Thursday, May 31, 2018

May

April was busy, but then comes May. Life didn't slow down this year and I find myself in June, blogging six months delayed back from December. I had focused a lot on Relief Society in April so it seemed natural that my spinning plates shifted to more my family and myself in May. I knew I had to physically step up my game and take care of my body. I finally made the decision to renew our apex membership. I started to work my body. This took a lot of time and mind energy to make it happen.

I also had usual end of the year stuff. One week I went on two field trips, one to the museum with Warren and one to the zoo with Luke. We also finished up their spring sports. Warren did basketball, Luke soccer, and Calvin baseball. We simplified a lot by doing the shorter season and all at the YMCA, which is so close to our house.
Uncle Mark and Aunt Shawna dropped in on us one night for dinner on their epic, retired, road trip.


We had Mom and Dad Sleight visit and somehow didn't take a single picture!! They arrived on Thursday. They did soap carving and the whittling badge for Warren in his bear book. Here they are a few days later with their creations. They loved it! I had to go to my class that night. 

Friday morning, after three kids to school and Audrey to the neighbors we had an adult outing. It felt amazing! We took them to the Denver Museum to see the exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls. We got yummy arepas for lunch at Avanti in the Highlands.
That night we went swimming at the Apex. The next day our plans were thwarted because of the rain. It was really sad. Luke's soccer game was cancelled. We did make it out to eat Colorado style pizza at Beaujos for lunch. I snuck away for the leadership session of our stake conference. Elder Dube from Zimbabwe was with us. We talked a lot about ministering. I know they want us to understand, but I'm a little burned of talking about it so much. It doesn't seem that much more complicated then people are making it out to be. Maybe because it just seems so natural to how we should be serving anyway. But there are still things to improve.
All the boys planned on sticking out the rain and heading to the speedway for drag racing. The boys got free tickets through a reading program at school. Everyone was so excited. Then they got there only to find it had been weather postponed. So sad. We went out for frozen yogurt and redboxed Peter Rabbit instead.
Sunday morning I woke up really not feeling well. I stayed home with the kids from Stake Conference. I felt really crummy for the next couple of days. The cough hung on for weeks after. I had to count my blessings as this is the worst I have gotten for months and months.


The next weekend we had Danny and Camille come in for a visit on their way to Europe. I made a plan, four adults, four kids, so we did individual dates. I took Luke to Ella's baptism. Sadly I didn't get a picture of the two of them. He loves Ella. He isn't terribly patient through the baptism, but was happy to play at the park after with his Hyrum and Ella.

It was also her actual birthday

Camille took Calvin to the butterfly pavilion and lunch.
Grant took Warren up lookout mountain.

And Danny got Audrey. Bless his soul. Through a bit of a disaster of gps directions he took her to the 16th Street mall downtown. Lots of crowds later, they made it to a gelato for a treat before coming back. Audrey then convinced him to take her on a walk. She couldn't find the stroller so suggested the hiking backpack. She loves Danny and didn't leave him alone all weekend. Danny was patient and won gold points.

Snuggling up watching youtube videos. We had watched out outdoor movie, Greatest Showman, in the backyard the night before.

Grant taking a Sunday nap with Audrey.


Our new deck in the spring. Either it's a really seedy year, or I just didn't notice how much this tree puts off every year. The big open space of the deck makes it stand out.
After Apex exercising and swimming, field trips, end of school year programs and conferences, and family visits, we were really excited for summer! Our first week was a great success. Memorial Day we did a bit of yard work and had a couple of families over for smoked ribs and chicken. (Grant got a traeger grill back in March and has loved smoking all sorts of good meats. Though he has quickly tired of being in charge of the main dish of so many meals.) We jumped right into our summer traditions. We hit our first park day on Tuesday, our first backyard movie night on Wednesday, Princess Bride, our first hike on Thursday, our first bike ride on Friday and our first camping trip that night. What a week!
Starting Wednesday night to Saturday night we also had Adam and Ella with us. It was pretty great.


I wasn't sure how this season of hiking would go with Audrey this year. She rode in the pack part way and walked part of it. When she was walking she did great and loved it, until she didn't and refused to go on until she was back in the pack. 

We started off with a hike in Boulder near the flat irons, Chatauqua park. It was new to me, and a pretty difficult hike of elevation. It was one of the hardest first miles I have done, mostly due to carrying 35  pound Audrey. The other three boys did great and love hiking.
That night Grant and I got to go to our first concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. What a treat, and worth it! We saw the Colorado Symphony with Rachmaninoff piano concerto 2 by Natasha Paremski. It was a perfect evening of weather, geography and beautiful music. I am almost certain we have seen her with the symphony before, but the time I remember going on a Sunday afternoon apparently I didn't blog about it (one of the reasons that finally got me to sit down and update the blog now).



During intermission she came out. Grant didn't meet her, but we stood over there for a minute as she talked to some piano students and told them that her key is to practicing slowly.




Friday morning's bike ride we made it to drop off a dinner gift card to the missionaries, then made our way to Donut Time for national donut day. It was the incentive for the kids.

I didn't let them all into the store with me, but to stay with the bikes. They were all staring through the window and I was dying laughing.

We made it to a nearby park (though we passed about five parks on our ride), to eat their donut before we did the last leg home. We did 7.5 miles! What troopers. Everyone on their own bike, with Calvin and Audrey pulled by me in the trailer.

That night we kicked off the season with camping in the Pike Forest near Sedalia. We have been to this spot before. There was probably only one other group in the campground that we couldn't even see, so we had the place to ourselves. There were other campers along the road as this is a popular place that has a dirt bike trail. The kids loved collecting the firewood and exploring. Audrey got sufficiently dirty and didn't care at all. She did get cold in the night and came into my bag with me around 2 am. I was testing out a new cot I bought. I would say it is marginally better than my air pad, which is marginally better than the air mattress. I couldn't tell if it would be a little better if I still didn't have to stress about Audrey getting cold and sleeping with me. Though we are out of the diaper phase, and have come so far, we still have a little more to go as far as independence in camping and hiking. But it was interesting to think back to the early years of camping with little littles.

Monday, April 30, 2018

April

April was pretty busy. It started out with an historic General conference. We participated in the solemn assembly to sustain President Russel Nelson. Then there were lots of announcements and changes throughout the conference. It was so amazing. The biggest changes were to make one Elders Quorum in the wards and changing home and visiting teaching to ministering. There were also great temple announcements of Bangalore, India and Russia among others.

The next week I spent devouring the info on all the ministering changes as that is close to home with my calling. I am very excited about what it entails. I hope the sisters step up and learn how to be true friends and serve the many needs of the ward. Overall the goal is to get the members to more equally share the burden or duty of serving everyone in the ward, and lessen the load on the Bishop so he can more fine tune his focuses. We are trying to live a higher law and being more involved in the work and not being told what to do. We are to seek more inspiration and follow the Spirit more in our lives, for ourselves and in serving others. President Nelson shared that we will not be able to spiritually survive in the coming days if we do not learn how to receive revelation and fine tune following the Spirit. The weeks that followed I felt this deeply and the need to step up this ability. I also spent a fair amount of time arranging and thinking on ministering. We had a great ministering meeting in Relief Society and invited all the young women as well. The Spirit was strong.

Lots of other goings on in April. The boys all started in a spring sport at the YMCA. I finished up my second semester of school and jumped right into the next one. I made it through math! And between the two semesters I finished The Book of Mormon. What a great experience to study it in a class. I have a testimony that it is true. I expressed a fear to Grant that I wouldn't be able to keep up my scripture study like I have been after I am done with the Pathway program. I hope I will, it has blessed my life.

We celebrated Warren's 9th birthday at Boondocks. It was his year to invite friends for a party. He asked that we not do a big theme party at home where he has to invite a bunch of people he doesn't really care about. I saw his point even if it made me a little sad to not creatively throw him a party. It was probably a tender mercy that I didn't have to. Though I did spend a fair amount of time dithering over the price and which package and if we would take the whole family. It turned out to be great. He brought Adam, Quincy and Rendon, his three best friends. We played from about 2:30-8:30. Laser tag was my favorite. I was very frustrated that they didn't stay in the line to do the new ropes course, but I don't blame them after wasting so much time in line for the go carts. I think the arcade was their favorite. 

I made a mint chocolate ice cream cake for him. It was delicious.

Audrey loved the go carts and wanted to keep going on them.



Calvin snuck a few pictures of our everyday. We had a carpool with April and Charlotte for the three days of preschool. We had a meeting spot and I got to chat with April for a few minutes almost every time. Audrey got impatient a lot, but was overall pretty good about how long she was in the car every time. I will miss these carpool days with April.


Sunday snapshot. The basement is a usual mess. I come home from church to frequently finding Grant watching the live action Cinderella with the kids. Grant loves it and the kids don't, so he tricks them into watching as their only choice on Sundays.

Warren did a stint that he would sleep in the hall outside his bedroom. He would read until he crashed.

She is my errand buddy. Sometimes this is not the best thing. At the thrift store if she is good she will get candy from the machine at the end. I know I will miss my time with her, but I cannot wait to run errands freely.


The Relief Society was in charge of heading up our quarterly ward activity. We decided to keep it low key and do a movie night. We got licensing from Disney to show Coco, a newer release with a story line about the day of the dead and family history. I love this movie and it was a big hit. We had a great turnout and good feedback. I even brought Ruby and Ollie from next door. 




For our anniversary we made it to the temple for sealings.

We had a momma sparrow build her nest right into the wreath on the door. Four little baby birds. It was fun to see their progression from eggs, to little, nearly hairless balls to little birds. We tried limiting our movement in and out the front door. One morning I opened the door to the wreath on the ground and birds gone. They seemed big enough to me, so we are assuming the positive that they flew away instead of being eaten.

We did our weekend in Fort Collins this time. We did our usual of shopping, eating, hot tub in the hotel and lots of chatting.



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

CO Spring Break

We were lucky to have Grant join us for our spring break adventures this year. We decided to discover more of our beautiful Colorado. We left after church on Sunday and drove to a hotel in Alamosa. The next morning we drove over to Great Sand Dunes National Park. These are the tallest in North America and are surrounded by landscapes of wetlands, grasslands, aspen forests and tundra. It was quite an amazing place to visit. If it had been later in Spring the river running at the base of the dunes would be flowing from the melted tundra run off that contributes to the dunes. Instead, we walked across the long distance of sand before climbing up. It was pretty tiring.





We rented a couple of sand sleds so we could slide down the hills. It was hard work climbing up the sand, but all the kids did it.


We took a midday break to look around the visitors center and watch a video about the geography of the dunes. In the video room was the beautiful view of the dunes. The shades came down during the 20 minute video and Audrey crashed on my lap. 


In the Junior Ranger booklet the scene they chose to draw was them going down the dunes on the sled.
After a picnic lunch we made a second go at the dunes. The wind really picked up this time and became quite burdensome, so we didn't last as long. But overall we really enjoyed the dunes. I can see how late spring would be even better with the river flowing. 

The kids love hotel stays. We swam in the pool and then made a sonic run for slushies and shakes while we watched a movie. 
The next morning we woke up to snow falling. We took our time eating breakfast and made our way to Pueblo. We stopped for lunch a movie in the theater, Peter Rabbit. It was better than expected. We then drove about a half hour more to Canon City to the hotel there. We were a quite mad the hotel made us book a second room because of our family of 6. We went swimming for the third night.

The next morning we drove a little more to the Royal Gorge first thing in the morning. What a fascinating structure. A beautiful suspension bridge over a gorge or canyon about a mile up over the river. We were some of the first people there. This led to walking across the bridge almost all on our own. It was scary for all of us. I had some serious gut twisting at the height of it. Each crack we creaked over made me jitter. Warren was sure the bridge would collapse.

Luke was the last one, he was walking so precariously over each slat. When I got to the other side, all of a sudden I hear Luke yelling from about middle of the bridge. I looked back to see Luke running in fear as a tractor had come on the bridge and appeared to be chasing him. It was noisy and shaking the bridge and he was petrified. I had a hard time not laughing it was so classic. He came running into my arms, but it got him across the bridge a lot faster.

On the other side was the a fun kid playground, including a small carousel which the kids rode about 20 times.





We then caught the tractor ride back across the bridge. We had lunch before making our way back across to the playground and look out area. 


This was the old track of the trolley that rode down the canyon wall to the bottom. A fire in 2013 ruined this and most of what surrounded the bridge. They have rebuilt a lot in the last few years, but I don't know if they plan on rebuilding this.




The second time across the bridge was a little easier, though still a bit queasy for me. Here is the river below through the cracks.

Warren was much braver the second time around. We had watched a movie about the bridge after the first time across. It explained how much weight the bridge can hold and that sealed it in his mind. If it could hold thousands of pounds then it could hold him without collapsing. He kept telling me how much it could hold and had such a confidence in it.



The gondolas were closed the first part of our visit. We were truly disappointed. But as we were at a top view area we saw them run and we hurried up to take a ride. That was thrilling to go over the gorge that way as well. The zipline ran near it, costing extra, you couldn't pay me to do that. 


We didn't get the junior ranger books until the end, so they worked on them in the car. Audrey fell asleep mid coloring. She played hard this trip. We all had a really great time and enjoyed the scenes. 

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