Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sister's Weekend

We have a new tradition in this family....
The Sister's Getaway

 Kicking off this year's festivities, in Sunny St. George---dinner, game night, and enough treats to kill a horse.
The next day we headed to beautiful Zion's National Park, where everyone could pick their pleasure when it came to hiking.
Some of us ignored the warning signs--the current death toll--the sign of a stick figure falling off a cliff. We called ourselves the Navy Seals of the family and pressed onward to Angel's Landing.
 Refrigerator Canyon was a welcome relief from the blazing sun and steep switchbacks.
 Made it to the top...

 Or so we thought....
We still had THIS to climb.  
 Clutching onto chain railing, and dodging dozens of Europeans, we scaled "The Fin"   Now we were really on top of the world.  It's no wonder that was a strenuous hike. See the dude hitching a ride in my backpack?!

It was all worth it for this view.
  I talked this chipmunk out of suicide.  He actually sat in my hand for a few seconds!
Mission accomplished.  We joined the others, who had done Emerald Pools and the Riverwalk. Concluded the day with a fantastic dinner at Texas Roadhouse, and had a movie night.
Our last day we cleaned up, packed up, and got a VIP tour of the soon to be Children's Museum in Ancestor Square. Can't wait to bring our kids back for that!  But for this weekend we sure enjoyed our woman bonding. If you haven't laughed until you've cried, you need a Sister's Getaway. Love these Ladies!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gooseberry Shenanigans

Cheers for another eventful week...

Our driveway hosted our annual block party. Lots of shoes, socks, and jackets were left behind, but luckily no kids.  The people that rear-ended our white car called to say they actually didn't have insurance. Our whole-house speaker system got fried in an electrical storm. Crazy weather we've been having, right? The house has been eerily devoid of news, music, and all my favorite talk shows.  I accompanied our third grader on her epic overnight field trip to Gooseberry . Cannon has been home through it all, sick with a cough and fever. And the grand finale of the the week--We celebrated 16 years of marriage with a trip to the temple, a restaurant dinner, and uninterrupted conversation. (see last week's post)

A little more detail about the field trip:
Gooseberry (n) A rite of passage for all 3rd grade residents of this county that consists of 2 days and one night of outdoor classes about things like fire safety, wildlife, stream ecology, and what to do if you get lost.  The children have dinner and sing campy songs around a fire. Then when it gets dark they hear a story from a veteran storyteller about "Annie Bangs," the ghost girl that haunts the campground.

 ....It was a hard winter back in 1800-something and the Bangs family never made it out of the canyon. Later that Spring, explorers found their cabin, the parents frozen dead in their beds but little Annie's cradle?  Empty. What had become of her? No one knew until hunters and campers began to notice their food or clothing would come up missing, especially RED things. There were sightings but Annie Bangs was elusive and remained  legend.

Suddenly, there she appears in the flesh running through the woods, like a man-teacher dressed in red with a crazy white wig.  To their utter horror, she runs through the crowds grabbing kids and threatening to haul them off into the forest. The kids,who have parents there cling to them and scream. The kids who can't find their parents cling to me and scream-- and those who do not have parents there? -- heaven help them. After a good amount of terrorizing and children bawling, everyone is sent to bed in their assigned cabins with warnings that Annie Bangs may come scratching at the windows.  No one sleeps except those who are snoring.
The next day the teachers cook breakfast, there is a flag ceremony and more hands-on learning from the forest rangers. It ends with lunch and clean-up.  Everyone returns home smelly, exhausted, and with a t-shirt "I SURVIVED" (not really but they should)  You may wonder, especially if you have city roots, Is this humane? and why is this program allowed to continue year after year? The answer: This ain't the city. Those 3rd graders come home a little older and a lot wiser. Like the running of the bulls or the polar bear plunge they know they have joined another generation to have survived an epic tradition-- Gooseberry.

 In search of Annie Bangs...Oh yes, we dare.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Month in a Minute

Today we had the amazing opportunity to go to church and listen to an Apostle of the Lord speak to us. Those conducting also randomly called some people from the audience (heart attack) that luckily weren't me--to speak-- so it was a really awesome meeting. This apostle ( and those few people from the audience) taught us humbly but so powerfully the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle was speaking I literally KNEW that everything he was saying was true. I knew it with my entire body-- heart and mind. As we sang together the closing hymn I just could not stop the tears. It was a beautiful feeling.

"Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, 
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. 
(Hymn #85 How Firm a Foundation, verse 3)

I know God lives and loves me just as he knows, and loves each one of us. I know where I came from, who I am, and where I am going. Nothing else really could be more important. Nonetheless, here is what else happened lately:

1.  Brandon and Cannon got rear ended on their way home from the hardware store. They were in our old paid for-white car. (the one that's not the minivan so the kids think it's a real joy ride)  The brakes on this poor guy's truck apparently didn't work. It smashed up our trunk pretty good but nobody was hurt except for a little whiplash. 

2. We had a wonderful family getaway to St. George to celebrate my birthday #36, but who's counting? and an early celebration of our anniversary #16. I got to do all the things I love to do and don't get to do very often: shopping, going out to dinner and a play, swimming, reading by the pool, and exploring nature. The Shakespeare Festival's production of Peter and the Starcatcher was highly entertaining. Loved every minute of it.  We came home late to a clean condo and all the kids in bed. Thanks Kate! Lastly, we enjoyed a fun-filled hike to Kanarraville Falls, where the trail crosses through the creek so many times we finally resigned to sloshing right through the water in our shoes. We passed through slot canyons, hiked up a waterfall, and slid down another one. How refreshing!  Not one, but two rattlesnake encounters on the trail back, had us feeling very alive and jumpy.

3. The kids all started school! What do I do all day, you are wondering, with my kids all in school now? I clean up all the messes they made before they left! Cannon declares Kindergarten, "awesome!" Kate is loving all the social interactions that another year of middle school brings. Adrie and Brynn have great teachers and everything is going swimmingly. Two changes have made this year better already. a) No carpools. My kids either ride the bus or their bike.   b) No home lunch--No longer do I have to bust my brain thinking of lunches that are not only healthy and budget-friendly but also require no heating or refrigeration and still taste delicious.  I gave up!  Except for Fridays, when they can come home early, they are all eating school lunch and it is worth every penny.

4. Besides, domestics I also am getting back into the routine of doing my own learning-- reading, music, French. Brandon says learning French is the nerdiest thing I do. I prefer the term C'est Magnifique, especially because it is fun to say. Besides, I am going to France someday and I don't want to be a total ignoramus. 

5. I have loved, loved, LOVED, getting to know all of my foreign exchange students and their wonderful host families. It's been exciting to hear about all their American firsts--first dream in English, first date, first time at IHOP. I love hearing their observations about where we live. Anna from Finland said, "Everyone in America is so happy and smiling all the time!!"  Renato from Brazil observed, "Americans don't eat very healthy food, everything is too sweet!" Maren from Norway said we have this weird stuff called peanut butter and it is in everything!    It has been very rewarding for me to hear how the students feel like they have the perfect family for them and the families feel like their student is one of their own. I am so excited to host our own student next year. A French girl, perhaps? Oh la la!

I feel really grateful that living in a little town, I can have, with these students, a connection to the great big world. Plus, they are just so darn cute!

Well, I think that's a wrap until next month, or week, or whenever I get my durned basement put back together...carpet coming soon!