Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Solar Eclipse!

  For the most part, I'm pretty sedate and like to keep life pretty routine. However, I guess you could  also say that I have a bit of an adventurous streak as well.  So when I heard about the total solar eclipse that was coming up, I decided that we needed to be there to see it in person.    Never mind that the path of totality was 9-hours from home.   It was excited enough about it that  I was willing to do it by myself even if Glen couldn't take the time off of work.   

So I did the research, picked a cute little town in the path of totality, ordered our glasses, and reserved a hotel.   In the end, Glen bent over backwards to take the day off and on Sunday, August 20th, we embarked on our ecliptic journey to Greenville, South Carolina!  


The kids had never been to South Carolina, so we had to stop at the sign and document the occasion.  It was Emma's 49th, and Adam's and Ellie's 47th state! 
 

Though we'd planned our trip without talking to anyone, at the last minute we found that two members of our ward (James and Reinbold families) were coming to the same small town we'd picked.   So we met up with them, picked a local park away from the crowds in Greenville, and made it into an eclipse viewing party in Liberty, SC! 
  

We put on our eclipse glasses (which I'd thankfully ordered more than a month in advance) and watched  with awe for the hour or so leading up to totality...





Some people we met shared their eclipse snacks with us.  :) 

It was such a cool experience to see the sun being covered (we put our eclipse glasses over the camera lens to take this picture)...

and watch as even the shadows became crescent shaped...


We got a little nervous with some minor clouds that came and went....

But the sky was clear as can be when the moment of totality came.

My words won't really be able to describe what it was like in those last few minutes leading up to totality and the 2-1/2 minute while the sky was dark, but suffice it to say, it was an amazing experience that we will never forget.   The sunset glow of the sky in the middle of the afternoon, the crickets chirping, the hawk that sailed over our heads, and that absolutely indescribable beauty of seeing the sun's corona around the shadow of the moon.   Wow, wow, wow.  God is real.  There is no other explanation for that kind of perfection.   I literally had goosebumps thinking of how for a brief couple of minutes, how the world had laid aside their differences to embrace the beauty of  heaven. 

It was amazing how quickly the sky lit back up the second totality was over.  Even a sliver of the sun is enough to light the sky...a powerful analogy for the power of doing good in an ever increasingly dark world.    

Afterward, we went into the town of Greenville and explored that charming little southern town!  

It's a cute place with a lot of personality.

We loved the city park...

which was like a little piece of the country right in the middle of the town. 
It was well-worth the long drive to be a part of and I have to admit that I'm already excited for the next American eclipse in 2024.  

Ohio...here we come! 

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Family Theatre Experience

I am the least dramatic person you'll ever meet.  
I don't sing, I don't dance, I don't play any instruments, I don't act, and I can't put two coherent sentences together when put on the spot.   The only semi-dramatic thing I sometimes do is a late-night dancing singalong when when my favorite Rachel Platten song comes on. But believe me when I say that the chances of you ever witnessing a pajama clad Lara performing her ear-splitting 
"Fight Song" performance are about zero, unless you've planted a hidden camera or we've adopted you into the family. 

So the fact that THREE of my kids were excited to be a part of a community theater this summer  was pretty much mind-blowing to me.   They were performing "Annie, Jr.," and were all so excited to be a part of it that we altered our summer schedule to make sure it could happen (i.e. went to Alaska in June, instead of August)!   

Emma would have loved to have performed, but since all of her friends were helping with stage crew, she opted to join them instead of auditioning for a part.   Ellie and Adam, though, put aside their nervousness and went for it!    Ellie got the part of one of Daddy Warbucks' servants, Annette.   And Adam was Daddy Warbucks' butler, Drake.   


They all worked hard and put on a fabulous show!   I loved the Annie music wafting through our house and found it delightful hearing my kids practicing their lines together. 

Here are some pictures from their performance:   

The orphan scene (none of my kids are in this scene)

New York, New York!

We think you're going to like it here...

Adam had a ton of friends his age in the play, so we gathered them all for a picture of all the upcoming freshman who performed!

Here is Ellie with one of her servant friends, Maddie.   

Sadly, I never got a picture of Emma with her stage crew! 

It was a fun thing to be part of and I am grateful for opportunities like this that my kids have to develop their talents!  I'm proud of them for stretching themselves outside their comfort zones to do it!    Way to go kids!    Now excuse me while I go break out my Rachel Platten CD....


Friday, September 1, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements

8/22/2017--"The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements" by Sam Kean

Haha!  Can you tell I'm a homeschooling mom?   This book was required summer reading for their chemistry class this upcoming year, so we just decided to read it together as a family!   We checked it out of the library on audiobook and listened to it on our drive to and from seeing the solar eclipse.   Fine literature it is not, but it was far more interesting than you might imagine and we all gained a new level of respect for the periodic table of elements.  Even having taken an honors' chemistry class in high school, I don't think I ever gained a true appreciation for the simple beauty in the way the periodic table is organized and what a breakthrough it was for Mendeleev to see the patterns and holes in it.   The author's humor and engaging style make this much more than a dry textbook describing the elements.   These real-life tales of the elements and the scientists that discovered and used them have made chemistry seem relevant and interesting.  I think it was the perfect book to read before embarking in their chemistry course and will add a depth and  meaning that I fear may have escaped them otherwise.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Far From the Madding Crowd" Book Review

I'm a little behind in posting this, but here's the book I read on airplane rides to and from Alaska!   And if you're interested to see the rest of the books I've read in 2017, click here!

6/20/17-
"Far from the Madding Crowd" by Thomas Hardy


Main characters
:  Gabriel Oaks, Bathsheba Everdene, William Boldwood, Fanny Robin, Sergeant Francis Troy

I had the funny experience of starting to read this classic book and THEN realizing a couple of chapters in that I'd already seen the movie!  So the main character of the book, Bathsheba Everdene, is lovable, but frustrating as a character.   She's beautiful, capable, and intelligent, but constantly doing impetuous things that hurt herself and those around her.  She's completely blind to the steady and faithful Gabriel Oaks, while she pines after the philandering Francis Troy and the wealthy, but stuffy William Boldwood.   There were several times I wanted to give her a good slap and tell her to wake up, but don't we all know people in real life that are determined to take their own winding path, despite it being obvious to everyone else that it may not be the best one for them?    Over all the story is well-written and I can see why it's a classic.    And I hope I'm not giving anything away here, but in my romanticized mind....all's well that ends well!

Definitely worth a read!  4 stars.





Saturday, August 26, 2017

Alaska: Part 2 (Day Cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park )

June 15, 2017

One of the favorite things we did while we were in Alaska, was to take a 9-hour cruise with Kenai Fjord Day Cruise Tours.   

It was freezing cold on the boat, but worth every bit of discomfort to have had the opportunity to see the raw beauty of Alaska from the perspective of the water!  
 

Through the course of the day we meandered through Kenai Fjords National Park for over 150 miles.   The turnaround point of the cruise is this gorgeous bluish glacier that's part of the Harding Ice Field, Northwestern Glacier (named after Northwestern University).  

We stayed there for over 30 minutes just to watch the glacier.   That might sound a little boring, but it was actually quite interesting to watch the glacier calf (that's what they call it when pieces of ice fall off the glacier into the water).  It happens pretty frequently and it was a cool way to see how light waves travel faster than sound waves.   We could see a piece falling, then a few seconds later hear the roar of it.  

The beauty we encountered through the day was absolutely stunning! 
 







Additionally, we saw abundant wildlife, a fact which absolutely delighted everyone in our family!  

The mammals we saw were sea otters (shown in picture above), harbor seals (shown in picture below), orcas (part of the AD8 pod), humpback whales, Dall's porpoises, coastal mountain goat, and Steller sea lions (shown sitting on the rock on a picture below). 



We also saw some awesome birds, including puffins, bald eagles, gulls,  and a variety of species,  that attracted some serious birders onto the cruise who'd come just to see these specific types of bird which live in these isolated waters away from land (the ancient murrelet, rhinoceros auklet, common murre, white winged scoter, red faced cormorant, marbled murrelet, parakeet auklet, northwestern crow, black legged kittiwake, double breasted cormorant, pelagic cormorant, black oystercatcher, pigeon guillemot, Kittlitz's murrelet)! 

The cruise was one of the highlights of our trip  and I highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Alaska anytime soon!   

And this concludes the record of our family trip to Alaska!  

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Alaska: Part 3 (Ice Cream, Bear Spray, Hike, Ziplining, and the Temple)

 This post will be a random assortment of happenings while we were in Alaska!  


If you haven't noticed by now, we have a thing for ice cream when we are on vacation.   We actually eat very little ice cream at home, but when we're on vacation, it is our mission to find the best ice cream around.  No Coldstone or DQ for us...we want the little specialty shops!  I can't remember where exactly we were in this picture and why exactly Emma looks like she's lying down in the background, but here is some real deal Alaskan ice cream.   Actually I think this was sorbet, because I was trying to be "good".  

This can of bear spray accompanied us on all of our hikes in Alaska.  We got the  lowdown from locals that we needed to be super cautious about not surprising bears, so we also used "bear bells", which basically were just super annoying large jingle bells that we rung as we hiked. Thankfully the bear bells seemed to do their job and the bear spray never had to be used!  


Our favorite hike in Alaska  was also one of the toughest ones we've ever been on.  

It was Mount Marathon (near Seward).

We hiked through snow and ice...
 

  

and eventually had to traverse this up this "billy goat trail" which was steeper and longer than it looks...

and even at the top of the billy goat trail we still had a ways to go to the summit.    Some of my peeps were not happy about this. 

But the view at the top was amazing....

and the satisfaction of doing it was worth every step (to me at least). 

Here are a few more pictures for your enjoyment...
 










Another day we went on a zip lining adventure....  




Our family loves physical activities like this and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience! 











Aren't we cute? 

And last but not least, we stopped by the Anchorage temple on our way out of town!

Stay tuned.  I think I have one more Alaska blogpost left before I will be satisfied that it is documented properly!  

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