Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beautiful Bryce

After our afternoon in Zion we drove to Bryce Canyon and stayed at the very fun Ruby's Inn. (I can't say I was disappointed that we couldn't find any available campsites when we looked online.... it was humorous that once we got down south we saw many campsites open, but darn it, we had already booked the room.)

Bryce is amazing... I hadn't been there since I was a teenager, so it was fun for me to go back. Ryan went a few years ago with his Dad, so he had some good pointers of things to see and places to go. There was quite a bit of lightning the afternoon we were there, and we didn't want to be caught on the rim during that, so we hung out in the car for a bit, but it cleared up and we got out to enjoy the scenery and a little presentation by the ranger.

Unfortunately the only family shot we got is a little blurry... but we really were there together!

We decided to go on the Navajo Loop trail... you can see how steep it goes down... and with each step downward I thought about coming back up again... it was incredible though. Bryce is so beautiful from the rim, but going down among the hoodoos and being a part of that landscape is a whole different experience. I'm so glad we decided to go on this hike (even though it was labeled as 'strenuous' in the park newspaper).

The kids loved it too. Olivia kept saying, "I just can't believe I'm actually seeing this with my own eyes. It's so beautiful."

They loved the natural bridges and thought this one was especially fun because they got to walk through it.

These canyons were amazing! We survived the ascent and laughed together at some tourists that were hiking in flip flops or heels (what were they thinking?). I say we survived, but it was just barely... I had to stop after each switchback (in the shade) to let my heart rate slow down so it didn't pound out of my chest and to take a nice long drink. It is obvious that I need to get some more cardiovascular exercise into my life.

When we got back to Ruby's Inn we stopped to get ice cream and got detoured by the jail...

...and the silly props for photos...

...we make pretty good country folk, don't you think?

The last part of our short visit in Bryce was a quick reunion with a dear friend from high school that has family ties in Bryce. It was so fun to meet up with Amy for a few minutes and catch up on all that we've been up to in the last several years.

We loved Bryce and can't wait to go back! (We promise to meet up with you Heather next time around!)

**Been to Bryce lately?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Come to Zion

We decided to take a quick trip down south over the 24th of July... we started out at Zion National Park and had time to do a couple of hikes. The kids were like mountain goats, which is especially funny because Coleman often complains when starting the trek into a store like Costco, "My legs are tired... I don't think I can walk anymore..." They did really well on the hikes and we loved the scenery!

It was HOT but luckily our hikes were mostly in shady areas.

Coleman and Liv were fascinated with everything they saw... squirrels, lizards, squirrles, plants, still more squirrels, etc. Coleman kept reminding me not to feed them or touch them.

We took a nice rest at the end of the riverside walk. I was a little tempted to go through the water and look into the Narrows... but that will have to be an adventure for another day. My desire to stay dry (other than the sweat that was dripping down every inch of my body) outweighed my urge to see the Narrows.

Here we are at the end of the riverside walk.... oh, the water looked tempting!

And of course the requisite "hold up the rock" photo... there were a lot of international tourists hiking around us and they thought this photo op was too good to pass up too. We are so inspiring!

We hiked up to Weeping Rock--the significance of the name took awhile to sink in for Coleman... we explained it several times and after sitting under the dripping rock for a few minutes he said, "Oh! I get it... it's like the rock is crying!!!!" It was a light bulb moment for sure.

The kids could have stayed a long time catching the dropping water... Olivia thought it was hilarious to gather what she could and throw it on us. Silly girl.

After our hikes we were wiped out and hungry... and despite being warned by a friend, we ate at the little cafe at the lodge. Note to self.... when a friend says it's bad, listen. The food was terrible... Ryan said it was "okay" but it was inedible in my opinion. I realize I am picky... but it was really bad. The fries tasted like they were five hours old and even Coleman realized they didn't have any salt... he drowned his french fry woes in ketchup and was good to go, but I couldn't stomach more than a few... and the "chicken" sandwich tasted much worse than cardboard on a bun.

Despite the bad food, our day in Zion was fabulous. We hope to get back and go on some of the other hikes that we didn't have time for.

**Have you been to Zion lately?
**Any stand-out-bad food I should avoid in the future (I promise to listen this time :))?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Maybe we should have been cowboys

(This was taken at a ward dinner I helped put together as the Activities Committee Co-Chair... Ryan graciously took photos of all the people that were willing to sit for a photo.)

We must live in "rural" Utah or something.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Family Reunion Fun

A couple of years ago, I somehow agreed (willingly, I might add) to co-chair a family reunion for five generations of the Crook family in 2009. 2009 came all too quickly and we found ourselves with a whole lot of work to do. Luckily I got to work with a few of my favorite people...

The Reunion Queens: Lisa, Grandma Cole, and Aunt Channa

My great-uncle Lynn shared an interesting story about his father who contracted the Spanish Flu during the epidemic... he was thought to be dead and put with a bunch of dead bodies, but an elderly saw a small movement, realized he was still alive, and worked to revive him. At the time, Lynn was the only child. Great-grandpa and his wife went on to have 11 more children.

Behind Lynn there is a list of words that were the answers to our family crossword puzzle... an activity that helped us get to know more about our heritage.

I loved this map... we used colored pins to show where people have served throughout the world, either in the military, as missionaries, or in civic positions. As a family we've been all over the world (except Africa and Antarctica... there's still time, right?).

Ryan ran the raffle which helped pay for the food and all the activities. His temple print was one of the most popular items.

We made coloring books using bits of information about the lives of our ancestors... I didn't get a picture of the books, but they turned out great.

I liked the visual image of the poster above listing the children of Oscar and Fay and all of their children. In all, there are 439 descendants from these two people.

My aunt Dianne ran Grandma Fay's Juice Stand... my great-grandma was well known for her home-bottled grape juice goodness. We thought a little cup of juice would be a good reminder of one of her many talents.

My cousin and his wife did the face painting... which was a big hit with the kids. We also had "Lucky Suckers" and because we had SO many prizes, every sucker was a lucky sucker.

My (second?) cousin Kari ran Grandpa Oscar's Baseball corner--the kids had to try to throw some soft baseballs onto the bases and they got bubble gum for a prize. My great-grandpa loved baseball!

We even had a baseball pinata that I filled way too full... when it finally got knocked down the whole thing dropped like the New Year's Eve ball on Times Square... straight down, without breaking or spilling any candy goodness. We are just lucky it didn't hit the child who was strong enough to knock it down! The kids didn't mind that Ryan had to lift it up and break it to spread the candy around.

We also had Uncle Jim's Fishing Pond. My cute nephew Evan has his pole in the water getting some fun treats.

All in all the reunion was a huge success! It was great to learn more about my heritage and contribute to an event that helped bring our family together.

That doesn't mean I'm ready to do it again anytime soon... or ever... but I'm glad we did it this time around.

**Been to any great family reunions lately?

Father's Day 2009

This weekend my dad came to visit to attend a family reunion (more on that later) and we finally gave him the gift for Father's Day that we've been working on for quite awhile.... well, that Ryan's been working on.

When we were in Paris we found the apartment that my dad lived in as a missionary... and Ryan photographed it with his wide angle lens. He created this beautiful canvas print of the building.

My dad told us that each morning they would smell the deliciousness of the breads and pastries baking from the patisserie below... but they were too poor to buy anything, so they'd make their own pancakes which inevitably turned out too hard to eat... so they'd throw the pancakes out their second story window like frisbees. Oh, the glory of missionary life.

Before we gave him this gift, we loved it. After he opened it and we saw that he loved it too, we loved it even more. Happy Father's Day (only a month late)!

**What's one of the most memorable gifts you've given?

A Welcome Change

Who wouldn't welcome a change from this:

(Just to clarify, the walls are NOT orange... call it tomato soup red, terra cotta, or cranberry, but not orange :))

To this:
(vaguely reminiscent of chocolate ice cream or hot chocolate, don't you think?)

Thanks for the great birthday gift, Ry. I know how much you love painting!

Steri-Stripped With Love

Apparently the step after getting stitches removed involves steri-strips... very sticky tape that holds the wound together, just in case he bonks his head again, so it won't split open.

Oh, and he's not supposed to get it wet for five more days... it's not like it's summer or anything.

(Isn't Coleman a champ?)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stitched With Love

(Warning... graphic pictures below)

I hate that I have to learn lessons the hard way, but I hate even more when my kids take the hard route for some rule to sink in.

We have a spot in our living room by the bay window where Liv and Coleman and any other child that comes over like to play... we have told them a million times that they shouldn't play back there... they are going to get hurt.

I was at the computer yesterday and heard a very loud thud and within a few seconds I could hear the blood curdling scream from Coleman.

He had flipped over the chairs and bonked his forehead on the windowsill and split his forehead right open. There was a lot of blood but I could tell that it was deep, mostly because of the visible flesh and gaping-ness of the wound.

Of course it happened right at 12:30 when our doctor's office clears out for lunch... the nice receptionist said they'd be back at 1:30 and they had an opening for us at 3:30, would that work? Um, hello... his forehead had a big hole in it, I don't think so...

So we headed off to the Instacare where they fixed him right up.

By the time we got there he was almost back to his cheerful self, although he was very nervous about having to get a shot or any stitches.
This was his "I'm in pain" face. Even though he had to fake it, I think it looks pretty believable. They stuck this cotton ball on his wound with some numbing gel. Coleman kept making jokes about it saying that we should call him "Cottonhead Coleman." His purple tongue is from the popsicle that we gave him right after it happened to help him feel better (way to soothe with food, Lisa.)

We were glad that my dad was staying with us... he was such a great helper and sat with Coleman while I made phone calls and tracked down our insurance info before we left. He helped Coleman calm down and made the wait a lot more fun.

I thought this sign was hilarious on the front desk... really? They think you're going to do a little shopping or run to the bank while you have a somewhat emergent situation on your hands? I'm not so sure if I went in there with a kidney stone I'd be too excited to go ANYWHERE while I was waiting for my shot of Demerol... but isn't it nice that they give you the option of leaving while you wait to get treated?

While we waited for the doctor to come in to the exam room Coleman wanted to take goofy pictures. (When a kid has his head split open, you pretty much do whatever he wants to take his mind off the impending horror of a shot and stitches.)

This would be his skull... the doctor asked if I wanted to see it, and Coleman got all excited and wanted to see it too, so the doctor suggested I take a picture of it to show him. Cole thought it was pretty cool to see his own skull. I'm not sure I'd call it "cool" but it was interesting... there was too much flesh there for me to look at it for too long.

All done... seven stitches later! He was so brave during the whole ordeal.

Coleman got to choose a place for lunch after he got sewn back together... despite my best efforts at trying to persuade him to choose The Pizza Factory, he picked the Purple Turtle. Like I said, you do what the kid wants, right?

He was fine during the rest of the day, until about 9 pm when he crashed hard. He was so worn out, but slept like a champ and woke up this morning ready to conquer the world (as long as it didn't involve soaking his forehead or anything else remotely dangerous that would freak his mama out).

**Any stitches in your family?
**Where would you choose to go to lunch if you were brave and deserved a celebratory lunch?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Harvest

You know you are a superb dietitian when your 8 year old daughter harvests the first zucchini of the summer and says, "Oh, yes! We get to have chocolate zucchini bread!"

(Photo and recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com)

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix oil, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and eggs. Stir in zucchini. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Pour into three greased and floured 8-in X 4-in X 2-in loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

(You only have to eat half a loaf to get a full serving of vegetables!)