Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Elli Travels Well!

Every summer we try to get together with my extended family for a reunion. For many years we did this at a beach house on the Oregon coast. We drove up from Spanish Fork when we lived there. Once we moved to Tennessee, we flew out each summer. My parents and some of my siblings would come with us each year. Our kids love it and look forward to it. The last couple of years we haven’t been to the coast, and they have missed it. This summer we made plans to drive up to Lincoln City, Oregon. The kids have been extremely excited. Graci and Xander have never been to an ocean before.

The drive from Utah to Oregon is about 13 hours. We decided that in conjunction with this trip, we could also get some deep cleaning done at our home. I would drive the kids up by myself, and Christi would fly up two days later. In the meantime, she would stay at home and clean, clean, CLEAN! So that’s what we did. I drove up with the kids, stayed one day in Boise, ID with my best friend growing up, and then met Christi in Oregon about 48 hours after I left her.

The kids and I actually had a great trip. We prayed that Elli would be particularly happy as we drove. Usually she has a difficult time when Christi isn’t around. She also sleeps in her own room wherever we go. The two nights we spent with Mikkel and his family, Elli wasn’t able to have her own room. Instead, they put a mattress next to the air mattress I was sleeping on. This was in the living room. I was quite nervous that Elli would get up and wander and pull things down, etc. Instead, prayers were answered and Elli was a little angel during the entire trip. She was quiet and happy during the drive. When I put her to bed, she stayed on her mattress until she fell asleep. And she slept soundly through the night (with one small exception).

So prayers were answered and tender mercies were bestowed. We are having a great trip and are still here in Lincoln City. We’ll be home soon and will post with pictures!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Caring Sister

Today Xander came up to me and asked if he could have some chips. I said, "not now, honey," and he walked away with a pouty face. Jessica followed him out the door and I overheard her lovingly explain, "Xander, if you don't ask Mom, then she won't say no. Next time, just eat the chips without asking. That's what I did."

Thanks, Jes.


3 Minutes Too Soon

What can you do in 3 minutes? Make a 3 minute egg? Play a game of Boggle? Prevent disease and pestilence (or at least an upset stomach)…

Every year our church has a “Fathers and Sons” campout. It’s a great opportunity for dads and their boys to bond. The fathers and sons campout is something that Taylor and Parker look forward to with tremendous anticipation every year. Our last camp out was a great disappointment. You see, we didn’t heed the “smoke signals” that indicated the trip was destined for disaster. By smoke signals, I mean the huge plumes of smoke from the forest fire. The one that was consuming much of the woods at the base of the canyon we were entering to reach our campground. We traveled 15 miles past the mouth of the canyon before we got to the campground. By that time, we couldn’t see or smell the fire or smoke, so we thought we were in the clear. That evening, while playing in the lake with Taylor and Parker, I threw my back out and could not stand up straight. I looked like an 80-year-old man as I hobbled around getting dinner for the boys. About 12:30 AM, the forest rangers came and kicked us all out. Not only that, but we couldn’t go back DOWN the canyon. Instead, we had to go up over the mountain pass and go back home via a circuitous, 3-hour route. As I tried to pack up camp in the dark with a bad back, the boys had two different reactions: Taylor could NOT wake up and Parker went into hysterics, thinking we were all going to die. We did not die. We did not get home until about 4:00 am. We scared the tar out of Christi, who was not expecting someone to enter her home in the wee hours of the morning. But we all survived. Needless to say, Taylor and Parker have been looking forward with great anticipation to the next fathers and sons camp out!

That day finally came this past weekend. The location was the same as last time: Blackhawk Campground near Payson Lakes. Unbelievably beautiful location. This year, I decided to add a facet to the trip. We bought a canoe several years ago for 75 bucks at a yard sale. We haven’t used it since we got our new van, which doesn’t have a trailer hitch, about three years ago. I’ve always been nervous to put the canoe on the roof rack, but this year I decided to give it a try. It worked great! As we were preparing this year, it didn’t even dawn on me until the day before that I now have THREE kids who qualify as sons! So off we went to the fathers and sons camp out: Taylor, Parker, Xander and me. (I must put in here a HUGE thanks to sweet Christianne, who somehow always ends up spending a few extra hours helping to ensure that we have enough food, flashlights, sunscreen, clothes, etc. when we go. I’m sure we would always have the tent with us even if she didn’t help, but we might not have much else!)

(Beware the black cow in the road! There were several in the canyon: Love you, Tiff.)

That night we got there and set up camp, listened to a great devotional, had hot dogs and s’mores cooked on a campfire, looked at the constellations and generally enjoyed each others company. Unfortunately, we had picked a very lumpy patch of ground to pitch our tent, so I woke up about every 15 minutes all night. But it was still a great experience to be there with the boys.

The next morning breakfast was prepared for us☺. Taylor and Parker then played dodge ball with a big group and Xander got to go to town on a piƱata. He quite enjoyed it.

That’s when our day really started. Everyone else left to go home, but we set out on an adventure. First we went 10 miles farther up the scenic loop and came to an unbelievable view of Mt. Nebo.

After that we were off for the lake! Our canoe is 16’ long and fairly heavy. As we lift it on or off of the van, I hoist one end while Taylor and Parker lift the other end. Since Parker is quite a bit shorter than Taylor, he has to stand on a step stool to do his part. I’m sure some people wonder how responsible I am as a dad when they see this set up, but hey, it works! After getting the canoe down and loaded, we were in the water by 1:00 pm. We had our fishing gear, life jackets and lunch. Life was good. We spent the next 5 HOURS on the lake! It was so fun. First of all, the boys took turns getting out of the canoe and swimming in the lake. Xander was a bit nervous at first, but eventually enjoyed it. Then we ate lunch (thank you, Christi, for having it all prepared for us).

After lunch, we got out the fishing equipment. I am not a fisherman. I’ve never had any success with it. Other than two deep-sea-fishing trips, I’ve probably caught less than five fish in my whole life. So when I go fishing, I don’t expect to catch anything. I don’t really enjoy the sport. But my boys love it, and I love my boys, so when the opportunity is there, we fish. They have caught fish before, but it’s always been with someone else-never with me. Taylor once had one on his line, but it got away before it got to us. Are you getting the picture here? It took close to an hour to get all three boys squared away with hooks in the water. Then it was constant maintenance to keep everyone untangled, bait on their hooks, etc. At one point I was working on Taylor’s line. I hear Xander behind me say, with his cute little stutter, “I…I…I…I...I think I caught a fish!” “Ok Xander,” I condescendingly replied. “Hold on a minute and I’ll help you.” It was probably at least 7 minutes later that I finished working on Taylor’s line and turned to Xander. As we started to reel in his line, I sheepishly realized that he DID have a fish. He caught a brook trout and was about as excited as could be. It turned out to be a great day. All 3 boys caught a fish, and Taylor’s was a decent sized rainbow. My favorite line of the day was Xander. He looked down at his fish, and in the sweetest little voice said, "I'm gonna cook you little fishy." When we got home I learned that you don’t get much meat if you try to filet a 9-inch brook trout! Next time I’ll fry the whole thing and go from there☺.

After fishing, we joined some kids jumping off a platform into the lake. It was probably 8-10 feet up, and the boys loved it. Well, Taylor and Parker loved it. Xander thought I was trying to kill him when I had someone drop him in (with his life jacket on and me to catch him!). Parker even did a flip. I had fun too, although I must say I don’t look quite as good as my boys☹.

So why 3 minutes? Well, you see, I really am conscientious about sunscreen. I applied it twice that day to all four of us. But we were out too long in the canoe. Especially for Parker. He got a pretty bad sunburn on his arms.

Poor fair-skinned, redhead! Actually, all three of the non-asians on the boat got burnt. When we put on the sunscreen, we were all standing up. Our shorts came below our knees. But when we sat down in the canoe, our shorts pulled up and left about 5 inches of unsunscreened skin exposed. Yikes! Not good. So…if I had taken an extra 3 minutes to sunscreen Parker one extra time, he wouldn’t have been so burnt. The sunburn likely contributed to his car-sickness on the way home. And if we would have arrived home 3 minutes earlier, he wouldn’t have lost his lunch all over the inside of the van! Oh well, as long as they keep wanting to spend time with me, I’ll clean up a bit of bile when necessary.☺


PS. By the time we got home, the boys were beat. Xander was completely conked out. We brought him in the house and he promptly fell asleep on the living room floor. I wanted a picture with all three boys and their fish. If you double click on the picture, you can see just how unhappy Xander was with me at that moment!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Exercise playlist

First of all, I stand by my comment about a "wicked young man." (:

And thank-you so much for your support of Graci's rubber ducky fundraiser! I feel so overwhelmed and blessed to know so many wonderful people that would honor her in this way. THANK-YOU. You are appreciated!!

On to the title of this post:

Jeremy likes to tease me about my choice of songs to exercise to. I suppose it’s not “normal” to workout to Christian contemporary, but to me there is nothing that makes me want to run more than, “Come to Jesus…” blaring in my ear.

You would laugh at my most recent “exercise mix.”

I myself think it’s a bit strange. I hadn’t thought much about it when I sat down to burn a new CD off of Itunes. I just added songs that were calling out to me until I reached 40 minutes of playtime (my maximum time on the elliptical machine before I collapse in exhaustion.)

As I started to exercise, I began to realize the randomness of the songs I chose:

1. Remember When It Rained—Josh Groban
2. Haven’t Met You Yet—Michael Buble
3. Lemonade—Chris Rice
4. Made to Worship—Chris Tomlin
5. I Will Survive—Gloria Gaynor
6. Jesus Will Meet You There—Steven Curtis Chapman
7. Fireflies—Owl City
8. Watching Airplanes—Gary Allan
9. Kung Fu Fighting—Carl Douglas
10. The Lord’s Prayer—Andrea Bocelli and Mormon Tabernacle Choir

As I listened to each song, I thought about why I had chosen it:

1. “Wash away the thoughts inside that keep my mind away from you.” Not sure what it’s intended to mean, but I think of “you” as our Father in Heaven, and I LOVE that line. Expresses so well my desire to rid myself of my vices. And Josh Groban's voice-- wow.

2. Michael Buble just makes me happy. I LOVE him. (Luckily, Jeremy thinks he’s hot too!) Plus I have a fun memory of recently staying up until the early morning hours with Jeremy watching all of MB’s music videos and just having fun together.

3. I love the carefree nature of this song and the way it reminds me of my happy life.

4. Love it. Love that it’s singing praises to HIM. Love the line “And even the rocks cry out and even the heavens shout at the sound of His holy name.”

5. I know what the song is really about, but to me—the only words that matter are “I will survive!” I will survive all the messes and craziness and messes and appointments and messes and ups and downs that are mine! I say those three words to myself several times a day. (:

6. Two lines in this one that call out to me: “When the doctor says ‘I’m sorry, we don’t know what else to do,’ and you’re looking at your family wondering how you’ll make it through, whatever road life takes you down, Jesus will meet you there.” Of course, this line fills me with anguish, love, worry, peace—all when I think about my Graci Kate. And then the line, “When the sunlight comes and your world’s still dark…” I think of my Elli and the life she faces and the tremendous trials she is going through—and the promises she has been given. I am so grateful for my knowledge of Jesus Christ and could not make it through without that testimony.

7. Picked this one completely out of love for my Taylor. He heard it at school one time and asked us to download it. He loves it, and I love to hear him sing along. I had told him how much I loved his voice on that song, so one time he called my cell phone and left a message—singing the whole song. Love that kid.

8. I know it’s a tragic song, but it’s romantic and I love it. Love the melody. Jer and I love to dance to it!

9. Most random song on here. Dumbest lyrics ever: “Everybody was kung fu fighting. That kid was fast as lightning. In fact, it was a little bit frightening. He fought with expert timing.” HUH? I suppose I picked it for the beat, but also because it makes me laugh and reminds me of high school dances. A couple of years ago I started singing it out of the blue and Jer was like, “What song is that?” I couldn’t believe he’d never heard it! We went on the computer to download it and ended up finding the music video. It’s hilarious—a must see. We laughed our heads off.

10. Like, the most beautiful song EVER. The Savior’s words put to breathtaking music. You must listen to this video. I suppose I identify with Andre and love him in part because of his blindness. His voice is angelic and this particular recording sounds like it was recorded right in heaven. As a side note, when I was a little girl and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer, "I want to play the organ for the Quabernacle Choir." (:

So yes, a strange playlist! And yet as I was listening to it—if felt so… me! So much of what I feel each day is within these songs: gratitude, romance, determination, testimony, desperation, contentment, silliness, joy, sadness, hopelessness, laughter, love…

The way my life is going, I’m quite sure my next CD will be just as random!

Pause the music at the bottom of the blog and enjoy the song...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wicked Young Men

I try to read to the kids every night before bed. Sometimes it's every other night, and sometimes it's every other week. But over the course of the last few years we've managed to read Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, The Chronicles of Narnia, White Fang, The Wizard of Oz and several other books. The kids LOVE it! We are currently reading Anne of Green Gables. It's fun how much Taylor and Parker enjoy Anne Shirley's vivacious personality and non-stop talking. And Graci identifies with Anne because they were both orphans who had to fit in with a new family.

Last night I was reading to them in our bedroom, and Christi was at the computer. I read the following line: "Diana...thinks perhaps it would be nobler to marry some wild, dashing, wicked young man and reform him." Christi immediately said, "That's what I did!"

You should have heard the kids howl with laughter. I couldn't really argue though...I was dashing:)



Today I cam home and the kitchen was a mess. Dirty dishes in the sink. Nowhere to cook the fish I was going to prepare. My wife? She was downstairs playing make believe with married couple Rosalina and Max (Jesi and Xander-she was a doctor, he was a nurse and Christi was a patient who Rosalina and Max had adopted after treating her ailments:). She had been playing with them for close to two hours! Man, I am a lucky guy to have a wife who has her priorities straight!!!

I know I may be getting sickening with this, but...have I mentioned lately how much I love my life:)


Sunday, July 18, 2010

We love you, Make-a-Wish!


First of all, we have received our itinerary for Graci's Disney Cruise!! We will be leaving on Aug 12 and are beyond excited!! Update: We will be having a sendoff party for Graci on Aug 2 at 6:30 in our backyard. We'll grill some hot dogs and have fun playing and celebrating her wish. If you'd like to join us, let us know so we can make plans!! After the cruise is over Make-a-Wish will also host a "Star Raising Party" for Graci. It will be held at the Wishing Place in Murray. If you are able to only come to ONE of the events, the "Star Raising Party" is the one to come to!! She will get to raise her own star that will forever hang in the Wishing Place, along with the stars of all the other wish kids. It's a very special event, and we hope to have lots of friends and family there! We're not sure on dates yet, but it will likely be at the end of August or in September. So keep that in mind...

Also, Make-a-Wish is hosting their annual Rubber Ducky Derby on Aug 21. This is one of their biggest fundraisers. We feel so appreciative of the way that they have brought magic into our home, and we would love to give back. So Graci has opened a page where you can buy a rubber ducky for $5.00 in her name. The duckies will be raced at an aquatic center, and the winning ducky will receive $15,000 toward a new vehicle at a local car dealership. So if you would like to support Make-a-Wish, you can click HERE and buy a ducky in Graci's name. Thanks!

Graci's health remains the same. Most people do not even realize her condition is so serious, because she looks and acts so normal. She continues to wear oxygen when she is at home, but at this point doesn't have to wear it away from home. We'll be visiting the cardiologist soon and will for sure give you an update. We love her so much. Sometimes she gets so discouraged about having to wear oxygen, and the special attention she is getting from Make-a-Wish has been exactly what she needs. We are so grateful!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


One of my dearest friends is in need of prayers TODAY. I can't share her story, but she has asked for prayers, and I can assure you that you are praying for an amazing lady with a heart of gold.

In fact, just pray for "Christianne's amazing friend with the heart of gold" and I'm sure our Father in Heaven will know exactly who you're talking about. (:

I will forever LOVE you for sending prayers her way!!

I'm getting on my knees now.



We just received a flyer offering babysitting services from a girl in the neighborhood. On the flyer was the phrase "fee determined by number of children." We had a babysitter a few years ago that was the same way-- she charged $2.00/hr/kid. Luckily, we only had three at the time! I know that many subscribe to this philosophy-- the more children, the more you pay. It makes sense, in a way. And it sounds great for the parents of ONE child. (: The way I see it, however, is TIME is TIME. Is a sitter really worth less because she is just watching 1-2 kids? I would feel silly paying a sitter say, $2.00/hr to watch "just Elli" while I take the rest of my kids to a movie. (Elli obviously doesn't do movies). And along the same line, I can't afford to pay a young teenager $12.00/hr to watch my six kids, though I would LOVE to pay that much if I could-- we have some darling sitters!

In truth, I think it's sometimes easier to watch more children at once. I remember babysitting an only child and it was exhausting, because that child wanted all of my attention. In our particular case, I really think watching all six is easier than watching just one or two. The big kids are a huge help with "the littles" and know all the routines. They all play together really well.

So... question #1: Am I totally off base? Are we underpaying our babysitters by not paying "per child?"

Feel free to share your honest thoughts. (:

On to question #2: It was Parker's turn for a Mommy date a couple of weeks ago and we went to see Toy Story 3. Loved it. Jeremy later took all the kids to see it and he loved it too. My question is, are we the only parents who found ourselves totally crying at the end?

And question #3: Have you ever had a dinner of raspberries, blueberries, peaches and bananas cut up in a bowl with milk, sugar, and vanilla? If not, you are missing out! Mmmmmmm!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dreamnight at the Zoo

One wonderful thing about having kiddos with special needs is discovering all of the outstanding people who give of their time, talents, and resources to bless these children. This year we were able to attend “Dreamnight at the Zoo” for the second time. The Utah Hogle Zoo puts on this event annually for children with severe disabilities or facing a tough medical diagnosis. The zoo is shut down to the public and these kids and their families are invited to attend for free. They have face painting, special shows and a free dinner put on by Chick-fil-a. We had such a good time eating, seeing the animals, watching a bird show, and just being together. My favorite thing, by far, was being surrounded by families like our own. There is something almost therapeutic about seeing families who understand some of the same issues and difficulties as us. We met one family with twin boys who were both blind. I believe they also had cerebral palsy and they were, like Elli, significantly delayed. It was very bonding to talk with them and observe their sweet boys. They had many of the same tendencies as Elli-- constantly poking eyes, having little (ok, big) meltdowns, and making people smile just because of their sweet nature. (: I was thinking about how difficult it must be to have TWINS who are both blind, and as I walked away was suddenly hit with the thought that HELLO-- Elli and Lexi will be just 3 months apart! Crazy!! But so fun... (:

Our kids had such a great time—thank-you, Dreamnight!

PS. The extra kid is T's friend, Brodi. We thought we didn't have enough kids of our own, so we invited him to come along. LOL

Oh, and I noticed one more thing. Observe how Taylor's arms have marker all over them. That day had been yearbook signing at the school. We didn't want to spend the money to buy FOUR yearbooks, so he was out of luck this year. We thought it quite ingenious that he decided to just get markers and have kids sign his arms!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Distinguished Tastes

Parker comes up to me yesterday and says:

"Dad, Michael Buble is one of my new favorite singers!" We just bought his most recent CD and Parker goes around singing "Haven't Met You Yet."

Not exactly what your average 9-year-old is listening to, but I must say I like it:)


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

H is for Herriman, Hobbies and Happiness

The craziest thing I’ve ever done with my hair was a poor attempt at some “Vanilla Ice” lines during my freshman year of college. (If you know what Vanilla Ice lines are, I’m sorry.) That, combined with some very white-boy attempts at the running man and the Roger Rabbit (80’s dance moves), make it quite amazing that I ever got a date that year. I can proudly say that I never wore suspenders with only one strap. But I digress.

The other day someone asked me what my hobbies were. I thought about it for a minute. I like to ski, but generally do it less than once a year. I play basketball some mornings with only slightly greater success than I used to find in my attempts at the running man. I enjoy reading, but generally only read for pleasure on my once quarterly business trips. I used to golf, but I’ve played exactly one round in the last 7 years. Then it hit me. My kids are my hobby! I read to them. I camp with them. I swim with them. I love them!!! And there is one thing I do with my kids that definitely qualifies as a hobby: I coach them. ☺

I think I’ve blogged before about my passion for coaching. I’ve coached Taylor and Parker in basketball for 5 or 6 years now. I’ve been the coach for Parker’s baseball team for 3 years running. I never played much myself, but I love kids and I love the opportunity to coach them and teach them. And, if I do say so myself, I’ve been reasonably successful. Taylor’s 4th grade basketball team went 8-3 this year. In the three years I’ve coached Parker’s baseball teams, we’ve won 1st place once and 3rd place twice.

This year was very special. It was the first time in years that I was able to coach Taylor in baseball. This worked because the two boys are only 16 months apart, and were able to be on the same team. We took third place in our league, and I was able to be one of the coaches on the league all-star team. Taylor and Parker both played on the all-star team as well. Taylor plays first and center field. Parker plays third and second. It was a wonderful and blessed experience to share this with my boys this year.

I also coached Xander’s 5- and 6-year-old team this year.

Man, you forget how clueless they are at that age!!! And Xander is on a completely different level of clueless from everyone else. He did have more exuberance for the game than any of his teammates, however. Jesi even played in one game that Xander had to miss:)

I need to pause for a minute and say thanks to the rest of the family for the sacrifices they make so that I can coach the boys. Christi obviously bears the burden of being at home with the other kids while I’m at practices. Graci often babysits the younger kids when there are games. (Graci could come and watch, but she is NOT a sports fan and would much rather stay home as the babysitter than have to die of boredom at a baseball game.) Jesi and Xander like to come once the weather warms up. And they’re cute little fans. Tonight Jesi called out to me on the sideline and said: “Daddy, I’m cheering for YOUR team!” Thanks, Jess.

Anyway, our all-star team did very well this year. We went 6-4 overall. We were in three tournaments and won one of them (the district tournament), which qualified us for the state tournament. We won our first game at the state tourney, and then lost two in a row to finish our season. I’m very proud of how well the boys have taken the defeat. They were very teary-eyed at first, but have already been able to look at the bigger picture and see how much success we had this year. Sports can be tough on kids, but I believe there are some great life-lessons taught.

At the beginning of the second all-star tournament, I decided to put my support for our team on public display:

In case you can’t tell, I got a regular haircut, but had the stylist leave the H at “pre-cut” length. Then she put peroxide on it and I became a bleach-blonde for the first (but hopefully not the last!) time in my life. I had it like that for 12 days. That includes 6 work days and twice at church. I’m usually a rather clean cut guy, so I got some rather surprised reactions. Since our season is now done, I had Christi shave it off tonight. Jessica started crying when she saw it was gone. Her prayer tonight started off like this: “Dear Heavenly Father, please, please help Daddy to get a new baseball team so he can have his haircut back and be so so handsome again!” ☺

So, H stands for Herriman (as in all-stars). H stands for hobbies. But most of all, H stands for happiness. I am a happy man. I thank my Father in Heaven frequently for how blessed I am. I have a GREAT family!