Sunday, January 08, 2017


A big rainstorm was coming through this weekend!

So, naturally, we slept outside :) 

Dry, cozy, and toasty warm all night while raindrop lullabies pitter patted me to sleep. Oh! And there were lots of awesome frogs sounds, too! Now we know we're ready for wet winter camping adventures!

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Snow way!

Our 12th anniversary was spent in the company of our favorite people: Dawna, Lawrence, Xochitl, and Jade. Traditionally, Jon and I have ditched the kids for anniversary fun, but we were feeling generous this year. 

On Christmas, Santa left a suitcase full of new snow clothes, a little toboggan, and a giant card explaining that we'd be spending 3 days in beautiful snowy Yosemite! Day One was really just an evening tour of the valley, with one short stop to touch the snow and admire the view and the previously assembled snowman (see above...). 

Day Two dawned beautiful and icy! We even got to use the snow chains we've been storing for a decade! Nice that they felt useful! We drove up Glacier Point Road and found a little turn-off where we could get some sledding in! We were out in the snow for over four hours running up, sliding down, throwing snowballs, playing games... lots of people came and went in the time we were there, but one particularly memorable person came sliding down the hill, stood up, looked at my oldest daughter, and said, "Hey there!" in a somewhat alluring tone. I was about to punch the kid in the face for flirting with a 10-year-old... but then, to my surprise, Dawna said, "Oh, hi Jonathan!" Wait, what?? Turns out that this kid is on the climbing team at The Peak with Dawna. How incredibly random that we ran into him and his family on an unmarked turnout up Glacier Point Road in Yosemite... 

On the way out that night, we enjoyed pizza at Half Dome village (who knew you could get pizza at 8pm in the middle of a national park??) and went to bed dreaming of our next-day's adventure... 

Day Three dawned bright and early as we headed back up Glacier Point Road to the ski and snowboard area. While the downhill slopes were still closed, the cross country and snowshoeing trails were open and groomed and ready for adventure! 

I could write a book about our day out there, but I'll spare you the length and just give you the table of contents: 

The Kobersteins Go Cross Country Skiing! 

Chapter 1: In which there is much giggling and excitement in renting cool equipment! 

Chapter 2: In which it takes a REALLY long time to get ready (snow clothes and bathrooms don't mix...)

Chapter 3: In which Mom and Dad set a way-too-ambitious distance goal 

Chapter 4: In which the skis go on and it takes half an hour to get to the trail... 

Chapter 5: In which we find ruts to put the skis in and actually start moving!
Chapter 6: In which most of the snow clothes go into mom's backpack

Chapter 7: In which we stop for lunch

Chapter 8: In which we go downhill for a while... NOW it's fun!

Chapter 9: In which we have to turn around... and go back uphill

Chapter 10: In which Jade can run faster uphill than the kids skiing uphill

Chapter 11: In which is shouted "I Quit!" 

Chapter 12: In which skis are removed and carried over shoulder back to rental office. 

Chapter 13: In which mom and dad decide to come alone next time...

Epilogue: In which, on the drive home, all the kids decide it was fun after all :) 

(Total distance skied: 2 miles... )

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Monday, December 12, 2016

The Handy Man Can

From down the hall, I heard a thwick, flump thump.  Oh dear. Upon entering my closet, I found that the hanging racks had suddenly decided to quit and ripped right out of the drywall. And yes, in the exciting tradition of jobs poorly done, we find yet another example in our house with closet clothes racks installed just into drywall. Studs are overrated, apparently (although I must admit I'm a little impressed that they've lasted these 7 years...).

Anyway, lucky for me, my handy husband Jon jumped into action, watching quite a few DIY YouTube videos and scheming and planning some new, sturdier shelving for our closet.

Saturday was the big day! Off he went to the "Hard Work Store" as my kids so lovingly call it, with our dainty little Crosstrek Perry, only to realize that he needed the Big Mama mini van Eva in order to get all the large pieces of wood home. So, after a little car shifting, he and the supplies were all home and he was starting the project. But any project that requires only one trip to the hardware store is hardly worth mentioning.  Saturday's portion of the project took 3 trips, ultimately finishing off with the addition of a new member of our power tool family:

Isn't she beautiful?? (Weston will be so proud...)

Once installed, Jon demonstrated his strength and the strength of my new shelf and rack by doing several manly pull-ups on them (but sadly would not repeat the feat for my camera...but trust me, it was amazing!) I'm convinced these will NOT fall off the wall :)

And now, an ode to my Handy Man:
Who can fix my closet?
Buy a saw or two?
Happily completing yet another "honey-do":
The Handy Man...
Oh, my Handy Man Can!

Thank you, Jon! I'm so ready to move our stuff back into the closet!!!

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Breakfast with Santa!

 Our elementary school has an annual Breakfast with Santa. This year is the first time the Kobersteins have attended, mainly due to the fact that they asked our Leopard Choir to sing :)

Even though I was a skeptic at first, I was overwhelmed by how much fun it was and even joined in the festivities by getting pictures with Santa (something I've never done before...)
After the choir sang, I stood in line to take pictures... the line was REALLY long--and you can see why... McLoy Photography offered their services to the school and we got some really cute pictures! Sadly, Larry wasn't there (he was at his first day of basketball) so I only have my girls in the pictures with Santa.
This is my favorite picture of the bunch.  Jade's 3-year-old Christmastime has been magical for her. She lovingly embraced the idea of Santa Claus and told him exactly what she wanted: A Rainbow Dash pony... and that did indeed appear on Christmas morning!  I love the feeling of magic around Christmas!


Monday, November 07, 2016

Channel Islands SCUBA 2016

We had an amazing dive trip this year aboard the Conception! For the first time, I took our GoPro down with me on several dives (last year I took the camera but forgot a memory card...) I'm still learning how to manage a camera underwater, but I think I got a good start... I learned that holding still is very difficult underwater and my angle was a little high when the amera was attached to my forehead... but hopefully this montage will give you all a little taste of life aboard the Conception!

Of course, some of the most memorable moments of the trip happened when my camera wasn't in my hands... including:

  • A VERY large dorsal fin...the captain saying, "That's unusual behavior for a Great White... I think we're done diving here." (thankfully heard after getting back on board...)
  • A bald eagle attacking a seagull and enjoying it as a hearty lunch!
  • Dolphins playing and jumping around the wake of the boat
  • A playful seal inspecting our spearfishing catches
  • An obnoxious fish that snatched my very first scallop right out of my fingers and ate it! grrr...
It was a blast to be sure! We caught a lot of opal eye this year, but unfortunately didn't make it out to the great Ling Cod reef we hit last year. Jon made a historic catch of two lobsters in one dive! 

Many thanks to our local family (Terry & Luetta, Weston & Myra) for taking care of kids while we enjoyed our trip! 

Monday, July 11, 2016


So recently Danielle gave me editing permission on her blog. And by recently I mean a year or so ago. She has been patiently wondering if I would ever actually contribute to the blog. So today to Danielle's astonishment you get to hear from the other much less talented contributor to Luma Solem.

Note: All the images have a title. Hover of the images with your mouse to read them.


Devon and I had planned on doing Squawstruck last year right after the Koberstein reunion. However I managed to crack a rib the week before we were scheduled to do the route. (And yes it was cracked despite what the other blogger said about it previously) This was very disappointing to me but I only had myself to blame. But my dearest wife Danielle told me that if another opportunity came up to do the climb I should fly out to do it. It just so happened that Devon was in the area this past week.

Final plans were not made for the trip until a few weeks before the trip. It felt a little hectic but it was also nice to not have any time to stress about it. During my preparations I realized I would miss my Father's birthday as the trip was on the same weekend as his birthday. It was sad but I had already committed to the climbing trip before any birthday plans were made and the tickets were non refundable. So I decided to head out on the climb anyways. Sorry Dad.

I have done a few 'big' climbing trips in the past few years. Details can be found on my mountain project page. So far most of my routes have been in the easy range. However Squawstruck is the longest and hardest route to date. It is a 5.11- and 1900 feet of climbing broken up into 22 pitches. I was very excited to try something hard that required a little bit of skill and ability. I was looking forward to testing all the training I have been doing while Dawna and Larry are in their climbing class.

Devon and I decided to start our climb at midnight. This would require a little bit of climbing in the dark but would help us avoid the heat of the day. Unfortunately I had to travel and work on Friday and didn't get to sleep until 10pm. This is why I look a little bit crazed in this 1 am start-of-climb picture.
We did not coordinate our outfits. It just happened.
Fortunately the climbing was interesting and hard enough that I did not feel tired again until after we were safely back in Provo.

The only snafu during the climb happened on the first pitch. We climbed up an intimidating roof which had some good pockets that made it easier than it looked. And then when we got to the top I was moving my belay device around and it jumped out of my hands. I heard it hit the rock by my feet once and I shouted something incoherent. Devon felt it slide past his feet and then we heard it hit something soft on the ground 110 feet below us. At this moment I knew that I had again ruined our attempt to finish the route. You need two belay devices to do a climb like this. We talked about options and Devon decided to rappel down on his device and look for mine on the ground. We didn't hear it hit the rock on the way down so IF we could find the device it should be safe to use for the rest of the climb. With little hope I waited in the dark at the top of the first pitch to see if Devon could find the device. Amazingly he found it just after he lit upon the ground. I heard a loud shout of joy and then he climbed up and we were ready to go again. Also this gave me the chance to use the Munter hitch as an improvised belay device. That's the first time I've had to do that. Glad I have spent the time learning how to do that.

After a several hours of climbing in the dark the sun began to show up. I was happy to turn my head lamp off. Climbing in the dark makes finding holds harder and my light was getting dimmer making it harder as I went. The only down side about the sun is it mean the dreaded heat was coming. We hoped that the rock wouldn't get too hot to hold in the afternoon.
Sunlight approaches!

Unfortunately the most interesting photo opportunities in a climb like this are not easy to capture. Because you are holding onto the cliff attempting to not fall off. So you end up with a bunch of pictures at belay stations or near them like this one.
Chilling 900 feet up the route.
So I'm going to have to use words to explain a few of the interesting things we saw.

Pitch 2 has the leap of faith. You climb up a pillar and then have to down climb 10 feet of the far side of the pillar and step jump onto the face of the wall next to the pillar.

Pitch 3-5? At one point during the climb I went to stick my hand into a pocket and a large wolf spider (3 in across) crawled out. It surprised me a bit and I decided to skip that pocket. Luckily it was on easy terrain and didn't require me to use that particular hold to climb through.

Pitch 6 was my hardest lead. 5.10c. I was pretty pleased with myself at this point and even considering leading something harder. However some unexpected falls when I was following Devon in the next few pitches reminded me that I am prone to falling as the grade approaches 5.11.

Pitch 9 was the Orange Julius pitch. It started off with a small cave that had a mystery liquid dripping out the bottom. I suspect it was bat guano. A little further up there was some of the strangest and worst rock of the trip. It was oozing yellow-redish rock. It was more a mix between clay and rock than actual rock. I'm really not sure why it was oozing.

Between pitch 11 and 12 was a cave or mine.

Last shade until we hike down.
The cave was supposed to be a nice place to cool off from the sun but fortunately it hadn't gotten too hot yet. As we climbed higher the wind picked up and kept us from boiling in the afternoon.

Pitch 14 The crux pitch. Devon lead this pitch (he also led the other 5.10+ pitches before and after this one). He did an amazing job and only fell twice at the crux. These where his only two falls for the whole trip. I unfortunately claimed quiet a few more falls on the climb. But not too many more than Devon.

Pitch 15 was missing a bolt on the crux. I hate to admit it but I was glad that Devon also lead this one. It looked scary with the missing bolt. It would have been a pretty good fall after the missing bolt.

Pitches 17-22 We thought that since we had passed the crux the rest of the climbing would be easy.
Getting up pretty high now and nearing the top.
However we forgot that some of the following pitches were nearly just as hard as the crux. All the way to the last pitch the climbing was pretty tough. The "easy" climbing included several roofs and difficult moves and all felt much harder than the rating would indicate. I think the long day took it's toll on me. These last pitches had some very very sharp rock as well. There were pockets that had razor sharp crystals like the inside of a geode. The limestone up here and was so sharp that the slopping holds felt like they had little pin head sticking out of them. It was nice because it made it easier to hold onto the rock but we also paid the price for the nice sticky rock.
The back of my hand.
Also at about this point I ran out of water. 3 liters was not quiet enough water for comfort. I had to climb the last 4-5 pitches sharing water with Devon. He only brought 2.5 liters of water but doesn't leak water as much as me.

Topping out!
Finally we reached the top! When Devon yelled back that I was on belay he startled a group of girls sitting near the flag. They were not expecting to see two smelly men crawling up the cliff face.
Now all we had to do was hike down with no water. Seemed like a small task at this point. On the way down I began to feel something touch the back of my throat. I tried to spit it out but it would not move. Panicking a little bit I asked Devon what was in my mouth. It was my uvula. Apparently if you don't drink enough and breath a lot (due to hard climbing) you can dry your uvula out enough for it to swell from the irritation. It was an odd feeling to have your uvula dragging around on the back of your tongue. Fortunately it quickly healed once we reached the drinking fountain near the bottom of the climb.

I recently heard a famous climber say that the best climber in the world is the one who is having the most fun. By this metric I definitely have a chance at being the best in the world. I know that I am the luckiest. I have a wonderful family who supports me in my crazy adventures and even tags along with me when I'm not trying things that are too crazy. Between a great climbing partner, my wonderful wife and my four perfect kids I truly am the luckiest and at least the happiest climber in the world.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Fun, Something's begun!

Our first week of summer was filled with fun and excitement on all fronts.

Around the house, it was fun to watch American Home Renewal work hard replacing all our windows and our sliding patio door!
 Scaffolding had to be used to reach the upstairs window and trim. Jade was particularly tempted by the low bars and potential for climbing...
Goodbye old door!
Fun to see one by one the old windows go and the new slick windows go in!
And now there are bedroom windows that my kids can actually open! And they're up to code and fire safe and all that jazz...
But as any homeowner knows, one home improvement project begets another... so yes, as you can see, we now have a painting job to consider... yay...

For our Cub Scout, the first week of summer was filled with loads of learning and crafting and shooting at Cub Scout Day camp!
 Lawrence's den performing the classic "JC Penny" skit ("Where'd you get that jacket? ... watch?" etc. "From JC Penny." Last scout runs by wrapped in a towel. "Who are you?" "JC Penny!" haha...)
In spite of a rough beginning to the week with the scout trailer being burglarized, the leaders pulled off a great camp for the boys.  Lawrence was particularly proud of a wooden box that he made and the gold bead that he earned for making a bulls eye on the archery range! On the last day, I treated the kids to McDonalds for lunch and had a picnic lunch at the park before watching each den perform their skit. 

Back at home in our garden, we thinned out the carrots and enjoyed nibbling on the little ones, making room for bigger ones to grow.  We're trying some multi-colored fun this summer in the garden, including purple/white/yellow/orange carrots, green and gold beans, and yellow/red/purple beets. 
The only big downside to the week was that daddy was gone at Zion's camp all week.  He had a great time helping the boys do some climbing and serving with the youth, which is a good thing, but the evenings are always harder when daddy's not home... and clearly, my photography is not very good when daddy's not home... 

Week one of summer fun: done. 

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