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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Island Park

Jessa ~

Wow. Lots to catch up. I'm gonna work backwards and blog by events, so you may get multiple posts tonight... if I have the time and energy. Or maybe multiple next week. We'll see.

So last week was Island Park! Several months ago we decided not to do Lake Powell again, a) because Abby is still not cautious enough and b) it was (we thought) during Kessa's first week of school. (Turns out, Kindergarten starts a week later than the rest of the school, so we would have been fine.) Where she's a creature of routine, we thought missing out on the first week where routine is set would be a bad thing. Of course, your parents decided not to go, either, so it worked out anyway. But we still wanted to have a family vacation this summer, so when the chance to go to the cabin opened up, we jumped on it. It would mean pulling Kessa out of her third week of school, but I was ok with that. It's only kindergarten. And their sight words this week were "a" and "go". Which she's known for months. No regrets here.

So, let's do a photo dump with some commentary, and then I'll fill in more commentary as I think of it at the end.

We (my family, plus Mitchell and Audrey) left Friday night after work, listened to kids scream for half the drive, arrived at my parents' house, and promptly put all the kids to bed. Whew! Never driving that again at bedtime if I can help it. There my nephew, Parker, hung three different "swings" on my parents' willow tree (the red dinosaur, Abby's favorite, was intended to be one of those toys at a park that's mounted in cement and you can rock back and forth. There was also a tire. But the tire horse was actually intended to be a swing). They were, clearly, a hit.

The kids also helped with canning. We picked and snapped and canned beans, and also made spaghetti sauce (with tomatoes and peppers from my own garden!)

They also helped eat the produce. The giant carrots were a win all around.

But who doesn't love some raw corn on the cob, right?

Then Sunday night we went up to the cabin! (Melanie and the boys, Reid and Redick, came up on Monday afternoon.) These pictures are all out of order, but I don't wanna take the time to fix it. So here we go.

Fishing (or rather, throwing an unhooked line from a kids' fishing pole), the canoe, and the river were all big hits.

Abbe always wanted to go in the river. Despite how incredibly cold it was.

Or just to reach down into it. Or... try at least.

At Big Springs. This smile is going to win Abby all sorts of beauty pageant awards, I'm sure of it. Oh my gosh. I'm in such big trouble. Also, Kessa's hair looked like homeless hair for most of the week. It was a vacation! Give us a break! Though, despite that, she still looks adorable here.

One day we went over to Harriman State Park for a hike one morning. We were a little concerned over what to do with Peter, because it wasn't a stroller-friendly hike and I didn't think to bring a wrap. In the end, we used a bed sheet to make a Peruvian-style wrap (but I wore it on my front instead of my back, because I didn't trust it at all. Plus I flipped my hair out and it was poking him in the face when he was on my back). This hike earned me my Rugged Momma merit badge. On top of making a wrap out of a bed sheet, I also managed to nurse him while hiking. That's right. I win at life.

The ladder was, unsurprisingly, a favorite. Last year the three littles (Abby and the twin boys) couldn't climb it and only started to even try on the last day. This year it drew all 5 kids (not Peter, obviously) like a magnet. Abby would get 2/3 up and then get scared and wouldn't go up or down without someone actually touching her. She did it a few times, but only when she was well rested and well fed. And surprisingly, no one fell off and died. (I had my doubts that streak would last, but we managed to make it through.)

The last day the men folk took all the kids (except Peter) to Mesa Falls while Melanie and I did all the cleaning. So much easier without kids underfoot. Again we have an example of Abby's winning smile.

There were several canoe rides. They all loved it.

We did a craft during one canoe ride when the littles were out and Kessa and Audrey were inside. We took a canvas, wrote their names with painters tape, put blobs of paint all over it, then let them have at it with a paint brush. It sounds all great and Pinterest-worthy, right? It... pretty much came out as several shades of brown. So we let it dry and one of these days I'll let Kessa finish. By putting blobs of one color of paint on, letting her paint with that. Then after it dries, doing another color. Live and learn, right?

Despite missing out on most of the activities, Peter was still there! He read a book with Daddy on the couch.

But mostly he slept or laid in his gym. Sometimes with more attention than he really wanted. Hah! But seriously, he is the best baby ever. Ever. I can't tell you how many times we (all the adults) just forgot he was there. And he'd have been laying in his gym at our feet for an hour. He's just so quiet and happy. And then he would nap a lot, too. He would sleep through us going in and out of the bedroom. He would sleep through the washer and dryer going. And holy cow, that washer can shake that entire room on its spin cycle. We turned it on one night just before we went to bed (Audrey got sick and threw up, so we had to wash the sheets) and I thought it was gonna shake me right out of my bed. But he slept through at least a half dozen loads.

And lest you think Abby is pure cuteness, she's also got a silly streak inside her, too. Her new discovery is that she can make her eyes look incredibly creepy. But she doesn't understand creepy yet. She just thinks it's funny. And it is. (Don't mind BJ's model-pose in the background. Bahahaha.)

Other non-picture events of the week:

We played several games. Not as many as the littles didn't take a morning and afternoon nap like they did last year. But we still got several. The Harris' rented 4 games from Board Game Revolution, so we played those. There was Mice and Mystics, which is an adventure game. So you're characters in a story and you basically act out all the challenges and read a story in between each one. The first two nights we played that at bedtime. We did one chapter each night, but they were long. While fun, we realized it could easily eat up our entire vacation, so we stopped after that. The craziest part was that we were playing humans that got turned into mice, then at the very end of the second night, when Audrey started to throw up, Mitchell found a mouse in the kitchen. Yipes! (A few nights later we saw it (we prayed it wasn't a different one) in our bedroom. The boys caught it and threw it in the river, though.) And if that night wasn't crazy enough, Kessa woke up at 6 am with a bloody nose that got all over her, two blankets, and the carpet in the loft. Yipes! And on Friday, both Kessa and Abby got low-grade fevers that made them very cuddly and unenergetic. But by evening they were both just fine and happy again.

Another rented game was Word on the Street, which is a simple word game that is fun. I wouldn't mind having it. And Scotland Yard, which is easy to learn, but very strategic. The strategy reminds me of chess, where you have to think 4+ turns ahead. It hurt my brain. But everyone else really liked it. And the fourth one was a kids game. It was along the lines of Sudoku, but with shapes and colors. And it gave you hints as to where they all went, each puzzle getting harder and harder. Kessa did surprisingly well at it. It's also on my wish list now.

And of course, we played a bunch of others like Dominion, Kingdom Builder, Small World, Stone Age, Rummikub, etc.

We made and froze several dinners before we went up. That was awesome. It meant we could just pull out dinner a day or two beforehand, then throw it in the oven. I also made 3 loaves of crusty bread and a chocolate zucchini cake that I froze and took up. Win! Several other meals we just took up bags of what we'd need. (Like one morning we had German Pancakes. I just measured out the flour and salt into baggies before we left, then it was just add milk and eggs.) It was awesome, because then we didn't have to take up bags of flour, rice, or spice jars. Just grab the baggie with the pre-measured stuff, dump, and throw away! It made packing food to come home way easier.

There's a new fire pit there. It was pretty cold most of the week, but Friday we went out and made s'mores. Unfortunately, that's when the girls were sick, so they weren't as into it. But still enjoyed it, I think.

They loved the player piano. It's really a shame it's broken, because we heard far more "THUD THUD THUDs" as they pumped the pedals than actual music, but it gave them a good workout and we got some music out of it.

Because Kessa missed school I insisted we still had school time. 2-3 times we did spelling lessons. One day BJ did piano lessons. Another day she did that shape/color game and I counted it as math. I've once again decided I have little interest in home schooling. She's great and loves to learn, and informal lessons she does great at. But formal lessons are hard because she just doesn't focus well, so a 15 minute lesson turns into an hour because I'm constantly having to draw her attention back. I don't have the patience for that. But I do have the patience to do informal lessons and less-frequent formal lessons.

We put all three toddlers in the cold room. We took one of the twin beds off the frame and risers and just put the box springs and mattress on the floor, then all three of them slept on it together. They did surprisingly well. Several times we went in to find Abby using one of the boys as a pillow, or totally cuddled up with one. Hah! Too bad a flash would likely have woken them up. I really wanted a picture. Alas.

Overall, it was a fantastic week. It was very low-key, the kids were great, friends were great. Lots of games, lots of sugar, and lots of good food. We couldn't ask for more. But it has gotten us thinking, what happens in 10-15 years when Nana and her siblings are all gone. Will the cabin last through subdividing one more generation? Will one family buy out the others? What happens if we don't have a cabin anymore?

The cabin is my kind of vacation. Turns out, I really prefer a vacation where I can just relax and spend time with my family. I don't need big outings, fun toys, etc. I'm happy with people, food, games, and a good view of nature. (I'm sure this doesn't surprise you at all.) Being right next to the river is great because it offers some low-key adventures (the canoe) that I don't have to participate in, but makes others happy. And there are lots of opportunities for hikes, which I actually enjoy.

All that together got BJ and I thinking about our future. We think someday we'd like to build/buy a cabin somewhere. Probably somewhere closer than Island Park so that we can go more than 1 or 2 weeks a year. Or maybe we'd have to go in on it with other people so it gets used more often. Or something. BJ even got online and started looking at listings up Heber Valley. Mostly just to get an idea of cost. We've talked about different locations we'd like. Though, realistically, it couldn't happen for another 10-15 years, probably. But I think we're really wanting to do it, if it's feasible. How fun! Look at us being all grown up... (weird!)

Anyway, that was our week at the cabin. Can't wait to go up there again!

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