Monday, May 6, 2013

Let the camping season  commence! Our first family camp out this year was to Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg. We went with two of our best friends, Sean and Jennifer, and had such a great time.

In preparation for hiking I of course wore the latest in fashion. The best sunglasses I could find as well as the longest socks I could muster up!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Photogenic Children

As many of you know I LOVE taking pictures. What I don't love is dressing people up. It may Have to do with my horrible fashion sense, it may be because I like to wear a brown belt with black shoes (because the belt is of great quality and the shoes fit perfectly well). Whatever the reason, I just like taking pictures. 

Often to the dismay of my wife, we have had some cute pictures comes out, for her to discover boogies crusted around the nose, food on faces, food in hair, bedhead, pictures in pajamas, pictures with wonky clothing combinations... you get the idea. I don't need cosmetics to tell my kids are beautiful, or to tell me I took a great picture, but the incongruity is strikingly funny, and I like it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How I Hate the Cold

I've determined that there is no way I am ever going to live in a region persistently plagued by cold weather...unless I get paid really, really well. We have been long overdue for a trip to Utah to see family and friends, and while it was wonderful to see these beautiful people, the ridiculously cold weather was just absurd. Nevertheless we were not deterred, and had a great time.

I had just come off the worst shift of my life, hands down the worst. So the plan was to sleep all day Tuesday, wake up at 6pm, and be on the road by 8pm. Well we had a few things working against us: 1. We have a well established precedent of never making it anywhere in a timely fashion, 2. Kids are like herding cats (I think you know what I mean), and 3. I assumed Kimberly had certain things in order, and she assumed I had certain things in order. And of course neither scenario was true.

Needless to say, we left at 11:59pm, and our delightful moods had become so encrusted with short tempers and harsh words, it was quite difficult to look at this 24 hour car trip in a positive light. I, being the eternal optimist that I am, almost canceled the trip 5 minutes into it, LOL. However, I have been blessed with a sweet, counterbalancing wife, who managed to soothe the situation, and our voyage began. When you start at the bottom, it can only get better.

In case anyone was wondering where the Holy Ghost goes to hang out and get a little rest, it's in New Mexico:

David and Heidi were so kind to allow us to invade their home at 1:30am on Thursday. We slept for a few hours and were up by 7:30am so we could meet up with Luke and Kristy at 8:30 for breakfast. So as not to break precedent, we showed up at 9:45. We love having such amazing family who still claim us despite our gross faults. It was a relatively quick breakfast because they had to catch a plane for a vacation of their own. Kenny and L loved playing with Emma and Reese, and only cried for 10 minutes following their departure.

That boy can't make a decent face in pictures any longer. Almost every picture we took, has him doing something silly.

We then made our way up to Ogden where we hung out with Randy and Karen for a short stent. It was at this point that I realized something about my son. He has reached the age where every time the camera comes out, he instinctively makes a silly face. He used to give me such a sweet smile at first, but now...

Our last scheduled stop was the whole reason we came to Utah. To see Grandma! We had a bit of a family reunion in Salt Lake City with David, Heidi, Janelle, Grandma, and my family. We were missing Kay though, and hope that we can get everyone next time we are up there. It is wonderfully refreshing to be related to someone who is 90+ years old, with her mental faculties intact, and cruising around unassisted (Robbie Rogers, I know I framed the picture incorrectly... I don't want to talk about it :-/).

I learned, last minute, that one of my great friends moved within 10 minutes of Grandma, so we made a quick jaunt over to see Adam Howsley and his family. Kenny found a quick new friend in Jackson, and of course cried a lot when we had to leave.

And what is a visit with a long time friend without a trip down memory lane...Very unabashedly, I was excited to receive a small gift by way of Battle Beasts and StarCom! Hahahahaha, I love the 80's and early 90's. Now my kids can enjoy a piece of my past. Thank you Adam.

And of course, no trip is complete without our traditional "Measuring Stick" picture with my little brother.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Caskets Shouldn't Be So Small

Tragedy struck the nation on December 14 in Connecticut, and the nation pulled together to rally around the families in Newtown. I had the honor of knowing Emilie Parker in life, and was able to attend her funeral this past weekend. She is very kind, loving, helpful, and at least every time I saw her, an extremely happy little six year old girl.

I don't believe I will ever forget entering into Utah. Emilie's favorite color was pink, and the residents of Utah decorated their state with Emilie in mind. Driving down the highway, everywhere I looked, I would find pink accents. Bows attached to telephone poles, ribbons tied to the fences, along bridges, and garnishing trees. Windows of residential homes were decorated with signs expressing love for a little girl who they didn't really know, other than they felt the acute loss of a life robbed of so many years. Maybe the people of Utah felt so much for Emilie because they felt like she was one of their own, having been born in that great state. Whatever the reason, they poured out their love for the Parker family in whatever way they could, and at every opportunity that presented itself.

Thursday evening a public memorial service was held in honor of Emilie, at the high school Robbie attended. Gratitude flowed from Robbie for all the support so many were lending to his family during this very difficult time. He spoke about how wonderful Emilie was, and how she had managed to get in a life time of talking in only six short years. We were all blessed as we watched a slideshow of Emilie's life set to music. Some people broke down and began uncontrollable sobbing, while others would softly wipe away unfettered tears. Following the speakers and slideshow, we all made our way to the fifty yard line, where twenty sky lanterns were released in memory of each of the children.

Friday evening was the viewing for family and close friends. As I rounded the corner and saw Robbie and Alissa Parker standing next to a tiny casket, I could not retain the emotions bottled up inside me. The wrongness of the scene screamed at me. Parents should never have to bury their children, and to top it all off, caskets should never have to be made that small. I fell to pieces, and all I could do was hold each of them and cry. Words fail you at that point, and I could only hope that a hug, and my feeble expression of love might bring some measure of comfort and relief to them.

Saturday morning the funeral services were held. Quentin Cook, an Apostle of Jesus Christ presided over the services. We heard from the Parker's bishop from Connecticut, some close family to the Parkers, Robbie himself, and Elder Cook. Robbie and Alissa were given a letter from the First Presidency of our church expressing their sorrow, as well as the hope and joy which comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that their family will be reunited again in heaven. Services concluded with a hymn, Silent Night, which was one of the songs Emilie was practicing for her performance which was to be given in church. Everyone exited the building to be confronted by an indignant media armed with cameras. I do not understand the need to relentlessly pry into the lives of a family mourning the loss of a child, a little respect seems to be in order. This was one of the reasons a public memorial was held on Thursday. A pleasant surprise on the other hand, was found in the presence of the Bikers Against Child Abuse. They showed up to protect little Emilie and her family, just in case a particular religious group decided to protest.

Lining the street, from the church to the graveside, were hundreds of people dressed in pink, holding pink balloons, reverently tossing pink flowers before the funeral procession, and holding pink ribbons. A solemn dedicatory prayers was offered graveside, and each person slowly left a tiny casket to be lowered into its resting place.

That evening a family dinner was held where we all joined together and found strength and comfort one with another. As a surprise to most of us, Jon Schmidt had been in contact with Robbie, and wanted to do what he could, by way of offering his talent, to offer some sort of reprieve from pain with an evening of music. He played Waterfall, which was a song often played in the Parker home as they all would dance. The evening continued with Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer being played upside down with all the children gathered around the piano, Can't Help Falling in Love with You, Charlie Brown theme song, Chopsticks with his feet, All of Me, a variation of the hymn All Creatures of our God and King, two hymns which we all sang as he played Away in a Manger, and O Little Town of Bethlehem. This was followed by a special song which he wrote for his brother and sister's funeral, Tribute. This song he explained always makes him think of the resurrection, and a time of reunion upon that glorious day. He concluded with all of us singing Silent Night. The whole evening of music brought a brief respite from pain. As Jon played, Madeline was dancing the entire time, enfolded in the music, and we all found some rest.

Time is what is needed now. Robbie and Alissa expressed their gratitude on the Emilie Parker Fund page on Facebook for everything that the nation has done:

"I am sorry it has taken so long for me to share something here. There has been so much support, love and prayers offered and it has given my family such strength. I even hesitate to post because I feel so inadequate to be able to articulate my sincere appreciation for what everyone has done to support the families of every victim in this horrible tragedy. Thank not enough. To all who reached out, your support was felt and it has touched our lives in a very personal way. I hope that brings you comfort and continues to inspire you to do good in this world.
-With much love-
Robbie Parker

I am grateful to know Emilie, and the whole Parker family. My heart goes out to them. I love them. It is my prayer that our loving Heavenly Father will continue to heal and bless that precious family.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Granny's 80th!

Happy 80th birthday Virginia McConnell. It was a grand ol' time up in Oklahoma with uncle's, aunts, and cousins. I was told it was a surprise party, but I'm of the opinion that Granny knew about this party beforehand. There were plenty of surprises though. Granny had no idea that certain people were going to be present, and when she saw them, her face lit up like a child during Christmas. 

While we were there on the farm, why not learn to drive a tractor? Growing up in the city, I didn't have have ample opportunities to ride a tractor, let alone DRIVE one. A big thanks to my Dad, who grew up on this farm, who took the time to teach me. Heather Maddox, I was thinking of you the whole time, LOL!

 Kenny and L both enjoyed  sitting on the tractor with Papa. The only difference was, when the tractor began to move, Kenny LOVED it, and L just started screaming and crying. In my "Parent mode," I did not get a picture of her crying, I just moved swiftly to help her get down off the "scary tractor."

I'm not 100% sure what Kristy was doing, but here's a picture of it.

Over all it was a great time, filled with many memories, and some new familial connections. To our family in California, it was wonderful seeing y'all, and we greatly anticipate the opportunity to see you again.

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