Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our grass yard

Cameron and I have wanted grass for a long time. It finally hit how important grass was to me one day last June. We were laying down in the shady grass on a hot day and I realized how nice it would be to have grass in our backyard. We decided to get our yard ready for grass by the end of the summer. It involved a lot of work. Our yard was sloped quite a bit and we wanted a flat area for grass. Cameron decided to try to start digging with a shovel. There really isn't a way to get a tractor back in our yard anyways. I thought it was a little crazy but after watching him do it several times I started to see some progress. Eventually I even helped a little.

Cameron created a nice level pad even with a concrete patio already in our backyard. There were lots of obstacles like a concrete wall with rebar, a lot of huge roots and some big holes where animals had once lived.

Cameron used the wheel barrow that he found for free at the dump to help him out with moving all the dirt.
The ground was very hard in some places and he used a pick axe until he broke it!

Finally after working many nights after work it was time to actually order the sod. Chalon and girls helped by picking up the big pallet of sod and coming up to help us install it. Chalon, Denali, Torrey, Ali and I unloaded the sod and brought it down to the patio while Cameron started installing it. We worked pretty quickly and were able to unload in less than an hour on the hottest day of the summer.

The square in the back is for the sandbox that we will buy sand for soon.

As the sod was brought down Whitney and Ashling helped by laying it out close to where it would be laid for Cameron.

After the sod was finished the girls rested on the semi-completed lawn.

Here is a picture of Sierra and Annika laying on top of her while they rested on the grass. Sierra really seems to enjoy the grass but since she is so sick there is nothing more for her to do than just lay there.

The grass did not completely finish the job and we will be doing some more work to get the yard the way we want it this fall and then lay a little more sod next spring.

This is how the final product looks. Don't you love our green beautiful yard? I do. Thanks to Cameron for all his hard work in getting it done!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

Well now my house is back to being quiet. No one has tattled on anyone yet this morning and I am doing my laundry from our trip in peace. Here are some pictures of the girls in their back to school attire.

This is the school mascot with the kids.
Ashling was in for a surprise when she got to school. Her Mrs. Allen was actually a Mr. Allen. She was a little apprehensive but I think he will make a good teacher. She is wearing a bus tag because she will be going home on the bus. (Yes I am so excited about this.)

Ali has Mrs. Olsen. She was busy and I didn't get a chance to take a picture with her teacher and her. Hopefully the girls will like their teachers. We will see.....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Camping we will go!

We decided we needed to go to the Sierras again before school started. I researched the best area to go and decided to go and stay at Mammoth Lakes campgrounds. I decided that Coldwater campground made the best choice since creek noise would drown out all the other annoying campers. We left early Thursday morning.

We arrived at Coldwater Creek campground around 12:00 noon. Most of the camping places were taken but a campground host told us where to go and we found an excellent campsite. We set up camp and found that it was very warm in the sun even at 8900 feet. After setting up we decided to go to town and get a few things we had left at home and to check out the visitors center. After the visitors center we went on a short hike to the top of Panarama Dome where we could see all around Mammoth in all directions. The hike was short and everyone enjoyed it. It was very windy at the top though and I am glad it was a warm afternoon when we were there.

We came back to camp and cooked kabobs and noodles for dinner along with grapes. After dinner we got on our bikes and rode around Lake Mary. The bike ride was fun and there were only a couple places where Ashling had to walk because the hills were too steep for her. We ended the night with marshmellows and graham crackers. (I somehow forgot the chocolate at home.)

Our plan Friday was to hike to Crystal Crag Lake. It was 1.75 miles up hill one way. The kids did great! We arrived at the lake by 10:00 am. Cameron wanted to fish and so did the girls. I don't really like to fish or to sit and watch. Cameron suggested I might like hiking the rest of the way to Mammoth Crest (another 1.5 miles each way.). I really wanted to but was a little afraid. All the people on the trail convinced me it would probably be safe to go alone so I left. I enjoyed a quick hike to the top with sections where I ran. The view from the top was beatiful and it made me want to continue up to some of the mountains. Instead I ran back to the lake arriving at the lake in a little under an hour from the time I left.

This is Lake George where the hike starts.
Along the way we found patches of snow like this one that we had to hike through.
Crystal Crag Lake
This is a picture of us at the end of the hike.
The only family picture on the trip.
After our hike we went back to camp to grab a few things. Then we decided to go on the June Lakes scenic loop. It was a beautiful loop and the waterfall was amazing. We stopped at a Lake and Cameron once again wanted to fish. I hate fishing and was trying to decide what I was going to do when I noticed they rented kayaks. I rented a two seater and let the girls take turns paddling around the lake. I wish I knew a little more about how to paddle but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed the experience. Ali and Ashling learned to help a little and I learned that even if it is windy putting a child in the back to steer is not the best idea. When I was in the back I felt much more in control of where the kayak was going. Annika had a small turn but did not really like the boat and so I took her back to shore quickly. After I got tired Cameron had a turn with Ali. He seemed to enjoy it too.

On Saturday morning it was very cold. Annika woke up really early and Cameron took her to the car to watch a movie. I was going to try and sleep but there was a run I wanted to do and so I got up and went on a run. It was so beautiful to run around Lake Mary and I loved the nice cool weather.

Later we decided to ride to town on the paved trail. It was a steep downhill ride. Ali and Cameron with Annika in the trailer loved it and went very fast the whole way. They stopped several times to wait for Ashling and I. Ashling was cautious where there were cars and then she rode down the hill quickly on the paved trail. I found out that just like skiing, I only like so much speed and then it is enough. I was the slowest one down the whole trail and couldn't imagine going any faster than I was riding.

We went shopping around the Mammoth Village and then rode a bus with bike racks back to our campsite. It was really fun and I enjoyed being about to use their free public transportation. Back at camp we ate lunch and then prepared to go to Whitmore pool.

We are a family that loves swimming and so I make it a goal to go swimming at least once on every vacation whether it is in the winter or summer. This time the pool was a little too cold and it was much to windy. Ali, Ashling and Cameron had fun in the big pool and Annika swam around in the little pool with me. It was still fun but not quite the place I had imagined it would be. Next time we will probably not go there. The shower after was nice but it was just a big group shower and there wasn't a very good place to change. I like Keogh hot springs near Bishop much better and will probably just pay for a shower at the Lake Mary Marina if we want one.

After our swim and showers we decided to do a little 4 wheeling up a canyon. The canyon beat us and due to the fact that my explorer is very needed in our family we chose not to go up the very pot hole filled road near the top of the canyon. It was still fun and it allowed Annika to take a much needed nap.

We went out to dinner and then did a little shopping waiting until it was almost dark to go back to camp. It was very cold back at camp and a little windy and so we sent the kids to the tent. By the time we were ready for bed it was dark and still colder so we helped everyone get ready for bed.

Sunday we had a nice big breakfast and slowly began to pack up camp. We dressed in our church clothes and headed to church which we thought started at 10:00. It ends up we were wrong by an hour and that church started at 11:00. It didn't work with our schedule because we had to be out of our campsite by 12:00 pm so we ended up not going after getting all ready. Next time when I drive past the church I will look at what time is actually on the door and not only look at the website.

Our drive home made us realize that we were ready for the kids to start school and that next time we hope to go somewhere without the kids. Really it was a great vacation and we hope to go back to Mammoth Lakes many years in a row!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Hi it has been a long time since I posted. Not sure why. We have been up to plenty of things during that time to keep me busy.

We have decided to put grass in our backyard. Our yard is huge but it lacks much in the way of actual landscaping. Cameron had the idea and I thought he was crazy to levelout an area by shovel and pick axe. He has moved nearly a hundred wheel barrels of dirt to level out a 800 sq foot area around a patio we already had. I have helped a little bit. It hurts my back and I am a big whiner. I find that whenever I do help I feel very proud of the dirt I move though so maybe I should finish it off with him this weekend. We are hoping to have grass in soon! The level area has already helped our yard be more user friendly because now the kids actually have a place to kick the soccer ball back and forth to each other and just in time for soccer season.

We have been swimming. Our family has a pass to Cal State San Bernardino and we have used it regularly. Ali took swim lessons and really improved her strokes. She is looking pretty expert at swimming and has used her skills in lakes and the ocean. Ashling spent three weeks at my sister's house in Arizona with Stacey and Grandma. She swam every day there and learned to really do a free style stroke right although she thinks she can only swim with her goggles and panics when they are off.

Annika is by far the most amazing swimming story. She started out the summer clinging to me and not interested in doing anything by herself. I thought I would die from her choking me while holding on so tight. Now she is just about swimming. She can float on her back for 10 seconds which we call "princess pillow." She also can swim under water quite well. She does not come all the way up to take a breath but I think she will get that in the next couple weeks. She does swim right under the surface but she likes being under the water so much that she doesn't come up until she is to me or to the wall. She also learned to run and jump in the 10 foot pool and swim to the surface. She likes practicing diving and loves to be under the water. She blows bubbles and laughs about it. I am pretty impressed that she is swimming so well for a 2 1/2 year old.

I have spent a lot of time this summer running. I have really enjoyed it. When my mom was still here I went up Keller Peak Road each day and found a lot of trails and roads off of it. I really enjoyed running with my dog and just spending time in the mountains. I can't believe how lucky we are to live up here where it is so beautiful. After my mom left I have spent a lot of time running in our neighborhood which I feel is a big accomplishment. Our neighborhood is full of very steep hills and a lot of steep up and down. I have a loop that I run 5 or so laps around that makes about 3.8 miles. I just bought a new pair of running shoes and ran with them for the first time today. I hope to break a lot personal records in the next couple months.

Our dog has been sick since the beginning of July. I think she is finally healing but not quite enough to run. We thought she would die several times but somehow she pulled through. This has been very stressful for us especially trying to decide how much to spend on vet bills. Her only symptoms seemed to be a high fever and a lack of energy. We are pretty sure she ended up with a tick disease and now will be treating with tick medicine regularly. (We never found a tick but she could have got one and then it dropped off without us knowing.) I am really glad she seems to be getting better because she is a great dog and we would really miss her.

We went on a big vacation to Provo, Denver and Martin's Cove right after school got out. If I ever get pictures from Sue I will blog about that too but without pictures it isn't very much fun. It was a fun trip but it was too much in too short of a time and I don't know if I will ever try to pack that much into a vacation again.

Now I have made all the appointments to get the kids ready for back to school. They have new clothes, new backpacks, their teeth are cleaned, and Ali has new glasses. We are planning on one more camping trip and then it will be 4th grade for Ali and 1st grade for Ashling. I am looking forward to no more kindergarten!