Sunday, October 27, 2013

Our Side-Trips Home (A Walk Down Memory Lane)

We went to Utah County to help April pack for her recent move.  Using my mom's car, Steve went home a couple days earlier so he could get back to work, and my mom took an extra day off work so she could help April and go home with me and the girls later.  So, when the time came to go back home, my mom got to be our passenger and instead of drive straight home, I decided that I would stop at a few places to show my girls some of my childhood memories.

First stop: Bridal Veil Falls
As a child, my family would often take trips to Bridal Veil Falls, it being a quick 10-15 minute drive away.  We went possibly once a week in the warm months.  I would often get carsick on the ride up, so I complained a lot about having to go, but I admit that once I got there, I was usually glad to be there.  We would save old bread to feed the fish and ducks in the pond at the base of the falls.  There was a tram that went from the base to the top of the mountain.  I don't remember it running very often- maybe it was broken.  There was a little store that looked like a trolley car from the outside.  We never bought anything from that cute store, but we did go inside on occasion to seek warmth.  There was a goat petting zoo up the trail a little ways.  There was also a place that you could pan for gold.  We took the hike up the falls once.  It was really rocky and not super stable.  Things have definitely changed since I was a kid.  Mother Nature had a fit one year and a huge avalanche changed Bridal Veil Falls completely.  No more petting zoo.  No more tram.  You can't even drive to the old parking lot anymore.  But now there is a developed park with grass and picnic tables.  It's still beautiful, and the falls are still the same old falls I remember.  And now there is a pull-off viewing area.  That's where we stopped off to show the girls.
 We appreciated all the beautiful fall colors on our ride back home. 

Second Stop: Sundance Ski Resort
 We had the most beautiful day and fresh mountain air was so invigorating!  Sundance was one of my mom's favorite places to go up the canyon.  As a kid, I complained a lot about going there, yet again because of my carsickness.  Sundance was even further than Bridal Veil and was on an even windier road.

It is truly beautiful there.  I've never been there in the winter when the ski resort is running.  In fact, I've lived in Utah for as long as I can remember and I've never been skiing.  When my family would go to Sundance back in the day, it was to appreciate the mountain air and to take a walk and take pictures.  That's what I did with my girls on this little side trip.

Looking off the bridge into the running river.

Smelling all the pretty flowers.

Amara really liked this one.
Smiling on the bench.  I'm pretty sure I had a picture taken on that same bench when I was 12.

Funny faces!
 And of course, my mom indulged my kids and bought them sweet lollipops.  My parents would sometimes buy those for us kids when we went up there, too.  They have lots of fun flavors and they were the cheapest things you could buy.  Everything else costs TONS!
 My kids had so much fun seeing all those places I remembered as a kid.  When we finally got home the girls told their daddy all about how much fun that day had been.  It was a worthwhile mini-vacation-for-the-day.

Of course it was nice to be home, but I must admit that the minute we get home, we always want to go back.  We miss things like this...
 And this...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nature Studies in the Desert

One of my favorite things about home-schooling my children is I get to be a part of their world as they discover new things.  I get such joy from that!

Another thing is- I'm constantly learning new things, which is AWESOME! 

For our science studies this year, we are exploring nature.  We have nature readers that we read from, and we also do hands-on projects and field trips. 

Last month, we went observing nature.  We went to the nearby "Montes Creek" and explored.  Early Fall is a fun time to explore plants because many are still alive, yet changing.  We found seed pods of different types.
There were still flowers blooming.
The girls took their nature journals and drew what they observed.
I found a single gorgeous flower that taught me a lesson that day, and I almost missed it.  It was the only one of it's kind in the area, that I could see.  It was a very small bloom, it's colors quiet, more stem then anything, but it caught my eye.  As I examined it, I noticed it was intricately put together- definitely testifying of our Heavenly Father and His wonders of creation.  Each petal was delicate, thin, and perfectly formed. 
Upon closer inspection, I noticed the contrasts in color that worked so beautifully together in drawing my eye in, from the bright golden pollen on the long tips of the pale pink stamens to the reds and greens on the knotty stem. 
And the striking pink center really set off the white of the petals.

I was happy to find this flower in the untamed desert.  It was a little smile on my journey. 
The lesson I learned from that flower was that God is real and that we are real to him.  If he can make a measly seed, tossed by the wind, settle in the dirt of a desert, take root, then grow as insignificant as it may seem to the landscape around, into a thing of beauty where it blossoms and flourishes... well then... consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, and the birds in the sky, how they fly- God clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds in the sky.  He will feed those who trust Him and he'll guide them with His all-seeing eye.
We found many beautiful creations.

And to think, we found all this life in at this place...  Montes Creek... About dried up.
It is literally the desert we live in, and looking around it seems dead.
But there are signs of life, and if you look carefully, like we did that day, you find it.

To me it was amazing to see just how much beautiful life goes on around us, even when we look out and can see only barren wasteland. 

After our trip to Montes Creek, we took a nature walk around our own backyard, marveling at how even the weeds can be beautiful.  And how much life there is even though no one but God cultivated it.

We didn't plant these, just some cantaloupe goo we threw in the garden.  Too bad the frost will get it soon :(

Our yard looks a lot bigger from the top of the hill!
Mean weeds, but they are kinda pretty when they change for the fall.

Amara found a baby cactus about as big as her finger.

These branches have bulges on them- perhaps seedpods?
Lily is observing the bulges on those branches.

Not sure what this yellow one is, but it's everywhere in the desert.

Prairie dog hole.  We have about a gazillion of those in the hill behind the house.

And we have a gazillion of these lovelies, too.  Weird how it grew in a "fairy ring."  Wear shoes when outside, but take them off when you come in or we get cactus spines in our carpet (sad for the person that finds those in their foot).

These weeds grew by my house in Orem growing up.  Not sure what they are, they don't smell good, but the flower is pretty.
And we planted a peach tree in the spring and next to it sprouted 3 sunflowers and a couple gourd plants.  That was a surprise, but since they were getting water, they grew.  Kinda cool.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Mommy-Daughters Date

 April planned a mommy-daughters date for us to go up to the Conference Center in Salt Lake City to attend the General Relief Society meeting in person.  It's been maybe 10 years since I've attended anything at the Conference Center, and to do so with 2 of my favorite people ever had me really looking forward to this.  Time with my mom and my sister is more precious than gold to me.

So, we left early because we knew we'd be walking a long way, plus we wanted time to eat.  We ended up stopping at the Harmon's grocery store at the City Creek Center, and let me tell you, you've never seen a grocery store so chic and appealing.  We spent too much time there.  Who takes pictures in public restrooms?  My mom.

 Definitely having too much fun.  April saw one of her soccer buddies from high school.  She was an employee at Harmons.
 We ended up just buying some bagels to eat before conference and then we determined to eat somewhere awesome afterward.
 We arrived in time to wait in line and go through security.  I never had to do the security thing before when attending an event there, but like I said, it's been 10ish years and the world has changed since then (or maybe my memory has changed, but I didn't remember ever having to do that before).
 We found our seats which were pretty much the highest up you could get.  I must say the height didn't help my POTS and dizzy spells and anxiety, but God blessed me and I enjoyed every talk and every musical number.  In fact, when we were all singing, it was a beautiful experience to hear the choir's descant harmonizing with our voices.  It was heaven on earth, absolutely angelic.

 We were done just in time to walk to our cars by the light of the sun's dimming glow.  It was kinda cold by then too.  We found a good place to snap a photo of April and me with the temple in view. 
 Then we rushed to our car and drove to Mekong Cafe Thai Food in Midvale (7770 S. State Street).  The place had good reviews and it did not disappoint.  In fact, I had a very delicious salad there that I'm craving right now while typing this.  Remember this: Yum Woon Sen (Glass Noodle Salad)
Glass noodle mixed with sweet vinegar, lime juice, chicken or shrimp, tomato, cucumber, onion, peanuts and cilantro.  It was like 10 bucks, but I'd definitely be willing to go back just for that alone.  And the portion was big, so I had lunch the next day, yay for me!  The place is tiny and it was packed at 8:30 when we arrived.  We had to wait 10 minutes to be seated. 

 I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I had so much fun.  What a wonderful and memorable date :)  Love you mom and April!