Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Weston Family Superheroes Light the World

Weston Family Superheroes Light the World

This December our super family is focusing on following Christ’s example as we serve those around us. Just like superheroes, we each have talents and abilities that help us find a unique approach to serving and loving mankind. This Christmas season, we focus on ways to #LIGHTtheWORLD.

  • Alias: MadDog 
  • Costume: dog hat, clogs, and bait-bag filled with treats 
  • Occupation by Day: homeschooling fifth-grader, dog-trainer, chicken-wrangler, singer, dancer, actress, artist 
  • Superpowers: training guide dog puppies for the blind 
  • Weapon: six-foot leather leash 
  • Amazing Feats of 2016: co-raising guide dog puppy, Kiko; hiking 22 miles of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail from Sunol to Del Valle in a single day; taking Sammy to his first barn hunt practice; performing in Bye, Bye Birdie, Jr.; winning “prettiest” for her prima ballerina costume in the chicken dress-up contest at Alameda County Fair; and rehearsing as a sheep and Dream Chorus member in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with StarStruck Theatre. 
  • Lights the World by...donating a box full of dog and cat toys, blankets, and supplies to Tri City Animal Shelter. 
  • Alias: Class Clown 
  • Costume: ummmm...clothes? 
  • Occupation by Day: homeschooling seventh-grader, scouter, minecrafter, drummer, singer, dancer, actor, artist 
  • Powers: uncanny ability to make people laugh; also good at killing flies 
  • Weapon: sharp wit 
  • Physical Weaknesses: hot water (makes him “ow!” like Michael Jackson) 
  • Likes: when people laugh 
  • Amazing Feats of 2016: Killing 3 flies with one swat; performing in Bye, Bye Birdie, Jr.; winning “most creative” for his Hamburg-er Helper costume in the chicken dress-up contest at Alameda County Fair; and rehearsing as a member of the Dream Chorus of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with StarStruck Theatre. 
  • Lights the World by...collecting and sorting over 100 pounds of candy for Treats for Troops. 
  • Alias: Chicken Lady 
  • Costume: chicken hat, yoga pants, and combat boots, no Cape--it scares the chickens
  • Occupation by Day: homeschooling high schooler, seminary student, artist, ukuleleist, reader, author, singer, dancer, actress, chicken hypnotist at Little Red Hen Ranch 
  • Superpowers: speaking to animals, journal-wrecking, apple-eating (3+ per day), non-stop dancing at ALL the church dances 
  • Weapons: Hypnotic singing voice, bow that shoots super pointy colored pencil arrows
  • Amazing Feats of 2016: performing in Bye, Bye Birdie, Jr.; backpacking Point Reyes with Triathamom; winning “judges’ favorite” for her French Maid costume in the chicken dress-up contest at Alameda County Fair; surviving her first semester of high school; and rehearsing as a member of the Dream Chorus of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with StarStruck Theatre. 
  • Lights the World by...collecting new shoes to donate to 
  • Alias: Triathamom 
  • Costume: spandex, sparkly skirt, & trail runners--no cape as the drag would only slow her down 
  • Occupation by Day: teacher, photographer, travel agent, taxi driver, cook, event coordinator
  • Superpowers: lightening speed spin and running workouts before the crack of dawn 
  • Power Limitations: passes out at 9pm 
  • Abilities: agile, strong, flexible, multi-tasker, organizer 
  • Weapons: yoga mat & strap
  • Physical Weaknesses: dried apricots 
  • Mental/Emotional Weaknesses: takes things too seriously 
  • Romantic Interests: The Garbageman 
  • Amazing Feats of 2016: joining forces with her truly amazing friends while backpacking Point Reyes with a herd of teenage girls; hiking Mt. Whitney in a single bound; and running the Skyline to the Sea Trail Marathon. 
  • Lights the World by...coordinating community service projects for homeschool, 4-H, and church youth--see her Facebook page for more ways she has found to #LIGHTtheWORLD this month. 
  • Alias: The Garbageman 
  • Costume: latex gloves, shield that resembles a garbage can lid--no cape 
  • Occupation by Day: trust & safety for the online community, commuter, movie-watcher, dishwasher, and garbage collector 
  • Superpowers: Walking in slow motion; sleeping while driving; getting hurt without getting hurt; multitasking while listening to audiobooks; stretching without being flexible; transferring large quantities of liquid from the break room to the urinal; sitting for extended periods of time; and telling jokes that are funny because they are not funny. 
  • Physical Weaknesses: yes 
  • Mental/Emotional Weaknesses: sweetness 
  • Romantic Interests: Triathamom 
  • Amazing Feats of 2016: Supporting our family and taking out the garbage every week. :)
  • Lights the World by...assisting job seekers with the job search and application process.
Happy Holidays
The Weston family loves Christmas because of the ways it inspires us all to show even greater love for others. We are striving to be more Christ-like this Christmas season by finding creative ways to serve others in need. We urge you to join us in taking on the challenge to continue our small acts of kindness through 2017 and beyond!


The Westons
2016 Weston Family Photos

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween 2016

Happy Halloween 2016

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Westons: Love, Peace, Faith, Hope & Charity in 2015

The Westons are not ones for cross words, BUT we hope you have a few minutes this holiday season to solve our 2015 Weston Family Crossword Puzzle and find out what we've been up to this past year!

HINT: before you tackle the crossword puzzle, view photos with helpful captions in our 2015 Weston Family Album.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Modern Day Pioneers Have Faith In Every Footstep

Many of you participated in our wonderful stake Pioneer Day yesterday evening to commemorate the pioneers of our church and family history. As a follow-up, on there is a nice article entitled “10 Ways to Honor and Share Your Pioneer Legacy” with a video, I Am a Pioneer, that encourages us all to consider how we are pioneers today. It states, “A pioneer is one who goes before, showing the way for others to follow.” Therefore, all of us who have tackled something new, set and achieved a new goal, and made a stellar example for others, we are pioneers! Please, replace the image of a hand-cart-pulling, bonnet-wearing, biscuit-eating, ox-cart-driving pioneer and picture yourself! Today, I am speaking about how we, as modern pioneers, must have faith in every footstep. As you listen to my talk, consider these questions:
  • How are YOU leading the way?
  • How are YOU making your dreams a reality?
  • How are YOU making a difference?
  • How are YOU building a solid foundation?
  • Will future generations reflect with gratitude on your efforts & your examples?
Take some time today to ponder how YOU are a pioneer and, as recommended on, share your thoughts on social media using hashtag I Am A Pioneer (#IAmAPioneer).

A couple of weeks ago our young women and leaders returned from a week away at camp. One of the experiences we offer the third and fourth level young women, is a 1-night backpacking trip into the Carson-Iceberg or Emigrant Wilderness. You’re probably wondering, “Why would you take a bunch of 14 and 15 year old teenage girls away from the showers, delicious hot meals, comfortable beds, warm & dry shelters, and overall security of Camp Liahona, to carry heavy packs, battle adverse weather conditions, cross treacherous terrain, and struggle with the physiological effects of high altitude?” Now that IS a good question! And sometimes I wonder the same thing...!

In her talk, “Modern Pioneers,” Janette Hales Beckham states, “The pioneers of today must have the same character and determination. We must have faith to walk away from those things that would tear us down or hold us back from our destination. We must have faith in every footstep.” Backpacking out in the wilderness with our young women, we experience similar trials of past generations of pioneers. The struggles we face give us the strength we need, to be, as the Apostle Paul counseled, example[s] of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). As modern pioneers, TRIALS help us have faith in every footstep!

And here is how...We begin with:
TRIP-PLANNING: First and foremost, we need to plan our commit to a trailhead and a destination, study the map, decide how far we will travel each day, take note of worthwhile landmarks along the trail, determine how long we will be gone, calculate change in elevation, check weather forecasts, secure permits, follow wilderness regulations, and so on...all of this can seem quite overwhelming! Fortunately, Heavenly father has already provided us with a plan, all we need to do is follow it. The gospel is our map, showing us where to start and how we can reach our destination. Our church membership provides us with guidance along the way, often revealing obstacles we may encounter well ahead of time, giving us time to prepare. Heavenly Father even sent His Son, to pre-hike the trail for us! Jesus Christ has walked our paths and suffered all of the trials we may encounter on our trip--He knows how hard it will be!

Just as our young women must make the commitment to hike, we have all committed to come to Earth to be challenged in our mortal existence. As the prophet Isaiah referred to latter-day temples, we are on the trail to a mountain—“the mountain of the Lord’s house” (Isa. 2:2). The temple is the most important destination we have here on earth. As we make sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father in the temple and live righteously, He promises us that we will be able to reach our ultimate destination, to return to live with Him again. As modern pioneers, HEAVENLY FATHER’s PLAN helps us have faith in every footstep!

Next, who are we going with? It’s time for...
TRIP SIGN-UPS: Just as important when gathering resources, is considering the friends and family we choose to travel with. For many, a first step of faith and commitment is baptism. When baptized, we take Christ’s name upon us and witness to our Heavenly Father that we will be obedient in keeping His commandments (2 Nephi 31:7). As a convert to this church, I have committed to keeping the commandments. I am a pioneer to my friends and family. Commitment is both what we’re doing when others are watching, but also what we’re doing when nobody is watching. We must pick our friends wisely--resist going along with the crowd in ways that could lead us astray! Without guidance, experience, training and support from those hiking alongside us, our journey may be more treacherous! A good friend, and modern pioneer, leads the way for others, helping to keep them on the path to the celestial kingdom. In his talk, “Modern Pioneers,” Dallin H. Oaks noted, “The pioneers who crossed the plains took their directions from the trails blazed by their leaders. For safety, those pioneers traveled in groups. Then, as now, a pioneer who got separated from the company and off the marked trail walked a lonely and dangerous path until he could rejoin the group. So it is today.” A modern pioneer encourages others to stay on course. When you lead out in righteousness, others will follow you. As modern pioneers, BAPTISM & COMMITMENT help us have faith in every footstep!

Now we need to pack the...
ESSENTIALS: In order to be prepared on the trail, we need to have all the right gear. For inexperienced backpackers packing can be quite a daunting task. Fortunately, the gospel provides us with time for growth and a succinct packing list of critical elements that will increase the chances of success on our journey. Without sufficient resources, our trail in life will be more difficult.

Compass. Along with Heavenly Father’s plan, we must bring our inner compass. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Prophet’s counsel at true north, we receive the guidance we need to stay on course. We must listen to the words of our prophets! When Sister Beckham was called to be the Young Women general president, President Monson said to her, “Tell the young women to keep the commandments so they can have all of the blessings Heavenly Father wants so badly to give them.” Heeding the words of our prophets can help ensure that our steps are secure. As modern pioneers, FOLLOWING the PROPHET helps us have faith in every footstep!

Proper Clothing. Dressing in protective clothing keeps us warm and dry even in the cold, wet, and windy weather. If you wouldn’t leave for a backpacking trip without your warm wool hat, why leave home without a prayer? In Ephesians 6:11 it states, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Daily prayer provides us with the armor of God, protecting us from temptation and evil. As modern pioneers, PRAYER helps us have faith in every footstep!

Sleeping Bag and Insulated Pad. A sleeping bag and pad provide warmth and insulation, to lift and protect us from the cold, hard ground while living in the wilderness. When we are baptized, we receive the Holy Ghost as a constant companion (2 Nephi 31:18). If we continue to live righteously, the companionship of the Holy Ghost provides comfort, imparts knowledge, protects and instills a sense of peace and well-being. As modern pioneers, THE HOLY GHOST helps us have faith in every footstep!

Tent. Despite the storms that may rage while we are out backpacking, a waterproof tent, properly staked on solid, high-ground, keeps us clear from danger and shelters us from thunder showers, mosquitoes and howling winds. Attending church meetings grounds us in the gospel and connects us to other members of our faith for sharing experiences, overcoming challenges and inspiring one another. As modern pioneers, ATTENDING CHURCH helps us have faith in every footstep!

Food, Water & Cooking Gear. Carrying a backpack while traversing steep trails requires much exertion and therefore we need to fuel our bodies with clean, pure water and high-quality, lightweight foods throughout the day. At camp this year, we spent a significant amount of time preparing our food for the trip to make sure we had all that we needed plus extra to share with ravenous hikers. Likewise, the scriptures, properly consumed, provide us with the nourishment we need to make right choices. When we become well-versed in the scriptures through study and prayer, we can readily share with those who hunger for the Word of God. As modern pioneers, READING the SCRIPTURES helps us have faith in every footstep!

Bear Cannister. Highly recommended for bear country backpackers, the bear cannister keeps our food secure from animals and protected from the elements. A bear cannister is like a strong testimony. The bear cannister, allows us to keep our food secure, close to camp and easily accessible when needed, just as sharing our testimonies strengthens them, replenishes them and keeps them accessible. At Relief Reservoir, bears were the least of our worries! BUT the chipmunks, just like Satan’s influences, were aggressive, little terrors who would chew into anything to get to even the smell of food, yet, even the chipmunks could not get into our bear cans! A strong, secure testimony can help withstand life’s challenges. As modern pioneers, SHARING and STRENGTHENING our TESTIMONIES helps us have faith in every footstep!

Emergency Gear. Our young women are required to ALWAYS wear an emergency whistle around their necks to alert for help if they should ever need it. Trail leaders also carry First Aid supplies in their packs for anything from basics like bandaids, to bigger bandages for more serious injuries. On our overnight trip, we bring Priesthood oversight with us for protection and the administration of blessings. We need to remember we always have a hypothetical emergency whistle around our necks--when we’re in trouble, even just a blister’s amount of trouble, we must never forget the power of the priesthood to bless and heal as well as our ability to bring our own troubled heart to counsel with the pioneers in our lives--our parents, leaders and Bishops. As modern pioneers, POWER of the PRIESTHOOD helps us have faith in every footstep!

Water Filter. One of the most critical items to survival is water, which we must readily drink throughout our trip. We each embark on our journey with a full bottle of fresh, clean water, but once we run out, it is essential that we find a reliable, clean source of fresh water to refill our bottles. Despite our desire to drink from a pristine-looking water source, contaminants, like the sins of this world, can pose a real threat. We use our water filters, like the atonement, to filter out the inconsistencies, like microbes, dirt, & pollen to provide safe, pure Living Waters from which we may partake. Our young women spend hours of every trip sitting at the water’s edge methodically pumping water for one another. They, in turn, have sufficient time to reflect and recognize the blessings of the atonement AND the convenience of running water. Filtering water is not easy and can sometimes be a painful and laborious process, just like repentance! Dallin H. Oaks stated, “One of the best qualities in any of the sons and daughters of God, whatever their circumstance, is a determination to become better. Since we all have a need to improve, we should always be willing to recognize goodness and encourage improvement in everyone.” As modern pioneers, USING the ATONEMENT & REPENTANCE PROCESS help us have faith in every footstep!

Trekking Poles. Last but not least, we should not forget to bring a pair of lightweight trekking poles. Poles are great for engaging your upper body, adding support when travelling up or down a slippery trail, better balance when crossing a stream, and can even be used to create a simple tarp tent shelter. The Lord loves us for our strength and courage. He is always there for us. He has promised us that when we are trying to live righteously and are serving Him, “I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). Let us not forget that Heavenly Father, like our trekking poles, is always there to help us stabilize in times of trial, test the waters and provide us with the support we need to cross difficult terrain. Dallin H. Oaks reflects, “Sometimes it is extremely difficult to cope with life’s trials, yet modern pioneers do cope. They carry on without complaint, even when they have just cause for complaint. And even when they fall short, the Lord blesses them for their righteous desires (Mosiah 4:24–25), for, as King Benjamin taught, “it is not requisite that a man should run [and I would like to add, HIKE] faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27).As modern pioneers, HEAVENLY FATHER’s LOVE & SUPPORT helps us have faith in every footstep!

Backpack. Where are we going to put all of these wonderful essentials? For some, the thought of carrying all of it, is overwhelming. We must each work up to carrying the weight of these critical resources. Many of the young women prefer lightweight packs for their gear. However, as we grow and develop in our knowledge of the gospel, with time and experience, growth and development, we will often size up our packs to increase the capacity and weight we can carry. Just as church leaders and parents provide spiritual teaching, training, and strong testimonies for the youth, as leaders on our backpacking trips we carry extra items, just in case we need to share with another of our hikers who has less experience on the trail. Similarly, our baptismal covenants require that we should be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; yea, and [be] willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8-9). In life we often have many opportunities to lighten the load of another. At camp we hear from our young women who struggle with injury or illness in their families, depression, difficulty at school, broken families and many more hardships. Dallin H. Oaks declared, “The path of modern pioneers is not easy. Burdens carried in the heart can be just as heavy as those pulled in a handcart. And just as some early pioneers struggled for the benefit of others, so some modern pioneers carry burdens imposed by the transgressions or thoughtlessness of others.” We are here to support one another! As modern pioneers, LIFTING BURDENS helps us have faith in every footstep!

Testimony: Brothers and Sisters, I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is our ultimate example as a pioneer. He came before us, showing the way for others to follow. I know that we can make it back to live with Heavenly Father if we follow in His footsteps! I have seen your amazing examples of living righteously—showing others the way to follow & helping one another when the going is rough. You provide service. You keep commitments that are eternal. You accept callings and willingly give your time. You are courageous and hard-working. You have integrity. You stay faithful despite suffering trials and tribulations. As a modern pioneer, when you are promoting righteousness, you’re being a hero and a trailblazer in someone else’s life. You are modern pioneers, with faith in every footstep, influencing friends and family for generations to come. Thank you for inspiring me! I love each one of you so much and I enjoy hiking beside you on this amazing journey called life! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
More photos here:

Modern Pioneers :
Some of the material I reference comes from two articles, both titled, “Modern Pioneers” by Dallin H. Oaks and Janette Hales Beckham.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

We LOVE being Westons!

Well folks, it's time for the 2014 Weston Family Top 10 Countdown Playlist--let's see which songs made it into this year's top hits for the Westons!

10. What better way to spend 2014 than engaged in ART? All three kids have been enjoying weekly art classes, honing their inner artist with mentor, Patrice Hinz, at Alameda Studio Time, creating collages, sculptures, books, drawings, paintings and stitched creations. Looking forward to more masterpieces from our three artists in residence in 2015! In our number 10 position is Nat King Cole's Mona Lisa.

9. How does Abe get into his exercise groove? Riding his BICYCLE to the local Ace train station! In Fremont, we're grateful to live so close to public transportation and that Abe is able to incorporate his exercise into his daily commute to work. In our number 9 position is Bicycle Race by Queen.

8. Our house wouldn't be a home without...our menagerie of CRITTERS! We love our furry and feathered friends! This past year, the kids started their own business, Little Red Hen Ranch, where they raise chicks as part of their Bayside 4-H Poultry Project. Glad we don't have to share our feather bed with the dogs, cats and chickens, in our number 8 position is Grandma's Feather Bed by John Denver.

7. Life is very rhythmic when you have a DRUMMER in the family! Max has been taking weekly drumming lessons for over a year and currently participates in the New Haven Percussion Ensemble at James Logan High School where high school students volunteer to teach middle school-age students their percussive craft. Excited to reap the fruits of his labors as part of a larger group, Max is in his element playing snare drum! In our number 7 position, Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix!

6. We loved attending Wente Family CAMP during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends in 2014 and plan to go back in 2015We call Wente Scout Reservation the "Campground Cruise Ship" because of the variety of activities offered in a safe and accessible space--kayaking/sailing/rowboats, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, archery, BB guns, rifles, shotgun, crafts, swimming and MORE! Plus, 3 tasty meals per day in the cafeteria that will keep you satisfied between for hours, hot showers, campfire, ice cream social, flushing toilets and platform tents. Only need to bring your sleeping bag, pad, clothes and fun items (fishing poles, games, books, etc). The beautiful scenery and plentiful opportunities my family and friends have had to "play" are documented in the following albums. This is a family experience you will never forget and is worth the expense! Plan to camp with us in 2015!
Wente 2013  
In our number 6 position, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah by Allen Sherman. 

5. In June 2014, we hit the road for Oregon and Washington with camping gear and mountain bikes strapped to the van. With the kids all on 24" wheels--thank you, Craigslist!--we could finally ride together at a reasonable pace. During our nomadic trip encompassing wildlife safaris, bike rides, jetboat excursions, camping, hikes, beach trips, visits with family & friends and touristy sight-seeing activities, we made our way up through gorgeous evergreen Oregon to Washington's magnificent San Juan Islands and back, loving every minute of every day! In our number 5 position, Willie Nelson's On the Road Again.

4. We have invested much of our time and energy this year in raising our male, yellow, Labrador Guide Dog Puppy, BARNUM! Barnum accompanies us throughout our weeks as we attend fieldtrips, the library, church, classes, grocery shopping, hikes and more! Barnum will live with us for the next 6 to 8 months before he returns to the San Rafael campus to complete his training. We volunteer as part of the Bay Area Guide Dog Puppy Raisers Club, attending weekly meetings in Fremont at California School for the Blind. Guide Dogs for the Blind is an industry-leading guide dog school and passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors and volunteers, we prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of our services are provided free of charge; we receive no government funding. Thinking of raising a puppy? Watch these videos and visit! In our number 4 position, Elvis Presley's Hound Dog!

3. Look who's born to ENTERTAIN? This year both Natalie AND Madeline auditioned and were cast in StarStruck Theatre's Seussical the Musical! Natalie will be playing Cindy Lou Who, Circus Animal and a Fish Stick while Madeline will be playing a Who, Circus Animal and a Fish Stick. The girls will be performing 12 times between January 9th-25th! If you're up for some meaningful theatrical fun for the whole family, you can't go wrong with StarStruck Theatre productions! In our number 3 position, Here on Who from Seussical the Musical.

2. Encouraged by family and friends, Janine decided to brush off those RUNNING shoes and hit the trails in late 2014. Part of the Coyote Hills Run Club Meetup, Janine runs with an inspiring, uplifting and committed group of women who meet three days per week at 6am year-round to RUN! Feel your inner runner racing with excitement? Join us in 2015! In our number 2 position is Ready to Run by the Dixie Chicks.

And the number 1 song...(drumroll, please)
1. As the holidays approach, we ask ourselves, "WHAT SHALL WE GIVE?"  As we consider what we can give of ourselves to those in need, we follow Christ's example to love one another, share our means with others, serve one another, forgive ourselves and others, withhold judgement and strive toward personal improvement. In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir shares this modern take on the age-old question: "What Shall We Give" to the babe in the manger, to Christ, the King of Kings? In our number 1 position is What Shall We Give by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

We LOVE being Westons!

Happy Holidays,

Abe, Janine, Natalie (12), Max (10), Madeline (8)
2014 Weston Family Album