Sunday, November 27, 2016

El Dia de los Muertos

Jason and I are house hunting right now, which is, frankly, rather hard.

The truth is, I really like our rental.  While it may have been taken some adjustment at first, I've come to love our cozy home with the big kitchen, oversized garage, and hot tub.  Even though I know there are many strong reasons to purchase a house, a large part of me doesn't want to move at all.  No matter where we go, it just won't be the same.

Of course it won't.  Change is inherently hard.  However, along with the loss, we often discover new gems that are distinct and wonderful in their own way. 

Schools have been a pretty good example.  It's no secret that I was heartbroken to leave our beloved Crestridge elementary school with its amazing staff and principal.  In moving to Salt Lake, I felt pretty skeptical about Emerson Elementary, even after our children were enrolled.  I knew I would miss so much, like Crestridge's focus on international studies, their amazing art teacher, and the thriving music program.

It's true.  I do miss those things--all of them.  I miss smaller things too, like our International Dinners, Spanish Chat, and Mileage Club.  However, instead of lamenting what is missing, I'm learning to better appreciate Emerson for its own unique programs.  It may not be a magnet school for global studies, but my children are truly loving the Extended Learning Program.  There may not be a Mileage Club, but my kids enjoy picking fresh produce through their garden program.  Emerson might not host an international dinner, but wowzers, do they ever know how to celebrate El Dia de los Muertos!

While the Day of the Dead might seem pretty dark for an elementary school, it's actually an amazingly upbeat and colorful celebration.  I love how the school has used this event to draw together the community across cultural lines.  It feels like we got to celebrate twice--both at the actual event and at the prep party.  Annika was delighted to let the fifth and sixth graders use her face as practice for painting skulls.

Here she is posing again in front of the rows of sugar candy skulls they were molding.

Eli helped with some of the coloring...

...before taking a break to eat some posole. 

Here's Talia with her adorable friend, Karsyn.  Before Talia got braces, their teacher sometimes had trouble telling them apart.  Not hard to see why!

The prep party was so well-attended that I wondered how they would beat it for the actual event.  I guess I shouldn't have doubted!  The entire community came out for all sorts of crafts, music, dancing, and even free food from local vendors. 

Brooklyn's class made this altar display in honor of the recently deceased Gene Wilder--the original Willie Wonka.

Eli's class decorated skulls, and Talia wrote a beautiful story about Uncle Jay.

As for me, I loved seeing Emerson's halls filled with so much color.  One of my biggest complaints about the school has been how drab and lifeless the hallways seem.  Instead of making them more depressing, the Day of the Dead transformed them into beautiful and vivacious spaces.

Here are some of the traditional dancers...

...and here's Brooklyn enjoying her sugar candy skull.

Scariest sight all night was Eli's face after eating his skull.

Talia and Karsyn decorating their skeletons...

...and Brooklyn decorating my face.

Back to the original topic of change: whether it's schools, homes, or people, it's never a good idea to compare because things won't be the same:
Sometimes they are better.

Friday, November 18, 2016


My new motto: a post a day keeps panic at bay--at least the panic of being so frightfully behind that you'll never catch up.

Today's post is all about the evening we spent in Eden, literally. In early October, we went to visit Jason's cousin Laura and her sweet family there near the mouth of Ogden Canyon. They are planning to building a home in Eden, and invited us for dinner in exchange for some architectural advice.  The grilled shrimp and veggies on the barbie was so great that I'm sure we got the better end of the deal.  As for the property, it was every bit as pretty as the name might suggest.

Our kids were so excited to spend some time with the animals on the farm.

Of course, they were just as excited to meet some new cousins.

Here's Wendell (Laura's husband) and a passel of kids on the four wheeler.

So Jason, maybe we should build in Eden as well and you can just commute.

It would be paradise.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Grandeur Peak

We woke up this morning to a beautiful blanket of snow--just enough to sprinkle winter magic through the neighborhood without making me shovel.  Lovely!

This first snowfall feels like it marks the beginning of winter.  Yikes!  Despite what the calendar says, I am not ready.  I haven't even switched out the summer clothes yet.  While I should probably stop procrastinating and take care of that pronto, I'm using a few precious minutes of nap time to post some photos instead.  After all, we can't be mingling all of these gorgeous fall colors with our sparkling snowy white.

These pictures were taken while hiking Grandeur Peak with Jason on Columbus Day.  He is absolutely loving working in the non-profit sector where he gets the occasional bank holiday to play. It was our first time exploring Millcreek Canyon, but certainly not our last.  So stunning! 

Annika, Mommy Kara, and the elephant backpack.

We encountered this cute waterfall right off the bat.  Don't stop yet--many more steps to go!

I don't think I will ever tire of these mountains.

Daddy and his little girl. 

After a fairly grueling climb, we finally made it the summit.  We were about to turn around early when our realtor texted to cancel an appointment, giving us just enough time to venture all the way to the top.

Challenging as the trip up was, I think the trip down was even harder since Jason had a sleeping Annika in his arms for most of the journey.

Dad of the year, right here.

And now to sort through clothes...

Lots of Laughs

How I wish I jotted down all the funny things our kids say!  (Of course, that would be a lot of notes.)  Here are a few gems I found while cleaning out papers today.
Brooklyn:  (As I measured her back for a surprise that NomiAnn is sewing.)  I hope she's not making me a cor-say.
Me:  A corsay?  You mean a corset?
Brooklyn:  Yeah.  How come it doesn't rhyme with ballet?

Talia:  (Telling me how she switched the laundry.)  I put the clothes in the dryer, and then I put a piece of lint in.  (Lint/dryer sheet--it's all the same thing.)

Eli:  (Telling me about his friend's Halloween costume.)  George is going to be a miamaid!  (After a lot of questioning, we finally figured out that he meant a mime.)
Annika:  (After a successful potty session.)  Look, Daddy!  Two poo poos.
Jason:  Actually, there are three.  See that one in the trap?
Annika:  Her's playing hide and go seek!
I may never look at my toilet the same way again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

City Creek Bike Ride

Just about ten years ago to the minute, Jason and I headed to the hospital because we anticipated this lovely gal would be arriving soon.

Talia Lily, you've got spunk and style!

You are just as beautiful inside as you are out.  Since I don't have any pictures of today's festivities uploaded, I thought I would share some pictures from our family bike ride up City Creek Canyon instead.  While these may have been taken more than a month ago, the weather today was just as glorious.  From the looks of the forecast, your birthday marks the last warm day of fall for 2016 here in Salt Lake.

While stunningly beautiful, this bike ride was long and hard.  So proud of you and Brooklyn for sticking with it!

Happy Birthday, sweet Talia.  We love you to the top of the canyon---and back.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cheering in St. George

No matter how tough the week, happy pictures help me feel better.  Let's go back to the beginning of October when we drove to southern Utah to cheer Uncle Lance and Aunt Christy as they ran the St. George marathon.

The first place we cheered our runners was at the top of Snow Canyon.  These beautiful red rocks will always hold such a special place in my heart.  Seeing them feels like coming home.

We got there just as the very first runner came by.  There was even a brass band to cheer the runners on.  The tuba arrived about five minutes later, huffing and puffing after walking a half mile up the hill to get there with a gigantic instrument in hand.

While the last miles of the race are grueling for the runners, they fly by for the spectators.  We cheered our speedy siblings on at Sunset Corner near our old house, then sped to the finish line.  Lance and Christy both did such an amazing job!  My only regret is that I don't have better pictures.  (I actually forgot my phone at home that day, so these photos are stolen from Jason.)

Chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink.  This race was particularly empowering for Christy, who had her ACL replaced two years ago.  Her knee "Prudence" handled the marathon wonderfully.  Way to go!

Grandpa Charles was proud as could be of his kids--and for such good reason!

While Christy and Lance waited for massages, we headed to Pioneer Park to explore.

Brooklyn and Eli were delighted to reminisce about years past when they would frequently play in these "hotels."

Talia found a suite for one.

Brooklyn basks in the St. George sun.

While this may have been Annika's first time hiking in Pioneer Park, she took off scaling the rocks like she'd been doing it her entire life.

Red Mountain.

Following the race, we headed back to the Airbnb rental for some much needed relaxation.

That evening, we picnicked in Snow Canyon where we painted toenails at the Upper Galoot before playing in the sand dunes. Then we headed to Menchies for our favorite frozen yogurt.  Annie sure liked her chocolate!

While the runners stayed at the rental in the Ledges, our family stayed with some great friends, the Johnsons, at their new home in Santa Clara.  They were such sweet hosts, especially with their Mom being out town.  Hopefully Heather wasn't too furious when she returned and discovered that Keat won the battle with the trampoline.  

On our way back to Salt Lake, we got distracted and found ourselves driving through Zion National Park.

Our new sun roof needed some attention.

 I took a gajillion pictures, like an addict finally reunited with her favorite drug.
 Can you blame me?

We stopped to hike the Canyon Overlook.  Worth every step!

Just be careful not to lose your prize possessions over the edge.

Being back together in Zion as a family felt so right.

Plus, we survived the marathon drive home.  26.2 miles per gallon!

Now on to training for the next big race.  Jason, Christy, Ben, and I are signed up for the Ogden marathon/half marathon on May 20th.  All are welcome to join the torture fun!