Jun 302012
 

Father’s and Son’s Campout! Yay!

At least, that was the overall impression I got from Ethan and Jeremy, ever since we left the last campout. They asked if we could go again, and every so often throughout the year, would mention it and ask if we were going again. I never said we wouldn’t, and as time came closer, we made plans to go again. As luck had it, earlier in the week all the kids had turns throwing up, and I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to go. However, as Friday rolled around, Rebecca was the only one feeling ill and she okayed our leaving her for the night.

Last year was off in the picturesque Hobble Creak Canyon, in the shade surrounded by hills and trees, with the typical outhouse (hole in the ground) toilet for facilities.  It was over an hour from our house to there, with a good portion of the drive just getting from the freeway to the campground.

This year, our ward opted to go with a campsite at Willow Park, a local state park off the Jordan River, about 20 minutes from our house, where the Girl Scout and Cub Scout day camps were also held at. The distance was one of the best perks about the location; the campsite we ended up with was in a grassy field with no trees around, although we did have a covered pavilion with tables to sit at.

I got off work early to get home and pick up the boys, then on the way to the campsite, we stopped off at Wal-Mart and Smiths to get some camping food and supplies (another perk of the location is it’s within a mile of both stores). We then arrived and set up our tent on the vacant southern portion of our campsite, and then the boys started playing with the other boys who were there.

One of the other fathers arranged a “Ladder Ball” competition, as he brought a few sets for people to compete on, and that went on during the light (and into the night). We ate whilst the competition went on, and my turn finally came as dusk was coming. Unfortunately, with the park’s location being so close to the Jordan River, that brought mosquitoes, which quickly attacked us all. Bro Whiting (whom I was playing against) graciously let us use some bug repellant wipes, which we quickly rubbed on our exposed skin, so we kept the bug bites to under ten apiece.

The game went on well past dark (we had lanterns and car headlights to see the playing field), and a campfire burning bright. Around 10:30 at night, we heard Taps played on a bugle from a neighbouring campsite, amongst the trees – must have been a scout group? After some more general hanging out at the fire, roasting marshmallows, I convinced the boys to go to the tent so we could get some sleep.

Last year, most of the fathers sent their kids to their tents, bringing portable electronics to watch movies on. I didn’t want to do this, this year, so I had our kids just in the tent and tried to get them to sleep. However, being past 11 at night, I didn’t realise I was one of the early ones to do this. Most of the other boys were running around wild, coming up to the tent and making noise well past midnight. I guess I was one of the stricter parents there? Then, as luck would have it, our tent was next to a group of gamers, up well past 3am playing Magic. (the only reason I knew the time was I heard one of them comment as they walked back to their own tent.)

In the morning, some of the men started making the standard camping fare of pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, and hash browns, with orange juice to drink. For some reason, Ethan and Jeremy weren’t overly hungry, and I only ate a minor portion of it. Immediately following this, about half of the group packed up and went home. However, we decided to go exploring some of the paths first, so we went walking along the Jordan River and found some animal paths along some of the woodsy areas (I can’t call it a forest, as they were just some random trees). Eventually, we finished exploring and came back to the campsite, where most everybody had packed up, so we put the tent away and went home as well.

 Posted by at 10:01 pm
Jun 232012
 

Whenever I post things that are related to girl scouts, I have to take a moment and make sure that I am in the right mindset. I don’t feel comfortable posting from the leader perspective, as there may be parents that don’t feel comfortable with me sharing stories or pictures about their girls. And so I have to make sure that I am thinking of things from the perspective as the parent, focusing mostly on myself and my daughter. 🙂

When discussing with Amy and Michelle, (my co-leaders) the activities that we wanted to do through the summer, I mentioned that I would like to do an overnighter. Maybe just a simple campout in someone’s backyard that way we were close to a toilet and not out anywhere scary or far from home. After thinking about it, Amy brought up that her family has a cabin that we could probably use. We decided to make it a mom and me since we didn’t want to be responsible for anything happening to the girls while we were away. 😉  And we decided that we would use the time at the cabin to work on earning a few badges.

The girls got to finish up their potters badge by making some beads out of clay. We forgot to bring some toothpicks to bake the beads on, so we ended up using some spaghetti noodles that we found in the cupboard in the cabin. 😛

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After we baked them, the girls got to string them up to make necklaces or bracelets.

The girls also got to earn the bugs badge. It was pretty funny to watch so many of the girls scream and freak out at being so close to bugs. One of the activities that they did to earn the badge was to use a shoebox to make an observation area, so they could catch a bug and watch it for a bit.

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Several of the girls had difficulties in catching a bug, but after we helped to make sure that they all had one, it was pretty funny that some of the girls would no longer even touch their box JUST because there was a bug inside. 😛

We also had the girls earn the snacks badge, and they got to do things like make and eat guacamole, make and drink homemade root beer, and each girl brought something to contribute to a trail mix (which we planned on taking on our hike with us).

When we had lunch, Amy realized that she had forgotten to bring the grapes. I think she was going to mix some into the chicken salad, and she realized they weren’t there when she was mixing it up. Then when we were helping the girls make guacamole for the snacks badge, we realized that the limes also did not make it up to the cabin. After a while, Amy’s husband sent her a text asking her if she had realized that she left behind the turkey lunch meat, the bacon and the eggs, all of which, happened to be our food for today!

We weren’t allowed to have a campfire, due to the extremely dry weather and the many fires that were already blazing all over Utah (seems like the whole state is on fire right now). The moms that had phones that had access to internet were on their phones a lot checking the status of the fire on our mountain. We even heard a rumor at one point that the city center had been evacuated. I sent a quick text message to Kyle to ask him about it, and he answered back that he had had the radio on for quite some time to get news updates on the fire and that he hadn’t heard anything about our area being evacuated.

So we knew we weren’t allowed to have a campfire, but we weren’t sure if we were allowed to use charcoal or not. We ended up starting our charcoal so that we could do our dutch oven pot roast for dinner.  We went on a short hike to the water tank after dinner, and the girls all climbed up on it.

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Tyra looks a lot shorter than all the other girls, but I think that has something to do with the way that her neck seems to have disappeared. She is younger than a lot of those girls, but she is not younger than all of them. After they had all climbed on the tank Amy showed them how she used to slide off of it when she was a kid and so they all had to slide off too (with the help of one of the other moms because they were all too afraid to slide off on their own). 😉

One of the mom’s helped keep the coals that we used to cook our pot roast, warm so that we could roast marshmallows later in the evening. Roasting marshmallows over warm coals was very slow business. Some of the girls actually figured out how to get their marshmallows to turn that nice golden roasted color. But everyone was able to get their marshmallows warm enough to be able to squish them between two graham crackers.

By the end of the day, as bedtime drew nearer and nearer, Tyra became more and more nervous. She still has problems staying dry at night, and she REALLY didn’t want to have an accident while we were at the cabin when we were around so many people that aren’t family. I think she was also concerned that the other girls might tease her about it. She was getting really tired and decided that after she finished her smores she had better get ready for bed. I also felt that it would be better for her to hit the sack early and actually be able to use the bathroom before going to bed, instead of her just falling asleep wherever she happened to be sitting, without having used the bathroom first. So she ended up missing the final ‘campfire’ time where Amy read the girls a story that she wrote about a girl and some Brownies, and she missed the Brownie hunt. I was sad that she missed it (actually I missed it too since I was inside helping to get Tyra ready for bed), but I really wanted to make sure she had a chance to properly prepare for bed.

The other girls came in and got ready for bed shortly after Tyra had gotten into her sleeping bag for the night. It took awhile for everyone to get a turn in the bathroom so they could change and brush teeth and use the toilet. But at last all the kids were up in the loft and in their sleeping bags. One of the mom’s was concerned with how hot it was up in the loft, where the girls were sleeping, and thought that her daughter was looking as though she wasn’t feeling very well. So they decided to go out and sleep in their jeep (I guess the seats fold down and so they could just lay some sleeping pads down and they had plenty of room to sleep). Later, after I had gone to bed, a couple more of the girls came down, one saying that she was homesick and the other just wanted to be with her mom. I tried to get some sleep, but it’s always hard for me to sleep in strange places, and the fact that some of the moms were still up talking and the fact that there were a couple of girls up too, made it REALLY difficult for me to drift off. I just laid there in bed listening to everything that was being talked about, and every time someone went into the bathroom I heard them in the hall and saw the light go on. After most of the commotion and most of the conversations seemed to have ceased and things seemed like they were going to be quiet for the night, the real commotion began. The girl that was feeling clingy and just wanted to be with her mom ended up throwing up! I heard it splat all over the wood flooring. Then the crazy rush of everyone that was awake trying to get things out of the way so they could get it cleaned up. Her mom took her to the bathroom to give her a shower to try to get her cleaned up. Unfortunately Amy’s uncle had forgotten to come up to the cabin before us to turn on the water heater, and Amy couldn’t find the key to the basement so that we could turn it on ourselves. So there was no hot water, it was freezing cold spring water. I kept hearing the girl complain to her mom that she was cold. I felt so sad for her. I think after they got her cleaned up and the main room all cleaned up things really calmed down and that was the end of the chaos for the night.

Since most of the food for today had been forgotten, breakfast plans had to be altered. One of the mom’s made a run to a local store to pick up some eggs and bacon yesterday, and so we were able to turn our loaves of bread (that were meant to be turkey sandwiches for lunch) into french toast. We were also planning on taking the girls on a 3 mile hike to Strawberry Ridge right after breakfast, but considering everyone was up so late, and the fact that one of the girls threw up in the night, we decided it would be better to scrap that and maybe just take the girls that felt up to it, back up to the water tank one more time. Other than that we basically spent this morning packing up and cleaning the cabin up so we could get everyone home. I think the girls had a good time, despite the drama and vomit. And I think we are going to plan on making this a yearly activity. 🙂

Jun 232012
 

At work on Thursday afternoon, I heard a few coworkers talking about a fire across Utah Lake.  I went to see where it was at, as the direct line to our home was across the river and then over the mountain.  Going to the Window, it appeared the fire was on the northern point of the mountain separating Eagle Mountain’s city center, and the west side of Utah lake and its surrounding communities.  It was relatively small and only putting out a small amount of smoke.  I figured it wasn’t that bad, and would be under control shortly.

However, driving home, it became more apparent as to how widespread the fire had become, and how close it was to our house.  On a typical day home, I drive on Pioneer Crossing, through Saratoga Springs, then onto a back road into the Ranches, passing the Silver Lake community.  However, due to the smoke, I felt it would be better to take a more roundabout path home.  I drove through the main Ranches entrance instead, then joined up to the road I take home.  In the distance, to the south, I saw the mountain the fire was on.  It was directly south of the way I was driving.  As the road curved, the mountain was still right there, belching out smoke and even close enough to see the flames.  Helicopters were constantly flying overhead, dropping water down on the hot spots.

Continuing the drive home, into our secluded little valley, the fire was actually right to the east of the road and our homes.  I couldn’t help but stare at it during the drive, shocked at how much it was spreading and consuming everything.  It was up on the mountain right above the end of our street (I’m glad we’re a bit more inland than that area).  I got home, which had a perfect eastward view of the active part of the fire, and called the kids outside to watch it.  It was only about a mile and a half away from our house, though up the mountain a ways, so the chances of spreading down didn’t seem likely.

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It remained a consistent point of topic in our home and neighbourhood, as many people were out on the street watching it, just like us.  It felt weird; surreal and fascinating, but not really frightening (to me, at least), to have a massive fire raging so close to our house, yet we just stayed in the comfort of our home, assuming and expecting great people to be out there, working to prevent it from spreading to critical areas.  We learned that there’s an explosives factory less than a mile from part of where the fire raged (I assume, on the other end of the mountain).  They were putting extra effort into preventing the fire from getting there.

On Thursday afternoon, it was decently spreading and we saw helicopters working to dump water on it.  Thursday night, it was even greater, and in the middle of the night, I saw a number of vehicles driving up towards the fire zone.

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By Friday morning, it had spread even more, and the helicopters were back, along with some fire planes.

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A large number of houses north of here had been evacuated, and we didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger.  However, on Friday as the fire kept spreading on our mountain, I wondered what it would be like to lose our house and all our possessions. Strangely, after losing the hard drive and coming to the reality of not having much of that content anymore, I felt like it wouldn’t really matter if we did lose the contents of our house, as long as our family was safe. I know, yes, it would be difficult to overcome it, but we would do it.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to evacuate, and the wonderful heroes fighting fires did a great job of keeping it from spreading down to our homes.

 Posted by at 3:58 pm
Jun 192012
 

Today, Chloe turned 3! When you ask her how old she is she will hold up three fingers on one hand and say “I’m dis many!” She has been looking forward to her birthday for awhile now, but mostly since Kyle had his birthday and she knew hers was next. So after dinner tonight we got to celebrate her birthday (I am doing such a good job of making sure we celebrate birthdays ON the actual birthday 🙂 ). We got on Skype to do a video call with cousins, Tommy and Annaleah. The kids really enjoyed showing off a bunch of their toys and things to their cousins. The funny thing was that everybody was showing off their own things and nobody was actually paying attention to what the others were showing them. Then we went outside to attack the pinata.

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We went through everyone twice before we actually had it totally broken open. I love this picture of Tyra though:

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She is making a funny face, and I caught the candy in mid-air as it was falling to the ground. This picture of Ethan is pretty funny too:

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After the kids had picked up all the candies it was time to go inside for some cake. Chloe picked carrot cake when I gave her a list of choices, and so that is what I made. Along with cream cheese frosting.

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Then we took a break from all the celebrating to try to clean up a bit before letting Chloe open her presents. However, the kids took a REALLY long time to get their chores done and to get the living room tidied up, so we were really tired by the time we actually got around to presents. And being tired means that one minute, Chloe was perfectly happy:

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Then the next minute she was not:

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Then she went back to being perfectly happy again:

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But all things considered, I think she really enjoyed her birthday.  🙂

Jun 172012
 

Rebecca said she wanted to go shopping for my Father’s Day gift. She explained, “I can get it at Wal-Mart, or maybe at Bed Bath and Beyond.”
My response was, “If it’s not something you need to buy at Best Buy, I don’t think I want it.”

It turns out she got me a rice cooker to replace the one we had with a broken lid. Well….. I don’t think it has enough bells and whistles. It needs a bigger screen.

 Posted by at 10:58 pm