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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spring Break :: Desitnation? Tampa, Florida

Earlier this year, we decided that we needed a trip for Spring Break.  It's our 15th anniversary on April 19th, and initially Ross and I thought it would be fun to take the kids to Puerto Vallarta, where we went on our honeymoon.  But, airfare was a little too steep, and the rush to get the kids passports a little too daunting so we gave up on Mexico for another day.

Instead, with the inspiration of Grandma Judy, we decided to head to Tampa, Florida to find some manatees, enjoy some sunshine, and spend some time far away from all our distractions.  Generally, when we travel, we pack our itinerary so full of activities that we are not only exhausted on the trip, but absolutely wasted when we get home and jump back into real life.  For this trip, we agreed to take a more relaxed approach and it was definitely the right decision.



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The trip started with a red eye on Thursday night/Friday morning from Salt Lake to Tampa that left at 12:10 am.  We managed to get everyone through security awake and then Quinn fell asleep sitting at the gate waiting for the flight.   Ross carried him onto the plane, and he slept the entire flight, just flopping around every 20 minutes or so.  The rest of us?  Not so lucky and when we landed at 6:21 Tampa time (4:21 am our time) we were pretty tired.

Once we landed and got our bags, we each took turns changing in the bathroom into some more weather appropriate clothes and took an UBER to the Toyota dealership to rent our vacation mini van.


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Then, we headed to the zoo.

The top priority of our trip was to find manatees.  We knew the zoo had a few and that you could see them swimming in the water - Quinn and I had done our research.  We toured the zoo and saw some animals we hadn't seen before - some howling monkeys, a Florida panther, pygmy hippo and baby and okapi.  Of course, we saved the manatee for last and of course, they were not at at the zoo.

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The manatees had been moved to a new location because their enclosure is currently being remodeled.  I was steaming mad - mostly because this was our surefire sighting location.  But, like my mom would do, I asked some questions and found out where the manatees had been moved to (Homosassa Bay Nature Reserve) and kept that in the back of my head.

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We finished at the zoo, jumped into our van and realized that yes, in the Florida heat and humidity (it was about 80 degrees out), the AC in the mini van was not working.  It was a pretty sweltering drive across the bay from Tampa to the town we were staying in, Safety Harbor, but our cute little airbnb was nice and cool when we arrived.

While the boys watched TV and I crashed out, Ross managed to find a close Toyota dealership to fix the van AC in just a couple of hours.  We had dinner, uber'd to the van, hit the grocery store, watched the sunset and called it a day.

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