Sunday, December 21, 2014

Grandparenting: It’s what we were born to do!

Grandparenting: It’s what we were born to do!

I love being a father! Of course, being a father to two delightful children—Anna Rose and Hailey—was a fairly easy task. 
Hailey, Joanne, and Anna Rose
They were exceptional young women who grew up and became even more incredible adults, each with her own skill sets and abilities. Joanne and I still just sit back and wonder how they turned out so well.

Now, they each have two children, one girl and one boy for each of them. This past year, we have been able to spend a bit of time with our four grandchildren and have enjoyed ourselves immensely. We discovered anew that being grandparents is what we were born to do.

Emiline and William helped me plant the garden at Anna Rose’s house. We had a great harvest, too.
Emiline and William at Easter time
We had a delightful Easter with all of them, excluding our newest who wasn’t born yet. We BBQ’ed at Anna Rose’s house and had some pictures taken.
The Hammon Family sans Avonlea
We went to Rigby, Idaho, to attend Mother Boltz's funeral. We stayed with Delaina and walked up the road. Both Emiline and William saw things they had never seen before.
Emiline with a baby mule
Clark and I went to the BYU museum and looked at some of the exhibits.
Grandpa Hammon and Clark
Emiline, William, and I went on a few hikes up the road and back. Of course, we stopped every now and then to look at the birds, a twig on the side of the road, a pine cone that had fallen from one of the trees, grapes that grew on some vines along one of the neighbor’s fence line, and a variety of other things.
Anna Rose, Clark, Emiline, William, and Joanne on a walk down the Clark Highway
When we moved to our new house, the three of them have been over to swing on the swings and slide down the slide. One day, Emiline came over and said, “Did the swings miss me?” My answer was swift, “They miss you every day.”
We were able to have Thanksgiving dinner with Anna Rose and her family.
Anna Rose, Christiaan, Emiline, and William
Then we flew on Friday to Hailey’s house and spent the weekend with them. 

We finally met our newest granddaughter—little sweet Avonlea—and spent some time with her big brother Clark. We even blessed little Avonlea in their branch—first baby to be blessed there in eight years. So, you know who’s the hit of the parade every Sunday morning.

Avonlea in her blessing dress.
Emiline and I were able to spend a sick day together earlier this fall. It touched my heart that Emiline said to me, “I love you so much, Grandpa.” Of course, this softy had tears in his eyes.

We’ve been to Emiline’s Christmas program at her school.
Emiline with Santa at her Christmas program
Plus, we have many, many experiences with these four little grandchildren. We love them very much.
Clark and Grandpa: the Dudes
I have always loved children, and children seem to like me. Perhaps, it’s because I look like some big oaf to them. There is something about grandchildren, though, something that is almost inexplicable. It seems there is an instant bond. When I met each of our grandchildren for the first time, I instantly felt they were a part of me and had been from the pre-existence. 
Clark and William at the sand dunes in Delta, Utah.
Just recently, when I took Avonlea in my arms for the first time, I literally felt the connection—a zing! We were one.
Grandpa and Avonlea, blessing day
Grandchildren are truly gifts from our Heavenly Father to enjoy and feel comfort and peace from them.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

4th Grade Art: A Tribute to My Mother

4th Grade Art: A Tribute to My Mother
Darrel L. Hammon

Yesterday, when I was going through a box of things we kept, I found a stapled group of drawings, most of them colored, that I must have given to my mother in 1967 when I was in fourth grade. I loved fourth grade. My teacher was Mrs. Jeppsen. She was tough and expected a ton from her students. For me, it sparked a light inside of me to do the best I could. Denece Miller and I used to vie for the top multiplication tables class champ. Some time in 4th grade, I must have done some drawings and art because, lo and behold, there were, all stapled together in a bundle with a big yellow tulip on the front. I suspect I didn’t draw it; it’s too perfect, but it looks like it did color it and even tried do a bit of shading.

Next came a poem titled, “Mother’s Ways.” I didn’t know where it actually came from. I did Google it and found it in a digitized copy of The Judge, Vol. 63 ( The sad part to this point is its direct references to death: “Don’t wait till after while…” and “Before she goes away."
A little sheet was stuck inside. It was a bunch of swirly lines in a snake-like method. I used various colors to make the lines.
Swirly lines

My girls have always wondered why I like to draw flowers in pots or in vases on every letter or card I sent to them. Well, here is origin to my fetish with flowers in pots or vases. Here is a very big pot with little tulips, red, orange, white, yellow, and purple. I remember learning that by writing a W and then drawing a half circle from the top of the first line in W around to the last point on the W, I could make a tulip, and poof: tulips. 
Blue pot with five tulips

I am sure if a psychologist had come to our class to analyze our pictures of the following, they probably would have diagnosed us with something serious. I titled this one "Two woman showing off their babies." I suspect it was our ink blot test.
Two women showing off their babies.

The Candle. In actuality, it is a cut-out version of a candle that I must have cut out from a drawing Mrs. Jeppsen gave us. I just colored it. When I saw the candle itself, I was pretty impressed. I had used a heavy dose of white with streaks of pink, purple, and gray.
The candle with black base

I had no idea what this one was until my cousin Colleen Hammon Poole from my Uncle Glen and Uncle Ethel's family clued me in when she saw it on Facebook. It appears that the spine is actually my name with its mirror image written in cursive. Go figure! I then took the cut-out piece of my name and placed it on a red piece of construction paper.

Does anyone remember doing this design? You took the paper with squares on it and then began coloring to create some sort of design. I loved doing type of thing.

This picture is an eclectic combination of what appears to palm trees, with a huge table, trying to hold up the sky full of stars. The little stick people and that cool looking dog—maybe my Mother’s dog named Trixie—are interesting. I have attempted to analyze this drawing, but it stumps me. I suspect that my 4th grade brain knew what it was--or at least I hope so.
Palms and stars

Ah….the ubiquitous bowl of fruit and vegetables. I think I got the colors right. I can recognize an apple (or is that a tomato?), a lemon, an orange, and a yellow squash. Dad loved to slice them and then dip them in egg batter, dip them again in flower, and then fry them. Who knows what the green thing is!? Perhaps, it is a pepper.
Bowl of fruit and vegetables

The big red flower is a poinsettia, I’m sure. I don’t think I drew this. As I look closer, I think someone else drew it, and I just colored it with big strokes of red. I have actually seen these in real life when Joanne and I were serving in the Dominican Republic and went on an excursion to the mountains of Jarabacoa.

I love playing army men, and this looks like one of our forts, replete with a big house where we had lunch and played games, our individual brown huts, and a huge fence that circle the fort with one gate. Note the army guys walking the yellow brick road. (I just hoped the flying monkeys didn't come.)
The Fort

I was intrigue by my underwater scene with lots of different seal life. The orange shark is definitely something drawn in. Who has ever seen an orange shark? Don’t you love all of those red jellyfish and their cousin who is orange and blue, the precursor to a Boise State fan, I suspect.

Then, there’s the black boat. If you look really close, I have named her “The Whaler.” I don’t remember reading Moby Dick in 4th grade. Check out the birds in the sky. I learned probably in 2nd grade that if you just made a cool-looking V, with one side of the V, shorter than the other, you instantly had a little bird.

I love the big black kettle and the 4th grade try at shading. Its handles are not uniform either, but I like that it has a top with a little spout of some sort.

The last colored drawing in my repertoire of 4th art is a large purple sack although it could be a fat vase with some drawings on it. I think, though, when I look close on this one, it must be a sack of some sort. Note the horizontal lines with slanted vertical lines drawn. I think those two marks depict oldness where someone had to sew the sack together. Also, note the draw string around the top. I placed the purple sack on a piece of black construction paper to capture the overwhelming purpleness of it all.
The sack!

All these eclectic pieces were stapled together with five stables in a non-uniform way, but they have held their prized possessions since 1967. A bit of knot rises in my throat to think my mother had saved this as one of her cherished possessions. I am glad she did. If I really squint and furrow my brow, I remember bits and pieces of doing the coloring. But I definitely remember Mrs. Jeppsen, and her pushing us to do better. 
Note the staples

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hanging Out with a Sick Kindergartener, Coloring, and Counting in Spanish: A Grandfather’s Way of Spending a Day

Hanging Out with a Sick Kindergartener, Coloring, and Counting in Spanish: A Grandfather’s Way of Spending a Day

There are times when you get a taste of potential retirement and incredible remembrances from the past. Today was one of those days.
Anna Rose, our daughter, called last night and said her daughter Emiline was not feeling well and wondered if one of us could stay with her the next day. Joanne talked to her first and said she couldn’t do it. Once I arrived home from my pottery class (more on that in a different blog), I decided I could take a day and stay with my little sweetheart Emiline.

Emiline this summer
I arrived around 8:00 a.m. Anna Rose hadn’t left, primarily because William was still in his PJs and eating breakfast. I asked him if he wanted to stay with Grandpa and Emiline. He said he wanted to go to school, but he wanted me to take him in my car. Anna Rose just laughed. Soon, they were off.

That left just Emiline and me. Once she finished her bath and dressed, we began her homework. Because her illness, she has missed a bunch of school. We completed five assignments. I was so impressed with what Emiline did, I thought I would pen a few words about her homework and how much she loves doing it.

Beginning the assignments
First of all, Emiline goes to kindergarten at a place called the Dancing Moose in the Draper area. It is a private school that is very close to Cricut, where Anna Rose works. From what Anna Rose tells me, her teachers are amazing and teach the children a great deal.

The first assignment we did was about weights. We had to choose two objects and determine which one was the heaviest. Emiline hefted a couple pieces of pottery. She knew instantly which one was the heaviest. Then, we tried a couple of other objects. We closed the assignment with me giving Emiline one of her shoes and one of her dad’s shoes. Before giving them to her, I asked, “So, which one do you think will be the heaviest?” She just looked at me with those “You-realize-I’m-in-kindergarten-already-right?” looks.

Which is heavier?

Next on the list was cutting out shapes: circles, rectangles, squares, and triangles. Then, we were supposed to created “things” from them. This looked fun enough that I decided to try cutting out the same shapes.

Making shapes
Once finished, Emiline and created a rocket car,

Rocket car
an ice cream cone,

ice cream cone

a house, 

Emiline's house
 and a hotel—Emiline’s creation. She colored all of the shapes and had a great time with this assignment. I did, too.


The third assignment was “Guess the Word.” I had to create a list of words so she could blend the sounds together and then read the word. I created a list with words like b/i/g….d/i/g…..p/a/n….m/a/n…b/e/t and so forth. She was able to blend all of them perfectly. Then, I challenged her with words like s/o/c/k, s/h/i/r/t, and r/o/c/k. Perfect again! Okay, I thought, all short vowels. Let’s see what she can do with long vowels. She didn’t know those yet. But once I showed how they sound, she got it. So, the words n/o/s/e, m/a/k/e, and c/a/k/e became no problems. She is sharp.

The word list

One of the most interesting assignments was called “Counting Pennies.” She had to find some pennies. Well, that was an easy task. She just went to her piggy bank and took out some money. She then sorted through and snagged all of the pennies. Her job was to place them in groups of ten and then count the groups of 10. She had no problem with that. On her third stack, she began in Spanish, “uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve…diez.” She counted that stack in Spanish. Impressive!

Once she congregated six stacks with ten pennies in each stack, I asked her how many she had.  She looked at me puzzled. Then, I pointed to the first stack and said, “Ten.” Next stack, “twenty.” She caught on, and then counted the rest, “thirty, forty, fifty, sixty.” Once finished with English, I taught her how to do it in Spanish. She caught on.

Stacks of pennies--ten in a stack

On her last assignment that we did together, she had a writing assignment and was able to choose from a list of eight items, from writing/drawing about school events to creating a card to free writing. She chose to make” a special card for someone you care about.” Well, for her that was easy: She chose her mother. We walked downstairs and picked up the supplies. She worked diligently on her card, and it turned out beautifully. She asked me to help her with the words. She told me the word, and I spelled it out for her. There were some, she said, “I know how to spell that.” 

Thank you card to her Mom

 And she did—and off she went writing everything down.

Inside of the card

Five tasks tried and five tasks complete. But she wasn’t done. She said, “Now, I want to write a book.” So, we gathered up the supplies, including a glue stick—where were glue sticks when I was a kid? Then, by herself, she created a book, complete with six pages, including the inside jackets. 

Heartland--the book
The title of her book was Heartland. She asked me to how spell a variety of words, but she completed all of it, complete with stickers, a title on the outside, name of the author—Emiline—drawings, and narrative. She even asked for paper so she could make the insides, and she knew how to glue them together. I never helped her once on the construction of her Heartland book.

All this came from a first semester kindergartener. Now, at this point, I should interject and confess that I never went to kindergarten, but I did go to first grade and did extremely well. But here was a kindergartener blowing me away with what she was doing.

Emiline hard at work
My hats off to the Dancing Moose Montessori School and its teachers who are doing an incredible job. Amazingly, though, Emiline kinda came this way, packaged with the right learning skill sets. Her mother has spent an inordinate amount of time with her in teaching this and that.

Having said all that, I was still impressed, especially with the word blending and her writing her own book. Oh, yeah, counting in Spanish was spectacular, too!

After all this we had lunch: apples, grapes, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, chips, and salsa. Not healthy right? One we slurped down lunch, she had two choices: 1) have the eye drops in eyes, and then watch a movie or 2) no eye drops and immediately to a nap.  She chose the former….She wanted to watch How to Train Your Dragon II. Very cute movie!

Around 4:15 p.m., her dad came home from work. We gave each other a hug and off I went, much wiser than before.

It is important for grandfathers to spend time with their grandchildren, primarily to remember the mothers of these children and the great times we used to have writing, reading great books together, rocking in the old blue rocker, going on daddy daughter dates, working in the garden, coloring, etc. It seems so long ago when these things happened; yet, when you are with grandchildren, those thoughts and remembrances  seem to emerge from the mists of the past and become vivid in the brilliant rays of the current day. 

Overall, we had an incredible day together. She is such a sweet little girl, full of vibrancy and intelligence. Heavenly Father has definitely saved the best for last. And I believe they know that…..

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Capitol Reef Field Station: Utah Valley University's Connection to Nature

Darrel L. Hammon

 Capitol Reef National Park—Joanne and I experienced a marvelous day on Saturday, November 8, 2014, spending time at Utah Valley University’s (UVU) Capitol Reef Field Station, located strategically within Capitol Reef National Park, an incredible landscape of anciently formed rocks and unique landscapes. 

Just below the Field Station, runs Pleasant Creek, that, according to the record, “breaks free of its narrow canyon walls upstream from the Capitol Reef Field Station and before it cuts through the Waterpocket Fold downstream, it nourishes a small oasis of tall grasses, wildflowers, shady cottonwoods, and aromatic sagebrush. Pleasant Creek has been a sanctuary for a very long time” (

Utah Valley University, the Park Service, a host of professors, donors, and congressmen joined forces and created the Capitol Reef Field Station, a collaborative partnership between the Capitol Reef Park Service and UVU. The Capitol Reef Field Station’s mission, “in partnership with Capitol Reef National Park, promotes and supports engaged learning, research, scholarly, and creative activities, and environmental ethics through the exploration of the Colorado Plateau” (See (

The purpose of our visit was to attend an open house for UVU faculty and staff. Part of the open house was a tour of the facility and ultimately a hike to discover the wonders of the surrounding area. It wasn’t a strenuous hike, but one filled with incredible sights and insights into the history of the former ranch. I don’t pretend to know all of the geology or history.  My fascination with the places was the incredible landscapes and unforgettable natural ecosystem that hasn’t changed much over the years.

The trail was narrow through the canyon with impressive walls of rocks to our right going up and a flat meadow-like opening that lead to another series of large rock formations where Pleasant Creek gurgled its way out of the canyon. Darrell, our guide, told to stay on the trail because of the various flora and fauna that abounded in the stark surroundings. While it seemed like there were lots of sand, rocks, and trees, other “beings” surrounded us. Lizards, various kinds of ants, other bichos, birds, and organisms whose names I cannot even pronounce reside along the sides of the trail and beyond. Literally, it was dream world where biologists, geologists, and naturalists could spend hours, even years studying the vastness of its secrets.

Along the way, I took pictures of cool rock formations, huge rocks with names of some of the surveyors, a broken down fence line that I am sure was constructed to keep animals in or animal out, rock formations along the trail and ahead of us at the mouth of the canyon, and other oddly-shaped rocks that had fallen from some of the rock cliffs.

Perhaps, most impressive were just the rock formations—sheer walls, coves of rocks and outcroppings. On some of the walls, huge holes defaced the flatness. My mind thought, perhaps, the US Army or some armed forces launched shells from across the canyon to see what kind of holes it could make. But, alas, no Army forces launched anything. Rather, nature and wind and deterioration created the holes on the face.

Our jaunt up the canyon revealed rock formations, etchings of past passerbys, surveyors, and families who came to settle the valley. Ephraim Hanks and his family were the early settlers, building their little ranch on the banks of Pleasant Creek and converted some of the water into ditches so they could irrigate the 200 fruit trees—pears, peach, apples—they had planted. History states that when the trees were in bloom, it was a magnificent site. Thus, ranch donned the name of “Floral Ranch.” Over the years, the Floral Ranch passed from one descendant to another until one of them quit claimed it to the national park.

On our walk, we entered a cove of sorts, and were instantly surround by high, colorful walls, replete with a range of oranges and sandstone colors. Our voices echoed! We sat one some of the small ledges the winds had made. High in one corner was an opening, but I could still see even higher slabs of solid rock with the same color strata. I suspect the sun didn’t shine in this cove very often, even during the throes summer.

I took hundreds of pictures, none of the really depicting the actual landscape, created hundreds of thousands of years ago. For me, I was again convinced that this type of beauty and majesty just do not happen ad hoc. Rather, the greater Creator, even God Himself, was the architect of this great plan for our world. How else can one truly explain the incredibleness of it all? In the LDS Hymnbook, #86, the lyrics explain the greatness of God’s creations:

When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze….
How Great Thou art….
How Great Thou art.