Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Celebration of Life

My grandma Marie Wheatley passed away on July 25th at the age of 94.  She was my last surviving grandparent. Her husband Wayne Wheatley, my grandpa, passed away years earlier, on the day I graduated from High School (May 22, 2002).   My grandma always seemed incomplete to me without him - being that they had been married for over 60 years and together is how I like to remember them.
My grandma in March when we stopped to see her in Pocatello after a trip to Ty's parent's house in Rigby.  I'm glad we took the time to make that stop.  It was funny, because as soon as we walked in, we saw her at the front door - it was like she knew we were coming and was waiting for us.  Even though she didn't make sense in a lot of what she said, I could tell she knew who I was and was glad to see us. 

That family has grown from their own 9 children to a number that includes 41 grandchildren, 111 great grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren.  I think when we counted at the funeral we found all but one or two of her grandchildren were there.  I'm grateful we were able to be counted among them.  I attribute that though to how important she was to all of us and how grateful we are to belong to her family and the legacy her and my grandpa built - a legacy of faith, family and hard work.

Her funeral services were held on Tuesday, July 30th at 11am at the LDS Arimo Stake Center and on Monday evening from 7-9 a viewing was held for the family to receive friends who wished to pay their respects.  She was buried in the Robin Cemetery next to my grandpa.
This scene was among the saddest of the day.  These men are some of the most happy - always full of jokes and laughter at family gatherings - and it was disheartening to see them so sad and solemn faced as they escorted their mother to her resting place. 

I broke down after seeing my mom release her tears and emotions when she and her sister, followed by all of my grandma's posterity, lined the path leading to the hearse and witnessed my grandma being escorted from the church by her pallbearers (most all of whom were her sons and my mom's brothers).  I'll never forget that moment perhaps mostly because it seems to literally break my heart when I see my strong and courageous mom hurt in any way.  I ached for her and all of us feeling my grandma's loss.   
Although this whole occasion was sad and tears were certainly shed, it was also, in a way, a time to celebrate.  My grandma Marie (whom our Vanna Marie is named after) had lived a very long and wonderful life.  Her quality of life wasn't necessarily wonderful her last year with us and so for many reasons, it was time for her to go and perhaps easier for us to say goodbye because of that knowledge we had.  And always, it's comforting also to own the knowledge that we will see her again - that hope can be found and there is much to look forward to when we all strive to work towards the blessing of a forever family.
My grandmas only daughters - my Aunt Annette and my mom - they were strong girls to survive all those brothers! :)
You might have noticed in the picture above that my mom is wearing her missionary tag.  The circumstances surrounding my grandma's death were special for my mom in the fact that she was able to attend her mother's funeral before leaving for Belize on her mission.  My mom and Tab had taken into consideration the health of their parents before making the decision to go on a mission, knowing it was very possible something such as this could happen and that they may be unable to make such a long trip back home from out of country to attend such services.  However, my grandma passed away while they were at the MTC in Provo and it all worked out that it was possible for them to come home for my grandma's services.  I'm so grateful that it did work out that way because my mom was very close with her mom and helped do so much to take care of her that I think it would have been very difficult on her not to be able to attend her mom's services.  We all recognized this as a tender mercy and blessing that they were near enough to come home.
Each of us holding a flower taken from the beautiful flowers provided for my grandma.

My grandma's favorite flower was the rose and her favorite color was red so it was easy deciding what flowers should adorn her beautiful casket.

After the services, we all enjoyed a luncheon at the Arimo Stake Center where we were able to renew our relationships with relatives and friends.  It was a beautiful day and one that I will always remember.

Some things I'll always remember about my grandma:

-her loud and contagious laughter

-her ever sure testimony displayed through her strong and steady example

-her skills at quilting and crocheting - it seemed she was always making a blanket for someone and even still, her blankets are my favorites to cover up in

-her huge collection of books

-the way she spoke her mind, especially as she got older...haha...I remember a time when Ty and I visited her in St. George and took her our to lunch...she didn't like the drink she'd ordered at the restaurant and voiced her opinion but told the waitress not to worry about switching it..."I can gag it down," she said...haha...I'll always remember that and how we laughed

-that we could always find Oreos and peanut M&Ms (my grandpa's favorite) somewhere in the house and even Almond Roca could usually be found as well - I must get my love for Almond Roca from my grandma

-her passion for crossword searches/puzzles

-the way her and my grandpa opened up their home to my mom and me and my younger brother during the process of my parents' divorce - I feel especially grateful for the closeness I feel to my grandparents through this experience

-she was an avid Utah Jazz fan, along with my grandpa

-she enjoyed attending anything her kids and grandkids were involved in (be it sports or other activities)

I know I will often reflect upon my grandma's life and how she has influenced my life.  I will always have a reverent respect for her, as I believe most all who knew her will.  She will be greatly missed by her family and friends - I will miss her and I look forward to the time we meet again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bazil Family Reunion - 2013

We had our first Bazil Reunion this year!  The reunion was organized by Ty's parents and just for Ty's immediate family.  It came at a wonderful time just before his youngest brother, Chase and his wife Brooke, moved to California where we'll likely not get to see them too much.  I was so happy they put one together and I hope it becomes a yearly thing! 

We started our reunion on Friday July 28th and kicked it off by first doing family pictures back on the river behind the where the family farms. I had to fix the kids up a bit after our long car ride down and change into our red-white-&-blue attire but really, they all turned out so good.  Ty's brother-in-law Zak, has a sister who took them and did a fantastic job.  She was so patient with our large group and worked so hard with the kids in the blasting heat to get some good ones.  You can check out her site here:  Here are some of my favorites -
The entire Bazil family.

There had been a lot of additions to the family since our last group picture.
And here's some of just our family - we'll have to pick one for our Christmas card!  Which one would you pick? :)


And now for the pictures we love most of our kiddos.

This one captures the "natural" in our kids - Cash adoring Rosie, Rosie talking in her sweet, soft spoken way, and Vanna daydreaming.  I love it!

Doesn't he look so grown up!?

Our beautiful brown sugar baby.  Vanna gets pretty tan in the summer - add that to the fact that she always tries sneaking in sweets and gets eaten alive by mosquitoes and you've got the perfect recipe for teasing her about them liking her so much because she's pure "brown" sugar.  Ty will often teasingly tell her this summer that she would sweat brown sugar if she ever got worked up enough.  I wonder where Cash inherited his teasing nature?

Absolutely precious!


Rosie could not get enough of these stools.  She would have sat and played on them and posed all day for the photographer.  It was only when she had to get off the stools that she became unhappy about getting her picture taken. :)

After pictures, we went back to Ty's parents for a "Hawaiian" dinner.  We helped the kids make Hawaiian lei's and then turned them loose to simply entertain themselves and play their hearts out.  They all had so much fun with their cousins!  Ty's sister, Marcy, moved back to Rigby from Utah with her family so we're so excited to see them more often when we visit.  They were nice enough to let us stay with them throughout the reunion so later that night, we headed over there, received the grand tour of their beautiful home and tried to get the kids settled down for bed! :)
The next day, we went hiking up to Cress Creek by Heise, which is  a pretty area.  We probably didn't think things through very well and brought only Rosie's little umbrella stroller for the reunion and therefore the hike.  It was a bit miserable trying to steer that thing up the mountain with only gravel and dirt pathways - luckily Ty was  a great sport and took over that job.  But we couldn't have asked for better weather - it was overcast so it was nice and cool. It really was a beautiful hike as you can see from the pictures (I had so many more of the hike and reunion but couldn't get them to turn the direction I needed them to - darn it). 
After our hike, we went back to Ty's parents' and had lunch and spent the afternoon playing so more - imagine that.   The big hits everyday (as usual) were Grandma and Grandpa's Rhino and four-wheeler.  All the kids would pile in and wanted ride after ride.  Even Rosie was thrilled with them and must have even found the rides relaxing because she fell asleep once while Ty had taken her out.  I tried to capture a picture but she woke up once the four-wheeler stopped.  So funny though. 
Dinner was at Marcy's house that evening and since it was stormy by then, we had to move into the garage for dinner but not before a couple games of Frisbee Football which was later followed by more indoor games that were so fun!
On Sunday everybody went to Marcy and Zak's ward because they had been asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting (since they're the new and interesting kids on the block :) After Church we went to Ty's parents for lunch and had our goodbyes with Brooke and Chase...sniff...sniff - we'll miss them!  We hope we get to see them a little bit at least while they're living in California for school.  The rest of us went down to the barn to see Great Grandma (we always love visiting with Melba) and "help out" with the chores.  Really it's just a lot of fun for the kids. 
Funny story - I guess while all the kids were sitting here in the barn (notice they're all sitting on piles of paper towels so they don't get too dirty :) watching Grandpa milk the cow, Grandpa suddenly exclaimed, "Hurry - you'd better move!"  Because one of the cows had started peeing and it would have splattered (and did just barely) and soaked the kids sitting right in it's line of fire.  The joys of farm life right!?  We said more goodbyes throughout that day and the next because we  extended our trip there even a bit longer than originally planned since we found out the day before we left that my sweet Grandma Wheatley (at age 94) had passed away.  Her funeral was to be that Tuesday, July 30th.  So we stayed one more day with Zak and Marcy which was fun because we got to share in celebrating Marcy's birthday with her.  Then we headed down to McCammon to stay with my sister and her family in order to attend my Grandma's services (which I'll have to post more about next). 
Anyway, it was truly a great time! The kids all had fun together  and so did the adults. There's nothing better than spending quality time with the ones you love which is why family reunions or get-togethers are so important.  We loved it!

Mendenhall Family Reunion 2013/Missionary Farewell

In July, we had our annual Mendenhall Family Reunion.  We usually have it in August but we bumped it up a bit this year because my parents were leaving for their mission to Belize - we combined the reunion with the same weekend of their "farewell".  It was a wonderful weekend (I'm hoping I remember all the wonderful-ness to include in this post since I'm getting so behind in my posts)! 
My sister, Natalie, and her family went to a lot of work organizing it all this year and hosted us all at their house in McCammon for the reunion.  What a big job and what a great job they did!
We left Payette on Thursday, July 12th to kick off the reunion by meeting up with the family around 2 for an afternoon of  swimming at Lava Hot Springs where we all grew up and where my parents still live.  There have been some changes/additions made to the pool there that are great, especially for the little ones.  They've added an entire new indoor kids' pool (which is perfect so they don't get sunburned) that is shallow and exciting with all the fountains, slides, activities, etc. they can do in it. 
Rosie stayed on the outskirts of the pool because she was a bit nervous around all the other kids who were so loud and rowdy with their fun.  She was perfectly content with this small fountain.

And this is what the older kids were so rowdy with.  They loved the bucket that filled with water and then dumped out on them.  It was so fun watching most the cousins lining up time and time again to get dumped on.  They all just had such a good time together.  Heck, I had a great time!  It was easier and more relaxing to have all the kids in one place.  AND there was a hot tub right next to this kids pool that was fun to soak in sometimes while watching the kids!

After a very full afternoon of water fun, we met up with my dad for dinner in McCammon.  We had not seen him and his wife in about a year for one reason or another.  So this was a good chance to catch up a bit and for them to see how much the kids have grown. 

After dinner, we headed over to Russ and Natalie's where we stayed for the duration of the reunion.  We stayed up late that night just visiting and enjoying one another's company.  We had them all to ourselves that night since no one else had shown up to stay there until the next day.  This time spent with her and her family is a time I truly treasure beyond words! 
The next day was filled with cowboy festivities!  Ever since Natalie sent out the schedule of activities for the reunion, and I had informed my kids about what was available, I heard every day about their excitement to ride "real life horsies" (as Vanna would say it :) and how they were going to wear their cowboy boots and be cowboys!  Russell was so good to get the horses out and ready for the kids to "ooo" and "ahhh" over, get up close and personal with, and for each of them to ride on a bit in the corral. 
Both Cash and Vanna kept telling me beforehand that they wanted to ride the horses all by themselves but once Vanna got on the horse and she realized it was a little bumpy (this was her first time on a horse and I don't think that she knew what to expect), she grew uncertain and was more comfortable riding with Russell.  She loved it once she had him on there with her. 

This picture is of Roger, Russ and Natalie's oldest, who helped his dad lead the horses around the corral.  However, once Cash got on the horses he soon wanted to take the reins in his own hands and try leading the horses himself.  He was much more confident on the horses than Vanna and simply could...not...get...enough.  I was afraid he was taking time away from his other cousins that wanted rides too.  He hung around long after everyone else seemed to have had enough and just didn't want it to end.  He felt like such a real cowboy!  I think he was jealous of his cousins Roger, Dawson and Mitchell who get to ride the horses often and are used to that sort of thing. 

Cash's boots kept falling off - funny memory.

Of course, the fun doesn't end there - does it ever end when you've got all your cousins to play with!?  No matter what was going on, whether it was as exciting as riding horses, or just jumping, swinging, talking, etc, the kids all seemed to be having such a great time and we all just loved watching them all!  BTW - check out that awesome clubhouse in the backyard that Russ built the boys just for fun - complete with windows and a loft.  That's where all the kids slept each night throughout the reunion - although I'm sure there really wasn't much sleeping going on!  What fun!

After enjoying our traditional and delicious dutch oven chicken and potatoes dinner with cobbler for dessert, we headed over to the McCammon Rodeo, to spend the rest of the night.  Growing up, my family used to attend the rodeo most every year I think but I hadn't been to it since probably high school.  I love this rodeo - very entertaining, not too short, not too long and very family friendly! 

All the cousins soaking it all up and filling up on treats.  We had talked to our kids before hand about not needing any treats but what did we find in their hands after coming back from the concessions with some of their cousins - snow cones, pop, and a gum-shocking trick toy!    The little rascals must have given someone their puppy eyes!

I snuck some pictures of the kids in the clubhouse the next morning.  Kids were everywhere and some of them even sound asleep on the hard wooden floor!

Wake up sleepy heads!
The next day was filled with more fun.  The kids played and played, made crafts that Natalie had organized, etc.  Both Cash and Vanna got stung by wasps during the reunion (funny too that it was only our kids because not one other person got stung :).  This was Vanna's first experience.  Poor thing.

Most the family went clay-pigeon shooting that afternoon, which is always fun.  Believe it or not, I usually do pretty well at that.  I just aim, follow the pigeon with the shotgun, close my eyes and shoot.  not a very good or perhaps safe technique but it serves me well and I usually hit about 3/4 of them - you should try it. :)  Although I love to do it, I passed on the activity this time to stay behind and watch the kids and snack on all the yummy munchies everyone brings to the reunion. 
Later that evening, we all went to the McCammon Parade that the town always has the same weekend as the rodeo.  

All the kids anxiously awaiting their chance to snag some candy!

 Nothing like a small town parade.  There was even a van with a donkey riding inside it with it's head sticking out the back window! We all got a good laugh at that. 

Afterwards, the kids had a water-balloon fight.  That certainly was fun to watch!  I'm glad I didn't get wet! 
And even later, we all enjoyed sitting around the campfire while visiting.  I think we all had a fantastic time at the reunion.  I'm so grateful for that tradition our family has - I believe it is so important to do things like this with your family and it is just the kind of stuff I live for.  I love it when we can all get together, strengthen relationships and enjoy one another's company! 

The next day was Sunday and a big day for Mom and Tab.  It was their farewell and we all headed to the Lava Ward to listen to their talks.  They were excellent and we can't tell you how excited we were for them to go on their mission.  Although it was sad to think about not seeing them for two years, it was likewise exciting think about the experiences they would have and share with us.  We're grateful for their example!

All of us enjoying a meal afterwards.

Tab used to be called "Weepy" at one time because he's a kind of sensitive guy who isn't afraid to show his emotions.  This occasion was no different - he had us all a little teary eyed as he expressed his and my mom's gratitude for family and friends and the support and love they've felt as they embark on this new journey.

And more family time!  ALL of us kids and grandkids were there together Sunday and again, it was so pleasant being surrounded by our loved ones.  I just can't say it enough - those are moments that are forever etched in my memory and heart - moments when we are ALL together - truly a treasure!