Wednesday, July 27, 2016

September 2014

It was a bit strange having the kids back in school again before Labor Day. Their first day waiting for the bus is recorded here. (Calvin was in 1st grade, Karcyn 3rd, Cooper 6th, and Jake 9th). Even stranger was when we learned that our school district doesn't recognize Labor Day as a holiday, so it was business as usual for the kids on the 1st of September. The real treat, however, was that Jared's occupational medicine office was closed! So Jared and I (with JJ) got to spend an unexpected day together! Apparently, our school district follows the same schedule as Texas A & M to accommodate all the professors and their families and Labor Day isn't a part of their schedule. I also learned that Labor Day is a union holiday at its origins, so that could also be another reason. But apparently it is also district specific because my kids' friends in Dallas did have Labor Day off.

*In the mornings, Jared would leave to take Jake to seminary at 6:30am and I would walk Karcyn and Calvin down the street around 7am to the bus stop while Cooper stayed behind with JJ. We started memorizing scriptures while we walked and waited. They did a great job! Cooper's bus came around 7:30. The mornings were warm and damp with humidity. Something that was still so foreign to us. Sometimes it was foggy and looked a little eerie. 

Jared captured some beautiful sunrises as he drove northeast to Madisonville.

*One afternoon, on our way to meet Karcyn and Calvin at the bus stop, JJ and I spotted this golf ball in the grass. wasn't a ball. It was a mushroom!!

*JJ also had a knack for not only finding the fire ant hills by the bus stop, but deliberately stomping on them! He loved the immediate result of seeing the ants rush out in a frantic swarm. What he didn't like so much was when the ants bit him all over his feet! Fortunately, one of the pools was right there and I rushed him over to dip his feet in to take some of the sting out. These picture were taken about 30 minutes after he was stung and had soaked his feet. They are nasty little buggers.

*This is the entrance to The Village (the duplexes within the Creek Meadows Subdivision) where we lived for four months while our house was being built. We lived on the street behind this row of duplexes to the far left. 

*After the move, we found we had a little bit of extra money left over and Jared decided to take Jake and Cooper to the BYU vs. University of Texas football game in Austin on September 6th since we were so close. Jared actually bought 4 tickets, thinking we'd offer one to a friend, but our friend already had plans, so Jared invited Tim Nardi, one of the only Deacons in the ward to join them, as Cooper would soon be a Deacon himself. Tim and his mom Jennifer, had been so kind to reach out to our boys as soon as we arrived in College Station, so it was a real pleasure to take him along. Turns out there were several people from our ward also attending the game. Jared and the boys ended up riding with Bishop Sharp and his son, Jackson. Bishop Sharp had attended UT (and BYU!) so he knew where he was going and where to park, which was a blessing! On the way there, they stopped for lunch at Chipotle--Bishop's favorite, apparently ;)

Once they arrived at the stadium, Jared and the boys parted ways with the Sharps as they went to their respective seats. Ours were a lot higher up than Bishop's! 

 Then the band came out which, according to the boys, was mind.blowing!

Behold a sea of orange with little specks of navy blue here and there! I was actually a little concerned about the boys going in their BYU attire. They would be in enemy territory. I hoped Texas fans would be as gracious as they are outside of the stadium, too!

At one point, Jake had to use the restroom. While he was gone he sent Jared the following text: "I'm locked in a bathroom full of Longhorns! I don't know if I'll make it out alive. So tell Mom I love her and JJ to be the man I never could be!" :) 

When the boys returned late that night, I expressed my half-joking relief that they weren't lynched. Jared told me there was a man and his girlfriend (rooting for the Longhorns) sitting on the row in front of them, right below Jared and the boys. It didn't take long before Jared realized this man was very vocal and every time he opened his mouth, out came profanities and vulgar language. Jared was so disappointed they had to be exposed to hearing this and debated for quite a while about how and when to ask him to please stop--considering they were decked out in the opposing team's attire and not from Texas--which the guy wouldn't know, but Jared would and somehow, it seemed to make a difference. Jared didn't know what Texas fans were like. Near the end of the first quarter, another older man sat down on that same row, just down from Mr. Potty Mouth. The next instant the profanity went flying, this older gentleman shot the other guy a crusty look, pointed a finger and in his thick, southern accent, firmly called him out. He hollered, "Hey!! You need to clean that up," and pointing up to our three young men sitting right behind him, continued, "we got kids up there!" Immediately Mr. Potty Mouth responded regretfully, "Oh, uh, so sorry, yes, sir." And everything that came out of his mouth was clean and appropriate after that. The guy and his girlfriend left at halftime and Jared leaned down to thank the man for saying something. He nodded and told Jared there is no need for that kind of language when children are around. Jared was impressed that the younger guy actually respected the older gentleman who had put him in his place. I'm pretty sure the result would have been different in another stadium, in another state. 

*On Wednesday, 9/9, I had an appointment to meet with Brother Ashcraft--1st counselor in the bishopric. I could not imagine what he wanted to speak to me about. I had just gotten a calling a two months previously. He said they had to make some changes to the Relief Society presidency and consequently that left them without second Gospel Doctrine teacher. (I didn't like where this was going). He said they actually had several people in mind for that calling but as they considered each one, none of them felt right. But when someone suggested me for that calling, everything else just slipped into place for the bishopric and it was really neat for them to witness. (How do you say no to that?? ;) I told Brother Ashcraft that discussing callings was one of Jared's favorite parts about being in the bishopric because of experiences similar to this one. Of course I accepted, but I was so sad to leave my Primary class that I was just starting to get to know, not to mention I had already prepared my lesson for that Sunday and they needed me to teach Sunday School that Sunday. *sigh* Three days to prepare for an Old Testament lesson was not enough! 

*Gas continued to drop! This was taken on 9/12/14.

*We spent the first part of Saturday, 9/13, at the Kolache Festival in Caldwell, TX. Caldwell is only about 40 minutes from College Station, so it was really close! We were dying to try these popular eats. Unfortunately for us, it was wet and soggy and unexpectedly cool--in the mid 60s. All of a sudden we felt transported back to our Oregon days! This was the same weather that we were graced with the day we left Oregon back at the end of June. 

But that wasn't going to keep us from the Kolaches! We would just get them to go!

My freshman year in college, I had a roommate named Deborah, who made these square shaped cookies with jam in the center and an incredible glaze on top. She called these kolaches and even shared the recipe with me. So I was curious to see what "real" kolaches would look like at the festival. Not suprising, they are a circle of puff-pasty filled with a dollop of fruit filling in the center. However, there are also a type of kolaches filled with cheese and sausage or sausage and jalapenos. We grabbed some of those, too. I have to say, I can't decide if I love the sweet or savory more! Delicious!! Here's a link that sheds a little more light on the origin of kolaches. 

*It was Hough Sunday on 9/14--Cooper taught his primary class about Elijah and the false prophets of Baal, Jake taught his priesthood lesson on living in the world but not of the world, I taught about Hosea in Sunday School and Calvin had a talk in primary about how living the gospel blesses our family (which I actually forgot about until I got a reminder the day before!)

*The kids obviously got a hold of my camera and even figured out how to do a panoramic picture! :o

*The kids were watching a Bugs Bunny DVD in the car. There's one cartoon where Bugs talks about going to Miami. A few minutes into it Karcyn pipes up: "I wonder if he'll ever make it to his Ami." :)

*On 9/15, Jared stopped by and took some pictures of the house. We were excited to see lights!
This is the living room.

Stairway looking down from the upstairs landing.

Game room without the ceiling fan.

Karcyn's room without the ceiling fan (which we mentioned to the builder because all the bedrooms and the game room should have them).

Karcyn's walk-in closet.

Karcyn's bathroom.

Standing at the bottom of the stairs looking up.

Master bedroom--with ceiling fan!

*Yay!! We made it under $3.00 a gallon. This was Sept. 17th. 

*On 9/24, we saw carpet and flooring!!
This is the master bedroom.

This is the living room looking into the dining room and to the front door (that is open) beyond that.

Looking up the stairs.

Standing at the front door looking to the dining room and living room to the back of the house.

 Game room with a ceiling fan and carpet!

*On the 22nd, we had Parent Night at the High School where we could walk Jake's schedule and meet his teachers and get a feel for his schedule and class load. Jake is the 4th class to be at the school and it was the first year they had freshman through seniors there. It still smells so new. 

It seriously reminds me of a junior college in many ways. This is a study area on the 2nd or 3rd floor off to the side of the large hallway.

This is overlooking the big front foyer area. (College Station High School Cougars :)

This is overlooking the cafeteria.

This is the view from one of the stairwells looking out front.

*On September 25th, Jared's birthday, JJ and I made the 1 hour drive up to Madisonville to surprise him for lunch. This may not seem like a big deal, but for me, it was because I don't like to drive and I really don't like it when I've never been to my destination before. I was happy and relieved I found the hospital on my own, however, finding Jared in it was much harder. I had to have some hospital staff help me find him. You know it's not a good sign when people who work at the hospital haven't heard of him OR the clinic he's running. Granted, he and the clinic had only been there about 6 weeks. He was tucked in what looked like a utility closet had I not known any better. We waited for him until he came back from lunch since we didn't get there soon enough. But it was still worth the trip to see him. I can't just swing by his office anymore like I used to.

In honor of his 41st birthday, the kids and I came up with 41 Things we LOVE about Jared. In no particular order:
1) He's sweet
2) He cares about me and keeps me warm when I'm cold (Karcyn)
3) He's practical
4) He takes me on monthly dates to the temple (Jenn)
5) He holds regular PPIs with each child 8 and older
6) He learns from his mistakes
7) He's a great scripture scholar
8) He listens to General Conference talks on his 50 mile commute to work or on his bike rides
9) He's generous with his worldly things
10) We love the way he makes us feel
11) He's my personal heater (Jenn)
12) He's a super grill master
13) He's strong physically and spiritually
14) He treats Mom with love and respect and puts her above everyone else
15) He's an incredible teacher
16) He magnifies his callings
17) He has a great memory and can quote movies like a boss
18) He's funny and makes us laugh--really hard
19) He knows how to balance fun and work
20) He makes great facial and voice impressions
21) He works super hard to provide for the family
22) He's smart
23) He has made plans financially for the future and stability
24) He's good at messing with his kids' heads :)
25) He's a great fisherman and loves to take his kids fishing 
26) He's easy going and personable
27) People and patients love him
28) He's honest
29) He took a job and a terrible commute to support us
30) He doesn't sugarcoat the truth--he says it like it is, but with compassion
31) He loves the Lord
32) He's a returned missionary
33) He is a worthy priesthood holder
34) He's handsome
35) You can talk to him about anything
36) You can ask him anything
37) He makes you laugh even when you don't want to
38) He's very wise
39) He's got great common sense
40) He loves his garden and plants
41) He's ours!

*As much as we love Jared, he cannot be trusted with our tithing envelopes anymore. He just holds on to them through the end of church and then forgets to turn them in--only because for the two years previous, that was one of his duties as a counselor in the bishopric. He held on to all tithing envelopes given to him until after church when he or another member of the bishopric would count the monetary donations. Old habits die hard, I guess ;) 

*Also on 9/25, we swung by the house for another look-see! Every day there's more progress!
We have a tree now!

Getting ready to put the fence up. Our next door neighbors happen to be closing the same day as us!

We found this guy in our bathtub. Ugh...nooo bueno!!

*On Saturday, the 27th, we decided to go swim in the pool--because we could!! Since school started the end of August, I would sometimes take the kids to the pool after school if we didn't have places we needed to be (like on a Friday). It was a great way to expend some energy when it was still hot outside.

The pools here are heated by the sun, so on this particular day it wasn't the really warm bath water that it was in the middle of July, but it wasn't ice cold either. This is so crazy that we could still swim outside just a few days before the beginning of October. A real big change from Oregon.

*On Tuesday, 30th, I wrote this on Facebook: Today my parents return home from serving an 18 month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of a Latter-day Saints in London, England. We're super excited to see them again in a few weeks, but the promised blessings of having parents who put the Lord first above their children and grandchildren are immeasurable!! We are grateful for all 4 missions they have served these past 10 years! And I can't wait until Jared and I can do the same--which is a large part of why we moved to get our student loans paid off as quickly as possible so we can save up for our own mission!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Calvin gets baptized

Calvin turned 8 years old on May 1st and the great thing about turning eight means you are old enough to get baptized! We actually tried and considered several different dates for Calvin's baptism before we were able to settle on the 21st of May. And in the long run, this was much better for our family. May kind of blew up. It is hands-down the busiest month of the school year here in Texas. Field trips (sometimes a few for each child), performances, award ceremonies. On top of all of that, we had a birthday for our family to celebrate (which also included mine because I was out of town); I was in charge of our ward's Visiting Teaching Conference, which we held on Mother's Day; Jared left town for six days the week after that, Cooper started competing on a swim team and Calvin started basketball. Just nuts!

The weekend of the 21st (a week before school got out) was our least busy weekend in May where we would all be together. Jared's parents (Doc and Karole) flew in from Utah on the afternoon of Friday, the 20th. We went out to dinner at Cajun's--a new dig just a couple miles from home that specializes in food from the bayou--especially crawfish. I haven't had a hankering to invest in the time it takes to eat boiled crawfish yet. It's a lot of work. And messy. I guess I'm not that southern yet. However, I did enjoy fried crawfish, shrimp and alligator bites :) Here are a few pictures of the fun decor. Nothing fancy, but very bayou-ish.

I love the paper towel holder on every table. If you look closely there's a crawfish holding the salt and pepper shakers.

Our family can certainly relate to this sign!!:o

After dinner, Karole and I had to run to Hobby Lobby to pick up a few things. I'm not even close to being crafty and that is a dangerous store for me to be in. Wowzers. I really had to stay focused so I didn't get pulled in too many cute or fun directions. As I made my way to the check-out, I came across a couple of these wall hangings.

I never dreamed I'd see wall art like this outside of an LDS church store. We've been here in Texas two years now and I'm still not used to it!

Not to mention, I love the store hours. Hobby Lobby, I will definitely support you!

The last time our family got professional pictures taken was in September of 2013. I was actually trying to get something arranged for this past fall, so they would be two years apart. However, with Jared's every-other-weekend work schedule, among all the other things we need to do as a family, it was virtually impossible to get a photo session on the books. Plus, trying to find clothes for my boys to wear that don't involve athletic shorts or sweats was what put me over the edge. I didn't think we'd ever get pictures taken again. Then I had a thought. We would all be dressed up for Calvin's baptism, so maybe we could get my friend, Jamie Graham, to take a few pictures for us that morning. I talked Jamie, who had already been doing a lot of family sessions for friends in the ward and she said that date would totally work for her. We would meet at Castlegate Park just a few miles from our home at 9am, the morning of Calvin's baptism.

Around 8:15am, I received a text from Bishop Sharp. As Relief Society President, it's not uncommon for me to get texts from him earlier than that and late at night as we inform each other of needs in the ward as they arise and collaborate on how we can best meet those needs--even when one of us is out of town and Bishop Sharp happened to be in Utah that weekend. He had gotten a text from a bishopric member in another ward who shares our building informing him that the electricity was out at the church. Bishop Sharp explained to me that the utility company had determined that the problem lies in the main lines that run from the transformer to the utility hook up at the building. They intend to replace those three lines, but power will not be available in the building until at least noon. Though Bishop Sharp was concerned it wouldn't be until after 2pm.

Calvin's baptism was scheduled at 11am.

Bishop Sharp apologized for any inconvenience this would cause us and said one of his counselors would be in touch with me shortly to figure out a plan of action. I responded, "Haha! Fun times!!"

Right after I received Bishop Sharp's text, his 2nd Counselor, Steve Courtright, who would be presiding at the baptism, called me to get our thoughts about how to proceed.

Steve said one option would be to postpone the baptism until 4pm, when the power should most definitely be back on. Our initial thoughts were...electricity? Bah! Who needs it? We can certainly do the baptism without electricity. We would have enough natural light in the Relief Society room to see and that's the most important part. The lack of power would make it a bit stuffy in the room with no air conditioning and the water in the font would be cold, not warm. But hey--people have been baptized in frozen lakes and rivers for well over a hundred years. You use what you've got. Plus, we had sent out 50 invitations to friends and neighbors, many of whom don't attend our church. We would hate for people to come at 11am only to find out the time had changed. In addition, we wouldn't have a way to show the intermediary video clip we planned on doing while Calvin and Jake changed their clothes, but that was an easy fix. We'd have someone play piano music instead. Bottom line, we just needed to get this kid baptized and if it was safe enough to be in the building, we wanted to move ahead and do it at 11am as originally planned.

Looking back, Calvin was blessed as a baby on the stage of a high school theater in Anchorage, Alaska, because my old ward building had caught on fire and the school was the alternate meeting spot.

Being baptized in the dark with cold font water seemed only appropriate. There's nothing conventional about Calvin.

After we got our "move ahead" plans squared away, we loaded up to get our pictures taken. Karcyn, Jake, Calvin and I were going to head over to the church afterwards to get the room set up. Jared would take Coop and JJ back home to get Grandma and Grandpa Hough. I grabbed the flowers and the stack of framed temple pictures I was going to display with the DVD that we were going to use while Calvin changed his clothes. We had no power in which to show it, but I decided to just leave it on the pile and took the stuff to the car.

Right as we pulled up to the park, Wes and Bev McCullough called to talk to Calvin and wish him a wonderful day. It was so sweet of them to remember him. The sun hadn't burned off the morning haze yet, but it was extremely humid outside--especially for the guys wearing suits! It was also a bit wet and muddy from previous rain, so we stayed in one spot for our pictures. Jamie did great job and I'm grateful we have a few more family pictures that are of a higher, professional quality than the iPhone shots (don't get me wrong--the phones take great pictures!)

Hough girls

Cooper (13)

Jake (16)

JJ (4)

Karcyn (10)

Calvin (8)

Jared and Jenn

Calvin with Mom and Dad on his special day.

Since we were using the same spot in the park, the photo session only took about 30 minutes which was a good thing, because the humidity was absolutely disgusting. Fortunately, there was a bit of a warm breeze, as my hair can attest to, that offered a little bit of relief. When we finished up, Jared headed back to the house with Cooper and JJ to pick up his parents while the rest of us drove to the church. This is what we saw in the church parking lot when we came down the road.

As we entered the church building, it was obviously dark. The security system was also setting off a high pitched beep in a measured beat every 3-5 seconds to let everyone know the power was out and it couldn't do its job. That--was annoying.

We got right to work in getting the Relief Society room (where the baptism font is located) set up the way we wanted it.

I love this. This was the picture I enlarged and bought a frame for at Hobby Lobby. We took our kids to the Portland Temple Visitor's Center about four years ago and I caught Karcyn (right) and Calvin (left) tilting their necks back as far as they could go without their little bodies teetering backwards to look at the temple spires. It is always better to look up!

While we waited for our guests to arrive, Jake practiced the songs (opening, closing and special musical number) he would be playing.

 Annnnd Jake had too much fun with the chalkboard and chalk.

Some might ask why we displayed five pictures of temples at the front of the room for a baptism service. That answer is found in a quote from Elder David A. Bednar, one of the Twelve Apostles. He said, "When you stand in the baptismal font you look to the temple." Baptism is that first important step that will lead you to even bigger and greater blessings provided by Heavenly Father for all of His children and all of those blessings are found in the temple.

Once we had everything set up, Karcyn and I ventured to the bathroom. It was pitch black. I was able to use the light from my iPhone screen and that small amount of light was a tremendous help. It was at that point, I texted Jared to try and bring a lantern if he could, so we could set it in the bathroom in case a guest needed to use it while they were there. Jake and Calvin needed my phone so they could change into their baptismal clothes, so I snuck in there to hold it for them while they got dressed.

This picture is of Jake holding his baby brother after Calvin was blessed in Anchorage, Alaska.

Eight years later, this is Jake getting ready to baptize Calvin in College Station, Texas.

Steve Courtright took a family picture of us in the foyer before our guests started arriving around 10:45. (I love the feet on Calvin's jumpsuit!) As friends entered the building, I explained to them that the power was out and apologized for any inconvenience.

Miraculously, though, less than five minutes before the baptism service began, the power came back on--a good hour before the earliest estimated time given from the utility company! Steve looked at me and gave me a big thumbs up and said, "Good call on moving ahead!" and went to the library to retrieve the TV/DVD player to show the intermediary video clip. Now I know why I kept that DVD on the stack of pictures as I was heading out the door. I remember thinking, "we're not going to need this," yet, I felt no need to remove it from the pile and leave it at home. I had no way of knowing the electricity would come on at the last minute and while it was such a small thing to bring along an unneeded DVD, I'm all about simplifying and taking only what is necessary. I'm really grateful I followed the prompting to leave the DVD with the stuff we'd be taking to the church.

This baptism was very special for us for several reasons. First of all, Jake would be performing the ordinance of baptism using his Aaronic priesthood authority. What a unique thing for two brothers to share. Secondly, it just happened to work out that every member of our family was able to participate in a the program. Jake played the piano (many times), JJ and I lead the music, Karcyn sang a solo "I Love to See the Temple," Jake baptized Calvin, Jared and his dad were the witnesses, Jared confirmed Calvin, Karole said the opening prayer and Cooper gave this talk he wrote on his own:

Hello, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Cooper Hough and yes, I am Calvin's older brother. I was asked to give a talk on baptism and the Holy Ghost. Now, normally there would be one person who talks on baptism and another who talks on the Holy Ghost, but I am combining the two so bear with me, it may be awhile. Today, Calvin, you are being baptized and it is an awesome experience, I know because I have done it. Now there is an article of faith that talks about baptism, and that is the 4th Article of Faith. It reads "We believe that the four principles and ordinances of the gospel are first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second, repentance, third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost." Now, today, I want to focus on just the last two, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins is the first. Now, I know when I was baptized, I did have to do the other, I had to have faith that the church was true or there would be no point to being baptized other than being dunked under the water, and I did have to repent of any of my previous sins that I had done. After that I was able to be baptized and confirmed.

Now that brings me to the baptism part of my talk. I would like to start off with a scripture in Matthew 3:13-16, it reads, "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him." From the beginning, Christ set the example of why we should be baptized and how. He went to John for a good reason, because John had the proper authority.

Now in 3rd Nephi 11:21,23-26 it reads, "And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them--Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water and in my name shall ye baptize them. Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water." In these scriptures, Jesus Christ also taught the Nephites the proper way to be baptized, baptism by immersion.

Now, to end the baptism section we read that we should enter into repentance and baptize by water and then cometh a remission of sins by fire. By doing this, Calvin, you take the first step on the path back to Heavenly Father. Just because we are now on the path does not mean we will automatically make it back. You will need help, guidance, and protection. That brings us to the second part of my talk on the Holy Ghost. This is a very powerful and special gift because if one keeps themselves worthy, he will be a comforter, a teacher, a protector, and a testifier of the truth. If you will listen for his prompting, you will be able to stay on the straight path and will make it back to your Heavenly Father.

I myself have had many experiences with the Holy Ghost in my life. One of my life stories was when I was with my older brother Jake and my dad at Cabela's in Washington. We were told to wait by the archery range but I got restless and went to go find my dad who went to look for the laser gun range. Of course, I got lost, but that was no surprise since I was in a store that to me looked to be about the size of the White House. I ended up hiding behind a rack of clothes and prayed that I would find my dad and know where I needed to go. I eventually found my dad after the Holy Ghost led me back to the archery range and my angry dad who I thought would give my tokens to Jake. The Holy Ghost comforted me and protected me while I got back to my dad because I listened. But what happens when you don't listen? One of my friends owns a horse property and she was working in her office when she had an impression to check on her horses. She didn't and continued to work. It came again a second and a third time. Finally she listened and she found one of her horses with a broken leg. If she had listened the first time, she may have been able to prevent the accident that caused her horse to break its leg. She learned to listen to the Holy Ghost the first time, every time.

Now I would like to bear my testimony that I know this church is true and that baptism is a very important part in staying on the path to Heavenly Father and if you stay on that path, many good things will happen. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The other thing that made the baptism a landmark day was when we realized this would be the last baptism where we'd have our entire family together. When JJ gets baptized in 3 years, Jake will be on his mission.

Everything went really well. Coop gave a wonderful talk, Karcyn nailed her solo, Jake did the ordinance perfectly and Calvin was fully immersed in the water the first time (the water level was low so I wasn't sure for a second if Jake would get him all the way down or not, but he did!). And I have to say, with as boisterous and verbal as Calvin is, he entered the baptismal font so reverently. He didn't make one sound or comment and left the font the same way. I had completely forgotten that the water in the font was cold, not super warm like it usually is. Calvin didn't complain once or draw any attention to that fact.

After the baptism, Jared left to go help Calvin get dried off and dressed back in his church clothes. The rest of us watched the video clip "Spiritual Crocodiles" from the Book of Mormon video presentations. It shows real footage of animals in Africa, while the late President Boyd K. Packer shares an experience he had regarding crocodiles. During the story, the video showed crocodiles coming out of the watering holes and grabbing gazelles with their powerful teeth and jaws. My kids love this clip. But I started to panic a little when I heard the lady behind me (who was visiting our church with the sister missionaries) say how dark this movie was and gasped every time an animal was attacked. Oh boy. I was feeling very self-conscience at this point. The bishopric might not let anyone select a video presentation for their baptisms again after this. Jared and the boys returned with less than a minute remaining in the video--right around the time another gazelle was biting the dust. Jared leaned over and asked incredulously, "This is what Calvin picked??" Yup.

Steve Courtright, who was the lone bishopric member presiding over the baptism and conducting, stood up after the video concluded and told Calvin he had never seen that video before and in good humor apologized to all the parents for any kids who might have nightmares because of it. *sigh* That was a good point. My kids love that video and when we made the selection, it never dawned on me that there would be other (younger) children at the baptism who would be scared by it. I would have a little damage control to do afterwards.

We were so happy to have our home teachers, Todd Graham and Will Nielsen stand in the circle with Jared, Doc and Steve during the confirmation of Calvin where he received the gift of the Holy Ghost. After that, it was time to conclude the service. Steve got up to say a few closing remarks. I had to actually excuse myself with JJ because he was getting loud and restless. At least we had made it through the ordinances. I missed Cooper's confirmation because I was out in the hall with a loud and ornery Calvin and no one thought to look for Cooper's mom, to see if she was even in the room before proceeding. I was really touched, though, when my friend Stephanie Boivie, appeared out in the hall, less than 30 seconds after me to take JJ for a walk. She didn't want me to miss any of the baptism, even if it was just the closing part. Plus, I did have to lead the music :) I really appreciated Stephanie observing and serving me that day. She told me later that, like my experience with Cooper's baptism, she had also missed part of her daughter's baptism because she had to leave with a restless child and said she vowed to never let that happen to another mom if she was there to help.

Steve paid a very sweet tribute to our family and shared how grateful he was that we were in the ward and loved how we all played a special part in Calvin's baptism because that's what being in our church is all about. Family--and being a part of God's family which is possible because of the temples, which Karcyn sung about. I also appreciated that Steve took some time to share that it was Jake who baptized Calvin. A 16-year-old. The world and other churches would say that education, wealth, career, fame, etc. is what gives you the power to do things. But not in God's church. Jake has the priesthood authority from God and he has the power to perform the baptismal ordinance because of his worthiness.

The actual service was about 30 minutes or less. We are so grateful for those friends who attended to support us and of course for Doc and Karole making the trip out so we could have grandparents represented. (The other grandparents are in South Africa!) One of our guests at the baptism was Kelly McDonald and her husband Scott. Kelly is the doctor that Jared works with in Brenham. The McDonalds were so tickled with the way our entire family participated in the program. Scott (a former member of Special Forces in the Army) told Karcyn she was very brave to sing that song all by herself. He explained that he used to jump out of airplanes, but she was even braver than that! Kelly told some of the staff in Brenham a couple days later that our whole family was so talented, it was like watching the Von Trapp family! Hahaha! The Von Houghs! Not exactly, but we got a good laugh over that and appreciated her very generous compliment.

Since it was close to lunch time, we decided to treat the family to lunch at Chick-Fil-A, which also worked well because Jake had to start working at 1pm and could just change into his work clothes and stay there. I love Chick-fil-A for a few reasons. First, they gave my son his first job and they are really big on their staff being friendly and polite. Jake has some great managers. Second, they are closed on Sundays. I support all businesses who honor the Sabbath that way. Third, this is the only fast food place we've found that has gluten-free grilled chicken nuggets and gluten-free waffle fries (potatoes themselves are GF of course, but other eateries use the same oil for frying everything, causing cross-contamination) and gluten-free dipping sauces and gluten-free ice cream. Before coming to Chick-fil-A, Karcyn could only get one food item at one place, one thing at another, etc. But here, she can get an entire meal! So this has been a very exciting discovery!

I was so surprised to see one of the less-active sisters from our ward who would be moving soon, in line right in front of us. I had been trying to reach her for weeks! I was unable to get her attention (it was sooo crowded--the lunch rush of course--and as it was, we had nine in our party trying to tell me what they wanted), so after I placed our order, I went to find this sister. I was able to join her and her two girls at their table for a few minutes and had a good chat with her about her moving plans and needs. When I returned to our tables, we quickly realized they missed my order completely. After a little checking, I discovered it never made it on the receipt, so since we didn't pay for it, I just let it go. I could eat later. So I sat down and snapped a picture of these two cuties.

As everyone finished up lunch, we saw some dark clouds start to roll in and as I drove to see another sister on my way home, a severe thunder storm alert came across the radio. That certainly explains the gross humidity earlier that morning...a storm was building.

This unexpected storm system was producing some strong lightning and thunder--the kind that shakes your house! That made me SOO happy, but not as happy as seeing Calvin enter the waters of baptism, baptized by his oldest brother! Calvin, a boy with a big personality, attitude and heart was blessed and baptized in the two biggest states in the union. Sounds about right!

Oh, and I did go back and text my friends who had brought younger children with them to the baptism and apologized profusely if the video clip we showed scared their kids. It was one of Calvin's favorites and clearly, we were just thinking about Calvin. All the parents responded with, "Are you kidding me? My kids were totally engrossed in it!" or "They thought it was the coolest thing." or "Not at all! It was very engaging and had a great message!" Yay--potential disaster averted. :)