Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Nov '13

The Day After Thanksgiving

We had this brilliant idea to go to Salt Lake City the day after Thanksgiving and to stay in a hotel right by the new downtown mall.

Then we remembered it was Black Friday. But we went anyway.

Getting ready took most of the morning, as things do with kids. When we were all finally packed we were on our way to Salt Lake City. We checked in to our hotel downtown, parked the car, and started pulling stuff out. That’s when John said, “Where’s the suitcase?” and our conversation went something like:

“I don’t know, didn’t you pack it in the car?”

“No, I thought you did.”

“No, I thought YOU did.”

And so we checked ourselves out of the hotel and transformed our overnight plans into a short daytrip.

We began at the Leonardo, a science and creative arts and technology museum.


Our first stop was the creative studio. Carissa, Wes, and I each made something out of clay. (Elizabeth played on the beanbag.)





Wes and Dad made a train. I made a turtle. Carissa made…I’m not sure what it is.



Next we went upstairs where the kids played in the pixel station.





Next was the green screen room. The kids could stand in front of the green screen and see themselves on a TV with a weather map behind them. They thought that was neat, but even neater was holding up a green piece of fabric and making themselves disappear on the TV. Cool science!


See how Wes is partially missing?



The kids spent a lot of time in the Motion Capture room, where they could dance to music in their bare feet. A motion sensor could pick up one person’s structure and while you dance, you can see your skeleton move with you on the TV screen. Carissa was too little for the motion sensor to detect her, but it worked for Wes. (P.S. Do you notice how he’s pulling the same dance move in the picture below as in the picture above from the green room?)


The kids loved dancing in this room, especially Elizabeth. Good thing the place wasn’t busy.



Even I got to rock it out with my kids.


John helped the kids make a stop-action film in the room near the dancing room, but I guess I didn’t take any pictures. They also used a paintbrush to touch a computer screen and create art.

By now it was 5 pm and kids (namely me) were getting hungry. We took the Trax train back to the City Creek Mall and walked around to find a place to eat. Turns out that on Black Friday, at a new mall, on the night Temple Square turns on its Christmas lights, restaurants are pretty busy around 5:30 pm. We went to four different places but all had an hour wait. We went to the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and got this picture:


I thought that might be the closest we’d get to the lights, but we decided to take a quick stroll through them before heading back towards our car. At least it was above freezing, which was especially nice since I left our kids’ hats and gloves and my scarf in our car back at the hotel parking lot.



It was about 6:30 pm. We thought we would go back to the hotel and end up at a drive-through somewhere. This was a little disappointing since we had been looking forward to a sit-down restaurant (which we haven’t done in a long while). Just as we were headed back through the mall towards our car John pointed out a Brazilian steakhouse. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask, so for the fifth time I asked what the wait was, and for the first time I got a “You can come right in” reply. Hallelujah!

It was a Brazilian churrasco-style menu where they serve yummy fresh-grilled meat at your table, and you can get additional sides from the salad bar. We were hungry, and the children were tired. It was pricey but we didn’t care. We weren’t paying for a hotel anymore, so why not?

And it was delicious. The filet Mignon, grilled pineapple, garlic mashed potatoes, cheesy bread, caramelized bananas, fresh Parmesan… Yep, it was a tasty dinner. Carissa made it through the whole dinner happily, but progressively more tiredly.


Elizabeth fell asleep in the stroller not too long after we sat down. Wes ate a little and then crawled into my lap and fell asleep around 7:45 pm. We enjoyed our peaceful dinner.


Aug '13

Another Birthday

Yesterday I turned 32. In the morning I took the kids to a bagel place where I had the most delicious peanut butter and jelly bagel, toasted and schmeared with cream cheese. We sat outside and ate under an umbrella. Then we picked up dry cleaning and headed to a Zumba class for special needs kids (wherein neither of the two teachers showed up, and I and another lady pulled out our mp3 players and made up stuff for half an hour). We ordered pizza for lunch. My sister and two of her kids came for a visit.

This was all great. But the best part of my birthday was about to begin. John and I hired babysitters to watch our kids while we went to Sundance Resort, up the canyon in the mountains. I’ve long wanted to take a “scenic lift ride,” which is what they call the ski lift in the off-season. The weather was beautiful and about about five degrees cooler than in the valley. The lift is $12 per person and well worth it. The views of the mountain range was amazing; there are a lot more mountains up there than you realize when you’re standing in the valley.

I’m scared of heights, which is one reason I wanted to take the lift. It’s good to do something sometimes that scares you. But when we got to the top I was feeling pretty exhilarated!



We hopped off at Ray’s Summit and took a short hike. There are several hikes you can take, including one to Stewart Falls, but we only had time for about a 1-mile jaunt before the lift closed for the evening. Still, it was really a pleasant and fun way to spend the afternoon. We met several families on hikes, saw a couple taking engagement photos, a mountain biker preparing to descend the mountain, and a hiker climbing a tree. But for the most part we were alone, which was so nice and peaceful. Spending time one-on-one with the person I love reminds me how much I enjoy spending time with him and much I still admire and love him.

The hiking trail was fairly easy but it ran along the mountainside, with drops that seemed to go a long way down. Didn’t I mention that I’m scared of heights? So I just kept my eyes to the trail and the mountain scenery.




I wish we had more time and could’ve hiked further. But, alas, the hiking resurrected a a knee injury I have that gets inflamed when hiking downhill. So maybe it was better we stuck to an hour hike.

I loved, loved, loved this time. The evening air was cooling off more as we got back on the lift for our ride back down the mountain. It was peaceful and serene. And high. (Scared of heights!) This might be my hand gripping the safety bar.



Sometimes I may have looked like this.




To top it off, when we got to the bottom John and I bought a chocolate-peanut butter milk shake to share from the Sundance deli. When I saw the total was nearly $6 I felt a little bad, but then I tasted it. Dang.


If there is a chocolate-peanut butter milkshake worth $6, this is IT. I think they used chocolate Haagen Dazs and very little milk.

Sitting there, on the mountainside, with my milkshake and my husband, looking up at the pristine blue sky and forest peaks, I felt things were perfect. It was a happy birthday.

Jun '13

Happy Father’s Day to Daddy

The kids started the day with artwork for Dad. Wes drew this picture of Daddy. It’s the best I’ve ever seen him draw a person. On the right are the eyes, nose, smiley face and ears, with a big (half) circle around them for a face, and squiggly lines for a body. Really good!


The Primary at church gave out ties to decorate for Father’s Day. So the kids used ink to stamp their hands on paper, which I glued to the tie. The five hearts at the top represent our family of five. John was a good sport to wear it in public today at church.


John gave the kids some tickles.


The kids got really excited to watch Dad open presents. They suspected it meant a birthday and a party and cake with candles…but they were OK with it just being Father’s Day and being able to say, “Happy Father’s Day!” (although Wes keeps saying “Happy Mother’s Day!”)


Mar '13

Pictures by the Kiddos

Wes or Carissa sometimes snag my camera without me knowing it.

And this is my favorite, courtesy of Carissa. Reminds me of a picture I have of us in my kitchen from our dating days back in college.

Feb '13


This year marks our 11th Valentine’s Day together. Our first one was on separate continents, and John sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Today we celebrated together with our three kids by going out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

We sat by the fireplace, which was cozy and could almost be considered romantic if we weren’t taking turns coloring on the kids menus with Wes and Carissa and cutting the kids’ food. Still, we enjoyed breakfast. The kids and I had chocolate milk.

Elizabeth slept the whole time, almost.

We got three and four of us in a photo by the fireplace to remember the morning.

I love Wes and Carissa in this photo.

Cracker Barrel has a country store in front that brought out a whole new side of Carissa: the shopaholic within.

She enjoyed playing with the little Easter rabbits that moved and danced, and touching virtually everything the store. In the end I had to pick her up and carry her out whilst mid-tantrum. In the parking lot I suggested she pick out a rock for her and Wes to take home. That calmed her down right quick and she was happy.

Later in the day I took Wes and Carissa to a chocolate store to get the one thing I really wanted: a slice of frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate. It’s pretty much heaven.

When we got home I discovered the other thing I really like about Valentine’s Day: my flowers. And this after our conversation in the car about how overpriced flowers are on V-day! Nonetheless, I won’t turn down fresh flowers with baby’s breath.

Nov '12

Renaissance Festival

In September John and I heard about a local Renaissance festival happening for the first time. We’d never been to one so we decided to go and take the kids.

We started by exploring a pirate ship.

Then we watched an archery demo.

The bird demo was next. It was interesting to learn about how birds were used for hunting by kings and nobles.

Here’s a hawk…

…an owl…

…and a red eagle.

We took the kids to a calligraphy station where they got to color…

…and we had Wesley’s name written by a real calligrapher.

And what would a Renaissance festival be without funnel cake or sword fighting?

We had fun, and there were lots of things we didn’t even get to, like puppet shows and a Shakespearean performance. Maybe we’ll go back next year, too.