21 January 2015

Missions Coming Full-Circle

Back in 1994, I was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hixson, Tennessee.

I met an amazing family there that I immediately fell in love with and adopted, and they adopted me.  Glenn and Karen Collins have four beautiful children, Reine, Noah, Jeana and Callie.  Callie was around 1.5 years old at the time I served in their area, absolutely adorable and I enjoyed holding her and playing with her when we would visit the Collins' home.



I have tried to keep in touch with the Collins' over the past 20 years, doing excellent in some years and horribly in others, but this year I have been able to talk a few times through various wonders of technology to Reine and Glenn, and I found out that Callie is now serving a mission here in Utah!

I was overjoyed to discover that she is only 20 minutes away.  After much waiting in trying to contact and schedule a lunch or dinner appointment with Sister Collins and her companion, we were finally able to connect and we took them to Costa Vida!

I was in heaven talking about the days of my mission and the wonderful things that have happened with the Collins family since I returned home from my mission.  They have been sealed together as an eternal family, now have beautiful grandchildren and are all strong in the Church.  They helped me so much while I was there and I am eternally grateful. Callie shared some wonderful stories and her testimony with me, and I discovered that I had a big impact on their family, even Callie who is now an amazing missionary who brings the Spirit with her wherever she goes.

I was grateful to spend a small amount of time with Gwen this afternoon getting to know Callie better, as well as her companion, Sister Baleivuna from Fiji!


Since Sister Collins is living under mission rules, I didn't get to give her the huge hug I wanted to, but I hope that she will bring her family back to Utah after she is released, so I can see them all and hug 'em all!  They are so very special to me, I can't even articulate how much.

This past couple of days while I rummaged through my mission memories box looking for things from my time with the Collins' and being able to visit with Callie reminded me again how significant and important our relationships with others are, and how much other worldly pursuits don't mean anything in comparison.  I am so thankful for all of my family and friends and the love that I share for each and every one of you.

Best of luck to you Sister Collins when you soon return home to your amazing family.  I'm so excited to hear about your new adventures.  Until then, may all those you come in contact with feel and recognize the Spirit that you and Sister Baleivuna bring with you... and thanks for sharing it with Gwen and I!

Love ya, Sis!

29 September 2013

Gwen's Surprise 40th Birthday Party

Turning 40 has never
been this much fun!
After 8 months of being AWOL from the blog, I finally have something to show for it!!!

Since the beginning of February, even before taking Brennan and Mandy to the Science Fair at BYU, I started a project of epic proportions to surprise my sweet Gwennie for her 40th birthday.

The result was an amazing party on 01 June of this year that was comprised of around 200 people.  It was so fun, and such a fun payoff when I got to throw open the back doors of our home to open up to 150 or more of them lining our backyard.

It was a perfect day, with perfect weather, perfect ice cream and the perfect surprise, (I'm still amazed the secret was kept that long!!!)

See Gwen's face after I opened the doors, see photos of the guests and read all about it at the Gwen's Surprise 40th Birthday Party page!
Work that walker!

Priceless...
Make sure you also check out the tribute slideshow, "celebrating 40 years of awesome" that I had the pleasure of creating for Gwennie as an added gift.
(Note: the slideshow will only play on computers.  It will not work on mobile devices, nor will YouTube allow me to embed it in this blog or on my other page, due to copyright restrictions.)

For now, enjoy Gwennie's face as she looks into the backyard to see so many people there to celebrate this milestone birthday!

Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with Gwennie and make it such a special day.  I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful wife, and awesome friends surrounding us that have made our lives so special.  We love you all.


01 April 2013

Google Treasure Maps - Happy April Fools Day!

Google is known for making April Fools Day extra fun with a lot of their sites.  Today is no exception.  Below is a look at their Treasure Map action for Google Maps...
Street View through the Looking Glass, mixed with the Treasure Map
Zoomed in Street View through the Looking Glass
(you can zoom in too!)
Be sure to check out Google Nose too!

02 March 2013

Mandy Advances to Region Science Fair

Our family is very fortunate to get a double play in Science & Engineering Fair goodness this year.

Mandy had so much fun playing with Brennan's Tic-Tac-Toe project last year, that she decided she wanted to create her own game for the Web this year as her Engineering Fair project.

She chose the game of "Dots".  You know, that game you play on paper with other nearby friends during long boring meetings like a middle-school geography class, where you vie to capture more boxes than the other players by connecting dots to make the sides of the boxes.  She opted to name her game "DotMania", paying homage to our favorite video game franchise "ManiaPlanet" by Nadeo.

It was a blast to help her think conceptually about how to teach a computer to allow this game to be played, and even more fun helping her figure out how to make an interactive board with HTML, CSS And JavaScript.

The design she finalized on was to use an HTML table, with dots absolutely positioned in each corner of every cell, then adding "Click Zone" divs along the borders of each cell, handling the event when a player clicks on one of them.  If it's a valid move, it will highlight and check to see if that table cell's square is complete, as well as any adjacent square that shares the same border.

The game also tracks score as it goes.

Whether you're already a fan of the game, or you've never played it before, please give Mandy's "DotMania" project a try, and wish her luck in the Central Utah Science & Engineering Fair in March at BYU!

Play DotMania
It brings happiness.


Congratulations Mandy!  You're "awesomesauce"!

21 February 2013

Brennan Advances to Region Science Fair


Last school year, Brennan tackled developing Tic-Tac-Toe for 2 players using HTML, JavaScript and CSS.    It was really fun for me to help him with the project and learning 3 new computer languages.

This year, he decided he wanted to delve into Artificial Intelligence and add a computer player to his Tic-Tac-Toe game.  It was a unique and exciting experience to help him process through concepts and watch the gears turn as he tried to figure out what our minds ask ourselves when we play Tic-Tac-Toe.

The outcome is quite fun.  If you haven't seen it yet, check it out on his website, brennan.thatoneplace.net

The next round will be held at BYU in March.  We've never been this far in a "fair" before, so we're both nervous and excited.  Apparently there are cash and other prizes at stake as well; and rumor has it, there might be companies present that look to give scholarships for interesting computer engineering projects.  It would be awesome for one to take an interest in our aspiring engineer!

Brennan and I would like to thank all of you who helped "beta test" his project and provide feedback.  We are excited to see how he does at the Region Science & Engineering Fair!

Congratulations Brennan!  You rock!