Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The day after Easter we all went to the St. Louis Zoo. It started raining on our way up to the zoo, and we got rained on at first. It was only about 60°F, so it was kind of cold, too. Fortunately, the rain stopped after about 45 minutes, and it actually wasn't too bad. It was much better than if it had been sunny and hot! 

The giraffes and elephants are my favorite animals to see at the zoo:
Chandra got quite the workout pushing my wheelchair around the zoo. It's not even very hilly, but it doesn't take much of an incline to give your quads and glutes a workout! Kimball and Rebecah loved taking turns pushing Christian in the stroller:
above: Annika has bright red hair, so we had to get a picture of her with her monkey twin, since the monkey also had bright red hair. below: Mom and Rebecah posed in front of one of one of the azalea bushes that was in full bloom:

One of the best parts of Annette's family visiting was meeting my newest niece, Eden (I'd only seen her via Skype prior to this). Edie is such a sweet little thing, and she's so good! Annette said that Edie was perfect on the drive, and cried a total of maybe 10 minutes on the 30+ hour round-trip drive to MO and back home to NY. [And let's just pretend that I hadn't gotten rained on and/or I was wearing makeup in the following pictures!]

Easter 2017

My mom and I were fortunate enough to have my sister Annette's family visit for Easter this year. We usually don't have any visitors for Easter, since my sisters' kids have school, but this year Annette's kids had spring break the week after Easter, and her husband was able to take vacation, so it all worked out. It was so fun to have some extra family in town! We had dinner with Annette's and Chandra's families, and it was a great day.

Here are pictures of Annette's and Chandra's families on Easter. It's hard to get a picture where everyone is smiling and looking good! Poor Christian just wanted to run around, and he kept bending over to try and get down, so this was the best shot I got of Chan's family.
I can't decide which picture of Rebecah and me that I like best, so I'm including all of them, as well as one of Annette and me:
I wanted to get a picture of Annette's kids with their cousin, Christian, but Christian was not cooperating. Here's the best we could do:
Cute pictures of Rebecah and Edie playing together:
Lincoln loved carrying around my mom's John Deere tractor and this plastic knife, which he called his "sword." As you can see, and he even fell asleep clutching it:
Rebecah drew some pictures of all of us. Here are my mom and me (she said that I was her "BFF" and my mom was her "BFF2"), and then Chandra's family. I like how she colored Chandra Brown, left Joe White, and then did a mix of yellow and brown for Christian's biracial skin tone. 😁 I also liked her phonetic spellings of Chandra, Christian and Joe.

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Life in a Jar"

My sister, Sharon, bought me the book Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Meyer this past Christmas, and my mom and I read it together. We finished it a couple days ago, and it was a great book! Here is a synopsis:

During World War II, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto. Incredibly, after the war her heroism, like that of many others, was suppressed by communist Poland and remained virtually unknown for 60 years. Unknown, that is, until three high school girls from an economically depressed, rural school district in southeast Kansas stumbled upon a tantalizing reference to Sendler's rescues, which they fashioned into a history project, a play they called Life in a Jar. Their innocent drama was first seen in Kansas, then the Midwest, then New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, and finally Poland, where they elevated Irena Sendler to a national hero, championing her legacy of tolerance and respect for all people. Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project is a Holocaust history and more. It is the inspirational story of Protestant students from Kansas, each carrying her own painful burden, each called in her own complex way to the history of a Catholic woman who knocked on Jewish doors in the Warsaw ghetto and, in Sendler's own words, "tried to talk the mothers out of their children." Inspired by Irena Sendler, they are living examples of the power of one person to change the world and models for young people everywhere.

I really liked this book, especially how it told Irena's story, as well as the story of the three Kansas students who uncovered Irena's heroic past. Irena convinced Jewish parents to give their children to her, and she smuggled approximately 2500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland. This was very dangerous work, of course, and Irena and the other members of Zegota (the codename of the secret organization that fought back against the Nazis) risked so much in order to help rescue others. As I read the book, I kept asking myself, "Would I have the courage to fight injustice and risk my life in order to help others?" I'd like to think I would, but I worry I would be too timid and scared.

This was a great book, and it definitely gets my recommendation!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

"My Story"

My mom and I finished reading "My Story" by Elizabeth Smart a few weeks before Christmas. My friend Heather recommended this book to me, and I'm so glad she did! When this book came out several years ago, I didn't give much thought to reading it. I basically knew what had happened to Elizabeth (or so I thought) from things that I had heard on the news and watched on TV. What I knew only scratched the surface as to what all happened to Elizabeth. I started this book and was absolutely sucked in from the beginning. It was a real page-turner!

Here is a synopsis of the book: "For the first time, ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime.

"On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.

"Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.

"In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In 2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine."

I was so impressed and inspired with the way Elizabeth was able to handle this horrific ordeal. Imagine being kidnapped in the middle of the night, sexually brutalized, having to go with very little food, being forced to get drunk, and being emotionally ravaged. What happened to Elizabeth was truly heinous. There were small miracles and tender mercies along the way, however, and Elizabeth never gave up or lost her faith. It was her faith in God and the atonement of Jesus Christ that enabled her to not only survive this trauma, but to be able to move on and still have a beautiful life where she has been able to advocate for others who have endured similar experiences. The atonement has so much power, because Jesus not only atoned for our sins, but He also suffered for all of the pains and atrocities that God's children would ever feel and experience.

I've recommended this book to several people, and think it's one that anyone who likes to feel uplifted and inspired would enjoy.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Elizabeth's 16th Birthday

My niece, Elizabeth, turned 16 on December 27. It's so fun to be able to celebrate her birthday with her each year, since we've spent the majority of our Christmases (and December 27's) together. I was 16 when Elizabeth was born, so she's now the same age I was when she was born. That makes me feel a little old!

Elizabeth wanted orange chicken with rice pilaf for her birthday dinner, and my brother-in-law also made gyoza (pronounced like "jowdza"), which are like potstickers. Everything was so tasty, and I've been hankering for more ever since!
Next Elizabeth opened her cards and presents:
She got some earrings and a nice jewelry box:
And a special present for her 16th birthday…
…a pair of emerald earrings:
Elizabeth and her mom, Christian and Matt, and E with Aunt Chan:
A few of us went to the movies for Elizabeth's birthday outing, and we saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I fell asleep in the the movie, but I still enjoyed it!
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