31 December 2016

2016 Books

I set this to publish automatically and forgot to add my top ten percent of 2016's books to this list. So, for those who didn't read it on the day of publication, you get a bit extra. I read 35 books, 20 fiction and 15 non-fiction. Rounding up, that gives me four books for my best of 2016:

  1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  2. A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII by Adam Makos
  3. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
  4. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Three of four are non-fiction. This should point me toward more non-fiction for 2017, but I'm sure I'll steer right back to fluff over and over thinking that I'll enjoy it more than I will. (Not that all fiction is fluff, but I frequently seek out an easy read or something fun to listen to and then rarely enjoy those as much as the non-fiction stuff.)

1. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger - A great way to start my reading for this year. The plot and characters are so likeable, even if a bit far-fetched. The writing is excellent.

2. A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII by Adam Makos* - This was just a really good story. I started it right around the time I quit commuting so much to work (August 2015), so it took me ages to get through it because I lost my time to listen to audiobooks. The time it took me to finish doesn't reflect the quality of the book at all. It's very solid writing, and just a really good story.

3. Columbine by Dave Cullen - A really well-written read about the shooting. I couldn't stop telling Eric about it.

4. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - Such an enjoyable read. I had many laugh-out-loud moments, and I dog-eared lots of pages to read to Eric (and my brother when we were traveling to Texas together).

5. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes - My first read by this author. I found it entertaining, and I'll probably return to her when I'm looking for some fluff reading.

6. Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - I read this one in 2012 and then recommended it for my book group for this year. I enjoyed it immensely again, but apparently some of the groupies found it a little boring.

7. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare* - Listened to this one for book group and liked it as well as I did when I listened to it in 2013.

8. Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai* - Listened to this one for book group too. I didn't know it was written in verse until after I finished it. That certainly explains the narrator's reading style, which I actually enjoyed.

9. Sarah Bishop by Scott O'Dell - Decent historical fiction. Nothing spectacular, but not bad.

10. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han* - Decent YA fiction. I really liked the main character, but her best friend and her older sister were really unlikable. I liked the writing and the plot, on the whole, though.

11. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella* - This was my first Sophie Kinsella book, and while I get the appeal of her writing (it is very funny), there were a lot of things about this book that rubbed me the wrong way, mostly the fact that the parents are portrayed as total idiots. I far prefer my YA lit with parents who are not total buffoons.

12. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie - I enjoyed it. I'd like to read it to my kids one day.

13. The Martian by Andy Weir - I expected to really like this book, and I did. The main character is brilliant, the plot is constantly engaging, and it was funny too.

14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky* - I do not get the hype of this book.

15. My Story by Elizabeth Smart* - A story worth reading, despite the lousy writing.

16. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Elizabeth Sherrill - I've read this book half a dozen times at least. It's such a good one. I read it this time for book group. I'm sad I'll miss the discussion.

17. I'm A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson* - Eh. Not Bryson's best. Nonetheless, an enjoyable book to listen to in fits and starts.

18. The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler* - We institutded "a good thing and a bad thing" at family dinner. I liked that this book is full of ideas, but he doesn't have an agenda of the "right" way to raise a family.

19. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi* - Easily one of the best books I've read in years. It was so thought-provoking and moving.

20. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley - I enjoyed this when I audiobooked it a few years ago, but I liked it even better this time around with a paper copy.

21. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys* -  I appreciated this book for telling about a different side of WWII than what we often hear (Eastern European refugees fleeing Stalin into Germany very late in the war), but I didn't love the narrative style or the characters. Still a good one to listen to.

22. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan - Definitely an interesting and quick read. I found it fascinating, but it's not one that I'll necessarily talk everyone's ear off about.

23. Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay - There is some good stuff in this book, but the delivery is obnoxiously repetitive and condescending.

24. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann - I did this with Ike. Sometimes it was really hard (for everyone), but we managed to finish it right before his kindergarten testing. If I decide to teach my others to read (and I really don't know at this stage if I will) then I'll use this book again.

25. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell* - This book was so delightfully entertaining. It was a great mix of history, the author's modern day travels and commentary as she did her research, and terrific quotes from historical figures. We sure don't give the French enough credit for their role in the American Revolution. It's shameful.

26. Follow the River by James Alexander Thom - I wanted to quit my life so I could just read this book and do nothing else. Alas, I have a family and a job, so it took me six days to get through it. This was a book group read; otherwise, I doubt I ever would have picked it up.

27. The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier - I'm glad it was short because it was really dark. The great writing doesn't make up for the darkness for me.

28. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson - I just cannot get behind this author, even though she is really popular. I found this book even more grating than Edenbrooke.

29. Life Itself by Roger Ebert* - Okay, I technically didn't finish this one. It was okay, but not engaging enough for me to finish it. I may have gotten through it if it were half as long.

30. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Read this one aloud with the boys, and it was so great to read together.

31. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White - Another great read-aloud with my boys. Felix had a bit of a hard time listening, but Ike was fully engaged and always wanted me to read more. I had read it as a child but liked it far better as an adult.

32. Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper by Geoffrey Gray* - This is a really interesting mystery, but I didn't love the author's telling of it. I probably should have just read about it on Wikipedia and called it good.

33. Cinder by Marissa Meyer* - I liked it well enough to want to read the next one.

34. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs* - I was looking for some fluff to listen to, and this served adequately.

35. Matilda by Roald Dahl - I read this to my boys. It was over Felix's head, but Ike really enjoyed it. I felt like I had to edit out some of the violence and harsh language (stupid, hate, shut up), so that made it a little less enjoyable for me even though it was one of my favorites as a child.

*Denotes audiobooks.

29 December 2016

2016 - In Review

I love to review my year. Over the years I've adapted the cut and paste form I used to fill out since some of it was redundant or just not really applicable to me. I'm sure it will continue to morph over time.

Places in 2016:
Noteworthy things for 2016 (in no particular order):
  • Eric started a graduate program related to his field of teaching, so he will get a raise when this is over!
  • Trixie was released from her supplemental oxygen and nasal cannula in February. Then in July her cardiologist said we didn't need to see him for a year.
  • Trixie got tubes in December after four ear infections in less than three months.
  • Trixie said "mama" before "dada." Then her ear infections caused her to go basically mute. Then when her words came back "mama" was first on the list.
  • I survived two weeks of Eric being away at summer camp.
  • My dad survived his heart stopping for an extended period of time (about 10 minutes). (A perfect stranger performed CPR until the paramedics arrived, zapped him with the paddles a few times, then hustled him to a hospital. He was unconscious for about 18 hours and then needed a few weeks of treatment, but his survival was quite miraculous.)
  • I taught Ike to read.
  • I read a few chapter books to both boys: Little House in the Big Woods, Charlotte's Web, and Matilda
  • Ike started Kindergarten.
  • Ike learned to ride a two-wheeler with only the assistance of neighborhood children, no adults!
  • Felix started preschool.
  • I coached Ike in soccer.
  • I had a very successful year in work and came really close to beating Eric in the gross earnings race.
  • I got pregnant and am having baby #4 in June 2017.
  • Eric finished the basement.

A Reflection On 2016 Goals:
  • I kept Trixie healthy during cold and flu and RSV season in 2016. I was very concerned about her because of her heart defect, but all was well!
  • I did not resume bread-making for our family. I don't even think I did it more than once or twice. But I was pretty good about meal planning and cooking.
  • I read all the books for book group!
  • I did not get around to hosting a meal at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Primary Children's Hospital, and I feel immense guilt about that.
Goals for 2017:
  • Physically, focus on getting steps in each day. That 10,000 step mark is pretty distant for me, especially when I can't go on walks outside. Even hitting half that is a pretty physical day for me. I just want to continue to be conscientious about moving my body and not being sedentary.
  • Finish my Personal Progress. It's something my bishop encouraged us to do this year, and I have worked on it in fits and starts.
  • Submit some writings for publication in genealogy literature.

24 October 2016

Fall Happenings

In the last two years my blogging has dwindled to only highlight birthdays and vacations. I'd love to make promises about more devoted writing time or more frequent postings, but I have no intention of doing either.

Here are a few pictures and blurbs about what we've been up to this fall, though.

On Eric's birthday we hiked to Donut Falls. It was a nice hike for our little family. Afterwards we went to an Indian restaurant. And we both were so happy that we can take our kids to actual restaurants to eat actual food without having to deal with them acting like horrible people.

I coached Ike's soccer team this year. My brother aptly calls soccer for this age group "Swarm Ball." It was a neat experience, and I'll probably do it again at some point. I loved spending extra time with Ike. I sometimes felt annoyed with parents who shouted at their kids opposite instructions of what I was giving them, or who wanted to give me pointers on coaching. Folks, I have never played soccer except in elementary school P.E. I only signed up to coach because I got a few emails saying our team still really needed an assistant coach. If all you other parents think you can do a better job, then by all means, please do. Otherwise, the appropriate thing to do is say, "Thanks for coaching this soccer team." Also, I think there was an attitude of, "Oh, I'm too busy to coach." Which, okay, I get it. But who isn't busy? We're all busy. It's the American thing to be doing too many things. If it were just the kids, I'd be all about doing this more often.

At this age level the teams do not play with referees, instead the coaches and parents referee the game. We don't really call handballs unless the kid straight-up picks up the ball with his/her hands, and we don't keep score (officially). I loved it when my fellow ref (usually a coach, but sometimes a parent) had the same attitude about this whole thing that I had. (My attitude was, "This is a game, and my kid is five.") Those games were the most fun for me. I never once reffed with another female. Some men treated me like I was stupid. These games were the least fun for me.

Sometimes this boy was constantly in the action, but as the season wore on he was more likely to hang out of the swarm and see if he could head off an opponent who had taken off with the ball.

It looks like I'm chewing this kid out, but I promise I'm not. His parents had come down hard on him during half time, and he came back very upset. I was telling him that he was doing a great job. (He was one of our better players, and one of my favorite kids.) About three minutes after this was taken, he got nailed in the face with a soccer ball and hardly shed a tear.

Being around Ike and watching him interact with a bunch of boys his age was such a fun experience. I really do love this little boy, and I'm glad we got to do this together. I'm also pleased to report that even if I had not been his coach, I think my boy would have been one of the better behaved and least annoying children on the team. And I'm grateful for that. I feel bad for the parents with annoying kids. (Not even going to try to pussyfoot around that. There were definitely some obnoxious kids on my team.)

We didn't manage to get a big group together for our annual Pumpkin Cruise down by the ropes course on the Provo River. Instead, we hired a sitter for Trixie and just took the boys. We didn't bother with jack-o-lanterns for our boat and just went on our own. There was a big logjam, and we had to portage around that. Felix found that experience really distressing for some reason and kept insisting that we just turn around and go home. But everyone really loved the lights. This was one of those rare occasions when Eric didn't want to do something, and I had to encourage him that it would be worth it. When it was all over he agreed and was glad we got it together to go.
Also, how long until my boys are bigger and stronger than me, and they can be the ones to help Eric with carrying the canoe to the river and getting it on and off the car?

17 October 2016

Felix is Four

I'm more than a week late, but Felix is four now! His birthday celebrations were numerous. On the day of his actual birthday I let him pick a treat to have with our dinner that night. He picked cinnamon rolls. We also had turnips because he requested them. The next night we had a picnic dinner at the Ashton Gardens (formerly the Thanksgiving Point Gardens). Saturday he had a birthday party with friends, and I made cupcakes for everyone. Sunday we had Grandma and Grandpa L., Grandma Great, and my nephew Tyson over for dinner. And we wrapped it up with pineapple up-side-down cake. Then, on Tuesday night we went to Cold Stone for birthday ice cream. Which is all to say, this kid had plenty of treats for his birthday.

A few of Felix's favorites:

  • Colors: blue and red
  • Foods: Pretty much everything. He's a delightful eater. But if you ask him, he might say cabbage.
  • Activities: playing with friends, watching movies and shows, playing with his cars, going on walks at the gardens
  • Movie: probably Planes: Fire and Rescue (I know, ugh, but it's better than Cars, which I absolutely despise.)
  • Show: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood or Wild Kratts
  • Songs: "Praise to the Man," "Eye of the Tiger," "Slave March," "Mighty Lord and King All Glorious," and many other Primary songs and instrumental pieces from various movies, especially Star Wars
  • When he grows up: Wants to be whatever Ike is. "But what if Ike is just a bum? "What's a bum?" "A bum is just somebody who doesn't have a job and does nothing all day." "Well, if Ike is a bum, then I guess I will just have to be a bum too." Alternatively, he has told me he wants to work at the the gardens so he can be one of the workers that is allowed to go in the employees-only sections. And he has told me he is going to be a flower cutter so he can cut flowers and bring them in the house for me.
Special traits:
  • He's quite sensitive.
  • He's brave, even if he's scared of something.
  • He has a good memory for learning texts and lyrics. (But he skips #15 when counting 99% of the time.)
  • He will always share food with you if you ask, even if it's his last bite of a special treat.
Other stuff about him at age four:
  • He's scared of strangers and is trying to understand when to be cautious and when there is cause for alarm. (The other day he came in from playing because there were strangers outside. I asked him if they were walking, and he said, "No, they drove by in a car.")
  • He would go to preschool every day if he could.
  • He almost never cooks with me anymore, far preferring to play with friends. (This makes me insanely sad.) But he does come around begging for food a lot.
And here are a few blurry pictures (and also evidence of why I will never be a famous blogger):

Sometimes Felix can be really ornery, but mostly he's a sweet boy who can be persuaded to do pretty much anything. He brings our family a lot of happiness. He asks great questions, and when his apologies are sincere, they are just insanely sweet. I sure do love him.

23 September 2016

Ike and Felix Speak

I have loved some of the hilarious things my kids have said recently.

While walking home with Ike from the bus stop:
Ike: I saw Cameron today in the gym.
Me: Oh, did you have P.E.?
Ike: Yes!
Me: What did you do in P.E.?
Ike: They gave us cups, and we put them over one eye and had to read tiny letters!
Me: That was vision screening, not P.E..


We have been reading Little House in the Big Woods, which has been a huge hit. We had tried chapter books last summer, and Ike was ready, but Felix definitely wasn't, which made things difficult. Felix still struggles a bit to be still and listen, but overall reading from the book has been a great boon to our bedtime routine. After reading about how Laura and Mary and Ma made butter, we made butter one morning. We then used the butter and resulting buttermilk to make buttermilk biscuits for our dinner that night. While reading about how Pa and Grandpa gathered sap to make maple syrup, Felix asked if we could do that sometime.

While reading from the book I frequently remind the boys that this book took place long ago, before there was electricity and cars. One time after a reminder Felix said, "Well, why didn't they just invent a car?"


On a walk with Felix, and I made him walk part of the way (after first letting him ride in the stroller with his sister while I pushed them both up a pretty big hill):
Felix: Mom, my leg hurts.
Me: Does it? Just keep walking, and it will feel better.
Felix: But it hurts worser than a lot!


While trying to get Felix to put his toys away:
Felix: You have to help me, Mom.
Me: No, these are your toys, you need to put them away so you can go play with friends.
Felix: But remember our family night, Mom? You have to do service!


While I was getting ready to go on a date with Eric:
Felix: How about Dad goes on a date, or you go on a date? But not both. It can't be both, Mom.

Then, later in the evening:
Felix: Mom, when I get big and I'm a grownup, can I go on a date with you and Dad?


While I was standing on the porch talking to somebody I saw Ike go by on a bike. He yelled, "Mom, look at me." I casually waved at him and said, "That's great, buddy!" Then I realized he was riding a bike with no training wheels! I had tried to teach him months ago, but he was too afraid of falling, and then I was too lazy to keep trying. But now he knows how to ride a bike!


Felix only has preschool on Fridays. In the week leading into his second day at preschool, he asked me on two occasions, "Is today my first day of preschool again, Mom?"


Felix took a cabbage to show and tell when the theme was "something you love":


At pre-school today Felix is taking something that starts with a letter B - his teddy bear. I was asking him what he is going to tell his class about his bear and he laughed hysterically and said, "I'm going to tell them I grew it in my garden!" (Which is what he said about his cabbage last week.)

07 September 2016

Second Summer Vacation

It happened over a month ago, but here is the rundown and summary of our second summer vacation.

We started with a very short visit to Hill Air Force Base. It had been a while since we'd gone, and the kids did not remember going before.

Then we camped in Idaho.

Then on to Yellowstone's Bear World, which was the best tourist trap I've ever visited. I seriously loved it. It was my favorite part of the whole trip.

It's a drive-through wildlife park with lots of animals, including bears. You can drive through as many times as you'd like. On our second loop through we got right behind the tour bus (which costs extra), so we got to have the benefits of seeing several bears really close without the added cost.

Some people think that this place teaches people that bears are not scary, but I think the opposite is true. We were told not to open our car doors or windows, and not even to slow down to less than three miles per hour because bears might crawl on our car or even try top open the doors! Seeing them up close gave me a realistic view of how massive they are - even black bears, which I (stupidly) thought of as not terribly big.

We also watched the bear cub feeding and the petting zoo while we were there, which were both great. Plus they have little carnival rides that were perfect for our children. The boys loved the roller coaster, which we rode a few times. (And no, I'm not getting paid for this review of Bear World. I just really liked it. But hey, if any Bear World folks want to hook me up with tickets to go again, I'd be all over that.)

After Bear World we headed up to the Tetons. We stopped in a town called Victor, Idaho, to get Huckleberry Shakes at the Emporium, and Eric showed the boys Pierre's Playhouse, which used to be a playhouse but is now actually a movie theater. When Eric was a kid his family spent a couple of summers near Victor when his dad managed a summer camp for boys.

Then we went to Teton National Park and rented a boat on Jackson Lake. The boys were very excited about the prospect of going on a "speed boat" instead of a canoe, which is our family norm. I was overly nervous about the boat, having grown up in Dallas where there were constantly news stories about people drowning on lakes due to boating accidents. Eric reminded me that the bulk of these accidents were probably caused by excessive drinking, but it was very hard for me to stop being nervous. (Which is odd, because I'm not generally a worrier.)

Then we met up with my brother and some of his family for a cookout and playing at String Lake.

The next day we were supposed to go to Yellowstone, but we were already feeling pretty pooped, so we just went straight to Missoula, Montana, to visit Eric's brother and his family. The following day we went to Glacier National Park, which was stunning. We camped that night too, and I educated my niece on the ways of going to the bathroom outside. I do not think she was a fan. (Who is?)

After returning from camping and getting caught up on sleep some of us canoed a stretch of the Clark Fork River in Missoula, where we got rather wet. As the night cooled off everyone was a bit chilly and slightly grumpy.

All in all it was a fun and short trip. I really want to go back to Glacier sometime to do more hikes. Maybe next year!

01 September 2016

Trixie is One

I can hardly believe my little Trixie is one. She is a delightful little baby. She is still chunky, but she is certainly losing her rolls, and it makes me sad. Her hair is still blonde, and her eyes are still blue. She is a little cherub.

Trixie pulls herself up to standing and walks along furniture. She also occasionally stands by herself, but she hasn't tried walking on her own yet. Even when I try to get her to walk while I hold her hands, she just plops down. She climbs the stairs and has even figured out how to come down them without falling. I don't trust her enough yet to let her do it without considerable supervision, but she's improving.

Trixie loves animals. I cannot emphasize this enough. When she sees animals she sometimes tries to jump out of our arms to go pet (read: pull fur, ears, tails, limbs of) the animal. At our ward campout this month she had a blast petting the ever-patient Pancho. (At our ward campout this month, I also declared my fourth time camping with her my final straw. We will not be doing that again until at least next spring!)

She also got a kick out of riding the pony at Thanksgiving Point, but I think all she really wanted to do was pull Chief's mane.

She learned how to suck from straws, and especially from my water bottle this month. And now she obsessively seeks out my water bottle if she thinks it may be near her. Half of what she slurps ends up on her shirt, but at least it occupies her.

Trixie got two new teeth this month, bringing the total to eight. Ike and Felix were really late teethers, so this mouth full of teeth on such a little one seems very strange to me. She uses her chompers to bite people, especially the shoulders of people who are holding her. Also she uses them to eat all the food. She's outgrown her aversion to bananas and now will eat most things with meat being her least favorite food group.

This month we went to Park City for a couple of days with some of Eric's family, and Trixie got to have her first go at a pinata. She really didn't get it, but she was pleased with the loot she got from the ceratops's head.

Last weekend we had a little family party for her. While I posed next to her with the heart-shape caked I laboriously made and decorated for her, she reached out and grabbed a handful of icing. Clever girl.

 Trixie is a light in our family. She has a sweet and mellow demeanor. She is inquisitive and somewhat destructive. She loves to participate in our family and gets excited when we are all together, especially if we are singing. Trixie adores her older brothers and sometimes stands at the window by our front door so she can see them playing outside. She loves music and often reaches up to play the keys on the piano. In general she is pretty quiet and doesn't say a lot of words or make many sounds. (She says "hi," and I think "da" and "ma" are in her vocabulary too, but that may be wishful thinking.) Trixie waves, gives high fives, and claps. She smacks her lips and loves to visit other families during church each Sunday.

01 August 2016

Trixie: Eleven Months

I can hardly believe my little baby is already 11 months. It is going by so fast this time.

She has six teeth (four on top and two on bottom), and she bites.

The best news for the past month has been that Trixie does not need to see the cardiologist for another year! I had some concerns going into the cardiology visit in early July (because of questions her pediatrician had about her heart), so I was a little nervous about this cardiology appointment (our first since February). We are all thrilled that she is doing so well!

Trixie is a really mellow child. She doesn't babble a ton, but she does say "hi" occasionally. She also waves more enthusiastically now, but generally only to family members. She likes to smack her lips and click her tongue.

She loves animals. A lot. I took her and her brothers to ride ponies, and while she enjoyed her own pony ride, she loved watching her brothers even more. She giggled and giggled just watching the ponies go around, and she giggled even more when I let her pet one of the big horses. When we were at the petting zoo in Bear World, she couldn't get enough of grabbing the animals' fur. Likewise, she loved to grab fistfuls of my brother's dog's fur. Thankfully, all these animals were really patient with her.

Trixie has been pulling herself up on furniture for about a month now, but she is not yet walking along the furniture. This month she also learned how to climb up the steps, and she's had a couple of tumbles too. She loves to crawl around the house pulling books off shelves, toys out of baskets, and dishes out of cupboards.

She loves to go to the window by the front door and stand there to watch for her brothers or other kids playing outside.

Trixie also loves food. The only exception is bananas. Anything else is fair game. Pictured below: discovering apricots while we picked them at Eric's parents' house, eating the core of a caramel apple our family got from Cold Stone, and devouring an avocado.

01 July 2016

Trixie: Ten Months

Trixie is now a very mobile baby. She can go from lying to sitting and sitting to lying, and she can crawl all around.

In addition to her two bottom teeth, she has two of her top teeth breaking through. Oddly, it wasn't the "two front teeth" (or incisors), but the teeth to sides of those (lateral incisors). I have also caught a glimpse of one of the incisors, so I think it will break through soon.

This girl loves to eat everything. We have yet to give her something she doesn't like.

She learned to wave this month. It took a lot of practice, but it was worth it.

She loves our family's new-to-us piano. She makes a lot of noise when anybody plays it.

She loves bath time and always leans forward to lap up the water like a dog. When she hears the bath water running she comes to check it out. (Felix was like that too.)

This month we've had a lot of family in town, and it has been fun to watch Trixie interact with her cousins. She met Daniel for the second time; he's about 3 months older than her. No pictures, but it was sweet to see him try to mimic the way she crawls. (He's a bum-scooter rather than a crawler, but he was intrigued watching her on all fours and gave it a try a few times.) She also got to meet her nearly-twin-cousin for the first time. They are about 17 hours apart. We took several pictures of them together but this was the best I've got. They are behaving like Disney princesses and not looking at one another. (Has anybody else ever noticed this? When you put multiple princesses in one image, they don't interact with each other and they all stare in different directions.) Also, Trixie sure is chubby next to her little peanut cousin.

All in all, Trixie is a delightful little girl. We are loving watching her grow and develop. 

10 June 2016

Road Trip to Southern Utah

Our original road trip plans were rather ambitious, but as the reality of "we have a small baby" set in, Eric and I (mostly I) decided to tone things down. We spent a few days in Southern Utah, and everyone had a splendid time.

First we went to Bryce Canyon National Park. It was my first visit, and I was really impressed. Eric had been once before, but he only hiked around the rim. We did a few hikes, and our boys did great. One hiker said, in broken English, that Felix is a future Everest hiker. We loved listening to people speak different languages and then telling our kids to say hello to those people in their native languages. Also, some Asians took pictures of our boys while they were sitting at the picnic table without us. I guess they like blondes. And many Asians were obsessed with Trixie, especially when she was leaning out of the hiking backpack as best she could to see what was going on in front of her.

We hiked the Navajo Loop. It is 1.4 miles total, with the first part being down some switchbacks, and the next part being up some different switchbacks. Our little troopers hiked the whole thing (with many breaks).

Most of the time, Trixie looked like this, and people found her position very amusing:

Ike and Felix are best friends, and I love it. (Though, if you ask them who their best friends are, neither will name his brother. One day they'll recognize that they are more than brothers.)

That night we camped near Bryce Canyon, and it was a perfect camping spot. Everyone did great at camping, except Trixie. She needs more practice.

The next day we returned to Bryce Canyon for more hiking. We hiked the Queens Garden Trail, and I liked it even better than the Navajo Loop. It was slightly longer, and again, our boys did really well.

We ran into Eric's cousin and her family while we were there. The following day they ran into Eric's brother and his family, who also were in Southern Utah for our sister-in-law's family's reunion.

As the weather warmed up (triple digits - we did not luck out with nice weather for this trip. It was blazing hot.), we headed to Cedar Breaks National Monument. It is like Bryce Canyon on steroids. It is a much higher elevation, so it is closed for most of the year, and it is generally inaccessible. There are a couple of trails, but they were still very muddy and snowy, so we just checked out the lookout points and went on our merry way. (Also note that this was the only time during the trip that I wore Trixie in the pack. Eric is a pack mule. That girl is heavy.)

Really though, these boys love each other. And look how blonde they are. It's no wonder the Asians were marveling at them.

After Cedar Breaks, we went to St. George and stayed in a condo. The next day we went to Snow Canyon State Park, which is a pretty cool place. Have I mentioned the heat? It was oppressive. We didn't last long at Snow Canyon before we headed back to our condo for mandated naps before going to see Zootopia.

On Saturday we went to Zion National Park. We had high hopes for an early arrival and a day full of hiking, but our late start and exhausted bodies stymied us. We hiked to the lower Emerald Falls, walked along the River Walk Trail, played in the very cold river, and then called it a day. What should have been a four-hour drive home took us six due to unscheduled potty breaks and ornery children, but we all made it home in one piece.

For the record:
  • The boys had been to Zion before, but neither could remember it.
  • On his last camp out (father and sons camp out with the ward), Felix fell into a Dutch oven and sustained a nasty burn on his leg. On the camp out before that he fell into a cactus, and we had to pick barbs out of his bum by flashlight in the dark. This camping trip was injury-free for him! (My dad says we need to get him a suit of armor to wear while camping, and that's probably true.)
  • Trixie liked to fall asleep with her head sticking out. In the one picture above where she is resting her head on Eric's back (like a normal person would), she was only in that position because I placed her so. Usually when I tried to rearrange her sleeping body to a comfortable position, she would flop right back to the head-sticking-out-to-the-side position.
  • If you ask Ike and Felix about their favorite part of the trip, they will tell you it was the swimming pool at the condo and going to see Zootopia. So, basically, things we could have done at home.
  • I really am pleased with how well my boys hiked, in case you couldn't tell. Nearly two miles (length of the Queens Garden Trail) on steep trails for a scrawny 3.5 year old is pretty impressive.
  • Ike wore a "Don't Mess With Texas" shirt one of the days, and he loved to "trick" people by telling them our family was from Texas. Where in Texas? "Just the normal part."
  • Both boys were totally zonked out during church on Sunday.
  • On the drive home when Felix was incredibly cranky, Eric and I decided to stop and get ice cream. We went to a Burger King, but ice cream was not on the dessert menu, so Eric ordered a couple of shakes, which, Felix was not particularly interested in having. He then declared he wanted crackers (which we had in the car). As Ike and I finished up the shakes, Eric took Felix back to the car to get the more desirable crackers, when he saw a man walking out with a couple of soft-serve ice cream cones. And that was not the most humorously frustrating stop on our drive home, but now you have a better idea of why it took us so long to get home.
  • Okay, I can't reference a more humorous stop and not give more details. Shortly after a bathroom break, Ike declared he needed to go. We tried to make him wait but ultimately had to pull over to a rarely-used exit to let him do his business. While helping him, Eric was attacked by angry bees. While Eric literally ran around the exit ramp swatting at the bees, I stared, baffled, from the car. Ike continued his procedure totally unaware of his father. Somehow everyone was able to re-enter the car un-stung.