Monday, December 7, 2009

November Update

I've been waiting until I uploaded pictures to the computer to make this entry; however, I still haven't gotten around to that so I thought a picture-less entry was better than none at all. Sorry, I will do better.

One highlight in November was a family trip to Vernal, UT home of a great dinosaur museum. I spoke at a Best of EFY while Lani and the kids toured the museum. Then we all went to Dinosaur National Park and had a great time exploring the terrain. We also visited the home of Lani's mother.

Thanksgiving was a great event. About 45 people gathered together at Lani's parents house. Our kids were surprised to find out that somebody surprised us with a new giant blow up Santa that is right by our front door. Actually it was the same Santa we had last yaer, but they thought it broke; Lani fixed it and everyone was happy!

Lani is doing an amazing job keeping the house moving along. It's strange to say, because it seems so long ago, but we also moved into our new house this month. Many family members and friends helped and we are SO grateful. We enjoy our new home very much.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October Update

It has been a great month!

One of the most exciting things is that we bought a house. We haven't moved in yet, but hope to soon. Some remodeling has been done and we are very happy with it. We celebrated the day that we bought the house by having french toast with our new neighbors -- Lani's parents! The first remodeling that was done was a gate between our houses! :)

The kids had a great month. Levi spent most of his time at the new house working on a fort in the backyard. It is awesome! He also helped with a lot of the remodeling work.

Annemarie stayed home from school one day and had a lot of fun helping her mom pack.

Maria turned 5 this month. She is a great young lady!

Joseph and Katrina have been having lots of fun at home with mom.

Lani and John gave a speech on motherhood that was taped for broadcast by BYU TV as part of the Sperry Symposium. That was exciting. More details on that to come.

Everyone loved trick-or-treating...especially at Grams' house. Pictures to follow.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

September update

September has been a good month. One of the exciting things that has happened is that we made an offer on a house right behind Lani's parents. With any luck we'll be moved into it in about 5 weeks.

Annemarie is doing great with Chinese. Levi is really improving in his piano. Maria is enjoying her speech classes.

Levi and John got to go to the Conference Center to watch General Conference. That was fun and spiritual.

Sorry this is a shorter and lamer entry. We'll try to upload some pictures soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conference Cake Recipe

There have been a couple versions of this recipe floating around. The updated one is here:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

August update

August was great! Busy, but great. Annemarie participated in a "Chinese camp." School has started and she is in a Chinese immersion program where she spends half her day in regular English instruction and the other half learning Chinese.

Levi is also in a special school program, an "advanced learner" program and so far that is going well.

We wanted also to post a picture of Lani at the Bear Lake reunion...

In August John and Lani traveled together to Nauvoo, and John went to Canada and Denver. While in Denver he got to spend time with Laura Mitchell, a young lady he baptized 12 years ago (she was 9 then).

Education Week was great. The highlight of the month was the Nauvoo EFY. We both feel a lot more strongly now about Nauvoo. The "Walk down Parley Street" and the temple were strong highlights. Below are some notes from John on that EFY:

I was able to spend 8 hours in the Nauvoo temple on both Wednesday and Thursday and felt such an overwhelming feeling. It’s hard to describe all of what I felt. Some of it was just being in the temple in the general and some probably just being there for so long. Something else that made a huge difference was the talks from the temple presidency. In total we had 8 sessions and a member of the temple presidency spoke before each session. I heard all the talks. Each talk I heard was different, some dramatically so, and I could tell that the members of the temple presidency were teaching by the Spirit.

Several of insights I was able to share with youth. Like that President Hinckley had picked out every picture and its location in the temple – that actually turned out to be powerful for Kayla. I got to ponder on why the picture of Christ ordaining the 12 Apostles was the picture in the confirmation. In fact, there are two confirmation rooms in that temple. Do you think the second room has a different picture? It does not. It’s the same. It makes me think that it was really intentional that that picture be in the confirmation room. Why? Something cool to think about.

In the first welcoming session, which was by the second counselor in the temple presidency he had us imagine that we had shared the gospel with our best friend and they were going to be baptized. He said to those who officiate, imagine how you would say the words and how carefully you would hold the person. Then he said to imagine that your friend died before the baptism but that you were going to get to be baptized on their behalf. How would you act? Would you be robot or be thinking of them and praying for them as you performed the ordinance?

I have always been frustrated with temple workers who rushed through ordinances but this really took things to a new level. As I got to confirm people I imagined that I was confirming them as individuals. It was a very special experience. We organized things so that as the youth came in to the confirmation we gave them the names of those who they would officiate for so that they could ponder on them. I think this became really powerful for them.

Another interesting experience from the temple I wanted to record was that one of the presidency members (the one who talked about the “best friend”) told me how he came to feel so strongly about that. He said that he was an assistant shift supervisor in the Chicago temple, feeling like his responsibilities were very important. He had prepared a temple card for his Aunt Helen, but felt that he was too busy to attend to the ordinance and send it to the baptistery. While he was doing his work he felt in his mind, as though his Aunt Helen were speaking to him: “If I had been baptized while on earth, and invited you to come perform the ordinance, would you have done it?” He thought, “Of course, I would have traveled anywhere to come baptized you.” And he felt her say, “Then why don’t you come perform the ordinance for me now?”

He raced down to the baptisry and said, “Where’s my Aunt Helen’s card?” And they said, “We just baptized her.” He was able to do the confirmation, but he said that he still wishes he had done the baptism. That experience helped in realize that each person is an individual that really is living in the Spirit world. In some ways, they are more alive than we are.

The temple added to my understanding of the Savior caring for us one-by-one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quick Update -- More to Come

I'm sorry that I have fallen down on the job of posting every month -- I'm going to get back in the saddle soon. Some quick highlights with promises of more to come:

In June we were fairly relaxed as we had planned to not do a lot during Katrina's first month. The kids spent a lot of time at Nanny's pool, and John went to Olathe, KS for a great youth conference.

In July we had a great McEntire Reunion and a great Olsen reunion at Bear Lake.

Also in July we found out that the people we rent our house from want to sell it and we need to move. We have gone from casual house hunters to serious house hunters.

Also in July a "WHY?" DVD was filmed.

Last week Grandma watched the four oldest kids while Katrina, Lani and I went to Nauvoo for an amazing week of EFY. It was awesome! Among other great things, we found the house of Hezekiah Hatch, an ancestor.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Update

May has been a great month! Levi turned 8 and will be baptized this Saturday. He said he is excited and nervous and happy and scared. He had a great interview with the bishop today.

Another interesting thing that happened was that I was rehired by CES. So this next year I'll be going to school part-time (working on my dissertation) and working full time teaching seminary at Hillcrest. We are very excited for this development.

As already posted, our biggest news of the month was the birth of baby Katrina. She gave us a bit of a scare at first as her lungs weren't fully developed but after a while on oxygen and after receiving some medicine she did better and we were on our way. Lani and Katrina are now both doing very well, 2 weeks after her birth.

Enough talking, here are some pictures:

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Baby Hilton

Just a quick note to announce new baby Katrina Hilton. She came into the world differently than our other kids -- Lani's water broke in the middle of the night; we went to the hospital expecting a baby in 2 hours...we were at the hospital for 12 hours with no contractions. Lani got a little something to start the contractions and then labor began. Katrina came out with just one push and she came all the way out (not just the head) surprised everybody.

She's small (about 5.5 pounds) and a little premature. There a few medical wrinkles, but they will work out quickly and fine.

The name does _not_ come from the hurricane but from several ancestors, including Catherina Berger and Katharina Aeberhard (great-grandmothers of Lacy Burgi), and Catherine Karren (grandmother of Omi).

More to come...and better pics too -- Katrina is way cuter than this picture makes her look.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

April Update

I just finished playing a game of chess with each of the kids and Annemarie is playing Levi -- so I have a short window of time before the game ends / a fight breaks out.

April was a great month. Levi was accepted in to the ALL (advanced learner) program. He has mixed feelings about going, but he probably will; it will mean going to a different elementary school from his cousins which will be hard. Annemarie has applied to a Chinese immersion program in Provo which will have its own challenges, but likely many positives as well. Speaking of school, I finished my coursework this semester which was exceedingly relieving.

The kids all agree that our best family activity in April was hiking to "Lani Valley." So named because I took Lani there on some dates and went there frequently when we were dating to ponder our relationship. It really is a beautiful secluded place up Provo Canyon. Levi, Annemarie, Maria and I climbed the mile journey into the valley and we named the 3 hills around us after the kids -- they were happy about that.

Another great highlight was a visit from my parents who came for Cameron's graduation --- but we got to spend some quality time with them as well.

We are expecting a new baby some time this month (though Lani is due June 6th every baby thus far has come 2 weeks early, and indications are that this baby will be no different). We shall see!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Update

The neatest thing that happened to our family this month was the opportunity to meet Elder Richard G. Scott. One of my students, Marcel Souza, was in charge of a Portuguese fireside at which Elder Scott was speaking. He invited my family to attend and to meet briefly with Elder Scott beforehand. Elder Scott had given Levi and "Fisherman's handshake" in Miami and this time he gave one to Levi, Annemarie and Maria. They all enjoyed it.

Two other exciting highlights were a "Nyssa Party" and a "Miami Party." At each even we had students from the two respective cities come to our home for a gathering. Both were really fun gatherings where old friendships were renewed. We feel so blessed to have lived in those cities.

Friday, February 27, 2009

February Update

Well it has been a great month. There is so much to record that I should be updating weekly...but I know you don't want that much info on the Hilton family... :) But this report will focus heavily on the last week.

On Wednesday we had a special dinner in Salt Lake for those who had published with Deseret Book. All of the DB folks (including Sheri Dew) were very excited about the new WHY book and there was all kinds of buzz about it. So that was nice. Best of all, I got to visit very briefly with Elder Bednar, who was the keynote speaker.

His talk was very powerful--focusing on questions he is asked in the conferences he attends, and focused on the importance of personal ministry. There was a great spirit there.

As we were driving home my car (which has been making funny noises for a few weeks) began to act funnier...the lights grew dimmer, and dimmer...about Pleasant Grove the car died...were were going 60 on the freeway and I pulled over. It wouldn't restart, and there was a burning smell coming from the car...not good. Lani's parents were the heros, picking her up--and Rebecca Eaton, daughter of my friend Rob Eaton who had traveled with us.

I went home with the tow truck man...glad we have AAA!

Here is a picture of Lani and Rebecca and our poor car, probably on its last leg.

I had a good experience talking with the tow truck man and inviting him to church.

We have been humbled in the car department because we have lost not one, but both of the keys to the van. It is parked in our garage and going nowhere. Yikes! Fortunately, Lani's sister Sarah is kindly letting us borrow her car for awhile. We have offered bounties of up to $30 and had 10+ people searching, but to no avail. Monday it will be towed (hooray for AAA) to the dealership and for the low price of $120 we will have two new keys made.

Friday we went with some friends to SLC for a CES fireside. Elder Quentin L. Cook was the speaker. It was a great talk. What I will remember most though is how afterwards there was a dinner. Lani and I went late because we took some time to visit with an old institute student, Gina Perdomo who is serving in Temple Square. When we arrived and got our food we saw two spaces ... at Elder Cook's table. I thought it was wiser not to sit there though, and we sat close by.

I got up to visit with folks and I noticed that Elder Cook did likewise. In fact he went from table to table greeting everyone and thanking them for coming. It was such a gracious act of caring for the individual that it really touched me. I got to shake his hand and look into his eyes as well and I appreciated that opportunity.

There were other great events this month such as a great Valentines dinner put on by Jaylene and Nicole for Angela and Jayson, Rob and Lacy, Nanny and Papa and Lani and me. It was fabulous!

Also, a great pizza party with Tim.

Life is great and we feel so blessed. Our children are all doing well and we are happy and blessed.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Update

My goal was to post family updates at least monthly--and here it is January 31, 8:07 PM (that's close to bedtime for me).

This has been a great month. It has been extremely busy for the family--perhaps the busiest month we've had in recent memory. But we did find time on two occasions to take breaks. First on "Human Rights day" (as MLK day is called in UT), we went up to Midway and had a wonderful day being with family and sledding. It was great.

Then this past weekend we traveled down to St. George to participate in a Best of EFY. The whole family came -- it was just as glorious as a family vacation should be. We had almost no fighting the whole trip (thanks to "The Magic Treehouse" on CD. We stopped in Virgin, UT to visit the ancestral homes of Hugh and Isabella Hilton and John and Maria Parker. Each of them had children (John Hugh Hilton and Maria Parker (2), respectively) who married each other, and were the parents of Eugene Hilton, my great-grandfather. Maria's house still stands, and the Hilton land is for sale (13 acres for just 879,000).

(this is the actual hut Maria and John Parker lived in).

We also stopped along the way to tour Zion's National Park. We hiked the trail of the weeping rock (a nice Chinese family took our picture).

When we arrived in St. George we saw palm trees and felt at home. We spent some glorious time in the pool, and while I spoke at the EFYs, Lani took the kids to the Tabernacle and other great St. George site. We went to Cove Fort on the way back and the kids were excited about the pioneer toy that they received.

One other funny story from this month is worth mentioning. We invited some Chinese friends to come spend the Chinese New Year with us. Cameron, by Chinese-speaking brother also came. The Chinese visitors typically bring gifts; once they brought a gift for the kids this time they brought a gift for Lani. As they were leaving Maria asked, "Did you bring a gift for me?" Fortunately, Maria is sometimes hard to understand and so I was able to revise what she said in the translation and none were the wiser.

Picture of the night, and recipes below. The Spring Rolls we didn't make (but we wished we had--we tried a lesser recipe, we used a steam bun mix from Chao's, and the coconut rice balls are partly my invention).

Sticky Rice Balls in Coconut Milk - Boa Loy


3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sticky rice flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup coconut milk

Pour 1/2 cup of hot water into sticky rice flour and knead until a dough is formed. The dough shouldn't stick to you hand. Add more flour or hot water as needed. Bring a pot of water to boil. Use plenty of water. It is similar to cooking pasta. Pinch off the dough and roll it into a small ball in your palms. Drop the ball into the boiling water. The dough will start rising to the top when it is cooked. Remove the floating balls

{this part is my invention}

Dip the balls in dulce de leche (mixed in with coconut extract) and sprinkling w/ coconut

1/2 pound ground pork
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon chile sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 (16 ounce) package spring roll wrappers
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place pork in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove from heat and drain.
In a medium bowl, mix together pork, cabbage, carrot, green onions, cilantro, sesame oil, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic and chile sauce.
Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of the pork mixture in the center of spring roll wrappers. Roll wrappers around the mixture, folding edges inward to close.
Moisten fingers in the cornstarch and water mixture, and brush wrapper seams to seal.
Arrange spring rolls in a single layer on a medium baking sheet. Brush with vegetable oil.
Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes, until hot and lightly browned. For crispier spring rolls, turn after 10 minutes.
Makes 12 spring rolls.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!

We are sorry we (once again) missed the opportunity to send you a Christmas card, but we are grateful we are getting this out now instead of sending you a St. Patrick's Day card (no disrespect intended towards our Irish relatives). One of our goals for 2009 is to blog at least monthly so feel free to add us to your your lists of blogs that you check...our Christmas ecard is below as a .jpg file...we hope you can see it! If not, the text is below the image file.

2008 was an amazing year for the Hilton family. In January Lani and John went on a cruise and deeply enjoyed their private getaway. In February we went to Universal Studios one last time before our passes expired. In March and April we cleaned and showed our home time after time but with no results. May brought trips to Key Largo and Key West where we snorkeled with sharks. We wanted to get as much beach time in as possible before June, which was the month of the move. Miraculously we sold our home at the last moment, kind friends helped us load our stuff, and Lani drove our four children across the country with the help of her brother Tim. John followed a month a later and July and August were spent being with family members in Utah and Washington, as well as trips for EFY. In September Joseph was as busy as ever, Maria enjoyed music class with mom, Annemarie started kindergarten, Levi started 2nd grade, Lani took a Family History class and John started a Ph.D program in Instructional Psychology at BYU, and teaching Religion there as well. The last three months have been a blur as we’ve tried our best to balance the many demands of life, enjoyed being so much closer to family, and discovered Lani is expecting a new baby. Though we miss Miami and think of it often, we are grateful to be in Utah. We had one of our best Christmases ever and enjoyed many new traditions that brought us closer to the Savior. We pray that the year 2009 will be a wonderful year for you and your loved ones.