Monday, June 20, 2016

Cousins!- by Pat

Evan had a birthday this week and we had a rushed celebration.  He had just finished reading "My Side of the Mountain" and really enjoyed it so he got a bunch of survival stuff for his birthday including a neat flashlight and a pocket knife. Then on Friday my brother Rick and his family came into town for a couple nights.

Where's Sunny?  Oops :(
We had wanted to take Evan to the tent rocks we'd heard about for his birthday, and since Rick and Sunny were game, we all went together.  After the first quick half mile we got to hike through the slot canyons for a while.  These were the best parts; in the shade!  The rest of the hike was long and HOT!!!  Almost 100 degrees and no shade!  We felt bad for bringing them on this hike.  Heck, I felt bad bringing us on this hike.*smile*  It was lots of fun though with some good views from the top.  By the end all the little kids were tired and cranky from the walking and the heat.

After the hike, and after getting lunch we went to the new museum Meow Wolf; The House of Eternal Return.  It was creepy and fun.  From the site: "Each visitor will be invited to choose their own path through the 20,000 sq. ft exhibition, walking, climbing, and crawling through an imaginative multiverse of unexpected environments.  The experience will be appropriate for people of all ages, supplying children with a fantastic world to play within and giving adults a sophisticated artistic experience with narrative depth."

Charlie probably had the most fun of anyone in the group.  For the entire time our family was in town he wouldn't talk to any of them.  As we got out in the parking lot of the museum he looked right at them and yelled "THERE'S A GIANT SPIDER OVER THERE!  I HOPE IT DOESN'T EAT US!"  He had a blast every moment after that.  When we were first entering the museum it was a dark tunnel with a creepy video, he was a little nervous at that point but quickly got over it as he enjoyed the secret passages, musical instruments, video games, tree houses, mirrored hallways, and so much more.
The house had secret passageways into strange worlds (some of which are shown below).

Walking into the the refrigerator.  The boys also crawled through the fireplace; another secret tunnel I missed.  I missed a lot.  There's so much!  The house looked like a completely normal house, it's just that you would open a closet, step past the clothes and end up in another place entirely. Pretty cool.

I think the most exciting thing for the cousins was having chickens in the yard.  They were constantly asking to go feed them and check for eggs.  We played on the swing set a bunch, tried to stay cool in record setting heat and no air conditioner, played video games, watched movies and played board games.  We talked a lot and ate good food.  We crammed as much as we could into a day and a half and are already looking forward to the next time!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day Camp 2016, Brownsea, NYLT

My last day camp just happened (until Charles turns 8).  Yay!!!  No offense, but it is a HOT, long week being outside all day.  Also, I don't know what it is about my body and camps, but the worst things happen to me when I'm committed to some extended camp thing.  On Trek 3 years ago, I had my anal tear (after giving birth to Charlie), which the doctors kept telling me was just hemorrhoids.  I worked so hard treking in the blazing sun of the Socorro area of NM, and then slept in my car at night crying, without any showers or anything to help it.  Eventually I had surgery to "fix" it, though it will never be fixed.  I now manage the everlasting injury.

Then at the last Girl's Camp, I had to manage a miscarriage, with port-a-potties and far away showers.  It was a painful, hugely uncomfortable mess.  Still, I stayed and did the best I could.

Then after committing to a week of day camp this year, my body sabotaged me again with a period and a really painful boil simultaneously.  I taught six classes everyday (from 8:30-3:30pm) and each class would arrive on the heels of another, so that I was taking care of business behind my car in the trees because I had no time to go to the port-a-potties.  On the last day of camp my clothes were ruined and I had to pick up my kids and leave strategically so no one would see.  I cried to Pat, "Why does my body always sabotage me during things I just can't quit on?!" (I guess there were some years at Girl's Camp where everything went splendid, so I can't say it always goes bad.)

Evan had a great time, and learned a lot, and Leia and Charles got to go to kid's camp (on-site) so I could teach without watching them too.  They had a great time because Sister Bentley does so many fun activities and crafts.  I'm sad I don't have any pictures of them or of camp besides the crime scene above.  I was busy teaching.  The only bad thing that happened at camp, is that Leia wandered away once into a grove of trees.  When I went to pick her up at the end of the day, I could tell it was dawning on them that they hadn't seen her in quite a while.  Everyone was leaving and after searching everywhere (a few acres of camp) I started yelling/screaming frantically at everyone to stop leaving and look for my daughter!!!  I was fully panicked, when suddenly she came out of a grove of trees crying, and I was crying and we hugged and my friend Julie hugged us and the camp staff was so relieved and we were all emotional.  She said she got tired of camp and wanted to go somewhere quiet.  I told her ANYTIME she wanted to come to me, she just had to tell them and they would walk her down to my area.  All's well that ends well, thankfully, but man, that was awful.

Charles was loved by all.  You would think he was a celebrity there. 

The theme this year was law-enforcement, spy related stuff.  C.S.I.  Bomb squad came one day, police horses another, Drug team another.  It was great!  I was asked to teach this week for a cop that couldn't make it last minute.  I followed the instructions given me.  It was basically a crime scene that I had to set up the first day (shown above surrounded in CAUTION tape), and then doing lab work and solving crime puzzles all week, along with some cool fingerprinting and crafts.  The boys seemed to really like it.  I kept having to tell the older scouts that escort the younger scouts around to stay out of it, because it wasn't for them!

The only problem was, the cop had no resolution to his crime scene.  On the first day, the instructions had me read a story of "Mr. Busy Body" and his dinner guests finding the above crime scene, but it was a mystery that would never be solved, and all the boys/older boys/parents were dying to know what had happened.  So for the last day, I came up with a story to explain it all.  The blue footprints, the paint, the brush with dark hair in it, the half-eaten moldy bagel, the cup on it's side with a straw and a bit of brown liquid, the crumpled paper with the words, "It's done" on it, the brown pen, the chalk outline, and the white powder.  If you ever need this lesson, just message me!  It was pretty fun.
This same week that Evan, Leia, Charles and I were at day camp, Dallas was at NYLT, and Sam was at Brownsea.  NYLT and Brownsea are both held at the Gorham Scout Ranch.  I was so worried about Sam (it was his first year), but he and Dallas both had a wonderful time! These are leadership camps, so they are not easy camps filled with fun activities.  They are challenging.  I'm so proud of them.  And I can't say how happy I was to have my whole family back together again!  We drove up about 2 hours to pick them up finally Saturday morning.  They had gotten dropped off the previous Sunday and Monday.  Eeek!!

I really really like my kids.  I think they are soo neat and soo fun!

Daisy had dance this entire (school) year and she grew a lot in friendship and ability.  Her first weeks she was sliding into walls (lots of tears) and was so clumsy with her coordination.  Since we were homeschooling we went on Tuesday mornings, and many of these girls were homeschooling too, so she had a constant group of friends throughout the year.  Only Livy is missing from this picture as she had a family trip.  Emelyn, Daisy, Mila, Sarah, Paige, Savannah, and Gabe. 
This was the first time I've participated in dance and I decided to do the recital/performance and everything just to see how it was.  Well, it was first, a LOT of money.  On top of regular fees, there's recital fees, costume fees, etc.  Second, it was a LOT of time for all those extra practices and dress rehearsals.  Then we still had to pay an average of $10 per person to watch the shows!  So the boys never got to see Leia perform. In the end I decided it is too much money (for what we got).  Maybe a different dance studio would do better at having them learn an actual dance.  I know they're young, and Leia loved her teacher and friends and had a good time, but they didn't seem to know what to do while they were preforming at all.  Nobody cared because they were so stinkin' cute, but being the demanding mom I am, I was thinking, "If we were in China, they would have had these girls doing amazing things!"  They are certainly capable enough at 6 to do way more than they did is all I'm saying.  Leia was bossing everyone during the whole dance, pointing and reminding them of what they were supposed to be doing.  No matter how many times I told her to stop (and she promised), with each performance, she did it again!  She is such a mother.
As I stayed to watch all the different ages perform, I was very impressed with some of the performances, and very unimpressed with others of the older girls that had hard-core music and were oversexualized.  You could just feel how uncomfortable the audience was having to view that.  I got the feeling we were going to be leaving the world of dance and focusing on music instead.  I can only afford time and money for one thing anyway. Leia really wants to do gymnastics though...

But I will be sad to leave this great group of girls.  And their mothers!  That was the best thing about going to dance was getting to talk with all the wonderful mothers!  Half were Christian, the other Mormon (so I'd say we were all Christian), and we were of like minds and similar priorities.  We enjoyed each other's company so much and helped each other in so many ways.  One of my friends there (Dianne) is a L&D nurse at the hospital where I go, and it naturally came up one day that I was 12 weeks pregnant and would hope to see her there in a few months, and we were all so excited!  Then the following week I had to tell them that I had lost the baby, and such.  Right then and there, they formed a prayer circle around me and prayed for me the way Christians do, with my Mormon sisters right in there too.  We are all mothers and we all know the heartache.  It was their way of showing love.  Even the secretary was in tears!

Wanting to remember this dear time in my daughters life, and continuing with the crazy spending spree, and asked my friend to take some pictures.  I realized I hadn't had any professional pictures of Leia done ever.  Actually, when you think about it, we save so much money not having to drive to and from school daily, or to buy uniforms and lunch stuff and all the extras that go with attending school, we probably still saved money...  Below is one of the professional pictures my friend DeAnn took.  They are all so sweet.  To see them go here:
I was excited to capture this time in my daughter's life.  I love her so much.  I think the best thing about her is her laugh.  She is usually happy, and with all those brothers doing crazy things to make her laugh, she is usually laughing!

And she makes me laugh!  A recent quote from her: "Mom, I know why God was mad at Jonah.  He didn't want to go to Vinegar."

"Ninevah, Leia. Ninevah."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bread Show

We were asked to do the bread booth at our Self Reliance Fair again this year.  It was a huge undertaking of weeks of bread-making preparation to find the best recipes to suit most people.  I think they said over 600 people were there from the community, the vast majority not members of our church, and the classrooms were all packed with people standing in the hallways.  It was a huge success!  And I learned a lot.  I consider myself a pretty great breadmaker of all types, yet I learned from the people that stopped by my booth to talk, and I learned a lot as I researched websites and read bread books leading up to the show.  I love learning!  Here was our advertisement below:

It is a solid, meaningful skill to be able to produce good nutritious food.  BREAD, in its various forms, is perhaps the most basic of all foods, with a history almost as ancient as mankind itself.  A loaf of homemade, whole wheat bread is a warm and wonderful staple of life and will be featured at our basic bread-making booth, along with fermented sourdough breads.  All of these breads are more digestible and much healthier than store-bought mass produced breads.  Would you like to get in the routine of making your own bread?  Like families across the globe who make their daily bread, you can too!  Come check out our helpful booth on simple, basic bread-making, where you can get tips, recipes, see demonstrations, and ask questions.

I really think all the gluten sensitivity would be lessened if people took the time to make real bread from whole grains, fermented with a slow rise.  Factory bread has so many chemicals and is forced risen. Bread gets such a bad wrap these days.  (Sprouted bread is my next frontier).

Mulit-grain, whole wheat sourdough boule.  If you know sourdough, you know what an accomplishment this is with no yeast!  This is not a recipe we featured as our booth was supposed to be more basic stuff.
Simple dutch-oven bread
Sampling all the breads from the store for research
These were our favorites.
We tried to decorate our booth like a real bakery.  I wish I'd gotten a picture closer up.  By the way, Pat makes all the sourdoughs, and I make all the rest.
We baked about 40 loaves and gave samples out all day at our booth as well as answering questions etc.  We were just one small component of the fair though.  There were beekeeping classes, real live sheep being sheared, chickens, ducks, and turkeys, classes on wilderness survival, herbs and essential oils, natural healing and homemade toothpastes and deodorants, raising meat and making jerky, gardening, canning, HAM radio, generators, basic home repair and tools, sustainable living, dutch oven cooking, reflective oven cooking and so much more.  A collection of amazing talent from our community focused on being prepared and self-reliant in all things.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

On Saturday, we hiked what should have been 10 miles round trip to see D's Eagle project site.  We knew it would be hard, but figured we'd hike the 5 miles to the cabin he's restoring, have a nice picnic and rest, and then hike the 5 miles out.  We started early, and figured we'd get home around 3pm-ish.  Unfortunately, it seemed much longer than that, and we didn't get home till almost dark.  People online have it anywhere from 10-14 miles, and I wholeheartedly agree with the 14 milesIt was a lot of uphill and downhill.

And yes, we all went.  Our feet were so sore!!!  Not to mention that at times Pat was carrying Leia and Charles.  But man, we are all way stronger than I thought.  I was so impressed with my kids on this hike!  Sam watching over me as I went up steep hills, Dallas carrying a heavy pack the entire time.  Evan and Sam sharing a heavy pack despite Evan having a scratched up back (that's another story), Evan starting to cry, and then changing his attitude on his own, and marching through the remaining miles.  Not to mention Leia and Charles!  Leia walked most of it, and Charles more than half.  I was completely amazed.  I felt like we were true pioneers without a handcart of course :)

Here we are starting off.  It was 32 degrees!  It is about 10,000 feet in altitude.

Here's where we stopped to filter water from the creek to refill our water bottles.
It was ice-water!  We thought we'd rest with our feet in, but we couldn't stand it for more than a few seconds.

Only 6 more miles Charlie!  He even fell asleep in Pat's pack with his head on Pat's back.
The kid we have to thank for this trip.

This picture was not taken sideways.  It was a steep hill.
Everyone got really good at going to the bathroom in the wilderness.  Charles had to poop twice, and we'd forgot tp and wipes so we had to use leaves.

 Here's the cabin (or tack shed?) D's restoring.  I am discouraging this project, but no one will listen to me. 

We had an almost 2 hour drive home and right before we got home we stopped for dinner at Blakes Lotaburger.  Pat and I were barely able to walk after sitting still for 2 hours, and you should have seen how tattered, dirt encrusted, and pathetic we looked, eating like starved animals.  We got a few concerned looks.  Charles couldn't even wake up to eat, poor guy.  We woke him up and bathed him (and everyone) as soon as we got home and then he got to sleep in and eat plenty the next day.

I thought we wouldn't be able to walk and therefore have to miss church the next day, but thankfully, we were fine.