Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Perfect Day (Sunday, May 20)

We woke up on Sunday morning and got ready for church; the girls were only a little disappointed that we brought play dresses for them instead of frilly church dresses but, honestly, there wasn't anything that could convince me to bring a frilly church dress to Grover. You never know when someone's going to burst out of the van after church and go running up the hill to go climb trees...

Church was interesting. It was high council Sunday and one of the speakers told about ten minutes of redneck jokes before finally getting into his talk. And there were obviously some cowboys in the congregation, judging from the cowboy boots and cowboy-style suit jackets. I don't know why Andrew teases me about my Highwood High School year book ("Why are so many people wearing costumes for their yearbook picture?" he asked me, upon seeing multiple stetsons in pictures) when the same thing happens in Utah. 

The girls were relatively well behaved, though Rachel almost lost her colouring privileges. We'd gotten the girls new My Little Pony colouring books for the trip since it involved multiple car rides and occasionally being cabin-bound and we took those to church with us for entertainment purposes. Rachel wanted to colour a picture of Pinkie Pie but we'd only packed one container of crayons in the church bag and left the other one at the cabin. Unfortunately, both of the "carnation pinks" were at the cabin and all we had at church was "red violet" (or "pinkish reddish," as my girls like to call it) and this was a tragedy of epic proportions.

Since Andrew wasn't due to play the organ he escorted her out when he noticed her blood was boiling and they were able to come up with a solution. He gave her two options: throw a fit and never colour in church ever again or calm down, choose a new (pinkless) picture to colour, show us that she could use her crayons responsibly (ie: without having a complete meltdown) and retain future colouring privileges. She chose the latter, which kind of confused me. 

When she walked back into the chapel she said, "Mom, I need my colouring book."

"You don't have to colour," I told her.

"Yes, I do!" she insisted. "I need my colouring book back, please. I'm sorry I was angry but I need my colouring book back."

She ended up choosing a page with a secret code on it where you decode numbers to find the right letters to spell words. She had no idea what she was spelling because she can't quite read yet but she figured out the code and matched up the letters and numbers just fine.

We only stayed for sacrament meeting since both Rachel and Miriam were coughing and sneezing and had runny noses so we didn't feel like we should send them to nursery or primary and didn't feel like we wanted to continue to deal with colouring melt-downs during Sunday School.

After church we took some family pictures back at the cabin and because I can never narrow pictures down, you get the best three to look at:

Even though the girls were technically in play dresses we still insisted that they change into "Grover clothes" because that red dirt gets into everything! Then we went and had a lovely picnic lunch in Fruita. The weather was perfect. I've never seen the area We played a bit of frisbee together.

Rachel really got the hang of how to toss a frisbee—she was throwing well enough to make Uncle Patrick proud. 

Miriam didn't quite catch on and would just run up to people and chuck the frisbee at them from dangerous proximity. Fortunately she's got a weak throw and didn't hurt anyone.

The girls played "Pooh Sticks" on the bridge with Daddy.

Unfortunately their sticks kept disappearing so they decided we should go under the bridge to investigate. 

It smelled terrible under the bridge because there was a bunch of sludge sitting stagnant behind a large rock. Apparently the water hadn't been running high enough to wash anything away and a bunch of foliage had built up and was decaying. It had also created a nice dam and was trapping all their Pooh Sticks.

The girls had fun splashing in the clean(ish) water until Miriam decided she wanted to walk somewhere else. They had been perched on a little rock in the river that I helped them onto. 

It seemed to Miriam that the shore would be accessible via a little sludge bridge and she stepped off the rock and into the leaves before I could stop her. Fortunately (or not) there was so much leaf build-up that she only sunk down into her ankles. Even that terrified her. I didn't point out to her that she seemed to have disturbed a nest of spiders and had about five of them crawling on her pants. 

Daddy rescued her from the river and the spiders.

We went to the visitor's center to pick up a map of all the short, easy hikes suitable to qualify as a "Sunday stroll" and to check the poster that had information on the eclipse to make sure we had our time right. Rachel found an exhibit explaining the petroglyphs and the different rock layers in the mountains and was in museum-heaven. She insisted that we do the petroglyph walk first.

We lost Grandma somewhere along the way and spent some time hanging out in front of the visitor's center waiting for her to join us. 

We saw some prickly pear cactus in bloom:

Enjoyed climbing on the rocks:

And just before we were about to load into the van to wait with Daddy and Miriam, Rachel spotted a little butterfly just behind our tire. She rescued it from being squished when we backed out (though I'm sure it died later because it was struggling). She had a lot of fun holding that butterfly:

She even brought it into the van to try to convince Miriam to take a turn holding it. Miriam declined, but she did get brave enough to gently touch it:

We left it by the prickly pear cactus flower so that it could have some nectar if it needed it, to ease Rachel's conscience about leaving it behind when it couldn't even fly. I'm pretty sure it ended up being lizard lunch, though.

When we found Grandma we headed first to visit the petroglyphs. They're kind of far away and difficult for the untrained eye children under the age of five to spot since you have to stay on the boardwalk and they're off in the distance, up high.

This year Rachel was old enough to spot them and appreciate them. Last year she was like, "What are you guys even talking about? There is nothing to see here!"

This year, much like last year, Miriam was like, "Petro-what? Where?"

She was much more interested in the boardwalk and kept stopping to peer through the boards so that she could see what was under us. Sometimes we were passing over a little stream. Other times it was just dirt. It was fascinating. 

Once, when we were leaving one of the lookout points, Andrew glanced around to make sure all the little people were with us. They were, so he strode off full-speed ahead and didn't notice that Miriam had stopped to peek through the boards again. He tripped right over her, sending her sprawling and losing his balance royally. It ended up being rather hilarious and Miriam didn't even cry. I think she was too shocked about being bowled over by her daddy to register pain.

After the petroglyphs, we went to do the Goosenecks Overlook "hike." It's a whole whopping 1/10 of a mile from the parking lot to the overlook but we put Miriam in the hiking backpack for it because she had been looking forward to using the hiking backpack all week and as far as we knew this was the only "hike" we'd be going on.

She had so much fun up there!

From the overlook you can see down to Sulphur Creek, which is 800 feet below the rim of the canyon. I've never been to the Grand Canyon so I can only imagine how impressive that would be—it's a mile deep (5280 feet (6.6 times deeper than the Goosenecks))—because the view from the Goosenecks is startling.

Sometimes you can see people hiking down there. Sometimes when we're hiking down there we can see people standing at the overlook. I suppose it's not so far down there but it feels far enough when my four-year-old does something like this:

Everyone stayed safe and happy and on the right level of the canyon (the right level being at the top).

When we got back down to the parking lot we noticed there was a sign marking the trailhead for Sunset Point. And it was only 1/3 of a mile so we decided we could handle that hike, too. 

Miriam was excited to stay in the backpack—she was singing to herself and "steering" Daddy and having a grand ol' time.

He had a bit of a sweatier, more difficult time, but he still had fun, especially being serenaded by her singing. Miriam sings all the time, usually a combination of real and made-up songs. She started singing I'll Walk With You from the Children's Songbook. She surprised him by first singing the entire song flawlessly and then by tacking on an extra verse she apparently composed on the spot:

"If you don't always get what you want, some people like to throw a fit! But I won't! I won't!" she sang. "If you are always throwing a fit, some people will get mad at you! But I won't! I won't! Won't throw a fit, get mad at you! That's how I'll show my loooooooove for you!"

She and Daddy were way ahead of me and Rachel for most of this hike. Rachel kept complaining about her legs getting tired and kept asking to be picked up. I kept telling her, "No way!" And explained that she'd reached that horrible, horrible time in her life where she had to depend on her own two legs and if they were tired then we just needed to stop and rest until she could continue because no one wanted to carry her. We rested. A lot.

"You need to stop again?" I asked her, when she sat down on the trail for the umpteenth time.

"Mom, that's the thing with little legs," she explained. "My legs are shorter so I have to take more steps so they get tired faster so I have to rest a lot."

I think her sickness may have contributed to her lack of energy on the trail. She still had plenty of spunk, just not quite as much energy...

At the end of the trail there were some rocks balanced seemingly precariously and appearing to drop off into thin air. Andrew climbed right onto them and peered over the ledge. "Be careful with my baby!" I shrieked at him. He assured me he was and invited Rachel and I to join him on top of the rock.

Rachel climbed up onto one of the lower rocks and said, "I'm overly-cautious so I'm just going to climb on this safe-looking rock."

It turns out the rock was relatively solid and though it did drop off six feet or so you were guaranteed to land on a gentle slope (not plummet 800 feet to your death). So Rachel and I climbed up to join him.

We think this picture is funny because if I cropped out my feet (which I forgot to do) then it would look like Rachel is climbing up a steep rock wall. She's really just pretending to take a nap.

Here we are at the top:

We had fun playing around at the top of the mesa—looking down into Sulphur Creek a little bit more and chasing lizards around.

We were hot and sweaty by the time we'd walked back to the car—being a desert will do that to you—so we bid farewell to Capitol Reef and headed back to the cabin for dinner.

We'd originally intended on having spaghetti for dinner but Rachel and Miriam started chanting, "Hot dogs! Hot dogs! Hot dogs! Hot dogs!" so we had hot dogs instead (which was the original dinner plan for Thursday night but never ended up happening because the power was out and no one wanted to build a fire so we just had sandwiches). Hot dogs made them happy and was probably a good choice time wise because the eclipse was starting and no one felt like having much of a sit down dinner, anyway.

We spent all of dinner running out to check on the sun between bites.

Rachel was so excited about it that she made up an eclipse dance. Miriam joined her in the eclipse dance but only for the sake of dancing; she was categorically unimpressed with the actual eclipse.

Eventually we finished with dinner and could focus fully on the eclipse. At one point, Rachel held up her hot dog and said, "Is this the bladder or the tail?" I think Grandma just about gagged up her meal before asking, "What?!"

That would be from one of the earlier chapters in Little House in the Big Woods. Pa and Uncle Henry butcher a pig and then Pa blows up the bladder and lets Mary and Laura bat it around like a balloon and then later he gives them the tail to roast. Rustic, charming...and, oh, so appetizing!

One of the reasons we wanted to stay down in Grover longer was because it lies in the area of the world that got to see a full annular eclipse (instead of just the crescent sun you'd see during a partial eclipse). Annular is a bit of a confusing term since in English we automatically link the word to "annual." Really it's Latin for "ring," which makes sense (Italian for "ring," as in a piece of jewelry worn on the finger, is "anello") for "anual" really, because anything that happens annually is a cyclical thing. Annular eclipses aren't on an annual schedule. Instead it's just an eclipse where the sun's photosphere forms a ring of light around the moon.

Annular eclipses happen when the moon is at its apogee (the furthest point away from the earth) so it appears smaller than the sun (and, really, it is smaller than the sun, isn't it?) so the moon can't completely cover the sun. Total eclipses occur when the moon is at its perigee  (the closest it gets to the earth) so that it appears as large or larger than the sun and can completely block its light—that's what's going to happen in 2017 (everybody head to Rexburg).

When the moon was completely in front of the sun it did get a little darker, but only slightly. At first we weren't sure if it was because of the eclipse or because the eclipse happened so late in the day it would've been that dark, anyway, since the sun was setting. But then when the moon moved out of the way of the sun it brightened up again.

Andrew grabbed Miriam from the sandbox when the eclipse was "complete" so that she could see the ring. She wasn't too happy about having her sand time interrupted but at least now she can say that she's seen an eclipse even if she has no lasting memory of it.

This was the first eclipse that I've watched.

After the eclipse was over, the girls reminded Andrew that he promised he'd help them make s'mores. I was off the hook for that task because I don't eat chocolate ever and now that I have gestational diabetes I don't eat marshmallows or graham crackers either. First he said he'd just make them in the microwave in the cabin (it's the oldest microwave I've ever seen) but then something changed his mind and he decided we could make a fire in the fire pit. The girls were overcome with emotion: pure giddiness.

The girls helped carry our cardboard garbage to the fire pit so that we could burn it. They found the sign Grandma had put out for the BYU kids and Rachel held it up in the air chanting, "Heiss! Heiss! Heiss! Heiss!" Miriam held up her piece of cardboard and chanted the same.

They were a little bit excited.

We've been reading The Little House in the Big Woods, as I mentioned earlier and so Rachel was even more excited when Daddy asked her to pick up the wood chips he made while he was chopping the wood because that's a chore that Laura and Mary do! She had fun helping Daddy set up for the fire.

Miriam helped collect wood chips for a little while but soon retired to stand on a log and sing for us. She sings all the time. Did I mention that?

Soon Andrew had a roaring fire going and after we'd burned all of our cardboard we sat around and waited for the fire to die down so we could safely roast our marshmallows.

I don't know what Rachel's doing here but it's kind of funny...

Miriam continued to sing for us...

At last it was time to roast marshmallows! Rachel was excited but soon learned that she didn't like getting smoke in her face.

She was much happier once the smoke had changed direction:

Everyone, especially Rachel and Miriam, really enjoyed their s'mores and I took pictures of everyone enjoying their s'mores.

Miriam didn't eat her graham crackers at all—she just dug out the chocolate and marshmallows out with her fingers. Her pigtails were in serious jeopardy of becoming covered in marshmallows so I tied them up behind her head.

She looked a little goofy.

I don't know where she gets it.

Miriam was about ready to throw in the towel after we finished roasting marshmallows. She was exhausted.

She was also excited to get to sleep in her "camping crib" another night. We made the mistake of telling her that when Benjamin gets here he'll be sleeping in her camping crib. She did not take the news lightly. We decided not to bring it up for a while.

Here she is showing how she can climb into the loft and into her camping crib all by herself.

She can also climb out of the camping crib and (with close supervision) can make it down the ladder into the rest of the cabin (but that part makes me really nervous because she usually loses her footing and depends on her supervisor to catch her).

After she was asleep we took Rachel out to look at the stars some more. Andrew downloaded this cool app on Grandma's iPad where you can just point the iPad at the sky and it will show you the constellations with lines connecting the stars and a light picture of what it's supposed to be. It really helped Rachel to understand constellations. We talked a bit about horoscopes and signs and wondered which sign was Rachel's and decided that it was either Leo or Cancer.

"Oh, I hope it's Leo the lion!" she crooned. "I love the lion!"

We used the dictionary to look up what dates each sign covers and it turns out that Rachel shares Cancer (the crab) with me. I'm right at the beginning and she's right at the end. She was a little disappointed to learn this because Leo is so much better than Cancer!

I remember feeling the same way when I was younger. I would sometimes cry over calendars because I thought the picture for June was dumb while every other picture in the calendar was fine. June's pictures were probably fine as well I just had higher hopes...

Children can be so irrational. 

Fortunately, Rachel settled on being mildly disappointed instead of throwing a huge fit and she went to bed relatively calmly.

Andrew and I rounded out the evening by reading from The Mysterious Benedict Society. He read the first book in Ghana so he worked his way through the second book while I read the first. It was wonderfully relaxing.

Everyone agreed that today was just about the pinnacle of perfection.


  1. 1. I love the new picture header - SUCH a fabulous picture.

    2. These are the first pictures I've seen that highlight you belly! You are so pregnant!!! :D (In a good way.) That picture of Rachel hugging Baby Benjamin just makes me happy.

    3. Best. Day. EVER!

    1. 1) Thank you! We took it on self-timer, balancing the camera on the diaper bag.

      2) Thank you again! I still have people saying, "Wait? You're pregnant?!" so to have you tell me that I am "SO pregnant" feels really nice because I feel SO pregnant. And none of the BYU kids who camped with us the previous nights even noticed I was pregnant. C'mon, guys, there are only 8 more weeks left to notice...that I am hugely pregnant.

      3) It so was. :)

  2. What a fabulous day! No scraped knees or super sunburned faces and necks. S'mores, hiking, singing, dancing, singing, hotdogs, more dancing, more singing, gorgeous overlooks and climbing. Oh, and singing. Awesome! I'm glad you guys had so much fun! It makes me want to go to Canyonlands again...

    You mentioned the height from Goosenecks Point. Remind me to tell you the scary experience I had from Grandview Point. It gives me the heebie geebies just thinking about it.

    And can I just look amazing. I wish I had looked HALF that great when I was pregnant, especially with number three. You are a very awesome pregnant lady. :)

    1. Thanks, MOMster! We really need to have another get-together! It's been a while! School's out soon and then things will settle down, right...except that Mindy's having her baby soon so your parents will be gone...hmmm...we'll find a time to get everyone together again so we can chat!