Saturday, July 26, 2008

Coolest Club A Kid Can Belong To

 


A few weeks ago, Angeline posted about her kids' visit to the dentist. I started feeling guilty that my 4 and 5 year olds still have never been to visit the dentist and vowed that before summer was over, I'd get them there. I know that I need to establish dentist habits with my kids, but that's a hard thing for me since I never had, and still don't have, that habit. See, I grew up hardly ever going to the dentist and my parents not making a fuss about my teeth... but still having great teeth.

Well, parenting is sometimes about teaching your kids to make better decisions than you've made, right? We got in on a cancellation today to see an Anchorage pediatric dentist who comes to the peninsula a couple times per month. She, and her dental assistant, were both amazing. Ammon and Abraham, who are both as shy as shy can be around strangers, were immediately made to feel comfortable and trusting of both women. They got to choose from an array of cool kid sunglasses so that they could block out the bright light she was going to put in their face. They also got a detailed explanation about the mouse camera, its tail, its spit cover and the giraffe camera that would just give their cheek a little hug. They got to pick out stickers for each amazing thing that they did and when they collected three stickers, they got to go to the prize drawer (which surprisingly, was full of really cool toys!).

The coolest thing about the visit is that both boys now know that they officially belong to the coolest club a kid can belong to: THE NO CAVITY CLUB!!! I'm so proud of Ammon and Abraham! They're move convinced than ever now of a few important facts of life: 1) we should eat our fruits and not drink them (the dentist strongly advised against fruit juices) 2) even though they are getting to be big boys, mom and dad still have to help them brush their teeth 3) they must get into the habit of flossing (this one is going to be hard for me!).

I'm so glad that we didn't have to have a nightmare experience for our first dentist visit. I just hope the positive vibe carries over to their first cleaning, which will be in about a month!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Frustration Turned Delicious



Last night Raquel and I went out dipnetting. We went out at about 9pm and had to be out of the water at 11pm when dipnetting closes. Although there were not a huge amount of fish being caught, at one point, I did stop to realize that every single person around me had caught at least one fish in the time that I'd been there. This was frustrating. At about 2 minutes before closing time, I felt a fish in my net. I quickly turned my net and started running towards the shore. I got to the sand and could still feel the fish struggling... then he was gone! Just like that! Two hours of my life just swam away before my very eyes. Talk about frustrating.

The Youngs felt sorry for me and sent me home with a fillet (Raquel caught two fish while we were out there... she seems to be the lucky one in any group she's with!). I cooked it up tonight with a recipe that my college roommate put on a comment on my post about dipnetting. It was beyond delicious! I had to take a picture because just smelling it out of the broiler, I knew it was going to be awesome. Here's the recipe again from Shirley (a.k.a. Cheerly girl).

Salmon with Hoisin Glaze
• 1 tablespoon orange juice
• 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
• 2 teaspoons honey
• Coarse salt and pepper
• 4 salmon steaks (8 to 10 ounces each), 1 inch thick
1. Heat broiler. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together orange juice, hoisin sauce, and honey.
2. Place salmon on foil in a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Brush half of the hoisin sauce mixture over to coat.
3. Broil salmon about 4 inches from the heat source, basting once, until opaque in center, 10 to 13 minutes.

If you're in to salmon, you've got to try this one. She also included another recipe that I haven't tried yet. I'm sure it's delicious, too! While we were eating tonight, I paid tribute to my good friend Shirley and told my kids some fun stories about her. Thanks Cheerly girl!
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Somebody Might Get Mad At You




The other day Jacob took all three kids to Home Depot and came home with a chest freezer for our newly caught salmon (we are true Alaskans now!). Ammon was helping Jacob empty the closet where the new freezer would go when Jacob dragged something across the floor. Here's the conversation that ensued:

Ammon: You'd better pick that up and not drag it. Somebody might get mad at you.

Jacob: Oh yeah? Who might that somebody be?

Ammon: Your wife!

NOTE: I am constantly getting after members of my family for dragging stuff on the floor and possibly making scratches. Living in a remodeled apartment that has to sell as "new" after we move out of it can be stressful at times!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance?

When Ben and Kortney moved back to Idaho, they gave us a little CD player that we put in the boys' room. They just "discovered" it a few days ago, and now they constantly shut the door to their room, lay on their beds and listen to music. They also practice dancing in there. I feel like I'm getting a preview of what the teenage years will be like (thankfully for now their CD collection consists of primary music, children's learning songs and one UB40 album). Jacob took this video while I was on the phone just the other night. They have some really cool moves they've been working on. This is great entertainment for rainy days... but I still think we need a yard!

I included both videos because Ziya dances more on the top one, but the boys have "sweeter" moves on the bottom one.
video

video

My One-Year-Old Can Whistle!!!

video

Several months ago, Ziya started blowing on all her food, whether hot or cold. Tonight, she was doing it at bedtime... and I actually heard a whistle! The first whistle you hear in the video is mine (just encouraging her to do it), but the second one is hers! I love this little girl! Turn your volume up!

Serious Dipnetting Weekend



Yes, the long lines at the grocery stores (not to mentioned the hiked prices!), the increased traffic and the tourist mentality are all annoying, but this is all so exciting at the same time. These people are really serious about their fish!

*Click on the second picture to enlarge it and see more detail... it's amazing how much is going on!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our Beach Isn't Ours Anymore

I'll post the pictures first... skip the "essay" if you'd like... I just don't ever want to forget a single part of this!






Just a few weeks ago, my friend Leaca took us down the beach for pictures (the one in this blog's title banner is from that day). In our minds, we own that beach, which is why we wanted a family picture taken there! Jacob and the boys especially love to walk down a quaint little trail just about a block and a half from our apartment. The trail leads down the bluff, across a scary little bridge and onto the beach. There are rarely other people down there which is why we call it "our" beach. The boys roam freely, throwing rocks, digging in the sand, climbing on driftwood, splashing in the water, etc. They've even gone and climbed on mini glaciers in the middle of winter! They are totally in their element when we go there.

Well... OUR BEACH ISN'T OURS ANYMORE! (this is Ammon's quote). Dipnetting season is here! The season opened on July 10, while we were camping in Seward. The same night we got back from camping, we walked out to the bluff and looked down to see our beach teaming with resident Alaskans all vying for the famous sockeye salmon that run towards the river to spawn. The fishermen stand out in the water anywhere from waist to chest deep holding a long pole with a giant net attached to the end. They stand there patiently and wait and wait and wait until a salmon swims right into the net. For two seasons now, we've watched people pull in fish after fish and very quickly fill up their ice chests.

This kind of "fishing" is called "subsistence fishing." Alaskan residents are permitted to do this as a way to fill their freezers (or cupboards, as people also can and smoke their salmon) with enough salmon to last them throughout the year. Each head of household is allowed to net 25 salmon per season, while every additional member of the household is allowed 10. For my family, this means we can net 65 fish this season! Dipnetting by proxy is also permitted, meaning that people can dipnet for the elderly or disabled who are unable to do it themselves.

It's quite a sight to behold. The upper beach is lined with tents where many dipnetters set up camp for up to a week or so while they dipnet all day. Most others set up little "stations" right by the water where they have some kind of wagon or sled used to transport their coolers and other gear. I've also seen people set up little tables where members of the families sit and fillet their fish while others continue to net the fish, throw them onto the table and run back into the water for more.

Unlike other fishing in the area, dipnetting is reserved strictly for Alaskan residents. Well, we're finally residents, so Jacob made arrangements with Paul, a friend from our Ward, to take us out. Four missionaries (two Elders and a senior couple) also joined us for the adventure. We got into the water at about 2 p.m. and for the first hour or so, we caught almost nothing. I was starting to think that we were going to have a "no harvest" experience before having any success (this is how it's been with our clamming and fishing experiences), when suddenly our luck changed.

It was really a beautiful thing for me. I was standing there in the the freezing cold water, trying to just relax and not "stress" about the fact that I wasn't netting any fish. I'd started to hum a primary song and I was thoroughly enjoying the beauty all around me when fish started jumping left and right (sounds corny, I know!). I don't know why they do this, but some of them take one jump and do a sort of flip out of the water while others seem to skip along taking three or four jumps as they swim. The Elders and Jacob and I just kept exchanging glances as if to say, "It won't be long, it won't be long!!" Sure enough, it wasn't long before we started pulling out fish after fish. We were all ecstatic, like little children playing some new and exhilarating game.

Ammon and Abraham had the special job of running from net to net bonking the fish on the head so we could pick them up and rip the gills out. My boys were in heaven. The only thing that was more fun than the bonking was when Paul handed Ammon the gills, fish eggs, guts, heads and carcasses to throw to the seagulls. Sometimes Ammon even managed to throw a bunch of eggs high enough in the air that the gulls would catch them mid-air! I think they'll be talking about this for months to come!

Within about an hour and a half, the two Elders, Jacob and I had caught 45 fish! We kept saying that we needed to call it a day, but it was really hard to get out of the water when we knew there were so many fish to be caught! After finally going home and putting my exhausted kids in bed, I joined Jacob and Paul in the cleaning (the poor Elders weren't able to stick around for this part... poor them!) We worked until about 11:30 p.m. cleaning the fish and vacuum packing them for the freezer. As of now, all the fish are still in Paul's freezer and we're going to divy them up sometime this week. It's exciting to me to join the ranks of what I call "tough" Alaskans, those who hunt or fish and then live from that food until the next season. Anybody have some yummy salmon recipes to share???

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rotary Unity Run

 

 

When Jacob and I ran the Kenai River Festival 5K about a month ago, we felt a little sad to see that there were lots of families doing the race together (we'd left our kids at home that day). We decided that the next opportunity we had, we'd run a race as a family. That opportunity came yesterday at the Rotary Unity Run. It's a race that the Rotary Clubs of Kenai and Soldotna put on in an effort to unite the two communities. We got up early (whewww... after living on a summer schedule, this in itself was quite a feat!) and headed to SoHi to pick up our bibs (even little Ziya got a racing bib). We also got t-shirts and wick-dry runner's socks. I then drove Jacob, Abraham and Ziya back to the starting place, drove back to SoHi, left our car and then took a bus back to the starting place (the car dealership between Kenai and Soldotna).

We took our bike trailer/stroller with us and packed it full of snacks, drinks and blankets. Jacob and I took turns pushing Ziya. She did alright until the end when she really wanted to run with the rest of us. Ammon alternately ran and walked the entire 5 kilometers (about 3.2 miles). Abraham also ran and walked but he also took a few "short rests", as he called them, in the trailer. One of Ammon's friends from his kindergarten class was near us for the entire race. He turned out to be quite an inspiration for Ammon, who refused to let himself be beat by a classmate. Every time the boy tried to pass us, Ammon mustered up the energy to sprint and stay ahead.

We finished the race in about 44 minutes (I think). Ziya beat all of us, crossing the finish line in her fancy stroller before any of the rest of us! Ammon and Abraham were a bit disappointed when they realized that we didn't "win" the race. We talked to them about how every runner out there was a winner simply because they were doing it! It was a really good and fun experience for all of us and I felt good about what we were trying to teach our family.

We hung out afterwards and ate hamburgers and chips. Then we hung out even longer and tried to win some door prizes (new tennis shoes are always nice!), but again, we didn't win! The boys were thrilled when the announcer realized that they'd forgotten to pass out the finishers' medals at the finish line. They were first in line to pick theirs up.

The pictures are of us after we'd returned home (we forgot to take our camera to the actual race). We're showing off our new t-shirts, socks and medals. Ziya had just had too much excitement... she's knocked out.
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Camping Trip in Seward

A friend of mine gave me a great summer tip (thanks Mollie!) ... the Sea Life Center in Seward is celebrating its 10 year anniversary by granting free admission on the 10th of every month this year. We invited our friends, the Quiner family, to join us. They had the brilliant idea of turning it into an overnight camping trip! What would we do without our friends??

We planned our menus, did some shopping, packed up our cars and off we went! I was so glad when the Quiners suggested that we stop at Quartz Creek to have our lunch. I keep hearing about this place from several different people, and now I finally got to experience it for myself. The part we went to is a beautiful little day use area with a picnic table just yards away from a gorgeous lake. We ate our lunch and then went straight to the water to throw rocks, play and take pictures. Jacob was trying to teach me to skip rocks (I was the only adult that couldn't do it!). I was starting to get just a tad frustrated, when Jacob suggested that I try it with my left hand. Yes, I am left-handed, but aside from writing, I do everything with my right hand. Lo and behold, the first rock I threw with my left hand skipped two times!!!

The kids had fun, too. Ziya even got to play in the rocks, which she loved (and which I loved too, I might add... rocks are so much better than sand!). We did our best to keep everybody dry, reminding them that we had limited clothing with us! This was a great start to our camping trip.
 

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We couldn't check into our campsite until later in the day, so we drove straight to Exit Glacier for a short hike. The Quiners have five children and we have three. We made quite a hiking party! I've been to Exit Glacier twice before, but the beauty and sheer size of the glacier plus the wonderful scenery all around was still awe-inspiring for me. I learned that there are signs along the road and the trail that mark how far the glacier has receded. This made me kind of sad.

We stopped to see why groups of people were gazing into the mountainside. Using Angeline's super powerful camera lens, we were able to see... a tiny brown blob! It was moving and it had two tinier blobs with it... a bear with two cubs! Jacob refused to even look in that direction. He claims that he won't get excited until the bears are within 30 feet of him. I, on the other hand, did get just a little bit excited!
 

 

 

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We finally made it to our campsite, Miller's Landing, just about 2.5 miles outside of Seward. We all got just a bit nervous when we pulled up to the check-in building and saw what basically looked like an old run-down beach town. Thankfully, we were directed into the woods to two campsites snuggled in between gorgeous trees with enormous root systems above the ground. The kids immediately found a favorite tree to climb where their vivid imaginations gave birth to some pretty interesting adventures (this turned out to be the pasttime of choice for the rest of the night and next morning). Angeline wowed us all with her ability to set up a large tent single-handedly, start a fire and get dinner going all in less than an hour... can I say SUPER WOMAN? The rest of us were a bit slower, but we eventually did get our camp all set up.
The kids had a five course meal... hot dogs for starters, then bean burritos, then smores... and when the "adult" hobo dinners were ready (ymmmmm!), they took bites out of those, too! Thanks to Jacob for using his boy scout camping expertise in giving us directions for making the hobo dinners - they were really good! Angeline and Matt also made an amazing half apple, half peach cobbler (the fifth course). We all dined like kings and then had to recover from it all by sitting around the campfire!
Ziya went down for the night fairly early, but by the time we were able to tame the boys enough to lead them in the direction of the tent, she was awake again! My vision of the adults staying up late chatting around the campfire went up in the flames! We had quite a frustrating time getting her back to sleep... I eventually dozed off and never made it back out to the fire.
We woke to the sounds of a million crows cawing. Breakfast was another feast (I love camp food!). We had pancakes, eggs, bacon and hot chocolate. Ymmmm. We packed up our camp, took some group pictures and were on our way once again. I think the consensus was that our next campiing trip needs to be longer - it's a lot of work to set up camp for just one night!



I am a snob when it comes to aquariums. When we lived in California, we had passes to the amazing Long Beach Aquarium, where the boys and I used to spend countless hours wandering, touching, learning, etc. I was leery about trying out another aquarium and hoping that I wouldn't be too disappointed. My snobbery was relieved to find that we all loved the Seward Sea Life Center! My kids still weren't patient enough to stop and read and actually try to learn much, but they ran from exhibit to exhibit in great excitement.
My favorite stop was a bench in front of an enormous stellar sea lion. The kids hugged the glass for at least half an hour as they watched the giant swim past them time and time again.
I did take some time to read about different types of salmon, and feel a tiny bit more prepared for a summer of fishing!
We enjoyed a picnic on the lawn and then headed to town for Seward's famous ice cream, the Harbor Street Creamery... ymmmm! What a delicious way to end our trip!


Happy Fourth of July!


Last year, Jacob took the boys to an overnight "boys' night out" on July 3, so Ziya and I went to the 4th of July city parade by ourselves and then joined them for a BBQ afterwards. This year, we decided to stay in town and discover all the "Kenai" celebrating together. We met up with a bunch of friends from our ward and watched the parade. Ammon and Abraham were actually supposed to walk in the parade with their summer reading library group, but slacker mom and dad slept in and didn't get them there on time! Instead, they dressed up in their bee costumes and cheered really hard when their group walked by!

After the parade, we went to the "strip" (I think that's what it's called) and walked around the booths and exhibits before finding our way to the free hot dogs. The boys particularly enjoyed watching some crazy guys dressed up like knights duke it out like real knights. The best part is that after the duel, Ammon got to go and "whack a knight"... he really wacked his hardest!

After all the in-town celebrating we could handle, we joined the Quiners and the Maws (and later the Youngs) for some good ole' fashioned BBQ'n. Yummy ribs, chicken, salads, and watermelon, of course! We played a really fun word game (can't think of the name of it right now - but it was fun!). Good times were had (tired times, too... I love the picture of Abe sleeping on the couch!).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Third Time's A Charm... Clamming in Ninilchik







We attempted clamming a while back... and didn't catch many. Then we tried fishing... and didn't catch a thing. Third time is a charm, they say? It proved to be true!

Shane and Kaarin Johnson took us out to Ninilchik - and this time our harvest was plentiful! After clamming, we went back to the Johnson's, where they taught us to clean and can the clams. Now I understand why one of my friends swears that she will never learn to clean clams (there's no going back, I guess!). It really was a lot of work. We learned lots though (thank you Shane and Kaarin!)... and they really are delicious! Jacob made a New England Clam Chowder and my goal is to look up a recipe for a clam fettuccine!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's Called "Fishing"... Not "Catching"!


(photo credits go to Leaca... thanks for always having your camera)

One of the greatest things about the Kenai Peninsula is the fish. If we walk about 30 seconds out our front door, we can see the mouth of the Kenai River, which is famous for its salmon. Up to this point though, for lots of different reasons (a new baby last summer, non-resident status, etc.), I haven't been able to do any fishing. I decided that I'm not about to let another summer go without finding out for myself what all the fuss is about! Enjoying our new resident status and the lower prices for licenses, Jacob and I both bought our fishing licenses. I even bought a pair of neoprene chest waders!

We'd been talking to Cameron (our non-resident friend who seems to be the one showing us how to do all this cool Alaskan stuff!) about fishing. Just two nights before returning home to Utah, he invited us to go fishing with him on the Kasilof. We in turn invited a few more friends: Ben Nelson, Gordon and Leaca, and our friends Mike and Erika, who were visiting from North Pole.

We put our kids to bed, got a babysitter, and left home about 10 or 11 p.m. After getting the poles all set up for us, Cameron took us one by one and started showing us the "how-to's" of flipping for salmon. From my understanding (simplistic though it may be!), my goal was to cast my line out into the water , drag it to my left and wait for a salmon to miraculously run open-mouthed right into that tiny little line. I think I was supposed to feel for a tug and then "flip" the line, thus snagging the innocent fish right in the mouth. Well... during the four or five hours that I stood in the freezing cold water (thank goodness for my neoprene!), one sorry fish ran into my line... and got away! One not so sorry fish (a king salmon, we think) ran smack into Jacob's leg and we all watched him torpedo right past our legs. Two tiny fish (not even the size of one my fingers) were snagged by Cameron and Mike. One fighting fish was snagged by Cameron... and after a vicious fight, also got away.

I must admit that it was a bit frustrating to watch some fisherman just up the river from us catch a few fish, but all in all, I had fun just experiencing the whole thing. Cameron kept reminding us that the sport, after all, is called "fishing"... not "catching"! Ha, ha!!!

Catching Up... again!

A few nights ago, I was making a CD of pictures that I needed to print at Costco so I was sifting through all our pictures. I realized that we've done some really fun stuff and taken some fun pictures and I haven't been posting about them! So tonight I'm attempting to catch up. Look back through June, if you're interested. There's some new stuff there. My goal is to do July tomorrow sometime.

More than a 5 O'Clock Shadow!

 
 

Jacob likes to participate in a very wacky Kenai Central High School tradition during the month of March. I think it's called "Manly Month of March" or something like that. Anyway, it's a competition to see who can grow out the most facial hair during the month. His vice principal turned it into a personal challenge, but he wimped out and shaved after just a few weeks! Jacob, on the other hand, went above and beyond the competition and left the beard on until June 3!!! I think we both just kind of got used to it! His sister thinks he looks like a Lebanese terrorist... I think he looks like a sexy and tough Alaskan man... grrrr! There was no winner's balloon from the mayor this year like there was last year, but he was most definitely the winner!

NOTE: This picture just shows the goatee... he did have a full beard for quite a while!
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Cabins, ATVs, Guns... and Bears









Jacob was asked to do "bear patrol" at Girl's Camp for our Ward (a.k.a., a Priesthood leader). This is funny, since his favorite story to tell whenever our tough Alaskan male friends start talking about guns is that the only time he's ever held a gun was in the Los Angeles riots when he had to help protect his White grandfather's business! Anyway, he borrowed a very big gun from another ward member, packed up our two boys and our extremely gun and bear saavy friend, Cameron, and off they went. I actually dropped them off because I needed the car, and on the drive out, we spotted a bear not even a mile from the camp. It was a small one, but regardless, this made me more than just a tad nervous.

When I went back out the next evening to pick them all up, I was thankful to find that they were all well. Then... the boys started telling me their adventures. "And all four of us got on the ATV and we went looking for bears and we saw one and Cameron started chasing it..." I made them stop telling me their stories right about then! In this case, ignorance was bliss for me.

I got to ride the ATV with the boys, and I must say that their excitement was quite contagious! As we bounced over bumps in the road, Abe shouted out to me, "WE NEED TO BUY A CABIN AND AN ATV AND A GUN!" I guess we'd better start saving our pennies! Before leaving, they got to shoot a beebee gun into the water. What a thrill. These boys are really turning into quite the Alaskan adventurers!
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Outdoor Soccer Season Is Here!

 

Gosh, it seems like we just finished indoor soccer, and now outdoor has begun. I initially had mixed feelings about signing up for something so structured and scheduled during our summer (I'm really enjoying such a free schedule where we can wake up and do whatever we want!), but soccer is turning out to be a really good thing... again! Actually, I should be more specific and say that it's a really good thing for Ammon. He didn't know any of the kids on his team, but he has already made a friend. He also SCORED HIS FIRST GOAL!!! I wasn't there to see it (Abe's game was at the same time), but Jacob says it was quite a goal. He fired it in from an angle and the ball just shot straight to the back of the goal (a lot of the goals scored at this age level just sort of saunter their way into the general area). Ammon is getting more and more confident with each game. He has a huge smile on his face the entire time and he puts every ouce of energy he has into running all around the field. He also kicks the ball with both feet (Ammon is left handed, but he can kick a mean ball with his right foot as well!). All of this makes him a ton of fun to watch!

Abraham, on the other hand, was having a more difficult time enjoying this bout. After only his first practice, he declared that he was quitting! We convinced him that Munyers aren't quitters and that he at least had to finish the season out. We practically had to drag the poor child to his first two games and then he sat on the sidelines and whimpered and refused to play. Coach Jeremy (who coached the boys when they did Smart Start Soccer last summer) is really great with Abe. He gently but firmly got Abe out on the field and made him play (he ran back and forth chasing the ball while holding Abe's hand!). My heart was breaking as Abe constantly looked towards me to rescue him, but like the big girl that I am, I held my ground and stayed on the sidelines and just cheered him on while holding back my own tears. We finally made a breakthrough on Thursday's game. I happened to notice that Abe was chewing gum while out on the field. When he came out to rest for a while, I commented to him that the gum must have made him run fast. He grinned and explained to me that the gum also made him kick harder and see the ball better! He had absolutely no problem going to out the play for the rest of the game. I think Abe will have to chew magical gum for every game! I just hope there aren't rules against this!
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Russian River Falls



We hiked to the Russian River Falls with our friends, the Young family. I'd done it once before with Becca Thomas and her family last summer, but this was our first time doing it all together (Jacob wasn't there last year). It was tons of fun. I enjoyed walking and talking with Leaca while Jacob and the kids ran ahead of us. One of my other friends, Krista, says that as women, we have a certain number of words that we have to get out each and every day... I don't remember what the exact number is, but I'm sure Leaca and I easily surpassed it!

It was a beautiful day for the hike. At the top, we watched the salmon jumping up the falls (picture credits of the fish actually jumping go to Gordon, I think!). What an amazing sight. I guess these fish are going back to the same spot where they were born... only to die!

The walk back was my favorite part. Somehow, my "too big and independent" five-year-old, Ammon, let me hold his hand for the entire 2.5-3 miles (Jacob walked ahead of us with Abe and Ziya). I was in heaven. We played goofy games like "you pick something you see and tell me what color it is and then think of a rhyming word and you have to guess what it is!" I-Spy was boring compared to this Ammon-invented game. We also played the memory game where we said, "I'm thankful for..." and then the next person had to say that thing plus a new one. If I recall correctly, our list ended up something like this: "I'm thankful for the trees, the flowers, the grass, my family, my body, food, water, bones, the Church, the prophet..." and lots more stuff. There was no bickering, no whining, no hitting... just my sweet little Ammon and me. I was reminded of how important it is to have one-on-one time with my children.

At night when I asked Ammon what his favorite part of the day was, he didn't hesitate to respond that it was walking back holding my hand. I had to agree.