Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring is here ! ! !

After a VERY long and cold winter it is so good to see signs of spring everywhere.  The dogwood and flowering cherry trees are just gorgeous and as we drive and walk in the parks for exercise it is wonderful to see all the 'newness' begin again.

We had our second "Senior Conference" on April 11th and it was a real treat to meet with all of the other couples and President and Sister Johnson.
At the end of the conference President Johnson suggested that we all drive to the West End overlook and take some pictures.  It was a bright beautiful day and we had never been to this city
overlook before.  We really enjoyed our time there as we all admired the city again and again. We just don't get tired of the beautiful views.

L to R:  The Hansen's-Johnstown(brand new), Glover's-Phillipsburg (leaving soon), Johnson's, Swingholm's-mental health, us-Oakland, Barney's-Somerset, Clarkson's-office, Elcock's-office and Sister Castler (new to the office)
The only drawback of the day was that President Johnson gave us the assignment of planning the upcoming conferences while we are here. So much for sitting back and enjoying!  It really should be a fun way to get to know the other couples though.  President Johnson is all about us working hard, but also having fun and enjoying our missions too.  He is encouraging us to plan conferences where we can get together and visit church sites.

We were driving down the street the other day and lo and behold!

We saw a rival to our previous "dream vehicle".

Couldn't quite believe that we would run into something even more spectacular than the last one, but we keep picturing ourselves driving back home in this sweet little thing!!!

Guess that means we are turning into real Pittsburgher's or something.  We will keep everyone guessing anyway.

News from home is always wonderful and we loved this picture of Baylee losing her first tooth.  She is sure a cutie and we will miss her so much this summer in the raspberry patch!  

She loved being at our house and yard where she would swing in the big swing, pick raspberries for awhile, do jobs for Grandma Pat like picking rocks out of the garden and gathering snails.  She still takes dance lessons and also will take on the soccer field this next fall.

Baylee will be in second grade next year and will probably be queen of the ball park again this summer during her three brother's ball games!

Jenna has also been in the spotlight lately with her cello.  For awhile it seemed that the cello was even taller than she was. The picture shows that she is starting to sprout up and is finally taller than it is!

Jenna played in a duet with her friend at the Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival a couple of months ago.  They won the Judge's Choice Award.

We got a text message with a recording of her winning performance recently and it was great!

She is enjoying soccer and golf and is finishing a year in school of straight A's so far!

We have been busy teaching temple classes and visiting members each week.  We had an interesting Sunday this last week also.  Besides all of the meetings for two wards on Sunday and teaching two temple classes, we now attend two ward councils each week.  Jim was asked to take most of the time in the 1st Ward to present information on welfare and delegation.  He was also asked to present a 5 minute presentation to the 7th Ward on a section of the Handbook.  Anyway, we got an email Saturday night that a General Authority would be coming to attend both ward council meetings!  He ended up presenting in front of Elder Milan Kunz, an Area Seventy. Sure glad it was him and not me!!  Jim did a great job and it was nice to meet and talk with Elder Kunz.  Elder Kunz was here to present information later that evening about the BYU Idaho Pathways Program. The Pathways program is a lo-cost online educational opportunity that can lead to professional certificates and degrees and it will be such a blessing to many members of the church here in Pittsburgh.  We also attended that meeting so it had to be one of the longest Sundays we've spent yet.  We were pretty exhausted today and spent most of our P-day trying to recover!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


We were so happy to get 5 visitors for conference and Easter weekend.  It was so great to give them hugs and see how much the kids have grown up. We hadn't seen most of them in a year.  Kent's family drove all day from Atlanta and arrived just in time on Saturday for dinner and for Jim, Kent, and Jackson to go to the priesthood meeting at the church.  While they were gone Shelly and the girls got settled and Courtney sat at the computer with me.  She helped me go into FamilySearch and we found 71 new names to take to the temple!!  This was a big breakthrough for me.  She has been taking Youth Family History classes in their ward and has been going full steam ahead with it.  She is now a Family History Consultant and I really needed one!

We then enjoyed Sunday conference sessions and Easter together which was great.  In the evening we took a drive around the city and got to one of the Mount Washington lookouts just in time to see the sun setting.  The timing couldn't have been better.  All of the kids seemed really impressed with Pittsburgh and were excited to discover it more the next day.

On Monday we spent the day sightseeing and had good weather to do it in!

We parked and walked to "the Point".  It was beautiful to be at the exact spot the two rivers come together to form the Ohio River.  From there we walked to the Steelers Stadium and took a tour at Jackson's request.  The tour hadn't been in the original plan, but it was really interesting.  We also went to the Heinz History museum where Kent seemed especially impressed to see the Mr. Rogers exhibit.  That was one of his favorite kid shows growing up and who knew it orginated in Pittsburgh!  We had fun sharing a few nostalgic moments over a show that I always thought was a little weird! I must confess that I used it as a wonderful babysitter and he doesn't seem too warped by it!

On Tuesday we were able to drive two and a half hours away to Kirkland, Ohio.  We had a great time there seeing the temple, the Newel K. Whitney store, and driving to the John Johnson home.  There is just something about visiting church history sites that we love.  It seems to put a reality into all that we learn and study about in church history.

We especially enjoyed having the Bowen's, long time friends from West Jordan, take us on a tour of the Johnson farm.  They left on their mission to Kirkland a few months before we did.  Who knew we would actually see them while we were both gone!  Our one disappointment was that the Kirtland Temple which

is owned by the Community of
Christ church was closed for the day.  We did get some great pictures outside and had a wonderful time at the other sites.

We ended the day with dinner at an Amish restaurant close to Kirkland.  Jackson had been looking forward to the 'all you can eat' family style meal.  He is definitely a growing teenage boy with a big appetite!

A few of the things we did on the last day was to visit the Andy Warhol museum, visit the Strip district where we found a few bargains, and go to the Carnegie Science Museum.  The Science Center was definitely a big hit with all of us.  

They have a World War II submarine docked in the river and tours are given.  Many of the exhibits are interactive including a life size space station and Anti-Gravity wall.
Natalie was the first to be brave enough to experience what space feels like.

We had tons of fun at the Science Center and wished we could have even
spent more time there.

All in all..............WE HAD A BLAST !  !  !

Natalie was the first to experience anti-gravity

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

P-Day Blessings (Shopping really does pay off)

Had to post this quickly after the last one so if you haven't read our Easter post--then read that first!

The Strip District in Pittsburgh is called that because it's a strip of stores and businesses that are a mixture of restaurants, farmer's markets, and souvenirs.  It has Wholey's Fish, meat markets, Steelers gear, Peppi's sandwiches, a 'chocolate' store, and just about anything else that can be imagined.  It reminds us of the flea market in Hawaii or the Pier in Seattle....but on a much smaller scale.

Anyway, it is a fun place to walk around--- preferrably on a warm and sunny day.  We happened to go there for our P-day on Monday.   The temperature was around 50 degrees which is an improvement over the past several days.   The wind was blowing though, and so it seemed much colder.  We have heard so much about "The Strip" from elders and members that Pat, especially, wanted to get the shopping bug out of her system.

We walked around and shopped a little in the chocolate store (surprise, surprise).... and we were just about to head back to the car when our name badges came in handy.  It is fun to wear them because wherever we go people either give us odd stares or they come up and introduce themselves as members of the church.  Sometimes they tell us that they aren't members, but they know someone who is a member of the church.  Anyway, this
cute young couple had parked their van by where we were standing and she introduced herself and told us they were from Ohio and were members of the church. We felt an instant friendship with them.  Three of their children were in the car.  They had come to Pittsburgh on a spring break vacation.  We talked for a few minutes and they asked our advice about what to see and do while in Pittsburgh.  Seeing the age of their children, we both said immediately---"The Carnegie Science Center".  We just got through becoming "MUSEUM MEMBERS" a couple of

weeks ago and had made a quick visit last week to check it out.  We started to tell them about it and they said they had been told by others how great it was, but they were looking for more of the free stuff to do.  We certainly remember those days of trying to juggle the budget to take a whole family on vacation for a few days.  At that moment both of our minds went in the same direction for a change.... and we told them that we were "MUSEUM MEMBERS"!!!!  That means we can get extra guests in for free!

Since we were about ready to leave anyway, we offered to meet them at the Science Center.  They were so grateful and it was so fun for us.  It really made our P-day extra special and we felt we were able to be a small part of Heavenly Father just trying to bless a beautiful young family. We just got such a kick out of being at the right place at the right time!

Janie told us that she does digital scrapbooking and so she sent us a scrapbook page of the fun that they had the rest of the afternoon.