Friday, June 30, 2023

Echinacea on the Mississippi

I have a whole lot to write about, but am still focused mostly just on my thesis (which is officially due on July 10, so wish me all the luck in the world because I'm going to need it). 

My big kids were so helpful with Phoebe today and I got a ton of revisions done, but still have a long ways to go. Fortunately, I succeeded in convincing my advisor that we could simply revise my research question rather than scrapping the entire chapter that I wrote over the last few weeks. So that was good. 

Anyway, today I share some beautiful pictures of echinacea that I took after the Sunset on the Mississippi show in Nauvoo. I've yet to be disappointed by a Nauvoo sunset (in all the, you know, maybe five (?) evenings I've spent in Nauvoo). 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Chalmette Battlefield (June 4)

We had originally planned on going to the National Historic Park of New Orleans Jazz, but we really didn't want to battle traffic to get to the French Quarter again...and also it seems to be temporarily relocated and we didn't want to go to that other location, either. But we knew that the kids were looking forward to earning their first Junior Ranger badge of the trip, so we came up with a new plan and went to the Chalmette Battlefield instead!

Here's Phoebe wandering around with a big bag of "brrr...brrrr..." ice in the hotel room while we were finalizing our plans and packing up in the morning (the ice was destined for the cooler, obviously):

We arrived right as they opened (before the visitor's center had even opened its doors, actually) and were right ready to go when they finally unlocked things.

Road Trip Day 1: New Orleans (June 3, a guest post by Miriam)

We left at 7:30 on the morning of Saturday, June 3. It was very hectic that morning, making sandwiches, filling up water bottles, and making sure everything we needed was in the car. Almost all of us were up before 6. The drive to our hotel was about 7 hours. We crossed over 4 states: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. We read three “Who was” books, about the Mississippi River, Hurricane Katrina, and Louis Armstrong. We were also assigned to read other books for the rest of the trip, most of them relating to what we were seeing that day, because being in the car for hours on a screen can be miserable sometimes.

On the way into New Orleans, we crossed over Lake Pontchartrain on a bridge that was 5 miles long. We were all surprised at how a lot of the damage from Hurricane Katrina was still there, not fixed. There were a ton of abandoned shops and restaurants, some of them still had the X-codes from Hurricane Katrina [Mom's edit: and blue tarps on roofs, held down by 2x4s that I assume were nailed to the roofs; I can only hope these were only from Hurricane Ida (2021) and not Hurricane Katrina (2005)].

We arrived at our hotel around 2:30, and took everything out of the cars (even the zipper thing on the top of the van, because New Orleans is.. kind of sketchy). We cooled off inside for a while, getting everything unpacked, and then we were on our way downtown. I wore a bandana that I made, and like Smee-me at the beach, I promptly was nicknamed Heidi, (from the movie “Heidi of the Alps” I think) by Grandpa.

A good shot of Miriam's bandana

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Snow in Yellowstone (June 21)

One of the things on everyone's bucket list for our visit to Utah was to find snow.

Utah had an amazing snow year—192% higher than normal by some calculations—and the snowpack is still clearly visible up on the mountains. We thought for sure we would make it out for a hike while we were there, but...we didn't!

It turns out that 10 days isn't very much time when you have so many people to see. We ran out of time to do any sort of hike (the Y was on our list, as was Timpanogos Caves, and...what can I say? We're ambitious). 

But then when we were driving through Yellowstone, Andrew remembered that the last time we drove through Yellowstone (in June 2011) there were walls of snow on either side of us along the highway. That was not the case this year, but when I saw snow on the side of the road I cautioned Andrew to be prepared to stop. 

Were we already well behind our schedule for the day? Sure.

Did we have a sick child in the car? Well, yes, we did!

But there's snow in them hills...and I was going to find it.

I had him braking at every little picnic area until—eureka!—we found one equipped with some leftover snowpack. We pulled over and everyone piled out of the car.

Somehow Phoebe identified it with a squeal of "SNOW!"

I was shocked but Andrew reminded me that I'd just said "snow" about a hundred times. She was bound to pick up on it. But still! She seemed to know that this cold, white stuff was snow. How?! We didn't get a single snowflake this past winter? 

I mean, sure, we had a pretty big snowstorm last year (in January 2022), but we haven't seen any since then. Surely she can't remember that far back.

Whatever the case, I put her down by the snow and she squealed with wonder-filled awe, "SNOW!"

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Old Town & Chapel (last post from Florida in May)

But wait! Before we delve too far into our road trip this summer, I have one more draft about Florida sitting in my queue!

Here are some pictures of the little downtown area in St. Augustine. We visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine a couple of times, once when Rachel was sick and then once again when she was better. She had really hoped to see the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the USA, so we took a picture in front of it for her. We considered going inside but it was, like, $6 per person or something we just looked at the outside. We stopped here with Rachel as well, though I don't know where the picture of her is.

A lick of our trip (in numbers)

When I think about this trip, I think about taking a long lick along one of those popsicles that has layers of flavour. You know, like the red, white, and blue ones? Or rainbow pops? Or something. There was just so much to see, so much variation in the landscape, so many different ways of living. We didn't get to dive in deep anywhere, but we saw a lot.

So I offer to you a lick...of our lick...of the United States. In numbers...

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Bridge of Lions (May 21)

Taking us back to Florida for a hot minute (since it's been so cold and rainy here in Utah), here is the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine that we crossed many, many times—once on foot and several by car. We felt rather lucky to be on it when it opened, but we soon learned that it opens quite frequently (just about every hour and every half hour). It was still exciting, but not as exciting as the first time we saw it open.

Here's Andrew helping Phoebe touch the lion:

Beignets for Benjamin's 11th Birthday

In an effort to stay relevant as time is whizzing by (and we're accumulating more and more memories than we can possibly contain), I will take you back to the very first day of our trip: June 3. 

We planned to leave by 7:00 in the morning and pulled out of the driveway around 7:30, so we really didn't do too bad. 

Benjamin wasn't too pleased to get such an early start to his birthday, but he was excited to get to ride in Grandpa's car (where he just about got unlimited Zelda time on the Switch). We did quite a bit of his birthday celebrations the day before we left—we put up his birthday balloons and opened his presents and things like that. 

Here he is posing in front of his birthday balloons with Phoebe:

Monday, June 12, 2023

Utah or bust!

After being home from the beach for a week, we left on a cross-country road trip to Utah. In retrospect, a week was perhaps not quite enough time for a family of eight to turn around from a beach vacation to a long-haul roadtrip, but somehow we managed to get things done...most things, anyway. 

We left on Benjamin's birthday, stopping by New Orleans for some birthday beignets, and then driving on to San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon before settling in at the cabin in Grover, Utah, to enjoy Capitol Reef for a couple of days. Rachel and I then gave Grandpa and Daddy a break from driving—she and I drove from Grover to Goblin Valley (which is about 1.5 hours away, the longest period of time either Rachel or I have ever driven; Andrew even took a car nap and then woke up in a panic because he never gets to take car naps and wondered why the car was moving). We finally made it to Spanish Fork on Friday and have been busy ever since.

Zoë was baptized on Saturday, for example.

Pictures will be coming soon, I'm sure. In the meantime we're still adventuring and visiting and having a grand ol' time!

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Beach Pictures II (May 24–25)

It feels so strange to be writing about this still—like an experience from another lifetime! Since taking these pictures we drove a couple thousand miles, across swamp and desert and mountain. We'll get to those pictures soon. 

In the meantime, yes, I'm still trying to get my thesis you get beach pictures. And we'll get caught up on our road trip soon. The kids all had travel journals and were supposed to be taking notes about what they observed and felt while we were touring up and down the countryside, so hopefully they'll have some fun things to share as well. I think that really helped me get these beach posts up...and yet, here I am...making more beach posts.


Phoebe really loved this pink chair. Unfortunately for her, we retired this generation of chair after this trip because we purchased them about 10 years ago for $5 each at Kroger. They had served us well, but we really were afraid we were going to rip right through them every time we sat down.

Monday, June 05, 2023

Beach pictures I (May 21—23)

Let me see if I can guilt my children into finishing their writing assignments by leaving some passive aggressive hints in (and wide open spaces for them to add information to) this blog post...

Phoebe loved the ocean. She squealed with joy practically the whole time we were at the beach. She'd take a wave to the face, looked stunned for a second, and then get right back to splashing around and having a grand ol' time.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Goodbye to the Beach Pictures

We have a tradition of taking a family picture at the end of every beach trip. It began 10 years ago when we first took our kids to Wrightsville Beach in NC (though I'm sure that (a) there is a family picture of us at the beach from before then and (b) that we've missed snagging a few family pictures since then). It would take me too long to hunt all of them up right now (and my list of things to do today is already a mile long), but here's a link to that fateful trip in 2013 (the one that started it all):

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Junior Rangers sashes

Last year Miriam and I made a sash for Benjamin to keep his Junior Ranger badges on (as a present for his 10th birthday). He's still wildly obsessed with the idea of becoming a National Park Ranger and his enthusiasm is rubbing off on Zoë and Alexander, who requested sashes of their own. Knowing that we'll be hitting a number of national parks this summer (beyond the ones we visited at the beach), Miriam (and I) decided that we should finally make sashes for Zoë and Alexander.

So I ironed the fabric, traced the pattern (which was just Benjamin's sash), and cut out the fabric.

Miriam embroidered a gorilla for Zoë and an owl for Alexander and sewed everything together. 

She did a much better job heading up the sewing part of the project than I did last year (when I did the bulk of the sewing and all she did was the embroidery). The sashes turned out super cute and Miriam had a couple of very satisfied customers.

Here she is getting ready to embroider Alexander's owl this morning: