Saturday, April 21, 2018

Fly Like a Butterfly, Land Like a Tomato

I heard this quote about rappelling and I can happily tell you that I have never landed like a tomato. But I may have looked like a potato swinging in the sky.

You will need some back story for this post. Tyler likes to go to Front Sight. A lot. He has been many, many times. He once posted about one of his experiences, but if he posted about all of them, it might fill the blog. More often, I just mention in passing that Tyler is at Front Sight again. He even took June last year, but I haven't blogged about that section of the year yet....ahem....moving on.

While June was at Front Sight, she thought the big ropes course looked really cool. I myself like a good ropes course, and I expressed some interest. Well, Tyler has been trying to get me to Front Sight and I keep dodging the conversations. He happily jumped on the idea of the Ropes Course, if it meant that I would go down to Nevada with him. And it just so happened that our 'date' for March was a mini trip. So, we ended up scheduling a mini trip to Front Sight.

Camie and Nate were so generous to come and watch our kids and we took off on a Sunday afternoon wending our way South. Selfie on the road. We are as happy as we look. How often do we get to spend extended time together without kids. And Tyler is happy for that reason and that we were headed to Front Sight. (Seriously, he was a little giddy. It was cute.)


It is a good amount of driving, but time goes quickly with Tyler. He is a good one to chat with. When Tyler usually goes to Front Sight, he stays in Parump at a hotel, but with  me, he decided to try out an Air BnB. We found a nice place at the edge of Vegas and it was a great deal.

We tried to go to sleep early because we had to be up with the sun to get out to Front Sight on time. See what I mean? Here comes the sun.


We actually didn't know much about the course, so we arrived and went through the intro that everyone goes through. Then they took roll call and we went out to the course area. Apparently, we were one of the largest groups they have had. So they divided us into two groups. Then they rotated us back and forth between two areas. One area was knot tying and the other was the wall.

At knot tying, we learned how to tie knots. Surprising, I know. Each time we would come back to this area, we would learn new knots. Some were quite easy like the figure eight, but others were more tricky. We were learning ways to tie an anchor and ways to tie contingency rigging. All of them were related to rappelling. Somewhere along the way we realized this class was all about rappelling, and nothing about the ropes course.

At the wall, we would practice rappelling. We would learn a new step or knot and then practice it at the wall. At the wall, we were divided into groups randomly, and our group was awesome. We had Bob, Will, Jordan, me, Tyler, and some other guy. (Sorry other guy. You were obviously memorable.) Our group was the best at everything, I decided. We would do each drill efficiently, with few hiccups.

Eventually we stopped for lunch. The day was very cold, so we just ate in the car. You can see we still have our harnesses on.


After lunch, more knots and more going over the wall. Check it out. We are tying knots like a boss.



I was cold the entire day. At some points I was shivering uncontrollably. At the end of the day, they told us about the ropes course. They said, "Some of you may have joined this class thinking we would do the ropes course." (Yes, that was us exactly.) "But the ropes course is associated with a separate company and you have to pay extra to do it." (Hmm, feels a little bait and switch.)

Turns out the instructors also run the ropes course but it is $45 a person a day. We decided that since we had come to do the ropes course, we might as well. Tyler got some video, but sadly, I did not know how to use his phone, so I got nothing of him. I am lame.

There are different levels of the ropes course, but they had us do the middle level. You climb the rope ladder to reach the top. Here is a video of me. I've decided that I am slow and steady when it comes to these things. I got to the top but I couldn't get hooked in because the guy climbing behind me was shaking the net. But I got it eventually.



Next up, the hanging ropes. With short arms and legs, this was super tricky. It didn't feel stable at all. I decided that I would go the safe route, but it made me pretty slow. I didn't realize how slow until I watched the video. In fact, you can skip most of it. Tyler makes fun of me at the end and tells me to do it differently, but I was doing the best I could.


Up next was the Scary Fairy. It was a seat that you pulled along. We started sitting, but found it was easier to balance standing. We got to the end and thought we were doing something wrong, but the guy finally told us it doesn't go any farther and we would  have to walk the rest of the way.


And from the top, they just lowered us down. We hadn't learned correct form, so I didn't know to brace with my feet and wait until my head was lower than the overhang. (I learned this all the next day.) So, it isn't the most graceful and you can see how I am much like a potato hanging in the air.


Tyler went after and made everything look easy, but because of previously mentioned ID-10-T problems, there is no video.

After class, we went back to Vegas and grabbed some dinner. We tried a place called Skinny Fats. It has a very weird vibe to it. I liked the art though.



As I sat there, I had this overwhelming urge to chop my hair. We were right near a shopping center and there was a Great Clips there, so I told Tyler to drop me off and come back in 40 minutes. It felt good to have the locks chopped. (The best part is that when I got back to the kids, I told them that my hair had gotten caught in the ropes and they had to cut it. Their expressions were classic.)

Tuesday dawned and we were back on sight. The ropes and rappel class is a four day course, but you can take just two days of it, which was our scenario since we couldn't be gone from kids and jobs for that long.

We learned, you guessed it, more knots. And we went over the wall some more. But we added in the tower. We practiced belaying. Skills, knots, rappel, repeat. We learned the Prusik knot so that you could walk up a rope if necessary. That is pretty cool.


Here are some people coming down from the tower. We started out easy on the second floor. Many pictures don't have me or Tyler in them. We just got shots where we could.


Here is Jordan, one of the guys on our crew. It is fun to meet new people and spend a moment in their lives.


This is Bob. He actually lives near us. And runs a Jujitsu studio. He is on the wall and showing how you "bomb off" and make your rope secure so you can use your hands for other things.


Tyler was up in the tower and got this shot from above. This was the drill. Each person doing safety checks, then taking their turn going over.


We were doing Prusik ropes for this drill, so you can see it takes me a while to get all my ropes situated. So many pieces to keep in order. (Also, I ended up with some sweet bruises on my left leg. I think it was from going over the wall over and over, but I'm not sure.)


A view from the tower of gorgeous Nevada. Not much out there.


This day, we were practicing overhangs. Everyone went to the fourth floor of the tower and practiced bracing their feet and lowering their head below the "ledge" and releasing. Check out the second picture. That lady is killing it. She is practically upsidedown.



I'm at the bottom belaying, which means I already went down. They had us in a rotation.


The day was mostly that. More knots, more rappelling, more skills in use. It was a good day. I'm actually sad we couldn't stay for the whole course. I'm sure I'm still lacking in useful rappel knowledge. That day was warmer. I took off two jackets, but I still never took off my long sleeves. Here we are at the end of our course. We passed! (Although we didn't have to take the test.)


We decided not to stay for another ropes course run. It cost a pretty penny and we still had a long drive ahead of us.

Our instructors were amazing. Two in particular made me laugh. One guy wore his balaclava the entire time, and he was pretty snarky, so he reminded us of Deadpool. (Although I have never seen the movie, only the previews.) Here I am with Deadpool. Look at all the gear he is lugging around.


And the other instructor, who taught us all the knots, sounded like Shia LaBeouf. Most of the time, he had half his face covered, so if you looked at him, you could imagine Shia LaBeouf teaching you knots. Here he is Tyler.


Then we packed up and headed back home. But not before stopping at the entrance to take a picture. It is tradition, I am told.


Our drive back was good. We tried to stop at a buffet that was recommended to us, but the buffet was closed. So we ate at a cute diner instead. It was good food. In fact, as we walked out, I saw this guy with these strange fries on his plate. I stopped to take a look and he insisted I try one. What a nice guy.

I would say this mini trip was a huge success. Tyler drove through the night and we arrived home in the wee hours. Camie and Nate were the BEST to watch the kids. They stayed at our house and kept everything running. They are beyond awesome. I'm guessing 'mini trip' will make the date list next year as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Auctions, Pie, and Victims...Oh My

So even though Robyn told me not to, I am going to mash all these things into one post. It will be so fun.

So the Auction. The young men had a fund raiser to raise money for their activities throughout the year. They rounded up interesting items to auction off. They split the evening into two sections. The live auction and the silent auction. The silent Auction would have been better if it had been talked up. As it was, people walked through, but not many and most things sold for very cheap. We got family pictures for a steal. $50. WHAT!?!

This was the area for the live auction. I loved how they had bidding signs. It felt so official to raise your sign and increase the bid.


And here are the two most ridiculously dressed people on stage. Yes, that is my husband. The Scout master and Young Men's president dressed up, but they both looked a little silly. But they kept things running smoothly.


The best part of the auction, hands down, was the auctioneer! He was hilarious. He sounded legit. He would call out the numbers, but he was making constant noise. It would sound like this, "Do I hear twenty hummuna hummana thirty do I see thirty, hmmm ramma lamma bid is still at twenty thirty I see thirty is there forty hummanaum..." It was so funny to listen to. Sometimes we would just laugh, but the bidding kept going.

Things sold for crazy prices, unlike the silent auction. We spent more on a massage and hammock than the family pictures. There was some art on sale from our good friends. Camie's temple cutting board went for a nice price in the live auction, and her watercolor Bag's end sold for only $8 in the silent auction. She actually gave me one later since I was outbid.




It was the most successful fundraiser we have ever had. The boys raised over $9,000. Amazing.

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Pie day happened. Bet you can't guess what day it was on? Oh, you guessed March 14? You are so smart.


I only got one pie. But it was decadent. It was super dupa chocolate and really delish,. and everyone thought it was tasty although we all ate at different times. I grabbed some photos while I could of whoever happened to be around.





Got to love a day celebrating dessert and math simultaneously.

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Last up, the First Aid Training. This day took a long time to organize, but I think it went rather well. It was a pre-camp activity. I spent a lot of time trying to get the youth leaders organized so they could teach about first aid, and then there were some disaster rooms where the girls would hopefully use the skills they just learned. It wasn't perfect, but I am very satisfied with the results.

First, there was a good turnout. The girls are so busy that you never know how many you will get. But look at this full gym. Fantastic.


Jason Underwood is our resident paramedic. He is awesome. He gets up there and drills these girls until they can recite the steps in their sleep. They are our first responders, so we want them to know what to do.

Even after the big lecture, everyone gets a turn using the resuscitation dolls. Since I was a floater, I managed to get a picture of each of my kids in the room. Oddly, they are all sitting in the same general spot.




The coolest part of the day was the victims. We had three girls doing makeup, and they did a great job. We had eight disaster rooms with everything from hypothermia to burns. I didn't get to see much of the actual disasters taking place, but it seemed all the girls were taken care of. I did come in to see Abby hyperventilating. The girls had put her in a splint.


She did a great job of acting, and I can see why she was freaking out. Under the wrap, her arm looked like this.


Ouch!

First years had to deal with spurting blood. That is what happens when you get a tree in your leg.


Phebe who did a lot of our makeup, stepped in at the last minute and did our hypothermia victim. She was awesome.


It was one of those days that I was very happy with and then I went home and slept. I was exhausted.

So there you have some of our bigger moments in March. There will still be the odds and ends coming. It is always great to see all of the bits and pieces that make a month. Time keeps on ticking...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

She's Got Rhythm

Robyn has always been a free spirit. Many rules don't seem to apply to her. Like spelling or rhythm. Her piano playing has always been excellent but it doesn't always follow the beat you are used to. So I found it ironic that she took up percussion. Percussion is not forgiving on rhythm. You must be on beat. And so, Robyn and her stubborn side have succumbed to a greater power...that of the love of music and staying with the group. She is doing very well. She still plays piano to her own jive, but if you put her in band, she will keep the beat, quite nicely.

The biggest part of percussion happens in March with the Percussion Competition. There is an actual name for it, but I can't remember it. Robyn went last year and participated in an advanced group. They rocked it. I still love listening to Blue Rondo. This year, they scored things a little differently. I think it was just by school instead of advanced and intermediate. Or at least something like that. Robyn's school had three numbers. The first one was a small group. Just her, Donny, and Tim. 

But a couple weeks before go time, Tim broke his hand. Robyn freaked out. She was so mad at Tim. (As if he broke his hand on purpose.) She was distraught about the song. There were a few options of replacements, but it fell on Radi to step in and learn the song quickly. He was down at the house often getting his part right.

Luckily, both Robyn and Radi were background. Their parts were still vital, but most of the load was on Donny. He didn't know the whole song until days before the competition, but he had it memorized for the actual performance. I'm not going to lie, I thought they did amazing. Especially Donny. Wow. And Robyn was playing four mallets. I didn't see any other Jr. High kids doing four mallets. Since Tyler recorded it, you get to hear it. Yay! 

Here they are playing. And a close up of Robyn, because she is the cutest. :)



Here is Bit O' Rhythm.



Robyn also performed in a piece called Ceremonium. She is off to the right again. I really should sit on the right. I always have a hard time making sure Mrs. Taylor isn't standing in front of her.


Here they are playing. Watch Robyn. She switches mallets a couple times during the performance. Also Jonathan has so much fun on the blocks. I'm not sure what they are actually called, but they have a nice hollow wooden ring and he does great.



Tyler didn't record the third number because Robyn wasn't in it, but the group did an excellent job.

I managed to get a picture of the three Bit O' Rhythm players but it took a while to get them all to smile.


We also stayed and listened to the High School perform. There are many kids that were in Robyn's group last year who moved on to High School. I think it was fun for her to see them again. 


Robyn's school took 2nd place. Last year Robyn was thrilled, but this year she was disappointed. No fun to take 2nd twice, I guess. I still think they did amazing. And I think we were all winners because we got to listen to many outstanding performances. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Conference Bowl

Easter and Conference were on the same weekend this year. That happens sometimes. I like it, but it makes things a little busy. On Saturday, we did our Easter Egg hunt first thing in the morning. Then we watched two hours of conference.

Then we decided that all those who finished the conference wall would go bowling and between sessions seemed like as good a time as any. So we hustled over to don our bowling shoes and get jiggy with it. Here we are at Mire Bowl.



I'm sure everyone has been bowling before, but no one remembered. The older girls spent time working on their swing and release, but keeping that darn bowling ball somewhere in the middle of the lane is harder than it looks.





Pearl was a natural. Of course, she got to use the bumpers.


I think everyone had a good time despite the fact that Robyn decided she hated bowling. (You can't win them all, especially when your mom is playing.)


We heeded all creepy signs and no one had their fingers mutilated.


Dad and I took a selfie, and Robyn decorated it for us. I'm digging Tyler's pink mustache.



We didn't have all of us. Just Birdsong, Stallion, Peapod, Junica, and Mombie. Daisy and Ivory didn't quite finish all the talks. I was really proud of Pearl for getting them all done. Once again, five out of seven. Still not a bad number.


Here is the wall before we took it down.


And then the baptism. That is what the kids call it when we put up clean white papers. And notice the new apostles in the bottom corner. It was such an exciting conference.


There were many changes in how things are organized and run. It was an amazing two days of inspiration. The talks were excellent and I can't wait to reread them. The solemn assembly as we sustained a new prophet was awe inspiring. I am so grateful for the gospel and the opportunity to hear from the prophet and apostles every six months. I told my family that my favorite part was hearing from the prophet multiple times. He usually speaks several times, but President Monson had gotten so frail that he only spoke briefly or not at all. So it was great to see President Nelson speak often.

Our family always has a good time. We still keep our hands busy stitching, coloring, or taking notes. We haven't had anyone sleep through a session yet. :)




One more photo because Robyn demanded. 

This is the face we make when we find out that Elder Holland spoke in Priesthood session and we won't get to hear him. (Luckily, that didn't happen this time around.)