Thursday, October 31, 2013

Southern Utah

Two weeks ago was fall break, and once again Christi was sweet enough to let me take Taylor, Parker and my dad camping in the desert of Southern Utah.  There is no more beautiful terrain in the world.  This year we went to Zion National Park.  I did some research before we went, trying to find an isolated place to camp.  Outside of the park there is a national scenic byway--a steep and rough dirt road that meanders past Smithsonian Butte.  We went up this about a mile and a half, then turned off onto an even smaller road.  A little way down that we found an amazing campsite.  We were right next to a narrow canyon and surrounded by bluffs and buttes.  There were amazing views no matter which direction we turned.  We only saw one other group on one night.  We heard a couple of campers, but overall it was extremely isolated--a perfect spot!

We spent two days exploring the National Park.  We did three significant hikes and saw spectacular views.  The first day we did the Canyon Overlook hike, and the upper and lower Emerald Pools hikes, each about a mile round trip.  The views at Canyon Overlook are unbelievable!

Ready to start out.  Taylor is taller than Grandpa now!

Throughout Zion you're surrounded by these huge monolithic escarpments.  Beautiful!

Yes, those are my boys looking down over a 1500 foot sheer cliff.  Actually, we found out from a different view a bit later that the rock they are on is actually a huge overhang.  Fun!

Then Emerald Pools hike took us along a small river into a more forested area and a narrower canyon.

The highlight of the trip was on Friday, when we hiked to the top of Angel's Landing.  This 6-mile round trip trail rises 1500 feet, mostly in the last mile.  It is the most exciting and dangerous hike I've ever been on.  The last half mile is very steep, with chains bolted to the rock for hikers to cling to.  There are spots where the slope is very steep to the side, and other places where the trail goes along a narrow cliff top maybe two feet wide with 1000+ foot drop offs on either side.  It was an amazing experience and at the top we enjoyed perhaps the best view I've ever seen.  I'm pretty sure that had Christi been there, she would have said there was no way we were going to the top:).

At the beginning of the trail with Angel's Landing in the background.

If you look closely you can see people hiking the switchbacks up this crazy section of the trail.  Believe it or not, the switchbacks up this are actually paved!

Taking a break with breathtaking views.

A bit like The Enchanted Forest in Oregon:)

Grandpa Green in his natural habitat

Waiting for the line of people coming down.  They are holding onto chains to their right.

Unfortunately my phone died at this point, so we were unable to get any more pictures.  It was an amazing hike.  I was quite impressed that my dad completed it at age 73.

This Southern Utah trip has become quite a tradition.  This was our 6th consecutive year.  We've been to five national parks and at least two national monuments.  We camp out for two or three nights each year and spend another night at Grandma and Grandpa Nelson's on the way back.  We've seen unbelievable views, visited ancient cliff dwellings, swum in Lake Powell and ridden a narrow gauge railroad along the edge of a steep cliff through the Colorado mountains.  But far and away the best part of this experience each year is the relationships we are developing.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity to get closer to my boys.  Grateful to be able to have time to teach them life lessons and help them grow closer to their Father in Heaven by experiencing His creations.  Grateful that they are getting to know their Grandpa better than they could just about any other way and hearing stories about his parents and family as well.  Thanks, Christi, for your sacrifices in making this possible each year!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Father Time

I was on a sales call on Monday with a doctor I have only visited a couple of times.  I noticed a family picture on the wall and asked how many kids he had.  Noticing an infant in the picture, I asked if it was his grandchild.  Yes.  I told him that I had nine kids.  "Wow!" he responded, "and how many grandkids?"



Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet Lex

After working on some things in my office early this morning, I headed back into my room.  I walked into the bathroom, and a sleepy Lexi was shuffling towards the sink.  I gave her a big hug and she responded in kind.  I turned her around so her back was facing me and her front was facing the sink.  As I looked at her in the mirror I said, "You know what makes me happy?  When I see your beautiful face."  Not realizing that I could see her reflection, Lexi immediately turned 180 degrees and looked up at me with a huge smile.  She wanted to let me see her beautiful face and be happy.

Sweet, tender, poignant moment.  I am surrounded each day by so many precious angels.


Birthday Pics...

Christi has carried on a tradition that started in her family.  Every year on your birthday, you get breakfast in bed.  Not only that, but you get to choose what it's going to be.  Needless to say, this is a tradition that has been warmly embraced by our children.  Mangos and sausage seem to be a common theme for most of the kids.  (I guess I influenced the tradition as well!  My love of mangos, developed as a missionary in Thailand, has been passed on to most of the kids:)






Friday, October 25, 2013


I was making lunches this morning and watching Sophi and Xander at the breakfast table.  Sophi was slouched down in a normal chair with her legs propped up on the table.  "Sophi,"  I said.  "You are so lucky!  You are the only one who I will let put their feet on the table!  If Xander put his feet on the table, I would say, 'No Way!'  If Parker put his feet on the table, I would say, 'No Way!'  If Graci put her feet on the table, I would say, 'No Way!'  If Cali put her feet on the table, I would say, 'No Way!'  If Mommy put her feet on the table, I would say, 'No Way!'"  I went through everyone in the family explaining that there was no way anyone else could do that.

In her cute little voice she replied, "That's cuz my feet are so little, huh!"


Thursday, October 24, 2013

At Peace

I wish I could somehow pour my feelings out directly onto the computer screen.  The written word has many capabilities, but it falls far short when trying to describe the most heartfelt emotions.  It is also a poor medium for communicating the evolution of a train of thought traversing the human mind.  Nonetheless, I will give it a try.

I was driving down the road yesterday.  It was a beautiful fall day.  The snow-capped mountains around me were perfectly accented by the amazing blue of the sky.  The stand-up-for-what-you-believe-in Sara Bareilles anthem “Brave” was blasting through the car.  (This happens to be one of Cali's favorite songs, and I couldn't help thinking of her with a smile.)  My thought process began with how grateful I was for inspirational music.  From the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Josh Groban to pop anthems, music can do so much to lift the spirits and inspire us to action. 

My mind wandered back to a time when I used to listen to great music on the radio and feel jealous.  I wanted to be the one performing!  I thought I had the talent to write music like that, to sing music like that.  Why couldn’t that be me?  I was fortunate enough to have the chance to chase my dream.  We moved to Tennessee.  I attended song-writing clinics.  I performed at singer/songwriter venues and entered competitions.  I quickly learned that I didn’t have the talent to be a star singer, but felt that I could make it as a songwriter.  I tried for four and a half years.  Christi and I, my brother Matt and I and other aspiring songwriters and I wrote multiple songs that I felt had radio potential.  One of our songs actually made a publisher cry!  But we never had the success I had hoped for.  Then suddenly we knew it was time.  We needed to leave Tennessee and come back home to the west.  My dream was over. 

But something had matured inside of me.  Instead of feeling bitter or jealous when I listened to the radio, I felt grateful!  Grateful for the beauty of the music.  Grateful that I had been able to give it a shot.   Grateful that I didn’t have to wonder, “what if?”  I gave it all that I could for four and a half years…and I did not succeed.  The Lord had a different plan for me.  For our family.  Our time in Tennessee, while not producing what we had hoped when we moved there, was priceless.  Lifetime friendships were forged.  Christi and I grew closer than we had ever been as we adjusted to life with no family anywhere near.  Spiritual lessons were learned.  And we were led to China.  All while in Tennessee.  The Lord knew we needed to live there for a time.  But it was for His reasons, not mine.  And I found peace.  Would it have been fun to tour with Garth Brooks?  Absolutely.  Would it have fit into the unique calling Christi and I have come to accept as ours?  Not likely.  I am so grateful that the Lord did not answer my prayers for musical fame and gloryJ.  To quote Mr. Brooks,… "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers."

Of course all of this and more went through my thoughts in just a few seconds.  Next I reflected on the need to reflect.  I have been reading a book with the boys.  It is historical fiction set around the ministry of Jesus.  (It is called The Kingdom and the Crown series, and I highly recommend it.)  This past week was our fall break, and I went camping with Taylor, Parker and my dad.  As we were on the long drive home from southern Utah, my dad read to us.  (As a side note, I haven’t been read to in years, and I was amazed at what a wonderful experience that is.  Made me more determined than ever to make reading with my own kids a priority.) 

At one point in the book the author gives a detailed description of a Passover meal in a Jewish household.  I was struck with the power and importance of recalling the sacrifices of those who have come before us.  As this family remembered the plight of their forebears as slaves to Egypt, as they ate the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, how could they not be more grateful for the blessings they themselves enjoyed?  How could they not feel grateful to their God for delivering them from such bondage?

As I was listening, my mind went to my own life.  I admit that there are times that I wonder why and how.  Why have I been given so many challenges to deal with?  How can I face a lifetime of caring for a child with Elli’s severe special needs?  But as I thought of the Israelites and others throughout history who lived in slavery for generations, as I thought of those living in poverty throughout the world today, as I thought of the pioneers who settled this land and the sacrifices they made, my perspective changed.  I have NOTHING to complain about.  I have been blessed beyond measure, beyond comprehension.  Where much is given, much is required.  And where much is required, much is given.  I was so grateful for this reminder.

I was struck by the value of the Jews celebrating Passover every year.  The clarity and understanding I felt as I was listening to the story was wonderful.  It will last for some time.  But I am sure that there will come another day when I am overwhelmed and wonder how I can make it and why the Lord would give me these particular trials.  How important it is to reflect on the sacrifices made by our ancestors and the blessings the Lord has given them.  By doing this regularly we are much more likely to see the blessings in our own lives and be grateful for the path that God has chosen for us.

I’m not sure I expressed myself very well here.  I hope some of my feelings came through.  Most of all I hope that my children can learn to find peace.  If the path the Lord has in store for them involves their hopes and dreams coming true, wonderful!  If a career in film animation or a spot on the high school basketball team is in their future, fantastic.  But if His path for them involves roads they would not have chosen themselves, I hope that they will be able to see His glory in their journey. 

Fifteen years ago, ten years ago, even five years ago, I had no idea where I would be today.  Had it been up to me, I very well may have tried to go a different direction.  But the Lord knew what was best.  I am grateful for His guidance.  I am grateful for His love.  I am grateful for His peace.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Need some help here

OK,  I know you are all terribly excited when you see a post from me, but really now, aren't you all just dying to read something from Christi?  I've pleaded and cajoled, ranted and raved, insisted and demanded and flat out begged.  I'm not sure exactly what is stopping her, but I need your help.  Please start a comment campaign and ask her to start blogging again.  A simple "Christi, please post!" will suffice.  Let's flood her inbox with these comments and see how long it takes before she puts fingers to keyboard and rewards our efforts.



PS.  In fairness, she did write the post about Jesi's haircut, but Christi, quite frankly we're all looking for more than two words and three pictures!


Christi and I were sitting down to our diet breakfast this morning.  The older kids were gone to school and Lexi and Soph were the only ones home.  As any of you who have stuck to a low-calorie diet for any length of time will know,  each bite of your allotted food is precious.  Each morsel has deep intrinsic value.  You would perhaps rather lose your pinkie toe than share even a nibble.  Be that as it may, I am a remarkable father, empathizing deeply with the desires and needs of my sweet children.  (Note the sarcasm.)

My breakfast was a bowl of Cream of Wheat sweetened with Splenda and a fresh pear.  The pear was delicious.  Perfectly ripened and bursting with flavor, nectar dripping down my underprivileged throat.  It was a delight to savor each bite.  But of course Lexi and Sophi wanted some.  Lexi, priding herself on her subtlety, stood nearby and said, "I wish I could have some pear."  Me (demonstrating one of my remarkable fathering techniques): "Better keep wishing."  Lexi was undaunted and proceeded to keep wishing.  To do this, she blew out three times.  It sounded like someone trying to blow out birthday candles.  I'd never heard anyone wish in this manner before and was quite enchanted with her charm.  "Is that how you wish?" I asked.  Goofy Lexi grin appears, "Yes."  I was so enamored with her that I cut off a piece of pear, put it in her mouth and said, "Your wish is granted."  Another goofy grin, this time with juice running down her mouth.

Sophi suddenly got wise.  "I wish I could have some pear."  Me: "I didn't hear you wish like Lexi."  Sophi blows out three times.  Me: "Your wish is granted" while popping a pear slice in her mouth.




Lexi:  "I wish I could go to Disneyworld."

Christi and I could not stop laughing:)


Random Pictures...

Why Taylor should not climb trees...

Jessica and Lexi after their church "Virtue Pageant."  They tied for first place (along with all of the other girls who entered.)  It was very cute.

Jessica's "P" party.  Princesses, pajamas, pizza...