Papa Chandler

I make big promises and commitments to this blog, then life happens.  A very real and tender part of life happened these last two weeks as Ty’s maternal grandfather, better know as Papa, passed from this earth.  Papa was an integral and powerful person in Mr. Rancher’s life and his passing, while peaceful and necessary, was difficult to go through.  Ty was quite close to Papa and will miss him terribly.  We are thankful to know that this is not the end, that Papa is feeling better at last, and we will see him again someday.

I was privileged–and elected–to write the obituary and life sketch for the funeral.  Ty delivered the sketch and added some of his own personal stories to his talk.  He did a wonderful job speaking and gave a great tribute to his Papa.

Here is a copy of the life sketch, which is all the recreational writing I have managed over the last few weeks.

George Lawrence Chandler, better known as Laurie, was born on January 31, 1932.  He was the fourth child of Vernon and Naomi May Chandler.  He was born off of Ripple Rd. in Annex, Oregon.  Naomi often said that Laurie cried the whole first year of his life.  Vernon and Naomi’s children, in order of birth, are: Thelma, Frank, John, Laurie, Eldon, and Jean.

When Laurie was four years old, his parents bought their ranch on Monroe Creek just North of Weiser, Idaho.  Vernon and Naomi raised their family at this ranch as well as crops and cattle.  Laurie and his brothers, Frank and Eldon all helped their father with the work on the farm as well as custom farm work throughout Weiser.  In between Laurie’s Junior and Senior year of high school, he and his brothers were running a mobile hay baler, one of the first in the valley, when Laurie was caught under the wheels and run over.  He spent the whole summer in a full body cast, which was removed the day before school started again.  Papa always said this was when he knew his mother really loved him. Papa had one leg shorter than the other thanks to this accident.

Laurie attended school at Eastside School, Weiser Junior High, and Weiser High School which was then held in historic Hooker Hall.  He graduated from high school in 1950.  After high school, he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Korean War.  He served as a cook for two years.  Papa loved to talk about his time in the army and the people and cultures of Korea.  He was proud to have served his country, but did not want any recognition for this service.  Papa was a true patriot who felt his duty to his country very deeply.

After returning from the army, Laurie served a two year mission for The Church of Jesus of Christ of latter day saints in the Midwestern United States.  While on his mission, Laurie bought his first car, a gray Hudson Hornet which he used for missionary work and then drove home to Idaho.  Papa was so proud of this car.  He enjoyed his mission and the time spent serving the Lord.

Laurie met Zelda Ruth Froerer in 1958 on a blind date.  He knew he wanted to marry her after three dates.  Ruth took a little more convincing.  They were married on March 11, 1959 in the Idaho Falls Temple.  They drove the Hudson through California, Nevada, and Arizona for their honeymoon.

Laurie and Ruth began their married life on Monroe Creek and started to farm and run a Holstein dairy.  On January 19, 1960, their first daughter Cary Jill was born followed by Kimberley, Casey, Sue and Jennifer over the next nine years.  Laurie, Ruth, and the kids all worked together on the farm—there are pictures of babies on the feed wagon and cattle drives.  Laurie loved working with his children and grandchildren.  He would often say “come on kids, we’ll be back for supper.”  Papa was a hard worker and a very strong man.  He was 6’4” and spent most of his days scooping silage by hand, pitching hay by hand, and harvesting crops by hand.  He couldn’t stand to be idle and worked long hours every day.

Laurie loved agriculture of all kinds.  He worked in a feedlot in Payette scoopin’ silage in order to pay for his mission.  He helped his dad raise Hereford beef cattle and farm hay crops.  He ran his own successful dairy that milked 100 Holstein cattle and produced the hay and feed for the dairy on his farm ground.  Papa was especially proud of agricultural advancements and technology.  He started out with horse drawn hay mowers which then had to be pitched into wagons and the dumped into loose hay stacks.

It was a proud day when he bought his first tractor, an Olliver.  I remember bringing home my first GPS tractor a couple years ago, and showing it to Papa.  He was so amazed by the GPS system and controls of the tractor that really showed how far farming had progressed since his childhood.

Papa used horses to feed his cows in the winter.  He loved to ride horses as well.  Some of his favorites were Zephir and Bingo.  He also had a team of Welsh ponies, Star Fire and Red Cloud.  Papa made a small cart for these ponies to drive in parades.  I know I learned to love horses and respect their usefulness from Papa.  He always said he loved to ride because it made him feel young again.  He said “a horse makes me feel like I have fresh legs under me again.”

Papa loved riding out at the River, gathering cows with me and Casey.  He would tell Casey that the ride out was great, half of the ride back was great, but that last quarter of the ride was AWFUL!

Laurie was a committed member of the Church and held most positions within the Church.  He could see the hand of the Lord in all the nature around him.  He was fascinated with how the natural world worked and produced so much good for all of us to enjoy.  Papa was a deep thinker and always had deep questions about how the world was formed.  How the hills and valleys came to be and how the cows were able to take something so simple as grass and turn it into milk or prime beef.  He liked to have these deep conversations while riding horses together.  Laurie did not like to hunt, but did like to take pictures of wild life and ride in the hills to see nature in its raw beauty.

Laurie was also active in the Farm Bureau and served as the president of Washington County for several years.

Laurie did not like to travel or be part of large social events.  Nannie swears he was always late, on purpose, for Relief Society dinners or parties she wanted to attend.  While Laurie didn’t like travel, he supported Ruth traveling and helping the kids with 4-H projects.

Papa’s greatest accomplishment was the family of five children, 17 grandchildren, and 25 great grandchildren.  Papa liked to tell his grandchildren stories about his life and was a great storyteller.  He said “a story’s no good if you don’t add a little to it.”  He loved to weave humor into all his stories and embellish the details just enough to make them interesting.  All of us here today have stories about our time with Papa.  We know he loved us and loved to share time with us.  Even the babies know that they were special to Papa.  Papa was one of those men who loved babies and would help with all their care.

He was a great example to all of us about the importance of hard work, persistence, good humor, patriotism, family, and faith in Jesus Christ.  May we all do our best to live up to his legacy and love.

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After collecting memories and stories from family members, this life sketch was pretty easy to write.  My only regret is that it was written after Papa was coherent enough to talk about his own life.  It would be nice to hear directly from him, what his greatest accomplishments were and what he most wants us to remember about him.

Perhaps life histories and life sketches should be written before a person is about to leave this earth.  I can imagine a person’s reticence to writing their own obituary/life sketch, but perhaps if viewed more as a life history the process could be an enjoyable and rewarding one.  And what a legacy to leave for future generations!

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Busy. Busy-er. Busy-est.

Will life ever slow down?

I’m beginning to think the answer to that question is a big, resounding NO!  Remember that post about graduate school ending and the chunk of time I was sure I would have, but also sure would be filled in no time flat?  Yeah, that chunk of time never appeared, and here’s the story behind its absence.

I submitted the final draft of my 40-page written project, about giftedness and its impact on childhood development and adult success, on Monday, December 3, 2018 and on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 I received a text from an instructor at the local community college asking me if I would be willing to teach one of her classes during winter quarter.  That’s right, approximately 24 hours after technically completing my graduate work, I was offered a job teaching which is exactly what I wanted to do once I finished my education, albeit not that soon.

After a very busy and very enjoyable holiday season, I met with the social sciences department chair, Jessica Breidinger, and began preparing to teach Psychology 202, the middle quarter of introduction to Psychology.  My preparations were a bit sporadic and naive, as I really did not know what was expected of me.  My position is as an adjunct with the understanding that the full-time professor will return to teaching as soon as some medical issues are resolved.  Now, I am three weeks into this job, and today I’m tired.

Teaching twice a week at community college has been challenging for me and for my family.  Actually, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are all hectic around here since I teach Tuesday and Thursday and have Young Women’s on Wednesday night.  Thankfully, winter is the slowest time of year for Mr. Rancher and he has REALLY stepped up his home-making and parenting game.  He hurries out the door each morning to feed the cows, then does whatever other work needs doing on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday or comes home to tend kiddos and keep laundry/dishes/meals under control.  There is absolutely no way I could be teaching without his full support at home.

Teaching is…. a lot harder than I anticipated.  It’s also very fun.  I am grateful for this chance to learn how to teach effectively (nothing like hands-on learning, huh?) and to be mentored by Jessica.  I am trying to better my lectures, examples, quizzes, and classroom interactions every day and feel like this week has been better than the past two.  At the same time, I am feeling very tired by all the demands on my time right now.  I know everyone is busy, but I do feel like this job has tipped my scales of energy vs. exhaustion in favor of exhaustion.  Who knows what the future will bring, but I do think I am going to transition to online adjunct work, which will allow me to work from home and eliminate commute time, in the future.

Shoot, right now all I want to do is curl up and take a nap.  Maybe when Spring Break rolls around.

Until then, I’ll try to get pictures updated from the last two/almost three months.  Happy New Year!

Playgrounds for Farmers

My children love the park as much as the next kid, but what they don’t realize is that much of our daily life on the farm/ranch is a playground.  Our latest favorite toy is our nicely tarped silage pile.

My girls have climbed the pile of chopped corn countless times and ran or slid back down.  It’s a never ending source of fun and excitement, what with the baling twine trip-wires scattered all over the tarp.

We are very aware of the blessing it is to living our agricultural lifestyle so filled with fun, adventures, and memories.

Riggins Life (at home)

My girls and I took a nice leisurely walk–at the pace of Becca’s short legs–down our road to the stop sign and back home again.  We nearly made it to our driveway when both girls wandered into the barrow pit at commenced digging and sifting through the dirt.  My attempts to entice them back to the road and back home were largely ignored.  I found myself a nice broken piece of concrete, downloaded the latest episode of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast, and plopped down to observe the playing and catch up on some listening.

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Amid Sarah Mackenzie’s voice, I could hear snippets of my girls’ conversation.

“Becca, isn’t this just like Riggins Life?”

“Yeah.”

“Riggins Life is the best life, huh?”

“Yeah.”

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Apparently playing in the dirt is something unique to Riggins Life.  I guess we need a sandbox.

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The Ending of Graduate School

Sometimes I really worry that my children are not learning enough or receiving enough attention from me.  This past year of graduate school has been especially demanding, and increases in outside-of-the-home-obligations like storytime, Joy School, Sunday School teaching, Relief Society, and the ever growing ranch have really drained and depleted me as a wife and mother.  We have spent much more time watching TV this year, and far less time reading together, playing together, assembling puzzles, or doing something science-related.  I have changed from the kind of mom who limited screen time to one hour per day maximum and read one hour per day minimum to my children, to the kind of mom who allows a lot more than one hour per day of screens and sometimes misses a day of reading to my kids.  That’s hard for me to type!  I really have skipped days of reading anything with my children, and skipped even more days of reading anything that was not scripture with my kids.

Now, believe me, I am aware that my children are very, very young, and that there are many more days, weeks, months, and years for them to learn and become well-educated human beings.  But the reality is that my identity as a mother is one of reading aloud every day, playing with play dough (or something similar) every day, and being totally present and engaged for some period of time Every. Single. Day.  So to admit that I have not been that kind of mother for many, many days over the past year is the admittance of my own failure to live true to who I am and who I want to be.

Alas, graduate school is nearly complete.  I am eight solid pages into writing my forty page thesis and enjoying every moment of the writing/researching process.  I much prefer writing-heavy coursework than reading-heavy coursework.  Not that I don’t love reading, but I really, really love to write.  But I digress.

My point is that graduate school is almost over, and with it, the stress of splitting my attention 5 million different directions is almost over as well!  Sort of.  You see, I am no stranger to the phenomenon which occurs right when you complete a big project which has consumed hours and hours of time.  Upon completion of said project, you should now have hours and hours of free time, right?  Nope.  Not even close.  Something, somehow always sweeps in and fills that time, in a matter of moments one big project is traded in for another.  So while I am not counting on magically transforming back into Super-mom, reading hours a day from classics, baking cookies weekly, and teaching my children Latin, Spanish, and French before age five, I am thrilled to have my attention  and my precious early-morning and nap-time to use for pursuits/rejuvenation other than graduate work.

And do you want to know something utterly mind-boggling???  Not all the changes and shifts from my self-imposed Super-Mom requirements have been negative.

What?  My control-freak, self-exhausting tendencies don’t make the world go round? Ha.

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For example, my busyness has led to more independence from my girls.  Becca has learned to be quite content thumbing through picture books all by her little self.  Henley has learned to “read” books to herself and to Becca, to peel carrots, to make chocolate milk, to set the table, to tend Becca while they are playing outside, and to do about a thousand other chores around the house.  And, probably my most favorite, Ty has stepped up his game as Daddy and secondary educator in our family.  Here he is teaching Henley how to make a collage and keeping Becca entertained with some light paperwork.

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I cannot express how happy these photos make me.  I am so happy that even though Becca is not receiving the same focused attention, reading, teaching, and guiding that Henley received at that young age, she is still ridiculously advanced, precocious, and in-love with books and learning.  I am amazed at Henley’s growth since she became a big sister.  She is a very capable little girl with a wonderful imagination, deep mind, and overwhelming intensity for her passions.  IMG_6290

Most wonderful of all, Ty and I are more united in what we want from our family.  He has been incredibly supportive all throughout school, and he was the one who encouraged me to keep going when I really wanted to quit.  He has learned to read stories to the girls with all the right voices and inflections to suit their particular literary taste.  He has listened to endless soliloquies about child development, and even longer rants about stress and exhaustion.

So many things about the past two years have been very hard and very discouraging.  I have learned things about myself that I would honestly rather not know.  And I’ve learned some things which amaze and inspire me.  However, the principle lesson I have learned is that my family is full of remarkable people.

Also, I’m no Super-Mom and life is better that way.

September

September flew by this year, in a haze of canning, school, Joy School, and farming.  Here are snapshots of our life during that crazy, busy month.  I hope to never repeat the intensity it brought, but am thankful for all that was accomplished and that it is behind us now!

New Traditions: Family Home Evening

Our primary takeaway, as a family, from General Conference is that we need to hold Family Home Evening once a week.  This is not a new admonition, or better phrased invitation from the Prophet, but it is something we have struggled with and largely ignored in our home.  Still, in an effort to show our children that we follow the Prophet’s counsel (really the Lord’s counsel) both Mr. Rancher and I have tried to incorporate one evening a week of learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ and fun as a family.

Here is our first attempt at such a night.

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In preparation for FHE, I printed copies of our family mission statement, purchased red marking pencils and small spiral notebooks, and assembled the aforementioned with scriptures, regular pencils, and the framed copy of our mission statement and motto onto our kitchen table.  Ty conducted and assigned Henley to say our prayer and selected a song for us to sing.  I then jumped in with our lesson on what it means to be part of the Ty, Rachel, Henley and Becca Hawkins family and we read through and discussed our mission statement and motto.  We read a scripture in Mosiah (Book of Mormon) about families and ended with our motto (Hawkins Have Fun!), prayer, and playing outside and a movie.IMG_6244

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We’ve met for one more FHE since our first and it was a smashing success as well!  A few things I attribute our success to:

  1. Ty (the father) is totally on-board and co-operative.
  2. I (the mother) take primary responsibility for planning and teaching the lesson, with the support of Ty.
  3. Everyone has their own materials.  Becca spends FHE chewing on her pencil or ripping pages from her notebook, which I’m fine with.  So long as she sits at the table for the fifteen minutes and is quiet, I don’t care what she’s doing!
  4. We eat something very simple for dinner.  To date: ramen noodles and frozen pizza.  Both are kid-friendly, easy-peasy to make, and quick to clean up.  Mama has to have energy and pep to make FHE successful and nothing drains those faster than cooking and cleaning.
  5. We only meet for 15 minutes of formal learning.
  6. We spent a month developing our mission statement.  It is a process and doesn’t happen overnight.
  7. We admit that we are trying to form a new habit and commit to listening to the Prophet’s counsel.
  8. Everyone can contribute and all ideas are treated as valid.  Henley taught FHE this week, on the 10 commandments, and had some interesting commentary on why we shouldn’t steal…but it was her lesson and nothing she said was false doctrine so we went with what she had to say.
  9. It’s fall-time and Ty is able to be home in the evening.  No joke, FHE will be much harder in the summer.
  10. Heavenly Father is blessing us for making this offering of our time and energy to follow Him.  We don’t have it perfect yet and are still very new to this whole thing, but I know He has blessed us for our efforts thus far.

Playing in the Water 2018

We love playing in the water.  I think I said that once already, but it bears repeating.

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These two photos are from a trip up to Mundo Hotsprings in June.  We went to check a river crossing and portion of fence Mr. Rancher was building in preparation to the arrival of our cows.  We brought swimsuits and played in the shallow, warm water of the Weiser River.  Isn’t the picture of Henley amazing?!  My mother-in-law took it with her iPhone, I love how clear it is.  And I really love that mop of curly hair on one of the happiest girls I know.

The girls and I played near the shore, in the very shallow water until Ty finished his work, then we all swam/floated down the river to the dam.  We ran into a family of four otters on our way.  They were wildly entertaining to watch swim, dive, and chase each other around the river.

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These next photos are of our favorite vacation destination: the Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho.  We spent six (I think) weekends here rafting, playing in the sand, and checking out the Seven Devils.  Henley repeatedly declares that “Riggins life is the best life” and I think we all agree.IMG_6042IMG_6040IMG_6024

We finally convinced almost all my side of the family to come rafting with us!  As expected, everyone had a blast and can’t wait to come next year.  Also, they are all aware now that Mr. Rancher is NOT shy or quiet or nice like he may seem.  Once you get to know the “river Ty” you know the real Ty.  He’s fun, wild, crazy, full of energy, relentless in his teasing, and the life of the party on the rafts.IMG_6011IMG_6009IMG_6045

My girls do not go down the river on rafts yet as Henley is afraid of the big water and Becca hates wearing her life jacket for very long.  Luckily, Riggins is home to lots of sandy beaches.  They are content to stay on the beach playing with the sand and rocks for the entire day it takes to raft the river.  Grandma Hawkins helped them build this dragonfly out of the river rocks.

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Hen trying to chop wood.  Poor girl has inherited her mother’s talent for handling an ax.IMG_6171

We also ventured up to Lost Lake, on what appears to be the smokiest day of the year.  I can’t wait to go back next year, when hopefully there is not a raging wildfire in the area.  The last and surrounding scenery were beautiful and perfect for paddle boarding.

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Becca is such a champ on the paddle boards.  So long as she is with me.  She doesn’t like the water with anyone else.

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Thank goodness for Aunt Lexcie who helps with Henley or Becca whenever or wherever we need her to.IMG_6182 (1)

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We even scored some child-free time on the paddle boards!  Not a regular occurrence, nor do I want it to be, but fun every so often.IMG_6177

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General Conference October 2018

Thanks to a challenge from Carleen Tanner, we put much greater effort into our preparation for General Conference this year.  For those of you who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, General Conference happens twice a year, in April and October, and is the primary forum where the prophet, apostles, and other district leaders speak to the entire congregation of the church (really to the whole world, the broadcasts are public) regarding what the Lord wants us to be doing.  Sounds great, right?  The downside is that these proceedings last for 8-10 hours…

Small children, fairly mono-tone speeches on doctrinal topics, speckled with singing of hymns accompanied by pipe-organ music, for 8-10 hours…

Not so great.  This is a photo of our efforts last April, as you can see there are toys strewn everywhere and varying levels of concentration from all members of the family.

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This time around we put considerable more effort into preparing for Conference.  I went grocery shopping, all alone, to stock up on candy and junk food to use as brain-power and bribery and successfully secreted away my stash until the big reveal on Saturday morning.  We also clipped photos of the General Authorities from the Ensign and framed or posted them in high-traffic areas of our home.

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Okay, so Miss Becca looks absolutely miserable, but it wasn’t from the Conference preparation!  She was in the midst of cutting four teeth, a high fever, and nasty cold at the time of this photo.  She really did enjoy looking at the pictures.

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Once we had the pictures up, we went through each Prophet/Apostle individually and learned about their lives, families, work interests, and church service.  We selected one phrase to describe each one and wrote it on the whiteboard.IMG_6141

Then as each one stepped up to the pulpit, we were able to say “Oh! That’s Elder Gong, he and his wife like to paint murals with children wherever they visit!”  This tiny tidbit of information really helped us relate to the speakers and pay more attention to their words.  Henley was especially excited to see the speakers she recognized–we only studied the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, perhaps next time we’ll add in the auxiliary leaders and seventies as well.  IMG_6163

As you can also see, we had considerably fewer toys out, cluttering our floor.  I printed pages for the girls to color or take notes and cleared the white board for coloring.  Other than that and food, we kept the living room fairly free of distractions.IMG_6164IMG_6194 (1)

I am truly amazed at how restful, uplifting, and inspiring General Conference was for me and for my family.  Our preparation was truly minimal, and required only small changes to our day-to-day schedule, but it yielded wondrous results.  I am grateful for the challenge from Sister Tanner to increase my preparation to receive the words of the Lord through his Prophet.  I will continue to improve my efforts to learn and grow and create meaningful, fun, uplifting, and bonding family experiences through church programs.  Sometimes I get caught in the rut of feeling burdened by Church and the responsibilities it places on me and my family; however, if I can change my mindset and view the responsibilities as opportunities to create new traditions and have fun, then everyone enjoys the experience and learns more from it.

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Pringles are not my favorite chip, but even I can’t deny they are very fun to eat!

Becca’s Birthday

Ohhhhhh Miss Becca.  What a year it has been (technically 13.5 months) since you’ve joined our little family.  You’ve challenged me in entirely different and strikingly similar ways as your older sister.  You’ve added such an element of structure, joy, and unity to our family.  It’s been rough, at times, but also so wonderfully sweet at others.

It is fun to have at least one member of my little nuclear family that has a birthday in the summer.  Even though Miss Becca only turned one, and that is not really the funnest birthday for cousins, friends, whoever is not intimately involved with the child, we decided to invite a bunch of cousins for a fun pool/outdoor party.  Becca was overwhelmed with the sheer number of people packed into our tiny house but she enjoyed cruising around outside and watching the chaos of ten kids in a water trough pool.

She would not taste her cake, not at all.  But she did help me make the frosting and had a few licks off the spatula.  The candle was mesmerizing and she needed some help to get it blown out.  After her party, the presents were super fun, but during the fact there were too many helping hands (cousins, BIG SISTER) to really enjoy the novelty of the books and toys.

We’re pretty lucky to have such a fiesty one-year-old in our house.  She’s going to be a very strong and independent woman one day.  For now, she’s trying to be the tyrant of our family, and we’re working hard on teaching and guiding her to accommodate the other three people that live here.

We love you Becca Boo!