Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Merit Badges Galore

It has been a merit badge extravaganza this week. The boys had two classes at Hogle Zoo for Soil and Water Conservation and Bird Study. They also worked hard on finishing up their Insect Study badge and got that passed off when they went back for these classes this week. Whew. Getting to Eagle is not easy, that is for sure. Yesterday was the soil class and I dropped them off at nine and then had to kill three hours before I could pick them up again. There was no way I was going to drive home and back again. Not worth it.

Instead, I took my little kids to Liberty Park. They have completely redone the playground area and it is now quite fabulous. There is a splash pad and all new equipment. Three hours sped by, especially since we made a quick stop at Trader Joe's for some treats to hold us over.

Noelle just loved the swing.

And she loves her brother Eli. He was so cute with her. Julia and Harry each found kids to play with and keep them occupied, but Eli seemed content to just hang around with me and play with her. It was charming.

Then when we got home from the zoo, the boys spent another hour finishing up their insect scrapbook. It took us about 5 hours to find bugs and then have them sketch and observe and research. Oy.

Today, I decided to take the little ones to the University of Utah bowling alley, a popular spot for my husband all through college. He wasn't too sure where the library was, but he found the billiards and bowling alley the first day of school. And boy, my kids fit in well. We played with bumper lanes. I even bowled one game. And I really, truly stink at bowling. Believe me, I tried. I think my score was 65, with bumpers!  Harry and Eli beat me handily.

Harry even managed to get two spares in a row, and Eli threw a strike. Julia has inherited my bowling prowess, unfortunately.  And I think she is about as interested in it as I am. But Harry and Eli really enjoyed lobbing those balls down the lane. They bowled a second game and Julia quite after the 4th frame. Harry and Eli would each bowl her frame for her. And they both broke 100 on their second games. I think Harry's score was like a 114. He has got his daddy's skills for sure.

We then walked down to the bookstore and got a couple of kids books so that I could get the parking validated. It was free popcorn Wednesday, so four bags of popcorn was a nice consolation prize as well.

We then picked up Raef and Zach, got some lunch, and then went to the Jordan Water Plant in Sandy. The boys did a tour to learn about how we get our drinking water and then I made them write everything down when we got home. Like I said, it was a Boy Scouting extravaganza these past few days.

I am wiped out!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Dad Comes to Visit

I got back from my Sedona trip Monday morning, the same time as Raef and Zach headed out for their very first real scout camp. They went to Bear Lake for the entire week. I really missed them. It made me realize even more how much they do for our family. They are so important and it is a big void when they are gone. But I am grateful they could go and grow on their own. When they came back, they were both happy and had a positive experience. That was a relief for me. I didn't see them for about 10 days. I have never gone that long without seeing them. Wowzers.

While they were gone, my dad came to town to visit everyone. He arrived Tuesday morning. I picked him up at the airport and then we went to City Creek so that he could see it. Then we met Jamie at Gateway and had lunch with him. 

My dad has picked up a new hobby: photography. He absolutely loves it and it coincides well with his love of long drives. On Wednesday we drove the Alpine Loop. We stopped at different vistas for some photo opportunities and then let the kids get out at Bridal Veil Falls.

There was a trout pond and a man was there with a huge bag of fish food. He was letting kids have some to feed the fish. My kids just loved it!

We ended up in Provo and first stopped at the BYU Paleontology Museum. It is right next to the football stadium and is free! I couldn't believe how much Harry, Julia, and Eli loved this museum. They were ecstatic looking at the specimens and wanted me to see everything as well.

We then went to the campus and wandered around the Wilkinson Center and ate lunch at the Cougar Eat. I can't believe how much I remembered from when I was a five year-old living in Provo, but I did.  We also stopped at the library because dad was trying to find a portrait of one of his professors. He couldn't find it, but it was still fun to try. Dad enjoyed buying my kids treats. Nothing has really changed in that department!

We also met up with Catye and Mike at a playground in the area and every night Jamie, Leah, Catye, and Mike and their kids came around for dinner; all or some of them for every night dad was in town.

On Friday, we hit the road for another drive. This time it was the Golden Spike National Historic Park. Holy cow, I had just been there last month, right? Sheesh. But his two choices were the Golden Spike or Wyoming. I can tell you right now, there is nothing in Wyoming! No way! Plus, it was farther, so I settled for this drive.

We got home around 5 pm and Rinar, Raef, and Zach were all waiting to greet us. It was a happy reunion. We were able to play 8 and Back with dad and my siblings. Dad really wanted to play that game with everyone. And no surprise here, but Rinar won again.

I am very grateful that I could spend this time with my father. It has been a long time coming. I hope it can be a more frequent occurrence in the future.

A Sedona Sister Trip

I was blessed to be able to spend the weekend with my little sister Heather. She lives in Scottsdale and is super busy with work and school. I am so proud of her, working hard to get her bachelor's from Arizona State. She only has two classes left and then she will be done! Hooray for Heather! However, with all of this stuff she is doing, it is hard for her to get away. So she asked me if I would come to her and spend the weekend. Uh...heck yeah!

I got there on Thursday, July 10. She picked me up at the airport and then we headed to dinner at Barrios, a neat, semi-fancy Mexican place in Phoenix. 

Then on Friday we hit the road and headed up to Prescott. We did lots of window shopping and made her commune with nature and took her on a short hike just out of the city. We also went to see Maleficent at the movie theater. I haven't been to a movie in eons, so it was nice to do something different.

On Saturday we drove the back way to Sedona. The road was really windy and by the time we got to Jerome we were both ready to get the heck out of the car and get some fresh air. Jerome is a town slapped to the side of mountain. It reminds me a lot of Virginia City.

Sedona is breath-taking. We originally tried to go to Slide Rock, but the park was closed because of the wild fire in the area, which had caused the water to get contaminated with E. Coli. Therefore, we went to the Holy Cross Chapel east of town. It is a historic landmark and has amazing views of the different buttes in the area.

After that we attempted a hike, but it was hot, hot, hot. We only walked about a 1/2 mile and then retreated to our hotel. The Orchards was right in the thick of all the shops and restaurants. We did some more shopping and then relaxed at the hotel. But as evening came, it was time to get out and do something again.

I talked her into another hike. This one was a lot longer, to Devil's Bridge. It was a four mile excursion to a free standing rock bridge. We started at about 6 pm. And as we were getting near the bridge, the rain came.

It really started to pour. Heather was not too happy about that, but I was reveling in the moisture...and this double rainbow!!

We were able to find shelter in a rock depression. Heather was a lot happier once the rain was pounding her. Another sister couple stayed under the shelter with them. That was neat to be able to meet someone new.  Finally, the rain stopped and we reached our destination at Devil's Bridge. On the way back it started to get dark quickly. I started to get concerned and really tried to pick up the pace to get back to the main road/trail. Heather didn't like the rain and I do not like to get lost. And getting lost in a wilderness was especially unappealing to me. We probably ran about a mile to get back to the main thoroughfare.

After our evening hike, we ate at another Mexican restaurant. We were kind of chilly because we were wet and the rain had really cooled down the entire city. It was nice and very unexpected.  Then Heather splurged on a whole lot of fudge. Curse you, Heather!!!

We drove back to her place on Sunday. On the way, we stopped at Montezuma's Castle National Monument. It was a pleasant surprise. Plus, I could get us in free with my National Park Pass.

We had a lazy Sunday afternoon, eating Chinese food, watching the World Cup, and way too many episodes of the Real Housewives. It was nice to spend time with Heather and make some memories together. I look forward to many more trips together. Maybe next time, our other sisters can join us. It would be even more fun.

The Garden Grows

This is my rookie garden season. Things seem to be going pretty well. I love that I can nurture this garden and watch it blossom...

And I can watch my children grow as well...

I just can't wait to slice into my first big garden tomato. Isn't that what it is all about?

I have peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers, yellow squash, corn, and onions. I am learning a lot and look forward to trying this again next year, with a little more experience under my belt.


Our stake sponsors something called Trek once every four years for the youth. It is an amazing opportunity for kids 14-18 years old. My two are too young to participate, but they were asked to help out with the send off. Trek is a re-enactment opportunity to get a glimmer of what it was like for the handcart pioneers so long ago. I did not even realize that one of my ancestors was a handcart pioneer and successfully made it to the Salt Lake valley. 

Anyways, my boys were asked to play the part of Jon Chatterly and his cousin, two kids who sailed with their families from England to come to America and Zion. While they were waiting for the boat to sail out of Liverpool, Jon's dad told them to take the dogs for a walk because it would be many months before they would be able to do so again. When the boys came back, the ship had started to set sail and was ten feet off of the dock! Yikes!! They had to hire a smaller boat to row out to the big boat. It was quite a story. But these boys were musicians who would entertain the sailors and passengers on the long voyage. Hence, Raef and Zach entertained the kids going on Trek by playing different fiddle songs. It was a fun morning.

And while they played for the youth, my little kids stayed entertained by playing on the swing set, eating donuts, and playing on my iPhone.

Then I had to run Raef and Zach up to the school where they were participating in a LEGO robot camp. After that, I took the little kids to the skate park. It is our new favorite thing to do. This was our second time going. They brought scooters and scooted around the obstacles. Every time they get a little more brazen and coordinated. It is fun to watch them grow and develop new skills.

A Hot and Sleepless Fourth

Once again for the Fourth of July, we found ourselves down in St. George. I have no idea why we go to St. George in July. It is freaking hot and really not the best time ago, but whatever, I guess. Rinar was in Las Vegas for work, so he just drove up on Wednesday night and spent time with his mom. I met him on Thursday at the water park next to the Tabernacle. After a four hour drive, my kids really needed to get out and play and fortunately the city has a wonderful splash pad and mini-river that is perfect for a wide age range of kids, which is what I have.

In the evening we headed out to Lyf's house because that is where we were going to stay for the weekend. It was a rough night for Noelle. She just could not fall asleep. She was a little bit sick from getting her shots and it didn't help that we were not home and that she was over-tired from only taking a 30 minute nap for the whole day. I had to hold her to sleep from about 1:30 am to 2:00 am before she finally gave it up. 

Rinar took the kids to the parade in Hurricane while I got some sleep Friday morning. And I thought that Noelle would sleep a little longer, but alas, she was awake bright and early. It is tough to find things for the kids to do in St. George when it is so wretchedly hot outside. After hanging out at Lyf's house in the morning, we then went over to Nordel's house and hung out there and tried to get Noelle to take a nap while the kids played. But she was not cooperative at all. Grrrr! By about 5 pm we were a bit desperate for somewhere to go, and ended up at McDonald's because of the indoor playground. I swear I would never go there if it weren't for the playground.

After killing an hour or so at McDonald's, we went to my Grandma N.'s house to get ready for the fireworks. I once again tried to get my little baby to go to sleep. She had only slept for a few really good hours for the past few days. How was she functioning? I thought I was successful at getting her to bed and left her on my grandma's bed to sleep until it was time to leave late that night. However, it was not to be. After about 45 minutes, she was awake again! Holy smokes!!

So I took her outside with everyone else.  Here is Grandma all ready to enjoy the festivities with Eli, Julia, and Harry.

We did sparklers this year. It was a big hit!

And we had ice cream cones. Nordel and Brooke's family came along with Brooke's brother and mom and all of their families. It was a nice crowd. Karey, Eric, Dallin, and Ian came like always and it is nice to be able to see them and catch up.

There is that stubborn little baby with Grandma and Auntie Margaret. She did really enjoy the fireworks and was mesmerized by them.

 Eli is hanging out with his cousin Brielle.

And Harry, with his cousin Tru, really loved the fireworks. He made sound effects as he watched them explode and was trying to freeze them in the air. It was darling.

On Saturday, we played at Lyf's house for a while and finally hit the road at about 4 pm. On our way out of town, we paid a visit to Lynn. His headstone is in place and it looks beautiful.

This was a precious moment I captured of Noelle with Grandpa.

Fortunately, with a little help from a night-time cough medicine, we were able to get Noelle back on her sleeping schedule and all is right with the world again. And we made it back to cooler weather...thank goodness.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Utah Arts Festival

My goal this summer is to get out and do things and see things. I want my kids to live each day to its fullest. So when I saw an advertisement in the paper for the Utah Arts Festival, I was sure that it was something I did not want my kids miss. Fortunately it was on a Thursday and Rinar was home, so I was able to leave Noelle at home for a much needed nap.

There was a kids section with lots of opportunities to do and experience art. Summerhays music had a booth with lots of real instruments that the kids could play. Eli was enthusiastic to play the violin. He was all fired up from going to Suzuki camp and wanted to show off. So he stood there and played all of his Twinkles. It was quite darling.

They also did some artwork and enjoyed the chance to express themselves.

We did a very quick tour of the real art booths but the kids definitely did not seem too interested. But they were interested in getting a treat. So I ponied up and bought them some smoothies, which they enjoyed immensely.

I decided to catch a music act on the big stage. It was nice to be able to sit down and relax in the shade and let the art come to us. Amazingly enough, the lead singer of the band was my next-door neighbor, Lindsey. She goes to a performing arts school in Lehi and did a great job. She has a strong voice. I was pretty impressed.  My kids enjoyed it too.

The arts festival was a hit with the kids: 2 hours of cultural fun. I am glad we went.

Salt Lake City Cemetery

We had a surprisingly good time a few weeks ago when we did a field trip to the Salt Lake City Cemetery. It was a Relief Society activity. It was a small group of women, but we made it count. The cemetery is right next to downtown in the Avenues and it is the largest municipal cemetery in the country. 

This cemetery is where a lot of pioneers and leaders of the church are buried. If you know church history, this is the place you want to go. It is seeped in church history. I think that most of the prophets are buried here. It is special.

This was a wooden grave site of a handcart pioneer. I thought that was pretty groovy. I also enjoyed the fact that people still care greatly about these grave sites. Many of the markers have been replaced due to weathering. These are beloved people that have been buried here.

The cemetery also has an incredible vista of the city. I was wowed by the view. It was quite astounding.

Here is the grave marker of President David O. McKay. It is just below the grave of Gordon B. Hinckley. I just loved that man so much.

Here are the ladies. Melissa K., Chris K., Sharon F., Landon C., Marlene M., Brady C., and Melissa C. is not pictured because she is behind the camera.

After our tour of the cemetery we went to a nearby park and ate lunch. The kids played on the playground and we were able to visit for a while.

My mom told me that I have relatives buried in this cemetery. I had no idea! I am going to have to go back and visit again, but maybe without the kids.

Nine and Half Months

Noelle is now 9 and a half months old. Time is whizzing by. She is just a darling little baby girl. She loves to explore and touch everything with her hands and feet. Everything must go in her mouth. That is probably because she needs to try out all of the new teeth she has. There are two on the bottom a few coming in on the top. That means that she has had a runny nose for the past month. And this girl absolutely hates getting her nose cleaned. It is an all out war.

Noelle had her 9 month check up a few weeks ago and she is about average on her height and weight. She loves to eat and will eat just about anything. This sure makes life easier for me. She is also very ticklish and when I am changing her clothes, I tickle her tummy and she just loves it. 

She also went swimming for the first time this past month. It was a hit. She is a natural in the water. She doesn't cling to me and feels comfortable as I move her through the pool. This is her first swimming suit and I think it is absolutely darling.

She is starting to "talk" more. And I have to admit that yesterday she saw Rinar on FaceTime and clearly said Da Da. I think that was her first word. She is a bit reluctant to say Ma Ma. Boo hoo for me.  But she sure loves me and I can still cuddle with her when I give her a bottle. I am in love with her.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Please, Please, Just Show Up

Okay, so this has been bothering me for a while and I can't hold it in anymore. Fortunately, I have my blog to let it spew. And it's NOT about politics, okay?

I read a book about a month ago titled, "How To Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps)" by Jessica Hagy. I saw it at a gift store in Philly and decided to buy a copy on Amazon. It is a pearl of a book. I love it. It is mostly drawings: charts and Venn diagrams. Profound would be my one word to describe it. I wanted to share it with friends and neighbors and have a little book club to discuss it and then maybe try things together as a group... see where the road takes us. I guess the problem is that there is no us. It is just me, pretty much.

One of her pie charts shows that the majority of success comes from just showing up. A very small slice can be attributed to other things, but just showing up is huge. I am tired of being disappointed in people. It happens too frequently. It makes me ill. It makes me feel sad and awkward and stupid. I plan something and then no one comes. No one. Okay, that is probably an exaggeration, but it is pretty darn close to the truth. Hence, the things that I really care about and desperately want to do, I don't dare, for fear of disappointment. I know this is a terrible way of thinking and actually goes against everything in the book, but it is what I am struggling with right now.

I would love to have a book club, or some kind of group that does things together. I don't care who. Anyone, and I mean anyone, could come. I have all of these big ideas and I try to implement things and it just fizzles so quick. I am a person that needs intellectual stimulation and camaraderie.

Last summer, someone in the ward planned a camping trip. We left early, had lots of fun, and planned on meeting up with everyone a few days later. All four families canceled on us. Every. Single. One.

At Christmas time I really wanted to have an ugly Christmas sweater party. I tried really hard to make it happen and in the end four people came. Two of the four were Leah and Jamie who already lived at my house. Does that even count?

I wanted to play ultimate frisbee with people in our neighborhood and ward and was able to get one other family to come. Sigh. People told me it was a great idea and that they would come, but of course, did not.

And then there are the people at church that I would really like to make a connection with, considering the fact that our kids are the same age and we will probably be with each other for decades. It would be nice to make some friends. Unfortunately, there is always an excuse, a let down, a disappointment.  Or it is very one-sided. I will babysit their kids for hours on end and can't get them to help me with a very simple favor because they are just too busy. It is not that I expect anything but it is hard to get rejected on the one hand and then see them living it up with friends on social media, repeatedly, doing things that I am not invited to do.

It is hard to not feel a bit discouraged. I do. I am not going to lie. I realize that this is probably very skewed and that I am being a bit emotional about it. I most assuredly am seeing this from a distorted point of view, but it is just how I feel now. I know the feelings will pass and I will overcome. But for the moment, I am kind of feeling sorry for myself.

I would like to throw a summer party for my kids and invite the neighborhood to come, but I really am afraid to put myself out there. What if I commit to this for my kids and I get the same wretched response? I honestly don't think I could bear it.

But let me say, that I do have some amazing friends. I just wish they lived a little bit closer. I am very grateful for them and for their love and support.

Going back to my original thought about the interesting book. I did have a great discussion with Rinar about this book and he made a great point. I shouldn't be so concerned about being interesting, but in being interested. I really want a full, interesting, and interested life, full of people who let me be a part of theirs. I guess I still need to figure out where to look. It has been a rough start for me and this neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love where I live and I really have nice neighbors. It would just be nice if a few of my nice neighbors made an effort to show up once in a while.

ISSI, Once Again

After Father's Day, we once again attended the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute. Eli got to go this year to the Twinkle classes. He had a master class with Amy Norton, who was fabulous and a movement class with a lady from Sweden. Her last name was Berg. I can't remember her first. Eli was a model student. And it really got him excited about playing the violin and wants to practice all the time now.

Raef once again thrived at camp. He did a chamber class with Brant Bayless, had orchestra and master class with Smale. He also did his performance class with Robert Richardson. Rob is by far his favorite teacher.

Zach did his master class with Becker this year and had repertoire with Sylvia Koo. Sylvia is from Singapore and she is tough, but really gets results.  Take a look at his performance for the recital on Saturday.

It was a long, arduous week for camp but the payout is always huge. I love to see my boys play.
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