Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ice Dancing

Today the kids got out of school at noon. We first drove to Todd's office to have lunch and trick or treat with his co-workers. Our kids were the only ones there. They loved all the attention!

We had a couple of free hours before dinner, and Carson had been begging to go ice-skating. He had just gone the previous weekend for a friend's birthday party. Emilia had also recently gone to the Olympic Oval in Kearns and felt confident she could do it.

My friend Sally and her daughter Claire joined us, which was a life saver because it meant I had another adult to help Stella while I skated with Andrew.

The kids took to ice skating pretty quickly. I grabbed Andrew by his arms and helped him balance while I skated alongside him. He liked the idea that skates felt like princess high heels, but the moment the blade hit the ice he freaked out and wanted out.

I convinced him there was not going back and that we had to complete a circuit around the ice-rink. It was slow going, but about half way around he decided that 'ice dancing' was fun and then there was no way to get him off the ice.

Skating with Andrew is quite a workout. It requires squatting and carrying 40 lbs of shifting weight while balancing on the skates. My lower back could only handle so much of it. Whenever I skated with him I was warm even without my coat.  As soon as I helped Stella or went around with the older two I would get cold again and put on my jacket.

Emilia felt confident enough to let go of the side wall for periods of time. Carson was skating in the center of the rink without a problem. He even decided that he wants to hold his own birthday party here in a month.

This was Stella's first time. By the time we left she was skating without help from an adult but still needed to hold on to the side. It was all a matter of confidence, because I know she can skate unassisted. I am sure that with a couple of more times she would be able to be confident enough to go on her own.

The kids were fascinated by the skaters training in the center of the ice rink. The girls all had coaches and were practicing all kinds of jumps and other turns. It was impressive to see preschool-age kids skate on the ice with better skill than me.

Happy Halloween

The kids were super excited to go trick-or-treating this evening. Emilia dressed as a tree nymph, Carson was Steve from the video game Minecraft, Stella was a unicorn.

We weren't sure what Andrew was going to be. He has quite the selection of costumes he wears daily. His first choice was to dress as a princess. We vetoed that option. He knows he can be a princess at home but cannot wear dresses outside the house. There was quite a power struggle between Andrew and Todd last Friday when he had to wear a costume to preschool. Eventually they both settled on a compromise: a simple super hero cape and mask. On Halloween both Todd and Andrew decided to be Batman.

As usual, the kids spent about an hour and a half knocking on neighbors' doors and gathering a ton of candy. Stella kept dragging the grocery bag she used to carry her candy and ripping holes on the bottom. We had to ask two neighbors for new bags to replace the ones with holes.

After we were done trick-or-treating we went to visit Todd's parents. The kids enjoy handing out candy at their house and getting whatever treats grandma is giving away.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pumpkin Carving

Carving pumpkins is as much a tradition around  Halloween as putting up the tree is for Christmas.

This  year the experience was a little different, in that we actually carved pumpkins we grew in our yard. We chose the smallest of the bunch but compared to the store-bought ones they are still gigantic.

Our pumpkins also had a different texture inside. They were more meaty and a lot less stringy and with less seeds. We spent a good deal of time scraping back layers of pumpkin meat so that our little knives would be able to carve all the way through the pumpkin.

The three oldest kids chose some patterns they liked and traced them onto the pumpkins. Andrew, who finally crashed at 5 pm, slept through the entire process.

The result were three cute pumpkins: a ghost for Stella, a bat for Carson and a cat for Emilia.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Goblin Valley - Day 3

We got up at around 7am ready to take down camp. After a cold breakfast, we put everything away by 10 am.

We decided on a last visit to Goblin Valley to explore what we hadn't seen on our previous stops.

We hiked to Valley 2, where the kids played sardines and hide and go seek.

We spent a couple of hours walking around, before having lunch and saying our goodbyes.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Goblin Valley - Day 2

We woke up to a wet camp due to condensation. After a warm breakfast we decided to hike Little Wild Horse Canyon, a slot canyon 5 miles away.

It is a popular hike for families and dog owners. We came across at least two dozen dogs during our hike. The parking lot was full, and the trail was too.

It didn't seem that busy at first because people were spaced through the hike, but then the trail became a slot canyon and everyone had to be funneled through the narrow entrance making for extra wait times.

The canyon was a kids playground with plenty of places for them to climb and hide. Unfortunately all of the rain from earlier in the week had pooled in some areas making them impassable. Some young lads moved large rocks to create a stepping stone path through the water.

The water got deeper and deeper the further we hiked in. We reached point where the water was too deep for rock paths and the kids would have had to wade chest high in water, so we turned around.

The hike back was a lot quicker. The kids were hungry for lunch. They ate through all of the snacks and wanted more so they were motivated to head back to the car.

Instead of having a simple lunch and a big dinner, we ate our large meal midafternoon and cleaned up the large dishes during the relatively warmth and light of the afternoon.

After ‘linner’ we went exploring our campsite. We hiked up the ridge on one side of camp. The ground was red at first, but transitioned to white the further up we reached. The white, rocky and barren terrain felt as if we were standing on the moon.

After descending we decided to hike to the visitor center through the open desert. We were on a race against sunset. We barely made it back before it began to get dark.

Once at camp, we sat around the campfire to roast marshmallows and make pie cups.

I am sure we were the loudest camp that night, telling scary stories and singing silly Go-Noodle songs that engaged everyone.

At around 8pm we drove to Goblin Valley with the kids. They each wore glow sticks and chased each other in the moonlight.

I am so pleased by how well they all get along. Even Carson, a boy among girls manages to have a great time.

The kids left Goblin Valley, tired and ready for a good night sleep.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Goblin Valley - Day 1

This morning we awoke at 4:30am in order to be on the road by 5am. The kids were hard to wake up, Especially Andrew who likes his bed. We made it out by 5:30am.

On the way the way up Spanish Fork Canyon, we encountered a deer in the middle of the road. Todd had to break fast to avoid hitting it. Everyone who had dozed off in the car was suddenly awakened by the jolting stop.

We also encountered thick fog in Wellington and then again as we approached Green River. In the thick areas our visibility was 30 ft. - 50 ft.

The 3.5 hour  car ride was pretty quiet. The older kids just slept the entire time.

When we arrived near the state park we visited Temple Mountain Campground. It is BLM land, with one pit toilet available and a few picnic table grouped near the bathroom. There was no running water.

In spite of the limited amenities, the area was full of RVs and a few tents.

It had been raining all week so the ground was damp and the humidity high. A blanket of dew covered everything.

We opted to drive into Goblin Valley State Park. They have a limited number of walk in sites. The ranger informed us that we had to wait until 10 am to request a site. Since it was nearly 9:30 am, Carson and Todd drove into the park to check out sites while Claudia and I stayed at the visitor center to wait for the sites.

We were fortunate enough to receive an RV site to share with the Whitney's.

After unhooking the trailer at our site, we drove to the Goblin Valley parking lot to view the sites.

On our way there Andrew threw up in the car. Todd and I left the older kids with Claudia and Jordan so we could take care of Andrew.

Our tent and trailer were still packed up so we had to scramble to find a change of clothes and soap to wash him and his soiled shirt and pants.

The weather was cold. The high temperature for the day 65F. We hurried to get Andrew dressed. His breathing labored from congestion and asthma on top of everything else.

Andrew's upset stomach lasted through the day. He threw up six more times before going to bed for the evening.

The older kids spent the afternoon climbing the hills surrounding our campsite.

Since we were staying at camp, we started the briquettes for dutch oven cobbler. After a yummy dinner and dessert, the kids went to bed for an early evening.

Once the kids were asleep in bed, the adults spent some time visiting around the fire. After a while we decided to explore goblin valley at night. The full moon illuminated to rocks so well that we didn't even need our headlamps.

Jordan took his nice digital camera and tripod so we spent out time experimenting with settings, and lights.

The moon was so bright it looked like the sun in the pictures. The photos appeared as if they had been taken during daytime.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Women's Conference

This session of general conference has been filled by uplifting messages and revelatory announcements.  Pres. Nelson informed the members of a new in-home learning curriculum that would begin on January 1, 2019. In conjunction with the new instruction, Sunday meetings would be reduced from three hours to two in order to allow families the time they need to study together.

I have looked over the content for the first couple of weeks in January. They are set up like a Sunday school lesson would. I am glad to have the next couple of months to figure out how our family will implement the new assignment.

To make the Women's Conference special, I hosted a dinner and invited women that are special to the girls in our family. I enjoyed it so much, I think it may become a new annual tradition.

We had a fancy meal, with fancy place setting, and fancy food. Everyone enjoyed each other's company immensely.

Each person got a notebook and smelly gel pen to use for taking notes during the session.

Then we headed down to our theater to listen to the admonitions and instructions shared with us by the First Presidency and General Women leaders of the church.