Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh Holy Night

Christmas Eve is almost over. I love Christmas Eve.

 I have more memories of Christmas Eve than I do Christmas Day. For a time when I was young and my family lived in Utah - we drove several hours  to my Grandma and Grandpa Vans for Christmas Eve. The whole family (cousins, aunts and uncles) would sit around one huge table. The table's base was the pool table. There wasn't a kids table - just one huge gathering and I loved it. My grandfather would also give his children Father's blessings that night. It was peaceful and I loved it.

When our family moved away from Utah - we had Christmas Eve with friends who were like family.  Those nights were wonderful - because we had time after the big gathering to have time with just our family. My Dad would give us Father's blessings and we would sing a few hymns and read the Christmas story from Luke. I loved it.

Since we have been married - we have spent very few Christmas Eves with family. So we have become extremely thankful for those friends who have become family. Tonight we went to the Williams for dinner. And for the second year in a row Susan and Jay gave all the kids pajamas/robes. But before the tearing open of the packages, there was ten whole minutes of wonder. We listened to "Oh Holy Night" - my favorite Christmas Carol and "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" my favorite hymn. Susan asked us to think about why Jesus lives for us. 

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.

I know he lived to be the ultimate example for us. He lived so that we would learn about our Father in Heaven and desire to live with Him again. 

He does teach us how to love. Who to love. How to forgive and Who to forgive. Every day that is our challenge. I am thankful for friends and family who are so good to us and follow the example of our Savior. 

Merry Christmas to all, may you have a Holy Night!

And to my father who is probably just now starting to write his annual Christmas poem - Get to bed! (but not until it's finished - because it is my favorite part of Christmas morning!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simple Prayers

"Thank you for this great life"
"Please bless Santa that he will arrive here safely"
"Please help Grace to not get headaches"

These are just a few sweet things Tanner has recently said in his prayers that we know he has not heard us say. No need to worry about Grace - she is healthy. . . probably because of his prayers.  

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Your Birthday, Hannah!

Hannah has had an eventful year. She went to Amsterdam and Paris with all the Van Kampens. She spent a few weeks in Utah with the Langes and attended BYU Volleyball camp. She was thrilled to be in Utah when her newest cousin, Tyler was born. She went to girls camp for the second year. She helped me stay awake and alert on our drive to and from Alabama. She played on the 8th grade volleyball team. She ran for and made student council. She earned a spot on the yearbook staff. She babysits a lot. She is now doing stats for the wrestling team and is in a select band that will perform in December. 

She is a busy girl doing great things. More importantly, she is a wonderful daughter. She enjoys the benefits and suffers the brunt of being the oldest child. She is a kind older sister who is still amused by her younger siblings. We love her and hope this is a wonderful year.
Hannah with cousin Nora. 
Hannah with her volleyball teammates. These girls saw a lot more of Hannah than we did this fall. This team of girls work great together and made watching volleyball a blast. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Goooo Cougars!

Ok - these pics are in reverse order. . . but you will get the feel for the exciting day we had. It was gorgeous weather and the stadium was sold out. 

After the game, we waited for Brock by the locker room. He came out and signed autographs. 

Dad, Mom, Jenni and Me. The last BYU game I was at - where I took a picture like this was September 1990 at the BYU - Miami game and we beat them. This win was just as exciting.

The night before the game we went to the football fireside. All the players sang "We'll Bring the World his Truth." Coach Mendenhall and his wife gave great talks. And one of the players also spoke. They spoke about being disciples of Christ. It was wonderful to hear all of them talk about football in a real-life perspective. They had just lost to TCU. Coach Mendenhall spoke about their QUEST for perfection. He said some peoeple who don't really get what they are about - will think that the quest is over. But it is not. Their quest for perfection is in every aspect of their lives and is about always improving and doing their best. 

I didn't post a picture of it here but the inside of the door to the locker room says "RETURN WITH HONOR" I love this team.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekend in Utah

I took a very quick trip to Utah last weekend. There was not a moment of down-time from the time I arrived until the time I got back on the plane - except for a 15 minute nap I took at my Grandma's house on Sunday. Every minute was wonderful. Every minute was spent with people I love and miss when I am home.

I was so happy to finally see Mom and Dad Lange's new home. It is perfect for them. It was great to see them and Hilary. It is fun to picture the Nobis cousins walking down the street to see them whenever they want. (And I do have to picture it in my mind - because I didn't take any pictures of the Nobis cousins!)

I loved my first glimpse of our nephew Tyler. He was born in July. His brother Zack was anxious for me to count his fingers - all eleven of them! Jake showed me his Harry Potter puppet and Rachel told me a secret. (shhh. Rachel was going over to Grandma's that afternoon to bake cookies - she was hoping for peanut butter!)
I got to see Nora and Jonah and their new big-kid beds! They impressed me with their fast running, sharing and reading. My favorite - was when Nora put a book in time-out. I think that is what they do - when they have a toy they both want at the same time - so they don't fight over it. Smart parents to teach them that.
Jenny and I went to dinner and she was gracious to make some other visits with me. 

We went to see the Caldwells - where I got to meet Matt and Noah. The only picture I have of that visit - is of Mallory in her wedding dress - I didn't think I should post that here - since she is getting married in December. . . It was wonderful to see them.

Jenny also got us tickets to Glenn Beck. He gave a great 1 hour show about the state of the world. It all come down to - use common sense, you CAN make a difference and the only person we can REALLY trust is GOD.  

I am still waiting for the Woods to announce that they are moving back to Ohio. . . 
We celebrated my Grandma's 97th birthday. I wish this was a better picture. It was great to see my Maughan cousins. We missed you Matt. When we sang "Happy Birthday" Grandma requested that we not add "And Many More". No one did. But she could. She is wonderful. It was great to get a hug from her. 
The MOST exciting moment of the trip came when we (My Mom, Dad and sister Jenny) gathered in Nate's (Brock's friend) living room and he opened his mission call!!!! He is going to the Tacloban Philippine mission. 

What are the chances that in July we would schedule this trip to Utah on the very day that he would receive his call in the mail?  Brock let us know in the morning that the call had arrived. He carried it around from noon until after football practice at 5. WOW. I had the joy of being with my sister for the 5 hours before he opened his call. It reminded me of the the Christmas Eves when we would all sleep in the same room and try to pass the time because we couldn't fall asleep. SOOOO much excitement. 

I witnessed a tender mercy from the Lord. He let Jenny be there in person. It didn't have to work out that way. Everyone would still have been just as excited. But it was a blessing to see the mom who: helped him run football drills, ironed his white shirts, guided him in his eagle project, and made sure he got to church every Sunday; it was wonderful to watch that mom watch him open his mission call. Brock will be a great missionary. I am so proud of him.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Camping - Lange Style

Lange Style Camping consists of: Arriving at friends camp site at 10am, taking pictures of children in front of friend's tents, cooking hotdogs over the campfire, hiking around camping area, roasting marshmallows, eating smores, And packing up and going home at dark, sleeping in own beds inside warm home.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grace's Baptism and Confirmation

Grandma Lange came from Utah to be with us for Grace's Baptism and confirmation. She gave Grace this cozy blanket to remind her of her baptism date and to remind her of the comfort the Holy Ghost will give her if she asks.
Grandma and Grandpa VK came from Alabama and Rudy came from Chicago. They brought her new scriptures and a CTR ring. We love having family around. 
Steve baptized and confirmed Grace. We were so thankful to have Grandpa and many friends join in the confirmation circle. I wish I had a picture of Grace with all the priesthood holders who participated. She has so many good examples of good men in her life.

Susan Spoke about the Holy Ghost and gave Grace a huge orange lolli-pop. She talked about the gift and the experiences Grace would miss out on if she never opens the lolli-pop. She compared that to the gift of the Holy Ghost. To receive the gift of the Holy Ghost we need to do our part and ask for his help.

We are thankful that Grace is baptized and thankful for all the friends and family who shared with us this special day. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Goosebumps and Tears

Go to and click on the video for "Janice Kapp Perry Birthday". You will see what I mean. 

I am so thankful that Brock earned a place on this team. (He's the tallest one on the front row.)

There was also a GREAT article in USA Today today about the team. It is a team like no other. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Grace and Grandma!

Grace turned 8!! 8 is great! Grace is Great!
We celebrated Grace's birthday at the Pickerington Central versus Pickerington North football game at Crew stadium. She got to be with a lot of her favorite people - so we enjoyed a fun evening. 

We are all looking forward to her baptism next week. She had an interview with the Bishop and he said she is ready! I believe she has been ready for a long time. Grace really tries to make good choices and is often looking for ways to help other people. 

Last week - I was picking up our friend Susan from taking her car to be fixed. Grace usually looks for any reason to spend time with Susan. So she was happy when I invited her to come with me. She hopped in the car and then we drove to Susan's house so we could follow her. As we drove back by our house - Tanner was in the driveway looking kind of lonely. Grace asked me to stop the car. She said she would go play with Tanner so he would have someone to be with and hopped out of the car. Tanner's smile let me know that she had done something wonderful for him. Her smile showed me that she did it out of love. 

Grace is a lot like my Mom. They both are wonderful to the people around them. 

I don't think I have been with my mom on her birthday since the year Grace was born. But I want to tell her Happy Birthday and I wish I could be with her today! She is my rock. She is the one I talk politics with. I can brag to her about my kids and she will agree with my every word. She tells me to buck up when I am feeling inadequate or down. She loves my husband and reminds me to like him when I am upset with him. She teaches me about friendship. She hates shopping as much as I do. (Except I have noticed that if she is with grandchildren or shopping for grandchildren - it seems to make her happy.) She loves the gospel. She loves the temple. She talks to my kids on the phone - just to see how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. She love me. If I listed all the things she has done for me or taught me - I could write a very long book. But these are the things that mean the most to me today. I love you Mom! Happy Birthday!

Hannah I Love You, Hannah I DO

Hannah's been reading my blog and told me yesterday that there is not enough "Hannah" in it. So I am writing this to tell her that I love her just as much as all the rest. And I also want to remind her to go look at her baby book, scrapbook and the five boxes of pictures that were taken of her in her first 3 years. : ) I say that with love.

Hannah, 10 years from now, Tanner and Grace WILL come to you and complain that they don't have a baby book, a scrapbook OR any pictures from the age of 3 months to 3 years. Just tell them to go read the blog. 

all my love,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Something More Exciting To Focus On

I am tired of politics. I know who I am voting for. Nothing anyone says or does at this point will surprise me or change my mind.

On to a more uplifting subject to read and hear about --- BYU Football. is my new favorite website. Buckeyes are so last year. : )   (I know - those of you that know me know I never have been a big fan.) But if you want to cheer for something really great you should start paying attention to this team, their coach and what they stand for. This interview linked below is awesome!

Bronco Mendenhall on the Jim Rome show

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandpa Lange!

My first memory of Dad Lange is washing dishes with him after the first Lange family Sunday dinner I attended. Steve and I had just started dating and he took me home to meet the family which I thought was a big deal. To Steve it wasn't. He would have taken anyone home who wanted to go. His home was that kind of place. Friends were always welcome. Hugs were given to all but a fuss was never made.  
My kids always loved to visit Heber because Grandpa would honk and wave to everyone he saw. People would wave back and smile. It was like being with a celebrity. Oh yeah. He is a celebrity. We loved watching him ride with the city council in the parade. We smile when he introduces us to complete strangers and tells them how wonderful we are. 

Dad, you have had an eventful year this year. We hope this coming year is full of peace and good health. Thank you for being so good to us and our children. Our children carry your name - we hope they will always carry your goodness. We love you! Happy Birthday!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Catching Up

September has gone by really fast. Grace missed the first few days of school because she was sick. I started teaching seminary at 6am every school day. Hannah is playing volleyball. Eliza is playing tennis. They have matches on opposite days. Grace is taking dance. She is supposed to be taking piano but I haven't figured out how to get there and make it to everything else and breathe. And Steve is traveling a lot this month. So this is a quick catch-up of what is going on in Ohio.

This was the last day of summer. And the last day of an empty square on my calendar. I love empty squares.
Labor Day Parade. We went to cheer on our friends who were in the parade for various reasons. NOT to get candy. Someday my children will learn that parades are not all about the candy. But it will not be in Pickerington.
Tanner and I took a trip to the zoo with Amy, Gabby and Josh. The three did really well together. I was packing some snacks before we left home. Tanner saw that I had only packed two bags of goldfish. He told me to pack another bag so they wouldn't have to all fight over the goldfish. Smart boy.
This is our new pet, Fred. He is a webworm and is now in a cocoon in a jar in my kitchen. The day we caught him, Tanner and I were at the store. Half-way through the store he asked me if I thought Fred was missing us. I assured him Fred was OK and thought to myself, "Fred is probably thankful that the earthquakes have stopped for a season." Tanner likes to shake Fred. We have a picture of Fred because Grace is the star-student this week. And the "fill-in -the- blank poster has a square for a pet. My children usually have to leave that square blank. And I am OK with that.  
This is my roof. And notice the missing shutter. While the missionaries were over for dinner, eating in the dark, we watched the shingles fly off. And people in cars slow down in front of our house and stare. At one point, most of the shingles were sticking straight up. The 70 mph winds gave us quite a show. I think I know what I am getting for Christmas.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seventeen Years Ago. . .

You could not have told me that life would get better than it was. You could not have told me that the sleeves on my wedding dress were too poofy. You could not have told me that my hair was too big. You could not have convinced me that I could love Steve any more than I did then. But I do. 

Seventeen years ago, I could not have imagined the joy these 5 people would bring to my life. This life I am living is better than the life I dreamed of when I was seventeen. Thank you sweetheart for helping me laugh when I get too serious. Thank you children for being so patient while I learn this mothering thing. You are the best!

P.S. Someone asked what Steve gave me for our anniversary. He organized the seminary room, hung up the white board and cleaned out 4 cupboards of toiletries. And he made me promise not to stash anymore half used products. To my defense - due to his line of work - lots of products end up on my bathroom counter that I don't request or purchase. . . but I do promise. Thank you for helping me with my projects.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

He's Four

Wow! This boy is loved! 
He had a great day with calls from loved ones and visits from friends and lunch with his sisters and Rudy. The Greens came over for cake and ice cream.  
Four things I love about this boy:
* He tells me, "You're the best!"
* He always wants to pray. 
* He sings to himself when he is playing.
* He says great words like "mo-lawner" for lawn-mower 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma Lange!

August 3rd was the big day - but I didn't make it to the computer to wish her a happy birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! 
This family picture has taken on new significance since a year ago when it was taken. Mom And Dad have moved from Heber. We can no longer describe them as our Heber Grandma and Grandpa. We will miss their wonderful neighbors, Dairy Keen, the best side of Timpanogas and drives through Provo canyon. But we are thankful they are close to all the family in Salt Lake and we look forward to visits there. 
Thanks Mom for all you do for our big family!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Dear Dad!

This is for my Dad who is now in his 73rd year. That means today is his 72nd birthday. This picture has a story. Our family has watched Rick Steves travel shows for as long as I can remember. On the train to Paris, Jenni and I spent our time reading the Rick Steves book about Paris. We planned out our days according to his suggestions. 

After we arrived in Paris - we all split up - and went to our separate hotels. My Steve and Dad had cell phone service - so we said we would just call each other in a little while. While we were waiting in line for the taxis - Dad told us that we should have the hotel address written down for the drivers. So Steve and I both took copies of our reservations with us. We had to take two taxis to our hotel. 

Mom and Dad and Jenni and Rick and kids had to split into 3 taxis to get to their hotel. It was pouring rain and kind of crazy. Rick and Rachel ended up in a taxi together but didn't have the hotel info with them. Dad had just told the driver the address as they go into the car. Several minutes later the driver asked where they were going. They didn't know. So they had the driver take them back to the train station. Meanwhile the others are at the hotel wondering where Rick and Rachel are. And they are praying that they are OK. 

Rick and Rachel discover a small miracle with their baggage. Somehow - my Mom's bag that she carries all of her travel info in -is with them. Rachel, who has watched Grandma refer to her incredible organized records of reservations and information, reaches into the bag and pulls out a copy of the hotel reservation. So they get a taxi and get to the hotel. 

We (the Langes) had no idea this was going on. We were at our hotel unpacking, resting and planning. Sooner than expected, we get a call from my Dad saying that they are all in the lobby. We go down to see them - get filled in on the miracle that brought them back together and then Dad tells us that his phone is not working in Paris and they didn't know which hotel we were in - so they used some clues and came to find us.

So back to the picture - All 11 of us leave the hotel, turn left,  walk 20 feet and guess who we see on the street? Rick Steves! Because of where we were and because I had been reading his book all day -  it was like seeing an actor that stars in your favorite TV show. But more exciting. It had been a crazy day. So we all took a picture of Dad and Rick Steves and an unknown frenchman.

I know I was a little starstruck to see Mr Steves. But really my Dad is the star of this show. Because of Him we were on this trip. Because of him I am addicted to chocolate. Because of him, I'm a bit stubborn. Because of him, I appreciate Van Gogh. Because of him, "Rear Window" is my favorite movie. Because of him, I moved a lot in my childhood which made me more outgoing than I would have been. Because of him, I had the hardest summer jobs ever! Because of him, I see a glimpse of the love my Father in Heaven has for me. What more could he give me? Thanks Dad. Love you.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kampen Continued

The little yellow building is the smallest house in Kampen. There is a sign at the end of the street that points it out to visitors. While we were walking over to it - we witnessed a crime. A bunch of teenagers were throwing water balloons out of the building next to it. Several people on bikes were spooked and nearly hit. I wish that was the most devious behavior teenagers could think of. 

This was another encounter with public toilets. Evidently -you put money in the slot - go inside - the doors swing shut and lock until you push a button on the inside for it to open. There was a sign on the outside, warning parents to not let young children go inside alone. We couldn't get it to work. The doors kept swinging open and shut. There are so many things that could go wrong with this system! The low-tech urinal down by the canal was much more useful for the guys in our party. There really was a urinal there- that was not code for "they used the canal" although I am sure that is where it went. 

And notice the beautiful window above the public toilet. I bet the people who live there were happy about this modern convenience placed right in their view!


This is Kampen. We don''t have any ancestors that we have traced to this town but our last name means "from Kampen" - so we feel a love for this town. It sits on the Ijssel River in Eastern Netherlands. Growing up - we always had a framed map of Kampen hanging somewhere in our house. Because we moved a lot the location changed - but I remember it hanging over the fireplace. . . I saw it every day. So it is fun to come here and feel a connection to this place.  
Grandma and Grandpa Van Kampen in Kampen with Natalie, Eliza and Rachel
We arrived on Sunday afternoon. It was refreshing to see all the shops closed and hear music coming from one of the old churches we walked by.  We were happy that an ice cream parlor was open. The ice cream was awesome. I know some of you are thinking - it couldn't be better than Cold Stone or Graeters -but it was. I had a flavor that translated to "Grandma's yellow cake batter." It was awesome. 

While we were in Kampen, we walked along the banks of the river, where large sail boats are docked. Behind us is ultra-modern looking drawbridge that is a contrast to the old city. Actually, in the first picture of this post - you can see a drawing of the drawbridge on the top flag hanging between the buildings. 

Kroller-Muller Museum

The Kroller-Muller is located near Otterlo. It is inside the Netherlands largest state park. We did enjoy the museum - but the highlight of the visit was riding bikes from the museum to the exit of the park. I love the picture of Eliza and my Dad at the museum. 

Sunday, June 29, 2008


The train and tram systems are very efficient. I think this is an exciting thing to experience - when you are used to traveling by car everywhere. 
While riding on the train, Rachel revealed to us that she had her own supply of condiments for the day. It is not common to have ketchup in restaurants there - or at the pommes frits (french fry) stands on the street. So Rachel took matters into her own hands which thrilled Hannah who has an addiction to ketchup. We found this out from friends at school who give her all of their ketchup packets at lunch. They are only allowed to take 2 packets with their meals. The other tip-off to this addiction was the ketchup splotches on her clothes every day. . . Back to the train - Rachel acquired (stole) these from the breakfast buffet at the hotel. 

This is the memorial to Anne Frank. It is located right by the church that Anne could see from the window in their secret annex. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the Anne Frank house. If you ever get a chance to go there - I highly recommend it. If you can't get there - and want to see it - the website is very well done.  The thing that stayed with me the most from the tour - was the last thing you hear before you exit the museum. Anne's father is on video and he says that he didn't really know Anne before he read her journals. He encouraged parents to have their children write about their lives, their feelings and their dreams. He didn't address the challenge of sharing those journals with each other while we are still alive - I guess that is up to us.
After the tour we headed to PC Hoofstraat. It is the "Rodeo Drive" of Amsterdam. We were not going shopping - but we were eating at a restaurant not far from there. Rudy, Kellie, Mom and Dad, Jenni and Rick met some friends for Indonesian food. Steve and I took all the kids to a Pizza place across the street. We ate outside and Brock and Steve enjoyed the show of the high-end luxury cars going by. After lunch we did stroll down Hoofstraat. We oohed and ahed at some fancy things - and more cars. 
This is the park area right behind the Rijks Museum. That is me and Hannah by the M. We went to the Van Gogh museum by the same park. I have always liked Van Gogh's paintings - probably because my Dad loved Van Gogh. We had several prints of his hanging in our home while growing up. We saw the originals here.