Formerly "Neil Stone Updates"

Friday, December 14, 2012

Welcome to the Library

Neil sent this picture and entitled it "Secret Door." Because he works in the vaults of the Church History Library, he has an access card that allows him to be in the more secure areas. There's a feeling of authority and importance that goes along with having that card. He likes it. I like it for him.

Elder Stone has multiple jobs with different responsibilities. I'm not sure what they all are. They seem to change from time to time. I think he inputs new library acquisitions into the computer system. He also works in the basement. Part of that job involves breaking down the cardboard boxes that the books come in. He tells us that another part of that job requires him to be a daredevil on a ladder, reaching for boxes up high. I'm not sure exactly what that means and it makes me nervous, but it makes him happy, so it's okay... He started a new job this week, as well. I'm sure we'll hear more about it in his email tomorrow.

Looks like he was well fed for Thanksgiving. He had dinner on Thanksgiving Day with the other missionaries, and another party with a group that he works with. I'm sure he'll be taken care of for Christmas, as well. Speaking of Christmas, we'll finally get to talk to him on the phone!

Two more things I need to mention. We've been asked to please advise family and friends not to visit. I guess it's kind of a distraction for him and the other missionaries. We keep reminding Neil to follow the mission rules. That's good advice for us as well.

The other thing:  Once again, he could use your prayers. In the spirit of independence, Neil has decided to stop taking his medication. He has been on Ritalin since the accident to help him cope with the effects of the injury, and things are not going so well without them. Unfortunately, without the medicine he is a bit harder to reason with. He doesn't seem to grasp how much he needs them and he won't admit that so much of what he finds difficult, could be made easier.

We love him, we miss him, and we're so proud of him.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Two Feasts and a Visit from Grandma

Scott's mother came for Thanksgiving, and to make for a less stressful holiday, we made reservations to eat out for our Thanksgiving dinner. The Olde Mill Inn was lovely and even kind of homey. We were seated upstairs in the library. It felt a little like we were sitting at the children's table--far away from the adult hubbub and chatter. We took the elevator downstairs and wormed our way through the crowded dinning room to get to the bountiful buffet. The food was fine, but not amazing. When we got home there were no smells of roasted turkey and stuffing, and no leftovers to nibble on. But there were gluten free pies and homemade ice cream that I had made earlier, so it wasn't all bad.

Two days later, it was my shift to help with Mormon Helping Hands. When I got home, I found Grandma in the midst of making a real Thanksgiving meal! We had turkey breast with all the trimmings and her delicious candied yams--the dish I had missed most from the restaurant dinner! There was even some pie left over from the first go-round. It was wonderful to have our traditional dinner, the way it's supposed to be. Thank you, Nadene!

P.S.  I know I am way overdue to post some news from Neil. We exchange emails faithfully every Saturday, and he's having a wonderful experience--working hard and overcoming challenges. I promise the next post will be updates on our faithful missionary! Meanwhile, here's this:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cast Your Vote

I'm trying to choose which of Eric's many wonderful senior portraits to frame for my entryway. Here's my favorite:

Here's another:

Scott likes this one:

I think Eric likes this one:

But this one probably best represents Eric's current state right now:

The band just got back from a weekend trip to a national championship where they placed 18th out of 87 terrific bands from around the country, only to report back to the school three hours later to compete in the state championships where they won first place! I think he deserves a nap.

Thanks for the great pictures, Amy!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hello Again

So, thank you to all the friends and family who have inquired after our well-being. We were without power for a week and lost one tree in the back yard. That's it. No damage to our home. No power lines across the driveway. No storm surge up in our neck of the woods. Scott was able to get us a generator, and gas was easy enough to purchase down in South Jersey where he works. We were safe, and we are grateful.

Like you, our prayers have been pouring out in behalf of the many who are struggling. We have friends who are still waiting for lights, heat, and power, and some have lost homes. You have, no doubt, seen lots of pictures and footage of the devastation. Probably saw it before we did, cut off as we were from TV and Internet. But here are a couple of shots from our neighborhood:

School is finally in session for most of the district after a week and a half. Some roads are still impassable, as you can imagine with all the trees down. It will take a while for this part of the country to recover. We are expecting to be involved with some clean-up efforts that our church is organizing. Many have already been out there working on it. It will surely last a long time.

My biggest personal complaint is that I missed the chance to visit with Emerson the Adorable this weekend, due to cancelled flights. Here is a taste of what I didn't get to witness personally:

I'll survive, but only if I can have a few extra Skyping dates!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Emerson at One

Some of my favorite shots of Mr. One-Year-Old:

And if that's not enough cuteness, HERE'S a link to a charming little video Grandpa Carl made of Emerson getting his first haircut. I just gotta say, it's torture living so far away from this little sweetie!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Near and Far

Photo by Harry Brochinsky

Last Friday night I had a charming escort as I was led to center field during half time at the high school football game. The tradition at BRHS on Senior Night is that each of the band and color guard seniors get to honor their parents and supportive family members with a flower and a photo. You may ask why I am all alone with my tall and handsome second son in this photo. Well, you see, his dad was busy doing this:

Shh--don't tell!
So what if Scott happened to be in Utah and happened to be attending Music and the Spoken Word at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City at the same time that Elder Stone happened to be there! It's open to the public, right? Scott's report is that Elder Stone looked great and sounded very happy!

Needless to say, we are very proud parents and feel so privileged to be associated with these two wonderful young men.

Click HERE to read about Eric's satisfying win at the recent Yamaha Cup competition!

Monday, October 8, 2012


This picture of Neil is fresh--just taken yesterday!* It was sent to us by the young man standing next to him who, only months before, was a missionary himself, serving in New Jersey. He ran into Neil on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, recognized him, and snapped a picture for us, knowing how much the parents of a missionary son relish these things! Thank you, Elder Steele Skylar!

The reason they both happened to be in that particular spot is that they both were attending General Conference. Mormons around the globe look forward to the two weekends each year when the Prophet and General Authorities from the Church share inspiration and counsel that is broadcast worldwide. After two full days of wonderful messages, I feel very full indeed.  Here's a link to just a sampling of what we heard:   President Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

How fun to know that Neil Elder Stone was listening to the same messages at the same time that we were!

*If you aren't able to view the picture, please let me know in the comments. I changed the format to make it work better, but I can change it back.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Family Tree

I have hesitated writing about this because it has been such a personal and poignant experience, but I had posted earlier that Neil would be looking to connect with his birth parents. It's only fair that I follow through and report back. 

Literally, days before Neil reported to his mission, he was able to make contact with both sides of his biological family. We were filled with a jumble of emotions as we pushed our way into the lives of these unsuspecting people. All were caught off guard as you might imagine, but they each opened their hearts to Neil. I'm so glad he was able to leave for his mission with some questions answered, and to feel the support of so many people.

Personally, this has been one of the most moving experiences of my life. For one thing, it has given me a glimpse into why Neil is Neil. His caring nature, his passion for adventure, his fun-loving attitude, his kind heart, his devotion to family--all these characteristics and more are evident in his new extended family. Though our relationships are awkward and new, the admiration and love I had for them before I knew who they were has grown. I've come to realize what I should have thought about before--It wasn't just his birth parents that were involved with the heartache and struggles that surrounded his adoption. There were supportive grandparents, siblings, and eventually, spouses and children who would be affected by the event. I love them all for opening up their lives to Neil and to us. I feel very blessed to be connected in some small way to such amazing and strong people who have been through so much. My heart is full.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Celebrity Sighting

Some of you may recognize Adam from the True Life episode on brain injury that Neil was involved in from a couple of years ago.  Our paths had never crossed before in the filming of the show, so we were thrilled to run into him and his parents outside Dr. Vicci's office just before Neil left for his mission in June.  They seemed just as excited to see us.  We talked briefly as it was time for Neil's appointment, but I hope we can connect again.  They only come down to New Jersey from Upstate New York every few months for Adam's appointments with the doctors who have been treating him here.  Of course, Neil won't be available for visits, but I want the feeling of support that comes when I can connect with other parents and survivors of TBI.

Adam is still making progress.  He rarely suffers from Capgras Syndrome any more.  He didn't know who we were, and I got the feeling that he didn't like thinking about, or remembering the show, but we sure appreciated the chance to meet such inspiring people.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thirty Years

♥ Happy Anniversary to the Love of My Life ♥

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Temple Trip

Mom and family,
I hope you saying you’ve read and re-read my email, means you’re happy about what I said, J. So much happens every week, It’s hard to remember everything. ...
It’s amazing what I run into out here that I have a chance to experience, and learn how to overcome. My attitude towards this mission I think it ONE reason why I’m having such a good time and even having these experiences…J. After going to The Temple yesterday, we went to CafĂ© Rio for dinner and THERE, I met a woman who was like are you guy’s having mission conference here? I could talk to her about what we just did and explain exactly what kind of missionaries we were. It was amazing to see the positive responses when we happily talk about our experiences. Then after that woman, we moved up further in line and a woman’s kid dropped his Binky and politely I picked it up and handed it to her when she was about to ask us to pick it up, she appreciated how willingly and quickly I picked it up without a second thought. Then today I was walking through Temple Square before we left for Wal-mart and I met a couple and had a nice conversation with them. Luckily he had a degree in horticulture , so he knew new Jersey for what it was, I was amazed. He said ANYWHERE with such humidity and open spaces will thrive in its plants. He was a very nice man, we had a nice conversation. I love meeting people who know New Jersey isn’t one big city.
Music in the Spoken Word? I go every single Sunday Morning, so if you watch sometime, you may get to se me somehow, If you look hard enough. It’s so amazing to hear and see the people that are there, J.
I think and pray for you all many time’s a day too, J.

Love you lot’s,
Elder Neil “your son” Stone, J

Friday, August 3, 2012

From the Mail Bag

Excerpts from a couple of Neil's emails:

My new work place is at the Church History Library.  I need to use a sign in card every day to get in, I feel like a Secret Agent, :P. My work there is going to be putting new books into the family history library and adding all the check-out info as well as search info, so people can find it when they search on the computer. There and 3-4 of us that the record goes through so all the mistakes can be found before it is put online. My boss and co-worker are awesome! They make working there very fun! I’m catching on quick according to my boss, so that’s good because I’m taking over for an elder who’s leaving next month.

My week went VERY well, thanks, J. My handwriting is getting A LOT better, now that I’m writing in my journal every day, J. One full page every single day. It will be a lot to read when I get home. Some strange things, but THAT’S JUST me! :P. My week, I am getting used to the whole area and am not getting lost anymore so that’s good. I’m getting used to making bigger healthier meals and hopefully am becoming a better chef. I need to buy a strainer today for my pasta because we don’t have one, but that’s just how it goes. My trainer/missionary that I mentioned awhile ago is way cool, it’s too bad he’s al most done though, he’s been here about two years so it’s about time to leave. I only have a couple co-workers to talk to, but they’re sooo awesome! I hope I’m not talking too much. I’m trying not to talk about myself too much, so that’s good. I’m growing in knowing how to make good conversation, not there yet but I’m getting there.

Lots of love,
Elder Neil Stone, J.

On the hot weather topic, you don’t have to feel bad at all about me getting overheated. My facility in the collections agency is all temperature controlled at around 60 degrees. Well, the places that the history records are kept are in that temperature controlled area. The specific kind of lamination they use lasts for 200 years they said, so I think that means all those records are kept in temperature controlled rooms that keep the plastics at a temperature that isn’t melting temperature, and isn’t freezing either. It’s so interesting to see how complex all the science is in the vaults.

I was typing this before and someone came up and asked if I could help with their family history. It wasn’t at the best time, but she was really cool. Getting to know all the people you do on this or any mission is such a blessing. I need to study this some more, because it’s not good when people can stump you… Lessons learned in the strangest ways. Missions teach so many things you’d never learn anywhere else. I love it!  Look forward to the next email. One more week, 7 days for new experiences and more mission work. Every day a new story to tell, a new journey to start and a new person to meet. I love this mission.

Love you so much too J, lots of love,
Elder Neil Stone  

In Other News...

While the teens of New Jersey curse the fact that they're not allowed to get their drivers licenses until they are seventeen, the parents in the Garden State are pretty happy about it. Guess who just had a birthday.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Notes From Neil

Photo by Amy Pond

If you're familiar with the way a Mormon mission works, you understand that communication is limited between a missionary and his or her family.  Email is allowed once a week, and that is only supposed to be with immediate family, but letters can be from any one.  The only phone calls permitted are one hour to family on Mother's Day and Christmas.  It seems harsh, I know, but it's amazing how these young Elders and Sisters can lose themselves in the service of God when they don't have distractions from home.

We're trying to get this email thing figured out so that we write a note on Friday night and Neil can read it on Saturday (his preparation day) and respond to our questions.  Sometimes his responses lead to more questions we'd like to ask right away, so we came up with a plan for this past weekend's mail. I waited at my computer all day Saturday until he wrote so that I could write back immediately and maybe get more than one email exchange in during his allotted computer time.  After we had had a couple of delays and crossed messages, Neil finally wrote this in part:

i just realized, we probably shouldn't. It'll make my being away harder for you, and being away from home harder for me. This is why we can only email once a week and talk on the phone only on mothers day and Christmas. ... I should turn my heart over to the lord, not only half or 99%. ... Sorry, but you shouldn't get your hopes up and have full conversations, it's not good for you emotionally to talk every single day, or put hopes in being able to do something like this. I want to be the best missionary I can be. Sorry,
Neil. I hope you understand?

I understand and I love him for it!

Let me tell you what I know about how he's doing:

He just finished his training on Friday.  He loved the experience of learning about genealogical research by doing some for his own family tree.  He sent home some great information for our files.  He told us that his trainer was "AWESOME!"

He's enjoying his roommates/companions.  There are four of them in his apartment.  He's getting a chance to work out almost every morning before work to stay in shape.  His first week of shopping he almost ran out of food, so he's learning to plan his meals better and buy enough to last all week.

Now that his training is done, he was assigned his first job or "zone" as they call it.  He will be working in Church History Collections starting today.  When he wrote on Saturday he didn't yet know what that entails, so we can't wait until this weekend to find out how the week went.

He's keeping his fun sense of humor and his letters are happy and upbeat.

Now let me tell you how I'm doing:

It's hard and I miss him!

But I'll be okay.  He's in the best possible place. He has a chance to be independent in a safe environment.  His faith is growing and he's developing a relationship with the Lord that can only come from turning his life over to God.  We are all being blessed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Aaaaand...He's Off!

Leaving Grandma's House

Last Minute Advice from Mom
Meeting the Mission President
Final Goodbyes

If you wish to write to Elder Stone, here is his address:

Elder Neil Stone
c/o FCHH Mission
JSMB - East 3rd Floor
15 E. South Temple St.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-3460

I'll write more about the experience at a later date. Still a little overwhelmed by it all, but I'm so proud of my boy!  

The View from Neil's Apartment

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

For This Child I Prayed

Hannah, the mother of Samuel, and I have something in common.  We know what it's like to fast and to pray and to plead with the Lord for a son. Her petition was granted when she gave birth to a child who would become a prophet in Israel. The Lord answered my prayers in the form of a mission call. Maybe my faith doesn't quite compare with Hannah's, but I believe I have faith enough.

Neil has had a desire to give back. Heavenly Father has put so many blessings into his life in the form of increased abilities, strengthened faith, healing, and inspired, loving people who've helped him along his road to recovery . Doesn't it make sense that he would want to show his love and thankfulness to the Lord through actions?

Early this year, we decided to help him pursue a Church mission. Since he is not currently able to serve a regular, proselytizing mission, we found another way he could possibly serve as a missionary. He eagerly participated in countless evaluations and interviews to see if he would be an appropriate candidate for a special service mission. His final paperwork was submitted last Monday. After making a circuitous route to get to us, we got the official word on Sunday that Neil has been called to the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission in Salt Lake City for two years. He is to report to his mission on July 6th.

My prayers have been for Neil and his ability to be the missionary that he wants to be, but I've also prayed for myself. Neil's been working toward independence for some time now. He can do his own laundry, prepare some of his meals, shop for groceries. He can keep his room clean, clean the bathroom, clean himself. I'm glad he'll have some supervision--a kind mission president and some senior couples who will keep an eye on him and the other young missionaries. He's ready to leave home, but am I ready for him to leave me? For three years we've been inseparable. Quite honestly, it will be hard for me to let go and put him in some one else's care for a while. I am willing to make that sacrifice. As Hannah said, long ago:

"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord." 

Monday, May 28, 2012

In the Garden

Starting the seeds under Jemima's watchful eye 
See how they grow

Preparing the plots

A frequent visitor

One of the pretty moths that lay tiny eggs that produce vegetation-eating caterpillars

Tad, the Toad, keeping a watchful eye out for the a fore mentioned caterpillars 

Growing things

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Neil's Best Thing

We've put aside school for a little while. We'll come back to it later--maybe just one class at a time, or try an online course down the road.

The focus lately has been employment. Neil has had a work study experience at this darling boutique for the past several weeks, and is about to begin a paid work experience there for eight more weeks. Then it will be on to the real job hunt with a job coach.

I haven't seen Neil this happy since the accident three years ago. He loves his job. He feels needed and useful because he is. He has a great relationship with his boss and coworker. I love his job, too.

Next time you're in Somerville, come check out the store on main street. Even if Neil's not there, you'll love the place. Cute stuff, great prices, awesome people.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Emerson Time

I was there. I saw him: The Cutest Baby in the World. And it's true. He really is!

Just see for yourself:
T.C.B.I.T.W. after a bath
T.C.B.I.T.W. at the doctor's office

T.C.B.I.T.W. asleep on his mother's lap

T.C.B.I.T.W.'s first taste of real food

I'm feeling like a pretty lucky grandma. I only got to spend a few days with him, but those were quality days for sure. That is one cuddly kid! Now that I'm home, all I can say is thank goodness for Skype!