Friday, August 21, 2015

Swim School and Lagoon Day

Before Bear Lake, we had swimming lessons. And after Bear Lake we had Lagoon. Huge! Epic! Let's begin.

Once again we went to Jan Lamb's Swim School. This year the Minnows had 30 minute lessons, but I still only had the boys do one week. I signed Bridget up for diving lessons not realizing that diving and strokes were the same class. She looked very small swimming with the big kids, but she worked really hard. Nothing brings out the competitor in Bridget like being as good as or better than bigger kids. We coordinated with Brittany and her girls again this year and then both of us didn't get the times we wanted. We ended up requesting the same alternative time without consulting each other, so I got to sit around and talk with my favorite girls while we watched the boys swim. Win! The boys were somehow more brave and more cautious this year. They understand now that they can't just walk off the edge into the pool. That brings my blood pressure down. Emil loves to show off - especially doing stuff Colin is still too nervous to try, like jumping off the diving board by himself. 
This made me laugh. They teach the kids to get out of the pool "elbow, elbow, knee, knee" and Emil took their instructions super literally. He didn't use his hands at first and just kind of rolled onto the side. I didn't catch that part with the camera.
Colin would negotiate with the teachers for a long time before he jumped. 
There's Bridget swimming with the big kids. I didn't bring my camera the rest of the days, so I didn't catch the diving part except with my phone.

Brian has a new job in the same company. The new department has a Lagoon Day! For the last couple of years Brian has taken Bridget to Lagoon, just the two of them, during the summer. This year we had free tickets for all of us, so I had no excuse. So that Bridget didn't have to spend all day on little kid rides, we invited Kodi and Clara to come with us. It ended up being The Best Day Ever. For the first few hours I took the boys on a bunch of kid rides while Brian took the girls on big roller coasters. I had so much fun with Emil and Colin! Once they figured out what was happening, they were laughing and cheering and screaming with delight. They helped me forget how sticky, hot, and smelly Lagoon is. :)
These kids were READY to have non-stop fun for nine hours. My favorite is that Emil insisted on sitting by Kodi every chance he got. He crushes on Kodi big time. I think he even held her hand when we were just walking around. :)
I think I've never been more nervous than sitting with the boys on the Ferris Wheel. Too much getting up and down and looking over the edge. Ah!
I was on the Sky Ride with Colin and Brian and Emil were behind us. I got this photo of the girls ahead of me, then tried to turn to take a picture of Brian and Emil. I totally froze. Couldn't do it. No photo of Brian and Emil.
You guys! This is my favorite picture of the whole day. The girls wanted to go on Rattlesnake Rapids. I resisted, but Brian assured me that I didn't have to get wet if I didn't want to. Um, yeah, there is no controlling that raft. After the first wave that drenched us, Emil stood in his seat and screamed and screamed with the biggest smile on his face. As soon as we got out of the ride, the girls led the charge back to the beginning. (The lines were pretty short the day we were there. Except on Cannibal, which none of us went on.) Brian and I made them pose by the waterfall after the second time. Look how wet they are! Brian and I are just as bad. Colin is punching the air. I love this picture. :)

We are dummies for getting this wet right before the sun went down. We never did get dry. We brought clothes for the kids to change into when we got back to the van, so they were comfortable on the way home. While the girls were taking one last ride on the "white" roller coaster, Brian and I rode the carousel with the boys. I got a softball-sized bruise on my thigh getting off my horse on the carousel and landing on the ear of the duck or swan next to me. Battle scar. At 9:50pm Brian got on Wicked one last time with the girls. His birthday phone fell out of his pocket at the top of the roller coaster. He waited at the Lost & Found while I took the kids to the van and helped the boys change clothes. (I texted him five or six times when they didn't appear at our meeting place. I was sitting on a bench with two four year-old boys who were having the Meltdown to End All Meltdowns. Those boys did so great all day - they stayed with us and had fun. After nine hours, two of which were past bedtime, they were DONE.) So, Lagoon won - the repair on Brian's phone cost $200.

One more thing, Emil really wanted to do the race cars, but it was extra money and Colin was too small to even ride in it as a passenger. We hadn't spent a dime at Lagoon (dinner was provided by Brian's company) and I really wanted to take Emil in the race car. Brian sneaked Colin away with the girls to ride a roller coaster again while Emil and I bought tickets and went to the race track. We were the only ones there (it was dark by then), so one of the Lagoon workers got in a car so we could race. He led for several laps, then at the very end he let me pass him so Emil and I could "win." Emil was so proud of me! What a nice thing for that Lagoon employee to do. :)

The boys fell asleep before we were out of the parking lot. I think it was the best day of their lives so far. So much fun. Thank goodness Bridget's friends were there to match her excitement. They made it an even more perfect day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

July 2015 Book Report


1. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

My classic for July. I guess I get in the mood for Thomas Hardy in the summer. I liked The Mayor of Casterbridge more than Far from the Madding Crowd, though. The main character, Bathsheba Everdeen was not my favorite girl. First she is proposed to by shepherd, Gabriel Oak. She turns him down, but runs after him to tell him she doesn't have a lot of boyfriends, she's just saying no to him. Um, thanks for clarifying that? Bathsheba inherits a large farm and becomes its mistress as a young single woman. She takes charge and is willing to work, which you'd think would be endearing, but she still came across as bratty in the book. Anyway. 

The next man to propose to her is William Boldwood, a prominent farmer in town. Why would he be interested in Bathsheba? He's never been interested in anyone before. Well, he ignored Bathsheba, see, and she decided it would be "funny" to send him an anonymous valentine that said "Marry Me" on it. Hilarious! Except that Boldwood didn't take it as a joke and he becomes obsessed with Bathsheba and wants her to be his wife and has a dress maker make up some fancy dresses for her, not the kind she'd be able to work in. So yeah, Bathsheba made a huge mistake with the valentine. Lesson learned?

No. She then leads on a playboy soldier, Sergeant Troy. Troy was left at the alter by accident, but he moves on to take liberties, LIBERTIES, with Miss Everdeen. He's so handsome! So charming! So daring! Oh, also he drinks and gambles and tells lies and he got his old fiance pregnant. Nevermind, Bathsheba marries this loser out of the three men who proposed to her.

I didn't mention that Gabriel Oak loses everything and ends up working for Bathsheba. He's the obvious choice for her from day one. In the book Gabriel looks like a fool to keep carrying a torch for such a spoiled, fickle girl as Bathsheba. This might be the only time I've enjoyed the movie much more than the book. Carey Mulligan plays Bathsheba and she does an excellent job making me like her even when she's doing it wrong. And where has Matthias Schoenaerts been all this time? He plays Gabriel Oak. I think maybe the Audible reader for this one made Gabriel sound old and a little stupid, but Schoenaerts is neither of those things. Sigh. The movie is terribly romantic and beautiful. So, skip the book!


2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Normally I steer clear of this genre - Young Adult Fantasy. There are so many people who loved this book on Amazon and Goodreads, I thought I'd give it a chance. I really didn't like it. Really. Gaiman was supposedly channeling mythology with his goddess characters, but I couldn't get into it. 

The book starts with a man visiting his childhood home in Sussex, England. He thinks he remembers a crazy experience he had there, but the memory is hazy and so odd that it can't have been real. The rest of the book is a flashback to the few days when he was seven years old and fighting a demon that came from another world because she hid in his foot as a worm. He pulls the worm out with tweezers and the next day the demon appears in his house as a beautiful woman and proceeds to ruin all the lives. 

Weird. 

The demon enchants the poor boy's father and sister to the point where the father tries to drown the kid in a tub for saying he doesn't like her. Why even put that in there? What am I supposed to feel reading that? Why do people like this book? 

After the demon is taken care of (super convoluted, in my opinion), we come back to the present and the now-grown man with his memories. One of the goddesses is still there, she hasn't aged. By the time the man leaves, he's forgotten the story again. Whatever. 


3. Locomotive by Brian Floca
This is my new favorite children's book ever. Now I want to get every book Brian Floca has done. The illustrations are insane and the story (about the transcontinental railroad) is interesting for any age group. I bought this after we went to the Golden Spike National Monument. I read it to Emil and Colin and they were riveted. It's a long book, but they listened to every word and wanted to point out all the things they recognized on the trains. 

Locomotive follows a mother and two children on their journey from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco, California in the 1870s. We see how the trains operate, where the passengers sat and how they slept, where they got their food. It was a pleasure to read it out loud to the boys and it was a pleasure to read it to myself. Gold! Go get it. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bear Lake 2015

We did it! The Bear Lake reunion at Ideal Beach with Brian's side of the family was the best one yet. The kids are old enough to do almost everything and Brian and I were prepared this year. Our journey to Bear Lake was not encouraging (I threw up next to the Woods Cross exit - sorry Davis County) and Brian got a speeding ticket in Sardine Canyon, but we still were able to meet everyone at Gossner's in Logan to get all the milk boxes for the kids. The only real photo I got that first night was the family photo. Then I had to shake off the nausea to save our trip.
I would change a few things, but you can see everyone's faces and I have to let it go now. (Brighton wasn't looking at the camera in any of the photos. She was probably distracted by all my running back and forth.)

Wednesday was our first day at the lake. We rented wave runners and parked ourselves in a nice open spot. The water was warm, but the day was COLD. When the kids weren't in the water, they were shivering and wanting to be wrapped up and held. 
Jed holding Brighton
A word about my swimsuit - it's swim tights with a long sleeved rash guard top. It's my new favorite thing in the whole world. Colin was willing to ride with Mommy or Daddy on the wave runner, but Emil only went for a ride with me. A very short ride. Stinkers gotta stink!
Abby rented a paddle board and let Emil cruise to shore on it.
Colin fell asleep in Grandma's arms. Cozy.
Nate didn't come out of the water for any reason. Not even to eat a sandwich. :)
Brian threw a ball straight up for the kids to catch, but it mostly splashed instead.
Bridget is always up for everything at Bear Lake. She took many rides with Daddy on the wave runner.

We came home in the late afternoon and kept the kids awake by doing a quick craft (I bought some easy crafts from Michael's anticipating the late afternoon slump) while we waited for dinner. That night Brian and I finally got to play Canasta at Bear Lake! It's been years. We got side-by-side condos this year instead of booking the house at Ideal Beach. So much better! Everyone was close enough to easily eat meals together and have nightly card games. We lost every night, but it was still fun.

On Thursday we started the day slowly and I got to hang out with Emil by himself for a little while. My favorite thing about this year at Bear Lake was the individual time I got to spend with each of the kids. They're all so much fun. :) Emil and I went to play mini golf. He is terrible at it.
Good thing we weren't keeping score.
Jake and Jed were behind us with Brighton for a little while. I think Brighton tired of golf after half the game and they left.
Brian, Bridget, and Colin came when Emil and I were almost done. (See - there's Jake and Jed and Brighton leaving in the background.)
I don't know what Bridget is doing, but she's not reacting to a hole-in-one.
We went to LaBeau's at the perfect time for onion rings and raspberry shakes. The perfect time because we didn't have to wait in a long line and there were less people to see the boys perform The Bum Bum Dance on the porch of the shop by LaBeau's. (I'm glad to see new eating places in Garden City. Maybe some competition will convince LaBeau's to move their trash bins farther away from the building. P.U.)

After that small lunch, we came back for the mandatory two and a half hours at the pool. Brian is a hero for standing in the pool and catching the boys every time they came down the rickety slide. It was the least busy I've ever seen that pool, so we can be glad of that. And the boys weren't just stepping off the edge into the pool like they had no idea what would happen the way they did last year. We left with the kids kicking and screaming so that we could get back and make dinner - it was our night. :) We made spaghetti. Nate declared our dinner a "winner." (We often saw Nate wandering around talking on the phone. Brian thought he was pretending, but we found out he knows how to call his Grandma Carol and so he does every chance he gets. Grandma Carol got a play-by-play of our Bear Lake vacation. Hahahaha!) After dinner it was time for the Frisbee Football Game. The spectators set up chairs to watch. Denise got stung on the nose right before she sat down, so that is the look of concern in the first photo.
I brought down some bubbles for the little kids to blow. Emil slowly poured his out (grrrr), but the other kids had a great time. That's Aiden (Linzy and Nick's little boy) with Colin.
It's hard to get photos of the frisbee game. Emil is in danger in this photo.
Now I think it's Jed that's in danger.

On Friday we went to the lake again. Brian and I opted out of the waver runner rental and got a kayak. Grandma and Grandpa rented the trampoline again and it ended up being plenty for our kids to do. Friday was much warmer - thank goodness. We got the kids to the trampoline and Emil thought he'd be cool and jump off like the big kids. The cold water took his breath away and he started to have a little asthma attack. He thought his life jacket was too tight and he wanted his swim shirt off. I held him while he calmed down. He told me he wanted "my blankie and my brother." Awww. Emil never admits that he loves Colin, so that warmed my heart. Soon enough Emil was back in the game and having fun.
Jake and Jed, white boys, got very sunburned on our first day at the lake, so this was Jake's ensemble for the second day.
Colin was in high demand as the captain of the kayak. I was lucky to get to ride with him.
And of course, this again.
And this. (Can you see Jed's sun bonnet? He's wearing tall black socks as well.)
This cute lady is going on a mission in a few weeks. :) Colin let her navigate his ship a few times. Afterward he asked me to remind him of her name. "Janessa." "Fanessa. Fanessa. Fanessa." He repeated it so he wouldn't forget. :) "Is she your friend?" "Yes. And she's my niece." 
I don't know what happened to the settings on my camera, but I kinda like this one.
I like this one, too. Sisters! Nicolette and Abby. I believe Nicolette was dumped into the water soon after I took this photo.

When we started packing up and Brian and I were on the shore at the same time, my dear high school friend, Jon Moody, realized that it was me. He and his family were set up right next to us the whole day! I'd seen him and thought he looked a lot like Jon Moody, but I never thought it was him. How fun to catch up unexpectedly. Bear Lake is the only summer time vacation place be. :) 

After we got cleaned up, Emil and I took a secret walk to the little store at Ideal Beach for an ice cream cone. On our way back, I thanked Emil for getting ice cream with me. "Fank YOU, Mommy." You guys, I am so easy. He doesn't have to do much to make me happy. Friday night after dinner we took the kids for a drive and found a sweet little place for dessert crepes, which we ate outside in the perfect weather. Brian and I lost at Canasta one last time that night. 

Saturday morning was craziness getting everything packed up and getting out of town. We'd planned a quick detour to Golden Spike National Monument to get Bridget and the boys a junior ranger badge and to see the reenactment. Grandma and Grandpa came with us. I think they saved our lives. It turns out Promontory Point is the exact middle of nowhere and they don't believe in trees in them parts. It was so hot! We got there in time to see the trains move out of and then into position, blowing their whistles (part of the junior ranger packets explained the short and long whistle combinations). The whistles scared Emil and Colin out of their skin. :) When the trains were moving, the boys were into it, but then the reenactment started. There were a bunch of old guys in costume repeating what I can only assume is verbatim what was said back on May 10, 1869 (Dena was born on the 100th anniversary of the golden spike ceremony!). Every single person had something to say. Colin could not handle his life after about the fifth speech. He whined and complained and head-butted me and adjusted his papers (which almost flew away) and tried to hold my camera. I took it for as long as I could (it was so cool to see those trains close up!), then I walked back to the van with the boys to rustle up some food and drinks for them. I found the three square feet of shade on the premises and made a peanut butter and honey sandwich using a Popsicle stick left over from one of our crafts for a knife. Both boys whined some more, ate chips, opened string cheese that they didn't eat, threw garbage on the ground (not so junior ranger) and complained until their sandwiches had dried up. Emil picked his up to take a bite and threw it down, "it's toast now." 
Jupiter, representing the Central Pacific line.
The Union Pacific line. Both boys really were thrilled to watch these trains in motion and hear how loud the whistles are.
There's Colin waving to the train.

While we were not eating lunch and still sitting in the shade, I helped Colin finish his junior ranger booklet. He insisted on doing everything himself after I showed him what he needed to do. I love that! He did that at the lake as well. We'd show him how to paddle in the boat or use something and he'd say, "I got this." Emil, on the other hand, did the very least amount of work possible. He got a badge anyway, but whatever. Bridget didn't have much enthusiasm for this badge, so Grandma and Daddy and Mommy helped her a lot. We got it done, but the struggle was real. While Bridget was finishing up her booklet, Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa took the boys out to the van. I bought the picture book Locomotive by Brian Floca (one of the most beautiful picture books I've ever seen), then joined them outside. Colin was running and jumping on benches and singing, "I'm a Junior Power Range-oh!" Emil was darting into the parking lot without looking and still asking what was next and could he have a soda and a cookie. Brian looked at me with my bag from the shop and asked, "What did you buy to remember this day?" 

For the love of all that is holy. Sorry you had to see that, Grandma and Grandpa. It's all my fault. I thought it would be fun. It would have been fun, but it was mostly really hard. We still have our Bear Lake memories to keep us warm, though. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Independence and Pioneer Day Celebrating

We went to see fireworks at Thanksgiving Point again this year for the 4th of July. Now that we're a year wiser, we picked a perfect spot to put our blanket and chairs. The kids each had a bag of popcorn and another bag of taffy. I don't know why, but Brian and I were surprised that the taffy was gone at 9:05 and we still had 55 minutes before fireworks. No cooperation. But! The kids danced and ran in circles like the crazy people they are, then two out of three thoroughly enjoyed the fireworks. (Emil: "Is this going to take so long?")
Oh, and we let them wear pajamas. 
Taffy! It was pretty much 100% better than getting taffy thrown at you during the parade.
Bridget is rocking out.
There we were.

A few months ago my Dad was asked to speak at the Pioneer Day program in Oakley, Idaho. My family lived in Oakley from 1978 to 1984, but my Grandpa Curtis Lee grew up there and my great grandparents lived there as well. Dad taught at the LDS Seminary while we lived there. I'm the luckiest because I still have a best friend from our years in Oakley, Kellie - and Kellie's parents still live in Oakley. When we found out Dad would be speaking, we decided to celebrate the 24th of July there. The first person I called was Kellie and we made a plan to take Bridget on a tour of our childhood friendship. First, though, we acquainted the boys with Nick and Max's Grandma's House.
The tiny, battery-operated four-wheeler that the kids can drive all by themselves. Which they did until the battery was dead, dead, dead. Kellie and I left with Bridget (with an errand from her Mom and Dad to buy ice cream for root beer floats) and the boys took a ride in the mule to see Dead Dog Hollow.

First stop, Kellie's old house on the hill (behind us). It was in the very spot where we're standing that I got stung by a bee. Kellie and I were on our bikes, carrying our wrap around dance skirts to her house to wear while we acted out "Summer Lovin'" which would be playing on the record player. The bee started buzzing around my head and Kellie tried to shoo it away by batting at it with her dance skirt. The bee stung me in the head and we cried the rest of the way to Kellie's house where Mandy (Kellie's older sister) removed the stinger for me. Moving on...
Sitting awkwardly in front of my old house on the poke-y grass. They've taken down the poplar trees in front of the house and painted the upper part white, but the stone still looks the same. Also, I don't think they've painted the pillars on the porch in the last 35 years.
See?! Here we are in the shade of those poplar trees in 1980? Maybe 1981. Clockwise: Sheri, Jennie, Uncle Larry, Danell, Katy, Me, Michael and David.
I closed this door on the people working in the offices so we could get this photo.
And there we are in front of the same door in 1981-ish. Can you see my Grandpa Furniss in the reflection on the door? He was using his Hasselblad camera, that's why he's looking down. I think this was during the Thanksgiving holiday and I remember going on this walk with Grandpa. At the time I thought it was weird to take photos of stuff we saw every day. Now I know it's brilliant.
The famous "Oakley Rock" near the high school. They moved it to this spot, but it's the same rock.

We had a wonderful photo of Jen we were trying to recreate and Kellie was shouting directions at Bridget and making her laugh while I took the picture (with my phone, by the way - yeah, we were 45 minutes into our trip when I realized my camera was at home), so it didn't turn out exactly like the old one.
Can you spot all the differences? :) (Hmm - biggest one so far, no window on the side of the building!)
This is the bridge just before the old grade school, which has been turned into a private residence. Pretty much everything about the sidewalk and the bridge is exactly the same. Bridget is collecting rocks to throw into the canal. Yep, also the same. :)

We got home from our tour and we had forgotten the ice cream. We had one job! Oh, well. I'm pretty sure the kids had had their lifetime quota of sugar between the car ride and Grandma Strauss's house. We visited and played for a little longer, then went to Burley to stay the night in a hotel. The next morning, the kids stayed at Strauss's with Marva while Neil, Mike, Kellie, Brian and I went to the LDS stake center for the program. They honored some wonderful pioneers, had an amazing musical number (Come, Come Ye Saints sung by Archibald women), then Dad spoke. His talk was about turning our hearts to our ancestors. The highlights were excerpts from his journals that he kept while we lived in Oakley. Big laughs, big cries, all wonderful. When we came back to get the kids for the barbeque lunch, this is what we found:
Living large! Emil and Colin's clothes were draped over furniture and on the floor in four different rooms inside the house. They'd been going from the hot tub to the four-wheeler and back to the hot tub while were gone. :) Hahahahaha! I love it. Emil had started calling Marva, "Grandma." It's a good thing we left when we did.
At the lunch we ran into another grade school friend, Cara. Kellie, Cara, Annalee, and I all have birthdays in late December. When we were young, our moms had us celebrate together sometimes. One year they took us to the Nutcracker Ballet in Burley. Afterward Cara asked her parents why they'd taken us to a "rated R ballet." Men in ballet tights was too much information for 9 year-old girls, I guess. :) Annalee still lives in Oakley, but she wasn't at the lunch for our impromptu reunion.
It was hard for Grandma Peggy to catch our boys, but she needed kisses!
There's my Dad, the man of the hour. 
One last flashback photo. My parents are asleep on their feet! This is inside our house in Oakley on the orange couch in the front room with the orange carpet. Orange. That poor, poor couch. 

There you go! Lots of nostalgia for a little more than 24 hours in Oakley. :)