Monday, August 31, 2009

Ashling's first day of preschool


Ashling is going to a new preschool that is in Running Springs. It is an in-home preschool that a friend of mine is running this year. These are the pictures of the first day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Perfect Reminders

Our 10th Anniversary was perfect. I couldn't imagine a better way to spend it than alone with my husband. Maybe the fun was in the fact that I was able to spend some quality alone time with my husband. Maybe the fun lay in the way we spent our time together that reminded me of dating and of our first married years together. Maybe it was the sunset walk and the drive our to the middle of no where by the moonlight. Maybe it was the sweet poem my husband wrote me reminding me of our letter writing years. It has been a long time since we were alone and I enjoyed it.

We went to Big Bear and ate out. We went on a walk and I fell in love with Big Bear especially with a setting sun and some pink clouds. We went on a drive and no one cried in the back seat and we got to go as far as we wanted. We went to the beach and sat in the sun. I put on sunscreen and I wasn't sandy yet because I did my sunscreen first. We walked down the beach as far as I wanted and my arms weren't tired from carrying somebody. We watched the locals of Laguna as they showed their moved on body boards, surf boards and those other boards whose name I forget. It was fun and relaxing. We ended with another dinner and a walk around REI. Next year I want to own a Kayak and Cameron admired the mini-caribeaners for his next rock climbing trip-they are much lighter than normal size ones.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy 10 years Babe!

I planned on typing some lovey dovey post about our 10 year anniversary. But I didn't plan on a non-sleeping fussy baby, a needy 4 year old who misses her older sister and a 7 year old who misses Mommy due to school. I didn't plan on the house taking so long to clean and the need for me to work on some paper work. I didn't plan on feeling so tired. So I didn't type my master piece. That is the way things go these days anyway... it doesn't go as planned.

Cameron and I have been married for 10 years. During the 10 years we have bought two houses, owned 8 vehicles, moved 10 times, gained two college degrees, hiked to the top of 8 peaks together, served in a million different church callings and made 3 beautiful children. And for that I am glad. It isn't what I imagined it would be. There is no trip to Hawaii and no cruise planned. We don't own a house and we can hardly afford to pay our bills. But it also much better than I ever could have imagined. I never thought marriage could be this good. I feel that we have grown closer and more in love with the passing of years. I still love it when Cameron comes home and wait anxiously each time we are away. I wouldn't choose it any other way!

Happy 10th Anniversay Babe!

The Reception

There are very few things in my life that have ever been this perfect. My wedding reception was just like I had always wanted and imagined it would be. It was a little like I imagine Heaven will be. I was able to see all my family and friends and enjoy talking to them. I loved each and every part of it but more than anything else I loved to see all my family and friends together in one place. I felt like a princess and loved the princess like party. I appreciate that so many people could come and participate in our wedding.

Our Wedding Day

The morning started off early. I scheduled my hair appointment for very early. Angie came with me to help make sure everything went well. My hairdresser did not show on time and I was already a little nervous. It took longer than expected to get my hair done after that and now all my plans to be early were amiss...I was running late. Angie did my makeup because although I felt old enough to get married I still could not really put on make up. I used Stacey's eye lash curler for the first time ever and like the results. I was getting later and later. I did not like to be late and was very nervous. At some point we called Cameron and family and let them know we were running late.

My mom rushed me out the door and drove towards the hotel where Cameron and family were staying. We were much later than I had even warned them. I put my nylons on while my mom drove down the road. My mom dirrected a man who was looking a little to closely at me to look away. At the hotel Cameron and his parents were in the car already waiting for us to arrive. (This is the only time in my entire marriage where my mother-in-law was in the car waiting for us to arrive because she was ready first. And I would publicly like to thank her for that.)

We arrived at the temple and got ready. We were led in to a room together to have a few moments before we would be married for time and all eternity. We sat together waiting for the time when we would be married. (Mormon weddings are different and it is kosher to see each other before the ceremony.) We kept waiting and waiting for what seemed like forever. We started wondering if they were really going to let us get married. And we kept wondering. I was just starting to get really nervous when someone came for us. (Later I found out that I15 had been closed through Sandy and that we were waiting for Uncle Don and Aunt Ellen to arrive. I am so glad we waited for them as I love them so much now and am glad they were at our wedding.)

They led us into the Sealing Room where we would be married. I won't share many details of the actual wedding but I will say that I have never been so happy in my life. I cried and cried and was so glad that we had finally made it to that moment.

After the wedding we went outside to see all our friends and family who couldn't come in to the temple. Angie gave me a hug first and then I hugged my other family members. I enjoyed taking pictures like I never have before or since. My face was in a permanent smile and I didn't mind the whole world knowing. Everyone else left after awhile to get ready for our luncheon after the ceremony. But we kept taking pictures and more pictures.

Finally we had walked around the whole temple and the picture taking session and video making sessions were done! We hurried to the car where my mom and Cameron's dad were waiting to drive us to our luncheon. I have never seen Mike drive so erratically before or since this day. In fact we accuse him of driving too carefully lately but on this day he had a mission. And the mission was to get us to our luncheon that we were very late for. The problem was that the freeway was shut down and the 20 minute drive from Alpine to Sandy turned into an hour long adventure. Cameron and sat in the backseat and didn't really care that we were late while Mike drove taking corners at much more than advised speeds in the VW vanigan. He navigated through the streets of Draper and Sandy trying to take the back road but so was every one else.

We were late to the luncheon. Painfully late. They had already began to eat when we got there. But it was beautiful and everything was fine. We had the luncheon in our neighbor's great room and it worked perfectly. I was so pleased with all the effort that went into it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The ring

I did not know what I wanted for a wedding ring. We walked through a few stores as people do when they are young and in love looking at rings but I was a very young and couldn't imagine wearing anything on my finger. Not that I didn't want the ring I just didn't want anything flashy or too showy. I was simple. I wanted something small. I didn't wear makeup and rarely wore any jewelry at all. I wore jeans and tee-shirts. Everything seemed much to extravagant for me. We kept looking and I kept being disappointed. We browsed many stores that summer but we never found anything that I wanted. I wondered if I should even get a ring. Maybe we should have designed our own ring but no one did that then and I didn't even know that you could.

Then we went on a date to Big Bear. We walked in a jewelry shop just for fun and looked at the rings. They were all black hills gold and I was in love. I found my ring there. It was a black hills gold ring with a little pink leaf and a little green leaf. The center was a diamond rose. I had found my rose just like my ring and I was in love.

Cameron worked all fall for that ring. He put the ring on lay away. When he had saved the money for the ring he walked in there with cash. But there was one small problem... he didn't remember that the ring would have tax. A week or so later he had the whole ring paid off. My girl's future husbands better make their ring purchases with cash too it is a requirement!

I love my ring so much. It is simple. It is elegant and the diamond is beautiful in a unassuming way. Like I want to be.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The First Day of School

It was a crisp, really almost a cold, fall morning as we woke up. The kind of morning where it is hard to get out of bed because it is so cold but where later the sun will burn with its warmth. When Ali woke up she asked what time it was and when she was told 6:45 she said, "Oh I am supposed to get up but I am just going to lay here and let my open up a little bit." It didn't take long and she was out of bed and into the clothes she had chosen to wear. Soon we were ready to school.

She seemed seasoned. She knew what we were doing and she was not scared. She did hold my hand and appreciated me walking her inside but she was calm and confident. We walked into her classroom and it felt safe and comfortable. A new home for the new year. There were rows of desks instead of tables and her desk was not labeled with her name on it. We examined the classroom library filled with chapter books, not picture books. There was a small futon which Ali claimed as the most comfortable seat in the room. "This is my seat, for when I am finished with my work." We met her teacher and I felt comfortable and excited to learn what this woman would teach.

The new books on her desk, the new crayons and pencils in her back pack and the books of the reading library beckoned me and I was more than a little jealous of the new beginning as I left her. Isn't the first day of school the best?

The 10 houses we have lived in

10 Houses we have lived in... I was thinking about it and we have lived in exactly 10 houses since we were married.... and we might not be staying in this one for long either. Here is our list...

Provo Apartment
Cam's parents' house
Wagon Wheel House
Provo Apartment that wasn't....
Stacey's Apartment
Pleasant Grove House
Provo House
Fernley House
Murrieta House
Arrowbear House

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Gobble Monster and the banana Moon

It is almost back to school and I have a few things to say.

I miss Cameron who has been busy working doing engineering and then building a sidewalk at his parents. I am surprised by the chilly cool mornings and the fact that the sun is setting earlier and earlier. I was in awe of the beautiful fully red maple tree I saw in a yard recently. Our pines are about to shed their undercoating of dead pine needles making then look dressed for fall.

I am amazed at how scary gobble monsters who wait in closets can be to children.

I enjoyed looking at the banana moon through my stairway window last night.
Ali loves that moon the most.

I am very appreciative of this world today. I love fall and the first fruits of it are tantalizing me. I love harvesting my tomatoes, I love looking at my one green softball size pumpkin and imagining a jack o lantern. The yellow zucinni flowers are beautiful and chocolate zuccini cake in better than any other cake. I am trying 10 different ways to use all the zucinni I have been blessed with. I love crisp days, sweatshirts, jackets and jeans. I can't wait for the oranges, reds and yellows of the leaves to appear on the trees. I am excited for this weekend and for the next weekend. We have great adventures planned and I can't wait.

I am happy today.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

our first meeting by Cameron

When I went to the Especially for Youth (EFY) program at BYU in summer of 1996, I never imagined I was going to meet that one hot lady I would eventually marry. Indeed had I thought I would meet my future wife, I might have paid more attention to the details so that I could write about it all for our 10-year anniversary. I intended to go more as ‘something to do’ during an otherwise unproductive time of the year. Having set a pattern for a natural attraction to blondes, it was fitting that Jim Arciniega and I found ourselves flirting (of course, by my lead) with the pair of blonde friends in our assigned group at EFY. Earlier in the day we had all met and participated in some activities, but at the first dance on Monday night, Jim and I mostly found ourselves mingling with the two blondes. Since the feeling appeared to be a two-way street, we didn’t see any reason to abandon ship.

While I don’t remember all the details, I recall dancing with Ina first, and several times. Eventually Ina and I caught up with Melissa and Jim, and we changed up on dancing partners. As I danced with Melissa I enjoyed her conversation; I learned where she lived, what she liked, and very soon found out that she was talented, had direction in life, passion for living, and ambition to succeed. Again, I had no reason to abandon ship.

As the week wore on, Jim, Ina, Melissa, and I spent more time together as a group than not. We attended classes, meals, and games together. I grew impressed by her spiritual convictions; they weren’t drastically deep (from a philosophical sense), but they were firmly rooted; absolute. I had never really known someone of my own age (at that time) to feel so strongly, or at least it had never been made known to me. Nonetheless , Melissa exemplified characteristics I found attractive both inside and out. Wheeww..that’s hot. I really didn’t see the need to abandon ship, even as the week was drawing to a close.

I learned that Melissa’s birthday was that same week (Thursday or Friday??). The year before at EFY, I remembered the “bookstore” as being a place to buy just about anything, so I headed there in search of some simple gift. As full as the place was, I wasn’t finding anything that really was a gift for Melissa, at least in my mind. Then I spotted a framed picture of Christ hugging a common man, either welcoming him to the splendor of salvation, or forgiving the man’s sins, or maybe both. I’m not sure, but I do know that Melissa had stated that she liked that picture; so there it was. I also wrote a note to give to her. At this point, I can’t remember even actually giving it to her, other than that she was a little surprised, but the smile told me that she was on board.

On Friday, there was the last and final dance which is a bit more formal with dressed up standards, a nice dinner preceding, and an air of farewell. Putting off the inevitable, I (and most other EFY participants) resolved to make the evening its best. I didn’t really have any thought of some “future” or longevity with Melissa; I did know that she was fun, attractive, and a good flirt, so I followed my life’s philosophy of “let’s just see what happens.” So we enjoyed the night while we boogied, talked, flirted, and slow danced.

Saturday morning rolled around and, after a night of very little sleep (hundreds of teenagers feeling high on life calling their buddies all across the BYU campus doesn’t allow much sleep, especially since I was one of them) I had much stress while I packed up my stuff in a hurry. I called Melissa one last time and asked her to meet me so that we could say our goodbyes. We met in front of the dorms where everyone gets picked up to go home. We had a pointless and meaningless conversation before mustering a farewell statement, and out of nowhere I gave her a kiss on her cheek (on her cheek?). Well, I’m sure that was fine with her. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I stopped there, but as it turned out there have been plenty of opportunities to amend that awkwardness.

Melissa’s mom (?) was first to show up and Ina and Melissa disappeared into the hectic crowd of cars. Jim and I talked about the week, the remainder of summer, and the long drive to Running Springs until my mom showed up to pick us up.

Ahh, yes, the note with her birthday gift; I don’t remember word-for-word, but I think I stated to her that I liked her and that she is a good example. I wanted to say more, but trying to be realistic, I left it at that.

A few days after returning home, I was remembering the good times still present in my mind. I wanted to call Melissa and say hi, but I had to research her phone number. It seemed that the directory given to me at EFY had a wrong number in it. If you know me, you know I like to find solutions to problems. Finding through the phone services that Putnams were far more numerous than Jensons in the City of Sandy, UT, I filtered through the Jensons first until I found Ina’s number. From Ina I got Mellissa’s number. The rest is pretty much history.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our first meeting

I am a little nostalgic with our ten year anniversary coming up in a few days and I thought I would post a little about us.

Cameron and I met at BYU, 13 years ago in 1996. We were there for a youth program called EFY. My best friend, Ina and I were excited to be there and we thought we should find some guys to flirt with for the week. (Just like all of the other girls and boys who just to EFY where flirting is at least half the fun.) We agreed to try to "get" two guys in our group- I would take the dark and handsome guy (that is what I thought I was in to at the time) and she would take his friend; the cute green eyed boy.... but it didn't work that way.

At the first dance Ina and I got seperated. I danced with a few guys and then went to find Ina again. She was dancing with the cute green-eyed boy. He asked me to dance and I learned his name was Cameron. One song ended but another slow song began and Cameron asked me to keep dancing. We danced and hung out with Ina and his cute, tall, dark and handsome friend, Jim. But although Jim was dark and handsome he wasn't that exciting to dance with. I enjoyed talking with the whitey. And Cameron kept asking me to dance and switching off to dance with Ina. He even danced with me in the country dance area where we learned a little swing dancing. Cameron asked me to dance the last dance of the evening.

We walked back to the dorms and when they made us seperate we said a simple goodnight. I wasn't sure what to think because I hadn't been pursued by a guy so blatently before and it felt good. Ina let me know this was not fair because she had danced with Cameron three times before I came into the picture. Then she simply dissappeared. I still couldn't remember his name and kept asking her what it was.

Tuesday we played games in a large field. I still couldn't remember his name. It annoyed Ina when I asked her. (Don't worry about her she met her one and true love later and now constantly tells me that she got the better end of the deal.) As we lay on the field passing other people hand over hand above us he said, "You have the most amazing eyes." I didn't forget his name after that.

The rest of the week Cameron and I hardly left each other's sides. I wish I remembered more about it and that the details were clearer in my mind. He tickled me and threw grass in my hair and then pulled it out. We enjoyed eating meals together, we walked through the bookstore together, we listened to speakers and wrote notes to each other, sometimes we didn't listen to speakers but whispered to each other in the back. My favorite memories are of sitting in the lounge to our dorm and listening to Cameron play. I never had seen anyone who could play the piano like Cameron and I loved the piano. I also liked the music to Phantom of the Opera and he knew it. We also laid on the sidewalk and watched the lightning one afternoon. We held hands for the first time at a concert that they provided for us-I guess all that tickling paid off.

On Friday of EFY it was my 16th birthday. Usually there are so many girls at EFY in comparison to the boys that the boys have two dates. But since it was my 16th birthday and since everyone knew we were an item they let Cameron be my only date. He brought me a picture of Christ that I had told him I liked earlier in the week as a present. We ate dinner together and danced all night together. As we were singing I saw a tear slip down Cameron's cheek and I was sad that we would never see each other again. It had been more than I expected for a fun filled week but like all things it had come to an end. We held hands as we walked back to the dorms and said our last goodbye, or so I thought.

Cameron had different plans, however, and had kept my iron I had let him borrow. This meant we had to meet again early the next morning. He kissed me on the cheek goodbye and I thought, well that was a fun week too bad it is over... I never expected to hear from him again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Sharlene and Nicole

I like where we live but I don't like everything about it. And I know what is missing. What is missing is kids... a friend for Ali, Ashling and even Annika. There are no kids on our street and I miss that. I miss children knocking on the door and I miss someone to walk home with. I

I did not miss out on this as a child. My street had lots of kids. There were kids everywhere. Boys for my brother and girls for me and my sister. And we played a lot. When I was 10 a new family moved in and I was so happy. They did not have just one friend for me but it was two for the price of one. Nicole and Sharlene were twins and they became my best friends. For four years we played barbies, cards, and whatever else together. We did chores together and traded books, just reading the whole night. You guys are the only ones who don't care if I felt like reading a good book instead of talking. We spent the night at each other's houses and even spent whole weeks together. We got into fights and learned how to work around them... a skill I am sure helps me in my own relationship. We walked to school together... up hill both ways in snow up to our necks. (Oh wait... we lived in Southern California.) We got sick together and played when the school kept us home.

I always felt lucky to have such good friends. They were always there. I enjoyed the long talks, I enjoyed my other family with a little baby brother to play with. I enjoyed sleep overs, camp outs, and swimming at the beach and going out just a little too far. We toilet papered houses together and slept out in the backyard. I am sure we did so many other things together and it was fun.

At fourteen my family moved away and I missed my friends.

Happy Birthday Nicole and Sharlene! I miss you guys still and when you are enjoying your pool parties and park dates I wish we lived closer and could still be that kind of friends. I appreciate your friendship throughout all the years. Good luck making the most of your last year in your twenties!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cameron made some posts about his recent backpacking adventures. The Temple Crag one is especially good and you can read all about Ali's first adventure in backpacking along with excellent photography at Chicken Foot Lake

Temple Crag

Chicken foot Lake

Monday, August 17, 2009

7 months

I was looking at a tiny baby yesterday and imagining Annika that small. I almost can't remember it. I almost can't remember the tiny clothes, the cuddly baby who molded to my arms, the tiny body that couldn't do anything for itself. I can't remember the baby who slept for hours and hours during the day and who I could lay in one place and expect her to stay there until I moved her. I can't remember when she couldn't only smile with her eyes and the only window to her mood was her cry. I can't remember that tiny cry that motivates so quickly.

I have a big 7 month old who wants to be just like her sisters. She is constantly moving. She rolls, scoots, kicks and grabs with her hands. She pinches, feeds herself, plays with toys, watches movies and mostly watches her sisters. A lady at church told me that when she walks she will be running and I expect that she will. She never wants to sit still. She loves to go on hikes as long as we keep moving but when we stop she is ready to get out and explore the dirt. She does not even like to sit because it is too still for her. Sometimes she doesn't even seem like a baby and I miss it.

Last night I got another glimpse of my tiny baby. I wrapped her up in her swaddle blanket and laid her in the middle of a big down blanket on the floor. We were at a friend's house and it was past her bedtime. I checked on her a little while later and she had her arm out of the blanket and was cuddled against the edge. She still looked like my little baby.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Castle Rock

We invited our friends, Dustin and Jenna, up for another get away in the mountains. They could only take so much of Disneyland and the beach. It does get a little clastrophobic after a while and they wanted the mountains. I planned on a new hike that I have not been on yet. We went to Castle Rock this time in Big Bear.

The trail was rough. It was steep and riddled with rocks. But my girls endured the mile hike well and enjoyed the views and rock climbing at the top. We ended the evening with a barbeque by the lake. What a fun Saturday afternoon!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

teeth grinding!

This morning I heard the distinct sound of grinding teeth coming from Annika's mouth. And I realized that she has her top right tooth!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

From the eyes of a child

From the eyes of a child, this trip signifies adventure at its highest; particularly for those who dwell in the urban setting away from high altitude and it’s attributes: No showers, no faucets, no chairs, no tables, no structures, no nothin’. The trip became all the more adventurous as threats of a summertime snow storm, cold temperatures, and high wind entered the weather forecast a few days before departure. My own Ali smiled at the prospect of a little snow, perhaps not realizing the impact the cold weather would have on actually enjoying the trip. Nonetheless she stated “Snow? Really? Cool, Daddy!”

The Linton’s, Ali, and I arrived at Mosquito Flat at about 12:15 AM. This wasn’t exactly the planned arrival time, but when Todd’s military overseers told him to have something completed the day we left (Tuesday, August 4th), he had little room to negotiate. The late arrival wasn’t all that bad anyway since Wade and Dad (Mike) had set up our tents and had a fire going when we arrived. They had driven up with Erin, Ayden, and Cade much earlier in the day. By 12:45, we were snuggled in our tents. On the drive up, a stiff westerly wind bent trees and straightened flags. High cirrus clouds reflected the moon’s light while creating a standing ‘wave’. Eastern Sierra residents commonly refer to this conditions as a “Sierra Wave.” Normally, Sierra Waves present themselves in the winter time just before or during winter storms. Hmmmm. Here, the wind easily blended with the sound of Rock Creek.

I slept like I was in a deluxe hotel. The nearby Rock Creek dulled out all other sounds throughout the night. Even Ali claimed to have had a perfect night of sleep. By the time Eiger (eye-ger; The Linton’s Swiss Mountain Dog) confirmed it was time to awake, I believe it was beyond 7:30 AM. Ali literally jumped at the chance to wake up, break out of our cozy 4-season North Face Tent, and play with whomever else was awake. As it turned out, we were the last to wake up.

All parties ensued on the task of breaking camp while eating a variety of breakfast goods ranging from donuts and muffins to bananas. We all found this trailhead campsite to be very convenient as well as beautiful. After 42 trips to the van, 12 trips to the dumpster, and 7 trips to the restroom, the entire group posed for a quick photo before embarking on our purely adventurous 3 mile journey into the unknown. Well, at least the kids saw it that way. To summarize, kids are (oldest to youngest): Denali Linton, Ayden Emery, Torey Linton, Cade Emery, Ali Brown, and Whitney Linton. Parents included Mike Brown (Grandpa), Erin Emery, Todd and Chalon Linton, Cameron Brown (me), and Wade Brown. All of us had planned this trip in some form for a few months, and here we were, ready to go. Our final destination was Chickenfoot Lake, about 3 miles into the valley.

Ali was excited, and she set off a little too fast at first, and later learned why I was asking her to slow down when the trail steepened and became challenging enough to cause some minor complaints from all. After a minorly eventful approach to Long Lake (including a few trip-and-falls, some indigestion, and a rumored bear encounter from someone outside our group) we sat in a nature-manicured meadow to enjoy a trail lunch. Clouds were pulsing off of the higher peaks lining the western terminus of the Little Lakes Valley in which our route and destination was contained. Stiff breezes tempered any warmth that was beginning to be enjoyed, but not too seriously. The meadow at lake’s edge really created a rather ideal setting for relaxing. Ali and I laid on our backs and watched clouds streaming overhead.

To this point the cousin hikers had hiked well. Cade has some shoe/foot problems, but soldiered on and complained very little (that I heard) and all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Ayden proclaimed that the shore of Long Lake displayed “…the clearest water (she) had ever seen,” and that the rainbow-ish shoreline was “…so pretty.” Everyone seemed to be enjoying the surroundings.

After our lunch break, Wade radioed to us that they had found a good place to camp at Chickenfoot Lake, about ¼ mile farther. Everyone promptly finished lunch and threw on their packs in anticipation of the final destination where we could set up our camp. The spot chosen was exactly the same place I had camped with my dad (Mike) and Luke and Angie Helland a few years ago. Ali accompanied Melissa and I on that trip as well (as a baby) while Luke and climbed the North Arete of Bear Creek Spire. The views of the Spire on the way in reminded of that adventure and fun. The peak looked bigger than I remember and Bear Creek Spire certainly tempts one to break out a camera more often than necessary.

As we set up camp, the wind howled. Clouds raced across the sky and occasionally threatened rainfall with their extensive grey bottoms. Other than a minor sprinkle after dinner, no precipitation ever occurred. But the wind. The wind was basically constant, gusting at times to 45 or 50 MPH; enough to really push the Bristlecone and Lodgepole Pines around and cause a howl full of angry musical tones. In spite of the wind, the cousins were enjoying each other’s company while playing hide and seek, throwing rocks in the nearby creek, making ‘boats’ to float down the creek, and playing in the tents.

Eventually we formed a group and explored the northwest shore of Chickenfoot Lake. The winds continued their oppressive existence, but spells of sunshine warmed the earth in between clouds racing each other toward Nevada. The dark shadows in between the sun made for some good photography. Otherwise, a few decide to try fishing. Wade and I fished close to each other with Ali and Torey in training. Torey caught a fish, as did Wade and I. Fish may be a bit of a misnomer…they were more like oversized “guppies” (I think that’s what little baby fish are called??). The largest I saw was about 6”. Grandpa and some of the others also caught fish along the shoreline to our west.

After fishing it was definitely dinner time. Ali and I shared a “Backpacker’s Pantry” meal while the rest made some noodles-and-chicken conglomeration which they enjoyed. By meal’s end, some were feeling the cold setting in. Indeed the temperatures only ever reached the high 50’s in the afternoon, and by now, it was probably closer to 48 with increasingly stronger winds. Campfires are not allowed here, so normally people just go to bed when it gets dark. I shared some hot chocolate with Ali, for which she was grateful, and we headed to bed about the time it was getting too dark to see without a flashlight. She trusted in me and showed a smile in spite of the somewhat deteriorating conditions.

I thought it would be a long sleepless night in the wind. As it turned out, Ali slept great again and I did much better than I had expected though I did wake during some very strong bursts of wind. I credit my tent which is purely stout in the wind and doesn’t move much when bullied around by the big gusts. The trees in which our tent was parked, however, howled and whistled all night long, at times, louder than I ever thought possible. I was sure a major storm was blowing in and we would awaken to rain, thunder, and perhaps snow…as predicted.

In the morning, the wind was still in full force, and the temperatures were probably around 35-38 with overcast skies. We decided to break camp and head out. Knowing snow was forecasted for later this day (Thursday), we thought it was miserable enough for the kids in the cold wind and didn’t see the point in “waiting to see.” Ali was bummed about leaving early, but I bribed her by offering to carry her pack. She slowly conceded. The hike out was mostly uneventful. Todd and Wade took it upon themselves to speed ahead of the group, drop their packs, and come back to help any who might appreciate it. We all made it to the trailhead reasonably quick considering our young demographic.

We decided the vacation would be more appreciated by car camping in Bishop Canyon. So we set off from Mosquito Flat with thoughts of additional camping comforts. Usually I don’t feel this sensation except for after multi-day outings where I actually “rough it”. Being on the trail for only a little over 24 hours didn’t leave me feeling too much to be desired. Ali was content to be with her cousins and I was content to be along for the ride. As we departed, snow (yes snow flakes), were falling from the sky. I don’t know what was happening further up the canyon, but I knew the others were glad to be out of the canyon ahead of any storm event.

The Little Lakes Valley is beautiful and rewarding. The close proximity of the alpine environment to a drivable road makes this venue an attractive option for day-hikers, first-timers, and those just seeking a getaway. Unfortunately the easy access means that the trails are somewhat crowded and the canyon is overrun; but all in all, the canyon maintains its beauty and serenity. The towering precipices of several 13,000 + foot peaks enclose the canyon on all sides. It’s like an all-in-one trip that has something for everyone. The cousins all seemed to enjoy themselves. Other than some visible manifestations of feeling cold, I didn’t hear any complaining of the cold. We all comforted ourselves with the thought that we would try again and camp for 4 days as we had originally planned. We’ll hope for that, and look for another report if it materializes.

Posted by Cameron

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What it is possible to do if one only has two children.... or "On being domestic."

Peaches were on sale and I couldn't resist. So I bought an entire box of 66 peaches. People looked at me strangely and questioned me, "What are you going to do with them?" When I replied "can them," they said, "I didn't think people did that anymore." That is what an older man said at Costco too when I told him I didn't buy my cookies I made them at home. "People don't do that anymore, you must be really different he said.

After buying the first 66 and I realized they were really cheap and I went back for another box of 66 plus the bags I had already bought. I brought them home and Sue, Melissa and I canned peaches today all day. It was fun to have the help for an otherwise lonely project in the kitchen. I turned to stove burners on about 9:45 am and they did not turn off until 4:45 pm. We fed the kids sandwiches and dined on chips, cake and a salad from the garden. We stopped to nurse, break up fights, water the garden, and waited for each pot to finish. And for all our work we canned 50 quart size jars... and I am happy because we will have peaches to eat all year. Yes, people still preserve their own food and yes people still make their own cookies. My children will eat home made cookies and bottled peaches just like their grandparents and grow up happier without Nintendo DS and cable telivision.

How do you can peaches? First start your canner boiling, they take forever so do wait to do this even one minute. It will boil faster if you put the lid on. Next get another pot of boiling water ready for the peaches. Put your clean jars in the canner with the boiling water to keep them warm. Put lids in a simmering pot of water... DO NOT BOIL! Next wash the peaches and then throw the peaches in boiling water for 60 seconds - 2 minutes to get the skin to peel off. Peel skin off or it will mostly fall off and then cut the peaches up after taking out the pit. Stuff in to quart size jars as tightly as possible. Pour syrup that is boiling over the top and wipe off the top of the jar. Put a lid on the jar and then put in the canner. Boil jars for 30 minutes with 2 minutes for each thousand feet you live over sea level. We boiled ours for 42 minutes. Sounds simple right?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

She weighs

She weighs 16 pounds 2 ounces and is 27 3/4 inches long.

She weights 58 pounds 4 ounces and is 50 inches long. And she is going on vacation without me to learn how to backpack and "get to the top" and I am sad because I won't be there to see her experience it for the first time. And this is just the first of many things I will not be there to experience with her for the first time.