Monday, December 30, 2013


Last year, we had a big bash at the bowling alley, but this year, we were saving up for our trip to Florida. (More on that later). We elected to do a simple party at home with grandparents and some friends from kindergarten. The weather at the end of May can be unpredictable, but we were lucky. It was perfect.

A couple of months before their birthday, they discovered Pac Man. We didn’t hear anything from their computers except the Pac Man theme music and that AWAH-AWAH-AWAH sound that Pac Man makes when he is moving around the screen. I’m not complaining. I’m glad that they found something that doesn’t involve blood and guns and gore and fists and death. It was just a LOT.

So, Meatball decided that he wanted a Pac Man cake. Since we were keeping costs low, I had decided to make their cakes instead of buying them or paying someone to decorate. I’m not a complete dunce. I can decorate a few things. Besides, how hard can Pac Man be? He’s an incomplete circle for Pete’s sake… And, the ghosts? Easy baby! He even found a cake decorating tutorial for me on the internet!

Shortly after we discovered Pac Man, we also discovered Wreck It Ralph with its exciting game: Sugar Rush. This was the BOMB, and soon they were racing their cars online as often as we would allow them to. Again, I was fine with this because nobody dies. Awesome.

Peanut decided that he wants a cake in the shape of Vanellope Von Schweetz’s car. This was a bit more difficult request, but I managed to pull it off. I just had to bake the cake in different sized pans and freeze it often as I cut it and contoured it into the correct shape for a car.

Friends came over, and games were played. We did the sit-on-the-balloon game, but they were water balloons and therefore not very big and easily popped. That means when they put the balloon on the grass, it basically popped without anyone sitting on it. We played on the swings, and one of their classmates climbed to the top and jumped off – easily 15 feet up – but his mom didn’t seem concerned about it, and he didn’t break anything, so all’s well that ends well. We had a piñata.

There was cake and chips and cookies and snow cones and dips and crackers. We did provide a fruit and veggie platter, but the only people that ate from it was the grown-ups.

Then, the presents. Their friends were generous as were their grandparents and Aunt Sid. It was a great day, but I couldn’t help but be sad on occasion. What happened to my babies?

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Being twins has its advantages, but there are times when it would be nice if everything would happen on the same schedule. Tooth fairy visits are one of those things.

The first two bottom teeth for each of the boys fell out at almost the exact same times. This was fun and exciting and there was a bunch of energy packed into one week. How can you not be energized when the tooth fairy leaves you $2 and a big box of candy (I know – not the right message to send)?

Then, Meatball kept losing teeth, but Peanut didn’t. Poor Peanut. He was so sad. Here’s Meatball losing four more teeth on a semi-regular basis, and Peanut’s teeth weren’t budging. At all.

When Meatball lost #3, he felt so bad for Peanut that he shared. We expected him to share his candy. In fact, we probably would have insisted that he do so. But, he also shared his money. They split it 50/50. I was at work when all of this happened, but Bub called to let me know. She was so proud of him sharing. I was, too. I even cried a little bit. He also shared money and candy when he lost #4, #5, and #6. What a sweet guy, right?

Here, Meatball loses another tooth, while Peanut does not.
Well, Peanut FINALLY lost #3. Oh, there was excitement. He worked it and worked it, and it finally came out. Meatball congratulated him, and they ran through the house to let Bub know. Woo-hoo! Yippee!

And, then, it happened:

“Hey, remember when I lost my teeth and shared my candy and money with you?”
(I’m proud to report that Peanut did, indeed, share candy and money 50/50.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013


For all of my complaining about this year, there have been some very good experiences. I don’t want to forget about them because they have been the things that have kept us going. Many, many, many times I’ve been next to tears only to have someone do something nice for me or to have my kids do something hysterical and make me laugh. I guess that’s just how life is.

There’s the bad; it’s all around, and it’s like a jack-hammer with constant pounding and breaking down. There’s enough bad to be demoralizing at times – enough to cause some people to become bitter and mean and spiteful. I’m that person sometimes. I hate to admit it, but I am. This year, I have been awful at times. I have been sad. I have cried and sobbed and yelled and said mean things. I have let the bad get the best of me many times in 2013.

But, there’s the good, too. There’s plenty of it to go around. Sometimes, I’ve had to look really, really hard for the good, but when I found it, it had the ability to overshadow the bad if I would let it. There are so many genuinely good people in my life, and I’m very fortunate to have them. My friends, my family, my kids – hell, even the dogs. There’s goodness everywhere.

And, there’s the love. It’s always the right thing do to choose love. I’m not saying that I have done that all the time in 2013. Sometimes I chose anger. Sometimes I chose dislike-borderline-hate. But, love was always there waiting for me to pull my head out, calm down, and do the right thing. Choose love. Always choose love. Bub and I have issues, and sometimes they get the better of us, but in the end, we have still managed to choose love. It’s occasionally love with a dose of bitchiness, but its love at the end of the day. And, the boys – they fight plenty, but they always choose love for each other. I’m happy that they will always have that for each other. I’m most lucky when they choose love for me. They are beautiful and have beautiful hearts, and I’m so lucky that Mother Nature trusted them to me.

And, right here - at the end of the year - the opportunity to choose love with a legal twist. More on that to come!

Friday, November 22, 2013

inside my head

Is it me?

Sometimes, my outside is calm. Well, there may be some unhappy vibes, but otherwise, I'm calm. I'm not freaking out. I'm not. I'm just sitting and looking out the window or whatever.

However, inside my head I am throwing a tantrum. I can picture myself. I am screaming. No words, but just a long, steady, incredibly loud scream. You know - the kind where the woman holds her fists to the side of her head in the movies?

And, I'm throwing something. Not a tub of popcorn, although that would be fine, but typically it's something hard and capable of breaking something. Or, it's something very breakable. And, I huck it. Hard. (Although, in my head, I can actually throw AND hit the thing that I'm aiming for.) OR, I'm kicking or stomping. Like sitting in my seat and kicking the windshield out of the car. Or, kicking a hole in the bathroom door. You know. Whatever.

But, I never do it. I never do any of it. I just sit. Sometimes, I yell, and that makes me suck as a person/mom/wife. But, I guess that's loads better than doing whatever think I'm thinking about doing.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

They're still funny!

Just because I'm depressed and miserable doesn't mean that everyone is a mess. The boys have been cheering me up all year long with their funny characteristics and hilarious things that they say:

Meatball: Mom, after I am Pac Man for Halloween this year, I'm going to be a kitty next year and a wrecking ball the next next year!
Me: Uh...

One of those Carl*s Jr commercials came on with the scantily clad girl eating a huge burger and making a mess. Those drive Kelley nuts because the food is so messy and sloppy.
Kelley: Ug! Oh my Gawd. Is that supposed to be sexy?
Peanut: Well, I think it's sexy!
Me: Oh, really?!?! Exactly what do you think is sexy about that?
Peanut: Well.... That does looks like a really yummy hamburger!
Totally innocent. He is truly in love with the burger and only the burger.
So cute!

Rule for the evening: no farting!
Guess how long it took for a 6 year old to let one rip? Less than 10 seconds!

After taking a bite of carrot cake ice cream (which IS really good), Peanut exclaimed "Mom! You've sent my taste buds to the North Pole!"

The boys often speak with a British accent because Nana is from London, so I was surprised to walk in last week and hear them speaking as if they had been raised in Mumbai.
Me: Oh, this sounds interesting. Where are you from if you're speaking like that?
Meatball: Indiana!

Peanut has informed me that I have "ruined his life" by not allowing him on a particular website. Congratulations, me. I must be doing some part of this parenting thing correctly.

Twins: double the fun; double the laughs; double the joy; double the love; double the pink eye....

Kel: I must have PMS!
Meatball: Yeah, like DNA....

Peanut: "Mom, where is Honk Ong?"
Me: "What?"
Peanut: "You know, Honk Ong?"
Me: "Oh, right. China."
(Hong Kong.)

Meatball: "Mom, I know a school that granny and grandpa can go to."
Me: "What school is that?"
Meatball: "It's called Old School."

Meatball: "Hey, mom. Don't ever give me the bum steer, ok?"
I have no idea where that came from.

Dear Parents of Poorly Dressed Kids:
I judged you. I did! Pre-kids, I thought "I would never let my child out of the house looking like that."
Then, my kids started to pick out their own outfits. I get it now. You can't re-dress them! They are so proud of the fact that they put plaid with stripes with black socks and flip flops and (an ugly) Cowboys hat.....
So, I'm sorry for all of that judging back then.

Peanut: "Mom, I'm really confused about something."
Me: "What's that?"
Peanut: "When someone says a naughty word on TV, do THEY beep or does the TV beep?"

I am eating at McD's. Obviously, the birthday boys got to choose. That, or the world is coming to an end and all other eating establishments have burned to the ground.

Peanut: Mom, when I grow up, can I say naughty words?
Me: No. When you're a grown up, you will be smarter than that and use good words.
Peanut: But, mom! I was really looking forward to using them!

In grade K, my kids are doing math like 69-22=.....
And, they like it! And, it's easy/fun for them!
I LOVE their teachers and school!

Peanut to me: "Mom, I just kissed your hair. It's an incredibly romantic thing to do...."

The competition was fierce, but we had a blast in aisle 17 at the Home Depot kit car races today!

(about the key lime pie). Meatball: Mom! It's like BOOM in my mouth, and it goes to the very ends of me!

Boy 1: Mom, this great fun day lasted until the night!
Boy 2: Mom, I'm going to go home and write a word that says "poop."

Well, Meatball just drew a picture to send to the president and vice president. Peanut just officially "out-scienced" me by reversing the direction of his forward-only train.

For their Valentine's gifts, one of the boys got Kelley a frozen pizza and the other got her Hawaiian flavored lifesavers. Boy - she's going to be surprised!

It's Saturday night and we're watching Cinderella. Can we BRING IT, or what?!?!

"Too legit. Too legit to quit."
Thanks to the New Years Rockin' Eve show, the boys have been chanting that for 12 days now.
The song didn't get better with time, but the singers are much cuter and better dressed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


When I was at the U, I took a class that was semi-related to my major of Gender Studies. I don’t know exactly what the name of the class was, but it had everything to do with death, the psychology of death. It was a fascinating class. What I remember most from the class – apart from the incredibly warm room that it was held in – was the book by Elizabeth Kubler Ross, “On Death and Dying.”

Here we are 20 years later, and I’m sure that everyone has heard of this and the stages of grief are not new, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about of late.
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

The stages don’t have to happen in that order, and other feelings can obviously be felt along the journey, but these are the common stages felt by most people facing loss.

At the time, it made perfect sense. I didn’t realize that I would be experiencing those feelings very soon when my mom died. And, I did.

I think that I went through bargaining first. I didn’t do the “oh, god, please take me instead" thing. Now, if it were one of my kids, I might do that. But, I didn’t with my mom.
For being such an active and healthy woman, she really had her share of shitty luck. She managed to get all of the weirdest diseases. Like Saint Vitas Dance. Really? And, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Seriously? Sclerosing cholangitis. Fuh…. So, when my aunt called and said malignant tumor, and the next week the doctor said squamous call carcinoma, I was not surprised.

What I did, however, was plunge myself into the internet (how young it was at the time) and phone calls to the local cancer center and phone calls to my own doctor to find out everything that I could about it. Because that’s what I do. If I can figure it out, or find a way around it, I will do it. So, I sat in the doctor’s office that day with my mom and my aunt and my notebook and asked a thousand questions.

Thinking that I could change it. But if I can learn about it, maybe I can find a way around it. That was my bargaining. Let me learn just enough to possibly change it. Whatever I can do to change it, I will give it a try.

And, then it happened so quickly. Just a few months.

And, I was camping during the last weekend of her life. Because I was in denial. I believed that she was going to be all right. And, then she died. My brother and sister-in-law came to my work to tell me. I went back to my desk and tried to call my sister. I stood in my cubicle and didn’t know what to do. I remember saying (out loud and almost crying) “What the fuck am I supposed to do now?”

Depression came next. Oh, it was a whirlwind of funeral arrangements, writing the obituary, buying a new blouse, picking her casket clothes, picking a casket, arguing about having the casket open or closed, going to my childhood church for the first time in ten years, seeing her friends and hearing their stories. But, yes. It was the depression next.

I finally really sobbed on the way home from the funeral. All the way home - 2.5 hours of crying. And that whole night. And the next day. And, then I had to go back to work, so I managed to collect myself for 8 hours. And, then I drank when I got home. Collected myself for 8 hours, and then I drank some more the next night. This happened pretty much every night for a year. I'm not proud of myself, but it's what happened. I spent hours at night in the basement playing pool by myself and drinking beer. (Is it a wonder that my game never improved? It IS actually a wonder that I didn't gain a lot of weight. I guess the fact that I wasn't eating anything to note probably helped counterbalance the excessive beer.)

During the depression phase, I also experienced the anger phase. I’m loathe to say that sometimes I still do. There was a genuinely wonderful lady, Verna, who used to work with me. She, too, had colon cancer at the same time as my mom, but she survived. As much as I adored her (she has since passed away), I was angry at her. She, of course, never did anything to deserve my anger. She was just fighting a battle for her own life, and she was fortunate enough to win. (Also known as: she had the luxury of insurance whereas my mom did not. Universal healthcare, people…) Yes - sometimes I find myself angry at those around me who do not cherish every irritating thing that their own mother does, but thankfully, it's just a flash and then it's gone.

Finally, I learned to accept it. It was a matter of time, and beer, and tears, and sadness, and withdrawal from those around me. But, I did learn to accept it.

I didn’t think that I would need to deal with this type of grief again until someone else died, but I have. I’ve been absent from this blog because I’m in the middle of the depression phase again. And, it’s just as hard this time even though nobody has died.

This time, I didn’t have months to prepare myself. This time, my daily life, a big sense of myself, my “status,” the respect that I thought that I had, it was all gone in one day. I’ve yet to bargain because I don’t have much left to bargain with. I’ve yet to experience loads of anger because I was led to believe that it was all my own fault. (And, if you know me at all, you know that I immediately blamed myself anyway.) I had myself a little bit of denial while I hid myself away. But, how lucky is my family? I’ve been mired in the depression phase since February.

I don’t know if I will move to acceptance. Mostly because I don’t want to. I can get past the depression. I will. But, the acceptance? It will be a cold day in hell. (Oh, look! A bit of anger! Growth?)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I have very high expectations – of myself, of others, of the world, of processes, of nature. It’s been mentioned by one very important person that my expectations are just too high. Of course, I don’t think so. In fact, I usually think that other people’s expectations are just too low and that’s why we live in a society that allows and supports mediocrity.

As a couple and family, we’ve been struggling through some tough times. In the ten free minutes per day that I have to actually think and reflect, I’ve been trying to come to terms with myself. It’s hard. I don’t like to re-think myself. I don’t like to change because I’m perfect, right? (As if.)

So, a while ago, I bought a book at a rummage sale. I intended to just skim through it. I opened it up randomly to page 94, and the first sentence that I read was “There are two kinds of expectations. Expectations may be realistic or unrealistic. Clinging to unrealistic expectations is the cause of suffering.”

Why, though, are they unrealistic? And, why does it bother me so much? And, yes – they do cause much suffering in my life. That part is correct. But, how do you just let them go, or alter them? Why should I have to alter them? I think that’s bogus.

It’s not like I’m setting goals that are completely ludicrous. I don’t expect myself to look like a super model. I don’t expect that I’ll suddenly start running as fast as Paula Radcliffe. I don’t expect Bub to get a six-figure job. I don’t expect the republican controlled state of Utah to support abortion.

But, I do expect that I will lose weight. I’ve been saying that for years. So far, it really hasn’t worked all that well. I’m 20 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight. While I’ve never gained the entire 20 back (except during pregnancy, but that doesn’t count, and I never went over my heaviest anyway), I frequently gain and lose 10 pounds over and over. My goal weight is still 35 pounds lighter than what I am right now. And, it’s totally possible. And, it would make me so much faster/flexible/energetic. I know all of this, but I’m still struggling. Why can’t I just lose it already? Why do I say to myself every stinking Wednesday “I hate being the fattest one in yoga class”? Why do I disregard all of the good work that I do during the day only to blow it in t evening? Why do I eat more and more after I have lost a couple of pounds? It’s like I want to gain it back (but I don’t want to!). See, I don’t think that this is a ridiculous goal. I just think that I’m not working hard enough.

But, I do expect that my running times should improve. I’ve been running for 12 years now. My pace has only improved by 2 minutes/mile. I should be 5 minutes faster than I was when I started. Not unrealistic. I just haven’t worked hard enough. I don’t do speed work consistently. I haven’t lost the weight. I ditch my planned runs when it’s too hot or inconvenient or because I want to sleep.

I do believe that Bub will get a job. It doesn’t have to pay a ton of money, but something would be good. Don’t get me wrong – it has been good to have her home (that’s another post for another time), but we’re drowning. She has the same skills that a thousand other unemployed people have, so she’s just another face applying for whatever job. But, I hear all of this talk about the economy turning around, so I expect more. I sometimes feel like she isn’t trying hard enough.

And the state of Utah? Lots of things are NEVER going to happen here. But, some general decency towards each other would sure be nice. Will gay marriage happen? Yes, some day. Will tolerance and acceptance prevail? Maybe. Until then, it would be nice to just have a smidgen of respect. And, there stands the old phrase “respect must be earned.” Maybe I (we) am not working hard enough to educate people.

So, this clearly comes down to the fact that I don’t work hard. But, I do! I work my ass off every day. OK – I’ll admit – Friday is usually my day to just do nothing after putting in 40 hours at the office, but other than that, I feel like I AM working! I have a full-time job. I run. I tend to the garden and the yard work. I take care of the dogs. I help with the housework. I make sure that our reading and exercise time gets done. And, that’s in the two hours that I have between dinner and bed! I work hard, but my expectations are still so high that I’m suffering because I’m not meeting them.

But, where did this notion come from, anyway? My mom was the hardest working person I’ve ever met in my entire life, and she seemed to have it all. Obviously, this is where it comes from. I’m sure that if she were here, she would set me straight. She did NOT have it all. She struggled financially, and physically, and (probably) mentally and emotionally. But, I don’t remember her wishing for the next thing; I don’t remember her beating herself up because she didn’t reach a certain goal. She made the most of her life – as shitty as it sometimes was. Am I just wishing life away? Am I missing something?

Or, am I just being honest with myself? It’s obvious that I’m not losing weight because of my eating habits in the evening and because I don’t run six times/week. I’m not as politically active as I could be.
I maintain that I’m just not working hard enough. Therefore, the expectations are realistic, but my effort is half-assed. The suffering (aka beating myself up), then, is justified.

Am I just screwed?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's a good night to sleep outside

We haven't been camping at all this year. Not even once. I feel like a terrible mother, but at the same time, I've been trying to save up for our family vacation this year. Trust me - these kids are going to LOVE us when we finally get to Florida!

So, while weeding the garden tonight, I decided that we needed to have a "camp out" in the back yard. So, here we are - laying on the grass. 2/3 of us are asleep after finally giving up on seeing the stars - too many clouds tonight. We did wish upon a couple of airplanes, though.

It's nice and breezy. People are finally done lighting their neighborhood fireworks. Crickets are chirping. The dogs are protecting us. I'm only worried about the mosquitos. (Rat bastards.)

I worry sometimes that I'm not giving the boys enough fun experiences. For heaven's sake - haven't been camping once this year? Crazy. But, we have gone to the train museum, gone to the dinosaur museum, toured a cave, done a lot of swimming, hiked in the canyon, played and raced at the local track, gone to parks, stayed in a resort condo, played miniature golf and shuffleboard, gone to the amusement park... I guess we've done a decent amount of stuff. I do wish that they spent a little less time in front of their computers and a little more time on the swingset.

I respect what my mom did for all of us. I can't believe that she did this for FIVE kids. I always say that I would have loved ten kids, but I wouldn't have been able to provide them all with the experiences and attention that they would have deserved. Two is perfect. Now, I just need to get my act together!

Camping out in the backyard is a start.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

365 Photo Challenge, March 2013

March 1, 2013: So, this is what happens when I wash my hair and then don’t do anything else except for let it dry. I try not to let it get this out of hand because it’s just not pretty!

March 3, 2013: I’m getting tired of looking at myself. Really? A whole year of this?

March 6, 2013: Me in the foot doc’s mirror at my six week appointment. About 20 minutes after this shot, I ran 4.5 miles for the first time in what felt like forever. I was supposed to run 1 mile and gradually work my way up in half mile increments over the course of a few weeks, but I just couldn’t bear it. It was 4.5 miles or nothing!

March 9, 2013: Me (and Bub and the kids) at the zoo. The first picture was taken by Meatball. I wish he would have given me more time to prepare so that I would be smiling. But, whatevs.

March 10, 2013: This is me and our 1960s oven. Awesome avocado green. Poor, old piece of shit. But, it works….

March 11, 2013: These are my jammies. Moons, stars, suns. Very groovy.

March 14, 2013: The greatest kids in the universe!

March 16, 2013: My Peanut.

March 18, 2013: Another day at work. I look tired. I’m always tired. I’m tired of doing what I’m doing.

March 19, 2013: I’m melting butter to make some frosting for cookies. Now, if I let the kids eat more of them than I eat, we’ll be good.

March 21, 2013: These are my boat shoes. We don’t have a boat. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared….

March 22, 2013: Snuggle time. This means that the boys fall asleep next to me or on my lap. Sweet boy… I know that I’ve mentioned it before, but I still don’t make them go to bed on their own. I will let them fall asleep with me for as long as they want to do it. Bub is finally on board, too. (This photo totally counts. It includes my hand...)

March 23, 2013: Yes. The whole damn kitchen is green. I hate it. The idea is to strip all of the paint this summer and re-finish all of the cabinets. Wish us luck.

March 24, 2013: Another awesome pajama ensemble (made even better with the busy shower curtain behind me). It’s a good thing that Bub goes to bed first and that I get up first. Otherwise, I would never hear the end of my fashion flubs.

March 25, 2013: It’s time for sandals! Spring! (It snowed the next day.)

March 26, 2013: Santa brought me these socks. They are from the NFL store. Go Eagles! Then, I watched Invincible. Awesome show.

March 27, 2013: Blah.

March 28, 2013: I’ve had this shirt for probably 20 years. It used to fit, but now it’s too big. Now, I wear it to bed more often than anything else. It’s so comfy. And, it’s not the Cowboys.

March 29, 2013: I wore these jeans to work today. Then, I realized that they are falling apart. I won’t be wearing them to work anymore.

March 30, 2013: THIS means that I’m happy. Bub gave me these Birkies the first summer we were together. The cork is millimeters thin in some places and non-existent in other places. They are ALMOST broken in….

March 31, 2013: The boys and I at Papa’s and Nana’s house. We just helped feed the chickens, and now we’re lounging on the swing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Baker, NV, and Lehman Caves

I decided a while ago that I wanted to take the boys to some caves. I think that they are fascinating, and it’s a great learning opportunity (for everyone). Bub isn’t really keen on the whole cave thing, so she was less than excited when I brought it up. In fact, she said “go without me.” (She would regret that later.) So, while the boys had spring break, I decided to take a couple of days off of work and go to Lehman Caves.

When I was nine or ten, we took a trip to California and Disneyland with our neighbors. We were making a stop in Oakhurst, CA, too. Since we lived in central Utah, it was almost a straight shot to Oakhurst if we just cut across the desert, so we headed first to Delta and then on to Baker. We stopped to see the cave before we went on to Tonapah and then to Oakhurst. It was a long trip – all driving. Back then, it wasn’t illegal for people to ride in the bed of a truck, so five of us kids were in the back of a Datsun pickup with a shell. It’s a good thing that we were all great friends and had grown up together!

That was my first cave. I have been enthralled ever since. Unfortunately, I don’t find many people who share my excitement…. The ex? Nope. The wifey? Oh, hell no. (A cave is not the place where claustrophobic people want to be.) And, there just aren’t many around. We have an AWESOME one in Utah, but it’s a steep hike (and nobody ever wants to hike with me, either).

[Incidentally, I’m not as codependent and pathetic as it sounds like I am. I’m perfectly capable of caving and hiking all by myself, but I would rather spend time with the people that I love than off wandering around by myself. My running time is my alone time.]

So, where was I going with that?

Anyway, as the time drew nearer, I started planning and packing, and Bub was surprised. She really didn’t think that I would do it. She wasn’t very happy. So, I told her to come, but then she couldn’t because she had just started a new job. She was not happy, but we went. I determined that we could sleep in the Honda and spend almost nothing for food. The only expense would be gas. We were off.
You really have to be the right kind of person to see the beauty in the Great Basin desert. It’s not the red rocks of southern Utah. It’s not the dunes of Africa. If you don’t have the right view, it looks gray and empty and void of, well, anything. I think it’s wonderful, but even I started to get tired of it on this drive. That may have had something to do with the fact that the boys were fighting in the back seat for almost the entire drive.

Finally, we arrived in Baker. To be generous, it’s quiet and sparse and interesting. If I’m not being generous, it’s a bunch of trailer houses, pre-fabs, a couple of actual houses, and scrub brush with a post office and a sort-of gas station.

There is no pay phone. There is no cell service. And, the wind was so crummy that there were no people outside. We passed another car while we were checking out the main drag (which was about three blocks long). I had to stop at the post office to try to find a pay phone. That’s when I learned that there wasn’t one. However, the postal lady had a great hint: Drive north for about a mile and a half. Then, turn right on this cut-off road. After passing one cattle guard, there would be service sometime before the next cattle guard. Drive slowly. So, here I am, driving two mph with my hand in the air…. We did manage to call Bub and let her know that we had arrived safely.

We checked out what promised to be some really cool Native American ruins right in the middle of nothing. Sadly, someone broke the promise. It wasn’t that great. It probably would have been better if I could have stuck around and read all of the information signs, but it was COLD and, well, I was with two 5-year olds. There is no “sticking around” when this crew yet. Maybe in a few years.

Having seen the entire town in a matter of two minutes and having checked out the archaeological dig over the course of four minutes and finding the only cell service around (which took more like 15 minutes), we were out of things to do! I had hoped to take the boys for some hot cocoa at the local café, but it’s only open sometimes, and this wasn’t one of them. So, we went to the local school and played on the playground for a while even though we were freezing.

After we were sufficiently iced over, I talked the boys into finding a camping spot and having dinner. There are two nice campground areas with about ten sites each. Considering the location and the weather, they certainly weren’t swamped, but we did have a few neighbors. I believe that even on a popular weekend, the sites are spaced far enough apart that campers wouldn’t bother one another. After dinner (where we got rained AND snowed on), we gave it up and got ready for bed where we would at least be warm. Maybe not tired, but warm.

So, I laid the back seat down and arranged the sleeping bags and pillows. Quite cozy. We donned our PJs and hit the outhouse. Then, we snuggled into bed – me in the middle with a boy on each side. It was at this moment that I realized that our little mini-SUV wasn’t going to be long enough. Yup – my brilliant plan was perfect for someone 4-feet tall (the boys), but about 2-feet too short for an average adult. Son of a….. Needless to say, I spent the weekend sleeping in the fetal position and was never comfortable. (The boys are ready to do it again, but not mommy!)

The next morning, I awoke and started heating up some water for hot cocoa and oatmeal. We managed to warm our clothes by snuggling with them and then dressing inside the sleeping bags. We ate breakfast in the car and rearranged everything so that the seat could be lifted back up and the kids seats put back in. Then, it was off to the cave!

We arrived with about 90 minutes to waste until the next tour. The park rangers gave us some kids workbooks to complete. We toured an old cabin, hiked an easy trail, learned about the flora and fauna of the area as well as the history. It was a really cool activity book, and kept us busy until the last minute. FINALLY it was time to go in the cave.

The boys were amazed from the beginning, and we were only in the tunnel leading to the cave – not the actual cave itself. Once we got inside, they were very well behaved and very funny. They were super careful to not touch any of the formations or cave walls as both I and the tour guide had explained how our natural skin oils damage the cave environment. They asked good questions and participated in the conversations to the best of their abilities. (We learned that the stalagmites grow up from the ground and become mighty tall, and that stalactites grow from the ceiling and hang on tightly. Get it? Pretty clever. We also learned about cave bacon, draperies, and popcorn!)

It was sad to see some of the vandalism that had happened 60 or 70 years ago – well before the cave was a state park and long before scientists understood the damaging impact that humans could have on the cave. So, the vandalism happened forever ago, and while it was a bit depressing, it was still fun to take a couple of minutes to try and find my great-Uncle Frank’s and great-Uncle Auer’s names on the wall. We never did find them.

It was also very interesting to learn that a really bad B-movie had been filmed in the cave! Something about a Mars exploration. I guess in the 50s – knowing almost nothing about the true surface of Mars – the interior of this cave could be seen as a landscape from another planet. At the time that the movie was filmed, the “great room” was half full of water due to a very wet spring, so they filmed some raft scenes. Hahaha! Now we know that there is NO water on Mars. Raft scenes. Hysterical!

Well, after the tour, the boys got their picture taken with Ranger Peter, and then it was time to certify as a Junior Ranger.
I had no idea that there was even such a program, but since they finished the hike and the activity book and the cave tour, they were eligible for such an honor. The “presiding” ranger had them raise their right hands and even take an oath. It was a very serious occasion, and the boys were so proud of themselves.

Well, with all of this excitement over with before 1pm, what’s a family to do when they have technically done ALL there is to do in town? Well, the family high-tails it outta’ there! We headed towards home after just one night and through a driving rainstorm.
We didn’t make it all the way home, though. Instead, we decided to visit the Little Sahara sand dunes for the first time.

Easter weekend is by far the CRAZIEST time to go to the sand dunes, but we were hitting it two days after Easter when most people would be back at work. It was wonderful. There were some lingering ATVs, but not enough to be a nuisance or a hazard. We found a site, got out our toys, and played in the sand all afternoon and evening.
It was really fun to just let the boys get as dirty and grimy as they wanted. Cell service – an added bonus! (The only thing I wasn’t too keen on was the fact that I had to pay $18 for one night. I totally understand that when you’re bringing in campers and trailers and toy haulers full of ATVs, but we were a mini-SUV staying for a single night. Harumph! Oh well.)

I was very happy to wake the next morning and get OUT of the sleeping-quarters-for-midgets. My body was tired and achy from being so cramped up. The boys slept in for a while, so I got some reading time with just the sunrise and the birds.
After breakfast, we packed up and finished the trip home. Bub was super happy to see us, and us her.

I can’t wait to take the boys to Timpanogos (Utah) and Minnetonka (Idaho) caves!