Sunday, November 16, 2014

Yes, he did return-six months ago!

I have been noticing that my blog still says that my missionary son will return in 2 weeks.  Well, he did return!  May 28th at about 10 p.m., about two minutes before we came into the airport, even though none of the airport screens said his flight was in yet.  We were walking down the hallway to head down to the waiting area when we heard a huge cheer!!  I raced over to the overlook and sure enough, they were there!  I missed the grand entrance.  I tried hard not to cry that we had missed it, which worked okay, because HE WAS HOME!!  I was so happy to see him.  And just so happy for what he had accomplished as a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He really did have the missionary glow that missionaries receive from such righteous living. I WAS a little surprised to see that he was much the same person. Which wasn't a bad thing-he was great before his mission. But the more I was around him, the more the wonderful new differences were apparent.  We stayed up for 3 hours listening to him talk about his mission, and then for the next several days I followed him around like a lost puppy dog, and hugged him whenever I got the chance, and stared at him whenever he was around!  My handsome boy!!

A few of the differences and things we learned about him (I'm sure I can't even remember all of them now):
He talks with his mouth more closed, and faster.  I think this is from speaking Portuguese.
His suits were worn out.  Except for this new skinny European suit (pictured).
He looks at us more directly when we talk to him.
He walks BESIDE us instead of several paces AHEAD of us!
He talks to many more people, and is not afraid to talk to people.
His prayers are more sincere and specific.
When we read with our younger sons from Preach My Gospel on Sunday nights, he LOVES to participate!

We learned that he was a super obedient missionary.  We were discussing our younger son 'running the mile' one day and Caleb said, "Oh yeah, I ran a mile a couple weeks ago."  They had just finished leading a discussion and were not going to make it home in time for curfew.  They considered calling in to let them know, but instead, just decided to run to make it in time.  In their suits and dress shoes!  Also, one companion at the end of his mission called him the Energizer Bunny, because he kept going and going and going. Oh, how it did my mother's heart good to hear how hard he worked. 

And the stories that he told over the next few weeks!!  Hearing him express his testimony and talk about his mission was absolutely divine for me.  He bore fervent testimony about his mission and the gospel as he reported emotionally to the high council and stake presidency, as he spoke in our home ward, and at least two other times in other wards.  Even in July, that testimony was still emotional and fervent when my dad asked him to report on his mission to my family, most of whom were not able to attend his homecoming talk.

It is amazing what the Lord did for my son, and for others through my son, in just a short two years.  It was oh, so hard to send him and have him gone, but oh, how grateful I am that he did and for the growth he experienced.

Caleb is now attending BYU and doing so well.  He works driving a delivery truck for food services 7-11, has class 1-4, marching band 4-6 some nights, and plays with the marching band for 6-8 hours before, during, and after BYU football games on weekends. He is doing well, and doesn't usually feel stressed. Before his mission, a sealer in the temple told him, "You take care of the Lord's work, and he'll take care of yours."  Caleb is now engaged to marry his sweet friend from before his mission, Miranda, in the Bountiful LDS Temple on December 30th. They are so happy, and so excited, and I know they will continue to serve the Lord together as they raise a righteous family.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Missionary Phone Call

We got to speak to our missionary, Elder Lee, for 40 minutes on Mother's Day. We asked him what his favorite part of Portugal is and he said, "The pastries!"  He said he has loved every area and that every part of Portugal is so beautiful and that he wants to come back some day.

We asked him what his favorite part of his mission is.  He said, "Seeing the growth in people as they accept the gospel and go from not knowing anything about it to being baptized, confirmed, and receiving the Priesthood, is just amazing."  The Sousa family was baptized last week and this week confirmed, and the father, Rui, received the Priesthood. Earlier, when Elder Lee and his companion went to teach the family about the Priesthood, but before they introduced the lesson, Rui expressed a strong desire to really help people.  Caleb said it was the perfect introduction to talking about the Priesthood.

Caleb said the other part about his mission that he loved was the learning.  Learning through study.  Learning to work with people.  And learning to be happy.  I asked how do you 'be happy'?  He said, "You just decide to.  So many times in the mission when things would happen I would realize that this has all happened before, and it's just a matter of attitude and deciding to be happy."

A few people whose lives have been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ:

 Elder Lee will be coming home to us in just two weeks, and we are so excited to see him!  We know he has done great work and that he will miss his mission so much. A scripture he shared with us in his email yesterday:   
D&C Section 1
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
23 That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.
24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Maren!

Happy Birthday to my sweet precious baby dolly!

 Maren Christen is nineteen today!  Missing her on her birthday while she is at college, even though we celebrated with her on Sunday.  Maren is super smart, super committed to the gospel and doing what's right, and super loved by all her family.  We love you Mar!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth!  Watch this to learn more. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Being Grateful

I don't think he realized it, but in his letter from his mission today, my son sent the most perfect example of following President Uchtdorf's counsel to be grateful.

Hello Family!
This week seemed really uneventful. Except for conference, which was amazing! We were able to watch all the sessions, in English! Almost our whole zone was there, so we had a group dinner of Fajitas in between the sessions. My Favorite talk was probably President Uchtdorf's about gratitude; I really like how he explained that we shouldn't just be grateful for things, but live in gratitude, and I want to try really hard to do that. I liked the example he used of Nephi when he was tied up on the ship, how in his afflictions he still praised and glorified God. There are SO many other examples in the scriptures of that praise, another one I really liked was when Ammon meets up with his brothers again. So, that's my goal, to live more gratefully. I also really liked a talk in the priesthood session, I don't remember who it was by. It was about the POWER, AUTHORITY, AND KEYS of the priesthood. There was A LOT of doctrine in it that I thought was interesting, how everything in the church is done under the AUTHORITY of the priesthood, even those serving in callings that don't hold the priesthood. He talked about how the blessing of the priesthood are available to everyone, man and woman. 
Here's a funny/cool story from last night. First, I've had a really bad rash behind my knees and on my legs for about 3 weeks (I'm going to the hospital for it sometime this week), and last night we slept at the Alverca elders, where the conference was. Because I was a leper, I got voted to lay on the ground. I ended up finding a small bean bag, and some folding chairs that weren't too bad if I laid them flat on the ground. I haven't slept well lately because I've been waking up itching all night, and I knew it would be worse there on the ground. So I said a prayer that I would be able to sleep alright, and after I finished I had the idea to wrap my socks around my knees, to cover up the rash. It ended up doing the trick, and I didn't wake up at all that night itching. Kind of an interesting way the Lord answered my prayer! Also, the other elders said they slept horribly, because their mattresses were really uncomfortable. So that's what they get for casting out the leper. ;)
I hope everyone's doing well! Fiquem bem!
--Elder Lee

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gel Staining My Kitchen Table

I gel stained my kitchen table!  Special thanks to Monica at MonicaWantsIt for her tutorial on gel staining her kitchen cabinets.  You can find it here.  It is fabulous and well worth the read if you want to gel stain anything.  I used her method almost exactly.



First Coat of Gel Stain

After Second Coat

After Third Coat

Final product!
Table top final product-with  lights reflecting

I LOVE my new table!!  First I cleaned the table with denatured alcohol, and then sanded it lightly.  Gel stain is not for bare wood projects.  On the legs and apron of the table, I first used a primer.  I used white, but I understand there is black primer, which would have probably been a better choice.  Then I painted on two coats of Valspar Signature Hi-Def Advanced Color latex paint and primer in satin kettle black (didn't realize it had primer in it until I typed this, that's how I roll) mixed with Floetrol to help hide brush marks. I was later told that oil based is much better for furniture, but I liked working with this. I attempted to use a foam brush because I thought that would be easier than a regular paint brush, but the paint brush was actually much easier.  I followed up the paint (after letting it dry the appropriate time) with two coats of Minwax water based Polycrylic protective finish in semi-gloss.

For the top, I used the men's-white-sock-over-a-latex-glove method, described in the tutorial.  I tried to use a foam brush on part of it, but quickly went back to the men's sock.  Be sure to buy multiple white socks, so you can just toss the sock after each coat. I got mine at Dollar Tree. I used General Finishes java gel stain mixed half and half with General Finishes georgian cherry gel stain because I didn't want such a dark table top.  I used these for the first two coats and then just georgian cherry for the next two because it was still too dark.  I was looking for more of a red color.  They mix very easily.

*When I tried to find gel stain at Lowe's, they said it was discontinued.  I found my General Finishes gel stain at Woodcraft.  The guys there told me that the Minwax brand, sold at Lowe's, just didn't work, and that General Finishes gel stains are currently the highest selling item at all of the Woodcraft stores.  You can also order it online.

I LOVED working with the gel stain.  It has a pudding-like consistency and requires very little sanding.  However,  it doesn't penetrate very deeply, so I am anxious to see how this finish holds up. You wipe on the  gel stain until you have a thin even layer, and then DO NOT wipe off the excess (to get this look), except for little blobs, etc.  The first coat looks terrible and streaky.  But REALLY, the next two coats cover it all up, beautifully!  They even covered up uneven sanding and scratch marks for the most part (though I can still see the scratches if I look close). I ended up doing four coats.  IN MY REGULAR CLOTHES, IN TEN MINUTES for each coat.  It is that easy.  I didn't even put down a drop cloth (but I also have laminate floors).  Each time, I removed the sock and glove and threw it away, cleaned up little bits I got on my other hand using paint thinner outside, and was done!

The first coat took at least 36 hours to dry, but the other coats only took about 8 hours.  Next, I covered the gel stain with General Finishes Gel Topcoat, using the glove and sock method again. This is also a WIPE ON urethane.  Super easy, super simple.  I did 4 coats of this, with drying time about 6-8 hours in between.  I rubbed a couple coats of Gel Topcoat over the paint on the feet of the table for extra protection.

The tutorial uses Gel Topcoat on the cupboards, but the Woodcraft guys told me that General Finishes does not recommend this because of the heat in the kitchen.  They recommend General Finishes Arm-r-seal urethane topcoat instead.  I already had Gel Topcoat, so went with that. They said  Gel Topcoat is adequate for tables, but they also said Arm-r-seal is more durable, so I may do that if my table starts to show wear too quickly.

**Since posting, I had a couple tiny chips on my table that showed right through down to the yellow wood. I touched those up, but then got a scratch and a couple other chips. I have been thinking about this and studying it out, because I have two friends who have used gel stain; one on her table and cupboards; one on her mantle and banister.  They say those have held up beautifully, no chips.  The one who did her table and cupboards said they did absolutely NO sanding, and the stain held up beautifully.  The one who did the mantle and banister used a citrus gel stripper, then sanded, then hand sanded to get all the finish off.  She stained and did not even put a topcoat on.  They have also had no chips.  The Gel Stain can, as well as the video at entitled "How to Repurpose Cabinets with Java Gel Stain" says only to lightly sand.  

As far as I can tell, the only difference between what all these people did and what I did, was possibly that my first coat (and maybe subsequent coats) was too heavy.  According to Monicawantsit, link above, I was supposed to put a thin coat on, and not wipe off the excess. But according to the stain can and the video, you are supposed to put on a thin layer, and then WIPE OFF the excess (like you would for a regular stain).  I think my first layer was too thick, therefore, the 36 hour drying time! When I do a test cabinet in my laundry room, I am going to try a much thinner layer with the excess wiped off and see if the final product ends up more durable.  Meanwhile, I think I will get a hold of some Arm-r-seal urethane topcoat and see if that helps my table.