The girls found a picture in a hand-me-down craft book.
Instructions on how to make eggs coated with colorful wax. They were, of course, gorgeous.
I would normally shy away from a project like this but....
WE ARE REALLY BORED.
So we shaved the crayons on my nice (on its last leg) pampered chef slicer/grater tool. That's because I can never find the dollar store one that stands up because the kids play this fun game where they put it in a completely new place every single time they unload the dishwasher.
Anyways.....we sprinkled the wax in hot water and let it get all melty. Then we dipped our eggs in it.
Then we realized that the wax stuck to the spoons that we had our eggs on instead of the eggs. Not ideal.
So we tried hand dipping them.
We had mixed success. And it was a total mess. And they looked nothing like the ones in the craft book (do they ever?).
But, on the bright side, it was a total mess and there were crayon shavings everywhere.
Last year the garden was less than impressive. The rain was great. SOOO much rain.
And no tomatoes. BOOOO!
This year things are looking up. This tomato hear already makes this way better than last year. I ate that right after I took it's portrait.
The beans are looking good! They are begging to be sauteed with garlic!
The blackberries are coming on and I'm hopeful that we'll get to eat a few...after the birds have their pick, of course.
The row of green onions is going to seed, so I'm bending them the side to seed a whole new fresh row. Old green onions aren't very good....so I'll pull this row out as soon as I get the new one going.
A couple weeks later and we have....cucumbers and green peppers. So many.
And a couple weeks after that, we have more tomatoes, onions, beets, more green peppers and cucumbers, a good amount of green beans and a handful of blackberries. Gardening is the best. And one of the only redeeming qualities of Kansas in July.
I love looking out the window to find one of the kids grazing on the peas or blackberries.
Preheat oven to 350. Combine spinach, ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Ladle 1 cup (or more!) sauce in bottom of a 9x13 dish.
Lay out the cooked noodles on a silpat or wax paper. Spread about 1/3 cup mixture on to each noodle and spread out. Make sure you have a kid do this in order to make them feel special and also you'll be able to check of the square by their name where you planned at the beginning of the summer to have each one of them assist with the cooking for a week. Imagine the moment when they have their own glittering career as a chef and they mention how they owe it all to you.
Roll each noodle up jellyroll style and place in the dish seam side down.
Ladle sauce on top. I like to do it in stripes because I think it makes it fancy.
I also top it with extra chopped spinach because the girls chopped ALOT. And it's fancy. Add a little Parmesan stripe while you are at it.
Cook uncovered for 40 minutes and serve with garlic bread!
I will miss this: the gathering of cousins to play games and eat meals and tell stories. I loved looking over to find them all in a group enjoying each other and looking at each other's faces instead of a little screen.
We went out for lots of rides on our last day. Lara led us on long, beautiful excursions. I wasn't brave enough to go that far on my own and I was so glad she showed us some of the fun trails and rides she had found over the years.
I can see why they come here every year.
I think Mathew will miss the ATVs the most. There are few things a 13 year old boy likes more than wheels and freedom.
I should mention that Ethan had a pretty serious crash when he was coming down off of a trail and wasn't able to make a sharp turn. He went off the road and down a steep embankment. He flew over the front, scratched his back up and scared himself pretty good. Luckily, Kaira and Joel went out to find him and they were able to give him a ride back to camp as well as retrieve the four-wheeler. Ethan was pretty shaken up and when he saw Joel ride in on the ATV he thought he had destroyed, he broke down with relief. I was glad he was okay and that there was no damage done. I hope Ethan can look back on the experience and realize that he was watched over and protected.
On a lighter note, YEEHAW!
I'm so grateful that Lara was so sweet to us and let us pop in on her vacation. My kids had a fantastic time and it was sorely needed. We needed to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other.
We started the morning with the breakfast of champions.
Fried scones...dripping in 50 dollar honey butter. (It was 50 dollars because Kaira bought the ingredients at the store that pretends to sell ice cream and otherwise wants you to sign over your firstborn in exchange for a loaf of bread.)
It was totally worth the money. (Especially because it wasn't my money!)
Then Megan took me out on an ATV ride. Which I found a little strange that I had never driven one of these and here I was on the back of one with my 11 year old daughter shifting gears and generally doing a fantastic job of it.
The boys got out the guns and played a skeet shooting game (I didn't know there was such a thing). And Ethan and Mathew fell in love. And from what I understand, have a good amount of natural ability.
Hoping that if we ever have to live off the land (zombie apocalypse!), those skills will come in handy.
The girls (Lara, Kaira, me and our daughters) decided to take the kayaks over to Tropic Reservoir and have a dip. The boys were finishing up their game and promised to come by when they were done.
The kids were brave and got into the water....I don't like to be cold, so I stayed on shore with Everly. It was really windy, so I opted to lie down on my towels and feel the sun on my face. It is enough that the temperature was moderate and the humidity was low. I miss the dry heat so much. It's important to take a moment and really enjoy it while I can.
Ethan showed up on an ATV and he took a turn in a kayak. (He smiled when he saw this picture...look at those muscles!) It's weird that that huge guy is my son.
Kylie made kayaking look effortless. She's so outdoorsy!
Lara made the mistake of taking on Anna in a water fight. I should have told her that Anna has a fearless and competitive spirit. She will win!
Not to mention, when you start a water fight with a girl in a swimsuit and you are in jeans....you gonna lose.
The rest of the day was spent driving the four-wheelers (so fun!), playing games and making camp food. Which is the best food of all.
Are you ready for a super crazy long fun vacation day! Just get ready because by the time you get to the end of this post you are going to wonder how many days passed in these pictures....
Just the one!
We started the day with off-brand honey nut cheerios in our super tiny motel room. Luckily, I had the forethought to get our gallon of milk that I accidentally froze solid back in Spanish Fork out of the fridge and let it sit out over night.
It was only about 1/2 ice by morning... just enough that everyone could have some slightly ice-crystally milk on their honey nut cheerios that I've been dragging around since Kansas.
Then we filled up our BYU dance water bottles (thanks for letting us go through your Helaman Halls lost and found, Jay!), a few snacks, and sent the kids out to the foyer to sit while I finished piggy tails and braids for the girls.
We drove up to Sunset Viewpoint and started the Navajo Loop hike.
I was amazed by the beauty! I had no idea that we would be able to really hike down into these beautiful rock formations. I'll never forget it.
The funny thing about a Hufford selfie is that it doesn't matter where we are....you can't see anything but us!
Megan was a little freaked out by the switchbacks and feeling like she might slide off and fall...so we devised a system for her to always be on the inside and have a hand to hold. She also found that it helped to scream periodically and whimper constantly.
But hey! Facing that fear, right?
My favorite part was this gorgeous slot canyon. I have always wanted to hike through one of these.
There was this beautiful tree growing right in the gap.
Perspective from the bottom of the tree.
Once we were out of the canyon, we stopped for a snack of cuties and chocolate animal crackers....hiker food.
I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take photos of each of the kids.
Me and Mat.
He's cute even while drinking water :)
And then it was time to start going back up the hill. Everly was surprisingly energetic and did a large part of the hike without a "helper".
I love her dusty buns.
I took this photo because of the great leaning tree....but I love this photo because it captures what a great dad Mark is....a kid on the shoulders and water bottles in the cargo pockets.
I love him.
There aren't many photos of the boys because they hiked on at a faster pace. This is something that scares me and also something that I know I need to let them do or I'll have to move to college with them.
Don't leave me, girls.
And some beautiful shots of the hoodoos....I think they are miraculous.
Towards the end, we had to take those switchbacks pretty slow. Anna and Everly started to get tired and Megan was getting increasingly nervous about the steep drop offs....and if I wasn't so busy reassuring her, I would have been pretty scared too.
But we made it back to the viewpoint and we headed back to the motel for (you guessed it!) sandwiches.
We promised the kids if they didn't complain about another cooler lunch, we'd go next door to the hotel store/bakery and get ice cream cones.
So we headed over....piggy back style.
And even though there were flavors and prices written up on a WHITEBOARD, there wasn't actually any ice cream. In his words, "Oh. We don't have ice cream."
Uh.....why is there a list of flavors written behind your head?
And why don't you just ERASE THEM?? I don't understand people.
So we hopped in the van, headed to Panguitch and went to Henrie's Drive-In. I've never been so glad that a whiteboard wasn't erased.
Because it was super delicious. And about half the price.
Also there was grass and a picnic table. And a cute white fence. And shade!
Before you know it, the Roylances were in the area and we headed out to the campsite.
We finally found them (no easy task) and settled in for some good old camping activities!
Marble puzzle games with Aunt Lara.
The big people playing koob (I have no idea what the name means or how it's spelled). Don't laugh. I never got around to playing. I was busy sitting down and taking a break from...everything.
The littles were suddenly interested in the laminated color pages I made for the trip out here. Better late than never!
Kaira and her family arrived and we set about making the very best camp dinner I have ever had. It was tinfoil philly cheesesteak.....I'm drooling.
And then she told me that she put oyster sauce in it. I laughed and told her that I didn't care, but I am not that grown up. It made my eyes water a little bit. I have issues with the very idea of things that lived in the water. Why do they have to smell so bad?
But it was still crazy delicious.
After dinner, Kylie took me on a ride in their side by side ATV. She's adorable. And she's a cute country chick....
I tried to take her picture when we stopped to drink from this natural spring, but she wasn't having that.
Good thing I have no pride and was willing to run around in circles to get the photo.
We spent the next hour or so going out on the ATVs....
Mat was in heaven.
And the truth is...we were all in heaven. I hope heaven is something like this!