Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shelly's beautiful babies

I can't get the pictures to move around in my blog today. So you get them all in the beginning.
Having been in Iowa for two weeks now, we decided to make a quick side trip to Champaign, Illinois to visit with our niece Shelly and Jeff and Max's sister Linda and Kurt. It was a four-hour drive to Champaign and was a little bit scary. In one area, the snow was blowing forcibly across the highway and we saw at least 25 cars off the road, many of them upside down.

We arrived at Shelly's home just in time for some of Kurt's wonderful cooking. It was so good to be with them all. The twins are adorable. I don't know how they can do it with two. Love and faith--I'm pretty sure. Linda has been a major strength to the household. But the day will come when she goes back to Dublin. Brooklyn is an exact double of Emma. Bradford looks a bit different than the three girls, but he is so-o-o-o cute! Nicole is an excellent little pianist and both she and Emma are very energetic girls. Lots of squeals and laughter.

We spent the evening watching Linda's photographs of Ireland and Abigail's photos taken by Max. They have a huge home entertainment screen in their movie viewing room. The architecture in Ireland is amazing. We slept in that room and in the morning after a Kurt-gourmet breakfast, we drove back to Iowa.

It is now Christmas Eve day and tomorrow afternoon we will return to Utah by train. I don't think I can leave without little Abby. I'm just going to have to take her with me. But then I would have to take the Mommy as well. Hmmm . . . this could cause a problem in my relationship with Ben!
On the way to Katie's home from Illinois, we went through an area where there had been an ice storm. We have posted a picture which in no way does it justice. Every blade of grass, every weed, every wire on a fence, every tree twig is coated with ice. It appears as though vertical shards of glass are everywhere. It was a magical fairyland of ice. We took close to a zillion pictures, but they just don't portray the magic.

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Proud grandparents--She's one week old!

This little Abby girl is the sweetest, prettiest and most precious that we have ever seen since our baby girls and little Katelyn. Such an easy and happy baby.
We are having so much fun here at Katie and Ben's home. It is so peaceful. I don't think I've ever had such a calm Christmas month. I'm always stressed and running here and there getting ready for the holidays, cooking and sewing and cleaning. But this year, it was all done weeks ago. The presents have been made and are wrapped and under the tree in Logan, which lights up nightly via a nifty timer. The food for the Family Christmas candelight dinner (which will be December 28th) is bought and ready to fix. I made sure I left the house well-cleaned, even the fridge. It's a good thing too because three families will be arriving at our home at the same time that we will first arrive in Logan. I have always tried to have my house really clean before I leave for a vacation. The reason is that when I return and have all that unpacking to do, I am less stressed and depressed if the house is already done.
So here in Iowa, we have been able to sleep in, hold the baby, cook a little, paint a little and talk a lot to Katie and Ben. No worries, no stress and no rushing around. This is the first real restful vacation that I can remember. Too bad we can't stay a little longer. We're getting way too comfortable.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grandbaby #8

We have a new little granddaughter, Abigail Elisabeth Knoll, born at 8:51 p.m. After 31 hours of labor) on December 9th, 2008. She weighed in at 7 pounds and measured 20 inches in length. She was taken to NICU because she had a pneumothorax, a small air leak in her lung. She couldn't get enough pressure to keep her lung open. It was a little unsettling to watch them bagging her with this tiny little oxygen mask and bag. But now the hole is healing and she is breathing on her own. Mom and Dad (Katie and Ben) have been able to hold her. We, however, have not yet been allowed to do more than stroke her little legs and arms. She is beautiful. She'll be in the hospital a few more days in her private room in NICU, then Katie can bring her home. This hospital is incredible. All NICU babies have private rooms, and Katie's room has a double bed for her and Ben and a jacuzzi!

I love the reasons for which they chose her name:
"We named her “Abigail” after Abigail Adams, wife of the second U.S. President. We hope that she’ll emulate Mrs. Adams’s strong faith, values, and work ethic, her intellectual aptitude, her dedication to her husband and family, and her unassailable sense of civic duty to her country.We gave her the middle name of “Elisabeth” in honor of Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. In doing so, we hope that she will emulate Elizabeth’s egalitarian character in always being genuine and sincere with others while maintaining a healthy repugnance of pecuniary elitism and social pretense."

We are staying in their home in Iowa City, Iowa. We made the 30 (turned out to be 32 hour) trip from Logan, Utah by train. I love traveling by train. We had a few delays. Another train broke down in "our" tunnel and we had to wait one hour for their repair. Later an ice storm took out the train track lights. The freight trains were behind schedule because of this event and we had to sit and wait while several of them went by before we could proceed with our trip.

Brittany, our sweet German Shorthair dog, is staying for the holidays with our son Ken in Tooele. Gabby, our cat, is still in our home, being cared for by Ilda and her children. They live in our basement apartment. We will be staying in Iowa until Christmas day. After getting our long-awaited phone calls from our two missionaries, Karolyn in Russia, and Kyle in Chile, we will board the train for home

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Music of the bells

Friday night was our Bell/Chime concert in the Logan Tabernacle. Except for the choir seats, the Tabernacle was filled with people. We have practiced so hard and long for this. It was the second concert of nine for this month. Our official name is the Westminster Bell Choir. We practice in the basement of the Presbyterian Church. Half of us are Presbyterian and half of us are LDS (Mormon).

I play the lower C and D notes. They are big, heavy bells. My carpal tunnel gets really agitated, but I love doing it so much that it is worth it. The musical arrangements for four octaves of bells are always intricate and fairly difficult. Yet when we finally get a piece learned, it becomes magical. I could get really dramatic here and use words such as beautiful, wonderful, delightful, and powerful--and I'd be right on target.

I just get a thrill from playing bells and chimes! It is now my second-favorite hobby, next to the organ.

These are the bells.

I am holding one of the chimes here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On being grandparents . . .

A couple of weeks ago we cared for two of our little grandchildren, Isaac (age one) and Katelyn (age 3) for eight days while their parents, Kristy and Brian, were in Provo for a Dancesport competition at BYU. This deal also included a tiny white miniature schnauzer puppy that was not completely potty-trained.This decision was made in a quick moment. We had an interesting week and learned something: we are getting old! We had forgotten some very important things about the care of small children. (The following list is a collaboration between the two of us):

1) it is impossible to keep the house straight
2) it takes twice as long to go anywhere
3) small messes can become major messes if you don't stay right on top of it
4) this is a 24-hour a day task
5) training a dog means training yourself
6) quick-change artists come in size three, and
7) babies have incredibly strong lungs.

Moms, does this sound familiar? Kimberly is loving it! She says she feels validated.

Yet, there were some wonderful memories that came back to us:

1) there is never a dull moment
2) we don't have to go out to be entertained
3) "kids say the darndest things" and the cutest, most hilarious
4) they love us even when we say "no" -- at least they love us later
5) babies are so angelic when they are sleeping
6) it is fun to take them out and have people say how adorable they are, and
7) about the time we become exhausted, we can give them back to their parents.

Actually we really did have a fun week and had some lovely moments. My favorite (Lonna) one was one evening when I sat in my rocking chair in the corner of the living room with two sleeping children on my lap. Two little heads were tucked up under my chin. So cuddly and cozy! I couldn't move to put either one to bed without waking the other, so I sat and rocked for about 45 minutes until Max came home to help me. I remember thinking, "This is heaven!"

So now we are resting comfortably during the night, in the early mornings, during meals, and during regular children's bathtimes. We have forgotten dirty diapers, sticky fingers and screaming tantrums. So why do we miss them so much?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Max's Blessings

I'm grateful that we can be across the street from the Logan Temple. That makes it very easy to go to the temple regularly, where I can ponder and pray and feel the Holy Spirit. I'm grateful for the opportunity to go to school and to learn more about the teaching and learning process. I recently received approval to use a research study I conducted a year ago as my dissertation study. I'm also grateful for the opportunity to give workshops on best practice instructional strategies and methods.

I'm grateful for our wonderful children and grandchildren who bless us and are a blessing to us. I'm grateful for our two missionaries, Karolyn and Kyle, and for the positive, uplifting emails that they send us each week. I'm grateful for Lonna, my wonderful wife, who has brought so many blessings to me.

Thanksgiving ramblings . . .

Our niece Emily in Provo has been posting a daily “Thanks list”. It has inspired me to stop and think about what I am really grateful for. Of course, I am most grateful for my life, for my Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ and for the Plan of Salvation and all the innumerable blessings of the gospel in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also most grateful for my family: 1) for a loving and thoughtful husband who shares the same ideals, beliefs and goals, 2) for six kind and loveable children who bring us great joy, 3) for eight grandchildren, six boys and 2 girls, (counting Princess Knoll who is soon to arrive) who delight and surprise and entertain us daily with their progress and cute conversations, 4) for my sweet sisters and their families, 5) for all of the members of my husband’s family and their kindness to me, 6) and for my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and ancestors who lived their lives striving to make my world a little better.

There are other things for which I am grateful—lemon meringue pie, campfires, the color skyblue pink, starry skies, music of almost all kinds, especially the hymns, classical music-particularly baroque, and country western, piano, organ, bells and chimes and the guitar. Also hot baths, early morning walks in the fall, pine trees, education—learning anything, books, mountains, streams, rivers and the ocean. I am thankful for mentors, listening ears, teaching moments (to teach or to learn), good friends and exemplary leaders. I feel gratitude for my scriptures, for opportunities to help others, any opportunity to lead a choir and for a desire to love and serve God. I am certainly well-blessed. And for those who may read this blog, thank you for being in my life!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tag 6

OK, I'm not sure exactly what I am supposed to do when I am tagged, but sweet Emily tagged me. She said "sixth picture on the sixth folder"--I think.
It came up with the back of my pinewood derby
car that I made for our single's ward
pinewood derby. So I suppose I should post the front of the car as well. Pretty, but not practical. (I came in last!)
I tag Kim, Katie, and Christine.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!

This Halloween was very different for us. We bought the candy to give out, but if we don't count Max's counselor and his wife and baby and don't count the people that live downstairs, we made only three trips to the door for trick-or-treaters. Too much candy leftover!

But the 31st also happened to be the birthday of the little girl downstairs. Her name is Danna. Her mother is Ilda and her four-year-old brother is Alejandro (Alex). Danna turned eight-years-old and will soon be baptized. They are an hispanic family from Mexico. They stayed in their apartment in Houston during the hurricane even though they were ordered to evacuate. They endured a month without electricity or water and the neighborhood pooled their food so that all could eat. Ilda is also expecting a baby.

Victor, the father, sent them to Utah where they knew many people, including our family. He will be coming in a couple of months when his job can transfer him. So for now, they are living with us. Not as renters, just as friends.
Ilda had never before made a cake. So on Thursday I taught her to bake a chocolate cake and decorate it as a jack-o-lantern. She learns quickly and did all the fancy decorating herself. We surprised Danna and had both cake and ice cream. Later, one of Ilda's missionaries that had served in Texas came by with a piƱata. We strung it up on our tree with our dog's tie-out. We laughed and laughed as either Danna or Alex tried to hit it with the bat and the other one pulled the cord up and down. Finally Danna hit it and the candy went flying. It was good to see them all laugh. They have had much hardship and have suffered a great deal.

Our children and grandchildren were all far away on this holiday evening, but we enjoyed the children that are here, and thought fondly of those that were not.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My First Deer Hunt

Let me begin by stating that I am not a hunter. I am a Bambi lover and will cry "Run, Bambi, Run!" if I think I can save those beautiful big eyes from an early demise. Guys in college wouldn't let me go rabbit hunting with them after the first time because I couldn't deal with the cry of little Thumper.

Yet I just spent two days with my son Ken, his wife Shiann, their two children, Spencer and Shawn and Ken's friend, Bryan. They were down at Shiann's family's property near Price, Utah. The picture above is of Ken's 4-point buck. Poor little thing!
Little Shawn Boardin is learning to talk. He has a deep voice just like Kenny did as a child.

How I loved the mountains! I loved the stars at night and the huge campfires. I really loved playing with Spencer and Shawn. I slept in a camper bed that was not quite the width of a single bed. I also shared it with Spencer and Brittany (our German Shorthair dog). In the early mornings and the twilight of the evenings, we would drive all over the mountain logger roads and look for deer so that Shiann could get hers. We only saw one buck, and he got away. (He heard my silent, "Run, Bambi, Run!)

The temperature at night was about 16 degrees. It never got much past 40 degrees during the day. Bryan lent me his insulated coveralls so that I could stay warm. They are amazing!

Spencer liked to swordfight with the marshmallow sticks and to play ball with Brittany and "Knock, Knock" with me.

Both Spencer and Shawn Boardin love the doggies. (Brittany and Baby)

Shiann is such a wonderful mom and wife. We are happy to have her in our family. This was a really great little vacation for me. I have felt somewhat overstressed lately and have happily benefited from a couple of days in the wild, enjoying bright starry skies, the smell of pines, the hypnotic flames of a campfire and the love of my family.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Blessings Understood

I am actually posting a second time. (Lonna speaking) So I guess this blog's for real now. I haven't been sure exactly what kinds of things to post--whether I should post only what others want to read or what really moves me inside. So I've decided today to blog about something that touched me deeply.

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to a RE-baptism. A friend of ours committed a serious crime, lost her membership in the Church and has spent the past seven years in prison. She has been diligently working towards being baptized again into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and her day finally arrived.

I have been to many, many baptisms, beginning with my own when I joined the Church. I thrilled at the baptisms I witnessed in the mission field in Argentina. I have enjoyed the baptisms of little children in Primary when they have turned eight years old. And I have been touched by convert baptisms of adults who have searched and found the truth.

Yet, never have I felt the meaning and significance of this ordinance as I did when our friend was baptized for the second time. We talk about taking things for granted. I guess I have. I think about my baptism and my great blessings when I take the Sacrament on Sundays. I ponder the Atonement and the meaning of repentance and forgiveness as well. The covenants I made with the Lord at baptism are very important to me.

This special meeting for our friend brought these teachings and this sacred ordinance into a perspective that sank deep within my soul. I have always (since my baptism) enjoyed the Priesthood blessings in my life. I have always been able to partake of the Sacrament. Our friend has been denied these blessings for seven years. She knows what it is like to be without them, especially after having had them all her life. She knows a kind of repentance that I have not experienced. She has endured years of the absence of the Holy Ghost in her daily life. She has experienced a true "contrite heart" and diligence in working towards the reinstatement of these blessings.

As she went down into the waters of baptism for the second time in her life, and her son helped her into the baptismal font, she broke into tears and actually sobbed with happiness. I, too, began to cry, as did most of the audience of close to 100 people. The Kleenex box was quickly passed through the room. The depth of her joy and gratitude was apparent and touched each of us. The Spirit of the Lord witnessed to me that she was clean and that the Atonement is real.

It quickly dawned on me (something that, of course, I already knew!) that if the Lord would forgive her for such a grievous error, then the Atonement can be real in my life and I really can be forgiven for my sins. God really does love us, He really loves me. My baptism so many years ago became supremely significant to me at that moment. My testimony has been cemented in a new manner and my baptismal covenants have taken on more depth of meaning in my life.

I now have more understanding and gratitude for my blessings.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Welcome to our new blog! This is very new for us. We have been reading blogs all summer to get pictures of the Cropper family for our Reunion DVD. It has been delightful to view all of the creativity and just so much fun to keep up on all the "happenings". However, I have learned that if I begin to look at blogs, I had better plan to be at the computer for a very long time. Everyone's blogs have links to other blogs that grab my interest. I am becoming a blog junkie.

Our big project for 2008 has been the Cropper Family 2008 Reunion. The picture is a composite of eight different photographs. The family members arrived and departed at various times during the five days of our reunion. (Our family is wearing the dark green t-shirts.)It took 30 hours to combine all the photos on Photoshop. Even then, it is not perfect. But it is a great attendance record! :)

When we began planning it almost two years ago, we decided to focus the Reunion on Max's parents, Kenneth and Leora Cropper. At this point, there are 133 descendents and six more are expected between now and February. Many, many hours were spent putting together fun activities and games that would highlight Grandpa and Grandma Cropper. We also tried to emphasize the needs of the children that would be attending and tried to make sure that every activity would include all ages. The reunion was held in August. We rented a cabin close to Grace, Idaho. For the most part, it was a success. We had 82 people attend and shared many fun moments together.

A big thank-you to all family members who helped out in so many, many ways, both before and during the reunion, to make it all work.

One of the activities was an informal talent night. Our family chose to sing a crazy song called, "I'm My Own Grandpa!" I will post a clip of it on here if I can figure out how.

We tried to upload the video of our family singing this song, along with the progressive pedigree chart that makes sense out of it. However, this blog will only support a video of 100 MB and our video contains 425 MB. This is likely because there are five verses with a chorus before, after and in between each one. So . . . this is such a fun song that I am going to post the words of the poem. You can also see the photo of our chart.

I'm My Own Grandpa

Many, many years ago when I was twenty three
I was married to a widow who was pretty as could be.
This widow had a grown-up daughter who had hair of red.
My father fell in love with her and soon the two were wed.

This made my dad my son-in-law and changed my very life,

For my daughter was my mother 'cause she was my father's wife.
To complicate the matter even though it brought me joy,
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy.

My little baby then became a brother-in-law to Dad,
And so became my uncle, though it made me very sad.
For if he was my uncle then that also made him brother
Of the widow's grown-up daughter who, of course, was my stepmother.

Father's wife then had a son who kept them on the run.
And he became my grandchild for he was my daughter's son.
My wife is now my mother's mother and it makes me blue
Because although she is my wife, she's my grandmother too.

Now if my wife is my grandmother, then I'm her grandchild.
And everytime I think of it, it nearly drives me wild.
For now I have become the strangest case you ever saw:
As husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa!

I'm my own grandpa! I'm my own grandpa!
It sounds funny I know, but it really is so.
Oh, I'm My Own Grandpa!