Monday, May 16, 2011
Since the tour is through the Marriott Business Department at BYU they get to visit various companies while they are over there such as: The Scottish Microelectronics Center, Kraft Foods Cadbury World, Flower Auction in Amsterdam, Mercer, Brinks, La Maison Du Gruyere Cheese Factory, BMW and KPMG, United Nations in Vienna, Barilla Pasta Factory, Perugia Chocolate Factory, Ducati Factory, Brioni Factory and Tailoring School, etc.
I am just so excited for her and all the things she will get to experience. I can't wait to hear about it. One of the chaperones is keeping a blog and I have added that link to my blog list so be sure to check it out if you are interested.
How do I possibly pay tribute to the 21 years that Courtney has graced our family? It's impossible to express how much joy and happiness she brings into our lives so I won't even try. Courtney is just an awesome girl. When she was little, Kylie (19 months younger) always hogged the attention and Courtney good-naturedly let her have it. I think Courtney was wise beyond her years and knew that Kylie had a need for the spotlight and Courtney didn't. Courtney was content to wait her turn. Kylie was always like, "Watch me dance" or "Listen to my song" etc. and then she would perform and it was usually pretty darn good or at least highly entertaining. Courtney never demanded attention, we usually had to beg her to do things so it was always surprising that she did them well. I think that's why to this day we are always blown away whenever Courtney performs because she is so good yet so humble. I guess it took us a while to figure out that just because Kylie told us she was going to do something spectacular and Courtney didn't, did not necessarily make it so! Ha ha!!
Courtney is just so humble about her talents and doesn't toot her own horn like some of the other members of our family. (I'm afraid it's true - Kylie is not the only child in our family who often spoke very highly of herself... cough... Kristy.) In all fairness, in our family you kind of have to be vocal or you get left at Dairy Queen or IHOP! Suffice it to say that Courtney has always been very quiet and unassuming and humble about her talents and abilities and she constantly surprises us and amazes us with what she can do. She is so multi-talented and everything is just more fun when Courtney's around!
I am attaching some recent videos so you can get a little insight into how fun it is to get to watch Courtney perform in whatever she does.
Here are just a few highlights from Dansport 2011. Courtney is on the BYU Backup Ballroom Team (2nd highest ballroom team at BYU.) She has auditioned for the BYU Touring Team (highest team) and will find out in a few weeks if she made it. It's such an honor to be selected for that team and there are so few spots. We are all crossing our fingers.
Some of the ballroom video is not that great - a little blurry and some of the sound is distorted. (I did my best but won't use that camera again. It's such a sacrifice to video because I just want to sit and enjoy it and then the darn camera doesn't cooperate. Ugh!) It's not too bad, though, and you get the idea. Courtney's partner is Tim Colvin and he is a great guy in so many ways. We are so glad that she has a good partner she can depend on because they go through a lot together. We love you, Tim! These dances are from the most recent Dansport Nationals at BYU in March 2011 where Courtney and Tim were the Prechamp Smooth National Champions! It was so exciting!!!
I think you can tell which one Courtney is. She has a red dress with gold that she wears for her Standard dances and a pink dress with a black bow on the back that she wears for her Smooth Dances. When they couples are paraded in for opening ceremonies, that is only for Amateur events which is the highest level at Dansport. This was the first year that Courtney got to participate in that. I just love watching her. I wish all her friends and family could be there because you would love it. I'm so glad Cali, Ashley, Kaelynn and Brooklyn got to come!
Last Christmas, when our cruise was postponed we spent the holiday together in California. Kacey decided that we would have a family talent show (probably mostly because she wanted Rhode and Scarlet to perform.) Well, I was highly doubtful that everyone would be willing to participate because, let's be honest, no matter how good your talent is it just won't compare to anything that the adorable grandchildren do. Right? But when Kacey gives an edict... people snap to attention... including me and David! (Some would call it being a good leader but we just call it being bossy!)
So the true boss of our family organized a talent show and there was a punishment for not participating but I can't remember what it was. Maybe dishes for the entire trip? Whatever it was, it was bad enough that everyone participated. Permission was granted to team up. Here is Courtney and Kylie's talent show entry, an original version of "Gold Digger" by two BYU co-eds. We loved it!
I know everyone is wanting to see the other talent show entries from the fam. I have been keeping you in suspense for months now just so you will truly appreciate it when they are posted (and because it takes me forever to get from camera to computer to blog - but I'm getting better!)
So it's easy to see why we love having Courtney in our family. She is smart and funny and talented and kind and generous and just an all around gem! Did I mention she's beautiful too? She doesn't think she is but she is! And she's even more beautiful on the inside!!
Courtney, we are your biggest fans. We look forward to any time that we get to spend with you. Thanks for all that you do to contribute to our family dynamic. Eternity is going to be a blast! Have a spectacular time on your trip. We miss you but we are so happy that you get this experience. Treasure it!
Happy 21st Birthday! We love you!!
Sunday, May 15, 2011
There has been a series of interesting events and/or notable people that have sparked interest in the church recently like Jimmermania, Brandon Davies' honor code violation, Book of Mormon the Musical on Broadway, possible presidential bids from Romney and Huntsman, Marie Osmond's remarriage to her first husband - BYU basketball star Steve Craig, etc. etc.
I enjoyed this article and I agree that these were three important things people should know about Mormons. It also served as a reminder to me to take a look at myself and be sure that I am doing an adequate job of practicing what I preach. I think I'm doing okay but always plenty of room for improvement!
Here is the excerpt from the article...
Perhaps most significantly as the church grows, more people have a Mormon co-worker, neighbor, or friend. And, as people get to know Mormons they get a clearer, fuller, and more accurate picture of our faith. This is vital, since real understanding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lags far behind its visibility.
In that vein, let me offer three things you should know about Mormons which are neither trivial nor stereotypical.
1. Mormons follow Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and at the center of our belief and – to the best of our ability – our behavior. Some people like to define “Christian” in very precise and narrow terms. To me, it’s quite simple. We try to reflect Jesus Christ’s teachings in our lives and rely on his love and mercy when we make mistakes.
2. Mormons are friends of the family. Many of those who know Latter-day Saints realize how important the family is to us. Ideally, that means a mother, father, and their children. Today’s reality, though, means that sometimes we have broken families, remarriages, and single parents. And a large proportion of our church membership is single adults. Still, the nuclear family lies deep at the core of our belief about the purpose of life and the nature of God. It is, we believe, the fundamental unit of our society and of the eternities. While the traditional family is increasingly under threat, Mormons continue to sustain it as part of the divine order and the ballast of society.
3.Mormons are big on incorporating their religious beliefs into their day-to-day actions. Service is a hugely important principle, whether serving in the church or out of it. For some, that means partnering with others to help the people of Haiti or Japan. For others, it’s cooking a meal for a sick neighbor. At whatever level, service is as much a part of our religious culture as going to church on Sunday.
The first presidency of the Church:
Henry B. Eyring, Thomas S. Monson (president), Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The pictures were not in the article. I added them for interest and for those who can't stand to read anything without pictures (like me!) I firmly believe that I would not be the person I am today without the guidance and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The church does not force me to do anything. It teaches me divine principles and let's me decide for myself. I feel like the LDS doctrine is a recipe for happiness and if you follow it as outlined (like a tried and true cooking recipe), happiness is guaranteed. That doesn't mean that we will always get what we want or that we are promised a life without sadness or tragedy or disappointment, but knowing why we are here and where we are going gives us the perspective to deal with life's ups and downs and still be happy.
I am so grateful for the restored gospel and I cherish Sundays and the opportunity it gives us all to dwell on those things. The peace and contentment that the gospel brings is a gift that I wish I could give to everyone. The missionaries spend every day for two years trying to give it away. It's kind of funny when you think that those two young men in white shirts, bad ties and dorky bike helmets (not to mention sisters in skirts of various extremely unflattering lengths) knocking on your door are actually giving away a gift beyond measure - the chance to hear the gospel. It's ironic that the unimportant things in this life are wrapped up in beautiful packaging both literally and metaphorically and are accessible to only a very small percentage of the world's population. Yet, the key to true happiness is free and easily accessible and even comes knocking at your door occasionally but most people don't realize what it is when they see it. The image of it makes me chuckle yet it's so sad at the same time.
I didn't mean to wax so philosophical, I just wanted to share those 3 things I came across and it just reminded me how grateful I am.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Oh man what a great present! It brought my heart so much joy that I could hardly contain myself. I was thoroughly entertained and touched by each entry. I laughed. I cried. Thank you all so much. And thank you to Kacey who spearheaded the effort. Wow! It was the best present ever!!!
I do have just a couple of disclaimers, though. We actually had 5 staterooms for the 13 of us and not 4, as Kristy stated. I didn't want anyone to get the wrong impression and picture us as the cruise version of the family who houses 4 generations in a 3 bedroom house and parks our cars on the lawn. It was close but it wasn't that bad!
Also Kylie referred to our family as a "good looking bunch." I'm not sure it's okay to call yourself good looking unless you're Kristy. She does it and, for some reason, it's just not offensive when she does. If Kristy feels she is looking good, she will be the first to admit it and I admire that. Why wait for compliments? Just start dishing them out yourself. What I think Kylie meant is that we are good looking compared to what we looked like before we all got cleaned up for dinner. I think the final picture (when compared to the way we looked just an hour before) would have be considered good looking based on the marked improvement!
And the last thing I would like to address is our quest for the cheap, plastic, gold-colored cruise ship trophies that were being given out as prizes for different contests. I'd like to tell you that it's absolutely not true that I suggested we cheat... but I cant. Kristy is the one who wanted the trophy so badly and I just had to get it for her. Thank goodness it didn't cost money to enter the contests or I would have been one of those crazy people at fairs who spend $100 to win a $5 stuffed animal.
Okay, now I'm not claiming that individually my family members (including myself) are anything to brag about, but collectively...? And then you throw in our amazing sons-in-law...? I mean, come on! We could balance the national budget by the time the Jeopardy music ran out! Well, at first it was just surprising that we were getting beat by some less-than-stellar-looking teams. But after a while I was fairly confident that there was a certain amount of dishonesty going on out there as people were scoring their own answers and that was bugging me. I am no cheater! My husband and family can attest to that. Winning by cheating is no win at all! But I must have been dehydrated or something and starting to hallucinate because it is true that I did suggest that we find a more creative way to score so that we could get our hands on that darn .25 cent trophy because I knew that we deserved it! I am not proud of my actions. It was probably just a mild form of scurvy but I did have to have my children remind me that a tainted win was not worth it.
Other than that, they got it all just about right. It was a great trip and I just love being with my family. We "get" each other. No explanation necessary. I guess that's what makes family great.
I love, love, love my kids, my kids-in-law and my grandkids! And I thank them from the bottom of my heart for the best Mother's Day present ever!!
PS - So since you guys are so good at it and since I have a 50th birthday coming up next month, how about we parcel out the past blog entries that need to be done... September trip to Paris, Christmas in California (I'm hoping to somehow copy Kacey's blog post over to mine), Kendall wins Junior Miss, and so on. Any takers?
Saturday, May 7, 2011
So after our bad experience at bingo, everyone most likely ate a before-dinner meal (I know Brad and I did) because it was free and delicious. Then we got all dressed up for dinner and took a bunch of pictures. I'm not going to show any of the good ones because seriously, how many pictures of us looking happy and smiling do you really need to see? Here is what we were really thinking the whole time.
It's no shock to any of you that I win the most awkwardly quiet award (I was actually the only one in our family eligible for this award ever since Rhode learned how to talk). So I am going to let the pictures do most of the talking in this blog.
The competition started out with a nice little van drive over to a waterpark called Aquaventura. Dad almost took the Gringo Translator Award with his bilingual skills in portuspanglish getting us there, but Trevor pulled ahead at the last second by scoring us some taxi rides back home. Trevor wins! (Although I think that they might have both been disqualified because of how much sunblock they had to put on in the water park...embarrassing)
So we went to the park and watched a dolphin show. We watched the trainers being launched in the air and doing back flips and were all wondering the same thing... How in the world is swimming with sea lions going to be cooler than this?
But we had faith in my dad's patient who told him that our "swim with the sea lions tour" we had pre-signed up for would be more fun than swimming with the dolphins. This is our excited faces as we were lead to the pool to go meet the sea lions...
...and this is Pepe...
Yup... This is about how interested we were in learning about sea lions. (How fast can those dolphins swim?)
I'm pretty sure that this next conversation went like this...
Kristy: How long do we have to pet this thing for?
Trevor: I don't know... I'm going to pretend to be excited and give a thumbs up so they don't see how weird this actually it.
Turns out they changed the program so you don't get to actually swim with the sea lion (turns out, its kind of dangerous, whoda thought?). But you do get to watch it do poses and you get to pet it while it lays there like a tub of lard in front of you. (I think it would have actually been less gross to pet a tub of lard) Luckily we got a nice award out of this and so the Best sea lion picture goes to Mom!
Luckily for us, Mexicans don't like to give money back and dad is good at pretending like he is rich so we got a free lunch and we got to visit with the dolphins later that day! Dad gets the King of getting whatever he wants award for that display.
- Sidenote: At lunch our table was swarming with bees. Kacey made us all feel stupid for being afraid of them because of course "if you leave them alone they wont sting you." Let me tell you, I was about two seconds away from crying and showing her kids my bee sting so they would be scared of bees forever just to get back at her...
Yeah I know... Bring back Pepe! We want to see some more of that beastly face and moldy fur! But I guess Dori will just have to do.
We got to feel, shake hands, and even kiss the dolphin. (I guess it's ok for dolphins to give out their kisses like pretzels) Although this picture was a great contender for best dolphin picture, unfortunately it lacked the kind of dedication that it takes to be a winner. (Scarlet couldn't reach the dolphin on her own...aren't you Kacey's kid?) But there is nothing cuter than seeing a baby kiss a dolphin.
And the Best picture with a Dolphin award goes to Mom! Just look as she accepts that kiss with such style in her designer sunglasses. Plus it's mothers day. (Kylie stop crying...The judges were sick of talking about how cute you were when you were little...)
Here is a shout out to my father who for once actually looks blind in one eye in this picture.
So what's my excuse?....
We also had a great day just running around and going on all the different slides. This also opened up a lot of opportunities for awards. First we are going to start with the best toilet bowl slide picture. To explain, the toilet bowl slide is a crazy contraption. You jet down this water slide at full speed and it launches you into this circular bowl. You take a few speedy circles around the tube until you go falling out the bottom.
You have to look closely at this next picture to see what exactly is going on but Scarlet is "helping" Rhode go down the slide by bossing him around and making sure that he is waiting for his turn.
So the award for having kids who are exactly like you goes to Kacey! (Kacey just called to order me to finish my blog right now...some things never change)
After the eventful time at the water park, all the competitors walked down the beach of Puerto Villarta. There were many different interesting things along the way. This is one of the first things that we saw.
Yes... he stacks rocks for a living. At first, you might think it is a little pathetic. But your next thought is probably...this is what Bryan can do! So the Finally we found some useful skill for this kid award goes to Bryan! We were all so happy to find something that our poor little Bryan might actually be able to accomplish with his life. (I think this might be his first award ever)
Joking Bryan... we all know those rocks would be too heavy for you to lift...
There were also a lot of sand castle artists that we enjoyed looking at along the way. There was one certain piece of artwork that was my personal favorite. In case you can't tell, it is a sculpture of the last supper made out of sand.
Yeah, it was pretty amazing. So the Something Jon Wayne can't do award goes to.... Jose? Carlos? Juan?.... I'm sure one of them is right.
Then we all went back on the ship and ate dinner after a long day of competing. It really was such a fun time for us all. I think most of us would agree that Puerto Villarta wins the Best day of the vacation award. Not because of all the fun things that we got to do... Mostly because we got to do them with each other. I am so blessed to have been born into such a great family. And even more blessed to have such an incredible mother! We would be nothing without you mom. I love you and Happy Mothers Day!
For those of you who don't know, Swiking is a combination of hiking and swimming. Jon led dad, Brad, Bryan, Courtney, and me over rocks and through water on a swike to Lover's Beach.
We got to go see the Arch up close until we were shooed away for "our own safety". Then we got to sit around waiting for the shoppers to show up so that we could get some dry clothes and towels.
The shoppers had a great start to their day in Cabo too. The shoppers included mom, Kacey, Kristy, Trevor, Kylie, Scarlet, and Rhode. When they got off the boat they straight away went to go take pictures with a lion and tiger cub. Kristy's tiger cub started to bite at her so it got taken away...
Then they actually did some shopping and Scarlet got a beautiful necklace which she bargained down for all by herself. She informed the very nice sales lady that she only had a few birthday dollars left and the lady let her buy it anyway. So far she hasn't tried the strategy at Walmart... yet. The necklace was popular at first but was quickly misplaced until her very dutiful and loving aunt Kendall found it in her bag.Finally the Shoppers came to Lover's Beach to give much needed food and clothing to the Swikers. We all chilled for a bit on the beach. Which was mostly just a lot of sitting and picture taking...