A Thanksgiving of Firsts

This was the first Thanksgiving that I cooked a turkey at home so we could have our own leftovers. (It wasn't the first time I've cooked a turkey, just the first time I've cooked a turkey on Thanksgiving.) Steve and I were down in the kitchen together at 3:00 am to taste our turkey, right as it came out of the oven. I wish I would have taken a picture, not only because it was a beautiful turkey, but because it will be a great memory. . . up so late at night, picking away at that turkey.

On Thanksgiving morning, we participated in the First Annual Jefferson Neighborhood Turkey Trot. We had a fun group of 20 neighbors and 2 dogs who ran/walked/biked/scootered down to the cemetery and back. We had "pacers" on bikes and Jed even set up a water station in front of his house to keep the runners hydrated. For being planned last-minute, I'd say the race was pretty legit.

This was the first Thanksgiving (in a long time) that I didn't get sick. I went to the hospital a couple weeks ago and ate radioactive eggs for my gastric emptying study. And I am now clinically classified as "normal". No more gastroparesis for me!

(This picture above shows Derrick's second plate of Thanksgiving dinner. He inhaled it just as quickly as his first.)

After dinner, we held our very first Thanksgiving play, complete with pilgrim hats and bonnets. (I tried to get away with using the construction paper I had at home, so the hats are a little on the small side.) We also made butter, Indian corn necklaces, and attempted to make boondoggle keychains. (Don't ever buy lacing string from Oriental Trading. It is too thin and difficult to use. And don't click on that boondoggle link unless you have a few minutes to spare. It is guaranteed to make you laugh.)

The highlight of the weekend was definitely the First Annual Drumstick Kick. Two years ago, we held the First Annual Ballard Family Kickball game. This year, we challenged the Critchlow Family to play against us.

The Critchlows showed up with their entire family in custom designed t-shirts and had four generations of cheerleaders. We started with a game for the kids and then moved onto the main event. It was physical. And it was fun. And we are going to need a non-biased referee for next year's game :)

The Critchlows certainly gave us a run for our money, but Team Ballard held off, narrowly winning by two points in overtime.

P.S. Does anyone know of any dodgeball leagues around here? After watching him catch and throw during the kickball game, I think dodgeball might be Derrick's sport.

This was the very first year that I didn't look at any of the ads from the newspaper or online to map out a plan of attack for Black Friday. I seriously didn't look at one advertisement. That might just be the most monumental of anything on this list. Even my ten-year old niece was completely shocked. We started shopping at 10:30 am and returned home mid-afternoon. Black Friday shopping is a casual affair for us. . . which was good. Because I was plenty sore from the kickball game.

We went and watched the Ogden Santa Run for our first time and cheered on our favorite Santa:

One of the Santas carried around a bag full of candy and handed out treats to all of the kids:

So fun. We will definitely be participating in the race next year.

And, seeing how we never took down our Christmas lights from last year, I think that technically makes us the first to have our Christmas lights up for the year.


Cooking with the Vegetarian

On Sunday, I prepared a Thanksgiving Leftover Dinner with Rachel and Lucy. I was teaching them how to make gravy out of the turkey drippings and Rachel was absolutely disgusted by the layer of fat at the top of the jar.

"So you're tell me that if you killed me and cut open my leg and sucked out all of the fat . . .

that's what this is from the turkey?"

Lucy revels in comments like that, but Rachel's culinary insights tend to have an impact on my appetite.


The End of an Era and the First Official Ballard Girls' Night

It is with great sadness that I announce that Craft Day is over. Gone forever.

In reality, it has been over for a while now. I was just in denial and couldn't admit it.

Craft Day began soon after we moved to Ogden, some four years ago. Rachel and Lucy were ecstatic to live close to their Ballard cousins and asked if they could play with them. Every single day. I didn't want to annoy Angie with their incessant requets, so we designated one day of the week to get together and play. And thus, Craft Day was born.

At first, we actually made crafts on Wednesdays. But then we started integrating get-out-of-the-house adventures into Craft Day, and we had to switch to Tuesdays. (Angie needed a day to recover from Craft Day before she had to go back to work.)

For three years, our allegiance to Craft Day was impressive. We both went to great lengths to schedule our other activities and obligations around it.

I think the first official Craft Day may have been Webkinz lessons. (Just kidding.) I wish I had a complete, comprehensive list, but this is what I pulled up via blogs. (Thank you, Angie, for convincing me to start a blog so I have documentation of so many of these activities and thank you for documenting so many others yourself.)

Here's what I found: a life-changing trip to Antelope Island, swimming, going to the Weber County Fair, more swimming, a lemonade stand, painting plaster of paris animals, picking tomatoes and digging for potatoes, playing with beads, going to Beverly Hill Chihuahua and an impromptu talent show, making caramel apples, making gingerbread cookies, making reindeer, going sledding, making robots, making bouncy balls (Lucy's all-time favorite Craft Day), indoor swimming, going to a 3D movie at the Clark Planetarium, Snow Day (playing with shaving cream and dipping pretzels), making crepes, lots of kickball games, a bike ride down the Ogden Parkway, going to the Horse Parade and Painted Horses on 25th Street, making Foamerators, epic trip to Minnetonka Cave, La Beau's, and sailboating at Bear Lake, Antelope Island, Round 2 (more info on Antelope Island here), making quacking ducks, shucking corn, making slime, treasure hunts, going on a hike and painting pumpkins, iFLY, dipping pretzels, going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Dew Tour, going to the Treehouse Museum, making Valentine iPods, going to The Conference Center, bowling, more swimming, Children's Parade & the Farmers Market, Pioneer Days Rodeo, Pickleball Lessons, and Kool-Aid Tie Dying.

But then we became negligent. Unintentionally. Suddenly there were five kids in school and fivekids with homework. (When we first started Craft Day, Gracie was the only one in school.) We modified our schedule and switched from weekly to twice a month. We were also trying to fit in piano lessons, dance classes, birthday parties, Activity Days, Scouts, softball, baseball, wrestling, tennis, farmers markets, and basketball.

We made dioramas and Ojos de Dios, tennis ball people for Grandma Gloria's birthday, and butter and boats for Thanksgiving. We went toDiscovery Gateway and Temple Square, sledding, and drove to Heber to see the Midway Ice Castles.

I was out of commission for a few months and Angie's work schedule changed. But we loved Craft Day, so we tried to resurrect it with glass etching, bike decorating, and a trip to Pioneer Village. We went to things like the Horse and Hitch Parade, the Archery World Cup, the Rodeo, and we played in the sprinklers and got snowcones.

Leslie moved to Ogden with her kids and we tried to keep the Craft Day tradition with a few more activities: making ice cream and duct tape flip flops. Craft Day was, after all, one of the things we used to lure her here to Utah.

Craft Days kept getting canceled. And then we had this great Learning Circle discussion on traditions and I had an epiphany. Craft Day had served its purpose. And it was over.

. . . . .

There is some good news. Craft Day has been replaced. Let me introduce you to Ballard Girls' Night. Once a month. Girls only. (Sorry boys.) And since it only involves the older kids, adult participation is optional. (I didn't give much notice for this first one, so I was the only adult on Saturday night.)

We went to the Weber State vs. BYU women's basketball game at the Dee Events Center.

The girls hung out with Waldo the Wildcat:

They were caught on camera, up on the JumboTron, but I was one second too late snapping a picture of it:

They hiked up to the very top row of seats to see what the court looked like from up there. And then they took a lap around the entire rim stadium. They screamed and cheered. Gracie caught a t-shirt. And they even watched most of the basketball game. (Rachel says practically all of the basketball game.)

Just like the Craft Days of old, it was perfect. Watch for more exciting Girls' Night activities in the future. . .


A Magical Family Home Evening

Family Home Evening lessons rarely work out so perfectly at our house. Especially when Steve is gone. And I know a successful FHE probably has more to do with the stars being aligned than the actual lesson itself, but I thought I'd share last week's lesson anyway.

How can we talk to Heavenly Father while we are on the earth? (Pray.)
Prayer is what we are going to talk about tonight.

I am so thankful that we can pray to Heavenly Father, He always listens. It makes me happy to know He is there and cares about me.

How do we get ready to pray? (Fold arms, bow our heads, and close our eyes.)

What is the first thing we say after we begin with Father in Heaven/Dear Heavenly Father? (Give thanks.)

Why? (It lets Him know we are grateful for all he has given us.)

What is next? (We ask for help or for what we or our family or loved ones need.)

How do we end our prayer? (In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.)

I am going to tell you a story about Daniel, found in the Bible.

King Darius chose one hundred and twenty princes to rule his kingdom. Daniel was a good man and he was the king's favorite. He made three presidents over the princes and Daniel was the first of the three presidents.

The other presidents and princes were jealous (that means they didn't like him) of Daniel. They tried to find a reason to complain to the king about him, but they could not. Daniel was obedient and did nothing wrong.

The other princes finally came up with a plan to get Daniel in trouble. They knew Daniel worshiped God and prayed every day. They went to King Darius and asked him to sign a law that for the next 30 days no one could pray or ask any favor of God or man, except the king. Anyone who disobeyed the law would be thrown into a den of lions. King Darius signed the law.

Daniel heard about the law, but that did not stop him from praying to Heavenly Father. He prayed three times a day in his home like he had done before. He knelt by the window and gave thanks to God. He loved his Heavenly Father very much and knew he needed his spirit with him.

The jealous rulers watched and saw Daniel praying. They went to the king and told on Daniel and reminded him about the law. The king was angry with himself for signing the law.

He tried to find a way to change the law because he loved Daniel and did not want him killed by the lions. But once a king signed the law, it could not be changed.

Daniel was thrown into the lion's den. (Have the children talk about how scary that would be and let young children growl like a lion.) The king said to Daniel, "Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee." (Daniel 6:16)

The king fasted (didn't eat) that night and could not sleep. Early in the morning, he arose and hurried to the den of lions. He cried out and asked Daniel if his God saved him from the lions.

From within the den came Daniel's voice, "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouth, that they have not hurt me." (Daniel 6: 22) (Talk about the angel and let young children pretend to be a lion that growled but then the angel shut its mouth.)

The king was so happy and told everyone in his kingdom that Daniel's God was the true and living God.

Why did Daniel pray when he knew he would get in trouble? (He loved his Heavenly Father and it was a commandment to pray.)

Did Heavenly Father listen to Daniel? (Yes.) How do we know? (He sent an angel to shut the lions' mouths.)

Does Heavenly Father listen to your prayers? (Yes. Share examples.)

The Lord loved Daniel and he loves all his children just the same. He strengthens us when we make good choices and forgives us when we repent for making bad choices. He is always there for us.

. . . . .

The plan was to immediately drive to Deseret Book and let each child get one of these cute little lions to remind them to pray. And that being tired or in a hurry isn't a good excuse not to pray- Daniel prayed even though he was going to be thrown in a den of lions.

But then we found out that Deseret Book closes at 7:00 pm on Mondays. So the kids had to wait until the next day to get their lions.

So far, the lions have been extremely effective at reminding the kids to pray and reminding me that every once in a while, the heavens will open and your kids will be reverent and learn something from Family Home Evening.

P.S. The lions are only $6.95 and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Chapters of Hope. Rachel is absolutely in love with Zulie the Zebra. Can anyone think of a lesson that goes along with zebras?? (Not Noah's ark. . . I don't want to have to buy two of each animal.)


I Love the World Wide Web - And Now My Kids Don't Have Clean Clothes To Wear Tomorrow

Back in 1994, my dad taught a high school class called The World Wide Web. My dad has always been a forward thinker, and I am guessing that his was one of the earliest classes of its kind. So progressive, especially for a tiny farming community like Hyrum, Utah.

And I still believe that I was probably one of the first people to "chat" online. My dad figured out how to search and connect with other people who were on the World Wide Web, and I spent quite a few Sunday evenings asking people (mostly middle-aged men) if they would like to talk to me. That sure seems creepy now. (I was in the eighth grade.)

I would love to see some of my dad's class lessons and read what the World Wide Web was thought to be/expected to become seventeen years ago. (If this is making you nostalgic, and you miss hearing the old internet dial-up noises, click here.)

Dad, if you still have if you can find anything from that class, that's what I would like for Christmas.

I rely on the internet for so many things: banking, cooking, shopping, diagnosing illnesses, and learning how to do things all sorts of things. (Like type words that are crossed out.) The internet is absolutely amazing and my life would be drastically different without it.

The internet is also my very favorite source for entertainment. Facebook, blogs, Pandora, Pinterest, Netflix, Hulu. (Has everyone discovered Spotify?)

I am generally able to exhibit an appropriate level of self control when it comes to spending time online and on Facebook, but I didn't do very well this morning.

My neighbor posted this picture of a "Cycle Up" table on the side of a street:

So I went to the website and discovered, not only the PIT IN desk from Japan, but also inhabitat.com.

Pretty soon I was learning about Germany's Roller Coaster Walkway, created by sculptors, Ulrich Genth and Heike Mutter:

I guess now I have a reason to go to Germany someday. While I'm there I will go check out the green roof that is planned to cover the A7 motorway that connects Germany to Scandinavia.

Lots of other green roofs and really cool buildings to check out on that website.

I was ready to return to my morning chores of dishes/laundry/make beds when my friend posted about this funny blog that she reads called Rants from Mommyland. Today's post called Mommy Has a First World Problem is hilarious.

And for the record, in our family it's "Daddy" who has all sorts of first world problems:

Having to unwrap the dishwasher tabs before putting them into the dishwasher. (He seriously asked me to go through and unwrap all of them so, in the rare occasion that he starts a load of dishes, he doesn't have to go to the effort of opening one himself.)

And who wants to go to the effort of grinding fresh pepper? That's way too much work.

Funny Steve.

I'll have to think what sort of first world problems I have. . . ?

Facebook is clearly one of them, at least for today.



"Superheroes are something that you look up to. Because that's what my sister told me," Adam confidently stated from his booster seat on the way to preschool.

Madey replied matter-of-factly, "No, those are just airplanes."

Madey is Adam's friend. (She is the cute little girl who ran the Kids K race with Lucy in September.) And she is the only girl that Adam is willing to sit next to at preschool.

Sometimes they have picnics together:

And sometimes they dress up in princess dresses and high heels. I would post the picture, but Adam took my phone and deleted it after being teased by his sisters.

I told Madey's mom that I love having Madey over to play because she's a good influence on Adam (tells him to help pick up, not to hide when it's time to leave, etc.) And now I'm suddenly worried that might mean that he's a bad influence on her?

Get better so you can come over and play again soon, Madey!


Are You a Drive-Around-Town Mom Too?

Steve was talking to a couple the other day who asked about me and what I did. He told them I was a stay-at-home mom. One turned to the other and said, "Oh yes, she's a really good homemaker and does a lot of baking." Steve immediately knew that he had alluded to an inaccurate interpretation of me and our lifestyle. He explained that I'm actually not much of a stay-at-home mom, I'm more like a drive-around-town mom. (Oh yeah, and Steve also let me know that he corrected her and told them I'm actually not much of a baker.) Heidi, I need those baking lessons STAT.

This is what my day was like yesterday:

8:27 am Drop Rachel and Lucy off at school (two minutes late)
Dishes, laundry, finish cooking and cutting up pumpkins
10:00 am Drive Steve on errand and drop off at Sonora Grill
Post Office
Make beds, vacuum, do Kaleigh's hair, prepare FHE lesson
11:45 am Pick up neighbor and take to preschool with Adam
12:00 pm Derrick calls, asking why I'm not home
12:10 pm Return home and send Kaleigh off to a movie with Derrick
12:30 pm Visiting teaching appointment #1
12:52 pm Missed call from Rebecca
12:53 pm Text messages from Rebecca:
Are you home??
I am at your house
Your car is here. . .
Your car is unlocked FYI
1:28 pm Check in with Rebecca; no emergency
1:29 pm Text messages from Steve:
I need you to bring keys to me
I also need the case to the Microsoft office
1:30 pm Visiting teaching appointment #2
2:15 pm Drive to preschool to pick up Adam and nephew
2:45 pm Drive to school to check out Rachel, Lucy, and niece
Parent of Lucy's friend sees me and hurries over to ask if I saw invitation for her daughter's birthday party. The one that starts at 3:30 pm. . . (Nope.)
2:50 pm Phone call from Living Scriptures. After lengthy small talk about the beautiful weather, I tell him we love our Living Scripture DVDs and I would love to buy more when I can get them at half-price like I did two years ago. He thanks me, tells me he will make note of that, and concludes the call, just like that.
3:00 pm Drop off Rachel and niece at orthodontist
3:04 pm Receive email from Steve: help proof asap, needs to print today
3:10 pm Drive Lucy home to change out of school uniform, grab snacks for Adam and nephew, things for Steve, piano books
3:2o pm Run into Megaplex to buy gift card for birthday present
3:28 pm Text message from Steve:
Can you come look at this camera? Please? At Sonora.
Me: Was that today? (I completely forgot about meeting we had scheduled with Imaging Depot at Sonora Grill.)
Steve: They just got here
Me: I can be there in 20
Steve: Bring your camera
3:30 pm Lucy to Kangaroo Zoo for birthday party; have to go inside to sign waiver
3:40 pm Pick up Rachel and niece from orthodontist; have to go inside to schedule next month's appointment
3:45 pm Drop Rachel off at piano lessons
3:50 pm Meet brother-in-law at my house to drop off niece and nephew (twenty minutes late); run inside to get camera
4:00 pm Arrive at Sonora Grill (thirty minutes late)
Talk to Imaging Depot guys; quickly edit menu
4:45 pm Pick up Rachel from piano lessons
5:00 pm Drop off clothes at Your Valet (The lady says, "You're running a bit late today.")
Back to Post Office for second time of the day.
Back home to pick up Kaleigh and get Tylenol for Rachel
To Sonora Grill to get a smoothie for Rachel
6:00 pm Pick up Lucy from birthday party
6:15 pm Drive around to pick up some things for church
6:30 pm Home. Finally.
6:32 pm Kaleigh pees all over the floor. Huge puddle. (Thankfully, it's the kitchen, so that makes clean-up easy.)
6:33 pm Start kids on baths
6:35 pm I make phone calls and try to puree pumpkins in our tiny blender while Rachel makes dinner.
7:00 pm Dinner. If you call Totino's pizza in the toaster oven dinner?
7:30 pm Family Home Evening
8:30 pm Pumpkins to Sonora Grill to puree with huge blender stick
8:45 pm Kaleigh to bed
9:00 pm Lucy to bed
9:30 pm Adam to bed
10:00 pm Rachel to bed
10:00 pm Phone call
11:00 pm More cleaning up around the house, change sheets
11:30 pm I'm interrupted in the shower by Lucy, who has just thrown up all over the stairs. I quickly get dressed, get her in the bath, and start cleaning up the horrid mess. Try to keep Lucy off of my newly changed sheets. As soon as carpet is cleaned, throwing up continues. All subsequent vomiting makes it into the toilet.
12:45 am Get Lucy set up to sleep on floor of my bedroom.
1:00 am Wash my hair in the sink (never got to it in the shower). Start laundry.
1:30 am Work on emails in my inbox (I try to keep them under 30)
2:00 am Fall asleep typing on the computer
2:05 am Pull myself up out of the massage chair, say a prayer, crash in bed

Do I long for more simplicity in my life? Yes, especially after a busy day. Do I think it's going to happen any time soon? Nope.

When is someone going to make a car with a built in vacuum?

I don't know how I would survive without my iPhone: 39 phone calls, 47 text messages, 18 emails.(Kelly, I just realized I missed a call from you.)

There is something extremely motivating, liberating, and even exhilarating about canceling a scheduled surgery. HURRAY for no surgery for me today!!!


Why My Kids Will Never Be Good at Competitive Sports


I'm just not much of a yeller. (If I were more intense, I probably would have been better at competitive sports myself.)

It should be noted that the guy next to me stopped yelling and complaining about the refs as soon as he saw me taking a video. Maybe it would be advantageous for the kids if there were cameras pointed directly at all of the parents in the bleachers.

After the game, Rachel was so confused. "At first he (the coach) yelled at us not to foul, and then he told us to foul as soon as they touched the ball."

That would be puzzling to a third grader, just learning the rules of the game.

I later told her when there is a loose ball on the court that she should get in there and grab it. "But then they will think I'm mean."

We might need to switch to a different sport. (Are there any sports where you can be nice?)

We were almost home when Lucy piped up from the back seat. "So, did we win or lose?"


Remembering Summer: Amy Jo Photography

When we went to Vernal this summer, we met up with a friend from high school, Amy Jo Photography, for some pictures of the kiddos. Amy Jo lives in Houston, but, lucky for me, she comes back home to Utah every once in a while. We drove clear up Dry Fork Canyon in search of some Vernal-esque landscape and ended up on a beautiful hiking trail.

My very favorite shots are these ones of Kaleigh, which is ironic because she was exceptionally ornery and completely uncooperative. I am absolutely amazed that Amy Jo was able to get anything out of her. Having pictures taken immediately after arriving via a long car drive, made even longer from road construction, was a bad idea. Please learn from my mistake.

Adam was a good little picture-poser, when he wasn't distracted by sticks, bugs, rocks, etc. Rachel and Lucy think his haircut in these pictures is hilarious. His hair before the haircut would have been even funnier.

And what can I say about Lucy? She would pose for pictures all day.

Rachel was determined not to expose her teeth. Poor girl.

And this was the only group shot we got while Kaleigh was still smiling. We had this picture printed as a 16x20; Steve smiles every single time he walks by it.

We marched out of those woods seconds before a tumultuous rainstorm hit. Tumultuous was the first word that came to my mind to describe that rain. It was wild.

I absolutely love photographers that offer high resolution images with print release on a cd. And I've never seen any as classy as hers:

Thanks, Amy Jo!


I Guess I Need to Start Cleaning My House

Rachel walked into my bedroom the other night, quickly scanned across the baskets of folded laundry that needed to be put away, the various stacks of things on my nightstand and dresser, Steve's socks and shoes strewn across the floor, etc. And then she says, "Well, I guess I didn't get my OCD from you."

We dropped Rachel's friend off after basketball practice the other night. All of the lights were on in their house and the curtains were open. As we pulled out of the driveway, I said something about them being on display and Rachel quipped back, "Well their house is clean." (And then she proceeded to question me as to why their house is cleaner than ours.)

I think my favorite is when Rachel groaned and then very seriously asked me, "Do you think I'm going to have to go over to Lucy's house and clean up after her when she's a mom?"

. . . . .

Lest you think the picture of the pigs is a photo I stole off of Google Images, it is not. This is the first public introduction of "Sonora Grill's" pigs. (I will take a better picture when I am formally introduced to them.)

Thankfully, the pigs do not live at our house and I am not their caretaker. They are technically Dalton's pigs and they live in the valley where they are fed scraps from the best restaurant in town. (Lucky pigs.) And apparently, they like to escape, Houdini-style, and tear through the fields for some exercise. I wish I could get some pictures of that because I never knew that pigs could jump.

PLEASE NOTE: These pigs WILL NOT be served at Sonora Grill. EVER. They are part of our continued efforts to reduce waste and decrease our environmental impact on our community. And it's cool to have a pig. Especially when you aren't the one taking care of it.

Repost: Proud To Be an American

I'm not trying to make a habit of these doing these reposts, but I wanted to write about David Linton's visit to Lucy's second grade class for Veterans Day. It wasn't too different from his visit to Rachel's class, last year. (Except many of the "questions" from the students in Lucy's class were actually stories about combat video games they play at home.)

It turns out that Kaleigh is significantly faster than last year. So I spent a good deal of my time chasing her around the classroom instead of taking pictures. Here's all I got:

My feelings of gratitude for our veterans hasn't changed much since last year. It still makes me smile to think of my grandma, Edna May Milligan, serving in the Navy. And I am still so very proud of my grandpa, Dr. Raymond Malouf, for volunteering to serve as a doctor in the Navy.

So here's my post from last year:

Reposted from November 2010

A few weeks ago, Rachel's second grade class was assigned a project for Veterans Day to identify relatives who have served or are currently serving in our military. She was so excited to turn in the names of fifteen relatives and was able to quickly gather photos of most of them:

H.J. Milligan
Edna Milligan
Gary Adams
Andrew Burkhardt
B.J. Christiansen
Dr. Raymond Malouf
Curtis Loosli
Daniel Malouf
Jacob Malouf
Slade Flitton
Clark Crockett
Neil Crockett
Kent Ballard
Robert Whitney, Sr.
Robert Whitney, Jr.

Rachel's teacher posted all of the names and pictures up on a "Veteran Wall":

My maternal grandmother, Edna Milligan, was one of the only women on the wall!

Students were also asked to invite their veteran relatives to come speak to the class about their experiences with the military. Since many of our veteran relatives are deceased and the others don't live nearby, Rachel asked our neighbor, David Linton (her bonus grandpa) if he would be able to go to her class.

This is the introduction Rachel gave, "This is my neighbor. We call him Boy Pam because his wife's name is Pam and my little brother can't remember his name. But his name is really David."

David shared his stories of serving in the Special Forces and jumping out of airplanes, jets, and helicopters as a paratrooper. The kids had about a hundred questions, as you can imagine. They wanted to know all sorts of things like what happens when you land water, and has he been to iFLY yet? (Okay, that was my question.) Then the kids all lined up and shook his hand, thanking him for his service to our country.

It sure made me grateful for all of those people who risk their lives to protect our freedoms. I love the story of my Grandpa Malouf when he went to the recruiting station in Salt Lake City in 1942. "You, a Doctor, want to volunteer for military service in the Navy?! Do you feel all right?"
He crossed the equator and spent the next two years eating spam, being trained to use a machine gun, catching a 35-lb Spanish mackerel to win a fishing contest, performing surgeries in less-than-desireable facilities (including a commandeered grass hut), avoiding centipedes, growing the best beard around, and learning that "WAR IS HELL" in Guadalcanal. I love that he planted a garden with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes while he was there.

Thank you for serving our country!