Sunday, October 12, 2014

Camping in the World's Largest Organism

It's been on my camping request list for years and this weekend we finally did it - we camped in the World's Largest Living Organism. Allow me to explain. About 3 hours south of us, near the ever-so-creatively-named Fish Lake, lives Pando. Pando, The Trembling Giant, is a 100-acre aspen forest and DNA tests have confirmed that the whole forest is a single living organism, a giant grove of aspen trees that all share a single root system.

For years I've contested that depriving our children of the chance to visit and camp within the World's Largest Living Organism showed a serious lapse in parental judgement. Steve countered with the the inarguable point that it's just a bunch of trees. And so the debate circled.

But this weekend we were looking for a new place to camp and we wanted to hit some autumn leaves so off to Pando we drove!

It was cold (we were camping at about 7,000'). It was beautiful. And, yes, it looked like a bunch of trees. But it was still pretty cool knowing that all of those trees shared the same DNA!

If you're looking for a get-away with plenty of trees and a fun fact your kids will continually mock you about but you're convinced they secretly find kinda cool ("Wow, Mom, trees! Sure glad we got to drive 3 hours to see identical trees that share a giant root system!") then we can definitely recommend Pando.

Ben says it's "Pando-monium!" But he hastened to clarify that's not because it was actually chaotic there, just because it sounds cool.

I must disagree with the child - any place with the 4 Morningstar kids is bound to contain high levels of chaos. It was definitely Pando-monium.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet the Xtracycle

We've now owned our Xtracycle for a month and it continues to transform the way we approach our days, from kid carrying to grocery store runs to hyper-intense bike races. For example, here's a quick runthrough of our rides last Saturday:
  1. Load the girls on the Xtracycle and head to Target looking for gold shoes and hair clips for family pictures. I could have ordered them from Gymboree when I ordered the girls' dresses but I thought they were way too expensive. Lesson learned - no gold anything at Target.
  2. Finish Frapuccinos and then load the random Halloween costume pieces and on-sale tea purchased at Target into the bags and ride to Gymboree. Find ridiculously overpriced shoes, tights, and hair accoutrements except that they didn't have WanYing's shoe size or Sasha's tight size.
  3. Add Gymboree purchases to the bike bags, load the girls on, and head back up the giant hill to the mall. Successfully purchase missing sizes. 
  4. Head home with 10 miles of fully loaded, superfun girl together time thoroughly enjoyed.
What other bike could be up for a fabulous afternoon like that?!?

Here's a tour of our new bike so you can appreciate her in all her glory:

Superbright 70 lux lamp powered by the dynamo in the front wheel
Xtracycle sells a "hooptie" and "magic carpet" (safety bar and rack pads) for maximum kid-hauling awesomeness
She came complete with fenders and itty bitty mud flaps - fabulous!
Mud flap and dynamo-powered light on the back, too
WanYing's favorite way to ride is backward for optimum car-waving opportunities. It's pretty dang cute for all involved.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Picky Pizza Posters - Costco

The ultimate quest for the worst pizza experience in Utah Valley

By Sam and Steve

If you like purchasing obscene quantities of paper towels, frozen egg rolls, or granola bars for a mediocre price savings, then Costco is for you. For those elite few who get to call themselves Costco members, there is a special dining area that serves pizza alongside with other culinary masterpieces such as pulled pork sandwiches, jumbo hot dogs, and a Hot Pocket-like creation called a chicken bake.

I really like this description I found of Costco on Imgur: If zombies ever attack just go to Costco… they have concrete walls… years of foods and supplies… and best of all the zombies can’t get in without a Costco membership card.


A warehouse. We’re sitting at a group of a dozen tables, in a warehouse. There are jaunty table umbrellas - why are there umbrellas inside? We're always transfixed by the onion dispensers. Ambiance is topped off by all the smart TVs in the nearby electronics area to Bluetooth pair with :).

It's very noisy. Shouting is best way to communicate, so our children feel right at home. Fluorescently bright lighting. Great place to get bedroom furniture, Halloween costumes, large electronics, and yogurt to accompany your pizza.

Sam: Is it wise for them to leave the smart TV’s Bluetooth on? Wonder if they’re passworded? Only one way to find out…

Price for a large cheese

$10 pizza + $55 membership = $65 total. Most expensive yet.


Limited to pepsi fountain drinks, a case of 2 gallons of milk or 2 gallons of prune juice.


Checkout for pizza took forever; the line probably was moving backwards. Every table was already messy and sticky so there is no guilt in the children making it messier or stickier.

Ben: NO Samplers? Where are my hors d'oeuvres? And why do I always need to be with an adult to get them? How is that fair?

Pizza Impressions

Cheesetastic! Best cheese taste yet, though it tends to fall off all at once in one large cheese hunk. Very floppy soft crust with a touch of crunch. It's best folded in half for consumption. This is probably largest “large” yet (as befits a wholesale retailer). Great cheese hunks left on box to consume later.

WanYing: Awesome! (singing) Everything is awesome! (Lego movie was playing on flat screen tv display)

Sasha: I love it when the cheese falls off! Then I eat it up.


4/6 Slices

That was great. Lets get a palette of Oreos for dessert. Or maybe a hot tub or set of tires for the van.


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