Saturday, August 25, 2018

Back to School - Big Boys

Elliott and Wyatt went back to school this past Wednesday.

Elliott is in SIXTH GRADE!

Wyatt is in FOURTH GRADE!

It's funny to know that there are people I went to high school with who are parents to 21 year old children and I am the parent of an 11 1/2 year old.  It's pretty cool though.

The boys did a lot of growing up this summer.

Back in the Spring, after a night of getting stuck in a rain storm and terrible traffic trying to get home from taking Elliott to soccer practice (Wyatt and Quinn were home), I stressed out and we got the boys a phone.  A flip phone.  Essentially a home phone but I call it "The Howden Boys" and so we've spent some time this summer working on phone skills and old school texting.  Elliott has taken the phone a few times to some soccer parties and movies with friends so he could let us know when he was ready to come home.  It's been really helpful. 

(Side Note:  There seem to be a lot of 6th graders this year with phones.  That scares me.  My 6th grader will not be getting his own phone.)

It's a really nice feeling to know that I can leave the boys home to run a quick errand and that they will be responsible and safe and nice to each other.  Granted, they pretty much only watch TV or play video games, but I'm pretty okay with that.

We've hit a really good stride the three boys and me.  We can have more grown-up conversations about more grown-up topics and I didn't really have to do much in the way of "discipline" this summer.  The three of them really get along well.  Now, of course, there are stressful moments, and always tears, but it feels like it's fewer and farther between.

Anyway, back to school.  Elliott and Wyatt are both still in the Dual Immersion program with excellent Spanish teachers and okay English teachers.  I actually think that the 4th grade English teacher is going to be really great this year.  Fourth grade was a tough transition for Elliott - one less recess and more academic - so it will be interesting to see how Wyatt relates to the 4th grade.

As a 6th grader, Elliott is on Safety Patrol and he started bright and early Wednesday morning.  About 12 kids per 6th grade class do 2 week rotations throughout the school year assisting at all the crosswalks around the school in the morning and afternoon.  He was pretty excited to do it.  I'm not sure how excited he will be to do it in the winter, but when the mornings have been in the 70's this week, he likes it just fine.  And, Yoshi gets to do it with him so if Yoshi is involved, it's always good.

Both boys are still in the band, which they really enjoy.  The band teacher, Mr. Malmrose, is excellent and this year, band is only two mornings a week.  Hooray for sleeping in.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Summer Activity Short List



I had set a goal for myself to write on this blog a little bit more in 2018.  Even though there isn't a book service that fully supports "blog slurping" anymore, I still want to write and manually create books.  2017 only saw 25 posts!  Only 25 posts to talk about our amazing and crazy year last year.  It also seems, unfortunately, unless I get my act together that 2018 will be the same, and they will all be sad, funeral posts.

Most of my writing these days is short blurbs on instagram.  Thank heavens for instagram and chat books documenting our day to day lives.  Hopefully, for the rest of the year, the little bit of it that is left, I can get a little bit of writing in. 

So many goals, so little time.

We had such a good summer.  I realize I'm only speaking for myself, but it was pretty good.  The big boys started back to school today - Elliott in 6th grade and Wyatt in 4th.  Quinn starts Kindergarten next week.  For one year only, all three of my boys will be at the same school.  They are growing up so fast and I love it.  It feels like I am such a better mom to bigger kids than little ones.  Though I did love those three fat babies, I love loud and obnoxious kids and tweeners better.

The summer of 2018 was the first time since the boys started school that we had a "full" summer, June - August.  Last year it was truncated because of the switch from year-round to traditional school and all the years before that it was only 3 weeks in July.

I thought it would be fun to sit down and make a short list of all the things we did this summer.  I'm sure that I'll be leaving stuff out, but here are the things I can remember.

*Bowling, 2 times
*Road trip to Preston, Idaho to find Napoleon and Pedro's houses
*City Cemetery to find all the LDS Prophets headstones
*Temple Square and the Church history museum
*Disney store and lunch at City Creek
*Zoo, 2 times
*Silver Lake
*Mini golf
*We saw every single kid movie that was released this summer!
*Backyard camp out
*Overnighter to the Homestead
*Swimming
*Lagoon
*SEVEN soccer tournaments between Elliott and Wyatt
*Soccer practice all summer for all three boys
*Lots of eating out for lunch
*Video games
*Red Butte Gardens
*Bake cookies a couple of times
*Building with marshmallows and toothpicks
*Flew to Phoenix
*Grand Canyon
*Played lots of FIFA on the x-box
*Watched all of World Cup Soccer
*Wyatt and Quinn each had a day of puking from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
*Played with friends a couple of times
*Watched fireworks
*Pretzel Bites
*Read a lot of books
*Splash pads
*Grandma Camps
*Monarchs soccer games

The boys stayed up way too late and slept in even later all summer.  Quinn set the record for 11:15 am on a Sunday in July.  Church was at 11 and he and Ross went late (the big boys went on time, on their own because I was out of town).  Wyatt isn't much for sleeping in, but even he had a couple late mornings, sleeping until around 8:30 or 9:00 am.

Parts of summer were really hard for me.  Mostly, I kept it together with a goal of not yelling or getting too mad over the summer.  Being a mom who is an introvert is hard for me.  My boys are so social, and I am so anti-social, it's hard to find a good balance.  But, yesterday I asked the boys as we were picking out clothes for the first day of school what was something about my "momming" that bugged them and something that they liked.

Quinn had nothing to say.  Wyatt doesn't like it when I grab his arm and make him sit up on the couch, but didn't have anything nice to say.  Elliott said he things I'm a pretty good mom and likes it when I tell him the plan.

I guess that means that I'm doing okay these days, in spite of the fact that I think most days, I suck at everything.

Back to school.

Back to growing up.

It always feels like we wait all year for summer to come and then it's gone in the blink of an eye.  As of today, summer is officially over and I'm already starting to count down until next summer.  But, don't get me wrong, I am completely happy to wait...and have a couple of hours to myself everyday.  Hours that will be completely silent, except for maybe a little Vance Joy on Pandora Radio.











Monday, August 13, 2018

What are you going to do today, Napoleon?

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The boys are a little obsessed with Napoleon Dynamite.  I think that they have seen the movie at least 50 times, and of course had their fabulous Napoleon themed Halloween costumes from last year.

(Side note:  we will never live up to those fabulous costumes the rest of our lives)

I had wanted to take the kids on a road trip to Preston, Idaho for a while but had just never gotten around to it.  It's a couple hours away, just over the border and we just hadn't made it.

But, this weekend we had a family baby blessing in North Ogden, which got us just an hour away from Preston so after the blessing, we headed on up.

I had the addresses for most of the major scenes from the movie and when we pulled up to Napoleon's house, in the middle of nowhere across from a corn field, the boys were just goofy.  They weren't sure what to do, but seeing the house brought big smiles to their faces.

We found Napoleon and Pedro's houses, the high school, the track and bleachers and the elementary school with the tether ball.  We also drove past the DI and picked out the exact section of main street that Napoleon walked down in the brown suit.

We didn't have time to find Rex Kwan Do's dojo, or Summer and Trisha's houses, they were too far out of town.  But, the places we found were pretty fun.  And, it was extra nice to have our dad with us because let's face it, he doesn't get to do too many things with us these days.


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Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Grand Canyon

After the funeral in Phoenix on July 14, we headed up to Northern Arizona to the small town of Prescott Valley where Ross' parents and brother's family live.  His brother, Craig, was out of the country with his family for the funeral, so we were unable to visit with them, but we did have a nice stay at Ross' parent's home for a couple of nights.

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On Monday,  July 16 it was time to head for home.  The boys had soccer tournaments to play in.  We decided to make a pit stop on our way to the Grand Canyon.  I had never officially visited, Ross hadn't been since he was small, and the boys are always pretty willing to check another National Park off of their list.

It was a peaceful and beautiful drive to the canyon - mostly because Quinn and Wyatt rode with Ross' parents.  Ha!  It was just a pretty quiet drive for me, Ross and Elliott.  As we were entering the park, we got hit by a torrential hail storm and I really thought all hopes of seeing the canyon were dashed.  But, the storm cleared up, we saw a few elk on the drive, and it turned into a cool-ish, humid-ish, sweaty-ish morning to view the Canyon.

There wasn't a lot to eat at the visitor center we were at, and Ross led the group on one extra long walk to an overlook that we didn't actually look at, but it was a great time.

On the shuttle bus riding from an overlook to the main visitor center, there was a Latino guy singing, "You got what I need" by Biz Marke.  It was fun to listen to.  As the song approached the chorus, and as we neared the area to unload the bus, a very large and in charge white guy (he may have been wearing a BYU hat?) shouted out, in tune, "Oh baby you!  You got what I need!".  I laughed so hard!  It was one of those moments where I was ready for the whole bus to burst into song, like in a movie.  Alas, no one sang.

After the Grand Canyon, we parted ways with the Howden's and headed to Kanab, Utah to spend the night and then drive home the next morning, arriving in time for soccer practice of course.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Ted's funeral in Pictures

It seems that with most times and places in my life, I'm the one with the camera.  I value so much the importance and significance of a picture and it's ability to stir memories of times, places, people and events that we love and hold dear.

These are a few of my favorite pictures from Ted's funeral.


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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Grandpa Ted's Funeral

Due to scheduling conflicts among family members, Grandpa Ted's funeral was held on July 14, 2018.  I was able to make the program and take some pictures at the services and at the cemetery.  Ross gave a really wonderful tribute to his Grandfather as one of the speakers.

The following are his remarks from the service.

Good morning to all of you.  First, let me say that it is good to be with you to celebrate the life and legacy of Theodore Thomas Rice.  We are very fortunate to be here today to remember him and the influence that he has had on all of us.


I consider it a privilege to be able to offer a tribute to my Grandpa Ted.  I would like to share some personal stories and memories and talk about how important he is to me.  I would also like to honor some of his characteristics and attributes. I hope that my remarks can encapsulate the feelings of my cousins and their spouses and all of the great Grandchildren that have been lucky enough to know Grandpa Ted during this life.  I am sure that many of you will have similar memories to mine.


I am very fortunate, because I cannot remember a time where Grandpa Ted was not in my life.  For 40 years he was the ever present calm and steady hand and quiet example.


I would like to recount one of my earliest experiences with my Grandpa Ted.  This is one that I cannot remember, but the story has been told to me many times.  It was probably 1978 or 1979 and Grandpa Ted had just had surgery on a deviated septum.  He was holding me (as a one year old or maybe 18 month-old) on his lap. You may know where this story is headed – pardon the pun.  From what I have been told, I abruptly jumped up and head butted Grandpa in his nose. Now I do not know exactly how he reacted in that moment, perhaps Grandma or my parents can comment, but he did not hold that against me.  As someone who had the same surgery earlier this year, I cannot imagine how that must have felt.


My first memory of Grandpa Ted was when I was probably four years old.  I remember their grey two-door Oldsmobile or Buick car that was a diesel.  I remember seeing Jenny the dog as I think a puppy in the back seat when we lived on Lobo in Mesa.  It is interesting that my first memory of Grandpa Ted is connected to an animal. All animals loved Grandpa Ted.  He was every dog’s favorite person and it was not even a contest. I cannot tell you how many times my grandparents took care of our dogs and they did not want to come home afterwards because they loved being with Grandpa Ted so much (and that this drove my mom crazy).  It may have had something to do with him feeding them scraps from the table or extra treats, I do not know. I can also remember Junior the ferret living in the Arizona room of the house on Extension. I think that Craig and I spent hours chasing him around the yard and the raised strawberry patch behind the pool fence.  I bet that some of you kids do not even know what a ferret is, and to think that Great Grandpa had one as a pet!


Speaking of the house on Extension, many of my memories are linked to that house.  I remember barbecues, pot-lucks, birthday parties, Christmas breakfast, and swimming in the pool for hours.  It was a fancy pool because it had a hot tub that was attached and we would dive from the edge of the hot tub into the pool.  I also remember spending a lot of time on the patio / in the Arizona room. No matter the house, Grandpa Ted always had a patio / Arizona room.  The patio along with the garage (which I will talk about in a minute), seemed to be his domain. It was primarily a place for Grandpa to read. Calling Grandpa Ted a voracious reader may be an understatement.  I do not think that a day went by without him reading the entire newspaper. He was committed to learning and having informed opinions. I can remember reading consumer reports, popular mechanics, and popular technology.  Grandpa would always study things out and do his research before making a decision or purchase. He was wise and measured and I can remember him teaching me the circle rating system for consumer reports.


Grandpa Ted was also an early adopter of technology.  I can remember him having a personal computer when they first came out in the market.   I can remember playing ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ with Uncle Brian in the early 1980s.  For all of the kids in the audience, it may be hard for you to believe that this first video game was only words and you had to type and it wasn’t even in color!  In addition to computers, Grandpa Ted was an early adopter of technology in general. He liked music and always seemed to have new stereo equipment or speakers. I remember when he first got a CD player.  He was also very early to email and cell phones. His email address was TedEagle1 which was also his nickname as ‘RoadMaster’ for the RV club.


Speaking of the RV club, Grandpa Ted loved camping, travel, and adventure.  He has traveled all over the world and to many of the most beautiful parts of our country and to many exotic foreign desintations.  I can remember spending time with Grandma and Grandpa at Camp Lo Lo Mi in the summers to escape the heat of the valley. I think that their most ambitious camping trip was going from Arizona to Alaska and back in an era before Cell Phones and GPS.  I can remember Grandpa preparing his maps and itinerary for that trip carefully calculating fuel consumption and distance between gas stations (some on dirt roads in the Yukon).


Grandpa seemed to always have a travel trailer or fifth wheel.  He also had a variety of trucks and suburbans to tow said trailers.  I can remember that Grandpa Ted taught me about glow plugs – waiting for them to warm up before starting a diesel engine and then connecting up to the hitch before heading out.  Not only did he enjoy the outings and excursions, but he liked to tinker and work on projects. Grandpa Ted was always working on projects. House projects / Car projects / Camper projects.  I can remember him scouring catalogs and going to Camping World for supplies or the latest and greatest accessory. I think that my favorite project that he worked on was related to their conversion van when I was in elementary school.  Grandma, shockingly, would accuse Grandpa of driving too fast. In fairness, he probably was driving too fast. She would look over from the passenger seat and the angle (according to Grandpa) caused it to appear like he was going faster than the speed limit.  I learned later in high school that in the world of physics, this is called a parallax. In order to avoid the parallax, Grandpa bought and installed a digital speedometer that was mounted on Grandma’s side so she always knew exactly how fast he was driving.


Talking about all of these projects I think underscores how industrious Grandpa Ted was.  He was always up early and was always busy engaged in something. I remember Grandpa working for US West / Qwest and coming to our elementary school and middle school to work on the phone systems.  He never shied away from hard work or from the most difficult jobs. He always volunteered to help others. I have memories of him on ladders, in attics, carrying boxes, crawling under bushes, and every other difficult spot.  His arms and knees always seemed to be scraped up because of the work that he was doing. He is a great example of industry and of being a wise steward with money. Having your grandparents talk to you about 401ks as a young kid is pretty remarkable.
Grandpa Ted is a man of routine and structure.  This sense of order can be seen in his labeling of things.  He labeled everything with a sharpie in big block letters. If you think about the table next to his chair, things would always get put back into place.  You always knew what you would get from Grandpa Ted. He was amazingly consistent. I think that he wore the same watch everyday that I can remember.


Grandpa Ted had great strength of character and will.  I would like to share another story that I cannot personally remember, but that has been related to me many times.  Apparently when I was just 4 or 5 years old or somewhere in there, I asked Grandpa Ted to stop smoking because I was concerned about his health.  From what I understand, he put his mind to it and quit because it is what he decided to do.


I need to talk about another very important aspect of Grandpa Ted’s life.  Grandpa loved to play and watch sports. It started very early as a star two sport athlete in high school in Denver.  He played both baseball and basketball where he was a two time state champion. I remember him showing me a yearbook from what I think was high school with a black and white picture of the basketball team in their uniforms.   He had me try to pick him out. He was a tall skinny kid on the back row with a big smile. Grandpa experienced team success in basketball, but was a more gifted baseball player. As a catcher, which is the most cerebral position on the team, he had an offer to play semi-professionally after high school.  Dreams of pro baseball, however, where cut short by the Korean War. Grandpa Ted was drafted into the Navy and was trained as a medic. I think that he specialty in the Navy underscores his kind nature and desire to help take care of others. He had the experience of serving in Asia in both Japan and off the Korean Pennisula.  While there, I know that he had the opportunity to play on travel baseball teams competing against other units during his time in the service.


Grandpa Ted was very strong and physically imposing, but he was a gentle giant.  Annie talks about meeting him for the first time 16 years ago when Grandma and Grandpa came up on a camping trip to Utah and being amazed at how tall and big and strong he was for a “old guy”.  I remember Grandpa being an avid bowler and teaching us proper technique. He instructed Craig and I to pretend like we were picking up a pail of milk or picking up a bucket to get the proper form and follow through.  Grandpa Ted was a teacher. He spent hours on his hands and knees throwing whiffle balls to my boys working on their batting stance and form and showing them the finer points. Some of my best memories are watching him interact with his great grandchildren.


In addition to playing sports, Grandpa loved watching sports.  As a follower of all of the Arizona teams, there always seemed to be a game on tv or on the radio in the background.  Some of my best memories are attending baseball games and other sporting events with him and Grandma.


Speaking of baseball, Grandpa Ted taught me to bat clean-up when it came to family parties and events.  He taught me to wait for everyone else to go through the buffet line first, but then we had to make sure to not sit next to each other – we always needed to leave some elbow room at the table.


Grandpa Ted was thoughtful.  In 2002, I worked for the organizing committee for the Olympics and was helping to prepare a venue for hockey games.  I was working long hours as things were coming down to the wire. Grandpa (unsolicited) recorded the opening ceremonies for me (back in the days before Tivo).  He presented me with a VHS tape of the whole event complete with a label in his distinctive block writing.


When I think about the most significant moments of my life – graduation from high school, being dropped off at college, leaving on a mission, returning from Argentina, graduating from college, getting married, graduating from business school, the baby blessings for my three sons – my Grandpa Ted was always there and ready to give me a giant bear hug.


The book of Proverbs says that a good man leaves an inheritance to his childen’s children.  I do not think that this verse is referring to money. A good man creates a legacy by virtue of his deeds and how he treats the people around him.  His children, grand children, and great grand children witness this example and then, in turn, mirror it. Grandpa Ted has created a legacy of kindness and love and this was most prominent in his treatment of Grandma.  They are true sweethearts dedicated to each other.


My hope is that Grandpa Ted’s legacy will live on in our daily actions.  This legacy is so important to our family that our youngest son Quinn’s middle name is Theodore.  He was very lucky to have met his namesake during this life and to be able to carry the name of such an honorable man and I hope that he grows up to be like him.


I have spent a lot of time here sharing memories and thinking about the past.  This can cause all of us to be a little sad or have some feelings of regret. I feel those same things too, but the knowledge that I have that death is not the end is much stronger.  I know that we will have the opportunity to be re-united with Grandpa Ted after this life and that our separation is only temporary and that I will get another bear hug at the end of my life here.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Grandpa Ted's Obituary

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Ross' Grandpa Ted passed away this week.  He had been declining for months and the last couple weeks mostly just slept until he passed away peacefully in the night on Tuesday, June 12.   We loved Grandpa Ted very much.  He was always so excited to see Ross and the boys, and played catch with them whenever we came to visit.

The last time we were able to see him in person was last year, February 2017.  He and Bea have been living at a care center in Northern Arizona near Ross' uncle Ben and parents.  We will miss him a lot, he was always a lot of fun to be around.

Ross' dad wrote the obituary and has done most of the funeral and event planning.  Because of scheduling conflicts, Ted's services won't be held until July 14 but luckily we will be able to head to the Arizona heat to participate and say farewell.  Lucky we can attend, not lucky for the heat.

Grandpa Ted's Obituary
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Theodore T. Rice, age 87, quietly passed away on June 12, 2018 in Cottonwood, AZ. Ted was born in Denver, Colorado on August 31, 1930. His parents were Clarence J. Rice and Appleine Green Rice. Ted grew up in Denver where he was actively engaged in sports. He was a star athlete on the Manual High School baseball and basketball teams. After high school as he was entering semi-professional baseball, he was drafted and served in the U.S. Navy as a medic in the Korean War. He spent considerable time stationed in Japan and off the Korean Peninsula. While in Japan he continued in athletics by playing on the Naval Base baseball team and also by boxing competitively.
Ted has two children, Robert (Suzanne) and Susan Lust from his first marriage. In 1978 Ted married Beatrice Talbot and became Step-father to Bea’s five children: Monte (Patti), Rod, Connie (Richard) Howden, Brian (Rosemary) and Ben (Joyce). Ted is survived by his wife, Bea, all seven children, 15 grandchildren (Katie Lust Stewart, Olivia Lust, Cody Talbot, Neely Talbot Judd, Katy Talbot, Julie Talbot Small, Shaw Talbot, Tessa Talbot, Railey Talbot, Ross Howden, Craig Howden, Travis Talbot, Ryan Talbot, Rachel Talbot Clark and Zac Talbot) and 14 great grandchildren (Carson Stewart, Ashlyn Talbot, Rigden Talbot, Hazen Talbot, Brock Talbot, Tyler Judd, Aiden Judd, Bryce Judd, Elliott Howden, Wyatt Howden, Quinn Howden, Isaac Howden, Jonah Howden and Luke Howden). 
Ted had a great career working in the telecommunications industry and retired from Qwest as an expert telecommunications technician. Ted had an amazing devotion and love of family. He was widely known for his kindness and consideration of others. He and Bea were true sweethearts. His love for her and her love for him were unequaled. They served as a great example of true love to all those around them. Ted and Bea thoroughly enjoyed their world travels which provided them many wonderful memories. He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January 2017.
The funeral service will be held at 1100 am on July 14, 2018, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1430 N Recker Rd, Mesa, AZ 85205. The viewing will be at 1000 am at the same location.
Interment will be at Greenwood Memorial Park, 2300 W. Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ 85009.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Happy Birthday, Wyatt!

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Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!
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Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!
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Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!

Nine feels so much older than 8, doesn't it?    You my boy have had an exceptional year.  You joined the band and you were the key percussionist in the star wars song.  You had a very successful first year of USA competitive soccer and you were invited many times to be a guest player on other teams.  You got straight A's, and apparently have several "girlfriends" at school, some of them even telling you on your Valentine that you are handsome.

You've tried some new foods, need your inhaler less and less and manage to make friends with everyone.  There isn't a day goes by when you tell me about a "new" kid who you are friends with.  It's hard to keep track.

Everyone love you.  You wear your heart on your sleeve and lots of times your emotions get the better of you.  One day, maybe, you'll stop getting so mad and your first instinct won't be to pound someone.  But, I'm sure that passion will serve you well in life.

I love to watch you dance and listen to you sing.  You're knowledge of music is pretty impressive for a little kid.  You are a great traveler and hiker and have led the way on many adventures over the past year whether at Arches or in Florida.  And, like your mother, you know where the bathroom is in every single place we go - you frequent them pretty often.

You live for Diet Coke and bbq chips, rarely clean your room or make your bed, and hoard tiny things.  But, when it's time, you really can get the job done and do a great job.

You are such a good boy and so, so loved.

Happy Birthday!




Monday, April 09, 2018

Geneil's funeral

Today was the funeral of my sweet Aunt Geneil.  The service was wonderful.  Emily, Natalie, Maddie and Lauren spoke.  We laughed and cried, just as I'm sure Geneil would have wanted.

I was so impressed with the girls - their composure, their thoughts, and the way they honored their mother.  The music was perfect, the thoughts spot on and even when the power went out during Lauren's remarks, we were still able to laugh a few tears away.


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Saturday, April 07, 2018

Geneil's Obituary

Our dear wife, mother, grandmother, sister and aunt peacefully passed away Wednesday, April 4, 2018 surrounded by family after a sudden battle with liver failure.

Geneil was born on May 13, 1960 to Geraldine (Jerry) Eccles and Edward John Huber, Jr. in Salt Lake City, Utah. She married Steven Dee Stapley of Summit, Utah in the LDS Salt Lake Temple on September 9, 1983. They established their home in West Jordan, Utah, where they raised four daughters.

A 1978 graduate and student body officer of Cyprus High School, Geneil went on to play the flute and piccolo in the University of Utah marching band. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music history in 1983.
A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Geneil taught her family by example to exercise faith and obedience to our Savior Jesus Christ and endure with hope to the end. She served the church in various callings, including Relief Society President, and her favorite, Primary teacher. Geneil cherished her Prairie 8th Ward “primary kids,” and put much time and effort into preparing her lessons.

Geneil loved being a wife, mother and grandmother. She supported her girls in their love of swimming, cheering them on in countless swim meets. She was known as a stalwart “swim mom.” Geneil delighted in her 3 grandchildren, showering them with hugs, kisses and candy whenever they came to visit.

A talented gardener, Geneil could often be found on her hands and knees weeding in her flower beds, sometimes sneaking to the neighbors’ yards to pull a weed or two.

Geneil was blessed with the ability to make everyone feel important and loved. She had a profound sense of humor and a tender heart. She loved Disneyland and Diet Cokes over crushed ice.

A strong-willed, determined fighter to the end, Geneil exercised great courage to help her deal with many health issues and surgeries over the years. She yearned to be independent and reluctantly accepted, and made the best of, her limitations.

Geneil will be greatly missed, and is survived by her husband Steven D. Stapley, Daughters Maddie (Ben) Wilson, Lauren (Nate) Christensen, Natalie Stapley, and Emily (Brandan) Shelley, grandchildren Cole Wilson, Ada Wilson and Bennett Wilson; siblings Jackie (John) Sudbury, Judy (Karl) Petersen, Cindy (Evan) Wood, Chris (Jerry) Stoker, Dee (Liz) Huber, John (Lori) Huber, Ed (Jennifer) Huber, and Mother-in-law Norma Stapley.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Ed & Jerry Huber, and father-in-law DeeEl Stapley.

Funeral services will be held Monday, April 9th, 11 a.m. at the Prairie 8th Ward building, 7337 South (Grizzly Way) 5150 West. Family and friends may call Sunday, April 8th from 6-8 p.m. at Larkin Mortuary –Riverton, 3688 West, 12600 South, Riverton, and at the ward building on Monday morning from 9:30-10:45 prior to the services.  Interment: Valley View Memorial Park, 4345 West 4100 South, West Valley City.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The passing of Aunt Geneil

Right before we left for Florida, Aunt Geneil was in the hospital, fighting for her life.  Jackie had gone to pick her up to drive her to a doctor's appointment and found her on the floor in her kitchen.  An ambulance took her to the IMC hospital and things just got really bad.  She was very sick with internal bleeding and liver and kidney failure.

Two weeks in the hospital in ICU saw her stablility vary greatly.  At one point, she was stable enough for a liver transplant and then quickly went downhill.  The toxins in her body caused by the liver failure caused significant brain damange and on Tuesday, April 3 Uncle Steve got a phone call late in the night of the type I hope never to receive.  Today, on Wednesday, April 4 the Stapley's gathered together and decided to remove Aunt Geneil from life support.  My mom told me that once all the tubes and machines were removed, Geneil survived about 20 minutes before she took her last breath.

It's pretty surreal to think that she's gone.  The last year or so, we'd become extra good friends.  I've made several bags for Geneil to use in every day life and to take on some grand Disneyland adventures with Natalie.  It's just the saddest thing.

Today is also Grandpa Huber's birthday.  He would have been 89.  And, it's the 6 week anniversary of his passing in February.

I guess grandpa needed to help grandma get ready to welcome Geneil to heaven.

I will miss her so much.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Spring Break :: Beaches, Burns and early morning wake-up calls

Monday was the last day of our trip.  So sad to see it end, but home we must go.

On our last day, we headed back to the beach.  After a lot of debate back and forth, Ross and I decided to try a new beach, St. Pete beach.  We researched the night before and thought it sounded good, the reviews said nice sand, so we headed south.  It was about an hour drive to the beach and once we arrived, paid for parking and headed onto the sand, it was again bad news.  Shells everywhere.  Bad sand.  Super windy.  Not what I wanted.

I whined and pouted a little, but I wanted to go back to Clearwater.  The thought of spending my last day of vacation on a bad beach had zero appeal.  Ross, being a good husband agreed to humor me so we packed up all our stuff and drove the long drive back up north to Clearwater.  We parked in the same place and went to the same stretch of beach we had been at days before.

It was beautiful.  Crowded, but the boys had so much fun and I had a great time relaxing with my husband, watching my kids.  It was pretty idyllic to tell you the truth.  Quiet conversations, lots of laughing and so much calm.

At one point, Wyatt had to go to the bathroom.  He would not pee in the ocean as directed by his father, so the three boys and I trekked the long walk to a very crowded bathroom.  It was there, looking in the mirror, that I realized the extent of the sunburn I'd been curating for a few days and man alive, I was cooked.

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We also noticed as we walked the beach that Clearwater beach was just as covered in shells as all the other beaches we'd been to on vacation.  It seemed, apparently, that the small section of beach we were on was maybe the only section of beach on the whole coast NOT covered in sea shells.  Pretty crazy to tell you the truth.  We are truly spoiled with beautiful Southern California beaches and the beaches we visited don't hold a candle to Crystal Cove, California.

I digress.  We had such a lovely time, shells aside.

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Once I was literally cooked and we'd eaten all our snacks, it was time to head back to the car and find some lunch.  BBQ chips on the beach weren't going to cut it.  We ate lunch at a hole in the wall Mexican grocery store near the beach and it was fantastic.  Elliott and I each only had 2 tacos - but both of us probably could have eaten four.

After lunch, we were all a little wiped out and sun stroked and it was very late in the day.  We headed back to the rental house to shower and clean up, soak our sunburns in lotion and start packing up.  Out of desperation we ended up at a drive through only Chick-fil-a for dinner and then made it back to our house to hit the hay.  We had an early wake up call.  4 am to be exact.  Early wake-up, early flight, early mini van drop off on Tuesday morning.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Spring Break :: Easter at the Aquarium

Quinn was really nervous about whether or not the Easter Bunny would find us on vacation.  The Easter Bunny had a little help from mom, to leave a small prize for the boys on Easter morning.

First thing this morning was an Easter morning stroll through Safety Harbor.  It was advertised that there was to be a farmer's market, but we never found it.  We did though, walk through some beautiful streets with some colorful (purple, pink and yellow) houses and found the Safety Harbor art museum/activity center.  It was all pretty cool and for "brunch" time on a Sunday morning, very hot and humid.

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The only real thing on today's agenda was the Tampa Aquarium and a Dolphin watching cruise.  We also toured a gentrified part of town that was a little scary called YBOR, found Tampa University that had a really cool old building/hotel at it's center, explored Davis Island and the 4 boys in my family devoured a giant 28" pizza.

The aquarium was relatively small and not quite as nice as the aquarium we've got here at home, but we did see an alligator swimming around and watched some sting ray's and lemur's during feeding time.  The boys had fun, there was a really pretty photography exhibit of birds native to Florida and a good gift shop.



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We boarded a small ship to go out on a dolphin watching cruise but alas, no dolphins.  There were a few false dolphin sightings that ended up being pelicans diving into the water but it's okay.  We've seen dolphins before and I'm always a fan of a boat ride.  Wind in my hair, smile on my face and lots of really good people watching.  The boys lost interest a bit - tired and hungry and Elliott, even though he was in charge of the camera, was definitely getting tired of hanging out with us and getting really hungry.

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The boat cruise was about 90 minutes and we got back, found our car and headed out for a late lunch.  Ross had found a highly rated NY style pizza joint - a buy the slice sort of place right in the heart of downtown by the harbor, the university and the hockey arena.  We explored a little, parked the car and headed in to check things out.  As we were huddled up trying to figure out who wanted what, a kid behind the counter yelled over to us.  He said that they had a pepperoni pizza ready and waiting  - the take out order was cancelled - and it could be ours for $10.  Ross, never being one to pass up a deal walked over to the counted, handed over a ten dollar bill and gave me some water cups before I ever really figured out what was going on.

We then sat down with a whole restaurant of people staring at us and our tiny kids with a giant pizza.  I ate two small square slices.  Elliott ate a couple.  The rest of that 28" pizza was devoured by Ross, Wyatt and Quinn.  This epic feat gave birth to the "Pizza Bro's" and I'm still a little disgusted that they ate the whole thing.  But, in a year or two, we will probably need to order 2 of those monster pizzas.

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After that, with full tummies we decided to drive around Davis Island.  It reminded me a lot of Coronado, in San Diego and it was very nice.  The homes were very eclectic and as we scoured Zillow and Realtor.com as we drove around, all were 1 million dollar plus homes. Even the dumpy ones.  Safety Harbor is a community we could afford, if we wanted to.  Davis Island is not.

As we've been touring Florida during this vacation, it's been really nice.  Generally, when we travel we are always overbooked and exhausted because it's either Disneyland, which is 3 or 4 marathon days or it's a quick trip somewhere new, usually for an exhibition soccer game, where we try to cram as many activities as we can into a very small window of time.  It's been so nice this trip to RELAX a little, have a "light" daily agenda and just sort of explore.  It has also been very nice to sleep in.  Every day.  That's always good, too.

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring Break :: The Great Manatee Adventure

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I mentioned a couple posts back that the primary focus of our trip was to find manatees.  To prepare for this, I did a lot of research on the elusive sea cow.  Manatees are seasonal mammals and inhabit the waters of Florida in the winter.  They are so regular in their migration that they actually have dates.  November 15 - March 31 is "manatee season" and during this window, you can see them pretty much everywhere where the water is warm, mostly natural springs.

Up the coast from Tampa a few hours is the Crystal River.  The Crystal River is home to a few manatee hot spots called Three Sister's Springs and Homosassa Springs.  I knew on our trip we would have a few opportunities to find manatees, but our most sure fire option had been the zoo and that was a total bust.  Needless to say, I was a little uptight as we travelled up, basically Redwood Road (lots of stop lights, small businesses and languages other than English) towards Three Sister's Springs.  It was, after all, the last day of the season.

On the drive up, near to our destination, we saw a giant manatee sculpture at a building called the Homosassa Wildlife Reserve.  Right then a light bulb hit me and I remembered that when I had asked at the zoo where their manatees were, they told me that they were at this place.  So, regardless of how Three Sister's panned out, I knew we had one more shot.

Phew.

We got to the visitor center at Three Sister's Springs with a little bit of bad news.  In January, they had 400 manatees.  The week before we were there they had about 40.  Today, they had a report that there were three, but no guarantee that those three would still be there.

Oh no!

We decided to buy the tickets and ride the trolley anyway and I was so sad on the ride over because I was disappointing my kids and myself.  But, we all must soldier on.  We got off the trolley and onto the boardwalk to walk around the most beautiful springs.  Crystal clear blue water, beautiful tropical trees and birds, it was really cool.  Because it was the last day, the springs were not crowded, only a handful of people and some swimmers and snorkelers in the water.

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But, guess what!  The three manatees were still there - a mother and calf and a big guy down the path a little.  Oh victory!  The glare on the water was bad and without my polarized glasses, they were incredibly hard to see, but they were there and pretty magical and strange looking.

We just watched them for a while...Elliott and I timing the breathing to see their noses and begging them to come closer.  They didn't.  But, it was still pretty cool,

We got back on the trolley, back to the car, found some excellent cheese steaks in literally the middle of nowhere (go figure) and then headed back to Homosassa Springs to try and find a few more.  Of course, we were running late and barely made it to the Nature Reserve in time but man alive, it was worth it.

This nature reserve felt like a land before time.  Really, it did.  Or, maybe like we were on the set of Jurassic Park and were going to get attacked by raptors.  It was green and lush and full of injured animals that could not be released back into the wild: black bears, eagles, red wolf, Florida panther, bob cats, alligators who were missing legs, vultures and other crazy birds, a 58 year old hippo named Lou and manatees.  The 2 zoo manatees were there and 2 others who are permanent members of the reserve AND huge - like 12 feet long.  We were able to watched them and it was just the coolest.  On of the best parts of our trip and I was so glad I remembered what they'd told me at the zoo.

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We ended the day with tacos and an outlet mall, because Ross, because Banana Republic.

It was a great day!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Spring Break :: Beach and Baseball

I'll be the first to admit, that in most aspects of my life, I am a total snob.  When you grew up with my grandmothers and aunts, and watched Martha Stewart daily on TV as a kid, you sort of turn into someone with high expectations about things.

One thing my expectations are very high with regards to, is beaches.

We stayed in a cute little village called Safety Harbor.  If it wasn't for the heat, and the cicadas and the humidity, it would be a perfectly adorable "small town" to live in.  I could own a shop on main street and be perfectly content.

Safety Harbor is only 6 miles away from Clearwater, Florida.  Clearwater is significant this year, because Clearwater beach was voted the "BEST BEACH" in the United States.  So, obviously on our day dedicated to sunning ourselves and playing in the sand I wanted to go to the best beach.

But, because sometimes he dislikes crowds more than me and because it was Good Friday Ross decided to try and outsmart the "best" beach and head down the coast a little bit to another beach, Belleair beach.  Same coast, same sand, same beach right?

WRONG!  So, so wrong.

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We parked.  We paid for parking and we walked onto the sand.  But, it wasn't sand, exactly.  It was more like walking on millions and billions of crushed up, sharp sea shells that jabbed into our tender, winter feet like shards of glass.

But ,we soldiered on and that soldiering on lasted about 40 minutes until my pouting was significant enough to get us back to the "best" beach.  The boys were doing their best to play in the water.  Quinn was doing his best to dig a sand castle, but it wasn't what we had expected.  Being spoiled by Huntington Beach and Crystal Cove, and Laguna and Dana Point....ruined me for rough sand and shells.  I want what I want.

Snob.

We dusted off the sand, loaded into the mini van, and drove back up the coast to fight the crowds at Clearwater.  We found a place to park and ended up on a small patch of perfect beach.  No shells.  White sand.  Clear water shallow enough for the boys to wade out past their waists and still touch the bottom.

It was perfect!  Picture perfect actually.  The sand was white and soft as flour.  It's like it was just melting.  I could have played with it all day.  There was also lots of good people watching, sunburn getting, and sand to be buried in.

We were all happy and relaxed and having a great time.

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Later in the evening, once we were all cleaned up, we headed to a MLB game, The Tampa Bay Rays against the Boston Red Sox.  Tampa plays in a dome, and none of us had ever been to a fully enclosed dome before.  It was dated, and old, and and felt a little like we were in a spaceship hotel, but it was fun.  Bonus for Ross and Wyatt - unlimited refills on Diet Cokes and popcorn!  I lost count of how many times we filled up that dump cup.  The game was a snooze fest.  The corridors of the stadium felt like a hotel and to get to our seats, we rode elevators, though we did find a ramp to walk out on when the game was over.

We aren't really baseball fans, but we had a good time.  Unlimited popcorn and cokes for the win.

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As a side note - we try hard to keep our kids fairly coke/caffeine free.  But, there are two exceptions: 1) when you are with grandma and mom and dad don't know and
2) on vacation.  Funny enough (ha, ha), Wyatt drank so much diet coke on our spring break trip that I'm surprised he didn't turn a shade of amber.  Man, that kid is a guzzler.

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