Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Smith reunion and Family BBQ

I have to be honest. I did not want to go to the Smith Reunion. I know basically none of these relatives and it's torture to sit around making small talk with people sometimes. Regardless, so I did. It was nice to see Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Earl again, and Aunt Dana and four other cousins. They have a raffle every year, which is always a great hit. My kids loved it, but not the few prizes they won. Notice Isaac's face about the Fiddle Faddle.

I don't see much of my brother Kent and his family when I'm in town, but we did have a family bbq, with his Shawn and his family, sans Cortney (with friends) and Nate (on his mission in Argentina). Corinne stole the show with her blond antics...forgetting to open the lid on the ketchup bottle, getting a serving fork because all the others were gone, retelling a bat story that happened with her Mom in WalMart. Mom made a delectable dessert; I had about four servings. Baby Jude is such a treat to have around. I love to watch Erin be a mommy. You can tell how much she loves him and her hubby, Kevin.

Corinne and other misc information

I love love love my niece, Corinne. She is a rare gem. She cleaned Grandma's car this morning, then came back later and we made fun flower hair clips. That girl is something special...such an amazing lookout on life, so positive and sparkly. I'm honored to be acquainted with her.

Mom and I went out with our cameras tonight. I tried to teach her the little I know about ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc, but I don't think it took very well. It's like a new language. We went to the new North Logan cemetery, First Dam so Ammon could feed the ducks, and drove by my grade school. We spend time out in the yard photographing flowers and misc. places.

Shawn took the three older kids fishing tonight at Newton Dam. Jacob said he was ?? darn can't remember the word, but it was funny. He didn't catch any. Isaac caught two and Allison one, the smallest. They declared they had a good time. No fishing hook incidents this year, thank goodness.

Trilobite Hunting

After a scarce one hour sleep, Grandpa woke me up. Ick. We left only 15 minutes after scheduled: 6:15 AM. In the van was Jacob, Isaac, Dax, Grandpa, and me. We listened to Brian Reagan on the iPod. Good laughs.
It took a little remembering from Grandpa, but he did figure out where we were suppose to hike, and he wasn't lying...it was a steep hike. We found the Spence Shale area and rapidly were able to find trilobites, almost on every rock. Some were better than others. Grandpa and I spent quite a bit of time on a huge rock that had two nice sized trilobites.
Hiking back, we found a well tread trail which would have made bush whacking much limited than on the way up, and maybe helped not have so many darned grasshoppers land on us. On the way up, Dax got a grasshopper in his shirt; he thought it had been a bee. Later he found it squished and was thoroughly grossed out.
I love to go rock hunting with my dad. We work well together and always have. I can often see what needs to be done and help him out without speaking to each other. Justin and I are like that on some things too, like folding up camping gear...it just comes naturally.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One week to go

It's 12:30 AM and I need to wake up at 5:30 to go trilobite hunting with Grandpa, Jacob, Isaac, and Dax. What is my problem? This happened to me last night as well. I finally got out of bed around 2 and repainted my toenails, and cleaned the kitchen until 3:30; consequently, I napped over four hours this afternoon. That's my problem.

Last Tuesday, I went camping with all the kids and Grandpa up Logan canyon on the road to Camp Lomia aka Girls Camp. Dad drove his truck with camper, and I drove my van. I camped in between Jacob and Ammon in the tent both nights. I can honestly say those were two of the worst nights of sleep ever. At least the first one for sure. Aching hips, cold, hot, cars driving by, honking, yelling punks, Jacob talking in his sleep, early rising birds.

That first night, Ammon and I scrounged up some wood for a fire, while the other three campers played in the stream. After our tin foil dinner, we roasted marshmallows and played Password. I was on a team with Allison and Isaac, Grandpa was with Jacob. I was amazed at how the kids did at this game. It was fun!

Wednesday, we started off by driving up Franklin Basin road a few miles and bush whacking along a beautiful stream for a short distance along a cow trail. Not a good trail, so we went back to the car. We drove on to Bear Lake and spent a couple of hours there. The fascination started off looking for shells, but soon turned to minnows. Jacob even found a frog/tadpole that he fell in love with.

We did the obligatory shake thing: ice cream, cookie dough, and blueberry.For me, the funnest part of the day was exploring the road to Swan flats. A ways up, there is a marshy area with a small stream. We spent an hour looking through the area and finding all kinds of interesting wildlife. Jacob decided to let his frog/tadpole go since there were millions of tadpoles swimming around. There were also millions of dragonflies. The kids want to go back next year. Driving on, we noticed a huge area of rock and decided that we must climb over a few of them. Dad said it was a strange natural phenomenon and was trying to figure out how is might have occurred. Any ideas?

Almost back at camp, we drove by China Wall (or maybe Scout cave?)and I noticed some climbers, and just had to stop and watch those crazy guys. This is an insane place to climb.

More campfire and marshmallows to be had the second night. Kraft marshmallows are definitely the way to go...these were terrible.The next morning, we explored the Hobbit caves a few minutes. The kids remembered these from a couple of years ago, but still thought they were super cool. Grandpa, ever rock hounding, proclaimed it made from limestone and travertine. I love love love camping in Logan canyon. It has so many happy memories. Plus nice cool temps at night, very few bugs, clean air, astounding scenery, solitude, and still many new places to explore for another year.
I wanted to write about waking up in my old house. I usually sleep downstairs in the darkest room with basically no light, so I sleep in forever, but this year, I decided I wanted to sleep upstairs in my old room. The first morning I woke up and everyone since then, I have been absolutely amazed at the pristine blue skies out the north window. It makes me smile. I love my old home. I recently read a book called "The Boxmakers Son." In a part of it, the author writes about how buildings can bring so many memories. This is how I feel about this house. I know my parents are getting older so the years left of them living here are lessening all the time, but I cherish coming here.
Thinking about it, it's more than just the structure; it emcompasses the entire yard; from playing badminton in the front yard, sitting by the fish pond, picking fresh produce, or walking through the tree farm. This is home to me; not Minnesota. I still dream in Logan. One of these years, I'll have to cut the apron strings, but for now, it makes my heart happy to be here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

One third of the Way

Here I am, already one week passed in Logan, with another two to go. The kids love it here. They love cable tv a little too much. We need to have a few days of no tv. I picked a few cups of raspberries with Ammon this morning, which wasn't even half. Oh yum.
Last night and today, I've been Crazy Pruning Lady. I love to prune. Truly I do. Some people like to vacuum, I like to prune. My dad has lots to prune too, so I'm in heaven.
I went to a chiropractor for the first time in my life today. I'm hoping to resolve my migraine issues. Dr. Karson said that my first vertebrae was immovable, so would need some work and that's probably why I'm getting migraines. Cross fingers that it will work.
We had family home evening tonight and focused on prayer and the proper words to use, how we need to be thankful first, then ask for blessings we need. I feel like the kids often ramble quickly through their prayers; I want them to learn to truly communicate with Heavenly Father, not just to get something out of the way, which I am guilty of at times. We also need to work on having better personal prayers. I'm soooo guilty of not teaching this to the kids. Most nights, I want to get them in bed as quickly as possible, so Jusitn and I can have some quiet time. Thank goodness for repentence, cause I'll be using it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Logan Sweet Logan

Justin stayed with his cousin, Teague Cowley, in Park City Tuesday night, then Teague drove him to the airport this morning. Teague is pretty cool. He is disabled, but that doesn't stop him from anything. He's quite admirable.

I had to drop two down hill moutain bikes off at a store in Logan that Jusitn borrowed, so Mom and I just had to stop by DI. A couple of good finds: a "You are special" plate for birhtdays etc for $2, and a pair of Dr. Marten boots for Ammon for $2. A couple of steals. That store is mostly over priced, but it's still fun to browse. You can find hidden deals.

After lunch, a nap became a necessity, so I layed down. Ammon came in and announced that he wanted to nap with me a little after I was asleep. We ended up sleeping for over three hours. Now that's a long nap!

I love walking around the yard. It brings such a happy feeling. The cherries, raspberries, and peas are all ripe. Yummmmmmy little treasures.

Isaac's prayer tonight was awesome. I reminded him before he started that he didn't need to say "safe time" and "fun time" in all of his prayers. That didn't leave him with much else to say, so his prayer was as follows: "Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this day. Please bless that I can go fishing with Uncle Shawn. And please bless that I can finish my rock with Grandpa. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen." I about lost it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It feels like home

Here we are in Utah. I love the mountains and the way the earth smells. It buoys my spirits to be here. It just feels right. We are in Park City at the semi-annual Dittmer family reunion staying at the National Ability Center. It’s a gorgeous facility and perfect for a reunion. It’s nice to get reacquainted with all of Justins’ relatives. It’s especially fun to catch up with Sam and Katie Cowley. Our kids and their kids seem to be hitting it off. Allison became fast friends with Tessa (the only other girl cousin here besides Ava who is one).
Our first day here, I didn’t want to greet anyone until I’d showered. I thought three days of hiking, campfires, and mosquito repellent were enough to warrant one. And it was heaven. We mostly just talked and got settled. I did go into town with Teague in his Audi convertible to shop for church pants for the boys. The only pants they packed were for church and they wore them backpacking.

Justin thrives in spending time with his family. He is out right now (11:51 pm) doing a 15 minute hard core exercise work out thingy with Alex and Tony. They’re always trying to one up their manhood with each other. It’s usually entertaining. Justin reverts back into a kid at heart around his siblings. I love seeing a family like each other this much. I hope my kids will be this good of friends when they’re grown up.
Saturday, we went into Park City and watched the local parade. I like parades. Not sure why, but one of the main reasons is that they throw candy at you. You don’t have to go door to door, or dress up. But they must have a city ordinance because there was no candy! Isn’t that an oxymoron? A parade with no candy???
Later in the day, and after a much needed nap, Justin Allison, and I went with a bunch of cousins to see the Olympic park. That was really cool. It’s amazing how freaking tall those jumps are! Justin and Allison rode the Alpine slide and Justin had to prove his manliness on the zip line to see who could be the fastest. He raced Jeremy and ?. Justin won hands down.
I started a headache after the nap, and it got progressively worse as the day went on. I didn’t have Ibuprofen with me to stop it before it got worse, so it turned into a full blown migraine. It might be the worst one I’ve ever had. So nauseated and dizzy and just can’t think straight. Ibuprofen, Excedrin, a Skor bar, and a Dr. Pepper have helped immensely. I hope I can sleep after all that caffeine.

Meeting up

I'm hating moving pictures around, so here they are...out of order and everything. It's bothering the ocd in me. Oh well.
Grandpa Thomson telling stories from his childhood.
I didn't want to forget two of my favorite stories, so while we were sitting around the fire, I wrote myself a note.
Isaac resting by the Popo Agae river.
These mosquito nets were nice!
Jacob forgot he was wearing his and tried to take a bite of his macaroni noodles.
"I ripped my pants!" rolling rocks. in three places.
Grandpa, Jacob, and Isaac.
Miracle of miracles, Justin found the water bottle.
Grandpa loves to have pictures of trying to push over a rock.
Backpacking in the Wind Rivers was awesome. As a young girl, I always yearned to go with my Dad, but I’m a girl and the youngest, so never got to go, but my dream came true…
Justin and I decided that we would leave for Utah a few days early so we could back pack through the Uintahs or the Wind Rivers. After looking at the map, we decided the WR made the most sense for our drive. In the mean time, my parents had gone to visit Camille in Colorado and I thought, ‘hey maybe my dad would like to meet us there.” So I called him on Sunday and told him that we would be there on Wednesday and would like to go for two nights. You ready for some amazing coincidences??
He said that he was driving to Lander, WY on Mon
day to visit with some rock friends and were going to drive home on Wednesday. Lander is a town about 15 minutes away from the WR. We worked out a few of the details and made a plan. I think Heavenly Father had a role in this backpacking trip.
My kids (besides Allison) hadn’t seen my parents since last summer. I love that initial excitement , hugs, and the feel in the air when you are reunited with people you love.
We figured out the hiking route, arranged the bags for Allison and Ammon who were staying with Grandma Ricky in their camper and left. On the way to the trail head, we stopped and looked at the Popo Agae river, and a trout area. What was awesome was that there was a big horn sheep sitting by the ranger building. I think these are majestic animals and have never seen one in the wild before.
Looking down on the river, there were dozens of HUGE trout swimming. Some forestry workers gave us bread to feed them. My dad and I threw bread chunks down to the fish while the rain started to really come down. This river is
unique in that it goes under ground for several hundred feet, then pops back up.
It took us about forever and a day to get our packs situated and food figured out, but eventually we got going. (It only rained about 15 minutes, thank goodness.) We hiked along the Popo Agae river for some of the hike. That is a big raging river. We hiked to the falls which were spectacular. Hiking on, we were crossing a mucky water crossing with a few limbs thrown in. Yep, I fell in, and have a nice purple/black bruise to prove it. I lost my balance and with the weight of the pack, I tipped over. Muddy pants and wet. Not my favorite way to start a hike, but helps to make things memorable.
We found a place to camp about 2 miles in. Someone had previously camped there but it had been many years before. It was nice to camp som
ewhere that felt like the wilderness. We quickly started a fire to scare away the swarming mosquitoes, then put up our tents.
After we were settled we sat around the fire and listened to Grandpa tell some of my favorite stories from his childhood. He is an amazing storyteller. I want to have them documented for ancestry. My boys were transfixed. Maybe some day I’ll try to retell them, but here’s a list of what we heard: taking apart the gymnasium in th
e middle school for a job and almost getting killed but saved by divine intervention; riding his bike on 8th east in logan and running into a foreigner head on; warming up cans of beans over a campfire; sliding down the hill by Romney stadium before it was built on a car hood and going under the barbed wire fence; getting thrown into the middle school gym naked after a shower in the middle of girls gym time; story of the peanut butter man camping.
The next day we did a 6 mile hike. Some highlights were naming the many wild plants, rock rolling and Grandpa ripping his pants, Justin losing his water bottle and actually finding it later, eating Ramen under a huge boulder while rain started but ended as soon as we were nice and sheltered.
I never thought I would drink filtered water, but I did and seem to be okay. It was tasty water.
The next morning, we packed up and hiked out the remaining two miles, renaming the plants, and enjoying the majestic views of the waterfall on a different route back to the car.

I am so, what’s the word….heart warmed that I was able to go back packing with my Dad and have the boys there too. I hope they can remember this trip for the rest of their lives.
Ammon and Allison supposedly did great with Grandma. On the second day, it rained all day, so Grandma drove into Lander to the local thrift shop and also took them to the Children’s museum. They also went to the playground and watched a little of Shakespeare in the Park. What a fun Grandma!

Driving Day #2

We woke up Tuesday morning to an extremely hyper Jacob. First there was cranberry juice on the floor, then hot chocolate on himself and on the bed. Justin started singing the Dora song, “Jacob spilled on himself and he spilled on the bed and he spilled on the floor, yeah! He did it! He did it! He did it! Yeah!”
The kids and I hiked on an island called La Frambois. It was a nice walk. The kids liked to explore the shores on the Missouri river. Jacob was fascinated with these sand funnels things. I need to figure out what they’re called, but a bug will get caught in one, then the bug in the ground can eat it.

  • Isaac: Allison kicked me in the shin and it made my mosquito bite start itching.

  • Jacob: I couldn’t sleep very well, cause of Ammon. He was rubbing his blankie on my cheek. "I thought it was a hairy spider."

  • Allison woke up at the feet of all the boys.

  • Hiking back, Ammon came up to a sign and said, “and this says…” waiting for someone to fill in the blanks.

  • We hiked after a downpour so we got quite wet. The next morning everyone needed to put on wet socks and shoes. Ammon seemed to have walked right in the stream because we were able to ring water out of his socks. He woke up touchy and didn’t want to put on wet short, socks, and shoes. When I was putting his socks on he cried, “they’re weeeeeet.”

We ate some of the grossest pizza at Wall Drug. Allison got soaked in their water play area and got the giggles. Ammon was freaked out by a Jurassic style looking dinosaur that came alive and growled.

We love this picture of Ammon. It makes us laugh.

After much deliberation with our gps unit, we decided to drive through the Black Hills because it said it was the shortest drive. We got to see Mount Rushmore driving by. Then we stopped and swam in horsethief lake. Justin cliff jumped a couple of times. It’s funny to me how he was too scared to jump from the higher cliff. He’s always up for crazy stunts like that. Maybe if he had someone to egg him on .
We noticed a trail head called horsethief and decided that we would backpack in and camp for the night and pound out the last 8 hours to Lander, WY tomorrow. There were no camp sights on the Wyoming map, so we thought it would be more fun to camp somewhere beautiful, and we weren’t disappointed.
Everyone got their packs on and started on the trail. There was a small gurgling creek to make it even more scenic. Up a little farther on, Jacob and Isaac found a small cave that they wanted us to camp in. We had to convince Isaac that is wasn’t a good camping place: right on the trail and not big enough for two tents. We ended up camping across the creek next to some majestic rock formations.
Some of you might know my aversion to ticks and bugs in general, so be prepared to be amazed. I saw a dark spot on Allison’s leg and sure enough, it was a wood tick. I didn’t scream or anything. I told Justin and he grabbed it and skewered it with his pocket knife. So far, we’re up to Tick Man #5 (meaning we found 5 ticks so far). I was calm at every sighting. Now, I didn’t sleep well because every tickle on my skin, I had to inspect and make sure it wasn’t a tick, plus there was more thunder and lightening in the middle of the night.
We were able to get our tents set up with about 30 minutes to spare before the rains descended. The kids were in their tent, Justin and I in ours. I love the sound of rain on a tent. It’s one of my favorite sounds.
After the rain, Justin pulled out his pocket rocket and boiled us up some Velveeta Shells and Cheese. We had to share sporks and plates, but no one complained. We also did a little more hiking, which proved to be wet wet wet and muddy. The earth smelled so clean. I love a good rain storm.Notice all the kids squished onto one side of the tent...
Justin’s watch alarm went off at 6:30. Of course I was out cold and not wanting to get up, but we were on a schedule. We actually got packed up and back to the car by around 8:30. Not too bad for us Dittmers.