Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Before the night disappears completely, let me wish everyone a Happy Halloween. The festivities here in St. George have been grand and sweet. Even so, may I just say that I'm glad Halloween only comes once a year? I'm exhausted.

Here are Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Prince Charming at Tonaquint Nature Center's fall festival, held more than a week ago. Quite the regal ensemble.
Tangled Talia gets her fortune told. She was absolutely amazed that Zelda guessed how she sings and Brooklyn is an artist.
On Sunday we got in the Halloween spirit by making mummy dogs...
...and candy corn sugar cookies.
We even let the kids paint their faces.

Of course, they painted ours as well.

It just wouldn't be Halloween without pumpkin carving.
From left to right, we have the creations of Talia and Jason, Brooklyn, Eli, and Kara + babe.
Events not pictured: the school Halloween parade, the BooNanza at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center, the Girl Scout Halloween party, Halloween story-time at Learning Express, the Homecoming parade, and the ward Trunk-or-Treat.
Hope everyone else's Halloween was spooky and wonderful. Now it's time for a nap...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Canyon So Grand

All week I've been hoping someone would ask me what I did over the weekend. (Of course, no one has. Probably because my primary social contact is with three year-olds.) So if you're over the age of three, go ahead. Ask.

Oh, I went to the Grand Canyon.

Okay, okay. Please forgive my inner-braggart. It's just that I've always wanted to be able to say that. It sounds so...well, grand. And up until recently, I thought that despite many world travels, I'd never experienced the Grand Canyon. (My mom actually informed me that I may have visited the park as a very young child, but couldn't remember for sure. Perhaps someone Anonymous can chime in?)

Anyway, back in January we set a family goal to visit the Grand Canyon this year. As October hit, we realized that we'd better hurry up and go if we were going to make it this season. So when the girls got a couple days off of school for fall break, we hopped in the car and discovered the North rim.
Photographing the Grand Canyon is difficult. It's so enormous that a lens simply can't capture the feeling of being there. In some ways, I think these fantastic trees encapsulate it best--rugged, unpredictable, winding, and ancient.

Instead of trying to capture the canyon in its immensity, it's better to focus on the minutiae. Can you feel the cool, crisp air? Oh, how I love fall!
Here's the whole family.
And a close-up of the wee folks.
Best of all, we didn't travel alone. NomiAnn joined us from Omaha for the weekend. While the short jaunt to the North rim may not be that impressive for St. George, it certainly sets you apart as a Nebraskan! Here we have three generations of firstborn daughters.
Jason points out some marvels to Talia.
At canyon's edge, we kept a CLOSE eye on Talia. Her daredevil personality made us all jumpy. Cuidado!
Brooklyn and Talia unite in a sisterly hug.
Sometimes you've just gotta dance.
Coming up on Angels Window.
Eli, Jason, NomiAnn, Talia, and Brooklyn
With Angels Window in the background.
What a great climbing tree!
NomiAnn keeps a handle on Eli.
You're behaving too, right Talia Lily?
The end of a glorious day.
While visiting the canyon in late October was absolutely perfect for avoiding crowds and enjoying beautiful cool weather, overnight camping was definitely nippy. Fortunately, we came prepared to bundle up.
Talia sound asleep with Brooklyn still wide awake. Quite typical.
By morning, everyone was all squinched together for extra warmth.
After a brisk walk to see the sun illuminate the canyon, we all warmed up around the campfire.
Can't start the day without a hug, right Eli and Brooklyn?
Jason and NomiAnn work on breakfast.
Looks nummy, Talia!
It's just not camping without s'mores. We actually saved the marshmallow roast until morning because we were so stuffed with dutch oven peach cobbler the night before.
Brooklyn shows off her newest creation: roasted Starburts covered in Marshmallow.
While it may seem like life can't get any better than s'mores for breakfast, we hit the grand finale when we stopped off for a hike in the Vermillion cliffs on the way home. All together, we explored "Wire Pass"--a narrow slot canyon accessible from the same trailhead where you access "the Wave." Definitely worth the miles of bumpy dirt road required to get there.

Brooklyn and Eli watch another hiker scale the walls.
Jason, how'd you get all the way up there?
Talia quickly follows suit.
Believe it or not, the kids were actually sad to turn around, wishing that they could wade (swim?) through the next series of muddy pools instead. As grown-ups, however, we'd had our share of adventure and were ready for a rest... least until next time.
So enough about my weekend. How was yours?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Another Princess

When surrounded by sisters, little boys quickly find themselves sucked into the world of princesses. Before you know it, you're inviting Cinderella and Belle to dance at the ball.
Well, Eli, hold strong, because ready or not, another princess is on the way. Just in case we had any doubt about the first prediction, last week's ultrasound featured a bum shot with a strategically placed arrow and the caption: "Still a Girl."

Still indeed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Wheeler Wobble Goes Marathon

I feel a bit phony blogging about the St. George Marathon 2012. After all, it wasn't my race. And witnessing a marathon, enjoyable as it may be, is about as related to running a marathon as comparing the contributions of the chicken and the pig at breakfast time. The eggs are nice, but bacon?  Now there's commitment.

It just so happens that there were three little Wheeler pigs, um, I mean siblings, who committed their all to this grueling 26.2 mile marathon last Saturday. As you can see, we rooted for them all by name. Go Jason! Go Justin! Go Christy! (Lance was also registered, but wisely chose not to run due to a knee injury and bad cold.)
Truth to be told, Eli was most interested in snacking on his peanut M&Ms...
...while Talia wondered what all the fuss was about.
Here's Charles, proudly watching for his children.
Before long, we spotted Jason. He flashed his famous toothy grin as he passed by, looking confident and strong as I cheered him on at the top of my lungs. It wasn't until after the race that I learned he hadn't actually recognized me.
Justin, on the other hand, blew kisses as he passed by. They also were not meant for me, but beautiful Brianna.
With a gal this gorgeous, who wouldn't be in love?
Determined to show our support, we jumped in the mini-van and rushed ahead to cheer Jason once more at mile 26. This time he was pure concentration.
The essence of a marathon: perspiration, persistence, and pain.
Despite that fact that I was literally jumping up and down in the middle of the street as Jason came along, he was so focused on his goal that he never even noticed we were there.

And so, it wasn't until after Jason passed through the final chute that we finally connected with our Dad. The park was packed, yet we may have been the proudest spectators around. Jason raced fantastically. He finished in 3:05:30, cutting a full ten minutes off of last year's marathon record.
Despite this marvelous achievement, Jason felt a twinge of disappointment at the finish for missing the Boston Marathon qualifying time by a measly thirty seconds. To which I say "boo." Qualifying times are for the birds. They keeping upping the standard until the only ones who make the cut are avatars, not people. Peanut Butter, you'll always be a superhero to me!
Justin likewise pulled off a marvelous race, finishing just minutes behind Jason. After which he promptly collapsed. Seriously. The poor boy was majorly ill. In the words of Brooklyn, "What to doctors do when doctors get sick?"
The ultimate queen of the race was the inexorable Christy Spackman. Christy proved once and for all that she is indeed superhuman by smashing her personal record by forty-five minutes and qualifying for Boston with her 3:32 finishing time. WOW!
Can you feel the joy? What a great moment!
The siblings racers unite, having gathered from NYC and Phoenix.
Of course, the kids were most excited to swipe a few bomb pops.

Uncle Lance joins the party...
...while Susie and Brianna smile over the memories.
It's not many families that unite from all across the nation just to suffer through 26.2 long miles. While it makes absolutely no sense, I'm glad to have married into a family that is just that insane.

The rest of the weekend was spent lounging around watching General Conference (here are the kids selling "tickets")...
...and of course, eating tons of gourmet food in true Wheeler fashion. Everyone chimed in their favorite recipes, so we all dined well. (Okay, almost all of us. Poor Talia and Eli got stuck with applesauce and bananas, thanks to a nasty stomach bug.)
Lance's lemon ricotta pancakes (above) and white raspberry cheesecake (below).
Brooklyn agrees they're nummy!
Chef Christy relishes a raspberry.
And here's Brianna, digging into her breakfast bacon in what has to be the most hilarious picture ever! Sorry Brianna, you should totally hate me for posting this--you're just normally so incredibly photogenic that I couldn't resist.
Brianna, back to her normal beautiful self while hiking in Snow Canyon Park.
A lovely couple shot of Justin and Brianna...
...and Justin and Eli looking all matchy matchy. Say cheese!
Talia, hanging out in a hole in the rock.
And one last photo of the group.
Thanks so much to everyone for joining us on this Ultra Wheeler Wobble.