Sunday, September 20, 2015

A new experience is character building.

Oh do I have some blog posts for you! I'm so behind in recording our adventures, so I figure I'll just start with the oldest and work my way forward.

 On Labor day, we took our kids up to Midway for the Sheepdog championship. The closest I've ever been to something like that was watching the movie Babe, but I thought it might be fun, and certainly would be a different experience for our family.
It was a huge crowd. There were dogs from Canada and Australia, from all over. Pretty amazing.

 I was fascinated by the process. I wanted to take great pictures, but as you can see, the herd of sheep is a little blur on the right side, and the dog is a black dot to the left of them. Those dogs were speedy! They started from right in front of the crowd, and sprinted up into the foothills to grab the herd. I asked Tia if she thought anyone on her cross country team was that fast, and she assured me that they weren't even close. The dog rounded up the herd and moved them through a set of gates, and down to the center field where he/she separated out at least five, then penned the rest. 

 What was most surprising to me, a Babe aficionado, was that the key for every move the dog made was the trainer's whistle. I guess there were around 8 commands (at least?), and the trainer was blowing that whistle the whole time. It really was an impressive partnership between the two. That's the trainer in the field with her dog right before the start of a run.

 There were other attractions at the show. There was a petting zoo from the wildlife rescue, and vendor booths (Kai bought a crossbow, which caused some problems at home later..), and acrobat dogs, but the biggest hit with my family were the splash dogs.

 The trainer throws an object, and the dog jumps after it. The furthest jump wins. There were big dogs and tiny dogs jumping; many different breeds. I did wonder about these trainers. Is this just a hobby? Or do they spend full time throwing stuff to their dogs in a pool. Huh. Different lifestyles. We sure liked watching.

 The girls never like picture taking however.
Jeff does.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dripping rocks and gardens

Well, I'm done with activity days. I got my job switched at church, and no longer work with the 8-11 year old girls in our stake (group of ten congregations). I'm now going to be working with the cub scouts which will be a whole new adventure (although I have a lot to learn).  Last week though, I had a last fun time hiking up Spanish Fork's Dripping rock trail  with an activity day girl's group. It was beautiful!

The girls had a great time, and so did I. I especially had a good time with the other leader's little boy, who had to be only three or four, was a great conversationalist, and even ate my pizza flavored dumdum sucker which every other kid rejected. 

 We had our ward picnic (church congregations are called wards) one night, and Jeff talked the bird rescue people into coming to present to us. It was amazing. These were the same guys who showed us the owls up at Sundance last winter, but this time they also brought a peregrine falcon that was just gorgeous. We spent a lot of time shushing the kids so we could hear her talk about these birds. I really hope I made no kid enemies with my shushes!

 Every one was supposed to bring a dish to share (classic church potluck dinner), and I seriously considered bringing tomatoes, as my garden is bursting with tomatoes and cucumbers right now. After spending literally all day last Saturday canning salsa, I just ended up putting some on my porch to share. 

 I wish my gardens looked like this--bursting with flowers instead! Jeff and I took our date up to temple square in Salt Lake last weekend, and I had to take an aerial picture of some of the gardens. Someday I'm going to apply to be a peon worker helping the designer of these gardens. They blow me away. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August Adventures

 Oh friends, summer is over! Never mind it was 100 degrees today, school started, and with it ends our summer freedom. Summer in Mapleton is wonderful. I told someone recently that Mapleton is like Mayberry, if everyone in Mayberry had gone to college. 

Nature gets up close and personal around here. We ran into this stag party on our way to the library one day. I have seen them all over town --this fraternity of trouble makers.. 

 I actually feel kind of guilty that I didn't do more things with my kids this summer, but at least the library happened every two weeks, if not sooner.

 I took one morning (when Jeff was home) for myself, and went to the Springville MOA for the quilt show. (My kids weren't interested.) I wasn't planning on taking any pictures until I saw this stunner. 

 I took a picture of this one, just because I loved the colors so much.

This one was special, because it was made by elementary students for their retiring teacher.

 Up close, it still looks pretty professional! I'm wondering if this was ACTUALLY a mom quilt.

 Once again, a red and white was a favorite of mine.

 As was this blue and white. I love these fabrics!

 We did take one outing up Big cottonwood canyon for my mom's family's reunion dinner. I had a fabulous time talking to my smart and talented cousins, but my kids were a little bored.

 I told them to bring books. 

Jeff  didn't make it. He was finishing up the Ultimate challenge bike race. 110 miles, with 13,000 (not 1,300 mind you!) feet elevation gain, it's billed as the toughest one day cycling adventure. It was grueling, but he finished. I was amazed and proud of him. 

 Last week, the last chance we had to GO SOMEWHERE and DO SOMETHING (oh the guilt they gave me all summer!) we decided to go up to Salt Lake, visit Tony Caputo's (yes the deli is a tourist attraction for us, it's amazing!) and maybe the Tracy aviary. This happened to be the day there was a big accident on I-15 north, right in the construction zone. We were speeding along at 65-70 mph, then were suddenly completely stopped. 

 It lasted almost two full hours. Tia could text, 
 Ari read,

Kai watched an entire movie. I finished 4 Italian lessons, one Spanish lesson, caught up on all of the blogs I follow, and all of my facebook and instagram feeds. Then at 16% battery left on my phone I started to get a little crazy. I was especially bugged by the dummies walking up the freeway away from their cars. Indeed when traffic started moving, a motorcycle cop drove up and down yelling at them to get back in their cars right away. Two teenage girls passed us running back just as we started rolling. 

 Meanwhile, back at the homestead, Blackberries were popping out all over for blackberry crisp, salads, and snacks. I kept thinking we would be able to freeze buckets of them this year, but we kept eating them too fast. 

 Corn, cucumbers, golden and chiogga beets, and of course tomatoes, are going crazy right now. We've also eaten our weight in eggplants and peppers. Almost canning time! Holy Moses, I'm actually not...looking forward to that part...

 The flowers are a different kid of pretty compared to early summer's pastels. August is when the fire comes out and everything is intense and rich. 
 I wish there was a way to preserve them permanently like this. I guess that's why I love fresh flowers so much --their fleetingness (is that a word?). You can't keep them forever. Eventually the season passes completely, they ripen fully, and are gone.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jeff was gone for the 24th of July

So, Jeff went along on the 50 mile hike with the 14-15 year old scouts in our church congregation this last week, and we were on our own as a family. I got a few projects done in the late night hours when I was lonely, and overall it wasn't too bad. We did have to celebrate the 24th without him though.

 Mapleton does a big celebration for the 24th. We got up pretty early so the girls could run in the community 5k. I didn't run because I was scheduled to help with the children's parade. I got an official orange vest and everything.
 I'm in the Stake Primary, and we are over ten local congregations of primary children --children 3-12 years old. So I got to help all of these kids get on their floats without getting run over. With all of these floats created by volunteers, I was surprised at how cute they turned out!
This float was "banana island" and each kid had a hand painted minion shirt to wear on it. 

I got to this float a minute too late --they had the entire cast of the movie "UP" dressed up to ride on it. 


Later, Mapleton does a huge firework show in the park. (You'll hear us commenting in the video on the phone's recording quality --sorry about that!)
We never go because Jeff hates the crowds, and I hate the traffic trying to get in and out, but this year I decided to just go for it. We had to park over a mile away on the side of the highway, but it was so worth it! I met my friend Brenda and her husband, who saved us a little patch of grass to spread our blanket on. 

 We leaned back and just enjoyed it. It started with the Mormon anthem "Come Come ye Saints" that brought chills up and down my spine, then the next song was Ozzy Ozbourne's Crazy train which made me laugh. It was a great show. 

 It ended up being a pretty late night for all of us, since the show ended near 11:00, and then we had a very long hike back to the car, followed by stop and go traffic almost all of the way home. 

We needed to get up pretty early the next morning to watch some my friend's kids while she and her husband packed to move. We punted for a while at home, then took the kids up to BYU to explore. 

 So much to see up there. It made me homesick in a way. I have a lot of great memories on that campus, all tinged with the dread of upcoming tests or overdue papers it's true, but great just the same. 
We went to the new biology building looking for aquariums that didn't exist and trying to break into the atrium (I was hoping my old employee card would work on the card swipe door lock but no luck), and  then the Eyring science building filled with science displays and pretty rocks. We had to leave that building pretty quickly because Kai started to open a door to the roof and set off an alarm. We ended up at the bookstore with ice cream bars to help us feel better. That worked. 

We finished with the art museum, and the Life science museum where I got a phone call from Jeff --he was home! 

 We had a fun few days, but it was awfully nice to see him again!

Monday, July 20, 2015

and everyone came!

I've wanted to do this post for two weeks now, but it's a biggie. From the 4th of July weekend, through the 11th and 12th, my whole family got together. Family get togethers are my favorite thing. However, although it makes me sad to admit it, I was so worried so much of the time about how things were going, and the things I said and did, and how people took those things, I wasted some of the joy. How do you stay in the moment for the most important moments of your life? I need to meditate more I guess. But look at this crystal clear picture above-- doesn't that look like a fabulous party? It was.

We had magical fairies tied to the ends of sticks for the kids to wave around. 

We had mile wide smiles. 

We had smoke and fire and explosions. We even had the field on the next block catch on fire more than once to just add to the excitement. 

Great food --how much better is summer food than the rest of the year's food?

Here my Dad passes on his great knowledge of sparkler lighting.

I wished I always had a nice show for these little ones to stay and watch. Maybe then they'd stay little.  

We tried to get together every day to go play somewhere. One day was Thanksgiving Point Discovery Museum, which looks cool in this picture,

and this one, but was actually a madhouse of kids, and was pretty scary to five moms trying not to lose any of their charges. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we walked out with the same number of kids we walked in with.

We took one day to just do IKEA. We were supposed to do some cool crafts afterwards, but by the time we finished the rat maze/amusement park that is that huge store, we all wanted to do what Henrietta did through most of it. I got some cute, inexpensive umbrellas, but they were probably not worth the headache I left with too. I enjoyed it up through the 85% mark, then was DONE!

 On the first Sunday everyone was here (dang --I got out of order!), we had dinner at my mom's,

 Then headed over to the park to take family pictures. To be honest, NONE of us were excited about this, but recognized it was the only time we had all been together for years (except poor Deja's Sam who was missing -- teaching a class). We sucked it up and headed over.

 The pictures turned out pretty great (thank you Deja!), especially considering the quickly setting sun, and everyone's starting attitudes! There is always someone making jokes to lighten the mood in my family, so it worked out.

 All of the grandkids in one place!

 and the old people :)

  We're quite the crowd!
 These are my cool siblings. It would take a long time to list all of their talent and great qualities, but trust me, you wish they were yours.

The end of the week was special. We rented a big, duplex in Park city together so we could party 24 hours a day for a the last few days. It was gorgeous country!

It had a big game room that connected the two sides, where all of the kids young and old spent a lot of time.

There was also a hot tub on the balcony of each unit which was a hit with the littles.

In addition to my parents and siblings and their families, we also got my cousins Tracey and Cyndi to drive from Colorado, with Cyndi's husband, kids, and grandkids (she's in the middle --does she look like a grandma to you?)!

Cyndi's younger daughter bonded with my Ari, and they talked for hours at a time. That made me super happy.

My aunt Dawn and Uncle Charlie traveled from Washington too to hang out. They are a blast. I know we probably seem really young and dumb to them, but to me, they make me feel like we are all the same age. 

We played games together. My cousin put together a huge "get to know you" scavenger hunt that got us all talking and asking each other questions. 

There were a few big surprises for all of us! 

Right at the end of the block, just a couple of houses down, was a lovely trail with views of downtown Park City. 

But we spent a lot of time indoors, just enjoying each other's company.

We did take one outing to the Olympic park and ski museum. My brother and his family took a fantasy ski trip together.

We strolled around downtown looking at the cute shops and art galleries.

One gallery we were sure to hit was the one where my cousin is a director. They got out the one painting they had left that he hadn't sold to let us see it.

But we enjoyed many of the pieces.

Ari was supposed to be touching these! They opened up in a few layers --kind of a neat concept for a sculpture.

Although I loved having everyone there, it made me too excited to sleep past 6:00 am any of the mornings, so I took myself on some great hikes along the trail near us. It crossed under a park city ski lift, 
and also passed some historic steel from one of the old silver mines. Pretty cool. 
Of course the best parts were natural.

The only bad thing about this family reunion was the end. It's a rotten part of our modern world that everyone flies to the winds following where the jobs lead. In my ideal world, everyone of us would live next door --like in a yellow submarine.