Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Zoo Train is OPEN!!!

We had been waiting anxiously for at least a year for the zoo to finish their remodel.  They were putting in a whole new safari area, places for the lions, and a huge exhibit for the giraffes, zebras, and other savanna animals.  The zoo trains was also being revamped and relocated to go all around the remodel.  This meant every time we went to the zoo there was no train to ride on, which was very disappointing to Grant.
So Grant was super happy when it was finally open and we were able to go for a ride. :)

I just love his happy faces in all these pictures.
The new exhibit is beautiful!

The train even goes under a bridge - Super Cool!
We are also so very happy to finally have lions back at our zoo.

This was also the first time the boys were able to play in the new splash pad, every time we had been previous to this it was too cold for the water to be running, so this was a fun treat for them.

We are so excited about the improvements the zoo is making - it is so fun to visit often!

Pool Day at the Cottonwood Spa

Oh, how I wish we had a pool, a good pool, in Heber.  But we don't.  Fortunately my mom invites us to go swimming at her neighborhood pool.  I grew up swimming in this pool and I love the memories I have there so it is always fun to take my boys there to swim.  It is such a great pool.  Before we went swimming Natalie took the boys for rides on my moms tricycle.  How cool is that bike. :)  The boys love it. :)

These boys are the cutest little fish, and they are beginning to love everything about swimming.

This was a fun summer day!

Surprise Kitchen Reno

So at the beginning of May we started to notice a bump in our laminate flooring, with a cut in the center.  We have had problems with this floor since it was installed, so we dismissed it as one more thing that went wrong.  Then Jared noticed a dripping water sound, it finally bothered him enough to search for the noise.  On Thursday may 8th, he found the culprit.  The intake valve on the dishwasher had been leaking slowly for a long time and there was now a puddle that is was dripping into.  He shut off the dishwasher and stopped the leak.
The next day I called our insurance to find out what we should do.  They sent in Service Masters to assess the damage.  They discovered that the water had ruined everything down to the subfloors and studs on the back wall, as well as a some damage to the cabinets and insulation in the crawl space.  We also discovered damage to the air vents in the crawl space further in to the ordeal.
So the first step was to get all of our kitchen emptied out to that they could dry it out with fans, and HEPA filters.
We endured four and a half days of LOUD noise throughout our little house, and we set up camp in the kitchen.  The boys LOVED having a kitchen in the garage.  And I have to be honest I didn't mind it too much either.  If they spilled food on the floor - eh, it was the garage.  If they wanted to ride their bikes right up to the table - great - its the garage.  Best of all when I wanted fresh air and a nice breeze I opened the garage door - Ta Da - open air dining with a huge picture "window" :)  There were some other fun perks too, like when we sat down to dinner - we often had dinner guests who would stop by on their walks to visit. 
Unfortunately it had its down sides - like doing the dishes by hand in the bath tub - yuck!  And trying to cook was tricky at best. 
We were lucky that this "adventure" took place in the beginning of May through the end of June and we had great weather, so we were able to spend most of our time outdoors, but if we were not outdoors we were hiding in my room watching tv - it was quieter there.
So this is what my kitchen looked like for the four plus days the fans were running.  UGH those fans were noise and hot!!

After that things could only go up.  We were so blessed in having Phil Dascomb come into our lives.  He is a general contractor and has years of experience doing remodels and other home repairs etc.  Our wards boy scouts had a spaghetti dinner/auction in the ward and Phil contributed two hours of home repairs to the highest bidders.  Well Jared and I are not very handy and there were things we knew we need to get done so we made sure to win the bid.  He came over soon after the dinner and we gave him our list.  Then this happened, and we knew who we wanted to do our repairs.  Phil was wonderful to work with.  He could only come in the evenings, because he was still doing his full time job, but every night and weekend he was there, with our boys following close behind.  He was so patient with me and all my questions and concerns, and he was patient with my boys always wanting to be involved and ask questions.  Phil fixed everything!  He even worked on it while we were on vacation in California.
I was so very happy to finally have nice new tile floors.  And while we were making improvements I restained the cabinets and changed all the cabinet hardware.  It was a great improvement!
We soon learned that doing the dishes outside was much more fun and sanitary.  In fact - I began to really like doing the dishes by hand outside.  It was nice to slow down and work in the beautiful scenery.  I am grateful for modern day conveniences - especially when the weather is bad - but I think our ancestors had a good thing going for them spending most of their days outdoors doing their chores.  You may think I am crazy - but try it a few times - and I think you will enjoy it too.

The new floors are SO pretty!!

My boys thought the empty cabinets were great fun and the made much better hide outs than storage for pots and pans. :)
The irony about this whole kitchen remodel is that midway through we finally, after many years and months of looking, found a home we wanted to make an offer on - we made the offer and it was accepted.  So we began fixing our kitchen knowing full well we would not be able to enjoy it. kinda sad. :(
I will say - as home damage dramas go - we had it pretty good.  Yes I was without a kitchen for nearly two months, true, I was without laundry for those same two months.  It was frustrating to be so displaced.  But, we learned some great lessons, like how to survive without our modern day conveniences, how to be positive during challenges, like what really matters in life.  We were blessed with wonderful weather throughout it all, we were blessed with exceptional friends who offered laundry services, meals, and moral support.  And I feel like our family drew closer together during the process.  Best of all when it came time to sell our house - we could show a beautiful new kitchen, this was truly a blessing and miracle for us!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Boating with the Rowsers

Sharece's husband, Bryce, LOVES to water ski - A LOT!  So much so they bought their own boat and will go out on the lake so long as there is moving water to play on - never mind the ice along the banks. ;)  Lucky for us they invite us along from time to time, which is really nice, since we don't water ski - we are terrible at it.  But they were happy to get out the tube for us.  I love boat tubing - it is so fun!!  They happen to have a tube that is large enough for two adults or four children.  So we put Brandon, Grant, Jason and Tyler in the tube together.  This was Brandon and Grants first time ever being pulled by a boat, so I was worried they wouldn't like it.  But with their friends encouragement they enjoyed it .  Brandon more that Grant - but they both had a lot of fun.  

These boys bring a smile to my face every time I see them together - they are such good buddies.
I don't know what I enjoyed more, being pulled in the tube with Jared and holding on for dear life and giggling and screaming the whole time, or watching the boys giggle and bounce around while they were in the tube. 
They were a riot to watch.  Brandon and Tyler (4 years old) were encouraging Bryce to go faster while Jason (6 years old) and Grant had fear in their eyes all while screaming with delight. :)
I think even Trent enjoyed being on the water - even if this picture doesn't show it.
When it was time to go home Bryce left to get the car and while he was gone Sharece let Brandon and Grant have a turn driving the boat.  How cool is that?!?  Brandon and Grant were so happy about this.  Brandon even got brave and revved the engine to full speed - that was exciting. :)

Thanks Sharece and Bryce for a fun night out on the lake.  Those memories will be cherished for a long time!

Stewart Falls Hike with Great Friends

Let me just say - I love my friends!!  I love that on a spur of the moment kind of day I can get a call inviting me and my boys on a hike with many other friends.  Sharece Rowser and her three kids; Jason, Tyler and Kaylee, had been on this hike before and wanted to share it with us.  So we went with Karen, Daeman and Nicole Edwards and Cami, Patrick and Nora Boudwin.
Stewart Falls is a 2 mile hike one way. (it felt much longer :D)  The hike has lots of hill making the hike pretty challenging for our little ones, and for those of us carrying kids for the whole hike.  (I had Trent in a front carry pack and Sharece and Cami had their girls (Kaylee and Nora) on their backs.  We also packed in a lunch.
So the hike was hard, we were VERY tired when all was said and done, but it was worth it!!
The views along the hike were amazing.  Stewart Falls is in Timpanogos Canyon, so the mountains were amazing.  We were also fortunate to be hiking early in the summer so the wild flowers were abundant.
The falls are amazing.  They were a bit of a revelation to me - I had never heard of them before - and I had lived in this area nearly all my life.  It was so cool that there were two waterfalls side by side.  It was such a great reward mid way through our hike to see and hear the falls.
I was so proud of my boys for completing the hike and I was equally proud of myself for managing it with Trent on my front and the backpack full of food and supplies on my back. :)

The highlight of the hike was playing in the water right at the base of the waterfall.  The kids thought it was wonderful, and so did we!

Just look at those darling kids, 10 in all!!
The boys found a spider, oh how I love them!!
Throwing rocks - fishing with sticks - getting covered in mud, how do we feel about this?  I think Brandon's expression says it all!!  :)

Tyler was so kind to share his water with his buddies all along the way.  Like I said - this was a HARD hike, I think by the end we were all seriously wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.  We had several tearful kids wishing they could quit, I was wishing I could quit too, but we persevered, and we learned that we can do hard things.  It was a great lesson for my boys to learn.  I hope we can do many more hikes just like this.