Graduate Nerf Wars

Nerf Wars lineup

A friendly photograph before we started shooting each other

Rachel graduated with her Bachelors degree in Child & Family Studies and Derek with his M.B.A. To celebrate we ate out, waged Nerf War, and finished with cake. So on Wednesday it was off to Cafe Rio and then to Jake and Rachel’s basement.

We divided into two teams with total annihilation of the opposing team the goal. A player was considered killed when he or she was hit in the head with a Nerf bullet. Each team had LED rings in their team color for identification.

I spent most of my time as a Nerf War correspondent, taking photographs on the front lines. Yes, it was a war out there…

Nerf Wars - Adelaide


Nerf Wars - Aurora


Nerf Wars - Dan


Nerf Wars - Derek


Nerf Wars - Jake


Nerf Wars - Jill


Nerf Wars - Megan


Nerf Wars - Paul


Nerf Wars - Rachel


Nerf Wars - Steven


Graduates Rachel and Derek

In the end we all ate a Congratulations Grads cake

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Past Pictures: 25 Years Of House Anniversaries

1st year anniversay

1987: 1st year house anniversary. Only four children

Each year in October, on the anniversary of the day we moved into our home, we take photographs of our family on the steps and just the children in front of our tree. Jill’s idea was to build up a collection of photographs to look back on.

4th year anniversary

1990: 4th year house anniversary. Daniel born in 1989

On this the 25th house anniversary year, we collected as many of the photographs as we could find and display here one for each year. Some are temporarily misplaced, so there are gaps in the record. However, we expect to find the missing years eventually.

5th year anniversary

1991: 5th year house anniversary

On the first house anniversary, Jill wrote:

We had a birthday party celebrating the day we moved into our home. Sarah brought the puzzle home from church so we put it together. Steven made the decorations. We all gave a present to the house by picking up all the garbage scattered around outside. Then we took some family pictures on the front porch. Inside we sang “Happy Birthday Dear Home” and celebrated with cake and ice cream.

6th year anniversary

1993: 7th year house anniversary. Using our tree as a backdrop

1987 Journal entry:

Monday 26th October 1987
We had a very fine FHE — the 1st birthday of our home. We even had a cake with one candle for refreshments. We took 2 photos of the family outside the house. The actual birthday is the 15th of October. Jill did the lesson — seems like Jill and I at one time were hard-pressed to come up with a lesson and didn’t like to do it. Now we both don’t like to give up our turn because we see it as a chance to teach the children something that we’re anxious for them to learn. We still have family prayers and read books to them. They like that.

9th year anniversary

1995: 9th year house anniversary. Sunday best

10th year anniversary

1996: 10th year house anniversary. Utah Centennial

11th year anniversary

1997: 11th year house anniversary

12th year anniversary

1998: 12th year house anniversary. Steven made his first million

13th year anniversary

1999: 13th year house anniversary. Cousins Connor and Ashley join in

14th year anniversary

2000: 14th year house anniversary. Five millennials for the new millenium

15th year anniversary

2001: 15th year anniversary. First year using a digital camera

16th year anniversary

2002: 16th year house anniversary. Steven is on his mission in Chile

17th year anniversary

2003: 17th year anniversary. Steven on his mission

18th year anniversary

2004: 18th year house anniversary. Steven returns. Paul on his mission in California

19th year anniversary

2005: 19th year anniversary. Paul on his mission. Derek, Sarah’s husband, center

20th year anniversary

2006: 20th year house anniversary. Paul returns. Jake on his mission in Mexico

21st year anniversary

2007: 21st year house anniversary. Jake on his mission

22nd year anniversary

2008: 22nd year house anniversary. Jake returns. Adelaide, Steven’s wife, far left. First grandchild, Bryson

23rd year anniversary

2009: 23rd year anniversary. Daniel on his mission in Mongolia. First granddaughter, Aurora. Sarah’s family in Texas

24th year anniversary

2010: 24th year house anniversary. Daniel on his mission. Second granddaughter, Cassandra. Jake engaged to Rachel. Sarah’s family returns

25th year anniversary

2011: 25th year house anniversary. Daniel returns. Paul engaged to Megan

2012: 26th year house anniversary. Second grandson, Jameson. Just prior to trick-or-treating.


Added 2012 photograph.

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Kamdyn Ross Brown


Today we had a barbeque at Ty and Alex’s home in honor of Kamdyn Ross Brown. There was plenty of good food and lots of family showed up. The highlight of the evening was the releasing of the blue balloons up to Kamdyn in heaven. It appeared that it might rain but as you can see in the video the weather cleared in time for the balloons to rise high in the sky.
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North Fork Park

North Fork Park camp

North Fork Park campsite

I believe this is the first time that Jill and I have been camping with all our grown children at the same time. Plus their spouses were with us as well as all three of our grandchildren. We did not go far, just to North Fork Park.

North Fork Park Bryson and Aurora

Bryson and Aurora enjoy giant marshmallows

North Fork Park Cassandra


Our children’s spouses are fun to be around. Jill and I are glad that they are a part of our family.

North Fork Park Derek


North Fork Park Rachel


North Fork Park Adelaide


The sunglasses that Adelaide is wearing remind me of the ones Jill wore back in the early 1980s.

For cooking, we had Derek’s smoker, which provided us with some great chicken. Sarah cooked our evening meal using dutch ovens. The campfire was used to roast marshmallows and a homemade cooker, made from a 12 ounce can, carboard, and candle wax, was utilized to cook our bacon and eggs for breakfast.

North Fork Park Derek and smoked chicken

Derek attending to his smoked chicken. Mmm...tasty

North Fork Park dinner

Dinner, clockwise from left: Paul, Megan, Jake, Rachel, Dan, Steven, Aurora, Adelaide, Cassandra, Rick

North Fork Park Dan

Dan: Marshmallow, anyone?

For entertainment we visited around the campfire, played with grandchildren, and identified the stars using Google Sky. There was also…

North Fork Park moose

moose watching...

North Fork Park Dan playing guitar


North Fork Park Jake and Cassandra

Jake making faces at Cassandra...

North Fork Park Jill and Cassandra

and smoke avoidance

The moose were just hanging around the campground.

Sleeping was uneventful except for Jake eating too much dinner and bursting his sleeping mat. And lastly, the mandatory group photograph, click for a 4000×3000 version.

North Fork Park Jake

We heard a loud bang late last night. It was just Jake and his exploding mat.

North Fork Park group photo

Rear: Jake, Paul, Dan, Steve, Derek, Rick. Front: Jill, Aurora, Rachel, Megan, Bryson, Cassandra, Ada, Sarah

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The Best Easter

Target practice rifle Mark

Mark with a Robinson Armament Company XCR

Last Easter weekend the family gathered west of the Golden Spike. Instead of a silly Easter egg hunt we fired a variety of weapons for several hours. We also had three ATVs, a bicycle, and even a few kites. The weather was not too hot and the rain stayed away. We had a great lunch. It was The Best Easter yet.



Target practice rifle Jake




Target practice pistol Susan


Target practice pistol Randy


Target practice pistol Megan


Target practice pistol Jake



Target practice atv Megan and Paul

Paul and Megan

Target practice atv Dan


Target practice atv Rachel and Jake

Rachel and Jake

The Children

Target practice hill Jake and Dan

The children, Jake and Dan, scrambled around on the hills when the range was closed

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The Watchtower

Grand Canyon Watchtower view

The Watchtower has an internal steel framework designed by the bridge builders of the Santa Fe Railway

When I first saw the Grand Canyon Watchtower I thought it to be an ancient structure that had been restored. But no, the Watchtower was constructed in 1932 and opened in May 1933. Architect Mary Colter designed the tower and took care of every detail, even down to the placement of most of the stones, leaving weathered faces untouched to add to the ancient appearance of the tower. She said:

“First and most important, was to design a building that would become part of its surroundings; one that would create no discordant note against the time eroded walls of this promontory.”

The 70-foot Watchtower, a National Historic Landmark, is located at Desert View, the eastern-most developed area on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The design takes its influences from the architecture of the ancestral Puebloan people. There is a gift store, with the upper floors utilized as observation decks for views of the canyon and the Painted Desert.

Grand Canyon Watchtower trees

The top floor of the tower is without decoration which might detract from the beautiful panoramic views of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Watchtower and Colorado River

From the Watchtower is a magnificent view of the Colorado River

Desert View, named after the views to the east of the Painted Desert, has a grand view of the Colorado River, the North Rim can been seen more than 10 miles away, and a on a clear day a panoramic view is visible for over 100 miles.
Grand Canyon Watchtower mural

The first gallery, on the first landing, was done by Fred Kabotie, a Hopi from second Mesa

Grand Canyon Watchtower paintingGrand Canyon Watchtower artGrand Canyon Watchtower

Watchtower Family Photographs

Click on the links to view the family pictures shot at the Watchtower.

  • Jake on the top floor
  • Paul outside the Watchtower
  • Jill on the deck of the Watchtower


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The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon with Phantom Ranch

The Grand Canyon with Phantom Ranch center right

On our return to Utah from the Mesa Easter Pageant, we stopped at the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is 277 river miles long, is up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. It tells of geological processes in a unique combination of size, color, and dazzling erosional forms. There is a fascinating variety of plants and animals, from the desert next to the Colorado River deep in the canyon to the forests atop its North Rim.

The Making Of The Grand Canyon

The Colorado River flowed across the Colorado Plateau on its way from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. Each rain washed sparsely vegetated desert soils into the river.

A steep gradient and heavy sediment loads created a powerful tool for erosion. The river’s volume varied seasonally and over time. As the last ice age ended, the flow may have been 10 times today’s volume.

As the river cuts down, the canyon deepens. Tributaries erode into the canyon’s sides, increasing its width. Erosion carves faster into the softer rock layers, undermining harder layers above. With no foundation these layers collapse, forming the cliffs and slopes profile of the canyon. Erosion wears away the ridges separating adjacent side canyons, leaving buttes and pinnacles.

Grand Canyon

Revealed strata preserve a lengthy, although incomplete, record of Earth's history

Grand Canyon Vista with Phantom Ranch and Kaibab_Bridge

Grand Canyon Vista with Phantom Ranch and Kaibab_Bridge

Grand Canyon Kaibab Bridge

Grand Canyon Kaibab Bridge

Grand Canyon visitors

Grand Canyon visitors enjoying the magnificence of their surroundings

Jill at the Grand Canyon

Jill at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Colorado River from the South Rim

Grand Canyon Colorado River from the South Rim

Bright Angel Trail

The most popular trail into the canyon begins west of the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim. The trailhead elevation is 6,785 feet and descends 4,380 feet to the Colorado River. The Bright Angel Trail offers wonderful views all along the trail. It has an average grade of 10% along its entire length. At trail’s end, the River Trail continues another 2 miles to the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch.

Hazards hikers can encounter along the Bright Angel Trail include dehydration, sudden rainstorms, flash flooding, loose footing, bootpacked ice, rockfall, encounters with wildlife, and extreme heat. At the Colorado River, additional hazards include hypothermia (due to the river’s consistently cold temperatures), trauma (due to collisions with boulders in rapids), and drowning.

We decided to walk for just a half-hour down the trail.

Grand Canyon group shot

Along the Bright Angel Trail: Jill, Bryson, Paul, Sarah, Derek, Jake, and Rick

Bright Angel Trail

Along the Bright Angel Trail: Derek carrying Bryson, Sarah, Jill, and Paul

Jill on the Bright Angel Trail

The end, or the beginning, of the Bright Angel Trail

Jill pausing for a photograph on the Bright Angel Trail

Jill pausing for a photograph on the Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Family Photographs

Click on the links to view the family pictures shot at the Grand Canyon.

Colorado River from the South Rim of the The Grand Canyon

Colorado River from the South Rim of the the Grand Canyon


  • National Park Service Grand Canyon brochure
  • National Park Service Grand Canyon Guide & Maps
  • Wikipedia Bright Angel Trail

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Mesa Easter Pageant – Jesus The Christ

Mesa Easter Pageant palms for Jesus

Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. (John 12:13)

Last Thursday evening found my family enjoying the Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant, one of the world’s largest annual outdoor Easter pageants. In Jesus the Christ the story is told of the Savior’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection through speech, music, dance, and drama. The pageant is not a passion play focusing on the crucifixion but rather a celebration of the resurrection of the Savior.

Mesa Easter Pageant our family in our seats

At the pageant: Jill, Rick, Paul, Jake, Sarah, Bryson, Derek

Pageant History

The Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant, from its beginnings as a sunrise performance on the back of a cotton wagon in 1928, has grown into a full-scale theatrical production involving nearly 1,000 cast and crew and a 9,600-square-foot stage. The presentation was not held during some of the war years but has been held every year since.

Mesa Easter Pageant and the temple

The pageant is performed on the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center grounds

Mesa Easter Pageant Paul by the temple

Paul by the Mesa Arizona Temple

According to the official website, the pageant is appropriate for children:

It is very colorful and fast-moving. There are beautiful scenes showing Jesus teaching and healing children, as well as scenes which use animals such as sheep, miniature horses, doves, and a donkey. The betrayal, scourging, and crucifixion of Christ are portrayed, but these scenes are presented as tastefully as possible. Although children of all ages are permitted to attend, children under the age of 3 years may not be able to see as well and may be uncomfortable in the chilly weather.

Our grandson Bryson is 2 1/2 and did not watch the pageant for long. He had to be taken from the seating area so he wouldn’t disturb the people sitting near us. We noticed that some of the parents of other very young children had to do the same thing.

Mesa Easter Pageant before the performance

View from the side of the stage towards the audience

Cast members were available for photographs before and after the pageant, in the audience or in the Visitors’ Center. We were allowed to use our own cameras. However, during the performance no flash photography or video photography is permitted. One could presumably take photographs of the performance without using a flash but I didn’t try this — I just relaxed and enjoyed the presentation.

Pageant Costumes

Mesa Easter Pageant father and son shepherds

Father and son shepherds

The costumes are beautiful. I was impressed at the variety, color, and quality. I learned that a 20-person costume staff works year round to research Biblical costumes, create, design, and sew them. No costumes are rented; they are all constructed by pageant volunteers. Most of the fabric is donated (some even coming from Saudi Arabia and Israel). Great care is taken to make sure the costumes are historically correct.
Mesa Easter Pageant cast members
During Biblical times, cultures from throughout the Mid-Eastern World, and as far away as Africa, gathered in Jerusalem — making it a very eclectic gathering place of native costumes of all colors and designs. Of course, the pastoral people dressed more humbly in color, fabric and style. The only scene in the pageant with which is taken creative license for outdoor theatrical costuming is the Dance of the Ten Virgins’ Parable.

Mesa Easter Pageant ten virgins

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. (Matthew 25:1)

The Romans

The Emperor of Rome, with the title Augustus Caesar, confirmed Herod as king of the Jews. Herod owed allegiance to Rome, but was free to do what he wanted within Israel.

Rome ruled all of the known world. Rome was not at war but were prepared for it. Roman soldiers were professionals who had enlisted for 25 years. They were armed with heavy javelins, called pila, and short swords of 24 inches long. They wore helmets and chainmail shirts and they carried large curved wooden shields.

Mesa Easter Pageant Bryson with a Roman soldier

Bryson listens to instructions from a passing Roman soldier

At the time of Jesus Roman soldiers would have been found only around Caesarea Maratima where the Roman procurator lived. They would have been called into use when the great festivals were being celebrated in Jerusalem to prevent uprisings, or they would be needed in the execution of criminals by crucifixion.

Living under Roman rule had some advantages. Generally they allowed freedom of religion and did not interfere with the religious practices of the people they governed. The governors of provinces built temples to their own gods, where sacrifices were conducted daily. But it was the Roman method of taxation that most stung. Provinces had to pay taxes. An amount was estimated and the country split up into tax districts. As Rome had no civil service, taxes were collected by private syndicates who made a large profit by over collecting. Taxes on goods were very high. Not surprisingly, tax collectors were despised. (The Romans in Israel)

Mesa Easter Pageant Jill with a Roman soldier

A Roman soldier, on his way to a scourging (note the flagrum), obligingly let me take this photograph

Attending The Pageant

The pageant is free and runs 65 minutes. No tickets or reservations are necessary, but space fills up quickly, with more than 100,000 people attending over the nine days. Nightly audiences range from about 4,000 to 12,000 people. On the evening we attended it was easy to find good seats but during the second week of performances the seats fill very quickly and I would recommend arriving at least two hours early. See Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant for more details.

Pageant Scenes

Mesa Easter Pageant Jesus and parents

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

Mesa Easter Pageant Jesus before the teachers

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. (Luke 2:46)

Mesa Easter Pageant Christ resurrected

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. (Matthew 28:6)

Photo Credit The five scenes from the performance: Mesa Easter Pageant Now on Stage
Watch a Video Mesa Easter Pageant Teaches of Christ

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Happy New Year!

Practicing For The New Year

Happy New Year from Kaysville, Utah

Happy New Year!
New Year Group Photograph

Happy New Year!

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