Friday, February 21, 2014

Adrie's Birthday and Zion's

Part 2 of our Presidents Day Weekend and the other reason we were there was because this is where Adrie wanted to be on her special day.   She may not have had hiking in mind but as mom usually knows best, she ended up being glad we did it.  Plus, all National Parks are free on President's Day and we just had to take advantage of that!
First we did some (more) shopping while Dad began the clean-up process. Then I finished the cleaning while Dad and all the kids enjoyed one of our favorite sports, pickle-ball.
We had lunch and headed to Zion's National Park.  We got there a little later than we had planned but that worked out great because we missed the crowds.

 We walked along the Riverwalk Trail

 We stopped to take some photos here and it was a good thing too because just ahead we heard a rumble and then a thunderous crash. A big boulder had come loose and fallen right smack onto the trail just 20 ft in front of us.
 Here it is. The big fella that we were glad to miss, else one of us might have been crushed or maimed. Phew.
Feeling lighthearted again, sliding down another big boulder, this one firmly attached to the mountain.
 Wow. I love this color contrast!!

 Trail guide suggested 1.5 hours for this trail. With all the photo ops and everything we did it in about 45 minutes. We were cruising!!
 It was great to be outdoors!  It was off to Cafe Rio for Adrie's birthday dinner and then back home.

  The birthday loot! Adrie got a new pink chair for her room, a loom so she can make bracelets like all her friends, and a couple of DVD's.
 Later in the week she had a FREAKY FRIDAY party with a movie and milkshakes. In keeping with the freaky theme they watched "Coraline" and played "murder in the dark"
Adrie at her 3rd grade program. She did a great job singing and smiling.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

President's Day Weekend in Southern Utah

We gathered this holiday weekend for 2 big family events: Cousin T's mission farewell and Adrie's 9th birthday!! All of it was fun...where to start? the beginning.  Saturday we arrived at the St. George "house" after doing some compulsory outlet shopping.  Then it was off to the trails to get out our wiggles.  Grandma and Grandpa showed us the way to the Anasazi Valley Petroglyphs, where we had a wonderful time taking in the awesome scenery.

 Oh the colors! Where else in the world could you see this?
We hiked up a short way, passing some stone remnants of Anasazi stone structures, and onto these giant boulders, prolific with pictographs.
 We made Grandma and Grandpa a little nervous with our thrill seeking tendencies.

In all our times of visiting St. George this was our first time on this trail. We loved it all--the rocks, the view, the Indian art and the weather was perfecto! We will definitely be back.

Back at "home" we got out the cake and ice cream for an early birthday celebration with cousins.

Cousin T gave a farewell address to family and congregation before he leaves on his mission to Brazil.  He spoke humbly about how we are all God's children. He could not imagine his life without having the relationship with God that he does. He couldn't imagine his own siblings not having that in their lives either. He felt humbled and blessed to be able to share those blessings with his brothers and sisters all over the world.  After we met at their house for brunch and had a nice visit with more awesome cousins, aunts, and uncles.  Ciao for now cousin T. You will be a great missionary.

Friday, February 14, 2014

That's Amore

I shocked the pants off everyone with a homemade breakfast on Valentine's Day
Good things happen when parents are involved. But better things happen when they have to leave and big sisters jump in to help! We came home from a music practice and her older sisters had helped Adrie make this for her class tomorrow.

Brynn's box also received no parental help. I can't come up with things like that! Her box was a big hit at school especially among the male species. 

I helped in Brynn's and Adrie's class party. We played "How Do You Like your Neighbor?" which didn't involve any treats or crafts so it was right up my alley. Both girls handed out a 4-pack of mini donuts with the label "I DONUT know what I would do without you."  Adrie was the only girl in her class who found heart-shaped box of chocolates with her other valentines. It could only mean one thing--3rd grade romance.

Brandon and I went on a double date with friends. I like Fridays for Valentine's!

From Europe to the Utah State Capitol

 I had the really awesome opportunity to spend the day with my international exchange students for a field trip to the Utah State Capitol.
 We toured the beautiful building and learned about the process of government. Legislation was happening!.. and the place was bustling with politicians, attorneys, media, and groups of students from all over the state.
It was so busy that there were no tour guides to take us around. They gave me a packet of info and I had to be the guide! Poor students, I didn't know much about the Capitol except that I used to hang around there when my mom worked there as a typist for a short while. I did have a few stories up my sleeve. I told the students about the miracle of seagulls that swooped down and ate all the crickets, saving the Mormon pioneers from famine. I also told them about my ancestor John Pack who was a scout with Brigham Young. He went ahead of the pioneers to scope things out and came back to report and help the rest of the pioneers make it safely into the valley.   We pretended to be lobbyists in front of the House of Representatives. We hung around outside the doors of the Senate where important things were happening. I saw 2 people I knew! One was my primary teacher/across the street neighbor growing up--now attorney. The other my cousins husband, also an attorney. The students didn't think this was as awesome as I did because "everybody in Utah knows each other?? duh!"   We were off to a good start.
We met up with another coordinator and her group of 20 or so exchange students for lunch. ( we planned this ahead of time) The students then had the awesome opportunity to meet with the State Superintendent over the schools. We had the students go up by country, introduce themselves and where they were from, then share one thing they like about school in America and something they think we could do better.  We had students from Hong Kong, Brazil, Columbia, Kazakhstan, Germany, Finland, Montenegro, Denmark, Italy, and Spain. What a geography lesson. I get to hear these kind of conversations all the time from my students and now they were able to share it with someone who had the power to do something about it! It was hard to contain my excitement!
The State Superintendent took notes as he listened to these students. All the students agreed that school in America was WAY EASIER than what they were used to. In fact, many were worried that they will be behind academically when they return home. Alex from Italy said that in his country he was required to take every branch of science and here you can only choose one or two in High School. Anastasia from Montenegro wondered why Americans only get to learn a foreign language in high school or middle school. That is too late! She started learning languages in school in kindergarten. She can speak 4 languages and that is not unusual for Europeans. The Spaniards complained of school lunch. They get a 2 hour break to return to their homes and eat lunch before going back. Renato from Brazil was surprised that athletes miss so much school for traveling to play sports. Shouldn't school be more focused on academics?  All the students agreed that teachers here are more like friends and they liked that. They also loved the "school spirit" that exists here and the whole social aspect of dances and "prom."  We Americans may not take our studies too seriously but we do have fun!

 Students also participated in a mock trial in 3 Debates:  Should schools provide cell phones for their students. (motion failed)  Should students be required to register their phones with the schools (failed)  Should students face a "3 strikes and you're out" consequence if they violate school cell phone usage rules? (motion passed)  We have some future lawyers and politicians in this group!

 After, I took my little group on a tour of Temple Square. We went to the top of the Church Office Building for a nice view of the entire Salt Lake Valley.  Our very nice tour guide impressed the students with his knowledge of 3 languages. The students each got a copy of the "Thirteen Articles of Faith" in their native language which are basically 13 paragraphs that outline the beliefs of the LDS church.  Spontaneously they gathered in a circle, and much to the delight of all of us in the room, took turns going around and reading the articles out loud in Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Swedish. I must say it was powerful.
 View of the State Capitol from the 26th floor of the Church office Building.
 Oh it was nice to be back in my home territory! (where apparently I know everybody:) We walked around City Creek Mall and had a totally American dinner at Johnny Rockets before our 2 hour drive home.  What a great day with these fun kids!

A BYU and UofU Weekend

We had some fun family time this weekend, First at the Rockin' Utes Ladies Gymnastics meet against Arizona:

 We had an awesome time. The crowd was great and huge! 13,800 people in the Hunstman Center--which is about as many people as live in our whole county!
We spent the night at Grandma's and met with cousins for breakfast the next morning

Then it was off for some shopping at the mall, playdates with cousins, and finally the BYU Men's Basketball game for Dad and Kate.  We got home very late but it was worth it for all that family fun.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Sunday

Our family watched its' first ever Super Bowl. By watching we mean, playing games, snacking on a buffet of goodies, and visiting. Some of the commercials caught our attention and the half time entertainment by Bruno Mars was impressive. Congrats to the Seattle SeaHawks. The best part for sure was playing games and laughing with our fun friends. We love our neighbors the Reitz's.

Snow Day

Sometimes we have to take things into our own hands and cancel school.

photography by Adrie

Happy Birthday Brynn

 This is Brynn. She celebrated birthday #11 in January.
 Her presents included a twirly pink desk chair for her room, a bag from mom's trip to the Bahamas, her very own basketball --now we have 2 good balls and can play dynamite in the driveway. And, Insurgent the sequel to Divergent which has taken our readers in this house by storm.
Birthday menu: Breakfast: Krave cereal.
Lunch: Dad took Brynn out to Sugar Bean bakery where they shared a sandwich. Mom went to Brynn's school to give the kids powdered donuts and answer questions from the kids about Brynn's favorite things. Dinner: Chicken cordon bleu with mashed potatoes and for dessert, angel food cake with real whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Even though it was a school night, we stayed up a little late and watched a movie, "Monster's University" Brynn had a great birthday!
Brynn had a Saturday birthday party with eleven friends!  First they played the candy game : evens you pick from the pile, odd you take from someone else, 7 or 11 you put something back.   We did the same thing with a gift exchange except no one had to put anything back. Everyone brought a $5 gift and everyone took a new one home! Although, it was fun, Brynn thinks next year she would like to keep all the presents!
 After the games, all the girls walked over to the church gym where Dad and Kate organized them into games of kickball and basketball. Brynn wore her friends out for sure!!
They came back to the house happy but out-of-breath.  They enjoyed some fruit pizza before we drove them all home. What a good group of kind and polite girls!  They all had a good time.