Off With Her Hair?

Well, I did it- chopped it off. I really wanted to try and keep in long, but as the stylist was halfway through straightening it, I had a change of heart. Not wanting to look like the psycho-wench Linda from The Wedding Singer movie, I opted to go shorter. I'm still getting used to it and heaven help me if I let my natural curl run rampant.

Summer Fun!

(First time Devin tried wakeboarding, 8/07)

We had so much fun on the lake this summer. I'm so proud of all the kids and how far they have come. Our first time out, nobody wanted to go faster than 5mph on the tube and no bumps were allowed. Two months later and we've bounced them off, 360's on the kneeboard, and Devin is even wakeboarding! Launching and loading the boat is a piece of cake and backing it into our garage has become an artform. Unfortunately, the lake is extremely low so I'm not sure if we'll get back on it for an all-day, last-time lake trip of the year.

An Ouchie on My Nose

This was one of those moments in life that makes all the chaos living it worthwhile. David and I were trying so hard not to laugh at the situation and to take her 'injury' seriously, after all she had taken care of the problem herself. Maddy's reaction to Daddy asking her to take the band-aid off was priceless. Video was taken 2/07.

Rocky Mountain High

Three days after returning from the coast, we packed up the recently unpacked car and headed south-west to Utah for Davids' family reunion. Our first day was spent at Lagoon amusement park in Layton. We arrived as the gates opened and hit the first ride... Wicked.

The ride is a dual LMSs powered (Linear Magnetic System) that launches you instantly to 55mph and 110' up a tower, pushing you back into your seat and what feels like all the air out of your lungs. Once over the top, it's straight down again before heading towards the twists, turns, and a spiral loop. In all the ride lasts roughly 45 seconds, a drop in the bucket compared to the hour-long wait.

Midway through the ride, our oldest son Devin, half-laughing half-screaming yelled, "This is wicked!" It was the favorite ride by all who were old enough- or tall enough- to enjoy it. D.J. and Maddy were daring in their own right and rode every ride offered to them.

(Left to right: Maddy, Devin, David, Stacey, D.J.)

I have always wanted an old-fashioned picture of our family to hide amongst the antique photos of great-great grandma's, even greater grandpa's, and every obscure relative in between on my walls. As you can see, my kids didn't have a hard time understanding 'don't smile' from the photographer. It took a little over an hour to get into our clothes and positioned in the little western shack the studio was housed. It was at least 95 degrees outside and with just a few oscillating fans inside... well, no wonder everyone was sporting down-right dirty looks at the camera.

The next day was spent boating on Pineview Reservoir in Huntsville. Between four boats, everyone who wanted a ride got one. The boys are much more daring with their cousins and tried a few new tricks on the knee board and that extra 'bounce' on the tube.

My brother-in-law Dennis, introduced me to wakesurfing and I'm proud to say that on my first attempt, I was up. It took awhile to find my 'sweet spot', the area of wake just off the stern that will keep the board in perpetual forward motion, but once I did, it was a whole lotta fun! Wakesurfing is easier than wakeboarding in my opinion. If you crash, you crash. No board to smack your head on or enough speed to clean you out better than the prep for a colonoscopy. Yeah, you know what I mean. I'm slightly disappointed that our boat is not a full inboard, which makes wakesurfing without the rope virtually impossible. I have no desire to chum the water.

Our third and final day was to hike up to Ben Lomond and Willard Peaks. Grandma and Grandpa, back in the day, rode horseback up to the peak where Grandpa then proposed and began building the 26 member-strong family that we are now.

The older kids and adults left Grandma behind to watch the littlest of farmers while we hiked and were to meet us a Maddoxs' burger stand in Brigham City around one o'clock that afternoon on our way back down.

There are not a lot of physical things that scare me beyond rational reason, but I will admit that the severely primitive 'road' we traveled on brought me to tears, literally. Our caravan consisted of a full-size, quad-cab truck, quad-cab 1/2 ton, and three Yukon XL's- one being a brand new Denali. By no means are these vehicles small and though they fall into the off-road, SUV category, I never want use my Yukon to 'its full potential' again.

Starting off as a decently maintained, one lane gravelled road, my nerves were calm and there was no need for the 'holy crap' bar that was primarily used for hanging air-fresheners on the dash and the upper left of the windshield. A few bumps turned into a lot and what little width there was dwindled as we climbed above the tree line. Instead of circumventing the major obstructions (rocks, tree stumps, and more sharp rocks) it became a case of which one would cause the least amount of damage to our undercarriage and keep us from rolling down the side of the mountain.

On the widest sections of trail, we would carefully pass gawking four-wheeler enthusiasts which made me feel even better about our mode of transportation. My father-in-law inadvertently made matters worse my saying things like, 'this road looks like hasn't been taken care of in years', 'they haven't been grading this... I remember a much better road', and the best line of misguided comfort, 'I don't think cars are supposed to travel up here anymore.'

I kept hearing how close we were, that there was a parking lot and we would hike the rest. HA! With each crest of mountainside, I hoped to see pavement (this would be the irrational part) and that the worst was over; unfortunately, those winding, twisting trails had no end in sight. Forget the 'holy crap' bar- forget the car- I'll walk back down, thank you very much.

Reduced to tears, completely helpless in the situation, I waited for the end of it. We reached Willard Peak, the highest of the two at 9,764' and tried to appreciate the view of Willard Bay and the Great Salt Lake to the west, Cache Valley to the north and Pineview and the surrounding small towns from which the trek started, to the southeast. There was still more to travel and still more tears fell from the thought of it.

By the time we reached the so-called parking lot (a wide dirt patch on the saddle of the mountain) it was time to stretch our legs and walk the remaining distance to Ben Lomond Peak (9,712'). Not only have we ventured to the home where the deer and antelope play, shabby-white mountain goats were frolicking along the rocky cliffs as if it were the local Playland at McDonalds.

(D.J. and Maddy at the trail head.)

(Ridge line trail to Ben Lomond Peak)

(Looking southwest to Salt Lake City, Ogden directly below)

When we returned to the car and ate what snacks we could find (it was well passed 1:00) my sister-in-law noticed that our front, drivers' side tire was as flat as the mornings' pancakes. After a lot of direction from multiple supervisors, the spare was securely in place and the caravan set off down the trail.

I closed my eyes, plugged my ears, and held my breath; waiting for the familiar smooth ride of asphalt. Another flat tire, a hole in our washer fluid tank, thoroughly melted brake pads, and an hour and a half later, sweet-industrialized civilization.

We had planned to head back to Idaho after family pictures, but considering the days events we extended our stay for one more night. In all it was a great trip and we look forward to next years' reunion at Lake Powell.

Just Better Together!

Peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies- you can't really have hot chocolate without the marshmallows. Somethings are just better together- like you and me. I got the best birthday present I could ask for this year- to see my best friend Lora! There wasn't a better way to spend the day or end our vacation to the coast. Thanks Quillan, for letting me visit so late, your beautiful girls have grown up so much. Miss you all, ~Stace


Just before you reach Lake Quinalt on Hwy. 101, there is a span of road I call the 'Hall of Trees'. The pavement stretches out like an asphalt river through a dark sea of towering evergreens. Only a thread of sky lights your way from above. If I could describe the view with music, the opening of Loreena McKennitts' Dante's Prayer comes to mind.

Once we've navigated the hall, I know I'm close to coming 'home'. I scan what I can see of the horizon for low, lingering clouds that hug the first mile or so of coastline. This year, it was warm, bright and beautiful. Those few hours and the proceeding sunset were the best of our three day stay; it was enough.

Having camped at Kalaloch since I was a knee-high farmer myself, I knew that the morning would be damp and misty- I also knew that the chances of decent weather were still pretty good. Since our trip was rather short this year we opted not to put up all the usual shelter; keeping us from looking like a homeless tent city, we were able to see the blue of sky and not the blue of tarps and twine. How wrong was I. Mist turned into sprinkles which became showers and all that was damp was absolutely drenched within minutes. With a few odd, dome tent poles and 'just in case' tarps, we made a decent amplitheater-like shelter to hide under to keep the fire burning and our hope dry. I had never been so grateful for a Cup o'Noodles or a steaming bowl of chili.

Grandma and Grandpa, aunts and uncles, and all the cousins were confined to less than 200 sqf. of polyethylene sanctuary. It was a struggle to keep the kids at least two quarts shy of sopping. Passing the hours as best we could, having exhausted every genre of book, movie, video games and t.v. I polished off at least half a magazine worth of Fill-in's and David carved a walking stick for each of the kids. The idea being that each year we return, another symbol would be carved on the stick. When the sky briefly stopped falling, beachcoming offered up plenty things to poke and prod. We stumbled across an area riddled with the cartilage remains of mud sharks, bits and pieces of crab, kelp, razor clam shells and Spongebob's best mate, Patrick.

The next morning brought wind, a little rain, and a smattering of blue. And not unlike the childhood fable of the Three Little Pigs, our houses of straw and sticks came tumbling down. All I could do was quote the origional Merry-Miss Sunshine and say "Let's go fly a kite."

That evening David and I stole a chance to walk the beach at sunset, just the two of us. Too much cloud cover prevented a spectacular, fiery display but it did give off an interesting, steel-blue haze. As we stood knee-deep in the surf, just in front of a grouping of rocks, we watched an otter enjoying his evening dinner of crab. He would look at us looking at him and go back to munching on a claw as if he didn't mind the intrusion.

Our final morning brought more rain and by this point, staying a few more hours huddled under the one remaining canopy was not enticing to say the least: Hope was officially soaked. Within an hour everyone was packed and ready to go. I took one last look off the edge of the bluff, climbed in the car and drove away, already anticipating the next time I come 'home'.

Those Winding, Twisting Paths

Despite the chaos planning, preparing, and packing for summer vacation, when all the pre-potty stops are made and the tires hit the proverbial pavement, there's an almost tangible excitement for the unexpected.

We have traveled over Chinook Pass too many times to recall, but each jaunt up and over the Cascades has been either in the dark, in the rain, or more than our just our heads were in the clouds.

This time, however, we could not pass up such a treasure. We walked the trails around the crystal clear lakes and took in the 'purple mountians' majesty' crowned with wildflowers of every color.

Though it was mid-July there were patches of deep snow and even Mt. Rainer peeked briefly out from underneath her veil, just enough of us to get a glimpse of how beautiful she really is.

(D.J., Me, Maddy, & Devin: Mirror Lakes, top of Chinook Pass, Mt. Rainer WA 7/14/2007)

Old News Is Good News... Right?

Guest Opinion

With Patience, Locals Will See Cycle of Benefits

By Stacey _______

Commingle. It's not a word used frequently in my daily vocabulary, but as a stay-home mother of three, I have witnessed it by definition.

Sometimes I find a misguided fork in the spoon slot of the dishwasher, or perhaps a lone and once very dark sock in a recently bleached load of whites. My boys have been up in arms over the fact that from time to time their militaristic action heroes are found alongside a certain platinum blonde with a disproportionate figure, at which point I start to question my housekeeping skills and, on second thought, parenting style as well.

I have heard not one good response concerning the newly implemented recycling program. Rounding off the list of compliants is the separation debacle, the brilliant blue tubs and paying for it whether you recycle or not. The latter I won't even begin to address. I have been through all of this before, and let me tell you, commingle happens.

A few years ago in another town- in another state- a similar recycling program was started, and not unlike my children and their action figures, the townspeople were up in arms with the same objections.

On one particularly rainy morning, I sloshed down the muddied and potholed lane to find a large, wheeled, grey can with the arrowed, triangular symbol emblazoned on the front where my fire-red tubs once sat.

Oh happy day.

My trash, which is charged by the gallon, was reduced by two-thirds and ultimately put more green back into our penny-pinching single-income budget.

The way people go about their daily lives is hard to change. If you are not used to taking the 4.8 seconds to recycle instead of chucking a used item in the trash bin, you won't- especially if it means three paper bags and lugging to the curb an extra carton while shuffling a stack of broken-down cardboard underneath your arm in the snow, and uphill both ways.

Start small, piece by piece, and it will make a difference. The more people who recycle, the more cost-effective it will become for those who provide the service and, in turn, the easier it will be to recycle. See the connection?

For now, however, I will continue to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of the utensil tray, dark socks and fraternization in the toy box.

And as I take those extra seconds to recycle, I'll imagine my paper, margarine tubs and milk jugs as a well-used park bench where I can sit and watch my children play while getting to know this community a little better.

Commingle happens.

Silver Quill winners will be honored in early 2008

This is the guest opinion I wrote back in April which won the Silver Quill Award given by the newspaper.