Sunday, September 24, 2017

24 September 2017 - WA State Fair

Monday, Katelyn taught the FHE lesson. After a day of rain, it was pretty fun.
Tuesday was more rain with a thunder clap that brought Jersey to the back door wanting to get into the house. Of course we let her in. Stephen left for his shift at the Family history library and he said there were 7 people there to use the library and that was in consequence of his talk in Stake Conference as he listed the miracles that occurred to get the library constructed and how few people have used it so far. It was a great talk and a great response.
Wednesday, Kathleen started her turn for Seminary instruction. She taught 1 Nephi 6 & 9 about the reason that Mormon added the small plates and why Nephi had created them. It was a miracle and let us know in our day that God knows the beginning to the end of all his creations and He prepares a way to accomplish His purposes.
Thursday, Seminary was on 1 Nephi 7 on the importance of eternal families and the Lord's first commandment to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish (fill) the earth.  There was several students in the class who do not live with their birth parents, one whose dad is in prison and another whose parents had a divorce 2 years ago and he is still affected by it. It was a concern for Kathleen as she taught the lesson but the spirit was there and hopefully all the students felt the importance of marriage between a man and a woman and the importance of having children. It's totally opposite to what the world teaches today.
Thursday evening found Kathleen and Stephen at the church setting up the "tree of life" and the room to represent Lehi's dream. All the tables were put away, the chairs were put in a circle. There was a tree of life (a christmas tree) with some "white fruit" (white cream Ding Dongs), a river of water (blue plastic), an iron rod (PVC pipe made by Stephen), a strait and narrow path (marked by tape), mist of darkness (black halloween webbing) and a great and spacious building (toy plastic castle with Disney princesses on it). It took awhile to get it set up...
Friday morning Kathleen went to Seminary to find her set up being taken down by her teaching partner and the Priesthood rep. After a little panic, everything was put back into place and the lesson proceeded as planned.
Friday Jenna, Rebekah and Stephen took all the kids to the WA state fair. There was some tractor races and Clydesdale horses along with petting animals and going on rides. They didn't get back to the house until 4:40 and Stephen had to leave with Samuel to go to the Scout Rendezvous at Ensign Ranch. Stephen was the key-note speaker and the boys there talked Samuel into staying the night even though he was totally unprepared to stay. They let him use a sleeping bag and he seemed to have a good time.
Friday night, Katelyn, Nathan and Gracie spent the night at Rebekah's home. That made it a quiet night for Jenna, Joshua and Kathleen. Stephen came back for the Scout Rendezvous early than expected so it was pretty nice.
Saturday, Kathleen spent 6 hours at the Master Garden clinic in Maple Valley at the Farmer's Market. Thankfully it was a nice day and fairly busy so the time went by quickly. That afternoon, Jenna, Katelyn, Rebekah and Kathleen went to the Women's Conference Social and video starting at 4:00. Conference was wonderful and Stephen took care of the rest of the little ones.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

13 August 2017 - Happy Anniversary

A whirlwind week started on Monday with Stephen getting a text message from Don Powell inviting him on a boat ride and fishing trip on the Sound. Stephen replied back requesting permission to take Isaac and Andrew. They didn't have much time to get ready but they made it on the boat and enjoyed themselves immensely. Stephen had to take the boys to get fishing licenses and the poles on the boat kind of fished for them. They came home with a medium sized salmon and 3 crabs...or at least the legs of the crab. The Salmon was eaten that night and the crabs were saved until the next day.
Monday was a long day of work for Benjamin since he was leaving on Thursday. He wanted to get as much time in as possible so he was gone about 14 hours.
Tuesday, was a work day in the yard for Kathleen. Stephen worked in the Family History library from 3 to 6 and then Rebekah and Stephen had a dinner appointment with the Single Adults so the rest of the family went to Cafe Rio for their Tasty Tuesday special. Isaac, Andrew, Emeri and Oakley all got a free quesadilla and everyone else got salad. Stephen had meetings after the SA dinner so he was gone for the rest of the evening.
Wednesday was a canning day for Kathleen. She managed to can up 3 double batches of Loganberry jam into pints and quarts. The Loganberries are coming on strong and Stephen and the boys picked quite a lot of large bowls full. Kathleen used the Squeezo to take out the seeds then heated up the jars and lids (which she had to get down from above the washer and dryer) and cook up the jam. It was a long process but turned out pretty well. By the time she was finished she started making a batch of bread for dinner. Unfortunately the yeast must have been bad because it took HOURS to raise. The final product came out of the oven by around 8:00 that night.
Thursday was the day Ben and Elizabeth with Rebekah, Issac, Andrew, Emeri, Oakley and Ezra were leaving to Susan's house. There was a lot of last minute packing and hunting for shoes, picking up toys, preparing lunches, scrambling for seats and places in two cars. They were finally off by 11:00 or so and after they left to Rebekah's place to drop off her car they came back and picked up a stuffed unicorn and then they were finally on their way. Kathleen had to water plants after they left. It was still not and dry with over 50 days of no rain. Along with heat in the 90's the grass and outdoor life has been hit hard. Thursday night Stephen had Stake presidency visits so he was absent for the evening.
Friday the alarm went off at 4:40 and Kathleen and Stephen were up and dressed with a back pack ready for a road trip to Port Angeles where they had tickets on the Black Ball Ferry to Victoria. Stephen planned to have this activity for our 37th anniversary. He knew that Kathleen would love it. From the dock in Victoria it was a shuttle drive to the Butchart Gardens. The Gardens cover 130 acres of what used to be a cement plant in the early 1900's. The Butcharts were wealthy owners at the time and the wife, Jenni, liked to garden. When the limestone quarry went out of business, Mr. Butchart put his men to work helping Jenni create a larger garden. They entertained many royal and government people. After a guest challenged Jenni by saying "nothing could grow in the old limestone quarry", Jenni set to work making sure that it would have a beautiful garden which is now a famous sunken garden. There was also a rose garden, an Italian garden and a Japanese garden. It was quite beautiful even in the heat. There are over 1.5 million visitors to the gardens each year now and it has been designated a National Site. Of course Kathleen had to talk with the gardeners in charge about the watering. There are 3 large reservoirs on the property which supply almost all the water used on the gardens. They fertilize each time they plant a new planting (which happens 3 times a year) and they use foliar feedings to keep the plants nourished. They water frequently especially in the heat. The flowers were lovely and the landscaping was gorgeous.
It was about 2:00 when we headed back to the boat. We wanted to make the 3:00 ferry or we would have to wait until 7:30 for the next boat. We barely made it on time and it was a bumpy crossing. The wind picked up and clouds were moving in. When we got back to Washington State we decided to check out Port Angeles. There is a paper mill in town and lots of lumber that looks like it's going to be shipped out of the state. We drove along a large spit that was a man made barrier between the rough waters of the ocean and the calmer waters in the port. There were lots and lots of feral cats in the rocks on the ocean side. They looked well fed from either fish or birds.
We left Port Angeles and drove to Squim where we went to a Nature preserve and the John Wayne Marina. We then drove to Silverdale where we had dinner at Applebee's. It was much better than the one here in Covington. We got home that evening at 10:00 to find Samuel enjoying the review of "The Flash" on TV with Vinay.
Stephen had originally planned on staying in Victoria for the night but with the activities that we needed to be at on Saturday it just didn't work out. Our official anniversary was on Saturday the 12th but it lasted for two days this year!
Saturday Kathleen had Seminary training in Tacoma. She thought it was in Federal Way but when she got there no one was there so she checked her email and it said it was in Tacoma. She was only 15 minutes late getting there. The lessons were very good. The goal of Seminary is to help the students develop the skills and habits that they need to navigate the trials/challenges that will come to them in this fallen world. Ultimately it is to bring the youth to Christ so that he can give them the power to overcome Satan and the temptations of the world. There were some great lessons taught.
While Kathleen was at training, Stephen and Samuel attending the funeral of Br. Aaron Sampson who passed away the week before. Samuel that it was a great funeral, Stephen said he hadn't experienced one quite like it.
Later that afternoon, the Mitchell family came by at the invitation of Stephen, to pick Loganberries in the backyard. They left with 4 very large bowls full of Loganberries. It was a fun conversation while we were all picking at the vines. Samuel then left for a missionary farewell dinner and Stephen and Kathleen had a nice dinner of salmon salad. That finished off their Anniversary. It has been a wonderful 37 years!!!
Sunday was filled with missionary farewells. Parker Welch and Tyson Wenger both spoke at the same time in two different wards. We managed to see both young men but only one during their talk. Our ward had talks on the importance of family and how to keep family strong. Kathleen ended up helping in the nursery because Rebekah had gone to Provo. It was a challenge but she managed to keep the kids mostly corralled in the room.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

2 July 2017 - Back Home

Monday the 26th of June we flew into Seattle very late and Rebekah picked us up at the airport. She was willing to help us out even though she had work the next day. Besides working on the yard and cleaning up the house, doing laundry, we had to get the living room cleared out before our home teachers came by.
 Samuel went to school for the last day on Tuesday. It was a quick half day.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

25 June 2017 - Still in Texas

Saturday the family started to disperse in many directions. Cory, Susan and their kids went to Houston and the NASA headquarters. Sarah and Michael left for Connecticut and Juan headed back to Provo and Rebekah flew back to Seattle to make it home to play for the choir the next day. The rest of the family stayed at the Heath house due to "showings" at Jon's place.
On Sunday church was at 2:30 in the afternoon but Kadie and Mitch Heath were blessing their baby and invited us all over for the blessing and a luncheon at 12:00. It was a lovely luncheon with special sandwiches that were labeled, watermelon, apple slices, veggies, and cake.

 After the blessing we drove to their church building which was 30+ minutes away. We added to the size of their ward which was small but growing. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

23 June 2017 - Finishing the Exceptional Ralph Reunion

Friday was a day at the lake. Jon drove his boat to a large reservoir, north of Celina in a State Park. The water was nice with a beach and lots of picnic tables and grills for barbecue. The Reunion shirt was passed out and pictures were taken. Then lots of water play and boating was offered. A tent was set up with an air conditioner attached for people with infants. The AC was run by electricity provided by a generator. What a fun idea. Some "spike it" games were played in the shaded areas. Grandpa cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs. The day was very hot but the water and the AC and fans made for a tolerable day of family fun.
Hadlie cooling off in the Lake.
Christian on the beach.
Isaac swimming.
Oakley wading.
Samuel with a water gun.
Emeri and Gracie in the water with floating devices.

Shade cover with Elizabeth and Grandpa working on lunch.

Rebekah soaking up the sun.
Susan loves the heat.

Ezra gets lunch early.

Andrew, Liz, Ben, Jessica and Carli

Celebrating the Ralph Reunion 2017
Samuel and Rebekah
Rebekah and Samuel
Hadlie, Juan, Christian and Jessica Salcedo

The Cory Brighton Family

Clockwise: Jarom, Cory, Susan, Josiah and Kimball
with Ellie at their feet.

Joshua, Jenna, Jon, Katelyn Nathan and Gracie
The Jonathan Ralph Family

The Austin Heath Family
Bottom: Andrew, Emeri, Isaac
Top: Ezra, Austin, Oakley, Elizabeth

The Michael Gordon Family
Sarah, Michael and Eric in arms.

Carli and Ben

The Benjamin Ralph Family
Kathleen and Stephen

Without glasses... 
The Happy Faces of the Ralph Clan
That evening was a nice dinner and the blessings of Ezra McRae Heath and Eric Stephen Gordon by their fathers. The Heath side of the family came for the baby blessing which made a very nice crowd. The Gordon extended family listened via cell phone. It was a wonderful event with the blessing of two little angels. Bishop Basilius from the Heath's ward came for the blessings and presided at the event. Dinner followed the blessings with a baked potato bar. After dinner, there was a family history night with stories from our ancestors. Grandpa spoke about his great-great grandfather on the Lindsay side of the family. Others added more history then Juan was MC for a presentation of the newbies in the family. All the sons and daughters in law were celebrated with photos and stories of their lives. Then the kids were put to bed and the adults had a movie night of Beauty and the Beast.
Blessing Day for Eric Stephen Gordon
Blessing Day for Ezra McRae Heath.

Before the blessings

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

22 June 2017 - Second full day at the Great Ralph Reunion

Jon showing his stuff at the Basketball arcade.
After a fantastic water day on Wednesday that ended late that evening. We started Thursday at the Fun Center for the kids. There were lots of rope courses to climb and play on along with an air hockey game and video games for the older kids. Lots of fun for the little ones. If you wore a Superhero shirt you got half price.... Please note all the different super heros on display.
Motorcycle arcade for the little guys.
Cousins having a good time.
Air Hockey....
  Then there was the "Minute to win it" games hosted by Carli. A little pie in the face followed. Champions were made at the games! The evening was lots of fun for the adults as we played at the Whirlyball and Lazer Tag place. Getting bumped around a court and zapped by each other was pretty exciting. The little ones stayed home with Tamara Heath and watched Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Jarom and Samuel duked it out in the air hockey tourney.

Nathan and Andrew loved the ropes climb....

Fun ride for Joshua.

Trying to get an Oreo in the mouth from the forehead
without hands is harder than you think.

Stacking cups quickly before the minute is up....

The cheering crowds go wild.
Spooning ping pong balls from bowl to bowl...
with your mouth.
Hot air balloon battle....

Sucking up M&M's with a straw.

Tissue toss with one hand....
You gotta be quick...

Corey is checking out the contest.

Samuel waits for instructions for a balloon game.

Keeping two balloons up in the air with one hand.
Balloon battle continues with Sarah and Jarom.

Sarah is keeping it up.

Knocking the balls out of the box...with a little jiggle
Checking to see if it's out.... Jenna and Sarah put on the moves.
Yipppeeee. She got it!

Redoing the Oreo contest since
Grandpa and Ben didn't get to play the first round....

A little pie in the face battle....

Ben enjoyed it.
Michael and Austin but their best chin forward...

And Michael wins while Austin takes the "cake".

Issac takes the hit.

Sarah and Michael watching the entertainment.

"Russian Roulette" with dice and cream. Susan got it. 

Stephen prepares and ....

gets smacked...
And tries again.

Seems to enjoy getting smacked.

Ben adds a little more to the hand.

Face plant into the mouth. Just what he wanted.

Hadlie is somewhat concerned at the direction of the hand....