Our honeymoon was two days spent in Tampa and then a seven day cruise in the Western Caribbean.  Our first anniversary we spent in Cancun.  The second anniversary we celebrated a little early and went to Orlando for a friend’s wedding.  This is anniversary number three.  Kids’ schedules and Hub’s work restraints left us only a weekend to spend alone.  We chose to come to our condo in Moab, Utah.  

Moab has gorgeous scenery and plenty to do, but for some reason it has never been my number one choice of vacation destinations.  I tend to overlook what is in my own “backyard.”  But, no more.

Yesterday we rented ATVs at 8:00 a.m. and spent the entire day exploring the “Chicken Corners” area.  Around almost every bend was a beautiful view.  We brought along a picnic lunch and ate it at a breathtaking overlook of the Colorado River.

I could go on and on in attempting to describe the scenery and the wildlife we saw, but the real reason the day was special to me was because I got to share it with my husband.  Hub was so happy riding the trail.  Many times he stopped and pointed out a ridge or a trail and shared memories from his childhood.  His family took many trips to Moab when Hub was growing up and it is a place he truly loves.

Hub wasn’t aware of it, but I was watching him.  I was watching him and loving how his face would light up as he pointed out certain landmarks.  He would smile as he told of jeeping at Elephant Hill.  He laughed when he remembered how his dad had once pulled a bunch of sagebrush onto a trail in an attempt to block it as a joke and how the next people to come along in a jeep only paused for a second before plowing right through.

Hub shared memories on Friday night as we ate at Sunset Grill sitting high on a ridge overlooking the city of Moab.  Last night, on a whim, we decided to drive one and a half hours to Grand Junction, Colorado for dinner.  On the drive Hub shared memories of times he spent with his own kids in the Moab area.  Though I shared some memories of my own, most of the time I spent listening…and loving.

Sharing memories from the past was important to my husband.  Spending the weekend together doing something he enjoys built a memory for the future.

A good memory. 

 

   

June 4, 1998 (Thursday)– This afternoon Mack got bored.  She decided to fight the boredom by enlisting me to play with her.  First, she just handed me the end of a rope and held the other end.  She then directed me on moving it certain ways to create squiggles and waves.  The next activity was pretending to be trees.  We each took turns pretending to be Christmas trees while the other person wrapped the rope around the “tree” for Christmas lights.  I wasn’t a very good tree.  I kept moving and Mack would call me a “bad tree” or “naughty tree.”  When my turn was over she’d unwrap the “lights” and tell me it was time to throw me away.  What an imagination!

June 25, 2000 (Sunday)– I found an injured baby bird Thursday when I was mowing the lawn.  I brought it in and put it in Nesto’s old cage with some food, water, and some soft bedding.  The girls were all quite interested in it.  We made sure they understood that the bird was not our pet, as soon as it could fend for itself we would set it free.  We named it “Fauna.”  It perked up Friday and was even chirping quite a bit.  It flew around the cage and sat on the perches.  Saturday I took the girls shopping for summer clothes and when we came back home the bird was lying on its side in the cage.  I picked it up and it died in my hand a short time later.  We were all pretty bummed about it.  But, Hoob has decided that Nesto is going to be Fauna’s mommy in heaven and take care of her.  We haven’t had very good luck with animals around here lately.

June 29, 2006 (Thursday)– Yawlin graduates from Kindergarten today.  No more kindergarten–ever.  It makes me sad.  Yawlin’s part for the program is:  “T is for teacher.  Isn’t that her name?”  I will be providing the drink and cups for the party after the program.  ****  The other day all three girls had softball practice the same night, but on a staggered schedule.  Rather than make umpteen trips back and forth between Sandy and Murray I packed us a picnic and we ate at the park near the Jr. High.  I brought Yawlin’s June activity calendar so that we could work on it while his sisters were practicing.  One of the activities was for him to write three things he would do if he were President of the United States.  Yawlin’s answer:  1.  Help the people.  2.  Make phone calls.  3.  Help injured people.

June 30, 2006 (Friday) – Huh is not happy to owe $74.00 in overage charges on her cell phone.  She is even angrier that $66.00 of that charge was caused by ONE boy.  Ah, life lessons!  🙂

*********************

One of the most rewarding activities I have done for my kids is to keep individual journals for each of them.  I have done it for years.  Because our days are rather hectic I don’t write in all four journals every day.  Instead, I rotate the journals and write in one each day, so there is a new entry written in each journal every fourth day.  Of course life gets in the way sometimes and journaling gets behind, but I do try to keep my journaling schedule intact as much as possible.

The benefits?  Memories have been preserved that otherwise would have been lost.  It is amazing to me, when I sit and read past entries, how many of them I have forgotten.  But, thankfully they have been recorded in the journals.  My kids also enjoy rereading what has been written about them.  They laugh out loud at some of the entries and then run to share them with their siblings.  It has created a connection between all of us.  The biggest benefit to me is watching my kids pull out their journal and read it when they are going through a rough time.  For whatever reason, reading past entries in their journals helps them deal with whatever they are going through.  

The journals record the good times as well as the bad.  They are full of my expressions of love and pride in the people they are becoming.  There are a few mementos and pictures tucked inside as well.  The plan is to give the journals to the kids as they leave the nest.  They will receive the handwritten copy, a typewritten copy, and a computer disc that has all of the kids journals recorded on it (since they share so many of the same memories).  The kids know this plan and embrace it.

I am horrible at scrapbooking, it is something I do not enjoy.  But, I don’t mind sitting down each day and writing in a journal.  Each entry takes only a few minutes to write and provides a little snippet of life.  For this post I chose random entries from past Junes to share.  It has taken me longer than usual to write this post because I got lost in the memories, but I don’t mind.  It was fun to take a look back.  For all those who hate spreading photos, scissors, paper, and other random scrapbooking items out on a work surface and spending hours creating those works of art called scrapbooks, journaling for your kids might be an alternative.  I know it has brought me much satisfaction and joy.  And the kids like it! 

 

Tomorrow I go play games with Grandpa.  The last visit was special to me because I learned something about three of my kids.  And what I learned gives me hope that they will develop into compassionate and caring adults.

I visited Grandpa twice in April.  Twice, because my fifteen-year-old daughter, Mack, requested the second visit.  She had enjoyed the previous time she got to play games with Grandpa and wanted to go again.  Since four of our seven kids had a day off from school during the week that we were “unplugged” I decided it would be a good time to let the kids visit Grandpa again.  Mack, Hoob, and Yawlin accompanied me to Grandpa’s house.  Shroom, my stepson, had already disappeared to a friend’s house, and since he doesn’t really know my Grandpa, I didn’t push the issue of having him join us.

Grandpa wasn’t feeling well when we arrived.  He joined us at the kitchen table for a game of Clue, but I could tell he wasn’t really into it.  Grandpa started to reminisce.  He got out his old year book and showed the kids all the pictures of himself.  He was on the football team and was captain of the track team; there was a picture of him throwing the javelin; he was in the chorus and a member of a men’s club called the D-Men.  He showed us Grandma’s picture and told us the story of when they met.

“I went to the Zenith Dance with another girl,” Grandpa said with a chuckle.  “While there, my date asked me if there was any other girl there that I wanted to dance with.  That was when I spotted your Grandma.  I pointed to her and said, ‘that one!'”

Grandpa says he never dated another girl but Grandma after that.

Grandpa moved on in his remembrances to telling us of his childhood friend, Delilah.  She was the only child his age that lived nearby so they did everything together.  She was like a sister to him.  She grew up, married, and moved to Arizona.  Later in life she contracted cancer and died. 

Grandpa’s facial expression changed.  There was a wistful, sad look in his eyes.  He told how Delilah’s husband brought her body back to Utah so Grandpa could conduct the funeral.  This brought more memories to mind.  Grandpa told of conducting the funeral of a little girl who had been killed by a horse.  He remembered several members of a family who had drowned as their car was washed away in a flash flood and another family that had lost five family members in a horrible car crash.

“Have you ever seen five caskets lined up in a row at one funeral?” Grandpa asked.

Then Grandpa moved on to a story I’ve heard him tell before.  Grandpa is sure Grandma hates him.  She wanted to die at home.  Grandpa’s kids talked him into leaving Grandma in the hospital where she could receive better care.  She died in the hospital.  To this day Grandpa swears that when he bent down to kiss Grandma good-bye in her casket before the start of her funeral he heard her snap, “Get away from me!”  He is positive Grandma doesn’t want to see him when he gets to the other side because he let her die in the hospital instead of at home.

The entire time Grandpa was talking I was watching him and noticing the facial expressions that matched the pain in his voice.  I wasn’t paying attention to my kids until I heard a loud sniffling.  I turned and saw eight-year-old Yawlin leaning forward on the kitchen table with tears streaming down his face.  He made no attempt to hide them.  I looked at Yawlin’s older sisters to see if they had noticed Yawlin crying.  Hoob had turned so her face couldn’t be seen, but I could see a lone tear hanging from her chin.  Mack was staring straight ahead with two tears trickling down her cheeks.

My sweet, wonderful children were touched by what they were hearing their “Grandpa Great” say.  They weren’t writing him off as some old geezer with stories to tell.  They were feeling what he was feeling.  I was glad that I had brought the kids along.  Yes, the stories were sad, and the kids talked about them for quite some time after the visit, but a stronger bond between the three of them and Grandpa was forged.  They are capable of compassion.  They can feel what others are feeling.  I will be forever grateful for the exercise in empathy my kids were provided that day. 

I spotted the ponds on accident.  I wasn’t looking for rippling bodies of water, I was looking for vending machines.  My daughter’s dance competition was an hour behind schedule and I was hungry.  But as I passed through a glass hallway in search of food I saw the ponds.  They were obviously man-made, but I didn’t care.  They were the perfect spot to take some pictures of Hoob in her African dance costume before we left the campus for home.

Once Hoob had performed and had collected her trophy I asked her if she wanted to take pictures by the ponds.  She readily agreed.  The weather was gorgeous and the sun was just beginning to lower in the sky.  It was perfect for taking pictures.  I hadn’t brought my camera but we did have Hoob’s Flip video recorder.  She is more tech savvy than I am.  She knows how to upload the videos to the computer and then capture still pictures from them.  Hoob showed me how to work the Flip and we began filming.

Hoob did some dance moves and jumps and then she spotted the ducks.  My original intent was to film quickly and then leave so I could get Hoob back to her father (his weekend to have the kids).  But when Hoob spotted the duck families and the two little ducklings who had been separated from their families, I decided to relax and enjoy the moment with my daughter. 

The extra time I seized with my daughter included:

*The two of us following the ducklings and trying to coax them out of the water so that we could grab them and put them with their families.  The ducklings wouldn’t hear of it.  (Did you know that a duckling trying to get away from someone trying to grab it looks exactly like it is running on the water?)  

*Me filming Hoob as she tried to get close to the ugliest off-white goose we’ve ever seen (at least we think it was a goose, it was hanging out with a bunch of Canadian Geese).  The goose didn’t want Hoob too close so it kept running away.  Our film shows Hoob chasing the goose all over the lawn while it is making a funny honking noise.  It finally escaped by jumping into one of the ponds.

*Visiting some man-made waterfalls that were a short distance from the ponds.  I filmed Hoob doing some of her dance moves in front of the waterfalls and then I dared her to run across the cement “stepping stones” in front of one of the waterfalls.  There was some lady watching everything we were doing and I think Hoob thought she would get in trouble, but she finally took me up on my dare and ran across.  I think that is the fastest I have ever seen my daughter move.

*Hoob filming me strike different poses on a bench in front of one of the waterfalls.  My favorite pose is when I am hanging upside down off the back of the bench.

*Me filming Hoob posing with some bronze statues that we found near the waterfalls.  She pretended to dance with two men statues and did a silly pose pushing a girl statue away from a guy statue while covering the guy statue’s eyes.  Is this a sign that my daughter is going to be the jealous type?

*Stopping to enjoy swallows flying to and from their nests on one of the buildings on campus.  The upper deck where the birds have chosen to nest has been roped off and signs stating “Swallow Nesting Area-Please Do Not Disturb” have been placed in various locations.  We laughed at all the bird droppings on the railings and windows of the building.  It must be a treat to have class in that classroom.  Hoob tried filming the swallows as they flew out in a group, but they were too fast and quickly flew too far away to film.

As I drove home after our little adventure on campus I enjoyed hearing Hoob giggle as she watched what we’d filmed.  We both agreed that it had been fun.

When I got home after dropping Hoob off at her father’s house Hub had dinner (courtesy of Olive Garden) waiting by the lit fire pit on the patio.  (He is so awesome!)   As we ate, I told him of our adventure with geese, ducklings, and statues.  I mentioned that it is important to seize moments like that when they come so that memories can be made.  He agreed and told me of a time when his kids were younger and wanted to explore a cave near their house.  He took his kids and some of their friends to the cave and went exploring.  As they neared the back of the cave they could see something moving and then it ran at them.  They all ran screaming from the cave, the frightened squirrel beating them to the exit.

Creating memories is an important part of family life and building relationships.  Many times the moments aren’t planned but we need to be prepared to seize them and make the most of them.  “Take the time to smell the roses” is quoted often.  Yes, take the time to smell the roses, or chase a goose, or rescue some ducklings, or explore a cave, or have dinner by the fire with your honey.  The memories created will last a lifetime.