Monday, December 8, 2008

Traditions I

Just after Em was born I started our Christmas book tradition. Every year we add a Christmas book to our collection, and when I put away the Christmas stuff in January I write a little Christmas synopsis and attach it in the front of the book.

We have the classics...the Night Before Christmas, the Grinch, the Polar Express. We have the Tale of Three Trees and Christmas Oranges. We even have a Little Golden Book that I tracked down called the Animals Christmas Eve. It's a story that my Mom bought when I was three and we have read it every Christmas since.

This year's book is A Christmas Dress for Ellen by President Thomas S. Monson, and is the retelling of a 1927 Christmas in a little frozen Canadian town. As I read this story tonight to the girls I was reminded again of all that we have. Even in the middle of a recession our circumstances are so far removed from 80 years ago. I often think (with gratitude), that my kids live so far removed from want. Yet at the same time, I want them to recognize and be grateful for what they have.

How do you do that?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Artificial

Until last year we had a Christmas tree tradition. We would get a tree permit (an adventure of it's own) and then a couple weeks later go up into the Uintah's and cut down our Christmas tree with my family. We'd go sledding and tubing and hiking and hauling and finally Brian had enough. No more Charlie Brown Christmas trees for him!

So on Saturday night we set out on our Christmas tree quest. The girls were horrified when they realized we were not headed to a tree lot, but to a store. "A FAKE TREE!" they gasped. I was calmly reassuring, it's ok, the tree will look real and all the lights are already on it! Together we selected the perfect tree, a nine foot blue spruce with little pinecones on the tips.

The oh so professional "tree boys" assured us that it would be boxed and waiting for us up front in 20 minutes. We had dinner and then went to go make our purchase. Right in front of the register was a tree box with our last name in big letters. We handed the cashier our tag and they trucked the tree right out to the car.

After wrestling the tree box into the house we prepared to open and assemble. "This box looks new," I remarked to Brian. Because we had purchased the last remaining blue spruce (which was the floor model) I wasn't expecting a new box. We opened the box to find...someone else's tree.
"Did you tell them our last name?"
"No, did you?"
"Nope."

We loaded the wrong tree back in to the truck and Brian raced back to the store to get there before closing time. I made a frantic phone call to try and locate the right tree. After two phone calls and two people who obviously knew nothing the tree boy finally called back. "Yeah, we wondered where you went," he drawled. "We'll go ahead and get your tree ready up front," he added helpfully. I hung up and crossed my fingers hoping that the desire to leave the closing store would inspire him to actually get the tree up front this time.

So, we got the tree set up...and the lights didn't work on half of it. For the last three days Brian and I have tried everything, including unclipping the entire strand of lights, removing them from the tree and replacing every bulb. No luck. So today I removed all the strands of unlit lights and replaced them with new strands.

Tonight, I will go to bed with a lit and half decorated Christmas tree. Instead of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree adventure, we now have the National Lampoons Buy an Artificial Pre-Lit Christmas Tree and Have an Adventure. AUGH!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shhh...

Don't tell...but I'm not quite finished with my Christmas shopping yet...ok to be completely honest I'm just barely started with my shopping.

But I have a little secret that I discovered many years ago. I am a list person (I'm turning into my mother, I know!!). If I'm feeling overwhelmed with to much to do I make a list, I take great pleasure in crossing things off, and somehow I get it all finished. So, the secret is a holiday planner that I download every year from familyfun.com. It is awesome, my favorite pages are the gift list, the fill in the blank calendar, and the recipes, menus and party pages. This year I'm committed to filling out the holiday memories page also. I keep everything in a binder in page protectors, and it keeps all the receipts, recipes, crafts, ideas etc. together. And I even keep my lists from years past...just ask what Santa brought Sadie three years ago!

The crazy thing is, it is so simple, an hour and you could create your own. But that's another Christmas secret...don't waste time on something that someone else has already done!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Karma

About a year ago one of our first blogs showed a picture of our neighbors laying their sod in the snow. Brian and I thought this was incredibly funny...who lays sod in the snow???


This is a picture of our backyard less than 24 hours after laying the sod:


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting



Not:

-because I think my individual contribution will change the outcome.

-because my state is a battleground or swing state.

-because then I earn the right to complain (I get that anyway).

But:

-because I live in America, and going out this morning was one way that I can show gratitude for being an American.

-because it's a right that people have fought and died for. And voting shows my respect for their sacrifice.

-because it makes me feel a part of a greater community of citizens who know and care.

-because I care about my city and my state.

-because I know my legislator who's up for re-election.

- because I can.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Disappointment

Disappointment has a flavor. A salty, bitter, and hard to swallow taste.

I've been training for the last couple months for the Butch Cassiday 10K in Springdale . This morning I went out for a quick and easy two miles, just to keep my legs fresh, but still have them ready to go on Saturday. We have awesome trails near the house and this morning was perfect. An ideal fall day for a run, cool and crisp and lovely. I was halfway through my run, and had just turned around to head back when I stepped into a leaf covered hole and pitched forward. Immediately I knew that my ankle was sprained. I also knew that I was .9 miles from the car on a trail where it wasn't likely that I'd encounter any help. So, I stood back up and hobbled as quickly and carefully as I could back to the car. I knew I had to get there as fast as I could before I started to feel my ankle and before my body used up it's adrenaline supply.

So, I'll be taking pictures this weekend. Brian, his mom and the girls will be running/walking the 5K and I'll just have to smile and enjoy the scenery. Happily disappointment also tastes like pistachio gelato from one of my running buddies...thanks a million L.!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ten


10 for Ten


Yesterday Em celebrated her 10th birthday! Here are 10 things about her.

1. She loves to read. Not just a little, but A LOT. If she ever needed to be punished we would do it by taking away her books not her TV time!

2. Blue is her favorite color. The color of her eyes, her walls, her clothes, etc...

3. Her heart is kind. Even as a little girl Em was always very aware of those around her and wanted to make sure that everyone was happy and included.

4. Friends come easily. Em makes and keeps friends, lots of friends.

5. Perfection is in the cards. Em didn't even learn to ride a bike until she was 7. I realized later that she was afraid of falling. If she can't do it right, she's not interested in trying. I'm afraid she gets that from me...we're working on it together.

6. Imagination lights her world. Books about dragons, princesses and other worlds are fascinating to her, and all of her reading adventures carry over into playtime with her sisters.

7. Science is fun for her. Her school curriculum this year covers rocks and on a recent trip to Moab I watched her point and explain to all the other kids the stuff we were looking at. Currently one of her favorite things to do with friends is pound open rocks with hammers to look for 'crystals' inside. She also asked for a microscope for her birthday.

8. She is very coordinated. She plays the piano very well and with expression-which is hard to teach. She is also an awesome swimmer, this summer she started learning to butterfly.

9. Boredom isn't in her vocabulary. She always finds something to do! We could fill her entire closet with boxes and it would be perfect for all the little things she likes to do. She will grow up well rounded because she likes lots of different things.

10. Happiness is being with her. Em's smile lights up a room, and she is one of those people you just love to be around. She is a blessing in our lives and we are so grateful to have her in our family!

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It just got interesting

Until tonight:
...I was lukewarm about voting for John McCain for president
...I've never really cared about a vice-presidential candidate, and
...I've scoffed at all the ideals lobbed around at convention time.

And then Sarah Palin stood up and said "No one expects us to agree on everything. But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and ... a servant's heart. " After listening to her talk tonight:
...I will defend my vote for the republican ticket.
...I will follow closely this vice-presidential candidate, and
...I support the ideals I heard about tonight, and the candidates who hold them are the ones I will vote for.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

10 minute list

So, what would you take if you had 10 minutes to grab whatever and get out?

Yesterday afternoon I was talking to my friend Lisa down in Draper as she picked up her kids from school. She was giving me the play by play of a fire in the foothills and I thought, we'll have to check it out when we head over the mountain later. Just after hanging up with her my neighbor called and asked if I was packing...I walked around to the front of my house and about dropped the phone. The way the smoke was billowing I expected to see flames creeping down the valley any second. Brin and I jumped in the car and drove up to the top of the mountain to see how close the flames actually were. Thankfully the fire was in the foothills a couple miles away. We picked up Emilee and Sadie at the bus stop and they were worried. Their bus had been delayed while the school made sure it was safe to send them home, but as they came up the mountainside it really looked like the fire was in our valley.
From our front porch

"Mom, what do we do?" they asked. I had each of the girls pack an overnight bag with a few changes of clothes and some of their "special treasures". But then I found myself wandering through the house...what should I take...

From the top of the mountain

The fire never got closer and I never really did pack. But I've been thinking a lot about what I would have thrown in the car. This week I'm constucting my own 10 minute list. I'll post it later. Yesterday was just the practive run, I'm sure there will be more scares in the future and next time I want to be a little bit more prepared, but honestly as long as my family was in the car, who cares about the kitchen table?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kitchen Therapy


No, as much as it needs it, kitchen therapy at my house involves no kitchen cleaning, because kitchen therapy is not for the kitchen...it's for me. Give me an hour or two with no time limits in the kitchen and I will come away happy. I've never made blueberry pie before, Brian's not a big blueberry fan. But, this might have to be a repeat recipe...we had it with homeade ice cream and it was awesome!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Piece of History

Of the original 200 copies, only 25 are still in existence.

In 1989 this copy was found in a flea market, the buyer paid $4 for a frame he was interested in and found the document underneath the picture.

It was most recently sold for 8.14 million dollars.

There is a handprint on the bottom left corner and writing on the back (but no secret treasure maps).



It is a Dunlap Broadside. One of the original 25 copies of the Declaration of Independence printed on the night of July 4, 1776. It was on display in the Utah State Capital last Friday and the girls and I went with Grandma Diane to see it.

I struggled a little to explain the significance of this very old piece of paper that we waited in line for 2 hours to see. Our freedoms had their groundwork laid with this document, these were the thoughts behind the value of the individual and their right to self-determination. And America has lived up to the Declaration's promises and taken it's high-reaching ideals and implemented them for everyone. There have been failures to live up to the promised life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, and yet we've done a pretty good job. Even when we haven't quite lived up to the assurances provided the Declaration has stood as an ideal, as a better way, and as a hope for the future. And it is one of the reasons that our country is great!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Give In

It’s been building for a while, my THIRST. Everyone asks if I’ve PARTAKEN yet…after all I am known for DEVOURING them. But I was afraid, of the subject, the hype, and the audience, how could anything live up to this buildup of MYTHICAL proportions? And the fallout, you finish SATING your THIRST either OBSESSED or indifferent.

Well, I started CONSUMING them this weekend during our family vacation. I began at TWILIGHT, when Brin informed me it was time for bed. I tucked her into her sleeping bag and read by the light of the NEW MOON (and the tent light). It was a little COLD outside, and I found my arms falling asleep from loss of BLOOD as I rolled from side to side. But I…I was SLEEPLESS. I did eventually SURRENDER to the NIGHT but continued my HUNT the next day. It took me all of 72 hours to PREY through all 2444 pages, I read through the ECLIPSE (ok, so it only visible at the North Pole) and into the BREAKING DAWNnot really.

It took me a day or two to recover from the reading FRENZY. The DAZED look has finally faded from my BLOODSHOT eyes. And now I feel…QUENCHED.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Flaming Gorge Improvised

Vacations when I grew up were planned to the last minute. In a family with eight children the opposite of structure was chaos. So, on Tuesday night last week when I realized that we didn't know where we were staying, we didn't exactly have rafts reserved and we still weren't sure who was coming, I took several deep cleansing breaths. This was a boy's trip, and it was time to roll with the punches.

I asked myself the important questions...

could I sleep in the car...Yes

would we have enough to eat...I could plan for that

did it matter what we did or when we did it...No
And that was just on Tuesday!!

Thursday 1)we left an hour and a half later than planned, 2)we made it almost to Evanston before Brian realized he hadn't packed his brand new wetsuit...or any wetsuit...a crucial piece of equipment in 50 degree water, and 3)our friend didn't have his dive mask or gloves or booties. In the Wal-Mart Evanston parking lot at roughly 9:00 at night (no, apparently they don't carry 5 mil wetsuits or diving masks) the guys decided not to drive back home and retrieve their equipment. Truthfully, part of this was my fault as I refused to pull the trailer, in the dark on a winding road to a location that I had never been to before (bad sport, huh!). The new plan was to drive to Vernal the next morning and hope for the best at the local dive shop. 4)We pulled into our camp about 1:00 in the morning.

On Friday we picked up the rafts and put in the water just below the dam at Flaming Gorge. We loaded up the life-jacketed kids-all 17 of them- and started down the river. By the end of the first mile we had successfully determined the hierarchy of splashing. Adults-ride the raft-some splashing is fun. Teenagers-jump from raft to raft-splashing is necessary. Tweens-can jump in the river-will giggle if splashed. Kids-will drop their legs over the edge of the raft keeping a death grip on the side-splashing other people is fun. Toddlers and babies-where the heck am I, why am I wearing a marshmallow that I can't eat and splashing makes me scream.

When the family ride was over the serious stuff began. I was the lucky one selected for dive support and so with the able bodied assistance of a 12-year-old and 2 nine-year-olds and with 5 spare tanks on board we started again at the dam with the divers. They had an awesome time. A couple guys described it as flying as the current carried them down the river, and Brian said it was one of the most unique dives he has ever done.

Saturday we hiked down a precarious cliff to fish for 10 minutes until the rest of the group arrived and refused to endanger the lives of their small children by joining us. After hiking up the precarious cliff and relocating to a sandy beach (where you could cast your line to your hearts content without catching a single thing) the group split up. Serious fisherman, crazy trail runners, and the other parent not participating in the two before mentioned groups, now left to be responsible for their own part of the 17 children. After our group reassembled at camp, all 5 guys decided it was time for more fishing--coincidentally at the exact same time that dinner preparations were just about to begin. And Brian and I decided that instead of driving home we'd stay an extra night.

Sunday we were supposed to be home at 1:00 so we could be showered, cleaned up, and I would have time to make Brian's birthday cake before everyone arrived at 6:30 for cake and ice cream. By the time we had cleaned up camp...we could still make it by 6:30. By the time we finished fishing again at 1:30 maybe we could make it. By the time we left Vernal at 4:40 we were never going to make it.

And you know what we had a great weekend. Every day was fun. It wasn't what I had envisioned or planned for and it turned out just fine, in fact it was more than fine it was great!

So, for camping this weekend I'm just going to let it all go. I won't plan for anything. I'll have no expectations and I won't worry about what time we're leaving or getting back. I'll just go with the flow, I won't stress about packing or food or sunscreen and everything will be just fine...Yeah, right.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wide Open Tight Spaces


I've noticed a change in my life. It seems that my friends know more about what is going on in my family than I do. I've read our "family" blog all of maybe three times. Each time I went here it was because someone made a comment about an accomplishment of one of my daughters and I was oblivious giving them a generic response like, "yeah, isn't that great". Have I really been that out of touch? I suppose I should take the title of our blog as a hint. It's bad enough, but to avoid it from changing to "4 girls and some Dad" or "4 girls and that Guy", I'm sharing a not-so-secret place that I love to take my family (and friends) each year. Public camping sites with RV hookups are for old people and rednecks. Oh, and apparently wife beaters.

I like open spaces. I like my privacy. I like to get away from it all. So it's ironic that one of my all-time favorite camping spots is a cave-like rock formation in Canyonlands 150 miles south of Moab that sits near a favorite family rated slot-canyon. I think I like it so much because the trip combines a lot of things I like; camping, jeeping, hiking, slot canyons, and lots of friends.
Canyonlands' Elephant Hill is a gem and someplace every family should go to. Specifically, camp in site #4 at Devils Kitchen (#2 is a second choice). This place is remote. Moab is 1.5 hours away if you need anything and of course, you usually do. We've been lucky so far and only broken down 3 out of 6 of 7 trips there. Simple things like front upper track bar ball links falling off, pitman steering arm breaks at the compression gear, spring retention clamps failing, and I think we broke a sway bar disconnect or two. But don't let that deter you, those are all easy trail fixes - bring lots of water and don't forget your spare pitman arm (Kevin!).

Rather than be wordy, I'm including some photos of our last trip. It really is one of my favorite spots in our local area and kids NEVER forget this place. The slot canyon is called "The Joint Trail" and is only a half mile hike to the entrance and only about a quarter mile inside. This trail hike makes the trip worth it. Yes, you can rappel into your campsite, explore the many hidden passageways leading from one campsite to the next through a network of dark connected tunnels, or just sit back and admire the amazing beauty around you for hours and hours but this hike is definitely a must-do.

Once inside the slot canyon, the kids can go wild. The width of the canyon is 3 ft with walls of 150ft+. There is a special side route that we always take the kids through that requires removing belts, hats, and exhaling for 5 seconds while slipping through. I don't get on the scale to check my weight much but once a year at this spot I know if I've added 10 pounds. We've only had one person get stuck and a good relaxing exhale solved that (sorry, I swear it looked like you would fit!). Kids love the narrow parts but if you are claustrophobic, stick to the main trail.
- B.









video

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Little Fishes



Swimming lessons are a summertime rite of passage at our house. A few years ago we found a private teacher through Dive Utah and she is amazing. In addition she lives in Draper and has a heated pool in her backyard, what more could I ask for?


Two summers ago Betsy worked with Brin on water safety. This summer Brin learned the breaststroke and by the end of our 21 day imprint can cross the long length of the pool by herself. We swam with friends earlier this week and it was back to panic mode for me because suddenly Brin feels like she can go anywhere. With her little waist belt she feels invincible.


It was amazing to watch all of the girls progress. Sadie is like a little frog, within the first week she had coordinated her breaststoke arms and kick together and it has given her the freedom of the pool. She is quick and strong and confident.


Betsy's pool is not quite big enough for Emilee but while the other girls had their lessons she practiced her breaststroke, her freestyle and worked on her butterfly legs. It was amazing to watch her with fins in the water, so graceful and powerful.


During the last three weeks of swim lessons each of the girls has asked...Mom, could we get our own pool? It made me happy, I have three girls who love to be in the water as much as I do and maybe someday...after all if Dad gets to have a harley, shouldn't the rest of us have a pool?!?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fountain Frolics

Quintessential Sadie


This is what summer is all about. My sister Lisa is visiting from California and on Thursday all the sisters (and sis-in-law, of course) got together at a local park. By the time we finished eating all of our kids were pink-cheeked and sweating and the fountain on the other side was to cool to pass up. This is how to spend 100 degree days!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Testing the Limit

Van 2 for the Wasatch Back


Friday June 20th has been on my calendar for many months and was a day I was looking forward to and dreading in equal amounts. I was looking forward to running with my friends and dreading being the slowest. I was anticipating a lot of fun and camaraderie and dreading running on no sleep. I was eager to see what I could do and how far I could go and dreading the unknown. I learned that I'm not afraid of sweat, exhaustion, or hills and I learned that I can push my limit!


The Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay is a 180 mile relay race from Logan to Park City, UT. Each team has 12 runners who each run 3 different legs throughout the race. The team has 2 vans with 6 runners each and they leapfrog each other over the course to have runners at each of the 35 exchange points along the way.


It was awesome, brutal, but awesome.


I was runner #7, the first runner from our van at every major exchange point. Van #1 started at 8:20 ish in the morning in Logan and we just met them at our first exchange point in Liberty. I am a morning runner--during the school year I'm home by 7:00am ish and during the summer home by 8:00 in time for Brian to leave for work. So starting at 2:00 in the afternoon in 94 degree heat (I swear it was 100 on the road) was a new experience. Those first 4 miles were HOT! But then they were over and I only had 2 legs and 8 miles left to go!!


Our team name was Legs, Breasts, Wings and our car decorations: an enormous bra, pink wings and stuffed nylon legs complete with running shoes garnered a lot of attention along the course. It made for some fun camaraderie and funny comments along the road.



After all six of us had run we passed the "baton" back to Van #1 at Snowbasin and headed to the lodge for massages, ICE cold showers and FOOD! And then we hit the road so we could be at the next exchange point.


I started Leg #2 at East Canyon State Park at about 11:15. It was a little scary to accept the baton from Kelli and take off into the darkness with my little headlamp all by my lonesome. And then after about a mile it was awesome! Other relay cars (and much to my dismay too many runners) passed often enough that it wasn't complete solitude, and yet it was. With no i-pod and only the sound of my own breathing it was by far my favorite leg. My husband (who is the greatest) met us that night to shadow the nighttime runners. He and his friend lit the road for us with their bike lights and carried our water bottles. He was about 25 minutes to late for my run but he shadowed each of the others and let our Van just be at the next stop catnapping until they came in. Now that is true love!! After we finally passed the baton off to Van #1 at Rockport Reservoir around 4:30 am we headed in to Heber for "bed".


After a quick $2 shower (worth every penny) we crashed literally on to the wrestling mats laid out in the gym at 5:45 and had about 2 hours of sleep until we got the call that it was time to go again.


Leg #3 was the hardest for me, I started around 9:00 so it wasn't to hot yet, but I went from feeling like I had totally fresh legs the first 1/2 mile to "just keep running, just keep running" for the last 2 miles. I was exhausted! But then I got back in the car and got to cheer everyone on the rest of the race. It was incredible to watch my friends run. I knew how tired I was on my flat route and to watch them run hills and perservere was inspiring!


We crossed the finish line together 30 hours, 24 minutes and 34 seconds after our start! A third place finish for our women-sub-masters category. And we're signed up already for next year...anyone wanna run?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 14-19

6/19 Horseback Riding at the Hardy's


6/18 Caterpillar Capers Continued...




6/16 First Day at the Pool




6/15 Mexican Train on Father's Day




6/14 Cheering Dad Across the Finish Line


Brian did his first official bike race, the Tour De Cure in Brigham City. 70 miles later we were there to cheer him across the finish line!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 9-12

6/12 Cookie Pizza for Cookie Thursday


6/11 Horseback Riding Lessons



6/10 Planting Tomatoes


6/9 Library Day




Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dashing through the Daisies

6/8 A Sunday walk with Grandpa Ted


I love where we live! This is just down the "trail" from the house but it was no mere tiptoe through the tulips because 1)deer eat tulips and 2) our three girls don't tiptoe anywhere!

Little Red Riding Hood & the Big Bad Wolf

Another I DID IT!

Tee and I at the finish line with the Big Bad Wolf


Yesterday I rode in the Little Red Riding Hood Century, a women's only cycling event. I rode with my friend Tee, and even though we signed up for the 45 mile segment we decided to do the 60, and I completed it! I was in the saddle for just under 4:30, and I've decided that is a long time to be on a bike!

We started in Wellsville at 8:00 am and it was cold! About 45 degrees, we started off at a great pace and made our first rest stop in Newton about 17 miles down the road and just over an hour into our ride. After a quick stop we were back on our bikes and on to the next loop. The first three or four miles were a gradual uphill, and I had a hard time getting back into the rhythm of our first section. But then around mile 25 or so we had a fantastic downhill, always lots of fun. Of course we made up for it with a hard climb before we coasted in to lunch back at Newton around mile 33. I needed the rest and the calories. After lunch even though we were headed south again we were right into a pretty strong headwind and mile 33 to the rest stop at 41 was the hardest section for me. The wind finally dropped off again around 50 miles but as we looked back to see our lunch spot across the valley we could see it being drenched by rain. I think we rode around the storms all day, they always seemed to be about an hour behind wherever we were. Thank goodness! After another stop at about 54 miles we had a stong finish back in Wellsville. My friend Tee is awesome, she could have done the entire ride in a lot less time and yet she stayed with me and I had a fantastic time. She "pulled" me and a couple new found friends through the hardest part of the ride. I promise to practice more so I can repay the favor soon!

Tee and I at the finish line with our celebratory Martinelli's


The valleys we rode through were beautiful and green, the west side of the Logan Valley is just gorgeous! And the little towns we rode through were so picuresque and pastoral. I can't wait to try again next year maybe by then I'll be doing the whole century and taking a turn at the front!

I am a child of God

6/7 I am a child of God

Today the girls went with their primary to the I am a child of God exhibit at the Museum of Church History and Art. Sadie told me all about the "church mouse" that was hidden in one of the exhibits and Brin enjoyed the coloring. I think we'll have to go back together.

Friday, June 6, 2008

WebKinz World

6/6 Welcome to our new additions, Lucy, Hiccup & Blackie


Grandma Millie & Grandpa Ted are here to visit for a few days and Grandma took the girls to the store this morning to add to their webkinz collection. They were so excited! I have to add that I love the webkinz website. It is awesome for kids: pet care, games, mail to friends, a store where you can "buy" for your virtual pets with all the virtual money you earned playing games. And it's great for parents: kid and user-friendly and most importantly safe!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cookie Wednesday & a Sleepover

6/5 Sleepover!



6/4 "Cookie Wednesday" an idea borrowed from our Beach & Bike family friends. Thanks guys!





Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Picnic on the Porch


6/3 Picnic on the Porch (what we did today instead of watching TV)

Monday, June 2, 2008

FAQ's

The three most frequently asked questions at my house:
1) Can I watch TV?
2) Can I play the computer?
3) Can we watch a movie in the car?

So...to avoid having to answer these questions more than 20 times a day we are making TV & computer rules. Right now that's one hour of TV and 30 minutes of computer a day, and no movies on car rides around town. But we will also be compiling a list of things to do besides the above 3 activities...Stay posted for our upcoming summer adventures...

6/1 Strawberry Jam



6/2 Catching Caterpillars

I promise there is one inside the jar. We found our new friends on a thistle plant outside the house. We're hoping that we might actually have a few chrysalis' in a few days. I'm going to have to do some research with Sadie and see how long that takes.



The Book Thief


Brilliant! Told from an extraordinary point of view, death was the perfect voice for this wrenching story. His wit, his frankness, and his asides were perfect companions to this carefully wrought novel. In the middle of the story he pauses to write and foreshadow,

"I'm spoiling the ending, not only of the entire book, but of this particular piece of it. I have given you two events in advance, becasue I don't have much interest in building mystery. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It's the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me."

How often in an English/Literature class have we heard the intoning voice..."now why did the author choose to use foreshadowing?" And we have the typical answers, to build suspense, to pique interest to frame the story...Here the author is blatant, I love how he admits that it's not so much the ending but all the little details in between. Draw your own life metaphors in the blank...

I have to admit I have a macabre fascination for Holocaust stories. I am haunted by WWII. By it's brutality, immensity and inhumanity. The Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place, Night and Number the Stars are among some of my favorites, and The Book Thief now takes it's place on my list.
This was a fantastic book! But wait until you have a day or two blocked out to read, because once you find yourself inside this story you won't want to leave.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bicycle Counting

1 spare tire

2 bike wheels

3 flats

4 friends

The Salt Lake Century Gang


As I finished my long solo last half of the bike ride last Saturday I had my fingers crossed that my tires would be ok. The ride was supposed to be fully supported, which I thought meant that if you got a flat there would be someone to fix it, but I saw no one along the bike route and the spare tire I was carrying would not have done me much good without a tire lever and a way to inflate it...

Apparently I pushed my luck a little to far because on our evening ride today I had 3 flats, not just one but 3! and two of them were simultaneous. Thank goodness for my friends, their patience and spare CO2 cartridges!
Silver lining: Now I know how to change my own flat tires and exactly which tools I should be carrying.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Legs, Wheels & Wings



I did it! My longest bike ride so far and at a (for me) decent pace. I met my friends at 6:30 this morning and we drove up the Utah State Fair Park for the Cycle Salt Lake Century. I was a little nervous about the 7:30 mass start. Bikes and crowds of bikers make me a little anxious, add to that my exactly one week old "real" bike shoes and my not-so-lightning quick reflexes and natural grace and it's understandable. But, it wasn't bad at all. The ride out was fun, all the traffic was stopped and it was nice and cool. It was a new experience for me to ride in a pack, I decided it's actually fun to be surrounded by other bikers and had a good time. I hit my turn around at the rest stop at mile 18, my friends who were doing the 72 mile loop headed on and I turned back. The ride back was not so fun, this time all the people I passed were heading the other direction--that doesn't count--and I was alone the entire 18 miles. I guess if I want to stay with the pack I better up the mileage next time! But I finished my 36 miles in about 2:15. Not to shabby for a brand new biker and all good preparation for Little Red Riding Hood in another couple weeks!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I often go walking...



It's decision time again...this spring the work begins on the yard. We're a couple weeks behind the bloom times in the valley but we really do need to get going. We've hired a landscape designer and this afternoon we met with her at a local nursery to look at plant selections. I really had no idea quite what to expect but after seeing her preliminary drawings for the yard I am excited! We came across some definite No!s,(no ornamental pines or juniper) but we have some really unique spots that I'm excited to work with. Hopefully somewhere between my idea of profusions of color (see above picture) and Brian's ideal of sparse rocks and bark we'll find a compromise. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cream Puff Paradise

I confess, it's not mine...but it soon could be. I spent yesterday afternoon at Chocolatier Blue for a pastry class. When my friend called with the invitation to join her I figured I was long overdue for a girls afternoon. Thanks to my awesome Mom, who took my girls, I got to go and do one of my favorite things. Baking makes me happy and this kind of baking makes me really happy.

We made flourless chocolate cake, pate a choux and pastry cream.

Flourless Chocolate Cake is one of my all time decadent dessert faves. Our chef showed us how to make a blackberry gelee to top it off and I think I might have a new favorite topping...the recipe was so simple and the thoughts of how many ways I could use it sent me into spirals of delight...homemade vanilla ice cream, apple crisp, grilled peaches, lemon cheesecake...I could go on...

The pate a choux was new for me, I've seen many recipes but never tried it. As soon as I have vanilla beans to make the pastry cream (and for homemade ice cream) I know how I will spend a couple delightful hours in my kitchen. Does anyone want to go in on those? They come in a pack of 75 on www.pastrychef.com and I just can't see myself using all of them in the next couple of months. The pastry cream was fantastic, and as I watched I kept thinking I can do this!

As I left after class I couldn't help it...I picked out a box of chocolates to take home. It was my reward for not licking my fingers the entire 3 hour duration of class...and I have to say they have been worth every calorie I will have to run or bike this week to equal out!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Little Things

Sometimes in life we get lost in the stuff. The next big project, the company from out of town, the never-ending laundry and the mundane jobs that need to be accomplished. But I've decided that in the midst of chaos you can still choose to be happy. There is pleasure to be found in each day. You just have to decide what brings you joy. My list is simple and long it's made up of little things that are sometimes significant to only me, but they bring satisfaction to each day. Tonight was full of good things, book club (always a treat) but even better good friends, and silliest of all a night time field trip to a brand new...of all things grocery store...where we arrived to late to get the gelato we were all hoping for, but still in time for the gelato maker behind the counter to let us sample each of his flavors. So with the taste of pink grapefruit gelato still on my tongue I'll sleep contentedly until tomorrow with it's own list of simple pleasures.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sidelines

side·line [sahyd-lahyn] 1. the position or point of view taken by a person who observes an activity or situation but does not directly participate in it. 2. not my first choice for today, but 3. a great place to cheer on my friends who did a fantastic job running the SLC 1/2 marathon today! Way to go Laura & Lisa!

Why is it that my best laid plans always go so seriously awry?

Today was the SLC 1/2 marathon. The one that I blogged about at the beginning of the year, because if I put it in writing I would be more committed to training for....the training part I could handle, the injury part I hadn't counted on. I tore one of my left calf muscles at the end of January and although I could walk again after a week I haven't been able to run since.

So I've been feeling a little bit sorry for myself...and then Brian and I got road bikes. We had been talking about them for a while and I was trying to convince him that I was serious about doing a triathlon. And so instead of pouting this morning we called some friends and went for a bike ride. I was committed to the mouth of American Fork Canyon and back. I was hoping that it would be about 10 miles, but by the time we got back to where we had parked I had ridden 23 miles! We added an up the canyon and around the Mt. Timpanogos temple loop and it was a lot of fun!

I'll still complete a half marathon. And the Wasatch Back relay is still on my list. But I've now added "Little Red Riding Hood" a bike ride just for women up in Logan in June. So right now I am still and out of shape recovering runner but one way or another I will still have fun this summer...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ten signs your baby is not so little anymore!

10. She can write her own name, and knows her address and telephone number.
9. She talks confidently to strangers about every exciting part of her day.
8. She has a favorite website and can log-in with her own user-name and password.
7. Her appearances at your bedside in the middle of the night are counted monthly instead of nightly.
6. She is too old for Elmo and Dora the Explorer, and she knows who Hannah Montana is.
5. She can play guitar hero and fancies herself a drummer.
4. She is able and willing to help empty the dishwasher, the garbages and clean out her own sink.
3. Her bicycle and scooter now only have two wheels each!
2. She dresses herself and wants to do her own hair with all the logic and style sense of a five-year old.

AND

1. The tooth fairy has made her first visit to this little princess!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Roatan-part 1



Now this was a vacation...


Great diving for a week...Private little cabin tucked in the mangroves over the water...all the food that you can eat (and more than I should have)...zip lines in the jungle...and time with just Brian. Ahh, just writing that makes me want to go back....


The diving was fun. We had a lot of fun swim throughs, awesome ocean life...I saw a free swimming moray eel over 6 feet long! Turtles, huge crabs, an octopus, 3 squid in formation, my first garden eels lots and lots of fish and we did a really cool dolphin dive and some wreck dives. I stayed safely on the outside...you'll have to talk to Brian about how cool it was inside.




And our "cabin" was awesome, beautiful inside with hardwood floors and a generally hot shower. And we shared a little deck with hammocks and chairs with two other couples that were friends, so we had a nice gathering place to just sit and chat and watch an awesome storm on one of our last days.


The zip line started at the top of a hill and 18 zips later landed us on the beach in a Gumbalimba Nature Preserve where we got sat upon by macaws and monkeys. (Something that I thought would be a lot cooler than it actually was, it was stinky and messy...check that off the life list and glad to know for future reference). The zip line was very fun! You get harnessed in and then you get to fly through the jungle, what an awesome experience.




We were also with friends so in addition to "together" time we also just got to hang out. We had a great week. And I have to say a special thanks to Ben & Alison for staying with the girls (especially for weathering one of the "worstest days ever" in 4-year-old land). You guys are the best! And we will return the favor anytime!