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Category Archives: Family

Patience and Flexibility in Our Nation’s Capital

As my wife and I drove our four kids to the airport last Wednesday afternoon for a trip to Washington D.C., we encouraged them to remember two very important aspects of travel: patience and flexibility. These two attributes are crucial to an enjoyable travel experience. And while our kids (especially the younger two), didn’t really take these to heart, we kept muttering the words “patience” and “flexibility” to ourselves when things didn’t go right. Our trip was filled with ups and downs, but I’m very glad we gave our kids the chance to experience our nation’s capital.

Andrew and George


You see, I’m a very patriotic American, raised by goodly parents who love this land and always taught me that God had a hand in forming this country. The Founding Fathers (Washington, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, etc.) were among my heroes growing up. I used to perform in patriotic programs with my siblings during the bicentennial year of 1976. I’m an Eagle Scout and take seriously my “duty to country.” I’m also a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) and patriotism is basically a religious principle in my church. I even played a part in the musical “1776” at Hale Center Theater in 2004. My character signed the Declaration of Independence nightly at the end of the show. Yes, the love of country runs deep in me. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve always dreamed of visiting Washington D.C. Similar to a Muslim visiting Mecca, a Catholic visiting the Vatican or a Mormon visiting the sacred grove in upstate New York (something I still have yet to do).

Anyway, we had been saving our air miles / credit card points and found a relatively inexpensive flight to Baltimore, so I convinced Robin that we should take the whole family to fulfill this dream with me as I had never been there before. We were nervous because our kids didn’t seem too excited. One said, “This sounds like it’s going to be one long field trip.” Another said, “That sounds BORING. Why can’t we go to Hawaii instead.”

But I persisted. I booked the trip six months ago and have been eagerly anticipating it ever since.

Well, I’m writing this post from the airplane home and thought I’d just share some thoughts. We packed in a lot over 4.5 days, driving just under 500 miles in our rented minivan and exploring the area thoroughly. Here’s a quick summary.

Day #1 – George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial

Day #2 – U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, U.S. Supreme Court, National Botanical Garden, American Indian Museum, National Air and Space Museum

Day #3 – White House, Ford’s Theater, House where Lincoln die, American History Museum, Great Falls of the Potomac

Day #4 – Air Force Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Kennedy Family Gravesite, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, National Cathedral, National Zoological Park, Washington DC LDS Temple and Visitor Center

Day #5 – National Archive, Natural History Museum, Holocaust Memorial Museum

Whew!! think I need a vacation from my vacation! And there was still a lot to see. I wish we could have spent a lot more time in the American History Museum and other Smithsonian museums that we didn’t have time to visit. I would have loved to have seen a performance at the Kennedy Center or taken a tour of the White House. I tried to squeeze in a visit to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving (money factory) and the Vietnam Memorial, but we just ran out of time and nearly missed our flight due to a traffic accident that delayed our return trip to the airport by 45 minutes.

Overall, it was an amazing trip, but not without its challenges. Taking four kids (16, 14, 11 and 8) on a trip like this is NOT for the faint of heart. There were lots of ups and downs. My 16-year-old son Parley was sick for more than half of the trip with food poisoning and could hardly walk on one of the days. My younger two kids (8 and 11) don’t travel well and there were DOZENS of tantrums / fights and lots of whining and crying — so much crying — (shudder). Robin says we deserve a medal. I say we should have our sanity checked. We attempted this grand adventure and decided to bring along people who weren’t all that interested in going. Many times I thought how much easier the trip would have been if it had just been Robin and me. We could have traveled more quickly and with a LOT less fuss. We could have saved a lot of money if we didn’t have to get two rooms each night or rent a minivan instead of a car (not to mention the cost of the flights and food).

So why did we do it? Was our pain worth it? As we concluded our trip, I think about the many cherished memories we created together, which hopefully will overshadow the difficult times we experienced. Here are a few that stand out to me:

Our nighttime stroll from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial alongside the reflecting pool.

Lincoln

Our feeling of admiration for the character and goodness of the father of our country, George Washington, during our visit to his home in Mt. Vernon.

Vernon

Our sense of loss at the tragedy that occurred at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865 — Lincoln’s death still saddens us 150 years later.

Lincoln Box

Our feeling of deep gratitude for those who laid down their lives in World War II and Korea as we visited those memorials.

WWII

Our wonder at the genius of the American system of government as we looked upon the founding documents at the National Archive.
Archive

Our profound connection with history as we saw the places where 42 presidents have lived and worked, where laws and been debated and created by 114 different congresses and where Supreme Court justices have interpreted those laws.

Capitol White House

Our fascination with the ingenuity of American inventors (including the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison and NASA engineers) and the courage of American explorers, pioneers, soldiers and activists who helped bring about needed change. Their stories are shared beautifully in the Smithsonian museums.

Air

Our awe at the ultimate sacrifice given by so many as we visited Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

ArlingtonUnknown

Our visit to the breathtakingly beautiful LDS Washington D.C. Temple (completed one month after I was born) and the very special spirit of the accompanying grounds and Visitor Center.
Temple

Our overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism as we saw thousands of visitors from all over the world come to see the center of American power and pay their respects to the founders, statesmen and everyday people who have labored so diligently over the past 240 years to make the American experiment a resounding success.

Perhaps the trip was worth it after all.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Family, Trips

 

Family Photos 2014

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Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Family

 

Counting Blessings

This year has been a great one so far. We’ve really been blessed as a family. Robin has been busy making curtains for our house, planting flowers and trying her best to keep our children fed and clothed. The kids have been enjoying their school work along with their other activities (Parley – band and scouts; Brianna – drawing class; Lily – gymnastics; James – being cute.) And I’ve been trying hard to support them by working hard at the bank.

In February, we bought a great 2004 Honda Odyssey to replace our 1994 Mercury Villager and we’ve loved it. We were able to sell our old car without too much trouble.

I’m still driving my 1995 Toyota Camry with 250,000+ miles on it. The pain job is fading and the interior is pretty ugly, but it still gets me from Point A to Point B, and I love not having a car payment. I’m hoping it will just keep plugging along.

At the end of March, our ward was divided and I was called to serve as Ward Clerk for the newly created ward. It’s been a fun challenge to work to get everything established for the Traverse Mountain 9th Ward, and I’ve enjoyed it. 

From January 1 to April 1, I lost 30 pounds and have kept it off for the last six weeks. To help me never revert back to my former weight, (I’ve gained and lost this same 30 pounds four times before), I have donated most of my clothes to the DI and gotten new ones, which is expensive. None of my suits fit anymore so I’ve either given them to the DI, or taken them into the tailor to be altered. Unfortunately, even after the alterations, they don’t look as good as the two new suits I recently got from Pierre Phillipe, a tailor in Lehi. Here’s an one of my two new suits for my new body.


A few months back, I began training for a the Utah Valley Marathon on June 11, 2011. While training for a big race like that is time-consuming, I have really enjoyed it. There’s nothing like running through nature (trails, parks, canyons, etc.) and having all that time to think about life or listen to interesting podcasts. Yesterday, I ran almost 17 miles down Provo Canyon to get a feel from what the course would be like for me in just four weeks. It capped of a very agressive training week in which I ran almost 50 miles over five sessions with rest days on Sunday and Wednesday.

Finally, on Saturday night, I had the cast of “The Importance of Being Earnest” come over to watch a DVD of our final performance. It was so much fun to see all those dear friends two weeks after the show closed on April 30. It was a short run (just five performances) and a small venue (seating 100 or so), but it was so much fun to tackle the challenge of brining the character of Jack to life. My fellow castmembers did a great job and we really enjoyed it. The rehearsal schedule was just two nights a week in February and March. April, however, was quite intense and time-consuming. So I’m glad it’s over, but I’m so glad I had the chance to be involved. Here’s a little clip of the conclusion of the play, in which my character (Jack Worthing) discovers his true origins, his relationship to the other characters on stage and his real name.

Here are a few photos from the show. For more pictures, scroll down to my earlier post about the play.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Family

 

Influential Book on Relationships

I recently read an article regarding the classic Dale Carnegie book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I first read that book at the urging of my mother, when I was a young teenager, and I can honestly say that it changed my life. I started to apply the principles in that book and I noticed that my interactions with those around me were much improved. The title of the book seems pretty self-serving and potentially manipulative. But I believe Carnegie’s basic points, when applied appropriately, are sound:

  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

So I’ve decided to share some of these principles with my kids around the dinner table. Each week, I intend to focus on a different principle and hopefully it will have an affect on their lives.

What books have influenced your life?

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Family

 

Being a Better Dad

On Saturday I hiked to the top of Mt. Timpanogos for the fourth time in my life. As always, it was a thrilling experience to reach the second highest peak in Utah and look out over the valleys below. It’s about a 16-mile round trip, so my brother Aaron and I had lots of time to talk as we hiked. We talked about our life experiences that had led us to where we are today. We also talked about the importance of fatherhood. We both have learned some very important lessons from our own late father’s example (both positive and negative), and many things from our own experiences as fathers of young children. Here’s a summary of my thoughts on “principles for effective fatherhood.” 

Quality and Quantity Time
Develop a strong personal relationship with each individual child. This sounds extremely basic, but I think it’s crucial to spend good quality time with my kids as a group and individually. When I spend time with my children, undistracted by work, hobbies or other concerns, I know I’m communicating that they are the most important part of my lives. When I don’t, I’m sending the opposite message.

I try to find time for recreational experiences on a regular basis. I like to take my kids on some fun activity once a week and we love the time we spend together. Throw a football. Watch a TV show together. Go swimming or go on a hike. Play hide and seek. Go to a museum. Create memories together for “time flies of wings of lightning and you cannot call it back.”

When I was a young boy, my dad took me and my siblings on a handful dates – time that he would spend one-on-one with us doing something fun. We loved these moments together and I still remember those experiences from three decades ago. Over the past five years, I’ve tried to take a different child on a date each week so that each child gets one date per month. (It certainly doesn’t always happen that way because, well, life happens.) When I ask my kids what they like the most about our relationship, they always talk about the fun dates we’ve done. It doesn’t have to cost much or any money. But the one-on-one time has been crucial to developing a strong relationship.

We try to eat dinner together each night and I often lead the conversation so that each person gets a chance to share and feel valued. Each night, we take a few minutes to allow everyone to share one good thing and one bad thing that happened during the day. We usually don’t get through everyone, but it’s nice to be able to hear about each other’s successes and struggles.

Communication
This is one of the areas that I think is most crucial in parenting. I want to develop a relationship with my children which is so open and honest that they can come to me with any challenge or concern. Now I realize I haven’t quite gotten to the teenage years yet, so this will only get more difficult, but I’m hopeful that by setting a pattern in the early years, the children will be willing to talk with me and allow me to help them. Here are a few items I think are extremely important.

Listen intently to what they have to say and resist the urge to give advice and solve problems. A parent who immediately judges and criticizes a child’s choices and experiences as he/she shares them will find that the child is much more reluctant to share his/her thoughts and feelings.

Have regular talks with children. For me most often this means pulling them aside to sit on the porch swing or taking them on an errand with me and talking with them about their lives. Regular one-on-one visits are so important. About once per quarter, I do formal interviews with my kids in my home office on a Sunday afternoon. I sit across from them and we talk about their joys and struggles, their hopes and dreams, and the development of their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We start and end these “interviews” with a prayer. It’s a great time to share my feelings about the gospel and let them know how much they are loved.

A mentor friend of mine once taught me three questions he would often ask his children in conversations to elicit feedback that would help him be a better father. They were simple and straightforward, but helped the kids think of specific things. He would ask:

“What am I currently doing that you’d like me to continue doing?”
“What am I currently doing that you’d like me to stop doing?”
“What am I not currently doing that you’d like me start doing?” 

Now, my kids are fairly young and so usually they don’t have many answers to these questions, except for something like “Buy me that video game I want!” But the very fact that I try to ask these questions shows them that I really desire their input on how I can be a better father. Of course, if you ask for and receive feedback, you’d better be prepared to act on the input you get!

Consistent Devotions
Daily scripture study. Morning and evening family prayer. Weekly church services. Weekly family home evening. All of these activities, when done consistently and in the right spirit, should strengthen the family and increase harmony and peace in the home. I am hopeful that this is true, although a spirit of contention often creeps in as we try to do these things. I remember my dad dragging us all out of bed at 5:45 each weekday morning to gather in the family room to read scriptures. It made a strong impression on me, even though at the time I often resisted.

Other Items

  • Teach my children how to work and set high expectations for them. When those expectations aren’t met, instead of criticizing, take the time to teach. 
  • Resist the urge to shout and snarl.
  • Get to know my children’s friends and make them feel welcome in our home.
  • Be patient.
  • Praise good behavior regularly.
  • Express love and show it.

Obviously these principles are not comprehensive. What do you have to add? I’d love to read your thoughts on how to be a successful parent.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2010 in Family

 

Tour of Traverse Mountain Home

We’ve been in our new home in Traverse Mountain (Lehi) for the past three months, and we’ve loving it. It’s such a great neighborhood and the home meets our needs very well. It’s so nice to have a brand new home. Nothing quite like it. I’ve had a few people tell me they’d like to see pics of the inside, so here they are. Please give us a call if you’d like to come and visit!

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Family

 

Summer Fun – Part 2

Labor Day weekend always feels like the end of summer to me. Hopefully we’ll have a few more weeks of summer-like weather, but once all of the public outdoor swimming pools close down, I know the season is ending. And I always get a little bit sad about that.

I enjoy all of the seasons (although I wish winter would end mid-January). Fall is a great time of year and I love the holidays, but I’m usually not quite ready to have summer end. I love the long days when you can play outside until 9:30 before it gets dark. I love being able to take walks wearing sandals, a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. I love swimming, playing tennis and hiking, none of which I did enough this year. I love the smell of freshly cut grass and  BBQ grills cooking up delicious treats. All good things must come to an end, I guess.

We did have a very fun summer, and here are a few pictures from Pioneer Day through Labor Day. (Just click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of the pictures.)

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Family