Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Fever

Thunder storms threatened our peaceful neighborhood this week.
Kate took this picture. 
I think it looks like the cover to a scary movie. 

This cutie had her Spring dance recital. She wowed us with her precision on stage. She moved so gracefully on stage even while biting her lip in concentration.

Her second number was a pirate dance. Girls dressed the part and clashed swords. It was a real show-stopper.  After the performance all the girls were given trophies by their adoring teacher.

We had somehow collected quite a passel of girls to take home. So! Rather than celebrating with the traditional going out for ice cream or froyo, we went to the supermarket for a couple half-gallons.
That was some quick thinking by the home economist;)

Earlier in the afternoon, the girls sang with our church primary group at the care center. Then it was off to the middle school for "Castle Days." Here we were greeted by middle schoolers dressed as court jesters, monks, peasants, and royalty. We paraded through the displays of castles made of "trash."  Some of them were quite impressive. Pre-teens these days! This one is Brynn's. It involved no parental help and that should count for something.

We managed to stay dry for Sofie's home track meet. She ran the 2 mile and the 800 meter after recovering this week from a pulled hamstring. I can't say that I've ever watched a track meet before. It was pretty cool. Little did the kids and even husband know that I had a stint on the track team in 9th grade. I ran a relay (was it the 400 or 800 meter?)  I remember sprinting when it was my turn and looking behind me to see that our team was winning. I guess you are not supposed to look behind you while running. What did I know?  I also did shot-put and high jump but I don't remember any spectacular outcomes with those. 
These girls made running look fun again.

Local Celebrities

 Whatdya know?! The local radio station wanted to interview our international exchange students. I also got to say a little in general about the exchange student program. This year, I remembered to put in a plug for host families. 

Featured from left to right was Belgium, Brazil, and 3 different regions of Denmark.
They were asked things like. How is the school system different in your country (harder) What was the biggest difference for you about Utah (religion and mountains)  Why did you choose to be an exchange student (meet new people and experience new things) and How do you feel about going home? (Excited to see family and friends again but sad to leave.)  

After the hard work of being famous, we went out for breakfast.  
That wasn't enough. There was still school to be missed so we ran a couple of my errands. Then I decided we had better check out our nearest State Park because none of the students had ever been. 
They saw Indian petroglyphs, lizards, and climbed down the ladder to experience what life is like in a pit-house (dirty. )  We took a short hike to see Hundred Hands Cave (more like a dozen hands but who's counting?) They were impressed. Indians are awesome.

Finally it was time for me to get home.   These girls only have a few weeks left before they leave to go home for good. As the picture shows. They are excited to see their friends and family again but sad to leave us!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Road to Spectacular

This week we found ourselves on another adventure.
I had to go meet one of my students from Germany for work who lived 2 hours away in a remote part of the state. I decided to take two of the kids along (the two that didn't go to Legoland last week) Lucky them they got this trip instead. We decided to go exploring in the area. We ended up on a road to what seemed like the middle of nowhere!!!

Off in the distance a white tailed deer stared at us wondering what we were doing in this remote area.
We wondered too.  We were officially in the San Rafael Swell. Finally after quite a drive we found this sign to our destination

The Wedge is also known as "Utah's Grand Canyon."

The long drive was worth it for this destination. How did I not know Utah had a Grand Canyon??. It's just as spectacular!! with no fee and only a handful of campers and bicyclists. Bicycle, by the way would be a super awesome way to get here. Campers get to enjoy the vistas at sunset and sunrise. I am not a camper though, just a day tripper.

Feats of crazy

 We hiked down over the edge of the overlook. If you look closely, you can see Brynn way down there. She was leading the way, flip-flops in hand.

The only problem with going down was that we had to get back up. I looked up at the steepness of the climb up and looked down, way down at the canyon below and for the first time in my life, I was scared of heights. We got up safely. I refused to look down and just concentrated on climbing up. Made it. Winded. 

I am really glad we saw this place. I would definitely recommend it. The scaling down the edge of the overlook? not so much. 
We drove the lonely road back to the freeway. Stopped for ice cream and gas. I had a great adventure with the older kids. They totally had it better than Legoland!

In addition there is also the Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry as well Indian petroglyphs. We'll have to make another trip to see those.

For directions and other information check out

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Everything is Awesome


I woke the 2 youngest up Monday morning and told them to get on their shoes and a jacket and get in the car. "Are we going to Legoland?" Cannon asked. We were! But I didn't let on yet. Cannon had been begging to go to Legoland for at least half of his life. The night before I had packed their bags and we were ready to make his dream come true. As we drove South I told the kids the clue to where we were going was in the stack of DVD's. They finally found it with the Lego movie but they didn't believe me! When I told them it was for real a BIG smile spread on their faces. It was so fun. They had a bag of candy, gum, chips, jerky and a drink and plenty of movies for the trip. Auntie S came along to finish up some business in California and to provide the awesome hotel discount. It was a win-win.

The afternoon of our arrival we went to Irvine Spectrum Mall and PF Changs for dinner. Then we settled into our hotel for just a while because then it was off to the pool and hot tub. 

When we first arrived, with all our beach gear in tow, we passed some surfer dudes ready to head out into the waves. Cannon suddenly yelled, "I see a shark fin!! It's a shark!!"  I looked out to see a dolphin gracefully diving in and out of the water. The surfers smiled at us, amused. How perfect to have a dolphin welcome us to our favorite beach!  We made sandcastles, explored tidepools, splashed in frigid waves, and tried to stay as warm as possible soaking up every ray of sun. 

! How appropriate that our destination was on the Cannon Road exit! The kids' eyes were big with excitement as we entered.  The favorites were the Lego Technic Coaster, the 4-D Chima movie, apple fries with whipped cream, the obstacle course, buying mini figures at the gift shop, and miniland which had re-created many famous sites and buildings in Lego form.  The park was definitely for the younger crowd. Rides were very mild and short. Lines were very long but I guess that was to be expected anywhere during Spring Break.  In the museum, we learned that Legos were invented in Denmark. Lego, in Danish, means "play well." We were excited to tell Sofie when we returned home. "I've been telling you that for months!!" she said. I guess we know it's real now.

As soon as the park opened, we went to the Sea Life Aquarium. Highlights were the seahorses. The kids were also excited to see moon jellies because we saw a lot of these on the beach on our San Francisco trip last year. Next it was off to the water park. We did the wave pool, lazy river, and slides. The kids built ships and raced them in a water obstacle course. This was where we found that our cousins neighbors were there too!   As the day continued, so did the crowds. By early afternoon we all felt satisfied that we had accomplished everything at Legoland. It was off to the hotel pool.

If Legoland was for the kids, the Flower Fields were for me. Before heading to the hotel, I took the kids here. It was just 4 minutes from Legoland and so beautiful. Rows of brightly colored rununculus flowers with a view of the ocean on the horizon was spectacular. We took a wagon ride through the fields although, it was easy enough to just walk around.  On our way out we treated ourselves to a fresh gourmet strawberry lavender shake. The lavender really brought out the sweetness of the strawberry. It was the best shake we have ever had. Unfortunately, Cannon spilled his all over his seat while we were in rush hour on the way home. I couldn't even pull over to clean it up.

Our hotel for the next 2 nights was in the beautiful sea side city of Del Mar. It was fun to explore a new beach! We spent the afternoon exploring the shops and beautiful beaches. We walked along a sand cliff towering over the beautiful beach below, with the railroad tracks on the other side of us. It was pretty exciting to watch the fairly frequent run of Amtrak and coastline trains. The kids splashed in the water. We watched a beautiful sunset on the beach.  For dinner we went to a local favorite, Del Mar pizza. 

Our last day we packed up the car only to see that the parking lot was full of classic, antique cars. These were the first of many we would see. Del Mar was hosting a classic car show for the weekend.

I really loved our hotel for the last 2 days, the Clarion Inn. We had an ocean view and the beach was a short walk away. I thought the hotel library was just my style.

Sunset at Del Mar was spectacular. I sent this photo to the beach lovers back at home.
My first "surprise" trip went well. We listened to audio books (Proof of Heaven and Grisham's Racketeer) while the kids watched their piles of movies. Stopped at my new favorite mid-trip stop, Mad Greek Cafe for a gyro. The two kids were excited to be home and tell all about their exciting adventures. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Spring Break at our Nearest National Park

For Spring Break, we took a day trip to our nearest National Park, Capitol Reef, to try out a new hike. Joining us were our neighbors. We packed picnics, camelbacks, jackets, and we were off to this beautiful terrain.

This was our longest family hike ever at 5 miles!!
We left one car at the visitor center and then drove one to the Chimney Rock trailhead. We crossed the highway and began the Sulfur Creek hike.

First mile or two of the hike was through a dry river bed. I though we might stay dry the whole time. I was wrong!!

Everyone had a buddy. 

One of three waterfalls we had to scale around. 

Finally it was into the water, there was no other way!

Photo break and snack break.

Most in our group took a turn falling into the water. When the water got knee deep, Justus carried cannon on his back. At one point he fell back and he and Cannon ended up getting soaked in the cold spring water. Worst of all De, slipped and fell in with her very expensive camera.   It was all part of the adventure and everyone was a good sport, except cannon, He was too cold and spent the last 2 miles getting carried out on dad's back. 

Scaling walls, traversing through water and slot canyons, lizards--this hike had it all.

Finally we made it back to the visitor center. The hike took us a good 4 hours. We were a tired, wet, and muddy bunch.

Celebrated our victorious hike with a short drive to the Gifford house for their famous homemade pies.

We sat down to eat our pies and cinnamon rolls. A bird pooped on my head!  And We went on with our picnic anyway.

April Fool's!!!!

My first April Fool's prank was a success. I told the kids I made hard boiled eggs for breakfast. They all fell for it. So easy! 

No joke here...
Dad wears this when he goes running at night.
Of all the things he could have chosen for his 15 year gift from work.
It has several different flashing and color modes. I think he's going to cause a wreck.