Tuesday, September 9, 2014


August was a really wet month for Utah. We got about double out usual rainfall. With the exception of being drenched while watching a Real soccer game, I loved it! I really do like rain. I like to jog in slow, steady drizzles. I like to go for walks in the rain and when there is a good downpour, I like to open my front door and watch it. I like to listen to it pound onto the pavement. If there is thunder and lightning, it is even more of a treat! So far, September has started off rainy as well - YAY!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

McKayla's first meet

McKayla was really nervous for her first collegiate cross-country meet. She knew where she fit in on the Riverton High team (she was ALWAYS their top female runner) but she had no idea how she stacked up against her UVU (Utah Valley University) teammates. Last Saturday she had the opportunity to find out! She had her first meet at Utah State University against USU, Westminster, and University of Wyoming. Wyoming killed all over teams taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th. McKayla's teammate, Darian Sharp, took 5th and McKayla took 7th! I was really proud of her and thought she'd done great! She was 9 seconds behind Darian but only half a second ahead of her teammate and captain, Ivie Gonsalves so it was a close race. Her coach never says much but I can't imagine that he is not excited about this freshman!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Shan is 17!

Shanley Marie Morgan is 17 years old today. Yep, my baby girl is 17 and a junior in high school. Crazy! Even crazier is the fact that she should have been a senior and would have been had she come anywhere close to her due date! She was 2 1/2 weeks past her due date. I am NOT kidding! Part of that was my fault, I begged the doctor not to induce me. I wanted her to come on her own so badly. Finally, the doctor said we couldn't wait any longer and he induced me. I had tried EVERYTHING to make her come on her own - teas, cod liver oil, jumping on the trampoline, etc. No dice. On the good side, other than Alec, she was my shortest labor and I was able to give birth to her with no drugs - totally natural! Shanley was a very easy baby. She really didn't fuss and was so un-demanding that sometimes I would set her on the floor, get busy and forget about her, only to discover later that she'd just fallen asleep wherever I'd left her. Maybe that is why she was such a daddy's girl! She sure did love her daddy (and still does). Shanley is my most easy-going and funny child. She has such a great personality! She has always been really beautiful. She was always tall for her age and is still tall today. Shanley loves to dance, to hang out with friends, to eat, to watch TV/movies, to listen to music, and to be on social media. She is game to try new things - she's done soccer, softball, lacrosse, dance, cheer, cross-country, and track. Her younger cousins really adore her and hang all over her when we get together especially Ben and Kari's children. She is super giving and loving. She is patient with Alec. I am so glad to have Shanley as a daughter!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

1st day of school 2014

Shanley's first day of school was Monday. She is a junior. Truthfully, this is her picture from the second day. She wore sweats and a hoodie the first day. She was comfy but said people laughed that she didn't dress up for the first day like everyone else.
Shanley's favorites/info: Food: pizza Candy: Twix Treat: chocolate chip cookies with milk Color: green Subject: lunch TV Show: Pretty Little Liars Movie: Little Rascals Friends: Austin, Shaylynn Lovendahl, Baylie Whittaker, Chancey Free Time Activity: eat and sleep When she grows up, she wants to be a nurse. Alec went to school very prepared - sports section of the newspaper and a bagel! He started his final semester at South Valley School on Tuesday. He was really excited for school to start. His teacher is Trevor Stookey again.
Chandler is now an 8th grader and started school on Tuesday.
Chandler's favorites/info: Color: green Food: cinnamon rolls Candy: Skittles Treat: playdough ice cream Subject: P.E. Spare Time: Minecraft TV Show: American Ninja Warrior Movie: Frozen Friends: Mason Lahti What Chandler wants to be when he grows up: computer programmer

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

library fines

Kevin and I have a profound difference of opinion when it comes to library fines.  He thinks they are a waste of money.  I think it's very cheap entertainment.

I probably spend about $20/year on fines.   Occasionally, it is because I forget to return something but most often it is a conscious decision.  If I am in the middle of reading something when it becomes due and I am unable to renew it, I usually keep it until I finish it.  I figure the 15 cents a day is worth it!  I rarely buy books but use the library to read about 7-8 books per month.  That is 80-90 books per year for $20 which is a huge bargain!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A good day at the library

Truthfully, any day at the library is a good day but last week was an especially good day!

Our library does a summer reading program.  This year is the 75th anniversary of the county library system so they were rewarding those who participated with either (1) a new book or (2) $7.50 off their fines.

I had just gone over $10.00 in fines (which meant I couldn't check anything else out) so I definitely chose the $7.50 reduction in my fines!  On top of that, they gave me a free pass to the Museum of Natural History.

Those alone were cause for celebration but that wasn't all.  The library also does "Reader's Choice" twice a year.  Every time you read 5 books off the Readers Choice list, you get to pick a free book.  I had just finished my fifth so I also got to choose a new book.

$7.50, a museum ticket, and a new book - not a bad haul!!!

Oh yeah, let's not forget that I came home with 5 other books to read.  Heaven!

Monday, August 4, 2014

fun with Alec

Alec loves to be the center of attention and he loves the camera aimed in his direction! Sometimes, he just plain commands me to "take a picture, Mom!"

 We went to the float preview party. SLC hosts this event prior to the Pioneer Day Parade on July 24th to show off all the floats. I love being able to walk around and see the floats up close and in AIR CONDITIONING no less!
Alec was especially attracted to the BYU float!

 We also recently went to Hale Center Theater to see "Mary Poppins". It was supercalifragilisticexpealidocious! When Alec especially enjoys a show, he always wants his picture taken with a member of the cast. Mind you, he only wants a picture with the pretty female of the cast! heehee!

I'm not sure which Alec enjoys more - his Friday night pizza or having his picture taken? Both just puts him in pure heaven!

Monday, July 28, 2014

windshield luck


We bought a brand, spanking new car in February and McKayla and I drove it to a track meet in Idaho.  On the way home, we were hit by a rock and the windshield cracked badly.  We had owned the car less than a week.  Bummer!

My vote was to just leave it until right before inspection.  Last week Kevin decided he couldn't stand it anymore.  He took it in to be replaced and a couple hours and $300 later, it was as good as new.

Until today.  Kevin and I dropped Alec off at Camp K up Emigration Canyon. and on the way home, we were again hit by a rock.   The new windshield lasted all of 4 days this time.

Could we get any luckier?

Friday, July 25, 2014

how to change a flat tire

Disclaimer:  This is a proud-braggy-mom post.  If you dislike those, quit reading immediately.

Earlier this week, McKayla drove to the high school to meet a college teammate so they could run together.  As soon as she arrived, she called to tell me she had a flat tire.  She said there was a screw sticking out of the tire so it was going flat fast.  I told her I'd take care of it which translated means "I will call Dad as soon as he lands and have him take care of it."

I have learned how to change a flat tire and could probably do it if I had to;  however, I try to restrict all car knowledge to driving it and filling it with gas.  I am pretty good at those things.

Chandler woke up to head to cross-country practice and I told him about the flat tire so he hurried to get ready and informed me he'd change it.  I drove him to the high school extra early.  Sure enough, by the time practice started, Chandler had gotten out the spare, jacked the car up, and changed the tire.  One of his coaches noticed him and came over to help and found Chandler done.  He double-checked everything and said Chandler had done it perfectly.

Mind you, Chandler is 13 and a very scrawny-looking 13 at that.  I was super impressed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

clothing Chandler

After having two clothes-amassing girls, you'd think it would be a relief to be back to clothing a teenage boy.  Not really.

Will Chandler wear any of the many jeans or jean shorts that have been given him from our neighbor that are all in wonderful shape?  Not on your life.

Will he wear the nice button-up shirts that I've stored for him?  Nope.

Will he even wear clean clothes?  Well, if they are there but he doesn't really care.

Chandler is all about the comfort factor - warm-ups, athletic shorts, t-shirts, etc.  If it can be worn running, on the field, or on a sport court then he'll wear it. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sacrament Meeting talks

I have been attending A LOT of missionary farewells lately (2 or 3 each Sunday).  Last Sunday I listened to the first sentence by one of the young men and immediately thought, "this is one kid who knows how to give a talk."  Why did I think that?   Simply because he didn't start his talk with "I was asked to speak on..." or "The bishop asked me on Tuesday to..."  or "I really don't want to be doing this but...".  No, he just started speaking.  I loved it! 

After the meeting I told this young man that I was impressed that he knew how to give a talk and he told me it is all thanks to his dad.  This really got me thinking about how, in the church, we have children give primary talks, youth give 2 1/2 minute talks and ward members give talks but we NEVER have any classes or instruction on HOW to give a talk.

Now, I am one of those few who actually enjoy giving a talk.  I am not the best speaker but I feel like I do a pretty good job.  If I were ever asked to teach people how to give a talk (and that would be a pretty cool assignment), I know a few things I'd say.

1) Ask questions.  When someone calls to ask you to give a talk, by all means say yes but then ask them questions.  How long should my talk be?  Who else is speaking with me?  Will there be any musical numbers?  What order will I be in the program (must be more flexible if  you're last)?  Ask if all the speakers have the same topic or slight variations.

2)  Decide your focus.  The best topics have a very specific focus.  Look at the General Conference talk titles in the Ensign.  They don't say "Faith" but say "How Faith Helps You Endure Times of Trial". 

3)  Decide your type of talk.  Is it instructional or motivational?  Think about what you want to have happen as a result of your talk.  Do you want your audience to know different ways to study their scriptures or do you want them to feel inspired to feast upon their scriptures.  Write your talk with your end result in mind.

4)  Study, study, study.  Nothing beats good preparation.  Do not just show up and "let the Spirit guide you".  You have the sacred trust of the pulpit.  If you have 200 members in your congregation and you are speaking for 10 minutes that equates to 2000 minutes of people's time.  Time is a precious commodity.  Don't waste it by rambling incoherently.  Not much is worse than a speaker finishing the talk and having the audience wonder what the point/subject was.  I do believe that with a lot of prayer and faith, the Spirit will guide and direct you but only after you have done some serious preparation yourself.

5)  Write the talk.  Write it word for word or write a general outline - whatever works best for you.  Take into account your nerves.  You may think an outline will work but then you get nervous and can't remember what you planned to say.  On the other hand, if you write every word and then get nervous and read it, you will come off stiff and boring.

6)  Watch your introduction and conclusion.  Those will be what people remember most so especially take your time preparing these.  Do NOT start by telling people what you will be speaking on.  You will better engage your audience if they have to work to determine what your topic is (not to make it too obscure but get them actively listening as to where you are going with your starting quote or story or whatever).  Also, if you tell them what you are speaking on, they may tune you out as they mentally start thinking about what they would say on the subject.  Start your talk with a personal story or a powerful quote from a general authority or a scripture.  Just start right into the meat of the subject.

7)  Don't forget to testify.  Bear witness of what you are teaching.  It doesn't have to be at the conclusion.  You can testify anywhere in the talk.  Just make sure you do it!

8)  Practice.  With a timer.  Speak into the mirror or face a couch pretending it's your audience but make sure you speak it out loud.  Do it several times and time yourself each time so you can be certain you are taking your allotted time.  I don't care how engaging your talk is and how charismatic you are, if you go 10 minutes into Sunday School's time, you will have most of the congregation fidgeting in their seats and casting glances at the clock every 30 seconds.  The bishop will be wondering if he should stop you.  Every Primary and Sunday School teacher will be trying to determine what they can cut from their lessons to make them fit and they'll be mad at you because they spent hours on their preparation too!

9)  Look/listen for distracting mannerisms.  That's why I recommend practicing out loud in front of a mirror (or you could record yourself).  You need to know if you say "umm" every fourth word so you can try to stop that.  Or maybe you twirl your hair or run your hands back and forth along the pulpit.  These things are all very distracting and can take away from the message.  You are better off doing a death grip on either side of the pulpit and hanging on for dear life.  Practice removing those distracting elements from your talk.

10)  Relax.  Just remember you are speaking to a ward that already loves you.  No one is going to stone you for saying the wrong thing.  You won't be "fired" from your calling.    You most likely won't even have anyone come tell you didn't do a good job.  Pray for guidance and then trust in the Spirit.  Speak from the heart and people will be moved.  No one is expecting a professional public speaker. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

one sick kid

All of the late nights and long days during the week of the 4th must have caught up with Chandler.  By the time he raced on the 4th he wasn't feeling well at all.  He had a horrible cough.  He declined going to the Real game that night in favor of going to bed.  Saturday he did nothing all day except lay around.  The coughing continued.

About 9:30 that night he started moaning and ran into my bathroom.  He started throwing up repeatedly.  Then he stood up and ran into the doorframe cutting open his big toe before he passed out and hit his head on the toilet on the way down.

It was a bit scary.  He's never passed out before and even when he came to again, he couldn't stand or walk or sit.  Poor kid.  He got the chills and was shaking so badly and his face was devoid of any color.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


On July 2nd, the city of Oakley (small town really) invited Alec to participate in a Special Needs Rodeo. It was really more participation stations but Alec had a blast!

He got to ride the mechanical bull twice. He loved yelling "yee-haw" as he waved his hat around.

He learned how to rope and got to practice that. He actually roped the "steer" a couple of times and was thrilled with that!
Of course, Alec loved the pretty girls and couldn't pass up the chance to have his picture taken with the Oakley Queen attendants.
Alec also got to ride a horse which he really enjoyed!
Alec really got a great haul too! He got a t-shirt, bandana, baseball cap, cowboy hat, and a nice belt buckle for participating. Later, he caught one of the t-shirts they threw into the stands as well. After he participated in the rodeo events, they fed us pulled pork sandwiches, salads, cookies, and drinks. There were 9 of us (Me, Alec, McKayla, Shanley, Chandler, Brandon, Carson, Kelsie and Neal). They also gave all 9 of us tickets to the PRCA rodeo that night.

  I think Alec's favorite part was riding into and around the arena in the wagon. He loved this because everyone cheered and clapped. He LOVES being the center of attention!
We all enjoyed the rodeo and the fireworks afterwards. I had a hard time staying awake for the hour-long drive home. I did see a deer, though, and loved that!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

fun with Dawnette

Dawnette and 5 of her kids stayed with us for several days and nights.  This also meant that the Furnell kids were here as well a couple nights and a couple of Kelsie's friends from Texas also spent a  night.  So, we either had 12, 16, or 17 people sleeping here for 4 nights.  It was a bit chaotic but everyone had fun!

We played pretty hard.  Monday we went to the Church History Museum.  We did a picture scavenger hunt on Temple Square.  We visited the City Library and found Craig's name on the donor wall.  We went to Liberty Park and the kids played in the water.  We also toured Sweet's Candy Factory.

Tuesday the kids went to the temple, we had a picnic at BYU, and we went to the Orem Owlz baseball game.

Wednesday we did a historical scavenger hunt at Gardner Village, toured Mrs. Cavanaugh's Chocolate Factory, and went to Oakley for a Special Needs Rodeo followed by a PRCA rodeo and fireworks.

Thursday we went to a splash pad with Mom and Dad and with Jolyn's family.  Brakston and Whitney and Mason also joined us for that.  Then we went to the Riverton parade and then some of us went to "Frozen" in the park.

Friday Chandler raced a 5K.  Dawnette and her kids started their journey back to Texas.  Alec and I hung out at the Town Days celebration and then Alec and I went to the Real Salt Lake soccer game followed by fireworks.

Lots of fun!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


heigh-ho. it's off to work I go.
McKayla is still enjoying her job as a CNA at an assisted living center. One funny thing - she has now woken up twice in the middle of the night scared she fell asleep in a resident's room only to start down the hall and realize she is home. lol!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

family reunion

We held our family reunion at Heber Valley Camp where my parents are serving as missionaries. We were up there on Friday night and enjoyed dinner together and lots of visiting. Everyone was there except Spencer (Dawnette's oldest) and McKayla.

We experienced s'moritos (flour tortillas spread with peanut butter, sprinkled with marshmallows and chocolate chips, wrapped in tin foil, and roasted in the coals. We hiked. We saw deer and elk and chipmunks and some even saw a badger.

We ate well. We went canoeing and paddleboating on the lake. We roasted Starbursts and played the Skittles game. We also enjoyed the rope swings.

This is Whitney:
Even Alec went up on the swing:
Brakston took a turn:
Me on the swing:
Chandler liked it so much (and there was a bit of extra time) so he went twice:
My family left early Sunday morning in order to attend two mission farewells.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The New Job

McKayla got hired as a full-time CNA (certified nursing assistant) at Carrongton Court this week. It is an assisted living canter. She is excited to be using her training. She started on Wednesday and it was a baptism by fire! There were 100 extra patients that day because of some special event. She came home exhausted! Yesterday went much better and she came home in good spirits. She is just getting ready to walk out the door for day 3. Her shifts have either been 12-8:30 or 2-10:30. They feed her dinner. She has purchased several new pairs of scrubs and I must say that she looks cute in them! The only drawback McKayla can see is that she only has 19 days until Brandon leaves and this job will sure limit how much time she'll be able to spend with him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Med Cruise part 7 - the trip home

As awesome as our trip was, we were both ready to come home! We missed everyone and McKayla was worried about finishing up a few things for school and getting ready for graduation. It was on our way home that we experienced a miracle and for that we are truly grateful. That may be what we remember most from our trip. On Saturday, our last day in port, I checked the status of our flight. We fly standby (due to Kevin's job as a pilot). The price is right (our flight cost us less that $140 for both of us) but it can be stressful. Indeed, we were stressed when I saw that our flight was showing only 1 available seat and only 1 authorized meaning they could only sell one more seat. Sometimes the authorized is more because they know from past experience approximately how many people will not show up for the flight. In other words, the flight was full! To add to that, McKayla and I were only numbers 18 & 19 on the standby list. We were NOT going to get on that flight. There were also NO other options for getting out that day. We both started praying. We wanted to go home so badly. We talked about staying on the cruise ship until we had to depart (that way we'd be able to sleep in and get plenty of food before finding a hotel). In the end, we decided to trust the Lord that he would hear our prayers. The trip to the airport was a nightmare. I didn't have enough Euros to take a cab (found out later that I still had 10 Euros but I had just overlooked it - that would have solved all our problems). We didn't even think we had enough to take the Metro. So, we walked to where we had gotten off the bus from the airport. That bus was only 1.90 Euros each on our way there. We got there only to find out that they imposed a tax on the trip to the airport so it was 5.90 Euros each. Not a problem because there was a credit card machine I could use to buy the tickets. NOT! The machine wouldn't take my card because I didn't have a PIN number to enter (it was a credit card not a debit card). I might've been able to override that but I couldn't read the instructions because I don't speak or read Spanish. So, we decided to try the Metro. We did have enough Euros for that so we got on but when we had to switch trains, we found out that Barcelona does their Metro in zones so you have to pay for each zone. We were going to cover 3 zones. Crap! So, we found an information booth that told us there was a hotel upstairs that would change our dollars for Euros. The hotel refused. So, we were heaven only knows where in Barcelona with no Euros. Luckily, we found a cab that would take my credit card (although he had some difficulty with that too). We got to the airport and checked our flight status again. No change. Still only 1 seat and we were 18 & 19 on standby. I checked other flights leaving Barcelona and all were overbooked. We still continued to wait. Next thing we knew, they actually paged me. I went up to the gate agent and she told me they could get one of us on. That was a miracle in and of itself. How in the world? I went back to tell McKayla and she started crying (understand she is NOT a crier - EVER). She didn't want to leave me stranded alone in Barcelona and she was also afraid she would get stuck in NYC. There was no guarantee she'd get on the flight from NYC to SLC and I warned her that no hotel would rent an 18-year-old a room for the night - she'd be spending the night in the airport if she didn't get on the flight to SLC. (I forgot that Kevin would be checking and could've flown to NYC so she wouldn't be alone there). McKayla didn't know what to do but I decided she needed to take the flight. We went back to the gate agent and told her we'd take the seat. I think the agent could see McKayla was upset and she told me, don't have her get on yet. We may still get you both on. Guess what? They did! We both got on!!!!! Apparently, there was a guy ahead of us on the standby list who was flying with someone who was below us. He was hoping we would say we wouldn't split up because then his companion would have gotten on. Instead, when we said we'd take the seat, that guy decided to reamin in Barcelona with his companion. I was so grateful we'd made the decision to split up! We boarded the plane still unable to believe that numbers 18 & 19 on the standby list were going home! More people did not show up for the flight than expected and most people from the standby list hadn't shown up figuring they'd never get on. It turned out to be exceptionally fortuitous that we got on that flight because we watched the flights for the next couple of days and they were so full that we wouldn't have gotten home until Wednesday. We even made it onto the NYC-SLC flight so we were home in our own beds Sunday night! So thrilled about that! It had been a very long day (we had been up for almost 24 full hours) but we were home! I testify the Lord hears and answers prayers and can perform miracles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Med Cruise part 6 - this and that

This was my fourth cruise and McKayla's third; however, it was our first time on Norwegian. We loved it! They did a few extras that we just liked such as meeting us before we boarded but after our shore excursions with glasses of cold lemonade or ice water. They were also very conscientious about sanitation spraying our hands before we entered dining areas and when we reboarded the ship. They had freestyle dining so we had lots of choices about when and where we ate. Also, they had crepes every night and McKayla and I took advantage of that each night. I usually had a nutella/strawberry crepe and McKayla usually had 2 strawberry and cream crepes. Yum!

This ship was also the very largest one we've ever been on or have even ever seen. It was really large but this picture does not do it justice.
We had awesome entertainment on board. We saw a Cirque Dreams show that was great! We also saw Legends in Concert which was singing impersonators like Prince. Our very favorite was Blue Man Group! They were awesome and so much fun!
It is always a treat to watch the sunsets when you're at sea!
The ports had their share of street entertainers. Italy was filled with "statues" like this lady who looked like a gold statue:
or this man who appears to be sitting in mid-air:
They had this large movie screen on the back of the ship and McKayla enjoyed a movie or two from our lounge chairs.
I always love the towel animals! It is so much fun to go to your room at night and find what animal they've made for you.
They also had what they called Epic Bounce. You could bounce really high on this trampoline and do front and back flips. McKayla was really good at the flips.

Of course, there were also the usual accoutrements. Soft serve ice cream anytime you want. Basketball and soccer courts. Games and activities. We went to a Q&A with the captain, head chef, and activities director and the info they told us was interesting. I joined a "Name That ABBA Tune" game and won that. Then I won the Sudoku puzzle challenge and then I also won a general trivia contest. For all of my efforts, I won a Norwegian cruise line water bottle. Mostly, McKayla and I just had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Med Cruise part 5 - Cannes

After Florence, Cannes was my next favorite place! Part of that may stem from the fact that the previous 2 days had involved lots of walking and some stress as we'd traveled on our own and then Cannes was just a welcome, relaxing reprieve. We had decided that Cannes would be a great place to relax on the beach and we did!

The Mediterranean was so incredibly blue that I was in love with it instantly!
There were yachts everywhere.
McKayla and I walked down the street until we found this stretch of Midi Beach. We laid out our towels, stripped down to our swimsuits, read, and took naps. The temperature was absolutely perfect! The sun was warm on my skin but the breeze was cool so the day was very pleasant. I splashed around in the water a bit. The water was a bit chilly at first but after the initial shiver it just felt refreshing as well. The sand was nice too.
We climbed up a hill going up a very picturesque narrow street and had incredible views from the top.
We saw a man on his rooftop gardening. We also saw this lady out hanging laundry.
Originally we had thought we might take the ferry to St. Marguerite Island but decided not to. St. Marguerite is home to the fort that was the inspiration/film piece for "Man in the Iron Mask". This is the view of the island from our ship.