Monday, June 30, 2014

Moab and Then Some

I traveled to Moab recently with the youth from the neighborhood for Youth Conference. For the non-LDS readers, the youth are 12 to 18 young men and young women. There's usually some destination we go to (in this case, Moab), and the youth have an opportunity to do awesome stuff and learn something about the gospel while they're at it. So, enter Moab.

We've got some heavy-duty outdoorsmen in our neighborhood. Of all the outdoorsy types I've ever met, Keith Hillman is the most fascinated with nature. He claims that after he leaves this life, you better just assume that Moab is his because he "dibs-ed it." He was in charge of this little adventure that started at 5:30 in the morning on Thursday.

I don't know about the youth you know, but most 12-18 year olds don't even know the clock works at 5:30 in the morning. I was skeptical that anyone would show up—after all, I know the young men I work with. To my delight and great surprise, there were tons of youth that showed up at 5:30 in the morning!

You know those huge 14-passenger vans? We got 3 of them! We caravaned down with handheld radios in each vehicle. By the time we made it to Monticello, everybody had a call sign, which is not the same as a nickname.

Quick side note here. There are only a few rules of using a radio, and I made sure each of the youth understood basic radio etiquette: 1) no one uses anyone's real name...must be a call sign; 2) you acknowledge statements with 'acknowledged' or 'roger' or 'affirmative'; 3) you say 'over' when you're done speaking, and you don't say 'over, and out' unless you're turning off the radio. We could have done with a few other rules like don't play a song off your iPod over the sounds like crap. And... Well, that's the only one.

So we made it to the Monticello Temple, where the youth participated at the temple. That was a great experience.

From there, we traveled to Moab and set up camp.

We hit Corona Arch that evening and had an excellent discussion about "Staying on the Path," this year's theme. Feast your eyes on this. Amazing. Keith said it best, "Ya, people look around at this stuff and still have the gall to think there's no God? What's wrong with these people? I mean, look at this!"

We also spent some time in the water:

And yes, this is what you get when you've got a graphic designer working with youth: cool pictures. They were really fun to make. 

Boys will be boys, of course, and we had some playful brawls on the beach: 

The next day got a little messed up for my sub group. The plan was that small groups would head off at all points of the compass and do some hiking, rappelling, swimming, etc. Our group was a little complicated because our hike was only 30 minutes long and we needed to be out all morning. We made the most of it. This is Moon Flower Canyon. 

Here I am, working with the youth. I'm helping them cool off from the Moab heat. What better way than sticking your head in the moon pond? Hahahaha. 

We were supposed to meet back at Arches National Park to go rappelling in the late morning. There's a little staging parking lot that has signs posted all over: "10-Minute Parking." 

We stayed about 2 hours before we really figured that our rendezvous wasn't going to happen. So we made for camp, and figured we'd catch up with Keith later. Turns out he had some trepidation from some of the less experienced rappellers that were less keen on jumping off cliffs. His 3-hour tour turned into 6. 

We were ok, though. I decided I'd throw a bunch of the other youth in the Colorado River. That sounded like fun to me!

Keith vowed he'd make it up to us by taking us to Dragonfly later that afternoon. What a treat. He warned us in advance not to take electronics of any kind, wear stuff you can get wet in, and be ready for a long hike. We spent the next 4 hours grinning like hyenas. It was spectacular! This is why you don't take electronics (Not my picture, since I didn't bring my camera.)

Ya, that's part of the hike. And no, there's no way around it. You have to go through it. The water level was high while we were there, so we dove in helmets, rappelling harness, packs and all to swim through the muck! There were two separate rappels. Both were excellent, but the 115 rappel into the canyon wash was spectacular! We were above the trees and came down into a little pond. It was surprisingly lush in the wash. Two big thumbs up for Keith's call to hit Dragonfly!

Here's the panorama I snapped as we were departing the van en route to Dragonfly Canyon. Of course you can't see the canyon itself, but it's dead ahead in the middle of this shot.

The next morning we found our way back to Arches National Park to have a gander at Delicate Arch, the definitively iconic arch. If you've seen a Utah license plate, you've seen this arch. But, that's not the same as seeing it in person.

Well worth the 45-minute hike to get there.

With Delicate Arch checked off the list, it was time to head home. We struck camp, packed the vans, and cruised out to the freeway, leaving Moab in the rear-view mirror. It'll be there when we come back, well, at least when Keith's ready to go again.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week Four was Not a Bore

Can you believe that a month of summer is practically behind us? Even though it is speeding by, I feel we are getting our worth from these toasty days. This week we had some fun adventures.

Monday we constructed. Who needs blocks when you can use marshmallows? And toothpicks. (But I don't recommend snacking on the toothpicks.) Daisy started right off with a bouquet.

Robyn made one of my favorite pieces. This is Olaf. Check it out. He has his own personal flurry. And if you look really closely, you can see that he is impaled. (She is so creative.)

Pearl started off by making many kebabs.

But she got the hang of things as time passed. I was impressed.

I think she is going for longest creation here.

Ivory worked on one piece for quite a while. She kept adding and adding. I don't know what it was, besides super wicked cool.

She was inspired by Pearl's piece and made a tripod. (There's that word again. Two books down in the series. One to go.)

We had company that day. Curtis is our neighbor. But he knows we do cool stuff at our house, so he comes over randomly. We enjoyed his creations. I can't remember if he was working on a tepee or a campfire. And on the plate in front of him, he made this awesome construction that, when spread out, looked kind of like a tie fighter.

June was totally into the marshmallow architecture. I thought this guy would fit in well at Monster's University.

This skyscraper was impressive.

She made an assortment of stars. They were dazzling.

I had to try my hand as well. (Please do not think that creating is just for kids. My brain loves to play too.) Check out my ferris wheel.

And I know this doesn't use a lot of marshmallows, but it is what came to mind. (One of my neighbors said I'm morbid. I have no idea what she is talking about.)

Who says you shouldn't play with your food.

Tuesday we tripped up to Salt Lake. I feel like we live in a great location. Not too far away from fantastic things. (Wait until you see some pictures from Tyler's trip to Moab.) I thought it would be fun to take the kids up to the temple again and go see the visitor's centers.

We parked across the street. Love all the fountains they have around the City Creek Center.

We went to the South Visitor Center first. (There are two.) It seems to focus on the temple itself, including construction information and a model. The girls saw Moroni and were so excited. They said, look how big he is. Is that the real one?

I laughed. I told them that some Moroni's were taller than the room we were standing in. (We looked it up later. There have been several versions of Moroni ranging from 6 feet 8 inches up to 20 feet.)

They had a model of the temple with a cut away so you could see inside to the rooms. It was really neat. I know it is on display, but I still didn't feel right taking a picture of the inside. So I got a picture from the other side. But I love that you can see the reflection of the real temple in the glass.

Then we got one more picture of the beautiful Salt Lake Temple. Some of the circular windows were open. I'm not sure if I have ever seen that before.

One of the things I love about Temple Square is all the sisters who serve there from all over the world. Each sister has a small flag under her name tag to identify her country. We talked to Sis. McQueen from New Zealand. She was so nice and gave us a map of the grounds. Here she is with her companion from Mexico.

Outside I took a group photo. (Not the easiest, but I like to remember that I was there.)

Either it has been awhile since I have walked around the temple, or they have moved things around. I don't remember all the stunning statues.

Now to the North Visitor's Center. This one is famous for the Christus statue. There is something so moving about this particular depiction. A kind lady took a picture for us.


We spent some time after and went to a special movie they have there. It was about families, and they have you move to different decorated areas to watch sections of the film. It was like being in the movie, kinda. It was really neat and all the kids had a favorite section. (Most of them liked the baby's room.)

As we were waiting to be escorted to the movie, we viewed the art depicting the life of the Savior. I was surprised to see a connection I have never seen before. I believe most people have seen this picture of the Savior's resurrection. It is a very popular Easter scene.

Well, I was looking at this picture of the Savior teaching. (I think it might be the Sermon on the Mount.) Look closely at the woman to his right. It is Mary Magdalene from the resurrection scene.

I think that is very significant.

Our time drew to a close and we had to return home. But we stopped back by more fountains on our way out. Pearl looks like this fountain is going to attack her at any moment.

The splash pad was fun and we took off shoes and ran around for a minute before heading back home.

Wednesday we did a fun art project. It is called Line Design with shading. It is probably a little advanced for my younger children, but I really enjoyed what the older kids came up with. It is a bit time intensive. I worked on mine for the rest of the day and finally finished it. But the others are working on theirs in stages. I love how they are all different. Each has a style of its own. (Left to right, top to bottom: Maleen, Ivory, Robyn, June.)

Thursday we baked up some cinnamon rolls and then distributed many because it was a large recipe.

I barely got a picture when we got back because they were consumed so quickly. I agree with June. We should have saved an extra pan for our family. One was not nearly enough.

Friday we should have been relaxing with a movie, but we went to a friend's house and played. Thanks Chelsea for having us over. It was so fun to see your new place and see how much your kids have grown. (She is one of the people who inspired me to print my blog.)

Then we had eye exams. I won't spoil all the big news. (New glasses deserve a post of their own. You will have to wait until they come in. Ivory's wait will be the longest since both of her pairs are broken. I guess that is what you get for doing gymnastics.)

We did get to come home and watch Brave. It has been a while since we've seen it. It was new for Pearl. She told me today that I was going to turn into a bear. (Guess it's time to shave my legs again.)

I know these posts are so long. I will try to be better about posting during the week. I might be able to manage it now that I am all caught up.

Friday, June 27, 2014


I don't really think of myself as an impulsive person. Spontaneous sometimes, but most of my decisions are still based on stable ideas and plans. Not that I am free from stupid decisions. (Who is?) But when it comes to my kids hair, I tend to be rather abrupt. Maybe it is the fact that I know it has to be cut eventually, and that it will grow again. But the trend is one moment they have hair and the next it is gone. And although I am not fabulous at cutting hair, it doesn't seem to stop me on my own children. You can see herehere, and here. Oh, and here.

You can probably see where this is leading. Pearl's hair was getting quite long. I didn't want to cut her hair for two reasons. First, I was sad to think that I was cutting off her chocolate dipped tail. Her hair was darker at birth, and when it grew out and turned lighter, her long tail was darker just at the bottom. It looked like I dipped it in chocolate. It had lightened up even more, and it didn't look like a tail anymore because it blended in with all her long hair. (But still...)

Second, I like her blond hair. I know it will most likely turn brown over time, but I didn't want to chop off her locks and realize that all her blond was gone.

She has been asking for a haircut for some time. I told her that we would cut it this summer. But I told her we would have to wait until after Disneyland, because I wanted to be able to braid it and keep it out of her face. Well...Disneyland is behind us, and Pearl was reminding me again. I was happily ignoring her. Plus, June was breathing out threats if I cut Pearl's hair. (She was definitely in the DO NOT CUT camp.)

So a few days ago, Pearl came in with a brush. The poor duck was trying to brush her own hair, but it was just getting tangled in her long locks. I knew it was time. I braided her hair so I could keep the blond.

Then I told Daisy to close the door so June wouldn't walk by and freak out. And then I cut her hair.

Goodbye hair.

Hello short stack. I think she looks adorable with her new hair cut.

It is funny how I get used to the new style so quickly. It seems like Pearl has looked like this forever. It makes her seem older.

Of course, I was in big trouble. As soon as Pearl left my room and ran down the hall, I heard June yell out. "MOM!!!!!"

And Pearl is still blond. I heard her telling the neighbor, "Mom thought my hair would be brown when she cut it off, but it's not. It's still blond."

So look for Pearl with her new look in upcoming pictures...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Week Three, Way to Be

This last week was a little out of order, but I have warned the kids from the beginning that our schedule is a loose one. We want to be flexible and go with the flow.

Monday we had just gotten back from our big trip. We didn't do anything beyond reorganizing our lives and planning stuff for our tardy Father's Day.

Tuesday we went on a field trip to the Bean Museum. They have renovated it, and it was fun to rediscover old favorites and lots of new ones. We brought a friend along, because sometimes I feel like 5 kids are not enough to watch.

Just kidding. I actually divided everyone into buddies and let them roam on their own. So I wasn't watching half of them most of the time. I figure this is good practice in an enclosed environment. Robyn was buddies with Emma.

June and Daisy explored together.

I kept up with Pearl and Ivory. They found a little play area.

Ivory then told me that I needed to come take a picture of her hand when she stuck it through the hole. Okay kiddo. Your wish is my command.

She told me to come in with her. Not happening. Then she told me there were wolf eyes inside. I will admit to being tempted, but my old body won out and I never did crawl down there.

Because the museum isn't too large, we kept running into other groups. We met by the butterflies.

And by the beetle.

Oddly, we had a hard time finding the stairs to the second floor. But we made it up there eventually. Nice view.

We found this fish on display. It is called a June Sucker. Not sure if that means he wants to get June, or that she is, indeed, a sucker.

We ventured down to the lower level where the auditorium is. I had looked ahead and saw that they only did animal shows at night, but we got there just as they were displaying Otis, the giant tortoise. Bonus.

Also on display downstairs are a lot of dead animals in cases. (Well, I guess the majority of the animals in the museum are dead. These ones weren't necessarily positioned for display.) We found a 'Vagrant Shrew.'

I guess his 'capping' didn't go so well. (That is a reference to The White Mountains. The kids are obsessed with it right now. Has a story ever taken over your home and your kids talk about it all the time?? I currently hear the word 'tripod' daily.)

We also found this Whiptail lizard. He was just like the one we found in Puckerbrush.

The museum was fun. And free. It is a great activity for summer.

Wednesday, we made our game that we missed from Monday; popsicle stick puzzles. They turned out really cute.

Most of them are signed, but you probably can't see them, so I labeled them for you. (Just one of the services I offer.)

June and Robyn made two puzzles each, but Ivory was the only one who did a double sided puzzle. This is her other side.

They seem to store well.

We stacked them all up and then made Dad put them all together when he came home. He did a good job. (Spoiler: They can be a little tricky, but they aren't too hard to put together.)

Thursday was another day off track. Tyler's work party was that day with lots of activities going on. First thing in the morning was a fun run. We all participated, if you count Tyler pushing the littles in the stroller again. I felt like there was less attendance than previous years, but all the better for us.

Tyler came in second in his age category. (PUSHING THE STROLLER EVEN!) I came in first, barely, in my age bracket. And Ivory came in third. Ironically, I was very excited for this year because I would be in an older age bracket. But had I been one year younger, I could have walked and come in second. (They were a little sparse in the 25-34 group.)

Tyler played golf later in the morning and had a good time, I believe.

The girls and I took advantage of the free swimming. We had a blast. We still have some non-swimmers, but we all played together and had a great time.

In the evening they had the annual BBQ. This is where they give out prizes for the fun run. Ivory was ecstatic with her $10. (Later that night she was quizzing me about how often they did the run. She was disappointed that it was only once a year.)

Tyler got some cash too.

As well as littl' ole me. (I don't think I have ever come in first in any type of run before. Please don't be too impressed. It was only 2 miles. Okay, you can still be a little impressed.)

Pearl didn't get money, but someone did give her a hand.

Tyler was part of the entertainment that evening. He is pretty killer on the guitar. (Even the inflatable guitar.)

Later that same evening, we went over to see friends who moved a year or so ago. It is always nice to catch up. We sure miss you Macbeans.

Thanks for the treats and especially the cherries.

Friday we watched Nut Job, and I was thrilled to sit still for a while. It sure gets busy around here. But that is what summer is for. It is for lazing around and going at full tilt. We seem to be doing a bit of both.