Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Fort

For over a week now, Blythe has been sleeping in a fort she constructed with her friend, Addie Lepinski.  They used a card table, art easels, and lots of blankets, and while she's sleeping on the floor, she assures us it's very comfortable. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Brandt Speaks in Sacrament Meeting--A First!

Brandt turned twelve, we went to Florida, and before we'd even gotten home, Brother Lindberg texted Kent to ask if Brandt would be willing to talk in sacrament meeting.  The bishopric certainly hasn't let any grass grow under Brandt's feet! 

Brandt agreed and was asked to speak about one of the sections in For the Strength of Youth.  He looked through it while we were traveling, and decided to talk about the sabbath day.  But Kent suggested that, since he's had two really nice experiences in the temple already (going on his birthday, and then going in Florida), he could speak about that.  Brandt liked that idea, and with a bit of help from me and a bit of help from Kent, Brandt wrote a talk.  Last evening we went over to the church so he could practice speaking at the podium.  We sat around the chapel and encouraged him to look up from time to time.  He would read a paragraph, pause, look up at each of us, then continue with the talk.  So funny!  I had a hard time not chuckling. 

Today Brandt an effort with his appearance.  He combed his hair and wore a skinny tie.  He sat on the stand and only looked sort of nervous.  We had a full house with lots of visitors because Keaton Helquist was speaking before leaving on his mission on Wednesday.  Brandt did a good job.  He read his talk smoothly, he spoke into the microphone, but he didn't look up.  I can understand!  So many unfamiliar faces and probably close to 400 people in attendance.  Kent and I both got lots of complements on his behalf; many people told us what a fine job he did.  We agree.  He did a fine job.  The picture I took of him on the stand isn't fine, but I'll include it here anyway.  I'll also include the whole of his talk at the end of the post.  He told me that, although Brother Lindberg said it had to be five minutes, that didn't mean it had to be the full five minutes.  Two-and-a-half would be entirely adequate.  

Good morning brothers and sisters.   I am Brandt Barrus. I turned 12 two weeks ago. Since then, I have received the priesthood. I was able to pass the sacrament here and in my uncle’s ward in Florida. In my uncle’s ward, they pass the sacrament differently.  They only need 4 deacons in their ward because it is small.
By turning 12 and being worthy,  I can get a temple recommend to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead.  My mom wanted to take me to the temple on my birthday. We went to the City Center Temple, but the temple had a 2 hour wait.  Even though I didn’t do baptisms, I did confirmations.
Last week, we were in Florida.  In Florida, my uncle is the young mens president and they were going to the Fort Lauderdale Temple for a youth temple trip.  My mom brought my recommend so I could go with them. We also brought two family names I was able to be baptized for, Pietro (pee-et-row) Panelli and Guiseppe (juice-eppe) Aversano.  When I went into the temple, I felt the Spirit. It was all quiet. The Ft. Lauderdale Temple is a cool building. It’s one of my favorite temples. I was glad I could be there.
In the For Strength of Youth pamphlet, the first presidency says,
“In all that you do, stay focused on the temple. In the temple you will receive the greatest of all the Lord’s blessings, including marriage for time and all eternity. Keeping the standards in this booklet will help you be worthy to attend the temple, where you can perform sacred ordinances for your ancestors now and make essential covenants for yourself in the future.”  
Temples are so important.  In October conference, President Nelson talked about temples.  We now have 159 temples all over the world and he announced 7 new temples.  He said, “My dear brothers and sisters, construction of these temples may not change your life, but your time in the temple surely will. In that spirit, I bless you to identify those things you can set aside so you can spend more time in the temple. I bless you with greater harmony and love in your homes and a deeper desire to care for your eternal family relationships. I bless you with increased faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a greater ability to follow Him as His true disciples.”
I know that by living the standards in For the Strength of Youth will help me stay worthy to go to the temple.  I know the Church is true. Joseph Smith was a true prophet.  If we follow the ten commandments we can go to Heaven. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

We Go To Florida--Day 10 We Go Home

When I consulted Kent about our plane tickets, there was some debate about when we should leave and what flight to take.  We wanted to avoid a red eye going because we didn't want to be miserably tired on top of being hot and having sore feet.  So we spent the better part of a day getting to Florida.  For the return, we opted for an early departure, short layover time, and getting back to Provo in the early afternoon. 

What we didn't realize when we made all these plans was that the Miami airport is over an hour away from James and Alisa's house, and there is a closer airport in Fort Lauderdale.  Who knew?  We've only got one major airport in the whole state of Utah, so I didn't even think there might be two airports within half an hour of each other, and the one we decided to fly out of was further away.  I called American to see what it would cost to change our tickets and nearly choked when the woman told me it would be $280 PER TICKET to change anything.  So we changed nothing and go up super early this morning.

By "super early" I mean that the alarm went off at 4:10AM, and we were in the car by 4:30.  Obviously, I had packed everything last night, the bags were ready to go, we just had to stick jammies in the outer pockets, put on regular clothes, take a bit of time in the bathroom, and get in the car.  SO EARLY!!  It was ridiculous.  James and Alisa did not get up to see us off.  I wasn't sure I had Blythe's swimsuit, and when I asked her about it, she said, "I think I left it in James and Alisa's bathroom.  I'll just creep in and get it."  No. No you won't.  Turns out I had packed the suit, so it's good she didn't creep in to find it. 

When we looked at how long it takes to get to the airport, Google Maps showed an hour and ten minutes.  We left in plenty of time to catch our 7:15am flight, and we even had more time than we thought.  When we put directions into the phone, it said it was only forty minutes to the airport.  Amazing how much time you can save if you travel when all sane people are asleep.  About twenty minutes into the drive, Brandt asked if he could have a treat from the treat bag and pulled out a cloth grocery bag full of cookies, granola bars, and chips that we had been taking to the beach.  It was on the kitchen counter where it was meant to stay, but Kent thought it was supposed to come with us.  We had way more treats than we needed, but both the kids were delighted.  Should we feel guilty for stealing the bag? 

The drive was smooth, the car rental return was smooth, security was smooth, and we made it to the gate after a stop for breakfast at Burger King shortly before they were set to begin boarding.  Our flights went well, and I even got to sit all by myself, not in the middle hump suck seat, from Phoenix to Salt Lake.  Kent sat between the children for the hour and thirteen minutes.  Sharon picked us up at the airport, and we were home about 2:30pm.  Before we had even pulled all the way into the garage, both kids had leapt out of the car and were on their way to friends' houses. 

We had a wonderful trip.  I am happy to report I didn't yell at the children even once, everyone behaved remarkably well and had a good time, we were patient, saw interesting things, and all in all, loved it.  We all felt good enough to contemplate doing it again.  Not going to Orlando again, but going on vacation again.  It was nice to be away from responsibilities, to be together as a family, and take time to relax.  Here's to a marvelous Floridian vacay!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

We Go To Florida--Day 9 Beaching It Up Again

Our last day in Florida.  So sad!  What should one do on the last day of a Florida vacation?  Go to the beach, of course.  There was no way anything else was happening.  James, who has graciously taken three days off work to be with us, was behind in several things that needed attention, and opted not to go with us.  Alisa begged off, also with real life responsibilities that needed her attention.  And Kent didn't want to go to the beach and said he had work emails to answer and stuff to do, like sitting quietly and reading which is what he did yesterday while we swam.  So I took the kids to the beach.  We packed up towels, beach chairs, an umbrella, the body boards, a cooler with lunch and drinks, the camera, and lots of sunscreen, and drove to Pompano, less than half an hour away.  If we lived near the beach I would take the kids all the time without anyone else, so I didn't see why we shouldn't go.

We arrived, parked, got out all the stuff, hauled it several hundred yards to the spot we selected, set up chairs and the umbrella, the children ran down to the water, and then it started to rain and blow.  Big rain.  Lots of rain.  Rain from big black clouds that looked like they were rolling in to stay.  The wind blew the umbrella down the beach twice before I really, really got it situated, but it didn't bode well.  A family next to us quickly gathered up all their beach paraphernalia and fled to the car, and I wondered if we should do the same.  But I looked up and down the beach and no one else was going anywhere.  Little groups were huddled under umbrellas and lots of people were in the water, not just my crazy kids who don't know any better, so we stayed.  It rained for maybe ten minutes, but then the wind that blew it in blew it right back out, and the rest of the time we were there was sunny and hot.  I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

We played and played and played and played and played in the water and on the shore.  We dug a large hole and built tall walls and a moat around it, and the tide washed it away.  I dragged the children around on the boogie boards as there were no real waves to speak of, and the water was so warm you could stay in it indefinitely and never be uncomfortable.  It was shallow for a long way out, so we bobbed and swam, and watched little schools of nearly clear fish race around our legs (cool and creepy simultaneously).  It was wonderful to be at the beach.  We all loved it!!  In fact, we loved it so much we didn't want to leave.  But eventually we had to, and although one of us was excessively upset at our departure, we didn't make a big deal about it because we were up late, we didn't bring enough food, we hadn't stayed adequately hydrated because we'd been in the water, not consuming it, and playing at the beach is exhausting.

An ibis in the neighbor's yard on our way out,
and a swordfish we drove by that Brandt wanted a picture of.

Rainy beach and undaunted swimmers.

Nobody seemed too concerned about the rain.

Why fight it?
I got in too.

The sun came out!


I was kneeling when I took this picture.
The fish are seriously swimming right around my body.
They were everywhere!
I wondered if there were bigger fish nearby, driving the smaller fish towards the shore.
Should I be worried?

No worries for me or Brandt.


The kids really wanted to be boogie boarding, and I did too.  Sadly, the beach did not have those sorts of waves.  There were waves, but not big enough to break and give us something to ride.  So I hooked their safety cords around my wrists and pulled them up and back along the beach.  We talked, they told me funny stories, they said irritating things over and over and over and over and over again.  And we loved, loved, loved, loved, loved being in the ocean.


On the way home, we called Kent and had him and James and Alisa meet us at Jeremiah's for another gelati.  So good.  We probably should have gone yesterday, too.  It's cool and sweet and just what we needed after a day in the sun.

James is the Young Men's President in their ward, and this evening, there was a youth temple trip.  The Fort Lauderdale Temple, dedicated four years ago, is only a short, 20 minute drive from James and Alisa's house.  I had thought we might try and go to the Orlando Temple, so I had brought all our temple recommends.  We didn't make it in Orlando, but Kent, Brandt, and I all went with James.  Blythe stayed home with Alisa and they watched the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

The temple is beautiful.  Because it is close to the Everglades, there is a sawgrass motif.  The stained glass was lovely, the hardware all interesting, and the grounds were fantastic.  It was just wonderful to be there, and we were delighted to be with our boy.  I had hoped to see him be baptized, but they did it while I was in changing, so I missed it.  But it was so nice to be there with him and Kent, and with James and his youth.  One boy in particular, Adam Plumber, the bishop's son, was super nice to Brandt.  He sat next to him and talked with him and was sad that we were leaving in the morning and they couldn't get together.  I was able to be in with Brandt when he was confirmed, and Brandt reports the Fort Lauderdale Temple is one of his favorites.

We took Adam home, just so he could be with us longer, and on the way, he and Brandt talked in the back.  Funny boys!  We stopped off at a single sister's house to help move a couch.  She was leaving Florida the next day and wanted it thrown away.  The young men lifted the heavy things just because they could, and we dropped Adam off on our way home.

Adam and Brandt
A dynamic duo!

We got home and packed.  Most of our clothes are sweaty sticky dirty because we've been in the humidity.  We had to sort through shells, round up books, and make sure we had all our chargers.  We packed some snacks for the plane and tried to get the children to calm down and sleep as we have an early departure.  It has been so wonderful to be together in Florida, to be with James and Alisa, and to see and do new and interesting things.  I'm not sure it could have been a better trip.