Sunday, December 16, 2007

A merry Christmas to all!

It is a little over a week before Christmas, and my Christmas letter has been written, but not sent yet, I think I am doing well, considering that all the gifts to all 8 kids have been personally delivered.(Which means that they had to have been bought or made and wrapped previously). The house is as decorated as it will get, and thanks to Dacia, I even have 2 kinds of very yummy Christmas cookies (minus a few samples that went south with my able bakers).
So, I guess I am leisure to sit back and send everyone a very merry Christmas from the Clark residence. We have had a great and busy year, travelling here, there and Yonder. We especially liked Yonder. The weather was great there.
All 8 kids are now happily married, talk about a feeling of accomplishment! And Sam and I took very deserved vacations after the last two, to celebrate. In Early March we took off for Atlanta... we always call it driving to Atlanta, but we rarely go straight there. In Spring we took the detour by Nauvoo and enjoyed a Temple session in the new Temple there. Then we sailed thru Atlanta and landed in Orlando for a Disney adventure at Epcot Center (this time of year is super, no lines). Next stop was Key West. I had always wanted to drive on that cool highway along all the Keys to the end. It was as fantastic as I had expected it to be, just not long enough. But we had to be back in Atlanta for our grandson Daniel's birthday. Atlanta in Spring is absolutely wonderful. They have "weeds" growing there, that we cultivate as flowers, like Azaleas and Wisterias, Dogwoods and Red buds. Coming back here was a rather chilly awakening... no spring until the end of April.
For the summer we took several trips to Yellowstone and the Tetons, and the obligatory trips to Salt Lake and surrounds to see any number of kids. We had a family reunion of the Johnson Clan in September in the Yellowstone area, Bonnie moved to Moscow, ID later that month, and we went to visit them at their new home in connection with a trip to Portland for a niece's wedding and Sam's convention in Coeur d' Arlene. We actually managed to do a quick jig into the Olympic Rain Forest to visit a sweet brother in law and his family. In Fall we took a trip to Montana to visit some loving family in Bozeman and for a daytrip to the Billings Temple. We had a early Thanksgiving trip to Atlanta, (see the previous blog). Another early Thanksgiving family trip to St. George to be with the 4 Johnson kids and their families, where Emily and Alan excelled as the best Turkey Chefs ever.
We had our first snowstorm for conference weekend, which we did not like at all.
That pretty much wraps it up. So, all in all, we had a great year and we feel very blessed in every way.

This weekend Alysia and Dacia came to visit and to play. Alysia made a gorgeous wreath.

Dacia took a nap after making the most delectable chocolate cookies.
Alysia and I made fancy clay figures

This is our european themed downstairs tree with straw and wood ornaments personally imported from my Aunt in Austria

Here is my fancy Frog in the Wreath ornament once it got finished.

Dacia, the cookie chef par excellence, ...
and the dutiful cookie samplers (that could't quite make up their minds and needed "just one more sample" to be totally sure that those cookies were totally delectable.

My finished products: Frog in wreath, sledding bunny, bear in stocking and mouse on candy cane.

Alysia was concentrating very hard on her masterpiece, that turned at really cool.
So, a very merry Christmas to all of you, please stop by to see us for a bit (if you can catch us), be would love to visit. All the best for the New Year from the Clarks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back east trip

Okay, since these 2 pictures just magically disappeared from the blog, I uploaded them again. The Liberty bell in Philadelphia and Alysia fashioning a fall/Halloween table runner at her visit for conference weekend.

We had a little snow storm for conference weekend. It took Sam and his brother 2 hours to shovel all this mess. Thank goodness it was gone by the end of the week. Since all the leaves were still on the trees, it created lots of power outages and a big mess of broken limbs all over.

Alysia and Topher came to spend the weekend and the computer just ate the picture, so just imagine it.
The following weekend we started on our big trip back east. It seemed to expand as we went along. Since we were driving by Chicago, Sam decided I ought to at least see a brief little bit of it, so we drove by the Navy Pier and along Michigan Ave. I was very impressed.

On Sunday we arrived in Kirtland and visited the Temple there. It was impressive, but also depressing. The reorganized church owns and maintains it, and we had to sit thru their little lecture, and just had to shake our heads on how much they have the whole thing watered down. According to them, Joseph had a "spiritual experience" that made him start the church, and after his death, the church split into 5 or 6 different groups, some going here and some there, they stayed put and had Joseph's son as their leader...i.e. they are the real ones. Their mission is peace and love and understanding in the world. phew.

The LDS visitor's center and sights were much more inspiring and enjoyable. Here is the Whitney store, where Joseph arrived and stated, Br. Whitney, you have prayed me here, now what do you want. This is where the first school of the prophets was organized and where the word of wisdom was received and where the Father and the Son appeared to several of the brethren.

Next Stop: Palmyra. We started out with a Temple session. This is one of the small temples, where you need your own clothes and an appointment. All the windows are stained glass trees, with a big one representing the tree of life in the celestial room, and a partially clear window in one of the hallways, by Prs. Hinckley's request, so you can see the Sacred Grove in the distance.

Here is the Sacred Grove. Things have changed so much since we were last there. There is now a large visitor's center and a missionary guided tour of the Smith cabin, Smith homestead and then you get turned loose on the sacred grove. We had it all to ourselves and really enjoyed the experience. We were told that some of the trees, might have been there since Joseph's time, also the gentleman that the church purchased the land from, told them, that he had always felt that this ground was special, sacred and had instructed his sons to never cut down any of the trees.

This is the Smith Cabin, where Joseph had the visits from Moroni. I was surprised that he shared the room with his 5 brothers, there were 2 or 3 beds in the room. It must have been a bummer for them to realize that they had slept thru some of the most important moments of history.

Here is the Hill Cumorah, there is a big visitor's center there at the bottom as well.

This is the Whitmer farm, where the Church was organized and where Pres. Kimball presided over General conference in 1980, it was broadcast from here. They had built a large 3-ward chapel with a visitor's center for the occasion, in a style that would have been popular, had the church remained in the area. It made me think of our decisions when we came back from Germany the first time. One of our options was Seneca Army Depot in the Finger Lakes Area. We probably would have met in that chapel. But we chose to stay in Alabama, and so Dacia was born in Huntsville, instead of upper New York.

Here is a view of the Erie Canal that is close by.

The Gradin Press in downtown Palmyra, where the first Book of Mormon Printing took place. We learned that it took 2 years to finish those 3000 copies. The printing took a mere 7 months, but the leather binding took up the rest of the time. A very labor intensive process.

The Martin Harris Farm outside of Palmyra, that got mortgaged as collateral for the BoM printing.

And here we are at Valley Forge, this was George Washington's headquaters. We learned that it took a German, to whip the American troops in shape! General von Steuben was the one.

After spending a day in Boston touring all the historic sights, we took our way back via the Boston Temple. It's really pretty. One of these days we will go back and do a session.

Sam decided that I needed to see Manhatten. So we took a tour once around the island. This here is the famous bridge from Kate and Leopold and Newsies. We also saw Ground Zero, which is a large construction site at the time, 42nd street, the UN headquarters, the Empire State building and Central Park.

Here we are in Philadelphia. It was a hassle. They moved us off the Freeway because of an accident and from then on it was everyone for himself.(where the heck did my picture just dissapear to, and why is "because" blue and underlined? I'd rather have the picture of the liberty bell! If it does not reappear, I will add it somewhere else.)

At any rate, our map did not show where the historic areas were downtown, and there were not road signs either, so we just kept driving, until Sam finally rolled down my window and hollered at the guy in the car next to me. He informed us that we were going in the wrong direction.... and then the light turned green, and he was gone. We finally did find it, and a spot to park, and hussled off to see the sights, because by now it was very close to 5pm. We saw the Liberty bell and then were off to see Independence Hall.... sorry no more tickets for today, come back tomorrow! So we just kind of drifted around the famous buildings, and took pictures, when Sam encountered a nice Ranger (with his fly unzipped) who was taking the last group of tourists just where we wanted to go, and he invited us to join them. So we did get to see where the Declaration of Independence was signed after all!

Next Stop was DC. We stayed with Sam's niece Elizabeth and her husband in Baltimore and realized that she is a Kindred Spirit. I had never met her before, but we talked for hours, like we had known each other for ever. How nice.

Sam and I looked at all the monuments the first day. So I finally got to see the Vietnam memorial, where we found the name of Sam's best friend who got shop by a sniper the first week he was there. (should have gone on a mission like Sam, and he could be still alive). Then we saw the Korean War memorial and the 2nd world war one. I had never seen any of them. It was incredibly hot and humid and I felt boiled in my own juices. The next day it rained and it just made things more humid and unpleasant. But it was still a great day. Elizabeth was our personal tour guide and she took us to 2 smithsonians (air and space and Natural History). Then it was off to the Capitol, where Marti had arranged a personal tour with Sen. Larry Craig's office for us. This was really cool. We got to ride a little train from the Senatorial offices, underground to the Capitol. So many stairs and corridors and hallways... and all are beautifully decorated with murals, pictures and all sorts of statues. Every State is alotted 2 and they have to be either marble or bronze. Utah's is Brigham Young and Mr. Farnsworth (inventor of TV). Next stop was the Supreme court, where we caught a tour, and then the Library of Congress. They all were so beautifully decorated, I was greatly impressed. We had parked at the Union Station, even that was really beautiful. Unfortunately we ran out of day, before we ran out of things to see, so we definitely need to come back. We did a session at the Washington Temple, this time without a power outage, Emily, and it was really nice to be there with Sam.

Now where did this come from? This is constitution Hall in Philadelphia. Silly blog.

We parked under the cherry trees at the tidal basin with the Jefferson memorial in the background.

Here is the Washington memorial as seen from the Lincoln one across the reflection pool

Sam, pointing out the name of his friend at the Vietnam Memorial

Here we are at the Capitol

Brigham Young in the Capitol Rotunda

The Supreme Court

The Library of Congress

Elizabeth and her husband took us to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where the "Star spangled Banner" was inspired and written. I learned a bit more US history, like what the War of 1812 was all about. Those silly Brits, tsk, tsk.

Finally we ended up at Kim's house in Atlanta. Here we are with some of the grandkids in front of their home in Monroe.

We took a day and saw the sights in northern Georgia. Here we are at a Pumpkin farm, where we went on my very first Hayride. That was fun!

It would have probably been more fun with real horses, instead of a tractor, but hey, it was still great.

I just couldn't resist this one.... I think Sam is telling me not to take a picture of him, or, maybe he is singing the aria of the naked frog from the opera I'm cold. Who knows. The waterfall was really pretty, and the forest thru which we walked to get there was really nice too.

This is Helen, in Northern GA, the totally Ueber-deutsche little town. I really wanted some Apfel strudel, but they were all out. But they had all sorts of German Chocolates and other stuff for the most astounding prices, I may add, so nobody bought any.

To finish up our visit, we went for a session in the Atlanta Temple. It is not very crowded now a days, since they have new ones in South Carolina and Birmingham. But it was still nice to go.

After that, we headed back to IF. We actually made it in 2 days.... leaving at 3am in Atlanta and driving all the way to New Mexico the first day, and then the rest of the way the next day, with a quick stop in Provo/Orem and Bountiful to visit some kids. We were very glad to hit our own bed at 2:30am that night! Now we need a long vacation to recover! But boy! was it ever fun!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Mommy's ABC's

A - Attached or Single:

B - Best Friend:

C - Cake or Pie:

D - Drink of Choice:

E - Essential Item:

F - Favorite Color:

G - Gummi Bears or Worms:

H - Hometown:

I – Indulgence(s):

J - January or July:

K - Kids:

L - Life is incomplete without:

M - Marriage Date:

N - Number of Siblings:

O - Oranges or Apples:

P - Phobias/Fears:

Q - Favorite Quote:

R - Reason to smile:

S - Season:

T- Tag Three:

U - Unknown Fact About Me:

V - Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals:

W - Worst Habit:

X - X-rays or Ultrasounds:

Y - Your Favorite Foods:

Z- Zodiac:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

september activities

Sam had a birthday and several of our sweet kids came to celebrate with him.

Marti came up to celebrate her birthday with us, and to go to the Idaho State Fair with us. Of course we picked the very hottest day of the year to go again! But it was fun.

Idaho State Fair, how did they get those huge things in here, I wonder.

No, she doesn't look like me in this picture, but, isn't she cute?

Sam and I went to Bozeman Montana for a long weekend and spent one day visiting the Billings, Montana Temple. It is one of the smaller Temples, but one number larger than the smallest ones. It sits kind of out in nowhere, but a very pretty setting with some yellow cliffs in the distance and residential areas all around.

We had some time to see some of the mountains in and around Bozeman. Debbie's parents and a sister live there. We were their guests and they showed us all around. It is a truly beautiful area, only problem is, it is as expensive as Park City and their summers are even shorter than ours.
The following weekend we had a fun dinner with all the kids in Bountiful, since Emily was in town. The babys were so cute, so I handed Alysia the camera to take some pictures. She did a good job, as can be seen in the following pictures. She was totally unauthorized to scroll thru all the pictures on the camera, though.... thats when this one was discovered and quickly passed around to everybody. We had not said a word about Sam's new boy-toy that he had gotten the day before. Yes, he is hugging his new FJ. So far it has only been driven in and out of the garage and frequently visited and drooled over, but it is in an accessible stall, for when the kids come and want to test-ride in it. (sorry, no test-driving for little kids, only for the big kid)

Baby Caden is getting bigger and cuter by the minute

Emily and Gavin are pretty cute too!

Yes, Anya did enjoy her chocolate pudding

The next day we visited Marti and Andrew in Provo and took a ride up to the BYU campus to visit the bookstore.

We were very offended that it snowed on us on the way back to Bountiful!
We enjoyed a fun early dinner with the Topherbugs and Topher's parents at our favorite mexican restaurant, and then did a quick stop at Emily and Jared's Clinton house where everybody was busy renovating.