Sunday, May 20, 2007

Satuday was a very special day in the Hemphill family. Brandi, our niece, is now a graduate from Chapman University with a Master of Arts in Education! Of course, Brandi has been working full time as a school teacher while pursuing this goal, so she has been a very busy professional. We admire her commitment to her education. Brandi's sister, Tootie, is also on the path to higher education, as she is currently finishing her sophomore year at UCLA. Jerry & Donna have done a fantastic job raising two very bright and wonderful young ladies.

After graduation, Brandi's family and friends gathered at Benihana's for a wonderful time and great food! Brandi, we wish you the very best in life, and we know that you will continue to go farther than even your own expectations!

Love,

Uncle Gary & Aunt Kelly

Click Here to see all of the graduation photos

She really did it!
Graduate Brandi with her very proud Uncle Gary!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

To celebrate Mother's Day, Kelly and I took her mother camping. This is something she has wanted to do for some time but, until now, has been unable due to health reasons.

Early Friday afternoon, we packed up the trailer and made our way to Canyon RV Park (just 30 minutes from home). Stephanie and Isabelle hitched a ride with us, while Kelly's parents, Don and Marie, made the trip later in the day. Our niece, Alisyn came with Don & Maire. This was Alisyn's first time camping, and I think she had a great time.

Stephanie was really looking forward to the trip, and Isabelle was so excited to "go camping" although she had no clue what camping is. We had great meals, ventured out on long walks, took Isabelle to the playground, went swimming, and Alisyn and I hiked into the burned out areas. Oh yeah, the ladies competed in miniature raft building. The building part was pretty easy, a little bamboo, some dental floss or yarn and they all thought themselves ship builders. The launching of their mini rafts proved to be more challenging. I think three got hungup in the brush, two crashed on the rocks, and two made it safely through the rapids. We ended our last night with some board games under the latern light.

This was such a fun weekend, and so close to home that Kelly's parents could share it with us!

Happy Mother's Day!!!
While Kelly and I maintained residency in our trailer, the rest of the gang called these small cabins home. Although small, these cabins were very comfy. Marie said the cabin reminded her of growing up in Ohio, except that she did not have to go outside to use the restroom!
It's not all about hiking and barbecues, because there is always time to blow bubbles!
This photo of a California Scrub-Jay was taken from my chair next to our trailer. A few bread crumbs, and we had many visitors to our camp! Humming birds, ducks, scrub-jays, and a really beautiful yellow bird (which I need to look up in my bird book).
The campground has two wonderful playgrounds for the kids. Here we have Isabelle enjoying her turn on the tire swing.

Just four days before leaving on our weekend getaway, Caltrans workers accidentally started a fire near our destination campground. The fire burned for two days and took over 100 firefighters to control. This view is but a short hike from our camp spot. Even with all the burn damage, much of the campground was spared, and therefore very enjoyable.
Even with the burned areas looking pretty desolate there were still signs of life. I suspect the lack of vegetation makes finding dinner a bit easier for this hawk.

Click Here to see all of the photos from this trip.
It has been 18 years since my mother passed on, and almost 10 years for my dad, but they are still very much in my heart. I confess that time has numbed much of the pain of separation, but it is truly never gone. On holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Mother's Day, I reflect back on how much of a great influence these two wonderful people were (and still are) in my life. Did I always follow their advice, most definately not. However, looking back, if I had paid closer attention to the wisdom they offered as parents, there would be fewer rough roads in my life.

I remember my mother, Gladys, as the "Leave It To Beaver" mom. She took so much pride in making a good home for the family. Spotlessly clean home, great homemade meals, and dressed as if everyday was a special occasion. These are just a few of the traits I remember vividly. Mom was such a great cook. The three of us kids still continue to make many of her special meals.

Of course there were times I tried mom's patience. We had a tradition in our family that on our birthday mom would fix the meal of our choice. So when it came to my 7th birthday mom asked that all too famiar question, "what do you want for your birthday dinner?" I will never forget the tempestuous look she gave me when I said, "a turkey dinner!" In spite of my over zealous meal choice, mom fixed a most wonderful turkey dinner.

I really miss mom a lot, but so much of her rubbed off on to me, and for that I am forever grateful. Did mom and dad have their faults, of course they did, but I never saw them as a kid. They held us together and gave us a chance to make it in this world. It was not until I became a parent, and now a grandparent, that I realized parents aren't perfect, you just do the best you can, and mom - you did your best!

We were a modest family, but Mom & Dad did their best to make us comfortable. We had a great home, private schools, great meals, vacations, and my favorite, ice cream night at Savons. Christmas was filled with tradition, and family always came first.

I miss you mom, and I will love you forever!

Note: A special thank you to my sister Joyce who has taken on the enormous job of scanning in all of my parents photo slides, so that we can all enjoy a piece of our history. Joyce, these are so fantastic! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are the best!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Please take my latest pole. These are just for fun!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This morning, I got up early and photographed a softball game, then Kelly and I took Isabelle to buy a present (spoil, spoil, spoil), and our final stop was at the duck park. Isabelle just loves to feed the baby ducks. The weather was great, and we had fun watching the people and the animals.
Feeding the baby ducks. Isabelle was watching the other kids too. This is such a great park to sit in the shade and just watch the people.
All done feeding the ducks and visiting the turtles, and it's time to head back to Papa's house to ride my new bike.

Isabelle

Click Here to see all of the park pictures.