Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Fine and Brilliant Mind

I sat down this evening to check on emails and found one from my mother.  She has begun transcribing a journal she kept years ago, and felt it imperative to share the following with me.  After reading it, I'm so glad she did!

April 23, 2017 – The following is a typed copy of a handwritten journal entry I wrote dated January 24, 1980.
 Today I spent the day cleaning house for Georgianne. Earlier this month, I decided I could obtain our food storage by earning a little extra each month by working. But I have so little free time left now with four children, that I neglect important things at home when I am off doing things for others. I want to sew more, garden and work on home production, organize the interior of our house and work on teaching the children.
 I see clearly tonight how unmotivated and undisciplined the children are. Katherine has had two weeks to work on a map assignment and did not finish it. Yet she complains when I let her watch only one hour of TV a night or when I make her bathe twice a week. Dishes are never done, chores are seldom completed, and her fine and brilliant mind is rotting away from disuse.
 I need to give greater responsibility and establish a stricter schedule.
 I laughed and laughed as I typed this. Thirty-seven years later, I report that I never took up sewing, vegetable gardening or home production. My efforts to organize the house were achieved mostly by intermittent decluttering. I know all my children know how to cook – at least some basic meals – but I don’t recall teaching them. They most likely observed and experimented on their own.
 As for Katherine’s fine and brilliant mind, it’s still there and she learned to develop it without any prodding on my part. Reading this was like listening to Katherine interacting with Blythe.
 The lesson I learned: We worry too much. 

I called Mom after reading this and we laughed and laughed together.  She said in the next entry I confess to having cheated in school, but she figured she would give it a bit more time before sharing.  It's all too funny, and too painfully familiar.  Parenting is the same no matter when you're doing it.  Makes me realize I should be journaling more because who wants to miss out on moments likes this?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cereal Party

Today Brandt had a class party.  Several days ago he came home, thrilled to tell me all about the cereal party his class had earned.  What's a cereal party?  Well you many ask.  It's a party where you get to bring any kind of cereal you want and then everyone gets to eat as much as they want.  You know no one was going to bring healthy-ish cereal, like Bran Flakes or Raisin Bran or granola with dried fruits and nuts.  Oh no!  There was going to be a sugary assortment of boxes containing, in the words of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, chocolate-coated sugar bombs.

Brandt insisted that we go to the store and get him just what he wanted, and as this was a party earned for good behavior, I agreed.  He lobbied for bringing three boxes of cereal, but I felt two cereals was adequate.  And what did he choose?  Cookie Crisp and Captain Crunch, both with lots of sugar.

When Brandt got home today, I asked how the cereal party went.  He said, "Guess how many bowls of cereal I had?"

"Four?" I guessed.

Not even close.  "I had TEN bowls of cereal!" he shrieked in delight, then giggled like a madman.  I suspect it was hilarity brought on by an overdose of sugar.  During the party, they watched Disney shorts and ate lots and lots and lots and lots of cereal.  Fifth grade is the bomb.  A chocolate-coated sugary one.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Break Day 5--Monterey Bay Aquarium

We spent most of the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It is a fabulous, fabulous aquarium! The variety of creatures, the way they are on exhibit, the whole experience is really wonderful.  We arrived only just after they opened, and we were there until nearly four with a brief break for some lunch.  We watched them feed the penguins and the fish in the kelp bed tank, we saw otters, a tentacle exhibit with octopi and squid, watched bigger fish swim in the deep ocean exhibit, and got to touch all sorts of little creatures.  Once again, I was amazed at God's creations--He really is imaginative.  I felt like we saw variations on a theme in several places.  God said, "Let's make something with lots of legs," and then made different octopi and squid, all with lots of legs, but all different.  And then He said, "Let's make tangs (a smallish fish)," and then made blue, orange, silver, stripey, and several other colors of tangs.  "Let's made a gelatinous something," brought about jelly fish in varying size, some with long deadly trailing bits and some without.

In addition to what we saw in tanks, we also watched some birds that the aquarium keeps because they have been injuring in some way and can't live in the wild.  One of the birds was a one-eyes Western Snowy Plover.  Though a small bird, the docent told us he is a bully.  He picks fights with the other birds, many much larger than he is, all the times.  He's apparently got short guy syndrome. Here he is.

He might look cute, but don't underestimate this bird.
He's fierce!

It was all just really great.  We liked it, one and all.  Kent and my attention span are certainly greater than the kids, but we all enjoyed being there.

We were all waiting for the penguin feeding.  Just before it was to begin, a volunteer asked us all to sit on the ground so we could all see.  It was funny to sit on the ground with kids and adults, but the feeding was super interesting and we could see everything because no one was standing in front of us.

There are several spots along the ocean side of the aquarium where you can go out and see if anything is swimming past. 
When we stepped out, there was an otter frolicking just below us. 

The Kelp Forest tank.
It was enormous and super cool.
We watched the fish in this one being fed too.

This woman is a volunteer who drives down from San Francisco
 twice a month so she can feed the fish.
She spends two and a half hours in the car each way so she can spend 
fifteen minutes in the tank with the fish.  
She loves it!



Blythe and an octopus
She's cuter.

There was an exhibit where you could project your face and it would be covered 
by octopus and squid camouflage.
They are weird creatures.
Lots of legs AND they can change color.

These bright silver fish were swimming around and around and around and around and
around and around and around their circular tank as fast as they could.
They were a silver streak.
It was hard to tell one fish from another.

After finishing at the aquarium, we walked across the street to a candy shop.  There were barrels of candy, gum in all sorts of shapes and sizes, a huge variety almost impossible to choose from.  Brandt and Blythe both walked around and around trying to make decisions about what to get and what to pass by.  So many choices!

We got in the car and drove a short way down the coast along Ocean View Blvd., and came upon Lover Point Beach.  There was a place where you could rent bicycles, and Blythe and Brandt begged us to rent a surrey--a multi-person bike with two rows of seats.  I had suggested to Kent we do that before we left for our trip, so we agreed.  As neither Brandt nor Blythe are very tall yet, it was difficult for them to pedal very effectively, so Kent and I did most of the work.  We cycled back towards the aquarium looking at people, the ocean, and animal life along the way.  We stopped to look at sea lions asleep on the beach and learned that they are nocturnal, hence the reason we see them lying around all day.  There was a man along the recreation trail with binoculars and a scope who was talking about the sea lions.  He showed us a brand new baby sea lion, born only two days ago, nestled among the other sea lions.  It was so cute!!!  We turned around after about half a mile and biked back the way we had come.  

Brandt was willing to try and look like a whale for one picture.
Blythe was not.


We went back to where we were staying, put down our stuff, and headed back to the beach.  Someone had constructed a fort with a driftwood and seaweed banner.  It really wasn't warm enough to get in the water, but the kids happily played in the sand as we watched the sun go down again.

We have really liked our time in Monterey and Pacific Grove.  Being by the beach is fantastic, the area is charming, the houses are interesting, and the pace of life seems a bit slower than home.  This is obviously because we are on vacation, but the whole thing has appealed.  We saw a darling house for sale and stopped to get a flyer.  It's on Lighthouse Drive, not too far from the beach, only slightly smaller than our house in Provo, built in 1905 with some really nice built in architectural features.  And the price?  Only $1.4 million.  I'm trying to convince Kent that we should buy it as our second home, you know, for weekend get aways.  Insert eye roll here.  It would be great to live in this area, if the cost of living wasn't so ridiculously high.

Our second home.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Break Day 4--Big Basin

This morning we got up and had cereal, then packed up all our stuff to head south towards Monterey.  Being in redwood country, I wanted to see some big trees.  I also wanted to listen to General Conference which continues today, and as we weren't going to a church to watch, and I hoped we could listen in the car as we drove to a state park, wander around for a couple of hours, then get back in the car and listen to the afternoon session.  Unfortunately, my plan did not see fruition.  The only radio station broadcasting conference in our area was on satellite radio, and while the car did have the capabilities, it did not have the subscription.  So no conference.

This is Brandt helpfully getting ready to go.  

For the past three nights I have shared a bed with Blythe, Baby Keybug, Hoot, 
the blue kiki, and a bear.
Blythe moved around a lot more than the others.

Our drive inland took us through beautiful country along a twisty road.  Brandt ended up back in the front seat because he was getting car sick, and I had to put down the book I was reading aloud because I was getting car sick too.  We opened up windows to get fresh air too.  It was obvious when we hit redwood country because the trees were suddenly really, really tall with large trunks.  Then we got to Big Basin Redwoods State Park and were astounded by how really, REALLY, REALLY big the trees actually were.  They were amazing!  Tall and beautiful with moss and lichen growing on them.  Even the sad remainders of those that had fallen over were impressive.  I took lots of pictures, but they don't do the trees justice by any means.  The brochure we got about the park says that not only are there cool trees to see, but there are also banana slugs around.  We saw several of those--large bright yellow slugs, slime-ing along the forest floor.  I thought it was interesting to note that coastal redwoods receive much of their water and nutrients from fog drippings.  A 2010 Berkeley study found that the coast now has 75% fewer fogging days than it did a century ago, so while mature redwoods can survive, fewer foggy days mean fewer seedlings mature into trees.

We didn't venture far into the park.  In fact, we stayed close to the visitor's center and did the lovely "Redwoods Loop Trail."  Kent didn't feel it was appropriate to actually hike as it is Sunday.  However, we saw enough.  The trail passed some of the biggest trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and had numbers that pointed out interesting facts.  It was beautiful and serene and the trees, though very tree-y, were unlike any others we had ever seen.  I was amazed!  It was wonderful to be in nature, appreciating God's creations.

There will now follow lots of pictures of trees.

Banana slug

Looking straight up.
I think it's very interesting that the branches of redwoods are so far up the tree.

This is a spider's web reflecting in the sunlight. 

Someone is poking a banana slug with a stick.
The guilty party shall remain nameless.

Lichen and moss growing on the side of the tree.

They really are amazing trees.

Here are some amazing kids with a fallen tree.

Sitting on the same tree.

This is an example of redwood burls.  They are common throughout the forest and are dormant buds.
The burls around the trunk of this tree, called the Animal or Zoo Tree, were thought to resemble animals.
What animals do you see?

This is an example of a fairy ring.
Circles of trees like this are also common.
They indicate that a large redwood stood here for centuries, then died and slowly decomposed.
The redwood trees that surround the circle are offspring from the root structure of the parent tree.

We are standing at the base of Chimney Tree.  It is a testimonial to the durability of redwoods.  This tree, which is still living and growing, is entirely hollow from base to top.  It is theorized that several successive fires over the years ignited the tree's heartwood, and this burning eventually created a perfect flue or chimney effect.  One tree in the forest is recorded to have smoldered and burned for 14 months before the fire died out.  Below is looking straight up the tree.  Still growing!!

This tree, however, did not survive  repeated burnings.  
It is dead.

Blythe is photobombing, though I don't think she meant to.
I took a second picture without her, but it was blurry.
Sorry Brandt.
This is the Father of the Forest.
It is estimated to be 2,000 years old.
The diameter at breast height is 16ft 10in, and the circumference at the ground is 66ft 9in.
It is 250 feet tall.
That is one big tree.

Not too far away is the mother of the forest.
The diameter at breast height is 15ft 3in, and the circumference at the ground is 70 feet.
This tree was once the tallest in Big Basin, at 329 feet.  But the top broke off in a storm, reducing the height to 293 feet.
To quote from the trail guide: In its continual quest for light, the redwood adapts to this loss by growing a new trunk upwards from an existing branch.  The Mother of the Forest has two new trunks growing, and may someday be the tallest tree again.
Go Mom!

We are standing on a huge stump, probably eight feet off the ground.
We climbed up using hand holds carved into the sides of the trunk. 

We continued our drive south west to Monterey.  We stayed at a charming little hotel called the Deer Haven Inn, a short walk from Asilomar State Beach.  After getting settled--the children were thrilled that our room had a fireplace--we went and got some dinner, then headed to the beach to watch the sun set.  It was chilly and the waves were ferocious, pounding into the beach.  It was also windy, so the tops of the waves were wispy as the wind whipped them.  We were awed by the beauty of the trees in the forest, and then awed by the beauty of the beach.  The children dug in the sand while Kent and I watched the water and the sunset.  We walked back to the inn happy and a big chilled.  It was a lovely end to a beautiful day. 

Blythe dug up a little shrimpy sort of thing, a water bug something.
It tickled their hands until they flung it back in the water.