Friday, December 11, 2009

Leavens Family - 2009

For those who get our Christmas Letter, via snail mail, this is the same text. Otherwise, enjoy the highlights from the Leavens Family in 2009:
Paul’s just finishing year 11 at Microsoft. After some changes at work, over the summer, Paul is now the Director over the Beta Group and a Technical Training Group. He’s also had some changes in church responsibilities, as of a few weeks ago. He is now on the Stake High Council. It’s pretty much a shift from one frying pan to another and should prove to be a welcome change and challenge – he’ll do just fine! Paul has gotten himself into tiptop physical shape again and now adds training for triathlons to his schedule (did one in June). He had a great time skiing, at Whistler, with Steve again and he and the kids spent many Fridays skiing at Stevens Pass. While, there were no BIG Mountain climbs, for Paul, this year, he did take the youth on three amazing, albeit challenging, hikes around Mt. Rainier at our Ward Youth Conference. (Note to others: when the National Geographic Hike book says, “Easy” – DO NOT believe it!)
My time and activities continue to revolve around my mom gig. Just when you think you’ve got things all CALM and MANAGEABLE, BAM!, your oldest graduates and ditches you for college! But never fear, the parenting continues long distance! I very much enjoyed my visit with family and friends in AZ, ID, UT and WA and am always planning and looking forward to further gatherings. Visiting with family and friends brings me some of my greatest joys. I’m now in the Relief Society (the women’s organization in our church) Presidency in my ward. Paul and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary a couple days after Christmas. Still happy and going strong! I’ve got a number of family history goals for the new year that consists of jiving my records with those at, scanning thousands of Leavens slides and Boyles photos and transcribing grandma Leavens’ journals. I’ve got a treasure trove, here, that needs to be shared!
The theme for Brianna’s year was CHANGE! She turned 18 in May and finished high school with a bang, on June 11th. She endured her senior year, to the end, with her experience as an editor on an award-winning yearbook staff, being the highlight! She was accepted to BYU, in February, and began on August 31st. She is learning the fine balance between hard work and having a great time. (You should check out her “stick figure dancing,” for her ward’s variety show, on Facebook.) She’s adapted well to being away from home for the first time - and so have we. It sure is a strange/different dynamic shift with her gone – we loved having her home for Thanksgiving and are excited for Christmas!
Mackenzie is 15 and a sophomore at Snohomish High School. She was NOT happy that Brianna had the audacity to leave her, this fall. She kept telling her, all summer, “Don’t leave, Nanna! I don’t wanna do your job!” The truth FINALLY came out. Kenzie HAS stepped up and is doing just fine with the new, “Biggest-Kid-at-Home,” role. Kenzie kept busy with Stake and Ward Youth Conferences, EFY and Girls’ Camp this summer. She’s is doing well in school and learning to manage the added load of tougher classes this year. The countdown is on until she’s 16 – “How long, Kenzie?” I ask, into the other room. “145 days!” she yells back.
Carly turned 12 in March and is a 7th grader at Centennial Middle School. She is in Young Womens now and was THRILLED to attend her first year of Girls’ Camp, in August, – as we knew she would! Middle School has been an adjustment, but she’s rising to the occasion and figuring out the routine and added responsibilities that come with having 6 different classes. While the routine of Middle School is new, Carly continues to do what she does best - add more and more friends to her collection. For example, she came home, the first day of school, with a list of her classes. But instead of homework to do in each class, she had listed all the kids she already knew in each one! She’s also gotten two awards, thus far, for helping others and showing respect! Qualities that will see her far! She LOVED her Drama class, first quarter – who couldn’t see that one?!?! And is really enjoying her Contemporary Dance class she’s taking. Performing is in this girl’s blood!

Aaron is 9, in the 5th grade and the last one at Machias Elementary. It was bittersweet to have the “old” school torn down in June. Machias is using the Freshman Campus, in town, for a year and a half, during construction of the new building. Aaron’s having a great year in Mrs. Chlebowski’s 4/5/6 class. He knows the routine now and has some good friends that he pals around with. He’s a good student and an avid reader. Aaron continues to LOVE cub scouts and had just as much fun at day camp, in July, as he did last year. A new thing, he enjoys, is observing and taking care of wild birds. What started out as MY hobby has turned into HIS. He fills the feeders and can tell you all about the different birds that visit our deck. Aaron got 5th place again, in the Great Pumpkin Race and just completed another successful soccer season. He’s also looking forward to the new ski season – let’s go for NO toboggan rides down the mountain this year, OK?!?!?!

I increase my interest and study of the Constitution and Founding Fathers and am continually watching the state of things. While we enjoy more freedom than anyone else, at any time in human history, I watch as these freedoms are being threatened on all fronts. I am prompted, daily, to study and share what our Founding Fathers fought so hard to establish. President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land. I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has sent other choice spirits to preserve it.” I’ve enlisted in this preservation. LET FREEDOM RING!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to School - and that makes me CAUGHT UP!

So, in the spirit of posting OLD news - here's a few pics from the first day of school. We head back to school the Wednesday after Labor Day. This year that fell on the 9th, which seemed extra late. Still too soon for the kids, if you ask them. This was Carly's first day in Middle School and choosing the right outfit was ultra important. I think she chose well, don't you. Sure wish I looked as good in orange!
Aaron chose this manly number for his opening outfit to the new year. He's in 5th grade and the last kid at the elementary school - albeit at an entirely different campus, due to our school getting rebuilt. Not sure why we always get this goofy grin when he's on the spot to pose for the camera.
Only the Freshmen go to school the first day at the high school. Kenzie was happy to get to go a day after everyone else as she's a big 'ole sophomore this year. She promised me she wouldn't spend her life in sweatshirts again this year - lookin' good so far.
And this last pic is from 15 minutes ago. Kenzie and I had to run a couple errands, on the way home from the high school, so Carly let herself in. When we got home, no one was answering the doorbell, so when we unlocked the door and looked for Carly, here's what we found. The child can pass out anywhere and can sleep through anything. She still snoozing as I type - time to go wake her dead rearend up and get her on her homework, which I'm sure she has a pile of.
And I'm counting this blog officially up to date - mostly because these are the only 4 pics I've taken during the ENTIRE month of September. Yeah, that's how nuts it is around here. Brianna gets to come home for a quick weekend this weekend to receive a scholarship from the National Federation for the Blind of Washington. She'll be spending most of the weekend at their convention, but will get to sleep at home and we'll attend the banquet with her on Saturday - we're pretty darn excited to see her, even if it's for a little bit. And Thanksgiving's gonna be right around the corner - YIKES!! I need to get Christmas shopping...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Meandering our Way - Part 5 - the Thompsons and the Stokers

We arrived at the Thompsons Thursday night - kinda late. We've known Heidi and Orville since our poor college student days in Seattle. Before they had kids, and when Brianna was a baby. Those were fun times. The Thompsons moved from WA to Boise, ID, 12ish years ago. But we get a chance to pitstop at their house occassionally, when we're driving through. They were gracious enough to let us do so this time. Friday morning, they gave us a tour of the Scentsy fascilities. WOW! It sure was quite the place and business they've built! I remember Orville approaching me 5 or 6 years ago, trying to get me to become the first consultant in Washington State - "No time," I told him. Silly me!! We enjoyed lunch with them, then hung with them while they had an Elders Quorum party at their house that evening. There was some good time to chat, catch up and reminisce. The kids sure had fun together too. Carly, Emma, Kenzie, Mary, Grace and Owen:
All together - Aaron, Kenzie, Mary, Carly, Sarah, Emma, Grace and Owen:
Kenzie and Mary were two peas in a pod - they hit it off quite well - similar 2nd child personalities:
Emma and Carly - again very similar personalities!
Grace - love those blue eyes!
Heidi and I:
Orville, Heidi, Amy and Paul:
Orville - what in the world is THAT thing?:
Owen and Aaron:
Saturday morning, we left bright and early, to get to Tri-Cities by 10 am. The time change helped and we made great time! Our last stop was to the Stokers. Not long after we arrived, we went to the river with the younger kids for a couple hours. They brought a canoe and there was some time reliving the "old days" of canoeing when we really camped in the summers. The boys used to love swamping the canoe - not so much anymore - what? are they getting old?!?!
Swimming around in the river:
Carly and Mallory taking a turn:Kate didn't wanna be left out - so Mike took her around a bit:
Kate, Karri and I - just hangin' around and chattin' - it's what we do best!
The last turn went to Paul and Aaron:
Then it was out to dinner, just us adults. We attended their ward with them on Sunday. Then enjoyed dinner and a bit more chatting with the Stokers before we headed home for good. Kate:
Mallory - another girl with beautiful blue eyes!
The older Stoker girls performed "Come Thou Fount" for us before our departure. Paige, Jessica and Whitney:
Not goofy:
And that's a wrap! Thanks for going on our LONG journey to take Brianna to college - Thanks to all the family and friends who hosted and played with us along the way! We are truly blessed to call so many amazing people "Friend." Thanks for blessing our lives...

Meandering our Way - Part 4 - Bye, Brianna

We had spent Monday, at BYU, purchasing books and finding Brianna's classes. Wednesday was spent moving her in and getting all her technology up and running. Kenzie was with us that day. We took Nathan to lunch at Brick Oven Pizza, then Paul and I attended a parents' meeting. It was quite informative in how to parent a what the teacher calls "emerging adults." Paul and I left the meeting feeling like we had done alright and that Brianna would weather this transition well. On Thursday we took Carly and Aaron to campus with us to show them around. We took some pics of Brianna in her room:
Carly and Kenzie in the living room/kitchen:
Brianna in her kitchen:
After we got everything into Brianna's room, before it was unpacked, Kenzie said, "There's no way all that is going to fit in here." She's always the nay sayer. But oh, it sure did fit. With the help of under her bed and the storage closet in the basement:
Brianna's room door - I know it's thrilling!
Paul doing some final adjustments to the computer and Aaron overseeing his work:
Jenna (her room, roommate) and Brianna - note how they have the same color bedspread and pillow colors - was this meant to be? They also ended up being in the same Freshman Academy group - thus had 3 classes together!
By her front door:
Outside of Bowen Hall. Brianna's room is that top window on the right - the closest apartment you could live to campus.
Walking to the Wilkinson Center:
Final family shot before we said good-bye. We had had one false goodbye moment starting that morning, but none of us were ready to then, so we stuck around a couple extra hours til we all had a break again (parents and students were in orientation all day). It was tough to say good bye (thank goodness for sunglasses). Brianna's weathering the transition quite well - we talk to her almost everyday and she seems to be finding that balance between working hard and having fun - Brianna tends to ere on the side of working hard - but we remind her that it's important to have fun and take advantage of all college life has to offer! Paul and I came away feeling great about having her at BYU and that she would be just fine.

It was a sobering and sad drive to Boise that Thursday afternoon...

Meandering our Way - Part 3 - Salt Lake Family and Friends

First of all, why is Blogspot NOT letting me move the order of pictures around anymore? It used to, and now it doesn't. This picture should be at the end of this post, but instead, it's here and driving me quite nuts! I have order and alignment issues - I'm the first to admit. So, here it is anyway - My Aunt Rita, me, Aunt BJ and Uncle Bill - just pretend this is at the end and go to the next picture for the beginning: The REAL Beginning of the post:
We spent Tuesday of that week visiting family and this dear friend, Melissa Beck, in Salt Lake. Melissa was my roommate, my second year at Ricks (besides choosing to marry Paul, choosing Melissa for my roommate, was the best decision I made that semester!). Melissa works as Julie Beck's (General Relief Society President and no relation) secretary. We met her at her office and she showed us around the Relief Society building for a while (we were hoping to be able to meet Sister Beck, but her presidency meeting didn't end before we had to leave). So glad we were able to meet up with Melissa and say "Hi!"
My family, with Melissa, in the reception room in the Relief Society building.
Brianna, Aaron, Kenzie and Carly:
And again in front of the Salt Lake Temple:
My Aunt Rita joined us briefly for lunch at the Lion House - YUM! Then we went on a quick tour of the Beehive House (Brigham Young's home). Afterwards, we met up with Wendy, Paul's sister, and Emmie at the Church History Museum. Here is Wendy, Paul, Kenzie and Brianna:
Wendy, Paul, Aaron, Carly, Emmie, Brianna, Kenzie and Amy at the entrance of the Church History Museum:
Wendy and Paul:
When we were through at Temple Square, we headed over to my cousin Todd's home in Draper. My family, from the area, gathered here for dinner and a chance to chat. Below: Kenzie, Savannah, Carly, Jonah, Corbin, Tate, Mitch, Brianna and Aaron:

Kenzie, Savannah, Jonah, Carly and Corbin:
Tate, Brianna and Aaron:
Tate and Mitch racing around the yard:
Savannah, looking pretty darn cute and just like her mom, Karen!:
Jonah, showing us how he operates his fancy new chair:
Watch him go - he's a speed demon on that thing!:
Kathy and cousin Todd, Paul, Amy, Kenzie, Brianna and cousin Karen:
Now visualize the first picture right here.