Saturday, April 30, 2016

Beautiful + Functional = Fun For All

Last weekend, our family took a short trip up to visit Uncle Weston and Aunt Myra in Sacramento. After accomplishing the task for which we came (utilizing Weston's variety of woodworking tools) we spent the rest of the day CLIMBING!!!....I know that may come as a shock to those of you who know our family ;)

The Auburn Quarry is an amazing place for family climbing! It was a bit of a hike in--1.5 miles on a nice level, wide trail. Next time, we considered biking in with the bike trailer carrying all the heavy climbing gear. 

The Quarry opens up in a V shape with the trail entering at the wide top of the V. When we arrived at 2pm on a Saturday, there were climbers EVERYWHERE! It was difficult to find a route to climb on, but after a little exploration and patience, we all got our fill of climbing. 

The area is perfectly suited to our smaller kids. Between the walls of the V, the area is wide and flat, filled with all kinds of goodies like rocks, dirt, grass, and bugs for the kids to enjoy. Plus, no high cliffs for them to fall off! Between climbs, the kids really had a good time with the natural surroundings making cricket houses, playing wolf, making nests, etc... And as an added bonus: a porta-potty :) 

We were all happy :)
Dawna was happy, which is a major accomplishment for an outdoor climbing day.  She generally prefers the indoor climbing scene, but the Quarry even made Dawna happy with plenty of routes suited to her level. 
Xochitl was happy, which isn't too surprising, since she got to use her brand new chalk bag for a real outdoor climb! This girl is all about the adventure! Nothing gets her down when we're out and about.

Larry (unfortunately unpictured) was happy, which is a big deal for him on an outdoorsy trip. Although the hike in wasn't his favorite, he happily climbed a couple routes between bug hunting and rock smashing, and even committed to coming back and climbing again at the Quarry. Hiking out he was much happier :)

Weston (also unpictured) was happy to be with us. He belayed Jon on some of the more difficult routes and even climbed a few himself. He also helped get Jade to the climb site happily by allowing her to ride on his shoulders. 
Jon was happy! The Quarry offered a wide range of climbs at all different skill levels. Top ropes could be easily set and retrieved by walking up the back, there were all kinds of climbs in the same area, and everyone got to feel successful and challenged. I think even Jon would want to return to tackle some of the other climbs.  I feel like we just scratched the surface...
And I was happy :) After finally settling on a climbing route, Jon halfway joking asked if I wanted to try to lead and set the rope for my top-rope climbing kids to follow. I said, "Sure!" not really knowing what I was getting into... I had attempted lead climbing at the gym, but never outside. Makes me nervous just belaying Jon on lead because when he falls, I take a short flight up the wall... 

But, the route was rated well below my level, and everyone was doing so well, so I went ahead with the idea. Jon gave me a Reader's Digest version of what to do and I stared at the wall for a good 15 minutes and practiced the first few moves while the kids were finishing up another climb. It was not a long route, only three clips, bolted, with two chains already in place for the anchor at the top. Sure, why not? I could do this... What could possibly go wrong?

So I tied in, collected my quick-draws (device that attaches the rope to the wall), being sure to take a couple extra in case I dropped some in my nervous state, attached my personal anchor to use at the top, and said, "On belay?"

And then I was off.  From the ground to the first clip was the most intense. The first clip was about 10 feet off the ground, and if you fall before clipping in, there's nothing at all to catch you except your own two feet and the uneven rocky ground below... and hopefully your belayer is there to make sure you don't hit your head on something (as you can see in the picture, I forgot a helmet--NOT recommended...)

So I made it to the first clip and got it on the wall and got my rope in, and then I was feeling a little more confident. The next two clips went well also as I took my careful time and tested out each hand and foothold before committing my weight to it. And then I was nearing the top...

Before the anchor at the top, there was an edge that opened up to a crack over the top. When I got to that point, I really wanted to climb into the crack. It looked so much more comforting and stable than hanging out over the ledge. The only problem was that the crack did not necessarily lead up to the anchor I had to reach. Plus, climbing into the crack would put me way off to the left of my clips, which would result in a much more frightening swinging fall if I missed a hold... I had watched and talked to a climber before me on the route. He told me when I got to that point to hold the edge and lean away for balance in order to reach the top. It made sense when I was at the bottom, but looking at it up close, and thirty feet off the ground, was another story. Was that really the best and surest way to get to the anchor? Despite my fast beating heart, I trusted that it was. I braced my right foot, held tightly to the edge, and straightened my arms to relax into the leaning hold. Then bit by bit I inched my hands up the edge of the crack to the top, where there was a delightfully deep jug to hang onto while securing my personal anchor, then anchoring the rope for my family to climb on after me. Whew! 

And that was that. I finished my first lead climb! GO ME!

Finishing a climb like that (even one rated as low as that one) gives you a real sense of ownership of the route. I didn't want to let anyone else belay on "my" climb. I felt that I knew the route better than anyone and could guide them up the wall. Dawna, Larry, Xochitl, Weston, and Jon all climbed after me, and my rope kept them all safe-yay! 

I know this sounds cheesy, but a primary song came to mind: "Lead me, guide me, walk beside me..." and this climbing gospel metaphor unfolded in my head. Looking up at the rope I had anchored in, I asked myself: am I anchored spiritually to the surest bolts (Jesus and His gospel)?  Thinking of the conversation I had with our fellow climber, I asked myself: do I trust that the advice from prophets will help me reach my goal, even when I can't see how in the moment? Watching my kids follow me up the climb, I pondered: if those I wish to teach follow my actions, will they also reach that sure anchor? Feeling the rope slide through my hands as I belayed, I wondered, is my testimony (like the rope) strong enough to catch me/them if something should go wrong?  All these things were running through my head for the rest of the day and into fast and testimony meeting the next day... where the whole ward had to hear about it :) Being outdoors has always been a place of reflection and pondering for me as I surround myself in God's creations. So grateful to have a husband that will take me on adventures and a family that will happily come along! 

So, who wants to go climbing???

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Friday, April 22, 2016

A Night of Classics

This year's piano recital was Classics themed. I had three kids performing this year. The recital was in the chapel, so there's no original footage, but after the fact, I got a recording of their speeches and performances, so without further ado...

(I particularly love that she added her own applause at the end...)
Dawna's song was re-purposed for the Lincoln talent show...
Yeah, those are my kids :) So glad they put up with my nagging about practicing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Simply Six

Xochitl has turned six! After such an overwhelming March, we decided (well, Mom decided...) that simple would be best for her birthday. 

In the morning, she got to open family presents, including a home made blanket for Olivia made by Dawna, new Sunday shoes, an R2-D2 water bottle, and a pony for Olivia. Then, I brought Krispy Kreme doughnuts for her kindergarten class at snack recess and returned with Chipotle for her lunch. 

Since it was piano lesson day, off we went to Nana's house after school as usual.  Nana had prepared classic fun party games and dinner as requested by Naomi: hamburgers and French fries.
 Jon got to join us for the fun and brought a super special gift for her: a hot pink chalk bag for climbing. It was exactly what she had asked for and was tickled beyond words to have her own chalk bag!!
 For a little celebration with friends, we decided to do a dinner and a movie night at out house. Pizza, popcorn, and pals all night! Xochitl asked for a "Whale Watermelon" for her cake... ok... Those are always lots of fun to make... and way better than cake, in my opinion!
The kids sort of watched, but mostly the Lego Movie was going on in the background while the kids ate dinner, played Legos, and played outside. It was a fun, relaxing way to celebrate six!

Naomi is starting her sixth year wonderfully. She is a capable, confident, and caring kindergarten girl. She loves her gymnastics class and loves to go climbing. Independent and strong-willed (in mostly a good way...), and just beautiful in every way!