Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Very Videogame Halloween

As with most years, our 2017 Halloween theme was inspired by Ben. He announced that he wanted to be Waluigi, Luigi's arch rival and a little-known member of the Mario universe. He likes to pick the obscure ones, our Ben.

Anyway, once we were on a Mario theme, the ideas came fast and furious and we were set on a Princess Peach, a Yoshi, a Mario, and a Waluigi.

We hit the fabric store and were shocked to discover a Princess Peach pattern! Delighted, I picked it up and we selected our satin and started cutting.

I had no idea what I was in for.

This was a full on prom dress. Fully lined (that means you basically get to make two dresses), integrated crinoline, puff sleeves, and I swear the full thing weighs five pounds. It definitely put my seamstressing to the test.

We persevered. So much fabric. So much thread. But I overcame! And it was on to the jewelry and accoutrements and Princess Peach was complete.

And we moved on to Yoshi. I got wise with this one and purchased green sweats and hit the applique.

I cannot overemphasize how easy Yoshi was in comparison to Princess Peach.

Tah Dah!!!

The whole crew looked fantastic. And I'm one grateful mama that we still get to do family theme costumes :)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Goblin Valley: What are You Going to Remember in 10 Years?

There were two common refrains of this year's Fall Break adventure (aside from the whining of children):
  1. What are you going to remember in 10 years?
  2. Let's just embrace the adventure we're on rather than the adventure we thought we were planning.
You guessed it - our fall break did not go according to plan. And on fall break, as with all of life, we are learning to embrace the adventure we're on.

It started in the magnificent city of Wellington when Rainy, our beloved if not dependable 87 Volkswagen Vanagon, started exhibiting issues. We and our very gracious adventuring companions, the Knappenbergers, stopped to assess the situation and after lunch at the fantastic Wellington gas station (they have a pizza place and a Subway and a milkshake machine - we could basically eat there forever) we decided to pause for the night.

Fortunately, Wellington is the gateway to Nine Mile Canyon, 45 miles (don't be confused by the name) of petroglyphs and pioneer ruins. The Knappenbergers insisted that they had been wanting to visit Nine Mile Canyon for a while (I told you they were exceedingly gracious) and we found a campsite, left Steve to fiddle with Rainy, and headed into the canyon.

The petroglyphs were really very cool. I'll admit, the children's interest waned after the first, say, 5 sets, but they stayed pretty positive. I think it vastly helped the girls' state of mind that they got to ride in the back of the Knapps' truck with their older friend and a dog. Girl heaven.

The canyon was beautiful, as evidenced by the photos:

We got back, made a fire, put on our Waluigi costume (hey, at least he's wearing his Halloween costume more than once), and hung out at our very nice campsite. It wasn't the adventure we thought we were signing up for, but it was a very pleasant (if a bit too educational for some of our tastes) day.

The next morning we packed up and began the second half of our drive to Goblin Valley. It turns out that 6 people and 2 dogs and all of our camping crap makes for a pretty full van!

I should mention that we also realized that we had forgotten the meatballs for the next night's spaghetti dinner. Thinking that the Wellington gas station might have something suitable, we stopped by. I had the bright idea that Subway had meatball subs, and maybe they'd just sell me the meatballs. I was clearly not the first with this idea - lovely ladies at the counter promptly filled up a soda cup with meatballs, executed their cash register judo to get the total to work quickly (1 foot long meatball sub + 3 orders of extra meat - 1 foot long meatball sub) and instructed me, without missing a beat, that forks were right behind me. Puzzled, I explained that I didn't intend to eat said cup o' meatballs but instead they were for the evening's dinner. They gave me a, "suit yourself" shrug and I was on my way.

Sam taught WanYing various methods for solving a Rubic's cube and we were all passing the time very happily when Rainy started acting up again. By this point we were pretty darn close to Goblin Valley, so we decided to tough it out and just get there.

Unfortunately, toughing it out ended up meaning taking the rutted dirt BLM road a bit too quickly, which ended up digging the front edge of the trailer into the ruts, which ended up snapping the tongue off of the trailer. Oops.

Plus, the wind was blowing somewhere between 20 and 4 billion miles per hour. Which ended up meaning that the air was pretty much just a giant sand cloud. Tents were maytaging all around us, our mouths were gritty with sand... it was not the adventure we thought we were signing up for.

We persevered and climbed on the hoodoos around the campsite until a plan was formulated: The menfolk would venture into the mighty berg of Hanksville and the womenfolk would take the childers into Goblin Valley to climb.

Shockingly, it turned out that the same wind in our campsite 2 miles from Goblin Valley was also in the valley proper. The dogs didn't mind, and Sasha enjoyed chasing my hat around the hoodoos every time it blew off of my head. The rest of us struggled a bit.

Mercy be, the good folks of Hanksville (specifically, Curtis the Contractor) found a length of pipe that would fit in the tongue, drilled and bolted it in, and even gave Steve and Zach the drill bit so they could bolt in the receiving end. God bless kind folks.

The Knappenbergers ended up (wisely) leaving us since a night in a very blustery popup sounded terrible, and we all hunkered down in Rainy, read, ate our meatballs, and passed a chill and very pleasant evening together. It can be awfully pleasant to have nothing to do.

Mercifully, we awoke to clear skies and still air. We enjoyed our breakfast, climbed a bit more around the campsite, and then drove to Crack Canyon for a family hike.

It was a beautiful hike on a beautiful day, and we were grateful for every moment of it.

And home we headed!

Of course, the adventure we were on (significantly different than the adventure we had planned) meant that Rainy would experience engine trouble on the way home, also. We got to stop at the jerkey stand on the side of the road (equal parts pleasant and mildly disturbing), got to eat a leisurely dinner at the Wellington gas station (three times in three days!) and ended up spending almost an hour in the Helper Catholic Church parking lot while the engine cooled and Steve rewired the running lights so they wouldn't turn off when he cycled the engine to reset the computer.

Through it all, the kids were troopers and we were (mostly) able to embrace the adventure we were on. I remain in awe of my husband's mechanical skill, his cool head in frustrating situations, and the fact, proven over and over again, that we can get through just about anything together.

Besides, what are you going to remember in ten years? The camping trip that went exactly as planned? No way!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Feeling Fancy

Family photos are a singular experience. At no other time are the opposing goals of children (chaos) and parents (neat presentably) at odds. It's astounding how the kids pick up on the stress and importance of the day and magnify it back in their own unique way... prowling through the grass like a lion cub (getting covered in burrs and seeds in the process), throwing grass seeds at siblings, pushing, shoving, making faces, and fixating on giant logs that they insist on dragging all over the meadow.

You'd think that over so many years of family photos I would learn to just relax and let go, since it goes without saying that me freaking out about their behavior only makes them freak out more. Maybe I'll have figured that out by the time I have grandkids.

Thanks goodness that God sent us a very patient, very creative, always adventurous, and perfectly relaxed photographer friend who is happy to let my kids be themselves even when I cannot. She never fails to re-assure us that she loves us even when we're a bit out of control and capture a whole bunch of really beautiful pictures in the process - portraits that don't just look good, but also capture our heart and personality as a family.

I'm super grateful for  living in a state so beautiful that locations like this are in our backyard, for my perfectly, uniquely, beautiful family, and Sarah Arnoff Photos for capturing this moment in our lives!

Step 1: Pull out the Ansel Adams camera and attempt to explain the concept of film, exposure, and darkroom to the kids.

Yes, this is what we do with our 10 exposures.

And, of course, there were many many beautiful digital pictures taken in the crisp autumn light atop Buffalo Peak. It's a funny thing, when we first booked the weekend we were hoping that we wouldn't be too late for fall colors, but with our warm September we ended up with green leaves and meadows. Oh well, we'll take what we can get - it's all lovely!

Did it get rowdy and sometimes a little out of control? Yes, yes it did. And did I learn to let go a little more? Maybe. But either way, it made for some fantastic family portraits.
Lord help me... that stupid stick


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