Sunday, June 24, 2012

Alpine Water Slide

While Rob's sister and family was in town from Idaho, we went up to Alpine to a natural water slide. Rob had been here years and years before, but I'd never heard of it. We had to drive to the end of civilization and then had to hike 20-30 minutes from there in the heat. When we arrived at the slide, there were dozens and dozens of people and barely a spot to put your shoes. Kathy hiked up above and found that no one was in the pools up there, so we brought the whole crowd up here and had three pools all to ourselves.
We took turns dunking in the glacial water.
Aunt Heather leads the waterfall meditation
Nearly the whole crazy clan. Once the slide had cleared out, the bigger kids and some adults went down the water slide which was about 10-15 feet long and dumped you into another pool about like this. Maddie tried it, which didn't surprise me, but Will was the first one down and that did! The kids all  had cousins to hang out with and Tyler even brought his ukelele to add a soundtrack and panache to the event.
Rob and his brother, Rick -- excellent catchers of frogs, of fish with their bare hands, water moccasin escapers and dam builders. That Rick is quite a griller too. We all went back to his house and had burgers for dinner. As Rob said "This is one of those things that makes me glad I live in Utah." True. We were so glad we had gone a few weeks later when that whole section was on fire. I hope the slide escaped!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


One of the worst sins committed by not keeping up with the blog has been missing out on several of Joss's fun linguistic stages. Here are just a few snippets that I can still remember:

"I can do it by me own!"
Now this has morphed into "-- by my own"

"Actually" He has sprinkled this in at the beginning of any declaration he can think of and ditto

"By the way" which he put in for several weeks. Now they just come into the conversation occasionally.

"If you would be kind to me if I could have squeezle cheese on my cracker?" This one happened after my father came to town with all of his diverse and assorted junque foods used to delight and amaze the kids. So polite, though! Grandma really worked with him on his "please" and "thank you".

singing all 13 Articles of Faith in the style of the Swedish Chef. Rob sings with the kids at our congregation in church and when he wants to mix it up, he throws down a huge die with six different styles of singing (opera, robot, british punk rockers, underwater fishes, swedish chef and something I've forgotten like farm animals). Joss was intrigued by the Swedish Chef and has seen a couple of videos of him, but I was surprised by his ability to sing like him!

"Mama, when I was a kid I used to like you."
Um, ouch. He's been very aware of friends and best friends and generally calls one or more of us his Bestest Friend several times throughout the day. It is a powerful thing and he wields it without fear.

Since summer vacation began, it has become obvious that I'm not the only one tired of Joss's constant chatter. Twice now his siblings have resorted to putting painting tape on him. I've outlawed it now, but they're just agog at how much he talks and how impossible it is to say anything or think anything when he's around. Joss submitted pretty happily to being taped up (picture notwithstanding), thinking that  it was more attention than he'd gotten the rest of the day.

When Grandpa came for his mission conjunto reunion, Joss fell in love with the guitar, or more specifically, the "qatar". His favorite song is now "They Call The Wind Mariah" and Joss has gotten out the ukelele and strums it seriously. He also got in trouble for putting a car in the ukelele hole.

Having just opened the door of the hamster cage and let said rodent escape: "He's having a campout in the blanket!" (He was not. Mr. Tibbles the hamster was M.I.A. for two miserable days until Rob saw him and caught him in the laundry room and put him back into his cage. We were all crabby at Joss, but I think I was most excited to get Mr. Tibbles in a known location. I don't mind rodents, I just mind unexpected rodents. For his part, the hamster was very happy to see his water bottle again.) No more camping hamsters!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Maddie at the G.R.O.W Conference

[click to enlarge] As soon as Maddie came back from San Francisco, she attended UVU for four days with her friend Frances at the G.R.O.W. conference (Girls Retreat On Wisdom) which was sponsored by WISTEM (Women In Science Technology Engineering & Math).

They toured large parts of campus and had lectures and classes on everything from crime forensics to zoology to photoshop, geogebra, and aeronautics. I'm guessing that the idea was just to get girls into those classrooms and familiar with the subjects before they get scared off.

Maddie and Lucy came out jazzed about something each day and got a load of s.w.a.g. too. A week later she said "I miss G.R.O.W.  I wish I could go back."  I'd definitely sign her up again! Thanks Lois and Frances for the great time!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maddie and Grandma do S.F

(A guest post by Maddie) After Grandpa came to town, I had the good fortune to get to return with him to California and stay for the weekend. The drive from Provo to Piedmont was filled with lots of Beach Boys hits, pasties, and conversation about cars, construction, and, well, all sorts of things.
Grandma and I stayed overnight at a hotel in San Francisco. The weather was abnormally sunny and clear, as you can see from the pictures. Everyone was outside enjoying the beautiful "hot" weather (it was only about 80 degrees)
Here I am with the Palace of Fine Arts. This pavilion was originally made out of paper for the World Fair when it was held in San Francisco, but it was so well loved that it became a permanent building. You can't really tell from this picture, but there was a wedding being set up inside of the pavilion. And while my dear father the professor would be gushing about the neoclassical architecture, I'll just say it was beautiful and leave it at that.
After the Palace of Fine Arts, Grandma took me to the exploratorium. It is a museum built inside of a warehouse and it is basically geek heaven. All of the exhibits are hands-on, with things like a large spinning wheel covered in sand to make patterns on (which I am doing here) to turning the gears on a motor, to hugging a tornado, to drinking out of a toilet (that one was to prove how the human brain has certain mental blocks forced on by society. Über cool.)
But the most spectacular exhibit of all had to be the tactile dome. Inside of this dome (which is not very big, as you can see from the picture) is a little crawlway of tunnels that you climb through with the lights out. Each space has a different theme, and as you go through you feel the walls, ceiling and floor, trying to figure out what they are covered with. There was a room with shoes on the wall, a slide with men's ties hitting you as you slid, chains, astroturf, a rope ladder you had to climb, all sorts of awesome stuff. It was very exhausting, though, and the tunnels were often so small my shoulders were touching both walls and my back was against the ceiling. And everything was pitch-black. Not for the claustrophobic or faint of heart or limb.
San Francisco, in all its beauty
Here is a shot looking up Lombard street, a.k.a the most crooked street on earth. It zig-zags down the hill and has a great view (see above picture of S.F.) It is absolutely wonderful, unless you have to get somewhere fast.
After Lombard Street, we headed to Chinatown. This was an excellent chance for me to try out my Chinese, and realize just how useful it is. Who knew Hello/I've been learning for one year/provo high school/thank you/goodbye could come in handy?
This is Tadich's, where Grandma and I had dinner. The Halibut I had was perfect, and it's plain to see why they've been around for over 160 years.
The next day, we went to the golden gate bridge. It was here where my dad proposed to my mom, and it was awesome to be able to walk across it. It really is pretty, with the blue sky and the red bridge.
Grace Cathedral, where we went to church.
Here's the view from our Hotel room. It was so much fun being with my Grandma in San Francisco. I love the city, but it wouldn't be the same without her.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Devil Rays Swim Meet

On Friday and Saturday Rob took the three older kids up to Draper for the Devil Rays meet. It was nice because none of them had any long course times (measured in meters instead of yards, I think), so they were all in early heats and there was no time to beat. Rob used a Sharpie to give them tattoos like Sebi's here.
Maddie beginning her backstroke
She's been working so hard in swimming and was excited to show off all of her improvement.
She came in first in every heat and got a squirt gun each time.  She said it was great to hear the announcer  calling " . . . and winning the heat in lane 7, Maddie McFarland of Utah Valley Aquatics!"
Will has improved a lot, too. This dive is miles ahead of his last year.
Here he is doing a 100 freestyle.
He has shot upwards and thinned out in the last year, and all of this despite snarfing down any junk food (or junk like- or food like- substances) in the house.
We signed up Sebastian for the meet too, though as a newbie, this was an awfully big event for him. Nonetheless he swam a 50 meter race in each of the strokes. He was the smartest of all the kids because he let Rob put sunscreen on him.
After his first event his coach said "we've got to put a cap on that hair"-- 'that hair' being The Living Pelt.
Here he is doing butterfly. He's had an easier time doing both backstroke and butterfly than either of his older siblings. Maybe because he's loose jointed, maybe he's shaped differently, maybe because he's been watching swimmers for years now.
But Maddie's been working hard and her butterfly has come a long, long way.
Here she blew past the girl in the next lane in about three strokes.
In the meantime, Joss and I took Aunt Clarissa and Uncle John to the Provo Farmers' Market and Station 22 for lunch. A very nice lady painted him into a tiger and he was inordinately proud of it. Even a little prissy about it while drinking at lunch. He wanted to be sure and show his papa.
And Clarissa brought us many, many cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes in SoHo where she's working when she's not singing. Or tutoring. We enjoyed them all. A lot.
Joss thrived under all the attention and food (foccacia, beef bulgogi, white chocolate/raspberry cupcake,  a pear and a caramel macaron, and all that before we started lunch). Rob et. al. came home pleased with their performances and Maddie and Will got well and truly sunburned -- with some very strange markings where their dad had given them Sharpie tattoos!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Flaming Gorge Dam

[click to enlarge] One of the things we learned on this trip is that it's more fun to camp with a destination. In the past the camping has been the point -- set up a tent, smoke your clothes and roll around in the dirt. Here there was more to do than we could pack in (especially with all of the great eating we were doing -- we camped with experienced foodies and we ate well). Day three of our adventure we drove down and went on the tour of the Flaming Gorge Dam.
Looking down from the top. (I kept thinking of Queen Latifah in Last Holiday when she went base jumping off a dam. I'm not to that point yet.)
Looking back across the reservoir. It was pretty fun, and the kids got to feed all the trout waiting for us at the bottom. And we saw more marmots -- little ones almost like squirrels. 
We returned to the campsite and walked next door to the Red Canyon Lodge where we rented two paddle boats and a canoe for an hour.
The boys' boat
The girls' boat
Maddie and Abby took me out and showed me their mad hot canoeing skillz.
The preschoolers hopped around in their lifejackets, waiting their turn. 
Rob, Sebi and Joss
N, N, Z, and Z. The dads have the little ones barricaded in the middle so they wouldn't escape. We broke camp and drove our separate ways and I think we had the kids and camping supplies packed to bursting. 
As we rounded one of the hairpin turns out of the high desert, we saw a truck lose a dozen or so bales of hay, with another truck piled high right behind it. We stopped and Rob went up to help clear the road and even re-stack the bales on the truck. I warned people who were driving up the hill. We stayed for probably half an hour and the real heroes in the situation were the kids, who sat stuck in the packed, hot car the whole time. They were truly tired and sore by 9:00pm when we finally pulled in. We rewarded them with sundaes from McDonalds (we are strictly an In-N-Out family since 2004). And watching videos certainly makes life easier -- I checked out Atlantis, Ella Enchanted, and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged and every mouth was open in deep concentration.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Murmeltieren and More

 Our whole crazy crew, after a long, wild night!
 We took Fabigail with us to keep Maddie company -- we'd take her again tonight. Before some of our own children. These two set up camp before the rest of us, slept more than the rest of us, wowed all the little girls and even spent their hour in a canoe rowing kids around.
 All of us in and Flaming Gorge too
 There were oodles of butterflies of all sizes, shapes and colors
 Maddie and Fabs took a swim in the lake. Then we asked them to go pick up a cup that we'd dropped in there. They were pretty cold by the time they came out.
 Sebi found a mama robin guarding these beauties
 We saw several deer like this one at dusk
 More of Flaming Gorge. It was really beautiful
 We ran into two groups of big horn sheep, this one at night, and a much younger group the next morning
 And we saw more than two dozen marmots (or murmeltier in German). In a few weeks they would have been completely camouflaged by the browning grass, but they stood out a lot in the spring. They looked like land beavers to me, but they're also called ground squirrels. I could have stayed for a whole week to see and do everything they have around. I would have liked to take a German-style vacation and hang out playing cards on the beach for hours. There are just two things keeping me from doing it: no showers and vault toilets.