Wednesday, July 13, 2016

(Mis)Adventures in Boating

Spoiler Alert:  If we owned a boat of our own, we would name her, "Miss Adventure;" with one additional detail. With the greatest of care, we would get a black piece of electrical tape and cross out that second letter "s" so that it read, "Miss Adventure." In looking back at our boating experiences, as wonderful as some moments have been, others have been frustrating and/or down right scary. It is from these bumpy tales that we found the inspiration for the name of our imaginary boat.
The Toe Boat
(on loan from Bubba)

The trouble began one evening as we pulled the boat up Ogden canyon. We received a call from my Mom who was riding with Jen in the car behind us.

"A tire, or something, on the trailer is smoking." I look in my side view mirror and sure enough, I can see a large plume of smoke. We pull over so Andrew can investigate. Nearly there and thinking the situation isn't terribly dangerous, we proceed to the lake. The smoke dissipates as we back the trailer into the lake while launching the boat. That evening, we have a marvelous time.

The smoke returns on our drive back home. I can tell that it's more intense than it was on our drive up to the lake.

"What if we see flame? How dangerous is this? What if it reaches the gas tank and we explode into ash?" I ask Andrew several different versions of this same question as I'm wondering if we're putting our family in harm's way. Thankfully, we make it home safely. Exiting the car, I tell Andrew that the smell of burning metal on metal (the bearings) reminds me of one of the smells at Lagoon. He's confident that he's identified the problem and is thinking that it's an easy fix.

"The bearings need to be greased. It should be fine after I do that." A trip or two to the hardware store and few hours later, Andrew feels good about things.

We plan another boating trip. Sadly, this time around, we don't even make it up the canyon. The smoke has returned and it is heavy. Pulling to the side of the road, Andrew begins taking important looking things apart to try and get a better understanding of what's going on. I keep the kids occupied by letting them eat salt water taffy. Our friends, who we had invited to go with us, show up on scene. They knew the prognosis was grim, but they still came to lend moral support which was really thoughtful of them. Taking the damaged wheel off of the trailer, we pull the boat home on three wheels instead of four. I am relieved that it's no longer smoking and am wondering if Andrew knows how to make this next repair.

It's not really a surprise to me that he manages to fix it. Like the previous jobs, this takes additional time, energy and money to complete it. The weekend of the fourth is approaching. Andrew is eager to take the boat out again before we return it to his Dad's house. Having spent the day swimming with cousins clear down in Sandy, my energy level is lagging by the time the kids and I return home. Even so, wanting to make good on our promise, we gear up for a night up at the lake.

We feel its a victory as we make the drive to the lake smoke-free. Hurrah! His repair worked. We get out on the lake. Andrew's prepping the tube when Eliza asks,

"Hey Dad, why is there water on the floor of the boat?" The plug!! He forgot to put in the plug. Without a moment to lose, Andrew strips down to his skivvies, turns off the boat, grabs the plug, and prays aloud,

"Please don't drop this, please don't drop this" as he dives into the water. Taking a giant breath, he swims under the boat, inserts the plug and returns to five confused and concerned faces.We are no longer taking on water, but now the boat won't start. Long story short, we get help. Once we are at the dock, Andrew walks us to the edge of the marina, brings the trailer down and literally shoves the boat onto the trailer so we can properly drain the boat.
At this point, I am thinking:

"Please bless that we just go home now." While Andrew is thinking, "Finally! We can get on the lake!" After draining the water, Andrew reinserts the plug and is pleased to discover that the engine now turns on.

"Everyone back in the boat! We are set!" So, for the second time that night, I carefully park the car and trailer. Walking out to the boat, my fingers are crossed that all will go well.
We had a really fun time on the lake. It was brief but Andrew did spend time teaching me to drive the boat.

But wait. There's (kind of) more drama; more like a great big blessing...

On the drive home, we talk about the great things about boating as well as the challenges Andrew has dealt with. Flooding the boat was definitely a preventable mistake. I'm happy to see that he's already able to laugh it off. However, I can tell he's not fully over the embarrassment because he doesn't want me to share the story on instagram.

"Can I blog about it?" I ask as a follow up question. Believe it or not, I do respect my family's wishes on what I share.

"Sure." He says easily. I see how it is. The blog's a great place to record the story because Andrew no longer visits our blog (sad sniffle) and assumes no one else does either. We make it to our street. Andrew drives past our house a short way so that he can turn the boat around in our cul-de-sac. As we make the turn, we hear and feel a giant thud. The car lurches to the side and I can tell we are off balance. We pause a moment to look at each other!

"What now?!" We both wonder. Without saying anything, he parks the car and gets out to investigate. I'm thinking he's hit one of our neighbor's mailboxes. My mind flashes to our emergency fund (#daveramseyforlife) and I'm grateful we have the cash on hand to pay our neighbor for the {imaginary} damage. Again, I am wrong.

One of the tires on the trailer has completely fallen off. Remember a few paragraphs ago when I talked about the time we drove home with only three wheels on the trailer instead of four? It was the wheel that had been bearing the weight of the boat without that second tire; that had fallen off. Andrew had since fixed the smoking tire/wheel. That night, when we'd left our home, we had four wheels on our trailer, but the stress of that ride back to our house from that previous outing had done unseen, irreparable damage. That previously over burdened wheel had made the drive up and back that night but finally gave out... literally a few feet from our house.

The drive up and down Ogden canyon is always a little nerve wracking as we've observed cars carelessly drift from their lane into the other. Other times, the canyon has felt crammed due to the traffic caused by boaters eager like us to be up on the lake. It's a lovely, scenic drive as the road curves along side a river. To the side of you are the beautiful, yet daunting mountain walls. It didn't escape me in that moment how scary of an experience it would have been if that tire had given out while driving up or down the canyon. Driving, at an even higher speed, along busy Harrison boulevard would likewise have been a dangerous spot to lose a tire. I look at my children in the backseat of the car. Thankfully, they are oblivious to the catastrophe we had been spared.

Even now, the upsetting "what-if" scenarios frequently return to my mind. I've offered several prayers thanking our Heavenly Father for watching over us that day. Since that night, we've also explained to our kids how blessed we were.

Earlier that morning, the kids and I had driven over an hour to swim at my sister in law's parent's home. I was in a car accident when I was 16. Since then, driving on  freeways makes me incredibly nervous. I will do it, but my stomach is often in knots. I pray a lot when I drive. Returning to that morning, before we turned off our street, I realized that we hadn't said our morning prayer together. I pulled over on the side of the road so the kids and I could pray for safety on the roads. Many hours later, as Andrew collected that rogue tire from the middle of our cul-de-sac, I was overcome with gratitude knowing that Heavenly Father had heard our prayer that morning.

This may seem like a lucky break or good timing, but Andrew and I feel differently. We know that Heavenly Father protected our family and are very thankful for that blessing.

Here are some photos from our swim at Jen's parents home earlier that same day.

It made me happy to see Forrest connect with my brother Mark (who lives in Alaska)
"I have a tractor bed!" Forrest proudly announced. 
"You do?" Mark said excitedly. "That's awesome! I have a sleep number bed!"
Forrest's reply, "Oh!!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Jumping out of June

And just like that, June has come to a close. The mood at our has mostly been calm (that's a polished way of saying that we have been laaaazy.) Having made it through girl's camp, I feel like I'm slowly exhaling. Aside from Lottie's swim lessons, yw activities, Eliza's sewing and Henry's scouting activities, we don't have much going on and I LOVE it. When I see a blank day on my calendar, I smile. When I see multiple days in a row that are blank, I feel real joy! That's not to say we sit at home and do nothing, although sometimes this is what I need and crave; but I view those days as an empty canvas. I am free to design our day around our mood and indulge in a little spontaneity. Truth be told, I have been trying to cram in as much fun as possible. When it comes to reading, chores and all the other things responsible parents incorporate into their summer, I am failing. Maybe for July I will be better; but after many months of schedule following, appointment keeping, homework doing and all that other "important" stuff... I am allowing us to rebel a little. And it's been so nice. 

Karma, or whoever pulls the strings, found out about all the fun we've been having so when it came time for us to help clean the church; our family ended up being the only people who showed up; along with one other person. Two and half hours later... we were done and out the door. Lottie's job, and she really was so helpful, was to keep Forrest occupied in the nursery. Henry and Eliza proved themselves to be great helpers. I really appreciated their (mostly) good attitudes. 
There is no rhyme or reason to the pictures today. Mostly, I'm playing catch up.

I don't know why it still surprises me that whenever I ask Andrew to get Forrest ready for church, that he ends up wearing his lederhosen. I am not complaining because I think it's my most favorite thing in the world. Maybe I am exaggerating... then again, maybe I'm not. That little junge is adorable!

Long story short, Lottie was the only one who made it into swimming lessons. Aside from Forrest, she needed it the most so I'm grateful it worked out. Prior to her lessons, she was so nervous to put her face in the water. By day 2, she was doing this...
Recently we were reunited with Mark and Jen's family. They are here visiting from Alaska. It's always a treat when they are here. Henry, who is usually outnumbered by girls, is especially happy to have Scott and Tyler here to play with. We first caught up with them at Nana Marie's swimming pool. We had a pizza party that night as we celebrated Tyler's seventh birthday!

That day we pulled a "summer double feature" which means we were crazy and participated in two super fun activities. I use the word crazy because it mostly is. Kids need to relax and replenish their energy (read: Mom needs a nap!) or else things can quickly fall apart. Before meeting up for Tyler's party, we were invited by our friends to one of the neatest parties ever.

Check that slide out!

The cute Campbell twins had a birthday and we were lucky enough to be invited. The kids could have stayed all day. The endless supply of shaved ice, popcorn and cotton candy kept them going!

Forrest was clever as he found the most perfect place to put his shaved ice. 
Our parties aren't as cool as that, but we have really enjoyed outdoor movie nights. The movie screen and projector were loaned to us by kind friends and have inspired us to look into getting one of our own. I hope it happens sooner than later. We recently gathered to watch Zootopia with the Barretts, our neighbor Trish and the Whitesides who were here visiting from Grenada; where their Dad Josh is going to medical school.
Andrew was really torn that night. He had assumed that we'd be quietly watching the movie along with the kids. So when the adults continued to visit, he reluctantly left his viewing chair and joined in the conversation. Poor guy. He was really looking forward to watching the show. :)
Speaking of that cute Dad of ours, he really is the best. We recently celebrated him on Father's day. He is so devoted to our family. He loves our kids and wants to be with them when he has downtime. Henry especially loves one on one time. The other day, Andrew took Henry and Lottie fishing. Henry did his best to talk Lottie out of coming as he wanted Dad all to himself. Lottie still makes Andrew's eyes twinkle. She still has him tightly wrapped around her finger. Forrest is his shadow. Seeing them mow the lawn together, as an example, is so great. Parenting Eliza probably makes him most nervous as we are entering uncharted territory with her. We are both super proud of who she is becoming but we catch glimpses of our future teenager which makes us a little sad and a little scared (excited too, though!).

His example and devotion to our family is a great blessing in our lives. We are so thankful for the opportunities and daily essentials that he selflessly provides for us. As a stake high councilor, he keeps very busy. The kids observe him and I think, respect the time he spends trying to fulfill his responsibilities... At least that's what I tell myself is happening on those Sundays that I'm taking care of family business solo. I'm grateful for his testimony and think it's neat that people in our stake are getting to know him better.
After dinner on Father's day, my parents came up to our home where we launched water bottle rockets (see video below). This activity is an accurate representation of the Dad that he is. Andrew is innovative and always looking for a clever way to make a memory with his kids. We are the luckiest.
As for me, I feel so very lucky to have Kenny Mays as my Dad. I sure love him. The desire to want to make him proud of me continues to burn bright. I said this on instagram, so pardon the repetition. My Dad is many things. He is brilliant, articulate, witty and fun to be around. He is a spiritual giant without being obnoxious. I hope that makes sense. He is a great companion to my Mom. He honors and loves her. Of all the things he is, the attribute I try to emulate most is his ability to make people feel good about themselves. With complete sincerity, he will share kind observations with others. He builds people up with his friendly manner, remembers details from their lives, ask about those things that matter most and listens. This is why his students and family love him so. When I die, I hope that I am remembered as being someone who built others up. I do my best not to say unkind things about others and try to be genuine in my interactions. I'll probably be remembered as being a little obnoxious as well. I'm working on that part; so I appreciate your patience as I try to progress.

Happy Father's day to the men in my life. Our Bubba is loved and adored by all those who live here too. He was off on a fancy adventure so we didn't have the chance to celebrate him in person. He is never far from my thoughts because most days, as I find myself admiring the Dad that Andrew is, I think of Doug. He modeled Fatherhood so well for Andrew. He is who we have to thank! (And Nanna Teresa too, of course!)

Speaking of modeling behavior... I hope these boys of ours pick up on all these great qualities. One thing is for sure though; that love of nature, dirt and all things gross is clearly being passed on. Thirty worms later... these two boys had quite the collection!

I don't think I've ever paid tribute to my Heavenly Father on a Father's day post in the past, but feel prompted so I'm going to continue to type. I am thankful to know that I have a Father in Heaven. I believe that I lived with Him before I was sent to Earth. I believe that He was deliberate in detailing the plans of my life. I believe that He is aware of me and my family. I watched Finding Dory today with my kids (spoiler alert... don't keep reading if you haven't seen it) and was so touched by the way Charlie and Jenny faithfully lined up sea shell after sea shell; creating paths that each led back to their home for Dory to find. They were devoted and tireless in their effort to bring their lost child home. 

Like Dory (this analogy is a stretch, I'm sorry!), I am lost and fallen. But I know that God is patiently waiting for me to make my return home to Him. He has laid out a path for me to follow. If I can maintain my focus and not to be influenced by the distractions of the world, it is my great hope that I will return home to Him. There will be challenges and heart ache along the way. But there are also friends, helpers and reminders to help keep me on track. Of all the helps, I am most grateful for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Without Him, in keeping with my Dory analogy, I'd forever be lost in a dark and lonely ocean. It is Christ who leads the way and lights the path. (Oh boy, I think it's bedtime...just keep typing, just keeping typing...) The organization of the family is divine. And I am eternally thankful that I get to make this journey with them at my side. I really am going to bed now! 

Family videos:

So Much Lagoon

Rainy and cold or hot and dry... we've experienced both this summer while playing at Lagoon. We've gone with cousins, grandparents, just our little family and even on a date with just Andrew and me. Twice now, I've gone with my cute friend Maren. In return, our husbands will be cashing in on some child-free fishing outings. No matter the scenario, Lagoon has proven to be a great place for making memories this summer. We've had a lot of laughs, thrills and have yet to lose any kids while there! 

It isn't all sunshine and roses. As the kids morph into Lagoon veterans, they have developed strong opinions on what ride we should be doing and when we should be doing it. Most of the time, their desires are different. When they whine or protest the plan, I feel tempted to pack up and leave. Lottie, in particular, can be quite dramatic. I'm embellishing a little, forgive me: 

"But Mom! I don't want to do that really fun ride that made me smile so big last time because I need to do that other really fun ride first!" You would think by the look on her face (the other kids do this at times too) that I was telling her that we we were going to the dentist to have a cavity filled.

"No Mom! Not Puff that Magic Dragon! He is the worst!" 

Are you kidding me? And then there is Eliza who has graduated from kid land and wants to dedicate each minute to roller coasters while I'm keen on enjoying a small slice of time where we are all together. Last week, she was given permission to do a few rides with an older cousin, unsupervised. They were so good to check in at our designated places and time. It was surreal and broke my heart a little bit to see her take another step, away from me, toward independence. You're right, dear reader, I have no idea where Lottie's dramatic nature comes from! (*sheepishly raising my hand*) 

 We don't usually schedule a time to leave but rather wait until one of the kids begins to unravel. They know that one person or an ugly sibling conflict can spoil it for the whole crew, so they try to be team players. Sometimes the exhaustion proves to be the most powerful of adversaries. Despite their efforts, they can't fight how tired they are and the emotions take over. Other nights, we find the right balance and happy rhythm which enables us to stay until closing. I feel a mixture of surprise and concern (read: regret?) when I find myself pulling into the driveway with a car full of sleeping kids at 10:30 pm. 

I have taken loads of pictures but  managed to narrow it down to a few favorites.  

Lagoon in the rain!
The rain didn't last too long. 
The crowd level was small. 
Memories from this night include 
Eliza offering Henry her pink jacket. 
He was so grateful for Eliza as he warmed up in it. 

Also, Eliza and I rode Cannibal as it was raining.
The raindrops stung our face as we rode the ride!
It was a very weird thing!

Date night with Andrew!

We don't usually ride the roller coasters together 
because one of us is with the smaller children in kiddie land; 
while the other is riding coasters with Eliza. 
This was our chance to laugh and scream and whine 
about how old we feel together. 
It was quite the bonding experience. 
Also, we usually nix the kid's requests for food and treats due to the high cost
and amount of kids we have. 
But on our date night, we went all out...
Dole whips and a funnel cake for the win!

Nothing is sweeter than having a child thrilled to be riding "Bulgy the Whale" 

Forrest at Lagoon is about the cutest thing in my world.
When the kids are getting along and enjoying a ride together,
I feel validated in our decision to buy season passes. 

We've been to Lagoon one time with my parents.
It was a night of surprises as my Mom opted to ride the Log Flume
followed by my Dad's stunning decision to ride Wicked with Eliza.
I don't know which of my parent's surprised me more.

Going with Maren was a blast.
She hadn't been to Lagoon in 12 years! 
Watching the nostalgia hit her was the best. 
I'm excited to go with her again (and again!).