Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Vacation

continued with Grandpa taking Payton, Alyssa and me to dinner at Costa Vida. I got a shredded pork salad. I may never try anything else there. It was delicious! And my tummy was full! A silly side note about me: I decided once (when I was skinny and fit, probably while still in high school) to never pass up an ice cream invitation. Ummmmm, maybe not the coolest decisions I've made... After dinner, we stopped at Cold Stone.

Did I mention, I LOVE Cold Stone! Especially their signature Cheesecake Fantasy scooped into a waffle bowl. To die for! Over time it has become mandatory for me to maintain some sort of portion control on these invites. Usually, when the family goes to Cold Stone (mo$tly becau$e of money) we share one big bowl. But Eli wasn't there this time, so I got a LOT of extra ice cream. (Hmmmm, he blames me for eating most of it!)

The next morning we took a trip to the airport to pick up Grandma. We sat on the front row of Terminal B. Payton and Alyssa were so excited that soon we had an audience behind us. They squealed with delight as Grandma exited the plain. They were all hugs and kissed as soon as Grandma came through the door.

This trip Payton and Alyssa figured out how to get this swing going. I enjoyed not being asked to push them on the swing for once (although, it will be too soon that they don't ever ask again).

Still a favorite.

That evening Great Grandma Kutch bought tickets for the play "Annie Get Your Gun". We sat on the front row. The kids seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. "Annie" was awesome! The evening weather was perfect.

Grandpa's newest cat, Mylo. He's social. But, watch out kids, he's a mean one.

All week long we played and enjoyed a nice visit. Friday morning, Grandma packed up so she could take her turn as a temple worker. She would bring "Daddy" home with here. But "Daddy" had a different idea, he wanted us to go up too and we would go to the zoo while Grandma was at the temple. So, we packed up too and after awhile we stopped at another airport. Oh, the excitement of it, again... especially when they saw "Daddy!" Unfortunately, the Zoo was closed. And other then that, it was not an eventful evening. The next morning we prepared to go to the Zoo but we ended up being locked out of the Excursion. I was not very happy about spending the last days of our vacation waiting around in a motel room. Oh well.

Eli left a message for his mom. Luckily she got it. She asked a man leaving for the day if he could drop her key off at the motel for us. This kind man did. Wow. I was humbled. We took a quick trip to the Zoo afterall.

Flamingos are not my favorite, but their coloring always makes me stop and gawk extra long. They're like the roses in the jungle.

Gorilla's, on the other hand, are one of my top favorites to visit, although, this time they were pretty mello (except for the one eating potty. Disgusting!). Two years ago we stopped in front of the gorillas and watched one of them swing around. My kids, being so little couldn't see through the larger spectators, so, I squeezed them through some gaps until they were right in front of the wall of glass. Suddenly the gorilla proceeded to run into a large circle heading straight at Payton. Payton's arms flew straight up as he let out a loud scream of fright. A big laugh came out of my own mouth as I swooped him up into my arms to let him know he was safe. I'm laughing again writing about it.

This snake doesn't look so bad behind a glass wall.

Whoa! Check out this HUGE turtle. Payton is way into turtles.

A walk in the park.

Must be interesting!

We didn't want to leave without seeing the tiger!

The highlight. A visit to the giraffes completes the zoo visit for me. These animals just amaze me. Their size. Their spots. Their grace. Their beauty. Even that they're plant eaters. Payton got to feed them ($3 for a couple small twigs! Seriously!) Alyssa hid.

That evening, when we got back to Grandma and Grandpa's, we went four-wheelin' through their field.

Hugs and kisses! Grandma sure does love her grand kids.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for your love and special memories.

It was a long ride home...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Makin' a Splash

Payton, Alyssa and I got to stop at my brother Dan's home before spending a week with my in-laws. We spent a hot afternoon in their community pool. I was so surprised to see my babies dunking their faces. I had to record it for Eli (He was on a business trip and we wouldn't see him again for another week).

Back inside, when nobody was around, Alyssa ventured into my sister-in-law, Carrie's, nail polish... How she managed to get it all over her fingers and t-shirt, but not on anything else, is a fortunate mystery. The next morning, Carrie kindly painted Alyssa's tiny fingernails sparkly blue, the same color as her sparkly dress.

After church, Carrie drove me through a beautiful new neighborhood, just minutes from their home. During the drive, she told me to check out the end of the street when we turned the corner. It was breathtaking. There stood the Oqirrh Mountain Temple --- all lit up and beautiful. Wow! What would it be like to have that at the end of your street? --- Yes, I did feel envious. (Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the open house.)

Later that evening, I checked out Dan and Carrie's basement photo studio. It's really neat. I brought Alyssa down, her hair was still nice from having it done for church. I helped her put her dress back on for a short photo session. She looked darling! I imagined her blue dress looking so lovely against the black-and-white floral backdrop. Unfortunately, she woudn't put on anything but a scowl. I was so disappointed. Oh well... I suppose they'll be other opportunities.

Monday, July 6, 2009

More from the Garden

Collard greens! I grew them a few years ago, but this time we're going to actually cook 'em and eat 'em up. Anyway, that's dinner tonight. After all, I didn't grow it just to toss it out!

Alyssa thought it looked great. "Thanks for cooking this, Mom!" I love to hear words like that. Too bad she didn't eat more than a bite of the greens. Yep, most of them got thrown out anyway. Oh, well.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Watch Our Garden Grow!

Don't these look delicious! The ground squirrels sure enjoyed them. I'd wait patiently for them to turn red, but just before I could pick 'em, they'd disappear. Oh, that made me mad! But, the few I got, yummmmmmmmmmmmy....

Volunteer lettuce right next to my strawberries. Very pretty. Very tasty. Very easy!

These peas did beautifully --- but didn't last long enough!

I grew a bok choy this year. This is my newest garden success. I cooked it up in a stir fry shortly after taking this picture. It was very good.

We love watching our garden grow.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Trek to Remember

I just love this picture with the handcart wheel in the background. (She was tired and hot and wouldn't give me a smile.)

I've been putting off this blog for so long because I have several unforgettable memories and a couple hundred snapshots of this event. I knew it would take a long time to write up --- and it looks long, but it seems there is so much I didn't say, and there are so many fun pictures I had to cut. Mostly, I hope my feelings of the event show though --- it was hardest to put that into words.

Months earlier, Eli and I signed our family up to go on the Pioneer Trek. I hoped it would bring us closer together as a family. I wanted Payton and Alyssa to walk enough to remember it for a long time. I wanted them to remember being tired. I wanted them to connect that with the pioneer stories they would hear from time to time as they grew up. I wanted it to be a personal, hand-ons experience for them.

Unfortunately, a couple weeks before the trek Eli found out that he wasn't going to get work off after all. So, I told our trek leader we weren't going to go. At that time I was in the middle of assigning our ward participants pioneer names. I finished that just in time for the next meeting --- which I decided to attend anyway. As they talked, my desire to go got really strong. I concluded that this was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up, even if Eli didn't go. I told some of the others there about how I was feeling. They encouraged me to go and offered their support.

Meanwhile, my mom, a wonderful seamstress (she makes custom-made wedding gowns), was putting together a couple of bonnets, aprons and neckerchiefs for us. The last time we were in Utah she took us to a fabric store to pick out some fabric. I didn't necessarily care how they looked --- I was just happy she was going to do this for us and thought this would be part of what made it a memorable experience for Alyssa. Our ward was the color purple, so we went to the purple section of fabric and Alyssa picked out some sparkly dragonfly and butterfly material. Then my mom found a dark purple material with stars that matched to use for the bonnets and apron trim.

So, here we are on the 1st day --- of 4, in our fashionable purple pioneer getup. My mom did a beautiful job with these.

A close up of the bonnet and apron.

I was sure Payton and Alyssa could ride in a handcart part of the time, however, I didn't want to depend on that and put the burden on everybody else. I was quite worried about the crying that would surely come with the walking. So, to prepare them, I started walking them to preschool. 1 mile downhill there, 1 mile uphill back, twice a week. I walked twice as far and lost 5 pounds over a couple of months! The twins soon learned that it's not very pleasant to walk with whiners. It didn't take long before we were enjoying a good pace walk together. For a bit of additional motivation I would make up a picnic lunch and put it in a small cooler. Then, I would drive a couple blocks down the street to the park we would walk by and leave our van there. From there, I walked to the preschool to pick them up. A picnic and playtime at the park with Mom seemed to be a fun way to end the walk for the day.

But, right from the start, the other grown ups wanted to put the kids in the cart. In the beginning, Alyssa was really scared. I tried to walk with her, but we were going so fast that poor Alyssa had to run to keep up.

These two sweet girls came with their dad. They stuck together, side-by-side, until one of the girls got sick and her dad had to go home with her. Their mom made some really clever aprons for them. It almost made me wish I could be so crafty.

This family, the Legersky's took very good care of my kids. The first day, Becky (the mom) walked for over a mile out of Martin's Cove with Payton in her arms because he had fallen asleep and she didn't want to wake him. I felt really guilty that I wasn't the one doing that --- but, at the same time, I would have had him walk --- afterall, I knew he could do it. Payton was often found riding the dad's shoulders or hanging out with their youngest son, Kolton (not in photo). Skya, the youngest daughter, was my daughter's constant companion. Their oldest son, Zack, took my daughter out to square dance the 1st evening. Their oldest daughter (not in photo) helped carry them through the rivers.

This is Kia. We got to ride to and from camp with her, her brother and her mom. I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with them.

I can't say I did much pushing or pulling of the handcart. My children always ended up in a different one than the group I was with. And I was constantly being told to save my strength when I would try to help. I wasn't much help and I felt really bad that I wasn't more. It really was hard being a constant when I was always trying to make sure that my kids were not neglected (they never were). I did, however, manage to get a nice blister from my well-worn shoes and was thankful for the mole-skin I packed for my kids.

Zack and Payton. A ride in to camp.

We camped in sagebrush. We had a makeshift shade put up. We used outhouses. There were mosquitoes like crazy! We couldn't keep enough bug spray on. I washed Alyssa's face before bed the first night and the next morning it was covered with bites.

A member of the bishopric, Jesse (my friend's husband who pulls little kids around on blankets at playgroup), set up my tent. Although, I (think I) could have done it myself, I found it a HUGE relief to not have too --- and not have to worry about what my kids were doing while I did it. I felt very grateful that I could just take care of my children... ok, I couldn't even do that. They were off having the time of there life with the older children. So, what did I do? Relaxed! It felt like a (do I dare say it) vacation! Way too easy.

Jesse and Jeanne's daughter, Evelyn (Payton and Alyssa's friend). They came up only for the first night. When we got into camp Payton and Evelyn spend a good deal of time hunting and gathering little things off the ground. After awhile Payton came to show me --- little animal poops!

After dinner we went square dancing. (I like this snapshot because it shows several of our ward members in it.)

I watched a few of the young men ask my Alyssa to dance, but she shied away. Knowing she would enjoy it if I could get her out there, I decided to take her aside a have a little "talk" with her. I told her she was making those boys feel bad when she wouldn't dance with them. I told her she didn't have to know how to dance, that the boys were suppose to show her what to do out there and that she would have a lot of fun. But, knowing I couldn't make her, I left it at that and went back to taking pictures of the square dancers. Next thing I knew, she was out there dancing with Zack. I was just disappointed I couldn't get a good picture of it.

Everyone was out there just laughing and having fun.

Whole families. Young and old. Everyone with a smile!

Swing your partner!

Look closely, there in the middle is my Payton.

And in the middle here is my Alyssa.

Alyssa's good friend Skya. She included my little girl in all her activities.

Alyssa and Skya.

Alyssa's friends. Left to right: Skya, Ashlee, Lizzy, Kiara.

Carried through the river.

These two love birds kept my babies dry going through the river.

But, when we stopped to play in the river, they made sure my babies got plenty wet.

My kiddos love looking at pictures in storybooks, so, I brought up a large handful to help keep them entertained in the evening so I could visit or help with whatever needed to be done. But it turned out to be great entertainment for the older children as well. Each night my kids were read to non-stop!

One night a couple boys decided to give the youngest children, mine included, an extra ride in a handcart around camp. When the adults noticed, I turned on my camera as we discussed how that probably wasn't the safest activity just as the boys lost the handle and dumped their load. Fortunately, nobody was hurt too badly.

Oh, soooooo tired!

Stopping for lunch. Another day of trekking.

Kyria, I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with her.

Just before the handcart dumps its load --- again!

I felt it coming Tuesday morning. I was getting sick. I hoped it would pass before it got bad. Unfortunately, it caught up with me in the middle of the night. I had hoped a good night sleep would help. Wednesday was the women's pull. I was dreading that, but, still, I didn't want to miss it. As bad as I felt, I really wanted to go --- so, I did. And, I did okay --- until we stopped. That's when the nausea and dizzyness started. I thought I was going to faint as I stood there while the lady missionary told a historical story. I sat down, but it didn't help. Finally, I laid in the dirt to get the light-headedness to go away. It was humiliating. I did not want to give up... but I could not risk passing out during the women's pull. I accepted that I had to call it quits and ended up getting a ride back to camp with the missionary. My kids stayed. The Dewey family also took wonderful care of my family and I was comfortable enough at this point to give her charge of my two. It was comforting to know that my kids would not only be safe but could continue to have fun on the trail.

The Legersky family went home after the women's pull. Later that evening, Payton came up to me and told me he couldn't find his friend anymore. I asked him which friend was that. It was Kolton. They had a great time together. Apparently, Kolton told his dad he wanted to adopt Payton. I laughed and responded with that being too bad because I was keeping him.

The trek didn't bring about the "family" bond the way I had expected. But, it did happen --- as a "ward family" bond. I got to know people I saw all the time at a more intimate level. To see my children being taken care of by others and to see both sides so happy and at ease was an incredible feeling. It was a small glimpse into heaven. A glimpse I want to keep and continue to create around me with my family and friends.

As for the spiritual part of it... well, that happened for me before the trek, while I was searching out the names of the pioneers from the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies. I am very thankful I got that opportunity. There are many truly incredible pioneer stories. But, while actually on the trek, I found myself worrying more about if I was taking too much advantage of everyone's hospitality than what the pioneers endured to get to Zion.

I hope this opportunity comes again. I would so do it again!