Sunday, March 18, 2012

It's Great To Be 8!!!!

Courtesy of Libby Jones. . . my very talented friend!!!!
I made these banners. . . .who's shocked?!!!! My mom sewed them for me. :) I also had a CTR banner, but forgot to take a picture of it.
I can hardly believe Jackson turned 8 six weeks ago.

January 28th.

His baptism took place on Feb 11th at 12pm at the stake c
enter and it was perfect.

Here's who came.

Mom, Dad, Noah, Ellie, Kate and Carson
Grandma and Grandpa Kohler
Grandma and Grandpa Smythe
Great Grandma Smythe
Aunt Megan, Addi, Allie and Evelyn
Aunt Rachel, Jimmy and Owen
Great Aunt Sissy
Shawn, Teri, and little kiddos
Bishop Hiatt
Nate and Gina Jensen, Kade and Skye
Stacey and Brent Criddle and Caden
Frank and James Lebaron
Betty and Coda Anderson
Sister Calleen Curtis (primary teacher)
Jeff and Taye Dickson
Jeff and Tanner Ricks
Mrs. Mills (2nd grade teacher)
We were lucky to have family come into town for a few days first and spend time with them before the baptism. I know how much my kids look forward to visits from grandparents and
cousins.And now I'm going to tell about the day Jackson was baptized. Be prepared for spiritual talk. :)

Out of all the most spectacular days in my life, Jackson's baptism was one of the very best. It ranks up there with the day each of my children were born. It's a kind of feeling I was not anticipating and don't think I wasn't fully prepared for. I know how incredible it feels to bring a baby into this world. It's hard to describe that experience adequately. And watching your child be baptized and make such a sacred promise and commitment to God felt so very overwhelming. And in the best way possible. It is likewise hard to adequately explain.

Jason baptized Jackson and my dad gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. My dad's talk was perfect. He taught Jackson about the things most important pertaining to the Holy Ghost and its role that will now be a part of Jackson's every day life. I was touched by his words and am grateful he was able to speak to Jackson that day.

Jackson was baptized with another little girl from our ward named Mckayla. She went first.

When Jackson walked into the baptismal font I was really overcome by such an overwhelming, strong feeling. The tears swelled in my eyes watching my little boy choose to follow the Savior and do what is right. Even now as I sit here recalling that special day, I feel such a special feeling in my heart for Jackson and the amazing experience he was able to have on that day.

It was so great to have all the kids watch as their older brother took the first step in his life of serving the Lord and promising to keep all of His commandments. I'm so proud of Jackson.

Jason and I spent many nights talking to and teaching Jackson about what his baptism would mean and all the things he would be committing to do for the rest of his life. We tried very hard to be very clear about how important this decision was and that there was no turning back once he made that choice. I knew Jackson would be excited for his baptism and want to be baptized. However, I had NO idea how much of a spiritual experience it would be for me and for Jackson.

After he was baptized, he went to the bathroom to get all dried off and dressed back into his suit. I met him outside the restroom to comb his hair and when he came out I gave him a huge hug and told him how proud I was of him and how blessed he would be for choosing to be baptized. I told him I knew it was true and right and that Heavenly Father was so pleased with him. Jackson squeezed me back and cried on my shoulder. That was something he hasn't done since he was a small child. And never from feeling the spirit. I told him what he was feeling was the spirit and that from that point on he could have that feeling always. He just kept shaking his head and telling me, "I know. I'm so happy." We both sat there and cried for a brief moment and then Jackson leaned over to get a drink of water. Out of embarrassment (I'm pretty sure) he got upset at the drinking fountain for not working and did his typical turn away and ignore his emotions. :) But the experience had already happened and I won't ever forget it.

Jackson's baptism was a special day for me as well. It reminded me of all the promises I once made when I was eight. And it reminded me of my mission. I remember so well teaching many people about baptism and all the reasons why we do it and all that is means and all that it can bring into our lives. I learned in a very concrete and immovable way on my mission that baptism isn't something minor or something we can choose to ignore as life gives us problems and we think it would be easier to do things all on our own. It cemented in me the firm belief that baptism is MAJOR. It marks the path for the rest of our life. . .and into eternity. I hadn't felt the spirit so strong in a long time and am so grateful to have felt it that day. I have always known Jackson was a special boy. All children are. With Jackson there has always been a special something extra about him. And watching him be baptized, I was overcome with joy. It was incredible.

I have been meaning to record that day for awhile so I would never forget it. And so Jackson could always remember. Even weeks later as I would tell others about that day, I have yet to nor get emotional. Something very extra ordinary happened that day and I don't want to ever forget it. The spirit was as strong that day as I can ever recall in my life. I did not expect such an experience like that.

After the baptism, we all came back to our house for a lunch and it turned out perfect.
My mom made the strawberry spinach salad with won tons, candied cashews. . . etc.She also made the Cafe Normandy pasta salad. YUM! Thanks mom for helping me so much that day. I couldn't have done it without you!!!!

We had Jimmy Johns do all the sandwiches.

And my amazing friend Brooke Carn did all the desserts. She made mini mint brownies, mini coconut cupcakes and mini sugar cookies. Deeeeeelicious!!!!!!
After the celebration was over and the house settled down, we were all ready for a long rest!!!!
But lucky us, Jackson had his final Jr. Jazz basketball game that afternoon so we headed to that and Jackson had a GREAT game. One of his best. His team was undefeated! As they were in flag football too! :) We've got some sports crazy boys on our hands!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eupore here we come!

Fresh off the plane and headed to Jill's home. And I HAD to stop and take a picture of the cows, just roaming freely on the side of the road. What's not to love!?

Just being silly with William. Who better to be silly with?!! :)
Taking a GORGEOUS bike ride around the lake in Zug, by Jill's home. It was unbelievable. I loved it.

Me, Maddie and William, just playing around after the bike ride. I love those kids!!!

The outside of Jill's house. I loved the cows in the back round.

Waiting for Maddie to finish at Young Women's.
It has been several months since I took one of the funnest trips of my life. And I have been meaning to post about it so I could always remember it. But time seems to slip away from me every single day!

The end of September-the first week of October, my mom and I flew to Zurich Switzerland to visit my sister and her family. It was a very last minute trip, and so much fun. My sister and her family moved to Switzerland last August and we were dying to go visit!!!

We spent 2 weeks in Europe, visiting Switzerland, Italy and France. It was AWESOME!!! I hadn't even been to Switzerland and I COULD NOT believe how gorgeous it was. It was like straight out of a dream. Honestly. Words really can't describe what I thought of Switzerland. Majestic. Even just right where Jill lived. There were these lush BRIGHT green hills, covered. And little villages all spread though out the hill sides. It was incredible.

My sister Jill took us to most of her favorite places that she has discovered since living there and we did some great shopping. The food in Switzerland is #1. Sick. #2. EXPENSIVE!!! So we ate some delicious food prepared by Jill. . . the famous chef. The cheese selection was unreal, so I had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. In fact, I think about that sandwich regularly when walking through the specialty cheese section at Harmon's. But the food in Italy was great and so was France.
The wooden bridge on Lake Lucerne and finally finding a nice couple. . . from Argentina to take our picture. Leave it to the South Americans to be helpful and nice. The bridge was built in the 14th century.
Grande Emperial Hotel. . . where we stayed in Moltrassio, Italy
So, after a few days in Switzerland, visiting Lake Lucerne (AMAZING! GORGEOUS! WONDERFUL!), Zug, and a few other incredible places, we drove about 3 hours south, to the north of Italy. We stayed in an amazing hotel on Lake Como. And by amazing I mean AHH.MAZE.ING. We had the presidential sweet and the view was spectacular. We even enjoy a pretty impressive fire work show across the lake from our gigantic balcony.
The balcony of our hotel room and walking the village streets.

The drive to Italy was breath taking. And scary. We wound through the Swiss Alps, along the side of MAJOR drop offs. I truthfully was very uneasy for parts of the drive. At times I didn't dare take my eyes off the road, and I wasn't driving. The drop offs were HUGE. And the roads there had no sides. Just straight into the lakes. Deadly lakes. :) The mountains were incredible. To say the least. But it was intense for me. I have a small fear of heights and steep drops into large bodies of water. I have the chills as I write this.

Lake Como was equally impressive. The Italians are just so kind and warm. And the Swiss were not that way. The were the polar opposite. I have some stories to tell about asking THREE different people to take our picture and ALL THREE telling me no to my face. Just because. Rude.
Random homes along the lake. Absolutely gorgeous. George Clooney has a home on Lake Como. :)
Once you get to Lake Como, you have to ride a boat to get to the main city part, or to visit any of the other villages. I can't remember the name of the village we stayed in, but it was fantastic. NOT a tourist area. It was the real deal. No English, all cobblestone streets, and little old Italians in the streets. The homes were so neat. It was just what I pictured. But better. There was a waterfall in the center of the village, running thought a small section of homes. Yeah, we took some pics.

We visited most all the of the most famous villages, including the original Bellagio. It was so pretty. I loved every second of Italy. Of the whole trip!!! :) We also pretty much walked the ENTIRE city of Como, looking for a market that was supposedly happening while we were there. No one knew what we were talking about, but then someone said they knew. They guided us there, to find the biggest market of crap I have ever seen. My mom was dying. We all were. It was NOT what we were expecting. Thankfully we had another market to go to the next day that was sure to beat that one.

We stayed in Como for a couple of days, then headed to another village in Italy to go to the "market" and it was so fun. The hotel there was also WONDERFUL. (Sorry about having to capitalize so much. But I have to make my point). It was a very small hotel, with only 4 rooms. All overlooking the lake. I loved it.
On the way home from Italy, we stopped at a McDonald's to get a diet coke. We ordered our 2 large diet cokes and 1 large fry. As we were pulling through the drive through to pay Jill said, "Get a load of this." The employee sticks his head out the window and tells us our total. He said, "That will be 19 francs." UHHH, excuse me? That was like $35 AMERICAN DOLLARS!!!! I seriously asked him, "Where is the value menu? Hello?" And he just stared. We also told them at least 9 times to have lots of ice.

So they hand us our drink and there is literally ONE cube of ice, practically melted already. We handed the drinks back and told him yet again, MORE ice. Like fill it to the top. He said, along with another employee that come to the window, "But you will ruin your drink." We said, "Yes, we know. Ruin it." And so they gave each of us about 5 more cubes of ice. What is with the ice thing in Europe?!! For reals. Room temperature pop? Nasty. But it was like that everywhere we went. And Jill is just so used to it that she is like, "Yeah yeah, ruin my drink. Give me the ice." It was one of my hardest laughs on that trip as we drive away with our pathetic diet cokes. But any diet coke was better than no diet coke. My mom ordered water of course. :)

The market was crazy. Hundreds and hundreds of people. And everyone trying to get a deal. :) Include your truly. I ended up with a couple new bags. . . shocking, and some gifts for the kids and a new skirt and a scarf. :) It's Italy after all!!!

Then we drove back to Switzerland and recuperated for a day. Then headed to France for a day. Jill lives very close to the boarders of France, Italy and Germany. Hello. . . Lucky!!! We went to a place in France called "Le Petite Venice" and the name says it all. It was such a great place to visit. Just like a little Venice. Canals ran through the street and there were some EXTREMELY old buildings there. It was so fun to go see. Plus, I ended up with yet another DARLING bag. :) Some one help me. There was a store there that I loved. Its like a French Target. Yeah, what's not to love. I bought tons of clothes for the kids there. How cute?!!!! Little French clothes!!!! I often think about going back to that store. :)
Yes. . .french crepes!!!
We headed back to the US a couple of days later and oh how I long to go back. It was an incredible, memorable, perfect trip. And I was so happy I got to spend those days with my mom and sister. And my darling niece and nephew!! I can't thank Jill enough for hosting us and taking us to some of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I can't wait for her to come home!!!!!

And last but not least, thanks to my amazing husband for letting my book a trip to Europe so last minute and without him!!! Next time it will be with Jason!!!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

We are in Hawaii!!!

So finally I am going to post about our trip to Kauai, Hawaii. It was AMAZING!!! One of the very few places and trips I have ever been on that I really did not want to come home. I loved every second of it. And for those of you that know me really well, you know I have traveled quite a bit and have been so lucky to have seen many incredible places. But who doesn't LOVE Hawaii????

Jason, me, Dan, and Janie all flew to Kauai on Easter Sunday last April. We spent a week there on that island and had a blast together. We met Dan and Janie 2 years ago in Ann Arbor, MI when we moved there for Jason's fellowship. Dan was also finishing his fellowship in facial plastics as an E.N.T. doctor. We became great friends right away and will always love the time we get to spend with them!We stayed at the Marriott there in Kauai and it was gorgeous! Our room had balconies with direct views of the ocean. GORGEOUS! We slept each night with the doors open to the outside just to listen to the waves crashing. Loved it. So. Much.

While we were there we did some serious relaxing on the beach. We all read lots of books and sipped on diet coke. Hello, perfect. The beach that was for the hotel was so nice. Very secluded.On our first day there was a pretty big family all there and they had some boogie boards. After they were done with them they told us we could use them. So we decided to do some serious boarding. I FOR REALS almost broke my neck and back. And in the process straddled Dan. The current was freakishly strong and the tip of my board did a nose dive into the sand and I flipped over the top of it. Then the under current went crazy and I was drowning and seizing. (Not really, but I'm sure if anyone saw what was going on they might have thought that was the case). :) So I start trying to crawl back to the shore on my hands and knees, screaming over the waves that I can't move my back and "I can't breathe." Dan comes running to my rescue and the next wave took him down!!!! We both got tangled up in that mess and ending skidding to shore intertwined. Lovely. Sorry Janie. No hard feelings? But I will say, I was catching some pretty big waves. Growing up in San Diego taught me a thing or two. And just so we are clear about the strength of those waves, one day the waves ripped the bottoms of my bathing suit COMPLETELY off of me. Oh yeah, I'm sure I scarred several of the children playing peacefully on the shore. And probably some of the grown men as well. . . Yikes. And Janie's top had some problems staying put as well. Writing about these memories is making me laugh so hard.
We also rented some paddle boards and that was so fun. I was pretty nervous about standing up, but finally did it and loved it. Jason was of course perfect at it. He had a couple of good falls, but he was able to paddle all over and stay up forever. I never fell, but was very cautious. What if there were sharks way out where we were? Actually, I'm sure there were so let's not even talk about it. Freaky. Janie and I had a great time watching our husbands try to get up from the first outing. It's a lot easier than it looks and take some serious balance. Dan? He needs to work on his balance. :) Janie was also a natural.

We drover to the Grand Canyon of Hawaii and it was so beautiful. I couldn't believe that was on the island. There was a man at the top of a lookout while we drove through the Grand Canyon of Hawaii that had a guitar and was serenading people, singing, "This is Hawaii". It was hilarious. :) He was playing his guitar while repeating the same words over and over again. Uh yeah, we know where we are. One day while we were there we woke up at the CRACK of dawn and drove for about 1 hour to the North Shore where we watched the sunrise. It was really one of the most beautiful things I have seen. It happened so fast but really was breathtaking. We had to watch it from the back of the jeep we rented since the boys were in such a hurry to get to the hike. The sunsets were unbelievable too. What the heck with the sun on Hawaii? So, after we saw the sunrise we began our day of MAJOR hiking. I had no idea the hike I was about to participate on. Ummm, try 8 miles. And lots of it was steep and slippery from water falls. And crossing DEADLY rivers with tally marks showing the number of people that have died there from getting stuck in the current. I am a sissy, but Dan kept helping me across the random scary places and we all made it to the water fall. The water there in the mountain was FREEZING so I only put my toes in. Not even my whole foot. Burr. But Dan and Janie got all the way in and swam to where the falls hit the pool. Brave. Jason and I watched and cheered them on. Nice and warm. And then we had to hike back. All any of us wanted was a drink. Like dummies we each brought ONE bottle of water. We had some beef jerky and trail mix. . . and wasabi peas, but that wasn't enough. So out of pure motivation for something refreshing to drink, we did some serious hustling back to the car. It was 4 miles in and 4 miles out. And honestly some of the very prettiest, jaw dropping views I have ever seen. We were on the edge of the cliff, looking directly out to the ocean. We even saw whales right off the shore. I can't even describe how spectacular it was. Totally worth the sweat and pain of the hike. Totally worth it.We ate some delicious food, and not so delicious. One morning we went to a local place for breakfast and I don't actually know how to describe it. But how about this? Barf. Gag.We did get to eat at the Beach House, which is one of the worlds most romantic restaurants. And it was fantastic. We ate right on the water and watched the sunset and people surf. I could seriously get used to this life. Seriously.

One of the excursions we decided to go on was the boating tour. It was on a Navy Seal raft and was so awesome. There were only about 8 of us on the boat and it was all day. There were dolphins literally INCHES from our hands. They were every where. It was so exciting, getting all caught up in the moment. :) We got to snorkel after lunch and Jason and I swam right along side a HUGE turtle. We were both in shock of how huge it was. We saw several sea turtles while we were in the raft, out in the ocean, but swimming next to it was so different. Amazing. While we were out we we so lucky to see the last of the whales before they left for the season. There was a mom, dad and baby. We stayed and watched them for about 30 mins. And the baby was doing every trick it could think of. It was showing off for reals. I couldn't believe how close we got to them. Law says you have to stay at least 30 yards away, unless they approach you. But since we were on this little tiny raft, we didn't let them get any closer. :) It was so fun seeing the whales. The whole experience of the day was fabulous. I love being on the water.
We went to a luau one night and that was so fun. Janie and I just wanted the experience and so the boys of course agreed. TONS of food, and super entertainment. Speaking of, Dan got to go up on stage and do a special hula dance with a few others. I went ahead and volunteered him. I don't think he was thrilled, but did a great job twisting and hulaing. Jason knew better right when the announcer said he was going to get some people from the audience. He got right up and went to get more drinks. Dan didn't know who he was dealing with and sat calmly. So I got him! :) One for my hardest laughs. Dan is such a great sport and can always make everyone laugh. I love that about him.We also did some cliff diving, well almost all of us. Dan wussied out on this. But it was so fun! We all tried so hard to tempt Dan and tell him how much he would regret not jumping and how fun it was and how it was totally NOT scary and he only had to do it once. But he was firm and steadfast. Immovable. That says a lot about that man. :) I jumped within SECONDS of getting there. I had to. Otherwise I think I might have talked myself out of it. Jason was next. He too took a bit of persuasion. Jason made me laugh so hard because he kept getting close to the edge, backing away, and yelling towards me that he "wasn't ready" I stayed over on the other side of the pool of water once I climbed out to take pics of everyone else. He finally jumped and I got the video! Getting out was the hardest part. You had to climb up a mossy, slippery ladder that was attached to the side of a mountain and did not look very secure. I just got the shivers as I wrote about it. It was gross. But the rsuh of jumping was awesome!!! Janie braved up too after SEVERAL minutes and threats of being reay to go. She wanted to jump, but kept getting nervous. Then her honest husband PROMISED he would jump if Janie would. So being the trusting woman Janie is, she took a leap of faith and jump. Dan. . . has no guilt. :)

And that is about it. It proably seems like I was way too extensive in this post, but in truth, there is SO much I didn't put in. Kauai was a trip that I will never forget. Spending a week with Jason, and no kids was heaven sent. And then adding some of our best friends to the mix. . . . bliss!

We can't wait to go back. 2012?????