Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Week in the Life

In case you missed it, this post of mine on Deseret News has received over 5500 hits so far--that's a lot for our little blog! I've pretty much figured out that if I write about either fat or depression then women start coming out of the woodwork. Unfortunately, I can't write about that every week, but if you're interested in other topics as well, you can read this or this. (Roots and Wings is my personal favorite, but it's much too sweet to get any attention.)

On Labor Day last week we decided to take advantage of the perfect September weather and take a family hike. We went to Cecret Lake (sometimes spelled Secret) only to find out there was nothing secret about it. After being advised to wait in line for a shuttle to take us up to the trail head, we looked at the line of people and size of the shuttle and decided to take our chances by driving up to the little parking lot next to the trail head ourselves. We got lucky and scored a spot right by the trail head! Pretty as it was, we learned this area is covered in wildflowers in the late spring/early summer, so we may have to try it out again next year. These are some of my favorite pictures from the day: 


The sky was just gorgeous:

Of course, Rachael was in desperate need of a potty break once we got to the top. Ever the earth conscious Eagle Scout, Brandon took her over 200 feet up and away from the lake and made her a little make shift potty. (If I had a nickel for every time a child needed to use the bathroom once we got to the most remote place possible without a bathroom in sight . . .)

Here I am again wearing the only true technical hiking shirt that I own (thanks to Brandon who bought it). I think it's the only shirt I've been photographed in this entire summer:

How's THAT for a little mountain cabin:
On the way home I noticed a Groupon in my inbox for Smashburger, so I convinced my family to try it even though we were already headed to In-n-Out. We liked a lot of things about it--and the burgers were really good--but there's just something about In-n-Out that we can't give up! It was still fun to try a new place. 

Rachael FINALLY started pre-school the next day. We were both more than ready for this change in the schedule. She is such a little social butterfly so it's been really great for her. She told me after a couple of days that she's in the group of kids who listen and that she is only friends with the other kids who listen to because the kids who don't listen make the teacher really crabby. That's what she said. She also said her own prayer this morning for the first time all by herself without any prompts from me. And I quote: "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm thankful for this day. I'm thankful that I didn't got a mosquito bite. Please bless me to grow faster. And that my birthday will come sooner. And that I'll get a parrot when I'm a grown up, I mean, a mom. And that I'll have lots of kids. Amen." Spoken like a true almost 5-year-old:
Just wrapped up evening prayers and she wanted to do it on her own again. Here's what we got this time around: "I'm grateful I could get Elizabeth's peacock feather that used to be hers and Elizabeth could get Will's. I'm thankful that I have lots of stuffed animals and got to go to Disneyland and get Mickey. I'm thankful I can slide down Daddy's back after prayers for a little while." She was laying on his back as he knelt by the bed for prayers and clearly had plans for just that. This new development is going to be daily humor, I can tell. 

Brandon found a cool snake skin behind our house one morning, much to the delight of all our kids. It's STILL sitting on my kitchen counter to this day! What am I supposed to do with that thing?
Kate started making another one of her quirky voodoo dolls, which are really more like good luck charms. She got this Albert Einstein one at a gift shop in Zions over spring break, but I think hers are just as . . . cute? This doll is also still sitting on my kitchen counter. Will someone please tell me how to de-clutter and organize a home with living breathing people in it who are constantly bringing in and/or creating stuff??
We've had some fun storms in the last few weeks creating dramatic light and rainbows right outside our window:

 I finally went and exchanged Will's cello for a bigger size:
And guess who had a birthday over the weekend? Little 'ole me! Friday night we made the mistake of driving an hour and half north (didn't know it was going to be that long) to Brigham City's "Peach Days" because we just HAD to try the peaches up there that we've been hearing about since we lived in Iowa City. We had a friend there who was originally from Brigham City and he would rave and rave about the peaches. Being the peach loving people that we are, and living in the peach loving state that we do, and what with my birthday landing right at the height of peach season . . . well, what would YOU do? But it turned out to be just a big, small town carnival with rides and vendors and . . . NO PEACHES! After canvassing the entire place (and partaking of some tasty peach and marion berry pie) I finally started asking people where I could find just plain old peaches, and I was finally given directions to a local home a few miles away that had a serve yourself/honor system style fruit stand in front of their house. And this is how we found ourselves at 10:30pm after the carnival ended (and after a rather traumatic incident on the ferris wheel with Elizabeth crying and begging to get off---this from the child who will ride any and every death defying roller coaster possible) stumbling around in the dark using our cell phones as flashlights, and stuffing dollar bills in a coffee can in the front of a strangers house (they were clearly in bed) in exchange for a big box of juicy goodness. For the record, they're good, but not drive 1.5 hours both ways and $60 you didn't plan to spend in the first place on carnival rides and carnival food kind of good. Sorry, but I've had better from the orchard that's less than 10 minutes from our house! Oh well, now we know. This picture was taken on the ferris wheel before things got ugly:
That night after getting home super late, I still had to feed my new weekend addiction (Downton Abbey), but was thankfully able to sleep in until 8:30 the next morning. (Heavenly!) Once I pulled myself out of bed, I headed out for a bike ride. I planned for it to be a long one, but at about the half way mark I remembered that Will had a soccer game Brandon didn't know about so I hurried home to be sure he got out the door in time. Too bad, because Brandon was planning on making a lovely little breakfast for everyone to enjoy together for my birthday. Now there would be no breakfast and I would even have to miss Will's game! Ah, such is family life. Just when I think I've got the schedule down pat, the irregular soccer games/practices throw everything for a loop!

I didn't really want to spend my afternoon this way, but I had made a hair appointment weeks earlier not thinking about what day it was, so not wanting to miss out on covering my progressively graying hair, I spent the afternoon getting my hair done. Since I was there, I decided to splurge on a manicure just for kicks. Why not? It was my birthday, and I was feeling self-indulgent. I get a little bit of an entitlement attitude on my birthday, but in our family we really like to spoil each other on our birthdays so it's all good. Hee hee.

On the drive home, I called a friend I haven't talked to in absolutely forever (another self-indulgent treat) and then walked in the door to find this artistic display of love from Kate:
The cukes backside:
That night Brandon took me without a lot of warning to an extremely fancy schmancy restaurant called La Caille. (If you live in the area, you are very familiar.) I have heard of this place many times going back to my BYU days. It's a favorite for special dates, dances, and wedding receptions. We were TOTALLY underdressed, but after getting over ourselves and owning our embarrassment we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. How can you not? Look at this place! The entrance:
The gardens and grounds:

(I really liked the hen.)
After sharing an appetizer, some soup, and an entree, we glutted ourselves on individual desserts, not knowing the waitress was also going to bring me a little baked Alaska for my birthday. It was pretty bad, in a really good way. (No, I'm not 5 months pregnant. There's just a lot of tasty food in there.)
The best thing on this table are the beignets (fancy schmancy French doughnut holes) with creme anglaise and fresh berries. Oh my . . .
You can't doubt the awesomeness of a place that has a walrus head mounted in the entrance:
When we got home I found this adorable little offering from Elizabeth on my pillow. Highlight of my day. Hands down:
What's that on the side of the picture? A real live praying mantis? Par for the course these days since we leave our screen-less windows open most of the time:
Like I said, we're into spoiling each other on our birthdays, so the next morning Brandon finally got to make me that big breakfast:
Never mind our pathetically mismatched table wear, cloth, and placemats. Home decorating has been woefully low on my list for our entire married life, but now that we have a home we're going to stay put in I have high hopes that--little by little--I may just pull something beautiful together. That is, once we take care of the gutters (scheduled for tomorrow!), the plumbing issues (scheduled for Friday--among other things, we can't control the temperature in our master shower), the exterior paint trim that's chaffing off, the landscaping . . . maybe it will take a little longer than I think!
 I love it when they bring their "friends" to the table:
Fresh flowers are never a bad idea for a woman's birthday:
The same fun friend I called the day before had sent a house warming gift in the mail for our family that included some of the treats and souvenirs her husband and daughter brought back with them after going to Japan for an exchange program this past summer. You know our family went bananas over that:
If Breakfast by Brandon wasn't enough, we had Dinner by Brandon as well. (This was after our usual marathon church day which included the notorious annual Primary program where the 3 to 12-year-olds take over the main worship service. I thought it went spectacularly well, except for one particular 4-year-old I was "assigned" to who could NOT sit still or stop talking/fidgeting the ENTIRE time. After about 30 minutes of trying to rein her in, I finally lost it to the point of uncontrollable laughing--the kind that gets worse the more you try to stop it--as she started doing the Radish Spirit dance from Spirited Away.) In the picture below Rachael is checking out the biggest coup of my birthday weekend: a crumber, courtesy of the waitress at La Caille who thought my reaction to it was so great. Have you ever heard of/seen a CRUMBER? This is a VERY exciting find for me considering the amount of crumbs we produce in our family. And even better? The kids fight over who gets to use it. (It really is a miracle, and for a mere five bucks on Amazon you should really go get one. Right now.)
We're eating those darn peaches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:
Rachael was cracking me up all evening with her attempts at a British accent. She would come up to me, curtsy, and say, "Happy Birthday, Mutha." I think it all spun off of us using these glasses for our Martinelli's at dinner. She was really getting a kick out of holding it the "right" way:
Brent and Camille showed up shortly after dinner and spent the rest of the evening with us, and since Brent likes taking pictures he took it upon himself to be the photographer. Here we are getting the "cake" ready. Brandon pulled together a pie of sorts made of layered coconut pudding, blueberry pie filling, and whipped cream inside a graham cracker crust. Impressive!

Trying to come up with a wish:
(I'll just go ahead and tell you--I wished that I could lose the last ten pounds. Now that I told you it won't happen and it will be all your fault!)

Cute Kate:

 Modeling the pie. (Don't my nails look fabulous?)
 On my way to making all my wishes come true:
What do you think? Can I possibly squeeze in another post before the week is out? My track record isn't so great these days. I have such a long list of things I'd love to blog about, not the least of which is my response to Rock Center with Brian Williams' "Mormons in America" from a few weeks ago. There were some really good things, but aye aye aye . . .
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