Thursday, April 28, 2011

And speaking of Easter . . .

Check out these Easter bonnets that we found at Thanksgiving Point!

Easter highlights

Normally people take pictures of their darling children all decked out in their Easter finery.  Me?  I took a picture of Jello.  Not just any Jello, mind you, but beautiful Jello.  My best friend made this dessert for us once months ago and I was SO impressed.  I just had to make it for Easter dinner.  It turned out beautiful! 
And, yes. I did take a picture of my darling girls in their new Easter dresses.
They turned out beautiful too!
The highlight of the kid's day - so they weren't agog about the Jello like I - was the trampoline that the Easter Bunny left.  Thanks, Easter Bunny!

Twas the day before Easter . . .

Saturday before Easter is egg-dying-with-the-cousins-day.  It's as important a day as Easter itself in our family, at least to the girls and Nicolas.  We lost Peter to parkour and work and we lost Erik and Jared to lacrosse this year.  But, Grandma Beverley was able to be there with us this year to color eggs.  She definitely still enjoys it as much as the kids!  We do traditional single colors, tiedye, and whatever the creative kids come up with.  Now that they are all old enough to do their own, or have older cousins help them, Alison, Cia and I get to just hang out and chat. :-)
Because the weather decided to cooperate, kind of, we decided to go to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point while our eggs dried.  It was still a little chilly but the rain held off, mostly.  Seemed like the rest of Utah came up with the same plan as it was CROWDED!  But the tulips did show themselves (the girls and I had gone the week before and the tulips were MIA) and it was beautiful. 
It's so much fun watching all the cousins interact, and watching Piper be, well, Piper. I, once again, was overwhelmed with gratitude that we live by Jeff and Mark and our kids are all best friends. That is how it should be.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Moab in the spring

A couple years ago, Yuna, one of our Japanese students from years ago, came back to visit for a month.  It was February/March and the kids were in school so we did as many day trips as we could think of to show her sights that she didn't get to see when she was here for the Homestay program.  One day, Jared and I took Yuna down to Arches - on a day trip.  Yes, it is more than a 3 hour trip one way and we did it all in one day, including hiking. :)  It was the first time I had ever been there and I fell in love.  That spring break we packed up the family and spent a week camping in Moab, hiking Arches every day.  The weather was great except for the wind storm the last night that broke our tent poles.

This year, it was time to go back.  We once again packed up the family for a camping trip in Moab.  It was shorter this time, only Sunday through Wednesday because of work (Peter and I had to work on Thursday), but it was fabulous.  Okay, honestly, it was freezing cold at night in a tent and we forgot blankets to go over our sleeping bags, but the days made it totally worthwhile.  65-75 and sunny - perfect.  Arches is a beautiful park with so much to see and enjoy.

Sunday, we arrived and set up camp and the kids explored the campground, Canyonlands Campground, which has a playground, a creek and a swimming pool.  We cooked our hobo dinners (tradition) and roasted marshmallows and just hung out together, enjoying each other's company.

Monday we started our hiking.  We did Park Avenue first, of course, and had it mostly to ourselves.  That's the way we like it.  We walked the length, well, the boys did everything BUT walk the length, running, jumping, climbing - it was a good thing there weren't any other people! - and when we got to the end, Jared and I speed-hiked back to the beginning to get the car while the kids played around.  Nicolas, Mr One-Track-Mind, only wanted to go to the Sand Dune Arch, our favorite place to play, but we stopped at Balanced Rock first.  He sulked the whole time and we made it a quick walk around the seemingly teetering rock formation.  Of course we spent a long time at the Sand Dune Arch - again, we had it mostly to ourselves - playing in the sand, lying in the sun and climbing on the arch and the rocks.  It is so warm in the enclosed formation, with no wind and full blazing sun.  Perfect!  Back to camp, by way of Wendy's for lunch, and we played games in the tent and the younger kids went swimming.  It really was warm enough to swim!  Later in the afternoon we headed back to Arches to do the Delicate Arch hike.  I love that hike, it has a little bit of challenge going up the slick rock, but isn't too hard so the kids don't complain.  I wasn't even too worried about the kids up at the arch this time (I was a nervous wreck that Erik or Nicolas would fall down the slickrock last time).  I knew that they were using careful footing and I was able to just enjoy the views. 

There were a lot of people up at the top, but they were all just sitting, waiting for sunset for the most spectacular pictures.  We didn't wait around.  We saw, we explored, we took pictures, we headed back.  There were a lot of people heading up as we went back so I think we hit it at the perfect time.
  Back to camp we went to cook hamburgers and endure another cold night.  It wasn't as cold as the first night, fortunately.

Tuesday started off chillier and overcast.  We drove all the way to Devil's Garden (we call it Devil's Playground) at the far end of the park, parked and started to hike when we realized that we were all freezing and weren't prepared for a chilly hiking day.  We drove all the way back to camp (1 hour round trip), grabbed sweatshirts, changed into long pants and went back to the hike.  It was warmer by then, but we were still glad to have sweatshirts for a while.  We went to Landscape Arch and started off to Double "O" and Navajo and Partition, when we realized that Markee just could not get up the first rock formation - she is a little afraid of heights.  I stayed back with her and the rest went off with the camera.  Markee and I decided to do the loop from the opposite side and headed off on a path of ankle deep sand.  She took off her shoes and just walked barefoot and I tell you, we felt like Moses wandering in the wilderness.  There were no people, there was not a sound but that of birds and we could see forever through the cactus and desert plants.  The rock formations were to our left, but to the right, desert.  It was awesome!  We thought that the sign said that the loop was only 1.2 miles so we kept thinking we would run into Jared and the kids.  Nothing, nobody.  We walked and walked and walked and finally decided they must not have made the loop.  We stared back.  Fortunately we happened upon Jared and the others at the sign for Landscape Arch.  Apparently the loop is 9 miles!  They saw the arches and came back.  Good thing Markee and I didn't try to keep going!  We hit Pine Tree Arch on the walk back and called it a day for hiking.

Wednesday was pack up day.  We actually got camp broken down quickly and I really had to giggle when I looked at our packing through a stranger's eyes.  It had to look like a clown car, the way we got ALL of our camp into a minivan, no trailer.  We had borrowed the Hanks' car topper to help carry stuff, but for the most part, it was packed into the van with the 7 of us.  I hope someone watched and got a giggle from it.  After packing we went back to Arches and hiked one of our favorite spots, Windows.  I love this area.  There is so much to explore and the arches are beautiful.  We didn't leave to head home until around 1pm. 

All in all it was a wonderful vacation.  The kids kept commenting on how happy and friendly Peter was throughout the camping trip; Markee didn't complain about her ankles; Marin actually enjoyed hiking and was the one who was disappointed each time we called it a day.  I am already planning our next camping trip to Bryce Canyon for July!