Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

So, it's been a while.  But I must get back to reflecting on my good life and sharing what I can with those I know and love.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  I have had reason to reflect on the most important things of life lately - FAMILY!  

Thank you to all the "branches" of my family tree for being an influence on me and for helping me realize who I am and what I can become.

Here are a few things I am thankful for...
JAY - our temple marriage...his constant love for me that just grows and grows
Taralynn and her obedient and kind nature to take care of people around her; 
her creative ideas and listening ear.
Kory and his hard-working ethics to take care of his family, with a smile that is contagious.  His desire to always be learning something new and the loving husband and father he is.
Bowen and his energy and smile; his innocence and genuine love for everyone.  
And his voice when it says "grandma!"
Amy and her sensitivity to others and her ability to help them by the words she says (or writes) to them; her honesty and her sense of right and wrong.
Adam and his sincere effort to do what is right and good; his loving, caring nature to Amy
Scott,  Elder Allen, and the example he sets to work hard, do your best and have fun in helping others do their best as they find lasting happiness...and for all missionaries serving faithfully
Jason and his quiet but fun way of doing what is right, consistently, and the 
respect he shows me daily.   His ingenuity and curiosity.
My parents, my siblings, and their families.  I love time with them!  
I wish those times were more often.
My aunts, uncles and cousins, who I see seldom, but when I do I am so grateful I am part of their  family because of the good they have to teach me as I learn about their lives.
The Gospel.  Opportunities to serve and bless the lives of others.
My Savior...and Heavenly Father

Heavenly Father's Plan is perfect.  I'm grateful for this knowledge.

Life isn't always easy.  Experiences change us, hopefully for the good. 

Enjoy the holiday season!  What a great time to reflect on the blessings of life we receive daily.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Bowen's FIRST Birthday!

Taralynn, Kory and Bowen got to visit us for a week! 

It was "the happiest week on earth!"
They got here just in time for the Super Bowl Party!  
Yummy food, extended family and even a great game for those who watched it to the end!

The next day, Taralynn and Kory headed to Disneyland and enjoyed three days there and time together.  They said they had a great time and the park wasn't too crowded.  It had been a long time since either of them had been there.

BUT my three days with Bowen were better than Disneyland!  
I was definitely the happiest girl on earth!  He is a good boy--with lots of personality and lots of energy!  We loved every minute of our time together!

We went on walks to the park, around the zoo, to Visiting Teaching interview and to friends houses!
He loved being outside doing ANYTHING!  
He even went on a pre-Marathon run with Amy and Grandpa!

He enjoyed breakfast with Grandma...
Lunch with Aunt Amy...
and greeting Jason after school, ready to PLAY!
He LOVED going up the stairs...and up the stairs some more!
Someone usually had to rescue him when he tried to come down the stairs! 
He even got to stay up a little later on Family Night to go shopping for a new TV for Great Grandpa Mel's Birthday!
We never had a problem getting him to sleep at night!  Pretty much wore him out during the day!
We had three wonderful days with everyone when Taralynn and Kory got back.  

Kory, Jay and Jason golfed--they were all winners!  I'm not sure I understand how that worked but they had a good golf day.  We were sorry that Kory didn't get more golfing in.  We know he loves that.  

My Mom brought breakfast one day.  It was the biggest, best breakfast ever!  My mom is the best!  She really went the extra mile to be able to spend time with Taralynn, Kory and Bowen.  

Friday was Bowen's BIRTHDAY!  It was a very fun day, complete with a carousal ride and a treat at the mall, cake, ice cream and presents!  Taralynn went to a lot of work to make it a perfect first birthday for him.  I was really happy that we got to be a part of it.

Taralynn is a wonderful, kind and loving Mother!
Kory is a fun and loving Dad!
He loved  pizza for dinner and was so happy until...
...the candle got blown out and taken out of the cake!  We are not really sure what happened, but he was NOT happy.
But after eating some cake and taking a bath the presents made him happy again!  He especially enjoyed the tags on the gifts!  ha.  We loved just watching him do whatever!  It was funny how much time we really did spend just watching Bowen!  

Sunday morning came and we had to say goodbye.  It's always hard...and it gets harder every time! 

 But, thankfully, there was no crowd at the airport and no problem getting through security...
our miracle of the day!

I love family time. It is the best time of life for me.  Families are central to Heavenly Father's plan.  I'm so happy I have mine!  (and if you are wondering if we thought of Scott during this week--the answer is YES!  We were happy he sent pictures to us to enjoy this week)


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Christmas Call and Christmas Update!

Dear family,

I know many of you are interested in our call with Scott.  It has taken me a few days to sit down and write about it mainly because when I talk about it I still get emotional.  It was the best part of Christmas to SEE him and to be on a conference video call with Taralynn, Kory and Bowen as well.  Our family was "together" for that hour and it felt so good!

Scott LOOKED GREAT.  He was using his favorite blue blanket to keep him warm as he sat in the Branch President's office (at the church) to talk to us.  For him, it was December 26, at 9:00 a.m.  For us, it was December 25, at 10 p.m.  His companion, Elder Reed, was also in the room, though we never saw him!  He said hello and that Scott’s Russian is excellent! 

Here are a few highlights of the call.... in no particular order!
  • They spent Christmas with the other elders and sisters in their zone, playing games (ping pong and others) and eating. The senior couple in the zone made the main food and the missionaries also brought "pot luck."  Scott's companion made peanut butter squares (Scott said he helped as he could!).  They went to a WWII museum, which Scott said was interesting.
  • I got the feeling that those missionaries in the zone live pretty spread out so it was fun for them all to be together on Christmas.  They stayed with some other elders on Christmas Eve.  He said there is a set of sisters that live fairly close and that is all.  In fact, later that day, they planned on helping the sisters get a kitchen table and other things for their apartment.
  • The branch is small.  He said that Sunday they had the biggest turnout so far--about 20 in attendance.  The branch president's family is just him and his wife and an older son.  They also have an older daughter but she is away at school in Utah.  He said there are older men in the branch and then single sisters (ages 20-30) mostly.  He has not had to speak in church yet, but it is probably coming soon!
  • He does have sheets on his bed...but his bed is BIG--like two mattresses together and he only has one sheet set so he just sleeps on one and the other mattress is sheet-less!
  • He is warm.  His coat that he brought is "fine."  Only his feet get cold!  (We hope he buys some warmer shoes/boots REALLY soon!).  When he goes out he says he wears ear-warmer pulled up as far as it can go and his beanie down so all that is showing is his eyes. Someone commented to him that he looks like a German soldier.
  • They mostly go to the city and talk to people on the street to find contacts.  "Knocking doors" doesn't work so well in Russia as it is hard to even get into the buildings unless you know someone.
  • They have one investigator right now.  He has been an investigator for a while and would like to join the church but his wife is not in favor of it.  They talk to him (and his wife) every week and he does go to church.  It sounds like they have a good relationship with this family.
  • The English teacher they met on the street (from a recent letter) has not gotten in touch with them again.  Though another set of missionaries had a similar experience with an English teacher so hopefully they will be able to help her and her class. 
  • The mission president is nice.  They just implemented a new "rule" where you speak Russian on the street NO MATTER WHAT, even just missionary to missionary.  During personal and companion study time, also, much is done in Russian.  Scott said this is really good.
  • He received some dearelder mail and one card (from the Shields) but no other mail or Christmas package or letters :(.  He is not sure how often he will get the mail from the mission home but that is still the best, and only way to send him something.  Keep the dearelder letters coming as he enjoyed them when he got them!
  • He wanted to hear about our Christmas, about the Suns and NBA season and Grandpa next door updated him on UofA--the most important news!  He asked about the ward and got to talk to Hunter and Cannon. 
  • He is eating and they can get pretty much everything they need.  They even found peanut butter the other day!  (What is it with peanut butter and missionaries??)
  • We told him that the Mainland China mission call was a rumor (memo sent to seminary/institute teachers, and secretary, Marki, confirmed the rumor).  He didn't believe us at first, but then did.  We had heard that the missionaries in his mission could watch Russian cartoons to help with their language study.  I asked about that and he said that was okay with the previous mission president but has since changed.
  • He spoke a little Russian for us and again said that it was fun to learn and improving everyday.

Here's a bit about our Christmas here also...
  • FAMILY in town!  I missed Taralynn, Kory, Bowen and Scott A LOT, but we were lucky to have Jay's sisters and their families all here.  It was so much fun to be together!  Our house and Mel's was full!  Just as it should be at Christmas time :)  
  • Jay and Jason went skiing (meeting up with friends) the weekend before Christmas.  THREE boys came home with broken bones.  Ouch!  Happy it wasn't either of them but bummer for those boys.
  • Service with a smile!  We got to wrap, wrap, wrap, helping a family.  No better way to feel the Christmas spirit than through service.  Many hands made the work light!
  • Lots of good food!  Mexican for Christmas Eve!  Cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate for Christmas morning!  Ham/potatoes and a divine green salad with pears for Christmas day.  Sweets and snacks continually!  Again, many hands made the work light!
  • Christmas morning began at seven!  We had a crowd in Grandpa's living room!  Unwrapping took a few hours!  "Santa Mella" always does a fine job! 
  • Sister missionaries came over for lunch Christmas day!  It was fun hearing about their phone call as I was still anticipating mine--that was still NINE hours away!
  • Christmas movie tradition--saw LesMiserables this year!  What a wonderful message - my favorite message?  "To love another person is to see the hand of God."

The company has been slowly leaving.  It is better having them leave in shifts than all at once!  Life will be back to normal too soon!  The best part of normal will be Scott's letters on MONDAYS! 
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that your families are well and happy.

Christmas night I lay in bed and summarized the season this way…
1.     We began the Christmas season early in the month with an Andreasen 12 Days of Service.  Jill compiled it all, beginning with these choice words... And it came to pass that the Andreasen Family members were in the same country, yea, the same United States, and lo, they desired to do service for the space of two weeks. And this, in part, is the service they did...
2.    Christmas Eve, after we knelt in family prayers we read Luke 2.  In part we were reminded that…She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
3.     Christmas night, I felt a little like Mary, as I lay pondering on the season and the joy I had felt throughout…and I kept all these things, and pondered them in my heart.  This is what life is all about!

How grateful I am for this Christmas season!  The Savior lives!  Families are Forever! 
And Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!

With love always,  

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Yes, Amy and I went to Hawaii.  It was a reletively quickly planned trip in some ways but in others it was long in coming.

Amy graduated from BYU in April of 2011.  She spent her last semester of college at home doing an internship.  When graduation was approaching we talked about going to Utah so she could "walk" and enjoy the graduation festivities.  But Amy chose not to do that.  Since I didn't walk at my college graduation I was not one to argue with her.  So we talked that as her gift we would go on a trip.

Well, we looked at possibilities off and on.  We looked into traveling to Florida or Seattle or Boston.  Nothing really grabbed Amy's attention enough to really go for it.  So we kept going through the day to day living and were happy.

Amy's boss and his wife went to Hawaii.  Amy was telling me about their trip and I got to looking at how much it cost to fly there etc.  I found a great deal.  So I said to Amy, "Do you want to go to Hawaii?"  The answer was YES!  So we booked it.

Happy graduation Amy!  I love you!

Here's a few highlights of our trip.  We just "happened upon" the great airfare and that seemed to be the way our trip went too...

We "happened upon" the swap meet after arriving in Honolulu (well, we found it eventually...after getting lost a couple times and deciding that the GPS was lost!) 

We "happened upon" the most beautiful beaches around!  So gorgeous...clear, blue, warm water!

Youngest Surfer in the Competition - 20 years old
We "happened upon" the Opening Ceremonies of the Quicksilver Surfing Competition (in Memory of Eddie Aikau) and were introduced to 52 surfers!  Didn't know any of them, but it was fun to see!

We "happened upon" some soft sand to remember some of our favorite boys!  (Jason's name only got a picture with Amy's phone.  Sorry don't have one of those!)  We missed them all and were happy that they were kind to us even though we traveled without them this time!

Jackie was holding up her chins!
Dave wouldn't turn the face around...He WASN'T DONE YET!
The workshop was FULL of so many creations of Dave.  He does amazing work!

We "happened upon" Dave and Jackie (missionaries at the Polynesian Cultural Center - PCC).  Well, really we planned to see them.  We stayed with them!  They were so nice and it was so fun to talk to them about their mission.  Talk about WORK!  They never quit!  They had just finished the "season" of the Haunted Lagoon at the PCC and now were working feverishly on getting things ready for the Christmas Lagoon, which began soon after we left.  Dave creates the most amazing things--darling, fun, and so happy!  They help a the singles ward there at BYU-Hawaii so we met some of their young friends at church and then that night attended a Break the Fast dinner with all the senior couples that serve at the PCC or BYU-Hawaii and their families.  They are humble missionaries - giving all the credit to the Lord and have had some amazing experiences.

A day at the Polynesian Cultural Center
A little spear throwing in Tonga!


We "happened upon" the beautiful temple and were able to do some service there and enjoy the Visitor's Center.  What a blessing temples are to unite families together forever!
Christmas tree decor at the Visitor's Center - complete with a Russian ornament!

They warned us that the waterfalls were only a "trickle today"!  But there wasn't even a TRICKLE!  I was disappointed...

But the garden areas that we walked to get to the "falls" made up for it!  BEAUTIFUL!
I want a tree like this in my yard!
A very beautiful place! 
Decided to try this out for lunch!
We were NOT disappointed!  The banana bread was to die for!  and I don't even like banana!
But the farm out back was the real treat!  The banana trees took me back to my semester abroad days in 1984...working in the banana fields at the Kibbutz in the Galilee!  Oh my goodness!  Great memories!
see the bananas?!

The Dole Plantation!
Complete, of  course, with PINEAPPLE ICE CREAM!
Everyday was beach day!  We loved every beach and every ray of sun!  (and yes, we got in the water too!)
We stayed at the beach til we couldn't stay any longer!  The sunset was perfect!
On the plane headed to Honolulu, Amy "happened upon" a calendar of events in the airplane magazine .  WICKED was in town!  Amy melted my heart by buying the tickets as a "thanks for the trip, Mom" gift!  What a girl!  It was WICKED!

Like I said earlier, the rest of the family were good sports about us leaving them behind.  We would have loved having them with us.  I know it wasn't easy for any of them.  Here's a few examples...

from Scott - 
"Amy and mom be safe in Hawaii! Take pics for me and think of me freezing my rastafarian ne'ne's off here in Russia while you're on the beach."

"Take some pictures for me in Hawaii you lucky ducks! I got the ones Amy sent and it looks like great weather and everything. Here the weather isn't bad yet. It is probably in the 40's during the day and rainy most nights. It snowed once but melted pretty fast."

Jay and Jason survived without us - missing us most, I  think, on Sunday when they realized they didn't have anything for dinner...and couldn't go out!  They had told me not to leave them any food, except cold cereal because they were just going to go out everyday! I believed them because the last time I left town I left a lot of food and they didn't eat any of it!  So I didn't leave them much...hmmm. Funny boys.

and our favorite text from Taralynn and Bowen - "enjoying a duck in the tub rather than sand in the ocean.  much cleaner!"

Taralynn had double duty at work with Amy gone and one day she even had triple duty with another employee gone.  She was a trooper and deserved the Most Dedicated Worker and kindest Sister/Daughter award!  Luckily she had Bowen's smile!  He's the cutest boy EVER!

So there you have it! 

with love always,