Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Poem from Michelle

Michelle wrote several poems during her life. Many were poems about Christmas. We'd like to share one with you this Christmas Season.

Children of Christmas
by Michelle Gardner

Looking through the window
I see the snow upon the ground;
And all the children playing,
As Christmas swims the town.

Quietly I watch them,
And wonder if they know
The story of that day gone by,
Before the Christmas snow.

I see the lowly mother,
Ill and heavy with child;
And watch as poor old Joseph
Cares for the mother so mild.

I see the innkeepers turn them away,
And wonder if they'd known,
Just what they could have done that day,
And what they might have shown.

When the star appeared above them,
Did they somehow wonder then
If there was more they could have done,
Or more they might have been?

Did the shepherds ever question
As they followed that bright light?
If the angels hadn't come,
Would they have traveled still that night?

The questions fill my mind
As I replay that Christmas night;
And see within myself
A piece of that holy light.

I picture the babe in the manger,
Wrapped in swaddling clothes;
And think of His life before Him,
And the example He still shows.

My eyes travel back to the children,
So pure and innocent,
Singing songs of Christmas,
With faces of content.

Somehow, it seemed they knew
The story of that night,
As I watched them hug each other,
Wrapped in Christmas light.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Exciting News!

Guess what, Alli is engaged!

Last night Brendon Hurtado proposed to Alli and she said yes! She has a beautiful heart shaped diamond ring to show for it.

We are all very excited for her. Of course Alli is pretty
happy right now too!

Alli and and Brendon met at work - Jamba Juice. She is attending college at ASU this semester and Brendon attends MCC.

They are planning a wedding in late February.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Birthday John

November 29th was John's 9th birthday. He's one year older and smarter too.
Happy Birthday to John. Here are a few pictures to show you the many sides of John.

John the mud boy

John the hunter

John the fisherman

John the repairman
He really "gets into his work"

John the cool, handsome boy

John and Dad on his baptism day, last year in December.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Concerts, Plays and Other Events

This last week and a half we have had a bunch of cultural events to attend. I like going to plays and concerts so have loved every minute. I'm sorry I have no pictures to document them. But here are my mini -reviews.

To start off with a week ago Friday, we attended the play "It's a Wonderful Life" at LeeAnn's School - Heritage Academy. This was a stage rendition of the famous movie. It followed the story fairly closely although they replace Clarence the angel with Clara, and no dance floor opening up into a swimming pool. (ahh) Each of the actors and actresses did a great job with their characters. We were delighted to see our 5 yr old niece, Angelique S., play the part of Zuzu Bailey. She said her lines very clearly, and of course that touching phrase at the end , "Look, Daddy a bell rang. Teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!" I must confess, I got a little teary then.

We next went to the same school's Choir Concert on Tuesday night. I tell you this school has a lot of talented kids. They sang with such clear harmony and volume. Heritage Academy had three groups of singers, the Women's choir, the Men's choir, and the Select Choir. Our niece Shannon J. was in the Women's Choir and they sang songs of love. The Men's group although young, sang with gusto songs of adventure. The select choir sang songs from the Baroque era, many of them they sang acappella. There were a few featured soloists that totally amazed me with their voices. I was feeling tingly on my arms it sounded so good. This concert was extra special because it was the last concert for the choir director, Mrs. Campbell, as she is retiring to stay home and have a baby (in December.) They sang their best for her! I heard another parent (my cousin) say it was probably the best concert he had ever heard at Heritage.

Wednesday night was Evening in Excellence hosted by the Young Women. I forgot to bring my camera there (the only place of all these events where a camera was allowed). We as parents were served a nice dinner and then watched our daughters perform in a talent show. Each class performed a skit and also the girls displayed projects they had worked on for Personal Progress. LeeAnn wrote the skit for her Mia Maids class and was so funny. Bethany and the Beehives were fun to watch too. The leaders pulled off synronized swimming on stage.

On Thursday we went to Heritage's Dance Concert held in the Mesa Arts Center. The concert was titled "After Neverland" and all the many dances performed were telling the story of Peter Pan. LeeAnn is taking Ballroom Dance this year and performed two numbers with her group. Shannon also performed several times with the Dance I group. Two of my favorite pieces of the evening were "Mermaid Vanity" and "Aware of the Crocodiles." They all did a great job. It made me think if Michelle, her love of dancing, and the many performances she made.

So there you have it. We enjoy getting cultured, and don't do it nearly often enough. I just may go to Heritage's Orchestra Concert on Tuesday night (even though we don't have any kids or relatives in it.) We'll see what comes next.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

We'd like to say Thank-you to all the American Veterans out there that have served and fought for the freedoms of our country. To those who are currently serving we pray for your safety and thank you for defending our liberty.

I want to make mention of my favorite veteran, my dad.

Victor Rex Jackson
US ARMY - World War II
Served: 7 May 1942- 2 Sep 1945
Rex served in the European front in the countries of France, Germany, Italy, and North Africa. He was part of the army that made the invasion on Normandy beach in France on June 6, 1945. During the three long years over there he had to endure living in harsh conditions and was constantly in danger. Although he had a couple of close calls, Rex's life was preserved and he came home without any injuries.

Today Rex is still living at 96 years of age, and resides in Provo, Utah.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sukiyaki Dinner

We had a sukiyaki dinner to celebrate Alli's birthday on Sunday night. Her birthday is actually Oct. 21st, but she was in Hawaii on her birthday so we postponed the celebration. As you can see we cook right at the table. There are three gas burners under the sukiyaki pans. Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish with beef and vegetables cooked in special sauce. We all used our chopsticks to stir the food a bit while it cooks and then we take out what we want to eat. We served rice in our bowls. This is a fun way to eat dinner - cook and eat as you go.

I tried to get a close up of the food here. The grapes don't go in the sukiyaki! And yes the pile of red is raw beef - ice cold. (As you can see, I still need help in the photography area. I didn't get the close-up that I wanted, but this will have to do.

Here's Alli with her boyfriend, Brendon

Brendon and Alli

Amy and her puppies. Miniature Dachshunds. Want to buy a puppy?

Here's a picture from another night when she brought the whole litter. They are so cute, and so fun to watch them play.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Saturday was Scout-O-Rama in Tempe, a statewide event full of scouting exhibits, games, and other activities. Our Cub Scout Pack went together and helped at our Stake Booth. Our booth displayed the many uses of solar energy. I volunteer in Cub Scouts as a leader and John is a Wolf (his first year in cub scouts). Here is some of what we did. Note: We did solar energy at our booth last year and had a challenge getting our chocolate chip cookies baked in 4 hours, so this year we decided to try something simpler. Grated cheese on Nachos. Surely the sun can melt the cheese in a speedy manner and melt s'mores. We made our solar ovens out of pizza boxes. We also had a few other solar ovens there.

Our booth
Getting set up.

Propping up the pizza box ovens. The lid has aluminum foil to reflect the sun.

Cool Hand Race watches over the nachos

The chocolate is starting to melt in this oven, while the marshmallows try to melt in another oven. Then we put them together to eat. Yum yum. (we found out you don't have to wait until they're melted all the way to eat them.)

The funnest part for the boys was starting fires with a magnifying glass and burning dots on the wood. Here a boy tries to start a marshmallow on fire with the magnifying glass. It didn't work.

Working the magnifying glass.

When we finished our turn working the booth, we were free to go around the rest of the park to participate in other events and see other booths. Here John gets ready for a soapbox car ride.

Next, John went over to the monkey bridge to walk it. There were four different monkey bridges there. This one wasn't as taut as it should be. It is harder to walk than it looks.

Race is going over another monkey bridge at the same time.

Playing a game.

Shooting gallery. Rubber band guns that shot ping pong balls. See the targets on the next picture.

Shooting gallery. Look at the the fun target that this Pack made. Click on image to enlarge and then notice the Barbie doll in the lower right corner. She is sitting on a platform above a bucket of water. There is a round target to the left of her. It's a home-made dunk tank. How cool is that? By the way, while I was there, no one sent the barbie into the tank.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Trip to California

This year I signed up for the Southern California Science trip at school. There was a huge waiting list. I was second on it, and was able to get in. We visited many places and I had lots of cool experiences. One of the highlight of my trip, was going to Camp Emerald Bay on Catalina Island. We got to go kayaking, snorkeling, and learned about the animals around there.

Another place we got to go to was Medieval Times, we all sat around in this huge stadium, and cheered for our knight (the yellow one) while we were served food (which we had to eat with our fingers).

We also spent a day at Sea World. I loved seeing the dolphins, they are so cute! I didn't get any pictures of Samu because I was in the front row, and I really didn't want to get my digital camera soaking wet!
At Hollywood

The last night, at a Mexican restaurant (I don't remember the name, we were all really tired).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Progress on the "Garage"

So it's been a couple of months and we've made some progress on the garage. All of the massive holes required for the new water and sewer lines have been filled and the front yard is getting back to normal. Here is some of what else has been happening:

The new garage was framed. My best friend Mario and hos crew came and framed the entire structure in four days. The structure shares half of one wall with the house ("attached") and on the back side has a small office and a bathroom. Smoe of the back angles were a little tricky but Mario and his crew did a great job.

Here is the inside view after framing. The electricians and plumbers were in and did their rough-ins. The mechanical guy also came and put in the a/c and cooler ducting. Everything passed on our framing/rough-in inspection - Yahoo!

Next Mario (hey, this guy can do anything) painted the eves. He did such a good job we had him do it twice. No, actually the roofers used too long of nails and made the undersides look bad where they stuck out so Mario got to paint again. Here he is painting.

After the roofing the crane came in to lift the two coolers and the A/C unit up on the roof. Now that those are in place the roof is sealed and the rain can come.

After that we've (mostly mario) has been busy sheeting the inside of the garage with plywood and drywalling. They have also put up the lathing (foam & chicken wire) on the outside in preparation of the stucco.

Here is an inside view as it stands now. They are just finishing the taping of the drywall on the garage ceiling and have hung plastic in preparation for texturing and painting this week.

Here is a view inside the office. Doesn't look like much but this is the result of six days of taping, filling and sanding. It will also be textured this week.

Here is the view from the alley. The roof is finished and the lathing is close.

This far this has been taxing but fun. There is a lot to coordinate, check and recheck. I've had to uncover a few outlets and have a few things corrected but all in all it has been perfect. This week is texture, then paint and then inside electrical. Hopefully the next post will be the finished views. I'm already planning the garage warming party we'll have when it's done. For now it's closer every day. There's been a lot of names attached to it like "The Man Cave", "The Barn" and others I probably shouldn't include here in a public forum. But right now I just call it unfinished. But hey - The drinking fountain is connected and working. What more could I ask for!