Thursday, April 28, 2011

Camping at Arches, 2011

I don't think you've really experienced Utah until you've been to her vast and diverse wilderness. I am blown away every time we take a drive out beyond the valleys and cities of which we live in, and reach places that exceed our expectations of what a desert should be like. The Utah desert isn't the harsh image of cactus and sage brush, like it's often portrayed to outsiders; it's a place brimming with wildlife, filled with amazing red rock, and sandstone structures, lush desert greenery, great, big, volcanic mountains, and waterfalls where you'd least expect them. I really love it here, and am so excited for the times we get to travel and explore this amazing state. And that's just the desert! The mountains, lakes, and forests to the North have so much more to offer, as well.

In the past seven years Micah and I have been to Zions National Park, Capitol Reef NP, Goblin Valley, Kodachrome Basin, Canyonlands, Coyote Gulch, Bryce Canyon, countless back-country areas, and now Arches National Park, where our family camped (again) this past Spring break.
To be honest, I didn't want to leave Arches! I think I could live out there amongst the lizards and slick-rock, and be happy as a...clam? Well, maybe a fossilized one.

Here's a little peak into our adventure:

We scored the perfect campsight (#20) at Devil's Garden campgrounds. It was more isolated than the others, and dropped down into a large area with lots of climbing rocks, which the kids loved.

As I was walking back from the bathrooms I spied this sweet, sight of my little family at our campground. It made my heart all melty.

The boys established themselves as resident lizards as soon as we arrived, scrambling over rocks and building nests in the sand. No, seriously, they were real lizards, for reals.

Last time we were here, in 2009, Zadok found these certain rocks to climb on at the Devil's garden picnic area, where he was pretending to be a giant Lizard from Star wars. (episode II, the one where Obi-wan fights General Grievous) We had to come back here and play some more, as Ob-wan's lizards, of course:

Micah and I made a point to do a couple big (3-5 mile) hikes each while out here. We took turns doing mini-hikes with the kids while each of us took off and hiked alone to the destination of our choice. This is one of my favorite things to do because it gives us parents a chance to really exert ourselves, challenge our hiking abilities, refresh our minds, and think freely.

The first day I literally sprinted up to the Delicate Arch. As I was feeling the wind in my hair, and the earth at my feet, I nearly cried. It feels really good to be all alone, hiking with my Mother Earth. (and the lady from S. Dakota who took this picture.)

One of my favorite dinners, which has become tradition for us; the infamous tinfoil dinner. Chopped potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, turkey meat and cream of mushroom soup. Cook it over hot coals for 30 mins and it tastes like heaven. (well, only while camping, for some reason)

And of course after dinner comes everyone's favorite part; CAMPFIRE and S'MORES!!!!

Baby didn't have any s'mores, but he got real used to getting smoke in his eyes.

Another thing I love about camping is sleeping in a tent. The boys wake up so happy and excited to greet the world. Here's some morning giggles in our big, blue tent:

To sum it all up, we just had a really, really cool camping vacation! I kept thinking the whole time we were out there that, families need vacations together! If you can spare even a couple days, getting away from the house and experiencing new climates,environments, and situations, creates lasting memories! Also, we are being offered new challenges that bring us closer together as a family, and building memories that we can look back on and cherish....

Like when little Odin fell into a patch of cactus, and I had to pull barbed spines out of his bum. Or when Zadok was too scared to use the public bathroom, so he held it in for 3 days before he finally went into a hole in the ground. Or when we had an Easter egg hunt at our campsight, and Micah hid eggs in the pokey Yucca.

Or when Jonah found a tool and started digging in the sand for the first time. Or when it rained heavily one morning so we sat in the tent and listened to Micah read us a story. Or when we hiked as a family through the sandy canyons, marveling at how beautiful it all was. Or when Micah and I got to put the kids to sleep early one night, and cuddle in the tent together.

We packed up and left on Easter morning. It was pouring rain by the time we got out of there. I could hear Odin saying as we drove away, "Goodbye balancing rock, I will miss you."

Camping with baby:

Several people have asked me to share tips on camping with an infant.
We've taken all of our babies camping with us, and it's never been as hard as it sounds. I suggest camping in the warmer months, though, because there's nothing worse than having a cold baby! Bbbbbrrrrrrrrrr.
However, even if it's a little chilly out, it's doable. Just bring warm layers of clothing and a heavy jacket to make sure baby is warm at all times.

During the day our baby played on the ground and picked up sticks and rocks. He's at an age (8/9months) where every object he finds goes straight into his mouth, so we had to watch him carefully. If that's something you're worried about, then bring a playpen or chair for him to sit in. I found, though, that after putting rocks in his mouth several times, he finally realized they weren't that tasty and started spitting them out. He mostly hung out on the ground, and really liked digging in the sand with sticks he found.

When we went hiking (or for around camp), I carried him in the mei-tai. I actually prefer the Mei-tai to the hiking backpack because I can nurse and hike at the same time. It's also snugglier, warmer on cold mornings, and really better for smaller babies. I prefer using the hiker for toddler-sized kids, although I used it once this trip to walk to the bathrooms. :)
The Mei-Tai, a more comfortable fit:

At night, when it was time to snuggle up in the tent, I shared a sleeping bag with baby. I zipped the sleeping bag open at the top, so we could both fit, and then covered us up with warm blankets, including my down-comforter. We were toasty warm all night long!
Since I breastfeed, it's just like at home; I hear a little peeping sound coming from next to me, roll over, and feed the open mouth. Easy peasy.
If you bottle-feed, perhaps having a warmed bottle ready next to you would be helpful, so you don't have to get up into the cold.

Lastly, babies take a lot of dedication in general, and demand so much of our loving attention. I found it most helpful that Micah and I have an understanding, in which cooking dinner, washing dishes, making fires, collecting fire-wood, putting up tent, and doing other needed camping chores aren't always expected of me. Taking care of our Jonah baby always came first, and that job was delegated to me this time,(the one with the boobs.)

Last of all, most babies LOVE being outside, so going camping with babies gives us a chance to see a happy, contented baby for several days in a row!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Moving to Hawaii and stuff

I'm starting to have pre-moving jitters and anxiety, about getting on a plane and relocating 3000 miles away! We don't officially have a job offer yet, but Micah and I have decided to make plans to move. Yes, it is an adventure, but yes, I am getting a bit nervous about it.

Believe it or not, it was Micah's idea to finally make the decision to move to Hawaii. Although I'm the one who grew up there, and I'm the one who has dreamed of moving back for so many years, I am also the one who had all these fears and reservations about making the plunge to just do it.
It seems that every time we brought it up these past years, I would get really turned off by the price of realty, or the loss of opportunities over there, or the fact that we'll be so far away from some of our family, and all our friends we've made on the mainland. After being here for 10 years, it was really hard for me to mentally part with it. I feel in so many ways that I have done all my growing up here. It was my move to the mainland that gave me my husband and my family, and my grown up life. I was feeling that, by moving away, I would be leaving myself here! It was a scary feeling, which encouraged all these other fears and reservations about moving over there. (Yes, I am an oddball, as if you didn't know that.)

Then my sweet Micah would hug me, and laugh at me, and do a bunch of research and thinking, and come back to counter my arguments. "We can afford our own land on the Big Island," he'd say. "We will have so much fun stuff to do and so many adventures to go on!," he'd argue. "We can come back every year and visit family, and I'll bet our friends will come to Hawaii to see us," he'd explain, making me realize that we can do it, and that it is what we really want to do.

And it is really what I want to do! In fact, the reality of our move is getting closer and closer, to where I can actually smell plumerias and taste manapua! das right!
And all those fears about moving, they are gone, gone, gone, like a jet-plane to Hawaii. Yes, I want to move back, and yes, I will be bringing my grown-up, married self along with me. ha ha.

So, I am so excited to get back to da kine! I am so excited to introduce our kids to sea turtles, and surfing, and rainforests, and mango trees. Micah and I are so excited to plant our seeds and roots in such a beautiful, natural paradise, where there is more than enough to do for all of us! Zadok is already so excited about all the animals. He asks us everyday what sorts of critters live on the land and in the sea. (He is planning out his Polynesian-creature-power suits)
I am really excited to plant myself in a community long-term, to get to know the people and the ward there, and be involved with all the little, wonderful things that make up life.

Back to the annoying jitters. So why these annoying jitters? Well, every morning now, I wake up and look around my house and think, "Oh my holy goodness, I have to do something with all this stuff!"
This apartment is filled with seven years of our marriage belongings, necessities, presents, souvenirs, furniture, books, toys, appliances, and stuff that we have collected as a family. When I was single I had 2 large boxes to my name! Now I have an entire household and more. Since we can't take it all with us, my huge, overwhelming task at hand is to organize, categorize, simplify, and downsize, until we are down to almost nothing but the essentials.

Well, almost the essentials. There's still a lot I can't part with.

I don't get attached to furniture, which is good. It will be easy to sell or get rid of all our dressers and beds and chairs and such. (which half of them came from thrift stores, anyways)
However, as I look around I can't help but sniffle over the thought of parting with my wooden, handcrafted, 1975 sewing-thread holder, or our nice set of glass Pyrex bowls we got at our wedding. Then there's little things like the snow globe of Temple Square that I got Micah for Christmas one year, and the toy keyboard we gave to Zadok while he was waiting for Odin to be born in the other room. What about those? They are cheap and replaceable, but hold nostalgic memories for me. Then there's the little knick knacks and kitchen things that we take for granted every day; the garlic press, the rolling pin, my beaded purse, and don't forget the junk drawer of random necessities that glues our whole family together!
Do I just let them all go and replace them later? And what about all the gifts we've received over the years? The toys that the boys love and cherish, and the wooden train set they love? I can't part with gifts! AAAAaaaaagh! This is making my head spin.
And what about giving stuff away? Does anyone need a nebulizer, a giant fan, or a popcorn popper? They are all free, along with boxes and boxes of other stuff I'll be producing over the next couple months.

On another note, I was thinking again this weekend how badly I want this to all work out, and asking God to hear my prayers about Micah getting a good job over there. Then the thought came to me that God wants me to be happy and live a life I love, but he also knows that I can be happy anywhere, because I have a family that I love.
This is really the thought that puts the icing on the cake for me. Hawaii is merely a tasty lick of frosting compared to what we already have.

So, I really hope we can get over there, and that Micah gets a job offer, but if we end up staying and working here, I won't cry and make a big fuss. Promise.

Seriously though, does anyone need a maddock?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fast food

My friend Renee took this picture while I was nursing Jonah and walking at the same time. It's a skill I've mastered over the years, as an avid Mei-tai user. Not too shabby, eh?
So I guess this is what I look like while walking, chatting with friends, watching my two older boys pet bunny rabbits, enjoying a sunny day at the farm, all while giving my baby the healthiest nourishment! It really works for us, and I love it!
For more pictures of our farm day field-trip visit Renee's blog here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

8 Month stats

8 months is my favorite baby age!
We LOVE our big baby boy!
Here's our 8 month old squishy stats:

*Weight- 21.4 lbs
*Height- 27 inches
*Teeth- none
*Chubby legs- the squishiest ever

*What I love- When he grabs my face and slobbers all over it, with a BIG, Pootie kiss.
His big smiles, and that he is so happy all the time!

*Major Milestones- crawling, pulling himself up on things, babbling consonants, scavenging for food scraps under the table.

*Started wanting and eating solid foods at 8 months old. Favorites are applesauce, mooshed bananas and peas. (not all together)

*Favorite toys: my hairbrush, measuring cups, and Odin's remote control dog (which O gladly shares with baby Pootie.)

*Defining baby noise: He makes this really long, low-pitched, screechy sound, which is his happy noise. I absolutely love it!

*Favorite activities: Sticking hands in my mouth while having his milkies, crawling from one room to the other looking for things to put in his mouth, taking baths in the big tub, sitting up by himself, hugging Papa when he comes home, watching his older brothers as they play.

We just love this baby so much!!

Every night we put the two older boys to sleep at 8pm, and then it's us and baby until about 10 or so. Sometimes it's exhausting because it's the end of the day and I feel like I am entitled to some sort of break! But, I truly appreciate and love this special time we have together, just me and him, and Papa. It will go by so fast, and he'll be a big kid sooner than we really want!
The other night as Micah and I were alone, playing with Jonah, It felt like our first baby again. The house was all quiet and we were both transfixed on him, oogling and cooing at our little, baby boy. Each child is so special to us.