Monday, December 29, 2008


For anyone who thinks that it is always wonderful in paradise...
Here is an after picture of an hour of my life today. (I spared you the "before" because it is way nast-o!) These are my garbage cans after they have been bleached and scrubbed. I have to do this about every 3 months because of all the disgusting green and black mold that grows on everything is paradise. I even have to use a clorox wipe on my shoes if I haven't worn them for a while.

Thank Heaven for clorox!

(Emily, if you ever need a vacation from cleaning your own house, just call me and you can come and help me clean mine!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2008 - Peterson Style!

Finally, as promised... our year in review. This has been a fun and adventurous year for the Peterson Ohana. We started off this year in Utah. On January 2nd, Jeff's little sister was married to Jon Call in the Salt Lake Temple.

Those of us who married into the Peterson family are known as the "Outlaw Posse," and now the posse is complete. Jon is the fourth proud member of crazy people who picked this family! I love my in-laws - I couldn't ask for better! The wedding was so fun, the only person from Jeff's family who couldn't make it was Eric. (Guess what Adi, I finally found my purple shirt!)

The best part of our trip to Utah was all the beautiful snow. Oh, how we miss the snow! We had just enough snow gear for all the kids and the dad so they played in the snow until their noses were pink and their toes were frozen. Then it was back inside Grandma Nori's house for hot chocolate and Nintendo. There were so many cousins running around that house, I'm amazed that the roof didn't fall in.

In May, Jackson was baptized. All of his grandparents were able to attend and both grandpas and Uncle Dean participated in the confirmation. Jackson was given 9 leis of various styles, what a fun memory. It was a neat experience.

For the musical number, Jackson wanted to play the ukulele and he asked Jeffrey to play the piano. He chose the song, Baptism, and he asked Jeff, Kevin and I to sing. That was the first (and probably last) performance of the VonPeterson Family singers.

Jackson is such a sweet boy. We are so proud of the decision he made to be baptized and to try so hard to do what is right. I couldn't ask for a better boy! It's funny how much Jackson reminds me of my brother, Sam. I have started seeking advice from my big brother on how to work with this special spirit.

While Jeff's parents were here in April, we decided to take a trip to the big Island, Hawaii. We spent a few days hiking in Volcano National Park. What a treat! This was probably our favorite adventure this year. The best part was our helicopter ride. It was a doors-off tour and we were able to feel the heat of the lava flowing under us. We were also able to see the lava flow into the ocean and explode! It was a dream come true.

Most of the black sand beaches are gone from Hawaii. This is a relatively new beach and it was amazing! I had seen pictures of the black sand but it just doesn't do justice. The sand literally glistens. It was fantastic! We spent a few days on the Kona side of the island, too but it wasn't nearly as cool as the volcanoes. We did get to go to the temple and that is always a wonderful experience. We also were able to do a night dive with the manta rays. I'm not a diver so I snorkeled with Jeff's dad. The manta rays were amazing. They are up to about 16 feet across and so graceful. They naturally don't have stingers so it is safe to be around them. Anyway, you hold a flashlight above your head and the rays swoop down to eat the plankton that follows the light. It was pretty freaky (Jeff called it wonderful.) If you want to see the company we dived with, check this out

We always have a lot of fun when people come to visit us! (Don't you wish that you were visiting us... it's not too late!) But when Jeff's parents are here, it is marathon tourist time. I'm pretty sure they have seen more of this island than we have. We usually get distracted by the beach.

On one of our adventures, we found this cool waterfall. I love this picture even though I'm in a swimsuit.

May Day is a holiday like no other at Kalaheo Elementary School. Each grade performs a different hula. The third graders showed off with a contemporary hula. (Jeffrey is really turning into quite the little performer.) He is playing the clarinet in the Kalaheo School band (this is their first year, thanks to a Vh1-save the music grant.) He told Mr. Griffith, his band teacher, that he wasn't challenged enough so he is starting to learn some new notes on his own.

Jeffrey is also playing Mr. Bucket in the school play now that he is in fourth grade. Needless to say, he's having a lot of fun!

Jackson's class performed a Tahitian style dance. (He pronounces it, Ti-hee-shon!) I don't think I have every seen him so excited to do anything in his whole life. He practiced so much. We are fortunate enough to have a full-time music teacher at our school. He works with all the grades and his love of music is contageous! It is a huge blessing in our lives.

We are also blessed to have Hawaiiana teachers in every grade. The kids have learned so much about the culture and the history of the Hawaiian people. I am so grateful that my kids are having this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even if they do speak pidgen more than I'd like.

The kindergarteners performed a traditional knife dance (with cardboard knives, of course!)

We have been so blessed this year with an amazing teacher for Kevin! Mrs. Garlie loves him to pieces and he is blossoming in her care. I couldn't have hoped for more. It's amazing how much a teacher who cares can change a child's desire to learn. Thank Heaven for all the teachers who have blessed my children's life (and mine!)

Cubscouts has been so much fun, too. The boys have amazing leaders and they look forward to scouts every week. Jackson earned his bobcat in June.

When they give the award, they put the patch on upside down until the scout does a good deed and then they can turn it around. But instead of just putting the patch on upside down, they turn the scout upside down to pin it on! It's a good thing that Jeff is tough because my boys are not light! (Well, maybe Kevin is.)

A few years ago, Jeff's mom and dad gave us a piano because they wanted our kids to have music in their lives. This year we are really beginning to see the blessing of that gift. The boys had their first piano recital. What a sweet opportunity to see them play for friends and family. Jeffrey even did a duet with Miss Jackie, his teacher. Kevin hasn't started playing yet but his days of no piano practice are numbered.

This is our new rock wall. Our backyard used to be a big, ugly hill. Then it became this big beautiful wall with so much potential. Now it is a big wall with lots of weeds. We are having a hard time finding time to finish the planting, building the sprinkler system, all that stuff. Someday...

Kevin took a pretty good tumble on his bike in the fall. The boys were riding down a hill and Jeffrey cut in front of Kevin and clipped his tire. Kevin flew over the handlebars and split his eyebrow open. He ended up with 3 big 'ol stitches and some serious road rash. Since he was closer to his friends house than ours, he went to Debbie. She is such a sweetheart that she cleaned him up and called me to come and get him. So when I got there, most of the gore had already been cleaned up and I just had to take him in for sttiches. Now he has another cool scar on his face to go with all the rest. I think he's going for the rugged look when he gets older.

My mom, Lucy, my grandma, Inga, and her sister, Mary, came to see us this fall. It was a wonderful opportunity because this was their first time in Hawaii (except my mom who has been here 3 times now and 4 in the spring!) My great-grandparents served part of their mission in Oahu when they were waiting for their visas. So we were able to go over to the Lai'e Temple Visitor's Center where my Great-Grandpa worked as a construction supervisor. It was so fun to see how excited these sweet ladies were to see the place that their parents served part of their mission.

I went all out (or I went crazy, however you want to look at it) and I made a costume for Jeff this year. My mom made my costume and I thought it would be fun for Jeff and I to go together this year so I made him a pharoah costume to go with my Cleopatra outfit. It was pretty fun.

One of my favorite things is my hula class. My kumu hula (hula teacher,) Auntie Nani, retired last fall and we joined a new halau (group.) I love my new kumu, La'amea, so much. She is a wonderful teacher and an amazing dancer. Most of the time I would just rather watch her dance! Hula is really hard and so many times I almost quit. The words and the moves seem to leave my brain faster than they enter but I push forward and eventually enough sticks that I can follow. And every week I am excited that I have learned a little more and that I am getting a little better. This picture is me with my Kumu La'amea.

This is my whole Halau at Ho'ike. This is a celebration of hula and all those who have come before us to pass on this beautiful culture through songs and dance. I am so grateful for this opportunity!

Last but not least, I pay homage to the amazing Jeff. His sandcastle building skills are AMAZING! Can I just tell you how impressed I am by him? It is so fun to watch him spend 5 hours on a castle and to see the amazed beach-goers. He has pretty much forsaken all activities in the water because he loves these castles so much.

Well, 2008 has been an amazing year. It has been filled with many wonderful adventures and many wonderful friends. We have also had some major disappointments this year. but we learn through them all and we learn to turn more and more to our Heavenly Father for comfort, peace and direction.

My God Bless you today and always, my friends - Aloha!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Year update to come SOON

I know I promised an update in my Christmas letter and it will be coming soon. My life just keeps getting in the way. Everyone always said that someday I would be so busy that I could hardly get a minute to myself. Well that time is here (and I think that it is just going to get better...)

What I learned in seminary today.

This morning in seminary, we watched the video, To This End was I Born. I haven't seen that video since high school and I was amazed how much I remembered. I knew that it had a profound impact on me then. We used to call it, "the video."

It was such a blessing to be able to see this movie and to be reminded at this Christmastime of the gift that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have given us. Even though I can't watch the whole video, I am so touched by the many difficult trials and abuses that the Savior was subject to. As I watched the video today and pondered on all that we have studied that last few weeks, my heart hurt. The atonement has been so real for me over the last few years. I truly believe that I have the opportunity to be with my family forever and to be forgiven of my sins. I know that it is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that I can return to my Heavenly Father. No other gift even compares.

Even though I can't actually watch the part of the movie when the Savior is scourged or when they nail him to the cross, I am tremendously aware of the pain he went through on my behalf. And yet, the part of the movie that I remembered least was the part that had the most impact on me today. As Peter runs back to the tomb and sees for himself that it is empty, the burial clothes are folded neatly and he sees for himself that all that Jesus testified of was true. The Savior then appears in paradise. He embraces a man and I am left to wonder about the day when I will be able to embrace my Lord and thank Him for all He has done for me. I know that Heavenly Father loves me and that Jesus Christ died for me and I will forever be grateful for that knowledge and how it leads my life.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oh crap! (Pardon my French...)

So Jackson has a parasite, diantaomeba fragilis, ew! Now we have to test all of our kids for this happy little parasite. I always thought that vomit was the worst thing to have to deal with as a parent, I was wrong!