Friday, January 15, 2010

Visit to Bluff Fort

We had so much fun exploring the fort - Connor stayed warm and snuggly in the van with Mona!

To celebrate our seventh anniversary, and to enjoy time with the whole family, we made the 50 minute drive South of Monticello to the little town of Bluff, Utah to visit the Bluff Fort. It's a historical site dedicated to the memory of the brave pioneer men & women who created a trail through some of the most harsh country in Utah. Once they drove their wagons down through an unbelievably steep and seemingly impossible crevice in a sheer rock face that is now known as "The Hole In The Rock", they then had to pull the same wagons up a hill known as "Cottonwood Canyon." Once they reached their destination, there was more trial and difficulty as their crops were devastated again and again by the harsh, hot, dry conditions and river flooding in the summertime, not to mention the difficulties they had with the Native Americans they were called there to maintain peace with and be missionaries to. But we are so grateful for the example of their faith & fortitude. Our ancestors (both Jake's and mine) were among those who stuck it out. It was a very humbling experience to visit the recently reconstructed cabins and to stand in the place where these remarkable men & women once stood. Near the visitor's center, there is actually one of the original wagons that made that harrowing journey. I recently have been reading both the historical accounts my relatives left of the journey as well as recent works of historical fiction (which I've enjoyed as it has brought these people to life even more for me.) As I stood there with my hand on that worn, aged wood of that wagon and looked at those wheels I was moved to tears by the spirit of those wonderful people. What a wonderful way to spend our seventh anniversary, with our family members who are still striving to live with the same conviction today as our forbears did! I am particularly grateful for a husband who strives daily to live up to the example they set. I only hope I can continue to nourish my testimony so that it is as strong and steadfast as was the fire of testimony burning in the hearts of those gallant pioneers.

Our first stop was the "Twin Rocks Cafe". Named for, you guessed it - the Twin Rocks. We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Navajo Tacos. A San Juan County treat. Seriously, if you're ever there, you MUST eat one. Either at the cafe in Bluff or on the 24th of July (Pioneer Day!) at the carnival. Yummy!

On the steps of the cafe.

The kids (particularly Clayton) were enamored with this gigantic stuffed bear in the cafe's gift shop.

Caroline pointing out the names of our Ancestors!

President John Taylor - Prophet and 3rd president of the church. He called these pioneers on a mission to settle this part of Utah.

Exploring the first rock home build at Bluff Fort.

An original Hole-in-the-Rock wagon.

There were both a teepee and a hogan on site. The kids loved the teepee!

Daddy taking the kids for a ride in the mini handcart.

Covered Wagons are Fun! (when you don't have to live in, sleep in with all your siblings & parents or drive one down a precariously steep trail.)

The Redd Family Cabin!

The beautiful Redd Family home.

Peeking around a tree in the backyard.

To read an account of Stanford & Belle Smith's (not my ancestors, but I still admire their spirit and dedication!) descent throught the Hole-in-the-Rock, go here.

If you'd like to read more about the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers, I recommend:

The Undaunted by Gerald N. Lund - masterfully written and a very enjoyable read with some romance and fun mixed in.


Hearts Afire by Blaine M. Yorgason - a 3 book series that I personally enjoyed even more than the book by Gerald Lund. I felt there was more detail and there was a lot of my own ancestors woven into the story. It was exciting for me to read about the personality of Lemuel Hardison Redd Sr. and his son Lem (Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr.) and I was able to see some definite family resemblences in personality as Yorgason took actual quotes and experiences from family histories to build the characters in the story. My father is Lemuel Hardison Redd IV, and I could see how some of the personality characteristics were inherited!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Christmas Day (in no particular order)

I feel like my photos are a little Caroline-heavy. I seriously thought I took as many pictures of the boys - but maybe since Clayton did pretty much the same thing the rest of the day I figured I had enough pictures of him. Anyhoo - here's Christmas (only what, 3 1/2 weeks after the fact???)

Chillin' with Papa.

Mar and the boys p;aying with new Christmas toys.

Clayton's awesome Batmobile from Santa. When the key on the back is turned, the engine revs and then the car takes off and will go up to 20 feet. It came with a little Batman figure to go inside. He was lost before we came home.

Jake hiding at the top of the stairs and the rest of us posing by the stockings. We had
'little kid" Christmas fitst, and then while they played we raided our stockings.

Goin' fishing!

More of the Batmobile. It's all he wanted to play with.

Caroline & Aunt Cindy. I think someone was caught by surprise by the camera.

Nanny and Cath. Aren't they gorgeous???

Nan and Cindy. Breathtaking. Really.

Nanny, Cindy, Mar & Cath. Seriously. Beautiful women. Gives me a complex every time I go home. :)

Rodeo princess Caroline. Notice Clayton in the background gleefully chasing his batmobile.

Checkin' out the goods.

Cindy and Clayton on the new ATV. Even after they'd been out for awhile and were both turning into ice cubes, he didn't want to come in. He wanted to "go faster!!!"

Connor modeling his new hat & booties - handmade by Marilyn. I don't think we've gone a single day since Christmas that he hasn't worn the hat or booties or both.

More Mar & Connor.

Knight figurine (that came with a dragon from Caroline) and the now MIA Batman.

Pretty excited about the Tinkerbell toothbrush in her stocking. Clayton was stoked about the Spiderman toothbrush - he immediately unwrapped it - and then went back to playing with the Batmobile. I swear, I did try to take pictures of him doing other things.

She liked the Belle Pez dispenser too. And again, Clayton was pretty excited about the Batman one in his stocking. But it still didn't tear him away from his favorite toy for very long.

Mini Whinnies!!!

Not actually Christmas Day - but this is Caroline's Christmas dress. I made it and the matching one for her doll.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Helping at Papa's Ranch

On Christmas Eve, Aunties Marilyn and Cindy took Caroline & Clayton with them and Papa to "help" feed the cows and horses. The kids loved being in the mangers, helping to toss hay to the animals and trying to get as close as they could to them. On the rock face behind one of the mangers, they discovered some numbers carved into the sandstone. They figure some sheepherder was wintered here on Christmas eve 72 years ago and marked the night's passing with 12-24-37. Clayton tuckered out near lunchtime, and despite Cindy's best efforts to keep him awake, he was zonked by the time they reached the "cave" to eat the sandwiches they'd packed. Caroline remembered earlier visits and begged Papa to make a fire in the firepit to warm herself up. He also found some marshmallows which they roasted, resulting in a completely happy Caroline. Too bad Clayton slept through all the fun - I don't think he even woke up until they were almost home!
Future Cattleman - Clayton likes the horses, but always tries to get in on the bovine action when he's helping Papa. Maybe because they're such a novelty right now. Someday when we have our own, he can get his fill daily!
A shepherd's Christmas Eve celebration.
This is how we entertain ourselves in the cab of the truck while Papa feeds the cows - playing with Papa's goggles and sunglasses. Such cuties!
We love Sammy - Aunt Catherine's doggy!
Christmas Eve in the cave - roasting marshmallows with Aunt Mar. Yum!

Monday, January 4, 2010

We survived...

...our first day of preschool! Both Caroline AND Mama. Turns out sausage gravy and bisquits aren't as yummy from the school cafeteria as they sound. But butterscotch pudding is delicious. She didn't know the drill for recess and didn't hear the bell - got left outside swinging with the big kids and an aide had to come in search of her. And she has a new friend - I have no idea how to spell his name - but he's a cutie and was very sweet with her. She loved learning that calico cats have 3 different colors and she thought practicing writing her name on the little chalkboard at her desk was cool. Circle time on the rug was "short", but she enjoyed centers (though I'm not sure what exactly she was trying to explain to me that she did there.) Whew! What a big day for us! She crashed in her carseat on the way home, after her detailed tale of her day, but now she's awake and enjoying a donut with her little brother.

My Baby's On the School Bus!

Yay! Seatbelts on our little "schoolbus"!!!

I called my sister 30 seconds after the bus pulled away from the stop to tell her in a somewhat panicked voice that "My baby's on the school bus!" I guess the tone of my voice registered before the words did because I caused her a minute of concern until it all came together in her brain. Surprisingly though, I did not cry. I'm not sure how I'm feeling about the first day of preschool for Caroline. Excited for her. A little anxious. She's still so small! But last night as she got ready for bed, she decided that she wanted to sleep on the top bunk for the first time. I wonder if in her little head, "big girl going to school" equates "big girl sleeping in the top bunk"?

She boarded the bus (Ford Explorer - our school district is very small and there aren't many kids out this way right now so I suppose this is definitely better mileage-wise! Plus there are seatbelts!) this morning without any problem and was excited to learn from the bus driver and the little girl next to her that she's allowed to bring her new V-Smile gamer that she got from Santa on the bus to keep her entertained during the commute. I wonder how she's doing, and hope that our big-girl neighbor friend Annie helps her get to her classroom okay. She's excited for school lunch today - sausage gravy on a bisquit.

Waiting for the bus to meet us at the stop.

Sorry this post is so random. I needed to get my jumbled thoughts down NOW.

All ready to go!

I think I need to go breathe into a paper bag.