The home I was born into is a very special one. I was raised by parents who loved the Lord and who had decided long before to serve and love Him unconditionally. My father was not a rich man, but they always had enough. In the summer of 1967 they built their first home at 2423 N Brimhall in Mesa, AZ. It was a three bedroom, 1 bath home, and was only 1,050 sq ft. They would have had 4 small children at the time, but eventually would have 9 children in this home! I can't even imagine!! I was born in this home. My mom said they added onto the home in 1972 when they were having baby number 6. They added a large bedroom for the 4 oldest boys to share and a large family room. That increased the size of the home another 1,000 sq feet. I'm sure it felt huge after that!
With a larger family and expecting child #10, my parents decided to build again. They built right next door, 2431 N Brimhall! This home my mom called her "dream home." It had 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and totaled 2300 sq ft. If i remember right, it was probably the largest home they have ever lived in.
My mom recalls my dad attending the temple, coming home and telling her he had the feeling they weren't going to live in this house very long. I wonder how that felt for her? I just built my dream home. I don't want to move, ever! He was right. They would live in this home for only 9 months.
In fall of 1978 my Dad confided in my mom that he felt they were blessed with wonderful children and that they had more to offer. He felt they weren't living up to their potential. He wanted to move and make a change for the better. My dad also wanted to own his own business. I'm not sure what took them to Gallatin, MO., but he was looking at taking over 1 of 2 businesses there, a grocery store, or Food-n-Fun. He met with a man by the name of Grizelle and they had agreed my dad would buy Food-n-Fun from him. They paid him $2700 as a down payment and would take over after they got their family out here. They had a job, now they needed a home that would fit 12 people. Mr. Grizelle told them he would find them a nice place that would work.
When they pulled into their new home, my dad entered the home. He came back a few moments later and told my mom, "You are not living there." My mom said the place was a mess and did not even have a working kitchen! My dad was not happy. They moved in with Mr. Grizelle until they were able to find a home. Mr. Grizelle was not happy...
They met a man by the name of Ray Miller. He showed them homes that he thought would work. My mom had her favorite. It was a white, two-story with a huge porch, but it was out of their price range. My parents attended church through all of this. After making a $50 donation to the Cameron Branch one Sunday, Ray picked them up again. He told them that the white house had come down in price by $5000. My mom felt they were blessed by making a donation. They bought the white house on Johnson St.
This home had a beautiful staircase and I remember the red, velvety wall paper. It had 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It would definitely be a tight fit, but we did it. We all shared a room and I think we are better for it. A family this big learns how to share!
Things were hard here. Mr Grizelle wasn't truthful about how successful the Food-n-Fun was. My parents struggled making ends meet. One conference Marion G Romney visited and spoke. He promised that if all would double their fast offerings they would be blessed. My parents took that counsel and were able to be debt free. However, they did have an inspection of the restaurant and were told it would need a new vent over the fryer. It wold cost $1200, money they didn't have. They asked Grizelle if he would split the cost since he told them all things were fine. He refused. My dad told him they would not be buying the business. Grizelle was upset and said, "I guess you want your money back?" My dad told him he would be fine if they both split the $2700 and they each donated their half to the church branch (Grizelle was a member of the same church). My dad took his $1350 and made a donation. Grizelle never did. I think how much my parents could have used that money. They were a struggling, large family with many needs, but they loved the Lord and felt it would do more if they gave it to the church.
My dad went to the local hospital and was able to get a job of keeping their books. My mom found out she was pregnant with baby #11. She recalls going to Spring Hill (a local church history site near Adam-ondi-Ahman). There she had a heart to heart with her Heavenly Father. She was wondering if she could really do all that is being asked of her. She left that spot with the determination and courage to"put her hand to the plow not look back." Those were the words spoken to her. And she has always done just that!
In June of 1980 my parents felt they needed to move back to Arizona. It was a hard decision. My Grandma Taylor had suffered a stroke a year earlier and the family needed help taking care of her. My dad was the Branch President for the local congregation and when he told the Stake President he would be moving, he was told that his time as Branch President had been the most successful their little area had ever been in reaching others and bringing them to Christ (my parents lived in Gallatin for only 18 months. This time is what my mom refers to as their mission. My mom dreamt of serving a full-time mission with my dad when they were older. He died before they could. Full-time missions that the elderly do are only 18 months).
By summer we were back in Arizona. My dad was given a job working for his brother, Gene Taylor. For a month they rented a 2 bedroom home. They had 11 children! They never unpacked. It was temporary until they could find something bigger. They were having a home built. They were able to find a bigger home to rent on the same road their home was being built on. They lived there until their home was finished in the winter of 1980. Our home on Kenwood is where my memory starts kicking in. I was 4 when we moved in and we lived there until I was 7.
My parents missed Missouri. In the fall of 1984 they decided to put their house up for sale and move back. This time they moved to Lee's Summit, MO. We moved into a three bedroom duplex with 9 kids. I shared a bedroom with Ben, Alissa, and David. We had two sets of bunk beds in one room. My parents converted the garage into a bedroom. My older brothers, Kevin and Alan, slept out there. That means Kymber, Lea Ann, and Robyn shared. But, I do remember having couches in the family room that turned into beds. I think Lea Ann and Kymber might have slept on them.
I was baptized here on November 3, 1984. I was not quite 8. Very rare, but my parents were told it was okay. Usually, you wait until the age of 8 in our church. I know it would not be permitted now.
I attended Hazel Grove Elementary. I was first a one room school house for the area, but later it was added onto. I love school and I love my memories of Hazel Grove. My mom was the school nurse. It was nice to have her close by every day. I made many friends there. I started in 2nd grade and had Mrs. Bock. For 3rd and 4th grade, I had Mrs. Scrudder. My teacher for 5th grade was Mrs. Eschenheimer. 6th grade was Mrs. Dunn.
We were the only Mormon family at the whole school for quite sometime. But, my mom always allowed me to attend church with my friends. I remember having sleepovers and going to church with them the next day. I am so glad she did this! Not only did it give me respect for others and what they believed in, it helped solidify my decision that the LDS church was the right church for me. I recall one Sunday letting us girls board a bus that would come around the neighborhood and take kids to church. I can't remember the name of the kids we went with, but I can see their faces in my head. I think one was named Wendy. She had a little sister, too. I honestly cannot imagine letting my kids do this! Did my mom even know where that bus was going?! She told me that she hoped by showing others that she wasn't afraid to let her kids go to church with them, that one day they would let their kids come to church with us. None of my friends ever came, but I remember my sister, Lea Ann, bringing a friend. Her name was Lori Pomeroy. Her brother was in my grade at school.
In the summer of 1985, my parents were able to purchase a home. We moved out of our duplex and moved to 908 SW 6th St. I have a lot of fun memories in this home. It was a mulit-level with three bedrooms upstairs and one large den in the basement that the boys used as a bedroom. Part of the basement was unfinished and my parents made a bedroom down there, too(they were really good at creating bedrooms out of nothing!).
My parents began to miss the strength of the Seminary program of our church that the West was able to provide. They decided it would be best to move back where there were many members of our church. My mom said my dad drove along I-70 and stopped along the way, applying for jobs. He got a job offer from a company in Las, Vegas, NV. He moved out there while we finished up the 1989 school year. I was completing the 6th grade. I was really upset. I did not want to move Missouri felt like home.
We pulled into our apartment complex in June. I remember stepping out barefoot and jumping right back in the car. You could not walk barefoot in Las Vegas! I hated it already! Our apartment was 3 bedroom, 2 baths, maybe 1100 sq feet. We had 7 kids and 2 adults now. I shared a room with Robyn. Alissa, Kymer, and LeaAnn shared a room and the boys, David and Ben, slept on a hide-a-bed in the living room. We lived there for a few months, but needed more room. My parents found a rental home on Peyton Dr that was a little bigger. We lived there a year and then moved to a house on Hassett Ave. After year there, they finally bought a home in 1993, 1732 E St. Louis Ave.
Though I was initially sad to leave MO, Las Vegas quickly became home for me. I met many friends in school and church. I loved the diversity that was Las Vegas! I attended two different jr, highs because of the moves. For 7th grade I went to John C Freemont. Most of my friends from church went here. There are a lot of Mormons in Las Vegas, believe it, or not! When we moved to Hassett I switched to KO Knudson for 8th and 9th grade. I loved both schools! I was able to play volleyball and basketball for KO. We were jr high champions for both sports. I also played JV softball for the high school. 9th grade was definitely my favorite year of school in Las Vegas!
Once in 10th grade, you would move to high school. I went to Valley High School. I continued to play volleyball and softball. I decided not to play basketball. It was too much running for me! I was enrolled in honors classes and AP classes. My classmates were awesome! I took German and Publications. I tried to make the best of my school years.
Outside of school, I would attend my church youth group activities every Wednesday. My best friends came from this group of girls! Kellie Parker, Kristin Squires were my two best friends that I would hang out with. Kristin lived behind us on Hassett. And we would just jump the back fence anytime we wanted to be together. Kellie lived a few blocks away, but really wasn't very far at all. We had an awesome group of girls and boys though. I remember getting together and playing football in the school yard behind our church at 8th and Franklin. We were all friends and tried to include everyone. It didn't matter if you were younger. You were part of the group!
I was able to start dating at 16. My first boyfriend was Brad Bullock. He went to Valley as well. I dated him until my Senior year. I then met Daniel McKeehan through volleyball my Senior year. He quickly became one of my best friends. We dated off and on that year because I couldn't decide whether to date him, or Brad. Girl drama! By the end of the year, I had chosen to be with Daniel. Glad he waited for me to make up my mind!
I graduated the summer of 1995. I still remember how surreal that day was. You wait what seems like forever to be 18. Then it happens and you can't believe you're actually 18! You're a legal adult who can be on your own, but wonder if you are really ready. I was scared, excited, and unsure all at the same time! So naive, so unprepared, but I was determined to live the best way I knew how... I don't think I did too bad!