October 3, 2016

Grandpa's Funeral

As soon as we got home from the trip Mom called and said Grandpa wasn't doing too well.  It was looking like he would probably not make it too much longer.  After Ellen left for home I immediately started working on the portrait of Grandpa that I had been working on so that I could hopefully get it done by the time we had to go out there for the funeral.  Ellen left on Tuesday the 22nd, on that Friday I was having a little playdate/birthday party for Sanna since her birthday was on our trip and it was during that party that I got the phone call from my mom saying that Grandpa had passed away.  My initial reaction was relief for him to be finally free from the pain. My uncle works for Delta and so he got the kids and I some buddy passes and he urged me to leave the next day since buddy passes can be unpredictable with flights. Brent was working that whole day so I got all packed and the painting all packed up with all my paints and Saturday morning we left at 3:45 to head to the Memphis airport.
The airport is a whole huge story and luckily I already covered that on Instagram.
When we got to Utah I wasn't very social. I spent most of my time down in the basement finishing the painting.  This is how it turned out by the time we left Utah:

The viewing was on Monday and Sanna was asleep in my arms during the whole viewing so I sat on the couch and luckily siblings, cousins, and friends kept me company.  It was hard seeing Grandpa at the viewing, I kept losing it.  I was starting to feel a lot worse about his death and was having trouble hiding my emotions.
The next day was his funeral and I was even more of a mess during the family viewing as we got ready to shut the casket and couldn't stop crying.  The tears continued through most of the first part of his funeral which was very frustrating because I was to give a short talk and sing with my mom.  During my mom's talk however I started to feel calmer and was blessed with some peace.  I wish I could record on here the talks my family members all gave, they were all so wonderful.  This is the talk I gave:
We had the chance to live with Grandma and Grandpa for 7 and a half years. I got to be quite close to Grandpa and saw first hand the awesome man he was.
Many have seen what a hard worker he is, and in the years leading up to his illness he worked pretty much full time still and he would come home just beat.  Though he was tired he’d take the time to play with my kids if we were upstairs. Chico would often sneak up the stairs when Grandpa was eating lunch and he would pull Chico up on his lap and share his food with him. When my babies were learning to walk he’d take them walking all over the place with his big strong hands holding their tiny little hands. They always loved it and he had quite the endurance for it, it seemed he never got tired of it.
He liked working in the yard too, my kids loved to grab a garden tool and work out there with him.  When we got the garden going a couple years into our marriage grandpa would observe and watch and wouldn’t tell us what to do unless we asked him. When we asked his advice he’d give it in a humble way, he knew so much more about gardening than we did but he never acted that way, it’s just the way he was.  He COULD be pushy though… when he wanted you to eat watermelon!  It was hard to say no when he looked at you with a big smile and his big brown eyes twinkling and watermelon juice dripping all over the floor.
Grandpa had a testimony. You could feel it radiating from him, especially when he prayed or when he heard the hymns.  His simple yet immensely strong faith is precious to me and would often bring me to tears when I’d hear him pray and feel his faith.
There is no one in the world quite like my grandpa.  He was one of a kind.  We’ve lost a wonderful man and Heaven has gained a spiritual giant.
He must be rejoicing to have his mind clear again, free from the cloud of dementia.  He is probably singing with the angels of heaven right now. We got a little peak of that singing in the weeks leading up to his death.  It’s something I’ll never forget.
Grandpa was a man of few words, sometimes he’d just say one word or phrase to try to get you to know what he was trying to talk to you about. So in that same spirit I compiled a list of words or phrases that whenever I hear them, I will think of Grandpa, All of you have your own words and phrases you could add to this list and when we hear those words throughout our lives we’ll think of Grandpa and he will live on in each of us.
Here is my list…
Bar J Wranglers, Corn on the cob, Dancin’ with Woofs, Jackson Hole, Bronze, Clay, How Great Thou Art, Snake River, T.V. Dinners, Watermelon, Sack a potatoes, Upholstery, Torlet, Black Socks with Sandals, and the phrases he’d say like: “I suppose”, “Give me big Loves”, “Take a look a here” and
“It’ll feel better when it stops hurting”

I hope so Grandpa, it’s still hurting having you gone, you can’t come and tickle us behind the ear or give us a back massage anymore to help the hurt but I know that the Spirit can comfort us and we will see you again and it will feel better when it stops hurting.

Chico was quite emotionally distraught.  What a sweet tender soul he has.  My sweet big boy sat next to me though and we cried together during a lot of the funeral.  After I got done singing "His Hands" with my mom Chico whispered in my ear, "Grandpa was a lot like the Savior".  That touched my heart that he recognized that from the song. It is why we sang that song.
The graveside service was at the cemetery near Island View Park which made me really happy. Every time I visit Centerville I can easily go and visit Grandpa's grave now.  It was a beautiful grave side service as well with the military honors being done as well.

The day after the funeral I went to the temple. I thought of Grandpa during most of the session and cried a lot of course.  I thought of how grateful I am for the choices he made in his life that have so affected his posterity of which I am a part.  It just overwhelmed me with gratitude to be part of his posterity and helped me feel recommitted to living righteously for my posterity as well.  I sat in the Celestial Room after it was over and started feeling peace about him in my heart. In my brain I had known he was in a better place but it hadn't quite reached my heart to feel okay about him not being with us anymore.  As I sat there I started to come to terms with it and finally felt alright and felt happy for him where he was.  Since that time I have felt peace about him and all those sad resentful feelings of wishing he didn't have to get sick and die are gone now and I just feel at peace about it. Of course I miss him still, he was a wonderful Grandpa. I'm just grateful I had such a good relationship with him.  
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

October 2, 2016

Charlie's Baptism, Washington DC, Palmyra NY, and Niagara Falls

What a month.

Like really.

We left from Utah caravaning with my sister and her husband on Monday August 1st... my car broke down a little before the Wyoming border. I have AAA so we had it towed to Evanston. Th alternator was replaced while we waited with Stephen and Emily at a nearby park. The van worked great after that and we continued on our way. Griz enjoyed riding with his little cousin Sam. We listened to Harry Potter in our car which Sanna wasn't as thrilled about.
We got a hotel and then continued on our way the next morning.  Once again, van was doing great and I had a friend willing to let us stay at their house in Columbia, Missouri that night so we broke off from Em and Stephen so they could see some church sites.  We had only been split off from each other for probably only 2 hours and we were 2 hours away from my friend's house and all the sudden my engine started having trouble again. I could tell it was a different issue but serious so I got off the freeway as soon as I could and carefully got it to a hotel, I was nervous it wouldn't make it but thankfully it did.  It was too late for a mechanic so I booked a night's stay and had a very grumpy 8 year old on my hands.  I was a bit distraught myself and my phone wouldn't charge unless I was hooked up to the car charger. Frustration! Anyway, I got everything figured out that I needed to on the phone while Griz and Sanna had fun playing with river rocks out by the parking lot. Then I got the hotel tv turned on and we watched Chopped to cheer us all up.  We watched for way too long but we were all too tired to do anything but lay there and veg.  The next morning I called AAA and got my van towed to the Honda Dealership first thing in the morning. Brent wondered if I shouldn't waste the tow since the dealership was only 4 miles away but I didn't feel like the engine could handle it.  The mechanic made it sound like I made the right choice and that I barely avoided thousands of dollars of repair. Something to do with the fifth cylinder... Anyway, he worked hard to get it done fast. Then a shuttle from the dealership picked us up and took us to finish out our wait there (we had been watching cartoons that morning after our showers until checkout at 11:00).
We were on the road by around 1:00 and made it home that night!!! The moment I saw my sweet husband all of the emotions I'd been feeling came spilling out and I couldn't help but start sobbing. It was SO wonderful to be together again. Sanna was SO funny when we got home. She was little miss motor mouth telling Brent about everything and picking up things in the house she was excited about to show him. It was adorable. Emily and Stephen arrived about an hour later and they were also surprised how outgoing and talkative she was compared to how she was in Utah.  They stayed a couple nights at our house. There isn't much to see here in Paris itself, but we did take them to our Eiffel tower park, ha ha.
After that we threw together a make up birthday party for Chico since we had whisked him away to Utah three days before his birthday party we had planned. After that I prepared for the parents to join us here in Tennessee for Chico's baptism. When they got here we cooked and prepared for the baptism. Then the next day we went to the Discovery Park of America an hour away in Union City and showed off our fun museum to them.  That evening we went to the church for the big event!
It was even more wonderful than I could have imagined seeing our sweet boy get baptized. He was so happy and excited.  We gave him a journal and he wrote about it in there.

The Grandmas gave talks and we sang and we were so blessed to have so many from the branch there to support Chico on his big day.  We fed everyone homemade pulled pork sandwiches afterwords and I was grateful to my friends for bringing yummy desserts to go along with it. Hopefully it was okay for a Yankee like me to be making a very southern meal for our southern friends.  They all seemed to like it alright though. :)

The next day my parents started for Virginia and took the kids. Sanna gave them a hard time so it was a long day for them.  I was stressed out to no end having the kids gone and trying to get us packed so it wasn't great for me either.
The next day we started on our voyage to Virginia. We took a route that took us through the Smokey Mountains and that was fun to see again.  Ellen was soaking it all in, this was her first time in the East so she enjoyed it.

Next stop on our trip we went to Raleigh, North Carolina so I could see the place I nannied.  I wrote about that on Instagram.  It was wonderful!

We made it late that night to the kids in Virginia. They had gone to Jamestown and saw and learned a lot with my parents.  They were well taken care of, they seemed excited to see us though.
The next day was church and afterwords we drove up to Williamsburg and saw some stuff up there but most of it cost money to get into so we didn't pay for the extra stuff.

Next day we were really excited to go to the beach! We drove to Virginia Beach and had a grand ol time with all the family (My parents, Emily's Fam, and Kelly & Nadine were all there plus our family and Ellen).  They left right after lunch to the aquarium but our kids weren't about to leave that beach!

 We finally had to leave however when the lifeguards saw some lightning clear out in the distance.  By then Griz was chafing pretty bad so it was probably good we left.  We drove around for a bit seeing all the cool beach houses and wishing we could have one, ha ha.  Then the family joined us after they were done with the aquarium and we had some delicious seafood! It was fun!
After that we all cleaned up and got some laundry done back at the Merrell's house. I haven't mentioned yet where we were staying...my sister's husband's family is in Virginia and they accommodated all of us. It was really nice of them!!!
Next morning we all parted our separate ways (my parents and the Coys were going to see Church History but we wanted to see DC and Palmyra). It wasn't too bad of a drive to Washington DC from their house in Virginia. In fact we had time that day to see a lot of the Museum of Natural History. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! When we were done seeing as much as we could we ate sandwiches in the car and then drove over and we walked around the Washington Monument as it got dark (while we were doing that I got on the phone and booked us a hotel which took forever because I also got signed up for this thing that got us a $50 rebate on the room). We got to the hotel relatively easily, the room was kinda loud with the AC unit and the Internet and TV weren't working but at least it was in our price range and wasn't disgusting.  We didn't get an early enough start the next morning so we got caught in DC traffic. When we finally got to DC we planned to go to the Walmart but the power was out there so we went to where the Smithsonians are and dropped off Ellen at the Museum of American History.  She spent the whole day there and loved every minute of it!  We finally got some parking and then went to the Art Museum.  I was loving it and the kids were being pills.  We should have taken them to the side of the museum with landscapes but of course we had no idea so we started on the side that was more Venetian period where there were a lot of nudes... kids didn't like that.  So we finally left and took them back to the Natural History museum and then I had the idea to go back to the art museum and see the rest and that's when I saw the landscapes that were just breathtakingly amazing.  Kids would have loved it.  Next time. ;)  In the meantime they were having a total blast in the "Qrious" room looking at samples of rocks and bones and minerals and animals under microscope. It was such a great education room! It was hard to get them to leave but we finally did and we took them to the American History museum because Ellen was texting us about how awesome it was.  So we took them to this inventing room and dropped the boys off with Ellen while we ran to the store to get dinner.
When we got back we ate out at a picnic table and then went in and spent an hour or so more in the American History Museum. We could have spent a LOT more time there, it was really really neat. Next time. ;)
After it closed we headed back to the  hotel and got packed so that in the morning we could head out at like 5:00 am so as to meet the morning traffic. Luckily Brent had shoved his sandal in the side of the AC unit so it wasn't as loud that night. We got some sleep and the next morning we got out of there early and ate muffins in the car and got to DC at a decent time.
Brent dropped us off close to the Lincoln Memorial and then he went and found parking (Griz stayed with him too).  He took these gorgeous pictures on his way over to meet us at the memorial.

 The Lincoln Memorial was a really neat place.  It was so great to have such an amazing monument to a great man.

 After leaving the Lincoln Memorial we went and saw the other two memorials...
Korean War was poignant for Ellen because her Dad served in that war....

 And then we also really wanted to see the Vietnam Memorial because her cousin died serving in that war...

After seeing the monuments the museums were opening again. We hadn't yet seen the air and space smithsonian museum so we went in there for about an hour and a half.  By then Ellen, Sanna, and I were very done walking.  We went and found a gyro truck and I hopped out of the car and bought them for our lunch.  We had been very much looking forward to this so it was really good that we got them before we left DC.  Brent REALLY wanted to see the Declaration of Independence before we left DC so us girls stayed in the car and the boys piled out to go into the Capitol Building.
They hadn't finished their gyros so they were eating it on the lawn at the Capitol (they were at the back though I thought I had dropped them at the front). Griz was bouncing around ready to burst from needing to use the potty and so he went right there on the lawn.  We're still laughing about that especially how Brent "turned a blind eye" while he was doing it. Ha ha.  They finally hiked up the steps, found out where to go and made it into a tour. They LOVED it. Brent can right about it....

Only disappointment from the tour was we found out the Declaration of Independence was actual at the National Archives.  By the time they came out of the capitol though Ellen and I were SO done waiting for them that we wouldn't go back to the Archives to let them go in and see it there.  Next time. ;)
So from there we started our voyage up to Palmyra.  It was a long drive after an exhausting but amazing time in DC.  Made even longer because we really wanted to see the DC temple.  I wrote about that on Instagram.
We made it to Canandagua New York where the cost for hotels was cheaper and got a real nice room.  The next morning we went first thing in the morning (after a nice continental breakfast) and went straight to the Sacred Grove.
The Sacred Grove was the main reason we went to New York.  It had been calling to me and I just really felt like I needed to go there.  It didn't disappoint. I felt the spirit of the Lord so strongly there and felt so strongly that God the Father and his son Jesus Christ did in fact appear to Joseph Smith there.  I felt peace and beauty and that was even with my kids being crazy all around me.  I just felt so much happiness, you can see it in this next picture Brent snapped of me there in the grove...

We saw the Smith Farm next and that was fun having the missionary take us on that tour. Afterwords we saw the printing press in downtown Palmyra and that was really neat too.  Later that day we went to the Hill Cumorah and the Palmyra temple.  They were all wonderful to see and the spirit was in those places too. But really nothing can compare to the feeling I felt in the Sacred Grove. It truly is a sacred holy place.
It was Sanna's birthday that day so we got a cake and ice cream and had a little birthday party right there in our hotel room while we watched the Olympics.  Sanna didn't seem to mind. It was a pink cake and she got some new toys!

The next day we packed up and headed to Niagra Falls! It was incredible!

 The spray from the falls gets you SO wet! It's a nice way to cool off!  Wasn't great for the camera however!

The way we obtained this next picture was a little frustrating but it is a pretty awesome shot!!!
Here's the story pasted fromInstagram:

Brent took us into Canada accidentally. It was really quite frustrating. We can laugh about it now but right after he made the turn (after his mom and I told him we didn't feel good about it) there were tears of frustration and anger because we were stuck on a bridge that took an hour to cross. We got to Canada and told them what happened and that we didn't have any passports. They made us come into customs and then turned us around back to the US side. The drive back at least gave us a better view of the falls. Brent's mom commented "you guys will do anything for a good picture" and Brent turned and looked at with me with a guilty smile on his face. Well it was a 2 hour delay total but we did get a cool view of the falls we hadn't seen from the US falls.

The most frustrating part of the delay was that I knew it meant that many more hours in the car on the drive home which we were just about to depart onto.  As it was it took us until 3:45 am to get home... and guess who was the one driving from midnight on? Me.  Thank goodness for Mountain Dew!