Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Little Laughs

For the past three weeks our family has been in Omaha, Nebraska hanging out with my Mom, Dad, and sister. Despite the heat, we've had a fantastic time exploring the many great adventures Omaha has to offer. Even so, it's the funny things the kids say that bring us the most amusement.

Here are a few examples to share:

Late one evening, Callie brought a large bag of pretzel M&Ms into my room. The mystery? The bag was completely empty. The culprit? Our clandestine Talia. She actually had the gall to sneak into Callie's room and eat every last one! Needless to say, we immediately hid the gigantic bag of cinnamon bears that were being stored nearby. Unabashed about her crime, Talia came to us the next morning and asked: "Where did the sugar bears go?"

In a sweeter moment, Talia announced, "I'm hiking to the top of the High-ffel tower" as we trekked up the 70-foot observation tower at Mahoney State Park.

Brooklyn has been full of imagination as usual. One afternoon she made an impressive scroll assigning us our roles in the kingdom. At first she was hesitant to let me see. Only after reading her work did I understand why:
Brooklyn: Qween
Papa: King
Talia: prinses
Eli: prins
Nomi An: techer
Ant Kaly: kook
Mom: servint
Lovely. At least she's observant as to how things actually work around here.

Brooklyn's favorite part about Omaha has been the wide variety of food venues. As she was weighing out the pros and cons of day camp, I explained that if she stayed with us, we might do some fun things as a family such as go to the zoo or the Children's Museum. Brooklyn explained that was just fine as long as we didn't go to a restaurant without her.

Of course, considering her infatuation with macaroni and cheese, I guess Brooklyn's logic is reasonable. A couple of days ago she recalled the following experience: "I remembered that I went someplace and they refilled my mac and cheese! But I'm not sure if it was real or just a dream..."

As for Eli, he's learned a new word: "Zoe! Zoe! Zoe!" It's quite cute except for the fact that he chases the poor pug around, sticking his tongue out at her in the hope that she will lick back.

Very strange, but definitely worth a laugh!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Best Day EVER!!!

While the Great Reunion (see previous post) may have been the trip highlight for Callie and Adam, for Jason and I, the Fourth of July was undoubtedly the best day EVER!!!

In the wee hours of the morning on the fourth, we wound our way up Kolob canyon to the very north side of Zion National Park. With Callie and Adam as hiking companions, we then trekked the fifteen mile West Rim Trail across the park. Aren't these Wilhoits adorable?

Jason and I loved having some time together as well. (And just in case you are curious, no, we are NOT expecting. Looking at this picture, however, almost makes me forgive the stranger at church for asking.)

Happily on our journey with Adam in the lead.

Adam realizes that fifteen miles is a long way.

Which way from here?

Good thing Jason has his compass. Cowboy and navigator rolled in one--what more could a gal want?

Catching up with my sister--life doesn't get any better!

Rolling back the sands of time eight years to the lovely days of hand-holding.

Quoting my t-shirt: "Let's Hug it Out!" Special in meaning, the shirt features Peanut Butter and Jelly, the code words Jason and I inscribed on our wedding rings.

"We're so happy on our little piece of bread."

The views along the West Rim were absolutely incredible looking down into the canyons. Even though it was a busy holiday weekend, we saw only a handful of people during our entire journey. (At least until we joined up with the trail to Angel's Landing, at which point we were bombarded with tourists.)

Being familiar with the shuttle in Zion and its accompanying trails, it was easy to feel like we "knew" the park. Hiking this trail humbled me and helped me realize how very much more there is to explore.

When life seems rough, remember these trees. If they can hang on, so can we!

Kiwi Callie, acting quite chipper despite tweaking her ankle.

Adam looks ready to break into song. "The hills are alive!"

Good thing there are trail markers to show us where our feet should go!

Jason, Adam, and Callie take a very careful peek at what's on the other side.

Goodness gracious, we were sure glad to be hiking down the trail instead of up!

Just don't slip, it's a LONG fall!

After some serious switch-backing down Walter's Wiggles, we finally made it to the Grotto where we caught a shuttle back to Springdale. My Dad, who'd been watching our munchkins all day, met us there and drove us back to the trailhead to pick up our car.

Here are the hikers once more at Lava Point Overlook.

And another picture with our cute girls. We were delighted to see them again, and loved sharing the fireworks together later in the evening.

And last of all, a photo with Papa Kay. We will forever be indebted to this miracle man who made our hike possible by watching the little 'uns.

Thanks and Happy Fourth of July!

The Great Reunion

Overexposed as the pictures may be, I don't think words are necessary to capture the joy of this momentous reunion.

While Papa Kay's arrival from Omaha, Nebraska may have been overshadowed by the puggish tongue of his faithful traveling companion, Grandpa's orange tic tacs ensure an enduring place in the hearts of his grandchildren.

Thanks for coming Dad, and thanks for taking such wonderful care of Zoe!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Color Country Kiwis

Kia Ora! Is that a Kiwi I see?

At the end of June, Callie and Adam washed up on our red dirt, all the way from New Zealand. We were happier than Happy Feet to see them! While the couple may call themselves Kiwis, the kids seemed to find Uncle Adam more closely akin to a horse.

Upon arrival, we immediately corrupted them by barbecuing some tasty beer can chicken.

Of course, we made them earn their keep first by helping to assemble our new patio furniture. It's so nice to finally have a table where we all fit!

Despite the heat, we were quite unabashed in our attempts to convert Adam and Callie to St. George by showing off all the best our city has to offer. We dined on pulled pork at Cafe Rio,...

played at the splash pad,...

and braved the rocks at Pioneer Park.

We cheered the girls as they chased chickens at the Gunlock Rodeo,...

learned about desert tortoises at the Tuacahn Farmer's Market,...

and thought about the tiny tortoise we'd just found in our backyard. (The girls wanted to keep it as a pet, but we called turtle rescue instead.)

The highlight of Callie and Adam's visit, however, could best be entitled the Great Reunion. Can't wait to post pictures tomorrow!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rattlesnakes and Heat Stroke, but no Itch

So how do you move forward with P.M.L.(post-marathon life)? My recommendation is to enjoy a good soak in a hotel hot tub, then spend us as much time as possible with family.

Immediately following the race, our family headed north to Brigham City where my cousin Kappy had graciously invited us to a barbecue. Even though Kappy and I have kept up with each other a bit via our blogs, it was really great to have a chance to chat in person after many years. We enjoyed getting to know their sweet kids and learn more about her husband Derrek's experiences in Iraq with the National Guard. Too bad I forgot to snap a picture!

We did, however, get some fun photos when we continued on to Hyde Park for five days. Luckily for us, Aunt Christy was visiting from New York. We really miss the days when we lived across town from each other in Urbana, so this time together was special, particularly since Christy would soon be leaving to spend the summer in Paris. (Yup, we're all jealous.)

While in Hyde Park, Christy demonstrated her mad croquet skills.

But let's face it: as Susie, Christy and I are so aptly demonstrating here, croquet primarily involves standing around doing nothing.

Unless, of course, you are Talia, in which case it becomes a full contact sport.

A bit of coaching to avoid any bloody noses.

Eli checks out the croquet mallet...

...and then decides that it's much easier to simply put the ball where you want it to go. Game over!

And so, we moved on for some fun at the park. Double the fun with double the pushes!

One special evening we grilled hamburgers with family. From left to right we have: Susie, Jason, cousins Scott and Erin, and Charles.

Here's Christy by the canal behind the Wheeler home. The backyard feels strange since all of the willows have recently been cut down.

At least there are cute nephews to fill the empty space!

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." That's why we teach our little 'uns early to love New York. Thanks for the T-shirts Christy!

Looking forward to the future.

And here we are hiking in Green Canyon. While this canyon is generally brown and dry, it lived up to its name for us, thanks to all the recent rain.

The men.

Here's Jason handing out the goodies to the girls. Are we the only parents who unabashedly bribe our children to hike?
Stuck in the backpack, Eli has less choice about coming along, but seems to enjoy our trips nonetheless.

Grandma Susie looking great in her hat.

Aunt Christy...

...and Brooklyn in Christy's hat. Nothin' like branding!

During our hike back, I was startled to run across a fairly large snake aggressively poised right in the middle of the road. Fortunately, I wasn't dangerously close and the snake eventually moved into the bushes. When my heart finally stopped racing, I got out the camera to take a picture--and noticed the rattle on its tail.

Here's Brooklyn showing how big the snake was,...

how thick it was,...

and how scared she felt to see it.

Little did Grandma Susie suspect that her thespian fright would soon be replaced with sincere terror. A little farther up the trail, Susie suddenly jumped after hearing another rattlesnake right underfoot. I didn't see the snake until it was already slithering away so I'm not exactly sure how close the snake was, but trust me, it was close. Here's a picture of the second snake's rattle, just in case you need proof.

Up until that moment, I'd been thinking how Green Canyon might be a nice place to camp. Since then, I've relinquished the place to the serpentine species. On the positive side, I didn't give up on camping completely. Shortly after returning back to St. George, we went camping with the family of Brooklyn's school friend Anna.

Despite multiple warnings about the "itch" (an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites found in shallow water), we headed to nearby Sand Hollow State Park. I had no idea we had sandy beaches and a beautiful body of water so close by!

Getting dinner together. Most of the primitive campsites didn't include water or a picnic table!

While our camping adventure was fun, we definitely had our hands full with seven kids six and under, including identical twelve-month old twin girls.

As you might imagine, no one slept particularly well between the multiple babies and large youth group directly next to our site. Even so, we enjoyed swimming and sailing the next day. The biggest challenge was keeping the kids all hydrated and sun-screened in the hundred degree weather. We tried our hardest, but Brooklyn still came away with heat stroke--poor thing!

But hey, good news. No one came down with the Itch.