Sunday, July 17, 2011

Feels So Good

This past weekend Colby and I were involved with youth conference.  It included all of the youth of the Hurricane Valley (tri-stake) and there were all kinds of activities from Thursday to Sunday.  I think yesterday was such a fun day, the most fun... hands down!  It was focused on providing service- which could never be a let down.  The committee that planned it decided that each of the 36 wards in the valley would have a service project take place within it's boundaries.  When Colby and I were asked to help be in charge of our ward, I knew, without a doubt what we would do.  It took just a little convincing because it was such a huge task to undertake, but we were allowed to give it a shot and it totally worked out!

We wanted to do something that could help Sis. Hill.  She lives down the street from us and is in a humbling situation.  She is single and severely crippled from arthritis.  She once had a nice yard, but since she is basically confined to a chair in her house she cannot care for it.  It had become an immensely overgrown weed patch.  After so much rain this past winter/spring, the weeds completely took over and were 2-3 feet high.  One day I watched a man mow them down and as I remember, it took him a good 6 hours to mow that quarter acre lot.  When we started, the weeds were not high, as you can see below.  But it was just a matter of time before they all were back.  So we helped eliminate the possibility.
We covered the entire surface with a weed barrier and covered it with at least two dump truck loads of gravel and rock.  Half of it was done with shovels and wheelbarrows.  By the end we were able to use some heavy equipment to quickly finish up.  These are the kids from our group along with Sister Hill in the middle.  She came out to see the work and meet the kids when we were all finished.  The groups were made up of a combination of all the kids from the 36 wards, so we only had two kids that knew of her and her situation.  I was so impressed by the youth and their willingness to get dirty and work so hard for someone they did not even know.  I honestly was astounded by the lack of complaints and their drive and work ethic.  
You can see a little better in this next photo the difference it made in the yard.
And here... another view.  Maybe my favorite of all.  
This is what many see as they drive up Main Street past her home.
I was brought to tears as I saw Sister Hill take it all in.  She was so surprised and pleased with the outcome.  She knew we were going to be cleaning up her yard, but she had no idea what it was going to look like in the end.  In conversation, we learned that she hoped to someday replace the remains of a lawn with some zero maintenance rock and eventually add some native desert plants.  We were unable to come up with a plan (or the time) for planting, but I'm sure the youth of our ward will be glad to show up sometime to put it in for her.  She shared some thoughts with our bishop as the time for the project got closer.  For a couple of weeks the load of rock sat across the street from her home and she could see it from where she sits in her chair inside.  She told him, that when she saw the rock she prayed that she could one day afford rock like that to put in her yard.  She had no idea it had been donated in her behalf.

I was touched as I listened to her talk about how yard work was one of her favorite things to do when she was younger and able because she grew up in a family where Mom and Dad both took great pride in their yard and taught the children to do the same.  She was so sweet when she mentioned her joy of not needing to be embarrassed by her front yard any more.  She was so excited for her kids to come visit because she hadn't told them about the project and couldn't wait to surprise them with the makeover.  It was just so touching to help her get excited about her home again.

I know its been a long time since I've worked that hard and I heard some of the youth in our group mention how they've never worked like that in their whole lives.  Yet I never heard them complain.  It was amazing.  The best day of all!!!
I have a few more pictures I may download on Facebook, but I spent the majority of my time trying to work instead of taking a ton of pictures.  That may be a first for me...   :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hurricane Splash Pad

July 4th marked the opening of the first splash pad in Hurricane!!!  We stopped by that afternoon to snap some pictures (the city asked me to photograph some of the city sponsored events that day) of opening day.  I heard the official opening was out of control busy and I'm glad we missed it.  I was able to get some fun shots later in the afternoon when most families had carried on with their plans for the day.  Obviously I took some pictures of my own kids, but those are not what I've shared with the city.  These are just for my enjoyment.

My kids love this splash pad.  We've kind of been splash pad snobs and drive extra miles to go to the better ones in St. George.  I'm pleased to say that this one in Hurricane ranks right up there near the top of the list.  It's a lot of fun.  Enough variety and not too cold.  Perfect, according to my kids (and most all of the valley, haha).  It's always busy, but that hasn't kept us away.  We've been there three times this past week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

4th of July :: Backwards

I'm gonna do this post backwards, with all the fun stuff first.

Look at these cute boys.  I feel like 4th of July is one of those holidays I need to document for the sake of keeping track of how quickly these boys grow up.  One day we'll be comparing pictures like this from throughout the years and I know we'll just crack up.  Please ignore the fact that many of these pictures are super "off"... I was not on my A game that night.  I'm not sure what was going on.  Haha.
Tyler was loving the sparklers.
Same with Marshall.
We tried watching the fireworks from our house this year and I'm nearly sold on the idea.  The neighboring trees block some of the lower fireworks, but you can basically see the majority of the show.  I really love the way the sounds of the fireworks echo off the cliffs to the east of us.  It is a loud, deep rumble that I just loved.  It was also awesome that I could just run in the house and get the kids some food and grab some pillows to make our watching experience that much better.
This is what Marshall did the last half of the Hurricane vs. La Verkin softball game.  He could care less about Daddy playing in the game.  All he wanted (ALL DAY) was to see fireworks.  So he spent some time gazing through the fence of the upper field watching families light off their fireworks.  The whole rest of the time he was wrestling with his friend Bridger Johnson.  They honestly were wrestling their guts out and I kept worrying that they would end up crying, but after each big fall/crash they'd get up laughing.  That was pretty fun to watch.
This was a pretty hilarious part of the day...  During the home run derby (which Colby took second in, on account of the few foul balls that went WAY over the fence) Colby hit this car and left a major dent.  Now, for the record, we all felt pretty bad for the owner of the car, but seriously... who parks out past left-center field during a softball game and a home run derby.  So, officially, SORRY TO THE OWNER OF THIS CAR.  I HOPE MY NEXT FEW COMMENTS AREN'T TOO INSENSITIVE OR OFFENSIVE :)  Well, Colby nailed this car and left this enormous dent.  It was really big.  After a while the police were called and pulled up beside the poor injured vehicle.  I ran down to Colby as he was coaching 3rd base and told him we all decided he should hit another one over the fence at the cop's truck (since he was so smart to park in such a dangerous place).  He chuckled and said he'd give it a try.  Sure enough... he did.  He smacked it over the fence, but it was foul and a little ahead of the truck.  So he got to try again and the opposing team was all on board for the challenge and Colby was given the perfect pitch and he hit another one over the fence directly at the truck.  It bounced exactly in front of the truck and bounced over it.  After that, the police officer and the owner of this car moved their vehicles away from the "danger" and we all had a good laugh about it.
This is one of those "tradition pictures."  We've taken one since our cousin Karter came along.  Brigham (Karter's little brother) was missing from this picture... so we'll have to be better about it next year.  It seems like he was not having the whole "let's take you kids' pictures right now" idea, if I remember right.
This is a photo we had snapped after the parade Monday morning.  I cracked up when I looked at them... I'm the only one looking at the camera, but I'm not the hero or anything since I'm totally cheesing it and all.  But seriously!!!  The family of a photographer should not struggle this much at getting their pictures taken.  Haha.
Marshall's spoils from the parade.
The three bigger boys with Aunt Carly getting ready to catch as much candy as they could.
And... best for last, right?  The composition of this photo is obviously not the best, but I loved the way it documented the moment.  I know one day I'll love the way we looked when we were 20 something and I'll laugh at the way the kids always had a mind of their own when the camera was on them.  I love my little family and feel so blessed that I have them and we live where we do and have the freedoms we have.
Happy Independence Day!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


There's been a lot going on lately, but most of it has been neglected for the sake of swimming.  Haha.  All the clothes to fold, meals to cook, piano to practice, (baths to take), have been replaced by going swimming.  The boys are really loving it this year and it's been so fun for me to watch them grow to love it like I do.  Marshall's really a fish and can get around anywhere he wants to.  In the last couple of weeks Tyler has decided that instead of being bothered and uptight around the water he'd rather just have fun.  His favorite is jumping off the diving board.  He'll jump in, no fear, without me even having to touch him.  I'll just scoop him up once he's gone in and he'll beg to do it again.  It's pretty funny.  Here's a few pics from the summer so far.

This kid loves to swim.  It's hard for him to contain his excitement...
He's so funny when he jumps off the board.  He just flings his arms up and goes.
How cute are these two?
See how much Tyler loves it now.  Just a few weeks ago, if the water was anywhere near his chin he'd be totally irritated.  Now he could care less.  He loves it.
 Look at him go!  I love having such brave kids that love the water.
OK.  How hot is their Daddy?  I love my boys.
 Another thing Tyler loves to do in the pool is play with his cousin Brigham's baby toys.
He's always asking to play with "Boongin's boat."  Haha.  Brigham=Boongin  :)
Marshall is truly fearless around the pool, except for with the slide.  He really doesn't like the slide. 
It seems that he has some of his Mommy's cautious side.
Tyler thinks the slide is fun, as long as Daddy goes with him.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

From My Sister's Swimming Lessons

Meg was telling me about some funny stuff from her swimming lessons today.  I had to share.

Megan: "OK, we're going to float for 15 seconds."
Boy: "How long is that?"
Megan: "A quarter of a minute."
Boy: "That's funny.  My mommy puts me in the corner for 5 minutes."

Hahaha!!!  I love kids.  

This next one is classic too.

A little girl says her mommy is going to have a baby.  That will make a total of 5 babies.  She then tells Megan that her daddy is going to get a shot to make it so they cannot have any more babies.

Again, hahahahahahaha!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I laughed so hard I was crying.

I love our bishopric.  They all have such a great sense of humor, and at moments where others would try to remain stoic and calm our bishop will be laughing out loud with his whole body shaking from laughter.  Well today Bishop Phillips got me laughing like that, and I just couldn't help it.

It was fast & testimony meeting and the last couple of people who bore their testimonies of the Savior and the restored gospel spoke for a moment of their love and appreciation of their wives.  Even though they only spoke for a moment, it seemed that they just went on and on about how their wives are so wonderful and how they appreciated them so much and wanted to be able to live up to that standard.  

I poked Colby and told him he ought to take the chance to go up to the pulpit and bear his testimony because perhaps Heavenly Father was sending down beams of love and appreciation that could be beneficial to our "household."  He just shrugged it off and politely refused.

At the end of the meeting our Bishop got up to close the meeting and made mention of how he really loves the fact that our gospel enables us to do vicarious work for others.  He continued to say that he would like to take the liberty to do something he "thought the Stratton's would appreciate and speak vicariously for Colby and thank his wife for all she does and for how amazing she was."  I tried so hard to keep quiet, but I busted up laughing.  It was so hard not to.  I just nodded my head in agreement and smiled at Bishop while Colby chuckled and sort of cowered in his seat, with a huge smile on his face.  It was seriously so funny, I just could not stop laughing.  I was wiping away tears from trying to hold back so much laughter.  

Everyone got a good chuckle out of it.  What was even better was later, as I talked to a few people, they mentioned how they watched Colby's head turn a bright, deep red as he blushed from embarrassment.  Which helps my case to get Colby to grow his hair a little longer.  Had it been longer, no one could have seen the color of his scalp.  Haha.  Colby declared that we will no longer sit in the front of the chapel in hopes that the bishopric won't pick up on every little comment and gesture we make.  I thought it was too funny... I don't mind sitting up there near the front.  I've even been thanked from time to time by those that sit on the stand for the pleasant entertainment they get as they watch our little family (and others near us) during the course of an hour that is supposed to be spent reverently.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Love My Garden

I looked in the garden and what did I see?
A couple tiny ears of corn looking at me!!!
It was pretty exciting to be out watering the garden and finding some actual corn!!!  The stalks have been growing nicely and I was so excited to see the tops get the floofy stuff (as I call it) on top.  I felt like it was a sign of success that the corn was maturing so nicely.   But man!  I was super excited when I saw actual corn coming on.

I've been spending a lot of time in my garden lately.  I wonder sometimes if Colby ever wants to tear it out because it takes so much of my time.  I'm not kidding though, it takes a lot of time, but I can't help but smile when I'm out there.  My garden just makes me happy.  I honestly felt like a rock star when I was able to harvest radishes a bit ago.  I really didn't give myself much credit when I started out.  I thought everything would struggle and eventually die and it would be something I could say I tried.  But, like I said, the radishes were a success and then we had spinach and now corn.  The carrots kinda struggled at first and I almost just pulled them out when I put in tomatoes because within days of planting the seed we got a freak snow storm that washed all my carrot seeds into little clumps in strange places throughout the garden.  Grandma Tom convinced me to let them be and now they're coming along nicely as well.  I did have another little mishap with the first tomatoes I planted.  Grandma Tom gave me 30 tomato plants she had started in her green house but they all died!  I guess one hung on, so I had a 3% success rate.  I was hesitant to try any more tomatoes, but Perry brought me two yellow pear tomato plants so I had to put those in and Grandma and Grandpa Tom came and coached me through planting another two dozen plants.  I am happy to report that so far I have only lost a couple of those and we have hope that we can share tomatoes with anyone that dares ask us for some.  I'm really looking forward to canning a bunch for my home made salsa.  That seriously takes my really yummy salsa from amazing to to die for!  Now I've even got some eggplant, peppers, squash, watermelon and an artichoke plant going.  Marshall and I were marveling at the teeny, tiny watermelon that have just started coming on.  It honestly is just so fun!  It was cute the other day when Marshall was helping me spot new corn and he said, "the food in our garden will make it so we don't have to buy it at the store."  That's right, buddy.  We won't have to buy it at the store.  As long as I keep watering it and the bugs don't take over.

Which reminds me, that was one thing that took a little joy out of the gardening experience.  You might remember last year when I annihilated the squash bugs, well I found a colony of earwigs just outside the garden a couple weeks ago and I was guilty of a mass execution.  I smashed as many as I could with a near by shovel.  I spent a good five to ten minutes just standing at the top of the cement and stopping them from escaping.  That is probably the only drawback to my garden.  That, and the fact that tending it has taken any of the spare time I've had during the month of June.  No joke!  Between wedding photographer, swim lesson instructor, YW leader at Girls' Camp, gardener, housekeeper, wife and mommy the job of housekeeper has  earned emeritus status and some of the others have a "hardly productive" classification.  But I love what I'm doing and am looking forward to this month of July.  It should be a bit more relaxed.