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!!!!!