The Energizer Cowboys who kept things humming at the reunion

The Energizer Cowboys who kept things humming at the reunion
These kids know how to have fun!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Dear Family and Friends,
       We are really slow getting these out this year, but it’s a good thing we do these yearly Christmas letters, otherwise I’m afraid we would lose contact with some of you.  We enjoy hearing from you and catching up on your latest escapades.  We hope you are all healthy, wealthy and wise.  Maybe two out of the three would suffice. 

Instead of a trip this fall, we did some home improvements.  We tiled our front entry way, and also poured a new patio and side walk, and we had our garage resided.  We hired Rob’s golfing buddy Dave Moore to do the work and we were really pleased with the results.  We dyed the cement a reddish color and imprinted the cement so it blends with the flagstone we already had. Once the patio was completed, Janet felt the garden area also needed attention so she planted more flowers, hauled rocks for a border and had Anthony prune the choke-cherry trees.  She wants to put in a fire pit on the south of the patio so Steve already has work lined up for next spring.

We raised another big garden this year and it was fairly successful.   Steve put in a raspberry and strawberry patch.  We are going to focus on producing more fruit and less vegetables.  We have several different fruit trees, but because of neglect the harvest was small. Janet also filled all of our bottles again this year; the final 50 were filled with pumpkin!

Janet has been the quilt guild president this year, and has had a lot of added responsibilities.  The group has been very pro-active with community service projects: baby blankets for the two hospitals, a quilt camp for youth, quilt tying at Farm Days, made quilts for two fallen officers and another 2 quilts for a Cancer fund raiser and fire victims.  Laurie and Brendan stayed in Blanding June 1-4 so Laurie could participate in Quilt Camp with Grandma. We had a lot of fun. The guild meets monthly.  Even though they are a wonderful group of ladies to work with, she’s glad the year is about over.   
We still run an addiction recovery class for the LDS church and have seen some success.  We’ve had fairly good attendance and the group is very supportive of each other.  This past summer our ward was dissolved (some say translated) and the members were divided up into three different wards.  We were again called to serve as the YSA advisors in the Fifth Ward.   The college dorms are in that ward, so we have about 45 young singles to shepherd.  We attend the Young Single branch most of the time so we can interact with kids we’re working with.  We also help teach the Temple Preparation class there.  We’ve been hosting a Sunday dinner, in addition to a game night at least once a month with the kids.  We enjoy working with them and hope we are a positive influence in their lives. Often our home is a bed and breakfast for YSA in transit.  Steve continues to serve in the Monticello, Utah Temple each Tuesday.

In April we returned to Ganado where we served our mission, to attend the dedication of an addition to the LDS chapel.  This doubled the size of the building and it is very nice.  There were over 175 in attendance at the dedication. They had a wonderful dinner after the meetings so we were able to see and visit with many of our old friends. It was wonderful visiting with former missionaries and other special friends there.  We are hoping Corey and Vanisha will pursue their plans for serving missions.  The Lord truly needs valiant servants in the latter days.  There is so much wickedness in the world, we all need to “rise and shine forth” if we hope to combat it.

In May we went with a large group of Blanding friends to Branson, Mo.  The bus picked us up right in Blanding!  That’s the way I like to take trips.  No driving, no waiting at airports, and our reservations were taken care of.  It took three day to drive to Branson we saw several interesting sights along way.  We spent three days in Branson and saw nine different shows.  On the return trip we visited the Will Rogers Museum, and also the site of the Oklahoma City bombing.  We had excellent accommodations and had a very enjoyable trip.
In June we held our family reunion at Abajo Haven, six miles north of Blanding.  It had four real nice cabins so not all of our family had to sleep in tents. Amy and Andrew were in charge of the reunion this year and planned lots of fun activities.  We ate good meal, played games, hiked and swam in Recapture Reservoir and at the new Blanding pool.  It was great to have all of the family together: 16 adults and 24 grandkids.

Other family highlights this year included: CJ getting his driver’s license; Sage and Daniel were both baptized in July; Jens Quentin was born May; Anthony successfully completed Law School in Dec. and is gearing up for the Bar Exam in March. We also made two trips to Phoenix to visit Quent and Anthony’s families this year, plus family trips up north and to Las Vegas.

In Aug. we went to Blackfoot, Idaho for a Murphy family reunion. It was good seeing many of the Arnold, Keeler and Jensen families there as well and catching up on the news. We also met up with Janet’s classmates at Heisi, and got to go see the Keeler Farm on Antelope.  We’re planning our family reunion activity there next summer. In Sept. Janet caught a ride to Tooele and tended Nathan and Tammy’s children so Tammy could join Nathan in Washington D.C. for a few days.  Janet had several fun outings with Laurie and Brendan and Autumn and Amy and their kids.  She also reconnected with some of her college roommates.  That same weekend we attended our missionary reunion and saw both of our mission presidents and their wives, plus many of the senior missionaries we knew in the Arizona Phoenix Mission. Recently all of the missions that reached into the reservation were combined into the Farmington Mission.  Four Elders are assigned to Blanding and we’ve been helping them quite a bit.

This year has been one of wonderful highs but also some great sorrows regarding the little boy we hoped Rob and  Kathryn could adopt. Travis’s bio- father petitioned the courts for custody earlier this year and even though he missed the deadline for filing, was not married and only worked part time, the judge in Denver still gave temporary custody to Travis’s father on Aug 28th the day he turned one.  Travis had been in their family since birth.  You can imagine the sadness that was. The judge allowed Rob and Kathryn to visit him every two week, but on Nov. 01, the judge gave permanent custody to Travis’s father.   This has been heartbreaking for Rob, Kathryn and Ethan and the rest of us.  We pray that he is being cared for and raised with love.  But we know it will not be the same quality of life he had with Rob and Kathryn’s family.  Kathryn also lost her father this past year, after a valiant fight with pulmonary disease, so there are two big holes in their lives.  

We’re still working on several history projects, though Janet got a couple of books published earlier this year. She compiled a history of all of her sewing and quilting projects over a lifetime, as well as a tribute book about Lem Redd.  Maybe this winter we’ll have some free time to really concentrate on it.  Janet has nearly completed scanning our slide collection (3000+) and is now transcribing her Brother Clint’s letters.  I’m working on my life story. 

We are very thankful as we reflect on the past 44 years of life together, that God and his gospel have played such an important part in our lives.  We are so thankful that our children, are passing on gospel traditions to their children.  We know we didn’t do everything right, but we kept trying during those hard years.  Without a belief in God, and knowledge of his Son Jesus Christ, the world and its problems would be overwhelming.  We truly feel the peace and joy that the gospel brings. We pray that its light is reaching into your life as well.

 Love, Steve and Janet Wilcox                  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

It was a little somber this Christmas, not because of those who shared it with us, but because of those who weren't there.  We couldn't help but remember last Christmas Eve, sharing it with both Lem Redd and Travis.  So there was a big empty spot in our hearts for them.  But through the hope we have in Christ, we know that all things can be made whole again.  Christmas Eve we had dinner with Lila and Rob's family and a program, and then the next morning Rob's family came over to open presents.  This is the quilt I made for Ethan out of his T-shirts.
It was a hard stretch, but I even put Buckaroo colors of orange and black on the back!

What every golfer needs--a golf tie!
Grandpa and his "Seize the Nap" shirt

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread houses 2011 style

While we were at Autumn's we kept the energy of Christmas alive, by making Gingerbread houses from scratch.  Autumn made the houses using the pattern she gave all of us all last year, then we helped the kids make the houses.

The next week when Anthony and Ashley's family came to visit we repeated the activity, and had a lot of fun trying it on our own.  If I'd known how easy it really was, I would have done it with my own kids years ago.
 Since they were in transit going and coming to and from Mesa, we ended up giving their houses to our neighbor's children.  So nothing went to waste, I'm sure. 

We found out that Anthony and Ashley are also expecting a baby in 2012, and in February found out that it too, will be a little girl.

Christmas Announcement -- New baby coming

A special part of the family Christmas party on Dec. 18 was the announcement from Nathan and Tammy that they are expecting a baby in May.  This is the clever poem they shared at the end of the Nativity reenactment the family did.

Twas a night in the Springtime so fresh and so bright,
The snow had all melted to everyone’s delight.
The layette had been washed and folded with care,
In hopes that a little one soon would be there.

Us kids were nestled all snug in our beds,
While visions of summer vacation danced in our heads.
Pa was a sleeping and snoring so loud,
While Ma kept a wondering “Will three be a crowd?”

Then all of a sudden I was woken from sleep,
By that blasted phone and some insensitive creep.
I asked myself who the caller could be,
As the name “Uncle Theron” flashed on caller I.D.

With his favorite question already to ask,
I knew in a moment I was up for the task.
More rapid than Armstrong, Theron’s voice came in clear,
He asked the same question with his usual sneer.

“Now uncle I’ve told you ‘nunya’ time and again,
Nor more asking, my patience is running quite thin.
Be patient with mama and papa too,
They’ll get it together they know what to do!”

I hung up the phone and went back to my bed,
Pulled up the covers and placed a pillow under my head.
I’d just begun REM and started to dream,
When down from the hall I heard my pa scream.

Then all of a sudden I heard mama say,
“Get the car started, our surprise is on the way!”
The bags were all gathered and thrown in the car,
Then off to the clinic; I hope it’s not far.

Dad was a racing with speed to the max,
Mama hollered, “hurry!” Papa said, “just breathe and relax.”
Then on to the birth center before it gets late,
To meet our surprise, she’s due on May 8th.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas Celebrations

We had a White Christmas in Blanding!
We were also blessed to have good traveling weather the week before Christmas, so were able to whizz up to the Wasatch Front to visit our kids' families up there.  We stayed with Chris's family Wed. the 14th and  Sun. 18th which we enjoyed very much.  I was able to work with Kylee for several hours getting her started on her first quilt.  We probably should have practiced "driving" the her new machine a little bit first, but she did pretty well. We were also able to attend her choir program Thurs. morning.  See if you can find her!

Pam's Grandma Prevost lost one of her sons tragically that week, so we took time to go visit her as well.  Two other friends of ours, Melissa Tatro a former Blanding teacher, and Anita Nez from Cornfield, also lost sons tragically just before Christmas.  It is always hard to call and talk about death, but from our experience, we knew how helpful that is, and took time to do it.

We stayed the other days with Autumn, and even got to try out their Wellness Center, and tended for them so they could go celebrate their anniversary on the 16th.  The family party on the 18th turned out really fun and Amy and Andrew pulled in some new activities.  It was nice to reinact the Nativity Story with so many of the family participating.  The adults made a good choir, and the kids did really well, as did the innkeepers with no room!

Of course, the main activity was eating a delicious brunch of waffles and breakfast meats and fruits.  Amy and Andrew initiated our "new Belgium waffle maker"..which we are enjoying now.

We played some games with the kids before eating, and then afterwards the children exchanged presents, and were visited by that Jolly Old Man himself.
Visiting and playing basketball were also on the traditional agenda. 

Little Buddies Daniel and Gannon

Granddaughters model their pre-christmas fashion accessories, made by Cheri Shumway.

The traditional pinata ended the morning's festivities along with teasing Uncle Scrooge.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving on the Mesa

Logan the Explorer enjoyed being a mountain goat!
We had a great Thanksgiving with wonderful weather, great visitors, and fun activities.  Nathan & Tammy, Rob & Kathryn, and Anthony& Ashley and their families all arrived Wed. night, so we got to do things with them thru Sunday.  We had a delicious dinner Thursday, and also invited Brother Larry Dennison to come join us.  He was #14 for dinner.  He used to go hunting with Steve in the early days, and knows our family pretty well.  He's all alone now, and I think he enjoyed being with us. He even stayed and played the games.
  Everyone helped with the food prep: Ashley with her signature Corn bread dressing, Tammy with yummy Frog Eye Salad, and Kathryn with delicious white rolls.  We had two kinds of turkey which we munched on all weekend. Steve smoked a turkey earlier in the week and we cooked it on Wed. On the last day I made shredded Mexican taco filling with the last of the turkey.  I had never fixed left over turkey that way, but it was delicious with some black beans in it and seasoning.  It was good both as a burrito and as a taco.  It was great not having left-overs, and I appreciated everyone helping to eat up all the things in the fridge before they left.
    I hope you all have been writing in your Gratitude Journals, and keep encouraging each other to do so every day.  I'm a firm believer that grateful people are happy people.  While I was getting desserts ready, and loading the dishwasher, we had everyone, including Bro. Dennison start their gratitude journal.  I've written in ours several times since then.  I think pretty much everyone wrote that day, and hopefully, have continued.  I don't know if Steve has added any more, however.  I hope he sees this and remembers it's a daily habit! 

We also played a "hot potato" gratitude game with our stuffed fabric cornicopia veggies and fruits.  One of the kids started it by identifying the first letter of the fruit, and said something they were thankful for that started with that lettr, then he tossed it to another person, and it went round and round, until we had saturated the letter with all the blessings we could think of.  Once we got through playing, we went back to the table for dessert.
    Later we played several whole group games: The West Wind Blows, Name bopper, Categories, and Chinese writing.  Who knew that Anthony could speak Chinese!  We had a ton of fun, and laughed a lot.  It was good for all of us.  It was so fun playing games with the grandkids, and seeing their sense of humor coming through, and making jokes along with their parents.  We all need more humor in our lives and less harshness.
    Coyote calling, of course, was one of the activities of the weekend, as well as target practice with the kids (they weren't the targets -- they were shooting too!). 
We went on a hike at Bluff Bench and Recapture Pocket, made a few "Black Friday" trips to Alco! and visited and played table games.  We found the can Chris's family hid last Easter with the GPS co-ordinates.  It didn't look like anyone had found it yet.

Who are those crazy explorers?

Hiking on the slick rocks above Bluff
The only thing missing was a cook and a kitchen cleanup crew, so I could just goof off too.  But my energy has been better lately, so I survived it all. Dad was a huge help running errands, and cooking breakfast.

On Saturday we invited Sister Stubbs' Grandkids, and Charlotta Lacy's kids for the Pinata break.  We also played games with them. Some of the older kids didn't get a turn, as it broke before it got to them, but it was still fun.  Thanks, Ashley for providing that.

That evening a young man we've been helping with, was baptized, and we both participated in that.  He's been coming out to all the YSA activities, and really loves it.  We even got him to Institute on Thursday.  He came to the YSA branch for the first time today.  He has really needed friends his age, and seems really happy to have found a nitche in the gospel. 
   Anthony and Nathan's families went to church with us, then headed for home after Sac. meeting. Thanks everyone for changing the sheets, and cleaning up so well. We loved having everyone come and all the help you gave.  Sometimes I'm so worn out after a big visit, it takes me days to recover, but we did better this time.

 Monday we went to the Lowe Family concert in Monticello with Ethan and Kathryn. Rob was headed to Las Vegas for Swat team training. He got back on Friday. So he was gone quite awhile. Ethan was a little sick that night, but seems to have gotten better.  The concert was their Branson format, so some people felt it was too long, but I loved it and felt we really got our moneys worth!!
We got snow yesterday, so it really looks like Christmas in Blanding now!  We'll we've gotta run--it's break-the-fast at the YSA branch, and we're taking several things for those hungry appetites.  Love and kisses, Grandma!