Saturday, July 8, 2017

Celebrating 4th July

Every year the Peterson's, a couple in our ward, hold a neighborhood breakfast in their yard for everyone in the ward boundaries and their families. It's been a great opportunity for me to meet people I don't usually come across during my regular affairs.

The individuals attending are asked to bring something to drink (milk, OJ, chocolate milk) and the paper products they will use. The Peterson's provide pancakes & toppings, eggs, bacon, ham, and sausage.

It is a wonderful thing they do each year and we've made it our family tradition to attend since we've moved into the ward.

After the breakfast, we went back to the house to cool off from the heat of the day, forecasted at 100F. We debated taking the kids somewhere, but Andrew napped in the middle of the day so we stuck around the house.

Once Andrew awoke we decided to check out the Sandy City 4th of July celebration. The heat was unbearable! After roaming the promenade and checking out the vendor booths we walked over to Target and purchase some creamies and popcorn for the kids.

With our ice cream in hand, we walked over to the North end of the promenade to watch some young BMX (bicycle motor cross) performers. They did some incredible tricks on the ramps. The backward 360 jump was by far the most impressive.

The heat was too much and we seriously considered leaving but decided to stick it out for the parade. The kids were glad we did. They collected a grocery bag full of candy between the three of them and were fortunate to find a shaded spot right up front.

A couple of the floats handed out otter pops, which was a hit with the kids. A window washing company had water misters and bubble blowers hooked up to their trucks. They were my favorite.

Andrew's favorite were the marching bands. He loved clapping to the beat of the drummers.

The fireworks were not until 10 pm and I didn't want to spend three more hours in the sun for 15 minutes of entertainment and then fight the crowds to get home. Instead, we let the kids choose their favorite inflatables in the play zone and let them each go through them once.

Once home, we set up the projector outside and let the kids have their own outdoor movie and watch the fireworks all around us. It was great fun!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

American Fork Fireworks

On Saturday we drove to American Fork High School for the annual ReMax 4th of July celebration. It is a private event, in that is funded by a private company, but open to the public.

According to its advertisement, last year it drew close to 4,000 attendees. I'm sure the number was comparable to this year.  We were supposed to meet friends there, but they were unable to attend at the last minute. The kids love going, so we chose to take them regardless.

One side of the grassy area was lined up with inflatables.They had several different slides, multiple bounce houses, and a very popular obstacle course.

In addition to the kids' play area, they also had a stage with a live performer and DJ, a photo booth and free food galore. Although we had dinner before arriving, all their playing made the kids hungry. Andrew loved the patriotic sugar cookies with blue frosting. It made his whole mouth turn blue.

The fireworks show began at 10pm. But before they started, we could see several other aerials nearby. One of them caught fire near the park we were in. We could see the flames reach past the building roofs.

It took several minutes for the fire department to arrive and even longer for them to put out the fire. I am not sure the extent of the damage.  All I know is that 30 minutes later when we got into our cars to leave the event we were forced to turn around because the road was close.

Having to retract back to the parking lot and find an alternate route slowed traffic even further. The congestion was a nightmare and there was no police or employee directing where cars should go.

The kids were oblivious to what was happening outside and happy for the extra movie time they got in the car on our way home.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Stella Upstart Graduation

Since last August Stella has spent at least 20 minutes for five days a week on the computer doing a program called Upstart. The first 20 minutes focuses on reading, followed by 15 minutes of math and science.

This is the second of my children who have gone through Upstart and we all love it. There were times when it was difficult to motivate Stella to do it, primarily because I felt the program got a little ahead of her, but there are reviews all along the way to ensure the student has mastered a concept before moving forward, so it wasn't long before she was once again enjoying the program.

Stella loves Upstart so much that she has agreed to continue using the program through the summer in spite of the fact she is no longer required to do it.She is currently working on sight words and beginner books.

Several of her friends use the program as well, so I chose her graduation time to match that of her friend Sierra. It was fun for these two little ones to celebrate together. 

As Stella was presented her diploma and introduced to the parents, the host shared with everyone that Stella loves princesses and that she wants to be one when she grows up. 

To celebrate, we took the kids to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream and then rushed the middle two to swim lessons. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stella Primary Talk: Chose the right by living gospel principals

Stella shared this talk in Primary today. Todd helped her by reading it to her. She was sweet, and oh so happy to be standing in front of her Junior Primary friends and retelling her experience. 

I want to tell you a story of how I chose the right by living the gospel principals.

I was playing with some of my friend in the sandbox at my house.  We were having a lot of fun digging holes and making sand castles.  I wanted to make it rain so I started to throw sand in the air and it got in my friend's hair.  She did not like having sand in her hair and asked me to stop.  I said I was sorry and stopped throwing the sand.  Later, when I told my mom she said that what I did was called repentance.  By stopping, feeling bad and saying ‘sorry’ I was repenting and following the example of Jesus Christ.

I know that by repenting we can all be happier and be forgiven of our sins so we can all return to live with our Heavenly Father.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Young Living Essentials Lavender Farm

I have read about the YLE Lavender Farm on a blog post from another mom looking for fun and interesting things to do with kids in Utah. The farm is located in Mona Utah. It took us approximately an hour to get to it, so we popped in the audio book "Lemony Snicket: The very bad beginning" and listen to it above Andew's screaming tantrums for the whole ride there. I was really hoping Andrew would nap on the ride but alas, it was not meant to be!

Once we arrived at the visitor center and got him out of his car seat he was happy once again and we were able to enjoy the rest of our visit tantrum free.

The farm is made up of hundreds of acres of lavender plants. They also grow several other crops. We timed our visit by watching how the lavender plant I have at home is doing. My plant is in full bloom, but the ones growing on the farm are a few weeks behind due to a wet, cold winter and spring.

The grounds by the visitor center and adjoining attractions were filled with beautiful flowers all in full bloom.  Most of them are grown in a greenhouse prior to planting so they are not as affected by the weather.

Our first stop was a tour of the distillery. After a crop has been cut it is left on top of a cement slab to dry out. Workers comb through it pulling out weeds and turning it over several times. It is then loaded into a big cooker that measures 6 feet in diameter by 10 feet deep. It is compacted down to maximize its capacity before it is sealed. Steam shoots from the bottom of the cooker and releases the oils in the plants. The oils and steam go through a condensation process and are gathered in large glass containers. The oils and water naturally separate, with the oils rising to the top and the cloudy water resting at the bottom. It looks very similar to a lava lamp. Bubbles of oil will appear at the bottom of the container and quickly rise to the top.

Once the process is complete the mixture is taken to another area where the oil is filtered and funneled into a large barrel.

All along the process, the oil is tested for quality.

Prior to harvesting, lab technicians test the plants to verify the PH and sugar levels are at their best.

Once the plants get close to maturity, the staff will cut the water by half to force the plant to release the nutrients stored in their iroots.

Employees check on the plant hourly prior to harvest and before processing.

It is a pretty labor intensive process. I can see why they charge so much for a little bottle of oil.

One of the interesting things we learned is that oils freeze at much lower temperatures than water. The guide showed us a freezer with stored samples of oils and one with a water/oil mixture. The water was the only thing frozen in the freezer.

I had to look up why that was. It seems that oils are made out of lipid molecules which are all different shapes and sizes so it takes lower temperatures (more effort)  for them to crystallize in an uniform way, compared to water molecules which are more evenly sized.

The color of the oils are also different than that of the plants. For example, yarrow with white flowers releases a dark blue oil. I wonder why?

In addition to growing plants, the farm also has many types of horses. We made friends with a few foals or 'dogs' as Andrew calls them. We spend a lot of time petting them in their pens.

The farm also had some bison and camel.
Question: "What do you call a camel with three humps?"
Answer: "Pregnant."

Also on the farm is a castle with a jousting arena. The kids climbed the towers and across the top area. I have to say that safety is not a big consideration. There were so many obvious dangers. For example, the walls in the upper section of the castle were low enough a toddler Andrew's size could fall over.

The is a pond with beautiful sparkling pink paddle boats for rent but no gate to keep kids away from the water. I can just envision a child falling from the dock while trying to reach the boat.

The animal enclosures are not kid proof. They are great for giant horses that stand over 6 feet tall but Andrew is short enough he could have just walked straight into one of them. Needless to say, I was in hyper-vigilant mode.

Our last stop was the old town/playground area. There is a main street with several old shops and offices to visit. Some were open, some could only be observed through their glass windows. The saloon with its bar and old piano was fun. Emilia tried to play a tune, but the piano was so off key, it was hopeless. The jail and assay offices were open as well and the kids enjoyed going behind bars.

The ride back was just as exciting as the one there. Andrew fell asleep for the first 25 minutes and screamed at the top of his lungs for the last 30 minutes of our ride.  I can't wait for our family road trip next month! We will either all be deaf or he will have lost his voice by the end of 15 hours in the car.

Daybreak Luau

On Saturday afternoon after we were all done with chores we headed to Daybreak for a Luau by the Lake.

I love all of the amenities the community offers and at one point Todd and I considered buying a home there, but unfortunately, it was under contract too quickly and in the end, I think we found something that worked much better for our family.

Daybreak has an artificial lake and beach. The kids love playing in the sand, and the grown-ups kayak or SUP (stand up paddleboard).

The event had a craft area for kids. Carson, Emilia and Stella enjoyed decorating their masks and getting lais and sunglasses from the volunteers.

I got talking with an elderly gentleman who was helping with the event. He told me all about his work selling Christmas trees in Massachusetts. It was quite interesting to hear the history of Christmas tree farms after WWII. According to him, after the war, there was an overproduction of crops in the US. The US government decided to pay farmers to not use their land. Farmers decided that instead of growing crops, they would grow trees during the years they were not allowed to use that land. And in a nutshell that's how Christmas tree farms came to be.

The Luau had a professional artist building a sand castle. His tools were common but very precise. He used a spray bottle, a trowel and paint brushes among other things.

One fun thing we got to do was ride in a Conference Bike. They are manufactured in Germany and can be rented locally. There is one person who steers the bike and can shift gears and break. The remaining six riders face the center and pedal to power the bike.

Andrew was too small to reach so he sat in the center cone during the ride. In our case the man who owns the bikes was the one driving it.

After our little adventure, we decided to pick up some dinner and take the kids to the park. While there we pursued one of our family's favorite past times: geocaching!

We found a micro cash placed by the city of South Jordan. It was easy and fun for the kids.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Taylorsville Dayzz

Now that summer is here, many of the cities in the area are celebrating with their residents. The format is pretty similar every time we have attended one, although each city has different attractions and budgets.

At the beginning of June we went to South Jordan's celebration. It was fun and not very crowded. Taylorsville Dayzz, on the other hand, was incredibly busy. We met the Whitney's and decided to split up into an older and a younger group. Claudia and I took the three younger ones on the little kid's rides, whereas Todd and Jordan took the older ones to more adventurous rollercoasters.

 I knew Stella was going to love the rides. They were the same we did a few weeks back. This time I decided to include Andrew too. After going on one, he was hooked. In fact, he would stand on the gate that separated the ride from the public while we waited in line for our turn.  He even tried the Caterpillar. His face was that of concern at first but after going around once he was fine. He never cried.

The older kids rides were very popular. They had wait times of over 30 minutes. So, in the time the little ones did six rides, the older ones had only done two. Eventually, they decided to use their tickets on the merry-go-round but even that line had gotten busy as the evening went on.

In addition to rides, there was a stage where different dance groups performed.

We watch a group of oriental dances/belly dancers perform. The kids love the beat of the music and were very impressed by their ability to balance two swords on their heads while dancing.

A section of the park was set up with a larger stage and a projection screen. After dusk, the city played the new movie Beauty and the Beast. They even had Belle visit prior to the show.

The Utah Symphony performed with the Beatles. Everyone loved the music and the impersonators were really entertaining and talented. They even had a British accent when addressing the audience.

At the end of their performance, there was a firework show. We were sitting very close to where they were being launched. We could clearly see the boxes of fireworks sitting on the grass off to our left. Andrew was mesmerized and yet shaken by each explosion. He was ok with it once Todd held him on his lap.

It was a truly delightful evening!