Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Triumphant Return to Lagoon

We finally took our kids to Lagoon for the first time. (If my memory is correct, I hadn't been to Lagoon since 1998. There were a few new rides, but it smelled largely the same.)

Every year, we plan on going, but then there's a kid who's too small, or summer gets too busy, or it's just too expensive (which is still the case). This year, we went before we could find too many excuses not to do it.

After getting off to a slow start (Curtis is afraid of everything), everyone found their groove and we had a great time.


Another thing that has changed since 1998 is my ability to handle spinning rides. I'm still fine on roller coasters, but the Tea Cups, Space Scrambler, or Tilt-a-Whirl--just can't do it. I'm very lucky that Traci will take the kids on those rides. I took one turn on the Flying Aces and just about lost it. 

Paige likes roller coasters, too, and she and I had a good time on Bombora and The Bat. I tried to take up a notch with her on the Roller Coaster. My the way she was huddled down in her seat after the first descent--and the fact that she didn't open her eyes once--makes me think she might not quite be ready for the big stuff.

Thanks, Lagoon. See you in another16 years!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


We just got back from a super quick trip to Dinosaur Land. It's been, I don't know, 25 years since I'd last been to Vernal, so Memorial Day seemed like a good time for a visit.

We headed out after church yesterday and spent the night in Vernal. Our kids have only stayed in a hotel a handful of times, so it's still very exciting. An indoor pool, breakfast in the lobby, an ice machine in the hallway--the kids couldn't have ask for anything more. Throw in a room upgrade that included a pull-out couch (not sure how a hide-a-bed is an upgrade over an actual bed, but whatevs) and it was like we hit the lottery. We could have just headed back home and the kids would've been just as happy.

But we didn't. We drove to the bone quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. It was just like I remembered it--a giant wall fill with hundreds of hundreds-of-million-year-old dinosaurs bones. While this is pretty amazing, it's really not that interesting. (I know, I'm awful for saying that.) It only kept the kids' attention for about a half hour. Luckily, we got to ride to and from the visitor center in a open-air shuttle bus, which the kids loved.

From there, we went to the new Natural History Museum in Vernal. The fact that there were actual dinosaur sculptures made it instantly more engaging for the kids, but after about 10 minutes I was worried that we had seen all there was to see. I was actually pretty disappointed. Still a nice family trip, but was it worth a three-hour drive?

We eventually made our into the gift shop, where we let each kid choose one little item. Paige went with a necklace. Curtis found a bag of "Genuine Fool's Gold" that he was super stoked about and Tate, despite being given the option to choose whatever he wanted, chose one polished green rock. He happily hung on to it every second for the rest of the trip. (When we got back home, he promptly walked out into our front yard and said, "I know where my rock goes" and dropped it into the landscaping gravel.)

After the gift shop, we were about to leave when we noticed one small section of the museum we had skipped. Since it had been such a short visit, I figured we better see everything we could. When we entered the Mesozoic Era exhibit, I thought we were just going to see some boring rocks. It turns out, it was the entrance to a whole other--and much larger--section of the museum.

And that's when it got good. There were glow-in-the-dark rocks and bones and interactive displays (and a shout out to a rock formation baring the name of a certain someone in the family). There were cool prehistoric animal sculptures and caves to explore and bones to dig (which was Tate's favorite part of the whole trip).

The kids loved it. When it was time to leave, Curtis (who never gets excited about anything) was already asking me when we could come back to Vernal. Traci and I just looked at each other and said, "Well,  wouldn't we have felt stupid if we had missed this whole section of the museum?"

For a 27-hour vacation, we couldn't have had a better time. Thanks, Vernal!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Crying Over Books

For some reason, Traci-the-librarian and I were talking about books that have made us cry. I told her that there are only two books that have ever brought me to tears: The Last Unicorn (I'm sure you can imagine the massive eye roll that elicited from Traci), and Rumblefish by S.E. Hinton. (Two books I hadn't read since high school.)

Despite the memory of such strong emotion around Rumblefish, I couldn't actually remember what it was about the book that had made me cry. In fact, I couldn't really remember what the story was even about. I figured it might be a good idea to read it again.

So I did. And not only did my eyes remain dry, I didn't even think the book was that good. I wondered if it was really That was Then, This is Now that had made me cry. So I read it. It wasn't. Maybe it was Tex. Nope. Next thing I knew, I'd re-read Hinton's entire catalog. Nothing.

Luckily, there's other great stuff out there to read (even if it doesn't make me cry). Here are some the books I've enjoyed lately:

One More Thing: Stories and More Stories - BJ Novak
Who knew that Ryan the Temp from The Office was also such a strong writer? Not all of the pieces in this collection of short stories are winners, but there are more hits than misses.

Boxers & Saints - Gene Luen Yang
I never thought I'd enjoy a graphic novel about China's 1898 Boxer Revolution, but I loved Boxers & Saints (especially the Boxers half of the collection). Right after I finished it, I moved on to Yang's American Born Chinese, which was also excellent.

The Visible Man - Chuck Klosterman
I love Klosterman's nonfiction, but this very fictional piece really drew me in. I followed this up with Klosterman's nonfiction I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villans, which was only so-so. I'm curious to see where Klosterman's fiction will head next.

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love & Karaoke - Rob Sheffield
Sheffield's Love is a Mixtape is still near the top of my all-time favs list, so I was very excited to check out his latest book. As someone who doesn't karaoke, I almost gave up on Bright Eyes after the first two chapters. But then Sheffield did what he does. Suddenly, a book about karaoke wasn't really about karaoke anymore. Two thumbs up.

Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile - Nate Jackson
Former Denver Bronco benchwarmer Nate Jackson gives a very behind-the-scenes look at what the NFL is really like for guys who are always on the verge of getting cut from the team.  Infinitely interesting.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Cards

Happy Mother's Day to Traci. She got some pretty sweet cards from her kids. 

Here's the text from Curtis' hand flower:

I love my mom because: 

"She's the best mom. She plays with me. She talks to me."

(Apparently, silent, brooding Curtis loves being talked to. Who knew?)

Paige had this to say: 

"Dear Mom,

Thank you for always being there for me, even though I might of been a bratt about it. One thing I like about you is your good leadership and your strong loyalty. I also like how you always believe in your family. Even when Curtis falls dramatically in soccer! Happy Mother's Day!"

(Leadership and loyalty? I think Traci should list Paige as a reference the next time she applies for a job.)

This little illustration accompanied the necklace Paige made for Traci.

The kids also made some homemade keychains for their mother. Tate wasn't too interested in making his, but when it was time to present the gifts this morning, he went into the kitchen, picked up a wooden car he'd painted last night and said, "Here, Mom. You can have my car." Pretty sweet.

My kids are lucky to have such a great mom.