Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 by 30, #3: Hike Angels Landing

When we moved to St George 4 years ago, we were overjoyed at the spectacular hiking opportunities looming before us. Zion National Park was 45 minutes away, Snow Canyon was on the other side of town, and even other national parks like Bryce Canyon and the North Rim of Grand Canyon (it feels so wrong not to say The Grand Canyon, but I promise, it's just Grand Canyon) were only a few hours away, and could be done in a day trip. And over the course of 4 years, we got plenty of hiking in. We got a National Parks Pass every year, and it was well worth the money.

But for some reason, Angels Landing was this unattainable goal for me. It was like my Eleanor (from Gone in 60 Seconds), or Moby Dick, or something like that. Something that I've always wanted to do, but somehow never gets done. Partly, I was intimidated by the hike itself. So many people have told me that this is a tough hike, you can't be flippant about it and just go do it, you have to be in good shape. It's steep, it's strenuous, and then there are the drop-offs. The warning signs that if you are afraid of heights, this hike is not for you. The articles in the paper about another person who DIED on Angels Landing. It's all very intimidating. And aside from being afraid of the hike, there was always an excuse. I wanted to be in better shape, it was winter, I was pregnant (which is, actually, an excellent excuse if you ask me, especially with the barfing), we had a newborn, there were other hikes on our list, we had a toddler, we had 2 kids. It basically was never going to happen.

And then we learned we were going to be moving from St George. Angels Landing suddenly became a high priority. I would have been kicking myself for years if we had lived so close to this amazing hike for years, and we moved without my ever hiking it.

So on a glorious September morning (I believe it was Friday, September 24, though I'm not 100% sure [and I don't know why you needed to know that, but there it is]), we shipped Julia off to a friend's house (ah, Taiz, how we miss you!), packed Ella up, and headed out to hike the big fat scary Angels Landing.

And I must say, I have no idea what I was so afraid of.

It was a lovely hike. Got my blood flowing, worked my quads on the way down. And the view was incredible! Though, I will say, there are other hikes in Zion with equally beautiful views. But still. Zion is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

There were a couple of moments when I was pretty nervous about the fact that my husband was carrying my infant daughter up a cliff, and she could throw him off balance at any moment. Thankfully, she slept the whole way up that last 1/2 mile, and part of the way down. We got a lot of comments about the baby: "Aww, baby's first hike!" (it wasn't, it was her 2nd); "This hike is so easy, a baby can do it!" and, of course, "What a lucky baby. I wish someone would carry me!" Hiking with a baby makes you very popular, in case you didn't know.

And, while not on the 30 by 30 list, I can now add, "Nursed a baby on a cliff," to the list of things I've done. When Ella blew a gasket right after we started down from the top, we really had no other choice. It was very exciting.

So there. I did it. I conquered the "unconquerable" hike. And it felt really good to do it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekly Quote 11/29/10

I'm thankful for Gordon; for B; for Hinckley."

Straight from a testimony given by a small child in the Yale 1st ward about 12 years ago. New quote up!

For the Grandmas: 11/26/10

A bit late, but I blame the holiday weekend. Too much turkey makes a girl lazy.

Julia had a great time with Thanksgiving, and ate a bit of almost everything. And now, she goes around saying, "Thanksgiving is over, and the next holiday is Christmas!" We put our tree up on Friday, and she's been in heaven ever since.

This week, Ella has discovered her hands. They are fascinating. She will stare at them for a good solid 5 minutes at a time. She also discovered toys. You bring a toy to her, and she pants with excitement! It's great. She can keep herself entertained for like 1/2 hour with one toy.

Ella has also started rolling over on purpose. It doesn't happen all the time, but more often than not tummy time ends with her rolling over on her own.

And last night, she took a binky for like the second time ever.

Ella was so cute in her dress yesterday, I had to take a picture.

Look at that tongue! When we got to church and took her out of the carseat, she about had a conniption when she saw all the dots on her dress. Dots! To look at! All over!

Friday, November 26, 2010

30 by 30

Not too long ago, I finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I really enjoyed it, which might be surprising when I tell you that I didn't really enjoy her writing style, nor did I relate to her very much. But there is something bewitching about the pursuit of happiness (even Thomas Jefferson thought so!), and the thought that we can control how happy we are.

I felt that this correlated well with my desire to compile a "30 by 30" bucket list of sorts. So I've been mulling it over for a few days now, and I think I've come up with a pretty decent list. I've created 6 categories with 5 goals in each one. I felt that each of these categories were things that I already found joy in, so why not improve upon them?

I'll list the goals in order, 5 per category. The categories are: Physical, Spiritual, Things to Read, Skills to Learn, Music, and Experiences to Have.

Some of the things I chose because I've never done them before and I've always wanted to. Some I chose because it's been so long since I did them, I barely remember anything about them. Some will be hard, some will be easy. Some will take a long time, some will take 10 minutes. But I'm rather excited about each of them. And, to be fair, I've been thinking about this stuff since my birthday. Some of the things are already completed, like reading the Old Testament all the way through. But I still wanted to include them on this list. We'll just call it "retroactive" to August 8, 2010.

So, without further ado, here is my 30 by 30 list.
  1. Go to a Zumba class.
  2. Cross-country ski in the city forest.
  3. Hike Angels Landing.
  4. Play a full round of Frisbee Golf.
  5. Climb a tree.
  6. Read and study all of the conference talks from October 2010.
  7. Keep a journal for at least 30 days in a row.
  8. Read and study all of Preach My Gospel.
  9. Go to the temple at least once (this seems like a ridiculously low number, I know, but it's hard with 2 kids, one of whom can't eat without me, no family/babysitters, and a temple that is 2 hours away.)
  10. Find a family name to take to the temple.
  11. Read Anna Karenina.
  12. Read the Old Testament all the way through.
  13. Read the complete works of Jane Austen.
  14. Read all the Harry Potter books again.
  15. Read Articles of Faith by James E. Talmage.
  16. Sew matching dresses/skirts for my girls.
  17. Create a new recipe.
  18. Bake a cake from scratch.
  19. Learn to milk a cow.
  20. Make a denim quilt.
  21. Learn to play all the hymns on the organ.
  22. Learn to play a new song on the guitar.
  23. Learn to play a new song on the ukulele.
  24. Listen to The Messiah in its entirety (sing along when possible).
  25. Learn to play the William Tell Overture on the piano (I might need to get a new arrangement for this one. . . any suggestions?)
  26. Visit Chicago.
  27. Host a Pie Party.
  28. See Niagra Falls.
  29. Go to a Farmers Market and buy something.
  30. Use my passport.
I swear, that list doesn't look very long on paper, but it feels long. It feels very, very long. Get excited, you are going to hear about each of these as they are completed. Here's to hoping that I can get this done by August 8, 2011!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This was our first Thanksgiving without any extended family around.

I have to admit, it was kind of lonely.

The day started out poorly when I broke the popcorn popper and discovered that the movers wouldn't move vinegar across the country, so we had none (I needed it for my pie crust recipe).

But thankfully (see what I did there?), I think we can still make popcorn, it was just a handle that broke. And it turns out that Meijer is open on Thanksgiving day, and even had a sale where I scored a new winter coat for Ella for $10 - shhhh, don't tell her, it's a Christmas present!

And even though we missed all the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins, we still had our little family. We still watched the parade, ate plenty of turkey and pie, overdosed on tryoptophan, and were thankful for the abundance we've been given. That's what this fabulous holiday is all about, right?

In case you were wondering, we were invited to have dinner with some friends (with 2 little red headed boys, aaaahhhh, I want a read head!), so we weren't entirely alone. Thank goodness for the church, where we can meet so many new people so quickly!


Since it's Thanksgiving today, I thought I'd post about Halloween. We are all kinds of messed up and behind! Awesome!

So. Julia decided to be a monkey, as you know. And a very fine monkey she turned out to be:

Ella decided to be her sidekick, a banana:

(Alright, alright. Really, it was just that Jenn had a banana costume in addition to the monkey costume, so we double borrowed. We're copy cats.)

I was a little concerned about how Halloween would turn out, because a) Halloween was on a Sunday, and b) we would be in Michigan. In Utah, I was 100% positive that everyone would be trick or treating on Saturday night. I also knew about the ward trunk or treat, and various other events around town. In Michigan, I knew nothing.

Luckily, we noticed the announcement for the ward trunk or treat in the program on the Sunday we came out for our house-hunting trip. Phew! Redemption! And then, it just so happened that the night we were visiting the Calls in Kansas City was the night of their ward trunk or treat. So we got a double whammy! Which hopefully made up for the fact that we didn't carve pumpkins at all (Julia did color a couple of little ones with marker), and we spent Halloween in a hotel. But hey, candy is candy, and Julia was one happy camper at the end of the night.

A lot of people thought Ella was a pencil. Which I guess I can understand. But come on, why would my kids be a gorilla and a pencil?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Julia has been having fun with stickers lately. The generally end up all on top of one another. I thought it was rather creative to give herself "Sticker Pants" and "Sticker Shoes."

In case you didn't believe it. . .

A while ago, Clark posted about the Santinental Breakfast. The Santas offered to pose for a picture with Ella. It was enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let's Compare

While living in a hotel, we took Ella swimming for the first time. When Julia was about the same age, we happened to be staying in a hotel and took HER swimming for the first time. I knew I had to take some pictures so we could compare the two. So, what do you think?

I think they look alike, like sisters, but not like twins. In fact, I was surprised at how different they look in the photographic evidence, I thought it would be hard to tell the difference. I also think this confirms my suspicions that Julia was chubbier than Ella is.


In any case, they are both cute girls.

Things to do before I'm 30: Update

Remember how I had all sorts of goals to meet before I turn 30 next year? I really should find 30 things to do before I'm 30, that would be poetic wouldn't it. Anyway, I just had to mention that I
  • finished the Old Testament (THANK GOODNESS, after 5 years it was getting a little embarrassing)
  • unpacked Anna Karenina the other day (that is one thick book. . . better get started now)
  • live 2 hours from the Canadian border (!!!)
  • and will basically have to give up on learning the William Tell Overture. Our piano made the trek across the country, and is now firmly planted in our garage because the movers couldn't get it up the stairs. They mentioned maybe they'd get some piano movers to try and get it up there, but no one has called us back yet. Since we will be in this apartment until at least June, I don't think I'll be getting much practice time in.
I'm going to have to put a little more effort into creating this 30 by 30 list. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ella, 4 Months

Ah, my sweet Ella girl. Ella is a very calm baby. She just goes with the flow. Numerous people have commented that she just doesn't cry. That's not entirely true, but as long as her needs are being met, she is content to just hang out. So content, that she doesn't have a huge desire to roll over or move herself anywhere. Actually, she did roll over once a few days ago. It had less to do with a desire to move and more to do with a desire to suck her sleeves. She loves the long sleeves because it gives her more cotton to chew on. So when I had her on her stomach, she found those sleeves, and kept getting higher and higher, until BAM, she rolled over. Pretty funny, actually.

We found ourselves a new doctor here in Michigan, and took Ella in for her 4 month well visit. As an aside, I like the new doctor a lot. The entire staff was friendly and helpful, which makes a huge difference. The one "beef" I had was at the old doctor's office, they gave me a copy of her growth chart to take home, with all the precise numbers on it. Not so here in MI. This office doesn't have digitized charts, so I can see why it would be harder to give me a copy. In fact, the doctor was so impressed at the records we brought in, and kept commenting on how nice the digitized charts were. Next time I'll pay closer attention to the numbers so I can remember them. Also, they are a lot more of an estimation than an exact percentile. But that's ok. I think we'll survive.

Anyway, stats:

Weight: 14.01 lbs, 50%
Length: 25 inches, 70-75%
Head Circumference: um, 16 inches -ish? I'm not sure. Which puts her somewhere between 50 and 75%.

Yeah, real accurate there. But she is doing great, still on the tall side, but pretty average. Weight gain is good. She eats well, and sleeps pretty well, too. She usually wakes me up between 4 and 5, and half the time (maybe less) she wakes up at 2 as well. But she goes right back to sleep, so I can't complain too much (though I do, just ask Clark).

And the pooping, oh the pooping! (Get ready, I'm about to talk about poop. If you don't want to hear it, just skip on down to the next paragraph) I don't know if I mentioned it before, but Ella was not a poopy newborn. 8 dirty diapers a day? More like 1 dirty diaper a week. Which is, apparently, totally normal. But ever since we moved to Michigan, it's like the bowels have been opened. To go from 1 dirty diaper a week to 3-4 per day? It feels like I'm up to my eyeballs in poop! But, of course, then I have to remind myself that it's still half of what Julia was like as a baby. I'm trying to look at it with an attitude of gratitude that things are getting through.

Ok, enough of that topic. Ella got some shots on Friday, and had kind of a rough weekend as a result. I think her legs hurt more than anything else. She'd sit and whimper in her sleep during naptime. Very sad. But doing better today. Julia was a great big sister during the dreaded pokes. She got up next to me, put her hand on Ella's head, and sang Happy Birthday. It was really very sweet, and Ella didn't even cry for her first shot (the subsequent shots got her lungs going, though).

We all love our little Ella Bella, Ella Magoo, DroolElla. Even if she is soaking wet most of the time.

Look at that mug. Who wouldn't love that mug?

Weekly Quote 11/22/10

"Know what kind of disgusting images I'm gonna need to stare at now to get that out of my head? Gonna have to go to the wound care center. Gonna have to stare at some wounds."

Ah, Sue Sylvester. Queen of quotations. And the best part of Glee, if you ask me.

New quote up!

Friday, November 19, 2010

For the Grandmas: 11/19/10

With our big move across the country and thereby lack of seeing family on a semi-regular basis, and because we have a fairly new baby who changes dramatically very quickly, I've decided to start (or should I say restart?) a weekly video feature on the Blogburger. Since it's really for the grandmas (and grandpas), I'm calling it For the Grandmas. So here are the girls, hanging out on a fairly boring Friday morning.



Obviously, we've found the camera cord. I'll try to start putting up more pictures from the past month. But I'm not promising anything! And anyone waiting for a "new place" post w/pictures of the apartment might be waiting for a looong time, because we are still living in chaos. Fewer boxes, sure, but that just means we have piles of stuff scattered about.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Same

Midland, MI and Washington, UT are the same temperature right now (38°)! Of course, it's 9:30 here, and only 7:30 there. And Washington will get a high of 67 today, while Midland will only get to 41. But still! It's not so bad here! (Yet.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekly Quote 11/15/10

"To be a good soldier you must love the army. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. This is . . . a very hard thing to do. No other profession requires it. That is one reason why there are so few good officers. Although there are many good men."

That was from The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. General Lee is a favorite historical figure of mine, in no small part thanks to this book (and the movie, Gettysburg). And no, I'm not a crazy southern confederate bigot. I just like General Lee. And I actually have a lot of sympathy for the southern cause. But that is a post for another day.

New quote up!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We made it!

I should be unpacking. I most definitely should be unpacking. And yet, here I am, blogging. Avoiding the unpacking. TOO MANY BOXES! ACK!

Anyway. . . we made it to Michigan! The girls were superstars on the drive out here. I had packed all sorts of books and toys and treats (courtesy of the dollar spot in Target) to help alleviate the meltdowns, but I didn't even use half of them. Ella slept most of the time. Julia either slept of played by herself. It was astounding. Until we hit Nauvoo, and Julia exploded, but more on that in a minute.

Here is the very long travelogue. Seriously, it's long. And did you expect there to be pictures? Because there aren't any. If there is one thing you can count on, it's that I won't take pictures. (Though, I actually did take a couple of pictures, but they are still on my camera, awaiting the day that the cord surfaces.) So, if you make it to the end, you are either a saint of a friend, or really bored. And if you don't, no one is offended. You'll just fail the quiz next time I talk to you.

Kidding, of course.

We left our beloved St George on Saturday, October 23. The original plan was to clean on Saturday and then leave on Sunday, for one long day of driving to Canon City, CO. But the movers finished early on Friday, and we actually got a lot of cleaning done Friday night, thanks in part to the Hunts, our dear friends who also let us borrow blankets and pillows and a pack and play so we could sleep on our floor. Thanks, Hunts! After a night of sleeping on our floor (meaning NOT sleeping), I told Clark that we were staying in a hotel on Saturday night. And so we decided we might as well head out on Saturday and see how far we could go.

I walked through the house one last time to make sure we got everything, and I'll admit, I cried a little. A lot has happened in 2 years. Julia has lived practically her whole life in that house, and she won't remember a thing about it I'm sure. It's where Ella came home from the hospital. Thinking about our garden and our wonderful big kitchen and all the people who have visited us there, it made me sad to leave. And we were leaving St George, our home for the last 4 years! I have loved that town, and all the people in it. I remember when we moved there I was so concerned about the red dirt. There was going to be red dirt all over my house, what am I supposed to do about that red dirt? But as we were leaving, all I could think about was how much I was going to miss the red dirt. It's really grown on me. Not to mention all the friends we've made. So many people who have influenced our lives in so many ways. You will all be sorely missed.

And while we're talking about amazing people, let me just take a moment to say that Megan Haycock is my hero. Anyone who knows her will agree. Such an amazing woman, with a solid testimony. Visiting her the day we left is something I will remember for the rest of my life. She gave me such an outpouring of the spirit to take with me on this new adventure, and I will forever be grateful. Thank you, Megan.

So. We left. We drove to Green River, UT, and then decided to stop for the night. The next day (Sunday) we drove to Canon City, and got there by lunchtime. Which was great! More time to visit with the Shaefers! Carrie was gracious enough to let us eat her food and sleep in her camper. Julia and Lauren pulled out every toy in the house, and had a marvelous time doing it. Zachary got to sit and watch Ella, who spent most of her time lying on the floor, kicking and gargling. Our very own little Chewbacca.

Monday we drove through the vast wasteland that is Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, and spent the night in Salina. We ate at McDonalds for dinner. The moment we drove into the parking lot, Julia said, "Oh, we're going to get ice cream cones!" Grandpa has trained her well.

Tuesday, we drove a whopping 2 hours to Lawrence, KS, and went to lunch with my friend Angela. And after that we headed to Olathe to visit the Calls (our old roommates). Let me just say that I love old friends. Years can go by without seeing each other, and when you get together it's like no time has past. Though, I would not like there to be years between visits next time, because I love these people. The Calls were kind enough to let us invade their house and sleep on their air mattress. We also tagged along to their ward trunk or treat, which was chaos, but a very fun chaos. Julia and Tyson kept calling each other Addie and Boy. Someday that short term memory will kick in, right?

Wednesday we went to Omaha to see the houses Clark's mom grew up in, and then headed on to Nauvoo. It might seem crazy to drive 3 hours out of your way to see a bunch of old houses, but it was totally and completely worth it. We also stopped at the Winter Quarters temple, cemetery, and visitors center. Julia got to dress up like a pioneer girl and play with a few toys. At one point the sister missionary asked Julia, "Do you know what we do in the temple?" I was sure she would have no answer, and was feeling like a failure as a parent, when she busted out, "You get married." Hooray! I've taught my child some sort of gospel truth! A while later, I asked Julia who Jesus loves, fully expecting to get the answer of Everyone, because she's had that lesson in nursery. Instead she said, "Heavenly Father." Well, yes, that is true, who else? "Joseph Smith." Also, true. Who else? "President Monson." Ok, yes. You are right. In fact, Jesus loves EVERYONE! I was pretty impressed that she pulled that out, though, and I think the missionary was impressed, too.

So, we spent Wednesday night in Nauvoo, and planned to spend all day Thursday walking around town, seeing what we could see. Thursday morning we got up and went to the visitors center to plan our day. We visited a few homes, the print shop, the gun maker shop, the brickyard, and then the meltdown began. We went to John Taylor's house, and she started to get antsy. We decided to see one more house (BY's), and then go have lunch and naps. But right in the middle of that tour, she just fell apart. Tears! So many tears! So we left to get some lunch. We walk into the restaurant and she starts bawling her eyes out because she needs a drink of water. AND SHE NEEDS IT NOW! It was not pretty. We got her water and ordered her a hot dog. She ate maybe half of it, and then started crying some more. Then she started telling us her throat hurt and she needed to see a doctor. Over and over again, "I need to go to the doctor." Which worried me a bit, as you can imagine. Julia has been to the doctor 2 times, other than well visits. Once when she was 2 weeks old, and once a year ago. This is not a kid who gets sick. So we went back to the hotel, and put her down for a nap, hoping that would help. When she woke up, she seemed a bit more chipper for a minute, but then it was back to, "I'm sick, I need to go to the doctor!" And the sobbing. Oh, the sobbing. Then I noticed the rash on her arms. And legs. And stomach. I may have flipped out a little bit about finding a doctor, in Nauvoo of all places, after hours. But Clark assured me that it didn't look that bad, and we could wait until the morning. Lo and behold, by morning she really was better.

Friday we drove from Nauvoo to Midland. It was a long day.

For the last week, we've been living in a hotel, waiting for the truck to arrive with our stuff. It came on Sunday afternoon. There has been much rejoicing. Except I'm not sure where my camera cord is, and it took us 3 days to find the blessed DVD player, and the drain on the bathtub is impossible to work, and I've been unpacking every day but there are still boxes and boxes full of stuff that has no place to go.

Speaking of which, I should go attend to at least some of that. I've got to find some food so we can have dinner tonight, because you'd better believe we aren't going out again. Too much fast food and too much sitting in a car/hotel room makes a Shanny fat and ill.