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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Amara's 8th Birthday on the Wizard's Train

For Amara's birthday she wanted to ride the Wizard's Train, a Harry Potter themed train ride on the Heber Valley Railroad that departed from the depot in Heber and made a roundtrip to Decker Bay (what I call the far side of Deer Creek Reservoir) and back.

Watch a google created story slideshow of it by clicking on this link: Wizard's Train Birthday Story

You may remember from my post about Lily's birthday earlier this year that Lily and Amara had struck a deal regarding the way they would be celebrating their birthdays.  Lily agreed that Amara could choose where Lily would celebrate her birthday if Lily could choose for Amara's birthday.  Amara chose Chuck E. Cheese for Lily's birthday, so that's where we went.  Lily chose the Wizard's train for Amara's birthday.  
Lily loves the Harry Potter series of books and has read them over multiple times.  Amara, not so much.  She hasn't cracked open that series on her own, although her dad did start it with her, she just hasn't had the interest.  So when Amara's birthday came, she wasn't thrilled with Lily's choice of  birthday celebration.

We did, however, have a little picnic for Amara at a park in Heber beforehand, and she got to choose what we ate.  Her only request was hotdogs.  That surprised me and Steve because every time I've made hotdogs, she turns her nose up at them and usually just ends up eating a bun.  Initially, Steve and I tried to persuade Amara toward a different food, bringing up the fact that she doesn't ever eat hotdogs when we have them, but our persuasion was just making her feel bad, like her choice wasn't good enough,and like we didn't approve of her menu planning for her birthday picnic.  I could see her holding back tears.  "Amara, I think hotdogs are a great idea.  Let's do hotdogs.  It's your birthday and you can have hotdogs!"  That made her happy again.

So, a hotdog picnic it was!  Amara loved her picnic.  Her Aunty April, Uncle Spencer, cousins Devon, and Tommy were there, as well as her grandma and grandpa Christensen and Uncle Matt.  Her grandma and grandpa Mapother came later on and wished her well on her train ride.  Along with the hotdogs, we had chips with homemade salsa, and fresh sliced peaches.  Her cake was a masterpiece.  I stacked 3 texas donuts on a plate and filled the center with mini teddy grahams and mini oreo cookies.
Then it was off to the depot, to meet Hogwarts characters and board the train.




The first characters we met were Hagrid, Dumbledore, Hermione, and Dobby.  Devon was freaked out by Dobby and wouldn't go take a picture with him.
The train does not have air conditioning, and it was a hot day, so we all sat and sweated as we waited for the departure.
Steve and I snapped photos while we waited for things to get going.




Then, when we began to move, the Harry Potter characters came around with the sorting hat and determined which "house" everyone belonged to.  Grandma was sorted into Slytherin, as far as we can remember.
The scenery was beautiful outside.
Steve was sorted into the Slytherin house.
Lily was Ravenclaw, I was Hufflepuff, Amara was Griffindor, and I don't remember everyone else.
After we were sorted, we just enjoyed the scenery and company while we waited.



Then, they came around with chocolate frogs.  They were melty chocolate goodness!

And Dumbledore came around with Bertie Botts every flavor beans and used a little spoon to dish one out to each person.
Amara got lemon cream pie, I got blueberry, and Lily had something gross.
Grandma was very hesitant to try her bean, but Lily said she could tell she had something good and wished they had switched.


Then they came around with pumpkin pastries and butter beer for everyone.  Some people thought the foam on the butter beer was yucky, but I thought it tasted good.  Too bad it was pure sugar or I would've swigged mine and everyone elses.

The ride was memorable, and I enjoyed it.  I think Amara will likely choose something much different next year, but I'm glad we got to try this train experience.  If I do one again though, I think I'd wait for cooler weather in the fall.

Incidentally, on our way back to the train station, there was a huge fire on someone's property not far from the train station.  The fire department was putting it out when we drove by.  Eek.  I think some wicked wizards were meddling in the dark arts and made a mess in our muggle world.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Amara's Dream Home

 Amara drew this picture of our dream home the other day.  I love all the details.  Cobblestone walkways to our home and our neighbors homes, TV in the living room and bed in the bedroom, a stage with 2 chairs where they will put on their outdoor performances, horse plows, a big garden with seeds that sprout as soon as you plant them, a shed we share with our neighbors for outdoor tools and things, a playground... but my favorite is probably the van pulling the load of junk.  She told me that all you have to do is fill it with junk and it drives it to the dump for you every day.  Now that's genius!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Amara's Baptism Day

 It was a special day for Amara.  It was a special day for us all!
 The third weekend in August, lots of family drove up the canyon to be there for Amara's special day.
Things started a little late, since we were locked out of the church and we had to wait for someone to open it up for us.  It all worked out okay, though.

Amara wore a white dress- the same one Lily wore on her baptism day.  Then, she and Steve got dressed into white jumpsuits for the actual baptism.



The white clothing represents cleanliness.  When you are baptized you become clean and free from your sins and you make a 2 way promise with God that you will keep his commandments and he will forgive you of your sins.  It's a rebirth, a new start, and a beautiful way to begin your journey dedicated to serving others and living as Jesus Christ would like us to.


She was a little nervous about being baptized, even though you couldn't tell.  The baptism was witnessed by Amara's grandfather Art Christensen and her Uncle Matt Christensen.  The talk on the Holy Ghost was given by Amara's grandfather, James Lauret to a congregation that consisted not only of Amara and all those who came to see her get baptised, but also those who came to see Brenton Phelps get baptized (which were not few in numbers).  There were so many in attendance that they held the talks in the chapel, and then had the children and their group go separately for the actual baptism.

I asked her about her baptism, and this is what she said,
"We tried on the small clothes, and they were a teensy bit too small, so we tried on the mediums, but those didn't work either, they were too big.  So, I had to wear the small one that didn't exactly fit me. 
"And then, once I finally got my clothes on, I went to the font and I saw dad waiting.  And once he said it was time to get into the water, I went down the steps into the water.  While I went into the water, it felt like a bathtub.  It was warm.  I wished I could stay in there forever so I could be warm.  Then once dad dunked me under, I felt the spirit, and I hadn't felt it before, but when that happened I learned what it felt like."  
She also said,
"My favorite thing at the luncheon was Aunty April's famous chocolate chip cookies and Aunty Mandy's fluff."
I was so preoccupied with other things, I got so few pictures of the people that were there and the wonderful luncheon that we had afterwards.  I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't think ahead, but if any of my family has more pictures they can send me, I'd love to have them.
Mom and April setting things up

Getting things ready for the luncheon held at the pavilion at the Stake Center.

Family members came from far away.   25 relatives came including Steve's parents and brother, his sister Laurel and her family, Beverli and her kids, my dad and Debby, my uncle David and Aunt Claudia, and my brother Micah and his family, my sister April and her family, as well as my mom.

Uncle Micah

The tables were decorated with my mom's bright tablecloths and streamers.

The sunflowers were lovingly picked by yours truly, Amara's grandma Margaret, and Amara herself.  The day before, we drove along 2000 North near our house and just clipped them from the roadside.  It was somewhat frightening because of all the bees and red ants, though.

a few of the gifts to Amara.  The book is actually about a girl named Amara who was getting baptized.  Her grandma Debby got that one for her.



We were glad that we could spend time and visit with so many family members that day.


"Land That I Love" the Photography of Stephen Christensen

You've got to appreciate the beauty of the creation God has given us.  I think Stephen has captured the land that I love magnificently!