Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Disney's Try-Athelon Contest

I was on a website the other day and it said, "Win a trip to Hawaii" and I thought, "I would sure love to win a trip for my girls." So, I clicked on the link and read all the rules and thought I should enter. As you know by reading yesterday's post, we are big believers in contests. So, see below for the page layout of the contest and my "story" of how we changed our lives to eat better.

Disney's Magic of Healthy Living

Dehydrated Snack Attack
Contest Photo by: tejaeres
Category: New Foods
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Tell us your story:
Having 5 girls, I know body image is an issue. I wanted to help my girls & others make healthier eating choices. I felt if I had nutritious food available, it would be easier for them to choose healthier snacks. I started dehydrating fruits, seeds and veggies. We enjoy them dried & I began using them in cooking and baking. We keep sectioned containers with dried fruits, veggies, & fresh fruits on the counter. To help other as well, we write a blog & post how we dehydrate to eat healthy.

It really is amazing how putting that fruit on the counter has changed the way the girls eat. They love dried fruit and their friends enjoy it as well asking for it when they come over to watch a movie or something.

Just today, Princess number five came home and told me that one of her friends was talking to a boy about how we always have dried fruit on our counter. I laughed and laughed because I had just entered the contest last night.

When my children go to a party where they are supposed to take a pot luck item or I go to a pot luck, we take the tray. When I go to the singles game night, I take the tray. If I forget it, someone always asks for it. It is usually empty by the time we go home.

Once someone tries the fruit, it doesn't take long before they are addicted to a certain fruit and ask if I add anything and how I dehydrate them. I have never added anything to the fruit other than salt once in awhile on grapefruit or melon if I am eating it and the only other time is on tomatoes if I have tons, just to give it variety.

There have been so many times when someone eats some of the fruit and ends up buying their own dehydrator. I usually suggest if they are going to do apples that they buy the apple, peeler corer.

Just Sunday, Princess number 1 called asking a few questions about how I prepare the apples as she used her new Bosch mixer, copper/slicer attachment to do some apples but they were a bit thinner than I like and was asking about drying times as she is using her dehydrator for the first time.

I should have had her send me some photos I could post as this was the big day she would take off her first batch of dried fruit! She got some apples for Christmas they couldn't finish eating raw and thought they would probably eat more if they were dried.

So, take my advice if you haven't yet, try dehydrating some fruit. Keep a container on the counter and see for yourself how long they last!

Hawaii, Here we come!!!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

When Movies Become Reality

Several years ago, my sister told me someone mentioned a book to her and she thought the story line mimicked my life. She said the name of the book and then movie was "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio." She hadn't read the book or seen the movie, she just thought it sounded like my life when someone mentioned it.

I was staying at her home going through some family papers sorting into piles and organizing them and also making our old 8mm movies into DVD's. We had been working very hard on all the family stuff so she thought we needed a break from working.

She called some video rental stores until she found one with the movie and asked them to hold it. We bought take-out and picked up the movie.

When we started watching the movie, it became VERY clear that this mother of ten (Terry Ryan) in Ohio and I are kindred spirits. My sister and I both cried at times in the movie and laughed at other times. After we watched the movie, my second princess came home from a date and we told her about the movie. I sat up and watched the movie with her. Once again, we cried and laughed through the movie as it was such a similar story to mine.

I knew I needed to buy the movie and when a local movie store was going out of business, I made sure to go and buy the movie. I then showed the movie to my other children. Once again, it brought tears and laughter.

Each time I have needed or wanted something in my life; money, washing machine, new stove, video camera, computer, knives, Disneyland trips, etc, I have won it or gotten it in other ways just when it was needed or wanted.

In the movie, there is a scene when the father locks the children out of the house, I have seen that in my life. Another scene, the father throws a roast out the back door into the yard, I have seen that in my life. In another scene, the father dents a new appliance, once again, I have seen that in my life. There are so many weird similarities.

To this day, if I watch the movie, I laugh and cry. There are so many ties to my life. My sister gave me a copy of the book for my birthday last year. I haven't taken the time to read it with good reason with all the crazy stuff going on this past year but now that my life has calmed down, I think I may just take the time to sit down and finally read it. Sometimes the movies aren't able to portray everything the author puts down.

The biggest similarities are the wins. Just when it was needed, money from the bank opening.... Praying for a vacation to Disney, I win the cruise... Praying for a new video camera, I win the Panasonic prize... The girls want Ipods.... In comes my "Dream" man.... You can click on any of the things listed above to get to the first post on any of the prizes listed. However, many have more than one post so you may need to use the search box after the first post to read the rest of the story but I figured I could get you started.

Here is a link to the trailer on youtube: "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio!" Even if you don't have time to watch the movie just yet, I think the trailer is worth 30 seconds. Julianne Moore and Woody Herrelson are in it and do a great job. It is also available through Netflix.

If nothing else, it makes you believe in more than chance. There is a scene where the children are praying in the closet. What parent's heart wouldn't melt that the children are scared, hiding in the closet praying. I am sure that Heavenly Father looks down on such scenes and pours out his tender mercies to those children and others. I know, my children have been in the closet praying at times in their lives and Heavenly Father answered their prayers and mine. We are truly blessed to have a knowledge of Him in our lives. I am sad for others who don't have that knowledge.

Perhaps, if they view this movie, it will give them a glimpse of the love that God showered down on this amazing woman. It truly makes me believe in Him all the more.


Friday, January 27, 2012

It's "Element"al - Stove Woes

The other day after the wedding open house, we were heating some soup and the house started to smell like burning rubber. We had to open the windows etc. We thought perhaps that the spoon had touched the element or that the rubber ring from the pressure cooker fell into the bottom of the pan or something.

After the stove cooled, I lifted up the top of the stove to look at the wiring underneath because when I touched the middle of the stove, it was really hot. Not just normal hot.

What I found was that over the years, when these little clips that hold the element in place come off and the pans move the element around, sometimes I would have to shove the element back into the plug harness to get it to heat up. I guess with those heavy pots used for so much soup, the element shifted and that caused an arc and the plastic on the plug harness beneath started to melt. We are lucky we didn't have a fire.

To avoid this problem, if those little clips break off and don't hold the three pronged base, get a new element. The best bet is to go to a trash collection or recycle place or a stove repair shop and ask if you can trade out your old elements for better used ones. The recycle place gets the same amout of money for a broken used element as it does for a working one. They don't care and really, if you had to pay a few dollars, isn't it worth it to avoid a fire or the hassle of it not turning on all the time?

This happend to me on my last stove years ago and I called and asked how much a repair man was and just the house call we something like $70 plus parts and time. I asked when they could come and they couldn't get to the house within a week and I needed my stove so I asked if I could order the part. It was almost $100 for the element harness/plug ten or more years ago.


I had to pull the stove out, unscrew the back at the top only. The ends of the plug/harness are really easy to take off. There are just two little clips that slide on to the back of the on/off knob. Check the color of the harness for whatever element needs replacing. There are four different color harnesses and each color goes to a different element and that other end of the same color harness goes to the back of the on/off knob that turns that element on. They both just plug on.

Take off the harness by unclipping it from the metal holding clip that is screwed to the underneath of the stove top. They all have a different type clip depending on the make of your stove but they are really similar. It takes about 2 seconds to unclip it. Then, take the two little plugs off the back of the on/off knob on the back of the stove. In my case, the harness was orange and I just pulled them off the back and unclipped it. There was a screw holding all the wires together in the center so they could pass through the little access hole to the back but that didn't take long to unscrew.

Find the nearest appliance recycle shop or garbage appliance pick up or repair shop and call them. It really doesn't matter the make of the stove you find. I have a whirlpool and got the element off a Hotpoint I think. The element harnesses were the same except for the metal clip that attatches it to the stove. So, make sure you take a screw driver and get the metal clip that holds the harness into the stove unless you are getting the harness from the exact make of stove.

When you go to the recycle shop, I suggest you take the element you need replaced, the harness that is ruined, and the clip that attatches the harness to the bottom of the stove top with you to the recycle center or garbage dump etc so you can match it up as close as possible.

The one that I had that burnt was almost square but the Hotpoint harness was on an angle. That really didn't matter becasue I took the metal clip off the Hotpoint and with a little bend in the metal was able to clip it right onto the same hole using the same screw as I took off the other clip. If you get the same company brand harness, all you have to do is clip it right into the clip, two seconds work.

Once the harness is into the clip on the underside of the stove top, feed the two little wire clips through the center access hole where the other wires pass to the back of the stove. Once through, just push them onto the colored pegs on the back of the on/off knob. (You can see in the picture the smoke and burn marks from the old wires melting.)

Screw the back of the stove on, push the stove back into its spot and plug it in. Put the stove top down, put the tray under the element and push the element into the harness/plug. Turn on the stove and test the new element and harness plug to make sure they are snug, tight and get hot. Make sure to look underneath to see if there is any arcing or smoke etc.

I have done this three times now on two stoves and this time it didn't cost me a penny other than some brownie treats for the men at the recycle shop who let me trade out my melted harness and broken elements for used but functional ones for my stove.

Really, you would be shocked at how many things I have gotten from the recycle place or the appliance repair man for free. Many parts are generic that way. Even if you are doing a project for art class etc, you can get many cool looking things by going to the recycle place and looking at the stuff they pull out of anything with a motor or electrical.

It really is "element"al to replace these parts but ALWAYS REMEMBER TO UNPLUG ANY APPLIANCE BEFORE TAKING IT APART IN ANY WAY!!!!

Also, if you appliance is under warranty, never do your own repairs as it may make your warranty void. This is just for older stoves. The whole repair beginning to end takes about 5 mintues. Cleaning under the stove and trading out parts are the biggest time wasters. Unless of course, under your stove is cleaner than mine! ;-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dancers Big Win Goes On and ON

I posted yesterday about how proud I was of my girls for a few things they did. That was just the beginning. The girls sang the National Anthem and then they danced the three competition dances and the team looked amazing. It was the best I have ever seen them perform.

While they were waiting for the judges scores to be tallied up, they had the drill competition where they take orders. There were girls from all over the state in the same size category as their school the floor was full of girls and both girls were in the top ten.

A judge pointed to someone near Princess number 4 and she thought she was out so she started off the floor and the judge followed her for half the length trying to recall her but she couldn't hear the judge and they resumed calling the orders so Princess number 4 took herself out without making a mistake on her part, just the judges.

Princess number 3 ended up taking third in the state. She did really well and the top three were from her school which was a nice bonus.

I was so busy with the singing and video taking and pictures that I didn't even look at the program. My friend sitting near me pointed out my daughters name in every category listed. She is a senior and they always award the seniors with the highest GPA's. So, she was named Academic All-Region. There were only 20 in the entire State.

She was also named All-Region Selections listing the best dancer in the region who were sent to compete in the State competition and they listed who made the All-State Team. She was one of 13 listed for the All-State team that was picked after a day competition where they teach all the girls sent from the All-Region Selections and have them learn a dance, then do the dance and judges select the winner and place them on the All-State team.

That was exciting since I hadn't known they were doing all that. None of my other princesses competed on the dance team when they were Seniors so that was new to me.

After that, the judges findings came out and they took a first, second and a third place in their dances. It was enough however to have them take the honor of winning region. The last time I think they won region was when my eldest Princess was a Jr.

I was happy for the girls as they have worked really hard and with Princess number three being a senior and having worked so hard all four years, it was a nice way to have her last competition end. They do have state coming up but it is still a wonderful thing for her to have to remember for her Senior year. The team went out to celebrate and we look forward to enjoying their last hurrah at state!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Proud as a Mother Could Be!

I had something going that I was going to write about today but something happened that made me so proud. I don't know if it is a sin to be proud of your children or not. I had someone in my church one time say it was always a sin to be prideful but if it is a sin, then today I sinned.

There was a region meet for the girls dance teams and it was all the schools in the state for the same size schools. Because the people who do the sound heard my girls sing at the competition a few weeks ago, they were invited to sing the national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner" at this regional competition. Here is a link to my post and them singing at the first competition.

This happened about 15 minutes before the competition was to begin. Princess number three called me telling me they were going to be singing. I climbed over many people to get to a spot where I would have a good view of them singing and facing the flag.

They were talking to the sound people and then I saw them run off behind the bleachers where no one could see them. I guessed they were going to practice. Imagine my thoughts as I saw them face each other, bow their heads and say a pray before they performed. I asked a friend to come take pictures with me and we both looked at each other and said how sweet it was to see that quiet moment between them.

They quickly ran through the song one time and then were on the floor singing. They were funny as they were singing it, they got quicker and quicker. Their team was the first team to dance at the competition. I think they were worried they wouldn't have time to run off after singing and get ready before their team was called onto the floor to dance.

I also had to run as their team didn't face the direction of the flag to dance so I cut off the applause (of which there was plenty) in order to run around the arena and down the stadium to my seat on half court so I could video and take pictures of the girls dancing.

I had several people say after that the girls brought a tear to their eye as they sang. They also complimented them on how well they harmonize together, which, I think they do. I wish I had the time and money to get them voice lessons but as busy as we are and with Princess number one getting married, Princess number two on a mission in Taiwan, Princess number three heading off to College and her Africa mission, along with dance, cars, phones and life, I think we will have to skip the voice lessons unless someone decides to scholarship them. :-(

So, I am as proud as a mother could be. My girls have their priorities straight. I asked them if it were OK if I posted this as I didn't want to if they felt it sacred or if it would embarrass them and they said, "No, we pray before every performance of any kind." Princess number three added, "After we finished up dancing tonight, I got all the girls gathered and we said a prayer of thanks."

Now tell me, wouldn't you be proud?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Addictive Once You Start - Books on Tape

A few weeks ago, I visited with a friend about some CD's I had given her for Christmas. We got to talking about how she was listening to them with her son and what they liked and how she had been enjoying them. I then asked her if she ever tried listening to talk tapes or CD's and told her how I listen to them daily while I cook dinner or clean a room and mostly when I am driving out of town as they help me stay awake when the kids fall asleep etc.

I told her she could borrow some as I knew she would be driving out of town as her boys have sports matches coming up. She borrowed several books on CD to listen to while she drove.

I actually forgot I lent her the audio books. Fast forward to this last week. I get a call from her telling me that I made her an addict. I can't think of what she is talking about. She is breathing heavy and telling me she can't stand being at work because she can't stop thinking about what is going to happen next in her story and she can't wait to get off work to find out.

I started laughing as I knew what she was talking about all to well. Many nights I have finished cleaning up the kitchen and sat listening to the rest of the CD or tape before going to bed. Several times, I found my children sitting on the stairs listening when they should be in bed as they didn't want to miss any part of the story.

She said she had to go find a CD player for her kitchen now because she finds herself sitting in her car or looking for places to drive so she can finish listening to the rest of the story.

She told me she has never been much of a reader so this has opened up her life to something she has never known. She told me while she was out of town, she had finished the stories I lent her and she went and bought three more.

She told me that she used to call her sister when she was in the car and she hadn't talked to her sister in over a week and had to call and tell her sister she "had been replaced." I have to say that she has called me less since I got her addicted as well.

Over the years I have bought several of the same talk tapes by accident not realizing I had already bought it or I had it on tape and then bought it on CD. She said she wanted to buy them as I had them in a box for a yard sale. I think I have created a monster. However, I don't think she or her family is complaining.

If there is something I want my children to learn or an issue that we are dealing with, I will look for an audio book on that subject. I then play it when all the children are around. It then opens up that subject for discussion.

Also, I learned that I was wasting money buying the same book several times over. When I would go to put it away, I would find I already owned it. So, I made a list by author of all the talk tapes and printed the list out so that I can see what books I have already. This has also come in handy when I like an author so I look for specific authors as well.

I just finished listening to two books on CD by Clive Cussler. I really enjoyed his story lines and was thrilled that they didn't have foul language. They were long so they kept the kids involved even if they missed a cd or two. I find the girls don't mind helping around the house as much if they are listening to a story as they work. It is also great when you are painting because the work goes much quicker while having a story to listen to while you are working.

Most of my audio books I purchased at yard sales, second hand stores or the library when they are cleaning out inventory. Depending on the store, they are anywhere from $2 to $15 for a set. I won't usually pay more than $5 for any set even the 10 CD sets. If it is on tape, I usually won't pay more than $2 a set. I do have some longer 15 cassette tapes that I did pay a bit more for because I wanted the complete set and may have had book 1 and 3 on tape but was missing book 2 etc. The library usually sells them for a few dollars a set but when they clearance, they usually get rid of the whole set meaning many books by one author. I was able to get John Jakes, "Kent Chronicles" sets all at one time from the library.

Most library systems have audio books you can check out or try inter-library loan if you are looking for a specific book. I have been able to find any book I have been wanting to read on tape and usually free at the library or if I wait, for low cost at a second hand store and add it to my own library. I lend them out all the time and I am happy when my children listen to them as I know it will keep them awake while driving the long distances to and from college so I see them as an investment.

I think I may have posted on this before but I do have to warn you, that once you start listening to audio books, you may find yourself knowing much you never knew you didn't know!

This, however, is a real warning. ***Check out anything online and read reviews before listening with your family. I have had several instances when we got into a story only to have the F*** bomb dropped when the children were listening. I learned quickly to check out the author or only listen to new tapes when the kids weren't around to get a feel for the writer. Also, there was one or two tapes I threw out for sexual content or one was called "Intensity" and I could only listen to a tape or two before having to get rid of it. It was a "Silence of the lamb" type where girls were captive in basements etc. So, I really am warning you, it is addictive but choose carefully what you do listen to, just because someone is on the "Best Seller" list, doesn't mean I want my kids listening to it, or myself for that matter.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Duct Tape Binder Rescue

Princess number 3 started a new term this week and some of her binders were looking a bit shabby from last term so she decided to fix them up using duct tape. I thought that was great thinking she was going to use different tapes to make her binder interesting. She spent about an hour using lots of the purple Duck Tape to cover her binder and fixing the inside flaps that hold papers etc.

She cut strips long enough to go just over the top of the binder and then long enough to tuck into the flap inside and then another strip folded over the top of the flap and down the front of the flap onto the outside overlapping some.

Once she had the inside done, she covered the outside with long strips. It took her about an hour. When she had finished, she had only used purple. I asked her why she didn't decorate it and told me that it was a functional thing. I then told her that the roll of tape she used was at the cheapest $2.50, usually more and that the binder itself was only $.50. She laughed and asked me to get her more new folders then. I went down to my stash and brought up two new binders of the same size. She took one and kept the duct tape one.

Princess number 5 took the other and then Princess number 3 called and told her friend how funny it was as her friend did the same thing to her binder and they had a good laugh at how much time and money it cost for that little binder.

If it is about decoration and personality, go for it and decorate with whatever tape you want. However, if it is about function, purchase a new folder on sale or check out the second hand store as they always have some.

I thought the kids would come up with many crafts and ideas already but no such things as yet. This project was the first where our Christmas Duct tape was used.

Have fun on whatever you decide to make with your cracft

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wedding Open House Decorations

I just wanted to go ahead and post what pictures I did get of the decorations we did for the open house. I thought some were quite creative and my favorite front door decoration that my "Boston" friends did, I didn't get any pictures. :-( It was so beautiful. We took a shower curtain and put it in the front porch area using a few wooden blocks to extend it a bit further. They then draped long drapes around it in cream. They put cream tulle and the blue chiffon around it as well and then made a bow out of the chiffon to place in the center of the rod. We had two large lanterns and the large map in the corners nearer the door and with the porch lights on and 12 lanterns lining the walks, it was really pretty to walk up and looked inviting to guests.

I decorated the square furniture with cream colored fabrics draped over and accented them with the blue chiffon. We then used the pictures and other decorations made for and used at the wedding reception.

I took the floating pinwheel and heart wall and pinned it to the drapes on the inside so it was like a back drop for the chairs in the window seat. I didn't use a fan to spin it as I didn't want the noise of the fan in the smaller space.

We took the questions that I had both the bride and groom answer and posted those all over the walls and entry along with pictures. The photos and maps of each of them we placed on either side of my pump organ on the wall.

Even thought we had all the decorations made from the other reception, it still took some time to clean, remove the other decorations and put up the wedding decorations.

We tried to keep to the door theme by putting the pictures we used on the entry French doors for the other reception on my house doors. We had three doors covered with photos.

We posted pinwheels all over the house using "Fun Tac" which made for easy clean up.

We also put a card table over our drum set and used that for the white board "Wedding advice" area. We got photos with each guest holding up their best wedding advice. There were several I really liked. As you can see, the girls and I had fun writing boards to each other during the week up to the open house.

We downloaded some of our favorite wedding photos and put them on a electronic frame and had a slide show going the whole night of the photos and we also put a laptop there next to it with the wedding couple life video on it that Prince number 1's sister made for the wedding.

I have no pictures of the front door, the gift table, the food and water tables due to the issue mentioned with a neighbor falling but in all it was a beautiful night and we enjoyed visiting with friends from near and far. Glad it is over however and we did enjoy the leftovers. :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Missionary Princess Number Two Safe in Taiwan

This last week, we got two calls from different airports, a phone message telling us she is safe in Taiwan and now her first email from Taiwan!

I am just going to clip and paste her email here with a little editing. Hope you enjoy her email as much as we did. The pictures are of her in training and the costume one's are things I sent for Halloween. Then she is in her Christmas Pj's and hat I sent for Christmas. I also sent trinkets and toys along with a balloon animal making kit. It looks like they had fun with that.

Here is her letter and some photos:

"Hello Everyone!

So I'm here....in Taiwan....sitting at an internet Cafe at 6:22 am. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?! Taiwan is the greatest! People told me before I came that I would go through a honeymoon phase, and then a I h
ate everything phase, then a I 'll endure to the end phase. Little did they know what a little positive attitude can do for you. I've decided that being here for 5 days already makes me grateful for all of the little things that I have back in the states. I'm grateful for 1. Warm running water. 2. Free grocery bags at the store. 3. A dry climate. 4. Things not smelling like mold all the time. 5. big houses and apartments. Just to name a few.

I found out that I am free to receive emails from anyone, but I can't email you back, I have to hand write you, but hey it's a start! So feel free to email me, but if you do make sure to include your home address, so that I can send you a letter back. It was really cool! The last few days flew by, and then slowly our zone started flying out to their missions! Flying here was pretty exciting. Out of the 15 hour flight, I slept for maybe 3 hours. I mostly sat there and talked to the missionaries around me. I was in the VERY back of the plane with 2 other missionaries. Right next to the bathroom. Ev
ery time I tried to sleep, I'd wake up to a Chinese person waiting inline for the bathroom staring at me. They didn't give us the little eye mask things on the flight either, so I just didn't sleep at all. We couldn't watch movies either, so it was a long flight. My Chinese consisted of Hello (nihao)...and that's where my conversations would end. I talked to a few people that spoke a little English and that was fun.

It was an overall good travel day. Our flight was late getting in, so we got in at midnight their time. 10 am your time. Luckily because I didn't sleep, I fell asleep pretty fast.They picked us up, and bussed us to the mission home. We had 7 girls crammed into one room in bunk beds. They took our luggage, and we had one bag with stuff in it for us.

In the morning we got up and went for a run around freedom square/ this awesome chang Hi shak...or something like that. It was so pretty! Oh yea...my mission is a running missions...which means that we get up EVERY DAY, and have to run a good 30 minutes. Those of you that know me well....know that that's a funny idea. I had no option but to run though. I haven't run since....probably my freshmen year in college. Let's just say that I maybe ran about 2 block, and walked and wheezed the rest of the way. The next day I was nice and soar, it was a good experience. I also got to ride a bike for the first time in about 10 years. I was riding a higher off the ground bike, and it took a good...10 minutes for me to get on the bike in a coat and a skirt.

I'm in my first area, it's called Neihu (NAY WHOO). It literally means "In the Lak
e." It's wet, and lush, and green. it's rained a little bit here too. It's 30 minutes from Taipei. I've only been here for about a day though, because I got to be a temple tour sister in Taipei and give people tours of the temple, and tell them what the big white building next door was. It was fun to walk and listen, I wasn't able to say a lot, but I could bear testimony. The food here is different, but pretty good! I haven't tried anything that i don't like yet :) We got to give a few tours in English to foreigners too.

My companion is . . . We have a lot in common. She has 10 brothers, and is the only girl in her family. I have 4 sisters and no brothers. Ha ha, we really do get along well though.

On our first night here we were put together to go out and I was supposed to stand on a corner and Dan Jones to the world in Chinse. Luckily she was nice to me ( I didn't know she was to be my companion yet) and instead we just walked around and contacted. I had been praying for like 2 days, that I could run into someone who spoke English, so that I could testify of Christ, and spread the gospel, even though I couldn't speak Chinese very well. I LOVE finding people! And guess what? God knows us and answers our prayers. EVERYONE we talked to, we were able to talk to in English except maybe 2 people! Everyone said that, that is completely unheard of! We got like 4 numbers, and taught one lesson. You just stop and pray on the street, it's the craziest thing. They were all Chinese, but a lot of them had really good English. They were all so nice. Our second night here, we went to the church, because a member had left us food there (Our ward members are so nice! they feed us ALL the time!)

So, we picked up the food and took it to a nearby 7-11 and sat down and ate off the lids because we didn't have plates. We had noodles with clams, salad, and soup. So we sat in Taiwan, in a 7-11, eating seafood, off of tupper ware lids, with chopsticks! IS that not the craziest thing? It was so great! Then we went out contacting, and I prayed to be able to communicate God's love to someone, and the only person that stopped and talked to us, set up an appointment with us, and spoke pretty good English, so I got to help teach her. She told us that she was about to be baptised into another christian Church, and it didn't matter because all churches were the same. So we told her that we weren't the same as other churches, and she talked to us for like 30 min. We prayed with her on the street, and then I felt prompted to sing for her I think my companions thought I was crazy...but they went along with it. Then I taught her in chinglish, and she understood! By the end we got her number, told her we'd teach her on Tuesday and I said, "God loves you, and we love you." Do you know what she said? "I love you!" Then we all hugged each other, and she went home. Best night EVER!

Miracles already in Taiwan! Then last night we had to go back to the church to give someone a tour of it (that's what we do here, we give people tours of the church, so they know what goes on inside of it) and after we did we went contacting at a metro station. it took like an hour, and we got the cutest girls phone number, and set up a time to talk to her, a 22 year old girl who is going to school. But then I contacted a 14 year old girl, and talked MOSTLY in Chinese by myself, and just told her about God and she listened and it was great. YAY! God is so good, I couldn't do any of this by myself, but he's helping me speak Chinese to these beautiful Chinese people.

Our apartment is nice and cozy. Cottage like really. It has 3 floors. It's nice, it's kind of like living in a tree house, I feel a little George of the jungle now that I think about it. We live on the 5th floor. Luckily, we have an elevator.

It's so nice having an hour to email now! Oh! Also, when we got to Taiwan, I had a nice little pile of letters waiting for me, so thanks to everyone who sent a note ahead to Taiwan, it was nice to have something to open when I got here. It might just take a little time for you to get a letter back :) Well I've gtg, but I love you all! I love Taiwan, and I love God most of all! I'm so excited to serve him for the next 15 months of my life!

Mother dearest!
Hello! I'm he
re, I'm safe, and I left that same message on your cellular devise! I don't know what else to tell you. I still have jet lag, but not that bad. Everything here is pretty great. I'm at the nicest Cafe internet place ever. I'm wet all the time, and my hair will not stay not frizzy, but I'm over it. It's crazy how much I, and everyone around me, doesn't care what I look like. They just love that I'm white, and trying to speak their language. A few think that I'm from Brazil because I have dark hair. I still love it here, and already see how privileged I am to live where I do. It's really not that bad here. It's pretty up to date. Thanks for your little letter that I opened when I got here, that was nice. I love you to. Tell the girls hello, and that I love them. Love you all!" End of Letter.

Wasn't that about the sweetest letter a mother could get? I am so glad she is safe and doing well. Heavenly Father did bless me with amazing daughters!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dancing Princesses - Some Fun Photos

The girls have already had a few dance competitions this year. They had one this weekend as I posted about them signing the national anthem. Several friends commented on how beautiful they sounded. I was proud of them for making that choice even though they were nervous.

Both Princesses did well in drill down. There were probably over two hundred girls doing the drill down and Princess number 4 took fifth place and Princess number 3 took second place. What can I say.... they take orders and follow directions well. :-)

The girls are both in four dances. They had a few mishaps with flying flowers and both had a hard time holding their head stands as they like to have their legs straight up but they were told to not have them up so straight so they are trying to fold at the waist but it puts them off balance. What can I say... They like being straight up!

The dances are in categories.

In Military, they can't do dance moves and have to do kicks and rigid movements and can't have a "theme" and to get anywhere, the entire team needs to be able to do head stands and if someone falls out, they get docked points. The last year, they have started to have the girls move in their head stands. Several of the girls do a complete circle while on their heads.

They have a dance drill which can have a theme, the more technical the dance, the more girls that do the technical move, the better the score.

Hip hop has been around for many years but it is getting more popular and competitive. However, my eldest Princess still maintains that most white girls can't hop. The moves get a bit more technical each year but this seems to be one of the girls favorite dances.

Character can be anything from Barbie, I dream of Genie, Raggedy Ann, to ethnic dancing. This year, we watched 5 oriental dances. Our girls were one of them. There were several Barbie, and one of my favorites was a slumber party one with bubble gum. Sounds weird but it was creative. Usually, the more out of the box, the better the score.

Then, while the judges tally the scores, they have a "drill down" where they call out military moves. "Right face, about face, march, etc" and as the girls mess up on the instructions, they drop out. For some reason, my girls are very good at following instructions. Princess number one took first place many times at many competitions. Princess 3 and 4 both have done very well. Usually in the top ten or so. Princess number two wasn't dancing in school as much and went to a different school for the arts in another city.

The scores are read aloud and teams collect their trophies and then there is a sweepstakes for the team that got the highest scores of the day.

That is dance competition in a nutshell for those who are newbies to the sport. Prince number one went and sat all day through his first dance competition. He read "Forest Gump" most of the day between dances and maintained quite well for his first time. Princess number one said it is payback for having to go to all his brothers football and basketball games. Princess number one and I took crocheting and got quite a lot done while sitting there all day.