Friday, November 16, 2007

Tahiti baby!!!

Well, somehow we pulled it off. We managed to actually leave our kids for over 10 days and enjoyed some R&R...I mean Tahiti. It was an incredible trip and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Here we are on our way to the island of Moorea on the Ferry.

This is Cook's Bay, one of the two main bays on Moorea

Here we are at Opanohu bay, the other main bay on Moorea.
This is point Belvedere, the two main bays are on each side of the mountain in the back

Here is Katie in front of a noni tree...

We rode these little buggies around was awesome..check the videos for more.

It was a little painful...but we managed to climb the coconut tree for this picture...

Here is Katie at the docks of our hotel as we headed out to the "motu" a small uninhabited island for lunch.
A Tahitian sunset...beautiful.
Here we are at an orphanage that our company helps sponsor...check out their backyard.
One of many waterfalls on the island of Tahiti.
This is a Tiki burger..imagine a Big Mac on freaking steroids. Two 1/3 patties, two mostly raw eggs, four strips of fairly raw bacon, two pieces of cheese, tomatoes...basically 700,000 calories in one bite....I had to try, I didn't finish it.
Here we are at the temple in was beautiful.

The videos...

Here we are on the ferry on our way to Moorea

Here is our hotel "room" on Moorea...nice!

Cruzing on the road in our buggie...

Off roading in the was a little bumpy...

Hanging with the rays on the motu in Moorea

Tahitian sunset...

These are called "Jack" fish. A local restaurant on Tahiti keeps a bunch of them in a pen outside their restaurant and uses them as...well, a garbage disposal. They are super agressive carniverous fish....imagine a freaking HUGE parana. They feed them all of their organic scraps.

Cool Tahitian fire dance...

Here is Katie on our cruise with the was really cool.

Halloween 2007

Ok, believe it or not...I have actually found time to post! Sorry for the absence, things have been pretty crazy around here lately. Good news, the new office is up and running, we have moved, and we were able to get to Tahiti and back (see the previous post) hopefully things will calm down!

Anyway, here are some pictures and sweet videos from Halloween.

Ellie the elephant at Caleb's Halloween parade.

Moe (Joshua) & Deedee (Caitlyn) ready to trick or treat.

Yes...I am a freaking good looking man

Ellie sporting my hot mullet

Here are some videos....the first one is my favorite

Hope you enjoyed them!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chose to be grateful

I came across an article that really hit home with me and I thought I would post it for all of you to read. It was written by a man named Craig R. Smith. He is the CEO of Swiss American Trading Corporation, a US investment firm as well as an author and a bunch of other stuff that is pretty cool. You can read about him HERE.

Anyway, he wrote this article at about this same time last year so maybe a lot of you have seen it already, but if you haven't, I would highly recommend taking 5 minutes and reading it.

Here it goes:

"The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe.

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3rd of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change.

So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ''What we are so unhappy about?''

Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.
Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells. Just ask why they are going to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn't kill his wife but if he did … insane!

Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.

I close with one of my favorite quotes from B.C. Forbes in 1953:

"What have Americans to be thankful for? More than any other people on the earth, we enjoy complete religious freedom, political freedom, social freedom. Our liberties are sacredly safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States, 'the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.' Yes, we Americans of today have been bequeathed a noble heritage. Let us pray that we may hand it down unsullied to our children and theirs."

I suggest this Thanksgiving we sit back and count our blessings for all we have. If we don't, what we have will be taken away. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such blessing and abundance. If we are not careful this generation will be known as the ''greediest and most ungrateful generation.'' A far cry from the proud Americans of the ''greatest generation'' who left us an untarnished legacy."

Very good stuff! Keep the number of positive inputs in your life much greater than the negative ones...there is so much to be thankful for!


Friday, September 7, 2007

California Dreamin'

Here are some pictures from our little family vacation to California. I don't know how Katie's parents put up with us for so long, but it was great to spend so much time with them! Enjoy the pictures!

Here are the kids with Goofy. They really had a lot of fun seeing all the characters.

A little video of the ride "Its a Small World"

Caitlyn was absolutely in love with being able to meet all the princeses. I don't think her grin could be any bigger.

Ellie really loved the Playhouse Disney did Katie.

Joshua was looking to cool down after spending almost 12 hours at Disneyland.

Here we are cruzin' at the Santa Monica pier.

Joshua seeing the ocean for the very first time...and enjoying some icecream.

Joshua still enjoying the ice cream, or what was left of it.

Here we are at the Santa Monica beach, it was sooooo hot they couldn't even stand on the sand.

Here are a few of us at the LA case you were wondering, it was insanely hot there as well!

Hope you all enjoyed the pictures! We look forward to seeing everyone (well, almost everyone) at Christmas!!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Caleb's Baptism

We had a wonderful experience yesterday. As many of you know, we baptized Caleb yesterday during our family vacation to California. We were so honored and happy to have so many of our family with us and grateful that they shared that experience with us.

Earlier this year when Katie and I started to discuss Caleb turning eight, we were unsure if we would baptise Caleb this year or not. Caleb isn't nearly as comfortable in the water as Caitlyn is and we wanted to try and make the experience a positive one for him. We decided earlier this year that we would proceed forward with everything and began talking about baptism in detail during our Family Home Evenings.

The day before the baptism, we were able to spend some time in a swimming pool at Mari and Chris' house where Caleb and I were able to do some practice runs. I quickly discovered that the best way to do the baptism was to wrap my arms around Caleb and have him hold on to me then whisper "1-2-3" in his ear and sit down in the water until we were both submerged. With his arms wrapped around me, he had the confidence to actually let his head go all the way under the water.

The day of the baptism went very smooth. We prepared a simple program that you can see HERE and ran a few errands. We got Caleb dressed in the suit that I purchased for him about 6 years ago while I was in Mexico (I had no idea about kid sizes back then) and he was looking sharp! While he was getting dressed, he started to get a little nervous and was unsure about everything, but we pressed forward. When we got to the church, Caleb's nerves had increased to some serious anxiety, but he was still hanging in there. I showed him the font and gave him a quick run-through of everything.

We got Caleb dressed in his baptism clothes and Jeremy got dressed as well. Jeremy was going to be in the font with me to help make sure that all of Caleb made it under the water the first time and we were very grateful for Jeremy's willingness to get wet to help us out! Since I was conducting the program, I didn't get changed at first. We began the service with a song, prayer, and a simple talk by Grandma Tomsik (see program). During the talk, I slipped out and changed into the baptism clothes and was amazed just how good looking I was even in a 1960's white jumpsuit with a moderate case of camel toe. :-)

After getting dressed, I headed back to the primary room where Mom Tomsik was just finishing her talk. From there, we proceeded to the baptismal font. Caleb got really nervous at this point. He was hesitant to get in the water and I was afraid for just a moment that all this attention may be too much for him. I stepped in the water, and with a firm grip on Caleb's hand, I guided him in the water and as soon as he felt that the water was warm, he relaxed a bit and joined me in the font. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, all our training kicked into gear and Caleb started putting his own head under water and I had to tell him a few times that he needed to wait for the prayer!

The baptism went very smoothly, we only had to do it one time and Caleb did a great job. It was such a relief to have had everything go smoothly, I hope he will carry positive memories from the experience, I know I will.

After the baptism, we got dressed again and Caleb was noticeably relaxed and in a very good mood. We rejoined the group in the Primary room and finished the program with another talk by Grandma Carver and the confirmation of the Holy Ghost. It was a very spiritual program and I think everyone in attendance was edified, I know I was at least.

After the program, we all went to the gym to have dinner and celebrate the August birthdays in attendance. It was a great end to a great day. Thank you to everyone for your support and prayers on Caleb's behalf, he is so lucky to have the family that he has!


Caleb is looking sweet in his new suit!!!

A quick group photo before starting the program. You can see from Caleb's face that he is a little anxious.

Mom and Dad Carver were there to support the baptism of their first grandchild.

Chris and Mari made the drive as well and it was great to have them there. We were so glad we were able to use their pool to practice with Caleb, it really made such a difference!

Here we are just before the beginning of the program. Caleb really is nervous right now, but he was hanging in there and doing great!

Here is Joshua opening one of his presents; a Diego helmet!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Stand for Something

Well, I have been working on another "soap box" post in all my free time (believe it or not, I do actually put some thought into those things), but the Daily Gems email from the Church had one of my favorite quotes from Elder Uchtdorf and I decided that it was definitely worth of a quick post.

"When we bear testimony, we declare the absolute truth of the gospel message. In a time when many perceive truth as relative, a declaration of absolute truth is not very popular, nor does it seem politically correct or opportune. Testimonies of things how 'they really are' (Jacob 4:13) are bold, true, and vital because they have eternal consequences for mankind. Satan wouldn't mind if we declared the message of our faith and gospel doctrine as negotiable according to circumstances. Our firm conviction of gospel truth is an anchor in our lives; it is steady and reliable as the North Star. A testimony is very personal and may be a little different for each of us, because everyone is a unique person."

As we progress down the road we are on as a society, the fear of absolutes will only increase. Absolute truth is intimidating, it is a hard pill for some to swallow, it eliminates the gray area where justification and rationalization of wrong thrive. Because there is no gray area, a person really must decide who they are and what they stand for. You can't fence sit and this often makes people feel uneasy.

Having the courage to stand for something, to not succumb to the cultural pressures to conform to a world of relative truth, will be increasingly more important as the years pass. Having values and standards is not elitist, it is not wrong, it is not something that we should ever apologize for in any way. These same standards and values that make us a peculiar people are our anchor point that holds us firm in a world thrown about by the volatile whims of special interest groups and an increasingly unreliable and unbalanced media.

Ok, I have to go catch my plane. Hope everyone is doing well!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Trip to Upstate NY

Well, as I have briefly mentioned a few times on this blog, we had a trip planned to upstate New York this month. We made this trip last week, and in spite of a nasty virus that made everyone sick, we had a great time. There are a TON of pictures to share and a few videos, so I won't waste any more time blabbing here. Remember, you can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version. Enjoy!

Day 1 - The Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY

Here we are at the entrance of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was an absolutely amazing experience! I have no idea what the cow was for, but it looked like a great spot for a picture.

The week after our trip, the Hall of Fame was inducting its two newest members: Tony Gywnn and Cal Ripken Jr. They had a display for each of them at the entrance.

Here are the boys at the plaques of the very first players inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1936. Top left: Christy Mathewson, bottom left: Babe Ruth, center: Ty Cobb, top right: Honus Wagner, bottom right: Walter Johnson.

Joshua at the kids area in the Hall of Fame.

Here are Caleb and Joshua standing next to Lou Gherig's locker. It was his real locker with his actual uniform, glove, shoes, etc...

Here we are sitting on benches taken from a stadium I can't remember, but am sure is historically significant.

This is at the exit of the Hall of Fame. We needed a quick photo with the Babe.

This is Doubleday Field, where the game of baseball was invented by General Abner Doubleday. They still play baseball on the field today.

Doubleday Field

Day 2 - Church Historical Sites: Palmyra, NY

This is the Smith's log cabin. It was rebuilt after 20 years of research to determine the exact location, size, and style of the cabin. They built it in the winter, just like the Smith family did, only using tools and methods that the Smith's would have used. There are no nails, screws, or anything of the is pretty amazing. The top of this cabin is where Joseph slept and where the Angel Moroni appeared to him to tell him about the plates. Behind this cabin is the Sacred Grove.

This is the back of the log cabin. Katie and Caleb just finished taking a look around.

This is the "Frame House", that the Smith's oldest son Alvin started to build for the family. Alvin died before he could finish it and the family finished it later. They lived here for a short while before they were, well, basically ripped off and forced to move back into their log home which is located about 300 yards away.

We are on the path between the log home and the frame home and saw this great view of the Palmyra Temple. The Smith's originally owned 100 acres of land and the temple, along with the Stake Center, is built on that land.

Here is another shot of the temple.

Here we are just outside the Sacred Grove. It was a really, really amazing experience to be there!

Here is a quick video of us about to enter the Sacred Grove. Joshua is very excited to see the monkeys in the grove...I had no idea there were monkeys in the Sacred Grove, but Joshua was convinced. Oh, and if you can't tell, Caitlyn isn't feeling very good...

Katie and Joshua walking through the Sacred Grove.

I imagine that what Joseph saw looked something like this, but just a little bit brighter... :)

Me and the babies in the Sacred Grove.

Um, yes, she is cute.

More chillin' in the Grove...

This is the location where the first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed. Martin Harris, who lived up the road about a mile, mortgaged his property to pay for the initial printing.

Here are Katie, Caitlyn, and Ellie on top of the Hill Cumorah at the memorial.

This is a statue of the Angel Moroni on top of the Hill Cumorah. Pretty cool.

So, we got to the pageant about four hours before it started, we got good seats, but the kids did lose it after a while from all the waiting...

Here is the stage for the pageant. It was huge!

Here is one of the final parts of the pageant when Christ appears to the Nephites.
Day 3 - Niagara Falls: Ontario, CA

Here are Katie and the kids in front of the American Falls. There are two, separate falls that make up the Niagara Falls. The first is on the American side of the boarder and the second is on the Canadian side, called the Horseshoe Falls because of its horseshoe shape. The pictures don't do it justice!

Here are the American Falls again.

Here is a picture of the Canadian Horseshoe falls. You can see the boat, the "Made of the Mist" at the base of the falls.

This picture shows you the location of both falls. Pretty amazing!

Here is a quick video of us at the falls.

Here we are at the falls...

Ellie got tired of walking and made me carry her on my shoulders...she is so lazy!

A shot of Katie and the kids near the Horseshoe Falls.

The Horseshoe Falls...absolutely incredible.

This was the place we ate dinner. It was called the Rainforest Cafe and it had all these really cool animals that would move and make noise. The kids loved it, but the food absolutely sucked.
Well, that is everything! It was a blast!