So before school let out, I felt so enthusiastic about having all the kids home. With emptier schedules, I was going to establish some incredible routines, we'd all work happily together on the chores, and boy, was I ever going to get stuff DONE. Photo albums labeled, closets organized, interior decorating, landscaping--you name it, I would be all over it.
I know, I know. You can stop your guffawing now. Even as I dreamed my pretty dreams, I knew that my expectations were unrealistic. But still, one always hopes...
On the positive side, I have enjoyed having all the kids home together. Yes, there are times when they argue, and yes, there are times when they make too much noise (okay, that's almost all the time). Still, it's delightful watching them all play together. Even if their play is ridiculously creative. Even if "playing" usually involves rearranging the furniture and digging into the craft supplies and dumping out half of their toys to create these elaborate forts and offices and castles and ships and seascapes. Even if Eli cries when he doesn't get to be the princess. And even if they don't put things away with as much gusto as they took everything out. It's great to be together as a family.
So since we haven't been transforming our home into a finely-tuned, precision cleaning machine, what exactly have we been doing? My thoughts are as disorganized as my dresser drawers, so please forgive the scatterbrained response. Maybe someday I'll finally get organized: after school's back in session.
Running. While I haven't been covering any remarkable distances, I've been doing my best to get out regularly, mostly for my personal sanity. I relish the solitude as I run through Snow Canyon, often going for many miles without seeing another person. Recently I particularly appreciated the privacy when I suddenly felt the urgent need to take care of some personal business. Miles away from the nearest outhouse, I picked my way through the desert landscape for a minute before accepting the fact that there simply aren't enough (any?) trees to provide adequate cover. While I successfully managed to avoid mooning anyone, I discovered that it's difficult to find makeshift TP in the desert. All those soft, tender, deciduous leaves of the Midwest? Forget it. EVERYTHING has thorns or spines. Jeepers.
All the same, I think I preferred my desert hole to the outhouse I visited before this morning's Chuckawalla trail run. While the toilet was in decent condition, a black widow had spun its web right beside it. Yikes! I'm certainly not dropping my drawers for that trap.
Hiking. Last week I felt particularly brave and took all of the kids to hike up Taylor Creek in Kolob Canyon while Jason was at work. Well-equipped with sunscreen, swimsuits, and snacks, we conquered the entire trek without any worrisome melt-downs. The kids absolutely loved all of the wildlife that we encountered. Tadpoles, frogs, water skeeters--biology at its finest. Of course, there were also those two water snakes... Another kid favorite, but certainly not mine.
Swimming. Now that the summer heat is officially upon us, we've been hanging out quite a bit at the City Pool. The kids love the giant Hydrotube slide, and I enjoy the chance to soak my tired feet. While I still need to enroll the girls in a session of swim lessons, all of the time splashing around has been helping. When Jason took the kids swimming on Saturday, he reported that the girls were jumping off the diving board and swimming in the deep end all on their own. While I'm not quite sure that I would have been brave enough to allow that, everyone came back healthy and extremely happy.
Cooking. On Friday night we had a lovely dinner with some good friends in Gunlock. With three apricot trees covered in ripe fruit, they generously invited us to pick as many as we wanted. After 30 minutes of picking, we toted home three giant buckets full. Ever since, we've been drowning in fresh fruit.
Yesterday Jason and I spent a fruity Father's Day playing in the kitchen. We made three different kinds of apricot jam, a double batch of apricot fruit leather, an apricot pie, plus we froze about fifteen cups of apricot puree to use sometime in the future. Even so, we've still got an entire bucket overflowing with apricots. So if anybody has some great ideas on how to use up lots of fresh fruit, please share! We're out of canning jars and desperate...
Giggling. Why, you might ask, are we so full of smiles and chuckles? While laughing needs no reason, we're particularly pleased because Callie has once again been featured in Peter Jackson's latest Hobbit blog. You've got to check out minute twelve. It's totally worth it. P.S. The ending's pretty rich as well. :)
Camping. Okay, okay, not all of us went camping. But Brooklyn and Talia accompanied Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles to the Wheeler family reunion in Swan Valley, Idaho.
With so much family around, a great time was had by all, despite the cold and a touch of wet.
Brooklyn and Talia were particularly thrilled to have a chance to meet all their "cousins."
Talia made instant friends with an adorable little girl named Avery.
This picture of Brooklyn and Taylor cracks me up because Brooklyn seems much more enthused by the new friendship than her pal.
The girls made out like bandits at the reunion, coming home with all sorts of fun crafts and other memorabilia. One fun memento was a white dishtowel just like the one that the Wheeler kids used to wave to Grandpa Wheeler when he was out on the farm in order to call him in for dinner. As you can see, there were some excellent demonstrations as to how this should best be done.
Naturally, it wouldn't be a true Wheeler get-together without some excellent food.
For posterity's sake, here are the Wheeler siblings. From left to right: John, his wife Diana, Uncle Merlin, Diane, Kathleen, Nancy, and Charles. Missing are Uncle Mark (who is excused due to being in Singapore), and Merlin's wife Alayne, who passed away a few years back.
Far more amusing is this picture of all the photographers.
Thanks, Aunt Diane for organizing such a great "Make and Bake" reunion.
Playing hooky. So the real question is, if Brooklyn and Talia were at the family reunion, where in the world were the rest of us? Playing hooky. Jason had a work conference in Salt Lake City, and I panicked at the thought of making the long drive on my own. And so, after spending the night in Hyde Park, I headed back to Salt Lake City with Eli to relax in the hotel and enjoy the perks of "big city" life.
Overall, I think the two of us did a pretty good job of painting the town, even if I do say so myself. We enjoyed the elephants splashing at the Hogle Zoo...
...and saw an amazing bird show. Worth the admission all on its own.
Eli made his first trip to Temple Square.
No matter how many times I see it, the temple always inspires me.
We played at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum...
...and listened to an organ concert in the tabernacle. Eli was so well-behaved, except for between numbers when they switched the background lights. All of a sudden he blurted out into the silence, "BLUE!"
After lunch, we played with the dinosaurs in the new City Creek mall...
...before heading over to the downtown library to make superhero masks.
The crowning moment, of course, was dining out on some outstanding Vietnamese food at Indochine with Dad.
All in all, it was delightful to have some uninterrupted one-on-one time with our little boy. Even so, I'm glad we're all back together.