Saturday, July 30, 2016

Elden & Lena Bartholomew Family Reunion 2016

We made it to our second reunion this summer to Sharon, Vermont.  We woke up early Saturday morning to travel to Vermont for the Elden and Lena Bartholomew Family Reunion.  My dad was "in charge" of the reunion this year and wanted to hold it in Sharon, Vermont where Joseph Smith was born.  We met at the visitor center there.  I enjoyed visiting with some of my cousins who came.
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Here is the outer foundation of the house that Joseph Smith was born.  Not very big!  Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith lived on the Solomon Mack farm for a time---Lucy's father.
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After spending some time at the visitor center we headed over to Camp Joseph, which is a church camp.  Clark headed out with some second cousins to go kayaking.  Sadly none of us had a clue as to the lake's location, and no one asked.  In the end the lake was very, very close, and Clark and crew wandered around for about an hour or so hiking around with kayaks.  They never made it to the water.
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Some people made it to the water!
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The main lodge was great.  There was a big fireplace inside and a terrific view of Vermont greenery/scenery.  I kept thinking, wow, it would be so fun to be snowed in here! Someday I would like to go to Vermont during the winter, rent a cabin, go skiing and be cozy in a cabin.
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We had a great family meeting.  I even heard some cool family stories!
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Normally we do pie eating contests, but since all of us were traveling so far, no one volunteered for the task.  I did think of one game that would be fun, and easy to transport: a pudding cup challenge.  The contest was to see who could drink the pudding the fastest with a straw.  It proved quite difficult. Not a pie eating contest, but still fun.
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On Sunday we enjoyed going to church at the nearby church building.  Sadly it rained most of the time we were there or else we would have walked to church that morning.  The church members have such a pretty church building with lots of woodwork and trim.  We had a big crowd visiting, which I think is always fun.  I love seeing how many rows we can fill up in the chapel with just my family.

My cousin Cindy mentioned how she loved hearing the comments and testimonies of her other cousins while at church--definitely a benefit of staying for all of church!  I didn't think much of it till lately.  We would have missed out hearing those wonderful things if we had only stayed for sacrament meeting.

It happened to be Cindy's birthday that day too--the big 45!  We didn't have a cake, and did even know that it was her birthday!  I had a rare creative streak and thought of a little something for her to blow out---a big marshmallow number.
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We stuck a match in each marshmallow.  I was determined to light all the matches.  There were four of us and I thought it would work.  One of my nieces kept blowing out a her match, but right over the matches we wanted lit, so that was counter-productive, ha ha.
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We finally ended up singing to her.
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Not bad for camping, right?!
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Later that afternoon the kids enjoyed each other outside and later we went on a walk to see the foundation of Solomon Mack's home and Solomon's son's house that was also on the same property.
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We slept in cabins while we were there and had a great time visiting and eating!  Thanks for hosting the reunion Mom and Dad!  I'm glad we were able to attend.  I've loved showing my kids church historic sites that I visited when I was a kid/teenager.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New York State Pit Stop

In between the two reunions we decided on two stops.  First, Niagara Falls.  Before that though we spent the night at Darrell and Stacie's rental!  They rent out the bottom half to some sister missionaries for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But the upstairs is empty, with another unit!  I wasn't sure about where to spend the night before heading to New York. I knew I wanted to drive a couple of hours before we stopped for the night.  It was so nice of them to let us stay there!  We got up early around 5?  Can't many early mornings...  We had breakfast, loaded up and headed out. 

Breakfast on the balcony.
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Their rental house. Right now Lee and I would like to own some rental houses someday.  Maybe we won't like it once we actually have them, but we are still planning on having a handful someday. 
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We made it!  Before Niagara Falls, we stopped somewhere to get an oil change.  We were the only customers there.  While they changed the oil in our vehicle we all did a bathroom break.  Well, the guys were done with our vehicle before we all made it through the bathroom!  Didn't help that there was only one.  Pretty funny though, and glad that the oil change stop was fairly quick.
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We drove a few blocks, parking street side next to a hotel.  Out in their yard they have a cute fun family area. 
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We walked over to the park and eventually made it down to the Maid of the Mist.
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Not very tall falls, but still fun to see.  I hear they are amazing at night with all the fun lights!
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We didn't have to wait too long to get on the boat which was great.
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And lest you think our trips are perfect and all smiles, they aren't.  We did have a great time, but we all have our moments.  On the boat ride out to the falls a couple of kids were mad about where they had to stand, and were being loud and unpleasant.  I was not happy with how they were acting.  Thankfully everyone was happy further on into the boat ride. 
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The hotel we parked by had a gift shop.  I bought some t-shirts there and some of the kids bought some things too.  Like pop and kool-aid type drinks, ha ha. When we drive long distances they aren't allowed to drink anything other than water.  I don't like stopping for bathroom breaks! The kids starting saving for the "Utah Trip" way back in January or February.  (We need to change the name to "Nevada Trip").  I realize at this point on our travels we weren't even near Utah or Nevada, but that is the general name the kids' use when talking about our summer travel destinations.  Anyway, we match them in their savings up to $20 each.  I think almost all of them saved well over $50.  That's pretty good considering some only earn $2 spending money each week (they earn other money but that is for tithing and savings).  And they had to save their spending money.  Their money in savings isn't for vacations right now.  Even Elden saved and saved week after week.  I was very impressed.
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We had lunch in the fun courtyard area.  Lee and some kids checked out a Barnes and Nobles across the street. 
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The bookstore wasn't too exciting...I don't think it's a regular Barnes and Noble...but they did find a bakery!  The building across the street from the hotel we parked by is for the Culinary Institute of Niagara Falls.  The goodies, gelato and what not in the bakery are made by the students. We enjoyed picking out a treat.
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Next stop in New York: Palmyra. We met up with my family to go to the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  The pageant shows a brief overview of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith's part in bring forth this wonderful word of God.  Lodging for this part of the trip was at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.  The manager said we could camp wherever we wanted.  It was funny that it happened to be the Beer Garden area that looked the best.
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We set up camp, and I organized all of our stuff.  Noodles and sauce for dinner....
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I love this butane stove!
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That night I was to meet my sisters at the Palmyra Temple.  I didn't know if anyone would make it as they were visiting other church historical sites.  While I was in the temple the kids went to Walmart with Lee to buy things with their vacation money, ha ha.
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One of my sisters did make it!  Lena and I had a peaceful, lovely time there.  I'm so glad she made the effort to go as it was a pretty tight schedule for her and her family.
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The next morning we visited the Sacred Grove.  It's the same forest where Joseph Smith went to pray one spring morning.  He didn't know which church to join and decided to ask God about it.  Not only did he receive and answer to his prayer but God and Jesus Christ both appeared to him.  We enjoyed a nice walk though the grove and Cal suggested we have a special family prayer.  Thankfully there wasn't any arguing while we were there.
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As wonderful as it is to visit historical places of great significance, it's more important to live our lives in a way pleasing to God.  But I do feel very grateful that I can bring my kids to these places where such miraculous things happened!

Near the grove is the Smith home, and the Smith log cabin.  Alvin, Joseph's older brother, started building this home as he was engaged to be married.  Unfortunately he died, and the house was only partially done.  Alvin's parents finished the home and moved in later. 
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After Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ, a few years later he was visited by an angel Moroni who commanded Joseph to get an ancient record buried in a nearby hill, and translate that record.  The record was made of gold, hence them being called the gold, or golden, plates.  Many people tried to take these from Joseph.  One night a mob came to this house, burst in and search all over.  Joseph placed the plates between two of his sisters who were already in bed.  They pretended to be asleep as the mob came into their room.  Shanna and Haley were asked to act out part of this story. 
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The plates were hid inside one of the fireplaces in this home too.
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After the Sacred Grove area, we headed to the Hill Cumorah area.  The Hill Cumorah is where Joseph found the plates buried, a couple miles from his home. We met up with family and saved seats for the upcoming pageant that night. 
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We hiked to the top of Hill Cumorah.
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After lunch we headed to the Grandin Building.  After Joseph Smith translated the gold plates, the book was first printed here in this building. And the book is the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Mr. Grandin turned Joseph down at first for publishing it.  I wonder what he thinks today, peering down, seeing thousands of people wanted to visit his old print shop. He probably never guessed that his shop would be so popular!  It was fun seeing all the different equipment used for printing too.
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Everyone needs an ice cream break while doing fun stuff with family!  A local spot, the Chill n Grill did not disappoint.  And these cones are KIDDIE cones!  Not even a small!
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Wowza.  Lena was not lying when she said they were huge.  I should have opted for the half kiddie cone instead!
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After a fun potluck dinner at a church pavilion, we headed to the pageant.  It was a great idea that we saved seats early on in the day!  A youth group from Maryland had string and tape and they let us use some.  And funny enough, this same youth group, their stake young women's president was in our ward with us in Missouri!  I felt bad because at first I didn't know who she was.  Usually I am good at remembering faces, even names.  But she came up to us at the Sacred Grove, and even remembered our names.  Very fun to see her for a moment.  Also, at the pageant, we saw some friends that moved away from our ward here, the Jeppsons.  I should have taken a picture with my phone!  It was so fun visiting with them. They were part of the pageant this year.  We also saw someone from the other local ward.  Her family was participating in the pageant too.
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Horrible quality, but some of the cousins with the actor for Joseph Smith.  They did a great job with the pageant.  Unfortunately I dosed off here and there.  I think Elden fell asleep.  As far as I know all the other kids stayed awake.  If we go back again, I'll have to try harder to stay awake! 
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Farewell New York!  We had a lovely time.