Our Family

Our Family

Friday, December 31, 2010


This is not the  POOF from a fairy tale where something magical happens by the wave of a wand.  Oh, I wish it could have been that simple after this 'POOF' event!

We had our traditional crepes for Christmas Eve dinner with raspberry filling & powdered sugar all rolled up and topped with whipped cream with link sausages & bacon on the side.  (No such thing as gooseberries available in Florida.  Will have to have mom send me some in time for next year).  John and Parker favor putting the meat in the crepe.  Anyway you do it they are delicious and filling! 

Christmas Day morning after we saw what Santa brought and opened presents I decided to get the kitchen straightened up a bit.  First thing I did was grab the powdered sugar container off the counter to return it to the pantry.
Apparently the lid wasn't on tight.  The powdered sugar went POOF!  Everywhere, all over!

 All down the counter, around the corner and all over the floor!

 Even down inside the soda box all over the cans all the way to the bottom.

 All the way across the floor to the next wall.
 Into the pantry, inside buckets and onto every available surface.
Who knew powdered sugar could POOF so much but POOF it did.  This was not how I wanted to start my Christmas morning!  Macey, however, jumped right in and volunteered to help me clean it all up.  It wasn't nearly such an unpleasant task with her help. 
 The bright side of it all was that the pantry got a little makeover so it was a little neater when it was all said and done.  It just wasn't the funnest wiping off jars, jugs, boxes, plastic cups and shaking it off napkins in our 'paper products' bucket.  Oh, well.  It could have been worse.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Wallet & A Prayer! (a little like a wing & a prayer)

On Sunday morning when I was helping to get John's bag ready for church - scriptures, notebook and the like I noticed his wallet wasn't in it.  My instant thought,"oh, mmm, it must be in the car."

On Monday night as John was getting ready to leave to go home teaching he asked if I had had a chance to look for his wallet.  Well, uh, no - cause I didn't really know it was lost.  A slight sense of concern started to creep in.  After he left I went out in the dark and tried to comb through the vehicles - glove box, pockets, floor, under the seats.  You know the drill.  Not there.

Tuesday morning I checked the car John was driving the night before.  Still no wallet.  Once we were up and going that morning we talked about when it was last in 'our' possession.  We had all gone last minute shopping together on Wednesday, Dec. 23rd.  John & Parker needed to stop at WalMart (shopping for me).  They got me some good stuff too - pedicure & nice shampoo!

Anyway, back to the wallet . . . John was sure he had given me his wallet to put in my purse or had actually left it in the car.  He thought he had only taken his credit card into the store (made more convincing on his part because he had asked me if stores asked for ID).  Parker, however, was certain he had his whole wallet in with him.   

We combed through the cars again just to be certain it really wasn't there.  After John left for work, the kids and I (mostly I) proceeded to go through the house piece by piece to try and find it.  Our biggest fear was that it really was lost or that it had gotten thrown out.  We thought maybe the wallet had been in the bag with the shampoo (last purchase) and had gotten pitched with the bag.  By this time the trash truck had already been to our house.  All the wrappings & remnants of Christmas were gone.

I looked and looked - for 3+hours - couch cushions, cleaned my craft room & garage (where Christmas had been hiding), looked in buckets, under beds, dressers, bookcases, couches, chairs.  Nothing, nada!

At some point during all this that morning I had asked Parker to say a prayer.  Since I'm in the middle of it all and frustrated and more - I thought their prayers might have a better chance of being heard since it is being delivered with a better spirit.  I do have faith though, right? or I wouldn't be thinking as a parent to stop and do this?

Ok - the wallet wasn't anywhere at home.  I had checked and there hadn't been any charges so that was a blessing.  Our last resort was to check back at WalMart.  I was going to take a shower and get ready for the day - nevermind, let's just go.  I told Macey to go choose me some clothes so I could at least be dressed.  Just before we pulled out of the driveway I suggested we say another prayer.  Macey asked if she could say it this time.  Bless her heart.

Off to WalMart we go.  We went first to the hair salon and asked there.  She said no wallet had been turned in but to check with customer service.  So I got in the 'return' line to wait while Parker & Macey headed back to look at the toys together.  As I was waiting I sort of decided which customer service person I was hoping I would get to help me.  Sometimes there is one that seems a little more competent than the others.  One that seems a little more proactive or seems to give more customer service.  She was the one closest to me.

I did get her.  I explained the situation.  She looked behind her on a shelf, not there.  She went in the back room behind the locked door.  When she came back I could tell it wasn't there without her saying anything.  I knew she didn't want to tell me that.  Then she bent down & looked below her register on the shelves that must be there. As she stood up guess what she had in her hand?!  My immediate response was, "that's it!" Tears came to my eyes.  She said I was really lucky.  It hadn't gotten logged into the lost and found binder and it wasn't where lost wallets were suppose to be put.

I should have told her we weren't just lucky - it was an answer to two young kids prayers!

Lost on Wednesday.  Found on Tuesday.  Miraculously everything was intact - nothing was missing.  I immediately went and called John.  He was grateful for our efforts and our prayers. 

(Note to husband:  Lost wallets and lost keys are usually not attributed to any fault or misplacement by the wife.  Rather the wife is the seeker & finder of said items!  Love you.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas! From a Missionary Mom!

Christmas Tree 2010

I don't know that I've ever done a post without a picture.  I saw a friend do just that and thought why didn't I think of that.  It just seems like it takes so long sometimes to find the 'just right' picture.  Since this is sometimes, somewhat of a journal of sorts I think I should do just that - post with no pictures - just say a few words.

Funny thing is I just found a few perfect pictures - so pictures it is.
Stockings were hung all in a row with great care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

We got to talk to our two missionary sons today.  Elder Austin Smith called at around noon.  It was so awesome to hear his voice.  We talked to him for almost an hour on the phone before Elder Riley Smith called via video skype from an internet cafe in Albania.  We were able to hold the cell phone close enough to the computer for the two Elders to converse with each other a little bit.  They were able to ask each other a few questions.  Skype is a little hard to hear at times and there is a little bit of a delay.

While talking to Austin in the beginning we were able to conference in his Grandma Swensen.  At the tail end of Riley's call we were able to get Grandma Lois on the phone and hold it up real close to say a quick hi and Merry Christmas.  The amazing marvels of technology!

There's so many things you want to say and then you can't remember what.  Through it all our greatest appreciation goes out to those in the areas where they serve that love and take care of them as their own.  We cannot express our appreciation and gratitude enough.  Tear fill my eyes and my heart swells with love for you and hope you know it.  I hope that blessings to you and yours will come full circle someday.

Elder Austin Smith has told us of fun families & their kids and many dinners - their latest meal included authentic Chinese food including duck & octupus and was really good.  In the last week he has reconnected/met two families that we knew when we lived in that area 14+ years ago. 

Elder Riley Smith was going to a members home tonight and he and the other 3 Elders had made dishes to contribute to the meal.  Riley had made homemade mashed potatoes and attempted to make stuffing.  He said he hadn't tasted it yet so he hoped it wasn't too bad. 

We are grateful for our sons, we miss them more than mere words can convey.  Our hearts are with them every moment, but we wouldn't want them to be anywhere else at this time in their lives.  We know that this experience will shape them and build them into greater men.  They will be blessed for their efforts to do good and to testify of Christ.

We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!  May you keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart all year through.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who's There?!

 Well the missionaries of course!  Our thoughts are often of the missionaries of our church who are spending two years of their lives serving others and sharing their testimonies, teaching and convictions of their Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Our thoughts have turned often to our own two sons doing this same thing especially at this time of year as we celebrate more than one holiday and we miss even more the opportunity of being together as a family.

Elder Riley Smith has been gone for over a year now.  He is serving in Albania.  He hit his one year on October 21, 2010.   He has had many new experiences - new language, different food, cold showers, no electricity - but many learning experiences as well.  He has learned to do audits, be in charge of buying a new car in a foreign country for his mission president, negotiate leases and work with the German Embassy for visas for members to attend the temple in Germany.

Elder Austin Smith is serving in the Seattle Washington area.  He will have been serving for 6 months on December 2, 2010.  He is the one that sent us the first picture.  His humor is still intact and his smile as well.  It has always been infectious.  He is serving in somewhat familiar territory.  John's family (his dad's) family all live in Washington State.  John's sister and niece both live within Austin's mission boundaries.  He is currently serving in part of the area where we lived 14 years ago.  Some people we knew then are still there now.  What a small world. 

We have faith that the Lord has his hand in the many workings in each of our individual lives.  He knows us and loves us.  There is purpose in the places he sends us, the places we end up and the experiences we have in this life. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful #3

I am thankful for 1...2...3...4 wonderful children.  They are each lovable and unique in their own way.

 Elder Riley Smith is serving a church mission in Albania.  He is our oldest son.  He is articulate and a go getter.  He is an amazing son.

Elder Austin Smith is serving a church mission in the Seattle, Washington area.  He is such a hard worker and has a heart of gold.  He has the best smile and gives the best bear hugs a mom could ask for.

Parker is the middle middle child or so he tells us.  He has a great heart and is a wise old soul.

Macey is our only girl.  She is our no frills girl most of the time.  She loves climbing trees, being outside, the color green and most of all alligators.  Sounds like a Florida girl at heart.  But then she surprises us by wanting her her nails done or something just so.  She has a tender heart and tries hard to be friends with everyone she meets.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful #2

Then . . .

I am thankful for my husband.  We have been married for 24 years now.  There are so many things I love about him.  We are different in many ways but the same in the ones that matter most.  What are the things I love about him, you ask . . . let me count the ways!  (I'll just name a few).

1.  He balances me out in so many ways.
**I tend to be too loud and he is more reserved.  This has taught me to think before I speak.
**I have a hard time falling asleep and he has a hard time staying awake.  I am a nightowl (or used to be) and  he is the one that lets me know when it's time for bed. 

2.  I try to do too much and he reigns me back in.  He lets me know it's ok, that I don't have to fix everything for everybody.  Yet he supports me in my endeavors.

3.  He doesn't complain that I'm not a good cook.

4.  He still says I look awesome!  He doesn't notice the wrinkles, veins, cellulose and all.

5.  He has a hairy chest that I've always loved.

6.  He is a hard worker, humble, honest and caring.

7.  He is a great speaker.  I love listening to him tell me stories, discuss the gospel or catch up on the news.

8.  He remembers everything - things he reads, people, places and moments in life.

9.  He takes good care of us, loves us and loves spending time together as a family.

10.  He is mine - now and always!  Forever!

We enjoy most of all the fall and the few cooler days we get here in Florida.  It gives us time to spend watching BYU Football together and taking longer walks in the evenings.  The cooler days allows me to snuggle a little closer and a little longer. I love it when he nuzzles my neck just as much now as 24 years ago.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thankful #1

So with today being Sunday . . .

I am thankful . . . for my Savior, Jesus Christ.

For his Birth.

For his Life.

For his Teachings.

For his Ministry.

For his Sacrifice.

For the knowledge that he will Come Again.

Since "a picture paints a thousand words" and "actions speak louder than words". . .  these pictures should give me and everyone else much time to reflect today.

A Time Of Thanksgiving

There are many others who have had the idea to choose one thing a day (or more) to jot down during this time of Thanksgiving.  I am behind but I thought I would try to do the same.  It isn't that I don't have that many things to be thankful for - because oh, I do.  It is more a feeling of inadequacy in articulating these feelings that swell up in you and not being able to do them the justice they deserve as one tries to translate them into words on paper.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Macey's Flat Me Visits the Prophet

For Activity Days, Macey and her Activity Day group made "Flat Me's".  Their leader, Sister Shaw, thought that it would be neat to make them and send them to the prophet.  They sent a note that said they wished they could be in the presence of the prophet.  But since they couldn't they would love to have a picture of President Monson and their Flat Me's.  Off it went and a few weeks later they came back. Sister Shaw got up in Sacrament Meeting to share what had happened. I knew as soon as she started talking that she had received the pictures back. I started getting teary eyed (then cried).  What a special picture and memory to have. Macey was lucky enough to be seated right next to President Monson (in the red shirt).  We aren't so lucky to really sit next to President Monson, but I can feel his spirit just looking at this picture.  Seated left to right: Flat Macey Smith, President Thomas S. Monson, Flat Janiel Prime and Flat Ali Reeve.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

B. . .Y. . .U . . . Cougars! Go Cougars!

We hope a little cheering from the very depths of Florida will give a boost to our BYU football team!  We love BYU football.  It is the one sport I can follow and actually know something about.  I can usually tell what the penalty is when it happens - offsides, pass interference, etc.

This is one of the first games we watched from our living room with Macey all decked out in all her BYU apparel!IMG00104-2010 09 04-1927; byu girl (2)

 As a treat John bought tickets for all of us to attend the BYU vs. Florida State game played in Tallahassee, FL. We were able to attend the fireside put on by the BYU Football team the night before the game. It was literally standing room only. This is Parker & Macey after the fireside standing in front of one of the buses after the players had loaded.

Fall football in Florida = HOT! It was probably one of the hottest days we've had. We were all hot before the game even started!

Good thing we brought sweat rags to mop our brows! We took refuge during half time by the concessions in the shade trying to cool down a bit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Dad Is Our Hero and More!

I had to go into John's office for something.  He had an apple in his lunch.  He proceeded to tear it in half with his bare hands.  I was amazed!  In all these years I don't think he had shown me this trick of his.  I had him give me the apple to take home to Macey to show her.  She thought it was the coolest thing.  She wanted her own demonstration!


She didn't waste any time in making use of the 'cut' apple by devouring it as her after school snack!

First Day of School 2010

This year Parker is in 6th grade and started middle school at Oak Ridge Middle School.  Macey is in 4th grade at Laurel Oak Elementary.


Did anyone notice the missing shoe in the picture?  Too funny!
I must have been hurrying him to get their picture taken as I was headed out the door to get Macey to the bus that day.  Macey catches the bus at 7:51am and Parker at 8:29am.  There are two bus runs for the elementary bus.  Macey's is the second run but that also means she gets home later after school.  She gets home at 3:15p and Parker at 4pm.

We've been down this path before.  Parker and Macey are about exactly where Riley & Austin were in school when we first moved to Naples, FL ten years ago! Time just keeps passing by.

Parker was excited about middle school and has adjusted well to having 7 classes each day with different teachers, textbooks, notebooks, locker and all that comes with it.  He makes friends easily and for the most part has learned to "be like a duck".  Let the insignificant things roll off his back.

We had a little incident a couple of weeks ago - I got a call from the Dean of Discipline.  Parker had punched a kid in the arm and swore at him.  He was more upset that he had to tell me!  Some kids started ribbing others about girls.  Parker liked a girl last year - sorta - it really just resulted in them being really good friends.  Well they started ribbing him about it at lunch.  It made him mad and he told someone to "go to hell."  Yikes. Where did that come from?  That is way out of character for him.  Well that someone then told his friend, the girl, that he said it about her.  Not good.  The ribbing continued in band.  Parker ended up punching the kid and telling him the same thing again.

It didn't escalate.  The boys are on friendly terms.  Parker was able to talk to the girl and make sure she knew what he said wasn't directed at her.

John had told him last year when he was getting 'bugged' that he would rather that he stand up for himself and deck someone if he needed to.  Not that I disagree but then there's the school rules and those two don't always agree.  In the end it was a good learning experience and an opportunity to talk through things and how things might be better handled in the future.  Thus the comment to "be like a duck."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Swensen Family Reunion - June 1010

We had some fun pictures taken at our Swensen Family Reunion at Shepherd's Creek in Texas. It's been so long since I updated I thought maybe I could add just a few new pictures real quick to give a preview or new things to come! It's amazing what a good camera and a good photographer can do!
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Wonders of Washington!

Parker, Macey and I spent 3 weeks in Toledo, Washington at John's mom's house. Memories is what it is all about. The weather was wonderful and the kids spent most of the time outside! They created several forts. The last one was with actual hammer, nails and wood. They built a two story one! They were pretty proud of it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mt. St. Helen's - Before, After & Now

John grew up in Toledo, WA which is the gateway to Mt. St. Helen's. It erupted on the day he was suppose to graduate from high school - May 18, 1980. It is amazing the devastation it caused and how it has come back in the many years that have followed. It has, however, taken time to get back to some of its original beauty and recover from the eruption. See more of its history at: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/05/mount_st_helens_30_years_ago.html