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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Family Retreat

A few weeks ago we decided to have a family retreat, much the same way a Company would have a retreat to build unity to focus vision on what we're trying to accomplish as a family.  We decided to spend the night at the Alta Ski Lodge.  It was an excellent choice, as the rooms were large (Queen, Full, and Twin), the price was right, the scenery was gorgeous, there was no TV, and nobody else at the Lodge.  It was fantastic.  

Although there was no TV, there was fast Wi-Fi.  I had decided we should watch together the making of Pixar, a documentary on the success of the company that makes the movies my kids love.  That night we watched it together in our hotel room, and then spent some time talking about what made Pixar successful.  I love that my kids are getting older and beginning to recognize attributes and virtues that people/teams/companies display and can interpret how that makes them successful.  It was a great conversation!  After our talked we headed to the hot tubs, then to bed.

The next morning we played some card games, and the spent some time writing on 3X5 cards attributes we wanted to have as a family.  We haven't yet incorporated that into a mission statement, but it was again satisfying to hear my kids talk about what they thought would be important as a family.  "Work hard and play hard" came from both Drew and Eli.  Isaac wrote something like "Love of Curiosity".  We also talked about compassion, empathy, and other virtues we want to emulate as a family.  Hopefully it will give us direction when feel frustrated.

After all the discussion about improving ourselves, since we worked hard, we decided it was time to play hard.  He drove down the canyon a few feet to Snowbird and spent the day on their outdoor features.  We originally only purchased Charlotte 2 ride tickets on the Alpine Slide, but after one run it was clear she wanted to do it "AGAIN!" and "AGAIN!" so we exchanged the other ticket for an all-day pass.  I must have ridden it over half a dozen times with her!

Eli and Mom on the right slide

Eli, Drew, and Isaac loved the trampolines, and were determined to do back-flips all day long



Charlotte and I ready to go down the Alpine Slide

Heather and Charlotte


video video

Monday, August 4, 2014

Neck-iversarry

We haven't posted in awhile.  Just having way too much fun.  Maybe everyone has stopped checking this post anyway, or you're only here out of a complete fit of boredom.  But since this is where we catalog our life I'm taking to posting.

A year ago yesterday I broke my neck while mountain biking at Trailside park in Park City.  Details about my hospital stay can be found here.  I've always wanted to go back and look again to figure out what happened and put to bed my ideas about what happened.  Yesterday Heather indulged me on a trip to celebrate the anniversary of that event.  My memory of what happened that day is a little off from what I explained to everyone. 
About where Heather and Charlotte are is where I bailed off this thing.  It's about 1 1/2 to 2 feet off the ground.  I gained a bunch of speed from the first obstacle (in other pictures) and decided I wanted to get off.  This second obstacle had a conveniently located escape ramp; that apparently you're supposed to stay on the whole way down.

Heather and Charlotte examining the first obstacle.

There were plenty of "more dangerously looking" obstacles you'd expect someone to break their neck on.  It was odd to go to the spot and think, "here, really? seems easy compared to everything else".


My last view with a healthy neck.


Charlotte just loved walking over these obstacles.

Charlotte is becoming a great photographer.  She stole my phone and was taking pictures later that night.  It's been nice to have such good friends that have helped us out thru so many hard things!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Day weekend and it feels like summer is officially here. Heber has been unusually warm this year. Absolutely beautiful. It seems like Memorial Days can be hit and miss around here, but we definitely hit the jackpot this year.

We started our holiday with a drive to Claire's and Lily's grave in Cottonwood Heights. It is such a beautiful place, especially when the whole place is decorated. It is always a peaceful place to be with our family. 



Enticed by the first Brag Badge of the season we attended the community Memorial Day breakfast and program. It was a good reminder of the sacrifice many make and why we celebrate this day. 


We did find it ironic that we were waving Taiwanese American flags during one pseudo-patriotic country song touting "Made in America."

Karen and the Johnson cousins came to visit between leaving their home in Anchorage and moving to a new home in Houston. The kids all ran the Memorial Day Mile-long Fun Run. Eli has been asking to run a race all spring. He ran the whole way. Drew took second place. If there had been a prize he would have tried harder and taken first he claims. Isaac took a few "short cuts."


Afterwards we went home for pizza--got to get right on the pizza party Brag Tag.



All in all, a memorable day!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Madrid Day 4--Sites Around the City

On day four of our Madrid trip we took in the sights and sites of the city. We started in Sol, which is the Times Square of Madrid--the touristy center. From there we caught a big double decker tour bus. It was neat to get a quick overview of the architecture of the city. I love the pristine white marble used so extensively in the city and the unifying architecture. I don't think I would recommend bus tours for traveling with kids though. Eli and Isaac got bored quickly, there were many stops, and the architectural information wasn't terribly fascinating to them. To keep them excited I shared my camera with them, so most of the pictures of this day are courtesy of my young photographers.


We got off the bus at the Madrid Opera and stopped for lunch. This was my favorite meal of the trip: bread and herbs, chorizo, baked potatoes, ribs, and ice cream. It seems like a plain meal, but it was all so flavorful. Mmm, chorizo! I feel like I have failed my sister by not taking food pictures. It wasn't really much to look at anyway, but it sure was tasty!



After nourishment we walked to the Palacio Real. Outside in the gardens, like any touristy spot, street artists were at work. I thought this bubble blower came up with a unique way to get a few Euros for his can.

Then inside--Wow! Walls are covered in silk and porcelain, ceilings inlaid with gold, gold leafed furniture and tapestries. I thought the Spanish royal palace was even more spectacular than Versailles. The boys favorite part was the armory, the largest display of armor and weapons I have ever seen, including chain mail and armor for boys just their size. Picture taking was not allowed, Vivienne thought I was pushing it with these pictures outside, but you can Google Palacio Real Madrid to get an idea. The boys favorite part was the armory, the largest display of armor and weapons I have ever seen, including chain mail and armor for boys just their size.




You can see the Almudena Cathedral in the background of this picture (my young photojournalist didn't get any other pictures).

 

I though this was very different than the cathedral we toured in Segovia, while still old, much of the artwork and sculpture is a little more modern. The biggest difference though is that it was used, patrons and clergy breathed life into this building. We didn't stay too long. By now the boys, including Dave had maxed out their sightseeing patience. The kids were great to walk through so many marble halls, so we rode the metro home and let them spend the rest of the evening at the playground. 



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Retiro Park--Madrid Dia Tres


Monday morning Bubba took us on the metro to Retiro Park, in the center of Madrid. As we entered the park he pointed out the first of many playgrounds in the park. He intended to just point it out and then continue on our way. But my three young cabelleros were not into simply window shopping for playgrounds, so we stopped to play for a while before continuing on to our destination.



I must say, Madrid is a rather family friendly city. Playgrounds are everywhere and well-kept, down the median of almost every main street. Most venues in Madrid also have large-family pricing for EU families, a large family being three or more members (large American families pay full price, however).

From the playground we walked on to the gardens, with peacocks roaming all over--close enough to touch. I think Isaac actually did. They were up in the trees and on the buildings. I don't know how they fly with those grand tail feathers, but apparently they can.



Our park walk extended to the Crystal Palace, a glass castle filled with rocking chairs and complimentary reading material, surrounded by a turtle-filled moat. We stopped at a cafe with a view of the lake for hot chocolate and churros, a Spanish specialty.



Here we are on front of a giant monument to King...I can't remember...some benevolent king from the  turn of the century. Bubba and Dave rested their weary bodies while Drew, Isaac, and Eli turned 360s and 180s of the highest steps.




Nana came and picked the boys up later in the afternoon to take them to an English class her friend, Helen Benito teaches to kids in her town. The boys answered questions about their favorite colors, foods, and hobbies.

Bubba, Dave, and I walked to the Museo Reina Sophia, Madrid's museum of modern art. The guys were very good sports, as neither of them really enjoy that kind of thing, but I was not going to leave Madrid without seeing Picasso's Guernica in real life. It has been one of my favorite paintings since my high school art history class. It was painted to commemorate the bombing of a Basque village in Northern Spain by German and Italian forces during the Spanish Civil War. I think it conveys a sense of emotion and terror that realism just can't quite get to. The experience of seeing it at its true scale is so different than seeing it in the pages of a book.



After walking Dave's neck and Bubba's knee to the max on marble floors we caught the train to Alczar de Henares for dinner at the Benito's home. Helen made some great typical Spanish foods like tortillas de patates. She also prepared a lovely birthday cake--with the bong as a cake topper. There are pictures somewhere, I just don't know where.

Following a weary train ride back to Nana's and Bubba's place we fell asleep anticipating Madrid day four.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Isaac's Ninth + Madrid Dia Dos


This year Isaac got to celebrate his ninth birthday eight hours early from the Central European Summer Time zone. He has a party planned at a future date, as well as birthday treats at school on another day, so we anticipate Isaac's Ninth to encompass the entire month.


While in Spain Isaac was recognized with a birthday serenade by the Madrid missionaries, and a fabulous American-style birthday cake from Nana, with her four remaining birthday candles. Of those, Isaac successfully extinguished three of the four flames resulting in 3/4 birthday wish fulfillment.

More birthday reporting later...

We spent Sunday, April 6th taking it easy in Spain. We spent much of the day on Temple Square. We hung out with Bubba and Nana as they rehearsed and conducted the missionary choir for their weekly performance on the temple steps. The music was beautiful and I loved hearing the missionaries in their native language and as they all sung together in Spanish and English. I am gaining a new appreciation for how much courage it takes to leave so young and preach the gospel in a foreign place and often in a foreign language, especially for these missionaries who come from a place where it is not the cultural norm. I have so much respect for the missionaries we met there.




While at Temple Square we met the Elder who was caught in the high-speed train wreck in Madrid last summer. He and Dave were in recovery at the same time and have matching spiky hair, spine hardware and neck scars which they are showing off here. He is a super optimistic guy and I'm glad that he is walking the streets of Spain.


At 6pm Spain time which translated to 10am Utah time we watched the Sunday Morning Session of conference at the CCM (or MTC) with the missionaries. All of the boy were great. We had to modify our game of listen for the chosen word and get a jelly bean to a format that was a little more reverent for the venue. I think the session can be summed up by Isaac's notes (taken of his own accord).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Rain in Spain--Madrid: Dia Uno


 I had been watching the Madrid weather forecast for weeks before we left, and saw only rain on the horizon. Considering we had snow the same week here in Heber, even the rainy weather was an improvement however. On our first full day in Spain we traveled to the city of Segovia to see the medieval royal castle. Segovia is about an hour outside of Madrid and some of Nana's and Bubba's friends were kind enough to taxi us all out there to the soggy plain. 

Here we are walking from the narrow, cobblestone streets opening up to the Plaza Major and view of the Segovia Cathedral. The outside of the cathedral is like nothing I've ever seen. The inside is not as well maintained as others we saw on our trip, but still incredibly grand. I would love to know more about the people who created these structures, their desire to reach heavenward, and their vision and ingenuity.
  

Segovia was once the capital of Spain and the home of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella after they united the kingdom. We toured their castle, the Alcazar of Segovia, that has existed in some form or another since Roman times. The boys, or course, loved seeing the armory and the gold ceilings. The views from the castle are breathtaking, especially from the top of the tower of Juan.



This Roman aqueduct carried water from the mountains for centuries, built entirely without mortar, and is quite a sight. Coming from America and the west it is so hard for me to wrap my mind around the time and space of these cities. Segovia has lasted for so long and yet continues to be so functional.  This bus barreling down this tiny street with tourists flanking on two-foot wide sidewalks seemed so contradictory to me. 


The rain cleared after lunch and we were able to explore the city a little more. I loved the view here of the red buildings against the green hillside and the blue sky. It reminds me of my favorite vistas in southern Utah. Our drivers left us at the aqueduct while they went to find the cars. Unfortunately this wicked downpour moved in. We had a gift shop nearby to shelter in--while our drivers got soaked!



 On our way from Segovia we stopped at La Granja, the royal summer home (picture taking was not allowed inside). Spring hadn't quite made it to this elevation. The gardens were enormous and magnificent with hundreds of gold and marble fountains, terraced waterfalls, hedge mazes, and rose gardens. I would love to see it in all its summer splendor!

That concluded our first full day in Spain.