Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Another School Year Done

Bridget is done with elementary school! How?! What?! It's true. All three of our children will never again be at the same school at the same time. The end of an era. I probably posted this photo from the first day of school, but it's important that we see the last day of school right by it. Here they are in late August 2017 - 

And now May 30, 2018 - 
Let's discuss! Bridget looks like a totally different person. She's clearly taller and she looks so much more mature - no more baby face. And I don't think it's the hair. Emil is also much taller and he has totally different teeth! Of the three, Colin looks the least changed. He looks smarter, though, right? :)

Before the last day of school we had to have the Dance Festival. It's the first year in a long time that we didn't have to endure Principal Miller talking our ears off while we baked in the sun. Brian was planning to come, but an emergency at work kept him from it. Sad, but that means I could plop myself down on a ten-inch square spot on the front row like a boss. I wasn't planning on using any of the photos for the paper, but they used some of them anyway.

There's Bridget! But I forgot what song she's dancing to. Hmm.

The fifth and sixth graders got to don their Hope of America Concert costumes and do the dance again. Bridget was in the traditional Mexican dance.

There she is running off. I got a video of the dance and then tried to hurry and get a still of the final pose. Fail. Thus continues the tradition of mom failures at the Dance Festival.

Colin was right in front of me for the first grade dance. They performed to "I'm Still Standin'" Colin did it for us at home. Ha! Adorable.

I like to make sure I get at least one photo of the kids before the dancing starts just in case I'm far away. The sixth graders were SO far away, though, that I didn't dare try to find Bridget.

I love seeing Emil at school. He's always so happy. I'm really glad I got this photo before the festival started because I would never get this close again.

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

During the last week of school Bridget had a volleyball camp and the boys had baseball practice and games.

Clara, Bridget, and Kodi. Cuties.

And this - I reviewed a new ice cream place for the paper and the kids all shared. Fort Knox hat forever!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Easter and Dinosaur Spring Break

I think we had the most low-key Easter we've ever had. No visitors, General Conference weekend so no new dresses or ties. I didn't even make a coconut cake! I did make cinnamon rolls, though. They were delicious and enough.
The kids found their baskets after an exhaustive search Sunday morning. They each got a book, a Harry Potter Chocolate Frog, a book and another small gift. Emil got two Dog Man books and he literally spent the rest of the day reading. It was miraculous!

We watched General Conference on TV and just enjoyed the day together. Ahhhhh. The Best.

Colin and I worked on the Polynesian Cultural Center puzzle he got in his Easter basket. We've been there!

Spring Break started the Monday after Easter. We mostly stayed home this year, but we had to get away for a few days and visit Dinosaur Monument near Vernal, Utah. I found a hotel that allowed pets for $35 more per night, so we brought Penelope along. (In my search for a pet-friendly hotel I found out that the Marriott in Vernal charges $100 MORE per night for a pet. The room was less that $100 to begin with. What?) Grandma and Grandpa hosted our kids and Nate on Wednesday for a sleepover while Brian and I ate out and watched a movie at home. Thursday afternoon we left for Vernal. Penelope got carsick and threw up on our way through Daniel's Canyon. Too twisty! The beds were small and Penelope did not sleep well, but the free breakfast was dynamite!
The kids snatched their junior ranger booklets and got right to work in the Visitor's Center. We watched the movie and read some of the plaques under the pictures and touched the dinosaur bones. Colin breezed through the workbook - too easy! Emil wasn't far behind, with a little more complaining (natch), and Bridget had to complete more pages than the boys so she took a bit longer.
The rangers were surprised at how quickly the kids completed the workbooks. Yeah. Try harder, then, Dinosaur Monument. Off to the Dinosaur Quarry!

It's a logjam of dinosaur bones! Can you imagine happening upon this?! I know they've cleared a lot of stuff away, but still. First a drought killed off dinosaurs, then years and years later there was a flood that brought more dinosaurs to this very spot. It's the most Jurassic dinosaur bones ever in one location. And those are Emil's crazy eyes. You should see the first four pictures I took of this. Stinkers gotta stink!
I couldn't leave without seeing Josie Basset Morris's homestead. She lived there alone for almost 50 years!
That's where Josie kept her animals. Look at the well-worn path, the rocky hill. Bridget is holding some thyme from the gurgling stream. I think Josie cracked the code - it was a pretty sweet set up.
Penelope didn't know WHAT was going on during this road trip. Bridget took very good care of her - Bridget even let Penelope puke into her hands so it wouldn't get on the hotel bed. That's a real mom move.
It started sprinkling, that's why Colin looks a little gangster in this photo. Can you see Penelope's tongue? That's how we know which end we're looking at. Ha! But for real - I stared and stared at her in the dark hotel room on the second morning and I DID NOT KNOW what I was looking at. Turns out she was looking right back at me. I think that's funnier than anyone I've told so far. :)
When we got back to our hotel, we cleaned up a little and walked across the parking lot to the Italian place Brian's friend had recommended. From the outside the place, Antica Forma, did not look like much, but it was very charming inside. I couldn't be more over pizza, you guys, but this place was AWESOME. I'd go back just to eat there again. Everyone but Emil was in heaven - Colin even said so out loud.

After dinner our plan was to go to the local rec center to swim. We made sure it was open, but when we got there all dressed in our swimsuits, they said they wouldn't open the pool until 6:00. Huh? It was about 5:00 at the time. We came back and watched a show and played with Penelope, who was acting strangely. Brian ended up taking the kids back to the pool while I stayed at the hotel with Penelope and let her play while I watched Parks & Recreation. I win.

This is an accurate representation of how the kids slept at our hotel in Vernal. This is a double bed. Emil coughed every other breath and ground his teeth, Bridget talks in her sleep and takes up way more room than you think. Bridget asked me which of the three of them I would choose to sleep by - Colin! Duh!

The next morning, Saturday, we had another nice breakfast at the hotel before packing up the van and going to the dinosaur museum across the street. Colin and Emil were still in the mood to learn more about dinosaurs. They loved the dinosaur garden.
I told them to act like they were being chased by that scary T-rex. Hmmm. We headed home from here and made it through a pretty scary snow storm in the canyon. As always, worth the trip. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bridget Crushes Sixth Grade

We're finding out that sixth grade is a lot. I'm happy that Bridget is participating and having fun, though. She has conquered her shyness and fears one by one.

Bridget was one of the mer-sisters in Little Mermaid Jr. and the show was in March. I didn't get to see her practice with the other mermaids, so I didn't know what was going to happen when I went to the first performance with Grandma Peggy. The six mermaids were all adorable - costumes and long blue wigs. For their song "She's in Love" they sounded so good! They started singing harmony and I cried like a baby. I go to a lot of kids theater, you guys. It's one of my beats as a small town newspaper reporter. Hearing elementary kids sing in tune is a rare treat and hearing beautiful harmony is the holy grail. I was so proud of all of them I almost busted!
Grandma and Grandpa brought Nate for the second night of the show and I helped backstage that night. Grandma and Grandpa brought Bridget a pretty seashell necklace. Emil and Colin and Nate ate a lot of candy.

The week after the show was Battle of the Books. Brian read several of the books with Bridget and then Bridget and I finished up Esperanza Rising a few weeks before the battles. We started Hatchet the week of Battle of the Books and it ended up coming in pretty handy.
Bridget's team consisted of her, Katie, Mariah, and Tylee. The first round of play they were unstoppable! I always volunteer to read or be a time keeper for Battle of the Books because it is awesome. Mariah was the team captain, so she was the only one who could answer questions after she'd consulted her team. I could tell which books each of them had read - a great strategy. It's so hard to remember details from 20 different books! Better to know five really well. Every time Bridget got an Esperanza Rising question right I would tear up with pride. That was a long, grim book. We read it together and she said it was her favorite book on the Battle of the Books list.

On the second day of battles, Bridget's team faltered a little. They did crush the top team, though. Their final score put them in fourth place and the top four teams went to the final. Her team played the second place team.
Bridget's team destroyed the second place team in the semi-final. Sami's team ended up winning their semi-final too, so Bridget's and Sami's teams faced each other in the school final. It was so intense! I honestly didn't care who won - they all won because they read books! (Nerd alert.) Sami's team won and they could choose one player from the second place team to take to the district competition. They chose Bridget. My girl is the MVP, you guys.
The district competition was at American Fork Junior High - Brian's alma mater! Grandma met us there and we followed Bridget's team all over the school for six battles. Brian told us fun stories as we passed forgotten halls and nooks. "Ryan Hall fought a ninth grader right there." HA! "I was playing tag right here and I ran into this cement pole. It knocked me out and I fell back and hit the other side of my head on the sidewalk. I was in the ER and couldn't speak!" Junior high, man. You couldn't pay me to go back! Unless I get to know everything I know now. Then I'd go back and not care about anything and listen to all my teachers.
Bridget's teacher, Miss Beck, followed the team around all morning too. Can you even stand it?! It was a Saturday! She's young and cute! The Lightning Llamas at District Battle of the Books team was Bridget, Lola, Sami, Braylee and Aiden. They didn't get into the top five, but there were 44 schools there and it truly didn't matter. We found out later they placed 12th. Awesome. :)

The Tuesday after Battle of the Books was the science fair. Bridget did everything herself. No, really! I drove her to the eye doctor to interview him, but it was her idea and she asked the questions. We'd been discussing the science fair for months! Brian and I encouraged Bridget to find a question from her real life to research and experiment on for the science fair. When she and Brian saw the color of bricks on a church differently, I pointed out that she could use that question for her project - Do People See Color Differently?

The eye doctor gave Bridget Ishihara's Color Blindness Test and she went around our neighborhood giving it to whomever answered the door. Brian helped her make graphs with her data and I helped her cut out some of the paper, but she did all the research and typed everything and created her tri-fold. It was a masterpiece! (By the way, 7% of males have a color deficiency and 1% of females have a color deficiency. And other very interesting facts! Your peripheral vision is black and white! Science!)

Thank goodness not every month is as busy as March, but Bridget seems happiest when she is engaged to capacity. Brian and I spent the month bursting with pride in her more so than usual. She works so hard and I've never met anyone her age who is so responsible! She's the best girl.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Quarterly Book Report: January - March 2018

1. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse

One of the other picture books we love around here has a reverso poem by Marilyn Singer. I saw that she had a whole book of reverso poems with great illustrations and I bought it "for" one of the kids for Christmas. (It's for me, let's be honest.) The book has familiar fairy tales in poetic verse and on the facing page the same poem from the last line to the first with the punctuation fixed up so it means something totally different. My boys didn't realize it, but it made them think about language in a new way. Colin was especially intrigued with this book - he was like a detective figuring out a clue. Ha! Fun.

2. American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse

I don't read a lot of (any?) true crime and I can't remember why this one caught my attention. The author, Monica Hesse, is a journalist and I think that was part of what piqued my curiosity. She spent months researching the story where it took place, conducting dozens of interviews.

The crime was arson. Over the course of several months in 2008 and into 2009, someone was setting fire to old abandoned homes and buildings in Accomack County, Virginia. More than 80 fires! How could they get away with so many fires for so long? Vigilante groups set up fairly elaborate operations to try to catch the arsonist. Profiles were made - even a guy who worked out the block where the arsonist might live (he was right!). The volunteer fire departments were putting out multiple fires every night for months. They were at capacity - everyone was on edge.

Hesse set all this up so well. It really kept me up at night. I don't like to think this kind of crime spree can go unsolved for so long. Along with the chapters about the fires and the efforts to catch the arsonist, Hesse introduces us to the pathetic lives of the couple responsible for the fires. The woman was clearly the mastermind. How? Why? Because this is true crime, we never get a satisfactory answer to those questions. Interesting to note, though, that even though the profiles led practically to this couples' doorstep, they didn't suspect a woman or the hometown boy who was too dumb to pull it off.

Besides the psychology of the arsonists, which was a rich subject, the whole arson spree was made possible by a town full of once occupied homes that had been abandoned because the town was pretty much dead. There's no reason to be in Accomack County unless you live there. It used to be a tourist destination (one of the fires was at the once-loved hotel where presidents had stayed). Sad all around.

3. The National Cookbook by Sheila Hibben

"There are those who think a cookbook is just a book for cooks; and if that were so, there would, perhaps, be no need for an introduction to a manual on what the bright young men call the technology of the kitchen. But, as the months of compiling this volume have gone by, and I have sent and received hampers of correspondence with people interested in food all over the United States, I have let my spirits rise. I have felt as if I were writing not only a geography of this country, but a social study of its inhabitants, for I have been in communication with people who really believe that how we do things, as much as what we do, is significant - people who still hold that a thing, even an apple pie, must have style to be important."

Sheila Hibben and I would be FRIENDS! She published The National Cookbook to preserve the regional idiosyncrasies in American cooking. (It was published in 1932, by the way.) This 425 page cookbook with hundreds of recipes from all over America is one of the most interesting books I've ever read! It's out-of-print, naturally. I looked it up on Goodreads, and it's not there. First time I haven't been able to find a book on Goodreads! I found one copy on Amazon for $300. One of my friends works at the BYU Library and I asked if she would check it out for me. She did! The reason I even know The National Cookbook exists is because of Laura Shapiro's book What She Ate. Shapiro mentions it in the chapter about Eleanor Roosevelt.

There are so many things in this book. A "good" oven instead of a specific temperature. Bringing something up to "blood" temperature - I thought that was a little gross, but Brian guessed that it meant you wouldn't feel hot or cold if you touched it, same temperature as your blood. I wanted to try some of the recipes. A Pot Roast with Spaghetti from New York looked promising - it had familiar ingredients like onions, carrots, garlic, parsley, celery, tomatoes, spaghetti. Then I read the directions. I was instructed to do fairly normal stuff, if using the most time-consuming methods. Then it said to boil the spaghetti in "vigorously boiling" water for 20 minutes. That's when it dawned on me that even the products available in 1932 are very different from what I get at the store today. Too bad! One day I'll get a copy of my own and try a recipe anyway.

4. The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

Michael W. Twitty is a wonderful combination of intelligence and talent. He does riveting cooking demonstrations using only what his Southern slave ancestors would have used, cooking the food they would have cooked with the equipment and in the kitchens where they would have cooked. Food stories and food history are one of my favorite subjects. When I saw this book I felt like Twitty had read my diary. The food story of the American South is a complicated one. Black slaves creating signature dishes from the crops and proteins available. White Southern women serving those dishes in their homes. I recently binged on a bunch of seasons of Top Chef. Chefs from the South cook "Southern" food - by that I noticed that often meant things like collard greens, seafood (shrimp), grits, biscuits, fried chicken. Their food seems to be a comfort and pride of both black and white people. Interesting.

I wanted to like The Cooking Gene so badly! But, I didn't. Twitty bounced around subjects and places, poetic musing and prose. What is happening?! I couldn't follow it. I'll go back to watching him on YouTube videos cooking in Colonial Williamsburg.

5. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

This is a Battle of the Books selection that I bought last year because I liked the cover. Bridget and I started reading it in December, then we stopped and started again late in February when it got closer to the battle dates. Esparanza is a 13 year-old girl living in Mexico at a beautiful ranch. She's quite spoiled - especially by her father. In the first chapters, Esperanza's father dies in the fields and is brought back to the house. (This is in the 1930s, btw.) Everything starts falling apart for Esperanza.

Esperanza's mother doesn't inherit her husband's ranch because she's just a woman - don't let's be crazy. One of her late husband's brothers, Tio Luis, tries to convince her to marry him - her life would go on just the same as before! But Tio Luis is garbage and Esperanza's mother won't marry him. The house burns down and we're pretty sure Tio Luis has something to do with it. Esperanza and her mother, with the help of employees Alfonso, Hortensia, and Miguel, escape to California.

Most of the book takes place in the farms surrounding Bakersfield, California. Migrant workers lived in rough "camps" with their families and worked for pennies a day putting rubber bands around bunches of asparagus, cutting eyes out of potatoes, boxing up peaches, etc. Esperanza's mother gets very sick and has to be in a hospital for months and that means Esperanza, former spoiled rich girl, becomes a totally different person as she works to keep her mother cared for and saves money to bring Abuelito to California. The seeds of leadership are beginning to be sown in Esperanza as she witnesses workers who try to ask for better wages and more humane treatment get bused back to Mexico whether they are U.S. citizens or not.

This book is GRIM. Every night after reading a chapter or more, Bridget and I would sigh and wonder if anything good would ever happen for Esperanza and her mother and friends. During the last few chapters I was bawling like a baby. This is historical fiction, but this is a real thing that happened. There is a National Monument called Cesar E. Chavez National Monument near Bakersfield, California, that has museums and replicas of the camps where the migrant workers lived. I'm really glad this book was on the list for Battle of the Books and I'm really glad it has a cool cover because now it's one of Bridget's favorite books and I think it's made both of us better people.

6. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

"This, then, is the story of Lincoln's political genius revealed through his extraordinary array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended might have escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates; to share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an unparalleled ability to keep his governing coalition intact, a tough-minded appreciation of the need to protect his presidential prerogatives and a masterful sense of timing."

The Audible version of Team of Rivals is over 40 hours long, but it definitely doesn't feel like 40 hours. One of my favorite subjects of study is leadership and Lincoln really cracked the code on it. An early story in the book describes a high-profile case that was to take place in Illinois and the lead lawyer needing an Illinois man to help. People recommended Abraham Lincoln and the lawyer went to meet him. Lincoln was wearing ill-fitting clothes and he looked like a true backwoods bumpkin, but the lawyer was won over after only a few minutes and hired him to do the job. Lincoln spent hours researching case law and observing the judge who would preside over the case. When the case was moved to Ohio, Lincoln didn't realize that his services would no longer be needed so he kept working. He showed up for the trial, much to the chagrin of the lead lawyer and the Ohio man he'd hired, Edwin Stanton. Stanton was especially unimpressed with the gangly Illinois lawyer and went out of his way to show his disdain. Lincoln sat in the galley for the entire trial and afterward shook the hands of the men who had disregarded all the briefs he'd given them and turned their backs when they saw him coming at the hotel where all of them were staying. Lincoln told Stanton and the other lawyer that he'd learned a lot from them, that he'd go back to Illinois and learn how to be a lawyer now!

One of the ingredients to Lincoln's perfect leadership was his ability to learn from every experience, every defeat, every humiliation, of which he had plenty. The moment he won the Republican nomination for president in 1860, he sent letters to his rivals; Salmon Chase, William Seward, Edward Bates, Montgomery Blair. These men had looked on Lincoln as a puppet or a bumpkin. Chase and Seward in particular thought they'd be able to control him. Seward became one of Lincoln's dearest friends and Chase proved to be not as great as he could have been. After Lincoln's first few months in office, he recruited Edwin Stanton to be Secretary of War. So many egos! So many feelings! Every time Chase (Treasury Secretary) felt slighted, he would pen a letter of resignation to Lincoln. Lincoln would woo him back, soothe Chase's hurt feelings, and everything would go on. Lincoln needed the experience, the strength and the connections of all of these men to have a successful presidency. And Lincoln had no ego. (One of my favorite moments of the book was when Lincoln finally accepted Chase's resignation. Chase was caught totally off guard. It was the best.)

The chapters about the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, and getting the 13th Amendment into the Constitution were absolutely thrilling. The pause Lincoln took before signing the Emancipation Proclamation because his hands were shaking with the emotion he felt and he didn't want history to judge his signature to be uncertain. His process of writing speeches was illuminating - he'd have an idea, ponder it out, test verbalizing it on his secretaries or whomever was close by, then he'd deliver the words in perfect spirit. "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

I believe it was the Thirteenth Amendment that completed Lincoln's mission on this earth. He'd had threats on his life before the Civil War was over. None were successful until after the legal end of slavery in the United States was accomplished.

Throughout the book there are examples of Lincoln's greatness and humanitarianism. It brought me to tears many times. He was truly praiseworthy - I am always seeking after that and when I find it, I cry with the recognition. Lincoln was a giant in every relationship in his life, in every circumstance. True leadership requires the depths of humility. Most people aren't capable of it.

7. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Who knew the making of a dictionary could be so interesting! Simon Winchester begins each chapter of The Professor and the Madman with the definition of a word. And he includes the history of many words, too. That was a fun sidebar every time.

The dictionary here is the Oxford English Dictionary. THEE dictionary. Winchester describes it as being as big as a tombstone. Ha! Remember when Christopher said he would buy Rory this dictionary and then his credit card was declined? Let's all get past the fact that the little bookstore in Stars Hollow would definitely not have a tombstone-sized $2000 book for sale.

Anyway! How on earth could a person put something like this together? Every single word ever spoken in the English language, plus the first time it was ever used in print. Now there's something - the first time it was ever used IN PRINT. What if there were peasants out there making up words all the time and then some writer comes along and uses it and BAM it's a word now because it's in print? A person makes this dictionary by enlisting the help of a LOT of people. Dr. Murray, who became the lead man on the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, had bookstores put fliers in all their books asking for help from readers. One of those readers ended up being an American doctor and crazy person, Dr. William Chester Minor. Minor was imprisoned at Broodmor in England for killing a man. Dr. Murray didn't know for quite a while that his best dictionary helper was also criminally insane. When Murray did find out, he went to visit Minor regularly and became his friend. How refreshing! Minor had experienced some traumatic stuff during the Civil War in America and he had almost nightly hallucinations that people were coming into his room and molesting him or making him do horrible things. Minor's mind was full of strange traps, but he was very intelligent.

The Professor and the Madman is a short and interesting read (like me). Toward the end there is a very squeamish moment. Get ready. Or skip the end. You're better off not knowing, really.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Season of Changes Big and Small

It's harder and harder to do blog posts when I'm researching and writing stories for the paper and documenting our daily life on Instagram. It feels like it's already done. Then I see our "yearbooks" that I make out of this blog and it reminds me that I need to do it.

So far 2018 has meant some big changes for our family. The first was our ward splitting in January and our house was in the portion that went to a new (to us) ward, the 18th Ward. Brian was released from the bishopric and I was released from the young women. We went from one or both of us being gone three nights a week plus all day on Sunday to going to nothing for a few weeks. (We filled in the time with jujitsu for the boys and the school play for Bridget.)
 Daddy walking into the new building with Emil and Bridget.

You may recall Bridget got a puppy for Christmas, but she wasn't born until January 12. The breeder sent us photos every week and Penelope kept getting cuter and cuter. She got to our house on March 9. She's already less work than either of our previous outside dogs.
WHO'S A GOOD GIRL?! (Penelope on March 17.)

Emil and Colin at Jujitsu

In February we did all the usual stuff (piano students, birthday parties, jujitsu, violin lessons) and then we went on the road trip to Arches that I had been planning since last October. I saved the cash from my piano students and newspaper stories and paid for three nights at the Red Cliffs Lodge near Moab, Utah. We got there at dinner time and had a nice meal at the restaurant there at Red Cliffs Lodge. Then we went to our cabin right on the Colorado River. Aaaaahhhh!
Saturday morning (February 17) we headed to Arches National Park and waited in a LONG line of cars to get in. The whole reason I like to go in February is because the crowds aren't there, but February was unseasonably warm and everyone was there to take advantage. We got the kids' junior ranger booklets and hiked to Delicate Arch first. (This is the National Park I've been to the most, but we haven't been there since we got an NPS passport and the last time we were there Bridget was five and the boys were one.)
Delicate Arch is a sight to behold even with lots of people hanging around it. I'm always surprised to see people messing around a lot, though, because it's like a giant sink and a kid (or an adult) could go sliding into the drain hole if they're not careful.
The kids and I waited in line to get a photo under Delicate Arch and then Brian joined us and gave the camera to a guy. I know you can barely tell it's us, but it was genuinely thrilling to sit there. Colin is doing Sad Face for some reason. Someone always has to be the stinker.
It seemed like a shame to hike all the way up there and go right back down, so the kids got out their workbooks and did some ranger activities while we soaked in the view.
Right by our Capitol Reef stamp. :)
Emil offered to take the backpack (I wore it on the way up) and he and Bridget held Brian's hands most of the way back to the truck. It was so good to get away and see beautiful nature and bond! I love road trips! The Winter Olympics was still going on while we were in Moab, so we watched some of the events in our cabin and played fun games.
Somewhat balanced near Balanced Rock.
I can stand on my head. For a long time. I regretted not doing a headstand under Delicate Arch almost enough to hike back over there. (We weren't going to get a photo without other humans in it. I love that it happened to be this guy. Hahahaha!)
For one of their ranger activities, the kids were supposed to do certain poses by the arches they found. Done and done.
Brian and the kids had to run up a pretty steep incline to get to this spot, so this pose was in order.
On Sunday we attended the Moab 2nd Ward, then went digging in Brian's truck. A storm was blowing in and the wind was crazy! We went around a lot of tight corners and bounced around in our Sunday clothes.
My hair! Bridget's hair! So windy.
Colin's poses. Ha!
When we got back to our cabin we went to the river and Brian showed the kids how to skip rocks. We didn't spend a lot of time here because it was getting dark and cold, but when we asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was, Emil said skipping rocks. :)
This is my screensaver on my new laptop. That rock Bridget is about to throw did NOT skip. :)
Monday morning we got packed up again and headed to Arches National Park. We'd made an appointment to hike in the Fiery Furnace. It was much colder and WAY more windy on Monday, so less people. But also, wind.
Before we could go on another hike, though, the Junior Ranger oath was administered. The kids did most of the workbook relaxing in front of the Winter Olympics on Sunday. The park ranger checked everything carefully and asked a bunch of questions. Colin mentioned he'd seen something hiking to Delicate Arch and the ranger said, "You hiked to Delicate Arch! That's all you needed to do!" I was really proud of all three of them - they know the drill at the big parks and they always have a great attitude about learning.
We wore hats and coats and I wore gloves. Still cold. Still got a mouthful of sand every so often. We kept trying to find our way into the maze, but I'm pretty sure we were on the outside of it the whole time.
My hat almost blew away twice! I've even got a ponytail holding it on! That was enough of the Fiery Furnace this time. We'll try it again later.

We stopped at a gas station on our way home and Brian called his Mom and Dad after getting a strange text from one of his friends asking how Hal was doing. Debbie had passed away on Sunday, but they waited to tell us until after our trip. It was a sad ride home thinking about such a heavy loss for Hal and Nate. The following Saturday was Debbie's funeral. Brian gave a lovely talk and I accompanied both musical numbers. It ended up being a really nice service, a beautiful tribute to Debbie's life.
Every time I was with Debbie I was reminded to be more loving to my children and more solicitous of Brian. She often talked about wishing she could cook for them and take care of them the way she wanted to, but her health in the last three years didn't allow for that. I'm really grateful I could know her. She made me a better person.