Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chehalis Flood Cleanup

A few weeks ago we had some very heavy rainstorms that lasted for days. It is common to have a long string of rainy days in the northwest, but it's usually just a trickle or short lived.
After so much heavy rain, something finally gave and the Chehalis/Centralia WA area (just 70 miles south of us) experienced massive flooding. The result was similar to what we all saw happen with Katrina, but on a much smaller scale. Still, for those affected, it was a disaster.

Homes and businesses were flooded with anywhere from 1 to 10 feet of water. Those on higher ground were not affected. A stretch of I-5 is at a low point in that area and was completely shutdown for nearly a week.Homes and businesses were flooded with anywhere from 1 to 10 feet of water. Those on higher ground were not affected. A stretch of I-5 is at a low point in that area and was completely shutdown for nearly a week.

Here are some links of some pictures to give you and idea:

One of the photos that shows the area we were. I helped with the two houses outlined in yellow.

Auburn was hardly affected by any of this and we continued on with our lives as if nothing happened. Then one day we got word that the church needed a bunch of volunteers to go down and help with the cleanup. I wasn't aware of how bad things were for some people down there and wasn't sure what to expect, but I felt like I needed to go down and help.

Our ward went down as a group so that we could work together. When we got to the stake center in Chehalis, all we saw was a bunch of people with these funny yellow shirts and white buckets. I had never help with something like this before, but I soon learned that the yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" shirts and white cleanup up buckets are supplied by the church for disaster cleanup.

Our group was given an address to go help at. It included the owners name and number and a bit about their situation. It turned out that this was an older man who lived near the freeway and had his house flooded with 5-6 feet of water. The flood had come on pretty quickly and he ended up waiting it out in the second floor of his house for about 30 hours until someone came to help him.

We first started cleaning out his shed, which was completely flooded. The inside of it looked like a tornado had passed through with even the heaviest objects tipped upside down. It's amazing what water can do.

Apparently he understood the importance of food storage because he had a fridge and a large freezer in his shed with lots of meet, frozen veggies, etc. Too bad the flood wiped it all out. The stench was THICK -- hence the respiratory masks.

The house was still salvageable, but everything on the first floor that was flooded had to be thrown out including furniture, counter tops, cabinets, carpet, tiling -- everything. We basically became a demolition crew and helped him gut the bottom floor. While you felt really bad for these people who lost so much, I have to admit that demolition work is a lot of fun. My favorite part was when I walked into his kitchen with a pick ax. The kitchen counter had just been prepped and made ready to bust out of there. It was good timing on my part to be the one person in the room with the biggest and most destructive weapon... I mean tool :)
Here's a pick of his house with a pile of garbage in front. All the streets affected by the floods were lined with huge piles of garbage waiting to be taken away.

Afterwards, we all went for pizza.

I was really glad to have had the opportunity to go down and help those in need. It was a very rewarding experience and now I have a sense of how the church organizes these efforts.

The following Monday the moms and kids got together and made some blankets for the children who lost their blankets in the flood. A second grade teacher down in the flooded area asked some of her students what they wanted for Christmas and all they wanted was a new blanket, because theirs was lost in the flood. The teacher was able to give those kids blankets, and they hugged them and buried their noses in them. Soon they found that some many kids in the area needed blankets, so the church was contacted and a Relief Society President asked several stakes in the area to donate blankets for "Operation Blankie". A friend of ours coordinated an after school activity where she invited many moms and kids over to cut and tie fleece blankets. It was a great experience for both the kids and the moms. In a little over 2 hours we tied 35 blankets.

Santa Claus is coming to town!

The kids are getting anxious for Santa to come next Monday night. Earlier this month Santa visited our neighborhood community center for "Donuts with Santa". The kids always look forward to seeing Santa, I do however think that Landon and Mason are more excited to get a donut!

Jacob isn't too scared of anyone still, so he had no troubles with Santa this year. He was taken with his bells.

Lydia wanted to get all dressed up for Santa, she is at such a fun age for Christmas!

Landon was all smiles seeing Santa (after he finished his donut). He had a list of stuff that consisted of mainly Pokemon stuff.

Santa has been Mason's hero forever. This is the first year, he hasn't dressed daily as Santa.

Moms' Christmas Party!

I am always up for a party, and what happens when 15 friends who are all moms of many get together at my house for a Christmas Party.... they don't go home until 3am.

Thank goodness it was a pajama party!

We always have a gift exchange which gets intense:

And we laugh ourselves till we cry......

We sip Hot Chocolate (this year we added a scoop of peppermint ice cream-yummy), and eat every morsel of delious food.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Savior of the World!

In celebration of our Stake's Sliver Anniversary, our stake put on the production of "The Savior of the World". It was a wonderful experience for Landon, Mason, Zeke and my Dad. Words can't describe this experience. Landon and Mason love to perform and have been in a number of plays for school and camps, but nothing compares to the spirit of this story of the birth of our Savior.

Landon and Mason sung a duet in Hebrew as temple boys. When they were given this part, I thought oh-no! I will never be able to help them with this. I am so grateful for some talented women in our stake that taught my boys their song.

  • Temple scene also. Zeke is in the middle.
    "Come Lord Jesus to the Manger.. may we see thy tender face"

    The entire cast and crew! Over 100 people it took to put this together.
    They transformed the foyers in our church with real Christmas trees, pictures of the Savior and beautiful music. It set the tone for the sweet spirit of this production.
    I attended the performance 4 times, and never got tired of it. Jacob came to 3 of the shows. By the last night he was so tuckered out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Beard

Note: Don't forget to look at the poll and vote for your favorite and least favorite facial hair styles on the right side of the page.

Ever since I started growing facial hair I wanted to grow a beard. I remember going a full week without shaving during my engagement to Stephanie, but she was away during that week and upon returning insisted that I shave it off. I tested her will a few more times after that, but to no avail.

This year our stake decided to do the Savior of the World production which we decided to participate in. At our first full practice the director gave us some assignments in order to prepare ourselves for the play. One assignment for the men was to start growing a beard. Score!!! I knew Stephanie wasn't going to like it very much, but I also knew this was my chance.

I wasn't allowed to start growing my beard immediately. I had to wait until Oct. 15. I thoroughly enjoyed the first week. The second week was itchy and bothersome, but still fun. By the third week the itch went away and I was still enjoying the moment. It took about four weeks for my beard to be full and grizzly. By the fifth week I was tired of it and decided a beard wasn't for me. It's not that it didn't grow in very well, I just didn't like the feel or the look of it. Stephanie never did like it, so I guess its good that I don't like it either.

In the end, I'm really glad I had the chance to grow it out because I've always wanted to experience a full beard. Now that its over I'll probably never grow it again or any other style of facial hair for that matter. Speaking of stylish facial hair (Stephanie would say that's an oxymoron) I decided I needed to capture a picture of as many different styles I could do before shaving it all off. That way I won't ever need to have facial hair again. The pictures below were taken on Dec. 1st (almost 7 weeks, or more precisely 47 days).

Full Beard

Lamb Chops and Gotee

Lamb Chops and Western Mustache

Western Mustache

70's Mustache

Clean Shaven

Obviously I like the clean shaven look best, but if I had to choose one with facial hair it would be the western mustach with lamb chops. I think that was also the favorite of our Priests Quorum. The plain mustache is definately my least favorite. How was that ever in style?!?

See the poll on the right side of our page to vote for your favorite and least favorite!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November Highlights!

This November has been very busy for our family. It has been a fun month, but unfortunately it's been hard to find time to blog. So here are some highlights of the happenings this last month.

The boys participated in Soccer and it ended the 2nd weekend of November. Zeke was the boys coach. He is a great coach, the boys love having him as their coach. We ended up with a great team. Landon and Mason also are getting to be pretty good soccer players.

Below is Mason playing defender. What can I say I think he knew I was taking his picture.
It's so him!

Landon stealing the ball.

Since the boys are in a 3rd/4Th split class at school, they participated in the 4Th grade Veteran's Program. It was a 1940's Melody. Mason had a speaking part and played the role of Frank Sinatra. The most exciting thing for him was being able to wear a suit.

Landon played one of many Jackie Robinson.

Thanksgiving came quick this year. Lydia loved helping Grandma in the kitchen this year. She claimed that the cherry pie was her own.

Doesn't it look YUMMY! I love Thanksgiving food, especially the Sweet Potatoes!

It was nice to go to my parent's house. Thanks for the great meal Mom and Dad!

It has become a tradition in our family to go into Seattle the day after Thanksgiving. I usually get up at 5am and hit a "Black Friday" sale. Then I come home get my family ready to head out the door up to Seattle for the Seattle Macy's Parade. It is such a fun colorful parade!

After the parade we hang out in Seattle.

Window Shopping....

Visiting the Teddy Bear Suite in the Sheraton Hotel Suite.

That night we checked into the Marriott and swam then relaxed after a day on our feet. We even experience a real fire drill in the hotel. The day was full of excitement.

Saturday Morning was the Seattle Kids Marathon. The boys have done this the last 3 years. They run a mile a day for the last month working up to 25 miles before the race. On Saturday they finish the last mile of the marathon, with hundreds of other kids. They run around the Seattle Center where the Space Needle is located. This final mile run is the funnest mile for the boys, it makes all the others worthwhile.

Here they are before the race with their friend Caleb.

The weather was so beautiful this weekend. After the race we hung out at the Seattle Center Fountain. Jacob loved it! He is such a good sport, waiting and watching the rest of his family participate in all these activities. We love him so much!!!

Finally.. the beard........ Stay tune to a post on the upcoming shave!

For those of you wondering why Zeke has the grisly look. He is a Temple Priest in a musical production that our Stake is putting on this weekend. It is called "The Savior Of the World". It has been a huge time commitment for our family (Landon and Mason are in it too), however it has been a touching experience for them, and has really been a great way to start out the Christmas Season.