Thursday, August 23, 2012


Nearly a month ago, Spouse took #1 and #2 on a backpacking trip with many members of my family.  It's a backpacking trip that has been a tradition in my family for my whole life; I blogged about it a few years ago, the last time we participated.  The location is in the Sawtooth Mountains about in the middle of Idaho.

The circumstances this year were much different than in years past.  There were no moms!  Well, almost.  My mom and my two sisters in law were able to go, but the rest of the girls in my family (5 of us) stayed back to watch the young children.  It was a Dad's trip and from what I understand, they all did great!

#1, #2 and Spouse hiked a total of around 14 miles in three days, carrying everything they needed on their backs.  They filtered water from the stream by which they camped and built fires from the wood they collected. 

That's a whistle in #2's mouth, not a pipe. 

#1 and #2 both caught many fish.  #1 threw all of her fish back into the water, but #2 decided to try one for lunch.  He said it wasn't bad.

That's #1 in the middle with her cousins.

#1 and #2 working on their walking sticks and yes, that is a skirt #1 is wearing.  She insisted.

Nothing wrong with a little stick fight, right?

#2 all geared up for the hike down the mountain.

Nana with #1 and a TX cousin

#2 is practicing his balancing skills.  On the hike you must cross a rushing stream, precariously balancing on a log high over the water.  It freaks me out every time but apparently my kids are much braver than I am!

All ready to head home for showers and a soft bed.

Spouse earned the Dad of the year award for doing this trip without me. It is a hard hike, and that's if you're only worried about yourself and not having to encourage two little ones up the mountain too.  And once you're camped, everything is a lot of work: preparing meals, getting water, brushing your teeth, even using the bathroom!  Spouse managed everything... and didn't lose the kids!  Well done Spouse!

Monday, August 13, 2012

More from Utah - my family reunion

Day one of my family reunion started at the lake where all my siblings from Kentucky, Texas, Wyoming and Utah converged for boating, picnicking and serious sand fort building.  Between my dad, Spouse and my brother Miguel, the boat always had a driver ready to take willing kids on thrilling tube rides.

#1 and #3 with awesome cousins from UT and TX 

One exciting moment of the day was when Buster came running out of the water screaming, hitting at the back of his swimsuit.  My sister reached him before I did, and by the time my pregnant body made it to him, the screaming had stopped but he was still trembling and frightened.  "A lobster bit me!"  Sure enough, scurrying away from him was a huge crawdad that apparently couldn't resist a nibble of his white bum cheeks.

When we were sufficiently sun-burned and tired of the beach we quickly showered and met at the park for dinner and our FAMILY DANCE.  You betcha!  Spouse took some really fun videos but unfortunately there was a big blue whale moving to the beat in at least a few frames which means you don't get to see the rest of my family getting down on the dance floor.  The dance was a hit! The kids loved letting loose and it was fun to see the adults break it down. 

These three totally rocked the dance floor!
#3 getting ready to boogie!

Buster busting a move
After the last song on the playlist my talented bro-in law Bra (his moniker, not mine!) brought out his guitar and treated us to his music.  Bra plays his own music which is acoustic and upbeat and my sister sings the harmony.  Their sound is unique and so enjoyable to listen to.

Bra wears red TOMS, so you know he's way more hip than the rest of  us

The next morning we got up bright and early and drove up Logan Canyon to Tony Grove lake where my mom had reserved a few camp sites. We didn't actually sleep over, but used the space for meals and activities.  My mom surprised the grandkids with these tie-died shirts, fun games where they could earn "power pebbles" and a store that she opened at the end of the day where the "power pebbles" could be turned in for prizes.  

Tony Grove is a beautiful area with tall pines and thousands of wild flowers. The lake is pristine and perfectly blue.  My parents rented a canoe in which the kids loved taking turns.  While on the lake they saw two bull moose wading in the shallow edge.  Buster caught a tiny fish, without a fishing pole. It was already dead, but that didn't reduce the excitement. He carried around that fish carcass for hours before I finally convinced him to throw it in the fire.

#1 and #3 getting ready for some wilderness games.  My nephew A is getting himself a snack for later.

Showing off their tie-dye
This is all of us!

#3 working on her bird house.

Buster and his rotting fish

Sweet Brother Brig taking his nieces out for a canoe ride.

There's just one more post to cover the rest of our vacation and you don't want to miss it! Spouse took #1 and #2 on a back packing trip, without me.  Did they survive? Stay tuned....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1st day of school, 1st day of school!

 This morning my house was quiet and I was alone, really alone for the first time in 9 1/2 years. 

#4 will be here in a few weeks and then it'll be like I'm starting all over.  But until then, I've got mornings all to myself.  If I weren't giantly pregnant, I think I'd use the time for shopping, working out, going to the temple... you know, things that aren't fun with kids around (or impossible with kids around!).  As it is, I'm not ashamed to say I'm planning on spending my mornings laying in bed. 

Here they are:  my school kids!

The 4th grader

The 2nd grader

 The Kindergartener

#3 is attending a different elementary school than her older brother and sister because their school doesn't offer a 1/2 day class.  So after I dropped the older ones off (literally, I dropped them off. They didn't want to be walked in), we drove over to #3's school and got her set up in her classroom.

#3 did great. She didn't seem nervous, she just found her seat and started coloring.  I asked her if she was ready for me to leave and she replied by pointing to a chair in the corner, "You can stay, but go sit over there."  I watched as she tried to make polite conversation with her fellow table-mates.

"What's your name?"  They weren't as collected as #3 was this morning and all of them were too shy to answer.  "I said, What's your name?"  "What? I can't hear you."  So then she directed her questions to the parents milling around.  "What's your daughter's name?  Why won't she answer me?"

#3 also convinced me she didn't want to be picked up on her first day. She wanted to ride the bus home.  The bus stop is right in front of our house.  She loved it.

Here's to a successful 2012-2013 school year!  And here's to a few weeks of laying in bed all morning!

Monday, August 6, 2012

More from UT

One afternoon my dad took my little family out to the local lake for some casual boating. Once on the lake we discovered that sometime last fall before my dad stored the boat for the winter a squirrel had made a home in the engine compartment and in several other hidden places.  There were thousands of pine cones stashed away! 

Pine cones or not, this is the summer my kids lost all inhibitions behind a boat, even #3.  They all took rip-roaring tubing rides, catching serious air and loving it!  A few weeks later #1 and #2 were determined to try to wake board.  They had varying levels of success but came away determined that next summer they are going to really learn the sport.

On another morning, my mom rounded up #1 and #2 for a four mile hike. She wanted to make sure they were ready for the backpacking trip planned for the end of the month.  More on that later.

Bear Lake Reunion

I think I've mentioned here before how my kids start looking forward to Bear Lake the day after Christmas.  #1 says it's her favorite place in the world.  Bear Lake is beautiful and is certainly a special place but I keep trying to figure out why, exactly, do my kids love it so much.  My ideas:

because the bathing and grooming standards are lowered?

because they eat more candy and junk here than they do at Halloween?

because they have more freedom to wander (and hide from mom!) than they normally do?

because they have a million cousins to play with all the time?

because it's the only time of year they have access to cable television?

because the pool has no lifeguard and there are virtually no rules?

Whatever their reasons, they love it and it makes me love our Bear Lake week because I know how happy they are there.

Buster on the beach

#3 and her sun kissed cheeks (and candy blue tongue!)

 # 3 trying to "teach" her little cousin how to hit a ball.  Funny thing, it should actually be the other way around with him teaching her how to hit.

 #1, my beach beauty

Spouse's parent's cabin is just 15-20 minutes away from Bear Lake.  We spent the last afternoon there and Spouse took the kids on thrill ride in this thing.

#2, #3 and #1 loving their Grandma

 and some of their cousins

 Spouse and his dad

miles of sloping sidewalk for #2 to work on his skateboarding

 #1 tying to throw a strike!

Midweek Spouse flew in from AZ to enjoy the rest of our time at Bear Lake and to be there for my family reunion the following week.  Life is always better when Spouse is around.  

Next up, my family reunion.  Prepare yourselves.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Home Again

It's good to be home from my summer sabbatical to Utah.  Wait. Truthfully, it's actually kind of painful.  I love being with my family and in the midst of the green and cooler temperatures.  And it doesn't help that I come home at the peak of the worst season in AZ.  And it doesn't help that I'm 9 months pregnant and an icy cold Diet Coke is still 3 weeks away.  But let's focus on the positive here! 

Being in Utah for a month was just what the doctor ordered for my swelling, slowing self. My kids were entertained by cousins, green parks, reunions, trampolines, sprinklers and Aggie Ice Cream. I didn't cook dinner for a month (thanks Mom!) and barely kept up with our laundry.  At least twice daily someone was telling me to go lay down.  Well, if you insist.  My energy levels were up  and my swelling went down.  It was heaven.

Our journeys began on July 2nd. My good parents met me and my brood in Kanab to help me drive the rest of the way.  In fact, after Kanab I didn't drive at all!  My dad had brought pillows and helped arrange me comfortably in the passenger side of his car and my mom took over the wheel of the Jeep.  I was spoiled! 

We spent the first few days in Provo, where two of my sisters live, so we could celebrate the 4th of July together. Brother Brig and his wife also joined us for some of the festivities.

After grabbing some ice cream at the Cougar Creamery we headed up Provo Canyon to enjoy the beauty and ice cold waters at Bridal Veil Falls. 


In the afternoon my sister invited us all over for a BBQ.  She had set up her Slip 'n Slide for the kids to enjoy, but somehow the hose became unattached and this giant mud/sand pit was born. It all rinsed off and they loved it.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to get good seats at the famous Provo 4th of July parade.  It's been years since I've been and it definitely did not disappoint.  There were marching bands and floats from every nearby community with their local beauty royalty perched a top.  Buster especially loved the tanks and WWII vehicles and the Civil and Revolutionary war reenactments.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch and after some afternoon naps it was time to stake our claim on the hill at Rock Canyon Park for a good view of the fire works.  My sister brought supplies for ice blocking, which ended up being a fantastic idea since the fireworks didn't start until nearly 10:30 pm.

We didn't arrive in Logan until the evening of the 5th. Coming around the final bend of Sardine Canyon to behold the green and quaint valley is one of my favorite moments every year.  I'm always flooded with nostalgia and gratitude for its beauty. 

I will try not to overwhelm you, dear readers, with every detail and every picture of my lovely month.  In fact, let's see if I can recount my experiences in three posts, or less.  There are, after all, other things on the horizon (#3's first day of Kindergarten and the impending arrival of #4) that will need our attention soon.