Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Summary

School starts tomorrow!

For kids in Brentwood, today was the "end" of our summer. I know, it kind of sucks...but we'll revisit that when we have two weeks off in October and again in March!

This summer was busy, busy, busy for us! Very fun, full of lots of people
we love, and seeing and learning new things, it was great.

Miche's Tavern in Charlottesville, VA., built in 1750. Beautiful setting and yummy colonial food.

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

We started off with a two week vacation to the East Coast for the Groseclose Family Reunion in Pipestem, W. Virginia. West Virginia IS truly heaven, just like the John Denver song.

Pipestem, W. VA. , the view from the hotel balcony.
Pipestem Lake

We spent 4 lazy, family filled days there and in Virginia. Byron's family settled in VA in the 1720's. There is a valley there in the southwest corner that is still home to many cousins and the
family homestead is still there.

The Groseclose homestead, built in 1750.

It is so picturesque and like Mayberry; loved it. Byron loved the food, good old Southern fare!!

The site of the original Groseclose mill, built in 1724, part of it still stands.

The Sharon Luthern Church, built in 1810. 80% of the people buried there are related!

From there we traveled to Pennsylvania. I was excited to have the opportunity to go Gettysburg and see the sites there. It was stunning and humbling. Oh, and because I'm me....I got a doozy case of pink eye.

Next on to Hershey, PA!! I have a well documented LOVE of all things chocolate, so this was totally fun for me. I am not much of a thrill ride kind of girl, but I like seeing my fam have fun. While we were there we saw some Amish kids going on water rides with all their Amish clothes on, it was pretty funny.

Much to my children's dismay, we went to Lancaster County to see the Amish country. They changed their minds when they tasted all the yummy food and saw how beautiful the countryside was. I embarrassed them by asking tons of questions. That's my embarass them. By the way, loved the quilt shops!!! of the highlights of my trip. We went to Yardley, PA and stayed with one of my most

favorite bloggers....Gabi!!

She is adorable and so charming. Loved her. She lives in the Garden of Eden, I'm convinced. It was so beautiful and we loved meeting her and seeing our old friends, Rick & Helena. Lauren left us to go home to Skyler while we were at Gabi's. While she was with us on vacation, Skyler was transferred from Portland to Milwaukee! 2200 miles and 34 hours driving, by himself. She was anxious to join him so we said goodbye early.

We spent a day in Philadelphia visiting the sites of the birth of America. We also had to have a "Cheesesteak-off" FYI: 2 votes for Pat's and 2 for Geno's.


Finally, on to Washington D.C.
where we stayed with our wonderful friends, Phil and Erin. Erin was my "go-to" babysitter when my kids were young and she and Phil stayed with our kids once while we went on a cruise. They are a fabulous young couple with two adorable kids (and one big dog). (Jeff offered to stay and help with the kids for the summer, anything to get out of the big hike. )

Phil and the kids, love this picture. The kiddies are really adorable, take my word for it!

(We love her so much, Jeffy's middle name is Aaron, and yes, it's after this Erin).

I love D.C. and have been there a few times. This time we accidentally stumbled upon the Pentagon Memorial, brand new and very touching.

Also, this time we went to the Holocaust museum, it was stunning. We were all very, very touched by the experiences of the victims. My kids didn't know that the handicapped were also killed; I think because of our Rachel - it became very personal for our boys. I was proud of the way they behaved and thought about the message of the museum.

When we arrived home I found out that my dad was coming about a week early!! Probably a good thing, I didn't have time to freak out and stress. I also didn't have time to get my carpets cleaned.

It was the hottest weekend of the year, literally 113 degrees. I thought my poor Dad (who is from Alaska, ) was going to melt. I was nervous but lived through it. My feelings are still mixed, but it truly was wonderful to see him and have him see my life and my children. I think he was proud and was happy to spend time with us. All in all, a good experience.

Then my sweet, wonderful friend Kim came with her family.

This was the part of my summer when I cut a chunk out of my finger. A huge chunk. Kim is so calm in a crisis!! That's one reason I love her. We love the Walus's and miss them and wish they hadn't moved!!

AND then.....ANDREA came!!

Woot-woot!! Love this friend that I have met through blogging. She is funny, gorgeous, outspoken, opinionated and so real. Love her. My boys thought she was absolutely wonderful and we hope she comes again next year when her kids are all gone. (Monterey Andrea??)

Next...lunch with my long lost brother Tom again. It feels so good to reconnect with my family.

Byron and I celebrated our 27 years of wedded adventure! He bought a car for our anniversary, a cute little Mazda. Whew. Not a mid-life crisis car.

Then Jeffrey went to Yosemite and Scotty went to Scout camp for the first time. A really good summer for them.

I spent hours by and in the pool working on my tan. I know it's not good for me, but the warm sun just feels great!!

And now school is starting and then Seminary starts on Thursday...can't wait for that!!!

The next big event in my summer?

My 50th birthday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

He did it!!

Jeffrey, the reluctant hiker is home. He consented to an interview about his experience.

Mom: So Jeff? How was it?

Jeff: What an all encompassing question Mom. (yep, he really said that.)
It was filled... blister inducing...

Mom: So can we cut to the chase here? Was it miserable?

Jeff: Add dehydrating, it was dehydrating.

Mom: Jeff, did you want to go on the hike?

Jeff: Didn't you do a blog about this? No. I did not want to go. No. No. No.

Mom: What did you do to get ready for the hike?

Jeff: Well, I did go on three preliminary hikes. Other than that, I picked out food, whined, griped, complained.... (true that)

Mom: Jeff....of the food you picked much did you eat?

Jeff: I ate all the fruit snacks and the beef jerky and raw top ramen noodles. I ate about half of three freeze dried meals. And a few rice krispie treats.

Mom: How many pounds of food did you bring back?

Jeff: About a hundred pounds. (that was one heavy pack)

Mom: Did you use your soap?

Jeff: Once on my feet. (good to know)
Oh Mom!! I caught three fish. First try I caught a trout! That was cool.

Mom: How many miles did you hike each day?

Jeff: The first day we hiked six, they told us five and it was six.
Day two we didn't hike, we got used to the altitude.
Wednesday we were supposed to hike ten, but we went eleven. The worst day of my entire life.
Thursday we hiked nine miles Buena Vista Lake. It was hard.
Friday there were two passes, one was 7 miles, one was 8. Of course we took the eight mile one.
Saturday we hiked 11 miles and climbed Half Dome.

Mom: How many mosquito bites?

Jeff: About 800. Actually, I think 60.

Mom: Of the bazillion dollars I spent...what was my best purchase?

Jeff: My buff. I see why they use them on Survivor.

Mom: Did you ever use your buff as a shirt?

Jeff: (laughing) no. But it did help keep mosquitoes off my neck.

Mom: Did you go swimming to get clean?

Jeff: Oh yeah. One time in a glacier lake. They neglected to tell us there was still ice floating in
the lake.

Mom: What was the best part of the hike?

Jeff: There was a couple actually. One was Saturday when we walked a mile through a waterfall mist and a cave. It was wet, cold and amazing. And then....seeing Bro. Toland's car to take us home. It was like an angel, coming to rescue us. To quote Scott M.: "it was painfully beautiful". The hike was hard, really, really hard.

Mom: What was the scariest part of the hike?

(to get up Half Dome, you have to hold onto cables and pull yourself up a sheer cliff. Photos from Scott Bledsoe)

Jeff: Going down the cables on Half Dome. And being completely out of water one day, it was miserable.

Mom: What was your feeling when you reached the top of Half Dome?

Jeff: I was happy and I was really proud of myself. I was dead tired but happy that I made it up there. And I knew we were almost done. It was hard to go up but really scary to go down.

(our boys going up the cliff)

(Jeff and our friend Marja who joined the guys with some others from our ward.)

Mom: Was it worth it?

Jeff: It's something that is so cool...I mastered Half Dome. I'm happy that I did it...but I'll never do it again.

Mom: Would you be like me and make your boys go on this hike?

Jeff: Well, it depends on how mean I want to be. Yeah...I'd make them go.

Score one for Mom.

For the record, on the way home they went out to eat. Jeff had chicken nuggets.

For those not from California...Half Dome (elevation 8,842 ft.) is in Yosemite National Park and was photographed extensively by Ansel Adams. It is a beautiful rugged park full of granite cliffs, wild animals, creeks and lakes. Half Dome is a piece of Granite rock that at some point probably had a glacier sheer it in half thus making its distinctive shape. The hike around the park is grueling yet amazingly beautiful.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Taking a Hike

(photo credit to Andrea)

This is my 15 year old son Jeff.

He is about to undertake the most difficult thing he has ever attempted.

Monday morning, 6 am, his Scout troop leaves to go on a 50 mile hike through Yosemite.

We are making him go. We are forcing him to go. We are giving him no free agency or options.

He is going.

He can go happy...

He can go sad...

He is going.

Poor, poor Jeff is convinced that we are trying to kill him.

He would rather have a root canal with no anesthesia than go on this hike.

He is going to miss the TV, his beloved Giants, chicken nuggets, sleeping in, bossing Scotty around, texting. It's going to be a grim existence for poor, poor Jeff.

He has offered to tell me I'm beautiful 50 times a day, if I don't make him go.

He has offered to read 3 hours a day, if I don't make him go.

He has offered to be an au pair for Erin & Phil for the summer if I don't make him go.

He has offered to kiss my feet and rub my back every day, if I don't make him go. (Tempting)

He has offered to eat no nuggets for a week, if I don't make him go. (this is the supreme sacrifice)

If he offered to guarantee me straight A's in school with no missing homework for the next three years we might have a deal. But he didn't think of it and now it's too late.

Our logic is that once he does this he will know that he is capable of doing anything. Lugging a 25lb. pack for six days over hills and trails is going to be difficult, no doubt about it. But what a character building experience for him. The memories he will have will be priceless. That feeling you get when you accomplish something REALLY hard will be priceless.

So we're packing him up today. Got the tent, the sleeping bag, the hiking boots, the freeze dried food (no nuggets though), rope, tp, a compass, a camel back and one nervous, unhappy boy.

I think he'll live.

We'll miss him if he doesn't.

The feeling he'll have when he is standing on top of Halfdome will make it all worth it.

And the trip to McDonald's when he gets home.