Friday, October 25, 2013

Searle's Cove

We went to Vernal last weekend. It was kind of funny how it happened actually. I was looking for places to go for fall break that would be fun and cheap. When I looked for ideas online, I stumbled across a website detailing the awesome stuff you could do in "Dinoland". This area included Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge and other areas of natural and historic interest. I was intrigued. And then I remembered that my cousin Brenda (well, my dad's cousin that's my age) lived there. It was a decent jaunt, and so I thought a night at her house would make the journey less exhausting.
When I reached out to her, she had a great offer to throw on the table. Her husband Carl's family had a modern cabin up in the mountains.She asked Carl's dad, and he said it would be fine for us to use it. We had one weekend open... October 18th. It sounded like a lot of fun, so we took the offer and made plans to head east the next weekend...Brenda's sister Susan in tow.

Getting there was definitely an adventure. Conner threw up all over my new car. My brand new car. Chocolate doughnut vomit. It made me less than happy. Sigh. The dangers of having children. And it made our arrival late. The trip took 2 hours longer than it would have because of clean up stops near Strawberry Reservoir and again in Duschesne. But we made it.

The road in was interesting. 22 miles of 2 lane highway leading deeper and deeper into the mountains. It veered off next to a corral and went another 8 miles on a very bumpy dirt road. As Ashlyn said "Its massaging my butt cheeks!" And then we were there. Searle's Cove.

It was after dark when we got to the cabin.So we didn't really get to see what we were missing until the morning when we drove down to go sight seeing.
Here's more of the area surrounding the cabin.
The cabin is kind of tucked back into that mountain
You can see the destination from the road here
Coming down out of the mountains...

Sunset in the middle of nowhere
The Pond

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Circus Time

So Marcus had a great idea! 
Take the kids to see Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in Salt Lake.
We actually didn't know we had tickets for sure until 4 o'clock that day because we were on a waiting list. But it was awesome.We enjoyed it immensely.
The favorites of the group were the elephants. And the cotton candy. 
Which was $14. So they SHOULD love it.

Arial dancers
Spectacular opening 
The elephants were one of our favorites
And the Tigers :)
My family


I woke up early in the morning, well before the sun rising timidly over the mountains turned the deep black of the mountain woods into gray outlines and shadows. I couldn't see beyond the windows next to where I was sleeping. But I could feel what was on the other side of the glass.

The cold that had been kept at bay by the slowly burning fire in the stove had found its way into the cabin.

I pulled the blankets tighter around me. It wasn't freezing quite yet. I could still sense the residual warmth left behind by the fire. But the edges of the air dripped with a frostiness I knew from experience would spread.

I was worried that the chill might eventually reach my kids in the beds where they slept if I didn't remedy the situation. So I untangled myself from the covers and braved the few feet of frigid floor between me and the fireplace.

As I opened the heavy glass door, I quickly saw what I had suspected was true.

Just before we went to bed, my cousin's husband had thrown a few extra logs onto the steady blaze, assuring us it would last until morning.
But it had burned out.
All of it.
There wasn't even a smoldering ember I could use to rekindle anything that would generate the warmth I knew we would need.

I had confidence in my ability to start a fire. I had done in dozens and dozens of times. I grew up camping in the Utah mountains. I had attended and completed 4 years of wilderness camp as a teen. I had started many a bonfire when we lived in rural Ohio and wanted s'mores in the summer. Certainly I could do it again.

I arranged a few larger logs in the bottom of the stove, sprinkled with a few smaller pieces of wood. Then I grabbed a few newspapers. I needed something that would burn fast and easy...and hopefully long enough to allow the other smaller pieces to become hot enough to ignite.

The theory was that each of the smaller, faster burning pieces would eventually cause the larger pieces to burn and create the warm sustainable flame I desired.

I believed my logic was sound.
But somehow, the plan simply did not work.

I tried for an hour to get the fire to light. I even resorted to a few tactics I actually knew wouldn't work but hoped the fire gods would make an exception in my case; I held the lighter to the big log, hoping by some chance it would catch if I held it there long enough, I scurried outside in the frozen dawn to gather smaller pieces of kindling that could burn longer and hotter than the newspapers I had quickly run out of...thinking that the frosted twigs I dug out of the piles of pine needles and cottonwood leaves would miraculously burn and ignite the fire we needed.

The cold was creeping more and more into the heart of the cabin.
I gently nursed each ember produced by my efforts, prodding it with every ounce of knowledge I possessed to become a mighty blaze.
I knew it could.
If it would just try a little harder.
I hovered.
I pleaded.
And I was frustrated.

My efforts went on despite my failure. Somehow, in the midst of those moments, the spirit took an opportunity to point something out to me. Something that had escaped me before.

Like so many things in our lives that we desire longevity from (like knowledge we seek of God or other worthy concepts..or the love that generates real relationships), the creation of a flame is a process. The sustaining of it takes mindfulness. It would have been so much easier if I would have thought of it and taken just a moment to add to the fuel. But I let it burn out.

And so I had to start over.

That was harder. And took way more time. And there are rules. Rules to create a real flame. And they coincide nicely with rules to create other lasting things we need to have warmth in our lives.

Adding little tiny pieces a few at a time allows the flame to build and makes it possible ultimately for the longer burning pieces to catch. Just like gaining knowledge a piece at a time or letting love grow bit by bit will help it burn brighter, stronger and longer.

Starting with something that burns with ease is good, but it won't last long and certainly won't create long lasting warmth on its own. Taking the easy road in a learning quest will get you quick but meaningless results. Relationships that ignite quickly but have no other substance (except more quick burning fuel), may feel great at first, but will burn out fast.

You have to feed it. And not all at once.Throwing a big log on a tiny ember will kill it. Too much too soon will quickly extinguish growing thoughts or loving feelings.

Trying to catch something so big on fire on its own with a pre-generated flame will just burn out the lighter before it ever catches the log. Don't go for the big stuff first. You will burn out. Build up to the deep knowledge or the deep intimacy. So much better when it happens all on its own instead of forcibly.

The flame you feed is the flame that will burn. You could have a great flame going, but if you don't add the right kind of fuel to it (whatever is next in the process), it will burn out, no matter how strong it was at some point. If you add fuel to the fire of your testimony a little will thrive. The same with your loved ones. If you feed that fire, it will burn. If you feed other fires...they will burn. And the flame of love for someone else will wane and die.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why all relationships end badly

This is a happy post actually, despite the deceiving title

This post is about relationships, and something I've learned.

And that is that all relationships end badly. Why? Because they all...end. half of the relationship, at some point will leave. Whether they leave of their own free will and choice or whether they are taken from us because their time on this earth is done; we must at some point be prepared to wallow in sorrow at the parting.

So since by nature, we humans do all we can to avoid pain, it should stand to reason that pursuing relationships would be something we would avoid entirely. Because it would be safe. Safer and easier. Easier than hurting when someone that has added so much to who you are leaves you.

But we don't do that, do we? We seek out interpersonal interactions. We crave them. And despite the inevitable pain...we actually need them. We need them because they create us. Our interactions with others change us and mold us. They make us who we are. They make us become better and open our hearts to new feelings and our mind to new thoughts. We become who we are because of who we know and have known. It is all about relationships.

Its about my friend Erin, who has been working as a member of my team since May. She left a few weeks ago so her husband and her could move to Washington state for school. And really, honestly, by all accounts...we should never have been friends. But somehow we were. And we became close over the past few months, and enjoyed working together. We supported one another in our individual life trials, that although different, had some similar feelings behind them. We learned from each other...and even though the friendship began when I knew it would end in a few short months...I am so grateful those moments became part of my collective experience. As we embraced as she left and I tried not to cry, Erin whispered... "Don't stop being my friend." Never Erin. Because the part of my life you claimed with your friendship will always be part of who I am becoming.

It's about my friend Marcus. Someone who, when I first met him, I had been determined to dislike. This relationship was a passing one in my eyes; he was an intern. I would have to put up with him for 10 weeks and then life would move forward and he would be a shadow of someone that I kind of remembered on the outskirts of my mind. But somehow, something changed. And I'm not even sure I can tell you exactly when it crossed over from "that annoying kid" to "one of my best friends ever". Or how it went from "I'm sorry, what was your name again?" to "It's been 5 hours since we talked, we should probably catch up before its too much for us to remember..." What was supposed to be a passing interaction has become something that I really don't see ending anytime soon.

It's about my friends Brenda and Melody. Who have been my friends for 24 and 20 years respectively. We have been divided by distance for much of that time, and yet whenever I see them or talk to them, its like time never passed. Well, except we're older and out bodies don't do the same things they used to do in high school. These are relationships that have weathered the tests of time of space (literally...states and states of space), and have been some of the most solid and reliable relationships of my life. They have loved. They have laughed. They have made me who I am and I know they will continue to influence me until the day one of us leaves this earth.

That's not even tapping into my family, who have obviously taught me more about myself than other group on this planet. My parents, my siblings, my children... all create me on a daily basis. They deserve their own entire blog post..each of them.

And despite the impending end to each those relationships, I do not regret them. And I think I will move forward with my life never regretting any choice to make a friend....knowing it will somehow become a significant part of who I am and who I will become. It is ALL about relationships. And those special bonds, despite their ending on this earth, is one thing we can take with us. I look forward to reuniting with all of those I love when we enter a life that has no ending. How sweet that will be indeed.

Nebo Loop Color

So in Brazil, there is no such thing as fall. Or Autumn. Whatever.
And so we thought the best thing to do would be to take our boy on a day adventure where we would see all of the color in the context of the beauty of the mountains.

Our first stop was a little stream heading into the canyon where the loop starts in the Payson area. We got out of the car and hiked down the incline and played a little.
Yes. Conner got in the water. It was super cold!

Love this picture of my girls :)

Working out the crossing of the log.

Maryn, Ashlyn, Kayque and Conner. 

We made some sandwiches quick and ate before continuing our drive.
The colors and the scenery were gorgeous!
You know you're high up when you're looking down on the mountains. It just goes on forever! So peaceful...and a little chilly.
This one looks like it should be a painting! So beautiful.
Bald Mountain. 10,000+ feet!
On the last little bit there's an area of geological interest, Devil's kitchen. Kind of cool, and a very easy mini hike.
"The Devils Kitchen is a scenic red rock "break" off the Nebo Scenic Loop. It offers pillars and other interesting rock formations. It somewhat resembles a miniature Bryce Canyon."
So we finished the loop and ended up in Nephi...where we discovered a DQ! Blizzards were the perfect ending to the day. We had a great time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trying not to look back

Its time for a catch up on our lives since school started. I realize I am not yet finished updating summer information. I have been putting off just writing a quick catch up blog because I kind of thought I had to be current in order to keep things in the proper timeline.

And then I realized that this is MY blog and these are MY memories and I never remember anything in order anyway. And I further realized that if I didn't write my "now" I would always be writing about "thens" and never be caught up.

So lets just be current, shall we?

So everyone started school. And after a few weeks everyone seems to be alive and mostly well. Maryn is a bit whiny about gym class. But that is to be expected.

Paul is a senior. Which is killing me. Not because I'm not okay with him growing up, but because there is a part of me that simply doesn't feel old enough to have a child in that phase of life. I remember being 18. It seems like such a short time ago. And the beginning of this year marks the last of everything I get with him; last Halloween, last Thanksgiving, last Christmas, last Birthday...and then he will be gone for 2 years. And then he will move on with his adult life and things will never quite be the same. But past my lamentation and on to current events. His class schedule can barely be called a class schedule; 2 periods of peer tutoring, TA in English, Foods, Drama, Law Enforcement... yeah...don't hurt yourself there cowboy. He worked very hard at the beginning of the year and got together everything needed to start a new club, including recruiting 20 members! I am so proud of his efforts on this and what he has learned. He's also started working for our home teacher hauling and stacking brick. It's hard work but he makes good money.

Maryn is happily in Elite orchestra and choir and German on top of  her regular classes. She is very self motivated and an excellent 8th grade student. Junior high in general is a euphemism for hell, and there is the inevitable 13-year-old-girl drama, pain and sorrow. But she won't be 13 forever. Both her and I take great joy in that knowledge. She also started taking cello lessons. She just got an iphone, which means she's cool, and loves being around friends and babysitting.

Conner just started 5th grade and seems to like his teacher. His preference is for me to mostly stay out of his business so I do. I'll ask questions once in a while and respond to concerns, but honestly, as long as he's medicated, he's pretty easy. He is my little moral center, and constantly corrects my language and checks my behavior. The other night I went on a date to a piano bar so I got a stamp on my wrist to show I had paid. He saw the stamp and heard me say I had been to a bar and was alarmed "Did you get a tattoo and have a beer mom?!?!" Yes Conner. While I was away from you I decided to let everything I have taught you fly out the window and I got a tattoo and drank a beer. 


Ashlyn is a 4th grader. She's great at history and reading. She's less great at math. She plays outside a lot, and likes to talk to me about everything she can think of. I just had a fun chat with Ashlyn's primary teacher. She said she is very well behaved, and LOVES to raise her hand to answer question. But whenever she does, she raises and exclaims excitedly "Oh!Oh!Oh!". She said its hilarious. They (Brother and Sister Evans) were also Conner's teachers last year, and they think he's hilarious. Apparently they even have a "Conner Voice" they use whenever they quote him.

We have a fun new addition to our family...even though its temporary. Kayque Lucas Santana dos Santos came the middle of August to stay with us from Brazil and attend high school here. My friend from the Crisis Line, Jennifer, approached me and asked if I would want to host an exchange student. Its something I had always wanted to do, but I kept waiting for a perfect time and situation...when things were more... oh, I don't know...just more.
And so after some deliberation, discussion with my kids, and prayer... we said okay. And she even gave us a choice of students.

When I heard Kayque's information, I knew he was the one we should have in our home. It didn't take long after he got here for me to know that it was absolutely the right thing, for us and for him. He is Junior at Provo High School. He likes bread, and chips and dancing and having fun with friends. He thinks the mountains are cool (coming from a seaside town) and likes the fact that each tap has both hot and cold running water instead of "water at whatever temperature you happen to get". He earned being here. He is on scholarship through the government. There were 100 students in his school that applied, and he was one of 3 that was accepted to go live in America for a semester at no expense to his family. I think the greatest compliment I received was when he told me that although he misses his family, he has never felt terribly homesick, because this feels like home too. 

We have tried to do a few things since he has been here. The first place he wanted to see was Walmart and we had our first dinner together at Red Robin. 

We've also been to Bridal Veil Falls and Squaw Peak. Mostly, as usual, we enjoy spending time with family and friends. We have had dinner time with my grandparents and football games with my brother as well as swimming at my aunt's house. We've had dinner with the Valente's (who have 2 students and Alex is from Brazil) and the Aldridge's (my friend Rosangela is from Brazil as well)...Brazilian Barbecue! 
Like Maryn said...Its like one big happy multilingual somewhat dysfunctional family.
And last weekend for Labor Day we went for a drive through the Alpine Loop and made a stop at Cascade Springs (more on this little trip later). But we brought a picnic and headed over the mountain to Midway where we enjoyed a picnic and a rather lovely drive back down Provo Canyon.

And then, of course, the Brazilian Festival last Saturday. We are now addicted to fried savory pies called pastels. We're planning a pastel party with Rosangela and her family :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My kids didn't actually do this, so they are a little right...Portland (The zoo, the temple and The Rose Garden)

So on the same day that we went to the Japanese Garden, we also went to the zoo, and the Rose Garden, and the temple. We also went and had pizza and bowling with Marcus family for his siblings birthdays. It was a busy day. But it was fun. 
And we found out we can walk fast.

Here's some fun pics from the zoo.
Bears in the bath.

Hippo in the water.

Man on the lion.

Cat in a cage.

Porcupines behind glass (thank goodness).

 Giraffes in the grass.

Marcus and I in the rose garden. And then just beautiful pictures of the gorgeous flowers. Compliments, again, of Marcus the amazing photographer.

And the last stop of the day, at dusk...the Portland Temple.

These are my favorite two. This one in the rear view mirror...

And this one in the reflecting pool.