Monday, May 21, 2012

The House of the Lord--just down the street!

I grew up close to the Mesa AZ Temple, which looks a little different on the outside than other LDS temples, but is absolutely wonderful and beautiful on the inside.--just like all LDS temples. The Mesa temple doesn't have an Angel Moroni on top.  Most others do.

I loved growing up close to the temple and feeling of its influence.  So when the Gilbert Temple was announced over a year ago, I was THRILLED, to say the least.  And it's just 2 miles away.  We've watched and watched this past year as the construction has developed.  Last week, I pulled my kids out of school to see the Angel Moroni lifted up by a crane and placed on top of the temple. 

Thanks to a few friends, I got some great pictures of the event.  My camera's battery was dead--bad timing!

It was one of the most exciting events I have ever been to.  There were lots of people on all the corners of the intersection and at the park across the street, waiting with cameras in hand to catch this historical event.  I felt this quiet, exciting energy that sometimes, out of nowhere, erupted into little outbursts of cheers and screams.  I felt like cheering like I did during high school football games, yet at the same time I felt such a sense of reverence and respect, and lots of gratitude that I could be so close.  Those feelings brought on lots of tears during the event.

The most memorable time came after the crane lifted the gold covered statue up on top of the temple.  A few workers got it fitted just right, then the crane let the statue down--slowly, ever so slowly, until it finally rested on the top of the temple.  Immediately at that moment, the whole intersection, full of people, started cheering and clapping.  We could hear it over all the noise of construction and traffic.  Then came a quiet silence from all the people.  No one moved for a moment, but still--all eyes were on the temple.  The silence and feelings of reverence were tangible and lasted a few minutes before people started going their separate ways.  It was a wonderful feeling.

We talked as a family later that evening about lucky we were to be there that day.  My kids felt the Spirit there and have continued to mention how awesome it was to be there.  What a blessing to be so close to the House of the Lord!

For more information on LDS temples, go to

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us---14 Years Old

A fun tradition for our family is to celebrate our "Family Birthday" each year, on our wedding anniversary.  Since we were in NYC this past, we planned an extra fun and special family campout the following week for our family birthday party.

A few weeks prior, John and I told our kids about going camping and asked them to start thinking of three things about our family:  1-one thing they DON'T like about our family, 2-one thing they LOVE that we do as a family, and 3-one thing they would like to start doing as a family.  (Comes from "Start, Stop, Continue" that John learned at Woodbadge Scout training).

We told them not to talk about it, but just think on it.  We reminded them almost daily to continue thinking about it. 

Then, around the campfire up in the pines, we gave each child time to tell his/her thoughts about those three things.  We took notes, we listened, we asked questions, and we had some great discussions.

The following day while on a hike, we found a nice spot to continue our family council and discussed all the starts, all the stops, and all the continues.  Then we chose one new thing to start doing as a family, and picked one thing to try to stop doing in our family.  We came up with a code word that would help remind us what that "stop" was. 

I loved the fact that our kids are getting old enough where we can have these kinds of meaningful discussions, where everyone can participate, where feelings are validated, and where John and I can give direction and parental feedback.  It was a good time, to say the least!

Kate couldn't get enough of her little princess camp chair.  Just the perfect size.
  This picture doesn't do justice when it comes to how dirty their little faces were.  Nothing like playing in the dirt, then eating food with your hands and never washing them.

John and all his girls.  They LLLOOOVVVEEE their daddy.
  All six in a row.
 And, as it was Mother's Day weekend, I got a few pictures with my precious darlings.  I LOVE being a mom to these kids.
We sang "Happy Birthday to Us", we ate lots of treats and junkfood (like a whole Costco bag of trail mix and about 40 mini-sized candy bars, in less than 24 hours), we collected wild flowers, we sang together, caught a family of caterpillers, hiked, we told funny stories, and we loved being together.

Cheers to the start of another happy year in the LeSueur Family.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy 14th Anniversary--New York City

John was invited to a National Energy Conference in New York City, and it happened to fall on the week of our anniversary.  So we bought me a ticket, added a few days on the end of his "business trip", and enjoyed a super fun, memorable week together.

We flew in Tuesday early morning and left Saturday early morning.  We walked a ton, saw everything there is to see in NYC, visited lots of historical places, had plenty of time to play and rest, we ate a ton of amazing food, and we lived it up in that exciting city. 

John's business conference put us up in the famous Waldorf=Astoria Hotel for the first few nights.  Wow-I totally felt out of place as other women were walking around in their formal gowns with bling bling all over, most men were in nice suits and tuxedos.  Then there's me that never dresses up and had to borrow jewelry from a friend to fit in (because I don't own anything nice enough).

To recap:  we saw Time Square, Grand Central Station, Central Park, the LDS temple, Broadway, Wicked on Broadway, Staten Island Ferry, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Ground Zero Museum/Memorial, Carnegie Hall, Wall Street, the NY Stock Exchange, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Juilliard, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Garment District, the Brooklyn Bridge, Battery Park, and Madison Square Gardens.

I was "selected" to enter a hula hoop contest on Time Square.  Won a cool t-shirt!  I'm pretty sure I still hold the World's Best Hula Hoopster title. . . since 5th grade when I earned it.
Time Square was a crazy, busy, exciting place to hang out and "people-watch".  I was amazed at how many people were there, mid day in the middle of the week.  Then on Friday night we walked there and it was about 3 times as packed.  Lots of interesting people, to say the least.  There was tons of shows, shopping, restaurants, and cool places to visit on Time Square.  John's favorite was the M&M Store, mine was the Hershey Store.

 Here's Ground Zero, now with a really cool 9/11 Memorial built in it's place.  There are two pools with fountains, each sitting where the twin towers used to be.  Lots and lots and lots of names are inscribed along the sides of the pools of those who lost their lives during that tragedy.

 New York Stock Exchange, on Wall Street

The new "Freedom Tower" (replacing the twin towers) is still under construction, but will be the tallest sky scraper in America.  We couldn't even see the top of the building because it was up in the clouds.

Here'es John, with the tower directly behind him.

The famous Brooklyn Bridge was pretty cool.  It's almost 1.5 miles accross, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn.  The car traffic is on the bottom level, and lots of people traffic on the top.  We walked across at dusk and enjoyed beautiful views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.

We took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty (picture above).

Walking through Chinatown felt like we were in a different country.  Hardly any English was spoken or seen on signs.  We enjoyed seeing the culture, but didn't dare eat anything through that part of town.  The whole little community smelled like raw fish because of all their outdoor grocery markets.

The LDS temple blended in with the rest of the city, except for the gold Moroni statue on top.  The first level of the building is used for offices and the family history department.  The secone level is a chapel, and the third through fifth level is the temple. 

Real New York Cheesecake.  The biggest, fattest, largest piece of cheesecake I've ever seen.  Absolutey sinful, delicious, out-of-this-world!  When I ordered it, the waiter told me that it might take a month at the gym to work off, but that everyone in the past said it's definitely worth it.  And I'd have to agree.  

And then there's John's weakness. 

John attended meetings all day Wednesday, and I was all to myself for the day.  I'm pretty sure it was the most relaxing, fun, rejuvinating day I've had in my whole life.  I slept in, then read a book in bed for a while, then put on my Garmin watch and running shoes and headed to Central Park.  I ran about 10 miles throughout the park and didn't even see a fourth of what there was to see.  Then I found myself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, spent over an hour there enjoying myself.  Then I ran back to the hotel, sat in the tub, read some more, then enjoyed a black-tie dinner with John.  I've decided that Central Park is the best thing in the world (next to NY cheesecake).  And if I ever find myself homeless, I'm going to live there.

It's pretty fun hanging out with your best friend and having all the time in the world to do whatever, whenever for five days.  We lived it up and played hard,  then came home totally and completely exhausted!  All we have left are memories.

Now. . . back to reality!

PS-the kids did amazingly well in our absence, and we hardly missed them (sad, but true).  They were glad to have us home again, and we were glad to be back home.  All together again.