Friday, May 30, 2008


Other than Kierstin herself... and the kids... the best thing I got out of my marriage is my own camping spot just east of Zion National Park.  

The Giffords (Kierstin's mother's family) have 20 acres of hillside situated on the North Fork Road, just outside of the east gate of Zion.  The property is owned by a family trust... of which we are members.

We have our own area at the top of the property that we like to call Chateau Le'vitte... (yes... you say that with a snotty french accent!)

I have always loved camping... as a kid we had an annual trip up to Lost (or Los) Camp... which as I recall is somewhere up near Mammoth Creek.  Mom would also take us up to Mt. Charleston when the chance arose.  Kierstin and I started our marriage with as much camping as we could get in up in the Diamond Fork Canyon while we were up at school.  And I am proud to say that not a single one of our kids was a month old before they had been camping at least once.

Well... now my idea of camping has changed.  As kids, we mostly slept in sleeping bags... in a tent.  We cooked food over the fire... or ate sandwiches.

What we do now can't really even be called camping.  We have a travel trailer that stays up at "The Mountain Home" all summer long.  We bring food and clothes... and our ATV... and head on up.  Within ten minutes of getting to camp, we are set up... the kids are running off eating dirt and catching horned lizards... and I am kicked back in my hammock reading a book.

Last year we added a generator to our camping gear and any semblance of roughing it was officially gone.  On warm nights, instead of a fire, we watch a movie and eat microwaved popcorn.

Here are a few pics of camp.

Our friend Melinda... only one of those kids is hers.

There was a crew of forest fire-fighters clearing the trees near the road on the way to our camp... we picked up about 6 truck loads of wood... we feel like we are living in a beaver colony.

Chaison winning his race at the family reunion... notice the chubby cougar kid getting his can kicked by my Runnin' Rebel son.

Chaison's first golf game... at the course at Mount Carmel Junction.

If you are interested in getting away for the weekend... we love entertaining at camp even more than at home... let us know and we will make a plan.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

This is my first time putting something in the blog. Mother's Day was quite a day for me, so I felt that I needed to add something. Here is a little background of Mother's Day. Usually, I get this wonderful breakfast in bed, then somehow while we are away at church, my present magically appears so it is there when I get home from church. Then I don't have to do dishes, or change diapers (love this one), and I get a wonderful dinner.

So at 5 am Sunday morning, we were awakened by Chaison saying that Kalan had just thrown up. Now we had a birthday BBQ for all 5 of them the night before. All Kalan ate was junk. Cupcakes, ice cream, soda, candy, chips...of course he didn't eat any hamburgers or hot dogs. So with all of that and running around, it got to him and all over his bed. So I cleaned him up while Josh cleaned the bed up. Of course in my mind I am thinking...this is going to be a wonderful Mother's Day. Back in bed by 5:30, we try to get back to sleep. He was fine the rest of the day. By 7 am, Josh is asking what I wanted for breakfast since he didn't get to go shopping for food the day before. Which he kept apologizing for. So there wasn't much to choose from. Since our earlier encounter with Kalan, we didn't really feel like getting up. I started to doze off again, when Shai came in and said, "Mommy, I made you breakfast." I sat up and there she is with a plate and one piece of toast with Apricot jam on it. I wanted to cry. She said that she couldn't find the butter, so she put the jam on it. That was one dry piece of toast, but the best toast I had ever tasted. So I got my breakfast in bed. Josh went down stairs and started to make breakfast and when I came down and sat at the table, Shai brought over my present. There is a story to this. About a month ago, we were at Deseret Book and Shai saw something that she wanted to get me for Mother's Day. She kept asking Daddy if he could take her to the store to get it. Well he never got a chance, so on Saturday while he was out, she called him and asked him to pick it up. So she wrapped it up and wrote on there that it was from ALL of the kids. I open it up and it is a necklace with the sign for I love you. Shai and I have been learning sign language, so this really meant a lot to me.
After breakfast we got everyone ready and headed off to church. Where Chaison, Shai and Kalan and the rest of the primary got up and sang to all of us mothers. Then at the end of Sacrament they handed out peanut m'n'm's. Not as good as last years homemade fudge or the years before chocolate covered strawberries, but I'll take it. Then I had to go teach my primary class which the other class had to come into my class since their teacher didn't show up. There is a reason why they split that class...there's a lot of kids. So that was fun.

On the way home, Josh told me that he didn't find anything he wanted to get me for Mother's Day, plus I had told him that all I wanted was some money so that I could go out with my friend and just do a day of shopping or pampering, so he said he would just do that. So no present awaiting me at home, but I am totally fine with what he gave me.

Later Chaison came in and gave me a present. He had made me a really cool beaded necklace.
Then I rushed off to my Mom's ward to hear her teach in Relief Society. She gave a great lesson. And she was so happy that my sister and I were there to support her.

For dinner, we ate leftovers from the night before. So, I woke up to a kid throwing up, I didn't get these wonderful huge meals, my house was a disaster, and I wasn't going to clean that day. You would think that this was a blah Mother's Day, but I have to say, it was the BEST Mother's Day yet.

So about Moms. I love my mom and I love my mother-in-law. I am very close to both of them and they are both wonderful gals. They support us in everything we do. They take care of us and help us out. And they are the BEST grandma's. I am so truly grateful for both of them. But what I am most grateful for is that I am a mom. A mom to 5, beautiful, wonderful, energetic, insane kids. I love every minute of it. My life may be crazy and I do mean CRAZY, but so worth it.

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mother's!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

18 years

It is hard to believe that it has been 18 years since Dad died.

We went to the cemetery today.  I usually try to get over there every once and again to clean up the marker.
We pulled up and happened to catch Kip and Katie as they were just getting ready to leave.  We all wandered over to the grave and talked for a little while.

I have to admit that visiting the grave is not something I really do actively... I don't feel any closer to Dad there than anywhere else.  But this turned out to be kind of a special visit.
Chaison was at a scouting event... so we had only the other 4.  Shai and Kalan have been there before... but they were pretty young.  I don't think it ever really registered with them that Grandpa's body was there.  This time it clicked.  Kalan was caught up in the mechanics of it... learning that people are buried under the lawn there.  That his Grandpa was there.  Shai, on the other hand, seemed to make a bigger connection.  She was quiet while we visited... but when it came time to leave, she told Kierstin that she didn't want to go yet.  She asked if she could say a prayer that she could see Grandpa again some day.

She was emotional on the drive home and was crying when we came into the house.  As she sat in my lap, I asked why she was upset.  She just said that she missed Grandpa.  Kalan joined in the conversation and was getting upset as well.  I explained to them, as I have before, that before they came down to join their Mommy and Daddy on Earth, they were with Grandpa in heaven.  He held them in his arms and they sat on his lap and he told them about the family they were coming to join.  And he told them that he loves them and would miss them... but that they would be together again before too long.

There have been many times since Dad died that I have felt that he was near... but never as strongly as when I talk to my kids about him.  They always talk about missing him... they feel the relationship they have with him... they remember him in a way that is different than how we usually think of memory.  They don't remember him biting their ears.  They don't remember Pez candies or watching Magnum PI; scoring Giants baseball games or hearing him sing about his grandparents and Bunkerville.  They don't remember family trips or dancing on his feet to the music of the jukebox... and they have no idea what a 4th of July party can really be.

They didn't get to share those earthly memories... but they know him... and they remember him.  What a great blessing that is for them... and for me.