Thursday, August 24, 2017

California Pizza Kitchen Thank You Dinner

As a thank you, Dad and Debby took us and everyone else who helped take care of Grandma out to eat at the California Pizza Kitchen. There was one long table with all the adults and one crazy chaotic table with all the kids! They assigned us two waiters and they got their exercise in taking care of our two tables. I'm pretty sure that we increased the decibel level in their restaurant tenfold.  It was the first time that I had been to the California Pizza Kitchen and I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was superb and the company was beyond that!

The prices were not exactly budget friendly, but Debby let us know that we could order anything we wanted off the menu within reason. So although I wanted to try 5 different things, I settled on a salad and an entree.  Both were fantazz!

Steve ordered fried macaroni and cheese bites, split pea soup, and oriental type of salad.

This was a really special dinner and I'm thankful we got to do it with our loved ones. 

The Good And The Beautiful

At the end of June was a homeschooling conference for The Good and the Beautiful company. It was my first homeschooling conference and theirs too, and it was fabulous. I love their products and so do my kids, and it's definitely a company I feel good about supporting because they "teach advanced academics while connecting children to the good and the beautiful in life and in learning: God, high moral character, and the wonders and beauty of nature and human life."

It's also incredibly affordable and time efficient and open & go. It's so me. I love it!

So, this year we are going to use their language arts curriculum, history, handwriting, and some science. My kids told me that they can't wait to get started with it. 

Anyway, I took a few photos of some of the "favorite finds" exhibits. 

We've loved the Billy and Blaze books. 

I plan to implement a thank you box

We love librivox!

This conference was so inspiring and encouraging.  I feel like it helped me gain concrete knowledge about education today and about homeschooling. I'm so thankful that I get to have this opportunity and that my kids are able to get an education I can be proud of.  Our educational journey together is a blessing.

P.S. Maybe we will do music appreciation some year. These Zeezok books look great. 

June: Our Time With Cousins & Great-Grandma

This post is pretty random. It's a conglomerate of our June days and it may be a little scattered, so be forewarned. Hope you can follow. 

Our summer has flown by because everyday has been filled with something fun.  The month of June was super special because we got to have Joe's family come all the way from Hawaii to visit us here for a month or so.  Joe worked most weekdays, we arranged to stay at my dad's house with them while my dad and Deb were gone and we would also be there to care for grandma.

In early June, we went to the Orem Summerfest with Joe & kids, April & kids, and Mandy & kids. I remember that the rides we're all those nauseating spinny kind and made a few of the kids feel really sick.  We did have a good time together though. 

I took Grandma to get her hair done since it had been awhile. It wasn't easy for her to get out and going, but she was a good sport and looked wonderful. 

Here is before:
Here is during:
And here's after:
Grandma was exhausted and was glad to get home.

We visited several parks with our cousins. 

 For Father's day, we took Steve and his parents to the Cheesecake Factory on Saturday. 
We got Steve some real bow ties! And beef jerky. 

We spent time with Bev's family and Steve was teaching her how to use the camera talked her into buying. 
I took photos of my sister for her pregnancy. 

I loved spending time with my grandma. I would fix her some healthy meals, help her shower and use the restroom, keep her sheets clean, bring her her medications, and sit with her and watch Food Network or try to have a conversation. 
Lily got to have a her 7th grade shots and physical. 

She did so much better than her kindergarten shots. 
I took Steve to see the squaw peak lookout. He's never seen it before. 
Sleepovers in Grandma's living room with cousins were fun too!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

14th Anniversary Vacay to Captiol Reef

 I love that we have been able to take trips to celebrate our anniversaries for the last several years.  It seems to be a much needed respite after the stress of end-of-school-year testing for Steve, and to be honest, for me too.  Our anniversary isn't in the summer, but we celebrate it in the summer so we can spend a few days somewhere.  So, anyway, this year we chose to revisit the place we went for our first anniversary, Capitol Reef National Park!  It truly is picturesque and a lesser-visited national park, although we noticed that it has increased quite a bit in popularity since the last time we were there 14 years ago!  Nonetheless, it did not disappoint.  We spent 2 nights and 3 days there.

 We stayed at a nice little one bedroom apartment I found on AirBnB that was about 10 minutes away in the town of Torrey.  It had access to the internet and satellite TV and a full kitchen where we could prepare meals.  It was actually a walk-out basement that faced the Fremont River, and was quite comfy.  Interestingly enough, although the owners live in that house, while they have guests they live in their camper so that there won't be any upstairs noise.  Pretty thoughtful people, right?

So, we had a nice place to stay, but we didn't spend a lot of time there.  We did fix breakfast (for me, since Steve doesn't eat breakfast anymore) and dinner there and it was nice to have a kitchen.

At Capitol Reef, we hiked a lot, took scenic drives, broke out the fancy cameras for pics, and got to see lots of beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and history.
There were lots of wild turkeys that apparently are aggressive and kicked out the indigenous turkeys from the park.  I spoke with a park ranger and they said these turkeys were scheduled for removal from the park in a few days.  They have chased and bit at visitors and rangers.  I thought it was funny that the turkeys didn't seem to care a lick that we were there taking their pictures.
 Steve is teaching me photography.  It is taking me way longer to learn these camera techniques and operations than what I expected, because it is like learning a foreign language, but I think I have a really great mentor who is mostly patient with me and my zillions of repeated questions.

Here's one of my photos

I feel like this picture has a very zen-like balance of color.

 We hiked to Cassidy Arch which is much different from the arches you hike to at Arches National Park.  When you reach this arch, you don't even know you're there until you almost fall down the hole where the arch lives.  Steve got brave and convinced me to be brave with him and walk across the arch.  When we did that same thing 14 years ago, it didn't seem so frightening, but this time it seemed way scarier.

Mr. Lizard is having his photo shoot.

 To round out our day of heavy hiking, we drove 45 minutes across the Devil's backbone (Hwy 11) to Calf Creek Falls trail.  It was a pretty hot hike to begin, but the way back was nice.  It was a 3-4 hour roundtrip hike through annoying sand and surrounded by towering cliffs that radiated heat, but the payoff was the beautiful waterfall. We were lucky that we had the waterfall practically to ourselves for 10 minutes or so.  There was only one other guy there and he took our picture.  It was so serene to be there without a bunch of people around.  It felt so good to let the falls be our air conditioner and the icy water soothe my swelling feet.

 We found a little cafe to eat at on our way back.  My burger was beautiful but dry as the desert I just hiked through.  Steve's roasted cauliflower over cheesy grits was pretty yum!

 One of the most romantic things my husband does for me is cook me breakfast.  He makes the best eggs over easy, just perfectly for me.  And he knows how to make a plate sing with a handful of fresh berries.
 After our big hiking day, we took it easy the next day.  We mostly took pictures and we even spent a couple hours just relaxing in the shade of the tall trees in the picnic area.  Our lunch was wonderful and we even had deer come hang out with us and literally sit next to us.

 I thought this next picture was a little funny how it made Steve look like an apparition photobombing my selfie.
 So, Steve took it one step further in post processing and gave us this lovely shot:

 Our last day there we ate brunch in Torrey and had a heavy meal right before we traveled back to our children who were staying with their grandparents on the Wasatch Front.  I had the huevos rancheros and Steve ordered the bagel with eggs and red potatoes.  What a way to end our wonderful vacay!