Friday, December 31, 2010


Another year has come and gone, with wonderful and exciting experiences filling every moment. We are both still “non-traditional” students at BYU, grateful for the privilege and opportunity. Ann is intimidated by the snow while Von likes to shovel off the driveway in his flip-flops (still thinks he is in SoCal). The purpose of our grand adventure will be realized in April when Ann graduates with a degree in Communications, Public Relations emphasis. Von will receive a degree in Latin American Studies, with a minor in Political Science. Ann will then have a two month internship in New York City.

September 2009 ended with us as “empty-nesters”, but this changed earlier this year when our youngest, Kimmy, and her husband, Garrett, both students also, moved into our basement. They will finish in April, and then leave for Texas. Continuing up from the youngest, Julianne and Vance, living in Texas, are enjoying life with our two noisy grand-“puppies”. Our one son, Von, who has an affinity for the heat, is in Arizona, a student at ASU, working as well and trying to keep all the loose ends under control. Loralee and Dave are with us here in Utah. Dave is doing well with his dental practice, while Loralee enjoys their two cute little red-heads. Adrienne and Ted are in Arizona. Ted’s skills as a landscape architect are in demand so as to ensure gainful employment. Adrienne’s hands are full with four wonderful and active youngsters and teaching piano. Finally, Ann-Marie and Collins – they are still in San Clemente, CA, where he is a popular dentist. Ann-Marie is a supportive wife and a busy mom. Their four boys keep everyone on their toes. We are grateful for the goodness of our children and grandchildren – how they love each other, support each other, and strive to build the Kingdom where they live by carefully nurturing their families.

We are grateful for the blessings that have come to us in consequence of rubbing shoulders with wonderful people like you. Thank you for your positive influence.

We are especially grateful for the blessings of the Gospel – living prophets, sacred covenants and ordinances, privileges of serving, the comfort of the Savior’s love, and a sense of approbation of our Heavenly Father.  Truly, sweet is the peace the Gospel brings. As with you, we are striving to become more like Them. Let us pray for each other, that such will be our blessing one day.

Our love to each of you,
H. Von and Ann

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Fall has multiple meanings
crisp, cool, crunchy, leaves,
pumpkin, spicy, earthy,

Tried two new recipes.
Great results!
Pumpkin Pancakes
Tender, light – what pancakes are supposed to be!


Chicken Tiki Masala
Here is a link to my daughter's website (she is the photographer!)
I am still enjoying the flavors rolling around in my mouth!

Cumin, Paprika, Turmeric, Cayenne, Curry,
Cinnamon, Garlic, Cloves,
Cilantro, Coriander, Pepper, Fennel Seeds,
Ginger, Cardamom, Nutmeg

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Many ask me how I am doing these days, and I reply, "Hanging in there!"

This week I realized that maybe that isn't a good answer.
Should I be more truthful?
Should I be more positive?
What would be an appropriate answer?

So for those who want to know how I am doing, let me tell you. I am doing great!

Sure, I don't get enough sleep; I could be eating much healthier; I could be exercising; I could be going to the temple more often; I would like to see the sun more often; I would enjoy some creative adventures; yes, I could, I would and I need to - if there were more hours in a day! But there is not, so I am hanging in there.

The day will come again when I feel more in control of where and what I am going to do (wishful thinking?). Until then, I am learning new things. Some days those new things are hard. But I am here for a reason, and I have to keep hanging in there with the hope and belief that the Lord will make known to me what those reasons are.

I wrote a letter to my aunt this week. She promptly replied and shared some things with me that made my day, giving me that boost I needed to hear. My aunt, the 90-year-old cheerleader - bless her heart! Her belief in me as well as others, makes hanging in there easier.

In the last three months, I have had two cousins that have been dealing with cancer treatments of chemo, radiation and hair loss. It has been hard, possibly the hardest thing they have ever had to deal with in their life, yet they are getting through it. They don't know the reasons. They don't know the outcome. But they are hanging in there.

When I think my journey is difficult, I think of them and many other family and friends who are dealing with hard things. And you know what, a outpouring of love and gratitude fills my heart for the wonderful experiences and people that I am associating with. I am blessed by so many, especially my family.

While attending a meeting with some special ladies, they asked how I was doing. I told them, "If I can just get through this week, I will be good." They quickly came back with, "You told us that last week!" So I did, and more than likely I will say that every week!!! But it is OK, cause I am hanging in there, and it is great.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BYOB&S Night

It is official. Tonight is the first of my BYO__ Nights. Tonight it is:

Bring Your Own Bowl & Spoon Night

Featuring: Minestrone Soup and Homemade Bread
Serving Dinner: 7 - 8 pm (I have to tackle homework after that)

Dinner will be served until we run out!!!

Just a recap on BYOB&S night. Nobody came, so I shared with some single neighbors. But that is OK. Another night/day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It Needs a Little Something More!

This weekend we watched General Conference - all weekend, or at least eight hours worth. I vegged the whole weekend and only left the house for maybe 40 minutes! Loralee and the girls spent all day Saturday here, and we listened and sewed. Loralee posted pictures of the Halloween skirts we made on Facebook. While we were finishing the skirts, I made the comment, "It needs a little something more." Loralee laughs at me and tells me, "Ann-Marie says that when she cooks, and Adrienne says that when she is creating a paper craft." That made me feel good.

Guess my daughters do take after me! They are all so creative and cute!!!

What more can I say, I needed to add another picture of my girls at the Getty Museum in Santa Monica, CA, at our first ever mother-daughter retreat!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

HOW TO - burn food and set the kitchen on fire

The Pioneer Woman has the ability to sense my weakness - bread and butter!

I didn't have any french bread at midnight when I came upon this concoction, so I used a bagel to try this out. Smothered the first half of bagel with butter, popped it under the broiler - DELICIOUS! So I decided I needed to finish off the other half. Did the same to it and popped it in the oven and set the timer. For some reason, I decided to check on it - good thing - a fire had erupted! Dang, I was looking forward to another scrumptious piece of butter and bread. Thank goodness my husband was asleep, as I had to open the windows, air out the house and spray air freshener throughout the upstairs, AND burn a candle to ensure no tell-tale signs of my burnt food episode.

My family makes fun of me because I burn food. Why do I do it? Not on purpose - it's just that I get distracted. And besides, my dad always told me that burnt food put hair on your chest, and I was just ensuring that my husband and son would have plenty, because it never happened for me or the girls (what a blessing - cause my two men have made up for it!!!)

Will I make "The Bread" again? You bet! But I will lower the rack under the broiler next time, and possibly share the love!!!

Addendum: When I was telling those at home about my post, they reminded me it wasn't just burning food that I am adept at, it was also how I set kitchens on fire. All I have to say on that is see reasons above, and remember - we got a new kitchen out of it :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

HOW TO - pack a bag!

Came across this random "tutorial" on packing a small bag! I thought I took lots of clothes - this guy has me beat!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just Gag Me!

The Pioneer Woman is having another one of her photo contests. Just click on the picture and you find this photo as well as others in her Funny Photo contest.

Personally, if you are a mom or have cared for kids or even been a kid(?), this picture says so MUCH!!! I just have to chuckle seeing the gag reflex of the one boy. Reminds me of the time my father brought home some fish stuff from Mexico and demanded I eat it. Every time I began to put it in my mouth, you guessed it, GAG. I think I sat there for 3 hours - at least! He sat there with me. I don't remember who gave in. It might have been me as I have had this hate relationship with fish - for forever!

Well, this weekend I MUST get caught up on my homework, so no more playing around on the computer :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This was the final story I wrote for my news writing class. I spent over 20 hours interviewing and gathering data. I was not able to use all the information. Stories seem to flow as you start writing them, sometimes going in a completely different direction. My personal view on immigration - I am still sitting on the fence. However there needs to be more serious discussion in Washington using ears and brains to come up with a smarter solution. Doing nothing, which seems to be the position of the last two presidencies, has not produced any policy or enforcement that addresses a serious threat to the freedoms we recognize in our country today.

Utah County has placed itself in the middle of a debate about how to make itself safe while protecting civil liberties of immigrants since adopting a new fingerprinting program aimed at deporting criminal illegal aliens.

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) initiated a new fingerprinting identification program called Secure Communities in 2008. Since March 2010, Utah, and in particular Utah County, has activated this technology.

In a June 2010 news release, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Utah determined the Secure Communities program (S-Comm) would be an effective way to identify and remove criminal aliens from our state.

It would also provide an additional arsenal to protect our streets from criminal activity by identifying criminal aliens.

“Anyone arrested for a crime and booked in our jail, we take their fingerprints,” said Jim Tracy, Utah County sheriff. “The fingerprint file for that person is run against that national AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Index System), and if they are wanted anywhere in the United States or if they have a criminal history, we can get that kind of information through querying that. This [Secure Communities] is like the same thing. We can check on the criminal status and [then] get their immigration status through the ICE program.”

This program has received little attention in lieu of other immigration issues, yet it is reported that S-Comm will convict and deport more aliens that are criminal.

The S-Comm program has three pillars or functions: identify criminal aliens through biometric fingerprinting, prioritize by a series of risk factors for detention and deportation and transform enforcement processes that achieve lasting enforcement of criminal alien activity.

Many individuals with Level 1 offenses have been apprehended in connection with this program and taken out of the population. According to Tracy, ICE’s ability to turn over illegal criminals for deportation hearings has been timely in Utah County.

There is a consensus among those who work in law enforcement and some advocates for illegal immigrants that S-Comm has had positive outcomes.

Tony Yapias, an advocacy group director of Proyecto Latino de Utah and local talk show host, is in favor of S-Comm because it does make our communities safer. He said he reminds illegals that they have already put themselves at risk by being here as undocumented immigrants, and when they commit a crime, they are wrong and warrant being arrested.

“We all have the right to live in a safe community, a safe neighborhood, city, or town or state,” Yapias said. “Power to law enforcement if we can get rid of criminals — not just undocumented criminals, but also border criminals, any criminals. That is important.”

However, there is concern in many Latino communities that law enforcement agents have overstepped the line in taking undocumented immigrants to jail when they have not committed a crime, Yapias said.

Ignacio Garcia, professor of Western and Latino History at BYU, said the critical issue is whether the government wants to criminalize these people and guarantee that they cannot come back to the United States because they were brought into the jail system on an infraction or a charge they were never convicted of.

The majority of fingerprints in the S-Comm system are from non-immigrant and student visas. The individuals who were issued these visas usually have overstayed the time granted them to be in the United States. Many U.S. agricultural industries do not qualify for the guest worker program, but there is a need for laborers that American citizens are not satisfying, so Latinos come and fill those needs.

“I have seen some farmers offer $20 an hour, but they have no one who will take the jobs,” said Christopher Keen, a local immigration attorney. “The agricultural people are not happy, no one in agriculture is happy.”

Backers say S-Comm is effective in identifying criminals within undocumented communities. However, opponents say immigrants who obey the law and work to provide for their families live in fear of being deported because they are brown-skinned and have an accent.

“There needs to be reform, a massive reform,” Keen said. “Everybody on either side of the issue [immigration] are for massive reform. The system we have separates families. It encourages folks to disobey the immigrations laws. [There are] a lot of victims.

“For my clients that have mixed families, it’s never a black and white issue,” Keen said. “The illegal is the breadwinner for his wife and four, five or six U.S. citizen children. If he goes to Mexico, that family is going on public assistance.”

Keen said he did not see any legal issues with the fingerprinting program, but he does have a concern for potential abuse and discrimination.

“The cost of human suffering is really high with the immigration system we have now, it’s really sad, very sad,” Keen said. “For many immigrants this (S-Comm) is going to be a problem, more will be caught, more will be deported and more families will be separated.”

Saturday, September 4, 2010


About 12 years ago, we lived with my sister and her husband. We thought we were only going to be there for a few weeks, but ended up staying for three months! My sister was working full-time, and her husband had just come home from the hospital and needed someone to care for him. In many ways it was a perfect situation in that we needed a place to stay and she needed someone to care for her husband.

After a month, my sister was so happy that we were there. She made the comment, "It is just like having a wife!" I cared for her husband, kept the house clean and she came home to dinner every night. She was right. Can I get one too!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bridals vs. Groomals - Breaking Tradition

The groom seeing the bride in her dress before the wedding day is no longer taboo.

Traditional photography sessions of just the bride, or bridals, are now being replaced with ‘groomals’ of both the future bride and groom. Groomals are quickly becoming more the norm than the exception with wedding photographers.

Wedding specialist Heather Balliet, and owner of Amorology in Southern California, sets up a photo shoot with the couple and photographer prior to the wedding day for what they call a “first look.”

“This is an opportunity prior to the ceremony to capture the groom seeing his bride for the first time in her gown,” said Balliet. “While this works for couples of all religions, this is an especially great option for our LDS brides who don’t have a formal walk down the aisle and who typically see each other for the first time in their wedding attire as they exit the temple.”

Many wedding photographers feel this first look should be private and intimate, away from crowds of well wishers.

“We were preparing for bride and groomals and I put on my tux and I walked out and saw Heather for the first time in her wedding dress,” said Jacob Wright of Provo. “It was shocking because I had never fathomed being at this point where I had this beautiful girl I was going to marry.” (Photo is of Jake and Heather. Heather is a cousin of ours - isn't she beautiful!)

A bride and groom dressed up for their groomals with no pressure to meet and greet guests, can create a more relaxed and fun photo shoots in diverse locations.

Some couples have chosen funky or edgy photo shoot locations in wheat fields, railroad stations with graffiti, pumpkin patches, and beaches.

It was a nice touch to have different scenery for our groomals said recently married Garrett Williams, an accounting major at BYU.

“I liked the train graffiti wall best because it was rugged and manly,” Williams said referring to a background used in their photo shoot.

The traditional studio photo shoot is being replaced with more playful and meaningful interactions outside said Californian photographer Jamie Hammond of Jamie Hammond Photography.

“I take a natural approach, focus[ing] on them and their relationship,” said Hammond “The focus should be them together, not them sitting awkwardly looking at my camera. I want to feel like I’m secretly capturing moments and that they didn’t even know I was there.”

Jennifer Fauset of Fauset Photography in Salt Lake City believes that groomals are fabulous because she can take as much time as needed with the couple to get exactly what they want. She said all of the couples have loved doing the photos beforehand.

The weather man doesn’t always deliver perfect weather for the big day. However, choosing to do groomals when the weather is cooperative can relieve unneeded stress on the day of the wedding.

“I had one couple that decided to do half of their pre-wedding pictures at the temple, the other half at a corn maze and pumpkin patch,” said Chauntelle Janzer from Salt Lake City and owner of OpieFoto. “Come the wedding day, when they stepped outside of the temple, it was a crazy blizzard. They had no worries about the weather because they already got some great pictures before the wedding.”

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Could Not Resist

Thank you Alice for posting this - I had to post it too! This is happiness. Sweet!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Castle Dale Pageant

Got the opportunity to interview some people about their community pageant. If I had the time, it would have been fun to go and enjoy the show. One of the individual's I spoke to said that Tuesday night, when Pres. Uchtdorf was there, the donkey which carries Mary, decided to wander around the set. The cow also was having issues because no one had milked her, so they had to do the deed while the play was going on!

In a natural amphitheater located near the San Rafael Swell of south-central Utah, you will find the Castle Dale community of saints reenacting the history of their early pioneer settlers.

The Castle Valley Pageant story line is based on Brigham Young’s last call to have saints settle in Castle Dale. The play contains romance, birth, death, conflict and joy.

Community members said they are pleased with the awareness the pageant has brought to their valley. The narrative teaches the gospel, which includes the story of the area’s early Latter-day Saint’s historical sacrifices intertwined with the story of Christ’s life.

The Castle Valley Pageant is one of the few LDS productions that use live animals, which according to visitors makes it real and sometimes humorous. The play has experienced several incidences where the animals didn’t follow the script, including horses running off without the actor. Many pageant visitors have never seen an actual horse-drawn wagon or how a team of horses work, which adds to the historical significance of the play.

The original script, written for a ward project in 1978 by Montell Seely and members of the ward activity committee, was meant to be a one-time event. However, according to his daughter, LeAnne Seely, a member of the pageant’s marketing committee, the thought of unifying the ward and community became the driving force for Seely in making this production a yearly event.

With the approval of stake leadership, the invitation to participate extended first to other wards and then to other stakes. Now the pageant is held every two years as a countywide production sponsored by the LDS Church.

“It was a heartbreak when we changed it to every other year,” said Ken Christiansen, member of the pageant committee. “It has been a good way to teach your family the gospel.”

During the last weeks of July and first week of August, many community members in Emery County work together to produce a spectacular program the community can be proud of.

For many, being a part of the pageant has become a family affair. This year, a few families are represented by four generations in the cast. Christiansen said his father-in-law, Earl Farley, was one of the original cast members 32 years ago. Additionally, most of Christiansen’s children have participated in the play, and now his grandchildren are playing those same parts today.

There is a great camaraderie among the cast members and wonderful traditions have been created as families return to perform as cast members year after year.

“There are a whole lot of people that don’t get in costume because they are doing behind the scene work which is valuable to the pageant,” LeAnne Shelly said. “We have volunteers [who] clean the site, others provide security in guarding the set pieces and the sheriff’s department has provided parking control for 30 years.”

Other volunteers demonstrate various pioneer crafts and activities in the interactive pioneer village prior to the night’s performance. Guests are welcome to try their hand at churning butter, spinning wool and blacksmithing, as well as tasting food cooked in Dutch ovens.

School buses have been arranged to transport people to the amphitheater by another set of volunteers, said Roger Swenson, supervisor of transportation for Emery County School District. He said it has been great to hear the positive responses people make about their experiences at the pageant.

This is an outdoor pageant, where audience members sit on bleachers, overlooking the cedar and ponderosa pines of Utah’s mini-Grand Canyon, Swenson said. This backdrop helps to create an appreciation for the rugged conditions the early pioneers faced.

The pageant averages 2,500 to 4,000 visitors each night. Those who attend are not only entertained by the diverse set of cast members and animals, their hearts are stirred in remembrance of country and the legacy of pioneer faithfulness.

“My dad always used to say, ‘If we don’t make you laugh, we’ll pay your gas to get here, and if we don’t make you cry, we’ll pay your gas to go home,’ ” LeAnne Seely said. “The pageant touches all the human emotions and interacts with all the senses.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Want to take a Marriage Prep Class? Please say 'I Do!'

This article ran on Monday, July 26th. However, when it went to the copy desk, it got cut - so you - whoever you are (!!!), get to read the entire article!

'I do' have to say that I agree with the professors on this. Any marriage prep class that is offered, whether in preparation for marriage or for a marriage tune-up, it is worth the time and money invested.

Premarital education may be the best investment couples can make before saying ‘I do.’

In a sample conducted by BYU professors of nearly 50 marriage prep classes throughout the U.S., none of which were from BYU, most of the classes focused on communication skills. The study was published in “Family Relations.”

Communication is considered one of the major factors in marriage discord, according to Elizabeth Fawcett, lead author of the study and a visiting professor at BYU.

“If marriage prep classes can teach couples communication skills that will help them avoid divorce or marital distress, then these communication-based classes could be very helpful to a large number of couples,” said Fawcett in a recent news release.

Most couples are genuinely interested in premarital education, but in the hub-bub of being engaged, marriage prep is overlooked in favor of wedding prep, said BYU professor Alan Hawkins, another member of the study.

Premarital education classes get couples to talk about their expectations and clarify what they are thinking, Hawkins said. This is one of the purposes behind this type of education.

“We often bring very unrealistic expectations about marriage [into the relationship],” Hawkins said. “Confronting those things before marriage gets them thinking and to clarify what they believe [and how to] make plans and compromise.”

It takes more than love to make a marriage work, according to Hawkins. Most premarital education classes don’t go far enough in teaching that marriage is more than two people in love, it is an institution that comes with expectations. Marriage not only can bring order to our lives but establishes social institutions within our communities.

Other states besides Utah are realizing the importance and value of premarital education. Oklahoma has taken the lead in the U.S., making it a matter of public health and policy that couples get off to a good start.

Hawkins said that the investment in premarital education has far greater returns for states than picking up the financial repercussions of shattered families. Six states are now offering incentives such as discounts for marriage licenses for premarital education.

Utah’s marriage literacy and relationship classes are coordinated through County Extension offices throughout the state. Usually these classes are free of charge.

Jason Carroll, another member of this study, teaches SFL 223 – Preparation for Marriage. It is a full semester, not just 12 hours, of reality checks in understanding how marriage and relationships work, Hawkins said. It is the best education in the whole world, especially for LDS couples.
Taking a marriage prep classes before a relationship begins helps students like Brittany Guerra, a senior majoring in public health, learn the whole process from dating to marriage to family.

“Taking a marriage prep class [has] helped me have more of a structure to how I go about dating,” Guerra said. “I am not married yet, but it is working because I could be married and be unhappy.”

Trekking Journey Ends for Haydons

I have been writing updates on this family since June. They finally made it home. I have learned lot about the family, the trek and the family and friends that support them. I was trying to come up with a lead for this final article, and the one (which I didn't use) which said a lot about this adventure was:

"There is hope in the extraordinary accomplishments of humble people."

My personal hope is that as we examine our own lives that we understand that getting up each morning, pulling your pants up and stepping out is ALWAYS a step forward. Those who come from pioneer ancestry, be grateful for this legacy, because of their faith, we have been able to enjoy the blessings of a restored gospel.

Haydon and Company gathered together at the conclusion of their journey.

Connor Corbin playing Come, Come Ye Saints.

The handcart is empty, but the journey for the Haydon Company is far from over.

For the past 11 weeks, Clive and Shari Haydon, their four sons — Samuel, Josh, Matthew and Mikey — and teenage neighbors Justin Carter and Brett and Connor Corbin have been trekking and pushing a handcart along the historical Mormon Handcart Trail.

For now, the boys consider this handcart trek a grand adventure. The impact on themselves and others may take a few years before realizing this 1,180-mile trek was an incredible journey.

Most individuals who go on three- to four-day handcart treks are able to connect and grasp the spiritual and physical tests that Mormon pioneers faced. The Haydon’s 71-day journey was filled with special spiritual moments, too, but their greatest connection with pioneers was demonstrated by the faith necessary to stick it out and endure to the end.

“It is a daily grind, walking down the highway every day about 16 miles,” Clive Haydon said. “We are weary, tired, it is physical. You just have to do it and go through the mundane process to do the work and every now and then you have something special happen.”

Emotional connections were felt as family and friends gathered at This is the Place Heritage Park east of Salt Lake City to welcome the Haydon group home on Saturday.

Youth leaders and members of Mt. Olympus Stake in Salt Lake City joined the ranks of those who had been strengthened and inspired by the trekkers’ journey. They met the Haydons on the summit of Rocky Ridge, part of the Martin’s Cove pioneer trek in Wyoming.

“We were taking a break, and there was this lone handcart piled three feet high and this little family,” said Charlotte Pratt, a member of the Mt. Olympus Stake. “We could tell that they had been out on the trail longer than us. This was the real deal. When we learned that they had started in Nebraska eight weeks prior to that day, our youth and our leaders wanted to weep for them. We hiked the trail together and became their friends. Everyone was in the spirit of helping this family get to Utah. It was unbelievable.”

Conditioned bodies may be a physical payoff for the Haydon company, but the real payoffs have been people they met along the way and seeing how the Lord protected them.

“I had the opportunity to pull the cart up a steep part of a hill by myself,” Shari Haydon said. “The handcart was packed and I struggled as hard as I could up that hill. I got so far and then was unable to get that cart any further by myself. No matter how hard I pulled, that cart wouldn’t move. I thought of Elsie Nielson [who Shari Haydon walked in memory of] pulling her husband Jens, in the handcart. How did they do it? From my small experience it could only have been with divine help.”

Some family obligations necessitated a replacement for RV support at the beginning of July. Tom Page, a family friend also known as “Grumpy,” joined the company and brought lots of joy to their camp, according to Samuel Haydon.

“When I got there, they were exhausted,” Page said. “They had been gone for a couple of months. It was a drudgery to get up every day, so I tried to share some songs with them and do some things that would make them laugh and get going and I think it helped.”

Many people have been affected by what the Haydons have done, according to Scott Rancie, part of the RV support team. When Rancie saw the Haydon’s plan, he thought it was quite ambitious and was skeptical it was going to happen, especially after the first two days. Even Shari Haydon had her doubts.

“This has been a wonderful experience and I am glad I pushed past my fears, my comfort zone to do this,” she said. “I didn’t really think I would make it to the end, but here we are.”

The trek was part of Clive Haydon’s master’s program and although it is finished, he hopes to remain in Utah for another year. Under the U.S. Immigration’s Optional Practical Training program, he will finish some field studies in recreational management and work on further development of applied ancestry for at-risk youth.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Self Makeover

Here is the second story for the day!

In a world where some are absorbed with themselves, members of the BYU 2nd Stake seem to have found a cure — lose yourself in service.

Each week there is at least one service project happening in the stake, but more often there are two or three opportunities of service to choose from.

Stake President Robert H. Todd has made a promise that if members of the stake are faithful home and visiting teachers, learning to love the people they have been called to serve, Heavenly Father will bless their efforts in finding sweethearts and spouses.

Thus far there is no statistical evidence as to how many have found eternal mates, but they are learning patterns and principles of service, Todd said.

“We are eager to set a pattern [of service] with these wonderful young people of our stake,” he said. “There is a metaphor, ‘When you help your brother across the street you will find yourself there also.’ ”

Two members of the high council, Ben Hill and Dean Dickerson, have been assigned to find service opportunities for the stake. Because the stake pulls leadership from four different stakes in Utah County, Hill and Dickerson contacted all the bishops from these feeder stakes, specifically asking if there were any needs the students could assist in.

The most recent project began last weekend on a 100-year old home in Orem. This home makeover will continue July 31 and Aug. 7, culminating with a barn dance held in the Wilkinson Student Center on Aug. 7.

More than 55 students showed up for the work project, ready to tackle the day’s assignment of chest–high weeds, overgrown vegetation and decades of layered wallpaper. People in the neighborhood have considered this home a fire hazard not only because of the yard situation but also because of interior problems.

Siblings from Hong Kong and LDS members have lived in the home for more than three years. Their parents bought the home so they could receive an American education, but left them on their own, unprepared for the language and culture barriers.

Son Lee, former home teacher to the siblings, understands the culture barriers these young people have faced. He, too, came to America, fleeing communist Vietnam as part of the boat people in 1975. He understands the complexities of coming to a new world.

Lee, also a member of the stake high council, said he feels the service being offered will help break down barriers and build relationships with these wonderful young people.

Benefits and blessings of this service extend far beyond the family for whom the service is rendered. Part of the process is learning patience, diligence and developing a hard work ethic, said Liz Blomquist, a stake member from Santa Cruz, Calif.

“We learn more about teamwork and we get to spend time with a lot of great people who like to do the same things,” Blomquist said.

Royce Herbst, bishop of BYU 3rd Ward, noticed a difference in his ward members as they learned to serve together. He said there is a greater love for each other as they observe each other outside of a student environment.

The stake provides numerous types of service, such as a service “sit-in.” Stake members came together with their laptops and did Family Search indexing together.

“It is the best video game in town,” Todd said.

This month, the stake was involved in a beta-testing program for the LDS Church to determine whether a new website could handle large amounts of traffic. Many students gathered in the WSC with their laptops to log-on to the new website:

When others sense your willingness to serve, others then are willing to serve you, said Josh Epperson, a stake member from Murray.

“I have suggested that if you want to have a really neat date, invite somebody out and go find somebody to serve,” Todd said.

23,000 divided by 100,000=4.34 hours of service per person

Had two stories in the D.U. today.

More than 23,000 BYU students have logged 100,000 hours of service this past year.

For the third year in a row, both the city of Provo and the state of Utah have been rated the No. 1 city and state in the U.S. for service and volunteerism.

Being nationally recognized is directly attributed to BYU’s involvement in service, said Bill Hulterstrom, CEO of Utah County United Way.

While attending the National Conference on Volunteerism and Service this past June in New York, Casey Peterson, director of the Center for Service and Learning, was approached by many organizations and colleges seeking strategies that will help them to be as successful.

“This is nothing about the organization,” Peterson said. “It is more about the students, using service to identify their reason why they are here.”

The Center for Service and Learning uses the community for its lab. Each year, the number of students continues to increase. Students are developing into world citizens, becoming aware of service opportunities and the issues that surround them.

One of the newest organizations BYU has partnered with is Utah Refugee Services, located in Salt Lake City.

Amy Wylie, volunteer coordinator of refugee services in Utah, also works with LDS Inner City Project and said the needs are great, with many opportunities to serve.

Because of time constraints and language experiences, BYU students have come to the Humanitarian Center and helped refugees with language training.

Statistics have proven that students who serve others, receive the most benefits Peterson said. They improve socially, spiritually and academically. Students also learn leadership skills as they take on mentoring roles while helping others develop necessary skills for life.

“In an incredible expression of gratefulness,” Wylie said, “a Burundian refugee asked me, ‘In my country, I would give them a cow. What could I do that will be equivalent?’ We can serve others right from our front door. From the comfort of our own home we can serve the world.”

When students apply for graduate schools or jobs, their service involvement stands out, Peterson said. Deans of other schools and employers recognize their unselfish act.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don't You Just Love Personality Tests

On Facebook, they had a test for determining what color you were. My favorite color is green, and I was delighted to DISCOVER that GREEN is my personality color!!!

However, it was interesting to read how correct (even though there are formulas...) that the test determined what I was like!

You are very strong-willed and determined and can accomplish much when left alone and undisturbed. Easy-going and original, you are capable of relaxing and enjoying the finer things in life. You have an eye for art. You work hard to improve your life and to surmount the tensions involved in the struggle.


I went to the dollar movie tonight. I saw Letter to Juliet. It was a sweet movie. I was hoping it would be a tear-jerker, but it wasn't.

The movie had one line - or scene that caused me some thought, and it was of 'Camille,' after the wedding ceremony to Lorenzo. She was sharing the letter that Sophie had written in response to her Dear Juliet letter.

It was taking two words, "IF" and "WHAT" and combining them to "WHAT IF?"

So I ask myself, what if? I believe there have been only a few moments in my life that that question would have changed my life's events rather significantly.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Does Your Family Flourish or Flounder?

Another story for the newspaper. I wish I could write an article that gives more information, like you would see in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times! This research project is amazing and the data that they are gathering only testifies to me the importance that families have on the well being of our society. Families really do matter.

Since 2007, more than 500 students at BYU have been involved in one of the largest research projects focusing on family processes that contribute to positive family environments.

The four-year study, titled The Flourishing Family Project, is being conducted through the School of Family Life. Five hundred families are being studied in Seattle and 170 LDS families are being studied in Utah.

“We are trying to access why families matter,” said Randal Day, project director of The Flourishing Families Project. “[Looking at the] trajectories of kids’ lives as they make important choices [such as] risky sexual behavior, school choices, friend choices and relationship choices. How do families help shape them and how are families a resource to kids who flourish?”

Several studies have been conducted on the negative impacts that affect families. However, in this study, research is being conducted which measures positive outcomes of flourishing families as they pass through life’s problems and crises.

As a result of four-year’s worth of data, the projects team professors have published about 10 papers. A book based on the research is being written as well.

Typically in research studies of this magnitude, scholars are the ones conducting interviews and collecting data, but BYU chose to have undergraduates participate in the research.

Team member Rick Miller, director of the School of Family Life, has been pleased with the national attention and acclaim the project has been receiving.

“When we introduced this idea to other family scholars, using undergraduate students to collect data in Seattle, they were skeptical,” Miller said. “They underestimated the competence and commitment of our students. The fact is that our students have done an incredible job.”

During the four-year study, more than 92 percent of the original 500 Seattle families remained involved in the research, which according to Day is unheard of. There is currently a team of 20 students conducting interviews in Seattle.

The criteria for family selection in the Seattle area were families that had a child between 10 and 14 years of age.

“Some parts of town we go into are a little rough around the edges, and some home environments can be filled with chaos and really unfortunate circumstances,” said Maren Christiansen, a member of the Seattle research team, in an e-mail. “It has been an eye-opening experience for me to see the environments that some children are being raised in, and it is easy to see why some families are able to ‘flourish’ more than others.”

The same study is being conducted in Utah, with a team of 10 BYU students interviewing 170 LDS families. Before this study, little research had been collected about LDS families.

In addition to field interviews, over the past four years, undergraduate involvement has included research, data entering and coding.

“This study gives me hope,” field interviewer Julie Lutz said in an e-mail. “We hear so much about how our society is crumbling and how evil and wicked it is, but so many of these people are good people.”

To learn more about the Flourishing Families Project, students can visit

Friday, July 9, 2010

Social Innovations

Here is a story that I wrote this week. I especially enjoy interviewing people for these stories. I like learning about what they are doing and how it changes lives for those they assist and themselves.

Creating opportunities for students to make social change has become the focus for the newly named Melvin J. Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance.

As part of the BYU Marriott School of Management, the Ballard Center has established partnerships with nonprofit organizations that have unique abilities to create social change. Graduate students have traveled to various areas throughout the world, applying and implementing strategic business plans for these organizations.

“We are interested in social innovation to help others,” said Brad Hales, assistant to the director of the Ballard Center. “We systematically and strategically work on sustainable projects.”

Recently, BYU graduate students have returned from projects being conducted in Ghana, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Honduras.

After students are accepted into the program, they learn about the organization, the country and its culture. Their goals are to apply business principles to real-life situations. Before most graduate students begin their summer internships, there is a three-week window of opportunity in which they interact directly with these organizations.

“They get their best plan in place before they go there,” Hales said. “Oft times they have to change their plans and work on something completely different than what they expected, depending on what the organization needs at the time.”

This was the case with Andrea Cordani and Jeff Baxter, who interned in Paraguay for Fundacion Paraguaya. They expected to arrive at an agribusiness school that was supposedly self-sustaining. The school, located in the middle of the jungle, was not as self-reliant as expected.

“There were definitely several areas of improvement,” Cordani said in his project report. “Their production was meager and not sufficient to generate high returns. Before ramping their production up with products they couldn’t sell, we had to do something with their sales system.”

The result was constructing three carts to hold dairy products in order to sell the products door to door in neighboring towns. Additionally, Cordani and Baxter concluded the profit margins were greater for yogurt and cheese products. By changing the layout of their farmer’s market booth, the students were able to sell more products with greater profitability, creating more self-reliance and self-sustainability.

Another project BYU has partnered with is The Burro Project in Ghana. Some residents in Ghana and other third-world countries use batteries as their main source of energy. Families may spend up to one dollar per day for this resource. The Burro Project’s involvement for social change is addressing the cost and hazards of battery disposal by offering a rechargeable battery alternative.

Graduate students Tara Hair, majoring in human resources, and Jennia Parkin, majoring in marketing, had put together research models for the project. They were told English was the official language in Ghana, but when they arrived, they found only half of the people spoke English, and those who did often attached different meanings to certain words and phrases. As a result of the language and culture barriers, Hair and Parkin ended up using pictures drawn on pieces of paper as a way to communicate.

“People thought it was a game, and it was fun,” Hair said. “Because it was a game, more people wanted to participate and we were able to reach more people.”

The students discovered that being able to adapt quickly is vital when traveling internationally. Hair added that understanding the mindset and values of citizens in a particular country is critical for effective communication.

The primary assignment for MBA and MPA students was to help these organizations become more efficient and effective. However, graduate students come back with experiences that confirm their roles in the world by creating social change and long-term sustainability.

“I realize that there [will] always be the need of feeding people,” Cordani said. “I just know that if not carefully done, it may actually hinder people’s progress.”