Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Water Play

The sun was bright, hence the squinting.

This is J. She is a fabulous babysitter and we use her and sister (the one that took the picture) a lot. Bee really likes them. She named all of her dolls after the other sister, Ashley.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pioneer Day

Once a year we celebrate the legacy of the Mormon pioneers and their trek from Nauvoo, IL to the Great Salt Lake Basin in what is now known as the state of Utah, all on foot and with wagons. We do not only just celebrate their strength, faith, and willingness to follow God, but also the faith of all those who willingly place their hope in Jesus Christ. Latter-day pioneers may not face as many physical hardships, however they must remain just as steadfast and immovable on the straight and narrow path as they journey through their mortal lives.

Our ward primary put together a fun activity to commemorate the 24th of July, the day Brigham Young pulled into the Salt Lake Valley and indicated that there they would build Zion and God's temple. The activity included breakfast, a short presentation on pioneer day, a parade, and lots of games. Those of us donning pioneer garb really learned to appreciate the dedication of the pioneers. It was stifling under all of those layers. The heat was tremendous and we stayed inside or in the shade for most of the activity.

Benjamin and I stayed up late the night before building the most awesome entry for the Pioneer parade. I am so proud of how this turned out.  We used hot glue, as well as duct tape and staples to hold everything together. We built it so that it fit perfectly over her stroller and so that she still had room to ride inside.

We discussed at some length what to write on the back and I finally just went with “Utah or bust” even though it wasn’t the least bit historically accurate. In retrospect, I should have written “Zion or bust!”

Benjamin made sure that our wagon's rear display proudly included a period bumper sticker campaigning for Henry Clay.

These two were never far from each other.

Water balloons. Bee liked to pick them up and then throw them at people's feet.

Balloons were great entertainment.

What a fun way to celebrate the day and to remember a piece of our history.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Quiero Obama."

Abigail is watching the Fox News Republican presidential debate with me tonight on the computer. When she saw Herman Cain, one of the candidates who is an African-American, she pointed to him and said: "Presidente Obama!" I told her that no, that's Herman Cain, but that he looks kind of like President Obama. Then I pulled up some pictures of Obama on Google in another window on the computer and showed them to her. "That's President Obama," I explained. Then we switched back to the Republican debate on Fox News. After watching another few minutes of the GOP candidates, Abigail said: "Daddy, quiero Obama." That's my girl!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flora, Fauna, & Misty Weather

One of my favorite things about living in Kentucky is the variety of plants that are new to me. Again, I was raised in a fairly dry part of the country. What we would refer to as green would probably be considered brown to a southerner. The dry climate did not allow for many of the plants that grow plentifully here. I took lots of pictures of the different plants we saw in the last few weeks, but mostly I focused on the fungi. I was sincerely fascinated by all of the shapes, sizes, and colors that were found everywhere. Here's a sampling.

This one reminded me of the Sm.urfs.

Giant Magnolia leaves.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Red River Gorge

While Bee spent the morning wading in stream, her wonderful father packed up camp. It was a short overnight trip, but well worth the effort.
As we were prying Bee from the stream the nearest camper came by to chat with me and said that they had enjoyed watching her. Then she surprised me and asked me what church I belonged to. I was surprised by this question and took a second to formulate what I wanted to express. I think that I replied with something along the lines of..."I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." She smiled and then said that she was also a member and that she had thought we might be too. The mormon radar was strong, I guess. :) It made me think, too. Hopefully I am good example of Christ and of my beliefs. Hopefully I am always a kind mother, wife, and neighbor so that others around me can learn of Him by my actions. I vowed to be a little better, even  when there is one hundred per cent humidity and when one is sleeping on rocks in a tent with a toddler that is not sleeping.
By this time we were still tired from our previous day's hike so we took the driving tour of Red River Gorge. We stopped for a few small hikes, but mostly admired the view from within the air conditioned car. Best of both worlds. I am originally from the west and in my mind a red river gorge would look something like Bryce Canyon.

Like this. This is what we saw when we visited southern Utah.

Sometimes I forget that the rest of the country is not a desert and that a river usually indicates greenery, unlike in a desert.
So instead of red rock, we saw green, green trees. There possibly was some red rock, but it was difficult to tell. Maybe the Red River was named after somebody with the last name Red.

We first hiked to a small lighthouse arch. Bee fell asleep almost immediately and therefore enjoyed the hike. It also started raining, but we were mostly protected by the rocks and the trees. I was a little frightened by the thunder, but figured that we were definitely not the tallest things in the forest. Towards the end of the hike we ended up huddling under an umbrella to try and keep some of all of us dry. It was worth the effort. I kept getting wet because I found so many interesting plants to take pictures of.

Can you see the arch that I'm in front of?

Here daddy is scaring mommy and teaching Bee to scale mountains.

We took another short hike to this arch and managed to get a family photo on the timer.

Bee asked me to take a picture of her in front of this tree, which, by the way, is growing around a large rock. She has her hands shaped into a camera and is pretending to take a picture as well.

Pretty views.

This arch is known as the Sky Bridge. It is much much narrower than the Natural Arch which we walked over the previous day. I am scared of heights and had a much more difficult time walking over this one. I was so scared that I would lose my footing or that Bee would wiggle too much and knock her father off balance.

We seriously walked across this.

Here's the view of the same arch from a distance. You can't really tell that it is an arch because of all the trees. Still beautiful though.

Then we drove through a rock mountain through a small tunnel blasted out early last century. It was only wide enough for one cars length and was extremely dark inside. This is how we exited the gorge.

In the picture below, you can just barely make out the light at the end of the tunnel.

We also visited the visitors center and we were impressed with all of the informative displays and helpful rangers. We changed out of our humidity soaked clothing and drank some cool, refreshing water.

For dinner we decided to stop at a Su.bway before heading home. We had just walked inside when the heavens opened and a downpour ensued. The roads were running like rivers and water was everywhere. We were so grateful we hadn't decided to stay another night and that our camping gear was neatly packed up into our trunk. We ate a yummy meal and stayed inside just long enough to escape most of the rain. After an uneventful ride home, we arrived home, unpacked a little and then slept soundly in our soft little beds.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Little Stream

Our campground was located next to a calm stream. We threw some rocks there the day before and decided to let her throw some more the next morning while Benjamin cleaned up. She started out throwing rocks and ended up sitting down and playing. She had the best time. She talked up a storm, pretended with a stick, splashed, played, and enjoyed herself. She was hilarious. At one point she pretended that the stick was the gate and that she was locked in her room. She also used the stick like a wand. There was a small family camping nearby and they were thoroughly entertained by her. I overheard them say things like "wow, she sure has a lot to say." I loved that there was little to no danger of her drowning or being swept away. Everything was calm, green, and smelled great.

We let her play for a quite a long time. My only regret is that her outfit was so cute and then I had to change her into pants and a boring T-shirt for the rest of the day.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Road Tripping Again

We had so much fun on our last trip that we decided to go on another quick trip. This time we head to the Natural Arch State Park and the Red River Gorge National Park.
We braved the heat and humidity and are glad that we did. It was another two day trip and this time we camped in tents instead of the more comfortable hotel.
We put the little one in a backpack and took turns hiking up the steep trails. The arch was impressive. I was a little hesitant to walk across it as I am scared of heights. The arch was at least fifteen feet wide and I stayed as close to the center as I could for the entire time. I was extremely concerned that Bee might move somehow in the backpack to throw off her father’s balance. He was much more willing than I was to look over the edge.

We almost didn't clear this thin opening.

We then continued on the hike to the opposite cliff where we could look back at the arch to see where we had been. We also continued on to a spot called Lover’s Leap. Here we snacked on trail mix. We let Bee walk every once and a while when the trail was safer. That backpack is a lifesaver, but it is also a back and shoulder breaker.
I longingly looked at the sky ride each time that we passed it, but Ben just kept on walking. We did purchase some ice cold waters there at the top.

We headed down via a different trail and met lots of fun people. We walked down lots of stairs, saw lots of beautiful greenery. Bee slept peacefully for a lot of this. It was so cute too see her rest her little head on her dad’s shoulder. He was amazing and had so much stamina.

This is balancing rock.

This is the nice cool cave where we could take off the backpack, relax, and escape from the humidity. Bee woke up immediately when she felt the cold air. She enjoyed playing in the cave and talking with the other hikers.
We survived the hike and were probably out and about for four hours. It was so nice and gorgeous.

We then went to a small park nearby and all skipped rocks in the water. Bee played a little on the playground, but she preferred the stream.
Then we headed back to the campground and mom cooked dinner while the other two got the tent ready. Mom struggled a little to get a good fire going, and then she decided to move it and had to get it going all over again. Luckily I have experience with camping and I made sure that the tinfoil dinners were thoroughly cooked ahead of time. They only needed to be warmed up. They were so yummy. Really, the best we’ve ever made. The biscuits cooked over the coals were less successful.
Ben and I were really tired from the hike. We had high hopes that Bee would be exhausted and want to sleep early so that we could have a nice evening around the campfire. We all hit the showers and then cuddled up in the tent. Bee was not having any of it. Apparently her nap in the backpack was extremely restful. Instead of making it a fun night, Ben and I were cranky and were so focused on trying to get her to sleep that we shortchanged ourselves. In retrospect, we should have had a fun night keeping her up with us. We were so tired from the hike that we did not make the best choices.

We even went on a long drive hoping to put her to sleep. At least the scenery was nice because she did not drift off for a second. I noticed a crazy vine that seemed to have taken over a lot of the trees on the drive. It was everywhere and seemed pretty invasive. I call it the man-eating vine and would not go near it. Seriously. this vine was everywhere and took over everything. Watch out.

We finally all got to sleep. It was still fairly humid so we opened all the windows and took off the rainfly to help with ventilation. This was the best night’s sleep in a tent that I’ve had in a long time. Benjamin read a study once that talked about how the most memorable gifts that you can give your family are trips instead of physical objects. I am glad that we took the time to get out of the house and spend quality time together.