Sunday, August 28, 2011


Last year, Kent and I wanted to take our kids camping; but we never set aside a time to do it, and suddenly school was back in and then it was snowing. This year, we decided to PLAN a camping trip, and when I came across a bargain for a rafting trip in Moab (found on in March, I jumped at it. And lucky for us, our friends, the Petersons, happened to be visiting when I saw the deal online, and they got in on it too. Within a few weeks, we had campsites and the trip date reserved and on the calendar.

At the beginning of August, we spent three days in Moab. Even though our campsite (at Ron's Pack Creek Campground, which we liked) backed up to a stream and was shaded by river trees, the sun was still beating on us at 100 degrees as we set up camp. But almost as soon as our tent was up, a brief rain storm blew through and left us with a cool evening.

We decided to visit Delicate Arch in Arches National Park before it got dark, and the timing turned out to be perfect. The desert was still wet from the rain, the air was cool, and the sunset against the arch was amazing.

#1 got this great photo of Delicate Arch.

The only disappointment came from #5 who looked around at the small crowd viewing the arch and said, "Where's the guy selling the license plates?"

It grew dark as we drove back to camp, and we had a late dinner to fill our sleepy kid's stomachs before they conked out.

In the morning, I woke the children saying they needed to wake up or we'd be late, at which point I revealed the surprise rafting trip. One kid was excited because she apparently has always wanted to go rafting, one thought it sounded fun, one wanted to keep sleeping, one informed us that she hates rafting, and one was indifferent. (Kind of the same response as the time we surprised them by showing up at Disneyland, and all they wanted to do was get in the hotel where they could watch cable TV.) I'm starting to learn that I should keep my expectations low when I try to surprise them.

Anyway, we went rafting for the day.

Once everyone was suited up and headed up river in the bus, the excitement started to build. We chose a rather calm river trip hosted by World Wide River Expeditions. The most challenging rapids were a class three, which was great for our young families. No one fell out, but everyone got wet!

Even #4--who had protested very much about our camping trip, insisting vehemently, "I hate camping. I hate the nature."--ending up loving the rafting, as evidenced by this photo:

The air by the water was cooler than the rest of the desert, and whenever we got hot, we just jumped in and floated alongside the raft.

The river guides provided lunch at a beach midway through the trip, and it was nice to just float and talk and not have a care in the world.

That evening, following a Dutch oven dinner, we had another lovely hike in Arches where we all climbed around on the rocks and sat in a stone window to watch the sun set.

On Saturday, we took down camp and rested at a park in town. The playground was a group of oversized chimes, drums, and xylophones that kept all of us, children and adults, entertained for quite some time. Then, going with our play-it-by-ear theme, we discussed plans for the rest of the day. Our neighbor had recommended a Hummer tour on the slick rock, but it was too pricey for this trip's budget. We had wanted to go sledding down the sand dunes, but we were already too hot. So we opted to head home with a detour to Dead Horse Point.

The view was amazing! Getting photos there was humorous in the wind. (#4 looks like Cousin It! I guess I can see why she's not in love with "The Nature".)

There isn't much hiking to do there, but we spent two hours at the visitor's center learning about the geology and ecology of that portion of desert. There was a photo gallery downstairs where I found some fantastic artwork that I would like for my home someday. #5 and the Petersons' #3 became Junior Rangers--she did most of the work.

Plus, we got a second "passport" stamp in our Utah State Parks Field Guide.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying our air-conditioned vehicles, and grabbed dinner together in Provo before our friends continued home up north. It was nice to arrive home in the early evening and have time and energy to unpack and start laundry. Even though much of the trip was played by ear, everything worked out perfectly and I enjoyed the short vacation immensely. It was really fun to camp with friends, too. Besides having plenty of good conversation and someone to split meal duties, we could send grumpy kids to the other family's vehicle and they would almost magically be on better behavior. We came home having enjoyed our children because they enjoyed themselves more with others too. And now that I know there is so much to do in Moab, I look forward to saving up for horseback riding, Hummer tours, and late-night dining when we go again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This Year's Favorite Mutant Vegetable

The harvest has begun! #5 and I picked 27 pounds of Roma tomatoes Monday morning, and by that evening, they had been transformed into quarts of spaghetti sauce sitting on my kitchen counter. All except for one tomato.

Kent called it Devil Tomato. I called it Wilbur.

See? Just put another little deformed tomato--notice the "pony tail"--on top and you have a cute little thing. Wilbur was "some tomato".

What can I say? We Whites, E.B. and me, like to save farm products from their natural fate.

Unfortunately, while my little Wilbur/devil tomato was saved from the sauce, the kids called dibs on eating its "arms" seconds after I took these photos. I didn't even get to put a little shirt on it. Sadly, s/he (or it?) is no longer with us. But my, homegrown tomatoes sure taste good!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Do you know what this picture means?

That's right! I have three hours to myself each weekday!

Oh yeah, it also means all five of my children are in school. !!!

Our charter school has grades K-8, making this the only school year that they all will attend the same school. (Are you noticing the word school popping up a lot? I'm pretty excited about this.) I've already over committed myself to helping at the school a lot this year. I even suggested to the eigth-grade language arts teacher that I might like to sit in on her class. They are studying some great thinkers and materials this year. I'll probably have to settle, though, for simply reading the poetry, essays, speeches, and books that she brings home, and then subject her to a re-hash of her classroom discussions. Maybe I'll call it our Family Dinnertime Book Club. (I should get extra credit for this.)

I am SO ready to return to the more normal schedule of bedtimes and morning alarm clocks. Now, how to fill those three, lonely hours? Maybe I'll catch up on everything I've put off for the past five years; my bathroom could certainly use a good cleaning!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Funny He Is: Part 2

While I'm at it, I might as well record the other funny thing he said tonight.

We were playing the spray bottle game at Family Home Evening. This is where the person who is "it" thinks of an item from a particular category and points a spray bottle at the players as they each guess the item.

When Edwin was "it", he chose "Old Testament prophets" as the category. #5's first guess in the round was, "Thomas S. Monson, because he's really old." The next time it came around, I clarified that we were guessing prophets from the Bible before Christ was born. With an excited look of eureka, #5 jumped up with his hand in the air and said, "I know who it is!" Then his hand wilted and he scratched the top of his head with his index finger. "What is his name? I can't remember his name." After a moment of intense concentration: "Oh yeah! The guy with the gray hair!" We were already in a silly mood, and that put me over the top! "Well, at least we know he didn't mean Moses or Deborah!" I answered.

Bible humor is the best!

He Doesn't Even Know How Funny He Is

Tonight while I was making dinner, #5 repeatedly expressed how hungry he was and that he couldn't wait any longer to eat. I gave him a banana, but five minutes later he was back at my side.

#5: Mom, I'm really hungry, so I can't help that I'm going to starting rhyming.

My thoughts: (Huh? Oh! He's heard us talk about how kids get whiny when they're hungry, but he thought we said kids get rhymy.)

#5: Truck, luck, duck. The duck in the truck had luck.

Then he did a little dance in place in the kitchen, obviously in a much better mood.

#5: That's silly, huh? 'Cause those words all rhyme.

And then under his breath: Truck, luck, duck, f***. Those all rhyme!

Me: Wow! Yes they do!

BTW, hearing swear words out of the innocent mouth of a five-year-old is just funny!