Monday, 26 January 2015

Steven's going on a mission!

I couldn't be more proud of Steven for his decision to serve for 2 years as an LDS missionary. The mail was a couple of days slower with the call than we expected and it was a long 2 days!

He phoned us right after completely excited about where he's going to serve, and I know the Lord has a mission for him to do there.

BYU Friends

Steven was surrounded by friends as he opened his call, but strangely his sister wasn't there . . .

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Little More Christmas

Christmas morning we woke up at home, opened our stockings together upstairs, and then went down to the front room to open the gifts under the tree. The kids are now all independent shoppers and it was fun to see what they chose to give us and each other. The funny story from the gift opening comes from all of Steven's presents. No surprise that we all got BYU branded clothing, but hilarious how he paid for them. He's been a little tight for cash, so he used his meal plan dollars to buy our t-shirts and sweatshirts at Jamba Juice on campus. I still think that is so funny! He paid for his own meal plan, so it was coming from his own money, but pretty ingenious how he solved his cash-flow problem.

In the afternoon we went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for more presents and Christmas dinner. It was an "Olson" year for everyone so we had quite a crowd!

On Boxing Day we drove down, just our family, to Whitefish for some skiing. Unfortunately Chloe got sick and spent our time there sitting and watching movies, poor girl. Ken and I alternated hanging out with her and skiing with the other kids.

Mason joined us part way into the ski trip, arriving just in time for the coldest day I have ever skied! It wasn't the temperature so much as the wind, but it was bitter. We spent quite a bit of time taking breaks in the ski lodge.

Carmen and Jaclyn.

We drove home on New Year's Eve Day, and cooked a dinner of Surf andTurf with crab claws and steaks:

Mason was appreciative and took a photo of his dinner.

What we didn't take any pictures of was the New Year's brunch we hosted the next morning. Boo! I have wanted to host a New Year's brunch for quite some time, and with Mason visiting I felt like I had a good excuse to have people over so that there were no complaints of him being in town and no one having the opportunity to meet him. Lucky for me Chloe is an early bird and a chef, she pretty much did the whole thing.

After that it was a couple of days of errands and laundry and then Mason, Jaclyn, and Steven headed back to Provo for winter semester at BYU. We miss them, but we are also enjoying more time with Carmen and Chloe. I am just so glad we had 4 children and that I still have kids at home!


For Christmas Eve 2014 we played some of our favourite games from The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon:

Getting ready to host Christmas Eve is truly a group project, though much more fun than group projects at school!

Naturally we started with dinner:

Blake, Chloe, Whitney, Carmen, Eric

Harry, Sue, Steven, Jaclyn, Kevin, Natalie, Ken, and I

We had sparkling cider, sleepy soup, rolls, and appetizers (of course). Sometimes the best part of having a tradition is the elimination of decision making! 

Our Christmas Crackers this year held whistles tuned to specific notes, and some of the kids worked together to learn a song while the rest of us lingered at the table.

Then on to the games:

We started out with Bag of Lies (because gift bags were cheaper than boxes). I successfully lied to Grandpa here, but the champion of the game was either Carmen or Jaclyn. Scary what good liars they are.

We had a lip sync contest. Here Chloe is performing "You Make Me Feel So Young" by Frank Sinatra. We didn't name any winners, but I think special recognition needs to go out to Kevin and Natalie for rapping.

We played Antler Ring Toss.

And Water War - with Uno cards because I couldn't quickly find anything else. I forgot that I bought plastic ponchos for this game, so Kevin and Ken just got wet.

Christmas Eve Finale as always: PiƱata

Then everyone went home and we settled down for our traditional Christmas Eve movie: Die Hard (edited). Ho. Ho. Ho.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

#5 On The Court, #1 In Your Heart

I've been sitting on this story for a little while not knowing how it would end. Carmen made the basketball team at her high school today, and my goodness she deserved it!

Carmen with a friend and teammate

This fall Carmen signed up to play community basketball as preparation for high school tryouts. In community basketball everyone gets to play, so the real question is which team will you play for? There were enough girls in our zone signed up to make 4 teams, and then 3 evaluations to attend in order to be sorted into teams. The first evaluation time was assigned randomly, but the second evaluation time was assigned based on placement and Carmen got sorted into the bottom half. She was told that her defensive skills were good enough to make Team 1, however her ball handling and 'seeing the floor' was holding her back. This was pretty devastating news at the time, but really, getting sorted down like that was the best thing that ever happened to her. She took that feedback and got to work. She got sorted back up to the top half, she thinks maybe she was even considered for Team 1, but ultimately landed in Team 2.

The work didn't stop there! Carmen put everything she had into her practises and into her community team. Carmen has a unique ability to influence the culture on a team, and through that influence the entire team united in a special way. I watched her do it. There was this one particularly grumpy and negative girl, and Carmen made sure that whenever that girl was subbed off she heard congratulations from Carmen on how well she was playing. If Carmen was on the bench when a time out was called, she stood up and walked out on the court to give '5' to each of her teammates as they gathered around the coach. Pretty soon the whole team picked up on these practises of sincere compliments and support. It was magical. As it turned out, Team 2 (The Wildcats - yes from HSM - yes Carmen's idea - yes more team building) went undefeated in the season playing Div 1 teams from across the city, and last week in playoffs won over Team 1 from their own zone.

Then this week basketball got more serious, and maybe a little less fun with school tryouts. It was tense! Carmen went from confident after the first tryout, to unsure after the second, to hopeful after the third, and she suffered a little each time a friend was cut. I'm convinced her ultimate success of making the team comes back to those community evaluations showing her that she had work to do. I'm especially proud that she took that experience and learned how valuable that kind of feedback can be. She told me that after every tryout this week she went to the coach and asked what the coach would like to see her do better tomorrow. I think that's pretty amazing, and a huge life lesson. Imagine from the age of 15 learning to seek out suggestions for improvement, and then working on your revealed weaknesses. No ego, no hurt feelings, just grateful for the feedback. Reminds me of a scripture, actually. 

Ether Chapter 12
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Keep it up, Carmen. I'm so proud.

Monday, 20 October 2014

October So Far

If I thought things got girly after Steven left for BYU, it was nothing compared to now having all 3 girls together (and no brother to balance things off). There have been so many conversations about fashion, hair, make-up, and kissing - I kid you not. I think Chloe instigates most of the kissing conversations, hahaha.

The first week after Jaclyn got home involved a couple of dedicated days of shopping (we destroyed her wardrobe while she was gone) and going out to lunch. At the end of that week we celebrated Jaclyn's 21st birthday! Jaclyn had friends over the night before, and then on her big day Chloe made dinner (curry) and Carmen made the cake.

Jaclyn went back to work her second week home. She was fortunate to return to a job she has worked at for many summers in a lab doing testing for an oil and gas services company. Her first work week was as a short one, though, because we left Thursday night after work for Utah to visit Steven! We drove as far as Great Falls, MT on Thursday and then the rest of the way to Provo on Friday. Friday night we went out for dinner with the whole family plus Jaclyn's friend, Mason. From there Jaclyn & Mason took off on their first date in over 2 years and the rest of us just chilled at the hotel.

Saturday was a busy day! Ken, Carmen and I got up at 6am and drove to Salt Lake City. Carmen has been dedicating herself to family history work, and most of what she has found has been work for other members of the family to do, but she did find 2 names she could take to the temple for baptisms, and she really wanted to go to Salt Lake. So we did, and it was the best decision of the weekend. We had a wonderful experience with Carmen that we will always remember.

The crazy part of our decision to go to Salt Lake was that we had other family baptisms to do, but of course no one else wanted to get up super early, or drive 45 minutes to a temple when there was a temple right in Provo, so at 9am we went out for breakfast as a group and then went to the Provo temple. It turns out there is no such thing as too much time in the temple with your children.

Saturday afternoon we had arranged to meet a photographer (a BYU student with a camera) to do family pictures. We got to the location a little early, and right away Chloe found this bunny:

 Not everyone wanted a picture with the bunny.

Steven in his ironic photo with the bunny.

These are all just pictures we snapped on our phones waiting for the photographer. I haven't seen the formal family pictures yet, but I could seriously just use our selfies on the Christmas card this year:

("Wishing you peace & love this Christmas season")

Sunday was much more relaxed than Saturday in Utah. Steven and Jaclyn went to afternoon young adult wards instead of the morning family ward Ken found, so we checked out the fall colour at Sundance, and then met the adult children later for dinner.

Monday morning we hit the road and drove all the way back home. We had a great weekend, and it was well worth missing turkey dinner.

We had another great weekend this weekend past as well:

Saturday we made apple pies with my mom, sister and one of my sisters-in-law. My mom always makes the bottom crusts in advance, and then all the pastry for the top crusts as well. We are so spoiled that she makes this project so easy on the rest of us. We have cut back the number of pies we do from 15 each to 10 each, and we had more helpers this year, so we were done by early afternoon.
(Which was a good thing, because:)

My parents have friends from Newfoundland who have made a Jiggs Dinner for them a couple of times, and when my parents found out that Jaclyn never had an official Jiggs Dinner on her mission they decided to cook her one on Saturday night. It is a dinner of potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnip, parsnip, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and pease pudding all boiled together with salted beef for flavour. It is served with mustard pickles and gravy. Jaclyn said everything tasted very authentic Newfoundland except the gravy, which had too much flavour, hahahahaha. So the gravy was a hint of Alberta.

Then yesterday, Sunday, Jaclyn finally reported her mission in church. Her topic was avoiding spiritual bondage, and she spoke well on the subject giving me plenty to think about. Naturally we had another big meal on Sunday with both sides of the family, and thanks to everyone's contributions we will be eating leftovers all week - my favourite.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

YYC Friday September 26

Jaclyn was so lucky to have a direct flight booked from Halifax to Calgary yesterday! Some poor missionary was booked to fly through Chicago and then home to Calgary, and for all I know she could still be in Chicago, yikes!

The only potential hiccup we had on Friday morning was that her flight was ahead of schedule, but luckily Ken saw the arrival time had been moved up with enough notice for us to get to the airport. Jaclyn said that when the pilot announced that they would be arriving early she came up with a plan to hide on us if we weren't there when she came out, haha.

But we were there, ready and waiting. Jaclyn would be descending an escalator behind a sliding glass door, so Chloe stayed crouched so that she could look up the escalator every time the glass doors opened.

(Video credit to Carmen for capturing the range of emotions we were all feeling. I waved Chloe in for the first hug.)

It is so wonderful to have Jaclyn home with us, and it already feels like she never left! We are just soaking her in!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Boys Trip / Girls Trip

Ken drove Steven down to BYU Provo last week. I told Ken when he got home that for years I have feared when he has walked out the door with Steven that he wouldn't bring my boy home to me. Well, it finally happened. 

The drive got a little exciting when a fire started under the hood of the Range Rover! They just put it out, and continued on - luckily without incident. Another fine example of British Engineering . . . 

Ken did take a couple of photos for me of Steven's dorm.

(Steven's bed is on the left.)


Carmen, Chloe and I drove to Waterton to go camping for a few days. What was I going to do, stay home and cry? This bear crossed the highway in front of us before we even entered the park! I thought it was a good sign for more bear sightings to come, but he was the only one we saw.

I really wanted to go hiking, so we hiked up to Bertha Lake. The trailhead is almost next to the Waterton campground, so it seemed like the easiest thing to do. Well, it was a little challenging once we got above the falls, but the scariest part was later that day when we found out there had been a cougar attack on that trail the day before. Yikes.

We almost missed Red Rock Canyon because we sat and chatted nearly the whole afternoon away at Remington's cabin.

Paddle boating at Cameron Lake. This spot is a jewel because it is very much like Bertha Lake, Wall Lake (which I biked to with Noelle and Wyatt), and all the other upper alpine lakes, but you can drive right up.

And for Carmen and Chloe a trip to Waterton isn't complete without the Surrey Bikes. 

We've never camped right in Waterton before, but I think we will do it again. Though we tented, we did eat out for lunches and dinners - our version of *glamping*.