What's In This Blog

I created this blog for my journal. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this blog I keep many of the things I come across as a member of the church. I also share my experiences on the ACE Train and getting to work, my experiences in Manteca where we have lived for three years, and other things I think are noticeable.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Baby Pictures; I'm a Grandpa


With Mark

Two Week Old Pictures

Pictures of Mark's baby, Elliot Wilford, born December 13, 2011, 20 inches 7 pounds 10 ounces.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life in Manteca 31: Christmas Weekend

Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Story  Sheri has decided that she does no want to have to make elaborate meals on Christmas day, so we have our big meal Christmas Eve.  This year Sheri went all out with spiral ham and the trimmings, which included a banana cream pie I made, and other cream pies and cheesecake pie Sheri made.  There of course was potatoes and gravy and vegetables.  Anthony and Charity came over, and spent the evening with us.  They had o go home however, as they were singing a duet in their church in the morning.

We mixed our Christmas pageant up a little this year.  Tony was cast as Joseph with Miranda as Mary. Tony insisted he needed a mustache.  (Perhaps he has seen a movie with Joseph with a mustache, I don't know.)  SHeri used mascare, and it turned out very well.  Sheri and I were shepherds.  (A much better part than the donkey which is my usual role.)  Caleb was the angel and Anthony and Charity were the wise men.  (They were Mary and Joseph last year as they had been marred just a week.)  We took turns reading and narrating, when we were not on stage.  We used a doll for baby Jesus.  We could not find our manger after the move, so had to improvise.

After the pageant, we had the opening of pajamas and then into the car for a turn around town to look at lights.  We were most impressed with the lights at the corner of Cottage and Southland.  We are told tere is a home with a very large display annually in Manteca, however this year the owner of the home sustained and injury and could not put them up.  Next year I look forward to seeing them. 
It was then home and to bed.  Sheri and I were tired enough we played Santa early the next morning.

I was up at 4:30 to put the stockings together, and we had Christmas presents at 6.  We were on a time-line as Caleb and I were singing with the choir with an early rehearsal.  We skyped with Jeremy and Kayla, and as a result also had my mom for some of our gift exchange.  Tony was spoiled, Miranda had already gotten most of her before Christmas, Caleb added safety equipment for his long board.
The choir sang it church, and sacrament meeting was short and sweet.  We sang "Still a Bach Christmas"  This was a medley of several songs.  We also sang "Silent is the Night."  Christmas then turned into a lazy day with some game playing and movie watching.

Monday was a holiday for me, and Tuesday was a day off.  However I don't remember doing much in particular.  Caleb went long boarding with Lane McMurtry.  I was back to work on Wednesday.

Movie Night: ***Peter Pan; ***The Lady Vanishes, ****Anatomy of a Murder, ***Skinwalkers

***^Peter Pan 2003,  Available though Intant Netflix.  This movie follows the story of Peter Pan quite well, but puts a bit darker spin on it.  This spin is accomplished by the characters being a bit rougher, and meaner than the characters in other versions of Peter Pan.  It also plays on the idea of believing leading t being able to continue an over come.  There is a scene where Peter loses is faith that Wendy likes him and believes in him, and consequently he begins to loss his battle with Captain Hook.
***The Lady Vanishes 1938: This is an old Alfred Hitchcock available through Instant Netflix.  It's a  spy story, but you don't realize this until the show is almost the end of the show.  What you do know is that a woman has vanished, and her new acquaintance is looking for her.  However everyone else on the train tells her there is no such person.  However, the young woman looking for her gains an ally, and together they not only avoid people after them, but also eventually figure out what is gong on.
****Anatomy of a Murder 1959.  This movies came via Netflix DVD.  This is a James Stewart movie.  It is very much like a "Perry Mason" which I noted began as a t.v. series in 1957.  Jimmy Stewart is at his best, and the movie is very entertaining.  There is a murder committed, and a person who knows that he did it, but claims temporary insanity based on his discovering that the victim had raped his wife.
***Skinwalkers  2002 PBS.  This movie is available through Netflix DVD.  It is not one of the horror films with the same name.  It is based on the Tony Hillerman novel and is a crime show based on the Navajo Reservation.  As such there is spectacular scenery.  The story is quite intense, and there is a definite twist in terms of who is the killer in the end.  There is a detective, as well as an officer working with him, who is also in training to become a medicine man.  I really enjoyed this show, and the look at the Navajo culture, which is part of the theme of the show.  How close the diferent officers are to their cultures, as well as the wife of the detective, makes for an interesting story.  Also part of the theme is medicine men vs. traditional medicine.

Christmas Creches

New this year

This is a sample of Sheri's creches.  After seeing the Palo Alto exhibit, Sheri started collecting her own; and we add one or two or three every year.  Of course they are not as nice as some at the exhibit, but they remind us of Jesus at the Christmas season.  I think she has over thirty now.

home made, or relief society made
One of Sheri's favorites
Upper right is our first, that Sara gave us for a wedding present, After 28 years only three pieces left

Movie Time: Christmas Movies

***^Santa Claus I  I have always liked this movie, and the play on words from different Christmas poems and how they fit in.  I also liked the elves and the magic.  The Elf security team is a bit overboard, but a fun show.
**^Santa Claus II  The second movie goes a bit too far, with the toy
Santa who takes over the workshop.  The battle between the toys and the elves is mostly just stupid.  However the battle between the two Santas is classic, and the romancing of a Mrs. Claus is fun.
***Santa Claus III  I had never watched this movie before, and was pleasantly surprised.  I enjoyed it more than number two.  Mr. Frost is so evil, until he is warmed by Julie's magical hug.  This was a fun show
***Elf  I have always thought this was just a stupid setting to give Will Ferrell a platform to do stupid stuff.  I must admit, it has that element which kept me from really watching it.  I finally did this year, and the story is really cute.  My favorite character is the fellow elf at the department store.  She adds a touch of beauty and class to the show. 
***The Christmas Story  This is a classic tail available through DVD delivery fro Netflix.  The scene of the cold flagpole and the tongue is a classic.  I still makes me laugh.  I came close to doing the same thing as a child on a dare.  However, when my tongue pulled started to seal to the pole, and pulled back and only lost a few cells of tongue skin, and did not become firmly attached.  You would think the firefighters would have unsealed his tongue with some warm water rather than giving the kid such a jerk.  This is still a fun story.  "You'll shoot your eyes out kid.
 **^DreamWorks: Holiday Classics  This presentation is available through Instant Netflix.  It has four different shorts; two presenting the Madagascar characters, then a Donkey Shrek-tacular, and finally a film with "Dragons" and the characters of "How to Train Your Dragon."  Of these films, that one that captured the holiday spirit is one of the penguins in Central Park Zoo "Madagascar Penguins and a Holiday Caper."  The private of the penguins, notices that the polar bear is all alone, and so he determines to get him a Christmas present.  He has to leave the lair secretly, and gets into trouble himself as he is sold as a chew toy to an old woman.  The other penguins come to his rescue and they perform a holiday service for the bear.  The only redeeming song from Donkey is Puss N' Boots singing Fleas Navidad.
****A Christmas Memory:  This is a made for t.v. movie featuring Patty Duke and Eric Lloyd (Charlie in Santa Clause.)  This is an enjoyable tale of Truman as a boy being raised by four older aunts and uncle.  He has a special relationship with one of the aunts, and they make fruitcake for everyone (30 cakes which they deliver or mail.)  It is also a story of moving on as one of the aunts arranges for him to go to military school.  his is a very good holiday movie
***^Christmas Story:  This is a Finnish film, and it is a very good story explaining where their Santa Claus came from.  He is an orphan, who is finally adopted by a carpenter.  The carpenter not only teaches him the trade, but also leaves him a chest of money.  He then starts as a toymaker who wants to leave toys for everyone, and finishes with a bit of magic.
**The Family Stone:  This movie was not only predictable, it belittled those who didn't agree with the moral standards of the movie calling them assholes.  The story is pleasant, but I don' think I will ever watch it again.
*****It's a Wonderful Life:   A movie for annual consumption.  My favorite part is when they say George is the richest man in the world.  That line chokes me up for some reason.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Music Review:Christmas concerts (to mmboe)

This season I ha e enjoyed finding and recording concerts with the DVR.  This has mostly included PBS and BYUTV.  BYU TV usually replays a **Christmas concert from some past year.  This is usually good, but not thrilling.  PBS showed last year's ***^Tabernacle Choir concert with David Archuleta and Michael York.  This is a very nice concert with jumping dancers.  Miranda has watched it several times as she is an Archuleta fan.  He really likes "Joy to the World" and the descant he sings.  Michael York tells the story of the choir, as well as the Christmas story.

Of course I have watched all the Christmas Tabernacle Choir *****"Music and the Spoken Word" presentations.  They are all fine, with bells and dancing.  The one I most enjoyed was Jane Seymour guest narrator telling the Christmas story.  But there is one every Sunday morning at 9:30 in California.  As this is church time I record them.  They concluded this with their program yesterday.  They concluded with Lloyd Newell talking of "Away in a Manger."  This is one of my favorite.

The worse concert I recorded was the (no stars) Tree Lighting at the White House.  They had an African Choir, The Sons of Judah, which was so out of tune, and so out of balance with the men trying to compete with the women, that it was painful.  Not even a military jazz band, Santa Claus and Kermit the frog could save this mess.  It ended up being a commercial for talking about bringing the troops home.

I also recorded a Christian university music program, ***^"Christmas at Belmont."  This is a Nashville based choir.  They presented several Nigerian and African carols which were really  very moving.  The interspersed orchestral and band music throughout and it was very well done.

A Lutheran University, **"Christmas at Concordia" showed a different religious orientation.  This choir bogged down in slow moving hymns and was not as enjoyable.

I also recorded **Bells at Temple Square.  I did not enjoy this as much as I missed vocal music.  The bells, after a few number just stimulated my tinnitus, so I gave it up.  I also recorded the **Bell Family Christmas concert.  There is something I don't like about them.  Perhaps it is that they come across as too perfect, I don't know.  It just seems fake to me.

Last I recorded Andrea Bocelli and David Foster, ****"My Christmas."  It is very fun to listen to Andrea Bocelli.  They had a full orchestra behind them and sometimes a small choir.  Bocelli sings with such a clear and pure voice, it is very enjoyable.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Life in Manteca 30: Week Before Christmas

Sorry this is coming out so late, but I had some computer issues.  Computer is now fine, so let me write about the last couple weeks. 
Miranda passed her driver license test, on the first try, and is now a fully licensed driver.
The week before Christmas was eventful.  The Saturday was highlighted by a trip to Temple Hill to see the Nutcracker Ballet.  A coworker's daughter was in the performance, and had gotten us tickets.  It was a children's performance, but even so it was very entertaining.  They had a character as the author of the book, who came out and told what was going to happen.  This made it easier to follow.  The only confusing thing was they had two Claras.  One was older and could do more complicated dances, while the other portrayed her most of the time except for a couple of scenes.  They had modified some of the dances for children, but this didn't detract at all from the story and the good time.  Our party was myself, Caleb, Alyssa, Tiago and Miranda.  Five Guys for burgers, fries and peanuts on the way home.

This Saturday was also marked by Ken's graveside services.  They were in Modesto, and there were at least 30 people from our old ward there.  It was good to see Liza and her kids, Lizzy, Duncan, Rory and Walker.  Walker is so tall now.  Martin, who is on a mission, was not there.  We sat with the Jefferys from our current ward. 
uk, Liza, Laurie Ainge, Ruth Gardner, Sheri, Andra McCormick, Viviana Dorff and Charron Perry Barney
Sunday I taught the Christmas story for the last lesson of the year.  There was one extra week, as we had gotten to the end, so this is the lesson I chose to go back to.  I love the Christmas story, that the Lord of us all would come to Earth as a baby in the most humble of circumstances.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Condescension of God; Christmas Song

The Condescension of God

Behold, the condescension of God!

Joseph leads the donkey, Going from door to door,
Pleading, my wife is with child, Can’t you spare room and board?
No room, no room.  No room!
Mary on the donkey’s back, Opens not her mouth to complain,
But Joseph can see in her face, Contractions are causing pain.
No room, no room.  No room!

No wait, I have a spot, Where I keep the cattle and grain.
Nice, it is not; But it will keep you from the wind and rain.

Behold the birthplace of our Lord!

Joseph cleans out the filth, With fresh straw lines the stall,
Helps his wife off the donkey’s back, steadies her to avoid a fall.
Mary and Joseph, alone in the night, Naught but animals looking on,
 Will be the first to hear the baby cry before the dawn.

Behold the angels sang!  Behold the angels sang!
Glory to God on High, and on earth peace, good will to men.
Glory to God, and on earth peace, good will to men.
Shepherds heard their song and went to see
The babe in a manger laid; The King of men to be.

Father, hold me up, So I too can see.
Father, there are tears in your eyes.  What is it you see?

Behold the lamb of God, the Savior of us all.
Behold the lamb of God, is today born in this stall.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life in Manteca 29: Another Christmas Weekend

This was a longer weekend with lots of fun.  we started the weekend early, on Thursday, as Sheri brought the kids to San Jose and we went to the Cupertino High School winter concert.  It was great.  The stage was decorated with poinsettias.  We missed getting them this year.  The music was great as always.  The highlight was the harpist.  She played a solo, but even more fun was the song she played with women's advanced choir.  She was really strumming as the choir sang.  She is very talented. There were some fun song, "Fa La La La La" making a parody of Deck the Halls which Capella sang and Men's Chorale sang a song about mistletoe.  Tony was very good during the concert.  He really like Carol of the Bells and has been singing his version around the house.
  This is a link for the song when Jeremy was in the choir.

Friday saw me decorating my office, something I haven't done ever I think.  Friday Alyssa and Caleb did their own Winter Formal as Saturday when the high school had Winter Formal they were both busy.  I picked them up at De Vega Brothers Restaurant and took them to the bowling alley.  Then they came to our house for dancing.

Saturday was highlighted by the ward party.  Tony participated in the reenactment of the nativity story.  Caleb sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem" by himself and we all sang other congregational songs to go along with the story.  We finished with the Bishop bearing his testimony.  It was a fun evening.

We had planned a family party Sunday, but the Normans came down with the flu so it was cancelled.  However Charity and Anthony came over to eat part of the pot luck items.  We had green salad, chicken enchiladas, yummy potatoes and baked beans.  I enjoyed the combination.  With he cancellation of the party, I went to the Messiah concert performed by the Turloch Stake.  It was an enjoyable evening and I have had the songs going trough my head the last few days.  The did the "Last Trumpet" with a very good trumpeter.  I missed that they did not sing "Worthy is the Lamb."  The ended with the "Hallelujah Chorus."  Tony (who was going t stay over with Charity and then changed his mind, said at the end "Forever is really long."  He's fun.  He and I spent the concert in the foyer.  I also sang "Oh Holy Night during Sacrament meeting earlier in the day.  The sad think about going to the Messiah Concert is we missed the Baer family when the came over caroling.  Sheri and the older kids were home. 

We continued our weekend on Monday.  We held a family-sing-along concert and invited a few other families over.  We had 33 people here (if my counting is accurate.)  I think that is a record for us.  The Binghams, Peterson, Halls, Larsons family across the street and us.  Lots of children close to Tony's age so he was happy.  Sheri made him sing the first five songs and then he was upstairs in his bedroom with his friends.  We all had a really fun time, and sang a bunch of songs.  Miranda played piano.  We let her rest a couple songs and Caleb played guitar and ukulele.  We potlucked cookies.  Miranda made cupcakes.  My only regret is a lack of pictures. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Music Review: ***The King's Singers (to mmboe)


Caught a concert of the King's Singers on BYUTV.  I had never heard of them before.  They re a very good acapella group with bass, 2  baritones, 2 tenors and I high tenor.  Ocassionally the bass does percussion.  I was so impressed with their "Tis a Gift to be Free" that i have included a link to a Christmas version of the song.  As for the concert, I enjoyed most of it.  There was a song they did with a BYU chorus which was just too much something for me, but the concert had humor, and great harmony.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Life in Manteca 28: A Christmas Weekend

This weekend was busy with Christmas movies, date and parade.  We had Jesse with us for the weekend, and he is more than a match for both Sheri and I as he is a two-year-old tease who can get any place.  He was climbing shelves to get a better crack at Christmas decorations on a higher shelf.

Friday started with a WinCo trip.  We needed cereal and fruit, and they sell both at better prices than anyplace else I've found. I had Jesse so Sheri met me there coming home from work.  Miranda was babysitting in Tracy and she had to run her.

Saturday we tried to stay ahead of Jesse.  He would dump toys with the words, "mess."  He is talking so big now.  He got every Christmas tree ornament in reach.  He is a funny guy.  He would bump the inside of the car and say "ouch" and when I asked if he was OK he would laugh and laugh.  His laugh is infectious. 

Saturday was a cleaning day.  Caleb had Natalie over with her date, and Alyssa.  They went to Bass Pro Shop but didn't wait in line for Santa Claus.  They came home with ginger bread houses decorating kits and had a competition against each other as couples decorating.

Saturday at five was off to the Christmas parade in Manteca.  There were many floats, and bands.  I really enjoyed the bands.  The theme of the floats was Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Tony like the "robots" which were the vendors as he thought they looked like robots.  We saw President Crockett and the Larsons.  We were by Taco Bell, and they had a long potty line when I took Tony.  He was barely able to hold on.  The parade concluded with Santa Claus in a fire engine.  We enjoyed both the Sierra High School band and the Veritas band and also Annie's band.  We went to the Larsons after and Tony was playing Annie's trombone.  He could actually get noise out of it and change the pitch.  I was impressed.  We picked up McDonalds on the way home to conclude the day.

Sunday started with choir rehearsal.  This is the first eight a.m. and we are having them until Christmas.  We had to take Jesse back to San Jose and planned it so as to go to the Palo Alto Creche Exhibit.  I was most impressed.  They had some creche exhibits so small you needed a magnifying glass, and then there was a life size exhibit that put you in the middle of the scene.  I felt like Mr. Krueger seeing the Christ child in the cave with Mary and Joseph and the shepherds.  I really enjoyed the displays.  I was noticing how there were so many one piece exhibits, meaning the entire manger scene was in one piece and didn't require setting individual pieces. Valpariso Choir sang.

We concluded the evening with friends.  We visited Vern and Karen where we had dinner, and Capri showed us a couple songs, and Cambria helped Tony make some monster puppets.  Terry and Ben were there and dinner was great.  We then visited the Ures at the request of Charity to pick up some old Christmas decorations they had ready for the D.I.

It was a fun weekend in Manteca, Cupertino, Palo Alto and San Jose.

Church Christmas Devotional, 2011


The above link is the the First Presidency Christmas Devotional which can be accessed through LDS.org.  It also includes new videos the Church has produced about the life of the Savior.
As I watched the Christmas devotional, I was touched by the condescension of God.  That the greatest of all would be born in such humble circumstances amazes me.   The video portrays Jesus as a new born babe in the manger, among the animals, and then later as a toddler.  I am so grateful for this gift from God, for Jesus truly is worthy, and as such can also make me, a sinner, worthy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ken McNeil Passed Away this Morning

Ken and Liza's father in the background
Ken McNeil, one of the best men I have known in my life, and one who improved the life of so many others by his good works and example.


This obituary tells it much better than I could.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Movie Night: A Christmas Carol

There are over forty versions of "A Christmas Carol" and so I am offering my ideas as to which I prefer.  This is a work in progress and I will add reviews when I see another one.

**  "A Christmas Carol, The Movie" 2001.  I must admit, this is not me favorite version.  It does have Kate Winslett as a love interest to scrooge and she sings beautifully, but it doesn't have much else to recommend it.  It has a non animated section, which I enjoyed.  It showed Charles Dickens traveling to America, and reading the story with some changes. This part was well done.  When he tells the story it is animated.  The movie adds two mice, with the motivation of attracting children to see the show.  The mice just seem obnoxious to me and don't add anything.  In fact the change the tempo of the action.  The animation seems poorly done, although there is a long list of animators.  This is not the version I would pick to see.

***^ A Christmas Carol 1984 with George C. Scott of Patton fame.  Scot is a better Patton than a Scrooge.

Made for t.v. ****A Christmas Carol 1999 with  Patrick Stewart.  In all the viewing I have don, this is the one that takes first place for me.  Patrick Stewart is superb.  The movie is choppy at places with stops made for commercial breaks, but the characters come through.  The first ghost was not a woman and I thought this fit perfectly with the character.  The change was done a believable fashion.

*^A Christmas Carol 2008, animated.  This movie as shorter, and just missed the feeling of the story.  It had animated animals portraying the parts, and was two inmature for my taste. 

***Christmas Carol 2009, animated.  This is the Disney version with Jim Carrey.  The characters are so real with their animation, which is their strength and down fall.  It is just too much over done with the new animations.  It makes the characters scary, much to scary for children, and sometimes for me.  I cannot watch this with Tony

**Scrooge 1970.  This is a musical version featuring Albert Finney and Alec Guiness.  When I realized it was a musical, I had my doubts, and those doubts were confirmed.  How could Scrooge be a singer?  Although I enjoyed hi "I hate people."  I did not like the songs at the end, "I love Christmas" which turned into a big production numbers, just to have one it seemed.  Scrooge played Santa to the Crachetts, which didn't work for me as it was too drastic a change.  The anonymous Scrooge is more to my liking.  Alec Guiness lived up to his being a master of disguise, but his character seemed like a robot rather than a ghost.

*Scrooged 1988  Bill Murry as a t.v. executive.  This I give my lowest marks.  This movie was just too irreverent.  The only thing I found funny was Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim and her doing a tumbling run after being healed.

****A Christmas Carol: Scrooge 1951  This movie is available through Netflix DVD.  It stars Alistair Sim as Scrooge.  It is really the penultimate Christmas Carol in terms of telling the complete story.  Other versions cut short Christmas Past, but this does not.  It gives much more breadth to the story as a result.  The other ghosts also show more scenes than other versions.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Movies:

I am writing reviews of Christmas movies.  I try to watch at least one a day during the season, and also read Christmas stories.  I will be adding at least one review a day.  All of these movies are from Instant Netflix unless I note otherwise. 

*^ "The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas" 1973, Casey Kasem as the narrator and Tom Smothers as Ted E. Bear.  This movie was mostly just filler, and a sort of silly story.  I thought it was a top 40 show with the narrator's voice.  It was written for small children.  Ted E. Bear believes in Christmas.  The other bears do not as they always sleep through it.  Ted E. Bear is determined to find Christmas.  Santa advises him. "Christmas is that certain glow that just can't be defined; That happy, happy feeling that you get inside when you are kind."

** "Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special"  This would have gotten more stars if there was lest swearing (although it is bleeped) and less sexual innuendo.  However the music with guitar guy and "Night Before Christmas" reading are very funny.

No stars  "A Christmas Too Many"  I only got through 5 minutes and was presented with homosexual innuendo and an "f" bomb and decided this wasn't the Christmas movie for me.

Christmas Classics volume I shows several different shorts:
*** "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  This is a very old version, and begins with a singing of the song.  This story reminds one of how cruel we can sometimes be to others.  Sometimes when someone is different, we treat them in a poor way.  This can be especially true of children at times, but I hope we can rise above this.  In Rudolph, Santa's needing his help on a foggy night does the trick.
  ** "Santa's Surprise."  This movie depicts children in a positive light.  They have caught rides on Santa's Sleigh and visit the North Pole to clean his house while he is sleeping.  There are children from all over the world.  The movie uses caricatures of different ethnic groups.  The African American boy is in black face and shines shoes, The Polynesian girl is topless, the Chinese boy does laundry.  However it makes fun of everyone as a cartoon is suppose to do.  The Dutch boy is the bungler with his wood shoes that make noise and he is always bumping into things.  They get the job done and leave a hint for him to visit them again next year.
 *^ "Christmas Comes but Once a Year'  This short is of an orphanage where all the Christmas toys are hand me downs, and break quickly.  An inventor happens by, takes the part of Santa Clause, making toys out of household items.  I only wonder what they will do without any household utensils for the next year.
* "Snow Foolin'" "With these prices who can afford Florida says the bird who didn't migrate for the winter."
* "Hector's Hectic Live", Dog trouble.
* "Jack Frost"  A baby grizzly runs from home and gets caught by Jack Frost.  A kind elf saves him and takes him home.
* The Shanty Where Shanty Clause Lives" 
* "Somewhere in Dreamland"
** "The Night Before Christmas" If you like the poem you'll like this movie, although it is a bit slow.
****  "A Charlie Brown Christmas"    This is a movie I grew up with.  It came out in 195, when I was eight.  Through my teen year the group of kids I hung with had a thing for Charlie Brown.  We would share his comics before school as the bus landed us a few minutes early.  And this is one of those shorts I have enjoyed my entire life.  Before video, I would look forward to the showing of this every year, and always try not to miss it.  I love when the sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."  I love Schroeder's music.  And I love Linus reciting the Christmas story.  This is a movie that makes Christmas season better.
***  "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown"  Same character with a few new ones, but not the same pizazz.  Story is only mildly amusing and is mostly a forum for Peanuts Comic Strip lines.
****The Coat  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp3IH8ZNviQ If this does not get you in the true mood of Christmas, nothing will.  A story from the life of Heber J. Grant.
***^ Christmas Angel 2009.  I think I saw this one on t.v. but I can't remember which channel.  It was actually an enjoyable made-for-t.v. Christmas movie.  It featured a story of people struggling to get through and being  brought together by a secret Santa.   Of course there are some bumps along the way, such as the attitude of the guy in the story, but it works out well in the end.

Christmas Letter 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

We hope everyone has enjoyed this past year and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

The biggest family news of this year is that we moved from Cupertino to Manteca, California. We have been here for about nine months and so far we love it. We bought a beautiful home that we love living in. Billy is still working as a Social Worker in San Jose so he takes a two hour train ride there and back every weekday. Manteca is located in the Central Valley and we have had to get used to the different climate, but we still love it here. However, even though we are making new friends we sure miss the Stevens Creek Ward and other friends in Cupertino.

Natalia and Ty just celebrated their three year anniversary and are enjoying married life. They are still in Rexburg, ID. Ty is finishing up his last year at school while Natalia is teaching 1st grade in Idaho Falls. Over the summer Ty had an internship in Stockton, California so they spent the first part of the summer here in Manteca with us.

Mark is in Logan, UT. He and Liz are expecting a baby in early December. (His name will be Elliott) He is in his last year at Utah State where he is studying Anthropology.. He also transferred to a Utah division of the Marine Corps this summer.

Jeremy is also in Logan, UT and just got accepted to Utah State University in the Engineering program. (Aerospace Engineering)  He has been working at The Blue Bird in the kitchen and is the chief roll maker.

Charity and Anthony have survived their first year of marriage and seem to be enjoying everyday of it. They also relocated to Turlock, which is not that far from Manteca. Anthony is going to school at CSU Stanislaus studying Kinesiology.  Charity graduated from Cosmetology School in June and passed the State Board in August.

Miranda graduated from High School in June and has been nannying to earn money for college. She wants to go into Medical Administration and study at BYU-Idaho. She lives at home and is going to the singles' ward in our stake. She still loves playing the piano and works on improving her talent everyday.

Caleb is a Junior at Sierra High School. He has been enjoying his new school and especially likes his Physics class. He spends a lot of time with his girlfriend and her family. He has made a lot of new friends since we moved. He helped plan our Stake Youth Conference.

Tony has grown a lot over the past year. He tends to say some pretty hilarious, but smart, things on a daily basis. He is getting ready to go to Kindergarten next year and learning his colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. He has learned to write his name and other letters. He has a couple of friends in our ward that he enjoys having play dates with.

This year we did something new and got an exchange student for a month over the summer. She was from Spain and we really enjoyed having her here with us for that month. We enjoyed it so much that we got another exchange student from Brazil. His name is Tiago and he is here for the school year.

We hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year. We love you all and wish you the best. We love our Savior, Jesus Christ, and are glad to have this time of year to celebrate His birth.

With love,
The Wardles

Moview Night: ***Sunday in the Park with George; *^Solitary; ***Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

"Sunday in the Park With George" I got through NETFLIX.  I would have scored this movie higher, but tired of listening to Bernadette Peters say "George." I don't know how many times she said this, but it was too many.  This movie stars Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin in two roles.  The songs are intriguing.  "The hat" grows on you, and his singing of the colors is fascinating.  But the song I most enjoyed is "Move On:"
Stop worrying where you're going-
Move on
If you can know where you're going
You've gone
Just keep moving on

I chose, and my world was shaken-
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not
You have to move on

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you'll be-
Look at all the things you've done for me

Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree-

...Just keep moving on
Anything you do
Let it come from you
Then it will be new
Give us more to see...


"Solitary" is available through Netlix Instant.  This is a strange movie about a woman who loses her husband, and the twist in the end is that she is really in a coma.  Sort of strange.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" I saw on Dish USA Network and recording it so I could skip the commercials.  I had never seen it before.  If I compared it to the other Indiana Jones films it comes up a bit flat.  However if I compare it to other action adventures it is a fun romp.  I especially like it that the bring in a son, and a marriage at the end.  The parallel universe left me a bit flat.  It is gong of the theme that the gods are aliens.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ace Train 14: Caltrain Train Barn

On of the most impressive things along the train route, is the CalTrain Barn.  This is just before Diridon Station in San Jose.  CalTrain goes from Gilroy to San Francisco, and runs parallel with the Ace Train for a few miles just before Santa Clara Station to Diridon Station.  The train barn has facilities to clean the trains, and barns for where they can work on the trains.  It is really quite impressive.  It would make Thomas jealous.

Life in Manteca: 27: Crime

Last week the family went to see the new "Twilight" movie while I was at work.  After, I heard the story a couple of times of how some of the cars of friends were burglarized during the movie.  One car they had attempted to cut the lock from the door.  They did not succeed in getting into the car, but did succeed in causing extensive damage.  The other car they apparently got into the trunk.  They stole a Canon camera reported to be worth $1000.  It happened to be the vehicle of a police officer and they stole his bullet proof vest.

Shortly after we moved in, someone tried to break into our house while we were gone.  Fortunately we had an alarm installed and it scared them away.  However, in the same week, our neighbor's home was burglarized and jewelry stolen and sentimental items.  

In Manteca there have been a couple incidents which have been in the news.  Some people were pulling up a private train track, with the intent of reselling the metal.  There was an officer shooting of someone for whom they had a warrant.  I drove past this incident, wondering what was going on, and later saw it in the paper.  Then there was someone running away from the police, ran onto the freeway, stopped a car and high jacked it.  This process caused a motorcyclist to crash, trying to avoid the freeway traffic, killing him.

I am left with the question of whether crime is more or less in Cupertino than here.  Once, many years ago, while Sheri was at the doctor's in San Jose, our car was broken into, leaving us without a stereo and a broken window.  Another time our home, in San Jose, was burglarized. As many may know there was a multiple homicide in Cupertino since we moved.  This was at the cement quarry.  When we were over for an event, we drove up the street where the gunman was confronted by police, and killed himself.  This wasn't very far from our old house, although the quarry was the other side of town. 

Are we less secure than we were a few years ago?  Is crime more rampant?  Maybe it is a sign of the times, but I don't have to like it.  We are doing everything we can to be safe.

Thanksgiving 2011

Sheri roasted a big turkey and we had a big crowd for Thanksgiving yesterday.  A few pictures to highlight the day.  I went the day before and gathered chairs from Diana's, and went to the grocery store for last item shopping.  Sheri had done the big shopping the week before.

Randy and Mom decorated.  We all cleaned.  Mom roasted the turkey,

while Caleb, I, and Tiago, and later joined by Jeremy and Kayla went to the Turkey Bowl of the Sycamore Ward.  I am the dirtiest which means I played the hardest.  Actually I missed Caleb going around the end, and went sliding through the wet grass.

Jeremy made the rolls.  (He had to leave before the feast.)  He used the recipe he uses at work for the Bluebird in Logan.  I filled water pitchers, but the corn in a bowl, poured drippings in a pan for gravy, and peeled taters.  Gary, Mark's brother carved the turkey.

We had the Normans over.  This included Mark and Diana as well as Mark's brother and his family.  We usually go to Diana's house, but have the same group for Thanksgiving.  We also had friends of Mark and Diana, Rocky and Kaylee and their baby Reggie (four months old, big blue eyes, dark hair with a black flower in her hair.)  I got a couple turns to hold her.  The day also included watching the end of a football game, watching "Sherlock Holmes" and game playing.  Tony found a friend in Rachel, and played for hours in his room.  They had fun playing with balloons.  After things slowed down we rehearsed the song we are singing Sunday for the Stake Choir Concert. 

Christmas Planning 2011

There are so many things going on this Christmas Season that planning for Christmas is somewhat hectic.  There has to be a balance between getting the mood of the season, and doing too much.  This Sunday is our Stake Choir music festival.  The choir has been rehearsing for the past couple months, and it is going to be a fun program.  Additionally we are singing as a family.  It should be fun.  We also have a couple of ward parties, relief society party and  Ward Christmas party.  I think we will be singing at each of these as well.

The festivities at the Temple start tomorrow.  http://www.templehillevents.com/Full_Details.html
Every year they have presentations about every night at Temple Hill.  It is all free.  This year is going to be especially fun.  A coworker's daughter is in the "Nutcracker" presentation. There is another Christ centered ballet at the temple, "Behold, the Gift."  Zion's Choir also performs at temple hill, but we are thinking of catching them at the Palo Alto Creche exhibit.  The day they perform there is also a marionette show.  There will also be lots of creche exhibits.  I think it is this exhibit that motivated Sheri to start collecting creche exhibits.  We will have them about the house this weekend.  It will be fun putting them into our new house and seeing how they fit.  We still have our first creche scene that my sister fired for us and gave us for our wedding many years ago.  There is also a creche exhibit in Modesto, but we want to hear the choir, and this gives us a chance to do two things at the same time.

There is also the annual Christmas party that my sister puts on.  It is a fun evening and includes us, my sister's family and Mark's brother's family--and any other family members who are in the area.  We are wondering a bout doing a family home evening sing-along.  In the past we have gone to these at the Ortons or the Struks in Cupertino.  We are wondering if we want to continue the tradtiton and invite a few families over for a musical evening.