Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blessed, Honored Pioneer

The Mormon Pioneer story is a story that is filled with faith, persecution, hope, trials, triumph, tears, and of course, lots of walking. It is sometimes hard to hear the stories about the trials but it is uplifting to know the results of those trials that were endured well. It is important to learn from history, not only the pioneer history, but all history. It is important to teach our children stories from history so they can learn from the trials and triumphs of others. The first weekend in June, we had the great opportunity to participate in a short reenactment of what some of the Handcart Pioneers experienced.

There were over 70,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that made their way west starting in 1856. The first wagon train entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th, 1847. Later, there were several members of the church that came all the way from England and other places in western Europe. It was an expensive journey so the leaders were inspired to provide a less expensive way to make the overland journey. Instead of using oxen and wagons they started building mini-wagons, or handcarts, and using people power, they were able to get to Salt Lake City using fewer resources. They did, however, need to walk every step of the 1,300 miles!

Our journey started in January. It was announced that the youth would be participating in a "trek" this year at Martin's Cove and there was a need for adult volunteers to be "Ma & Pa" over small groups of kids. Only the youth between the ages of 14-18 are allowed to participate. All three of our boys happen to fall between those ages. Jim and I had the opportunity to trek at that sacred place about nine years ago so when I heard the announcement I immediately thought, "Wow! Our whole family can all go on trek together!" Later I found out that Jim's first thought was, "Wow! All three of the boys will be gone on the same weekend! I wonder what Aimee and I will do?" It didn't take much to talk Jim into going.

We went through our "Ma & Pa" training. We started purchasing any equipment we were in need of. I made myself an authentic pioneer dress, apron and bonnet. About a week before it was time to leave we started gathering our equipment. Everyone was allowed to pack 17lbs. of clothing and personal items (not including bedding and tents) that would be pulled on out handcarts. I taped the checklists to the wall and put each of our buckets under the lists. Because we were "Ma & Pa", Jim and I were allowed/required to pack more gear. There were things we would need to help our "family" along the way.

This is what my living room looked like for about a week

There were almost 500 people that were heading up to Wyoming. Our journey started at 5am. The kids were excited and quite wild on the bus ride. Eventually, and after two stops, we made it up to our destination. Our gear was waiting for us (it was trucked up the night before). We found our cart and gathered our "family" and we were off...

This is our "trek family". These were the great kids we got to look after for the three days we were walking in the footsteps of previous faithful pioneers.

On the second day we were able to gather our real family together for a picture just before we made the walk into the cove. Notice our rain gear and ponchos. It was quite stormy and we got really wet that weekend!

Just before we made our way into Martin's Cove, we were treated to a well planned devotional. We listened to music that set the tone. We were told stories of why this place is sacred and why those pioneers willingly endured the hardships for what they knew to be true.

I love that place! I am so glad we went even though we had lots of rain, wet equipment, micro-burst thunderstorms and lots of mud. I am grateful for my husband and his knowledge of how to stay safe, warm and dry in any conditions. But most of all, and especially on Pioneer Day, I am thankful that pioneers did what they did. Weather they came across the plains in wagons, handcarts or they are like my parents and welcomed the missionaries into their home to hear the message of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They are an inspiration to me. They remind me that it is always best to stand up for truth and righteousness no matter what it might do to your immediate situation. It the long run it is always best to do what's right. God promises us that if we do what is right he will support us.

Even during the clean up process...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Construction or Destruction?

When we built our house, we chose flooring based on the fact that we have three boys and a dog. Almost one third of the flooring in our home is tile. The other parts are carpet. I have grown to loathe carpet over the last 12 years! The family room carpet is the worst. But that is probably due to it being the most used room in the house. I have wanted to rip it out for years. Most of you may remember that it is what started the whole basement/theater thing. I love what came of it but I still had gross carpet in the family room.

We have been slowly emptying the family room of it's contents. A few months ago we sold our big sectional couch to some friends that just finished building their cabin. We gave our big screen TV to Jim's parents. We have also sold other furniture pieces on to some of the most random people I have ever met. We were down to the boys little video game TV, a few miscellaneous chairs and the dog bed.

Then, Jim had a five day weekend. July 4th fell on a Sunday this year so he got Friday and Monday off. One morning that weekend he woke up and said, "Let's rip up the family room carpet." I was confused, bewildered, dazed and above all, ecstatic! The boys love destruction days. They had fun removing the baseboard, pulling up the carpet and ripping up the tack strip out of the cement foundation. It was noisy and dusty. There were a couple times I had to step in and help them work together without fighting, but in a couple hours the family was carpet free! Jim helped them rip out the little platform we had in the corner that the TV was on. I wish I had thought to get a before picture. I'm sure if I dug around the millions of pictures we have I could find a good family room picture but I'm too lazy. I did, however, get pictures of them taking the rock off the wall around the fireplace:

Kyle helped Jim with that part of the demolition. They removed the mantle and covered the glass over the fireplace.

When that was done, Josh and Kyle loaded the rock into the trailer that also held the old carpet. Then they tackled the drywall. One of these days it will all go to the dump.

The dust has settled. The room was swept and vacuumed. The tools that will be used later are neatly stacked in the corner ready for the building back up of this well used room. It has been a little hard for the boys lately. The only place to play Xbox and Wii is down in the theater and that room is mostly off limits. The only place to watch TV is in our bedroom and it is DEFINITELY NOT the family room. But Jim has already drawn up plans for built in book cases that he will build on both sides of the fireplace. There will be a new layout to the room that we both agree on. We'd like to replace the french doors that are on the back of the house. Most of the decisions will impact Kyle's room because it is on the same level as the family room. But as much as we agree on everything else, we are still debating on what type of flooring to put down.

I am voting strongly against carpet!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer of Spontaneity

I am a planner. I like to make lists. I like to know what I am going to do and stick to my schedule... usually. I seem to be straying off my path a bit this summer. It started with our trip to the Snake River a couple weekends ago. We got invited, packed and a little more than 12 hours later we were camping! Then last weekend Jim was going to take Kyle fishing. One of his favorite spots is on the Weber River near where his uncle has a cabin. He was talking to Uncle Rock and told him they would be up fishing. He told Jim, "The cabin will be empty. Why don't you just go for the weekend?" (We help them a lot with their computers and he lets us stay in his cabin when it's available. I feel like we get the better end of the bargain!)

So that's just what we did. We were at our friends house last Friday (which is something we do just about every Thursday or Friday night, depending on the weekend) and we talked about going. They said they could be ready in a couple hours. We could be ready in less so we ran to the grocery store while they packed up their kids. By 8pm we were all packed and headed up the canyon. We got there late and went straight to bed.

The next morning we were greeted with wonderful weather and this giant moth on the front porch. I put my fingers next to it so you could see just how big it was. It was about the size of my BlackBerry. We weren't as thrilled about the giant flying creature as we were about the weather. It was GLORIOUS! It is usually about 10°-15° cooler up at the cabin than it is down in the valley. The weather was just right for fishing and hiking.

First thing Friday morning, Jim and Kyle went right down to the river and caught a few fish.

This is the one they kept.

Then we packed up some lunch and went up to the lake for a hike.

Along the trail there is a rope hanging from a tree. Of course, the boys had to take advantage of that. This is Josh...

And this is Kyle. It was really fun to watch!

We found a little place to stop and eat our lunch.

When we got back, I had to shower. When I got out of the shower, all of the kids were playing games and coloring. This is how I found all the adults! I had to take the picture from upstairs looking down for the full affect.

I am glad I am letting myself be more spontaneous. Sometimes some of the best things happen spur of the moment. I know we had a ton of fun at the cabin. We always do. I am always very relaxed and rested when I get home from that place. And it always reminds me of Lisa when I am up there. We took her and the kids up there the summer before she passed. I usually spend some time, early in the morning, sitting on the porch swing just thinking about her and what a great sister she is. She really appreciated the beauty of that canyon and marveled over how many trees there were. I like to sit quietly and look at the trees and feel grateful that our Heavenly Father has given us such wonderful things to appreciate on this earth. I like to think about all the things I learned from my sister, one of which is living life more fully, which might mean straying from the schedule and doing something completely unplanned.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Snow for the Fourth of July

From the time the boys were very little, we started taking long Sunday drives. We have driven just about every canyon in northern Utah. We have been blessed to have kids that do very well in the car, even from the time they were tiny babies. I remember there was a time I was visiting my family, just me and my boys, and I drove from my hometown in the San Diego area all the way to my home in the Salt Lake City area in one day. I think they were all under five years old. And they were really good!

Then a couple of years ago, the gas prices started to skyrocket. We stopped taking Sunday drives like we used to and just fell out of the habit of doing it. We still take the boys places. They have been to a lot of places and see

n a lot of things that most kids their age have not. But we just don't take random drives on Sunday afternoons like we used to.

Well, Jim has been DYING to take a Sunday drive since the snow melted. And we found a road that we have never driven on! We drove up to Park City, had a little dinner and continued up the road past Dear Valley and went over the pass on a little dirt road that meets up with Big Cottonwood Canyon. We have been up that canyon and down into Midway and Heber but never on the little road to/from Park City.

When we were at the top of the pass we pulled over. We got the dog on her leash and walked a little way up the trail. I had to turn around and go back to the truck before everyone else. It was only 54 degrees up there! I was dressed for 80+ degrees. The boys had ventured off the trail and found some snow. There is still plenty in the shade and on the north and east facing peaks. Macy had. great time running around and smelling all the new smells. I think Jim got his Sunday drive fix and I didn't have to come up with something for dinner. We all won!

How blessed we are to live in such a wonderful area in such an amazing country. I hope I never take that for granted. I am forever grateful for all those that have made sacrifices to make our country great!

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our Weekend in Wonderland

My sister-in-law, Joann, called me last Wednesday. Her family has been rafting down the Snake river every summer for the last 10 years. They go about every third weekend throughout the summer. They are such a fun group! They call themselves The Mad Hatters because it is a requirement that you wear a silly/crazy hat when you float down the their in their raft. Her dad, Captain Jack, has his own raft and their family is big enough that they usually have plenty of grown ups or big kids to help paddle through the rapids. Last weekend they didn't have enough people going so she asked if we could. My boys are big enough now that they are considered "paddlers" and not "free loaders" (those who are big enough to go down the river but not big enough to be a paddler). We didn't have any other major plans so I took the boys up to Wyoming. We were sad that Jim needed to stay home to work :( but he encouraged us to go. We never know when the next opportunity to go will be.

We got on the road about 2pm on Thursday afternoon and made it up to the campsite along the Greys River a few hours later. We had some dinner and got settled in for the night.

The next morning was chilly. The campers didn't get up and moving as quickly as was hoped. I know I was running slow! I was up late on Wednesday packing, I got up early to finish packing and drove the whole way to Wyoming. We had a rough first night in the tent. Macy, the dog, threw up on her bed (there were so many interesting new smells for her to smell and things for her to eat) and then didn't she want to go back to sleep. She thought it was play time! When people started getting up they were not moving as fast as Captain Jack wanted them to move. Breakfast was later then usual and so was everything else. They usually try to get in three runs down the river on Friday but we only got in two, one before lunch and one after.

This is the boys just before the first run in their crazy hats. Austin's is a kid's plastic army helmet, Kyle's is a beanie with a baseball on top and Josh's is a pink octopus.

This is the group photo of the first run of the year!!!

The best place to take pictures is at the rapid called Lunch Counter. Here they are just going into the rapid. I almost didn't make it down to get the picture because the river was running so high and fast!

And here they are, just after Lunch Counter and their wild ride.

The group was able to do two runs on Saturday when they usually do one. The boys and I got camp all packed up and loaded up in the car. We played at the park with the little kids while waiting to go on the second run. I was able to get video of them on that run:

It was a super fun weekend. We really appreciate the Arrington family for thinking of us!!! I made sure they knew that anytime they need paddlers to think of us ;) and I hope they do. Here's wishing them another TEN years of rafting one of the best rivers in the west!