Monday, December 26, 2011

Report on Boot Camp

This is what the kids woke up to this morning.

As soon as I got up and announced to the kids that we would be doing "Momma's Boot Camp," Arden burst into tears and ran back into his room.

Wow. Apparently my reputation preceeds me! I had no idea the kids even knew what a boot camp was!

Arden was fine when we finally convinced him to come out, and he realized Mom's bootcamp simply involved eating healthy foods and picking slips of paper out of the boot with fun, active ideas on things to do throughout the day written on them.

Boot camp went o.k. until our neighbor sabotaged our efforts by bringing over a big plate of goodies. It was all over then. Curtis apparently decided that since he had already messed up, he might as well go whole hog, and dug around in the closet until he found the junk food bag.

Sigh. This will definitely be a process. Can't wait for my family to get here tomorrow so they can help get rid of the goodies!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Richard Eyre

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a lecture given by the man in this photo--Richard Eyre.

He and his wife have nine kids, they founded the popular "joy school" program, have written numerous books, including the New York Times' bestseller "Teaching Your Children Values," and travel worldwide lecturing and teaching parents how to become better parents and raise responsible kids who have strong values.

Anyway, after hearing what he had to say about kids and entitlement, I was fascinated, as entitlement in any form (other then God-given "entitlements") is one of my pet peeves. Immediately after the symposium was over, I went to his book signing at Barnes and Noble and bought his book, The Entitlement Trap.

Again, an AMAZING book. I love his humorous stories, and his down to earth style of writing. Not only was it a fun read, but it was chock full of wonderful ideas. As I read, I marked the things I really liked, and after finishing the book, wrote down an entire page of ideas from his book that I would like to implement into our family life over the next year. on the lookout in blogs to come for some great ideas from Richard Eyre and his lovely wife! If you just can't wait, I would highly recommend just purchasing his book. It is one of those buys that I feel is worth every penny. Even if your kids are still really young, it might be nice to get a jump on things. One of the things I do love about his book, though, is that it is geared towards training grade-school-aged kids. Get 'em while they're young!

The Practically Perfect Plan

Remember a while back when I longingly mentioned how I would love to have my children be like the happy toilet-swishing kid pictured on the front of Marilee Boyack's book, The Parenting Breakthrough?

Well guess what, guess what?!!! It has come to pass! Maile actually begged me to clean out the toilet the other day. Wow. Hats off to me. Well, and the authors of the wonderful books I get my inspiration and ideas from. I have no problem giving credit where credit is due!

I loved what Marilee says about how frustrated she would get that the most important job we do in life--being a parent--didn't have an instruction manual or a plan on how and what to teach our kids! To remedy that somewhat, she and her husband came up with a list of all the skills they thought were important for her kids to know before they left home, and divided it year by year.

Click here to see Marilee Boyack's Plan

Based on her recommendations, I came up with a system for my kids that is kind of halfway between the Personal Progress Program our church's Young Women participate in, and Marilee's skills list. It has been working great thus far. The kids get to pick what goals they would like to work on, who they would like to train them in that particular skill, and then once it is passed off, they get to pick a treat from our big treat basket.

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Yeah for instruction manuals!

Momma Boot Camp

Well, it has been pretty much a perfect Christmas day, other then the fact that I ate exorbitant amounts of candy, chips and chocolate and way too many greasy fish sticks. I feel slightly bloated and gross at the moment. This evening I surreptitiously went around the house digging in everyone's Christmas loot boxes for all the junk food, which I put in a big grocery sack and hid in a closet. I am hoping out of sight, out of mind.

Tomorrow, I have decided we are going to start "momma boot camp."

I am ready to get a "running" start on things with some healthy bran muffin batter in the fridge, ready to pop in the oven for breakfast, then we are going to eat as healthy as we can all day, and do lots of different exercise-y type things. (I am pretty sure that is a word.)

Well...that is my vision anyhow. Hopefully it will go over o.k. with the family! If there is any complaining, "Drop to the ground and give me 10! Grrrr!"

Of Koala Cash

I don't know if you can tell what this is from my is a little koala bear.

Curtis had a business trip to Australia a couple of years ago and brought a bunch of them back for the kids. Ever since we've gotten them, the kids and Curtis and I have had this ongoing game where Curtis or I will hide them somewhere in the house, and when the kids find them, they get a reward. We have hidden them in some pretty intense places, and sometimes it takes the kids a few months to find them, but they always seem to get found, somehow or another! This one was underneath the piano in the far corner.
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I have no idea how Arden found it, just out of the blue. My favorite was the one Curtis hid inside his computer. (He has one of the boxes with the mostly clear side with the lights and know what I am talking about.) Anyway, if you ever come to visit us, keep your eyes out for one of these little buggers, because there is cash and prizes for anyone who finds one!

Of Historical Illumination

One of the goals I set for myself over this Christmas holiday was to listen to all of the Glenn Beck University history lectures. So far I have only gotten through the first three lectures, and can I just say, I am impressed. They are AMAZING! I love that everything that Professor Barton says is backed up by original documents--he's not just spouting his opinion. I would invite all Patriots to take the time this year to watch these wonderful lectures, especially considering 2012 is, of course, a big election year. I know you will be inspired, and the things you learn may very well change your life.

(They have a free two week trial, if you want to do a "marathon!")

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Maile's Bird Trap

What is this creation?, you may be asking yourself. I will tell you. It is Maile's bird trap. The plan is that the birds will be lured to the string of cranberries under the box, and then they will slip on the soap in the cups, the box will come crashing down, and the birds will be trapped.

Clever, very clever.

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Neighborhood Gift Idea

For my LDS readers, I wanted to post this gift idea for Christmas next year. All of our neighbors got one of these lovely "Book of Mormon baskets" this year, and they were well received, I think.

On a personal note, I have always loved the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, but I would like to publicly thank my amazing institute teacher, Sister Shupe, for her inspiration and her contagious excitement for the Book of Mormon. It has been wonderful coming to understand better the Book of Mormon's application to me personally under her instruction, and I can't thank her enough.

What a blessing we have in this marvelous book. Everyone needs a copy!




Gingerbread Mansions

Check out this bad baby! Curtis is always so creative when it comes to gingerbread house making. Last year he made a five story outhouse complete with pigeons on the eves. This year I think his creation includes a pool, hot tub, slide, pumpkin patch and several other amenities I am not quite clear on.

Maile and I were a bit more traditional with our house. Arden is following in the footsteps of his father, and unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of his creation, but suffice it to say, his was wonderful also.


This year I bought a cookie cutter house template that seemed to work really well.

A trick I learned from my sister-in-law for getting the pieces together, was to just pour some sugar in a saucepan and let it melt over medium heat. It makes a fabulous "cement" that dries in about two seconds, so it is way easier then using frosting to try to stick everything together. The only trick is, it is SUPER hot, so if any gets on your fingers before it has hardened, I guarantee you will be feeling it for a while. Probably best for an adult to do. Preferably your spouse.

Christmas Dodgeball!

Ooooh. I am a little sore today!
We had a most delightful evening last night with several other young families that work with Curtis. We all brought soups or salads and desserts and went over to our church building and had a great little potluck. Afterwards we had a rousing game of stuffed animal/sock dodgeball in the gym (hence the reason I am sore--just from being somewhat out of shape!), followed by Christmas carol singing and a brief sharing of favorite holiday traditions. It was one of those sweet evenings that are just so enjoyable and laid back. We are so fortunate Curtis works with such wonderful, down-to-earth people!

Maile Baile!

Kayla to Maile: "Maile, I like your pajamas!"
Maile: "Thanks! They match my blog!"
(Yes, my kids both have blogs. Before you are too impressed though, I think there are one, maybe two entries in each of them. We'll get better at writing when they are a bit older!)

Dad to Maile: "Boy, Leila is sure being a whiner!"
Maile: "I know, Leila is a 'whine-bibber.'"

Good to know she is getting something out of scripture study.

Maile to Arden: (She was mad about him taking something) "Arden, get your dusty hands off of that!"

I love how she hears phrases and gets them just a little bit off!

Maile (with great excitement): "Christmas is coming as fast as a weasel!"

Uhhh...does that mean it is coming fast or slow?

The kids and I were going for a walk a week or two ago. On one side of us there was a large hedge, and then a bare spot in the hedge where someone had planted some small bushes. Maile stopped, went over to one of the little bushes, and fluffed it up, remarking, "I'm trying to make it more comfortable."

Isn't Maile just the cutest thing ever?!

Oh, in big news for her, she lost her first tooth last week! Well, the first that came out naturally anyway. (A couple got knocked out when Maile was two and decided to test out gravity to make sure it really worked by leaping from her chair at the table.) The tooth-fairy was lame-o and didn't even visit for like three days, but finally came and left a note and some extra moola, saying she had been so busy with all the kids that were losing teeth lately, she was running behind schedule!

Of My Awesome (if I do say so myself) New Haircut

After about 20+ years of having more or less the same hairstyle, I have finally taken the plunge and gotten it chopped. Yes, it's gone. I am a long-hair girl at heart, but I am loving the change!


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You will also notice (or maybe not if you're used to me wearing contacts) that I have no glasses on! Yes, I also got LASIK this last week!

I love not having to worry about contacts or glasses, but I feel so guilty spending that kind of money on myself while so many others I know of have pressing needs. Gah.

Poinsettia Challenged

I have inherited my mother's love of plants, but unfortunately not her green thumb to go with it. Curses.

I must have bought about eight or nine poinsettias this season, because I love how beautiful and festive they are...until I kill them off one by one.

Maybe I will get fake ones next year.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Repressed Kids

In the car on the way home from church today, Maile was complaining that she NEVER EVER got to do anything she wanted.(I know, our kids are so repressed!) I sympathized a bit with her then told her she could look forward to going to college where she would be free to do whatever her heart desired. Arden said, "I'm glad I get to go to college first so I can do whatever I want!" Maile's angry response: "Arden, stop rubbing it in!"

Monday, November 7, 2011

The World Needs More Cheerleaders

As we go through life, we will all encounter many opportunities to criticize or chastise people for incompetence, stupidity, rudeness, mistakes, bad customer service, or a host of other things. Many of these criticisms are even justified! Whenever I get frustrated with someone and I get tempted to respond to my frustrations in a negative way, I bring to mind this quote I heard years ago. I have never forgotten it:

The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”
― Margaret D. Nadauld (former general Young Women's President)

I think to myself, "you know, Anna, you don't know what their life has been like. You don't know if they just had a terrible day. The world has enough hardness in it. Be soft. If someone needs correction (and some people do!), that can be someone else's job (and many people are happy to oblige). Your job can be to do your best to help them feel loved." So that is and has been my goal. I am not perfect in it, but it's the ideal I am working towards, and it's some advice I'd like my posterity to thoughtfully consider. We need to be each other's cheerleaders!

Every Time We See Something Gross, We Each Get a Mint

Kay, couple of cute "kid-isms."

So, our five year old Maile has an enormous vocabulary for her age and loves to talk. She says the cutest things sometimes, and keeps us smiling. I especially love her prayers. They are so thoughtful and sweet, and I often feel like hers put mine to shame!

Anyway, the other day I asked her what she had talked about in her primary class at church. Her response? "Today we learned about keeping our bodies clean and pure. We are supposed to eat tomatoes and other vegetables and take baths!"

Today out of the blue Maile said, "I am so grateful that Heavenly Father gave us five fingers! It's just the right amount."

A week or so ago, Maile did a job to earn some money to buy tic-tacs with. She got them and hoarded them carefully for several hours. She then came inside briefly from playing outside with Arden and told me her plan for how she was going to eat them. She said, "Every time we see something gross, we each get a mint." Arden and Maile must have seen a lot of gross things, because the mints were gone next time I saw the container!

So, a quick thing Arden did that I thought was so sweet. Tonight I was tucking him in bed (Maile and Dad had crashed early) and Arden asked if he could stay up a little longer with me. We had just played several board games together, and I told him he needed to get to bed so I could finish cleaning up and get to bed myself because I was so tired. He said, "Mom, just leave the table--I'll clean it in the morning for you." I told him thanks, but I'd probably go ahead and do it, since I don't like waking up to a mess. He said "Mom, I get up before you, I'll have it done by the time you wake up!"

Man, it's things like that which make me think we must be doing something alright as parents! This from a seven year old kid! I love it!

Are You an Experienced Parent?

How to tell if you are an experienced parent:

When a minor crisis occurs, do you grab your camera or your kid?

(courtesy of Richard Eyre!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Off to Work We Go

After years of kind of "muddling through," we have finally figured out a morning routine that works well for our family.

Me-up between 5:30 and 6:30
Catch up on e-mails, blog, journal
Personal scriptures and prayer

Kids-up (around 7:00), breakfast, family scriptures and memorization
Curtis off to work
me and kids-chores
"Mad Movie"

Here were my challenges: For chores, Arden has always responded well to chart systems with rewards for accomplishing certain kinds of goals, while Maile has not. Nor do most bribes or threats really work for her, so I needed something that would work for both of them. (I found that one of the few bribes that worked was movie time, so I decided to exploit that and work it into my schedule!)

I needed something that would be a little bit flexible, so if the kids (or the parents!) woke up later then normal, or if we lingered a bit over scripture study or breakfast, we could still carry out our routine and not "feel behind."

Maile is a dawdler. Big time. I hate having to nag, nag, nag, for her to get things done, so I needed some sort of deadline and some way for her to self-direct.

I needed the kids to get into good habits without me having to remember to remind them every day...brushing teeth, making their beds, etc.

I needed to have some time in the morning for myself--to shower, get dressed, etc., since as soon as I get back from exercising, we make breakfast and do scriptures, so we can get Curtis off to work in a timely fashion.

Here is what I came up with that has been working splendidly.

I wrote both the kids' jobs and things they needed to accomplish in the mornings on index cards. (I drew pictures on Maile's cards). I had some popcorn bags laying around the house which I labeled with the kids' names.

When each of them accomplishes the task on their card, they have me check it off and insert the card into their popcorn bag. When all of their cards are in their bag, they get to watch "Mom's Mad Movie." This is always a (short) educational show. (Lately it has been "Liberty's Kids" on Netflix.) Maile is a very visual person, so she likes to see the cards so she knows what she is supposed to do. It is also nice for her to see the cards going one-by-one into her bag, so she doesn't get overwhelmed by her tasks, and she can see how little she has left. Arden knows the routine well enough he doesn't need the cards any more.

To solve the time issue, I created a fun itunes playlist with lots of "working songs." It starts with The Teeth Brushing Song, when we all dash into the bathroom to brush our teeth, then goes on to the rest of the playlist with songs such as Happy Little Working Song, Spoon Full of Sugar, High-Ho, Clean Up, Whistle While You Work, etc.

The kids know that the movie starts right after the last song, so if they've dawdled, as soon as they hear the last song on the list begin, they get busy real quick! It eliminates my nagging! I love it!

Their movie time is just enough time for me to take a quick shower and get dressed.

Then we start school.

So, that is our routine. We've been doing it for a couple of months now and it has worked better then anything we've tried thus far. I even got a "Mom, this is fun!" from Maile when we first began it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Of Freedom and $$

Two years ago by happenstance, I came across some lectures on CD by this man, Dave Ramsey.

I had heard my good friend mention his name, so I picked up the CDs and Curtis and I began listening to them in the evenings as we cleaned the kitchen. Not only was he humorous and fun to listen to, with lots of good anecdotes, but we felt he had great advice as well! We began implementing many of his suggestions into our financial dealings, and I can say that we have drastically changed the way we do our finances because of his advice. I'll be honest--it's been sometimes a challenge to be disciplined, and we've had to put off a lot of things we would have liked to purchase, but the rewards have been great.

This last month has been a very exciting month for us, as we are now COMPLETELY DEBT FREE!!!!! BOY does it feel good! No car loans, no student loans, no medical bills, no house loans...we are FREE! And we hope to stay that way! (With MAYBE the exception of purchasing a house within the next couple of years--with a substantial down payment!)

It's kinda neat too, because as we have been doing this, it's somehow gotten brought up with old college roommates and friends, and I have been surprised at how many people I come across who are also doing his method!

Copied and pasted from his website, here are Dave's seven baby steps to financial security.

Baby Step 1
$1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen.

Baby Step 2
Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
List your debts, excluding the house, in order. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don’t worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that’s the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first.

Baby Step 3
3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
Once you complete the first two baby steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don’t start throwing all your “extra” money into investments quite yet. It’s time to build your full emergency fund.

Baby Step 4
Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
When you reach this step, you’ll have no payments—except the house—and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it’s time to get serious about building wealth.

Baby Step 5
College funding for children
By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4—investing 15% of your income—before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start now.

Baby Step 6
Pay off home early
Now it’s time to begin chunking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments.

Baby Step 7
Build wealth and give!
It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Of Painted Ladies

For Maile's birthday, one of the presents she got was a little butterly habitat from Insect Lore. She is such a critter person, and loved watching the little catapillars turn into chrysalises, and then emerge as beautiful painted lady butterflies. She had fun carrying the last one of the five around the house before she let it go.

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Haunted San Diego Tour

Friday night we took the kids and some of their friends down to Old Town San Diego, which is, believe it or not, known as one of the most haunted towns in the USA. We learned a bit about the history of many of the "haunted" buildings that were built in the 1800's, saw the old graveyard on San Diego Ave., and saw several other houses that are purported to be haunted. We even saw a page mystically turn on an old book, a few ghostly people floating about, and, creepy, our car, which was parked across the street from the cemetary, had it's dashboard lights flicker all on their own until we were well away from the cemetary.

I love the power of imagination.


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We ate some yummy Halloween treats, as well!




If any of my local readers would like me to e-mail them my research notes and a map of the different buildings, send me an e-mail!

Of Delicious Fall Treats

If anyone is in need of a great fall treat, may I recommend two of our favorites? Apples with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top, and hot cocoa with a couple of scoops of ice cream in it. YUM! The hot cocoa with ice cream is such a fun contrast between hot and cold.
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Sadly, I will not be drinking any 'til the middle of December, as I am doing THE GREAT SUGAR ESCAPE with Kayla until then. (Still trying to lose the five pounds I gained on vacation!)

The Best Handbook for Life

So, about three weeks ago, I began attending an institute class on the Book of Mormon taught by the wonderful Susan Shupe. Her classes are just amazing, and I learn so much from them. She has a way of getting one excited about the Book of Mormon, and helping one see how the stories and teachings apply to nearly every aspect of our lives. She very appropriately calls the Book of Mormon "A Handbook for Life." Truly, this is an amazing book with much to offer. Read on!

For those of my readers who may not be familiar with The Book of Mormon, briefly, it is a compilation of thousands of years worth of fascinating historical and spiritual records of the people in the ancient Americas. The Bible mentions these people in John 10:16. Mormon, a prophet/historian living back in the day, compiled "the cream of the crop" from these records just for us, as he forsaw our day (Mormon 8:35, pp 483). The Bible actually refers to the Book of Mormon in Ezekial 37:16-19, with the sticks of Joseph and Judah referring to the Book of Mormon and the Bible respectively, and the two becoming "one stick," or one testament of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, last week in an e-mail to my family, I shared some of my notes, then I got to thinking I should post my notes on my blog for my extended family, my posterity and my dear other readers. So, here you are. Enjoy!

From President Benson, 5 Reasons We Have the Book of Mormon:

1. It prepares us for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

In 3 Nephi 1:8 (pp. 407), righteous believers in the land were about to be put to death by the wicked if the signs of Christ's birth prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite didn't happen by a certain day. The time was drawing near, and this verse records that the people, as you could imagine, were watching "steadfastly" for the promised signs (the star and "the day and the night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night"). Here are a few thoughts applying that story to our day.

First of all, we, too, should be watching steadfastly for signs of Christ's second coming so we can be spiritually and physically prepared, and help prepare our families for what is to come. Serious readers of the Bible and the Book of Mormon can see these signs in abundance! Pretty scary stuff! Some suggestions for us to be prepared: Be where we are supposed to be, when we are supposed to be there. When Christ appeared to the people in the Americas after his resurrection, where did he come? He came to the temple, where the people had gathered. We need to "stand in holy places" and be frequent temple attenders.

One more note our teacher pointed out about this preparation. In the Book of Mormon, the Book of Helaman is where we are in terms of politics and what is going on in the world nowadays. If you will recall, there was a lot of corruption going on in the government, and people breaking the law and going unpunished because they were able to bribe officials, among other things...sound familiar?! So we are in the book of Helaman, and of course, the following book is 3 Nephi, where the Savior appears. Since the Book of Mormon is "a type and shadow of things to come," we have an exciting time coming, but again, a lot of scary times coming before Christ comes again.

2. The Book of Mormon teaches us the dangers of materialism.

The main danger of this, I think we determined, is that "stuff," including money, can easily distract us from the things that are most important. We've got to be careful to have good balance in our lives.

3. The Book of Mormon teaches disciples of Christ how to live in times of war.

There are a lot of wars that occur in the Book of Mormon! I often wondered why those were included, and now I know. Read on!

We will probably be involved in physical war throughout the world until Christ comes again, and most surely in spiritual warfare, so this is very pertinent to us. How we build up our defenses...defenses for our families...these are all answered here in the Book of Mormon.

As an aside, conference was amazing, as always. I was struck by the frequent mention of how we are raising our children in enemy territory, on a battleground. WOW. If that is not a wake up call, I don't know what is. Scary! I listen to some of my young women tell about things that happen in high school and I am just appalled by things kids are doing nowadays. Truly we are in a battle with evil and we need to have our defenses in place. "Shields up!" as Curtis would say!

4. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to be missionaries.

In our family reading, we are near the beginning of Alma, where Ammon puts his life in his hands to go teach the gospel to the Lamanites, and is captured by King Lamoni. The kids are loving these chapters--they are so adventurous!

As I was thinking about why missionary work is such a prominent part of the Book of Mormon, it occurred to me that as members of the church, we have such great protection for our families that most of the world doesn't have and desperately needs! I think of the promises that are made in the temple, and the protection that is found there. I think of the spiritual protection that has been promised to our families and children just for reading the Book of Mormon daily. I think of how comforting it is to have a prophet of God who gets revelation for us--our day--and can warn us of things to come that we need to prepare for. What a blessing! I think of the counsel of prophets in years past to get out of debt, and to have an emergency food storage in place as well as 72 hour kits. Having these things in place is so comforting! Anyway, again, great protection from living the gospel, and we need to share with others!

5. Finally, the Book of Mormon helps us draw nearer to God.

Check out this cool little fact (courtesy of Susan Easton Black). In all, there are 101 names/titles of Christ that are collectively presented 3,925 times in 6,607 Book of Mormon verses. That would average out to Christ being mentioned about every 1.7 verses. Cool!

Anyway, more exciting things to come! I have some great notes to share on what the Book of Mormon teaches us about relationships, as well as how to have successful scripture study as a family, and some interesting things we should consider about pride.

Of Curtis' Company in the News

So Curtis just got back from a prestigious conference in Washington D.C., and their robotics stuff (5-D Robotics) was on the front page of Defense News! Take a look!

I am so proud of him and his excellent team.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trek Part Two

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