Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Witching Week

iFly Utah Ogden

Friends, we just LOVED this activity SOOOOO much! Read all about it here

Blaster Tag

If your kids love Nerf guns (and who's doesn't) they will have the time of their lives at Blaster Tag.  You get to pick any gun you want and separate into teams and then they turn you loose in the game arena.  They even have an announcer that sits above the action calling out the plays.  "oh, the red team takes a hit and looses a player while a green sniper takes out another one!"  Just so much fun.

The thing I loved the most about Blaster Tag was that it was just as much fun for adults as it was for kids.  Sometimes we moms just sit back and watch but with this you really get to play alongside the kids which is just good for everyone.  They have group rates and punch passes and family night specials so just check their website here for more details.

Momentum Climbing Millcreek

Momentum is Legit!!  It's a state of the art climb gym in the Millcreek area.  We all gasped when we walked in this building.  It's really a climbers heaven.  They have a training section, a bouldering section, a kids area and even a full workout gym so you can meet all your fitness goals in this one building. 
The kids played in the kids section while I was able to get a training session on the basics of climbing.  How to get my kids hooked up and how to tie the knots.  Once I got the rhythm down the kids came out and I was able to belay them.  They were all are crazy brave and strong and could zip up and down that 55 foot wall with no problem at all.  

The Quarry Provo

For those of us in Utah County, The Quarry in Provo is your go to place for indoor climbing! It is incredible and extremely family friendly. This bouldering room is upstairs and is HUGE - with shorter walls for smaller climbers. It is a great place to start with your children to gain confidence of getting on the wall and get a "feel" of the holds. The Quarry offers a Monday Family Night special, too! For a family of six it is only $10 (including harnesses)!! So go! 

All the employees are climbers and are always willing to help you tie your knots and teach basic climbing and belaying...they are about safety and fun. 

Lulu's Crafty Corner Payson

I took my daughter here for a date and we had the very best time! Kathy and Shessann are sisters who opened it Lulu's Crafty Corner about 18 months ago. They grew up painting with their aunt (and continue to have a close relationship with her many years later) and loved it. So they decided to create a place for families to disconnect from technology and connect while painting. 
They have over 140 different colors and glazes and there is no studio fee. The project price is all-inclusive (ceramic and paint and glaze and firing). Plus, they serve hot, from the oven cookies while you paint which is free! They also have take home projects (paint included), so your children can work at home while you get projects/cleaning done. Win/win!
They even do birthday parties - these ladies take care of everything - the balloons, the treats, the drinks and the children get to create what they want. You only pay for what the kids make - everything else is included. 
The concentration while painting was so impressive and we had a great time chatting about her life (she rarely opens up, so this was just lovely).
They were also helpful in teaching her how to do details to make it look professional (which was so kind because small spaces are tricky). 
Another fun thing is that they have these little "charms" for anyone to paint while you wait for the others in your group to finish. They are about 1.5" and just the cutest things! 
They even have ceramic molds that are vintage from the 40s and 50s and they are just too darling!
One another amazing thing that they offer is Thursday afternoon kid time: you pay $20/per kid and drop them off! Kathy and Shessann teach a new technique and your kids get to craft and eat a treat while you run errands or take a nap and then you pick them up awhile later! How thoughtful and a game changer for busy moms! 

Provo Rec Center Pool

Friday, December 1, 2017

iFly in Ogden

Many years ago I went skydiving - static line because i was too cheap to pay the extra $50 to go tandem - and it was so nerve-racking that I really don't remember much of it before the parachute was completely open. So when my kids and I saw a video of indoor flying, I KNEW that I wanted to try it out! Indoor skydiving is done in a wind tunnel that is 40' high. The wind speeds is adjusted according the person's weight (so my three year old's wind speed was considerably less than my husband's). The only requirement to fly in the tunnel is you must be 3 years old. Professional sky divers use it to practice their free-fall skills.  I did a google search and found that there was, iFly, an indoor sky diving in Ogden (about 1.5 hours north of us) and used it as a reward for my children, collectively, walking/biking/swimming 100 miles in one month.

Anyway, we went right after school on a Monday afternoon and had the place to ourselves! I imagine that on the weekends it would get pretty busy. We signed waivers, were weighed and had an orientation meeting where we met our flight instructor, Jesse, and learned some basic hand signs.

After the training video, we were all outfitted in flight suits, ear plugs (it is extremely loud in the tunnel), and googles (note: you MUST be wearing shoes that lace up...if you don't have any, they do have some on hand you can borrow). But really, I decided that there was pretty much nothing cuter than these tiny humans in flight suits!

Once in the tunnel, the flight instructor holds you steady and helps you get the feel for the correct positioning. Each person gets two, one-minute flight in the tunnel. I realize that one minute doesn't seem very long, but let me assure you that you will be amazed how long it really is! It is the perfect amount of time! Our three year old really loved it and kept giving us the thumbs up! 

The four year old really thought it was incredible and did a good job adjusting his body position to what/when the instructor told him.

The flight instructor even holds onto adults to be sure you are getting it right because one the second turn into the tunnel, he doesn't have to do much assistance. 

A little more practice on staying level (it is not as easy as it seems).

I did get the hang of it a bit faster, but I just chalked it up to my previous sky-diving experience! 

Our six year old was a natural and the instructor rarely had to adjust her; in fact, she decided that she wants to be a professional sky diver when she grows up!

The real fun is the second turn in the tunnel - this is when the instructor grabs a hold of you, the wind speed increases and you FLY to the top of the tunnel! Sheer exhilaration!

This little girl didn't want to come back down!

They even took the little boys up high! AMAZING!

Another fun part of the experience was watching our flight instructor do some crazy cool moves and flying for a few minutes after us. He was so talented and it was exciting to watch! This was one experience that every single one of us walked away and decided that we definitely want to come again. We highly recommend it! It is a splurge, but often there are deals which make it completely doable! GO!!!! 

36 Hours in Monument Valley

36 Hours in Monument Valley 
- powered by Tim Dahle Nissan

For this 36 Hours trip, we decided to try something different and borrow a Nissan Titan XD truck from Tim Dahle of Murray and boy howdy! were we glad we did! The long almost-6 hour drive was seriously a breeze! The interior of the cab is roomier and more comfortable than our minivan, so the hours didn't seem nearly as long! YAY! However, as we pulled into Monument Valley, we quickly realized that our intent to utilize the 4-wheel drive feature on dirt roads was not going to be happening as a Navajo guide needs to be with anyone as they travel on dirt roads (except for the 17-mile loop in Monument Valley National Monument). But really, there is no complaint because regardless of where we were...THAT view!!!

We arrived Monday evening and didn't really get to appreciate the expanse of the valley the first evening as it was getting quite dark, but I think that was the best way to be introduced to Monument Valley...because it was a spectacular surprise in the morning! 

We stayed at Goulding's Lodge which is incredible on its own, but once you hear the history of how this place came to be, it makes it that more special. The operating manager, Scott Laws (if you want to see some amazing pictures, check out his Instagram page @scott_laws_photography) shared the history with me (I LOVE stories to give schema to areas that I visit and this is no exception). So here it is:
 "Here is the story about how Harry got John Ford to come to Monument Valley:
Harry & Mike (Leona's nick name, A story in it's self)  Went to Hollywood in person and meet with John Ford - The story has been told to me second hand. 
Mike told the Lafont's (current owners of Goulding's) her version of how they meet with John F.   
During the great depression, while in Flagstaff Harry had been told of a Movie scout group, That had come from Hollywood in search of a new location to shoot western films. So Harry returned home to Monument Valley to pick up his wife, bed roll, several cans of beans, and some black and white photos he had of Monument Valley. They then headed off to Hollywood. It was a 3 day 2 night trip. They camped along side the road at night and Mike prepared the beans for their meals. When they reached Hollywood Mike had a cousin in California they stayed with. The next morning Harry went to find John Ford. Mike stayed in their old model T Ford and knitted while she waited for Harry. 
Harry walked into John Ford's receptionist office and asked if he could see John ford. The receptionist asked if he had an appointment? Harry replied "no" The receptionist stated that no one saw John Ford with out an appointment. Harry explained that he had traveled a long way to see John F and that he would only take a few minutes of his time. The receptionist explained that John F was very busy and his next available appointment was a few weeks out. 
So Harry left John F office and walked out to his vehicle and with out saying anything to Mike he grabbed his bed roll out of the back of the Model T, and reentered John F office. He begun to unroll his bed roll on the floor of the receptionist office. The receptionist asked what he was doing, he reexplained that he had traveled a long distance to see John F and if he wasn't available then he would wait until he was. The receptionist picked up her phone and called for security to come and remove Harry from the office. So Harry in a last chance effort began to place his black and white photographs he had of Monument Valley on the backs of the chairs, in an upright position. When the individual came to throw Harry out, saw the photographs, he asked Harry where they were from. Harry explained the location of Monument Valley. With in a few minutes John F was called to come to the receptionist office. Harry then meet with John F and explained where Monument Valley was and how to get there. 
Harry and John F made some agreements and then Harry left his office. Harry explained to Mike on the trip back how the meeting went, but then the fear set in as to how they were going to take care of such a large crew. By the time the Goulding's reached Flagstaff several large trucks with food and equipment were waiting for them in town to follow them to Monument Valley. Hollywood had already made the arrangement in which they were worried as to how they were going to accommodate them. 
2 weeks after the original meeting (year 1938) the filming began for Stagecoach Staring John Wayne and was released in 1939 Harry Goulding and his wife Leone, whose nickname was “Mike”, came to Monument Valley in the early 1920’s. Harry was a sheep trader looking for a new business opportunity and a place to call home. Monument Valley had once been part of the Paiute Indian Reservation. When the reservation relocated, areas of land opened up for sale. The Goulding’s were able to purchase a substantial plot of land in Monument Valley and quickly set up a Trading Post.

The Goulding’s conducted business with the local Navajo people, who traded hand-crafted items like rugs and jewelry in exchange for food and other goods. After living and working in tents for several years. Harry and Mike constructed a permanent building, which currently houses the Goulding’s Trading Post Museum.

When the Great Depression hit in the 1930’s, the Navajo Reservation suffered immensely. Harry heard of a movie production company scouting for locations to film in the Southwest. He believed that bringing a movie production to Monument Valley would help the local Navajos with much needed income.

Harry and Mike set out on a journey to Hollywood, California with their last $60. By luck and perseverance, Harry met the famous director John Ford. When Ford saw Harry’s photos of Monument Valley, he knew it was the perfect location for his next movie. The Goulding’s received an advanced payment, and in a few days John Ford and his crew began filming “Stagecoach”, starring John Wayne.

Over the years, the Goulding’s continued to host movie crews, photographers, artists, and tourists. They built lodge rooms and a dining facility to accommodate their guests. Since then, Goulding’s Lodge has expanded to host thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to see Monument Valley.

Harry and Mike Goulding retired after Knox College of Illinois took over the Trading Post and Lodge in 1962. The Goulding’s moved to Arizona, where Harry fell into poor health. In 1981, the LaFont family bought the property, the same year that Harry passed away. Mike later returned to her home in Monument Valley where she spent her final days, passing away in 1992.

Thanks to Harry and Mike’s pioneering spirit, Monument Valley has become an icon of the American West and people from all over the world can appreciate its amazing beauty."

Anyway, THIS is the hillside family suite we stayed in. So close to the mountains and the view from the porch is expansive - the ENTIRE valley with the Mittens!

And this is the cool truck that took us on our full day-8 hour tour.  Gouldings has lots of different tour options but we decided to spring for the full day and we were so glad we did.  There is a ton to see and do in Monument Valley but very little of it is accessible without a Navajo guide so you really just have to swallow the cost and go for it on this one.

We stopped often on this tour to explore and learn about this beautiful area.

These little kids had the best time running up and down the sandstone. But the best part was often at the top, there was some sort of native ruin still standing!

It is hard to tell in this picture, but it was quite a steep climb.

Initially, we had another tour with us, but they were all adults and our angel tour guide recognized that they would have a better time away from the craziness of us! So, off they headed ahead of us!

What's so fun about it is you get to sit in the truck with the windows up and see these views fly by and then we'd stop and get to climb and explore.

Now eight hours on a tour with 10 little kids could have been a disaster but thanks to our amazing guide, Laverne, it was peaceful and beautiful and one of the most memorable experiences we've ever had.  We parked below this hill and walked to the top as LaVerne explained how there are still 11 families that still live in Monument Valley and the sacred trust they have to keep the area pristine. 

At times, we felt we were in Arches National Park as there were so very arches everywhere!

This shot is when the kids "raced" the jeep to the next stop. I mean, seriously, how fun is that?!

Laverne, our Navajo guide, took the time to learn each of the kids names and teach them these sacred stories of her heritage. taught them what makes the juniper trees so special and how they cooked their food and what they wore.  As parents it was amazing to see our kids really connect with another culture.

This is about as up close and personal as we have ever been to ancient ruins and there were also pottery shards on the ground that Laverne pointed out to us and let the children touch. 

Another beautiful arch that we were able to climb.

Part of the full day tour includes lunch which was pretty cool.  We had these box lunches filled with chips and cookies, and drinks while the dads and guides cooked up burgers. 

Such delicious and huge burgers for our hungry tummies!

After lunch we headed to the famous Valley. 

Laverne was so considerate to pull over and let us take pictures of the Mittens. This is the left Mitten.

And the right Mitten.

Along the 17-mile loop that is accessible to everyone, you can see the Three Sisters. 

We ended the day at a traditional Navajo Hogan where we learned about the different building shapes and what they mean. 

Then the real highlight of the day happened inside this perfect hogan:

Each of the girls got Navajo Buns.  They absolutely loved it!

Honestly, Monument Valley is a very spiritual, sacred place.  I'm afraid we would have missed the entire magic of it had we just tried to explore it on our own. Gouldings Lodge and our friend Laverne created memories for us that will last a lifetime. 

We are so grateful that this adventure was powered by Tim Dahle Nissan of Murray and can't wait for the next adventure!