Sunday, September 20, 2009

A new school year

This fall has brought some excitement with the new school year. A week and a half before school began, I was hired by Kalispell Middle School to teach two periods a day of French. I teach a seventh grade class and then an eighth grade class. It's only a twelve week class, so I just give them the basics and hopefully instill in them a love for the language and people--enough that when they have the chance, they will take French in High School.
Billy not only started seminary this year (the Book of Mormon!) but he is also in his first year at Flathead High School as a Freshman Brave. Mary started her Senior year as a Bravette, Amelie started kindergarten at Peterson Elementary and Eric started Joy School. Needless to say, it has been crazy busy and quite an adjustment to have so many activities going. Mary is the Varsity Volleyball Co-Captain and is truly tearing up the court with her kills, digs, serves and serve receives! Billy is doing a great job on the football field as a Defensive Back. He's a real hustler and a great asset to his team. He is also about ready to get his Eagle Scout stuff together, which is awesome! Amelie is in a free cross-country program run by a local bank. She will start basketball with the Parks and Rec program in October. I haven't heard yet if I am going to be coaching again, but I sort of hope so!
So all in all, the school year has been full of new and exciting events and we wouldn't have it any other way!!

We're Grandparents!

Tiffany always joked about making me a young Grandma!! On July 31 at 12:2?, Mckayli Tiffany Abel was born in Mesa, AZ. She weighed in at lbs. and was inches long. (I think I remember but am waiting for Tiffany to help me fill in the blanks with the EXACTS so I don't totally mess it up :) She is a doll and I am SUPER jealous of everyone who gets to hold her and take care of her since I have yet to see her in person. Tiffany was induced on Thursday night and everything went very well. Baby Mckayli is totally adorable and has done well from day one. She is now old enough to go out to church and other outings with her mom and dad. From the adorable photos and updates from Tiffany, Mckayli is growing stronger and bigger every day. I cannot wait to see her in person!!!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tiffany and Brian's Wedding

The excitement of July did not stop after camping--we returned, get cleaned up and started the drive south to get to Tiffany's wedding. She and Brian decided to get married about a month or so earlier, so we all did our best to get things in order to be there with her to celebrate. It took Billy, Amelie, Eric, Tanner and me 2 LONG days to drive. We left Monday afternoon and I drove all night, stopping to take naps as needed, of course. I slept at my sister Becky's in Utah that next morning while the kids played with their cousins. Then we took off again that evening and I drove again most of the night. That is certainly the best way to get through Hoover Dam quickly--there was no traffic at night!
Amelie, Tanner and I got to go to Tiffany's bridal shower that Wednesday evening. Amelie loved being the little sister and wanted to be there beside Tiffany all night to help her. It was really cute! Then on Thursday Amelie and I again helped decorate for the wedding and reception in the cultural hall of a church just down the street from Tiffany's mom's house. I got to visit with my sister-in-laws Susan and Debbie who also had come to help. Friday morning came quickly as we all got ready for the big day. We took a few pictures before the wedding and then more after. Tiffany looked beautiful and Brian was very handsome. I had made bowties for Eric and Tanner which worked out very well. Amelie wore her Flower Girl dress from Adam and Cynthia's wedding, with a few modificiations (I added a purple ribbon around the waist.) Mary had a beautiful dress that Tiffany found for her and Billy had on a snazzy new suit. Amelie did a great job walking down the aisle, scattering white flower petals. Then, Brian's little brother came carrying the rings. We actually had one false start because Mary had gone to the bathroom when they originally started, so they had everyone go back and start again. Tiffany's Bishop married them in a short and simple but sweet ceremony. We waited around for about an hour before heading to another chapel for a family luncheon that Brian's mom Peggy had organized. It was wonderful. They had decorated the gym--on each table were pictures of Brian and Tiffany framed, a stuffed red and white love dog, love candies, chocolates and nuts. The lunch was fabulous--her sister runs a catering business, I think, and wow, it was so good! That evening was the reception where Jim and I got to stand in the receiving line with the other parents and the newlyweds. It was so nice to meet some of Tiffany's friends as I had heard their names and now had a face to go with the name. Tiffany did very well--a little tired, of course and a little sore from all the standing, but otherwise feeling good and so beautiful. Secretly, I was kinda hoping she might go into labor only for selfish reasons as I really wanted to be there when the baby was born. She was actually induced the following Friday. But I'll leave that story for the next post. It was a long but wonderful day with a smiling, happy daughter and a just-as-happy new son-in-law to add to the Allen family tree.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Family campout

After we got home from Trek, Mary took off for Volleyball Team Camp in Oregon for the entire week, Jim returned to work and Billy, Amelie, Eric, Tanner and I went camping in Glacier National Park with my sister Becky and her family and my Mom. It was a great week despite the rain the first three days. We went up to Logan Pass and hiked around and we hiked Avalanche Lake all 5 miles, I think it was, with all the kids--we didn't realize just how hard the hike would be for the little ones, but Amelie and Eric even made it--with some coaxing from Billy and me! We stayed at FishCreek Campground and hiked around there and enjoyed the beach to Lake Macdonald that was just down from our campsite. I love camping and being out in nature! We all had a wonderful time with our family enjoying the beautiful creations that Heavenly Father has given us.

Trek Report

So I have slacked off a bit--actually, I have not been sitting around. Just the opposite. I haven't had enough time to sit and write as I would like because I have been so crazy busy! July was a whirlwind of events starting with the Kalispell Stake Youth Trek where Jim and I were a Ma & Pa and Mary and Billy were children in other families. It was absolutely awesome! I was asked (a few hours before) to speak at the Post Trek Fireside so I will post my thoughts on that here:
When the Trek was announced, I have to admit, I was one who secretly wanted to go and so I volunteered for the journals—something I knew I could do—to get as involved as I could.Then when Brother Westover asked my husband and me to be on the activities committee, I was thrilled to be able to help.It was neat to discuss and plan the activities and study about the Pioneers and what they went through and then try to find ways to share those experiences, and more importantly the feelings and lessons that the Pioneers went through, with the youth.
About 3 or 4 weeks before trek, at a stake mtg, we were discussing the Ma’s and Pa’s and that we needed to replace some who were no longer able to make it. That’s when Bro Allen and I were asked to step in—we already were planning to be there to do the activities, so it was an easier transition and though I knew it would be a lot more work, I was so excited for the opportunity to be there with the youth for what was perhaps one of the neatest experiences I have ever had.
I have to admit that before the idea of Trek came out, whenever a pioneer story was told I only listened half-heartedly, thinking that it really didn’t apply to me and since history wasn’t my strength (don’t tell my husband—he was a history major!), I would start to tune out. Since my involvement with trek, my perspective has changed completely. After having pulled the cart and gone through a scaled down version of experiences that they might have faced, I now have an inkling of any understanding and appreciation for the things the Pioneers must have faced. And most of all, I am so thankful not only for what they were willing to endure, but what they established: a legacy of hope for a better world where they were free from persecution to worship as they pleased.(Ether 12:4)
It didn’t take long to realize we had a very special group of youth in our family. Our first trial was crossing the river—twice. We saw the cart in front of us break and so as we took the lead, our youth stepped up to the challenge 100%. They scouted out and then after several attempts, found the best way to get up out of the water, straight up the 7 or 8 foot bank and onto the trail. And once our cart was up, they were not done. It amazed me how willing our family was to help cart after cart and pass on what worked to those behind them. They taught me from the very first day what it means to serve one another as the Pioneers must also have had to help and serve each other.
My favorite part of trek is hard to choose. We learned a lot about the Pioneers, but perhaps my most spiritual experience was the Woman’s Pull. First, to watch the YM and men leave was humbling and hard. I sat there and imagined what those Pioneer women must have felt as they watched their husbands and sons leave to defend their country, not knowing if they would see them again or not. And then, as we got our carts ready to go, and pulled them without our YM, I know our family realized right away just how much work our men had been doing. But it also taught me a few other lessons: if need be, we can do it ourselves. Whatever challenges arise, it is easier if we are a whole family unit. But, if we have to, we CAN make it ourselves. Pioneer women had to be strong, not just physically but just as important, spiritually and mentally. And the other thing I learned from this experience was the power of uplifting music. We certainly did not sound the best—as we huffed and puffed and belted out as many of the words of the song as we could between breaths, but something about the messages and the spirit of music kept us going. I know that had we stopped singing, we would have been tempted to stop pushing and pulling.
I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and that they have provided for us the gospel principles and teachings that will lead us back to them. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to participate in Trek. What a great body of youth we have in this stake and what an awesome opportunity this was to teach me about the Pioneers so that now I can relate better to their stories and experiences. I understand better now what it might have been like—timesed by about a million.