Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Cutest Blossom Ever


Each night before bed, either Christi or I tuck in the kids.  The older ones don't care so much any more, but the younger ones (and one medium one;) pretty much can't fall asleep without it.  We have a little sing and respond we use to send each one into peaceful slumber.  In our routine, each child has a nickname.  Lexi is our "little blossom."  It's such a great nickname for her.  She really brings the joy of a flower into our home each and every day.

I thought this picture that Christi snapped at Thanksgiving point this evening perfectly displayed the way that Lexi glows.  She truly is a little blossom.  Thank you, Lex, for being so perfect!!!

Love,

Dad


Monday, July 3, 2017

Getting Older!

Until about two years ago, my eyes had always been great.  I never wore glasses and felt very blessed because of it.  But as is the case with most people, around age 40 it started to be more difficult for me to focus on things that were close up.  I first noticed it when my kids would want to show me something in a book or on an iPod and they would shove it within about two inches from my face.  No longer could my youthful lenses focus on something so close up.  I would push it away. Next I started to notice it as I read books.  I would have to push them out farther than before in order for my eyes to focus.  And so I decided to get a pair of reading glasses.  I went to Smith's and grabbed the cheapest pair I could find.  Since I would only be wearing them occasionally, I really didn't pay any attention to the style.  BIG mistake.  Christi and the kids now mock my selection of leopard print spectacles.  The other night as Christi and I were watching a show, I decided to be super-productive and hand stitch Parker's favorite tie so he could wear it again.  Let me rephrase that: I proactively took this tie that had started coming apart at one of the seams and made the effort to sew it back together.  It took me a full 45 minutes.  How did Christi laud my admirable efforts?  She mocked me!

Seriously.  Because I had to use my reading glasses to see what I was doing, she kept teasing me about how different I looked.  (To be fair, I have recently grown a beard, and it was the combination of the beard and glasses that she thought turned me into a different person.)  She kept taking pictures of me and giggling.  Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:





I finally gave in and gave he a smile.  I guess I do look quite a bit different.  I remind myself a lot of my Uncle Jay and my Uncle Kenny.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Sophi's impressions of me

For Father's Day, Sophi's sunday school class filled out a worksheet called "All About My Dad."  She drew a cute picture of the two of us playing by a swing set.  Then she filled in the blank on a bunch of statements about her dad.  Some of her answers were right on.  For some, she was trying to be humorous, and some made me so happy that she sees me that way.

Sophi trying to be funny:
-My Dad is  3  years old.
-My Dad is the best because  he is weard 

Right on the money
-His favorite color is  blu . 

I love these answers!
-If he had extra time  he would play with me. 
-My Dada is the funniest when  he lafs. 
-My favorite thing to do with my Dad is  play. 
-What I love most about my Dad is  he is funny. 

And these answers make me realize I might need to improve some of my habits!
-Dad's favorite food is   enything he sees  .
-He love to  nap. 

I am so grateful to be Sophi's dad!!!


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Home Ec


In sixth grade I learned to use a sewing machine in a home economics class.  We had to make a few projects, and I decided I would make a set of pillows for my dad that would spell out his name: ALLEN.  By the time I got through the first two sadly misshapen letters, I realized that there was no way I was going to get through the entire name, so my dad was stuck with two pillows that say "AL."  But as a good father should, he pretended he loved them.  Thanks, dad!

Since that time, I don't believe I have ever touched a sewing machine again...until last night.  On our camping trip, I noticed that one of the seams on a sleeping bag was coming undone.  Instead of taking it to our beloved sewing lady, I decided it was high time I re-learned my home ec skills. A couple of years ago for Christmas, Graci received a sewing machine from Santa.  I asked if she would train me on how to use it.  She was generous enough to distill her knowledge upon me and I was ready to go. I practiced on a couple of small stuff bags first.  Then I took on the sleeping bag.  When I was finished, I was acutely aware of the similarities in stitching patterns between my newest project and my dad's pillows from sixth grade.  It's a good thing I do not make my living as a tailor!



It won't come undone, and who's going to look at the bottom of a sleeping bag?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Best Wife Ever!

How awesome would it be if your wife came to you and said, "Honey, I want to go on a backpacking trip.  Just the two of us.  Somewhere in the mountains.  Oh, and let's sleep in hammocks."  That would be SO awesome!  That's exactly what Christi said to me a couple of weeks ago.  So for the first time ever, we went camping with just the two of us.  We visited beautiful Fifth Water Springs in Diamond Fork canyon near Spanish Fork, Utah.  We hiked in as the sun was setting and enjoyed the beautiful evening light on the red rock cliffs and pine trees in the surrounding mountains.  We hiked in three miles, past some natural hot springs and two beautiful waterfalls.  We set up camp in the twilight and had our freeze dried camping meals next to a small fire.  It was so nice to get away with my sweetie!

We were able to set up our hammocks right next to each other (Christi was just a little afraid of the bogeyman).  We woke up and had a leisurely morning in camp.  On our way back, we stopped and soaked in the hot springs.  We were gone less than 20 hours, but it was a fantastic little getaway.  Thank you, Christi!  I love you:)

Off we go!

There were two nice waterfalls along the way.
Fun around the campfire:





LOVE waking up to this!


On end of our hammocks was hooked to the same tree.





The hot springs were fun, but sure did smell like sulfur!


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pet Crazy

If you are friends with Christi on Facebook, you know that Sophi has been petitioning us for a pet for months now.  This campaign consists primarily of unbelievably cute footwritten notes that show up all around the house.  For awhile it was a dog, then it was a hamster, then it was a dumbo-eared rat.  Based on the letter below, apparently the poor girl is trying to increase her odds of success by adding another option.  It is taking all the parental fortitude I have to keep saying no.  (Christi just calls me Scrooge!)  My favorite part of the letter may be the stick figure girl without arms:


In case you can't read it:

Dear Mom I love you so much! You are so sweet! Can I get a pet rat or hapster or lizerd?  Plus I wold take care of it and play whith it!  I wold have so much fun! Plus I think Lexi wold have fun too!  You can think abat it!  Love Sophia

Then she labels the picture with "Me" and "Lizerd."  So cute!

She also typed out an original story about a lizard.


This kid really wants a pet!  Maybe I actually am Scrooge...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Zion National Park

Last week on a work trip to Cedar City, I planned on doing a short hike in Zion National Park.  Taylor, Parker, Xander, Sophi and Lexi wanted to come with me.  We also invited their three cousins that live in St. George to come meet us for the hike and swimming in the hotel pool afterwards.  When we got out of the van in the small parking lot across from the trailhead, Trey looked up at the sheer cliff face in front of us.  He quickly spotted a bighorn sheep!  We were all excited.  In all of my hikes, this was the first bighorn I had seen in the wild.

As we started hiking, the sheep worked it's way towards the trail from above.  It ended up on the path just ahead of us, and we followed it for several hundred feet.  It was a really neat experience, and the kids were fascinated.  This particular trail is less than two miles round trip without much elevation gain, so it's pretty easy.  But the views at the end are unparalleled.  Even though it was short, it had lots of rocks and ups and downs and even overhangs that we had to navigate.  I was so proud of Lexi for working her way through all of that.  And a huge thanks to Taylor and Parker who guided her through much of it.  For most of the hike I carried Sophi in a backpack baby carrier (thanks Matt and Carla!), but she did walk some of it.  

The hotel we stayed at was right at the entrance to Zion NP and the views as we played in the pool and ate breakfast the next morning were breathtaking.  It is so much fun to have such great travel companions!

-Jer

Ready to Go!
A new friend...





Great rock formations along the way...



Incredible views and vistas...





Taylor is having fun growing his hair out, but it gets in the way during a sweaty activity.  Fortunately, Sophi was willing to switch from pigtails to a ponytail and let Taylor borrow an elastic:)



Our hotel was fun.  It had a pool table and some computers in the lobby.  Something for everyone...



We stopped and visited Grandma Larsen in Richfield on the way home...





Friday, June 23, 2017

Innocence

In Matthew 18:4, the Savior counsels that "whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  There are so many ways that little children demonstrate their greatness--so many ways they show their innocence and humility.

Sophi has a new best friend.  She lives just behind our house and they can walk across both back yards to visit each other.  This friend comes over pretty much every day during the summer.  She is the cutest thing ever.  They play together extremely well.  For the past few weeks, we've felt like we have another daughter.

Tonight at dinner, Sophi said something about being adopted.  Her friend's jaw practically dropped.  Her eyes bugged out.  "You're adopted?!?"  Sophi mentioned that Lexi and Cali (also at the table) were adopted too.  "They're adopted too?!?"  She had no idea.

What a beautiful world it would be if we could all look at each other as just people.  I was amazed by this little girl's simple example of acceptance and love.

A silly picture of their "breakfast for dinner."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ports of Call

We had three gorgeous ports of call on our cruise.  Our first stop was Grand Cayman.  Christi and I had been there two years before and had visited Stingray City.  Our previous visit had been magical as we had been able to interact with these beautiful creatures in their natural environment.  Unfortunately the wind was pretty strong and the water was choppy on this visit.  Each of the kids did get to interact with the stingrays, but it was not nearly as magical.  The rough water also made for a less-than-stellar snorkeling experience.

Our second port of call was Cozumel, and it was amazing.  Taylor, Parker and I got up early and went scuba diving.  The two boys had learned in Utah and certified in the crater in Heber.  Visibility about five feet.  So the almost infinite visibility of the Carribbean blew them away.  We saw sharks, barracuda, lots of tropical fish and an eagle ray.  So much fun.  Then we met up with Christi and the crew and visited the Dolphinarium.  The kids loved interacting with these amazing animals.

Our final port of call was Costa Maya.  For the most part we just relaxed on the beach, ate  yummy food and got massages.  Taylor and Parker went out on wave runners and some of the kids went snorkeling.  And of course there was shopping at every stop.

Grand Cayman doesn't have any shoreline deep enough for the cruise ships to dock, so they stay far out and you take small ferries or "tenders" to get to the island.  Here we are on our way in:



Before they met us in Cozumel, the girls got their hair braided:





Christi the contrarian:)

This craftsman quickly wove a bracelet that said "SOPHI"


At the Dolphinarium...





...we got to pet the dolphins...




...kiss the dolphins...




















Lucky Dolphin!!!

...and swim with the dolphins!












Back to the ship in Cozumel!


Greeted by ancient Mayans in Costa Maya!


The beautiful Freedom of the Seas cruise ship.
Lexi and Jesi getting massages.
Hope to see you again soon, Costa Maya!!!

Well, there you have a pretty good summary of our trip.  It was the most amazing, most magical, most fun family vacation we could imagine.  We are so grateful it was able to happen!  Given that our flights were all free via frequent flier miles, we couldn't complain too much that we flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle, had a 4 hour layover, then flew home.  But we were pretty tired!



Sophi crashed on Parker's shoulder during the ride home from the airport.

We hope we have the chance to vacation like this again some day.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with two parting gifts.  First, there isn't anything much cuter than Sophi grasping on to her upper bunk side rail as she sleeps...

Second, try not to smile as you listen to Conner's "Whoa's, Oh-No's, and Oh my Goodness's" as he rides the Thunder Mountain Railroad:)