Friday, November 24, 2017

A Christmas Village of wonders...

More than a month ago, 
we heard the whole Temus Fam would be in town
 to celebrate Thanksgiving together 
before their dear founders 
head off for Ghana on a self-reliance mission.

We hoped they might be able to fit time into their festivities 
to join in the construction of our 
annual Christmas Village and our wish came true.

We built it....

and they came!

The theme this year was
"wonders of the world and famous structures."
Those of you who know me well
know that I think little children
are about as wonderful as it gets
so here are our some of our precious wonders.

I'm pretty crazy about their parents too and they are a creative bunch.

Katie and Keith took on recreating the Grand Canyon.
We love Keith's sedimentary striations!

There was lots of discussion about Lava Falls
and since Liz has guided the river,

she was the in-house expert. 

She said before you get to lava, 
you see Vulcan's Anvil, 
a huge rock of basalt in the river
(the little tootsie roll nub just left of center).
Then you follow the bubble line and stay right or go left 
but that big white mass in the center 
is a hole the size of a school bus 
so don't go straight!

Someone said something about inebriated tubers in the Grand Canyon 
and it looks like this poor fella didn't make it upright 
through Lava Falls.

Luckily there appears to be someone waiting
to help on 
Tequila beach 
(bottom left of picture). 
The kids houses have a great vantage point above the canyon.

The next wonder was 
Mount Everest by Joe and Jessica
with Chuck as consultant. 
(He was a consultant on Lava Falls too.)

While it was being constructed I heard names like 
Lhotse Face, Khumbu Ice Falls, and the South Col.

I loved the prayer flags. <3

Liz, Cory and boys 
made a beautiful rendering of 

the Great Pyramid of Giza

and their 2 year-old made the Great Sphinx of Giza
all by himself. 

Paul made Brazil's
Christ, the Redeemer

and Alex and Marti added the walking path leading to the statue. 
That's it for the wonders of the world, 
now we're on to the famous structures.

Alex and Zac,
I guess because they're engineering-minded, 
wanted to make the 
Leaning Tower of Pisa
but with a twist. 
They wanted to try and straighten it up,
hence the gummy bears pulling on the rope.

With Ashley on her mission in D.C. 

Zac built the U.S. Capitol Building
in her honor. 

We love you, Ashley!

I think that's supposed to be
Zac and Ashley on the toboggan

flying down 
Capitol Hill.

Zac added one more thing,
a fire bowl down by the lake

which makes me think a boy/man may be out of scouting
but that doesn't mean scouting is out of the boy/man. 
Nice job, Zac.

We had 3 more structures this year.

Sarah's son wanted a fire station 

and a fire truck. 
I love all the little firemen hanging on.

Katie's daughter built one house with Paul 
that's on the rim of the Grand Canyon. 
 Then she built

and another house with our girlie

a colorful Hansel and Gretel style cottage.

The last house is for our fun Elder Branch
on his mission in New Hampshire.

A little cabin in the woods on a lake.
We love you, Hunter, and all your terrific friends in New England. 
Thank you for sharing the most important gift of all.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thank you for doing your part to 
Light the World

because the greatest Wonder of all
was the babe who was born in a manger,
and is the Savior of mankind. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Grandma Branch graduated...

This is Paul's mom
but we all call her Grandma Branch.

Two weeks ago she had a stroke which left her paralyzed. 
She mostly slept after her stroke but sometimes she would talk with us. 

One morning she kept asking us 3 questions... 
what year it was, 
how old she was, 
and where she was.
We told her the answers several times
 and wondered why she was so interested in those three questions......
Within the hour, her physical therapist, 
occupational therapist, speech therapist, 
and doctor came in to see her 
and guess what they said to her????

Yup, you guessed it, 
"Revola, can you tell me what year it is?" 
"Revola, can you tell me how old you are?" 
"Revola, can you tell me where you are?" hahaha
What a smart girl!
We all sat there with our chins on the floor 
in awe that she was so clever
and told the Dr. and therapists what had happened. 
The Dr. said she was cheating but we stood up for her 
and said it wasn't cheating 
it was cramming!! ;)

Another morning she was talking to me and two nurses. 
It was hard to understand her for a few minutes, 
then I heard her say 
"I was baptized when I was eight
and I haven't sinned since."
We all know that's not really how it works 
but it was pretty funny. 
Maybe she meant she'd been trying to be righteous ever since.

It makes me think of Sister Eubank's Conference talk
" Being righteous doesn't mean being perfect 
or never making mistakes. 
It means developing an inner connection with God, 
repenting of our sins and mistakes, 
and freely helping others."

One night after being with Grandma at the care center
our girlie returned home and was reading scriptures before bed.
Her bookmark happened to be at  
Alma 40:12 which says...
"And then shall it come to pass, 
that the spirits of those who are righteous 
are received into a state of happiness, 
which is called paradise, 
a state of rest, 
a state of peace, 
where they shall rest from all their troubles 
and from all care, and sorrow."

And so it is with Grandma Branch, as

five days after her stroke
she passed away. 

Yesterday was her funeral. 
Wilson said she "graduated". 
What a perfect description. 
We are happy for her 
to be with her cute husband again.

We've been touched by everyone's kindness. 
Thank you dear family and friends 
for your prayers and love
at this difficult time.
You've all got that 
"freely helping others" part
down pat.
Much love...<3

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Monkeys I tell ya, monkeys with markers!

My parents were cutting edge techies - why was that? 
Was it because their sons were interested in it
 or did Dad just really like it? 
I don't know but it made us smile 
to see octogenarians on a computer
 sending emails and posting on facebook.
I have an septuagenarian friend 
who daily texts his grandson. 
He says it keeps them talking and connected. 
What a guy! 
I value these examples 
and have a goal 
to embracing technology. 
I don't always love it at first - it hurts my head. 
Does it do that to you?

Katie got me to embrace reading and studying
 my scriptures/lessons with tech 
by patiently showing me how it was working for her
 and now I'm converted. 
Thanks sweet Katie Kate! 
Sarah, Katie and Liz have also converted me 
to blogs and the internet for recipes - it's the best!

There's one holdout in all this tech however, 
it's the "Big Grid" paper calendar 

(picture from the internet)

hanging on the inside of my kitchen cupboard door. 
I've tried half a dozen calendar apps 
but haven't been able to make the leap. 
I'll keep trying so
if you have a favorite calendar app
 please do tell!

The month of October has been craaaazzzy!!! 
My "Big Grid" calendar looks like 
monkeys got a hold of it 

(picture from the internet)

with a pack of markers, 
markers in each hand and foot, 
markers drawing all over those "Big Grid" spaces!

Last weekend 
WSU had a one day fall break on Friday for UEA 
but the twigs were swamped with homework 
and I already mentioned the monkeys with markers
so leaving on vacation for our favorite slickrock,

orange sand, 

and towering slot canyon walls

wasn't in the cards.

We all talked about it as a family
and decided we could escape for a day 
if we went somewhere really close 
and the twigs did homework while we were there 
so we ran away to Midway, Utah. 

While the twigs were doing homework, 
The Mr. and I went for a walk 
and found another monkey 
poking fun at the golf course danger sign.

Our little get away 
was just what the doctor ordered. 

Now we're back 

and ready to take on
the rest of

what the monkeys did with markers to October. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Poof! Just like that! We're out of kids.

It happened just the other day.

Our girlie had her 18th birthday

and poof! 
Just like that! 

We're out of kids. 

Happy birthday precious girl!!! <3

Sunday, October 15, 2017


This guy loves the game of golf! 
It all began in North Carolina.

Occasionally, on his mission

when he was in Statesville, North Carolina

they had district activities

and one of those activities was golf. 

He was smitten!

Our friend had a set of clubs 
he was wanting to sell 
so Zac and our girlie took them for a try. 
I got the following pictures from her. 

She loved playing too 
and now we have two people hooked on golf!

How about this putt? 
Zac looked for his line and took his shot. 

It was looking so good!

Aww man!

That was going to be a birdie

but it's in for par. 

“Golf... is the infallible test. 
The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, 
with the knowledge that only God is watching him, 
and play his ball where it lies, 
is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.” 
-P.G. Wodehouse