Sunday, April 15, 2012

Livi's BIG DAY!

Uncle Matt, Randy Erikson (home teacher), Sean Williams, Dad, Papa, Uncle Garrett, Uncle Adam, Uncle Ryan, Great Uncle Randy, Bishop Mike Gardner
(Grandpa had left to change for the baseball game.)
The day that we had anticipated for the last 8 years had come. Olivia turned 8 and chose to be baptized by her father and become an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Tons of family came for the special day. All of the Claycamp side of the family drove down from California and Uncle Adam from Utah. Grandpa Bill drove down by himself from his home in Red Bluff, CA and even ALL of the Richins' family (Grandma Claycamp's sister) came down from Orem as well as our dear friends the Williams' from Pleasant Grove, UT. So much love and support for one very fun day.

Grandpa Bill was first to arrive Friday morning, with the Richins' family arriving friday afternoon We spent the day playing games and catching up in true Richins fashion. Voni and I took Livi to
rehearse her violin song and Randy, along with Katie and
Stephanie took Aaron to his first baseball practice. That night we all feasted on pizza and salad and more games and delicious caramel popcorn (that was intended for the baptism, which didn't make it that far). Uncle Randy drove all
the "kids" to frozen yogurt at U-swirl for MORE dessert! It was a late night with everyone else trickling in at different times in the evening. The Claycamps stayed with us while both Grandpas, VanDurens and Reasbecks all got rooms at the Santa Fe Station Casino.

Saturday morning was kicked off with Olivia's opening ceremonies for girls fast pitch softball. Cody, Logan and some of the Richins clan joined us for the event. They were impressed by the beautiful fields and family support that is so evident in all the team shirts being worn by parents. Off to home for lunch and then back to the field for the first of her two games for the day. We could not have asked for better weather. Everyone was able to be there, even the Williams had arrived at this point, and we all cheered on her team, "The Drama Queens"! (Coach, Jeremy Lucero former St. Louis Cardnials.)
Time was of the essence, so we grabbed Livi, just a little early and headed off to the church building.
I was amazed at how well the jumper fit Olivia. I guess I thought that she wasn't really "big" enough to be baptized. I told her I didn't know what was more strange, "She was 8, or I had a daughter who was 8 years old"?!
While Bill prepared, Sean got Aaron ready and I helped Olivia. We did her hair so that it could get wet and we wouldn't have to do anything to it after and then go to her 2nd game from there. Pictures were taken and the baptism got under way, running only a little bit behind. (Poor Reasbecks, even when it's not their fault...entirely.) The program was wonderful. Everyone who was asked to participate was able to do so. Cody even learned how to conduct a rather difficult song so that we could all sing it. A precious moment was when all the cousins stood to sing, by Livi's request, "I Like to look for Rainbows". 8 boys, and only 1 little girl, Emily (Abby was too little), made me smile to see how lucky our family is to have so much potential priesthood. I knew then, that Grandma C. was smiling on us, she was there. As Livi would say, "in true Ellison form" she was dunked twice, just like her dad was. Grandpa shared with her that at least Dad didn't make her hit her head like he had! The talks were wonderful and Angie's talk on the Spirit had me very emotional. I don't know if hers was more than extra pregnancy hormones but to me, she was very much a part of Livi's battle with cancer that I know she felt of the spirit that had so richly blessed our daily lives when we needed it most.
Livi played a beautiful song, (her favorite, I love to see the Temple) on her violin along with Sister Janet Chamberlain and her daughter, Ariel, with Sister Andrea Scholer accompanying on the piano.

Afterwards was photos and a change of clothes and it was back off to the ball fields. We met up with everyone at Livi's restaurant choice, Macayo's Mexican Cuisine.

What a great DAY!
On Sunday, Bill and I prepared a wonderful brunch for everyone before 1:00 church and then yummy pulled pork sandwiches and homemade root beer for dinner, complete with root beer floats and a "Better than Robert Redford" cake for dessert. Our friends, the McMillans, Kristi's cousin, joined us at the baptism and for dinner on Sunday. Lawrence Chubbs, a friend of mine and one of Garrett's mission companions from Colorado was able to join us for the events from Livi's baptism on. (He lives in town with his family.)

It was so wonderful to have the love of everyone who was able to come and participate. With Grandma not able to be there, the added love really means a lot.

Congratulations LIVI!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Romney comes to Town (2/4/12)

It's that season again. Campaigning is in full swing, which in our world translates to "visits" from dad. Haha. This was a fun one though. Governor Mitt Romney, republican party presidential candidate came to Vegas and Bill was in charge of the hotel. So, the kids and I joined him.
Friends, that work with Bill, got us up close and personal at the public assembly Friday night. It's always fun to listen in on other people speculating who we are that we were able to get such VIP treatment. i.e. an entire "rope" section all to ourselves. Heehee. We all got to shake his hand and got in on the excitement! Afterwards, we enjoyed pizza at Metro Pizza in Henderson, where the rally was, YUM, and then stayed at the hotel. Saturday we went to donuts for breakfast before heading to vote in our caucus and then rushing home to get Aaron's party ready.
That night, Saturday, I rejoined the cause with Katherine, another agent's wife. We were walked, by one of the agents through the crowd, it was a bit like what I imagine the parting of the Red Sea
to be like, and given a place at the front of the rope line. After an exciting victory we were able to join our hubbies for dinner and a stay in the hotel.
Definite perks! He was so close, he practically sweat on me! So exciting!!! Heehee.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Aaron turns 6!

He was very excited to wear his new shirt from Grandma. Aaron was sad when the 49ers lost in the NFC Championship game. Darn Giants!

Aaron is officially more than one hand!!! Such a handsome kid. Huge, tender heart. Always must know what is going to happen next or, "What's for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?" Anyone who has been loving and generous enough to watch him for more that 30 minutes knows this guy can and will eat non-stop if allowed to do so. Always has to be doing something. ALWAYS telling me, "Mom,... I love you." and then he's off to the next thing.
Monday: Family friends over for ice-cream cake on his official birthday. After our traditional birthday dinner at Red Robin, of course. (Thanks Aunt Gee!)

Saturday: Birthday party with classmates from school/church.
What kid wouldn't like to decorate their own birthday cake?!?! So they all got their own. (That really means, "mommy doesn't have to".)
And... a piñata. Even though I'd say Dad did a pretty good job figuring out how to hang a piñata in mid air, Mom almost got whacked! But, then again, what else would one expect when holding the actual piñata in your hand! (Yeah, the rope had long been broken off!)
Livi has developed quite beautiful photography skills. Good job babe, I couldn't have done it without all your help.

Aaron had a great time besides the excitement of the kids freaking him out a couple times...sometimes noise get to be a little too much, especially the annoying "cha cha cha" that someone thought had to be added to spice up the birthday song. That's pretty much a no go in our house anymore. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

July 2011

Five + days at Aunt Katherine's condo in Jackson Hole, WY with the entire Claycamp clan.
Alpine slides in Jackson.
Chuck wagon dinner with real Indians and cowboys. (Loved the rubber tires on the covered wagons, the all you can eat food [that was very good], the driver who let Aaron think he was driving, and the fiddler who rocked it and gave Livi his bow!)
So proud of our kids. The only kids to have done the hike to the falls and back. 5 miles! Lucky for them, we got to see a momma moose while doing it.
Yellowstone National Park and all it's splendor. Even a dead buffalo carcass.

3 days camping in Bear Lake, UT with my mom's family. Wave runners, a boat, sand castles, games, campfires, good food, a wind storm that flipped tents upside down and broke lots of poles...what could be better! Tons of FUN!!!

3 days with the Williams in Pleasant Grove, UT.

More family bonding: 7 Peaks water park on Friday!!! SO COOL! Rodeo in Spanish Fork on Saturday. With the kids in their new western boots, Livi was sure the Rodeo queen was waving just to her. And so, she waved back. With a big hoop and a holler, she couldn't have had more fun. She now tells everyone she's going to be a cowgirl when she grows up. (A girl after my own heart.) Bill even got dressed up for the occasion and bought himself a really great western shirt.

Home for 3 days and then off to Big Sur, CA to camp with the Ellison's. Beautiful campground and a great place that we would like to go to every year except for the fact that we will NEVER go there again! How do you tell your kids to go run and play in the forest except don't touch anything green because it could be poison oak! Oops, didn't do our homework too well on that part. Luckily I was the only one who got it, and a very little bit at that. Tecnu is a great soap that they conveniently sell in the campground general store that gets rid of the oils from the poison oak. Even Annie got a bath in it. (That was before she decided to leap out of the back of the truck and run to be with her family in the car behind her. Luckily we were still in the campground.)

The beach was breathtaking.

And tons of fun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


So, OCTOBER?!?!?! That is just pathetic. I read a quote by Gordon B. Hinkley that talked about writing down our life happenings. I have been living so much life that I have put aside preserving it. How bad of me. I need to simplify, by entries. I don't know if this is possible for me but I need to remember that this is to be a book of remembrances for my family. So, here I go.
It is summer 2011. Aaron is now 5 and graduated preschool. He is so tender hearted. His teacher Mrs. Waker was always sharing with me how he would help the other kids in his class. One of his little friends is in a wheelchair and Aaron can't talk about him enough. When he is cheerleaded along the way his abilities are boundless. He is doing so well. He is a joy to be around and a true little spit fire. He loves walking the halls of church after the 3 hour block and saying hello to EVERYONE and asking how there day was or what they're doing that week. Bill laughs because he knows he doesn't get it from him. I'm convinced that through osmosis or something, he got Papa T.'s love & excitement for life and like Tiger, wants to share it with everyone.
Olivia. Wow. Where do I even start. She is now, finally, just a girl. Not the girl with cancer. Not the girl with limitations. Not the girl with the port. She is 7, she is smart, mature, good natured, a natural nurturer, and loving life! She finished 1st grade and is ready for... college! No, but truly, very bright. Thanks to a great teacher, Mrs. Smith her reading level soared this year from early 3rd grade to 6th grade along with comprehension. Her math skills leave a math lover mom proud as she is excelling there as well. Thanks to a new friend she met this year in her class she was pushed into her first sport experience. SOFTBALL! She loved it and so did Bill and I. We even got team shirts! After her first game she tried emailing Papa C. "Today was the best day of my life. I had my first softball game and I was 3 for 3!" (I cried when I read it. What a huge relief in my life, as a mother to know that your daughter finally can have all the life experiences "normal" kids have.) This picture on the left is after her first game. Pure joy! She even tried sliding into home. Softball is a big thing here and the fields are gorgeous. She had a fabulous coach and picked up the basics very nicely. She's excited to catch up with all that she's missed out on (her port was taken out the last week of January, which gave her the go ahead to PLAY!). She wants to continue softball in the spring but will take this fall to give soccer a try. She claims that she loves to run. A few times we have found her running laps in front of our house down the street. Her form leaves much to be desired but the desire in her heart is what matters. In early February she ran the 1mi fun run for Make a Wish. She had a blast and made her want to run even more.
I have been trying some new things of my own. In January I was given the opportunity to go with a girlfriend for a girls' weekend trip to St. George Utah. They were old friends who get together yearly and this year my friend graciously invited me to come along. I had a great time and even, at the last second, decided to run a 1/2 marathon. It was exhilarating to run past the 8mi marker. I have never run more that a 10k and the most I had run recently was 2 mi on Thanksgiving day! The rest of the mile markers were just as exciting as I kept telling myself, "I can't believe you're doing this!" I finished in 1:24, not fabulous but hey, I didn't even plan on running. My heart and lungs didn't have any problems, and besides my hips being sore the next day, I felt pretty proud. But in the pounding of the pavement, that I hadn't trained my body for, at some point I ended up tearing 2 tendons in my right foot. So a couple of months later after several relapses of pain I ended up in a walking boot for a few weeks and therapy for a month. BLAH! No fun.
I did finally certify to instruct group fitness classes at the YMCA. And due to some unfortunate circumstances of the bootcamp instructor I now have my own bootcamp class. It's a lot of fun but very challenging. I try to not repeat things which leads to long nights researching new/fun ideas. My class is growing in numbers and I'm starting to get the more fitness intense patrons which is a good boost for my confidence. I also have been subbing for spin classes and a body sculpt class. I really love the spin class but I'm finding my confidence in sculpt as well. Unfortunately I haven't been on my bike since last summer besides one 12 mi ride I did a few months ago. I still find it exhilarating to get on it and go, it's just another one of those things that I haven't made the time for.
I have also put my green thumb to the test. And while I am currently battling mushrooms, my garden is looking quite good. We planted, from seed: green beans, green onions, lettuce and carrots. All look like they're doing very well. We've harvested lettuce several times already and while the family doesn't care for the variety we planted, it is quite bitter, it still looks pretty. We even have beans! From starts we planted basil, cilantro, tomatoes and peppers. I killed 3 of 4 starts on the basil but was able to nurse the 4th back to health and it's doing well. The cilantro is a bit lack luster but we've been able to use it. The peppers and the tomatoes, well, there's always next year. We also got the back yard redone. Note to self: never again get a yard then a puppy. Always get the puppy first. It's looking good though. I was very proud of my "solo" successful plant of a honeysuckle to replace the semi-dead one. It is doing very well and starting to bloom.

Bill is doing great. He has been working out a ton and while he says he still doesn't like it I think secretly he does. I at least like seeing his confidence boosted. I'm not gonna lie, I also like his new physique! He had a long stint in Hawaii over Christmas. 2 weeks with Obama, and then 1 week in Rio de Janeiro in March, so needless to say, his tan is doing well. He's really enjoying his work and while he's not quite sure where he wants to go with it right now, he's doing well at keeping all options open. Hence, the working out several hours a day. He's made some great friends in the office and so for the past several months our date nights have been spent hanging out with work buddies and their wives. It's been a lot of fun getting to know such a great group of people.

Monday, March 7, 2011


October started off with a VERY quick trip to Redding on conference weekend. Up on Friday the 1st and back home on Sunday the 2nd. Our actual destination was Red Bluff but being that it was my dad's 66th birthday we stopped in to say hello. We got to see the Reasbecks and watch Chandler play flag football. The purpose for our trip was to witness Grandpa Bill's baptism. What a wonderful occasion it was. So very special to see Bill baptize his father, just as his grandfather had baptized him 13 years ago. The spirit was so strong. Such a testimony of the joy the fullness of the gospel can bring into someone's life. Olivia was even able to play "Come Follow Me" on her violin that she had been practicing for the primary program. After the baptism and confirmation we had dinner back at the house and were joined by Sam, Nikki and the boys. Even though it was a lot of driving for a short period, it was WELL worth it. We were very blessed to have been a part of it.

My girlfriend, Jennifer Dresser, came down with her oldest son, Jeffrey for a soccer tournament. Her mom came with her to help with the drive and her little one, Jillian. It was so fun to spend some time with them AND to watch Jeffrey play. This is what happens when you give your camera to a 12 year old boy! Gotta love him. (Among other things, I think he's practicing the ASL alphabet that the kids taught to him.)

The kids decided to forego a traditional Halloween this year and save the money from costumes to put towads a trip to Disneyland. We did get Halloween shirts and orange spray paint for their hair. They had fun class parties on Thursday and then because of Nevada day on Friday we left right after school and headed down to San Diego.
We stayed for a few nights at Bill's cousin's place. Wyatt and Brigid were fabulous hosts. Wyatt took us to a park next to the beach where we visited for a while before he headed off to work. The kids and I had brought our bikes so we took a bike ride along a trail up to the back of Sea World, where Wyatt works, across the lake. From there the kids and I grabbed a picnic lunch and ate it up on the temple grounds.
We met up with Brigid and she took us to her school halloween carnival where the kids had a
blast playing all thegames. Afterwards we went to Chevy's for dinner and then prepared a magic
show for Uncle Wyatt back at the condo. SO MUCH FUN!!! Aaron did the ball under the 3 cups and was very confused when he himself couldn't remember which cup it was under. Complete with costumes and all! Wyatt got his finger exercise with TONS of balloon animal/creations.
The next morning I awoke to this scene. The boys making delicious pancakes. I didn't know that 1 homemade pancake could taste so different from another. I now, after all my life, have a new pancake recipe. Good job boys! We even had fresh strawberries!
Saturday we spent the day hanging out. We joined up with Uncle Matt and his girlfriend Kara and went to a park. Wyatt had to work, but Brigid and Matt played great with the kids despite his recent broken hip from a car accident over the summer. He
even got a feel of what dad's deal with when Aaron insisted he needed help in the restroom. Good job Matt, you pass the test. It was nice for me to chat with Kara, something I've never been able to do up until then. Lunch was at a chinese restaurant and then dinner back at the condo. Wyatt and Brigid skipped out of previous plans to stay with us which was such a blessing. The seven of us had a fabulous evening. The kids loved
playing the Zingo Bingo game that Matt had brought as a present to Aaron. So much laughter. What a great night.

The next morning the kids and I woke up, got ready for church, packed the car and attended a local sacrament meeting. It was good to be in church. Then off to Los Angeles to stay with Uncle Bob and Aunt Deann in preparation for our trip to DISNEYLAND!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


In September, a girlfriend of mine, Syrissa, and I ordered 150lbs of peaches from a peach truck delivering from Utah. Since I had grown up with canned peaches I wanted to give it a shot. And
since Syrissa never had them growing up she was up to the challenge. We did end up selling one of the 6 boxes so we canned, froze, made jam with, and ate 125 lbs of the most delicious fruit on this earth. I bought a great new canner that...well, everyone I talked to said it was great. And I'm sure it was, we just really didn't know what we were doing. Over a period of 3 days we sliced and diced and boiled and peeled and mixed and sealed and wha-la, BEAUTIFUL SWEETNESS! I think we ended up with 15 jars of canned peaches, 12 jelly jars of freezer jam (made by Bill), and 4 gallon size ziplocks of frozen peaches for smoothies and cereal, each. The best part of it all, when we opened the first jar, I took a bite and literally felt my mom give me a hug. They smelled and tasted like my childhood. I knew my mother was smiling at me and quite proud of her "Sunshine Rae Rae". I donated all of my bought canned peaches to the boy scouts. I just can't do them anymore.