Friday, July 24, 2009

Timpanogos Caves

While we were in Utah recently, we took the chance to tour the inside of a cave.

For those of you who have never been there, Mt. Timpanogos is located just north of Provo Utah. A 30 minute drive from Brigham Young University will get you to one of the starting points to hike the mountain, and another twenty minutes along the alpine loop (fee applies) will take you to the back or north side of the mountain where the caves are located.

If you want to tour the caves, there is a reasonable fee that you pay at the base before heading up the steep 1.5 mile trail. Believe me, it's worth it.

We got there later in the day then hoped and had to wait a while before we were aloud to make the accent. While we waited, we put sun screen on, went to the bathroom, checked our food supply (you'll want snacks if you go), and made sure we had enough water. (Turns out we just barely had enough with half a gallon for six people-three of which were kids. Need to bring more next time.)

About an hour and a half before our tour time we started on the trail. An hour and a half to hike one and a half miles! No problem. Turns out it took us a little over an hour. It was a really steep climb, and we had a toddler and four year old with us. Occasionally, my husband or I would hoist one of them on our shoulders adding an extra 36 pounds of weight. Oi! Needless to say, we stopped a number of times to rest, wait for the laggers to catch up, let people pass, and drink some water. Grandma also liked to stop and look at the flowers and plants. (She's a botanist, you know).

I had Blake on a leash, and he pretended to be a puppy. It made it a lot easier to keep track of him, keep him moving, and ease our worry about him walking near the edge of the trail where there was often a nasty drop off. He didn't mind it much, as I tried to give him plenty of slack. It helped out a lot in the caves too. Blake made the majority of the hike on his own two legs. That leash was wonderful!

Bailey did a lot of the hiking herself too, for which I was very impressed. She's only four, and her legs are so short. Daddy carried her a good chunk of the way down though because she was literally getting exhausted.

Sierra made the whole thing on her own, and loved to stop and read the map to find out where we were.

Close to the top was a rest room for anyone who needed it, and once we got to the top, there was a rest area carved from the side of the mountain to sit in out of the hot sun. We only had about twenty minutes to wait before our tour started. Just long enough to eat.

Once inside, we were put out sweaters on. It was close to 50 degrees, not freezing, but definitely cool after the heat on the trail. We were also told to wear our backpacks to the front and not to touch anything except for the floor, as the oils from our hands could ruin the rock formations. Good thing Blake was on the leash! I used it a number of times to keep him from touching things.

There was a lot to see. Stalactites and stalagmites were all over the place. There were small lakes, curly straw-like rock formations, and vivid colored rocks from the nickel and iron deposits. We got to see the famous Heart of Timpanogos (picture at top) and hear how the caves were discovered. They no longer have the "salt and pepper shakers"for people to touch though. That was sad.

Our tour lasted around 45 minutes, but it seemed much shorter. The kids really enjoyed it, even though they were getting tired. It took only about half an hour to get down the mountain, and by the end, Blake was ready to pass out. It took him less then three minutes to fall asleep in the car once the engine was turned on. Poor thing. It was past his nap time, and he's had a major workout. Oh well. It was worth it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Child Comparisons

I know that you shouldn't judge one child against another, but sometimes it simply stares you in the face demanding an acknowledgment. Well, it would seem that my second child is MUCH easier to teach then my first, and it's not just because I've learned from my first.

I should have guessed it though. Bailey was also a MUCH easier baby. She's more laid back, logical, not prone to anxiety, definitely not a perfectionist, and loves to show up her sister whenever the opportunity presents itself. What's more, her brain works a lot like mine. So, as long as she wants to do school, she should be really easy. She already does her work in less then half the time that it used to take Sierra to do the same thing back in kindergarten, and there have been no blow-ups, yet.

Sierra, however, has decided that she knows better then I do how to do things. She will refuse to listen when I try to explain things, tell me I'm wrong, and throw a fit if I make her do something "unfamiliar". When I do explain "difficult concepts" to her (in her mind anyway-which is what matters, I know), she incorporates it only long enough to figure out her own method of solving the problems, then forgets it, thinking her method is superior, because it's "easier". For this reason, I have had to explain place value (one's, tens, hundreds, etc) a number of times, each time with a tantrum and struggle. It also makes me dread showing her anything new or unusual. Very annoying.

Sigh. It makes me wonder what my youngest is going to be like. He's shown signs of being more like his oldest sister, and that's not a happy thought as far as school goes. Oh well, at least I'll know better how to handle him.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I went in to see a neurologist today for all of the weird symptoms I've been having.

Well, after showing up five minutes late because I got lost (apparently a lot of people do trying to find the place), I skipped the check in process (which had a 50 person line up) and went straight to the neurology department. The lady at the desk understood my plight and let me in, telling me to check in after my appointment. Whew!

She took my weight and checked my blood pressure and heart rate, which of course were high because of being both lost and late to my appointment. She understood and said she'd check me again after my appointment.

She lead me to a room where I got to change into a lovely hospital gown. They let me keep my underwear on though, so that was nice. I sat down and did a bit of Sudoku while I waited, trying to calm my nerves.

Not long after, the neurologist showed up. She was really nice. She pulled up my records, asked standard questions about my family and general health, then asked about my symptoms. I'd written up a paper with all of them, but she wanted to hear it from me, so I waded in.

For those of you who are not aware, I've been having strange sensations throughout my body these last four weeks, from tingling in my hands and feet to tingling in my face, lips, and the crown of my head, to cold sensations down my spine, in my hip, and across my abdomen, to the feeling of raw nerves all over, and so forth. A lot of weird stuff.

Anyway, after all of the interrogations, we started the physical exam. She asked a lot of basic questions like "What day is it?", "What year is it?", "Who is the current US President?", "Who were the last two presidents?", "How many nickels are in a dollar?, and "how many nickels are in three dollars?". Then she had me spell "earth" backwards and told me to remember the words "balloon, umbrella, and pineapple" to see if I could remember them five minutes later.

After that, she checked my heart, my reflexes, my coordination, my blind spots, my sense of coldness in various areas, and tickled my feet. She also checked my eyes, looking back at the retina, I think. I got to get up and walk across the room, on regular feet, on my tip toes, and on the heals of my feet. And she also took a look at my spine because I had told her I have mild scoliosis.

After all was said and done, she said she didn't think that I had MS, but she wasn't willing to commit to anything. Her guess was that it was some viral or other such passing illness. Even so, she would really like to have an MRI done to know better what's going on. She also ordered a few more blood tests for me. She said that I should let her know if anything else comes up and that she wanted to see me again in three months.

By that time, I was crying. Stress, anxiety, PMS, and stress relief all pulled together, and I couldn't help it. She understood.

After she left the room, I took some time to calm down, then I went out to the front desk to set up my next appointment and get my blood pressure and heart rate re-checked. They were really good this time around.

Then I went back down stairs to check in and have my blood drawn. That made me mildly faint (I've never been good with needles). I didn't faint or anything though, so that was good.

Now we get to just wait and see what time and the test results say, and try to find a way to pay for an MRI.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Have you ever tried to get up very early while on vacation? Well, if you're ever visiting Provo, UT during the 4th of July, I highly recommend it. Provo holds their Freedom Festival every year. It's a week long celebration full of fun. There are multiple parades, multiple balloon launches, fairs, fireworks displays, 5 and 10K runs, and more.

This year we got to participate in a bit of it.

Dark and early Saturday morning, we got ourselves up to see the Balloon Launch. The launch started at 6:30 am, so we wanted to be there by 6. Amazingly, we made it. We brought a sleeping bag to sit on, and a blanket to cuddle in and sat ourselves down while the hot air balloons were being laid out on the field. Soon enough, we were allowed to walk among the balloons as they were filled with hot air. The noise was really loud, but it was really neat to watch.

There were a lot of fun balloons to see. There was Smokey the Bear, Toni the Tiger, a piggy bank, a dinosaur, a few patriotic balloons, lots of fun colored ones, and even a fall themed balloon. My guess is that there were somewhere between twenty and thirty balloons participating.

The hot air balloons have a contest each day that they can participate in. On the 4th, they were to launch, catch the high wind, float north, descend to the low wind and come back south. When they reached the field on their return, there were stationed helium balloons that they were supposed to try and pop.

After they launched the first time, we headed over to the adjacent McDonalds for breakfast. I sat outside with the kids watching the balloons as they did their rounds while Seth got the food. My brother's family joined us there, and soon after we headed to the parade route.

My sister had gotten up before 5 am to secure us seating for the parade. When she got there (at 5:10 am), there was only a small sliver left. Luckily, it was in the shade and stretched 15 feet from the road to the sidewalk. Turns out it was a really good spot. There are a lot of people who camp over night to get good spots for the parade. By the time the parade starts, it's practically standing room only.

We were stationed at the end of the parade route, so for us, the parade started at about 10 am. There was a pre-parade though that was fun. Some small groups came along breaking up the silence while we waited for the big event. And boy was it big. By 11 am, we'd had enough, and it was still going. There were floats, marching bands, dancing groups, political cars, balloon characters, police groups, and everything else that you see at parades. I think that the parade was about an hour and a half long. Parking was crazy too, and even though we left early, it took a while getting back to the folks' house.

After that, I took a shower, put the kids down, and took a nap. My husband went out to lunch with a friend that was also in town.

Sometime around 5 pm, I was woken up for the BarBQ. Fireworks for the kids started around 8 pm, and around 10 pm, the Stadium of Fire fireworks display began.

It was a VERY long day, but we had a lot of fun.