Monday, December 31, 2012

"The End of the 2012"

As the year comes to a close, I have decided it is time to print this blog into a book.  I love blogging and wish I had more time to record my memories and adventureless as they may be. 

I have a favorite picture taken this past Christmas.  It is of the family room Christmas tree.

One thing I have learned in my life is things don't always, make that usually, turn out as we want them to.  Such is the case with our family Christmas tree.  No amount of bracing could get it to stand up stable and straight.  Eventually I decided to chain it to the filing cabinet.  The chain was decorated, the chain kept our special ornaments unbroken, and the chain kept the tree standing upright....straight and tall. 

That is how life is lived.  Many times I feel I am going to fall over, break, be damaged.  But family, friends, prayer, testimony...they all hold me upright...straight and tall.  And just as this tree is beautiful...and even brings an extra added smile when the chain is recognized...I know that is how I am too.  Many may not realize the help I have and need to keep me beautiful and upright...but an added smile always comes with imperfection.  It is like a sigh of relief...that we, and our lives, can be beautiful in our imperfection...perhaps even more so.

So so long 2012.  May 2013 be filled with more of the same - smiles, strength to conquer the hard times which are sure to come, and faith in humanity that together we can all be beautiful and have all the help we need to keep from falling over!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Different Kind of Christmas

We went as a family to Long Beach this year the week before Christmas because we knew it would be impossible to spend Christmas together.  Brandon worked on Christmas, Justin worked the day before and after Christmas, and Brooklyn had to be here for the La Verkin Community Christmas Eve program because she was the princess.  So we decided to celebrate "the season" instead of  "the day."

After returning from Long Beach, we opened presents a few days early with Brandon and Amber.  They are such a funny couple.

I made each of the kids books this year that shared pictures and stories of them and their papa.  I loved making them and I know they enjoyed receiving them.

After the La Verkin Christmas Eve program we went over to Grandma's and she had some food for us.  We opened some presents and then headed home.

We were excited to sleep in Christmas morning, but noooo the doorbell rang at 8:30 a.m. with one of Brooklyn's friends delivering a Christmas present to her. 

We got up, opened presents and had a yummy breakfast.  Later on Christmas Day, Grandma took us to Zion's Lodge for Christmas Dinner.  Everyone agreed it wasn't their favorite meal, but it was nice to get out and enjoy a different kind of Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

La Verkin Community Christmas Eve Program

I thought it odd that a town would have a Christmas Eve program, but this town has been having one since 1906.  The Royalty is always asked to participate. The event is held in the Old White it is locally called.  Many years ago it served as a church for this area, but now City Council Meetings are held in the chapel, plays and election voting are held in the gym, and classrooms have been turned into storage closets.

Brooklyn was very excited to perform one of her favorite Christmas songs, "Where's the Line to See Jesus?"  She did an excellent job and afterwards many told me that they were so touched by that song; that it had brought the spirit of Christmas to them at that very moment.

After the performance, the girls were asked to help Santa hand out treats to the children.  They were given oranges and brown paper sacks with candy in them.  It was a nice hour and a enjoyable place to be on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Card

I was very excited to send out Christmas cards this year.  Not every year is worth bragging about, but we had so many good things happen to our family this year, that I was wanting to share.

Brandon and Amber were married the year previous but were now expecting a baby.  Plus Brandon was now a Sandy City police officer.  Justin returned from serving in the Nicaragua Managua North mission.  Brooklyn served her city as Miss La Verkin.  I graduated from BYU.  But best of all, we were all back together.  I can't think of any better news than that!

Monday, December 17, 2012


The highlight of our California trips is always going to Disneyland.  It is such a fun place to escape from the world.  It wasn't very crowded and we got fast passes a lot since Brynlee is a pro at that!

I was sad that I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, so I didn't get many pictures...but the memories are all there in my little brain.

There was a couple of new things.  It was Christmas time so there were a lot of parades, but at nightime they lit up the castle and "snow" started falling on everyone.  Also, Carsland opened in California Adventure.  The wait for the ride was hours long even with a fast pass, so we skipped it and went on to do other things.  When we came back the wait was "only" 70 minutes, so we decided to get in line.  We were glad we went on the ride because it was fun, but also, how can you go to Disneyland and not go on the latest, greatest ride?

We had so much fun...and I can't wait to go back!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Long Beach

Brandon and Justin had tickets to go to a Laker's they invited me and Brooklyn to tag along to California with them.  I was super excited as I haven't been on a vacation for a very long time.  The boys worked it out so Justin and our friend Brynlee would pick me and Brooklyn up on their way down and Brandon and Amber would bring us neither of the boys could stay the whole week.

I thought it would be best if we could find a beach house to rent...cheaper than hotels and a lot more ambient.  I chose a couple houses on and sent the pics to Brandon to see which one he liked.  I was suprised when he immediately called  back to say one of them was the one they had honeymooned in.  So of course we picked that one.  It was so nice because the bay was 3 houses one way and the ocean 5 houses the other way.  We were right on the peninsula of Long Beach.

On our way down, Justin was excited to eat at Nick's.  It is a coffee shop we have been going to for years.  I didn't remember where it was so he put it in his smartphone and the gps led us there.  Only thing was, it was the wrong Nick's.  Good thing this one was just as delicious...and I am always a sucker for eating outside!

That night we were blessed because the Long Beach Boat Parade was happening right outside our door.  We were able to sit on the beach and watch the beautifully decorated boats go by.  The people that have houses on the beach were having parties with catered dinners and lots of music.  It was entertaining and enjoyable...for a minute we all wish we lived there permanently!

After the boat parade we were hungry so we walked a couple of miles up the coast to have some dinner.  We found this little bar/grill where we could eat outside - yay for me again!  I love how Brynlee always asks for extra sour cream and they give her a whole ice cream scoop full :)

The next day we were so excited to meet our long time friend Lupe for lunch.  She chose a place called Frida's in Glendale on Americana Way.  It was an amazing Mexican buffet with a mariachi band.  The food was delicious, but the best part was being with Lupe.  She is so full of love for me and for my children.  We have always enjoyed the time we spend with her.

As we were walking down the street to our parked car, Brooklyn found a funny frog fountain to pose by...and I found this funny combination restaurant.  I love weird things.

After our wonderful brunch, we headed to the Santa Monica Pier and the Promenade.  It was a rainy day, but it didn't damper our spirits.

We all love the ocean.  It just brings a sense of calm to us.  The kids love posing for pictures by the water.

After this stop we went to the Promenade.  We visited the Converse store which was heaven for she has at least a dozen pairs in all different colors and patterns.  They had a converse Santa there who was pretty spooky, so all the kids sat on his lap!

We loved going in the Apple Store.  These headphones were great....Brooklyn could hear so well on them with her cochlear implants.  The store was so busy and I was trying to find my kids when I heard Justin's voice.  He was practically yelling.  I made my way over to him and Brynlee.  They both had the headphones on.  A lady next to them said to Justin, "Be quiet, you are yelling."  It was so funny.  At least for me his yelling came in handy :)

After the Apple Store we headed over to Hollywood Blvd.  Brooklyn and I love Ellen DeGeneres, she just makes us laugh, so we wanted to see her star.  We found a few other fun stars along the way...and Justin even found his star!

As we continued to wander down the Boulevard, we saw Iguana, a vintage clothing store.  I love stores like this.  The kids had as much fun as I did.

We then wandered over to was more of a grocery store...and bought some food for the house.  As we were carrying all of our bags to the car we saw Justin getting a parking ticket.  He went running up to the officer saying, "Wait, wait, no, no!"  He then blamed his expired meter on his mama who he said loves to shop.  Liar, liar, pants on fire...but whatev, it got him out of the parking ticket :)  Yep, he is a stud!

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Did It!

I have never really been a fan of school.  I enjoy learning and I love to read...but tests stress me does the social drama that usually goes along with school.  I graduated from high school a semester early and got a job.  I knew however that I would be attending Brigham Young University in the fall of that year.  I had grown up in Texas and was excited to be around more people who shared my religion and my values. 

I remember being put on a plane and flown to Utah to begin my college career.  My papa had told me he would help with the financial part of my schooling.  I remember him saying, "If you go to college, I will help you financially...but if you don't, you just get a washer and a dryer."  That still makes me laugh.  I went my first year to the Y and was happy there.  It was fun living in the dorm.  The second year I decided to live in the dorm as well, but this time I had my own room and was president of the dorm.  My junior year I moved into a house with seven other girls...with my roommate being my sister Lori.  That was a new experience and one that I really enjoyed.  Unfortunately, I had some bad experiences with teachers and classes and lost my momentum for school.  I left in the middle of my junior year. 

Back when I was still living in the dorms, my papa was dying from cancer.  I remember talking to him on the phone and promising him that I would finish my college education.  Those words have often rung in my ears over the years.  I was so excited when I saw the billboard for "Independent Study - Finish What You Started."  I realized that I could finish my BYU education online.  This seemed to fit perfectly with the station I was at in my life.

I got going on my classes, but then life went into a downward spiral.  My husband at the time was diagnosed with an incurable cancer, my marriage failed, I had to leave home to work, etc.  Everything seemed to be fighting against me finishing my degree.

After moving to La Verkin, I decided to go headstrong into completing my remaining courses.  I found myself studying every moment I wasn't working or serving in other responsibilities.  There became no time for rest.  My brain at times felt as if it would explode.

Finally in November of 2012 I completed my final class and received my diploma in December.  I will be able to walk in my cap and gown at BYU in April of 2013.  This is such a relief...and I love checking off that I am now a college graduate.  I am very proud of myself.  This has been one of the most intense and gratifying things I have done. 

I was also very excited to replace the license plate on my car with something a little more educated!


Saturday, December 1, 2012


The La Verkin Royalty has several parades to participate in where a float is needed.  The Washington County Fair and Peach Days can use the same float.  Then there is Winterfest, the electric light parade.  I thought it would be a great idea if we could come up with a summer float idea that could then be adapted for the Winterfest light parade.  The theme for the Washington County fair was "Let Freedom Ring" and we decided to go with a patriotic float which encompassed stars.  Then for the December Winterfest parade, we could change the patriotic stars to Christmas stars.  This saved us from designing and building a new float!

The girls and their families worked a couple of days on the transformation.  Our idea was to replace the firecrackers on the back with a Christmas tree and presents.  We coated the green grass floor with white so it looked like a blanket of snow.  The stars were wrapped with lights and a wreath was placed on the front.  Candy canes also lined the front of the float. 

Brooklyn and I attended many city meetings in preparation for Winterfest.  The Royalty was assigned to help decorate the night before, do a fundraiser, and well as ride in the parade.

Early the next morning was the kick-off 5K.  Brooklyn decided to run in this race.  I was so proud of her.  She hadn't run for awhile, but she did great.  I love that I have a daughter who enjoys sports and athletic activities.

After that we went home for a rest.  We still had a couple of things we wanted to do before we began the evening activities.  We wanted to go see the soap box derby.  This was the first year this was included in the Winterfest and it was a hit.  Boys and men made cars out of old water heaters, wheelbarrows and car kits and raced them down the hill.  It was a lot of fun.  Then we went to the Hurricane Festival of Trees and enjoyed looking at the Christmas trees.  Our main purpose in going was to hear Melanie Wilson sing.  She is the mayor's wife and also the seamstress that alters Brooklyn's dresses.  She has become a dear family friend. 

We then headed back to get ready for the light parade.  It was so beautiful.  Our float took 2nd place winning us a $50 gift card to Farmer's Market.  The girls looked so beautfiul.  Debbie had made the girls cloaks and Tania had suggested they have elbow length white gloves.  They looked very glamorous.  We anticipated the weather to be cold and rainy, but we were blessed with beautiful weather. 

After the parade, the girls went inside to judge the Suzy Snowflake pageant.  This is for girls ages 3-5.  They do a little dance and answer an interview question. 

The city asked us to do a fundraiser that included selling hot chocolate and donuts.  Well, that night ended up being warm...and the entertainment room we were in, even the fundraiser didn't go so good.  We had the girls take donuts out by the box full and sell them to people milling around outside.  Brooklyn ended up selling a whole box to one person!  We ended up making about $120 after expenses. 

The entertainment for the evening consisted of the royalty doing their city jingle, singing an Alvin and the Chipmunks song "Christmas Don't Be Late", the girls getting the audience involved in "Put Your Heart Up" and ending with a self-promoting song from the Polar Express "Hot Chocolate!" (in hopes people would buy our hot chocolate!).  It is always fun to see the girls perform.

At the end of the evening the girls helped Frosty the Snowman, the Winterfest mascot, greet the kids. 

The day was fun front start to finish...but the very end of the evening was sad.  I admit I got a little teary eyed as I stood in the street watching our float drive away.  The next week we would be dismantling it.  It was such a fun float and the girls looked amazing each time they were on it.  The float is a memory I will always treasure.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sadie Hawkins

Brooklyn isn't too keen on asking boys on dates or to dances.  Sadie Hawkins at the high school is interesting.  The girls buy a "necklace" from the office and have to tag the boy with it by putting it around their neck.  The catch is that it can't be done on school property.

Brooklyn had a couple of plans up her sleeve, but they didn't end up working out like she wanted them to.  In the end she tagged Christian at a nearby park.  She bought matching Captain America t-shirts for the both of them.  They always enjoy being together and this day was no different. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Presidential Election

This was a hard year for me presidentially.  I have felt our nation has been going in the wrong direction for a long time and some of our basic freedoms are being threatened.  I have not felt we have a president who values the same things I value. 

Working at Howard and Nelda Whitehead's home has kept me politically informed.  Fox 13 news is continually on as well as Rush Limbaugh.  I feel as if this presidential election has been going on for a year!  The debates always left me with a pit in my stomach.  So much time accusing and defending and proving, and lying.  It was not pleasant but I felt I needed to listen to it, to be informed.

I do feel good about Mitt Romney.  Yes, he is a Mormon, a religion we both belong to.  But I also saw him come in and save our Salt Lake Olympics after a terrible scandal.  I know he recognizes how to be  financially responsible and I also believe him to be a leader. 

I felt the news was very biased against him.  I also believed there to be many fraudulent votes cast for the current president.  Some bragged that they had voted 16 times.  This all seems so unreal to me.

I watched on the day of voting as the race was so close...too close.  It was reported that in some counties not even one vote was cast for Mitt Romney.  How could that be?

As President Obama was once again pronounced the winner I felt sick to my stomach. Brooklyn tried to talk to me, but I could not speak.  I sat in shock.  I finally told her I was very upset...I could not believe what had just happened.   Another four years of this! Can't people see what is so obvious to me?  The only comfort I found was in knowing that God is in control.  I know that all is going according to His plan.  That is the only thing that brings me peace.

Mitt, my prayers are with you.  You fought a good fight...but good does not always triumph in this mortal world. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Brotherhood

As my children were growing up, they loved to participate in athletics.  They played soccer, baseball, football, basketball...did gymnastics, dance, and karate.  It was all TOO MUCH.  Too much running here and going there.  Sitting in the rain, sitting in the sun, sitting in traffic.  I was tired...and even though we were all having fun, I believe they were tired as well.

I finally said, "Can we pick one sport and be really good at that sport?"  They all chose basketball.  I love basketball.  It is indoors, it is short and it is quick.  It can get heated...just ask Brandon!  It is fun.  The boys played Jr. Jazz basketball and eventually moved into Super League - their team was named "Good on Wood"...even getting to play in the Delta Center.  Brooklyn also played Jr. Jazz.  She was chosen for her Summit 9th Grade Basketball team and they took the state championship that year.  Brandon's name hangs in the rafters at Indian Hills Middle School to this day.

There was a great basketball standard installed in the RV parking driveway between our house and the Starks.  Boys from all over the neighborhood would come by to play a pick up game, HORSE, or just shoot alone...lost in their own thoughts.

I had a window that looked out on that slab of concrete and would sit in the window seat...also lost in my own thoughts as the ball bounced and swished.

I loved when the boys played priest ball.  Sometimes it was scary...but it was always exciting.  I knew the day would come when they would all go their separate ways and the ball would stop bouncing.  It made my heart ache.  I loved basketball...but more than that I loved the basketball players.

When searching for a house in Utah, I looked for six months.  I came to realize I wasn't looking for the perfect house, I was looking for the neighborhood...and more importantly the neighbors.  Little did I know when moving into 1243 E. Forest Ridge Rd., I would be establishing an extended family for my children to grow up with.  Eastridge 2nd Ward was filled with the greatest boys and they loved to be together. 

This group of boys encouraged each other, motivated each other and loved each other.  They played ball together, video games together, collected fast offerings together, and put in mission papers together.  They truly were brothers.  As they all left on missions, and I moved away from the house on Forest Ridge, I longed in my heart to see them play ball again.  I wondered if it would ever happain.  And it did!

After Justin returned from his mission, a pick up game was organzied at our local church building.  Although it lacked the intensity of a priest ball game, the love...the enjoyment...the brotherhood could be felt once again.

Dano Lym, Adam Lee, Ryan Waite, Brandon, Me, Justin, Eric Lee, Matt Farr, Mike Kersey, Ian Lee, Greg Rose

These boys I know will always stay close and keep each other in line.  I couldn't ask for better brothers for my kids.  I love them all!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pioneer Trek

Bishop Leavenworth said when he was called to be the bishop, he knew that the youth needed to go on a pioneer trek for their Youth Conference.  He and the bishopric worked really hard to make this a great experience for the kids.  They put the kids into the "families" that they felt would help them most.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, many of the youth did not choose to go.  Brooklyn's family consisted of three young women and the ma and pa.  I couldn't believe these girls would be pulling the handcart without the help of more males.

During the pioneer trek their is a "women's pull."  This is reminiscent of when the men were called away to battle and the women were left to continue on the trek.  I joked with Brooklyn that her whole trek would be a women's pull. 

Aaron Langston, Summer Stevens, Shaylee Johnson, Brooklyn and Katie Langston
I was asked to be a driver.  We all met at the location and then shuttled cars to the end location.  The kids would be walking about 23 miles.  The lead car took us on the route the group would be trekking on.  It was rocky and often times very steep.  One car got stuck in a ditch we crossed and had to be pulled out.   I worried  about the kids and adults twisting their ankles.  I felt bad for the peoples' cars that we were driving because we were definitely 4-wheeling most of the way. 

I am so proud of Brooklyn.  She always has such a good attitude and is up for anything.  She is not a fan of camping, but she does like to hike and loves the outdoors.  I am grateful for her desire to be obedient and to commit to whatever is asked of her. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend with my kids

I was so excited to have my kids come for the weekend.  Brandon had been wanting to fix me a Mexican meal ever since returning from his Spanish-speaking mission in Nebraska.  Brandon and Amber are pretty content to lay around, sleep, relax...but Justin is a goer and a doer.  He was asking before he even came what we would be doing on Saturday.  So we decided to head into St. George and go bowling.  Justin is a really good bowler...notice all his strikes!

Afterwards we went to Three Amigos, the mexican food grocery store in St. George.  It was fun to look around there and see and hear the boys salivating over the food they have missed so much.  We were all a little hungry from the bowling so we picked up some Little Caesars pizza and ate at the pavillion on the Dixie State College Campus.

Justin found an exercise place across the park and practiced some of his gymnasics skills.

I have the greatest kids...and no I am not prejudiced.  I really enjoy being with them.  They are good people, fun and interesting.

We headed home and Brandon made the wonderful meal...carne asada that he grilled and other yummies.  We then played Apples to Apples.  Grandma joined us...and Christian came over too.  After that we watched 17 Miracles.  Justin had been wanting to see that movie ever since returning from his mission.

The next day we went to church and came home to prepare for them to leave.  I was so sad.  I love having my kids here.

After they left, I felt that little let-down where all I wanted to do is lay in my bed and think of how much I love when they are here and miss them when they are gone.  I didn't lay there too long when my phone rang.  It was my Uncle R.B.  He asked me what my house looked like.  I said, "What?  Are you in front of my house?"  Sure enough, he and my Aunt Lena were stopping by on their way back to Texas.

I love my Uncle R.B. and Aunt Lena.  They have always been so good to me and their kids are wonderful cousins.  My Uncle R.B. will call me every so often and I am always taken aback when I answer the phone because he sounds so much like my dad.  I am thankful they remember me and take the time to stop by. 

I still have a voicemail on my phone that my Aunt Lena left back in August of 2010   .  One day I know it will be erased so I will write down what she said:

Sheri, this is Lena.  I'm at work.  I can't remember what time your plane took off.  I just wanted to tell you we talked about you after you left yesterday.  We enjoyed so much having you at church and at our house.  It was great.  So anytime you want to come back just feel so free.  The girls said, "Yea, we could go to Sam Moons and we could show her this and take her there.  Just anytime you want to take a break we would so love to have you.  And I have a real nice bed and a bathroom that will be all yours.  Just know that we really enjoyed having you.  I hope you have a good safe trip and a welcome home.  Talk to you later alright.  Bye.

That message was so sweet and so nice and I keep it because every so often I like to listen to it and feel of my Texas Pennington family's love. 

Charlie's Blessing Day

We were so excited to get a new baby in our family.  Ginger and Tyler made a little one that is the perfect combination of the two of them.  It was a fun weekend.  We went the night before to Meadow so we would have a little extra time with the fam.  Grandma had brought the kids these disgusting liquidy candy things that had edible gel bugs in them.  The kids had a fun and gross time eating them!

Ginger and her family live in the perfect spot...she is smack dab between Sandy and La Verkin so it is an easy meeting place for me and my kids.  Justin came for the blessing and was able to show off his new car, give me some son-love and hang with his cousins.

Charlie looked super cute in his foreign made blessing outfit.  His cake was amazing and made by a family friend.  It was truly his day to be the center of attention.

Everyone couldn't wait to take their turn holding this cutie-patootie!  He usually looks uncomfortable because he is!  He likes his mom and dad, but the rest of us...not so much!

We had a delicious soup bar complete with bread bowls.  While we were eating yummy food Charlie was enjoying a part of his cake...and then not enjoying some squash.

We then headed outside for some windy family pictures. 

I always love getting together with my matter the occassion!