Tuesday, December 01, 2009

In Desperation....

Happy belated Thanksgiving. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will tell you what we are all thankful for. Jane is thankful for her cinderella flashlight. Allie is thankful for corn. (We know this because she either blesses or expresses gratitude for "the corn" in EVERY prayer, not just at dinner. I have no idea what is up with the corn.) Jevan is thankful for sleep because that is what he is doing right now. And I am grateful for a husband who willingly, if not enthusiastically will submit himself to this:

Yes, tonight we had a Tea Party Dinner.

Before you go thinking to yourself, "Here we go again with another one of those look-at-my-oh-so-cute-and-perfect-life stories", know this. This was out of sheer desperation. This was one of those times when you call your husband at 6:00 and your stomach drops when you can still hear office noises in the background. "You haven't left yet?" Yikes. And he still has a 50 minute drive ahead of him. (I know, we made our bed and now we have to sleep in it, right?) AND, your kids are about to kill each other. Dinner is almost done, the movie you put in to save your sanity is over, and so what do you do? Throw a tea party. Getting dressed up and and the table set burns up LOTS of extra time. Sheer desperation. But amusing in the end so I had to take a picture.

Also, I would recommend these tea party dinners as an excellent dieting tool. Tiny plates equal great portion control.

Oh, and not more than 20 minutes after it is all over, Jane throws herself a mighty tantrum. Does anyone else have a four year old that is 85% wonderful and 15% possessed by demons? I mean raging demons. She literally turns on a dime, too. And usually in front of the neighbor we have just met.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Rite of Passage and A Giraffe in Trouble

So there comes a time in every small child's life where they must experiment with scissors...and hair. Some just cut the hair of their favorite doll or My Little Pony. Some cut their real hair. Like mine did. On Saturday. The day before the primary program and 2 days before her first day of preschool in her new hometown. Yup. Jane chopped her hair.

She was very practical about it. She was genuinely confused at our shock and mild anger about what she had done. She said that some of her hair kept falling in her face that morning and so she just cut the darned hair off. Problem solved. Jane is very much like that, for the most part. See the problem, solve it. Like this summer when we went to the swimming pool and the life guard told her she couldn't jump off the diving board until she could jump in and swim to the side unaided. So, she came down off the board, grabbed my hand and told me I needed to teach her to swim. She practiced all afternoon and wouldn't give up until she could swim/doggie paddle to the side. Then, with her determined and triumphant little face, went off the diving board and with her mother's heart pounding, made it, in a desperate flailing of limbs, to the side.

Wow. Tangent. Anyway, here is the damage. Jev and I decided it was a rite of passage to becoming a true little kid. Everyone has their stories.

On a side note, my sister-in-law reminded me today of a funny episode last week as well. We went with her and her kids to Bean Museum in Provo, which is basically a huge gallery of dead, stuffed things. Think of the best hunting lodge you have been to with the moose heads on the wall and quadruple it.... and add animals from every continent you can think of. Quite fascinating really. Above the stairs, leading to the 2nd floor, they had mounted almost the entire front half of a giraffe on the wall. Allie saw the giraffe and was instantly convinced it was stuck in the wall. She desperately kept asking me to help it. When i didn't come down to pull it out of it's brick prison, she began to encourage it to help itself. "C'mon giraffe. You can do it." Then she would grunt to show it the proper sound effects to use when extricating itself from the wall. She pleaded for a long time with giraffe, urging it to liberate itself, or calling me to lend a hand, but there was just no budging the silly giraffe. She finally gave up but talked about it for days to come. Maybe you just had to be there, but it was so stinkin' funny.

Huh. Random post but here it is all the same.

Monday, November 02, 2009

La La Land

So I thought I would make it official. We did it. We moved. We bought a house in Heber. And yes, Jevan still works in Salt Lake - he commutes. My environmental studies teachers/friends would be so disappointed in me. He doesn't even commute in some sort of hybrid vehicle. I am SO hypocritical....but I can't help myself...I'm blinded by love.

I think I have been dreaming of living here since we've been married but I didn't think it would really happen. Whenever I would talk about it, Jevan would refer to it as my "La La Land." Well, La La Land, here I am. Here I get the Heber Creeper, Dairy Keen (not Queen mind you...it has the best shakes anywhere...and the greatest kids meal prizes ever), the Demolition Derby, the Cowboy Poetry Festival (what rhymes with yeehaw?) and the National Sheepdog Championships. Mostly though, it's just really pretty here. With the backdrop of Mt. Timpanogos and the areas of open pasture, I get this sensation every time I drive over the last hill and into the valley - a combination of relief, peace and belonging. I guess I really never have been a city person. And the best part? My city-slicker husband loves it too.

So, because people said they were curious, here's our new house. Come visit us some time. We'll rustle you up some grub and maybe even recite a cowboy poem or two.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Top 5

Top 5 favorite things of Halloween this year:

1. The fact that my second child isn't old enough to care that she is wearing her sister's costume from last year. Also, that if anyone tried to call her Alice she would yell "No! I Awwison (Allison) Wonder-and!" Get it right, people.

2. That the girls only lasted about 20 minutes trick-or-treating before they got too cold and wanted to go in. That made their stash of candy pretty small, and they were perfectly content to answer the door. Jane would fawn over everyone's costumes and Allie would yell "Oh! They're here!" EVERY time the door would ring. As if some long lost relatives finally made it to our house.

3. That our doorbell never stopped ringing. We went through 3 of the giant bags of candy that you buy at Costco. That's over 450 kids. It was basically a stampede of sugar-crazed little people running around the neighborhood.

4. That Halloween to a sugar addict (like myself) is like October Fest to an alcoholic. I might have stashed away a few Kit Kats as the candy started running low...just maybe....

5. That I have a brother-in-law who is the spitting image of Napolean Dynamite when in costume. It was definitely scary....and hilarious.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I love fall

Who doesn't love this time of year? The air is cool and crisp and the world is full of color. For some reason, I have felt this need to soak up every last bit of the autumn colors this year. I think I have dragged my family up the canyon almost every other day. You'd think it was my last season on earth or something. I don't know why I have been so obsessive about it, but I have. I try to capture it on camera but it is never really the same. Cameras just don't catch how vivid the colors are in real life.

Anyway, here is what I have to show for it.

Happy Fall !!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Family Update

Fall is finally here and it is about time I write another family update.

It has been a wild ride of a summer. We have had a lot of fun vacations, as all the other posts show. It has also been a difficult past few months because we have had to make a lot of big decisions - the biggest being where we wanted to buy a house. It has been quite the process. We couldn't decide if we should live nearby downtown (sugar house area) or in Heber. I have always wanted to live there - for the beauty and recreation, but I also felt strongly that it would be a good place to raise kids. I guess. I hope. We started looking both down in the valley and in Heber, but we ended out finding a house we really liked in Heber, going for a really good price. We spent lots and lots of nights up talking about it, trying to decide if moving to Heber was a good idea. Jevan would have a long commute, and we would have to do a lot more driving. And gas isn't cheap right now.

After agonizing over it for days, we put an offer in on the Heber house. It is a short sale, so it has been a roller coaster ride trying to get it. At first, it was a bit of a miracle how smoothly it went. Our realtor kept saying over and over "You must be living right" because usually short sales "so frequently end in sorrow and heartbreak." (yes, he did actually say that :) ) But then the appraisal came back even lower than we were offering for it so either us, the seller or the bank had to take an even bigger hit. Everyone was mad and it was looking like we weren't going to get the house. Then the bank came back and said we all had to give a little. So again, we agonized over the decision, but ended up agreeing to go ahead with the deal.

So that is where we sit now. We close in a week. I am excited and apprehensive at the same time. I have yet to feel that peaceful confirmation that we have made the right decision. I hope it comes at some point. I hope I fit into my new neighborhood. I hope we like living in Heber.

We also made the decision to send Jevan back to school for his MBA. Unfortunately we made the decision a little late, and now, if he goes to the U of U, he will have to wait until next fall to start the program. But we feel like it is the right step for him to make, especially because his current employer will help pay for it.

I guess this has to be a short post because there is trouble brewin' in the other room with the little ones. It will be strange not living with my parents in the basement. It has been so fun to have my parents around all the time to talk to. I can't believe how many nights my mom and I have stayed up WAY too late talking. I love you, Mom and Dad! Thanks for letting us live with you!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What Do Monsters Look Like?

So the other day, my sister-in-law came over to my parent's house (where we STILL currently live...but not for long...) with a surprise for Jane and Allie. She sits her down on the couch, whips out a book and starts reading. The book is darling and when I ask her who wrote it, she casually says "Oh..I got my children's book published." What the? She then launches into a story about how the book came to be, the process stretching over years, all starting with her little boy's fears of monsters under the bed. I was in awe.

So, I have to tell everyone who either has a child with a fear of monsters, or just wants a wonderful children's book, to buy this book. The premise is that the monsters under the bed are just as scared of you as you are of them. It's so stinkin' cute. You can get it off Amazon, or I can secure you a copy easily, maybe even signed by the author.

I am always so impressed with people who have a dream and see it fulfilled. Good job Amber. I want to be like you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Last of the Summer Adventures, Part 2: Canyoneering in Zion

Typically, when packing for a vacation most people put things like suntan lotion, beach towels, swimsuits, and flip flops. Most people are not like my in-laws. I think their ancestors were Nordic (likely Vikings). Contrary to what you might have learned in school, I'm convinced that the Vikings didn't rape and pillage because of overpopulation or religious convictions, but rather because it was the most difficult thing they could possibly do for fun. It was like a Viking vacation! I can imagine a Viking dad getting his immediate family together and having a conversation like this:

Paulthor (the dad): Sons, it's time we planned next year's family vacation. What should we do?

Gregotgardill (eldest son): How about rowing a boat up a waterfall?

All: Nah, too easy.

Cliarkf (younger son): What about playing tag with the sharks again? That was fun.

All: Boooo-ring.

Jevan (brother in-law) (and yes, it is a Nordic name I'll have you know): How about we pick an activity that won't get someone killed? Remember what happened to poor Hjorvarth last year...

[Paulthor, Gregotgardill and Cliarkf share a look of disgust]

Merdonfthnus (youngest son): It's not a vacation unless someone could die or at a minimum be horribly maimed you pansy.

Reedolf (other brother in-law): Jevan, you can stay here with the children while your wife Emilfrothi comes with us!!!

[All laugh, pointing fingers at Jevan and making rude hand gestures that bring into question his masculinity, parentage, facial hair and choice of clothing]

Louifst├Žn (mom) to Emilfrothi: I told you he was a wiener.

Paulthor: How about this - we'll all get into a boat, row across the ocean, land on a beach somewhere, run ashore brandishing weapons and screaming, rape / pillage / plunder, then come back home!

All except Jevan: Yaay!

This is pretty much how we plan family vacations in Em's family (including the mocking of my clothing). Case in point - the family trip to Zion National Park this summer. Here is what we packed: wetsuits, suntan lotion, 3 first aid kits, a climbing harness, locking carabiners, nylon ropes, wet bags, water, and tons of trail mix / granola bars. Pretty much the kinds of things that you would pack if you were planning on running from the law for an extended period of time in the desert.

In the past, Emily has gone on this annual "Let's attempt to cheat death one more time" vacation by herself, but this year I decided that I had had enough of the rude gestures from her brothers and came with them. This is a rough breakdown of how it all went down.

Day 1:
Wake up at 5:00 AM, because no good adventure starts after sunrise. (Note: I think that, with the exception of early-morning golf, the Holy Ghost really does go to bed at 12:00AM and doesn't wake up until around 7:30 or 8:00.)
Get in the car and drive for a couple of hours.
Contemplate the number of ways you may meet your end in the upcoming hours.
Arrive at the trailhead at 7:30AM. Begin hiking.
Hike down some steep canyon terrain until you arrive at the mouth of a slot canyon.
Realize that you have survived so far and be simultaneously grateful and sad that it will take even more effort to get your corpse out in the event of an accident.
Proceed to what the guide book describe as your first 'obstacle'.
Remind yourself that an 'obstacle' is to a Tayler as 'The Grand Canyon' is to a unicyclist.
Proceed to rappel down a 20-foot cliff into a puddle of what can only be described as "37 years' worth of cow urine in mud".
Slog your way through while trying not to breathe.
Accidentally breathe.
Vow to make it the last 20 feet without breathing, or die in the attempt.
Watch your mother in-law do the same thing and feel like a total wimp.
See your mother in-law's shoes come off in the pee / mud mixture.
Try not to giggle.
Tell your wife you can't go in and help your mother in-law get out because you're filming the event for posterity.
Help your mother in-law out.
Remind your mother in-law that this is her vacation.
Catch all of the pack as they are thrown down from the top of the 'obstacle'.
Discover that, when thrown from 20 feet above you, catching a 60-pound backpack feels very similar to getting steamrolled by a blitzing linebacker.
Reassemble the group, after an hour or so of traversing the stinkhole.
Resume hiking (and breathing).
Traverse a few other 'obstacles', including one in which you have to physically drop your wife, sister in-law, niece, and mother in-law off of a cliff into a pool of water (I'm not exaggerating).
Tell your mother in-law she looks like a drowned cat.
Pretend to not notice the dirty looks you get from everyone.
Find out why it's not a good idea to hike for many hours with a mesh-lined swimsuit.
Discover first-hand the meaning of the word 'chafing'.
Learn to hike bow-legged.
Continue hiking. Start to look at all of the amazing stuff that 99% of the people that go to Zions don't see. Think to yourself that maybe the Vikings were onto something.
Realize that there's something to be said for near-death vacationing.
Emerge from the canyon at 8:30 PM battered, bruised, chafed, but whole.
Spend 27 minutes showering and using an entire bar of soap attempting to remove the 'obstacle' smell.
Remember that Day 1 was the 'easy' day.
Collapse into bed for a few hours of sleep.

Day 2:
Wake up at 6:00AM.
Pack wet suit, ropes, harness, carabiners, and food into a dry pack.
Ensure your Last Will & Testament is in order.
Drive to the trailhead.
Start hiking.
After 2 minutes, arrive at the first 'obstacle'. Or, to be more accurate, the place where you have to put on a wetsuit and swim through freezing cold and fetid water in order to get to the first obstacle.
Rappel down a sheer 80-foot cliff.
Hike through an amazing slot canyon, going down some incredible rappels (including one into 'The Cathedral', which has to be one of the coolest things you've ever done).
Be upset that your camera's battery is nearly dead.
After numerous rappels, arrive at the last one - a 120-ft free rappel straight down into the jaws of death picnic spot.
Sidle up to the edge of certain death without looking down.
Look down.
Let your nephew go first.
Watch as he manages to hang on to the cliff using only his butt cheeks.
Marvel at the amazing gripping power of terrified glutes.
Army-ranger rappel down to the bottom.
Resist the urge to kiss the ground and weep.
See your father in-law, wife, and 15 year-old niece do all of the above and ponder whether
a) you're just a wimp,
b) they're really tough,
c) they really are Vikings, or
d) all of the above
(note: the answer is d)
Hike out of the canyon, spending time playing in swimming holes rejoicing that you still have all of your limbs attached and no known organ punctures.
Enjoy a meal swapping war stories with the rest of the Vikings.

So there you have it. I survived, and found that it was one of the funnest vacations I've been on. I was proud of every scrape, bruise, contusion, and odor I got on that trip. Sign me up for the next raid!

They are all smiling. That's because none of them smell like cow pee yet.

Yeah. We walked through that. Paul actually had to get his nose about 1 inch above the water to dig out Louise's shoes.

I may have neglected to mention that we found Gollum on the trip.

Louise, my mother in-law, rappelling down into the cow pee, with Gollum watching his Precioussssss...

And we just lost a shoe.

Looking up from one of the slot canyons. Freedom seems far away right now.

The aforementioned 'Drowned Cat' pose.

Check out the scale of the canyons.

Em trying to decide which way to go.

I thought this looked really neat, with the vertical crack in the wall.

Ensign Tayler, reporting for duty. Fortunately, he was wearing a blue uniform. Had it been red he would definitely have been eaten by a monster along the way...

... like poor Hjovarlth and Magnus, who didn't make it.

Ready to swim through who knows what.

Em rappelling down into the Cathedral.

Finally getting the hang of it. And for the record, yes farmer tans help when you're canyoneering.

Coming down the last rappel.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Last of the Summer Adventures, Part 1: The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone

Sorry folks. One last family vacation post. I wanted to get it recorded before, say, Christmas..as I do rather like to procrastinate.

Once again, I think I will let the pictures do most of the talking. Here's a quick summary:
In July, I went with my young women from our old ward up to run the Snake River. For some reason, the Young Men's leader thought that since I had run rivers with my family growing up, it somehow put me in the category of river guide, and that I was capable of paddling a huge raft full of teenagers down the Snake - a river I hadn't actually ever run. Not being able to convince him that the idea scared the pants off me, (I honestly had nightmares for weeks, kids drowning, parents strangling me, even Kevin Bacon appearing out of nowhere to hunt me down (movie anyone? A River Wild. Kevin Bacon has one of those faces that completely freaks me out) I quickly invited my dad along as moral support. He was a good sport....and I made him run the rapids for me. Whew. Huge crisis averted. Jevan and the girls then drove up and picked me up in Wyoming and we set off for a weekend in the Tetons and Yellowstone.

We camped at Signal Mountain, and despite the hoards of vampire mosquitos, we had a great time. Such a beautiful place. I think the kids were impressed too. Although, if you ask Jane, the thing she remembers most was the deer with 2 broken legs (probably got hit by a car) trying to get away from a BEAR IN OUR CAMPGROUND! Luckily we were in our car, but Jane talked about it for days. Definitely disconcerting. Don't worry - the bear never got the deer - no scenes out of Wild America for us, thank goodness. Ranger Susie saved the day. (Editor's note: "Save the day" = take the wounded deer for a walk with a shotgun in tote. Not exactly a happy ending, but the bear didn't get to eat it...)

Anyway, it was all beautiful, the weather was great, and Allie only had a few breakdowns of epic proportions. No naps plus sleeping in a tent where you can roam about endlessly until you fall asleep do not a happy toddler make.

It was still REALLY fun.

Some of the daring Young Women from my old ward. They are all awesome girls and I miss them....

Starting our hike to Jenny Lake. This is also where Jane informs me that this is NOT her favorite place to hike. Her favorite place is "Warberry Alice Sunburn Valley." Oh, well then. She gets to plan the next family vacation.

Taking the picture BEFORE the hike. This is important. We have learned that even after 5 minutes into the hike, pictures with all family members present and smiling are not so...possible.

Um...taking the ferry across Jenny Lake as to make the hike significantly shorter...ah-hem. Jevan liked the 3 blond heads shot.

Making it to Hidden Falls. Definitely worth the trip.

Jane makes friends with squirrel. Apparently it likes Pringles. Don't tell Ranger Susie. Jevan's cousin Morgan told me that it looks like the squirrel is smoking a doobie. Definitely don't tell Ranger Susie that...

Playing at Jenny Lake. Here Jane informs me that if I ever wanted to buy the sky, it would cost me a million dollars. No one tell Bill Gates. At that price, he could buy the freakin' universe.

This, dear friends, is Jane's deliciously named "nun cupcake". It's a bit gritty but it just might save your soul.

Allie chillin' in the carseat...in the near-buff because she decided some swimming was in order.

This is by far one of my most favorite pictures from the trip. A true Allie smile...they are really rare to catch on camera. Allie LOVES drinking fountains. She was delighted to find one just her size.

Walking around the boardwalk by Old Faithful, looking at pools and geysers. Here Jane asks me: "If Jesus fell into this pool, would he cook like a hot dog or just get baptised?" What do you say to that?

Have I mentioned Jane loves bugs? Jane loves bugs and has NO fear of them. Hence, the HUGE beetle on her arm. She let it climb all over her for a good 10 minutes.

Note the new bug friend perched on her hat. It climbed from her arm, up the side of her face and onto her hat. Note too the onlooker in the background. She watched with fear and amazement and repeatedly refused Jane's invitations for her to hold the bug.

We had to take a picture of this doomsday cloud. It was the ONLY cloud in the sky and shaped like an atomic bomb mushroom cloud? Freaky.

Playing in the river near a hot spring.Good times.

Crazy Jane in our campground. The night before we were playing the "like/hate" game. I said I really liked camping and I really hated mosquitos. Jane said she really liked marshmellows and...really hated it when a car runs over her. Right. No hit and runs, people. Jane hates that.

Like father, like daughter. No need to say more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today, we say a (not so) fond farewell and welcome a new addition.....

Our Booger died.

I wish I could say it was with a heavy heart, but it really wasn't. It's life ended on the freeway in a swirl of smoke.

The old, heavy, stinky guy had been good to us, bless it's heart. (You know you can say something derogatory about ANYTHING, so long as you add "bless his heart" at the end, right? For instance: "That guy that just cut me off is a sorry little man....bless his heart." See? You can vent your feelings AND give him blessings....it's a total win-win.)

Yes, a few weeks ago we said a fond farewell to our Booger, our 1994 Ford Tempo, a lovely shade of turquoise-green, weighing as much as a small building and navigating the roads about as well as one too. Each door was crafted with so much metal that they threatened to crush you instantly if you didn't leap from the car and roll to safety. Trying to get out while parked on a hill was especially exciting.

So, with a loving kick to it's tires, we sent it off to the Kidney Foundation.

And then, we broke down, gave in, and bought this:

Yes, we are the proud new owners of a MINI-VAN.

This is the point where I freak out a little and wonder how in the world my life suddenly got to this stage. I truly had a mid-life crisis during the test drive. You KNOW it makes sense, you KNOW you love having a wonderful little family to putter them around in it, but you still wonder how you went from crazy, adventurous college kid to soccer mom in 2.2 seconds.

Is it just me or did any one else go through this?

At least we still have my baby, the '98 Subaru Outback. It will keep me reminded of the good ol' days.

Anyway, we're happy to have our new "certified used car" toyota sienna. There is just no beating the convenience of a mini-van. It's nice, sensible and gonna go forever and I'm going to love it..........right???