Sunday, June 11, 2017

Family Fun Day at the Portneuf Wellness Complex

Yesterday we went to the Portneuf Wellness Complex (just a couple miles from our house) for a city sponsored family fun day. The Wellness Complex has a big man made lake, lots of fields, play toys, and an amphitheater.

For the family fun day they had vendors come in, inflatable jump houses, and demonstrations of police dogs and a helicopter, and things like that. Our main reason for going though was the free fishing. Fishing is free to everyone in Idaho that day without a license, but at this lake they have all of the poles and bait and several fish and game people to help provide fishing tips.

We did it last year and Ethan was the only one to catch a fish. This year, Agnes caught the first one. I had just gotten all of the children set up with their poles and bait, starting from the youngest. When I finished with Julia, I looked back at Agnes and noticed that her line was all tangled up. She still had her bait in the water, but the line was so tangled she couldn't reel it in at all. I tried to help her, but couldn't get it fixed. So I gave it back to her while I helped another one of the children who lost their bait. I then looked back over at Agnes to see a fish biting her worm. I had do just grab the line and lift the fish over on to the dock.

We didn't catch anything else for awhile, but I heard on of the fish and game people giving some tips to another family. He suggested taking everything off of the the line, including the bobber, the weight, and the swivel. He said that would let the worm fall at a more natural speed. Sure enough, once we did that we were catching the fish just minutes after we would cast the line out. Rebecca, Julia, Elliott, Agnes, and Asher already left to go play on the toys, so we didn't stay too much longer, but it was enough time for Ethan and I to both catch one and Christian to catch two. We came home with five trout that we were able to cook up that night.

Ethan, Christian, Elliott and I are looking forward to going a few more times this summer!

Here are pictures of Ethan and Christian with the guy who helped us take everything off our line.

Friday Hike

This Friday we had a little less time to do a hike, so rather than make to a specific peak or destination, we just found a new trail and hiked on it for a couple of hours. The one we found was on the other side of town from where we usually go. There were lots of great views and the trail was not too hard. In fact, on the way back the children had enough energy to run the entire way down! The highlights of the hike for the children were catching beetles, cornering a large (maybe 4 feet) snake, and finding a hiding spot at the top where we played around for a while. The highlights for me and Rebecca were the views, getting some exercise in, and seeing the children get along and play well together (they usually get on each others' nerves more when we are at home all day). There were lots of trail options up in this area, so we will probably be back there some time soon.

Elliott showing a beetle that he carried most of the way.

A quick rest stop, but not too far from where we turned around.

Notice the variation in clothing - while Ethan wore a t-shirt and shorts, Julia had a long sleeve sweater on and a jacket. I thought the weather was perfect, a little above 70 with alternating sun and shade, but Julia has always been our cold one. She was born in November in our small Oklahoma home. As a baby I would often hold her in front of a space heater and I think that spoiled her.

At our stopping place. There were tons of hills and mountains that we will have to get another day.

The view back down on Pocatello.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cultural Celebration

Yesterday, Julia, Ethan, Christian, and I went to the cultural celebration that they put on for the Idaho Falls temple re-dedication. Fortunately, it was held right here in the Holt Arena at ISU. Given the size of the temple district, each ward was only given 30 tickets. But I think a lot of people in our ward were out of town because our bishop was going to give me enough for all eight of us, but Rebecca and I thought just the older children would be better.

We got there kind of early (about an hour before it started), but it was already pretty crowded. We did find some good seats though. While waiting the children drew and made fans (it was super hot in there) and I tried to read up on fruit tree pruning (we are going to be planting some on Monday).

It started off with some opening comments by President Eyring. He was so kind and had such a big smile on his face to let everyone know how happy he was to be there. Elder Rasband came as well.

I know it is impossible to see, but President Eyring is at the pulpit here.

After the opening song and prayer the had a program where they told all about the history of southeast Idaho, how it was settled, and the first church members here. They emphasized a lot how no one really thought this area was habitable. They even said that in Brigham Young's time while the Salt Lake valley was known as "This is the place", southeast Idaho was known as "This is not yet the place". As they covered the history of the church here and the Idaho Falls temple, they did a lot of songs and dances. One of the favorites was the potato dance, but they also had tribal dancers from the Native American tribes in this area and a Spanish dance given that about 10% of the population in this area is from Mexico.

This was still probably 45 minutes prior. There were so many youth that were involved. It was fun hearing the leaders over the loud speaker giving them instructions. There seemed to be a few unruly ones, but for the most part it was amazing how they all did there parts together.

Here is the Mexican dance - this was probably Julia's favorite. Some of the dances included all of the youth, some just a few up at the front, and some had both groups.

The Idaho Falls temple was the 10th temple built in this dispensation. They then talked about the other temples that have been built in Idaho since then, including the Boise, Twin Falls, Rexburg, and soon to be finished Meridian temple. The speaker also mentioned the announcement from last conference of the Pocatello temple and the stadium erupted with applause and cheers.

We all had a great time. It was hot and long, but I think it was inspiring for Julia, Ethan, and Christian to see all of the youth dancing and singing and celebrating the church here in Idaho.

Sand Dunes

On Tuesday we made our last trip up to the Rexburg temple. The Idaho Falls temple is being rededicated this week and so we will be able to start going there now. With our visit up to Rexburg we made our usual stops at the temple and BYU-Idaho, but then, after the temple we drove 20 minutes north to the sand dunes in St. Anthony. Christian I think was the first one to hear about these. During the winter he started asking if we could go and he sometimes talked about how cool it would be to play in the desert.

I guess the sand dunes in St. Anthony are made up of years and years of sand blown from the Snake and Teton rivers. For some reason it all gathered in this spot at the base of the foothills in St. Anthony. When we got there we didn't really know where to go, so we just found a spot off the side of the road and started playing.

The dunes were pretty amazing. There were large flat areas and then also really huge steep hills. We brought the sled along for those. The children just loved digging, playing, and exploring in the sand - I think because it is something so different that we don't often get exposure too. Within the sand dunes there are also pockets of lava rocks and it was fun to explore those areas as well. We did see a few lizards there.

Sledding! The dunes were steeper than they look in the pictures, but the sled still didn't go too fast.

I know, there is laughing as the boys' path starts heading toward Agnes. She had decided to stay down there an play after she and I went down. I had her go way off to the side, but their sled still went that way. She wasn't really in any danger though - they were going pretty slow and I could tell by the time they got to where she was they would be pretty much stopped.

We stayed for about 2 hours before heading home. The children all had a great time and could have played longer, but it was also a really hot day. I think maybe we will have to plan a camping trip there sometime to play a little longer.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hiking Chinese Peak

We have been trying to do a tradition of doing a big hike the day after school gets out. Unfortunately, it was really rainy on Friday so we had the children do their electronics day instead. Saturday was nice though, so we did our hike then.

The hike we chose was Chinese Peak. We had done this hike before, but went an easier route that was only about 1.5 miles each way. The way we went this time was 5 miles each way. We started our hike at about 10 am. There was a short uphill part to begin with before we could get a good look at the rest of the hike. When we did get to the top of that little up hill, we looked at the trail and Rebecca and I decided we should probably only go about half way - the path just looked too step and too long for us to do in one day. But as we got going we decided we might as well push through to the end. There were two pretty big uphill climbs mid-way through the hike. For the first one we had to really push the children to get to the top. On that first one we ended up hiking for five minutes and then taking a five minute break. Then five more on and five more off. Then one more time five on and five off before we got to the top. I thought that was going to be the hardest part, but then we got a clear view of the second peak. It looked almost straight up and I didn't know how we were going to motivate the kids on that one. But somehow they got ahead of us and Rebecca and I were just talking and then we looked up and saw that they were at the top of it already. Once we made it to the top of that one is was just about 30 minutes more on the ridge of a moderate uphill climb.

This is on top of the first peek. You can see the second peak right behind us, and then the summit is in the upper right corner.

You can't really tell from these pictures but some of the paths were very steep.

At the top! Julia laid down on the trail like she was dead when we first got up.

On the way back down.

At the top we took a break for about 30 minutes and ate lunch. Then went back down. As we were going down those steep parts I was just really shocked at how steep they were and I couldn't believe that we had all done it. Overall, it was a really beautiful hike and except for a little complaining here and there (mainly by Julia who has decided she does not like hikes very much), the children did a great job. We did it all in about five hours and when we were done everyone was sore and worn out.

We are hoping to do a lot more hiking though throughout the summer.

Electronics Day

The day after the last day of school we had an electronics day. We did this as a reward for how well they all did with reading books throughout the year. Their school does the AR book program where they take quizzes on the books that they read and then get prizes. Julia and Ethan both got enough points for the grand prize, lunch with the principal. Julia is a reading manic and she easily got 200 more points than was necessary. Ethan, on the other hand, had to really work hard to make the goal. He loves to read, he just likes to read some of the same books over and over again and you can only get points once for a book. Julia's favorite books are probably the Little House on the Prairie books, Anne of Green Gables books, and the Candy Makers series. Ethan's favorites were Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Percy Jackson series. I think their favorite combined series this year was Michael Vey. Christian did great with his reading too, but they don't really do the points yet for his grade. He liked the Magic Treehouse books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Timewarp Trio books. He also has become our scripture reader for nightly devotionals. I used to be the one who read, but he was so insistent on asking every night that now he is just the one who reads it all.

So, for our electronics day they had from breakfast to dinner to play whatever games they wanted on the computer. They had a blast, but I think they also got bored with the games by the end of the day; which was something Rebecca and I had been hoping for.

Last Day of School

I got to go with Ethan on his Last Day of School Field Trip. They did the same events that Julia did last year.

First was roller skating. Ethan and I had a blast. I think I know more of the children Ethan's age in his school than I did Julia's last year. So I was able to play the skating games with lots of them.

After skating we went to the park for a picnic lunch. The students all ate their lunches quick so they could play. Ethan and his friends played 500. It was fun to see them play the same games that I played when I was in elementary school. I got to throw first.

Then off to the bowling alley. We got a game and a half in. Ethan was happy with his 95 score in the first game. And then he was super excited in the second game when he got a strike.

We had a great year of school. Julia, Ethan, and Christian all liked their teachers and I can tell that they did learn and grow during the year. Sometimes I wish the school had more resources to do things like art, music, and P.E., but I think they do a good job with the resources that they do have.