My Family

My Family

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Heart is Full

I found Stephanie Nielson's blog for a couple of years now, and she was consistently an inspiration to me. She always found joy in life and her family, and she did an excellent job sharing that joy with her blog readers.

A couple of weeks ago, she and her husband were in a plane crash and critically burned.

(It actually happened in my hometown, St. Johns, AZ.)

Stephanie and Christian have been in the hospital (Maricopa County Hosptal burn unit) and will remain there for many months, trying to recover from their burns and injuries.

Their four children are with extended family, and I cry every time I read about the transitions that are happening because of the joy and love that are being shown by and to the entire extended family.

If you read my blog, and haven't yet done so, you can donate to the Stephanie and Christian Nielson Recovery fund. (Their care is expected to cost well into the millions, with their insurance being maxed out soon).

Two other ways to donate are:
***Donate to the "Stephanie Nielson Fund" at any Wells Fargo.
***Donate at any Bank of America under the "Christian and Stephanie Nielson Rehab Fund."

Also, if you'd like to read about Stephanie and her family before the accident, her blog is

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vacation Days 4-10

We met up with Pat's brother Keith, and his family on Saturday at Thanksgiving Point.
It was so hot (the whole time we were in Utah!) that we decided to go through the dinosaur museum first.
It was a fantastic, kid-oriented museum!
The kids had a fantastic time and really enjoyed all of the dinosaurs and prehistoric life exhibits.Bekah and Isabella playing in the water/sand room.
There was a whole area that was devoted to sand/water play.
The idea is to replicate flooding/river flow/etc that covered the dinosaurs and allowed the fossils to be made. Samuel was so excited to climb on this lizard.
I actually have a picture of all of the kids around/on this's like he was begging to be climbed on.
Oh, no! A shark!
Later that afternoon, we headed on a hike with Lorin.
He took us up toward Silver Lake.
This was the view on the way to our hiking place.
Isn't it breathtaking?

The hike was along the side of a creek...and the kids had to stop multiple times to play in the ice cold water. The next day was Sunday, and after attending church with my mom, we headed up to a "cabin" over by Kamas to spend a couple of days with Coleen and her boys. It was a beautiful cabin...plently of space for all of us to spread out...and lots of beautiful views. The kids and their cousins enjoyed breakfast on the balcony.That afternoon, Coleen and I headed into Park City to hit the outlet mall there to do some very focused back-to-school shopping for Stephen. All of the kids and Pat went on a walk near the cabin. This is one of the photos they snapped along the way. Emily was in charge of the camera most of the way on this hike and we have about 20 botanical shots of the beautiful foilage along the way. Interesting to see what your kids think is "picture material". The next day, we headed up to one of Pat's family's favorite camping spots: Trial Lake. Pat was determined that we would make the hike to Star Lake, so we headed up that way after lunch. While the scenery was beautiful...the flies were awful! I've never been so bothered by bugs in my life. At least they weren't highly inclined to bite...(horse and deer flies, ugh!)This is one view of Star Lake. There are so many beautiful lakes in Utah...and beautiful areas surrounding them. Count your blessings my Utah friends.I snapped this shot as we were hiking out. Pat was teaching the family how to skip rocks, so they were searching for the right kind of skipping rocks.The next morning was our last at the cabin. I came out from getting ready to this sight: Yogamaster in the house (thanks to WiiFit). All of the kids saw him doing the yoga and joined in. It was priceless.
After an entire day of packing and cleaning the cabin, we headed down the hill, toward SLC, for a family picnic at Liberty honor of Diana and Isaac's birthdays. My little Isaac turned 1...and Diana's birthday was the next day. It was wonderful to see so much of our family...thank you so much for making the effort to be there!

Thursday we split up and both left the camera at home (I should have taken it with me!). Pat and the older kids went to Lagoon for the day, and my mom and I took the younger 3 on many adventures...including Chuck E. Cheese and Build-A-Bear. Both of those places were a new experience for Bekah and Sam...and they loved every minute of it. We were all exhausted at the end of the day, though.
Friday, we spent the day helping my mom clear room in her garage and put storage items in her "basement". It took a lot of time and energy, but the end result was well worth.
Our final item to finish up Friday afternoon was school shoe shopping. It was relatively painless...thanks to Famous Footwear and their buy one get one half off sale. It would nice to have more options here in NM...but we took advantage of the chance we had to shop somewhere other than Wal-Mart.
When we got back from shoe shopping, we started loading the Suburban for the drive home. We left pretty much on schedule, (4:30am) and hit Arches National Park on the way home. It is a beautiful park...lots to see from the road, and plenty of places to hike. We wanted another 5 or 6 hours to explore, but didn't have it in our schedule. Arches "cheese". Our final major stop of the day was at Four Corners National Monument. Here is our Four Corners "cheese" picture.
Just after this, the wind kicked up the dust so badly that the vendors started packing up their wares and heading home. It was an amazing dust/rain storm.
We finally pulled into our home about midnight on Saturday. 20 hours of traveling/sightseeing in one day was a little insane...but very worth it to be home. There really is no place like home.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vacation (Days 1,2,3)

We recently had the opportunity to spend 10 days in Utah.
It was wonderful to reconnect as a family...and spend time with our family members up there.
Pat has 4 siblings up there (some of them with some health concerns), and my mom is up there as well.
We have lots of friends in the Utah area as well (and we LOVE you!), but knew that we needed to focus on our family this trip.

We left here about 5am on Tuesday morning, with 2 trips scheduled for the day.
Pat's mom, (who recently broke her arm quite severely), and our dear friend, Susan.
We enjoyed a nice visit with both of them, and then made our way to our first stop.

We spent our first night in a KOA campground just outside of Williams, AZ.
This particular campground made us wish we had an extra afternoon and evening just to relax...there were all sorts of activities available to the campers.
We'll definitely do KOA again (and I would highly suggest this one if anyone is in the area).
We did the KOA cabins so that we didn't have to haul our tent along.
This picture is of the kids playing ball the morning before our long drive to Utah.
We really encouraged them to run and play as much as possible, knowing they would be cooped up in the car for HOURS.

Our next stop: Waiting in line to pay our entrance fee into Grand Canyon National Park. The first glimpse, right off the side of the road where we parked.
The kids, getting a better look.
Sam was enthralled by the Grand Canyon. (Thanks to the Little Einsteins episode with the little red train falling into the Grand Canyon, he knew all about it.) Yup, it's straight down.
That is enough to freak any mother out.
Grand Canyon "cheese". (Our photographer really had us say that! It became our joke of the trip anytime anyone had to snap a photo.)

The next morning, we were up bright and early (after a midnight arrival), to catch the Pioneer Days parade.
We opted to go to Spanish Fork for a little "smaller" celebration.
My kids have never had any celebration for Pioneer Days except a Stake potluck at the church field and it was nice to have them experience a little more intense celebration.
Here we are getting settled for the parade.
We watched an amazing fireworks show the night of the 24th down in Spanish Fork.
We sat just off of the field where they were fired from and it felt like we had the entire field to ourselves.
The kids ran to their heart's content and then crashed to watch the beautiful show.

My sister surprised us and came up for the weekend. It was wonderful to be able to spend time with her. She is a joy to be around, and it's been way too long since the kids really got to spend time with her.
Friday, we had a nice BBQ with Uncle Lorin, Aunt Julie and Chantal (and Wrinkles the dog). Uncle Lorin had just gotten out of the hospital the day before, so we were grateful that he was able to spend time with us. Chantal had watched the kids earlier in the day so that we could attend the Mt. Timponogas temple Pat, Mom Lunt, Rebecca and I all got to go together, so the kids loved seeing her again. We lit sparklers that night, and the kids had a wonderful time just running and playing.