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Utah Trip

  • Sunday, December 26, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari

  • Well, I guess we should update the blog seeing as how we sent out Christmas cards without any letter recap.

    It's hard to believe it's already been a week ago today that our saga began...

    But to fully appreciate the insanity we need to go back three or four days before that.  Jeff had schedule a week off from work to spend with the family.  All year we had waffled back and forth as to what we were actually going to do with the time.  It wasn't until 4 days before the trip, that Jeff announced "Why don't we go to Utah?"--and by "go" he meant drive 22+ hours.  "We'll be making memories with the kids!",  he says--words that would come to haunt the remainder of our trek!

    It wouldn't have been as bad if 1)he had given more than a couple days notice and 2) if Kari hadn't just gotten off a 5 week fill-in stint as Jeff's receptionist at work!.  So, on top of trying to clean a house that hadn't been touched in 5 weeks, we also were trying to pack and finish for Christmas (why Jeff hasn't been shot by now is still anybody's guess).

    And despite looking at weather forecasts and predictions for the New Mexico route, Jeff decided as we were hopping in the car on the way out the door to let the GPS decide our fate.  Later, we came to find out that the "faster" route through Kansas and Colorado would have only shaved TEN MINUTES off our drive.  Jeff put our lives in the hands of a cheap electronic device and TEN saved minutes (in his defense he thought it would've been more like an hour or so)!  Did he know the weather forecast through Colorado?  Nope.  "Minor details" was his reply.

    Well, at least we were gonna break up the trip--see some sights and rest the weary kids and already exhausted drivers, right?  Wrong again!  Jeff was feeling "spry" and decided that they could make the whole thing in one trek (even though Jeff and Kari's longest proven road trip together had only amounted to 12 hours or so to El Paso before the two conked out).

    Have we set this up enought yet?  Long story short--After 14 or so hours of driving we hit the section of I 70 just west of Denver heading toward Pike's Peak.  After an early breakfast, Jeff said he would at least get through the mountain section before turning the wheels back over to Kari (hey, she had put in a solid 3 hours at this point).  Little did he know that he would not leave the captain's seat for the remainder of their journey--what he later dubbed "the scariest drive of my entire life".  A few fleeting snowflakes soon turned into a downpouring of snow.  Between the flashing lights of "chains only" and "Such-and-such ski canyon closed", Jeff literally uttered the words "If I can find a turn around we are at least heading back to Denver--if not Dallas".  At first we had the somewhat comfort of being 4 cars behind the line of plows (although the fact that the 7% grade roads were still freezing and filling fast behind said plows did little to steady the nerve).  Soon, however, the grade turned hell-bound and even the plows found a turn around to bail out (why didn't Jeff follow through with his idle threat?).

    Two more gauntlents followed--an hour section west of Grand Junction and finally Price Canyon.  Despite minor slips and spins through these three areas, only once did Jeff hit some ice that seriously caused him to think he was about to make a purchase on Suburban #3.  Thankfully, he was able to keep the wheels on the road and avoid any major catastrophes.

    Was it worth it?  Well, we definitely "made some memories" on the drive!  But, here are some other memories we made:
     Surprising Aunt Christy
     Surprising extended Johnson family members
     Seeing the ramshackle house we brought our oldest daughter into the world in
     Letting Bomber catch-up with Great Grandma Johnson

     The boys playing in the snow
     Eating at BYU's Creamery
     Showing off our merchandise from the BYU bookstore

    Visiting Matt and Nancy and their family
     Visiting the new LDS conference center
     Brothers posing with brothers
     Visiting Temple Square
    Visiting Jeff's mission companion Ryan

     Saying our "goodbyes" to Uncle Chase and Aunt Christy

    Yeah, definitely worth it...but, next time Kari says, "Let's do the 'memory making' in the summer"...THE END

    Fall Slide Show - part 2

  • Saturday, November 20, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • Fall 2010 Slide Show

  • Sunday, October 17, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • This is more of Jeff's recent attempts to catalog the photos that pour across our computer each week.  In fact, Hannah (at times) is becoming a budding photographer.  The first 5 or so pictures are some of her shots.  Here's a composite of our pictures that include fall sports; the first day of school; Kari's trip to Hawaii; Kari's birthday; the girl's attempt at following in their mother's footsteps as a drill team member; high school football; Jeff at Rachel's class' "Doctor Day"; a quick trip to Galveston; our visit to the Texas State Fair; and some random shots mixed in.


    Catch Up

  • Sunday, October 3, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari

  • I got blog guilt again. Jeff gives it to me. So now I'm going to play some catch up. Jeff posted a video of the Smith Family Reunion in August so I'm going to pick it up from there. Or maybe a little before. The last post before that was about Jake's broken finger (complicated by a lack of good parenting) so I want to let everyone know that he's fine now. It can bend all the way now even if he has to use his other hand to do it. If you get grossed out easily scroll past the next pics quick.
    Just before they cut it off.
    These are the pins that freaked Jake out, understandably
    After they removed the cast, he saw that there were actually large pins sticking out of his finger and he freaked out. He wouldn't look at his own hand and forbid anyone from saying the "P" word (pin) till he was 12 years old. Twelve must be the magic age because he also wanted them to put the cast back on until he was 12 and then he would be ready to get it off. Didn't happen. The pins came out without much screaming and he spent the next hour peeling off all the dead skin on his hand. EWWWW!

    The next month or so was spent swimming and playing.

    At the end of July Hannah, Jake, and Jonny went to a week long, all day summer camp at the YMCA in Rockwall. They loved it! They learned archery, canoeing, shot BB guns, went swimming, went on field trips, and learned tons of games and silly songs. I highly recommend it. Rachel was too young so she went to a gymnastics camp. With the kids gone, I was free to shop. Whoo Hoo!

    Then came the Smith reunion. A week filled with fun, sun, boating, swimming, and more cousins than the parents knew what to do with.  Once the kids were down the adults stayed up way too late playing Rook, Monopoly and many other games.
    Some fun in the sand.

    We didn't want to wash a plate for each of them. 

    Our only unfortunate event during the summer involved Hannah. Right after our vacation, she was bit by a dog. It got her in two places right under her eye and right in the middle of her cheek. We were in Dallas and luckily Uncle Kurt travels with his ER bag. He and Jeff injected her with Lidocaine inside her mouth and then stitched her up in a bedroom. She actually did pretty well. The stitches came out before school but she still had steri-strips on the first day. If you look close at her face you can the scar under her left eye and the bandages on her cheek.

    After all that, we headed back to Sulphur Springs for our last two weeks of summer before school started. They are all in school this year. That's right, you heard me, all of my kids are in public school all day. I know there are plenty of parents out there who dread the thought of school and and their little Tommy being away from them all day. Well, that's not me. My kids like to be doing things out of the house and they were all ready to be back in school and I'm happy to take them there. Even Rachel who told me not to walk her in on the first day "I can handle it myself mom". We are back into a routine now with the boys even riding their bikes to school. I love my quiet days especially when my afternoons and evening are so packed. Each week we have 4 baseball games, 2-4 baseball practices, 2 gymnastics practices, 3 piano lessons, 1 soccer practice, 1 soccer game, boy scouts and achievement days. Everything except the soccer game happens Mon-Thurs. So if you need me at all after school is out, too bad.

    We were able to make one last trip down to the beach for some surf and swim before it got too cold a couple of weekends ago. It rained the whole time. So the surf was good but the swim was absent. Oh well. Let's all hope for a very short winter.

    Oh yeah, I got to spend a week in Hawaii with a friend for an early birthday present. I have a great husband.

    Isn't it soooooo pretty!

    Smith Family Reunion Pics

  • Saturday, August 14, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • It's funny now...

  • Friday, May 21, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • Some of you may know that Jake had surgery on his hand on Tuesday. If you don't know I'm not telling what happened because it may or may not make Jeff and I seem like bad parents and I'm not putting that in print. Anyway he ended up with 3 pins in his right index finger, an incredibly long cast for 4 weeks, and the ability to do nothing other than watch TV for the next 4 weeks.

    The one bright spot I can see in all of this, is all the things he said while coming out of the anesthesia.  At the time I just wanted him to calm down but the nurses thought it was pretty funny. So I'm just going to put a running list of his comments (which was kinda the way they were coming out anyway) starting with the very first thing he said before his eyes were really open...

    "I am SOOOOOO hungry...why am I in this horrible place...I just want to go home...I don't want water, I don't want a Popsicle, I don't want juice, I want real food...get me out of why are you making me stay here...I just want to give up and die...why is this thing still squeezing my leg...when am I getting to eat...what is wrong with these pillows--why aren't they real...I just want my life back"

    Jake: When do we get to go home
    Mom: When you can stop crying and calm down
    Jake: I am NOT crying, can't you see that
    *All the while tears are running down his face

    He's home now, eating solid foods, and enjoying being King of the Remote. He's got his life back.

    Grandpa Johnson's Funeral

  • Wednesday, May 19, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • My Grandpa Johnson died last week at the ripe ol' age of 90.  I was unable to attend his funeral (due to reasons soon to be blogged), but my sister did a good job posting it.  So, I stole her link...

    It's hard to imagine Utah without him.  He will be missed...

    Ha Ha

  • Sunday, April 18, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • Sometimes my kids crack me up. Usually it's Jonathan with the comments but apparently Rach and Jacob have been in a mood lately.

    Jonathan:  Mom, I don't like the name you gave my chicken.
    Mom:   That's fine, you can change it. What would you like it to be?
    Jonathan:   I don't know yet. I have to "learn" him first.

    Rachel:   "God's plan was for a mess." (As I look over and her oatmeal is all over the place.)

    Mom:  How was your day Jacob?
    Jacob:  Why don't you get me a phone and I'll text you the answer.

    Hannah:  "How much are you going to pay me to babysit? "

    Jeff:  "Look, It's like the Goonies."

    El Salvador

  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • Playa El Tunco (The "Pig" Beach) - Beach we stayed on--the big rock is supposed to look like a pig;

    I'm (this is Jeff for a first in awhile) running out of places to "surf" on the internet. So, I'm coming back full circle to the blog. I decided last week was too much of an "adventure" (alas this was no "Candy Island"...but, I digress) to pass comment on.

    So, several months ago my brother Brad and I started formulating a plan to try and put together a surf trip. We were going to do it over spring break, but stuff kept coming up (notice the lack of posts the last 2 months) and so we nixed it. The Friday before Spring Break we were looking up and down the coasts for a daytrip and I stumbled upon tickets to El Salvador. A couple hours later we had plane tickets purchased with no other plans in line. Anyways, too much stuff happened (funny now--not so funny when it was happening). Here's a list of things to learn from if you're planning a get-away (in no particular order).
     The group on some steps at the San Andreas ruins

    1. Bring someone who speaks the language. This one came back to bite us several times.

    2. Make sure you have a lock on the dates of your hotel room--a bathroom door is a plus if 4 people are going to be shoved into one room.

    3. Make sure your hotel safe has a back-up key prior to locking it. Brad & Karrie (+ our guide Amika running away) in front of some shop in Juayua

    4. If you're 6'6", don't surf point breaks at low tide--your body will inevitably find the large, sharp rocks.

    5. When they say don't drink the water, then that probably means avoid brushing your teeth with it or getting ice from any restaurant.

    6. If you're scared of heights, don't choose a waterfall as a "scenic excursion".

     The waterfalls outside of Juayua - Kari was in tears about crossing the small "ladder bridge" in the background behind her

    7. Satellite TV in a third world country = a lot of channels you still can't watch or understand.

    8. Bring a swimsuit to "scenic excursions" that involve water and make sure you understand what all is entailed in exploring an underwater cave through a mountain.

    Asking Amika is this tunnel really only "1"00 was longer BTW and required swimming underwater in pitch black at one point...needless to say, the girls were not game

    9. Always order the O.J. in Central America--it really is that good.

    10. Surfboards will find a way to hurt you or someone close by.

    11. Your passport is never "safe"--just ask the Japanese diplomat on our return flight.

    12. Local surf contests at night make a good spectator sport.

     Brad & I poking out of a side tunnel in the waterfall tunnels

    13. Invest heavily in Imodium and sunscreen (and if you attract mosquitoes like I do--bug spray).

    14. If you're going to take your wife to the 2nd most dangerous country in the Americas and just outside of the most dangerous city in said country, don't let her find out about any of that information until after she's already on the plane.

    15. If you want your parents to watch your kids for 5 days, have your brother call your dad in the middle of the night to do it. Chances are he'll say "yes" and plans will be well underway before your mom finds out about the decision the following day.

    16. Learn the foreign word for "locksmith"--just trust me.

    17. You can't Skype if the promised Wi-Fi doesn't exist and the hotel computer's internet only works 1/2 the time.

     The ruins at San Andreas...Kari wanted to run the steps but there was a fence

    18. If you're 6'6", have your wife ask for the exit aisle on the long flights--sometimes you just get lucky.

    19. If you own a hybrid car, know how to jump the battery and pray your brother has jumper cables.

    20. If your GPS decides to crash and it's the only device with your hotel's info on it, you're kinda screwed.

    21. Priceline will always get you the hotel that does not include the continental breakfast...always!

    The crew at a scenic overlook with 5 volcanos in the background (2 or are still active)

    22. Hot water would be nice to have for post-surf showers.

    23. There are some big ants that come out at night in El Salvador.

    24. If you have valuables in your hotel safe (say a nice digital camera with exposed lenses) and the key were to get lost and management says they will open it and you can leave the room and go about your business--DON'T LISTEN!

    Brad shredding the inside break at Sunzal - our hotel's point break

    All in all, it was good waves, good company, and an experience to tell stories from for a lifetime! Kari, Karrie, and Brad--what did I miss?

    Christmas 2009

  • Friday, January 8, 2010
  • Jeff and Kari
  • I got Blog Guilt again. I couldn't even tell you the last time I wrote anything. Jeff's been posting pictures but that's about all. So now for the recap.

    We had Christmas and it was so nice (although you couldn't tell by the look on Jonny's face in the first pic). We celebrated Christmas Eve with the Smith side and there may have been a little snow on the ground (I can't really remember). We had dinner, looked at lights and then opened presents. We played with the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents until the wee hours. (Ok 11:00 at night for us.)

    I don't think Jonny wanted to listen to the Christmas
    story before looking at lights and opening presents.

    Ahhhhh, presents!

    Next stop, Christmas with the McClanahan's. Now it's only a 15min drive between the houses but since it was icy I insisted we take it slow, real slow, like it was turned into a 30min drive. In my overreacting defense, I did fishtail on the ice once. We went right to bed so we could wake up bright and early to wonderful presents of toiletpaper. Yep, you read that right. Sweetie had rolled up one dollar bills end to end in rolls of TP so each kid had to go through the roll to get their present. Activity and gift all in one.

    Unfortunately I have so much to catch up on posts will be short and sweet. Merry Christmas, two months late.
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