicious meal in his kitchen
Greg and Cindy enjoying their meal
Hot chocolate in the morning

Anna and Emily enjoying ice-cream at Zion Lodge
6. Hike:

7. Explore:

Sign on the way to Grafton

Petroglyphs in the canyon

Anna writing her name in the sand
Adding her prints to the animal tracks
8. Practice our cheesy smiles:

I wonder what Nataly is thinking.
9. Enjoy the amazing scenery:
The Watchman



Checkerboard Mesa
10. Just relax:

We enjoy staying in the Watchman Campground in Zion National Park.  This year we were later than usual in making our reservations and the sites were almost all booked.  If you decide to camp here, I would suggest making your reservation no later than four months in advance.  The Watchman Campground is the only campground in the park that accepts reservations.  This is done through  The South Campground is first come/first serve and fills up quickly during the busy season.