Monday, March 14, 2011

Dog Key Fob

Take a look at these and tell me what you think.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm Traveling, I Traveled, I'm a Traveler

I don't update this blog often I guess. So much has happened since the last input it is hard to know where to start. Summer was a blur with the family reunion in Southern Utah. We had a wonderful time being with all that were able to attend. We wonder why we don't live out west when we have the chance to go that way. I came home to 100 degree weather and 85% humidity. But Jason and Brandon were here working and they needed some adult supervision.
Vivian stayed in Utah for the birth of baby Olivia and I was able to fly out and be with the family at that special occasion. It is easier to look back and call it a special occasion now. At the time, it was the hardest thing I had ever been through. I am so impressed with the strength of Ryan and Andrea and so grateful for the gospel and the plan of salvation. It is the only thing that makes these experiences bearable.

Jason got married and that meant a trip to the temple in Nauvoo and then a reception in Wisconsin. Right after that, we all headed out west again to take Brandon and Jason and Jenna to BYU Idaho for school. I got home, went to work, and then flew to Illinois just long enough to pick up Brandon's mission call and fly back to Idaho. Nathan, Brooke, and Gavin picked me up at the airport and drove me to Rexburg. We got there at 2:30, Brandon opened his mission call at 3:00, then Nathan and Brooke drove me to the Idaho Falls airport where I caught a flight to Denver and then back to Illinois. I was tired of traveling by then.
In September Vivian and I flew to Denver then jumped in a van with John and LeAnn and drove to southern Utah for a 16 mile back packing trip in Zion National Park. We had a great time and good weather. Everyone made it and we checked off another old fart adventure. Much of the hike was in the river and it was often cold. It was a unique hike and we made it all in one day. The following day, Nathan and Ryan and Brooke and Andrea and Gavin all drove down to Kanab and went hiking with the family. I had to go to work but half way to St George, the company called and told me my flight was cancelled for training and I rushed back to Kanab only to find that everyone had already left without me. The next day we drove back to Denver then a short flight to Atlanta, another to St. Louis, and we were home. While in Denver, We found out that AirTran was bought out by Southwest airlines. We are still waiting for details to see if this is going to be a good thing or not. I think it will be.
This coming week we are going to Branson Missouri for a few days, In November, Viv is going to quilt camp and then we are going to spend Thanksgiving in Utah with the family. We will all be there when Brandon goes to the temple for the first time. I am so excited to have my whole family worthy to be gathered in the temple together. I have waited and prayed for this day for a long time. Thank you boys for making my prayers and dreams come true. Thank you to all my sweet daughters-in-law for helping my boys be worthy to make this day possible. I love you all very much.
When all this travel is over, do you know what I am going to do? I am going to get on an airplane and fly to work. Then I am going to fly other people all around the U.S. so they can have as much fun as I have dad.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm Sailing, I Sailed, I'm a Sailor

I have waited ever since we started this blog to be able to finally title one like that. It has been a while since our last post but I have been looking forward to this one for a while. I realize this is like being invited over to look at old family albums for some of you but for Brandon and I, it was the trip of a life time.
Brandon and the rest of the troop left O'Fallon on Saturday, June 26th just two hours after his High School graduation. with a group of 15 scouts and leaders, they drove 20 hours to the Boy Scouts of America's National Sea Base in Islamorada Florida. (and hour south of Miami) I flew down with 5 others and rented a car to meet them there. Suffice it to say, we were much fresher. Soon after we all arrived, we did our swim tests and had dinner (not in that order). It seems the scouts don't believe in the 30 minute rule if you have a schedule to keep.
Next morning, we headed for Key West and a week of sailing as the crew of a three mast scooner. They provided us with food which we hauled down in big igloo coolers packed with ice. When we arrived, Dada Distelhorst and Vivian were there to meet us. They decided they needed a week long break as well and booked rooms at the Naval Air Station at Key West. We met the Captain (Capt Rhonn and his first mate, Mack) then stocked the ship stowed our gear and headed out for adventure.
They taught us the names of all the lines and sails and how things worked on the ship. I was assigned ships cook, we had a brew master who made sure we never ran out of gatorade and fresh water, we had a galley crew, quartermaster, anchor crew, ladder crew, and swabbies who cleaned the latrines. Every night we kept anchor watch and swapped out every two hours. The boys learned to navigate and to read the stars at night finding the big dipper to show them the way to the North Star, Orion's belt, and the stars that form the mast and foresheet that lead to the Southern Cross. Our daily routine was: raise soon after the sun, have breakfast, clean up, sail for an hour or two to a coral reef, snorkel for an hour or so, sail to another coral reef, fish along the way for, have lunch, , swim and snorkle again, sail for a few more hours to an island, have dinner, play on the island, fish for sharks after dark. Repeat. Brandon was in charge of the boys as the Senior Patrol leader and made all the assignments. He did one of the best jobs I have ever seen by a boy at camp. The kids were treated fairly and took care of things. He helped and set a great example. For anchor duty he arranged that the boys would do one night and the adults the next. On Wednesday night, some of the boys slept through their assignments. Brandon decided the boys would do it again on Thursday night and get it right. No one complained. They did it right and that was the end of it. He was awsome.
Shark fishing was the high light for me. We kept our fish heads and guts from our daily catch and put the guts in a chum bucket that we lowered over the side of the ship. Then on two lines we rigged metal leader to our lines and put the heads on big hooks. Then we lowered the lines and forgot about them. As we were playing games and talking all of a sudden...zing.......the line would just start running like crazy. All day long we had caught Mahi Mahi and Baraccuda, 5-10 lb. fish. This was 50 times the pull and fight. The first two got away that night but the third turned out to be a 7 foot about 250 lb. lemon shark. We all took turns fighting him until we got him close to the boat. We didn't want his sharp teeth in close proximity to our feet so we cut him loose over the side after pictures. What an experience. The next day I told the boys to watch out as they were swimming on the reef, if they saw a shark with a hook in his mouth, he might be out for some pay back.

Snorkeling was awesome and the water was so clear. We saw lobsters (three weeks prior to lobster season or we would have really eaten well.) every kind of fish including numberous sharks. A goliath grouper that I'll bet weighed 800 lbs. King Mackerel bigger than me and much more. Brandon and I were swimming about 10 yards apart and a 8 foot reef shark swam between and below us. I couldn't kick after that without hitting Brandon. He didn't want to be 10 yard (not evern 10 inches) from me.

We had a pirate flag and a cannon on board and several times we would run up the flag and shoot the cannon. Once we pulled up beside a cruise ship and everyone came to the railing and waved at us. Then we struck our colors and blasted them. It was beautiful. They cheered as us as we sailed away. The cannon shot 10 gauge shot gun shells and made a huge bang and echo. The boys tied a rope to the main mast and would swing from one end of the boat and then drop off the side. Once we started feeding fish off the side and the boys would drop into the school of fish.

Some of the most amazing sights was the sun sets and moon rises. It was a full moon which was huge on the horizon as it came up.

The colors were so pure even the fish were vibrant in the water.
We ate like kings. Everyone told me how good my food was. They really did set us up well and I just played with the menu a bit to make it better. They gave us hamburger patties one night but we had fresh pineapple and Terryaki so I grilled the pineapple and marinated the burgers and whalla. We had steaks one night (with onions and mushrooms), we took our salad fixings and made a fresh salsa from tomatoes, avocados, limes, onions, cillantro and such that went with our Mahi Mahi. I bought some Italian sausage to add to our spaghetti and that was a real hit. Anyway, everyone raved about our food but how can you beat a little fresh fish with every meal.

When all was said and done, we had a luau back at sea base and as we left the Captain told us that he didn't usually rank kids at the end of the trip but we were by far the best he had ever had. I believe him. The kids were absolutely awsome. They all wanted to there and really got into the adventure. Only one got really sea sick and he got over it quickly with Jaymeson Stroud's portable RX store. (he's a Dr. and brought every drup you can imagine.) One leader kicked the coral by accident and his feet swole up like ballons. He is better now but pretty miserable on the 20 hour drive home. I had to fly straight to Atlanta to start a four day trip but the first overnight was in St. Louis so I was able to drop off my dirty laundry and attend the Memorial Day breakfast in the park on Monday.
The best way to end this is like it started, I sailed, I'm a sailor.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm posting, I posted, I'm a Poster

Ok, so it has been a while since we updated our blog. Not becasue nothing, has happened, it's more like because everything has been happening. Christmas time was wonderful. We had almost the whole family home for the holidays. Nathan and Brooke were not able to make it becasue baby Gavin was so new. Ryan and Andrea were here and we loved that. We played games and had such a good time. It was sad to see them go. They gave us a Christmas present with a card on it that said, " From Ryan, Andrea, and the Baby." That was so exciting.

I spent 22 hours in the van with Jason as we drove out to Rexburg so he could return to school. We stopped in Denver for New Years with the Halgrens and Spencers. Brandon was still wrestling and could not come but we had fun without him. Vivian had gone to Utah to see the grandbaby and met us in Denver. As the clock struck midnight, I kissed her and said happy New Year. She felt a complete rush of relief as 2009 finally ended. It had been a very trying and emotional time for us all but especially for her. We started off 2009 in the hospital recovering from her surgery, then Chemo, radiation, the passing of her sister and my brother, Shalon miscarried and Gavin was born with his issues. It all seemed overwhelming at times. Now a new year has started with it's joys and challenges. We will just continue to face them all the same, with faith and patience.

2009 was not without it's joys either. We feel particularly blessed. Gavin was born, Ryan got married, my job was steady, Vivian survived and is as good as ever, Andrea graduated from college, Brandon got a job, Jason is doing well in school. We are happy and healthy again.

Viv and I are training for a half marathon and have invited all of the family to join us. We have had to change plans because of a conflict with Lexie's wedding but we are still going to make it happen. Last Sunday at dinner Vivian announced that we are going to move to utah in a year and a half. Brandon is graduating in May and has been accepted to LDS business college. He will then leave on his mission. Ben and Shalon will be out of school by then also. I am not sure how it will all work out but we would like to be closer to our families and to the Grandbabies. I guess we will have to work on Ben and Shalon to see if we can get them out there as well. It will be hard since Shalon's parents are here and so are their jobs. I guess you guys in Utah can keep your eyes open for great opportunities in the real estate market.

Anyway, that's all the news that is fit to print. We love you all and miss you. Your are continually in our prayers.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We parented, We're parents, We are Grandparents

Viv and I are so excited to announce the arrival of Gavin Thomas Gardner. Born on 27 November 2009. He weighed in at a tiny 6 pounds 5 oz. I think with a little training and dedicated effort he could wrestle at 6 pounds.

Brooke brought new meaning to the phrase "shop till you drop." She was out early (3:30) with her sisters on Friday morning to hit all the Black Friday shopping specials. She shopped for a long time and then took a nap and hit it again with Nathan. They called Vivian a few times looking for gift ideas and Brooke was really tired and was having contractions. Viv thought she had just been on her feet too long and told Nate to take her home and put her to bed so she could rest. When they got home and laid down she was still having pains and they decided to time them. Before they could time them however, her water broke. Nate got a few things together and jumped in the car. Their Dr. was in Jordan but Brooke was already feeling the need to push and so he raced to the Tooele hospital. While he was filling out some admittance forms they took Brooke to the ER. By the time he got to her side, the baby was almost there. Nate says they left home at 9:10 and got to the hospital at 9:16 and the baby was born at 9:20. Nate can fill us all in on all the details. We feel blessed that Brooke and Gavin are healthy and everything turned out so well. She literally shopped till Gavin dropped.

Nate sent a text message right after announcing the birth. I had just landed in St. Louis and turned my phone on when I got the message. I called Nate to see what was going on. He had still not held the baby yet it was so new. OK, here is a little insight into your soon as I hung up I stopped in a secluded spot and prayed and thanked God for his great gifts, then I cried like a baby as I walked to the truck, then I sang some of my favorite hymns at the top of my lungs. Fortunately it was 10:30 at night here and I was in the deserted parking lot at the Missouri Air National Guard facility so I don't think anyone detected my lunacy. Then I called mom and all you boys to let you know.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself because I had to work over thanksgiving. Then suddenly Heavenly Father showed me again all that I had to be thankful for. I am thankful for family and the plan of salvation. I am thankful for temples and priesthood power that seals us together forever. I am thankful for a savior who is the power, architect, and sacrifice that makes all of the above possible. I am thankful for my sweetheart, her love, her sacrifice, her example, and her health. I am grateful for my mother and I miss her. I am pretty sure one of the last faces Gavin saw before he left his heavenly home to come stay with us for a while was Grandma Gardner. Likewise, I am convinced that one of the first faces we will all see when we leave this life will be Grandmas. We will be amazed at the influence she and all of our loved ones exerted in our lives.
I am thankful for the opportunity to bow myself before my creator in prayer and worship him. When you think about it, it is one of the most glorious things in life. I would be very shy about facing a king or president or ruler and asking for a special favor. Yet the God of the Universe allows me to approach him at any time, day or night and ask for the most trivial things. I have learned from experience that hears me, he answers me, and he begs me to come back more often and teaches me through his spirit to be more wise in the things that I ask for. I am thankful for a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and the restored gospel. I am thankful for my father and his example. We are all recipients of innumerable blessings because Grandpa Gardner overcame many of his families traditions and weaknesses and embraced the gospel with all his heart and taught us to do the same. His righteousness is being answered with blessings on the heads of his posterity to the third and fourth generations. I hope Gavin and all of our future family members will be able to say the same of me and that he and his children will be blessed because of my efforts to follow Heavenly Father's plan of happiness.

Vivian said I should not write like that in our blog because anyone can read it. I say, please do. Read it, think about it, pray about it. If you don't have this kind of joy in your life, ask me about it and I will be happy to share what I know. God bless you all.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

I drew, I'm drawing, Im a Drawer

OK so we drew names for christmas and here is what we came up with:

Ben has Jason
Ryan has Brandon
Nate has Ben
Jason has Ryan
Brandon has Nate

That leaves mom and I off the hook. Merry Christmas. It looks like things are set to have a fun holiday here in Illinois. Everyone will be here except Nate and Brooke and baby?. I will even be here for Christmas this year. I am off from the 22nd to the 30th. Its a miracle.

Love you all. I will send more later. Got to run to church. Mom's surgery went well and she even felt good enough to go out to dinner last night. We went to the German restaurant and they had an oom pa band. It was funny.

Love you all.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I walked, I swam, I'm a Tourist

Ok, we are officially traveled out for a while. Vivian felt like during her Chemo and radiation treatments that she was confined and there was so much she wanted to see and do but couldn't.

Now that she is feeling great she wants to go and do everything. Now we least for a while. We have abandoned Brandon enough for a few months. With that said, we had a great time in Cancun. Where to start?

Vivian left on Wed. the 28th and met me in Atalanta. We got up early the next morning and caught a free flight to Cancun. We were supposed to meet her sister LeAnn and her Brother Tom at the Cancun airport along with LeAnn's husband John. They all speak Spanish so no big deal. Of course you know of the Halgren curse. They are always late. Apparently there was a huge snow storm Denver (14 inches) John and LeAnn got to the Denver airport with just enough time to get on the plane. Unfortunately, they left their passports in the car. By the time John ran to the car and got them, the plane left with only Uncle Tom on board. John and LeAnn then had to decide do we really want to go or stay. They decided to go and paid walk up fares on a different airline which cost them a fortune. Both planes were delayed for de-icing. Uncle Tom arrived at about 6:00p.m. and John and LeAnn arrived about 12:30 a.m. The resort we stayed at was about an hour and a half from the airport. Vivian and I arranged for a van to take us, $100. Uncle Tom caught a taxi, $120 bucks. John and Leann caught the last bus south, $150. The story = priceless.

We hired an LDS tour guide on Friday morning to take us to the ruins at Chitza-Nitza (forgive the spelling) and then he suggested we go to Ek Balam. It was truly an amazing visit. We read passages from the Book of Mormon as we visited the sights and talked about the way these apostates worshipped and lived. It was fascinating. Some of the stuff we will have to share in person but I came away with a whole different picture in my mind of the Lamanites and Nephites 300 years after Christ's visit to the Americas.

On Saturday we went swimming and snorkeling at Turtle Bay and we saw several sea turtles a few sting rays, a sea snake, and lots of fish and coral. The water was clear and warm and we had a great time. In the evenings the resort served dinner at a central dining facility or you could make reservations at one of 4 different specialty restaurants. That first night together we at at the Asian restaurant, the next night at the Brazilian restaurant, the next was the Mexican restaurant and then we went back to the Brazilian restaurant because it was so good. We skipped the Italian place. Every evening they had some kind of program but we only went once to see the fire dancers. They were OK but not nearly as good as the PCC. We played a lot of games and just sat around in the evenings and talked.

Tom had to go home a few days before the rest of us so on Monday we went to the ruins at Tulum then went out to the forest and saw some spider monkeys and a Howler monkey. We saw a Cenote (a sink hole) that the Lamanites had used to bury some of their dead. They had skulls on a shelf down inside the hole. I played baseball with some Mayan kids about 10 years old. They had a rotted ball and some ratty gloves and they all looked at me like I was Nolan Ryan. Sunday we tried to go to church and we caught a taxi to get there. No one was at the building and when we asked our guide about it later he said, "oh yeah, it was stake conference."
We rented a car and drove all over on Tuesday and Wednesday. We went to the ruins at Coba and were able to climb the Yucatan's tallest pyramid. It had been closed for quite a while and we were lucky to be there on a day when it was open for tourists. You got there by renting bikes and riding through this rain (literally) forest. We were drenched. We saw the Stella (rock) from which they get the Mayan ca lander projection that everything ends in Dec 2012. I was not impressed. Who's going to believe a bunch of apostates anyway.
On our way to Coba we saw this big lake and a small rickety boardwalk that went out 30 yards or so. Our guide said, "hey, do you want to see some crocodiles?" Well who doesn't want to stand on a rickety pier in a jungle and see a wild crocodile? So off we went and paid this guy 10 pesos to stand on his dock. He tapped the edges with a stick and sure enough 3 big crocodiles came swimming up. Then he started feeding them chicken and beef on the stick. They came way up out of the water to eat. In fact they were higher up out of the water than the Pier so Vivian made her way back to the car. We saw several others hiding in the grassy areas. It was way cool. We needed to snorkel one last time before we came home and it was the best hour of snorkeling ever. We saw a whole weeks worth of sea life in an hour. All in all, it was a fantastic trip. We missed you all and I hope we can all go together sometime. Would one of you please become independently wealthy so all of us can leech off of you for trips like this?