Friday, June 16, 2017



We were in the throes of busy season, which is hard on everyone. We try to spend Saturday afternoons/evenings adventuring so we get in some kind of family activity for the week. This particular week, we decided to take our bikes to Floyd Lamb State Park. Lila had only been riding sans-training wheels for about a month, but other than a few minor falls she did great! 

We rode around all the ponds--there are four--and through the park itself. Ryan and the boys were going to attempt going down a pretty decent dirt/rock hill. After Ryan went on the hill, though, he waved the boys off--and thank goodness, I'm not sure my heart could have survived watching them going down the hill, too!

Lila and I did a little exploring on our own while the boys rode through the dirt for a while. We found a peacock! We'd already seen a few peacocks, but thsi one was extra special because he had his tail feathers extended and spread!

After Floyd Lamb, we decided to drive to the end of Durango. This may sound weird, but we live off Durango wayyyyyyyyyy on the other side of the city, so we thought seeing the end could be cool. And it was because Durango ends at Tule Springs National Monument! At first we were a little hesitant to go explore--about 18 months ago we had stopped at Tule Springs on our way home from Mount Charleston and got stopped by a ranger who told us that the area had only been granted National Monument status a month before and was often still used by people as a shooting range (now illegally). We drove in but heard gunshots almost immediately, so left. This time we were on the back side of Tule Springs. We were very cautious, but saw no signs of anyone around (and there was nowhere to drive in this section of Tule) and heard nothing, so we went for it. The kids climbed around and got fantastically dirty. It was really fun to explore! And we even found a geocache on our way back to the car, so that was awesome.

Next, we drove by Gilcrease Nature Conservatory--which was closed unfortunately--then saw a road that went way out on the mountain that seemed to be calling us to explore it. After a few wrong turns, we found the road and followed it to discover an actual shooting range. We had gone a decent way up the mountain, so we had a fantastic view of the city. Shooting ranges aren't really our jam, so we started back down the mountain. By now, we were hungry, so we stopped at the first place that sounded good: Costco! We feasted on pizza and chicken bakes, then watched the most glorious sunset, ever, as we walked back to our car.

Finally, we decided to make a stop downtown to see the Bellagio Fountains at night--we've never seen them lit up before. It was smooth sailing until we took our exit, at which point we were mostly stopped/kind of crawling for the next 35 minutes! We read our scriptures for the night, though, and listened to some HP and made the best of it. We finally got to parking with just a few minutes before the fountains were going to start and booked it through the hotel. The fountains were super cool to see at night! We swung by the gardens, too, then made our way back home. We were exhausted from the day's adventures but had a great time!

She posed like this and asked me to take a picture!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

They Like to Ride Their Bicycles

The brutal heat of summer is upon us and I'm already wishing for cooler weather. The saddest thing about the beginning of summer, to me, is the end of after-school bike riding. We are on a year-round school schedule, so our mornings are still being spent indoor getting ready for school. We used to ride bikes after school every day, but lately it is just too dang hot to ride bikes! Because riding bikes in 100+ weather is like riding bikes while getting a heat punch to the face.

Anyway, the kids love bikes and, in the run-up to the hot weather, we rode as much as possible. Lila conquered her fear of the ramp, started riding with pegs on her back tires to stand on, rides down our side yard rocks with the boys, and has ridden the 2-mile loop to Forbuss with me a few times. Reed likes to borrow the littler bikes to do wheelies on, but has mastered standing on his crossbar (it's higher than his old one), riding on huge rocks, and riding at super speed. Asher is a daredevil and does all kinds of tricks on his pegs, stands with one foot on his cross bar and one on his handlebars, and is working on riding with no hands. And a plug for me: I've started riding my bike after school with the kids to stretch my knee and, since Ryan got me a new bike for mother's day, I've been riding early for exercise. Ryan comes up with the fun rides, taking us all over on Saturday mornings: to Circle K for drinks, to McDonald's for breakfast, through the railroad tunnel trails, etc. We are a bike family.

McKee Ranch

We are going back in time here to Lila's family day at McKee Ranch. Lila was super pumped, especially since Ryan and I were BOTH able to go with her! She was also excited because her class chicks were from McKee Ranch and had been returned to McKee Ranch, so we got to visit old friends.

I was a little surprised when we got to the ranch because there was no one around! We've never been before but apparently you just make yourself right at home. Mrs. Cantwell brought piles of crackers and carrots for the kids to use to feed the various animals around the ranch. Lila was pretty brave with the chickens and fed them as much as they could hold. Then we moved to the horses and she got a little nervous. She was okay with tossing a carrot in to them, but just couldn't quite muster up the courage to let one eat out of her hand. Eventually she tried hand feeding with Ryan holding on to her hand, but went immediately back to tossing--it's much safer.

After we fed the animals, we played on the swingset for a while. Then we bid Lila's class adieu and went out to lunch at Plantone's! Random aside: wayyyyyyy back in January, I was recycling an ad for a new pizza place when I noticed the words "FREE PIZZA" printed in block letters. I pulled that paper right back out of the recycle bin for further inspection and found that if we were one of the first 100 customers at the new pizza place, we'd get a weekly free pizza FOR A YEAR. I decided to case the joint after we dropped the boys off for school to see if it was worth trying for a spot at the first 100 (I drop them off at school at 9 and the grand opening was at 11). There were hardly any people in line, so we went back at about 10 and claimed our spot. I'd had knee surgery 8 days before the grand opening and knew standing for a long time wouldn't be ideal--so I took a chair (and felt like a nerd, no one else had a chair). Lila and I were indeed part of the first 100 customers and scored a free pizza for a year card--and happened to get free early screening tickets to see the Lego Batman Movie, too! We have very much enjoyed our weekly free Plantone's pizza.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Super Chaperone

One of the things that I've loved about Lila being in preschool is that it is now soooooooo much easier for me to volunteer at school! All my kids are at the same school, so I don't even have to juggle drop off times. Last year, I traded babysitting with a friend in the ward--she'd watch Asher and Lila one day a week so I could volunteer, then I'd watch her baby one day a week so she could volunteer. It was nice not having to find a babysitter all the time and still being able to go in consistently, but it was hard to have two days every week devoted to helping or babysitting. 

Anyway, I digree. Per usual. This school year I've been able to help weekly in Asher's class, all week long at two of the book fairs, on various PAC projects, and as a CHAPERONE. On field trips. I feel so grown up now. 

Asher and I got to go on his second field trip together (his first field trip came while Ryan and I were in Florida, and Grandma Hambly actually got to chaperone that one!). We went with all the Kindergartners to see "Once on the this Island," a play that the high school near us was putting on. The play was pretty fun, but the mics were a little quiet so it was hard to hear! And, we were running low on they ended the play early! We may never know how it ends haha. Ashie loved having me there and I loved being with him. A few times I had gone to ask other kids to get back in line or whatever and he said, almost immediately, "Will you come stand by me, mom?" YES.

I also got to go on Reed's very first field trip, ever! He didn't go on any field trips in kindergarten, and during his one field trip in first grade he was in Legoland! he was pumped to FINALLY get to go on a field trip. And it was a pretty fun one, too! Every year, the second graders go fishing at Floyd Lamb State Park. This year was his year! They rode buses out to the park, then got to rotate between three stations. Our first station was free time, so we took a walk around the ponds, observed the extremely friendly geese, and found some other wildlife: a few peacocks and a bunny. Our second station was fishing! The coordinator cast (casted?) everyone's lines for them, then we waited. A girl in my group, Cherry, was the only one that day to catch a fish. It was a four-pound catfish and it was super exciting to watch. We wished we could have fished longer! Our third station was a fishing game where the kids got to cast out themselves on the grass, then try to land their "bait" in plastic fishes' pocket mouths. That was pretty fun, too. After we finished our stations, we had lunch, then piled back on the buses. Lunch, I should note, was pretty hilarious because the geese were not shy. They were literally walking right next to us, looking for handouts! Alaina (one of Reed's friends!) was so nervous that she sat between Mrs. Kaufmann and me. The time passed so quickly--we were having so much fun!

I'm now anticipating my next chaperone gig--Reed's field trip to Shark Reef next month!

Figh-der Fighter

Lila's preschool class does a monthly family day activity. The activities are always fun (cookie decorating, pie eating, craft day, a farm visit), but last month's was especially fantastic--we went to the fire station! Lila's teacher (whom we love) is Mrs. Cantwell. Mrs. Cantwell's husband is fireman Cantwell, who kindly gave us a tour of the fire station where he works. Fireman Cantwell was super fun with the kids and Lila loved being with all her little school buddies. We got to see everything in the firehouse--the kitchen, the weight room, the theater, and of course, the fire trucks! One interesting tidbit I learned is that the firefighters in a particular firehouse are charged with buying any of the extras at the house--the weights, the exercise equipment, the TV, the armchairs in the theater room. They all chip in their personal money to buy that stuff!

I think Lila's favorite part was possibly spraying the fire hose. She was pretty pumped to wield so much power. She also loved sitting up in the fire truck and getting a badge and fire hat. While we were there, she told me, "Mommy, I want to be a figh-der fighter when I grow up!!!" (Side note, I love the way she says fire fighter)

 Lila is sandwiched between Brooklyn (L) and Maddox (R). Brooklyn is in Ms. Chrisanee's class, but Lila gets to play with her every day at recess. Maddox is one of her favorite friends in her own class. On the end in the red is Keola, another of Lila's favorite buddies in her class. The other kids are in the pm class :)

 Lila and Keola. They posed like this! Future prom picture?

 This truck is their newest. We lvoed watching the ladder go up!

 I loved that they were holding hands!

 Lila in charge of the big rig.