Well, we made our yearly foray into backpacking last weekend with a trip up American Fork Canyon with our friends the Knappenbergers and the Dalrymples. 6 adults, 3 toddlers, 2 babies, and a dog - it was quite the trip! We really had a great time, although I don't think a mile's walk has ever taken a party longer... three-year-olds sure do take their time when they want to.
Before we went, we started talking up the trip with Sam. He was very excited about sleeping in a tent, and then Steve asked if he'd like to carry his own backpack. Sam said that he would like to have a backpack with toys and snacks, so Steve said that he'd "hook Sam up". At this, Sam exclaimed "I don't have hooks, Daddy, I have arms!" It gave us quite the laugh.
The back pack (or pack back as Sam calls it) was quite the hit, until the time came to begin hiking. At that point, he flatly refused to carry it, or even walk for that matter. To be fair, he fell asleep on our drive up, so he was groggy and grumpy and half asleep, but it did make for a rather difficult mile's journey up. On the way back, though, he carried his pack the whole time, and he even insisted on carrying it to church the next day. The pack back now goes everywhere with us. It's pretty cute.
We had a great time camping. We threw rocks and pinecones and dirt in the river, we played on the fallen trees, and we had a lot of fun hanging out with our friends. We camped in The Secret Place, a really cool campsite off of the trail and near a river that the Knappenbergers have known about for a few years. We made a campfire, which the kids really enjoyed collecting twigs for. Sam liked the fire, but he wouldn't get closer than 6 or 8 feet to it because it "made his eyes hot".
Ben enjoyed the trip, too, mostly because he got to spend most of his time throwing dirt and eating pinecones and stealing food from Isaac, the Dalrymples' 7-month-old. Ben is just getting to the age where he sort of likes playing with other kids, so he had lots of fun climbing over Isaac. Can you believe that Ben will be a year old next week?!? Wow, time sure does fly when you're running after two wonderfully active kids.
Speaking of activity, Ben is getting really good at walking. He can now walk 5 or 6 feet unassisted, and it has really opened up new worlds of mischief for him. His favorite activity right now is playing with a cup in a bucket of water, or playing in the tub. Either way, he spends loads of time shrieking in delight and ends up completely soaked, it's just that with one he's wearing clothes that then need to get peeled off of him. We also think that he's on the verge of saying "banana" (or "nana") - he eats at least two a day!
Sam is getting more and more imaginative. His new favorite toys are cloth napkins. He puts cars in them and makes bags, he puts them on his head and they're hats, and they can also be seats, belts, pants, and all sorts of other things. The "mackins" are hot commodities in our house.
In other very imaginative news, we have been obsessed with whales lately. There are whales everywhere coming to eat us, and we either have to run away or stomp on them or shoot them. We also have the occasional lion, but whales are really the threatening animal of choice these days.
Sam has also been really interested in God lately, which is super cool. He keeps asking us if God has made certain things, but they're really odd things like, "did God make the pizza?" and "did God paint the chairs?" The other day he told me that God came in the gate and closed the gate and locked it. I say that I'm glad that God is so real to him! He also asks us all the time what the Bible says. Of course, he's usually looking at a catalog or flier when he asks what the Bible says, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
Steve is trying to get Sam to focus more on thanking God for the good things in his life, now that he's a pro at blessing everything he can think of in his evening prayers. The other night, Steve thanked God for our nice bike ride with the Knappenbergers and then it was Sam's turn to pray. He prayed "God bless Karla's bike ride, God bless Mommy's bike ride, God bless Cody's bike ride" and the list went on. I guess that this transition will take a little while.
Sam's other big new thing is that he's doing really well with his prereading skills. On Sunday, I had a cup labeled "Sam" and one labeled "Ben" for church nursery. When we got home, Sam said that he wanted to drink out of Ben's cup, so I held both up and told him to choose which one was Ben's. He knows that his name starts with S, so he said "I want the B cup" and so I gave him Ben's cup! I guess that it doesn't sound like much, but I was pretty darn excited that he could distinguish his name from Ben's. Now he keeps asking us for a B cup - I guess that everything tastes better when it belongs to his brother!
Our other fun activity this weekend was the Strawberry Days Rodeo - woo hoo! It was such a blast... Cody said that his favorite part was the "bustin" - the Mutton Busting, where 6-8 year old kids ride sheep, or rather hold on for dear life while the sheep try very hard to get them off. Sam's favorite part, however, was the cowgirls. In the beginning of the rodeo, all of the rodeo queens from this rodeo and the rodeos in lots of surrounding cities parade through the ring on their horses ("Ah, the color, the beauty, the pagentry" - I'm not kidding, the announcer really said that). It was pretty cool, and obviously made quite the impression on Sam. I love that out of all of the incredible skill we witnessed, our kids' two favorite things were kids riding sheep and rodeo queens in bright western wear riding through the ring.
Next week should be pretty exciting - Steve's parents come into town, Ben's birthday is on Friday, and then it's the 4th of July! We think that we're going to put on a "Driveway of Fire" to rival BYU's "Stadium of Fire", but that will necessitate at least one trip to the local fireworks stand. Actually, we've already been warming up for the 4th - Steve has been training Sam in the proper deployment of those snappers you throw on the ground. Wish us luck in keeping all of our fingers!
Steve, Jamie, Sam, and Ben
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