October 27, 2011

Mount Nebo Loop

SHAME ON US!  We have lived so close to the access of Payson canyon for nearly thirteen years and we've never made the drive through the Nebo Loop before now.  Honestly, I am sad to think of what we've been missing all this time. 

Usually our family heads north to Provo canyon in the fall to take pictures in a lovely little spot just beyond the Sundance ski resort.  This year, Jason was gone to Singapore during the time that I thought was peak for the most vibrant fall colors.  We kept putting off the annual drive through the canyon because of busy schedules or uncooperative weather.  Finally, on a balmy and quiet Sunday afternoon in mid-October, we thought we'd take a look at what the southern location had to offer.  I also wanted a chance to try out a family-friendly hike that I've heard about called The Grotto.

I was not sure what to expect of the fall foliage.  I really had thought the colors would have died down by this time, but was I ever wrong!  The canyon was ablaze with eye-popping reds and oranges in stark contrast to the bold evergreens.  We were most captivated, however, by the florescent yellow of the quaking aspens of the higher elevations.

Oh, and the hike!  The hike was so fabulous.  The boys loved running across the log bridges, and I enjoyed the ease of the well-groomed trails ( I was carrying Ella in the sling, after all).  The destination being a cove-like area with a splattering waterfall was like the "icing on the cake" of a very enjoyable outdoor experience.

The drive was scenic, the traffic was sparse, the road was wider, and there was easy access to pull-offs to scenic overlooks for photo taking.  I think we found a new area for enjoying the fall colors that Utah has to offer, but I won't wait until next season to get back up that way.  I would love to see The Grotto in the spring and summer.

What a memorable Sunday drive (and perhaps a wee bit of an exhausting one)!

This post authored by Amber

The First of Many 2011 Halloween Related Posts

We have a tradition of going to Jaker's Pumpkin Patch here in town to traipse through vine-covered dirt mounds in search of the perfect pumpkins to adorn our front porch.  I have found that the children settle on a pumpkin almost immediately because they would much rather roll around in the pit of corn kernels or climb on the bales of hay near the parking area.  Oh well.  I'm too busy trying to get the ideal photograph of each moment that I could care less about the pumpkins, too.

 Here is the pumpkin that everyone collectively picked out for Ella.  I think she likes it.

 I love Garrett's grin in this picture.  It is one of his more natural facial expressions I've been able to
capture in a while.  (He's going through that fake-smile-for-the-camera phase right now.)

 This is the pumpkin Spencer originally picked but you won't see it on our porch.  It was accidentally
 swapped out for a different one late one evening after we caught some pumpkin snatchers and had
the police make them return all their "loot." ( I'll have to tell that story another day.)

 What can I say?  Just a good-looking kid holding a good-looking pumpkin.

This year has been Ella's first experience with the fall season and all of its traditional amenities.  It seems as though she has taken quite a liking to all of the activities we are doing.  The colors, smells, sights, and feel of the time of year are just as exhilarating to her as they are to the rest of us.  Oh, and she enjoys the taste of fall, too, but in a different way than most do.  While pumpkin pie and apple cider will please my palette, Ella is content with straw and dusty kernels of corn.

 Just adding a little fiber to her diet.

 Mom and Dad weren't quick enough to anticipate the handfuls of corn that would go straight into
 Ella's awaiting mouth once she was set down.  (You can see some in her mouth in this picture.)

 She didn't seem to like it when we emptied her fists and face of corn kernels.

 Nope, she did not like that one bit!

This post authored by Amber

October 22, 2011

The Eagles' Flight (AKA: The Reason for The Recent Blog Backlog)

Some years ago I said "yes" when a friend and PTA president-elect invited me to be a fundraiser commissioner for Art City Elementary School.  Since that time I have been in charge of two theme basket auction fundraisers which were way too much work and required an uncomfortable amount of soliciting of companies for donations.  Sure they were successful to the tune of $3,000 + each, but I was not hesitant to jump on board when the current PTA president suggested something new. We would do a walk-a-thon instead.

I liked the idea of getting the students more involved in the fundraising efforts, and I felt we had hit a plateau with the theme baskets.  I just didn't know how much fun this walk-a-thon would turn out, nor how successful it would be.  Of course, none of that would have been possible without the efforts of an AMAZING committee and the tremendous support of the PTA board.

After I hyped-up the students in a pre-event assembly and enticed them with all the fabulous prizes for collecting the most money or running the most laps, they were off with their collection envelopes and "hitting the streets" in droves.  Brevin was particularly inspired by the promise of watching the principal sumo wrestle with the highest collecting class' teacher if the school goal of $3,500 was met. The students smashed that goal on the first day of donation collection, bringing in over $10,000.  We had this large donation collection poster with a thermometer that extended well beyond the top of the poster board.  In the end, our totals neared $14,600.  Yeah, I'd say that was a success.

Well, despite the amount of money the fundraiser brought in, the real delight was organizing and watching the actual walk-a-thon.  The children ran their hearts out during each of the two one-hour event periods.  I could not believe the pace they were setting and maintaining.  There was such an energy on that field as the students ran around one of three courses, and it was exhilarating to witness.  Eight laps was equal to one mile.  In total, the students ran enough combined laps to complete 1,628 miles!  That's enough miles to run 62 marathons.  That's enough miles to run from our town to Mexico City, Mexico (as the crow flies), or from here to Disneyland and back, and then more than halfway to Disneyland again.  I'll tell you what;  The Eagles' Flight Walk-a-thon was awesome!

I was very proud of Brevin and Spencer who both ran 27 laps each.  They also collected over $100 each, thus earning them an opportunity to select a prize from the $100 Club table during the awards assembly.  They both chose a ride in a limousine to get an ice-cream treat.  After shuttling all the children back and forth to the school, there was some extra time on our limo time contract, so I was able to squeeze in a ride for myself, Ella, and Garrett to get an ice-cream treat, too.  (Garrett totally deserved it.  He suffered through many a PTA meeting and hours of money collecting and counting.  I have also learned that a Magic Eraser will remove red permanent marker off nearly every surface in the school's faculty lounge.)

In the end, I clocked a total of 135 volunteer hours to get this project "off the ground."  I was pleased to see that my efforts were equivalent to a $108 per hour amount.  When I told Jason that, he said I should go get a job.  I had to remind him that there a very few respectable jobs that I could take that would pay $108 per hour.  I think I'll stick to volunteer fundraising....at least for one more year....maybe...

This post was authored by Amber

Summer Party (Albeit in September)

NuSkin treats its employees and their families to a summer party each year.  Although they've experimented with a few different locations now and again, they seem to always figure out that it's best to go with what works--Lagoon. It is so nice because the company rents out the entire park so there are limited amounts of visitors and you can practically get onto any ride without waiting in line.  The boys could ride on roller coasters to their hearts delight, while Ella enjoyed the view from her baby sling.  It was a perfect night (save for the horrible traffic on the way home).

I thought it funny when the boys each hopped into a car
 that matched the shirts they were wearing.

Before the ride, Garrett was thrilled to go on a ride that everyone else loves.

He didn't appear to enjoy this ride, however.

This post authored by Amber

Spencer's Soccer Season

Spencer played his second year of U-8 soccer this fall, and he was so entertaining to watch.  He scored a goal during his very first game and he constantly pressured the goal keepers when he played in the forward position throughout the entire season.  Most impressive, though, was witnessing the development of his game over the course of the month.   He improved in coordination and anticipating the direction of play, and he got good at cutting people off to steal the ball.  He played well in all positions, and was never afraid to volunteer to be goal keeper (although that always made me nervous).  I have to add, the kid has a great drop kick. Yep, he's a natural!

To fully enjoy this next picture, one must enlarge it to get a good look at the different facial expressions of each boy.  What's with the tongues?

And just like every other sport season, this one seemed to pass in a blink of an eye, too.  We could not have asked for better weather, though.  Besides the downpour of rain for the very first game, we attended all other games in short sleeves and shorts.  It was lovely!

Thank you, Spencer, for showing us such a good time!

This post authored by Amber

October 2, 2011

Sittin' Pretty

Ella sits now, and I photograph...and photograph...and photograph...

 ...and photograph...

This post authored by Amber

Be On Your Way Now, Boys!

I blinked my eyes and the summer of 2011 was gone.  It just quickly vanished!  Perhaps for me, though, it was gone not a moment too soon. 

We have a yearly tradition of having a special "Back-to-School Feast" where I put a little extra time into making a nice meal to serve on nice dishes and we drink from fancy cups and have a wonderful, thoughtful conversation about our selected theme for the coming year, and all is perfect and ready to glowingly display on my blog with accompanying professional-quality photographs taken by yours truly.  This year didn't quite go as I would have liked.  The boys were in a stinker-ish mood, and once we sat down to the table, I only got around to discussing the theme ("Small and Simple Things"  Alma 37:6) after Jason and I had dished out a heavy punishment of loss of media privileges for two weeks. The privileges were lost one week at a time, if that says anything about how our day was going!

Luckily for Brevin and Spencer, this all occured the Sunday before school started, so they'd have something to do to occupy their time and fill the entertainment void that was just created in consequence of their behavior.

The day Brevin and Spencer went back to school, they were pleasant and eager to settle into a new school year with teachers they were greatly anticipating on having.  I was greatly anticipating a return to schedule and routine, the structure that was missing from our lazy summer days.  I even imagined I might get more of something done during the day, but then I blinked my eyes and the first day of school was gone, too!

Spencer's teacher this year is Mrs. Chatterley.  He was excited
because that is who Brevin had in first grade.

 Brevin's teacher this year is Mrs. Larsen.  He was excited
because she has a pet snake.  Go figure!

I'm just glad the boys still let Jason and I follow them into class on their first day to take pictures and wish them well.

This post authored by Amber