Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Family History Bus Tour

We had the greatest experience yesterday! My mom, my Aunt Linda and Uncle Larry arranged a bus tour to see local family historical sites. About 45 members of my extended family attended and we all rode on a school bus driven by my Uncle Larry - the designated bus driver of the family.
Here we are loading onto the bus

Three cheers for our bus driver!

And three cheers for our tour guide!

After driving by the old Maeser School we arrived at our first stop: Grandma Beck's childhood home in downtown Provo. The current owners have beautifully remodeled and restored this historic landmark. And they were kind enough to allow our entire group to tour the home! There have been major changes to the interior but some of the layout is the same.

Three generations

Across the street from this home is the old Reed Smoot home - another Provo historic landmark. Reed Smoot was a US senator and LDS apostle around the turn of the century. He built this home in 1892 and it has been in the family ever since. Much of the home is original - including some of the furniture. The current owner of the home is Reed Smoot - named after his grandfather. He is a director and cinematographer and created many IMAX films and church films like The Work and the Glory and Legacy. Anyway - Reed happened to be home at the time and kindly opened his home to our group! What a treat! It was absolutely beautiful inside!

We drove by the old BYU Women's Gymnasium and then stopped briefly at Academy Square where my grandfather taught zoology before the main campus was built. Our next stop was lunch in front of the Maeser building on BYU campus (with Brick Oven rootbeer!). As my cousin Julie said, it was a beautiful Provo day.

We sat on the steps of the Maeser building and listened to more stories about my grandfather's teaching days.

We then walked over to the Brimhall building. This is where my grandfather's office was. My mom and her siblings have many memories of playing in this building.

Sarah Jane was getting pretty tired by this time. So she got a ride!

Our final destination was the old family home on 9th East. This home holds memories for more than just my mother and her siblings. My cousins lived there for a while and several of us lived in the basement when we were newly married. This is where Wes and I lived right after we got married and when Addie was born a couple years later. My grandma lived in this home as a widow for about 30 years. It was when we were living in the basement - when Addie was just three months old - that she passed away. She was 92 years old.
Words can't quite describe my feelings of coming into this home after all these years. There were tears as I walked into her kitchen - with the same cupboards and her old oven. And when I walked into her sewing room, I could still see her sitting at her sewing machine. The ironing board was out and it was as if I expected to see her linens or sewing laid on it ready to be pressed. I could hardly bear to look into her bedroom - the room where she died. It was early in the morning 11 years ago - almost to the day. I was downstairs in the basement when my mom called me to come upstairs and bring my stethoscope. I was to listen for a heartbeat and heard nothing. All of these memories and so many more came flooding back.
The home is now owned by the brilliant Utah artist, Brian Kershisnik. He was not home at the time but he is a good friend of my brother and generously allowed our family to explore the home and the yard. He has done some remodeling and improvements but essentially the home is the same as it was when my grandmother lived in it. It was hard to decide which was more exciting - seeing my grandmother's old home and our old basement apartment or seeing the inside of Brian Kershisnik's home!! (Out of respect for his privacy I am not including photos of the inside of his home - but it was beautiful and filled with his art.)

The old shed in the backyard

The door to the basement apartment. Wes made me a screen door for my birthday while we lived there but it's not there anymore.

The bird bath still stands in the backyard with the hand prints of my mom's family imprinted in the base.

This is only a glimpse of this wonderful day. I didn't take too many still pictures because I was filming most of it. I am so grateful to have a record of this! My mom has an incredible memory! Something that I did not inherit. The information and memories shared are priceless and I just wanted to hear more.
I love my family and my heritage.
The end!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sweet Program

There is just something so adorable about preschool age kids!

Ready or not! Here comes Kindergarten!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

End of the School Year Busyness

Man we've been busy! And I haven't been very good at taking the camera to all of the recent activities we've been involved in. But here are some pictures from Cate's dance recital.

In the dressing room waiting for her performance

The recital was darling but it lasted 3 hours! Here she is sitting with all the dancers on the stage. She loved that they all got to wear crowns in the end.

And here is a close-up

I got a couple pictures at the elementary school carnival. The older kids were off doing their own thing so I didn't get any pictures of them.

Sugar, sugar and more sugar!

These were just two events among the many that filled our weekend. Too bad this coming weekend is expected to be just as busy! By May we are always looking forward to the end of the school year but as my kids get older - this is turning out to be one crazy month!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Want Recipes?

My brother started a blog! Hooray! He is an amazing cook and will be sharing recipes old and new on his blog: Kipper's Snacks.

Many of the recipes have been collected over the years and are tried and true - and they make up the majority of my meal planning. But I am so excited that he will also be posting newly discovered recipes that I can add to my repertoire.

It's about time Kip!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

14 Years Ago...

We were young but we weren't as young as we looked (which was about 16).

Wes had me laughing from day 1. There have been ups and downs but I really think his sense of humor has made all the difference.

Ready to embark on our honeymoon and our new life together. Ulf Swenson was the ship's captain and we met him at one of the evening shows. He was most likely already questioning our ages when the waiter walked by and Captian Ulf offered to buy us some drinks. We smiled at each other and said, "Two Sprites!"

And what a ride it's been!
14 years
4 kids - Ad, I-man, Fizzle and SJ
3 states - UT, PA, CA
3 apartments - UME and Sharon Crest
1 home - finally!
5 cars - Suburu, Honda, Suburu, Toyota, Suburu (I think I see a pattern...)
4 new U2 albums
2 pianos
4 couches
1 $10 lawn mower from DI
2 bikes stolen in California
1 kitten - "Gypsy" - we accidentally ran over her
some fish, frogs, birds, butterflies, and 2 bunnies
7 pieces of furniture that Wes built - shelves, trunk, entertainment center, white table, potting bench, picnic table, bunk beds
4-5 times driving across the country
1 pop-up trailer that we haven't used
2 homemade sandboxes
2 failing attempts to grow tomatoes
1 $10 garage sale grill that hosted some nesting wrens two years in a row
1 $$$ new grill
1 night in the hospital with pneumonia (Wes)
1 broken arm that we ignored during a birthday party (Ad)
4 cell phones
Too many to count - friends, laughs, vacations, favorite songs, BBQ's, nights watching Lost or Survivor, hikes, yummy restaurants, airports, road trips, holidays, gifts, birthdays, projects, jobs, tears, fights, funerals, sicknesses, movies, stories, family get-togethers, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents, ward callings, Scrabble, Boggle, Settlers, weddings, showers, computers, operas, symphonies, recitals, parties, etc, etc, etc
1 anniversary when Wes sent me flowers (this one!!! I just received them while writing this post!)

Happy Anniversary Babe! Here's to another 14 years...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Magnificent Hike

(Apologies for the crazy picture format.)

Here are some pictures from our hike to Angels Landing in Zion. This 5 miler was pretty strenuous and not meant for anyone afraid of heights. Uh...yeah. Understandable when hiking to the top of this!

This is what the first part looked like (as viewed from above):

Then we got some relief from the blazing morning sun and hiked for a while in "refrigerator canyon"

Next was "Walter's Wiggles"

See the trail behind Wes? The one that tops the narrow cliff with sheer vertical 1000 ft. drop-offs? That's where we were heading.

It was a long way down. Thank goodness for those chains! I only recently developed a mild fear of heights after having children. I would have been having panic attacks if they would have been there.

It was tough scrambling up that last bit to the top. (Don't make fun of my hat. I bought it for trek and it was all I had with me.)

At last we reached the top.

Talk about incredible views!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Change of Plans

I should be sitting on the beach in Cancun at this very moment. We had planned to go with some really great friends from our med school days. Back in the days of student housing, dumpster diving and debt beyond our comprehension - we would promise each other- someday we have to go on a fabulous vacation together!
Well, 7 years later the time had come! It was booked, babysitting scheduled, days taken off of work, a new swimsuit ready - and then it hit. The swine flu. We ignored it at first because we are not alarmists and there is nothing I hate more than media hype. But after much discussion it became clear over time that it wasn't going to happen. We discussed other options and in fact one couple decided to go to Hawaii anyway. As for us? It was four days in St. George.
But I really shouldn't complain. We had a very relaxing, enjoyable time. We ate out, went swimming, played tennis, read, shopped, went to a movie, hiked Angels Landing in Zion, and met the other couple that was planning on going to Cancun in Vegas for dinner and Cirque du Soleil. And it was great fun to just be with Wes. Rejuvenating! And Southern Utah is one of our favorite places.
So it's all good. I will try to post some pictures of our hike when I get home. I am really excited to see my kids!

Friday, May 1, 2009

An American Catastrophe

"While running for judge, Cowen roamed all over Dallam County and saw firsthand how the dirt-packed winds were taking the life out of the place. He drove for days without seeing a single green thing. He saw farmhouses without a chicken or cow. He saw children in rags, their parents too frightened of dust pneumonia to send them to school, huddling in shacks shaped into wavy formations on the prairie, almost indistinguishable from the dunes." (The Worst Hard Time, pg. 177)

"The dust in Kansas was falling in heaps; a team of scientists calculated that during the storms of March and April of 1935, about 4.7 tons of dust per acre fell on western Kansas during each of the blizzards" (The Worst Hard Time, pg. 188)

"How to explain a place where black dirt fell from the sky, where children died from playing outdoors, where rabbits were clubbed to death by adrenaline-primed nesters still wearing their Sunday-school clothes, where grasshoppers descended on weakened fields and ate everything but doorknobs? How to explain a place where hollow-bellied horses chewed on fence posts, where static electricity made it painful to shake another man's hand, where the only thing growing that a human or cow could eat was an unwelcome foreigner, the Russian thistle [tumbleweed]? How to explain fifty thousand or more houses abandoned throughout the Great Plains, never to hear a child's laugh or a woman's song inside their walls? How to explain nine million acres of farmland without a master? America was passing this land by. Its day was done." (The Worst Hard Time, pg 306)

The Worst Hard Time written by Timothy Egan is a powerful record of survivors of the dust bowl of the 1930's. During an already dark and dismal nation-wide depression, the great plains suffered almost a decade of blowing dirt and dust that almost completely wiped out this part of the country. I had heard a little of this catastrophe - one of the worst in American history. In reading The Grapes of Wrath, we learn about people who escaped the disaster. This book is about the people who stubbornly hung on to what was left of their farms and lives and waited it out. One thing I found very interesting about this story is that it reveals the cause of the dust bowl - it wasn't just drought - and also how it was man that actually helped to remedy the problem.

I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book.

Don't forget to check out this review and other great recommendations at the book blog I contribute to Desperate for a Good Read. It's awesome! And anyone can join!