Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ready or Not

I'm definitely not one of those moms that does a happy dance when the kids go back to school.  As much as I love fall--and I really love it, saying goodbye to summer is something we always dread.  

I've long had a love affair with the Pacific Northwest, but the summer of 2014 was perhaps the most beautiful, picture-perfect summer I've ever experienced.  Gorgeous, I tell you!  But whether we were ready or not, (and we were not ready) back to school we did go.

Alyssa is the first to leave the house every morning, leaving to catch the bus at 6:55 am.  She's an eighth grader this year, the upperclassman of the middle school.  Don't let her tiny stature fool you, she's a mature and responsible young lady.  Beautiful too.

She's set to tackle a challenging algebra course and is really excited that the doctor gave her a PE waiver, which allows her to take a leadership class.  She'll continue to play the violin in the school orchestra again this year.


My fourth grader and I get to go to school together every day.  We spend a few minutes in my office together before she heads to her classroom.  I walked her to her door on the first day and she gave me an adamant warning that I was not to kiss her goodbye!  She continues to be rather embarrassed by me, even though several classmates have told her that I'm one of their favorite teachers.  I'm not too offended, I know that deep down she loves me and appreciates that we have the special experience of attending school together.  And boy oh boy do I love this baby of mine!


Caleb got to ease into school on the first day.  Because the high school does a freshman orientation the first day, the other students don't have to be there until afternoon.  He got to sleep in and then I drove him down to school when I got home from work.  I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I have a junior in high school.  A junior!  It's hitting me hard that we only have one more first day of school.  This handsome boy is growing and maturing every day.  

Caleb will be taking civics, pre-calculus, spanish and language arts this semester.  Release time seminary continues to be his favorite period of the day, but he's quite excited about his culinary arts class.


Back-to-school also brings a birthday every year.  We celebrated with one of Jon's favorite dinners, macaroni and cheese, and a super yummy white chocolate, raspberry cheesecake.  There were no gifts this year since a new car has become a necessity.  Let's just say Caleb has been a better driver than his dad lately. 


Our sensational summer seems to be giving way to a stunning fall.  We are all becoming adjusted to our back-to-school schedule, balancing gymnastics and cross country with homework, paper routes and driver's education.  Oh, and BYU football games.  The very best reason to welcome fall.

Ready or not, here we come!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Caleb's Sweet Sixteen

Caleb was adamant that only girls celebrate "Sweet sixteens."  I think he's right.  Is it that the word "sweet" sounds feminine?  Sixteen is a big milestone for boys, too and the word "sweet" could have lots of connotations.  There were plenty of sweet--meaning awesome--events surrounding his birthday.

The weekend before his big day, Caleb went to a Book of Mormon themed youth conference.  His lifelong best friends, Mason and Landon, were in town visiting and he was thrilled that they could attend with him.  Also, check out his sa-weet--meaning totally cool--costume!  I mean, really, how perfect is that?  My sister-in-law, Amy, made it for my brother when they were leaders at a similar conference.  Not only did I not have to worry about making costumes, but Caleb ended up with the best costume out there.


He's always felt most comfortable when sporting a Y on his chest.  He was such a sweet--meaning adorable--toe-headed boy.

Mason and Landon were busy with family most of the day, but they were able to sneak away for breakfast the morning of Caleb's birthday.  They celebrated with thick slices of french toast dripping with sweet--meaning sugary--syrup.

Natalie made this sweet--meaning thoughtful--birthday card for Caleb:


We decided that a family trip to the Mariner's game that night would be a great way to celebrate Caleb's sixteen years.  The weather was perfect and the Mariner's pulled out a sweet--again, meaning awesome--win.


Evidently Caleb and I don't know where to look when taking a selfie.

The Evans family went to the game with their extended family, but they came over to our seats a couple of times throughout the evening.


I packed a huge, sweet--meaning delicious--cupcake for Caleb to eat at the game.



Caleb's sweet--meaning groovy--dance moves were featured on the jumbotron.  Can you find Landon's face on the left and my hand holding his cupcake on the right?


Bust a move, Big boy!



Caleb was ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood the very next Sunday.  That's a big deal.  And it hit me hard that my boy is really getting old now.

He may have been a nervous wreck about learning to drive, but since he'd turned sixteen, it was time to face the fear head on.  We registered for driver's education and obtained his permit from the DOL shortly after his birthday.


He's been driving a little bit every day and becoming more confident behind the wheel.

Sixteen seems so old and I keep wondering if I'm ever going to come out of my state of denial.

I tell you what, I've got one sweet--meaning awesome, groovy, tender-hearted, genuine, naive, totally cool--son.

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hatch Family Reunion--The End

A lake day, which included a boat rental, was originally planned for Friday.  But the boat was being rented from the same person that was supposed to provide the Park City housing.  It was decided that all business deals with that joker should cease, so a day at Lagoon became the new plan.  It was, in my opinion, way more fun for the kids anyway.

I will be honest, I had to make a concerted effort to remain positive about the day ahead of us as we drove through steady rain toward Lagoon that morning.  The kids went straight to roller coaster riding while Jon and I took shelter under a not-yet-opened airbrush tattoo stand.  We witnessed several rides close due to the inclement weather while the rainwater streamed off the awning over our heads.  I tried to appear optimistic on the outside while my insides were thinking all sorts of over-dramatic thoughts like, "Seriously?  It's gonna be a rainy day at Lagoon?  This might be the most ill-fated reunion ever!"

But AccuWeather promised it would clear up and thankfully it did.  Actually, the weather ended up being picture-perfect by early afternoon.



You know what's great about the stage of life that we're in?  My kids are old enough to explore amusement parks on their own.  The kids had the time of their lives going from ride to ride, checking in with us every couple of hours.

We did ride a few rides with them every now and then.





I really hate rides that carry the potential of getting drenched in my clothes and Sam couldn't get his stitches wet, so the two of us waited by the soakers so that we could aim them right at these crazy people.



Jonas was the lucky (or unlucky, if you ask me) rider to get the most wet.


Jon and I took a selfie on the train:



These two grandparents proved that there's no age limit to riding the Colossus.  Both braved not one, but two loop-the-loops.  Impressive!



Jon and his mom on the sky ride:



These thrilling-seeking girls had an absolute blast!



The fun lasted long into the night and was capped off by DQ Blizzards before falling into bed, exhausted.

We checked out of the Crazy House Saturday morning and had a few hours to kill before the matinee of Wicked that the girls and I--and many other family members--had tickets to.  Jon offered to watch Henry and Daniel during the show, so we made a plan to meet the rest of our family members at the Capitol Theatre in SLC a little bit later for the 2:00 pm curtain.

Our family decided we hadn't had enough of Park City so we returned for more adventure.  Adventure was had to be sure, but I can scarcely look at these photos or write this recap without reliving the immense anxiety that accompanied these next events...  

We arrived at Olympic Park just the ski jumpers were finishing up their show.  Their high-flying aerial skills are amazing!



The kids decided that they wanted go give the zip line a try.  There are two options at Utah Olympic Park, the Freestyle zip line and the Extreme zip line.  The girls did not meet the weight minimum for the Extreme version, so we bought three tickets for the Freestyle.  The Freestyle's steep chair lift ride up the cliff was free, so Jon and I followed the kids to the top.  The line starts at the platform seen on the right side of the photo below.  The Extreme is seen at the very top, on the left side of the ski jumps:


 Riding to the top:


Caleb ready to go:



Jon and I rode the lift down to meet the girls at the bottom.


Here they come!



It was just too much fun for Caleb not to try the Extreme version.  So we bought him a ticket and sent him up the much longer and steeper chair lift alone, as it was not included for non-riders.

After sending Caleb up the mountain, I noticed an "estimated wait time" white board and started to panic that he would not make it down in time for us to get to the theater.  I had a worker radio to the top to see how far back in the line he was and to make sure they knew he was a single rider, hoping that would help him skip to the front like it had on the smaller zip line.  They told me he was about thirty minutes back which was cutting it awfully close.  I wanted to leave no later than 1:00.  Their estimate was pushing us slightly over that deadline.

The girls rode the free chairlift again but then were getting antsy waiting for Caleb.  There was a neat ropes course nearby, so I suggested they go do it while they were waiting.  What I didn't realize then was that once you entered the course, you could not get off without finishing the entire thing.  You also couldn't go around any slow pokes in front of you.  (We had done the ropes course at the Provo Beach Resort the week before and it is set up in a way that allows participants to go in all different directions and at all individual paces.  I wrongly assumed that this course was similar.) To make matters worse, a group of four girls (much less agile than mine) had cut in front of Lys and Nat when they were being fitted for their gear and my girls hadn't stood their ground.

Alyssa and Natalie are competitive gymnasts that are capable of moving through the rather difficult course (much more difficult than the Provo version) with ease.  But I soon realized that they were at the mercy of all of the people in front of them on the course.  After the first obstacle, it was clear that this was going to take much longer than I expected.



Shortly after taking this picture, I started going out-of-my-mind crazy!


I ran to two different workers to tell them that I had theater tickets and needed to get my girls off of the course.  Both turned me down stating that I was making an impossible request.  In my helpless dismay, I took my frustration out on the girls, scolding them for letting those slower girls cut in front of them.  

"Go as fast as you can!  We are going to be late and if we are late, we will not be allowed in the theater.  I hope you remember this next time someone tries to cut in front of you!" I chided as they stood on a platform high above my head.

The girls were soon sobbing through each obstacle while I continued pacing between the ropes course and the end of the zip line.

Jon had gone to get the car, which was fairly far away and up a steep hill, in hopes that he could bring it closer and save a few precious minutes.  He, like me, was unaware at that point that the girls had to finish the one-way course and assumed that as soon as we caught sight of Caleb, we could high tail it out of there.  He called me to say that the way was blocked by a gate so he couldn't bring the car any closer.

A few minutes later he called again, "I see Caleb!  He's coming down right now.  Get the girls and let's go!"

"I can't!  They have to finish the course!" I replied in all-out panic.

"We're going to be late!  We need to leave right now!" he retorted.

"I knowwww!  I have already asked two different workers and no one can do anything about it!"  (My voice being significantly raised at this point.)

Another employee, one with seemingly more authority, who was walking past me at this very moment, stopped and asked, "Can I help you?"  I hung up with Jon and tried to calm myself enough to appear a sane person, though I'm sure any efforts to undo my crazy-lady first impression were entirely futile.  In the end, though he was exceptionally nice and calm, the only thing he could do to help was give me the code to the gate so that Jon could bring the car closer.  It was now 1:15 pm and he estimated the girls would take another 15 minutes to finish.  We were at least 30 minutes away from the theater!

The estimation was spot on and we sped away from Utah Olympic Park at 1:30.  Jon flew through Parley's Canyon, with bad rotors on our car only adding to our unease.  We pulled up to the Capitol Theater at 2:05 pm.  Maureen (who also had a ticket to the show) was waiting outside with Henry and Daniel, ready to load them in our car.  The ushers at the front door waved us through urgently and scanned our tickets.  As we ran up two flights of stairs toward our nosebleed seats I thought, "We're going to make it!"  We got to the door just as the orchestra blared their first notes and another usher extended both arms in front of us, telling us to stop. 

She said we could not enter the theater but she would be able to seat us in nine minutes.  I was worried they would make us wait until intermission, so missing the first nine minutes was not as bad as I was imagining.  It is, however, a crucial nine minutes of the story and when we were finally seated--frazzled and sweaty and stressed to the max--the girls were quite fidgety.  Natalie continued to fidget through the entire show and most of the story was lost on her.

So was the $65 ticket worth it for Natalie?  Probably not.  Did I still enjoy the show?  Absolutely.  But probably not as much as my previous calm and on-time viewings of this musical.

The end of the show marked the end of our time in Utah.  Jon was waiting curbside and as soon as we loaded up and said goodbye to our family members, we started on our way home.

The good memories certainly out-numbered the stressful ones.  It was a fabulous 16 days away--we reunited with family and friends and did a boatload of fun activities--but I was not sad to be going home.  It was time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hatch Family Reunion--Day 2

When the housing fell through, all subsequent reunion plans were shot.  As a result, much of Thursday morning was spent sitting around wondering what we should do next.  Some had no desire to make the 45 minute drive to Park City, while others, like myself, had been looking forward to experiencing that fun resort town.  Jon had purchased a Groupon for four to the Park City Gun Club, so he obviously voted to go to Park City as well.  

Plus, we needed to legitimize our reunion T-shirts that included the words "Park City" in the logo.  

Eventually three carloads of people left to find adventure in the place where the reunion was originally planned to take place.  No sooner had we arrived than we were informed that the remainder of the family was on their way and they were bringing a picnic lunch with them.  So we found the city park, a perfect place for some sandwiches.

We did the traditional cousins-in-age-order photo:


Left to right: Brendan-16, Caleb-15, Ansel-15, Seth-14, Connor-13, Alyssa-13, Jonas-12, Sam-11, Ian-11, Owen-10, Erin-9, Natalie-9, Henry-8, Sadie-7, Daniel-2

Cute girls that are great friends:


The boys found a basketball court.  Perfect for them.






Love this picture of mother and son:



And rabbit...I mean Grandpa, snacking on whole lettuce leaves like they were potato chips:


After lunch these guys left to boost their manhood by shooting big guns.  Remember Jon's Groupon?  Firing massive weapons may be manly but doing it while wearing matchy-matchy shirts might diminish that slightly.  Just a little bit.







They may have felt tough, but they came back giddy as school girls for all the fun they had.  I think they'd all cite this as a reunion highlight.

Meanwhile, the rest of us went to Park City Mountain Resort for a little fun of our own.  There was a period of more hemming and hawing and indecisiveness but ultimately, most of the cousins (and I!) went on the alpine slide.








Then cooled off with snow cones:





Everyone else headed for home but the kids and I really wanted to try the alpine coaster.  It was an absolute blast.



On our way up the mountain, we started to feel sporadic splashes of raindrops.  Uh-oh.  Family pictures were next on the agenda and a storm was approaching.


After eating dinner and getting all spruced up, we reluctantly made our way to Wheeler Farm to meet a photographer that Lucy had hired to take our pictures.  I say reluctantly because dark clouds were gathering and a fierce wind blowing.  Then, just as we were getting ready to create our first pose, Owen got a bloody nose.

We'd hiked a little ways in to the photographer's chosen spot so Brendan had to sprint to the cars to find some tissue for Owen's nose while the Johnson's braved the wind for their family's shot.  Our family went next and I'm quite sure my face was completely covered by my wind-blown hair in most of those first pictures.  This photo shoot was a disaster.  

But, like everything else, it turned out okay in the end.  

We finally moved into a small clearing that was surrounded by trees and that offered some shelter from the wind.  And thankfully, the looming clouds withheld most of their raindrops.  I think we all agree that the pictures turned out far better than we imagined they would given our circumstances.

Grandma and Grandpa with their 15 grandchildren:


Our little family of 5:


The original Hatches:


Just the boys:


Cute, cute girls:


And the whole crew:



On the way home, I stopped to take a picture at Tara Lane.  Natalie had spotted it earlier and it was just too perfect not to go back and document the street sign with not just my first, but also my middle name.


That night, we gathered for our traditional family talent show.  It's always lots of fun.


Maureen donned a poodle skirt (except it didn't have a poodle) and led the kids in "Lollipop."




Emily told a clever joke.


Seth, Sam and Jay played "Popcorn Popping" on the bells, but not before doing proper stretching, of course.



Jonas and Owen sang a Les Miserables tune.


Alyssa choreographed a dance for the girls to do.  Can you see their pink and denim clothing coordination?





And the show ended as it often does, with Grandpa sharing his testimony and expressing his gratitude for each of his family members.


Not without its bumps, but a good day in the end.

Next up...Lagoon!