...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Triple temple trip

Sunday afternoon, since it was 104 degrees outside we decided an air conditioned excursion was in order.  Sundays normally involve a lot of outdoor time for our crew (four boys, you know) but it was just too hot to manage that so into the Suburban we went to travel to some temples.

Our original plan was to drive to Payson with a quick stop in Provo, but someone (cough cough me cough) forgot to put gas on the car so we decided to stay a smidge closer to home.

Lucky for us, there are a whole slew of temples dotting our little valley.

First:  Turn on the air conditioner
Second: Insert family members
Third: Off we go!

First stop, Oquirrh Mountain Temple (although when the kids asked where we were heading and I told them they thought I said "Ogre" Mountain Temple...I'll admit, that does conjure more interesting images than the real name).

There were a couple of other families there as well, it was fun to see others out on a sweltering day.

Round two of our outing took us to the Jordan River Temple.  Funny, the family we saw at Oquirrh Mountain was also at Jordan River.  Guess this a temple trip was on the menu for more families than just ours!

Round three found us at the Draper temple where my kids also glimpsed the chateau style homes on the mountainside which grew into a discussion of who would choose which bedroom in such a house and what we would do with the basement...to which I replied I already don't love cleaning up our tiny little West Valley home so I don't need more rooms to tidy all day long.  

The kids promised me they would keep this home much cleaner than our current one so I decided to consider the option of moving.  We shall see.

But here's what we came for, Draper Temple.  Good stuff.  And a good air conditioned afternoon despite the heat.

Jordan River
Oquirrh Mountain
Salt Lake
Mount Timpanogos
Provo City
St. George
Brigham City
Cedar City

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fuel pump -- round II

Ah, it seems like only yesterday that I went to pick children up from junior high and ended up stranded on the side of the road with a malfunctioning fuel pump.

It wasn't actually yesterday, but it was not even quite a month ago.

Aubs sitting by Josh's jealous, drama queen car.
Well, I guess Josh's car was a little bit jealous of all the attention our Suburban got when it pulled that nasty stunt so the Rendezvous decided to join in the fun.

That's right, folks.  Josh's car was being sluggish and occasionally throwing a tantrum when we tried to start it so we finally took it in to the shop and found that its fuel pump (along with another expensive sensor) is indeed bad and must be replaced (at least it didn't leave us marooned on the side of the road, that was considerate).


Josh started a part time job this week at This is the Place Heritage Park and that means that we can't just send the Rendezvous to time out and limp by as a one car family until a more convenient time to empty our pockets into the engine of the car.  Josh's work schedule does not sync up nicely with our other scheduled family events.  Sigh.

And so, we will squeeze the budget to wring out money for yet another car repair.

Hopefully this will be that last tragedy to strike us for a bit.  This year has been a rough on on us (some years are just like that).

But if I am being very honest, this type of tragedy isn't really all that tragic.  It is difficult to try to bleed pennies from a nearly empty monetary vein, but there are so many things that would be so much worse (FYI, that was NOT an invitation for worse things to land on our doorstep).

Honestly, sometimes it is hard to stay positive when a barrage of troubles seems flood into life moment after moment after moment.  From health issues to financial problems to issues with kids there just has not been a lot of time to breathe this year.

I know you have had these times, when every time you open your eyes something difficult greets you and you feel like you are just scrambling from one fire to the next trying to put them all out (or at least keep them from spreading).

And yet, things will work out.

Somehow, someway, something will happen and an answer will come.  In our case, for this moment, that answer seems to be in the form of a part time job for my husband.  This, of course, is not my favorite plan.  It means that Josh will be gone even more than he already is and that isn't my idea of a perfect answer.  However, it is the answer that seems to be available and that will help us get through for the time being.

Sure, I would rather never have problems and then would rather that the solutions to the problems I don't want were grand, sweeping resolutions rather than band-aids which cover the wound but still leave us hurting.

However, I am not the overseer here.  My vision is limited.  But, I happen to expressly trust the guy in charge (even if I get frustrated and cross at times with the way things go down).  I know that His plan is the best one and if I trust Him despite my struggles the outcome will be the very best possible.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that in the moment.  Sometimes I throw a fit and wish for a quick fix or smooth sailing.  Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and remember that He and I are on the same side, fighting for the same goal.

Even when times are hard -- maybe especially when times are hard -- I NEED the strength that only my Heavenly Father can give and so I hold on and keep paddling and know that He will never leave me alone.

But I still hate that stupid fuel pump.

A Series of Unfortunate Events -- Southern Utah style

 This is the front of my parent's truck.  It is a nice truck, it has been good to my dad...mostly...until recently.

Last week, we teamed up with my parents to head out on a trip to Southern Utah.  

My family had a great time.  
My parents, not so much.  A large part of that was thanks to this here truck.

While driving to from West Valley City to Tropic (about five hours) a warning light came on in the truck and only essential systems continued to function.  We arrived in Tropic late and the next morning my dad took the truck to nearby Panguitch to have it checked out.  The shop ordered the needed part and the next day we deposited my parents back in Panguitch so the part could be installed (they were stranded there all day and there really isn't a lot to do in that small town especially when you have to walk from place to place).  They spent the bulk of the day in the library only to then get a call that after the part was changed the truck spewed out dozens of error messages which confused the mechanic to no end.  He couldn't find the actual problem and several systems were reporting malfunctions.  He said the car needed to be towed to the dealer in Richfield (and, incidentally, he didn't even charge for his work because he had not fixed the issue...he was a pretty amazing guy).  

So, my parents hired a tow truck to take them to Richfield (nearly two hours away from us).  

Morning three of our "vacation" found them at the dealership where the mechanics began systematically plugging parts into the truck one at a time trying to find out what in the world was going on with it.  There was no obvious problem, but they knew something was very wrong because of the truck's behavior.

Finally, after hours of "is it this one?  nope.  is it this one? nope." they finally found a small circuit which had melted onto itself and was most assuredly the cause of the problem.  Because the wiring was ruined the readings from the truck had gone haywire causing all the "what the heck is wrong with this thing" headaches for everyone.

One more day of repairs and Huzzah! the truck was fully fixed and ready to roll.  Just in time to pack up and go home.

But while packing up my parent's pop up trailer, a mishap ended in the slides for the pull out beds being severely bent.  This one stumped our adult guys for a bit while they took things apart and eventually brute strengthed the slides back into their sheaths (the two beds on the ends of the trailer push back into the body of the trailer when packing up for travel).  It was not easy and not fun.  

But, of course, troubles always come in threes and this was only two so you know there is one more coming.

And, sure enough, as we rounded a bend just past Scipio, we watched from our Suburban as the tread flew acrobatically off the tire of my parent's trailer. 

Off to the side of the road we went.  Some of us more comfortable with that than others.

Come to find out that a metal brace underneath the trailer had come loose somehow and the bar had moseyed up until it was shoulder to shoulder with the wheel causing the tread to strip and the tire to flatten.

So, not only did they need to change the tire, but my two favorite guys also needed to remove that metal piece so as not to repeat the fun and go for four tragedies in one trip!

With a little bit of jimmy rigging (thanks, Mom, for the wire stripped from a spiral notebook to solve an issue) everything was back where it needed to be (or close) and we were on our way. 

And this was our vigilant view the rest of the drive home.  We stayed close and did not take our eyes off my parents the entire time.  We had a wonderful time, but I don't think this was their favorite trip ever.  Poor parents.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Southern Utah Temple Visits

I told you our goal for the summer is to visit all 17 Utah LDS temples (or their announced sites).

This past week, we decided to capitalize on our Southern Utah adventure to greet two more of those temples.

We were staying at a campsite in Tropic, but one day ventured down to St. George for an afternoon of super heated fun.  On the way, we stopped in Cedar City for just a few minutes and followed our confused GPS to the address listed for this soon to be Cedar City temple (it hasn't been built yet, but the site was announced earlier this year...our GPS was annoyed that the address didn't actually exist, but we managed).

The area is lovely, up on a small hill, and I think a temple there will be incredible (of course, I think a temple almost anywhere is incredible so I may be a little bit biased).

While we were in St. George we also schlepped on over to the LDS temple there for a few minutes.  We didn't stay on the grounds long because it was a little too warm for us (our car thermometer said it was 108 degrees when we parked...that is too much for us Northern Utahans...we are only acclimated to more mild temps like 98 or 100).

However, while we were on the grounds, we ran into a cutie pie young man who was visiting from Phoenix, Arizona.  We watched as he returned a diaper bag someone had left on the curb near his car to the temple visitor center and then he volunteered to take our family picture (I was trying to balance my camera on a garbage can and instead of just laughing and making fun of me he offered to help...see, cutie pie).  Anyway, he reported than when he left Phoenix it was 118 degrees so to him 108 didn't seem so bad.  Ugh.  My dad and his family are from Arizona, but I guess I really am a wussy Utah girl at heart (118, I really would melt).

Anyway, two more temples down.  Only 13 more to go!  Gotta love a visit to the house of the Lord.

Jordan River
Oquirrh Mountain
Salt Lake
Mount Timpanogos
Provo City
St. George
Brigham City
Cedar City

Monday, June 22, 2015

A week of unplugged in Southern Utah

Alright, I admit it.  My kids are pretty much addicted to video games.

I'm pretty sure that makes them 100% normal digital agers, but it doesn't mean I have to like it or give up on my fight to coerce them into other interests (and Josh is my faithful partner in this endeavor...I just happen to be the one on the front lines most of the time).

And so, given the chance to spend a week in the loveliness of Southern Utah with my parents, the adults in this household grabbed on with both hands and declared this a week of "unplugged."

Most people under 18 were not thrilled about this idea.

Ok, pretty much all people under 18 were not thrilled with this idea (except Ellie, she is just happy no matter what if she can hang with the rest of us).

It meant not only no tablets or computers, but also no movies during the nearly five hour drive to Tropic, Utah and nothing involving earbuds in any way.  "This is going to be torture!"  I heard this despaired cry over and over again.  It didn't sway me.  I'm a big fat meanie at heart (just ask my small ones).

Anyway, on Sunday afternoon we started out.  My older three babies rode with me while the younger three rode with my parents to start.  Since there was nothing to watch but scenery, I offered to read a book to my sweethearts who were all grumpy that my book did not come in video form...but I persisted and pretty soon all three of them were engrossed in the dystopian fun of "Animal Farm" by George Orwell (I do love the classics...and incidentally we stopped for dinner with nine pages left in the book and the kids BEGGED me to finish reading before they had to get out...but I said no and let their grandmother finish the story when we got back in after our stop and kids swapped cars...a little bit of dramatic tension never killed anyone plus children begging to be read to is music to my ears).  

We stopped at Cove Fort to cook dinner on our camp stove and eat so the kids got to explores the fort for a bit (it is free and owned by the LDS church but open to anyone...it's a great, historic stop).

 Everyone's favorite thing was taking turns rolling these  metal wheels with a stick like the original fort dwelling children often did for entertainment (they didn't have video games either, poor things).  It was not really so much easy to do, but my kids got pretty good and they really had fun.

My mom and dad getting in on the action.  Mom was an expert ring roller.

After dinner we had to hustle our way to Tropic to our campground so that we could get checked in and set up before they closed the office.  We ended up squeaking in just in time and setting up a tent and pop-up camper in the muddy black of a windy Sunday night.

Tent.  Dark.  Not great, but do-able.
 Monday morning we made breakfast and headed off to explore.  I had promised the children that I would not overload them with long hikes and I kept my word.    Our first stop was Bryce Canyon.  We figured now that he is nearly 15 it was about time our son Bryce met the canyon which shares his name.

Due to technical difficulties my dad could not come with us on this little explore and this was the only explore my mom was able to attend as well.  It was a wild week for those two...and not really in a good way (I'll tell you about that later).  

Bryce enjoying his sister and his canyon.
 We didn't stop our exploration with the famous scattering of hoodoos seen above (they really are called hoodoos, I didn't make that up).  We meandered through other parts of Bryce's treasures as well.  This lovely waterfall hike was the kids favorite part of the day.  

The local store plopped a piano onto their front walk inviting anyone interested to tap out a tune and promising they would clap if you played.  They didn't.  We were disappointed.  So we clapped instead and all had fun taking turns on the keyboard.

Tuesday my parents were still engaged elsewhere so we opted to take a trip to Saint George so they wouldn't miss the canyon fun we had planned.  There is a children's museum in Saint George that was fun for the younger kids (a little too young for our older ones though). 

We came out after a couple of hours (they really did have fun even if much of the fun was helping younger siblings have fun) to sweltering temps of 108+.  It was toasty.

So we topped the day with a trip to Nielsen's Frozen Custard.  Yummy!!

We drove back to our campsite where the kids got creative finding "unplugged" activities.  Logan made friends with a stick and then turned that into all kinds of fun.  He and Parker played hockey using sticks and a plastic drink cap.

Logan also became a rodeo cowboy using his new friend, the stick.

Wednesday, still without my parents, we decided to stay close to Tropic (in case Mom and Dad needed help) and so we wound our way to Grand Staircase National Monument.  A super cute lady at the visitor center pointed us in the direction of a great family hike and off we went.

Cool, shady fun in the slot canyon was the perfect way to spend the day.

There was just enough water running through the canyon to keep our shoes clean and keep the temps perfect.  It was a really really great hike.

I also got to see cactus in bloom for the first time in my live (I've lived in Utah since I was six and I've seen a lot of cactus, but never quite like this).

We then drove the 50 mile scenic highway and were awed by the views.  It was a great afternoon.

There was construction on the scenic route (who am I kidding, there was construction EVERYWHERE) and Josh and I were lamenting how awful it would be to have to work out in the heat of the afternoon like this and how rough that would be.  Two of my littles (Aubrey and Parker) took it upon themselves to scuttle out of the car and take a bag of Famous Amos cookies to this worker because they are amazing and thoughtful.  For sweet!!  Love those kidlets.

Thursday we gave up on waiting for my parents so we went to Zions National Park without them (sorry, parents).  

It was pretty warm, but the kids mostly forged ahead without complaining (except for the smallest DeMoux who was sure she was on the verge of death by heat).

And then, miracle of miracles, we made it to the end of the short trail and the water at the mouth of the narrows was just what the doctor ordered.  After traipsing into the cool depths no one was complaining any more, not even the small, nearly melted one.

Ellie still holding shape despite the near-melting heat of summer.

And then we piled back in the car where I prepped lunch and we started the drive back to camp...

...and everyone except Bryce fell asleep.  Except Parker says he wasn't asleep (except he really was).

That night my parents returned to us whole and repaired and ready for fun.  But the trip was over.

So, trying to salvage things, the next day we stopped at Freemont Indian State Park and museum which was on the way home so that my dad could say he did do at least ONE thing while we were on vacation.  Poor dad.

Kids climbing out of the pit house.  Pretty fabulous.

G grinding our very own corn...not as easy as you think.

Incredible wall art around the park.  
And then we came home and the first thing anyone said was "Mom, can I have the wifi password?" so I knew life was back to normal.

But for five full days, despite their original horror, no one whined about the absence of electronics.  And since then, the kids have told me quietly how much fun this trip really was. And that's something.

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