Monday, August 31, 2015

Christmas in August

Two of my scouts have September birthdays.  As a result, I decided to do gingerbread early.  The scouts loved it, but they are way different than my beehives were!  They decorated for a good solid 40 minutes, then they wanted to play outside.  They had a great time though and it was so much fun.  Plus, my house smelt amazing!
 During: Burke
 Preston & Braxton
 Crew & Griffin
 The results: Griffin
 Luke (and Burke)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quick Dinner

After church Mike helped me get the gingerbread houses put together. I made nine this time.  Seven for the scouts, one for Judy (the other scout leader), and one for Presley.  She won a gingerbread house of mine at a service auction.  She wasn't interested in waiting until December, so this seemed like as good a time as ever.

My family came over for dinner today.  We pulled this off at the last minute.  My dad came home from his Wyoming tour late last night. Glad we were able to do it.  Matt & Sam will be in Idaho next week.  We might as well.  It depends how long we stay when we go up for David Hopkins wedding.  Poor Sam doesn't feel very well.  She got a concussion last week.  They were cleaning out an area under the stairs at their house.  Sam stood up too fast and hit her head.  She hasn't been able to go to work for a week.  I hope she starts to feel better soon.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Just Chores

Nothing too exciting today.  Chores, softball practice, more chores, watched Max, and probably more chores.  Jorja said she wanted a Saturday redo.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Early Gingerbread

I spent most of the day in the kitchen.  I'm planning on doing gingerbread houses on Monday for scouts.  Two of my scouts will leave next month, so I thought I would have an early Christmas.  A lot of the day I talked to my brothers on the phone.  I managed to talk to every one of them.  We're trying to figure out some things.  Hopefully everything will turn out well, but it is looking promising.  Mike and the girls went to a Daddy Daughter Night up at Bryce's cabin.  It is at the base of Brighton ski resort.  It's awesome there.  They seemed to have fun.  Maysen hung out with Mike and Jorja hung out with Ebony.  I love Ebony.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Too Many Places to Be

Maysen found someone in her early morning seminary class that also goes to the morning college classes to give her a ride.  His name is David and he is in the dental program.  Maysen asked if he would like her to drive sometimes.  He said that he had his own car and could just do it.  She said, "Good because I'm terrified of driving!"  He said, "I'll defiantly drive then!"  I'm glad she was able to find someone to drive with.  It will make my life easier.  I was looking forward to her becoming comfortable driving though.  She'll have to get comfortable eventually.

Tonight we had three places to be and only two people to cover them. Maysen had her first statistics class down in Taylorsville.  Mike had her drive there and rode with her.  She's a little nervous because if she gets below a certain percentage on the final test she automatically gets a D in the class.  Hopefully she will understand this class.  Her on-line text book is going to cost $90 though.  What a scam!

Preston had his Back-to-School night.  I had my friend Jaime go and tell me what I missed.  I really wished I could be there.  Jorja also had Back-to-School night.  I have no idea what possessed these two schools to do this on the same night at the same time.  Annoying.  Mr. Chen said they are trying to put together a field trip to China next year. What?  That's crazy!  They are also going to need to come to school about 6:00 several times during the year to Skype with a class in China. That should be interesting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Game

Jorja had her first softball game tonight.  I can not believe how different she is.  She's laughing with friends, dancing when she is on 2nd base, being extremely outgoing.  It is crazy to watch my super shy girl act like this.  I love it.  She looks so happy.  One of the coaches came up to me and said, "Jorja sure has changed since the spring." Yep. I'm so happy for her.

Jorja was the first one up tonight.  First one up for the entire season. She walked.  The second time she got a base hit.  She was only up twice. The first inning she played catcher.  She got two outs.  It was great watching her.  I'm glad she has found something she loves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


We had Back-to-School night for Maysen and Stockton.  I took Maysen's schedule and Mike took Stockton's.  I was able to go to Stockton's morning classes because Maysen is at the vet program then.  Mike was able to go to Maysen's AP Government class with me because Stockton is in seminary then and the seminary didn't have a rotation this year.  Anyway, I walked in first to Maysen's Government class.  Mr. Ochoa recognized me from the parent/teacher conferences last year.  Mike walked in about thirty seconds after me.  Mr. Ochoa was blown away.  I grabbed Mike's arm and said, "So, this is Maysen's dad."  Mr. Ochoa remembered Mike from high school.  He said, "I had your daughter all last year and this is the first I've seen you?"  Mike worked with Mr. Ochoa in student government and academic decathlon.  They won state in academic decathlon and were able to go to nationals.  The year before nationals was in Boston, the year after was some place cool like Hawaii.  Mike was lucky enough to get to experience Boise, Idaho!  He has always felt jipped off about that.

At the end of the night, I wanted to talk to the Vice Principal over Stockton about diving.  He is also over athletics.  Only problem was, they couldn't find him.  The principal was there and he talked to us.  He was supper nice and will be completely supportive of Stockton.  The only problem now is that because the state stopped diving as a sanctioned sport, a lot of the schools dropped it completely.  Hopefully there will be enough to even form a club.  Annoying.  Anyways, when we were talking to the principal Mike said, "I have a selfish question....."  Years ago, when we graduated.  Mike received the principal award.  This is given to one senior boy and one senior girl.  Our year the coin was given to Mike and Sheena Leatham.  Mike only had the coin for a few months before he lost it.  He's pretty sure one of his friends took it out of his jeep.  This coin is supposed to get Mike into any athletic event at the high school for life.  Now that we are back, it would be kind of nice to have the coin.  Mike said, "I can bring down the plaque that came with it."  They were nice and got Mike a coin out of their safe.  I am looking forward to Mike using the coin.  I wonder if the ticket takers will have any idea what it is.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Paddle to the Head

Maysen started her vet program today.  We are going to have her drive and all the other kids take the bus.  Jorja is not a fan of this plan.  That is because Jorja's bus picks her up an hour before school starts and drives for 40 plus minutes on a windy road.  Stockton's stomach couldn't handle it when he was in middle school.  I rode along with Maysen today.  She did really good.  I think this will be great for her. I'll be without a car for most of the day, but she will become comfortable driving.

When Preston came home from school he asked what the treat was.  I told him I wasn't planning on doing that this year.  It didn't seem like the kids really liked this tradition.  I would always try to do something different.  Sometimes the treats were healthy, sometimes they weren't. I wanted the kids to talk to me about their day.  I know they hate to do this as they walk in the door, but I told them this was their payment to me for driving them everywhere.  I was busy after school getting everything ready for scouts.  I was downstairs and saw a ping pong paddle on the stairs.  I tossed it on the nearby couch.  As soon as I let go of the paddle I saw Santa Cruz pants.  Oh no!  Almost instantly I heard a loud scream.  Preston had been sitting on the couch in the dark.  The ping pong paddle hit him in the eye.  I felt so bad.  I hugged him and kept telling him I was sorry.  He was crying, I was crying - we were a sad site.  When he had calmed down I asked him why he was sitting in the dark.  He started crying again and said, "I really liked you doing the treats, I don't want you to stop."  Sweet boy.  I guess at least one of my kids liked that tradition.  I'll have to start doing that again tomorrow.

Mike helped me with scouts today.  The boys got their pinewood derby cars at pack meeting.  I missed this because I was at the Long Beach airport.  Mike talked to them about how to make their cars and different tricks.  We let them look at different designs that were on the Internet at the end of the meeting.

Tonight for Family Home Evening we watched Brad Wilcox's talk on Grace.  It was really good.  He does a great job explaining the grace of Christ.  This was given at a BYU devotional in 2011.  If you ever wondering about something good to watch, search Brad Wilcox Grace on BYU TV.  Maysen said she learned what grace really was since she was never taught it in church.  Grace is talked about, but never completely explained.  I liked this explanation from Brad Wilcox.  (By the way, his talk is titled His Grace is Sufficient)

"Christ's arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child.  Mom pays the piano teacher.  Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. Practice!  Does the child's practice pay the piano teacher?  No.  Does the child's practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher?  No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom's incredible gift.  It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is going him to live his life at a higher level.  Mom's joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used---seeing her child improve."

The part that stood out most to Stockton was 'Get me out of here!'  I'm going to put in a long quote, because it is hard for me to explain, but this was one of my favorite parts of the talk.

"I know a young man who just got out of prison---again.  Each time two roads diverge in a yellow wood, he takes the wrong one---every time.  When he was a teenager dealing with every bad habit a teenage boy can have, I said to his father, 'We need to get him to EFY.'  I have worked with that program since 1985.  I know the good it can do.

His dad said, 'I can't afford that.'

I said, 'I can't afford it either, but you put some in, and I'll put some in, and then we'll go to my mom, because she is a real softy.'

We finally got the kid to EFY, but how long do you think he lasted? Not even a day.  By the end of the first day he called his mother and said, 'Get me out of here!'  Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.

In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this:  Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.

Jesus checks His clipboard and says, 'Oh, shoot, Brad.  You missed it by two points.'

Brad begs Jesus, 'Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.'  That's how I always saw it.

But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, 'Let me stay.'  No, he will probably be saying, 'Get me out of here!'  Knowing Christ's character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, 'Please, choose to stay.  Please, use my Atonement---not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.'"

Anyway, that is a lot of quotes, but the talk is amazing.  I'm glad my kids listened, hopefully they will remember.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bridger Lake

This is Mike.  I am guest-blogging today.  While Steph and Maysen were galavanting around Alaska with Steph's college roommate last week, I took Stockton, Jorja and Preston fishing to Bridger Lake in the Uinta Mountains just south of the Wyoming/Utah border.  When I was younger, my Dad would take us here and to other nearby places including Marsh Lake, Stateline Reservoir and China Meadows.  My Dad first learned of this area when he worked for the U.S. Forest Service after college before starting his own car business.  He came back many times to fish and hunt.  I remember several times camping there with not only my immediate family but also with my Grandma and Grandpa Hirschi in their Road Ranger camper.

The way to Bridger Lake includes about 25 miles of dirt forest service roads.  Sometimes it is very bumpy!  This time it was quite smooth.  I think the road people had just recently watered it down and smoothed it out.   Much appreciated, road people!

Braving the 25 miles of dirt road leading to Bridger Lake

We arrived just before sunset.  This is the beautiful view that awaited us.  Bridger Lake campground is fairly primitive - no electricity or water hookups or anything, so you bring in everything that you need.

Bridger Lake welcoming us at Sunset

We were anxious to get out and fish, remembering how FANTASTIC the fishing was here at this time last year.   Before we could do so though, there was work to be done!  First task:  backing up the motorhome into this spot.  It was a tight squeeze, but we made it.

Tight squeeze!

Next came time to inflate the boat and get the fishing poles set up.  The kids got me an inflatable boat for Father's Day this year, and this is the first time we've taken it out.  Bridger Lake has lily pads around the entire lake, so fishing from shore is not an option unless you want to stand on the one little dock on the far side of the lake which is usually crowded with people.   They did a great job taking turns pumping it up and we had it ready to go in no time.  Then they patiently waited while I got all the fishing poles ready to go.  

Finally, we got everything in the water.   I didn't want to waste time setting up the trolling motor or hauling the big heavy battery down, so we used the oars this first night.  Stockton was the first to catch a fish.   About 2 seconds after his worm and marshmallow hit the water he had one on.  He was pleased that he got to claim first fish!   I spent the right of the night helping the kids get worms on their hooks, getting untangled at times, and getting hooks back out of the fish that bit them.  I don't think I ever got my pole in the water because the fish kept us so busy.  That's a great problem to have!

Preston with his catch nearly slipping out of the net.  Dad needs a new net next year kids!

Once it got too dark, we left the water and carried things back to the RV.  I showed the kids how to clean fish.  They were not fans.  They were brave to try it, but it can be a bit much, so I finished up while they went back inside.   Fresh fish for dinner is delicious, but there was plenty of non-fish to eat as well so everyone was happy.

We skipped the campfire the first night since we hadn't brought any firewood with us.  The next day we made sure to gather some up so we would have it for marshmallow roasting that night.  We got more than enough and used the new roasting forks the kids gave me for my birthday.  They worked just right.

Roasting Marshmallows

Preston shielding his face with a plate while roasting

Yum!  S'mores!

When we were at WalMart shopping for this trip, I spotted some toy crossbows on sale.  These were the EXACT same kind I had when I was a kid so I couldn't resist picking up a pair of them.  The ones I used to have were just like these except the darts were all red and the sight was black instead of bright orange like they are now.  Most the time when I used to play with them, we shot the small Lincoln Logs out of them since they worked much better (i.e. "hurt more") than the darts that came with them.

Just like the ones I had as a kid!

I took the kids outside and had them practice shooting a target on the side of the motorhome.  Fun stuff!  I may have to take one to work and see if it will shoot Nerf darts.

Target Practice

We spent the entire day Saturday out on the lake.  The kids loved it and so did their Dad.  We also fished Sunday morning before heading back.  More than one of the kids asked it we could come back next year, while I was glad to hear!  I think we should make it a yearly tradition.

Everybody loves fishing at Bridger Lake!

The funniest thing the second night was when Jorja decided to watch Elmo in Grouchland on the little bunkbed TV.  While I took a shower, all three kids become enthralled in the movie.  We learned that Stockton does a very good Elmo impersonation too!

In all, we kept (and cleaned) about 35 fish that weekend.  The kids named most of them as they caught them.  "Garfield" and "King Hippo" were by far the biggest and fattest.  Garfield measured 15 inches.  I didn't have a scale, but he was very chubby!

Fish waiting to be cleaned

Jorja holding a fish - I think this is Garfield

Stockton with King Hippo in the net

Sunday morning we cleaned up, packed up and drove off.  I was surprised that the lake is only about 3 1/2 hours from our house.

A little suprise of 35 rainbow trout in the freezer ready to welcome Stephanie home from Alaska.  I know what we will be having for dinner for a while!

I had a great weekend with the kids and will always remember being able to share with them one of my favorite places from when I grew up.  Thank you guys for coming and sharing that time with me!  And Dad, thanks for spending time with us kids when we were younger, taking us to places like this and teaching me to love fishing.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Swimming with the Smiths

Jorja made delicious cookies before softball practice.  When I picked her up she said, "I really love catcher."  Glad she still likes it!  I love watching her play it.  We had Mike's family over for a swim party.  We had a lot of finger food and snacks.  Jorja found the mozzarella sticks in the warming drawer.  This is how I found her.
I gave my camera to Jorja to take some pictures.  Here are a few of them.
 Stockton & Preston
The hit of the night was the game Mike and Sherry started.  Shooting apples off of heads.  I'm guessing these two were quite the handful to raise!
 Stockton & Mike
 Dart hitting Michael's stomach
 Preston shooting at me!  What?
 Weston & Jorja both shooting at Michael
 I guess they were aiming for his chest
Miah was the bravest of them all.  This poor girl got pelted!  Chest, neck, forehead, arm.  Still she kept going back for more.
 Jacob & Brandon shooting at my baby!
 Ha!  I love this picture!
 Jacob & Brandon
 Michael's head & Aimee
Mike tried to convince Preston to shoot cheetoes out of the gun.  I think Preston misunderstood.
 Miah just got pelted
 Preston still with the cheetoes bag on his head.  Wacko.
I kept trying to get a picture of Aimee and Michael.  I finally got one of them both looking and then Brandon photo bombs it!
Brandon, Aimee, Michael
 Aimee & Michael
Aimee begged and begged Michael to go swimming.  She finally dragged him to the pool.  When he was close enough he turned around and threw her in.  Mike pushed Michael in shortly afterword.
Aimee & Michael
 Aimee & Michael
 Aimee & Michael, Weston & Shannon
Scoop came over later.  Most of the people had left by that point, so we didn't have to share him.  It was pretty much Sherry, Shannon, Mike and I.  It was really nice to see him.  Mike and I talked to Shannon and Erica for awhile about our trip.  They were both really excited about it. Erica would be awesome at one of those historical place missions. Erica leaves for college on Wednesday.  Yikes!

Mike and I finished Les Choristes.  We both liked it a ton more than Chocolat.  After the movie Mike looked at the calendar.  He said, "Why do you have written 'teach Preston's primary class' for tomorrow?" Whoops!  Totally forgot about that.  Glad Mike noticed it!