This year, the Gardner Grand Gathering welcomed two new grandchildren, Olivia and Sam, who recently turned eight and were excited to join in the fun of our third annual gathering. The event began by drawing straws (short straw picks rode with Grandma in the car and long straws meant a ride with Grandpa in the truck—we’ve grown to two cars now to accommodate everyone) and dinner at the Olive Garden after a unanimous vote from all seven grandchildren.
My most memorable quotes occurred during dinner when Sidney commented that when everyone got a little older, we could go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead (what a sweet and spiritual young woman!) during one of our gatherings. And Sam said it was one of the best days of his life (smile).
Chicken fights, races, and just plain fun in the pool is always a favorite activity during our two days together. And this year was no exception! Each night we had to call it quits. I wonder how long they would stay in the pool if we let them?
We ended our first evening with an in-room movie Tron and finally crawled into bed at about 11:30.
Saturday started with a yummy breakfast in the hotel room, and then we created almost 40 notecards and envelopes with the Make A Monster stamp set and the In Color accessories. The kids had a blast and didn’t want to stop! But we had places to go and things to do, so we delivered the cards to a local Ronald McDonald House, took a quick tour, and met a 10-year-old House guest who was waiting for surgery. It was nice for the kids to visit with someone who would actually be using the cards they made.
After a quick stop for lunch, we headed to the Living Planet Aquarium for a special Penguin Encounter—an hour-long, behind-the-scenes tour where we saw a sea turtle, a few species of sharks, an eerie-looking eel, and several species of beautiful birds, plus the adorable penguins, of course.
We were given very specific instructions not to touch the penguins, to remain calm, and to keep our feet up if we saw their tails rise (note the yucky projectile poop on the floor that the kids couldn’t stop talking about!). We learned more about penguins than we’ll ever remember, but it was definitely the highlight of the Gardner Grand this year.
Then we were off to the Children’s Theatre to see the Emperor’s New Clothes. It was a small and intimate theater, with the actors only feet away. Except for the clear view of spitting when the actors spoke with gusto, it was a fun and unique experience.
After a long wait for dinner at the White boys’ new favorite restaurant, Ruby River, (they love steak like their dad!) and Olivia nearly falling asleep at the table, we went back to the hotel for one last evening swim.
While everyone took turns showering, we took advantage of the time to start on our Gardner Grand Gathering scrapbook. It was a long and full day, and no one argued when it was time to drop into bed! Olivia was “out cold” (her brother’s words) long before family prayer, and after only a couple of farting contests, the boys were fast asleep too!
We jumped on TRAX Sunday morning and rode to Music and the Spoken Word at Temple Square only to find that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was in St. George for a concert…bummer. It was still a beautiful program and it was nice to see everyone all dressed up and behaving like ladies and gentlemen.
We ended the Gardner Grand by enjoying brunch at the Grand America—a close second highlight to the aquarium for Sidney! Sam thought he’d died and gone to heaven, and Tanner discovered berry-filled crepes with chocolate on top. I can’t begin to count how many chocolate-covered strawberries the kids ate. It was a delicious experience for all of us!
Sterling and I may be tired, but we’re not the only ones! It was a couple of jam-packed and fun-filled days with seven wonderful grandchildren! We all had a great time together, and I’m already excited for, and planning, the next gathering.