Sunday, July 10, 2016

On the Way to the Family Reunion

Caleb spent four days at Ensign Ranch, attending Camp Helaman--a missionary prep-type camp for young men 16 and older.  It was a great experience.  He was filthy and starving when we picked him up on our way to Yakima, where we would spend that night. We enjoyed a nice meal with my family before going to their production of "The Little Mermaid."  Such a fun show!

By the time the show was over, the kids were hungry again and Miner's is the perfect place for a milkshake, fourth meal or both.  Crazy that my children had never been there, right?  Well now they have and they loved it.

After church the next day, we drove to Helena.  Most of the family was there, preparing to head to Idaho for our family reunion.

Monday was the Fourth of July and we did a fun photo scavenger hunt that day.  We drew names for teams (making sure the native Helenans were split up--they were the drivers for each team) and then raced around town getting pictures.  We had a list of photos we had to take in the allotted time and at least one member of the team had to be in each photo.  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures from all of the teams, but here are a few favorites from that fun activity:

On the trolley

A red spoon

Sleeping Giant

Oldest building

I got a picture with a stranger wearing a patriotic shirt.  I had to flag her down in her car, but she was so nice about taking a picture with me:

This stranger was also very nice to let Henry use his shirt as an example of something from another country:

My team at the water tower.

We left early the next morning for Idaho.  Our family reunion was being held in Ashton, which is just 30 minutes or so from Rexburg. Caleb had never been to BYU-I, so we decided it would be great to take him to campus and let him get a peek at where he'd soon be going to school.  I also couldn't wait to see all the changes that have taken place since I went to Ricks over 20 years ago.

On our way, we stopped in Sheridan to visit Grandma's grave. We found the only place to buy some flowers in tiny Sheridan and placed them at her headstone.

A little further down the road is Virginia City, Montana.  It was once a boomtown, full of prospectors but then turned into a ghost town. It was restored in the 1950's and is now a National Historic Landmark.  Such a fun, wee town with lots of character!

Jon had fond childhood memories of a candy shop in Virginia City.  It's still there and now the fond memories have been passed to his children.

The only bathrooms available were in the town's community center, which also had an old-timey gymnasium.  Caleb even found a basketball lying around with which to make a half-court shot:

We had a BYU-I campus tour scheduled in the early afternoon, but thought we were arriving in Rexburg in time for a late lunch beforehand.  As soon as we got to the food court, however, we learned that it was shutting down for devotional.  With nowhere else to really go, we decided to just attend the devotional.  I was so glad we did.  The BYU-I center is amazing!  It's just a slightly smaller version of the Conference Center in SLC.  The speaker, a facilities manager on campus, gave a really great message about being a low maintenance, high output member of the church--relating us, as members of the church, to light bulbs and the technological advances that have created light bulbs to be better quality and more efficient. We are to be "light-emitting disciples," he said.

Then it was time for our very long, thorough tour.  The two students that served as our guides did a great job. BYU-I is a special place and you feel "the spirit of Ricks" all over campus.

"Having begun my service as president of [BYU-Idaho] in July 1997, I quickly recognized the uniqueness of this great institution. I have a strong desire to preserve and enhance the 'spirit of Ricks.' " David A. Bednar

Campus looks so very different from when I attended here, but I did find one familiar-looking logo:

We next visited the apartment complex where Caleb was planning to live this fall.  I was worried as soon as we drove through the parking lot, but it only got worse once we walked through one of the apartments. I actually left with a terrible pit in my stomach.  Small, dingy and not at all what we'd seen from their website.  "The carpet looked like a cat," was Alyssa's observation.  It didn't feel right and I knew I couldn't send Caleb off to live there, even though he was trying to have a good attitude about it. We'd been seeing a shuttle around campus from a complex called, "The Ivy" and I just needed to look to see if there were any other options.  We were able to take a quick tour and immediately knew we needed to make a change.  We had to pay a fee to cancel the other contract, and I felt a little snobbish doing so, but knowing Caleb would have a very nice place to live put us both at ease.  

The Ivy Apartments

Being in Rexburg helped Caleb feel more at ease, but also raised some anxieties of what was to come. For now, though, it was time to put that all aside and enjoy our family reunion.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

ARHS--Class of 2016

Many out-of-town guests had arrived.  I'd been preparing for weeks for Caleb's graduation and it was finally here. In all actuality, though, this event was years in the making. Years of toil and work, homework battles, meetings with teachers, successes, failures, proud moments and some we'd like to forget.  My emotions were a mixed bag of excitement, nervousness, pride and nostalgic reminiscence. We'd strived for so long toward this road marker in Caleb's life and yet arriving at this point only accentuated the reality that from this point forward, his path looks very different and that our family quite frankly will never be the same.  

The first two weekends in June had been beautiful.  Hot, really.  But the day of Caleb's outdoor graduation was gusty, rainy and dark.  My mood matched the weather.  This was one of the most momentous events in Caleb's life and I was incredibly disappointed by the thought that his commencement and the outdoor party I'd planned afterward could be dampened by the elements.

Caleb, however, was anything but gloomy.  He has a naturally cheery disposition, but it was obvious very early on that on this particular day, he was feeling especially happy.  He was thrilled to have so many loved ones celebrate him.

He was scheduled to meet the rest of the graduates at the high school where they would be lined up for the ceremony and then bussed to Memorial Stadium for the graduation.  Before he left, we gathered as a family to open cards and gifts.

Caleb's relatives were exceptionally generous.  He also read every card out loud, including letters Jon and I had written him, which had me crying.  Also emotional was the presentation of a quilt in his grandmother's honor.  Grandma Hatch had intended to make a quilt for each of her grandsons for their graduation.  She had the fabric set aside for Caleb, but she died before she could complete the quilt.  Jen and Christopher used that fabric to make a beautiful gift for Caleb.

Christopher also made sure Caleb's tie was perfect.

We got some pictures with our graduate before he left us.

A short time later, we got seated at the stadium and watched dark clouds gather around us.

The band took out umbrellas and then later retreated to the stands on the opposite side of the field.

I prayed and prayed and prayed for a break in the rain and clouds.

Caleb's fan club:

Lakeland Hills, normally visible from this spot in the stadium was completely obscured by the weather.  Oh my heart!

My nervous worry about the weather was interrupted by honking horns of the busses carrying the graduates. Navy blue graduation sleeves were waving out of every window.  "Here they come!"was the chatter in the stands.  My throat got tight.

So many busses.  So much happy celebration coming from them.  It seemed to take forever to get the graduates off the busses.  I later asked Caleb if it was annoying to be stuck inside, but he said it was far too exciting to be the least bit annoyed.  There's just something about being the guest of honor, I guess.  Even if there are over 300 other guests of honor, too. 

I spotted my boy right away!  He was right near the front.

The sun miraculously appeared just over the stadium's field as Pomp and Circumstance welcomed the graduates.  Was I really here watching my oldest child graduate from high school?  Unbelievable.

He sat in the second row.

"Caleb Jonathan Hatch"

See that sun over the field with the black clouds behind the stadium?  We got so lucky.  Our own little weather miracle.

The graduation was lovely and I was particularly impressed that the entire ceremony was only about one hour long.  The bright sun continued to shine solely on the graduates while they did the traditional cap toss in the middle of the field.

The weather held for some pictures afterward, too.

Look at that smile.  So happy!

Our good friends, the Kunimuras, were so kind to let us host Caleb's graduation party in their magazine-worthy backyard.  They also marinated and cooked all the meat and made mango salsa and lumpia.  I made salads, potatoes, beans, cookies, cupcakes, krispie treats and put together a candy bar. The guests were well fed.

It was chilly, but considering wind gusts had blown over the canopies we had set up earlier in the day, I couldn't complain about the weather during the party.  It remained dry throughout.

Caleb posed for pictures with some of his party guests.

Jon put together this fun slide show to show at the party:

"That was the best graduation party I've ever been to, " remarked Cousin Ansel.  Yes, it turned out to be a really great day, indeed.

Congratulations, Caleb!  You've turned out pretty great, too.