Sunday, July 03, 2016

Letter to Our Missionary

Dear Elder Hallstrom,

We're doing family home evening right now.  We had a lesson on how we love our brothers and sisters.  I told my kids about how it's fun to have a brother out on a mission and read them your latest email.  They liked hearing how to pronounce words in Russian.  They are glad they didn't have to try and eat Murmunsk Salad like you did. 

Tyler wants you to know that he reads the scriptures at nighttime and I learn a lot about Jesus on the cross.  He watched some Bible videos on the computer today.  He is getting faster at running.  Uncle Mike took him to the high school track and they ran a mile.  Brian will have his lemonade stand in a few weeks and Katie will have her lemonade stand in August.  Brian is excited to paint his room downstairs.  He has been saving money to go on the extra rides at a waterpark called Cherry Hill this summer.  Brian can make peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies all by himself.  He doesn't need me anymore to help him follow those recipes.  Katie and Julia share a bedroom again. They have a hard time going to sleep because they have so much fun playing.  The girls love coloring with chalk on patio out back.  Julia is doing well getting potty trained.  Julia tries to keep up with her big sister and bothers.  At the end of July, we're driving to Colorado to visit Jenny's family.  We're looking forward to out visit. 

What kind of non- church service have you been doing in Russia?  Is it still light outside late into the night?  Tell us more about the town you're currently serving in?  Brian wants to know if you can tell him how many members of the church there is in Russia?!

Is it okay for me to email you pictures or do they only allow pictures to be sent via snail mail? 

Keep up the good work.  We pray for you and your safety and success.

Love, Lisa, Sam, Brian, Tyler, Katie, and Julia

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Best Mother's Day Poem Yet

My Mom
By: Katie

My mom has brown eyes.
I call her Mom. 
She looks like popcorn and smells like marshmallows.
Her hair is brown like mine
and her hands feel like chocolate milk. 
She helps me clean. 
She likes to do chores every morning.
We like to together jump on the trampoline. 
She is special because she cleans everyday.
My mom makes me feel sad when she is in the bathroom too long.
She loves me because she is special.
I love her because she tries to be nice.

Happy Mother's Day 2016 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happy 6th Birthday, Katie!

Years ago, I dreamed of having a daughter.  I could just visualize what she looked like as a young girl... dark brown hair, brown eyes... a mini me!  And wouldn't you know, that dream came true when Katie Jane Ward was born!  It's super fun to have a little mini me.  
Katie is so fun to have in our family.
She's always had a great head of hair.
She is very independent and likes to do things her own way.  
This girly girl loves to plan parties and picnics in our backyard.  
She is a little artist and has a wonderful imagination.
Katie's birthday is at a great time of year... 
the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break.  
She ran in her first Wildcat Run three days before her birthday.  
She had fun running the half mile with her daddy and the rest of the kindergartners.
That same day, Katie's class celebrated her birthday.  Her teacher and classmates made a special birthday crown for her to wear in class.  Some of her classmates had some very nice things to say about her:
- Katie is fun!  ~Allyah
- Katie is good at school. ~ Maritza
- Katie is happy. ~ Eduardo 
- Katie is nice. ~ Shayla
- I like to play with her. ~ MaKenna
- Katie is smart. ~ Moo
- Katie is a good friend. ~ Trindon
- Katie is kind. ~ Carson

This year Katie had a character party in our backyard.  We told all of her friends to come dressed as their favorite princess, superhero, or whatever.  Katie couldn't decide what she wanted to dress up as, so she chose two characters: Spiderman and Donatello the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.  She was so happy at her party.  All of the other girls dressed up as princesses and Sawyer Griffiths dressed up as a ninja.  The kids made bracelets, played a Spiderman web bean bag toss game, and then the kids  decorated their own cupcakes.  The kids went outside and we opened presents.  One of Katie's friends, Penny Wheelright, gave her the game Pie Face.  It was super funny to watch the kids play that game.  I'm glad it stopped raining so the kids could go and play outside.  

It's been a fun year watching Katie come out of her shell more.  
She's super excited for the summer.  
She will be taking ballet, participating in summer playground group, going to family reunions, etc.

Katie, we love you so much!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Letter to Uncle Ryan (Elder Hallstrom)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hi Elder Hallstrom!

I want to see a picture of you in your awesome Russian coat!  How was the Russian Orthodox Christmas?  Did you do anything special to celebrate?  How is Sergei's apartment cleaning coming along?  I've helped clean super yucky trailers before which have needed tons of elbow grease to get anything clean.  How are you and Elder Larson getting along?  Where is he from?  

Did you get my Christmas letter and family picture yet?  I hope so.

This year, our ward meets from 9am-noon.  I now teach the Sunbeams with a Japanese lady named Asami Flake.  She has 4 kids like me and lives two streets over from us.  Anyway, we have had 7 Sunbeams in class so far.  They are very active kids but I think we do a good job keeping them busy and learning.  I kind of miss doing singing time every week, but it's nice not to have to plan out what we're doing every week in learning the Primary songs.  I think it's nice that all the kids in my class already know me from coming into Nursery and doing singing time with them last year.  

Brian has been a part of his school's Lego Robotics League.  They had a regional competition yesterday at Utah State University here in Logan.  Sam went with Brian and they were gone most of the day.  His team did well, but they were not one of the top teams.  They will not be moving on to the championship this year.  Brian enjoyed being a part of that group though.

Tyler is 8 years old now.  He was baptized on our Stake's Baptism Day on Jan. 2nd.  The water heater wasn't working that day, but Sam still baptized Tyler in the freezing cold water.  We had a pizza party afterwards at our house for the family members that came that day.  Two of Tyler's friends from church came to his baptism as well.  Tyler wants me to tell you that he got a crossbow for his birthday!  He likes to practice target shooting in the backyard.  Tyler is excited to be in Cub Scouts.  

Katie sure enjoys morning kindergarten.  Sam drops of the kids at school on their way to work.  Katie is good about getting her homework done before the boys come home from school.  She is learning how to read and lost her first tooth right before Christmas.  Katie is still in love with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She practices drawing Ninja Turtles on the back of her school papers.  She is quite the artist.  

Julia is in her second year of nursery at church.  She has no fear of her new classroom and new teachers.  She is super smart and knows how to get what she wants most of the time.  Julia got an Anna costume (from the movie, "Frozen") for Christmas.  She wants to wear her costume everyday.  Julia loves to watch YouTube videos of kids playing with Disney Princess toys.  

Sam has been working long hours for several months.  But since the start of the new year, he's home from work about 5:15pm, which is nice.  The boys are prepping for the Pinewood Derby at the end of the month.  Sam is good to help them create their derby cars.  He'll be taking the boys to his work to use their tools to cut the shape of their cars.  We're excited to see what they come up with.

Anyway, I just wanted to write you an email with a little update.  We pray for you often.  We are blessed to have you as an example to our kids in serving as a faithful missionary.      Keep up the good work.  

Love, Lisa

Letter to Russia

March 3, 2016

Dear Elder Hallstrom- 

HAPPY 19th BIRTHDAY!!!  We love you so much and miss you tons.  We hope you have a good time celebrating your birthday this week.  Does your mission have any random birthday traditions?  

I wanted to let you know how much I admire you, my youngest brother.  You're the youngest of the Hallstrom 10.  I bet it is super fun, yet kind of strange growing up as the youngest.  The day you came home from the hospital, I pretended I wasn't feeling well and stayed home from school so I could hang out with you.  You are such a fun person to be around.  I love how you easily make friends with the older generation and like to do some things "the old fashioned way."  I think it's so cool how you've taken a particular interest (calligraphy) and have taught yourself how to perfect your own style.  I am taking a modern calligraphy writing class using brush pens.  I haven't made much time to practice yet, but I've enjoyed it so far.  I'll have to send you a sample of my fancy calligraphy sometime.  Hey, do you still have that envelope I mailed you of the Primary pics my ward put together?!  I hope sometime on your mission you'll be in a ward/branch that has a Primary that you can share it with.  Let me know when that happens.  Our Primary would love to hear back from Primary children in Russia.  If there's no interest in the Primary children in writing back, you may have the church members write back.  Just an idea. 

Thank you for emailing pics of Russia.  I think it is so neat to see what it's like in other parts of the world.  Is the weather warming up or are you entering a cold season?  It's finally starting to feel like spring in Logan.  Our snow is melting and it's been in the mid 40s to low 60s the past week or so.  Brian is 11 now.  Sam took our boys and two of Brian's friends to the Jump Zone to celebrate.  They came to our house to for cake and ice cream and opening presents.  Brian LOVES birthdays.  He really wanted me to take him on a date to Pizza Pie Cafe (a pizza buffet place) for dinner.  So we did that.  And on the way home, we stopped by a nice big cooking store  that we've never been inside of.  It was fun to browse around that store.  We found out that store offers summer cooking classes for kids, so I'm going to sign Brian up.  I had an idea that night and told Brian about it.  I told him that I should get a hold of my friend who runs her own little bakery out of her home and see if she could teach Brian how to decorate cakes, how to set up a business, and sell VanWie chocolate chip cookies, strawberry ice cream cakes, fancy cupcakes, etc. to earn money towards his mission.  Brian seems excited about that idea.  

My girls have been rather mischievous lately.   Last weekend, I caught Julia cutting her own hair with kids scissors!  I had my friend and neighbor fix her hair.  Then a couple days later, Katie found scissors and gave Julia ANOTHER haircut!!!  Ahhh!  Julia's hair looks kind of wild now, but I refuse to cut it anymore.  When I take the girls on walks around the neighborhood, they like to ride their bikes.  And of course, Katie is a lot faster of a bike rider than Julia, so I have Katie wait at the corner for us to catch up to her.  After awhile, Katie got way ahead of us and continued on her merry way.  By the time Julia and I got back home, Katie wasn't there!  We search really quickly up and down a few streets.  Katie eventually rounded the corner onto our street riding fast and crying her little eyes out, thinking she'd lost us for good.  Poor girl!  I loaded their bikes up in the van and let the girls ride their bikes in the church parking lot to make them happy again.  

Anyway, we just got a pretty cool family gift... a Yamaha digital piano!  It's a really nice model and has hammer weighted keys like a real piano.  Mom mailed me some of my old piano books.  We've had fun with it.  I really want to review what I've learned over the years.  I'm so rusty with my piano playing.  I'd really like to get a simplified hymn book and start there.  Oh, Tyler wants me to tell you that he's not doing soccer this spring.  My school kids have all decided to join a running group that meets for a month or so over at the high school from mid April -mid May.  They want to prep for their end of the school year Wildcat Run.  They'll have fun running and should sleep great for that month or so.  

Well, this email could just go on and on and on.  There's always so much to tell you about.  Oh yeah, we had Grandma Hallstrom, Uncle Calvin, and our cousin, Nathan Kristjanson (who is going to school in Logan) over for dessert on Valentine's Day.  We had a few different treats that I made, one of which was a bday cake for Grandma.  She loved how we remembered and celebrated her.  I had family members (that wanted to) mail bday cards to my house for Grandma to open that night.  She's 85 now and doing well.  She comes over sometimes and spends the night.  She says it's like a vacation coming to our house.  One of the boys always gives up their bed for Grandma to sleep on and we let her sleep in as long as she needs to.  Grandma says she doesn't have to worry about Calvin while she's here.  The kids love seeing Grandma and hanging out with her.  

I guess that's enough of an update for now.  Tell me more about your missionary adventures.  What do you miss about the USA?  Tell me more about how the people do things differently in Russia.  

I leave you with a quote that stood out to me today:

  "To succeed in life, we must teach our spirit and body to work together in obedience to God's commandments." -L. Tom Perry  

I recently got out of a rut I was in for a super long time. I was so down on myself thinking I wasn't living up to my full potential because I didn't have the booming photography business I have been working towards for years. After a lot of prayer, fasting, soul searching, etc., I am finally at peace with the current season of my life. I am a wife and mom of 4 young kids, who are my pride and joy. I love the home my husband and I have created and the strong family bonds we're creating with our kids. Instead of wishing I was living in the future, when all of my kids are in school, I have switched gears in my mind to enjoy life NOW. So, I'm working diligently daily on creating the life I've been dreaming about. Life is beautiful and SO. ARE. YOU.!!!! 

I love you, Ryan!  Keep up the great work you're doing.  Know that we pray for you ... for your safety and success.  

Love, LISA (Sam, Brian, Tyler, Katie, and Julia)

Dear Elder Hallstrom

April 6, 2016

Dear Elder Hallstrom,

Thank you for the beautiful calligraphy written letter you sent us a few months ago.  How do you like your new companionship?  Tell us about where you live and more about the ward there.  Please share the packet I sent you at the MTC with the Primary kids.  We'd love to hear back from them!  

Life has been a whirlwind lately, but life has been good.  I am a substitute teacher at the best preschool in the valley.  I subbed one day so far.  It's nice that Julia gets to come with me and learn and play.  If a permanent position pops up, I want it... so Julia could go to preschool for free.   I love how well behaved the kids are and that the teachers teach them how to read before going to kindergarten.  Mark, Blue (the dog), and Tristan Gilmore came up to our  house for Easter.  We invited Nathan Kristjanson to join us for Easter dinner too.  (Nathan goes to Utah State University in Logan).  Those college boys sure know how to eat and my kids love being entertained by them.  Our ward had an egg hunt the day before Easter.  It was the best one yet... a guy brought a remote controlled plane (that he made) filled with candy filled Easter eggs, flew the plane around in the sky for a few minutes, and opened a hatch that released the eggs.  They dropped from the sky.  Little parachutes opened as the eggs made their way down to the church parking lot.  We all thought that was the coolest thing ever!  

Five of the six of us took our turns getting flu like symptoms for the day over spring break.  Sam was the lucky one who didn't get sick.  He took care of everything on Sunday when I was sick in bed watching General Conference and resting.  This summer, we have a Ward Family Reunion in Eden, Utah (up the the mountains east of Ogden).  We're also planning a trip to Colorado late July to see Jenny's family and Sam's brother's family.  I'll be signing the boys up for swimming lessons and Katie will probably take a 5 week ballet class this summer.  Katie has been begging me for about a year to try ballet.  Julia is so fun these days.  She's super independent, loves all the Disney princesses, and loves to color.  I'm soaking up all of the cute things she does everyday.  Brian is 11 now and will start Jr. High this fall.  He decided to join the band and play percussion.  Brian still loves baking with me and is determined to open up his own bakery one day.  He already has his plot of land picked out in Logan to build the bakery.  Talk about a boy with vision and a plan!  Tyler loves hanging out with his friends in our backyard... soccer, trampoline, making up games are his favorite things to do back there.  Sam is still working hard.  His work just released a new rugged handheld computer called the Mesa 2.  I wish I remembered some of the cool features it has so I could tell you.  I've been doing a lot of sorting through stuff around here... organizing and getting rid of things we don't use anymore.  I really don't like having stuff that we don't need/use taking up space.  I'm super excited that the weather is finally nice.  Sam bought himself a grill!  We've already had a couple of BBQ's so far.  In a few weeks, we're ordering a sweet table for the patio.

We hope this letter finds you well.  Have you been able to watch General Conference yet?  It was a really great Conference.  One of my favorite quotes from Conference was by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland who said, "Keep loving.  Keep trying.  Keep trusting.  Keep believing.  Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever."

Love you so much,
Lisa, Sam, Brian, Tyler, Katie, and Julia

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Favorite Indoor Hangout Spot

Where is one the most fun places to play? 
On Mom & Dad's bed of course.  
Playing with dolls and playing with blankets without a care in the world.  
Children teach us so much.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sisters in the Snow

It was a snowy but not so cold afternoon.
We had about 15 minutes before we had to pick up the boys from school.  
The girls already had on their Elsa and Anna costumes.  
When I suggested they grab their princess wands and we go outside 
and take some pictures in the snow, they were thrilled.
I went into this photoshoot with the mindset of just letting my girls play
and capture photos as their playtime unfolded. 
Here are the results:

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Playing on the Window Ledge

I've been having fun just taking pictures at home of my kids playing.
None of these photos are staged.  I didn't even tell them I was taking their pictures.
And that's the way I like it.  I like to capture moments as they happen.  
I'm loving how the black and white photos create both high impact and simplicity.

Mark and His Dog, Blue

My brother, Mark came up to visit us during Christmastime.  
He brought his Blue Heeler dog, named Blue with him.
Blue is a good dog and loved our backyard.