2018 has come and gone and our family is grateful for all of the wonderful experiences we’ve had together.
In April, we took our kids to Southern California to enjoy some time at the beach and a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm. Some of the highlights of the trip included dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and an evening at Medieval Times, where we enjoyed some jousting! It was our first trip without our oldest son, who was at BYU getting ready for finals.
Later that month, Robin and I enjoyed a couples trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. My employer, US Bank, honored its top employees with a few nights at the luxurious Phoenician resort and we enjoyed activities like hiking, swimming, driving go-carts in the desert and enjoying delicious food and a swanky awards ceremony.
In June, the day after school got out, our whole family took the red-eye flight to JFK airport in New York, where we promptly rented an SUV and drove to upstate New York, visiting cities like Albany, Rochester and Buffalo. We loved visiting LDS Church history sites near Palmyra, New York, including the sacred grove, Smith family farm, Hill Cumorah and the Book of Mormon printing site. We also loved our visit to Niagara Falls and some beautiful state parks. After four days and over 1,100 miles logged, we turned in the car and rode the train into the city, where we stayed near the World Trade Center site and enjoyed visits to the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller Center and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It was such a memorable trip that we’ll cherish always.
In August, just before school started back up again, we drove to Bass Lake in Central California and stayed in a nice condo. Granny Vicki (my mom) joined us for this trip where we rode on the Sugar Pine Railroad, rented a pontoon boat for a few hours and enjoyed the breathtaking views at three national parks — Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia. The trip included overnight stays in Las Vegas on the way there and on the way back, and each time our arrival was about 3:00 a.m. Sometimes we just try to pack too much in, but we had a blast!
My work at US Bank went well, although not as good as 2017. I’m hopeful that things will improve in 2019 as I continue working with businesses help them grow. Highlights for the year included financing projects for a trampoline park in Orem, a new recording studio in Provo and a truss manufacturer in Spanish Fork. Before being released from the stake high council in October, I spoke in several wards and attended a three-day pioneer trek with my two teenage girls on a cattle ranch in northeastern Utah. I was one of the music and program directors and enjoyed playing the guitar and sharing my testimony with the youth.
Over the summer, my son Parley and I performed in the musical “Big River – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” at the SCERA Shell Amphitheater. It was a unique opportunity to be in this show together with my son and we both loved the experience. I played Huck Finn’s drunk, abusive father Pap Finn (about 10 minutes of memorable stage time with a very fun solo) and Parley was part of Tom Sawyer’s gang. We gave 12 performances in July at the amphitheater, with more than 1,000 in attendance most ights. I’d never performed in an outdoor venue before, and luckily, we only had rain on the closing night of the show. I also enjoyed attending more than 26 different theatrical presentations, many of which involved my theater friends and my kids.
I also ran the Hobbler Half Marathon (Springville) and the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon and enjoyed training with my friend and neighbor Paul Hancock. We did 2-3 runs per week for most of the year, and while I didn’t lose any weight (eating too much still), I got in better shape and strengthened a friendship.
In 2018, Robin started her own interior design business, and added marketing, website design and accounting to her skill set. It’s been a challenging road to find the right niche, and Robin is leaning more toward commercial vs. residential design. It will be fun to watch her career unfold as she continues to hone her design skills. She continues to be an excellent wife and mother, supporting our kids in their many activities and making sure our pets are fed, trained and happy.
Our oldest son, Parley, completed his freshman year at BYU and moved back home for much of the year to save up money. He worked as a lifeguard at our community pool over the summer and was in a commercial for Zions Bank that aired extensively. This fall he worked at Kohl’s Department Store and is planning to move back to Provo this week to complete another semester at BYU as he prepares to receive his mission call.
Brianna is now a senior at Skyridge High School and recently participated in the school musical “Cinderella” and played both the piano and cello in two school orchestra concerts this fall. She saved most of her money from a part time job so that she could attend a three-week study abroad trip this coming June in Japan. She loves all things Japanese — the language, food, culture and art, especially anime.
Lily also attends Skyrigde High School as a freshman and also participated in “Cinderella” this fall. Earlier this year, she played Wendy in Alpine Performing Arts Academy’s production of “Peter Pan.” It was fun to hear her English accent and beautiful singing voice. She loves being active, outside on her long board or at the pool and she’s always spending time with several groups of friends.
James turned 11 this fall and completed Cub Scouts, having won 2nd place overall in his third and final Pinewood Derby. His unique personality, mood swings, sensory issues and atypical processing skills have created some unexpected challenges for us, but we love him and are working hard to find ways for him to succeed.
In February, we said goodbye to our 14-year-old border collie Buddy, which was very hard. Buddy and I had run or hiked over 10,000 miles together during his lifetime and he was a wonderful dog. We also lost our cat Zoey this summer — she went out one day and never came home. To ease the pain of these losses, we got a two-month-old puppy whom we named Molly. She is a border collie corgi mix and loves to chew on everything and pee on the carpet. I’ve regretted the decision to get a puppy several times since we got her in September, but she’s very cute and the biting phase seems to be winding down (thank goodness).
This year I documented our lives with a one-second video for each day of the year. It was quite an effort but the results were fun. Here’s the link:
Overall, despite the challenges and disappointments of this year, it has been a very good one. We are grateful for our lives, our family and our friends. Happy New Year, everyone!