Saturday, July 7, 2018

Eagle Crest Trail

I abhor screen time with a passion. It turns my kids into zombies and then into monsters when the screen is turned off. So, I am always looking for ways to keep my kids entertained and preferably out of the house.

Today, as their reward for doing chores we drove to Suncrest for a free live concert. The music was good, but not what was advertised. My kids barely knew any of the songs. As I browse the internet to see what else there was to do nearby I discovered two easy trails. The kids were not very excited about hiking and complained about having to leave the park.

We checked out the Oak Vista Trailhead but weren't very impressed with the hike, so we drove a couple of minutes over to the Eagle Crest Trailhead.

Even from the parking lot, the views of Utah Lake and Utah county were magnificent. At the beginning of our hike, we kept hearing rustling sounds in the nearby vegetation, which freaked Emilia out. I assumed it was garden snakes, but didn't want to voice my thoughts out loud.

Not long into our hike, I saw a small black creature run across the path. It was so fast and unexpected I wasn't sure what I had seen. A squirrel perhaps?

A few minutes later Andrew, who was leading the way, almost tripped over another one who dashed across the path. Todd recognized it immediately. It was a small field mouse.

After that, it became a game to see who could spot one. We saw at least half a dozen on our walk and heard a lot more.

What began as a dreaded activity for the kids, became an adventure and a new experience. Who knew mice could be cute?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Biking the Jordan River Parkway

This year our older kids have discovered a love for biking. Riding their bikes has given them the independence to go to church activities and friend's houses on their own.

Both Emilia and Carson had been riding older, much smaller bicycles, and since they had been using them daily, Todd and I decided they were ready for an upgrade.

In addition to going around the neighborhood, I have taken the kids on bike rides on the Jordan River Parkway.  We are fortunate to have direct access, without requiring the kids to ride or cross any major roads.

On one occasion we rode south to a Native American monument on the trail, for a total of 10 miles RT. They were tired but had fun.

The weather has been near or above 100F for the past several days, so we have to wait until evening to ride.

Our second ride was with the entire family. This time we rode north to Gardener Village where we stopped for some shaved ice before heading back. The ride was fraught with mishaps that made it less enjoyable. 

1. The two youngest kids rode on the bike trailer. They are both pretty big for it and were in each other space causing a lot of unpleasant screaming.
2. Todd's bike chain fell and got jammed. We had to unhook the trailer in order to fix it, and in the process, one of the links was pushed out of place causing the bike to shift gear every time it completed a whole rotation.
3. We spent too much time at Gardener Village, and it got dark on us as we rode back. 
4. We took one wrong turn and had to backtrack for nearly a mile. 
5. Emilia's handlebar hit a wall and caused her to lose her balance and fall off her bike.

Needless to say, we were all frazzled by the time we made it home. 

I was proud of Todd and me for keeping our cool through the entire ordeal. But it'll be a while before the kids agree to go on another family bike ride. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day 2018

We did a lot on Independence Day this year. We began by celebrating the holiday with our neighbors at the neighborhood breakfast hosted every year by the Peterson family.

I am always looking for ways to infuse learning into the activities we do as a family. This year we attended the Colonial Heritage Festival in Orem. There was so much to do and see that we didn't get a chance to do everything we wanted before running out of energy.

The festival had an area where children could learn about typical chores kids had during the 1700's. Carson, Emilia, and Stella all got to spin wool, made rope out of straw and carried buckets of water.

There was a lot of information about the early colonies, English and rebel soldiers, as well as information about daily living for frontier men and women.

What amazed me most is how many of these demonstrators continue to live the traditions they were displaying. For example I met a woman who still makes lace from handwoven wool, following the same process utilized centuries ago.  I also me a couple who hunt, skin, process and dye leather. The husband was showing people the different types of leather and colors and explaining the process by which the skins absorbed colors.

There were whole families, including elementary-age children demonstrating the process of creating cotton/rag paper and how to the printing press worked. There was even a casket maker who displayed his work and still manufactures rustic (and more elaborate) casket for sale.

Our last stop, on our way out, was the 1900's military base. They had a Korean War, WWI, and WW2 section for people to tour. They also had several vehicles on display that children could climb into and pretend to drive.

One of the most interesting areas was the code-breaking demonstration, where a soldier demonstrated to us how the Enigma machine used by the Germans during WW2 worked. How it evolved over time and how the Polish and later Allies were able to decode those messages and help win the war.

After our visit to the Colonial Heritage Festival, we headed home and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening with Todd's family who came over for a BBQ and to watch Captain America on the big screen.

It was a truly enjoyable, albeit busy day.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

American Fork Canyon

An acquaintance recommended Tibble Creek Reservoir in American Fork Canyon as a fun place for the family to visit.

I mentioned it over dinner to the family and we decided we would do our chores on Friday and enjoy the day at Tibble Creek.

We ended up sleeping in and didn't reach the reservoir until 11 am. The place looked pretty busy so we decided to keep going and drove up along a 3-mile dirt road to Silver Lake.

The views along the way were gorgeous, albeit scary. The dirt path was narrow and I inwardly cringe every time we had to pull off to the rim to make room for an extra large truck going the opposite direction to pass us.

Eventually, we reached the lake.  We were all dressed for the water and ready to get in until we got out of the car.  The temperature had dropped to 68F and a cold persistent wind made it feel even cooler. Stella was unphased by the temperature and went directly into the water to play.

We spent a few minutes skipping rocks, and watching Stella in the water but in the end, we were just too cold to enjoy Silver Lake.

We once again hopped into the car and drove down the canyon where the temperatures were a lot milder. We found a picnic area and had a great time climbing over fallen logs and throwing rocks into the stream.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Emilia STEM Camp

This summer Emilia has been taking several STEM classes. Every week she learns how to code in Java through a class offered by the local library.

In addition, she attended a two-day camp at the Discovery Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City. The camp was all about exposing kids to new technologies.

During the various classes, she was taught how to design something for 3-D printing. She also made digital music, programmed a robot, created a website and coded games.

I want my daughters to know that science, and especially technology, is a field open to everyone.  Early and consistent exposure to technology and science at home has led Emilia to love and excel in those subjects at school. She ranked above the 90th percentile in the state-wide testing for science this year. I attribute some of her success to what we have been doing at home and I hope she will continue to love it as time goes on.

Taylorsville Dayzzzz

 Some of our summer activities are a repeat from previous years. Such is the case with  Taylorsville Dayzz. Claudia and I took the kids to the event at 4pm so they would ride the $1 rides without crowds.

The rides are the same as what is available during South Jordan Summer Fest, so the kids already knew which they wanted to do. The older ones are getting independent enough to do their own thing and just meet up with us once in a while.

After using up all of our tickets, we enjoyed listening to a Beatles tribute by theWest Valley Symphony. The concert concluded with a (very loud) cannon salute.

The three older kids stayed to watch Jumanji while I drove home with Andrew, who was past tired.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Orem Playdate with Nicole

Once in a while, my good friend Nicole and I get together for a fun-filled afternoon.  Today, we met up at a trampoline park in Orem where the kids played for a couple of hours. Afterward, we drove to dinner and spotted the Pioneer Park splash pad on our way.

We decided to let the kids play there for a while. We hadn't planned on getting the kids wet, but it was so warm, that it felt nice. Andrew, who was a bit shy about the water at first, was the one that got the wettest since the water reached all the way up to his head.

The Grassroots Shakespeare company played an abbreviated version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Andrew was mesmerized and the kids pleasantly entertained by the performance. Although it was hard for them to understand the dialog at times, they still got the gist of what was happening by observing the actors.

It was such a fun afternoon. I love getting together with long-time friends like Nicole and her family.