Sunday, June 26, 2011

7 Days, 4 Kids, 1 hotel room

It's time again for our annual tag-along-with-Dad-for- a work-conference-trip to the big city of Salt Lake City where things like escalators and elevators provide the simplest of joys for our kids. While Brandon spent his days at the U. of U. being educated in the latest addiction therapy techniques, the kids and I packed in the fun, and I mean PACKED IN THE FUN. I'm tired!!
And oh, I learned some things on this trip too.

Hugs for a great Dad!! Brandon gave an excellent talk in church about Fatherhood. Adrie gave an excellent talk in Primary about Baptism. The General Primary President of the Church was visiting for all of it and that made things extra exciting.
Lesson #1 I couldn't have picked a better Dad for our kids, than Brandon.

We had Sunday dinner then headed to Salt Lake where the excitement of being in a hotel erupted in endless bouncing on the beds.

After our hotel breakfast buffet, Brandon headed off to his conference. The kids and I headed off to join family for some fun. Boy was I glad to unglue the kids from Disney channel dramas and get out of the hotel!

I don't know what the real name for this park is, but since it has a stupendous view of the city to the West and an equally stupendous view of Mt. Olympus to the East, well, that's what we're calling it.

Silly me, I thought all of Cannon's dreams would come true if I took him to meet some of his real live (in dead form) dinosaur heroes. He was totally freaked out! And then when they jump out at us in the 3D IMAX movie?!!

raaarghLesson #2: I don't care what it costs, at the end of a hot day, nothing makes kids happier than an ice cream cone

After finishing their treat, and with a bit of a sugar-high, the girls just had to scale the big iron tower that adorns the front of the park. There I was with videocamera in hand, just admiring their monkey powers like the proudest mom in the world when an employee scolded them for getting too high. They got down and ironically we all piled into our minivan in the handicapped parking spot. I really hoped somebody would start limping in front of the on-lookers. Even my mom (who is actually handicapped and the reason we get to park there) glided effortlessly over.

GILGAL GARDENS: This little treasure is tucked away in a neighborhood near Trolley Square. A resident turned his garden into a backyard memorial of his favorite scriptures and when he died, it was opened to the public.There were stone pathways weaving through flowerbeds inscribed with scriptures and verses to hymns, monuments to the Priesthood. Can you guess whose head that is on the sphinx? Each sculpture had a story behind it. Fascinating!

Lesson #3: When creating a backyard sanctuary, think outside the box.

I was so impressed with the place, I took Brandon after our dinner date. He thought it was pretty cool too. It was fun to be back in the neighborhood of the U. where BD and I spent our happy first couple years of married life. We decided on a Vietnamese restaurant.

Lesson #5: Spring noodle salad with lemongrass-- Vietnamese food is really good.

When I flew to Florida last month, I sat next to a chatty lady on the plane who wanted to know all about the Great Salt Lake, what's it like, what is it used for? Sadly, even though I grew up next to it I was completely ignorant?! She was visibly disappointed.So FLASHBACK -- - AND LET'S REPLAY THAT PRECIOUS OPPORTUNITY--

The Great Salt Lake is a wonderful natural resource that we here in the Salt Lake area are very proud of:
  • it's 5 times more salty than the ocean!
  • it's that way because it has no outlets
  • in fact, you can go out there and actually float in it, almost effortlessly. Really, we tried it, and it was awesome!
  • Antelope Island is home to a huge herd of bison, and many different species of waterfowl like pelicans.

handful of brine shrimp.
Really, it's just like a day at the beach-- except stinkier, and with tiny brine shrimp swimming in your nether parts--also swarms of biting gnats, and no palm trees, just a few giant roaming buffaloes for shade.
Yep, you should totally go there :)

Would you also be interested in learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am a member?....

Okay back to the present...

Lesson #6 After another long hot day, nothing makes Nana (my mom) happier than gourmet chocolate.Day 5: SEVEN PEAKS SALT LAKE WATERPARK:
My niece watched Cannon so I could take the girls. She surprised us by packing our beach bag with snacks. What a dear. She's always doing nice things like that.

Fun to ride the waves with the girls.
There wasn't a slide those daredevils wouldn't go on!

After all that fun and sun it was nice to go back to the hotel and reacquaint ourselves with Dad, have some dinner, more bouncing on the beds, and of course enjoy the pool.Lesson #7: It doesn't really matter how many fun activities you pack into your vacation because all the kids really care about is swimming in the hotel pool.

We checked out of the hotel and my mom treated us all to the earliest show at our favorite theater (they have kettle corn--which was the best part of the movie for me), Then we headed South to visit family.
We had some good quality time with Brandon's sister's family and his brother's family. So many cousins to play with! When it was time to head back, and we were driving home we couldn't help thinking. Our families are awesome and that leads us to our last and most important lesson:
Lesson #8: Time spent visiting with family is the best time spent of all!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Raising the Flag

When my dad died 6 months ago, a very nice person gave me some money to buy something that would help me remember him. I knew exactly what to get. A flag! Here it is in honor of my Dad who would have celebrated his 80th birthday today, Flag Day.

To everyone else, Flag Day in and of itself, was a great reason to celebrate. A very patriotic mother in the neighborhood organized a children's parade around the block. I thought that was a super idea. Happy Flag Day everyone and Happy Birthday Dad. We're thinking of you on this day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer of the Monkeys--literally.

We joined some great friends for a day in the mountains. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

We followed the stream until it shattered into a hundred tiny waterfalls. Some of the boys were reeling in rainbow trout and showed us how it was done. This would have been a great chance for Kate to fulfill #7 on her summer list but she was too busy doing bother with boys, tackle and bait.

Oh the primal joy of swinging from the trees!

After hours of exploring and swinging, with the occasional plunge into that icy snow-melt, we had dinner around the campfire, a program and sticky s'mores. What a super fun day.

Swinging was so much fun we did it again later in the week, only this time in town at our favorite "vine tree" park.

It was the perfect place for a picnic and reading. The kids loved climbing and swinging in those majestic drippy trees and running barefoot through endless stretches of green grass.

With all this tree-lovin', it seems only right that this month's read aloud would be Summer of the Monkeys.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Bummin'

There is nothing more beautiful than settling down with a good book and then looking up to see all your kids doing the same! 3 quietly reading girls in various spots in the living room--it's like honey for a mother's heart!
When Cannon saw what was going on he got a book and wedged himself between 2 of his sisters, although, his reading wasn't exactly quiet...

Now take this scene and flip it upside down and shake it like a game of Boggle. Earlier in the week, when I presented my marvelous summer reading and job schedule the place erupted with shouts of protest, tears of complaint, "I thought summer was supposed to be FUN, " and so on.

Much to everyone's surprise (especially mine) once implemented, our schedule made for a pretty darn good first week of summer. A trip to the library was key and then it went like this:

Family scriptures, prayer, jobs and practicing done before 10 a.m. (thought that was pretty generous time-table except that now they're waking up at 9!)

Each of the girls takes a turn choosing and preparing lunch at noon. While eating, I read aloud. This week we started and finished STONE FOX, only Brynn had to finish it for me because I was sobbing. Beautiful story.
After lunch silent reading. Kate set the timer for 20 minutes the first day, but the beeping was ignored. The girls read and read and read and we didn't have to set the timer for the rest of the week.

Some of Brynn's favorites this week: The Chocolate Touch, and Frindle (which Kate recommended)
Adrie finished Sarah Crewe, Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Kate has been reading junior fiction murder mysteries and Cannon? He likes the same books over and over, We're going on a bear hunt and Clifford the big red dog.
I am finishing up The Read Aloud Handbook which I just want to HUG for inspiring our summer reading program. LOVE THIS BOOK.

We'll need another read-aloud selection this week and I don't think I have the emotional stability for "Where the Red Fern Grows."
Do you have any memories of being read aloud to in school or at home? What were your favorite reads?

Besides reading the days away, here's what made the list of summer goals.
  1. play Super Mario brothers
  1. go to the swimming pool
  2. watch Rio
  3. go ice skating
  4. play Wii
  5. do Jymnastics
  6. go to Lagoon
  7. go to 7 peeks
  8. go to Disneyland
  9. go to Florida
  10. go to the beach
  1. go to a BYU game
  2. go to Disneyland
  3. go to Disneyworld
  4. have a sleepover with Anika
  5. make homemade suckers
  6. go to Lagoon
  7. go hunting
  8. go camping
  9. go fishing
  10. ride bike to Taco Time
  11. save up money
We're looking for foster parents to fulfill Kate's 7,8, and9. We're also accepting donations for Brynn's #9 and Kate's #3. I think the rest might have a chance.