Monday, April 28, 2014

Lunch dates, natural history, hiking and creative exploring - Spring Break 2014

The kids only had two days off school for Spring Break this year (four days total with the weekend) and Jared couldn't take any time off work. But we made the most of what we had!

As a pre-spring-break treat for myself and the kids, I took each of the big kids out of school for a special little lunch date on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (it was Restaurant Week in Ogden - great chance to enjoy wonderful stuff at great prices).

How did my babies grow up to be such big handsome young men?
 Isaac picked Tona - I was pretty excited about that - they do the best fancy and wonderful Japanese food! Isaac loves sushi and loves trying new and interesting things.

Ashton picked something a bit more tame - Union Grill. He went for the triple pig sandwich - bacon, roasted pork and ham. He was quite pleased about it.

Somehow I didn't think to take a photo of my lunch with Eliza but we had a grand time chatting it up and enjoying beautiful and super tasty food at Bistro 258.

Then on Friday when the kids were out of school, we explored the gorgeous new Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah. We learned a ton about the earliest inhabitants of Utah, Utah's diverse ecosystems, Utah's rich geological history (the kids love rocks), earthquakes and fault lines, dinosaurs, and chocolate (there's a special exhibit going on right now all about how chocolate is made).

Saturday morning, we had fun with the new tradition of string leading the kids all over the place to find their baskets and we all ate too much candy (the Easter Bunny comes on Saturday for us so that we can focus on the spiritual side of things on Easter Sunday). Eliza covered the string maze to the  baskets in her post about Easter.

Then we went for a family hike - my favorite really hard hike - Maylan's Peak. Oliver, Silas and Isaac were the advance party and wow, they hike fast! At the base of the mountain it was late spring with leaves on the trees and nice warm weather. We hiked up through early spring and on to winter. The last part of the hike involved LOTS of slushy, slippery snow but we made it!
 Beautiful waterfall of spring run-off:
 Early spring green just getting started in some areas:
 Patches of serious spring in some spots:
 Lots of snow at the top - the kids were delighted!

Great mix of spring and winter at the top!

Sunday was Easter and Eliza already covered that quite nicely in her post. It was a really lovely Easter involving watching great videos about Christ's life and death, eating our traditional eggs benedict for breakfast, going to church in our new Easter clothes (well, the boys just got ties and belts but that was plenty for them), having a pork roast and mashed potato dinner (we're not that into ham, the traditional Easter meal - why's it traditional? Anyone know?). We ate dinner by candlelight at Silas's suggestion (he was sad that we didn't get a chance to do our Passover dinner on Thursday by candlelight and wanted to still have that experience). We sat at the table for a long time and just talked, everyone bathed in that pleasant candlelight that softens faces and moods and brings out good conversation.

Monday I left it totally up to the kids what they wanted to do. They voted for a lazy morning of games and big tasty breakfast of crepes with fruit and nutella.

Then they said they wanted to walk downtown to the train museum, visiting shops along 25th street on the way and trying out some of the fun activities in the new book I got recently called How to be an Explorer of the World: A Portable Life Museum. We had such a great time exploring things we'd already seen many times but hadn't really LOOKED at carefully (the ideas in the book helped us do that).

 Here we are setting out:


Here they are down by the train station:

The kids climbed on the trains for a while before we noticed the new signs that said you're not supposed to climb on them. Sad day. That's always been a favorite activity. But luckily a lady told them they could climb on the front of the trains, just not on the tops.

On our walk, we looked for all the different words we could find and took pictures of them. We also looked for patterns. When we got back home, we made these collages and were pretty darn pleased with them.

Recently we did this activity where we found things in nature to match different paint chips we had (Eliza spearheaded this one).

There's so much to see when you really look! And art is everywhere. Beauty can be found in almost anything.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bali Part II - Beauty in Ubud

Wow, Bali is sure starting to feel like a dream now. But somehow (quite miraculously, I think), I'm keeping a good chunk of the calmness Bali gave me in my heart. And it's very nice.

Anyway, here's a glimpse at the second half of our Bali adventures.

So after we left the lovely villa near Candidasa,

We spent the second half of our time together enjoying the jungles, temples, stone and wood carvings, flowers, shopping, dancing, rice paddies, fish spas, and tasty cuisine of the beautiful ancient city of Ubud.

There were temples EVERYWHERE in Ubud - large ornate ones, simple small ones, you name it.

Here's the elephant cave temple:

Here's one of the many amazing temples that are around every corner as you wander through the city:

And another:

There's still a ton I don't understand and there's likely a lot I don't understand correctly since what I gathered was from the great information our various taxi drivers and guides provided in a language that wasn't their native language. But basically, the Balinese have a totally unique version of Hinduism that flourished without interference and grew to be it's own type of thing because there was so little connection with other Hindu people for a long time. The Balinese culture wasn't affected very much by the Dutch who ruled Indonesia since Bali was generally too far away from the major Dutch settlements to be much affected by the Dutch influence. So Balinese religion and culture is truly unique in the world.

Inside every temple compound, there are different smaller temples or shrines to different Hindu gods. Each neighborhood has a temple where people gather for the abundant special religious celebrations they have plus every home has their own little temples - at least three - one family temple, one ancestor temple, and one protection temple.

Here's a little temple where the owners of the rice field leave offerings to help keep their crops healthy and plentiful. I so loved these little temples that were absolutely everwhere, helping us all to constantly remember to be grateful and to keep Deity in mind.

 Everywhere we turned in Ubud, there were beautiful moss-covered stone carvings:

There were also amazingly beautiful entrances/gates/doors everywhere:


Here are some school-children at the fancy gate entrance to their school. Fancy gates were a dime a dozen. Love how the Balinese care about making even simple things beautiful. 


Our hotel in Ubud was in the heart of the jungle, right next to the sacred monkey forest. It's called Alam Indah and was full of amazing Balinese art and charm.

Here's the view from the awesome tree-house like room that Jared and I had:

Here's our room:

Here's the beautiful vaulted ceiling of our room:

Here's the outdoor living room at the hotel where we had our own little church services on Sunday:

Here's Anita at her room:

Here's the entrance to Charity's room:

And here's the entrance to mom and dad's room. Nope, they don't cut corners when it comes to wood carving.

There were gorgeous flowers everywhere you looked - by the side of the road:

Arranged nicely in stone bowls placed here and there:

Even the statues got fresh flowers:

There were fresh flower arrangements placed in our hotel room daily:

Even the sinks in the public restrooms were adorned with fresh flowers:

We ate at some gorgeous restaurants. This one was featured in the movie "Eat Pray Love" and after going in through a pretty ordinary-looking storefront, there are these amazing gardens with lovely tables, some on their own little islands. And lunch cost like $5 if you got one of the most expensive things on the menu.

The food was beautiful and tasty too. This is the vegetarian sampler of some common Indonesian foods. It was super delicious.

And here are all the ladies enjoying a special "MFME" (mothers and future mothers of Eyrealm) lunch at this super super tasty place overlooking a gorgeous ravine.

Some people tried out this "fish spa" where little fish eat off all the dead skin on your feet. You should have heard the squeals and giggles from these tough guys!

One morning, Charity, Saydi and I went for a gorgous run  on little dirt trails through some rice fields:

See the volcano in the distance?

We spent some time souvenir shopping at a big open-air market. A lot of the stuff for sale was pretty junky but we searched and found some great stuff to bring home to the kids and to the kind people who watched the kids. Plus it was really interesting just being there in the markets and observing people and bargaining for things.

One night, we were able to watch some traditional Balinese dancing - so interesting to see how different it is from the dancing we're used to. It's all about moving your eyes just right and keeping your toes and fingers flexed at sharp angles. These little girls were really cute in their bunny costumes and the older women were masters of their art. They invited some of us up to try out some of their moves - they did their best to teach us some simple stuff and it was really fun!

Stay tuned for Bali Part III which includes hiking through rice paddies to an amazing waterfall, getting caught in a downpour, biking through villages on an old volcano and more!


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