Calvin Turns 10!

October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

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My supercal turned 10! I cannot believe that he is 10 years old!

Calvin is:

SMART-FUNNY-KIND-RESPONSIBLE-SWEET-THOUGHTFUL-ARTICULATE-CLEVER-DETERMINED-DEDICATED-FAITHFUL-HONEST-HARDWORKING-SELFDISCIPLINED-WONDERFUL-PUNCTUAL-NEAT-ORGANIZED-KIND-FLEXIBLE-AND HE KEEPS US ON OUR TOES.

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We love you Calvin. Forever and ever and ever and ever.

For his birthday we had a party at the cabin. Unfortunately I had a camera error and lost the pictures of his actual birthday. But here are some pics of his party three days later.

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Nato-Potato Turns 3

October 16, 2017 | 1 Comment

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Nato-Potato turned 3. Oh, he is such a sweet thing.

Every day this happens.

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“Mom…”

“What Nate?”

With all smiles: “I wuv woo!”

I wuv woo too Nato-Potato.

For his birthday we went to the pool, then later that afternoon we went to the aquarium.

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Olivia is the official cake baker in our family. She makes beautiful birthday cakes!

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Everett spent Nate’s birthday perfecting his cannonball from the high dive.

Sheriff Fluff Fluff

October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

As we were driving home from our great American Road Trip, I saw on IG that a friend of mine had one puppy left in her litter of Golden-Doodles. “Do you want to go look at it?” I asked Wyatt? I really didn’t want another dog after Maverick, but going to that dog training place in Oregon on our trip had made me start thinking that maybe we should . . . again.

By the time we got home two days later the puppy was sold.

“I’m going to . . . ” something or other for the evening. I don’t remember what. Relief Society? A bridal shower? I can’t remember.

But by the time I got home Wyatt had found two more litters on KSL, gone to see one of the puppies already, and told the seller that he would be back in the morning.

The next morning we went to see the little pup Wyatt had fallen for.

She was indeed a sweet heart.

And that is how Sheriff Fluff Fluff came into our lives.

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Sheriff’s KSL Mug Shot

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When we first brought her home.

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In the back yard.

 

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Off to play and chase.

Our Great America Road Trip – Part IV

October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Day 10 – 11

Day 10 we got up and hiked Table Rock – a little plateau that sat directly behind Wyatt’s childhood home. It was a quick 2 1/2 mile hike up to see beautiful views of the valley where Wyatt grew up.

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We tried to start early – the forcast for the day was 100 degrees. 9 am and most of the hikers we passed were on their way down.

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But it was a good little hike.

After that we buckled in and headed East – ready to head home. We drove all afternoon to Winnemucca, Nevada — the true arm pit of Nevada. There we crashed for one last night.

Day 11

And on day 11 we continued across the expansive Nevada wasteland and home to Salt Lake.

What a fun, fantastic trip. It was full of great explores, fun hikes, stunning vistas, and shocking discoveries of the variety and beauty of the earth. I hope the kids remember this trip!

PS – OUR CAR HAS AN ENGINE TIMER, SO WE TIMED HOW MUCH DRIVING TIME WE DID ON THIS TRIP. HERE IS THE GRAND FINALE AT HOME IN OUR DRIVEWAY. IT SEEMS LIKE ALOT – 70 HOURS OVER 11 DAYS. BUT OTHER THAN DRIVING ACROSS NEVADA THERE AND BACK, THERE WEREN’T ANY TIMES THAT WE WERE IN THE CAR MUCH MORE THAN 3 HOURS, AND THOSE TIMES WERE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. WE REALLY TRIED TO KEEP DRIVING QUICK AND ADVENTURES LONG!
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Our Great American Road Trip – Part III

October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Days 7 – 9

Day 7

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On Day 7 we decided to start our day with a hike in Fern Canyon. It was like something out of the tropics with these amazing walls of green. We hiked about a mile up the canyon. The kids had fun climbing on the logs and playing in the water.

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Then we went to Lady Bird Johnson Grove and hiked the loop of that trail (hike . . . more like walk). I laughed because we were SOOOO loud on that trail. The kids were just laughing and teasing and playing. The few people we saw there quickly moved away from us. I don’t think they knew what to make of our chaos. But the kids had a great time, and Wyatt said it was his favorite hike of the entire week.
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Next we went to Patrick’s Point to enjoy the view, and down to Agate Beach to dip our toes in the water (we didn’t really play too much at that beach). On our hike back up to the car from the beach Olivia found the most beautiful little yellow pepper looking thing. She reached out to grab it and — EEEEK! — it was a squishy and slimy banana slug. It sure startled her, and she was at once both grossed out, and hilariously amused.

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That night we drove down to Ferndale, this darling little Victorian town – mostly just because I wanted to see it. It would have been a ton of fun during the day when the shops were open, to poke around. As it was, the town was closed up for the evening except the two eateries. After driving up and down the streets looking at the amazing victorian homes and store fronts, we got pizza at the local joint and then headed back to Eureka.

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The kids’ very favorite activity was ALWAYS swimming in the hotel pool.

Day 8

We drove up the coast to the Northern Redwoods. Just the views on the drive were amazing. We drove past these big beautiful barns, and even past these giant herds of Elk.

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We went to the Prairie Creek Redwoods where we hiked the “Big Tree” loop, and also visited the Corkscrew Tree.

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Family Picture in front of “The Big Tree”

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I thought this sign was SO HILARIOUS! It’s good to know that the parks people have a sense of humor!

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This is the corkscrew tree. Can you kinda see how the trunk of the tree is twisted like a corkscrew?

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Then we went to The Trees of Mystery where we hiked the loop and looked at their beautiful trees. We even rode the Tram through the canopy of the trees. How neat to see the trees from a different perspective!

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The kids were super excited to see statues of Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe. We got the old Paul Bunyan Disney Cartoon at the cabin this summer, so the kids were acquainted with this American Legend.

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Next we drove on to “Stout Grove” – a grove I imagined to be full of trees with even wider girths than the already impressive ones we’d already seen. Unfortunately I was mistaken. Stout Grove was just a grove – beautiful, but much like others – named after some guy named Stout. Unfortunately Stout Grove was flanked by a wide river, and the sunset time of our hike made it abuzz with pesky mosquitos. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful. But because of it’s out-of-the-way-ness of it, and the bugs, and the let down of the regularly-ginormous-trees it wasn’t my favorite.

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Olivia, and her buddy, the Banana Slug. She was the only one of all of us that found any on the trip.

As we pulled out of Stout Grove we had to decide: Back track to the coast and continue up the Oregon coast (something we’d talked about doing) or continuing East and towards Wyatt’s childhood hometown of Medford.

With the speed of the freeway under our wheels, we decided not to backtrack, but headed East for what adventure awaited.

Day 9

SO SAD – I LOST THE PICTURES OF THIS DAY FROM A CAMERA-COMPUTER ERROR. THE ONLY PICTURES I HAVE FROM THIS DAY ARE FROM WYATT’S PHONE. TOO BAD TOO BECAUSE THE PICS OF THE STORM OVER CRATER LAKE WERE PRETTY AWESOME IF I DO SAY SO MYSELF. BUT NOW THE WORLD WILL NEVER KNOW.

We came into Medford that morning and drove down the country roads Wyatt knew as a child. We went to the baseball field where Wyatt played his little league championship game. We played a fmaily game of baseball right there on that field.

Next we kept on down the road and found Wyatt’s old Elementary School. Wyatt found it much the same as when he was a boy, and enjoyed showing the kids around his old haunt.

And then on to Wyatt’s childhood home. No one was home when we stopped by, so Wyatt poked around just a little, looking at the old barn and pastures he knew as a kid.

Right down the road of his home was a dog training facility for service animals. We stopped and took a tour which actually was quite neat. They can train those dogs in the most amazing ways!

Next we drove to the church where Wyatt attended growing up, and then we went and found the temple. We saw the movie theater where Wyatt saw Star Wars, and all the fun places Wyatt remembered. It’s was his first time being back in over 20 years, so I think it was a very sweet experience for him.

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That afternoon we drove up to Crater Lake National Park – we got there just a giant thunderstorm was making it’s way over the horizon. We looked at the lake (no hiking that day) and then went in to the gift shop. When we re-emerged a half hour later the storm was upon us. It was wild a fierce and chased us all the way down the mountain and back to Medford (a full two hour drive). It was so neat!

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Our Great American Road Trip –Part II

October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

Days 4-7

Day 4 – A Day in San Francisco.

When originally conceptualizing this road trip, in my mind we spent two days in San Fran. But one day proved quite adequate.

When we first pulled into town we made our way to the “Full House Park” – you know, the one where they’re having a picnic during the opening credits of Full House? My kids love that show (let’s be honest, Wyatt and I do too!) So we got ourselves a bucket of Popeye’s Chicken and went to the Full House Park overlooking San Francisco and the “Painted Ladies” houses and we had ourselves a picnic. You better believe I serenaded everyone with a fantastic rendition of the Full House Jingle while we ate.

After playing at the park we drove down to China Town. We made a rule for Olivia and Calvin: No English in Chinatown. We made them talk to all the shopkeepers in Chinese. Everyone thought they were adorable. But really, who wouldn’t?!

We bought the typical China-town-ish stuff, and perused the shops for all the stuff you never knew you wanted so bad! It was fun/painful. After some good shopping and Chinese chatting, we moved one.

Next we headed down to the wharf. We walked up and down the bay. We went into an antique arcade museum and a candy store and looked out at the ships. We ate San Fran pizza at the wharf (I loved it, I don’t think any one else cared for it!) We looked at the artwork of the street artists, and just generally perused the shops and walkways.

After that we made our way back to Ghiradelli square. I bought myself a few chocolates (YUMMMMMMMM!), we all ate samples, and then we got ice cream from the creamery. Fun fun fun!

Next we took a drive up and down the famous San Fran streets – we drove down Lombard Street, and up and down some wild hills. Finally we made our way to the observatory to watch the sun set over the bay.

Once it was dark we made our way back to Oakland where we stayed in the only hotel (in our price range) that had a vacancy – a Motel 6 right by the freeway (the monorail train literally passed right over the parking lot of our hotel). Wyatt hated it. Clearly it wasn’t the best hotel stay, but I’ve had worse.

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Day 5

The next day we felt like we had done pretty much everything we set out to do in San Fran, so we decided to cross the Golden Gate bridge and continue on our journey north toward the Redwood Forests.

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Now, it must be said I only pre-booked two nights of hotels on our trip. One was the night in Lee Vining right outside Yosemite National Park. The other one was in a town called Benbow, just outside of “Avenue of the Giants.” Again, I was just trying to pre-emp troubles in extremely touristy places. But thinking we’d spend two days in San Fran, I booked our night in Benbow for Day 6. So now having a day to kill we took a closer look at the map. And actually we did a lot of things that were quite fun!

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The first thing we did was visit the Marine Mammal Center on just the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were able to see the work of this amazing organization that works hard to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned and sick sea mammals. It was fun to see the critters.

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Next we ventured up to Muir Woods. This was our first foray into the Redwoods and it was beautiful/crowded. It was neat to see and fascinating to learn about the origins of the forest. It was owned by a private conservationist, but the water company of the area was fighting to take over the ravine in which the forest stood, by force of eminent domain, in attempt to build a dam and reservoir. The owner finally approached the President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt and told him he would donate the land if he would designate it a protected area under the antiquities act.

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It was hard to imagine those big beautiful trees drowned to the world beneath a man-made reservoir. It made me stop to think about all the Utah lands that are designated to Federal protection – especially Bears Ears, which is being fought against right now.

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The kids started getting grumpy toward the end of our explore at Muir Woods. Even though this pic looks adorable, when I took it for Olivia, she took one look at it, threw it on the ground and burst into tears. She was mad because Calvin was leaning on her wrong and she didn’t like the picture and it wasted her film. It took another 20 minutes of pouting and moods before everyone had settled back down. In the mean time I picked this picture back up, and after being extra sure that Olivia didn’t want it, I stuck it away for my collection of absolutely precious things. I’ll always remember the fight that ensued over this – frankly fantastic! – picture.

After Muir Woods we continued up the Highway 1 (not the 101) that hugs the coastline and stopped at beautiful beach where we played in the surf and flew the kites we bought in Chinatown the day before.

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After a few hours at the beach we continued up the 1 – which proved a much more twisty (read: CAR SICK!) road than we anticipated. We finally made our way back to the 101 and cruised up to Benbow for night at the Comfort Inn.

Day 6

We struck out for the Avenue of the Giants – a stretch of road along the 101 with groves of giant redwoods flanking either side of the road. We stopped in several of the groves and got out to explore. There was so much magic! Some trees were hollow and you could imagine making forts and living in the wild. Other trees were felled and made for a lovely playground. And others simply towered above you- making you feel so small and insignificant in the most inspiring way.

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We went to the Shine Drive Through Tree at Meyers Flat. We paid to drive the ‘Burb through – the guy looked at the car and said – “This is as big of a car as can technically fit.” And he wasn’t kidding. After two or three attempts to squeeze the car through, Wyatt thought better of it and backed out.

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They also had a lot of fun tree stumps to climb on and even a cute little tree house for the kids to play in. Next to the tree house they had these HUGE blackberry bushes where we guzzled our lunch. Wyatt even convinced Roo that Oreo’s grow from blackberry bushes, and had Roo picking Oreo’s to his hearts content.

Further down the avenue we stopped at The Garden Club of America Grove. About 100 yards through the trees from the parking lot you came to place on the river where it was flat, and the beach was sandy, and the water was slow and not too shallow. There we set out a blanket and swam the afternoon away. There were silvery fish that swam among our toes and we had a great time searching for frogs and splashing in the river. What a peaceful, easy afternoon!

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That evening we drove to Eureka, California. We stayed in Eureka two nights (yay! We didn’t have to pack/unpack our hotel each day!).

 

Our Great American Road Trip – Part 1

September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

For our family vaycay this year we decided to take a road trip to the Redwood Forest.

What a blast!

I spent months on google maps calculating distances and routes in eager anticipation. But in the end we left a lot up to fate (as we always do). It turned out to be so much fun!

 

Sidenote: Our (my?) philosophy on travel: I know some (most) people prefer to have a trip planned all planned out – where they’re going, what hotels they will stay in, some even want details like where they will eat, what activities will be involved, and how much random things like tolls and bridges cost. When Wyatt and I travel (without other people) we tend to be much more “fly by the seat of our pants!” types. The mere fact that I researched to roads was an amazing amount of pre-planning on my part. The kids did ask a time or three why we didn’t know where we were going the next day – “What are we going to do tomorrow?” “I don’t know, we’ll see.” — the answer I gave them to their questions of our apparent lack of forethought: “We’re trying to teach you emotional flexibility.”

Plus, travel is always more fun when you’re open to the adventure that presents itself!

 

DAYS 1, 2 & 3

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DAY 1 – We left on Sunday after church and after dinner, at about 5 pm. We drove all evening across the Utah and Nevada desert. We stopped at the Salt Flats to check those out. Other than that we were dedicated to the drive. My thought was we’d stop at Winnemucca, NV (5 hrs from Salt Lake) but when the Winnemucca exit signs appeared, and all the kids were asleep and Wyatt was still feeling pretty good, we decided to push on through to Reno (8 hours).   We crashed at the Holiday Inn Express in Reno.

 

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DAY 2 – We got up for breakfast and took a slower morning. Then we headed south about an hour and a half to Lake Tahoe. We spent the day at the Lake, swimming, playing, eating, renting paddle boats. Lake Tahoe was beautiful. Around 4 or 5 in the evening we packed up in the car and again headed south, taking a scenic drive through the California farmlands to a town called Lee Vining, California – just outside the east entrance to Yosemite National Park. There we crashed at one of two pre-planned hotel stays (I figured since it was right outside a national park, the hotels might be full if I didn’t pre-book it).  We stayed at a place called Lake View Lodge, which was adequate, though underwhelming. We ate dinner at this cute little diner called “Nicely’s”  that’s been in business a bazillion years, and then hit the hay.

 

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Entering Yosemite from the East you go over Tiago Pass – 9945 ft elevation!

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DAY 3 – We had breakfast at the little diner again, and then packed up to head into Yosemite National Park. The perk of entering from the east side of the park (where I suspect less tourists come from) is that you have to drive ALL THE WAY around and through the park before you get to the visitors center, Yosemite falls, and Yosemite valley. Because of this we were able to see some really fantastic views! Knowing what I know now, if I were to replan this trip, I would have made time to spend two days in Yosemite. We would’ve been able to do more hikes and stuff. As it was, we spent one lovely afternoon in the park:

  • wading in the river (knowing what I know now, I would take an entire day and bring all our swim gear and some tubes and swim in the river for an afternoon!)
  • Hiking to Lower Yosemite Falls
  • Perusing the Ansel Adams museum and gift shop
  • Walking through the visitors center informational displays
  • Enjoying the views!

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There was a huge fire going on just outside Yosemite when we were there, so the air was hazy and smokey and pink. It made for some milky vistas and fantastic light!

That evening (about 5 or 6 pm we left Yosemite and headed east towards San Francisco. What was supposed to be 3-4 hour drive turned into a 4-5  hour drive because of the fire. And because we didn’t have a pre-booked hotel we were actually having a hard time finding ANYWHERE that had any vacancies! (We ran into this trouble a few times on our trip). We were seriously worried we would have to sleeep in the car when at 10 pm we still hadn’t found any hotels with a vacancy. But finally Wyatt randomly pulled over and we found ONE room – just ONE room at the Holiday Inn just off the freeway in Pleasanton or Hayward or somewhere. A lady came in right after Wyatt asking for a room, and the desk clerk said they were now full with Wyatt taking the last one. Phew!

 

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Andrea Goes to Scout Camp

September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

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This year I was asked by one of the leaders if I would mind going to Scout camp for one of the days (3 day event) to help out. I did, and man-o-man, it was a blast! It reminded me of Aspen Grove when I was a kid. I never knew scout camp was so fun! I was – honestly –  a little disappointed that Olivia didn’t ever get to have the experience.

Here are some pictures:

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Draper Dayyyyys

July 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

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One thing we were super excited for this year was Draper Days.

It’s the town celebration, and it’s held in the park right next to my house!

This meant we didn’t have to fight traffic or search for parking. We walked back and forth to the events. When we were bored/hot/tired we went home. When we were eager/curious/interested we went over.

Wyatt put Ol’ Blue in the car show.

The kids had a great time on all the little carnival rides.

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And I sat quietly in the shade and managed drinks and treats for everyone.

The Draper Days were fun, but the Draper nights . . .

They put on two free concerts. Did you hear me people? TWO FREE CONCERTS.

And not just local teenage bands for the public to suffer through. Real, legit music shows came in.
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My favorite was Lonestar because they sang some awesome covers of some of my favorite songs ever (how did they know all my favorite 70’s folk rock?!)

And the next night was Journey.

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It was a ton of fun to sit in the park and listen to the fun bands rock out. And then we walked home and the town launched fireworks in the field right behind my house! So we sat on our deck upstairs and just watched the blaze of color light up the sky. It was so fun.