Sunday, July 10, 2016

Under the Sea (and the Stars)

One of my favorite things about Utah summers are going to plays at the Scera amphitheater. When I saw The Little Mermaid on their summer schedule, I booked Chelsea and her daughter, Olivia, for a mommy/daughter date. We dropped off the boys with dad for a boy's movie night (they saw Angry Birds) while the girls and I stopped at the gas station and stocked up on junk food.

The show was awesome. I am always impressed with the quality of the Scera plays since it is a local production, and this was no exception. I loved the sea creatures, especially the eels and Flounder. Ursula was pretty spectacular, too. It was the perfect play for little girls, and even encouraged them to get up and dance at times. I was surprised how captivated they were through the entire thing. Afterwards, we stayed to meet the characters even though it was super duper late. They were all so nice to the girls and so fun to talk to.

It took two people to manhandle the eels, but the boys were the voices behind them. They were so animated! They would "swim" up and down the aisles right by where we were sitting. Both the eels and Ursula had light up costumes which made for some really cool effects when the sun went down.

This kid stole the show. What a cutie! The stage production changes the plot slightly, and one of those adjustments was Flounder had a crush on Ariel. Too cute.

And of course, we had to see the sea princess, herself. She was so gracious and warm. Just what a Disney princess should be.

Savannah's Birthday Party

Savannah requested a pool party for her birthday. Grandma Pendleton generously let us reserve her neighborhood pool and we had the whole thing to ourselves! Savannah had a long list of friends to invite and we had a fun mix of kids from school, church and soccer as well as lots of cousins. Even the Katschkes came, having driven in from Wyoming the day before, and second cousins Chloe and Delilah came too on their way home to Arkansas. Such a great group made for a great party!

Savannah loves planning parties and she had all the details of this one figured out. She wanted a banana cake with a number 8 candle and picked out water toys and beach towels for all her friends to take home. Emma took charge of the decorations and did a fabulous job turning Grandma's deck into a party oasis. By the time we got everyone back home and the party cleaned up, I was a little wiped, but I could tell Savannah had enjoyed every single second of it. To top it off, she and Logan slept over at the grandparents' and she and Logan joined the Katschkes and Grandma at Lagoon the next day. What a birthday weekend!

For her birthday gift, we gave her an overnight trip (just her and one parent of her choice) and some spending money to go shopping with. She has yet to redeem the trip, but has already taken her birthday money (combined with her Articles of Faith money) to buy herself a Kindle. Electronic devices and shopping trips-- why do I feel like I have a pre-teen?

Happy 8th, Savannah!

Dear Savannah,

June 24th marked the 8th anniversary of your entrance into this world and my arms. Your delivery was a piece of cake, despite your impressive 9 lbs 6 oz size, and other than a difficult stint with potty training, you have been a joy to raise ever since. You were a beautiful baby and we loved your dark hair and easy smiles.

Eight years later you have shed the dark locks for blond waves. Your smiles are still primarily toothless and often full of goofy sass. You are an entertainer at heart, and it is actually challenging to have a serious conversation with you as you love to make others laugh.

You are a mother's helper through and through. You love being around people and always want to be helping me with whatever I am doing. You don't play much with toys unless someone else is playing with you. Pretend games are your favorite, especially school. I am constantly finding spelling tests, homework, and art projects around the house from your various "students."

You love pleasing others which means you sometimes struggle making your own decisions. But you have grown tremendously this year and have surprised me by standing up for yourself when I thought I knew what you wanted but had guessed wrong. You are taking ownership for your decisions and I am proud of you for thinking things through and deciding what you want and don't want.

In a few weeks you will be baptized and I know it is not a decision you have made lightly. You understand what it means to be Christlike and I can see you try your very hardest every day to always do the right thing. When Dad challenged you to learn all the Articles of Faith, you worked hard for three weeks so that you could recite all 13 in one shot (and earned $50 for your efforts!).

You have no fear when it comes to water or heights or roller coasters. You LOVE to swim and dive and would spend every day in a pool if you could. Bugs are another story, and you threw a mini conniption when I made you stand in this field.

You love school and friends. Within 2 weeks of our most recent move you had your teacher and half your class wrapped around your finger. You are the most expressive 8-year-old reader I've ever heard and have a slight lisp because of your missing teeth that melts my heart.

You are growing up way too fast and I feel like I can literally see you slipping through my fingers every day. Sometimes I feel like a silent observer, witnessing your life unfold as my pleas to stop time fall on deaf ears. But it is a beautiful show and I am so grateful to watch from the wings. I love you, Savannah. Happy birthday, darling.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Timpanogos Cave

A few months ago I promised my niece, Emma, that we would go hiking when she came to visit this summer. Well, her visit finally came and we made good on that promise by checking off a hike that has long been on my bucket list: Timpanogos Cave!

You have to make reservations to tour the cave, so it has never fit into our spontaneous lifestyle before. But since I knew the week Emma would be here, it enticed me to plan ahead and get tickets. I also worried about our kids on this hike. It's only 3 miles round trip, but it's steep switchbacks with dangerous drop-offs the entire way. I shouldn't have worried. They did great, and when the ledges became too close for comfort, we put Sawyer and Izzy in backpacks to calm our nerves (and work our quads).

Though steep, the entire trail was paved and had multiple "caves" to pass through on the way up to keep things interesting. And every switchback greeted us with breathtaking views. Absolutely stunning.

We reached the cave entrance in the nick of time and met our guide to begin our tour. Isabelle was selected to unlock the door and let us in, but ended up needing multiple hands to help her get it open.

I hadn't realized that the tour actually took us through three natural caves, connected by manmade tunnels. At one point we turned off the lights to experience true darkness, and it was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. You never realize how much you appreciate even a little bit of light until it is completely and utterly gone.

We got to see the "heart" of Timpanogos Cave - the largest stalactite in the cave - along with a whole assortment of colored stalactites due to the various mineral deposits found in that area. There was also this stalactite/stalagmite duo trying to form a column. When I first saw it, I thought there was water beneath the stalactite and I was seeing a reflection.

After our hour long cave tour (which Isabelle loudly declared after 5 minutes was "boring"), we started our hike back down. I really enjoyed the cave, but the hike was the star of the morning for me. I seriously could not get enough of these views.

Oh, and this view, too. Shh... don't tell the rangers.

Balloon Fest

As part of our city days, there was a hot air balloon festival two mornings in a row. The first morning I wimped out and didn't get up for because we had all stayed up so late the night before, but then the kids were mad that I didn't wake them up. So the next day I woke up the older three before the sun rose and took them out to see the balloons launch.

It was really fun to watch them inflate and appreciate the beauty and vivid color of the balloons up close. It took quite the coordination to get them up, but we were able to sit pretty close as they did it because they have the process down to an art.

When all the balloons were inflated, we were allowed to walk right up to them and see them from all angles. The sun was just peaking over the mountains and it was an awe inspiring site. Then, just when I thought we might see one take flight, they brought them down! Apparently a storm was on it's way and it was too windy to take them up, even though it was calm as anything on the ground.

Afterwards I learned that this is pretty common. In recent years, it has been rare to have a day when the balloons do launch. That was a bit of a letdown, but we still enjoyed watching them and free donuts and helium balloons definitely made it worth the effort. As an added bonus, the kids were asked to come help put one of the hot air balloons away. Maybe we'll give it another go next year and hope for a launch!

Monday, June 27, 2016


As our first year as official Springville residents, we tried a little bit of everything when Springville Art Days rolled around. The first agenda item on our list was the Fun-o-rama, a smallish carnival set up for just a couple hours designed specifically for younger kids. A $5 wristband let them ride and bounce on everything, plus a magic show, hair dye, and temporary tattoos to boot. What a great way to kick off the summer!

This ride encompassed a dream I have had for many years now: all my children in a single cage!

The colored hair spray was a lot of fun, but weeks later I am still finding pink spots on Savannah's scalp!