Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A New Year

First day of school checklist (kids):

◻ Wake up on time
◻ Eat a nutritious breakfast
☑ Take back to school pictures

One out of three is not too bad.

First day of school checklist (mom):

☑ Get kids to school
◻ Exercise
◻ Can a year supply of salsa
◻ Get caught up on laundry
◻ Get caught up on blogging
◻ Finish all half-completed summer projects
◻ Prepare a homemade after-school snack and start dinner
◻ Read a book
◻ Relax

Too ambitious?

Farewell to Summer

Our awesome friends, the Willardsons, invited us to share in a special tradition with them the week before school started. Each year that one of her kids starts kindergarten, they light Chinese lanterns and send them off into the night, a farewell to a beloved summer and to the early years of childhood. We started the night with a family home evening lesson on being a "light" to those around us. We talked about how to be a good example at home and school, and how to feed our spiritual light. Then we headed to a lake to set the lanterns off near the shore.

Seeing the lanterns floating away in the night was such a serene, bittersweet experience. They were so beautiful and the evening was so peaceful, but it was a reminder that this moment is fleeting and all too soon I'll be sending my own "lanterns" into the world.

Goodbye, summer. You done good.

Westward Ho: Arches

For years we have talked about taking a family trip to Arches National Park. Although we have driven within miles of it several times, it never fit in the agenda to take a day out to visit. On our way home this summer, we made it a priority and finally made it to the glorious land of red rock arches.

We didn't have time to see everything (and I don't think our kids legs would have tolerated it all), so we had to be selective, but everything we saw was amazing.

Balanced Rock:
We started with Balanced Rock simply because it was near the park entrance and had a very short paved walkway all the way around. The kids loved seeing all the mini balanced rocks people had created along the trail and made sure to leave a couple of their own for future visitors.

Double Arch:

We made our way to the Double Arch trailhead late in the afternoon. Although it was hot (think desert in July), the trail was in the shade and it really was much more pleasant that I'd expected.

When we got right under the arch, Logan climbed right up the face and into the ledge. I loved that everything was fair game for climbing and hiking. It made everything an adventure and helped our kids not realize that they were "using up so much energy" (a common complaint from them).

Sand Dune Arch:

Our last stop of the night was Sand Dune Arch. What an awesome jewel this was! A very short hike (more like a walk around the corner) opened up into a little sandy oasis. The sand was so, so soft. Isabelle immediately sat down and started making sand angels in it. Once again, there were more rocks to climb (and jump off of) and all sorts of fun things to do. Just before we left, Savannah jumped off a rock and twisted her ankle, so Jeff stuck her on his shoulders and hefted two kids back to the car.

Delicate Arch:

The next morning we got an early start to try and beat the heat at Delicate Arch. It kind of worked, but mostly because we got lucky with cloud cover. I usually struggle to appreciate the barren beauty of the desert, but I could definitely see its raw strength and hidden life as we made our way towards Delicate Arch.

The arch itself was stunning, as much for the bowl in which it sits as much as the arch itself, which nearly gave Jeff a heart attack with our kids being their reckless selves. We watched some people climb down from the base of the arch into the bowl and nearly considered it, but decided we'd better stick to the path most traveled this time.


I was so glad we took the time to see these miraculous wonders of our beautiful earth. I have held high expectations for Arches for a long time and it did not disappoint me in the least. There is nothing I love more than experiencing all of Heavenly Father's beautiful gifts with the best gift of all, my family.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Westward Ho: Pioneer Day

On Pioneer Day this year we introduced our kids to one of our favorite hikes: the Diamond Fork Hot Pots. These natural hot springs are nature's jacuzzi. The water was the perfect temperature (unless you got too close to the source where it was piping hot). I was proud of our kids for doing so well on the hike. At almost 5 miles it was our longest hike to date, but they did great and didn't complain at all.

We were in good company that morning. My dad and Paige joined us as their last hurrah before heading back to California, and Byron and Erica came along as well. I loved being able so spend time with all of them, especially in such a fun and relaxing setting. Paige hiked the entire thing in flip flops-- crazy girl!

Jeff was disappointed that this waterfall was more sparse than usual because it wasn't as much of an adventure to stick your head through it, but it was a lot less intimidating for Logan to try.

I am such a wimp when it comes to cold water that I usually miss out on playing in rivers and lakes. It was so great to be able to have fun and not be freezing cold the whole time.

After our hike, we spent the rest of the afternoon at a Smith family reunion in Spanish Fork. It was a really relaxed and enjoyable day, spent catching up with lots of family and, of course, good food. We had to get a little creative when Sawyer started getting tired. Luckily Grandpa saved the day with his magic touch and ingenious solution.

Westward Ho: Creepy Crawler

While in Utah, Sawyer went from daydreamer....

to doer!

After 10.5 months, he finally figured out how to crawl. Sawyer has been a bit of a late bloomer compared to our other kids, but he's also the biggest so I can't blame him for not wanting to move all that mass around. Since he has discovered mobility, he's been pretty much unstoppable. Within a few days he started pulling himself up on furniture and has the bumps to prove it. When we finally came home, he discovered stairs and crawled up the entire flight within a week. I've already installed 3 baby gates and a 4th is in the works. Now the question is, will he walk before his first birthday? It's not looking promising, but I've been proven wrong before.

I had an awfully cute assistant providing a destination for Sawyer to crawl to. Sometimes--not often, but sometimes--she can be legitimately helpful.

But she's always cute.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Westward Ho: Hiking the Y

Every time we drive by the Y in Provo, the kids point it out. So while we in town, I thought of the brilliant idea to take the family and hike the Y. I thought I'd finally found a hike my kids would be excited about. It turns out I was only partially right. Yes, the kids were excited. Until we started walking.

I'd only hiked the Y one other time, the summer after my freshman year of college. I remember it being steep with tons of switchbacks and no shade. But it isn't a long hike so I thought it wouldn't be a problem for my kids. The reality is, even though it was one of the shortest hikes we've done all summer, it was easily the most difficult. It doesn't help that we did it during the heat of the day and without enough water. (Head slap.)

Nevertheless we made it and the view from the top was beautiful. I love getting up high along the Wasatch front because you can see for miles over the flat valley below. It was fun to count the four temples we could see (Timpanogos, Provo, Provo Tabernacle, and Payson).

I almost forgot to mention my dad hiked with us! I was surprised and elated when he called me just after we'd made it to Utah and told me that he and Paige wanted to drive up and spend the week with us. I so often get to see my mom without my dad, but I don't often get the opposite. We made Paige stay home from hiking the Y since the heat and steep grade didn't seem great for her 8 month pregnant belly, but we met up with her later that day to see my brother's latest movie, Planes 2.

Westward Ho: Family Fun

There are lots of wonderful things to love about Utah, but even if it were a barren wasteland with nothing to do we would still have fun because that's where our family is. Family time comes in blitzes these days, and we capitalize on every minute we can to be together. It helps that Jeff's mom works for the same company he does, because the first week we were in Utah was their annual conference. Although most of the conference consisted of meetings, Imagine Learning is very family oriented and had several events that we could come to. The last day of the conference was a family luau. The kids had a blast playing on inflatables, eating snow cones, learning to hula and do the haka, and eat themselves silly. I loved being able to see friends that I'd made on our club trips (which I just realized I never blogged about this year! Coming soon...).

We made sure to visit the new Museum of Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point with Katy and crew. The museum itself was awesome, the crowds were not. I think we will have to try it again sometime when it has been open awhile and isn't still such a novelty! The crowds made us burn out before the kids did, but we treated them to snow cones on the grass so I think they forgave us.

Although there were some days we hardly left the house, we always made it a point to go to the pool. It was super hot and the water felt amazing. I roped Jeff's dad into giving some impromptu swim lessons and it is incredible how much they improved in a week. He even had them diving by the end!

Other activities not documented in jpeg include Draper City Days and fireworks, LOTS of golf for Jeff, trips to Ikea and the Traverse Mountain Outlets, a date night for Jeff and I on our 10th anniversary, dinners with my brothers and their wives (including Matt and Jen, who coincidentally spent a night in Salt Lake while we were there), the Lindon pool, and several daytime movies to beat the heat.