Spring Break in St. George 2017

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to St. George, UT for spring break this year. It has become a tradition for many years now to visit southern Utah’s red rocks and enjoy the outdoors after being cooped up for the winter.

This year we joined Lance and Anne’s family again, along with the Puzey’s – sans Diana, and the Peterson’s – another family from Sugar City. We kicked off our adventure by checking our kids out of school at noon with our car and trailer loaded to the hilt with camping gear, bikes, food, and luggage.

We made it to Inkom when the tire on our trailer decided to blow! YIKES. Good thing for spare tires…the guys changed it in record time and we were back on the road without loosing much time.

We were anxious to get to our camp spot, because not only would it be almost dark when we arrived and we needed to set up a tent – we weren’t entirely sure if there would be camping available. It was first come first serve in primitive camping at the Bearclaw Poppy trails. The Puzey Fam were following on the road with us. We arrived near 8:30 pm on the bumpy and steep road to our site and finally set to work getting our tents up and sleeping bags unrolled. The rest of our party arrived closer to midnight.

Next morning we were up and eating breakfast after a lovely (and surprisingly warm) nights sleep. Lily apparently has always wanted to eat the fruit of a cactus, so got all of the kiddos excited about cutting in that for our morning entertainment. The events of the day included an excursion to Gooseberry Mesa to ride bikes…all of us! After that, we had a picnic and headed to Red Cliff Reserve. The kids loved getting wet on our hike in the narrow canyons after a windy and sweaty bike ride. Lily kissed a frog….gross! πŸ˜‰ For dinner we drove to In-N-Out Burger, then back to our campground for popcorn over the fire, s’mores, and kids playing night games.

 

 

 


Friday it was decided that our bike ride would be the bearclaw poppy trail. Olivia’s bike steering was awful from the previous ride so we were all juggling bikes around to find a way we could all be successful and happy. πŸ™‚ She had a hard time being excited, but plowed through all the way to the end! My favorite thing about Olivia on our spring break trips is her attention to the beautiful details: flowers, rock shaped hearts, etc.. JT, on the other hand, was so anxiously excited he rode way ahead of the others and eventually was lost with Gordon Peterson. We didn’t even realize it, until we ended and then the panic set in. Luckily it didn’t last long as we asked some of the other riders if they had seen two boys and they told us they had and where they were. YIKES! I’m so grateful they didn’t get hurt or kidnapped. I guess that is bound to happen with such a large group. Mason was a rockstar and re-rode the entire trail backward to find the stranded boys. Stephen headed back to camp and got the trailer for all of our bikes. Thankfully all ended well. We rode our bikes back to camp and then ate lunch while determining our next move. Since camping and being sweaty most everyone was ready for a dip in some water. We headed out of town and found a free lake. Stephen challenged any takers to swim across the lake for $5. Sami, Mason, and Owen took him up on it and completed the challenge! Β Lily and the older girls washed there hair in an adjoining body of water. She said she could check washing her hair next to a duck off her bucket list. Β Afterward drove to Snow Canyon for a hike to a cave. There we cut open glow sticks and splattered then on us and the walls so we could play glow in the dark hide and seek. It was a lot of fun! We settled on pizza from Little Caesars for dinner and ate it at an awesome park while we watched the little and big kids play on the toys. What a full, fun, and exhausting day!

 

When we first began our plans in January about where to celebrate Spring Break and determining that we would camp to save money, etc. Lily was less than excited. She was worried about the bike rides, and hates germs so camping isn’t her favorite. The thing that kept her excited was the opportunity she wanted to take to do baptisms for the dead in the St. George temple. So she invited her friend Bailey Peterson and I to join her. We went first thing on Saturday morning. When we got back to camp the crew was getting ready to head out for another bike ride on bearclaw poppy trail. I stayed back at camp and relaxed/organized a bit while Bailey and Lily hid candy on the rocks for an Easer Hunt. When all returned we let the kids find the candy. The older kids were able hunt for 5 – $1 bills and 1- $20. Owen was the one to ride the $20. In the afternoon, the Lance Parker family left for home and we – along with Puzey fam, made the drive to Zion’s National Park and in hopes to climb Angel’s Landing. Each of us made it to the scout lookout, but only the oldest kids and Stephen summited. It sure is a beautiful world that we live in! As were were driving back to St. George, Stephen started wondering about the idea of staying on a hotel that night so we could get him back to the airport on Sunday in time for his flight to Austin TX. After a long debate, we decided to take Casey up on his offer to stay in their hotel room. haha! So we got creative and made some interesting sleeping arrangements. Mason shared a bed with Stephen and I. Lily slept by Ashlyn on a hide-away bed and Olivia, JT and Ellie slept on the floor. What a great family to make memories with! So funny and truly gracious.

Poop Patrol!

We were able to wake up and head out of town right on schedule! It was Easter Sunday, so I made a few things for us to discuss and talk about as we drove to feel like we experienced church and took time to honor the glorious truth that Jesus Christ is Risen! Stephen made it to the airport in fact ahead of schedule and the rest of us came home unloaded the car and ran off to the Parker Family Easter party at John and Michelle’s home. What a fast and furious weekend full of unforgettable memories and beauty!


MOAB 2014

Our family has started a tradition of going to southern Utah for our Spring Break – we seem to trade back and forth between Moab and St. George UT. This year we ended up in MOAB and had a great time! It was great to stay in one spot, one hotel, for 4 nights and 5 days and then just enjoy the beautiful world. Highlights included family bike rides and hikes, petroglyph sightings, Stephen and Mason conquering Porcupine Rim, Lex and Jodi running the Canyonlands half marathon, JT’s trips to the dollar store, Olivia & Lily getting to test out the new bikes they got for Christmas, and everyone having fun at the local bike park.

Family BYUI Education Week 2013

Today we wrapped up BYUI's Education Week as a family. We have spent the past three days attending classes and learning various things. It was awesome to get to enjoy it as a family, yet go in our different directions for age appropriate instruction. It wasn't a flawless experience going as a family – we had a few bumps in the road to challenge us a little, but in the end we came home with a good memory in our hearts. I am confident that each of our testimonies were strengthened and we have a good idea list of ways to be better and the motivation to accomplish it. John Parker was one of our favorite speakers! He is a natural at teaching and gave great ideas. We were proud to be related to such a fine person! Mason got to come with us to his class and he enjoyed seeing Uncle John in his element. (note to self: encourage John & Bruce to give a mini EFY for all of "the cousins" sometime soon!)  After it was all over today we met at the bowling alley and threw some balls down the lane. I think this was probably my favorite time because we were all together and each of us were in happy, nice, and funny moods. NO one cried or pouted (too badly) :). I WON and Olivia came in second. The winner got to have the biggest frozen yogurt at Mill Hollow. Before we went there, we headed for dinner at Gringos. We were so happy when we saw Riley and she got to be our waitress. Stephen and I were able to top off the day after that with a temple trip. I was stunned and also surprised to see my mom sitting by Stephen as we waited to go through the session. It was so nice to get to be with her too. The new video shown for the session was compelling and thought provoking in a good way. Great way to call it a week!


Olivia’s new friend forever

good salsa

Baldwin Reunion 2013 @ Island Park

I love to spend time with the family I grew up with and their children. I truly do! I cannot even believe how lucky I am to get to claim them as a relative, they are each so cool.

We headed up to Island Park to the Parker Cabin. Bruce & Sharon were so generous to allow us to use their wonderful cabin. My family loved it there and it was very accommodating to meet all of our needs. Scott & Jeana were the ones "in charge" this year and had a great balance of casual/organized play and fun. The younger and older kids love to just hang out with each other and us old fogies enjoyed visiting and catching up. We all had time to play together with are kids and also had a spiritual send off. I really admire these people, have I said that enough??! 

Hopefully the pictures can give a great representation of the memories made.

Parker Time

We partied it up this past weekend with the Parker Families! Many good memories were made….

THURSDAY: All of us headed bright and early over to Stacie and Ricks for a delicious fourth of July breakfast. We then headed over to get a spot to watch the parade. Mason talked all of his younger cousins to ride bikes in the parade to hand out flyers for his Eagle Project. They looked official in their scout shirts and it made me proud of all of the Parker Scouts for representing & supporting Mason in such a way. Thanks to even the cute girls who helped out!! After the parade we went over to Mill Hollow for lunch. It was fun to see Paige and Lexi working! (There were many other random visits to Mill Hollow over these days for a yummy frozen yogurt treat) Stephen snuck home after this to finish making a cool three-wheeled bike for JT. It was worth the effort as JT felt very special and happy riding this bike over the rest of the days. The water slide  – a fourth of July Parker tradition took place afterward. Lex got to experience of her most embarrassing moments and took it in good stride. πŸ™‚ Jana and Ryon provided a delicious dinner of Pulled Pork for all of their very many guests and then Ryon put on a spectacular firework celebration for all of us to enjoy. He even got a license and permit to shoot off some pretty spectacular bursts.

FRIDAY: Stephen, Lance, John, and Mason woke up early for a fun Mt. Bike ride! Anne and I went for a lovely walk. After lunch we met out in Hibbard at the warm slough for a gentle canoe ride. While we waited for the vehicle drop off – most of the crew did a little bridge jumping. From our family Lexi, Mason, and Lily participated. It was fun to float down the river and look at the clouds with Olivia and hear JTs happy voice as Stephen paddled the canoe. Matt added some excitement when he found a cool turtle. After the canoe float all of the boys were taken to the skate park by the oldest granddaughters. It was so nice of them to take care of the boys. It was equally as nice of the second oldest set of girls to take care of and entertain all of the younger girls at John and Michelle's house while the parents enjoyed a trip to the temple and dinner. A disappointment came to the oldest kids as their reward for babysitting backfired when they realized the drive-in movie was sold out! Then ended up coming over to our house to watch a movie.

SATURDAY: Aunt Stephanie made lots of people smile as she invited kids to come over and participate in the Color Run 5k she was helping with. They had a blast and looked very colorful afterward. Most of the girls that participated drove down to Rigby Lake to rinse off and enjoy some more water fun. The boys puttered around our house building bike jumps. Poor sweet Zach had a sad four-wheeler accident and ended up with a gnarly broken leg. He is a tough little guy! The plan for this night was to go to the Demolition Derby but those of us who were running behind schedule ended up getting turned away – it was sold out! The girls ended up going to the movie and boys hit the bike jumps again. At 11 Lance & Stephen decided they wanted more ice cream so they took Anne and I over to Mill Hollow for a quick treat. It was fun laughing with them!

SUNDAY: We slept in! After we willed our eyes to open we went to church. Stephen received some new callings. He was called to be a Sunday School Teacher to the youth, a scout advancement chairman, and also a Camping Coordinator for the YM. He will be busy. We came home, ate dinner and then played a fun game that Anne taught us. It is called the no name game. We went over to Jana and Ryon's house for FHE and it was fun to see/talk to Bruce and Sharon via skype.

It was a FULL and FUN Holiday weekend.

There are no accidents

When the muffins are spilling over the sides of the pan because flour was missed in the recipe, and the dishwasher didn't get started so we have to wash all the dishes by hand – it is here when we see what this family is made of…The family rallies and we work together!

I go to bed that night and say "there are no accidents" to Jodi.  The Lord knows what our family needed and this is spot on. We needed some set backs to pull us together and help create harmony…it's amazing to find what we are made of.

Temples

I just returned from the Boise Temple Dedication. The entire state of Idaho is participating in three different sessions offered. Our family (Stephen and I, Lex, Mason, and Lily) attended the 9 'o clock session. It was a special experience to be part of and I am very grateful that I was able to share this moment with members of my family.

We were instructed well and were able to feel the testifying spirit of the Holy Ghost bear witness that what was happening was good and true. I was humbled and felt reverent feelings for the opportunity to be taught by the prophet of our church. President Thomas S. Monson, from the House of the Lord. He told a story of a group of wonderful saints from Guatemala who traveled up through Mexico and toward the Mesa Arizona temple to receive the sacred blessings of the temple. They traveled on an old rickety bus, which broke down on their way – which eventually arrived at the temple only after the people on the bus went without food for three days to pay for the repairs for the bus. The temple president of the Arizona temple had been inspired that they would be arriving and went to work preparing food, and lodging arrangements for those truthful saints. This story spoke to me of the importance and value we should place upon entering the house of the Lord as well as the understanding that God is mindful of His children. Because I have always lived closely to a Temple of God, I fear that I have many times taken it for granted. This story helped ignite a clearer understanding of the blessings that the temple can be in my life if I am more committed and have a greater desire to benefit from its power on earth.

I am grateful for the blessings that I have received from being able to attend the temple regularly. Not only are the obvious blessings of living eternally with my Heavenly parents & earthly family comforting, as well as grasping the concept of my heritage & my future posterity, but the simple and basic blessings I benefit from desiring to be there, such as: peace of mind as I live in this troubled world; a place provided for me to be still & quiet and focus on God's ways away from a busy and noisy worldly ways: increased faith and desire to be committed to follow His plan of happiness: Christ like feelings of compassion for others; more focus on remembering that I am literally a Child of God and am created in his image: and also the opportunity of gaining more instructions to know of God's ways and the things I can do to become worthy to enter His presence. ALL of these blessings come as I strive to be worthy and ready to let the Temple come into my life. I desire these feelings and blessings for myself and especially for the people I have grown to love and care about in my life!

I have a testimony of Temple worship and work. I know it is real. I know it extends beyond this earthly life. I know It Is God's house on the earth today and connects Heaven to Earth. I know we can come closer to God by being worthy to enter it's walls. I know that the instructions we receive there will enable us to learn what we need to know to see our Father in Heaven again someday. I know the priesthood power that is used in the temple make it possible for families to be sealed together forever. I know that true and lasting happiness come into our lives as we put Christ and his loving atonement at the center of our lives -the temple gives me the focus to use this atonement for myself as I strive to overcome my sins and shortcomings. I know God is real and mindful of each of us. I know He gives us our free agency to accept or reject all of these blessings. I know He is merciful and kind and loves us with a love that is beyond our understanding. I know God is in charge and that as I humbly submit to follow His plan for me, I will have more eternal blessings and happiness than I can begin to Imagine.

I know all of these things because of the strong warm feelings inside of my heart, which are given to me from the spirit of the Holy Ghost, as I've striven to contemplate, live, and then realize them in my simple life.

Catching Up

Too fast, too furious…can't believe how fast the last few months have gone by- it feels like a few weeks! How is time speeding by this quickly? Depending on the day this can be good or bad. πŸ™‚

Stephen & I – had our 18th wedding anniversary on October 28! So glad we get to be on this roller coaster of life together.  Lex and Astrid gave up a dozen roses and our favorite treats. The song I dedicated to him this year is "Home" by Phillip Phillips. I just love it for some reason?

Stephen – is experiencing changes with his job. The IT department at BYU Idaho is changing around who does what and who answers to whom. This has taken up a lot of frustration and worry for many of Stephen's colleagues. Stephen mostly just wants to have the decisions all made so he can get to work-which is what he is all about! He was asked to work a little with the company that bought out AMX– so that keeps him busy at nights when he isn't helping other people build houses, fix their computers, chillin with the YM, and supporting our kids in all of the activities they are involved in.

Jodi – I feel like I've been busy being the mom taxi, chef, counselor, etc.… I love it, but get tired and am ready to go to bed early. I seem to be unmotivated to starting any projects that need to be done around the house. Hoping that kicks in soon. J My sister came up for a surprise visit and that was BIG & exciting! Primary program is over, and now we are planning for the upcoming year. I teach a couple of girls violin lessons after school and enjoy having a chance for a musical outlet. Mostly I'm just trying to stay in tune with everybody's needs and while trying to stay emotionally stable myself – running still seems to fill that need inside of me for now.

Astrid – is almost always smiling and happy. We love having her in our home and she is a valuable asset to our family. We have loved getting to know her better and found that she is a sweetheart and super funny. Her already good English keeps improving. She made the most goals for the Sugar Salem Soccer team this season! She seems to come home with a new boy's phone number every day. πŸ™‚ hahaha Astrid is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the out!

Lexi – got her license. It is great to send her out on errands for herself or the family! She loves having a bit more freedom and has proven we can trust her to do what she says-she is a great girl. She was sad her soccer team didn't make it to state but also accepted it in stride. She is enjoying times with swing choir and has a dinner show next weekend. She takes pride in working hard to get good grades at school.

Mason – still loves bikes. Of course he does. He also loves camping too. He has advanced far enough through the scouting program that he is ready to work on his Eagle project. He is running into a few brick walls with his idea to groom a bike trail up in Kelly Canyon area. It will be on hold until the weather changes – unless he comes up with a different idea. I'm sure he would love any suggestions. Mason is enjoying band this year and told me that Mr. Sears, his band teacher, is his favorite teacher. Mason loves to eat pork burritos from Costa Vida.

Lily – is getting to be quite the social butterfly and has lots of friends. She loves to do things with her friends this year more than she ever used too. She is getting ready for piano festival and hopes to earn enough points to get her statue of Bach. She told me music is her favorite class at school- surprise? No. She also participates in the after school program and loves art and writer's club. She is really good at keeping her room clean and babysitting JT and Olivia. She loves colored jeans and is enjoying the challenge of fixing hair. She also likes going to Activity Days and her teacher Sister Malstrom. Lily is excited to turn 11 in just a few days.

Olivia – turned 7! She can play scales on the piano now. Exciting! She will participate in her first festival in two weeks. I'm proud of how she is self-motivated in practicing the piano and getting her homework done after school. When Olivia has a "hard time" – whining, complaining, tantrum-ing, like little 7 year old girls do, all you have to do Is tickle her smile back on. It works almost every time. She loves going to school for the full day and eating school lunch. We just found out she gets to be baptized the day after her 8th birthday (August 31) and she is very excited about that!

JT- is wild & goofy & cute as ever. He ate so much sugar on Halloween day that he was literally jumping off of the couch and running circles around the dining room table as he yelled loudly. πŸ™‚ He makes the weirdest faces as he does all of this too. JT loves to go to pre-school and wishes every day were a school day. He LOVES to ride his bike more than almost anything else – sounds like the other boys at our house. He also love to hand out with Stephen in the garage and fix things up. He loves to play games on the computer or iPad too. He said his favorite food is shredded colby jack cheese and a "cracked open potato with sour cream".  He does not like cheese inside of his food – just on the side or "plain".

Summertime 2012

This summer as been a full one and we still have a month to go. We have filled the time with working in our yard, attending camps, mingling at reunions, and preparing for our new exchange student.

For our yard we had some big and lofty plans some of which included building three different fences. One over by our bike park, one built to separate the forest from the yard, and extending a small fence on both ends by our poplar trees. We also put in concrete edging, took down 3 large pine trees that were in the way, trimmed pine trees in forest, filled in the rock beds with more rock, repacked dirt around the foundations, cleaned up our forest and hauled lots of junk to the dump yard, and put our trampoline in the ground. We also moved and planted several pine trees. This is why when people asked my children what they have been doing this summer they answered with a loud, "work"! We have also been trying to pull weeds everyday, tend our garden, weed eat and mow the lawn. Lots to do and feel alive. It is good to work and see the fruits of our labor.

Mason attended scout camp at Treasure Mountain this year. He earned some great merit badges including, swimming, life saving, wilderness survival to name a few. His patrol also earned the spirit stick and won battle of the Tetons! It was a great year for the Bacon Patrol. Stephen, JT, Olivia and I went up on Friday evening for family night and enjoyed singing songs and watching goofy skits. We also loved seeing big smiles on dirty clothed boys' faces. We are happy Mason is learning skills and attributes to become a responsible citizen in his community. Lily and Lex spent the month of July attending a cake decorating class and made some fancy things. Also in July, Lily was able to attend "True You Tea Parties" learning about self worth and how to be her best self. Stephen got to go to California for a week for BYU Idaho and Lexi was able to attend Adventrue for Youth with her cousins, Kassie, Paige, Riley, & Haley. They enjoyed it so much and it sounded like each testimony was strengthened. Lexi enjoyed bonding with her cousins and meeting new friends – especially some nice boys from Mexico. Girls camp consisted of a one night camp out at the Redd residence. They spend the night doing certification. Stephen helped set up some tents, and Jodi helped teach a few things. The camping experience for the girls was combined with our ward TREK. We recently returned last Saturday from a 4 day experience at Martin's Cove. It was definitely a highlight of our summer. It was another opportunity to help our testimonies grow and realize the sacrifices of the pioneers. We had fun laughing in our tent together at night and walking along the trails and enjoying the peace found there.

Parker Reunion was kicked of by 4th of July festivities. We enjoyed the support given to ride in the parade to publicize the AMA challenge. Jana and Ryon were great hosts for a water slide and firework show to top of the day. Having everybody camp in our forest was fun for us. It was great to have everybody come to our home and play & sit around the campfire. Going to the Sand Dunes is always a fun adventure as well. It is amazing how fast all of these cute kids are getting.

Baldwin Reunion was also a blast! Michelle did a wonderful job organizing and planning this year. We kicked it off with a campfire in her backyard. The next morning several people participated in baptisms for the dead at the Draper temple. We then played games and had a picnic at the Draper park. The evening get the fun a rolling with the opportunity to attend the Real Salt Lake Soccer game. It was a great surprise to see Kassie and Sami and the family across the way.

 

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