Sunday, September 25, 2016

25 September 2016 - Ohio Trip and Scout Rendezvous

Sand in and almost finished.
This week Stephen worked hard to finish up the side yard walkway so that it would be done before he left for Ohio. Monday and Tuesday he worked rain or shine. He finished up the trim and then put the sand in. Now it needs to settle and then more sand applied to finish up the whole thing. It really looks great.
   Tuesday Samuel had double-header volleyball games and he was unhappy when he got home so I think they lost.
Wednesday morning Stephen left to Ohio. He was taken to the airport early and since there was a late start his wife go to take him instead of rushing to teach Seminary. That night he called to say that he was sick and he sounded pretty miserable. He was counseled to drink lots of fluids and to rest and avoid passing germs along.
Looking Good!
His wife had a doctor's appointment to check out her "racing" heart and was found to be in good shape. Just a few PVC's but no atrial fibrillation. Good news.
The next day at the Podiatrist, the wife heard some not so good news. The bone in the side of her foot which had been broken previously had not healed properly and was causing some tendinitis, pain and inflammation. She was put on Prednisone which makes one fat and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and she was told to buy new shoes and ice her foot and see if those things helped. If not she will need surgery to fix the broken bone. The foot was very painful when she got back home and spent the rest of the day with ice on her foot which helped.
Competing at PG high school.
Friday was Seminary, a Seminary Teacher training class, visiting teaching and then more ice. There was a nice text message from Sarah with a picture of Jessica getting ready to be a brides' matron for a good friend of hers. She worked hard to get down to a size she wanted. She looks GREAT! and everyone is happy for her. Susan said that the cement top to their laundry room cabinets was poured and drying and they were excited to get that done and in place. Can't wait to see a final picture of that work.
Sarah mentioned that she was busy with work at the hospital and doing a lot of different types of "clients". Ben and Carli had a show in California and were back and participated in a competition at a local high school. They seem to be doing well.
The Building project was pretty fun!
A lesson in corners.
Uncle and nieces and nephew.
   Stephen had a great time visiting family. Even being sick he managed to get out and help with  lots of things. He went to school with Don and then helped Caitlyn, Lindsey and Joshua with a building project in their back "yard". He said that his cold is much better since he "worked it out". in the great outdoors. His wife had to work on Saturday inside but she has not had the misfortune of getting really sick.
   Samuel had a Stake Scout Rendezvous adventure at the Ensign Ranch on Friday night where he finished up his Life Scout and got some merit badges signed off that he had done a while back. He is now going to be working toward his Eagle. His mother didn't realize how much it takes to get those things done since his older brothers seemed to take those things on themselves for which she is VERY grateful!!!

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   Saturday night was the beginning of General Conference with the Women's session. It was a great meeting but it only lasted an hour and 20 minutes. They were very good talks about the importance to know the gospel so that you can be ready for things to come but it was too short. I wish I could have heard more. Elder Uchtdorf spoke and talked about meeting his wife when they were both very young and how the missionaries just went to one last door and his wife (a little girl at the time) talked her recently bereaved mother into hearing the missionaries. It was a beautiful story and "thus we see" how important it is to keep trying and keep moving forward in the work of the Lord.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

18 September 2016 - Stake Conference

   This week has been full of preparation, outside the house as well as inside.
Monday we called Susan for her birthday. Happy Birthday, Susan!!! They are finishing up their laundry room and it's going to be the nicest room in the house.
The crown molding is up.

Putting in cabinets and waiting for a concrete countertop.
   Tuesday was busy with yard work and volleyball. I filled the large container with garden debris and then pulled another large bag of weeds from the front. Stephen power washed and blow dried the front and I trimmed the bushes around the driveway for our next project.
  Wednesday was a solid day of working outside. It was dry and warm and maybe the last part of the "dry season" this year so we had to get out and "finish" the driveway. Stephen went toward Tacoma to buy some tar-like finish for the asphalt driveway. It was a mix, dip, pour and spread job that needed more than one person. It was a "Mom and Dad" job all day long. By the time we were done we were too tired to do anything else that day but Stephen still had to go to his meetings and work on his talk for conference. We tried to get ahold of Elizabeth for her birthday but settled for the next morning. Happy Birthday, Liz!!!
Carrying buckets of goop.

Dip and pour

Spreading the sealant over the black top.

 Thursday I volunteered at the Master Garden Tribal Life Trail. We're going to do more Elementary School tours and they need some docents to take the kids through the trail and talk about the native plants and what the native people did with them. It's fun to learn so much about the plants there and to realize that I have a lot of those plants in my own front yard. Of course the lady that planted them must have know they were native. It's pretty fun to see what I have as I clean out the weeds. That afternoon, Melissa Monroe came by with her cute little boy Elliot. I had to ask about the name and she said it was Elliot Ralph Monroe. "Ralph" is a family name on Jordan's side of the family but Melissa felt like it was a family name on her's as well...  :-)  We both thought it was pretty neat!
Thursday night was Stake Choir practice. It was a very good choir and we sang, "Ere You Left Your  Room this Morning" and "I Believe in Christ". They were the TAB renditions and we had some good enough singers in all the parts that it just came together like the TAB. Even the organ player has played the organ in the Tabernacle and he was very good.
   Friday, I taught the Seminary class and had to hurry to try to get through 2 lessons in the short time we had. I had created 2 posters to keep up in class and I wanted to have the students mark their scriptures with the new color coded marking system for Doctrinal Mastery. I still have to create some other poster for each of the scripture references. That night we were at the Temple to begin our Stake Conference. Stephen was assigned to prepare the agenda for the  Temple meeting and to speak at the 6:30 Assembly. We had a good turn out. The Temple Presidency counselor who spoke to us gave us some of the "rules" that should be followed while at the temple. They made sense and I'm glad that we got to hear them. He said that they can't talk about them outside of the temple so that was the best place to let people know the importance of endowment ordinance and when it starts (in the name booth) and how to act. It was a good reminder of the importance of each step in the temple ceremony.
   Saturday I had to work but  Stephen and Samuel were able to go to the Kozy home to celebrate Mary's 50 birthday even though it was in July. Since I wasn't there to fix food it was great that they got to go for lunch and eat well without going 'out'. That evening was the Adult session of Stake Conference. Stephen spoke in the Leadership session and President Stroud said he did a great job and it really set the tone for the rest of the meeting. I was very proud of him.
   I went to the building at 6:00 for a dinner for the visiting general authority and the stake presidency and their wives. Elder De Hoyos didn't bring his wife but it was so fun to hear him speak. He is from Mexico and he is learning English so his talk was in halting English and then after awhile another brother from  Argentina (but he's been in the states for 30 years) translated for him at the podium. There were also translators speaking Spanish for those who were using headphones from the Spanish Branch. Elder De Hoyos had a parable about a man he found a beautiful pearl and wanted to share it's beauty with others so he asked a man to build a box worthy of the pearl so that others could see it and people came from all over to see the pearl but what they noticed most was the box which held the pearl. He said it was like people who see the beauty in the church buildings, in the structure of the organization but don't see the doctrine in the gospel. He taught that we need to know the doctrine of the gospel and to stay firm in the faith. Before he spoke they had several new members and reactived members come and bare their testimonies. One young man, raised in the church, lost his way in his teens and got addicted and almost destroyed his life several times while doing significant damage to his family but he finally hit bottom and realized he was missing something. He found a Book of Mormon and began reading and realized what he needed to do. He is working toward finishing his GED, and getting himself ready to go on a mission. It was an incredible testimony. It was a good meeting.
   Today conference started with the choir and the mayor of Kent was in attendance and she was thoroughly impressed. (She said in her church we would have received a standing ovation). But she was focused on the "box". President Stroud spoke about being complacent in our membership and our need to progress spiritually instead of just saying "all is well". He spoke about about four areas he felt we should work on. 1) Understand and reflect upon the basic doctrines of the gospel - the plan of salvation. 2) Re-assess our daily actions and practices such as daily prayer, scripture study and Fasting, are we sincere in them. 3) Assess our relationships and friends -- are they uplifting and bringing us closer to Christ and our Father in Heaven. 4) Are we sacrificing? Do we pay our tithing, make the Sabbath holy, give of our time and talents to building the Kingdom of God? These were some great things to reflect on to make sure we are heading in the right direction.
Elder De Hoyos and the Stroud family
   After several other speakers including an 8 year old little girl who bore a sweet testimony and a newly returned missionary, who asked if we were "sleeping through the restoration" just as the disciples slept through the atonement in Gethsemane, the Temple President bore his testimony and stated that "only the home can compare to the Temple in sacredness." I thought that was profound and I want to make a wall hanging of that one. Elder De Hoyos spoke about miracles and the blessings we receive from the Lord. He spoke about repentance and our need to change or turn and come unto Christ. He said, "the issue is not what we have done, but what we have become." Another great thought to put on a wall hanging.
   I really felt the spirit in the meeting. From the music to the spoken word it was a beautiful experience. They did announce that we would be having a special stake conference in October with a visiting apostle. That was pretty exciting. Jon/Jenna and Liz/Austin had Elder Oaks come to Texas and Sarah/Michael and Jessica/Juan had Elder Bednar come to Provo. We don't know who's its going to be but it will be great. What an opportunity to hear an apostle of the Lord.
   I am going to ask if each of you would send me a note/letter about what you are doing each week and I'm going to post them in a new blog from the Ralph Kiddos. If you have better ideas please let me know but I'd like to share what others are doing and I'll provide a link to help you see what other families are up to. Thanks to those who sent some material already.
Love you ALL!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

11 September 2016 - Labor Day Surprise

So Monday I have to work at the hospital. Since it was a holiday, I get paid extra which will be nice. While I was gone, Stephen worked on the outside walkway at the side of the house. I'm pretty excited to see it getting done. When I got home, he said that  Ruth had invited us to a birthday party at Olive Garden for Brian's birthday. It was a late meal and since I had to be up by 4:35 for Seminary the  next day, I didn't want to eat much. It was fun to see Brian and Ruth; Daniel and Shawn with Baby Adeline. Samuel had already eaten at the Clarke Lake Ward BBQ but he managed to down more.
Tuesday I was up early and out the door for  Seminary. We had 14 of our 15 students there. One boy is touring Spain and Portugal with his mother so he wasn't there. Becky LeDosquet gave the lesson on Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, ASK. It was great to have her teach. The kids did pretty good for that early in the morning. After seminary, Stephen and I went to the gym and then worked outside. We also made our weekly run to Cafe Rio for salad, a free Horchata and a free Key-lime dessert (that was a big hit) and this time we went to Subway for a free 6" grilled chicken sandwich compliments of T-Mobile. We are certainly being spoiled with free food....
Tuesday night Samuel had his first volleyball game. The Lake Meridian ward won by beating Lake Sawyer ward. The LS ward had a lot more boys but Samuel was pretty excited to win.
The walkway...
Getting closer to being done.
Filling with sand all the cracks.
Wednesday, I spent some of the day working on a lesson for Seminary. Stephen and I made it to the gym and then worked on the patio on the side of the yard. We decided to add square bricks instead of having a space for walkable ground-covers.  Stephen did most of the work but I did help... We put sand under the whole area. I'm pretty excited about it and I think it will be very nice when it's all through. I have to move some of the plants around but it will be worth it.
   Wednesday night Samuel had a YM activity at the local elementary school where they played "Hide and Seek", Stephen had meetings and I stayed home working on my lesson for Thursday.
Thursday started early with Seminary and then the gym and more work outside. We heard from both Jessica about Christian's EKG appointment. He had 2 seizures at different times and their doctor recommended a neurologist. It is harder on Moms than on baby's. But he looks pretty sad here.
Christian during an EKG.
 Liz also sent a few pictures of their big announcement. Of course they found out on Tuesday that the baby was healthy according to the ultrasound but they wouldn't give it away until the kids got to smash their dad with a cake the color of the gender. We are definitely not gender-neutral in this family (which is a very good thing for children). So the big announcement was for a baby boy Heath due in January on the 20th. How fun!!!
Isaac enjoyed smashing the "blue" cake!

Oakley had to be helped by her Mom.
Emeri used a two-handed approach.
Andrew gave it a good hit!
The other news from family this week included a fun trip to the fair by some of the kids in Provo. Jessica and Juan took their two children and Sarah and Michael along with Peta and her little girl and husband.

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 Then we heard from Susan and Cory who were finishing up their upstairs laundry room with some window trim. It looks very nice!
The finishing gun....

Cleaned and looking nice.
 On Friday, Stephen and I were able to go to the temple right after  Seminary. We missed the 7:00 session so we waited until the 8:00 session and were asked to be the witness couple. It was a nice experience. That evening we went to the cemetery and cleaned off the headstone for Nathan's birthday. It doesn't seem like much for a birthday celebration but we do have the hope of so much more to come. Thankfully I gave the lesson on the Plan of Salvation that morning so it was fresh in my mind. What a wonderful plan that our Father in Heaven has for us that no matter what trials we face in this life, if we remain true to the gospel, all things will be made up for us and be for our good. What an incredible blessing it is to have that knowledge.
A family from Enumclaw showing off a Mexican dance in costume.
   We stayed for only a few minutes then we went to the  Spanish branch for their annual celebration of the Latin American countries. There was lots of food, dancing and music. I was pretty tired and I needed to get to bed before the party was over. They were just having too much fun. Everyone was invited to come to the service project that was happening the next day at various places around Kent/Covington. Stephen was in charge of the project at Kent Meridian High School. Breakfast was served before they started and most of the people who showed were from the Spanish Branch. I went to the Kent Ward building and donated blood before I went to my 4 hour Master Gardener clinic. It was a busy day. After Stephen and I were through. He had to work on his talk for next week.
Day of Service with City Councilwoman Dana Ralph.
 Saturday evening Samuel went to the Kentlake HS football game against Enumclaw HS. We won 35 to 6 and since  Samuel was taken care of Stephen and I went to a movie and Wendy's. We saw the new Star Trek  movie in the Auburn 17 theater which is now a "luxury" theater so we had to pay more than just the tickets from Costco. They have reclining seats that made it fun to relax. The movie was pretty good too.
   I thought I'd leave you with this message from Seminary. Something we're trying to get the students to understand. We want them to ASK questions so they can Acquire Spiritual Knowledge. When they study the source of all truth which is the spirit of  God and His word in the scriptures and latter-day prophetic revelations they can discern between God's will and the world's ways which are many times off base. We know that we MUST follow the spirit in these last days and I pray daily for each of you to feel the spirit in your lives and follow those gentle promptings. Hold fast to the truth, Pray always and study the gospel and you won't be deceived. Remember you are LOVED!!!
This is another part of the lesson material that we are teaching.
It's part of the Doctrinal Mastery that we'll be doing all
year long.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

4 September 2016 - School starts

   Monday was a busy day for Stephen. He went to Tacoma to purchase more potting soil for the front yard and some "patch" for the driveway. It was a time sensitive activity so I had to help but we didn't get to it until Tuesday. Stephen found all the cracks in the driveway, cleaned them out, washed them down and dried them. Then we mixed some chemicals together with sand and it turned tar black and heated up. We had 7 minutes to get all the stuff in the crack before it got too hard to work with and it was crazy. By the time we were finished it look much better but we were much blacker than we started. Before making it to Tacoma, Stephen visited a brother, German Fricke, in a rehab center in Auburn and then helped with Gary Balls putting on his roof with Br. Dale Smith since Br. Balls broke his foot. Unfortunately, while he was dangling from the rafters, his phone fell out and broke the screen. At least it still works. After working in the yard until it started to rain, I decided to finish the organization of my office upstairs. It's nice to have a place I can spread out. I then got busy and fixed stuffed peppers for dinner. They were pretty good. We also picked green beans and squash.
Stuffed Red Peppers topped with cheese.

Garden fresh green beans and yellow squash.

   Tuesday I went visiting teaching to Sr. Ann Tomlinson and Sr. Winona Laird with Sr. Jill Thacker, my companion. Br. Tomlinson is now retired and so he's going a lot of stuff around their home. Ann is a para-educator for the Kent school district so she was gearing up for school. Since she is turning 70 soon she thinks this will be her last year. After I came back I worked outside preparing the yeard while Stephen emptied the truck of the dirt and then he prepared the driveway for the patch job. Before we started that project we went to Cafe Rio where every Tuesday is a special day with a great deal on several dishes including salad. So it's Taco Tuesday and T-Mobile Tuesday where you get free frosty's at Wendy's if you have a T-mobile phone. I didn't have to cook that day...yipppeee.
   Tuesday night Stephen had meetings and Samuel went to President Stroud's for a "Priest Summit" and report on the boys experience at Camp Helaman this year. Samuel enjoyed the activity of games, treats and talking about their experiences. This was to help President Stroud decide if our stake is going to be participating in future Camp Helaman experiences.
Buddy and Jersey waiting for "treats".
   Wednesday it was really raining. There wasn't much to do outside so I worked inside.   That afternoon I met with Becky LeDosquet who is going to be my team teacher for zero hour Seminary and we tried to determine what was going to happen the first week of Seminary. I'll admit that it very daunting to try and get up so early but I know the Lord will bless me as I put forth the effort required and do my best.
   There was no YM that night but Stephen had stake meetings. Before he left the Simon's brought their dog over for us to doggy-sit while they were gone to a funeral in Boise. The dog  is a German Shepherd male who is much bigger than Jersey. His name is Buddy and he's a house dog and one of their family. He appears to rule the roost because he growls at Jersey whenever she does anything around him. They pretty much keep their distance. They do like to fetch balls so we try to do that several times a day.
Trying too act tough like a teenager.
Samuel loves
   Thursday was the starting day for school. I drove Samuel to Kentlake early that morning so the Pep Band could play while the students arrived. After dropping him off I went to the gym to work out and Stephen showed up and we both put in an hour before heading home. From there Stephen decided to go to the temple. He needed some inspiration for his talk that he was preparing for Sr. Atwood's funeral. He was told to make a 15 minute speech on the Plan of Salvation and add stories about Louise.    
Seminary Treats.
   Thursday evening, while Stephen was at his meetings,  I went with Sister LeDosquet to visit some of the students in our class. I had made some little treats for each student and dropped them off and we talked a little bit about our class. It's going to be difficult to follow in the shoes of Br. Sumpter. We can't compete with the gun and holster of a police He's a great story teller too, so we just have to be inspired with what these kids need and try to make it interesting so they want to learn.
   Friday Stephen worked on Rebekah's car, (she needed a new battery) and he got 2 loads of rock for Sister Jone's yard and unloaded and spread them out in her yard, then he worked on his talk until the LeDosquet's came at 6:00. We had originally planned on having a 16th birthday party for Samuel but no one could come but Quinn LeDosquet so we cancelled the party and invited the LeDosquet's over to help us eat the food and play some games. Samuel and Quinn played the Wii and the adults played Qwerkle, Bananagrams and Sequence. The LeDosquet's won all the games. I thought we were competitive but they are much more so. It was fun.
   Saturday, I had to work. I was given a patient who was a nurse at the hospital which means you have to have special permission to work on her chart. Then after I see her she's feeling a lot of pressure and she delivered before I was there an hour. Her little girl had a major bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate which was difficult to look at on so cute of a baby girl. Thankfully it will be able to be fixed and she'll be beautiful.
   While I was at work, Stephen went to the funeral for Sister Atwood. There was another funeral in the Stake of Br. Rex Johansen who was the first bishop in Kent so a lot of people went to his funeral and there was very few at the Atwood's funeral. Stephen did a great job talking about Louise, the plan of salvation and what happens when we die. Sister Shauna Tyler flew in from St. George to sing at the funeral so Stephen spoke with her. She has visited with Francene 3 times since we saw her in St. George so it was nice to hear her report.
Elder Micah Ralph with Jonathan during
the "Helping Hands" service in Baton Rogue
due to severe flooding.
Elder Nelson speaking to volunteers.
   Before I got home Stephen had to leave for Ensign Ranch to help with the Single Adult Activity that the Region puts on every year during the Labor Day. He didn't get home until late so there was little that got done around the house.  ;-)  Of course, that left Samuel and I to watch the BYU game without him. He came in during half time and since the DVR recorded the whole thing he caught up to the 2nd half just in time to watch the whole thing... It was great!
   We got a great FB post from Jon who was in Baton Rouge and saw Elder Micah Ralph along with Elder Nelson and Elder Ballard while serving with Helping Hands in Louisana. How wonderful!!!
   Susan sent us a picture of their weekend project. They're working on their laundry room and checking out colors for the rest of their house. Nice Job!
Weekend project.

New floor and paint job along with cabinets.
   It was Fast Sunday today and a day to bring to remembrance the covenants we have made with our Father in Heaven to always remember His son and the atonement that was made in our behalf. It was a wonderful Sabbath day. The testimonies born in the heart from the warm feeling to the perfect knowledge of truth were given by the spirit. I have come to understand testimony a little better during my study time this week. The scriptures bear record of Jesus Christ and as we read their testimony ours can grow stronger. It is so very important to study the scriptures daily. Fast Sunday let's us know what it's like to have less physical nourishment in hopes that it will remind us of the importance of the spiritual nourishment that our bodies so desperately crave.
   Have a lovely week and FEED the SPIRIT!!!