Saturday, August 28, 2010


I was using scissors to trim around all the little boys' ears before bathtime tonight and Lincoln was reassuring Porter that "it doesn't hurt at just tickles a little" when Ethan interjected with, "Actually, the best part is if you're real still, she won't cut your ear off!" Hmm . . . maybe I'd better trim my threats some, too.


The little boys and I went to a friend's house for dinner last night. It had rained hard earlier and PJ kept trying to escape out the back doors into the yard. To try and deter this effort, we told him that moles come out when it rains because their tunnels are flooded and if he went outside, they would nibble his toes.

He looked at me and then at his feet and then back at me and said, in his sweet little 2-year-old voice: "But I have shooooes!"

Now, it seems to me that such logic shouldn't develop until at least 3 years of age. I have a feeling he's gonna give me a run for my money, but at least he never ceases to offer up a good laugh.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jesus and Bears

Yup, He is Lincoln's favorite topic these days. Jesus is responsible for everything Lincoln sees, whether considering a lovely flower or a dead bug. The other day we accompanied Greg to set the bait for bear season (it's Grandpa Dale's turn to bag a bear this fall) and it took a while to get out there...the last 7 miles taking over 50 minutes on a very bumpy forest service back road. Lincoln was buckled tightly, bouncing along and staring out the window with 2 uneaten chips and a bundle of wildflowers and flowering weeds in his hands. Lost in thought. "Why did Jesus make the bears so far away from our house?"

I, for one, am very grateful the bears are far away from our house. And I absolutely appreciate his sweet faith in recognizing Jesus' hand in everything.


Before I forget, I have to document 2 of my favorite things from our trek from Tahoe through Utah and finally home to Wyoming. First off, we drove 600 miles in one day. Just me and the littles. We were prepared with snacks, stories on tape, cartoon DVDs and my iPod plugged into only one ear and turned down low (don't judge). And a miracle happened. I did not raise my voice at my children once. They did not raise their voices at each other. There was no hitting, poking, whining, crying, fighting or drama whatsoever. We stopped only once to go to the bathroom and have lunch. We never stopped on the side of the road so someone could pee. If the veil wasn't drawn over my eyes, I'm sure I would've seen angels packed like sardines in the cab of Greg's truck with 30 clowns in a clown car. It was unbelievable.

Second, the 4-hour, 250-mile trip from Utah to Wyoming was not as easy. The boys were vacation fried and ready to be home . . . and who am I kidding? So was I. But Ethan busied himself in the back seat for at least 1-1/2 hours whittling almonds with the broken off top of a plastic knife. Almond shavings were everywhere and he was so proud of his end results, which looked like, well . . . almonds.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My other home

I love going home during the summertime. My visits are always full of laughing ourselves to tears, yummy food, endless days on the beach, 30-minute hikes (accompanied, of course, by cranky children) taking 2 hours, cousins bonding, restless sleeping, shopping, the exchange of knowing smiles or eye rolling. It's completely and utterly exhausting in the best way possible. I can't really explain how I feel at home except...well, home.

Meredith, me, Mom, Lindsey

Porter, Grandpaw and the banana

Nathan, Porter, Connor, Lincoln, Tyler, Joshua

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grandpa Great

On July 21, Grandpa Great joined his sweetheart on the other side of the veil, just 6 months after her mortality was abandoned. I've been weeping on and off for a couple weeks now, but also have this overwhelming sense of appreciation and happiness to know that he and Grandma Great are reunited, dancing together again. Just like Grandma, Grandpa may as well have been my biological grandparent. They never made me feel like I was anything less than an absolute part of their legacy.

Greg called me a few days before Grandpa's passing as he was leaving Grandpa's house for what he was sure would be his last visit. He told me he felt like he had said his final goodbye to Grandpa. I've only been part of the Kemp family for 9-1/2 years and I feel like I've lost my own grandpa. But I know that, even though I know their history through stories, Greg's relationship with Grandpa has always been a huge part of his life. More than a grandparent, Grandpa was one of his dearest friends and valued mentors.

The little boys and I were planning to visit Grandpa on the way home from our summer visit to Tahoe. After talking to Greg, I worried we wouldn't make it in time. We didn't. But I had the chance to speak with him a couple times before he went, including the morning of the day he passed. He was weak and couldn't speak, but Elaine said he tried to respond when I told him how special he was to me and much I loved him...and when Porter yelled over the phone, "I yub you Gwampa-Gwate!"

It turned out that by postponing my trip home from Tahoe by only 1 day, the little boys and I were able to gather with the Kemps in Utah for Grandpa's memorial. It was only 8 weeks after we had all gathered with Grandpa on Memorial Day, visiting Grandma under the silver oak in Provo Cemetery and appreciating the epitomizing beauty of the headstone recently erected...just waiting for the engraved date of Grandpa's reunion with his sweetheart.
The memorial service was perfect. Grandpa was not only the strong and capable patriarch of a huge family, he was an example and mentor to hundreds of people whose paths he crossed in the Church or throughout the community. He changed lives. Not just those of his family, but anyone he came in contact with. He was that man.

It was hard to say goodbye to Grandpa. Hard to understand that he wouldn't join us at family dinners or at Christmastime or host family barbecues in his immaculate yard. But I think it was harder to say goodbye to Grandma in January. When she passed, we witnessed their separation. Him without her. At least with his passing, we know they are happily reunited again, free of their tormented mortal bodies.

From Elaine's obituary: "How fitting that as we think of Wars, Veterans, Independence, and Pioneers who sought for Freedom in this month of July, that we also pay tribute to Shirl's life. He is finally free from the ravages of lymphoma. Shirl is a war veteran in more ways than one: as a sub vet, as a battle scarred heart disease and cancer hostage four times, and in one other way, as a veteran of the War in Heaven . . .

In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea
With a Glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Some stand out in this eternal war to make men free. Shirl D. Kemp is one who is a Family Captain of Freedom. He has been transfigured to rest in the glory of Christ's bosom. His life is a witness to the Plan of Salvation. He has become a lily of beauty in the Plan, through faith and repentance and obedience and sacrifice. He has lived to make his family free. He has loved The Commander, even the Lord of Hosts, the Savior, Jesus Christ. We salute you and love, dad. You are top side now!"

When Uncle Keith had a turn at the pulpit during the funeral, he quoted: "Life isn't over for a faithful LDS member until they are safety dead, with their testimony burning brightly." Grandpa lit a fire in all of us. It is now our job to pass that light and love and knowledge to our children. And we've got some big shoes to fill.