Tuesday, March 18, 2014

100 Days

Next week will mark 100 days since our son left home to serve a mission.  I'm surprised it's been that long and somehow at the same time, it feels longer.

To celebrate this milestone, for his package this month we wrote down 100 reasons we love our elder.  One hundred is a big number and I put out our paper several days in advance, thinking it would take a long time to come up with that many things.   I underestimated our son's awesomeness.  It was no problem and we polished it off easily in one evening.

Each family member used a different colored marker so our elder could quickly see who wrote what (although he could probably guess by the handwriting--Cholita is tricky though because her handwriting is better than most adults.)  Her number 65 is one of my favorites.  Yes, her brother does always worry that the milk might be bad.  I also love her #72.  Something about a sweet child's misspelling when they're talking about something so heartwarming makes me get a wee bit choked up.    And speaking of misspelling, #57 is a good one--XiXi's observation that "he's a Good bruther".

And speaking of getting choked up, Lyle's #100 said, "He's my pride and joy."  

Yes, indeed, we have the first part of the word missionary down pat.
We miss him.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Prom Night Dinner Numero Tres

In 2012 we hosted prom night dinner for two.  It was an intimate little gathering requiring very little effort.  Last year we expanded to a group of 6; rather tiring, but very fun.  Prom 2014 broke all previous records with a party of......fittingly.......14.

Lucy looked so lovely.  We bought a dress that she liked, but she didn't feel comfortable with the length.  We added black tulle to the bottom of the lining and then black lace along the front.  To fancy it up a bit, we tied a black satin ribbon around the waist.  Much to my relief, she loved the end result.

This photo makes me laugh just a little bit.  How far can her date possibly get from her while attaching the corsage?   Far enough that it was hard to get them both in the frame.

Lucy's date was a friend from choir and they had so much fun.  

For the dinner, we moved the furniture out of the front room and brought tables and chairs over from Lyle's office.  It was extreeeeemely cozy, but it worked.

  Thankfully skinny little Rose was our head waitress (with Cholita and XiXi providing back-up assistance), so she could navigate the tight spaces to take orders and serve food.

Lyle repeated his previous prom night dinners with salad with raspberry vinaigrette followed by an entree of either parmesan chicken or filet mignon with mushroom caper sauce.  The sides were rosemary potatoes, gingered carrots and sesame asparagus.  
The guys volunteered to bring desserts, which was a huge help.  

Based on the amount of laughter, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Or maybe it was nervous laughter?  Hard to say.

Before they left for the dance, I tried to get a couple more shots, but with that number of people, 

photo bombs were apparently,


I don't know that we'd volunteer to host 14 again,

but if we did, this is the group we'd want!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Thank you for sharing your son."

Although I've set up a new mission blog and will put our son's letters home there, I will still occasionally post a picture or two on the family blog.....

On our answering machine this evening, we discovered a message left by a man with a soothing Texas drawl.  He said he was the bishop in College Station and that he had a picture to share with us.  I called him back immediately and he said that the missionaries recently ate dinner at his home.  "Your son taught a lesson that evening and I'm impressed with him.  He's a wonderful elder, working hard here in Texas, and he's a blessing to our ward.  I just wanted to call and thank you for sharing him with us."

Aww, shucks. The whole conversation lasted maybe a minute, but I'll tell you what..... it made me happy as a hog in mud and soft as a two-minute egg.  (Something's inspired me to read up on Texas sayings.)

And this phone call also inspired me to take more pictures of our local missionaries and let their parents know that they're doing them proud.  I have a feeling it just might make their day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Mission Blog

After lots of thought on the subject, we've decided to do a separate private blog for our son's mission.  It's a hard call because I think that sharing his experiences is a missionary tool in and of itself, but I'd also hate to put something on the internet that maybe shouldn't be available for everyone to see.  I found myself altering names and places so much (to protect identities) that I realized our own son wouldn't recognize the stories once he gets home from his mission.

Sooo, if y'all are interested in following along at "Howdy Elder",  just let me know and I'll send an invite to your email!

Friday, January 3, 2014


Some lovely long-necked arrivals to our barnyard.
This is Sugar.
 Look past her stunning beauty and to-die-for eyelashes.
She's not just eye candy; she has a job to do.

She's watching, always watching.
If we've learned anything in the past 6 days of llama ownership it's this:
You cannot sneak up on a llama.
Will. Not. Happen.

Even sweet Satin, who seems less of the guarding mentality,

is on the lookout.
Nothing comes near their pasture without them taking notice.
Satin covers the Eastern front

and Sugar the Western.
Our chickens can rest easy.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

For Unto Us a Child is Born

Despite missing our star actor who always played the all-important roll of Caesar Augustus in the Christmas Eve nativity, the part was admirably played by his understudy, Rose.

A lovely angel proclaimed glad tidings of great joy.

The shepherds were convincingly afraid and awed.

And Mary was beautiful.

I don't know if it's because we have a missionary out, but the spirit of Christmas was felt especially strong this year.

Then we moved on to our decidedly un-reverant time of Christmas Eve: 
 The Christmas Jammie Pyramid.

It was the most calm, injury-free pyramid we've had in years.  
Once again, maybe it has something to do with a certain missing missionary.
We hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

And it's official!

Our son is in the MTC!

But let me back up.  
Since life-changing experiences shouldn't be attempted on an empty stomach, Lyle and the family send-off committee ate lunch at The Brick Oven, an italian restaurant from our college days.  Ah, the memories.

Then it was off to the Provo Temple for some family photos.  First, with Lyle's mom, AKA Granny.

Then a group shot.

Lovely cousins.

And of course, a proud Dad.

Then off to the Missionary Training Center,

where they unpacked his bags

and Lyle valiantly tried to hold it together,

which wasn't easy.

Not easy at all.  

But they were tears of joy.
Our son has worked hard to be here,

and there have been countless blessings from above.

Heavenly Father knows our son even better than we do.  He's in good hands.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Love you, Elder Bruder

Last night our son was set apart as a full-time missionary for 
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I get chills just typing it. 
 Even though he and Lyle weren't flying out until the afternoon, with the kids' school schedules, we knew that most of the good-byes would happen in the morning.  We did our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon, cinnamon rolls, and grapefruit with brown sugar and a maraschino cherry.  Six-thirty a.m. wasn't anything new for the big kids, but a tad early for the littles.

The first one out the door was our sweet Rose.  Rose is 12 years old and in 7th grade.  She'll be a 14 year-old high schooler when he gets back.  She didn't shed a tear, but told me on the way out to the car that she was feeling it.  Still, she said, she was so happy with his decision that she couldn't be too sad.

Next, it was time for the little ones. 

Cholita is 8 and in the 2nd grade.  In 2015 she'll be in the double digits and in the 4th grade.

She loves her brother quite a lot.  He recently taught her to play chess and it's been almost a daily occurrence ever since.

Cholita and XiXi really have no concept of how long he'll be gone.  Last night XiXi said, "So, he'll be back in 2 weeks, right?"

I'm guessing that six year-old XiXi will be a little harder to pick up in a couple of years.  But knowing his personality, he'll still be ready for a hug.

After Bruder was set apart last night, he's supposed to live by mission rules.  His sister, Lucy, gamely offered to be his full-time companion.   Last night, after a marathon packing session, they were lying on my bed and Bruder said, "Lucy, you're the best companion I've ever had."  It made us all laugh.

Not like having Lucy as a companion is a new thing.  That's been the case since the day she was born.  She even arranged with her teachers to skip her classes today so she could stay home and see him off.  She was a life-saver, keeping us organized and in good spirits.

She did lay down on the job right after breakfast though and Bruder chastised her with, 
"Hey, companion!  The field is white, all ready to harvest, and you're sleeping?"

She'll be 19 years old when he comes back, a high school graduate, home for Christmas after her first semester in college.  She'll most likely be working on her own mission paperwork.

I kept myself reasonably well pulled-together for our good-byes.

But this goodbye did me in.  
Poor elderly, cancer-ridden Charlie.
He slept at the foot of Bruder's bed for years and only moved when his boy had grown too tall for him to squeeze in.  I never imagined he'd live to see him off on a mission.

What a day of emotions.  
But most of all, I'm feeling so incredibly grateful.
Grateful that our son is worthy of this calling.
Grateful that he wants to serve.
And so grateful that he has a message worth sharing.

We love you, Bruder.