Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Discovery Gateway

 Matthew and I spent a day at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum, and Matthew's favorite place (by far) was the ball area. He collected them, put the in chutes, and wasn't particularly interested in anything else!
 Then we found the construction area, and he enjoyed moving blocks, trying out different equipment.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mission Remembrances

This past St. Patrick's Day I was doing a little reminiscing about my time in Ireland. I looked through my mission album and took pictures to share with some of my companions on Facebook. These are fond memories. The first one is a picture drawn for me (and of me) by Brian Gibbons, a young boy in Galway (his photo is below). The crazy thing is that he is now a grown man, and his mother has several other children besides him.
My companion, Sister Kelly (Sarah Stamps) below:

 Me with Brian and Michelle Gibbons in Galway. This is the photo that was used for the announcement in the paper for my return from my mission.
 My trainer, Sister Coleman (Amy Nydegger) and I having a little fun while out tracting in Galway.
 Sister Davis (Emily Hincks) and I with a cute family. We did a Family Home Evening with them.
 Sister Davis, Leslie Koukash, and a friend, preparing a meal, I believe.
 A group of missionaries (?, Elder Shaheen, Elder Dave Stewart, Elder Bret Gundersen, me, Sister Karin Crafts-Wilkinson)
 This sweet lady was someone we met one day while out tracting. Sister Davis and I ended up going back on a regular basis to visit her.
 And here's another woman we visited, who lived just around the corner from us in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Poor thing should have been in some sort of assisted living home. She lived by herself and we'd help her out around the house a bit.
 I just loved serving with Sister Ferguson (Emma Siddy). She has such a great sense of humor, and kept me laughing!
 Out tracting in the rain, of course!
 Some old building in Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Sister Kelly, looking contemplative while writing in her journal.

 Sister Ferguson and I may have let the back garden go just a bit. It was a sort of jungle back there!
 We definitely enjoyed our share of curries!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sunsets, Legos, Homework, Chocolate, Kisses, Dishes, and Skiing

This incredible sunrise was captured just before scripture study one morning in April. It was stunning! I normally don't feel pictures capture the beauty, but the one comes close.
 I'd heard that the Lego Americana tour was at the Fashion Place mall, and thought Matthew would enjoy that. The displays were fun, but Matthew wasn't as keen on them as I'd hoped. They were very detailed, and it was fun to see what characters and funny objects they'd put in there. (Matthew took this pic.)

 While at the mall, we decided to stop into Bath & Body Works. We smelled all the lotions, sprayed all the body sprays and Matthew washed his hands with every soap available. It was adorable and fun.
 A typical afternoon for Micah after a day of 6th grade. Math homework. He's worked hard to bring up his math grade. He is in the highest math class, and recently learned that he got assigned to the 8th grade honors math class. He is excited (and a little nervous) about that.
 Mira and I made a trip to our new (awesome) Smiths on 7800 S. They had melted chocolate you could have items dipped into. So, of course, we tried that! Yummy...and a little messy!

 Matthew unloading the dishwasher. How many cups can you stack?
 Okay, so this is the best. Michael Finelli offered to take the boys skiing on his only day off of the week. It was a new experience for them, and a little challenging at times. A couple of embarrassing moments with falling on the moving carpet lift, or falling in general. But Michael kept it light and fun. He took video of them and made the most awesome music video to "Eye of the Tiger." I just wish I could put the video in the blog book! It is one to remember!

Micah's First Trip to the Temple

Micah had just turned 12, received his temple recommend for Bishop Pearce, and we set a date to visit the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. How neat it was to have all four of us go together. Micah talks about wanting to visit the temple with Jackson Pearce when they are off track. I love my boys, and going to the temple helps me remember the purpose of our families, and the important work we have to do for our ancestors. I'm discovering this slowly in recent years.

Friends n Stuff

 With Matthew being in preschool, he gets a little bored sometimes. Thank goodness for little friends! The only bummer about the friends situation is that they are all older than Matthew. So schedules just don't mesh really well. But when he can get together with a buddy, happy day! Kyle Harris is a sweet guy, and he and Matthew enjoy playing. Typically, they'll jump on the tramp, play a game, imagine and run around in the backyard.
 And the girls love to play with Victoria Howe. She's a sweet little girl, and is kind to both Mira and Ella. They love to play pretend in the playroom, play Ever After High, paint nails, dress up, and giggle!

 I don't exactly remember why Mira ended up on the couch overnight in this particular instance, but I suspect it was because she and Matthew were being too noisy for bedtime.

 One of Ella's favorite things to do is take pictures of nature. She loves to capture beautiful things. She'd come running in the house, begging to have my phone in order to snap a few pictures outside.

 Best buds: Matthew and Jack.

 We went to Classic Fun Center one night with the kids. The kids scootered, climbed, and ran around. Matthew had a great time playing with them. Colin, in particular, was great with him. He took Matthew up into the jungle climbing area. And Matthew surprised us all by jumping off a high platform (probably 15 feet high), and into a foam pit. Over and over!
 Colin had been asking me if we could just "please" go window shopping. There were several stores he was most interested in checking out: H&M, Macys, Cotton On, Banana Republic, etc. I suggested we head over to City Creek. A whole new world was opened to him! All these stores and more in one location. I followed him around, and we looked at the fashions, and liked a lot of the same things. Some of the new fashions I just had to laugh at. Stone-washed parachute-type jeans. I remember stone wash when I was Colin's age. I just can't see it happening again. But Colin has a good eye for style. He tried on different items. I think he's looking ahead to his birthday in about 6 weeks. He only had a couple of dollars with him, and he was determined to find something to purchase. He did find a narrow leather bracelet that he is sure to wear to school each day.
 Jackie, basking in the sun. One of his favorite spots, up on the back of the couch, in the office.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Anniversary Trip: 15 Years

 We had talked about going on a special trip for our 15 year anniversary. Initially, we planned on San Diego for a week and a half. Then we thought we should use some of that time to have some adventure at Zion that we wouldn't be able to do with the whole family. The whole trip was perfect! We did and saw a lot of fun things. And we now realize that we'd love to take our family to San Diego for a vacation sometime. There is so much to do! The first place we visited was Old Town. The sun was shining, and the weather was just beautiful for February. Such a nice change of pace.
 Whenever we hear the pipes, we think of Andean music, the kind Chad loves from his mission.
 The vegetation is so different from what we're used to seeing. Everything was green, flowering, and a treat for the eyes.
 I'm sure we took this one to send to the kids:
 The last time I'd been to the Mormon Battalion was years ago, when I was a Young Woman, and we came to San Diego for the temple's open house, and stayed at the Pulisphers. Anyway, the museum has changed since that time. It was enjoyable, although I think it would be more entertaining with the kids. It's interactive and a little campy.
 The condo we booked was relatively close to downtown S.D. It was nice to have a home base, and come home to cook our meals.
 We attended church in an interesting section of San Diego. The church was unique. The chapel had the feeling of a Catholic church: more long and narrow with only two seating sections and one long aisle down the middle. There was an outdoor area, with primary classrooms along the perimeter. The basketball court was huge, and sunken in comparison to the Sunday School classes along the sides.
 Outside the church:
 Our condo:
 Bougainvillea was gorgeous!

 We went to Balboa Park. What a great place! There were many different gardens, lots of people out playing instruments, and several museums. We attended a mushroom convention (interesting and a little odd), visited all the international cottages, went to a couple of museums, and Chad even made time to study for his big upcoming recertification test.  (So disciplined!)
 There were many varieties of cacti, and this one was so strange looking! I'm guessing it's been around for a long time. It was huge!

 At one museum, Chad and I had fun playing around with the hands-on exhibits. 

 A drive-by of the temple, with a promise to visit:
 We went to Torrey Pines State Reserve for a nice hike:

 After our hike and visiting things to see at Torrey Pines, we went down to the beach.
 ...and we played some frisbee. We came up with our own rules for our made up game. It was a lot of fun.
 Chad getting wet and wild.

Then on to La Jolla Cove. We couldn't believe all these sea lions basking on the rocks, with people around. They lay so still, it looked like they could've been dead. I probably could have reached out and touched one. It was so cool.

 We went to the San Diego Temple to do some sealings. We did the work for my grandmother, Helen Elaine Oliphant.

 Cabrillo National Monument was on the list of things to do. It was another gorgeous day! We looked at tide pools. The rocks were really slippery with all the slimy stuff growing on them. I almost took a tumble!

 There was  a smaller hike down toward the water, and we watched Navy boats coming and going in the harbor.
 Up at the top was a lighthouse with a museum. Very interesting. What a unique kind of life to be a lighthouse operator. They worked day and night.
 I loved this framed saying, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

 Cabrillo was a Spanish explorer about the time of Columbus, who made several stops along the California and Mexico coasts.

 We took a drive over to Coronado, walked around the hotel, stolled along the pathway by the beach, and enjoyed beautiful scenery.

 We took a ferry across the water to the USS Midway. Funny story is that we bought the tickets for the ferry, parked, and made our way quickly to board. At which point I realized I left the tickets back in our car. So Chad ran back to get them, and we waited around an hour for the next ferry. But it wasn't that painful to sit at the ocean's edge and watch the birds.

 The USS Midway was huge! It's hard to believe it can stay afloat. The amount of people that lived and worked on the ship was staggering: something like 5,000 people. We toured the inside and learned that people had specific jobs that didn't change. One could have been a toilet cleaner. Or laundry. Or cook. I can imagine the anticipation for shore leave after weeks or months on board, trapped on the vessel doing the same job over and over.

 It was time to head to St. George! We had a nice stop along the way. Maren had called while we were en route to ask if we'd like to make a quick stop over in Las Vegas to meet our new nephew,  Parker. (Maren was visiting family in L.V.)
Mom and Dad were so kind to give us their home for several days while they were in our home, caring for our children! Thank you!! After a good night's rest, we were eager to get to Zion to hike the Narrows, bottom up. We knew we wanted to rent some basic gear because I knew there were lots of rocks. I'd imagined that the water was just covering the rocks, and not much higher. When we got the the rental shop, we were informed that the water temperature was around 42 degrees, and gets as high as waist deep. We knew at that point we needed the pants, too. Good thing we got them! All the equipment made the adventure really enjoyable. We did happen upon several people who didn't have any equipment. They were going in their tennis shoes and shorts. Nuts! They were freezing!

 Deeper parts of the water had a bluish tint to them. The water was cold, but the water pants kept us protected.
I loved the hike. The one and only thing that was painful were my hip flexers. Going against the current, up and over rocks, just did them in. After about 3/4 way up, they were pretty burned out. But not enough to quit! Or to take the smile off my face.

 I think Colin and Micah would have a lot of fun on this. Maybe even the girls? Uncle Doug did the top down hike when he was in scouts. I didn't realize that is a 16 mile hike! Our hike was awesome.

 Driving "home" (well, to Mom and Dad's).
 Mom and Dad left us a special anniversary gift: a certificate to Bucca's. We went that very night and enjoyed a wonderful meal. What a fun place to eat!
 We splurged on a humongous ice cream dessert. It was super delicious!
 The next day we started out early to Angel's Landing. My hip flexers were not entirely recovered, but this time we weren't wading through water or stepping over rocks. It was a nice break. The morning was definitely chilly, and I was sort of wishing I'd remembered to bring my windbreaker. We were in shade for a while going up, but I knew once my blood got pumping, I'd warm right up. The park wasn't really busy, and we passed some hikers along the way, but it was by no means crowded. It was perfect. That's the way I prefer it. I'm thinking February is an ideal month to visit the park, as long as the weather is like it was for us.

 There was one point in the hike called "Walters Wiggles" which is just a series of steep switchbacks. It was the most intense part of the hike.

 The whole experience was exhilarating. I was wondering how I'd feel once we hit the part of Angel's Landing where the sides drop off and it gets treacherous. But we were fine, and it was fantastic. Not to say I'd bring my children up on this part of the hike. But we, as adults, were cautious and capable.

 The view from the top was phenomenal!

  After we finished Angel's Landing, we still had a good part of the day left. So we went on a little jaunt up to Weeping Rock.

 We did another longer trail (I cannot remember what it's called!). I expected this one to be an easy/moderate hike. I guess it was moderate, but I didn't expect to see chains in the rocks to keep from slipping off. This is one of those hikes that I wouldn't want to bring my children on. The rock can be slick in certain spots, and has steep drop offs. The views are great. But after we'd been hiking a couple of hours, my hip flexers were screaming, and we turned around.

 I had to take a photo of the calamari we got for dinner. I knew the kids would get a kick out of it. They look like little tarantulas!
 Micah started texting on Sunday, when we were heading back. He was wondering how far away we were. We had a selfie war.