Monday, July 26, 2010

Mabel loves Nursery

Mabel has always loved nursery and she has always loved her nursery leaders. She cant get enough of her new leaders here in Flower Mound. She tells us everyday, "Brother Gunter is sooooo funny!!! Sister Gunter is not funny she is just nice. But Brother Gunter is sooooo funny!" Then she sings a a little song she made up called "How Mabel Goes to Nursery". She insists that we sing it for every FHE. I think it is adorable that she loves it so much. Thank you Brother and Sister Gunter!

Mr. Fix It

I just want to give a shout out to Brett for fixing all of my car problems the other day. Perhaps some of you ladies are super car savey, but I am not. Recently my power outlets died leaving me gps-less, and I had several lights go out. Brett spent an afternoon and changed the lightbulbs and fuses. Now I have all my lights and all my power. Thanks honey. (and he showed me where and fuses were and how to change them . . so next time I can do it myself . . .maybe) :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Family Reunion 2010: Nauvoo

Here is a guest post written by my Dad-Ron Jorgensen. We recently had a wonderful family reunion and he wrote up all the details. He did such a great job I thought I'd just post it here rather then rewrite it. Thanks dad.

We just finished our family reunion in Nauvoo, Illinois. It was a challenge getting ready for it. Thursday, July, 1, Jeannine drove to Maryland to pick up Adam and Leland. Adam, as an adult leader, and Leland had been biking down the C&O canal with the older scouts for the troop’s high adventure. Adam and Leland had already biked about 120 miles when they left to come home and get ready for our trip.

Friday, July 2, 2010. We got up early. Adam and Lucy left first and drove to Fara and David Sneddon’s home in Normal, Illinois because it was reasonably close to St. Louis where Lydia and Devin were flying in to. About a half hour later, Jeannine, Leland, and I left and drove about 12 hours to Kathy and Ralph Anderson’s home near Chicago, Illinois. Ralph is Jeannine’s brother and Kathy our sister-in-law. Fara is Ralph and Kathy’s daughter and Dave is her husband. Kathy and Ralph graciously put us up Friday night. Fara and Dave graciously put up Adam and Lucy.

Laura left her home in Flower Mound, Texas with her three children, Emmeline, Mabel, and Madelyn. Unfortunately, husband Brett had just started a new job and had to stay home to work. Laura made pretty good time but followed the back roads plotted out on her GPS and managed to get a speeding ticket.

Andy and Amie with their children Kristine and Riley had the longest distance to go. They left Provo, Utah, and started their two day drive to Nauvoo. So for most of us, Friday was an all day drive.

The exception was Lydia and Devin. They planned to fly into St. Louis on Friday, spend the night in a hotel, and be picked up by Adam and Lucy the next morning. Alas, their plane from Salt Lake to Denver was delayed and they missed their flight from Denver to St. Louis so they spent the night in Denver.

Saturday, July 3, 2010. Jeannine, Leland, and I started out with a relaxed day. We spent the morning watching soccer with Ralph on their new big flat screen T.V. This gave Leland an opportunity to voice one of his favorite complaints, when are we going to join the 21st century and get a big flat screen T.V.? Kathy prepared us an eggs, sausage, toast, and hominy grits breakfast. About noon, we left for Nauvoo.

Adam and Lucy visited with Fara and David, waiting for Lydia and Devin to arrive. Finally, Lydia phoned and told them that their flights were messed up again, and they would not be into St. Louis until 10:00 pm. I told Adam and Lucy to go to Nauvoo and I would pick up Lydia and Devin. (Thank goodness for cell phones. That is the second of Leland’s favorite complaints, that he doesn’t have a cell phone. He has told us that his friends consider him the ghetto-est white boy at his school. I am not sure what this exactly means, but it is related to hand-me-downs and other indications that his parents have not purchased items consistent with being white middle class in 2010 America.)

At about 3:00 pm, Adam and Lucy arrived at the house we had rented. His GPS had navigated him to the middle of a field near Nauvoo, but he asked for directions from a farmer and finally arrived at the house. The farmer actually lived next to the house and had “Go back to Utah” written on his truck. About an hour later, Jeannine, Leland, and I were in the same field as we also used the GPS. We phoned Adam and he guided us in. Laura made it to the field about 7:00 and we guided her in.

The house had two stories with enough bedrooms so that the married couples had a little privacy. The kitchen was huge and had a table that was almost big enough for all of us to eat at the same time. In the kitchen was a cast iron spiral staircase. This staircase was a favorite of Kristine and Riley who climbed up and down it risking a deadly fall, much to the worry of their parents, Jeannine and me. Outside was a bunk house with four bunk beds. Adam, Leland, Emmeline, and Mabel slept in the bunkhouse.

For dinner, Jeannine fixed her famous tasty baked enchiladas. After dinner and a nap, I left and drove about 3 ½ hours to the St. Louis airport to pick up Lydia and Devin. I found that if I drove about two miles along the road next to the house, it went right up to the LDS visitor’s center in Nauvoo. I phoned back and told Jeannine to have Andy navigate to the visitor center, not the address. It was a long drive to St. Louis, but I listened to music and a tape and watched fireworks in the small towns I passed. Mostly I just drove through empty miles of plains and farmland. Just as I was arriving in the St. Louis airport, Andy phoned me to tell me that he was in a field near Nauvoo. I had him phone Adam to get directions and they spent some time trying to find each other in the dark.

At the St. Louis airport, I picked up an exhausted Lydia and Devin. They had proved that in 2010 it was actually faster to travel by car from Salt Lake City to St. Louis than to fly, but between Lydia’s tears and Devin’s demand, they had managed to have their motel room paid for and acquired almost $1400 in travel vouchers. Finally, at 3:00 am, Sunday morning, the whole family of fifteen people was together at last.

Sunday, July 4, 2010. We all woke up late, exhausted from our trips. Some of the more early arrivals woke up in time to go see the movie about Joseph Smith at the Visitor’s Center. Afterwards, all of us went to the 2:00 pm Nauvoo ward. Since it was the week of the Nauvoo pageant, the ward building was set up like a stake conference with seats to the back of the cultural hall. They actually set up a second sacrament table at the side of the cultural hall. It was a testimony meeting and most of the testimonies were given by Nauvoo pageant members, so the testimonies were well delivered and very dramatic.

After church, we all drove up to Carthage to visit the Carthage Jail. We had to take all of our cars, but that was great since no one was crowded. We took the tour but Laura had to drop out due to the demands of a hungry Madelyn. I picked up Laura afterwards and we made the next tour while everyone else played on the grass, then left for home. Fortunately for us, the second tour guide was better and since it was only the two of us, we had a delightful visit driving back to our house near Nauvoo. (Technically, the house may have been in Niota, Illinois but who has ever heard of Niota? By the way, the contract we signed had perfectly clear directions from the Nauvoo temple. A GPS is not always better.)

That evening, Adam and Lucy fixed dinner. Adam grilled hamburgers, bratwursts, hotdogs, and corn on the cob on the outside barbeque grill. Lucy fixed a great Jell-O salad. Laura fixed a strawberry birthday cake for Lucy. We ate great dinners during our trip.

Later that evening, we had a two day late birthday party for Lucy including the special hat and the traditional off tune Happy Birthday song sung most loudly by Adam. Our little girl is now eighteen years old. After dark, we lit sparklers and pulled poppers to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Monday, July 5, 2010. The next morning all of us, except Andy and Riley, went on a short handcart trek from Nauvoo. Since Riley was feeling sick, Andy stayed home to take care of him. It was raining. We chose one handcart and off we went up and down muddy, slippery trails, and across creeks, pulling and lifting our handcart. We had one nursing baby, and three other children under the age of four, so those who weren’t pulling the handcart were holding and carrying babies, lifting the little ones over the mud. Often the mud covered our shoes. Most of the adults had done youth handcart treks with our stakes back home, but it was an order of magnitude more difficult with the little ones wet, muddy, and crying. We did the short one mile trail but we were exhausted, soaking wet and muddy when we finished.

We rested and washed at the house. We cleaned our shoes but they were still wet when we left nearly a week later. I had a great nap, one of the many great naps that I had on the trip. After the nap, most of us, except Leland and Andy’s family, returned to Nauvoo to tour the bakery, the Nauvoo Cultural Hall, and the Pioneer Industries Hall where we learned about rope making, candle making, bread making, and weaving rugs. All the guides were senior missionaries. When I was younger, I assumed that such missionaries had learned these skills in their youth. Now I am almost the same age as these missionaries.

We had another great dinner, this time prepared by Lydia and Devin. They made “Tinga Tacos” which were excellent. We drank the Old Nauvoo Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Red that had been left for us in the rental house. The little ones had adjusted and there was less crying. Still, it was hot, humid, and raining most of the time we were there.

In the evening, Lydia gave haircuts. By the time we left Nauvoo, almost everyone had a haircut and looked much better than when we had arrived. Thank you, Lydia.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010. Jeannine prepared a blueberry pancake breakfast. We were scheduled for a 10:00 am session in the Nauvoo temple. Ron, Jeannine, and Adam made it. Lydia had left her temple recommend in Provo so she and Devin waited until the temple could get a hold of her Bishop. The rest were running late.

The Nauvoo temple is beautiful. Even the locker room had cherry wood lockers. Though we saw the movie, we moved from room to room during the endowment. I sat next to a painted flower in the creation room and enjoyed looking at it because I have been painting flowers and have a secret desire to paint a picture to be displayed at the Washington, D.C. temple.

We were almost finished with our session when a temple worker called out my name and told me that the rest of our party was in the 11:00 am session. So when we finished, Jeannine and I did some sealings and Adam did some initiatories. We then returned to the Celestial Room to greet Lydia, Devin, Laura, Andy and Amie. (Lydia and Devin did some sealings and Laura some initiatories before they went through the session). Thank you, Lucy and Leland, for babysitting while we went to the temple.

In the afternoon it was rainy but we went through the Webb blacksmith and wheelwright shops. Jeannine and I took Riley, Mabel, Emmeline, and Madelyn for a walk so that the rest of the family could go through the Browning Gun shop. Riley, Mabel, and Emmeline found a puddle to play in. Riley laid right down in it. This puddle may have been the highlight of Riley’s trip. The rest really enjoyed the Gun shop.

On the way back to our house, we drove past a tugboat named the Lydia Marie pushing a barge up the Mississippi River. We took pictures but my camera’s setting was off and I didn’t get Lydia in a picture that showed the tugboat's name. My camera is waterproof and easily survived the handcart pull but Jeannine’s camera, which takes great pictures, may have been ruined.

Amie and Andy fixed dinner, a chicken sauce on spaghetti. It was great. The one thing we had was great meals.

In the evening, Lucy, Lydia, Devin, Jeannine, and I went to the opening night of the Nauvoo pageant. Mormons do great pageants: flags, parades, dancing, marching bands, believers, doubters, prosecutors, a little schmultz, testimony, preaching, and bag pipes. The Nauvoo temple was dramatically lit up in the background at finale. And of course, the pageant had charismatic, visionary, stick pulling, child loving, Joseph Smith, perhaps the most interesting character that could ever appear in a pageant. We really enjoyed it even through it rained during some of the performance.

The rest of the family walked down to play in the Mississippi and discovered that the River has leeches, one of which latched on to Emmeline. Yuck!! That was creepy. We saw lots of raccoons with their angry little eyes staring at us as we drove along the Mississippi. We also saw deer, possums, and a fox. Nauvoo is a swamp.

Although Jeannine and I went to bed early, Andy taught Leland and Adam to play DOOM, a board game with vicious weird alien invaders and defending marines.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010. At 10:00 am, the family went on a wagon ride through Nauvoo. We enjoyed the ride but Leland was really stuffed up and not feeling well. We thought he might be having an allergy attack from the horses, Old Joe and Jerry. He was still sick and exhausted from the bike ride down the C&O Canal. Jeannine drove him back to the house.

The rest of us went to the brick factory to get our Old Nauvoo bricks. (Later when I got home, I compared it to the Nauvoo brick I got about ten years ago. The new Old Nauvoo bricks have shrunk and are about half the size of the old Old Nauvoo bricks.) We then rode the ox cart.

Jeannine phoned me and told me that she had called 911 for an ambulance because Leland was getting worse with a terrible headache and vomiting. I drove Adam and Laura back to the house to pick up their cars and then drove to meet Jeannine and Leland at the hospital in Ft. Madison, Iowa, where the ambulance had taken them. At the bridge over the Mississippi, I had to wait about 20 minutes for the drawbridge to close. Finally I arrived at the hospital.

I found Leland in an emergency room bed looking pale and Jeannine looked exhausted. The staff had put an IV in Leland’s arm, but when the technicians took Leland to the X-ray room, they had a mix up and the IV was pulled from his arm, squirting blood over one of them. They bandaged him up and gave him some pain medicine. Finally, the doctor came in and told us that Leland had acute sinusitis, a bad infection of his sinuses. He prescribed antibiotics and anti-nausea pills. I asked the doctor if Leland could travel and the doctor decided to hurry the process by giving Leland a shot. Although Leland had a sore bottom, he started feeling better that evening.

When we returned, we had to clean up and get ready to leave. Laura fixed dinner, pork in barbeque sauce and a spinach salad. Again, we had another great meal. After dinner, Jeannine and Laura played their flutes and Lydia played her violin. Jeannine also set up her keyboard. They played classics and hymns together. We enjoyed listening to them. I understand that Andy later induced several others to play another round of DOOM.

I went to bed early since I had to get up about midnight to take Lydia and Devin to the St. Louis airport. I went to sleep in the bunkhouse which had housed Adam, Leland, Emmeline, and Mabel. It was cool, almost cold in the tiny room with an air conditioner. I fell asleep listening to the rain on the roof.

We were ready to go home, but sad to be parting from each other. I have missed writing about so many magic moments at our reunion, the time with our grandchildren and children, the hugs, the kisses, the holding of hands, the blowing of soap bubbles, the excitement of daddy longlegs and other bugs scurrying across the kitchen floor, the marching with sticks, the dancing with the wands with streamers that Jeannine gave the granddaughters and Riley jealous because he wanted a wand even if he was a boy, the conversations, the jokes, the coloring books, the bedtime stories, Devin and Lydia finding a restaurant and Amie shopping in uptown Nauvoo, the grocery runs, the games, the moments that make family so sweet. A writer can only take a sampling of life as the universe passes him by, the writing canonizing into a pale historical truth while the reality is lost, unrecorded, unseen, and unnoticed.

We wish we didn’t live so far apart. We really enjoyed each other’s company, and other than the little ones, everyone was pleasant and upbeat during the whole reunion. Sometimes we had a hard time getting going, but this may have been because we had so many little ones. I had to be patient during these times, but I must admit I may have been part of the problem since I tend to move at my own pace. We all agreed that it was a great reunion, but we decided that the next reunion in two years will be a little less touristy and little more relaxing. We will probably go to the beach. We might be able to get a great deal on a beach house on the Gulf.

Thursday, July 8, 2010. Devin, Lydia, and I left for the airport about 1:00 am. Their flight was at 6:00 am and we had a 3 ½ hour drive. Devin and Lydia had reserved a hotel room near the airport but they didn’t have time to stay in it before getting to the airport. Still, Devin checked in since he had already paid for the room but I delivered them directly to the airport. Then I went back to their hotel room and slept there for a few hours and ate the complementary breakfast.

Back in Nauvoo, the rest of the family packed and cleaned in the morning and then parted for their long drives home. Andy, Amie, and family started their two day drive west to Utah. Adam, Lucy, and Leland went up to Chicago to visit Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ralph. Friday, Adam and Lucy went waterskiing with Kathy and Ralph while Leland stayed home and slept all day. Saturday, Adam, Lucy, and Leland left for Virginia, arriving safely home early Sunday morning about 2:00 am.

I left from the hotel room near St. Louis and drove down to hit I-40 near Memphis, Tennessee, driving primarily through Missouri and Arkansas. Near Memphis, I did a little shopping, and checked out the visitor’s center in Memphis, and ate dinner. I went back into Arkansas and found a Best Western motel with two available rooms and a swimming pool. Then I watched television, read, napped, and waited.

Laura, Emmeline, Mabel, and Madelyn left late morning to drive back to Texas. Jeannine went with them to help drive. They followed the route I had taken from Nauvoo, to St. Louis, to where I was waiting near Memphis. I phoned and text messaged them the location of the motel. With both Jeannine and Laura taking turns driving, they made the trip in about ten hours. Once they arrived, we put on our swim suits and jumped into the pool. Emmeline swam like a fish and Mabel, although a little more cautious than her older sister, swam like a tadpole. What water babies!

Over all, the trip was a great success. Thank you to everyone who came, especially to Amie and Devin who were such great sports. I also want to thank Brett for allowing Laura and their children to come without him. We missed him. Most of all, I especially want to thank Laura who made most of the arrangements for Nauvoo. Without her and Jeannine, this reunion would have never happened.

A few additional comments by Laura--
Whew! Thanks dad for that detailed account. I just have to add that I also played Doom with everyone. It was surprisingly fun. What a great and exhausting reunion!! I cant wait until 2012.