Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dear Lucy,

Happy 8th birthday!  I just read the letter I wrote to you on your 7th birthday and I could practically just copy and paste it here (I've said that with your siblings, too - in many ways, besides "growing up," you all stay a lot the same . . .).  I mean, you are still YOU.  Lucy Dee Maxwell.  A delight - most of the time.  :)

You rocked the 1st grade and made a lot of new friends as well.  Some of your best friends from 1st grade included Genevieve, Vicki, and Addy (Dory moved away, but you still consider her one of your best-friends and you were able to see her a few times.).  Addy has a twin named Maddy (Addison and Madison, actually) and, as you like to tell people, they are almost as tall as me!  Not quite, but they are definitely taller than Emmy!  You and Addy were quite the site to see standing next to each other.  I came in to your classroom each week and had fun meeting your classmates - your class was actually super sweet and good!  I got to come in once for a "career day" event and that was fun to teach your fellow first-graders how to listen to their heartbeat.  Mrs. Dodd was your teacher (she taught Jonas as well) and this was her final year of teaching.  You were lucky to get her.

You made it to the team at gymnastics and have gotten most all of your level 3 skills.  You are just missing maybe two bar skills - which you can sometimes get and sometimes not.  You can do a round-off, back-handspring, back-handspring - and you do it well.  I think you'll even get a chance to compete this year!

You continue to have a lot of empathy towards those around you.  It's pretty neat.  You genuinely feel badly when you make others upset or sad - or when someone else (cough, cough, Emmy) is rude to you and makes you feel sad and then your feeling sad makes that certain someone (cough, cough, Emmy) mad, then you feel bad and want to apologize to Emmy - I mean that certain someone.  When really that certain someone should be apologizing to you.  It's an interesting dynamic!  Your dad and I do not ever have to tell you to say sorry - you do that on your own.

You hiked your first 14er (Handies).  You backpacked for 25 miles in Grand Gulch. Your skiing improved. You continue to get smarter and smarter.  You started reading some real chapter books in school this year, you're quick with math, you enjoy writing and again won several writing achievement awards this year, etc.  You love candy.  You don't love chocolate.

Again, a lot of this is a repeat of last year.  You are doing the same things, but doing them better and smarter.  :)  And it's a good thing - we don't want you to change too much because you are pretty great as you are.  (Just cry a little bit less, please . . . )

Happy Birthday my Lucy Girl!

I love you as much as all the sprinkles you and your friends dumped on your decorate-your-own cakes tonight at your birthday party,

(P.S.  That is something you like to tell either me or your dad . . . "I love you as much as all the hair Brigham has."  Your dad and I are kicking ourselves that we haven't written any of them down - you say them a lot and they are usually funny and/or witty.)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Girls' Week in Utah!

Emmy and Lucy had gymnastics camp at BYU so we left on Sunday and had a great week in Utah.  (The boys had a STEM camp at their middle school all week and so they had a great time as well.)

Their gymnastics' camp was Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9-12.  The BYU gymnasts are the "coaches" and my girls really liked who they had.  There are a bunch of girls there (plus a few boys) and so it's just a lot of fun for them!  I would stay and watch them for a bit; or go shopping at the D.I., BYU bookstore, or IKEA; or go to the temple, or walk ALL around the campus with my mom!  I had a good time, too.

One day after camp we stayed and watched the BYU gymnasts do their practice.  They were amazing!  My girls (and myself) were totally impressed.  We were up in a balcony area and super close to them on the bars.  It was really cool.

Every day I would take the girls swimming at my parents' place.  They loved that.  A few of the evenings my mom and I would go on a walk and the girls would join us on scooters.  We ate lunch at the Cougar-eat one time and then explored the Science building on campus.

On Thursday we drove to the Uintah's Mirror Lake and had a lovely hike (really, a walk) around it and then enjoyed a picnic lunch in the beautiful setting.  We tried to go and see the play Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Thursday night, but got stuck in some major traffic due to a crash and so we had to turn around and miss the play (but we did watch a movie at home).

On Friday we went to the mall and Lucy got her ears pierced!  She was so nervous and so excited.  I brought it up Thursday (luckily not sooner!) that maybe we should get them done while in Utah - as opposed to waiting for her 8th birthday.  When I found out our local place was out of tools to do the piercings at the moment, it was good we got it done while in Utah.  Lucy did great.

It was a super time in a super place with super people (i.e., Grandma and Grandpa!).

 Emmy getting ready for some tumbling!  Emmy did get a new skill:  a round-off, back handspring, back flip!  She was super excited about it!

 Lucy warming up on the beam with some side leg-lifts.

 Drinking lunch.  :)

 Pool time!

 Oh, the girls loved riding in Grandpa's new machine!

 Go mini-gymnasts!

 Lucy on the high bar.

Emmy doing her new tumbling skill.  She's towards the end of the video.

Lucy having fun on the bars flying in to the pit!

On the last day the gymnasts perform a little dance.  So my mom and I got to watch it and it was cute.  :)  (In case you think like I do, yes, I think it would make more since if they did a gymnastic performance . . . albeit I do know that dance is a part (smallish) of gymnastics.)

 We do {heart} BYU.


 I asked my mom to hang out with me on the girls' last day.  I had a few places to go to on campus - including the Independent Study's office, which deals with the high school program Miles is doing this year.  We started out at the most south-west building on campus and walked to the most north-east building - it was a good work-out and even included lots of stairs!  It was fun, though (right, Mom?!).

 Our Thursday outing to Mirror lake.  Beautiful - both the ladies and the scenery!

 The girls thought these bridges were a bit creepy . . . loose planks, open wholes, etc.

My dad secured the perfect picnic table for us and we had a lovely lunch.

 Lucy a little nervous about getting her ears pierced . . . but the lady who was doing it was really great and it all worked out!

 The first piercing - she survived and did great!

 Oh, she's so cute.

We ended the mall with a soft pretzel and yummy TCBY frozen yogurt.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Highland Mary Lakes

I feel like we haven't been able to get out and hike too much this summer - we've just been busy and Ben's free days usually were taken up with Lewis & Clark planning - so when I found out Ben was off on Monday, I made an executive decision that our family was going to go hiking.  Wahoo!  I had wanted to do the Highland Mary lakes trail as I had seen some posts on facebook and it looked awesome.

So we got up early on Monday morning (5am early - the kids were like, "What?!  It's 5am!") and made it on the trail by 8am.  We wanted to make sure to beat afternoon showers either on the trail, or on Red Mountain pass.  Turns out we had a blue-bird day, but it was still nice to just get up and at it.

The trail was one of my favorite hiking trails - just beautiful with wildflowers, streams, waterfalls, pine smells, etc., etc.  We made it up to the lakes (there were 4 of them that we saw) in about 1 1/2 hours.  Since that wasn't too long and we like to make sure our kids suffer, we decided to do the whole loop.  We weren't planning on it at all, but we had the whole day before us.  The loop took us to the Continental Divide Trail and gave us some pretty awesome vistas.  It dragged on towards the end (ugh, we don't totally enjoy going down steep switchbacks!), but was still an awesome hike.  We had some ice cream in Silverton and then made our way back home.

Bella did great on the hike, too.  The total hike was 7.7 miles and I bet she hiked well over 6 miles of it.  She was exhausted, but also didn't want to be held.  Brigham was totally in his element and had a great time chasing little wildlife.

It was just about a perfect hike!
 We knew it would be a bit cooler - but we weren't expecting it to be 37 degrees at the start!  But we warmed up quickly.  It was dreamy to have weather like that after the awfully hot summer we've had!

 Bella tries hard to keep up with Brigham!

 A beautiful waterfall (only slightly ruined by Miles' handmade pocket shirt . . . ).

 Another beautiful spot!

 Jonas collected flowers and made a lovely bouquet.

See how lovely?!

 Another beautiful spot - which of course a camera doesn't do it justice.

 Ben and Emmy hiking up a rocky spot.

 The first of three Mary lakes - so quaint and pretty!

 Emmy took a selfie and her and Lucy (is it still called a selfie then?!).

 Maybe the third Mary lakes?  Whatever it is, it's lovely!

 The cool peaks in the back were awesome.

 Bella hung out in the doggie pack for maybe 1/4 of a mile.  :)

For a bit of the hike, I was definitely the weak link in the group!  I didn't feel so good - light-headed and tired.  It's either because I'm dying, I'm a wimp, or the altitude.  I'm still not sure which one it was.

Brigham was probably chasing off some grouse at this point.

 Pretty girls can hike, too . . . but the wee ones might just get a bit exhausted.

 We finally were getting close to our original trail!  At least Emmy was still smiling!

Ice scream for everyone!  Except Brigham was stuck in the back of our car and didn't get any licks . . .

As I posted on facebook and instagram . . .this was just what the doctor ordered!

Best Cake Wins

Our kids like to watch Nailed It and Best Cake Wins on Netflix.  So we decided to do a family home evening modeled after the show.  I should have taken videos and made it in to an actual show . . . but that would have taken too much work.  So I didn't.  :)

We got in to teams:  Ben and myself, Emmy and Miles, and Lucy and Jonas.  Each team worked together to design their cake and then we went to Walmart to get our supplies.  We decided on rice krispie cakes because making three regular cakes seemed absurd (but, for some reason, three rice krispie cakes didn't seem too ridiculous).

The kids worked hard on Monday in baking (well, not really baking) and decorating their cakes.  Ben and I worked quickly on Monday night right before FHE to get ours done.  Then we put it to media (facebook and instagram) to decide which one was the Best Cake.  But I felt badly for some of my kids as they weren't getting a ton of votes (but we all got some!), so I took my posts down.  :)  But Ben and I won first, Jonas and Lucy's cake was second, and Emmy and Miles' cake got third.  We all had fun - except when we didn't.

Ben was in charge of coming up with the theme . . . he decided on BYU.

 Jonas and Lucy's cake.  A BYU football and player, a big Y, and all sorts of "Y's".  Fun!

 (The kids took their own pictures . . . )  Emmy and Miles' simple yet elegant "Y" cake.

Our "Y" mountain cake.  It was definitely the yummiest - we made chocolate rice krispies with almond frosting.  Yum.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Blue Mesa/Lewis & Clark Adventure

Well the boys and men all survived their 4 1/2 days of camping and adventuring!  Ben once texted me that the kids were driving him crazy with age-appropriate behavior.  :)  But, overall, the kids were good and no injuries occurred!

Obviously it would be best to have one of the boys do this post, but as I want it done sooner than later, I'll just have to do it myself.  Randy has the more professional pictures, but I'll just use Ben's ipod photos until I get a hold of Randy's.

They met at the church at 5am and headed up to the launching spot on the Blue Mesa.  They got their canoes ready (they lashed them together with pallets in the middle of 2 canoes to hold all their gear).  Then they canoed across the Blue Mesa and then up Cebolla creek.  They then set up camp for the night.

 Heading out.  There were 2 groups of youth - each group in a set-up like that.  Dusty and Ben shared a canoe.  Randy and his grandson Ruston were in kayaks.

Taking a break.

 More canoeing.



They canoed as far up the creek as they could and then when it got too shallow they had to portage the canoes and their gear - making several trips to get everything to the campsite.

 Miles and his friend Michael portaging their gear.

 The boys were tired after all the canoeing and portaging . . . they enjoyed resting on this shady rock in their campsite.

They also got to cool off in the creek - fun!

This was their shelter for the first night.

On Tuesday night the kids, paired up, all had to take a 2-hour night-watch shift.  Ben said the boys did pretty great.  Unfortunately (fortunately?) it was a quiet and slightly boring night, but oh well.  I'm not sure I would have survived a night-watch shift.  :)

They got up (Ben was the first up and enjoyed the beautiful and peaceful morning) and got all their gear packed up.  Cassidy Schiller (YM pres.) met them at their campsite with four horses.  The horses packed all their gear and they all hiked a few miles to their basecamp and where Randy's tipi was set-up and waiting for them.  Ben was really impressed with Miles and Jonas and the strength and endurance they had on this hike - especially when compared to the other boys.  Jonas lead the pack up the super-steep climb!

 The beautiful campsite in the morning light.

 The inside of their shelter.  :)

 Flag ceremony . . . of sorts.

 Getting the horses ready.

 The river crossing was interesting as one horse did NOT want to do it!  He even bucked up a bit and threw his very-novice rider (not Cassidy) up towards the neck of the horse.  Luckily all made it through okay!

 Trekking to basecamp.

 Jonas helping lead one of the horses.

 Miles carrying the flag - which the boys had designed and Miles (and Ben) sewed.

 Making progress on their trek . . . one boy was exhausted and totally slowing down the group.  So he had to ride a horse.  :)

 Yay, they made it to basecamp!

 The bathroom that the boys set-up.  You would throw the noose-looking rope over the side to let others know you were in there.  :)

 Jonas working on something.

 Julian helping with dinner.

Jonas looking through the monocular.  He loved that thing and took special care of it and was often found looking in it.

Thursday mainly consisted of their "Mountain Man Challenges."  They basically hung out at camp most of the day and went to different stations, learning different tasks - knots (of course), lashing, determining latitude, trap-building, and plant identification.  That evening they killed the two bunnies that had been hanging out in our driveway for the past month . . . It wasn't too pretty of a site.  They were going to shoot it, but Randy had a different opinion . . . so they tried breaking the first bunny's neck and it didn't quite work and the bunny was screaming and such.  I don't remember all the details, but finally they slit its throat - and blood spurted everywhere.  Jonas left and went to the tipi at this point (and hung out with Kaden, who went there at the very beginning).  The second bunny, after observing his friend, seemed more silently resigned to his fate.  Poor fellas.  But the boys said they were tasty.  Gag.

 Our good, adventuring boys.

 Jonas sharing a scripture thought for the day.

 Learning *something* from Randy.

 Ben's latitude tool that was only off by 1.5 degrees, I think.

 Just hanging out at camp.

 Poor, poor bunny.

 Dusty (YM deacon leader/1st counselor) helping get the rabbit ready for cooking.

A pretty sunset.

The original plans had been to hike out 5 miles and meet some Indians (myself, Emmy, and Lucy) at a trading post.  The boys were then to trade their goods (items they had found, made, etc.) for whatever the Indians had.  After their first hike to basecamp, Ben realized most of the boys could not do a 10-mile total hike.  So I think they ended up hiking 6 miles round-trip. 

The girls and I had a fun time getting the trading post ready and the girls were super excited about it.  The girls loved it all!  We brought our dogs up, too, and they enjoyed it - as well as all the boys.  It was a fun trip for us and a good break for the boys - many of who ate about 5 ice-cream treats each!  After their hike back from the trading post, they got to do a bit of rappelling that Randy and Ruston had set-up for them.  I don't have those pictures yet.

 Every morning the boys ground wheat for their breakfast.

 Jonas was definitely the dirtiest boy there!  This picture does his filthiness no justice at all!

 Doing . . . something.

 Jesse found this antler on the way back from the trading post.

 Dusty teaching the boys how to make their sling-shots.

 I don't know what this is all about?!  But it's kind of cool.  :)

 The boys coming down the hill to the trading post!

 Jonas, Julian, Jesse, Miles, and Kaden.

 We had fun getting their "Indian" (ahem, Native American) outfits ready.  :)

 We brought up gatorade and lots of different ice-cream treats.

 The boys would trade things they carved, cool rocks, hiking sticks, and lots of "junk"!  :)

 Bella enjoyed some of the treats, too!

 All the boys:  Michael, Kaden, Aidan, Jonas, Julian, Miles, Jesse, and Aiden.

 Hippy or Indian?  The boys definitely thought we girls were more hippies than Indians.  :)  It was fun to be with the boys for a bit!

 Again, Bella enjoying some of the treats . . .

 Bella was well-taken care of!

 Our family.

 Bella getting a look through the monocular.  Ha.

Miles in his element!

They got up early, packed up all their gear, put most of it in Randy's truck, then began their journey back home - hiking back down to Cebolla creek and then paddling across the Blue Mesa.  All went fairly smooth and our boys finally made it back home by 3.  Ben was super happy to be back home - but I did hear Jonas say he wished he could have stayed another week.  :)  I count that as success.

 Kaden and Jonas hiking.

Boys on a log.

 Crossing the creek to their canoes.

 Setting off down Cebolla.

 You can see the line in the water from where it goes from shallow to deep.

Heading home . . . what an adventure for sure!