Thursday, June 24, 2021

Vacation to St. George

St. George

Next up, Brian and I took Miles and Timothy to St. George. But on our way, we knew we needed a pit stop for dinner. So we pulled off in Mesquite in search of something fun. We drove by a steakhouse but ultimately decided it wasn't quite right for our crowd, we drove by a Mexican place, but Miles didn't feel like Mexican, and we quickly discovered that there weren't a whole lot of options in Mesquite. Brian drove around while I searched on my phone, and finally... there it was... the idea of all ideas in my head that I knew would feel like the ultimate party, that would have both boys spinning in excitement.

So I googled: Buffet in Mesquite.

It did not matter that it was potentially the dumpiest buffet in all of southern Vegas, because it was all you can eat. And to a kid (well, to my kids (or to other kids who have similar voracious appetites)) that is a most magical thing. You can see the excitement spelled out all over Miles's face.

At the end of the meal Brian asked if everyone was done eating. Miles said that, yes, he was stuffed, and Timothy said, "Yep. I am stuffed, too. Stuffed with happiness!" It was probably the biggest hit of the whole vacation. 

Our second stop was maybe the second biggest hit of the whole vacation. The hotel room.

It did not matter that it was potentially the dumpiest hotel in all of St. George (it was the last room available that weekend in St. George (golf tournament we didn't know about until it was too late)), because it had a springy bed, and mirrors in fun places.

And when we filled it with board games and laughter we couldn't care less about the scratchy sheets.

The next morning we went out in search of the coolest restaurant we could find. 

But because everyone else in St. George seemed to have the same idea, we ended up in a stuffy cozy little corner in a stuffy cozy little restaurant. I didn't really know I could feel claustrophobic in an eating establishment, but when you can't see one square inch of wall space because the whole place is filled with cutesy hand towels and little wall plaques, and when you're not quite sure if you can scoot your chair out without warning the people at the table next to you, you start to develop these things. 

The kids were famished and a bit whiny about how long it was taking, so we passed the time with several games of 'how many ______ do you think are in ________?' And, closing our eyes, filled in the blanks with thing like, how many ounces do you think are in this bottle of ketchup? or how many individual letters do you think are on a single side of the sugar packet? or how many purple eggs do you think are on the table? When we exhausted all of the things, we tried to stack up sugar packets as high as we could and waited and waited and waited...

What I didn't know was that, after we had been seated, we had been promptly forgotten. And after about 30 minutes with no activity (not even silverware placed in front of us or a drink of water), I finally went up to the front counter and gently reminded them of our presence. The kids were grumpy enough by that point that they didn't even notice that the teenager bringing us our silverware held the prongs of the forks and the bowls of the spoons tightly in his naked hands. As he handed the handles to us, Brian and I caught each others eyes and slowly shrugged, signaling that we would pretend that there wasn't a global pandemic going on and that it wasn't just a little bit gross of a practice even if there weren't one.

We did eventually order and receive our food. And life felt happier then.

After breakfast we wandered over to Pioneer Park where we climbed the giant, red rocks and held ourselves together while the wind tried to whip us off the mountain. 

The outdoors is truly the biggest playground, and so much fun.

All the climbing made possible by my boot.

When we'd had our fill of the red rocks, we decided to hit an indoor water park which was a big hit as well. But as we neared the parking lot we realized that, while we had brought our swimming suits, we had neglected to think about towels. And a quick call to the rec center confirmed our suspicions that, because of covid, they were not giving any out. So we called around to all the nearby stores and finally found some hand towels at the $.99 store. You can imagine their quality. But they served their purpose nicely and only smelled a little bit like lighter fluid and only shed on us when we were wet.

After the rec center, we drove back to Boulder City where we pulled up into a parking lot to watch a drive-thru movie of Abominable. Which was, actually, quite delightful. 

It was another fun vacation in the books!

Vacation to Balboa Island

It was a little tricky this year figuring out what to give the kids for their Experience Gift for Christmas because it felt like Covid had shut down all the Experiences. And after such a long few months trapped inside our homes we felt like we needed an experience. So Brian and I decided to go big. Well, bigger than our previous experiences of escape rooms and shark aquariums. 

Big, like in small vacations. Two, actually. One full of shopping and exploring on Balboa Island for the big kids, and one to St. George for hiking and eating and playing games all night in a hotel room for the littler ones. And I was the lucky one that got to enjoy both. 

Balboa Island

First up, Carson, Kenz and I packed the car with suitcases and snacks and left Boulder City behind in search of the beach. I like to take the route to California through the intriguing Joshua Tree forest. I've always wanted to get out and explore, but since not everyone in my family shares my affinity for exploration I've kept my mouth shut and soaked in what I could of the forest as it sped by my window.

But this time I had a car full of adventurous spirits!

So, halfway through the forest I pulled off to the side of the road, opened all the doors, and jumped out with cameras and smiles.

But as much as we loved the Joshua Tree Forest, there are not very many things that feel quite as amazing as leaving the dry desert and landing in a place with humid sea air.

We arrived at our hotel at nightfall and the front desk explained that in order to get to our room we would need to "walk down the hall, turn right, pass the ballrooms, and find the elevators on the other side." I was surprised at how far away the elevators were from the front desk, but all Carson heard was... "ballrooms?! "Ballroomsssssss?! I really want to see inside one of those!" 

Of course, the doors to the ballrooms were all locked (we tried), but our exploration continued with Carson's interest highly piqued in the architecture of the building. 

We ordered pizza from GrubHub and had it delivered to our lobby (I'd never done that before!), and then cozied up in our hotel room and watched Better than Fiction.

The next day was our one full day, and we intended to make the most of it.

I was thankfully no longer on crutches, but the doctor had put me in a surgical boot to see if that would help (it wouldn't, but I didn't know that at the time). I can't even tell you how free I felt in that boot! All of the sudden I could walk and move in ways I hadn't been able to do for months! I did know, however, that my mileage might be a bit limited in the boot, so we rented three beach bikes for the day instead of padding around on foot. Pedaling a bike in a surgical boot really isn't as cumbersome as you might think. It allowed us to see alllllllllll the sights. 

Candy store included.

We explored every single store we wanted to without any little kids begging to be done. And then we made our way to the beach.

We spent far too much time under the pier taking photos.

At one point we told Carson to "put your hand behind your head and stare off into the distance like you're pondering something important." He tried, again and again, but just couldn't do it with a straight face. Posing feels so weird.

He eventually got it.

More pics:

Eventually we got our fill and found our way back to the hotel where we promptly put on our swimming suits and joined all the quiet adults in the pool and hot tub. I fear we were rather disruptive. 

But it's just too hard to be quiet and serious with these guys around. We had such a great time and woke up early the next morning to be home in time for church.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Scrambled Thoughts

1. We've been watching a lot of Sherlock Holmes lately

Well, not Eliza. But the bigger kids. And I'm pretty sure that Benedict Cumberpatch has embodied the character so completely that there's no hope for anyone else on the planet. 

2. The kids grab my phone and take pictures of me all the time.

And I delete them all the time. Because the lighting is all wrong and the lens is all smeared and my eyes are half closed and my face is all blurry and etc, etc, etc. But maybe the kids'll want some terrible quality pictures of their mother in the height of her mothering season someday, so maybe I'll start keeping them around.

3. Carson's name should have been The Most Caring and Compassionate Brother Ever.

I have so many pictures of these two. They've adored each other since Eliza was born, and I keep wondering if at some point Eliza will start looking more like a pesky little sister to Carson... but it certainly hasn't happened yet.

4. Singing Teenagers are Cool

These guys got all dressed up to audition for Zions Youth. And they spent hours practicing. The weirdest thing about the entire situation was not being sure whether to have Carson audition as a tenor or a bass. What is happening?!

They both made it and had such a fantastic experience.

5. I'm really not sure why I stress so much about having the perfect couches.

Because do you know what teenagers don't care about? Couches.

6. When homeschool officially ends I will *miss* mornings like this:

And this:

7. This date night is inspiring me to hang swinging lights alllllllllllll across my yard.

So, Brian might not ever want to take me on a date again.

8. I think I should pile into a van full of women way more often.

That's a genuine smile up there. If you've known my struggle with friendships over the last several years that will mean something to you, too.

We all went up to Cara's cabin in the mountains for a couple of days to watch Time Out for Women (which was available for streaming because of the pandemic). Filling both spiritually and emotionally. 

9. Remember that portion of life when we didn't have a dog?

That was weird.

Saturday, June 5, 2021



Timothy was so very ready for his baptism. He didn't have a nervous or worried bone in his whole body as he spent the few weeks beforehand preparing. He has a sensitivity to him that is deep and real and yields itself to feeling the Spirit and believing. I recognize it because I think I have the same thing. I wonder if his heart will ever question deeply or if he'll mostly always know - in the deepest parts of him - that God is real and that he is loved and cheered on by the heavens. His mind might question, as mine does, but his heart seems blessed with a living testimony that pulses as consistently as the muscle itself. I think it might take a lot for his faith to skip a beat, and even more for it to diminish in its life-giving nectar. We are so blessed to have him in our home.

He dressed in white just minutes before the meeting started, and his eyes told the whole story of anticipation, excitement, faith, preparedness. My favorite quote from the whole weekend was from him just before we started the meeting. "I can't believe I'm almost baptized... it's like... ONE MINUTE!"

When the time came for him to get into the water, he stepped a foot into the hot tub we had heated just one hour before. And, it turns out, a hot tub can lose quite a bit of heat in one hour if it's left open to the elements! He opened his eyes in surprise as he stepped down to the bottom and laughed a little as he said, "Cold! Cold, cold, cold, cold, cold!" But even being submerged in cold water couldn't temper his excitement and couldn't dull those bright, happy eyes. 

He is such a beautiful boy. Outside - it's true that sometimes I can't stop myself from staring at that handsome face and wonder how many hearts he's destined to break - but so much greater is his beauty inside.

He was lucky to share his day with his best friend, Ezra.

And, I know I've said this here before, but I love that this pandemic has showed me that my home is a sacred place. We have now baptized in our hot tub, and we have given the gift of the Holy Ghost on our sports court.

God's power is here. In my home. In my family. And I feel it so fiercely. God's power doesn't care too much about the dust on the shelves. It moves around the dirty dishes and unfolded piles of laundry with ease. It patiently waits for me to work through my overwhelm and frustrations and wraps me up each time I turn to it for help.

I still don't understand God's power very well. But I do know that I have the authority to call it into my home, to use it to strengthen my faith and my family, and to let it flow within us and around us.

And it is here.

Love you to death, Timothy! 

Here are a few extra pictures of him getting ready.