July 31, 2013

A Day at the Zoo

You would think that a day of hiking to Timpanogos cave would have left us exhausted for the remainder of the week, but after a good night's rest we were geared up and ready for our next family adventure.  This time we found ourselves at Utah's Hogle Zoo.  It turned out to be a perfect summer vacation activity.

Throughout the zoo, there were amazing animal displays made entirely
 out of Legos.  This photo-op orangutan picture was one such creation.

Yep.  That's a polar bear made out of Legos.

This was our first time back at the zoo since the Rocky Shores Exhibit had opened.  
The impressive multi-animal habitat features bears, sea lions, seals, and otters.

We were able to closely encounter the polar bear as she entertained us by repeatedly 
pushing of the ledge near the glass to do back somersaults in the water. 

This may have been one of our last opportunities to see the giraffes in their 
current location.  A new African Savanna Exhibit is under construction
 and set to open in 2014.  I guess we'll have to come back next year. 

 What would a trip to Hogle Zoo be without 
getting a sip from the lion drinking fountain?

July 30, 2013

Hike to Timpanogos Cave

It had been quite some time since we had made the hike to Timpanogos Cave, and so it seemed like a good opportunity give the children a real chance to stretch their legs and put their mad climbing skills to the test.  The Timpanogos Cave hike is beautiful, and the reward of exploring a cave at the end makes it all the more worth it.  Even the drive up the canyon to the trail head is lovely, so an activity like this is really a great way to spend your vacation days.  Isn't that right, Jason?

 No foolin' around.  This is some serious hiking.

 Brevin and Spencer like to lead the way.

 The boys have recently taken a liking to the game Minecraft.  If you are familiar 
with the game, you may understand why this trail sign caught their attention.

 Garrett spotted the entrance to the cave. 

 Here we are at the top.  Brevin is sporting a smile even though he 
was not feeling well and had to vomit at the "last chance" bathrooms.  
I'm not sure why Ella is doubled over as if exhausted.  She was carried 
up the mountain. Maybe she just needed to stretch her legs.

 After a quick check from the ranger to make sure the camelback
was not protruding too much, we got the go ahead to enter the cave.

 The Great Heart of Timpanogos

 After exploring the inside of the cave for nearly 
thirty minutes, we came out into the open air.

By this point in our trip, Garrett had had enough of having his picture taken.

This post authored by Amber

July 29, 2013

There's No Business Like Show Business

Jason and I were excited to learn that the Sundance Summer Theater would be performing "Annie Get Your Gun" for the 2013 season. Spencer had become quite familiar with the tune "Anything You Can Do" as he practiced it for his talent show performances. I have seen the show several times before and  knew this would be a musical that the whole family would enjoy. The children had yet to experience attending a show at the amphitheater, so this appeared to be a perfect activity to add to our list of things to do during our summer "stay-cation."

Everything for our activity seemed to come together so nicely, but the weather for our chosen evening to attend soon became a matter of concern. Rainclouds rolled in around three o'clock in the afternoon and persisted even through our drive up the canyon. However, as soon as we arrived at the resort, the clouds broke up, and we were able to enjoy the performance under a clear sky. Those extra blankets and jackets that we brought were definitely put to good use.

We purchased general admission lawn seating tickets so we could spread out our blankets and enjoy the performance without the confines of assigned, individual seats. That proved to be helpful for Garrett and Ella, as they were able to move around and change positions when they became restless.

The show was delightful. The cast members were extremely talented, and the technical aspects of costumes, staging, and sound and light design were equally impressive.  Add all those elements to the ambiance of an outdoor theater experience at a beautiful mountain resort, and you have the makings of a memorable family night out.

Prior to the start of the show, cast members walked around and interacted 
with audience members. I loved seeing the gorgeous costumes up close.

Once the show started, photography was not permitted, but I couldn't 
help but snap this shot of Ella as she conducted the music from her seat 
in a gesture that brought the opening song ("There's No Business 
Like Show Business") to a rousing, climactic end.  Too Cute!

This post authored by Amber

July 27, 2013

Day Trippin' Fishin'

Our family had talked about doing a weeklong camping trip to the Uintas for our summer vacation, but then Jason and I began discussing the idea of doing something different each day and including  an overnighter at a campsite we'd never been to.  As we explored options of activities we could do, I really took to the idea of "shaking things up" and adding a little variety to our vacation plans.  I'm not going to lie.  I was also sold on the idea of only packing and planning meals for a one-nighter as opposed to four.  Even still, our plans incorporated a day trip to fish in the Uintas.  We didn't wan't to give that up completely, so we packed up our gear, loaded up our van, and headed north for the cool, crisp mountain air.

We arrived early and set up on the banks of Washington Lake for our first round of fishing.  As always, we were not disappointed.  There was plenty of fishing action and opportunities for Ella to touch the fish just before they were to be released.  Aside from the bald eagle that kept swooping in for a dive, we were the only ones out on the lake, it seemed.  It was refreshingly peaceful.

Ella loves to cheer when anyone reels in a fish.  She loves to pet them, too.
Brevin and Spencer are becoming quite skilled with a fly and bubble.

When Spencer becomes restless while fishing, he tends to
 put down his pole for rock climbing and exploring. 

Brevin poses with a nice little rainbow trout that he caught.

While waiting on the shore, Ella keeps herself occupied by throwing 
rocks and banging branches against logs and boulders.

This trip was Garrett's first opportunity to try out the new 
Cars fishing pole he got for his birthday.  To say the least, it works.  
I think he brought in the most fish for the day with a final count of eight.

I just love the look on Ella's face in this picture.

After a fair amount of time at Washington Lake, we decided to eat some lunch before heading up to Butterfly Lake.  It started to drizzle a little but, but that didn't keep the fish from biting.

For a moment, Garrett thought he caught a fish, but he started to have a really 
difficult time reeling it in.  Jason went to free his line from what he thought was 
a snag.  Turns out, they were both right. They eventually brought in this tangled 
mess of moss and a fish!  I love the look of surprise on Garrett's face.

Well look there! I finally put down the camera to pick up a pole.

When the children felt they'd had a sufficient amount of time fishing, we headed back to the van and started our drive home.  We did stop off at Lost Lake for a brief time so Jason could get a few casts in.  The children and I stayed inside the van and watched a movie.  I may have nodded off a little, too.  It had been a full and satisfying day.  The best way to wrap it up was a stop in Heber City for a burger at the Train Station, followed by a nice, comfortable evening in my own bed.

This post authored by Amber.

July 26, 2013

Brevin's Pool Party

Over the past few months I have witnessed Brevin morph into a tween right before my eyes.  He's become taller, his shoulders have broadened, and his stature has filled out and become more solid.  Brevin has noticed some changes, too, as he has expressed concern (or perhaps excitement) about the thickening hair on his legs.  There's no denying.  Brevin's growing up, maturing, and developing preferences that are slightly more sophisticated than those he had before.  He has begun to demonstrate an interest in books, films, and TV that frequently contain a "coming of age" theme with young teenagers in the roles of protagonists. His current favorite book series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians and he enjoys watching the television show Wizards of Waverley Place.  

I continue to give Brevin increased responsibilities around the home, and he has responded in such a way that shows he is up to the challenge.  He is capable, dependable, and, when given plenty of encouragement, he can be very hard working.  He takes his assignments very seriously and holds himself to his own standard of high expectations.  Brevin is also a quick learner and very intelligent.  I credit that fact to his love of reading.

I couldn't be more pleased with the young man Brevin is becoming.  It is a pleasure to be his mother. And just to prove my point about how quickly he is growing up, here is the birthday video that highlights his past year:

Brevin's Pool Party

I got the inspiration for the invitation design from HERE.

Brevin requested a trip to the Provo Recreation center pool for his birthday party.  He also came up with the idea of using billiards for a pool party theme.  I thought it was a very clever concept, and a fairly simple party to pull off.  We had pizza for dinner and gave Brevin an opportunity to open gifts from his guests before going swimming. Unfortunately, the pool closed earlier than usual due to the Pioneer Day holiday, and so we came back to the home for cupcakes and ice cream sooner than anticipated. Even so, it was a great little party.

Once again, I depended on the creative genius of Karen Tack and Alan 
Richardson of Hello, Cupcake! to supply me with the awesome cake idea.

After we took Brevin's party guests home, our family enjoyed a fireworks display just in front of our own home.

Brevin's Birthday Breakfast

On the actual morning of Brevin's birthday, he was treated to a breakfast of his choice.  He asked to have German pancakes with buttermilk syrup.  He then opened gifts from the family, including a brand new mountain bike with a larger frame to accommodate his growing body.

Brevin's Birthday Dinner

A perfect example of Brevin's growing sophistication in his tastes was made evident by his birthday dinner of choice.  He requested sushi, so we took him to Shoga in Orem and we invited Grandma and Grandpa Park to come along.  It was a perfect way to celebrate another year of having Brevin in our family.  We sure love him!

Happy 11th Birthday, Brevin!

This post authored by Amber