Thursday, July 31, 2008

Annual Utah Trip

This last week we went to Utah to visit family. We were excited to see my mom and sisters in Ogden and to see my sister Lesa's new house (she moved to Plain City). I was excited, as always, to see my little nieces and nephews. I always get a huge kick out of the funny things they say and do. I especially love to spend time with my sister Jenny's little girls. They remind me of my sister and it's the closest thing to seeing her as I can imagine right now. Especially Erin, she is the spitting image of her mom and Phoenix is turning into such a pretty little girl. My sister Mindy's little boy, Dallon is 5 and acts like he's about 25. He has this John Deere Gator that he drives from his house to my mom's every day to wake us up. He is always offering rides to the little kids and Phoenix especially loves riding with him. He drives with one hand and easily shifts it into second gear when he feels the need for speed (just like his dad).

We got the chance to go to my brother Todd's house in Cedar City and spend some time there with him and his family. I loved seeing where my brother lives. He's been there like 3 years now and it's about time I see his pad and family. Todd took us to Zion's where we planned to spend a day there exploring. We woke up early and made it to Zion's around 9 am and waited for the bus to take us into the park.

Pictured left to right: Jordan Sorenson, Savannah Higley, Todd Higley, Valerie Sorenson, Olivia, Marie Sorenson, Alex. Dallon is standing in the front and Jessica Sorenson in the back. The Sorenson's are my sister Amy's crew.
I was blown away by the beauty of the Canyon. It literally took my breath away and for some reason it felt like I had been there before. Maybe it was all my childhood summers spent in Lake Powell. It felt like home. Those tall canyon walls and the red rock and sandstone looked similar to Lake Powell. I wanted to hike a lot but the heat there is brutal in July. Plus, my feet were not cooperating terribly well. It's been 4 months since my last foot surgery. Perhaps, I'm pushing myself too hard! We did get to walk up to Weeping Rock. The kids liked that. Brent and Alex liked it and Isaac really liked holding his hand out to catch the water.

We also got to take the short hike up to where the Narrows starts. Isaac was not happy with the hike but made it after a lot of coaxing from Martin. The kids played in the water and we had a snack wherein we were attacked by a herd of squirrels. They were really bold and kept coming up to us begging. They stole my crackers when I put them down on the rock and one even climbed on my niece, Savannah's shoulder. She thought that was too close for comfort. My brother was even able to touch one on the head. The kids named all the squirrels funny things like Jumbo for the fat one, Edgardo, and Pom-Pom for the one with the bushy tail. (Ahh, kids...they find pleasure in such simple things)

Here's a photo of a part of Zions. I think this is Angels Landing.

I wish we could have stayed longer but the kids were tired and it got really hot so we left at about 1 in the afternoon (Martin and Alex stayed and continued hiking into the afternoon). I was glad we got to go but it's funny, the kids were more happy to go back to the camp ground and go swimming and play on the go-carts!

Olivia, Savannah and Valerie.
I'll write more about the rest of our vacation later.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Kingston Ferry

Just before school got out this year we took the ferry to Kingston from the Shoreline area. It's the first time my kids remember being on a ferry and I couldn't believe how excited they were. When we boarded the ferry they were giddy with excitement. We walked up to the observation deck and went out to the front of the boat (the back when we're going the other way) and looked out at the beautiful water. As we were taking pictures the horn went off that signals departure and lucky for us, we were directly under it. I don't know if you all know how loud that is, but let's just say we were deaf the rest of the trip. Isaac, who detests loud noises, immediately wanted to get off, but I was able to convince him that wouldn't happen again and he was distracted enough by the boat that he recovered fairly quickly.

Isaac was at his comic best that day. He turned to me when we were on the ferry and said, "This is good times, mom." I laughed and laughed. That kid watches too much television!

Once we got to Kingston we went to a yummy burger joint and then had ice cream (actually, I don't care for ice cream, but the kids do). Then we walked along the docks and looked for interesting things. We found some sea shells and a star fish in the water. It was a nice day and not too hot so we enjoyed it a lot.
On the way back we had to wait in line for the ferry again. Livi and Isaac had a great time playing in the sun roof of the car, while Alex complained and fret about the "waiting again in line." Alex, as a general rule, is the most disagreeable of the kids (don't tell him that) and I was tired of his complaining at this point.

The sun was setting on the ferry as we crossed back and it took my breath away. I, unfortunately, forgot my camera in the car and was too lazy to walk down and get it, but I'll remember that blood red sunset that faded into dark pinks for a long time. We all felt so content and happy. That's what life is all about!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Seattle Brain Cancer Walk

It was lucky that I heard on the radio that the first Seattle Brain Cancer Walk was on a Saturday in late June. I only had a week to get ready for it so I didn't get as many friends involved as I would have liked. My good friend Amy Hansen from my ward lost her father to brain cancer when she was 14 years old. She joined me and Alex in our brave venture. It was a hot day but it was pleasant until later in the morning. It took place at Mercer Island High school. I was impressed that they had so many supporters being the first year and all. There were a few hundred people including several teams. As we checked in we were excited to see people wearing these crazy inflatable hats that said "Cranium" on top, as the event's name was the "Cranium Crusade." Everyone got one along with t-shirts. Usually stuff like that makes me self-conscious but today I felt bold and immediately inflated mine and donned it like a super trouper (I think Amy helped me be bolder--seriously, she's crazy!). Unfortunately, soon after we put our hats on, we found the plastic to be terribly sweaty and uncomfortable, so we had to stowe them in the car. It was great to talk to Amy and swap brain cancer horror stories and to reminisce about my sister and her dad. It's oddly comforting. I felt like everyone there had a like cause and that united us, even though we didn't know each other. There was a point in the walk that everyone got together on the bleachers and took pictures and gave away prizes for largest donations and such. They also gave out roses, white ones for people who had lost someone to brain cancer and orange and yellow ones to people who knew someone fighting brain cancer. I was amazed at how many there were. I couldn't stop crying at that point; I felt such sorrow and longing for my sister. Anyway, we didn't get to walk very long, as we were late and it got hot fast. But we walked 32 laps for the 32 years my sister lived (Alex's idea. He has to have a goal). Amy and I have decided next year to combine our efforts and get a larger team. We are going to name it something crazy like "Lynch the Harris's." Lynch is my sister's last name and Harris is her dad's last name. We had a great time. I really loved being there with Amy. She is so easy to get along with, so easy going and so fun (Amy, I think this is where they keep the buses:)).

Beach Day

We love to go to Lake Sammamish in the summer. We usually go to Vasa Park where there is slides, a diving board and lots of sand to build sand castles. We don't always stay long because my kids, I have found, are not big swimmers. This day, however, Livi got into the water and the boys didn't. Despite the cool water (the water here isn't terribly warm) she got all the way in. Alex and Isaac just built sand castles that were immediately dozed over by little kids. It was amazing how many kids were there that day. City Church has a day camp program and that day they were at Vasa Park. I was amazed at the sheer number of kids and the organization of it. There were literally hundreds that were taking turns swimming on the beach, boating and riding wave runners, and playing at the playgrounds. They were all in little groups, and each child had a buddy they were responsible for. All the groups had several youth counselors. It was like a well-oiled machine, so props to City Church!

Our First Attempt At a Family Hike

I decided to take my kids hiking when school got out. I wanted to get out and exercise in the beautiful mountains we have here and the weather, not too cold, not too hot, was perfect. My kids were psyched and we set out one morning up the High School trail on Tiger Mountain. One mile into the hike the kids saw a sign that said there had been a bear sighting, "a mother and cubs," it said. The sign was left at least a month ago, but that didn't matter to the kids. All of a sudden there arose panic in the ranks. Olivia is terrified of animals (althought she claims to love them). Dogs scare her to death and the thought of a bear eating her was too much (I guess we've been watching too much Animal Planet's "Eaten Alive" series). She begged to turn back and go home. I tried to calm her fears and play down the bear issue and soon I was able to get her to go on. As we walked up the well-tread path I couldn't help but notice the beautiful trees in which we were surrounded. I was loving it, but Isaac and Olivia weren't happy. Finally we came to a small stream and I was able to distract Isaac by telling him he could make a wish by picking a flower and throwing it in the water. This was a hit and after about 540 wishes we continued up the trail. We reached the top of the High School trail where there is a flat plateau and a clearing. You can go onto the Poo-poo Point trail or the Tradition Lake trail. Alex and I wanted to go further, but Olivia and Isaac finally won the battle and we turned back. It ended up being a great day, but Livi and Isaac still won't accompany me on any other hikes.