Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Holidays From Our Family to Yours

This is our Holiday Card this year. I apologize if any of my friends did not receive one in the mail; I was going by last year's mailing list. You may need to give this a moment to fully load.

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May you all have a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Out With the Old, In With the New

I'm really not great with too much change. I like what I like. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get used to something new; sometimes I am hesitant to try something new or different. I rarely re-arrange a room once I have it a way that I like.

I had my Blackberry Pearl for a year. When I did upgrade to that last year, I was very hesitant to get that phone. My previous phone was a flip phone, but the outside screen had cracked, and I had this horrible habit of trying to flip it open with one hand, but often did not succeed and ended up hanging up on people accidentally. There were things I loved about the old phone, and it took me about a week to really fall in love with my BB Pearl.

When the date approached for an upgrade availability, Robert suggested I get an iPhone. I kept wavering, thinking I would just keep my pearl and leave it at that. Several of my friends with iPhones told me I'd love it. The ads looked cool; they sure know how to market them. I went to the store a few times and played with 'em. I asked tons of questions of the salespeople; still, I wasn't totally sold on getting one. I checked out the Apple store website, read up on tips & tricks, and was about 75% sure I was ready to get one.

Saturday, when we were at the mall for the book signing, we went to the AT&T store and I decided to go for it. I even had researched what case I wanted for it, so after the AT&T store we went to the Apple store to get the case and a car charger I wanted. For good measure, I also picked up a non-glare screen film.

I don't think I had the phone for an hour when I was most decidedly very happy I got it. And Robert now has phone envy.

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While the BB Pearl fit so well in my hand, the iPhone isn't too much larger, and fits my geeky personality very well.
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The Christmas Sweater

Last Saturday, Robert and I went to the mall to meet Glenn Beck. Glenn is touring as part of "The Christmas Sweater" book tour. We got to the mall early, before Borders opened, to wait with others to get our pass for the afternoon signing. Happily armed with our Group A passes, we bought a few copies of The Christmas Sweater for Glenn to sign later.

After breakfast and a trip to a few stores, Robert and I settled into some comfy chairs at Borders to await Glenn's arrival. Robert began reading the book and I played with my new iPhone. About an hour before Glenn was due to arrive, we got into the line that was about to start weaving throughout the store. He was about 20 minutes late, but that didn't matter to his fans. As we looked down the aisle, Robert and I wondered how many people had come to this. From the color coded, lettered passes, we figured there were easily over 400 there.

When it was our turn, I snapped a quick pic of Robert after Glenn signed his book. Robert had just told Glenn they should have passed out tissues with the book.
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I read the book this afternoon, and went through several tissues. It is such a deeply moving story; even if you aren't a fan of Mr. Beck, it will touch you in a profound way.



To see if the tour is coming to a city near you, visit his site.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dishwasher

Location: My kitchen
Time: 40 minutes ago
Players: Myself, Sarah (11), Doug (18)

Scene: Doug is at the breakfast table, doing something on his laptop (college paper?)
I walk in to put my coffee cup on the counter, notice the growing piles of dishes in both sides of the sink (which, by the way, drive Robert absolutely nuts), along with expanding dirty dishes on the counter next to the sink (which, by the way drives ME absolutely nuts). I empty one side, clean the sink, rinse, plug it, start the water and add detergent. As I add dishes to the water, Sarah wanders in to put another dirty bowl on the counter.

Sarah: "Why are you doing dishes?"
Me: "Because they're dirty"
Sarah: "No, why are you doing dishes?"
Me: "Because they're dirty and they are piled up in both sides of the sink"
Sarah: "No, why are YOU doing the dishes? Notice I am emphasizing the 'YOU'!"
Me: "Because they are dirty AND they are piled up in both sides of the sink AND no one else was doing them!"
Sarah: "Well maybe you should tell someone else to do them. Maybe no one noticed. I didn't notice. I could do them"
Doug: *laughs*, well snickers, actually
Me: "Well, if no one notices that both sides are piled up so they are putting them on the counter and they still aren't doing them and it drives me nuts, then I'm going to do them. Now go do whatever and quit nagging me."

I mean, really! How could you NOT notice them?

Besides, I have a method to my dishwashing that no one else in the house seems to get. They do dishes and put them in the drainer until the drainer is full, which often means there's still a half full sink of dishes in the suds. They often walk away, intending to come back later to finish them. Of course, most times, later doesn't happen, and in the meantime, more dirty dishes are put into the sudsy water, which by then is cold. So Robert or I have to stick our hands into cold water, undo the plug, let the water out, then start all over again.

My way is to put the dishes in the sink in backwards order of how I will rinse them, which is the order in which they will be rinsed and put into the drainer to maximize the dish drainer space so that all, or nearly all, the dishes will fit into the drainer and can air dry. Big plates, little plates, small bowls, big bowls, etc. Once those are all rinsed and put in the drainer, then I do the cups. My method means I can get the dishes done, arranged nicely in the drainer, and then go do something else. Like add a new blog post.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Journaling, Part 2

Long overdue follow-up to Journaling Part 1 from March.

Recently I had been going through my file cabinets and boxes and sorting through some needed paperwork, organizing as I set aside the papers I needed for some legal stuff. I sifted through and re-organized the file cabinet near the desktop & laser printer, the file drawer of the computer desk, then moved into the laundry room. Sorted and re-filed papers from the boxes of receipts, invoices, statements, and set things aside for the shredder. Re-organized the big 4 drawer file cabinet, starting from the top and worked my way down, pulling out the papers I was searching for, filing away the ones I wanted to keep but had no immediate need for.

After a couple weeks of this, I finally worked my way down to the bottom drawer. This drawer contains folders of the kids' school work: newsletters, awards, artwork and miscellaneous 'proud mommy' stuff. I had a new batch of papers to file away in there. This is a drawer I actually go through once or twice a year. Imagine my surprise as I reached Sarah's file folder to put some of her papers away and there, with a piece of artwork curled around it, I saw.... a book.

A book. Not just any book. A book with a light blue background. A book with some butterflies scattered across that light blue background.

As I pulled the book out, my face got warm and my eyes filled quickly with tears. My eyes are filling right now as I type this. This book, this 'not just any book', was my missing journal. The journal that contains the first year of William's life. The journal I have looked for, for five years. And here it was, in my hands again. I shook and cried big tears. Yes, I am that emotional.



I texted Robert immediately. I posted to my twitter page, and my facebook. I had been in that file so many times over 5 years. I swear, it was not in there before. The last time I recall seeing it was when we moved out of the house we were renting into our new home. It had been in my computer space, and I recall tossing it into one of the last boxes in the living room; a box full of items from the bathroom, and clothes from Robert's dresser. This huge box in a near empty house.

I didn't know how guilty Robert had been feeling in these past 5 years. He thought he accidentally threw it away when we moved. He admitted there were some boxes that looked like they only contained junk that he had the boys toss into the dumpster. I thought it was perhaps still in one of the boxes in the basement that I have not yet gotten to.

That night we opened a bottle of champagne we'd been saving. We put the kids to bed, then sat in bed, sipping champagne as we opened the journal and I began reading it aloud. We re-lived the moments 4 days before William's birth, and read well into the night, through tears and laughter, at the struggles and triumphs of the first year of William's life.



I should title that journal "A Year in the Life".

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, The Crazy Things I Do!

A couple Saturdays ago, I took Steve's girlfriend out for a mall trip, just the 2 of us. It was a belated birthday shopping trip for Brittany. We lunched at Ruby Tuesday's, then proceeded to spend countless hours checking out various stores at the mall. We walked, we shopped, we talked, and we laughed... a lot!

After about 9 hours... I kid you not.. 9 hours!, we thought about grabbing another bite before heading home with our bags. While standing in line at the food court, we realized we wanted Avocado Rolls from our favorite Chinese Restaurant on our way home. So we headed up the escalator, and ready to find the car. Passing by one of the stores near the escalator, I stopped by the window and decided to go in. I can't exactly tell you how long Kirkland's has been at the mall, just that I have always walked by, gazing quickly at the window display and told myself that someday I'd go inside to check them out. I have said that for several years. There was this cute vase set in the window, with animal prints on them, that pulled me inside at long last. Of course, Brinny & I were easily distracted by all the other cool things to be found inside, all at really reasonable prices.

We worked our way from one side of the store to the other, until at last, I saw the trio of vases that pulled me in. Then I spotted a giraffe statue. Brinny loves giraffes. I offered to get it for her as the last of her birthday presents. She looked up and saw another giraffe, but this one was also a lamp, so she chose that instead. Making our way to the cashier, I spotted a hall tree/bench. I've been on the lookout for one for quite some time, and never seemed to find "The One"... you know, the one that looks really nice, sturdy and especially that comes at the right price. After looking at the tag, I really knew this was the one! I shook it, to make sure it would be sturdy enough. I debated with myself over whether or not to get it. That was a very quick debate.. this was, after all, the perfect hall tree for our home.

We went to the register, and I asked the cashier about the hall tree. They had one, just one, left in stock. SOLD! The other cashier brought it out. Hmmm... didn't look that unwieldly, so I handed my bags to Brinny and got a grip of the box and we started for the parking lot. The box weighed probably 40 pounds or so; it was just a big rectangle. Brinny & I laughed, and she stayed to the far right of me to keep the way clear so I wouldn't knock people over with this big find of mine.

As we made our way about a third of the mall, I stopped to shift the box. The cashier had ripped a part of the box when she was getting it out of the storeroom. As I set the box down, I peeked through the rip.
"Hmmmm, that's odd," I said.
"What?" Brittany asked.
"Look" I replied, "that doesn't look like the same fabric on the bench of the hall tree, does it?"
"Oh, it isn't," added Brittany. "Maybe it came in different patterns, or..."
"or it's not the hall tree I just bought!" I laughed. Brittany's eyes got big~ "you don't think... you don't suppose they gave you the wrong thing, do you? What's on the box? Oh, it says 'bench'... there's nothing on here about a hall tree"

We burst into laughter as we realized we were going to walk back to the store. I lifted the package up, and off we went, trying hard not to bowl people over as we walked fast back to the store. As we got to the entrance, we noticed the fabric on this nice bench out front. We laughed harder~ "oh, so that's what's in the box!"
I explained to the nice cashiers about the error. We were charged the correct price by the cashier, but the woman who grabbed the box didn't grab the correct one. Ah, and the hall tree came in a much bigger box! They said they could bring it out for us~ just pull around to the one entrance and call them and they'd have it for me. Yeah, after sizing up this box compared to the one I'd just been hauling around, that was the right thing to do. Really, the only smart thing to do.

Brinny & I laughed all the way back to the car, pulled it around to the entrance where I'd been directed, and I called the store. Meanwhile I folded all the seats down in my car to make room. A quick stop on the way home for our avocado rolls, and less than an hour later we pulled into our driveway.


No way I could have carried THIS through the mall!


William likes it!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Motivation, Thy Name is Star Wars

I will admit, I have never been above using bribes rewards to get my kids to do things. I mean, don't you pay your kids an allowance to do their chores?

William needs motivators to accomplish things. He loves to read, but only if it is something he is interested in, or if there's a little reward at the end of it. At school, when he completes an assignment or task, he gets computer time, or gets to play a game he likes. At home, he does his homework, then gets to watch a favorite program or plays on the computer.

Potty training has proven to be a challenge. He's always been great about staying dry at night, even waking up just to go potty. Daytime is where he has lapsed. Every school break I would attempt training. Schedules didn't work; momma gets distracted by day-to-day things like, oh, cooking, laundry, etc., and William would get off track and it'd be 2 steps forward, 1 back, then 1 step forward, 2 back.

Three weeks ago, the substitute for his regular 1:1 aide sent home a note and asked if she could work with a training schedule for William at school, and if I would be willing to continue it at home. We worked out the details, and at the end of the week, William only had 1 or 2 wet accidents at school and the same at home. He still didn't like pooping on the toilet though, but generally reserved those incidents for home. Last week he had 2 wet episodes between school and home. I just needed to figure out how to motivate William to have his bm's in the toilet. Ah, bribery rewards!

I still had toys set aside from his birthday presents. I sometimes tend to over-buy gifts for the kids, so I set them aside for future presents. I had an assortment of Leap Pad books that I hadn't given him yet. So I went with the ol' "Hey, if you poop IN the toilet, you'll get a present!" Well, recently the Hasbro catalog came in the mail, and William became enthralled with the pages of Star Wars toys. (This, of course, pleased Momma since I am just this side of obsessed with Star Wars!) When I mentioned *present*, William excitedly said, "Present? Star Wars present?" Me: "No, not Star Wars this time, but a different present" Imagine how excited he was the other day when he pooped in the toilet, only to be given a Leap Pad book. Yeah, that didn't really motivate him for the next time.

Yesterday he successfully went again, and again excitely asked if he would be getting a Star Wars present. Well, no, but later, maybe next time, I promised. I called Robert who was halfway home from work to see if he could stop and buy some Star Wars toys for the bribe reward box. In the meantime, I gave him another Leap Pad book, but this time, he was rather happy because it was about dinosaurs, and came with interactive cards.

Robert arrived home with the goodies, but had to leave shortly after. Sarah had been having severe pain in her right side for a couple hours, and the Doctor's nurse said to bring her to the ER so they could check for appendicitis. So off Daddy went with our little girl. Luckily, it was not appendicitis~ she may have hurt it playing at school yesterday. Sarah is a bit of a tomboy and plays football and kickball and things like that with the boys, who treat her as one of the boys. She remembers lunging out and falling at one point.

As they were getting ready to discharge her, it was time for me to get William ready for bed. As is our routine, he goes potty before getting his pj's on. Guess what he did? Yep, "Mommy, I p.u'ed in the toilet! Present? Star Wars?" You bet! He went to bed with his little reward and we opened it this morning.

The funniest part of this story is that normally it's a struggle to get him to sit on the toilet for a bm. Peeing, no big deal. Pooping, hah! It had always been a struggle. Until now. This morning, before it was time to head out the door to go to the bus, he did not want to get off the toilet until he pooped. He tried, unsuccessfully, to go, but he sat there, without a fuss, wanting to go, until he realized, it just wasn't happening. But he tried, willingly.

Thank you Obi-Wan. You were my last hope, and you did not fail.

And Sarah is doing well today, so I am breathing easy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The End of Summer

The kids went back to school at the end of August. William was looking forward to seeing his teacher and aide again. His class was looping, so he would have the same teacher for 2nd that he had for 1st Grade. His aide has also remained his aide this year! Being the mom that I am, I had to get those all-important 'First Day Back to School Pictures'.
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And while the kids were in school, I accompanied Robert to his company golf tournament. I do not play golf, nor have a desire to learn, but I love hanging out with Robert and the people he works with. So the only shots I took were with my camera.
Heading to our starting positions~
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Love this wooden bridge
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Robert
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Robert & Carol watch Gordon take his shot
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That weekend, we decided to visit Robert's parents. We stopped along the way to have a night with friends.
The kids had fun playing with the valet cart~ Emily, Sarah & William, Cameron
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Sarah Robert & Emily
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Me with my beautiful friend Julie
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William & Emily say 'bye'
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And on to Grandma's house. William and Sarah decided that Grandma's lap is oh-so comfy~
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Papaw loves his grandson~
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Sarah & William enjoyed Grandma's porch swing!
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What a wonderful way to cap off our summer!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vacation: Part Five~ The Last Day

Since we weren't leaving Salt Lake City until late Tuesday night on the red eye, we spent the earlier part of the day visiting Park City. We enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at Bandits' Grill and Bar~ Rachel recommended the Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich. That woman sure knows her food... it was so good, I craved it for several weeks later.

Afterwards we walked down the street, checking out the shops. Robert spotted this moose statue and wanted a picture. William didn't know what to think of it.
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Meanwhile, Sarah and Leah found this bench
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Park City has some really neat shops, and I found souvenirs for my older kids. Lucy was not feeling well, so we cut the outing short and headed back to Rachel's. It's just as well because I still had a lot of packing to do. That evening, there were lots of hugs as we said our goodbyes.
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What a wonderful vacation! William fell asleep while the plane was taxi-ing for takeoff. I was all snug with my Dreamsacks blanket & eyeshades, ready to sleep on the first part of the flight. I don't remember much except that Sarah was snugged up against me until it was time to land.

We had a bit of a layover in Atlanta~ time enough to grab a little breakfast before the next flight boarded. It was so good to be back home that afternoon, but we were all still excited from our trip to see our friends.

And that is how we spent our summer vacation!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vacation: Part Four

Since my very good friend Cathy finally updated her blog with more of her vacation, she asked me to please update mine. I actually have already blogged about Day 4 of our vacation in the post "A Very Special Playdate", but if I were to leave this post at just that, Cathy would never forgive me. I love her too much to do that to her, so....

After that wonderful playdate, Robert, William and I headed back to Rachel's house. Sarah had stayed there while we had gone on our playdate, and Rachel had taken the girls to the mall. Rachel and Aaron had tickets to see Wilco that evening, and managed to get a hold of one more ticket for Robert. They were trying to get one for me, but that didn't work out. That was fine by me; it meant I could hang out with the kids! Rachel ordered pizza for us, and then she & Robert left to go to the concert. Aaron had left earlier with his buddy to set up a good spot on the lawn.

While they were at the concert, enjoying the great music of Wilco, I was having a blast with the kids. Leah and Sarah were playing games on the Wii while William, Lucy & I were singing songs from High School Musical.... loudly. Lucy and William played Webkinz on the laptops, and all I could think when I sat there watching them was "for anyone who thought that kids with special needs couldn't do the things 'typical' kids do, boy are they wrong!"
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How cool is this?
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After the pizzas arrived and we all had our fill, Leah and Sarah decided to be a little creative. They took the caps off their drinks, got a couple straws and made up a game of 'table top bottle cap hockey'.
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Robert texted me from the concert~ they were having a great time! Leah and Sarah returned to their game on the Wii and William followed them. Lucy and I played Webkinz together, followed by more singing (loudly, of course), this time songs from Wicked. At one point, Leah & Sarah came running up to me, out of breath, and Sarah asked when we had to leave in the morning. I told her we weren't leaving until the next evening. Have you ever heard how loud two 10-yr old girls can squeal with delight? They grabbed each other by the shoulders and jumped up and down. Yeah, I was the hero that night.

The gang returned from the concert, having had a blast. They think they had the better part of the deal. I know otherwise~ my night was way better than theirs.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today is a Special Day...

Someone very special is having a birthday today. Hop on over to her blog here, or her MySpace page here, and wish her a Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday My Friend!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Miracles

Yesterday was a big deal here in our home. It was William's heart day. Eight years ago, our little baby boy went through his second heart surgery, and oh, what a difference it made. At six weeks old, William was frail, ashen, and tired. The Atrial Septal Defect in his heart was at 7mm. Pretty big when you consider that his entire heart was about the size of a walnut. William didn't cry much then... most of the sounds he made sounded like a Tauntaun from Hoth. My only concern at the time was keeping him alive until he could have his surgery. I slept 20 minutes at night, and caught a catnap here & there during the day. I felt the responsibility of being diligent... putting weight on him, willing him to live, holding him most all of the time. It was the scariest time of our lives.

Grandma Grandma holds her little William.


The weekend before the surgery we spent in the step-down unit. William was closely monitored, and I would watch helplessly as his breathing would jump from 66 to 88, to 72 and even to 108, then 82, 55 and sometimes drop to 30. With the nurses there to feed William at night, I had my first long stretch of sleep in over 6 weeks.

Journal entry...September 25~ 8:30am... They made the first incision 15 minutes ago. I haven't figured out what's more difficult... the waiting now, or watching William's respiration these last several days.

8:40am... The nurse just told us that William is now on the bypass machine. William was more tired than usual yesterday. It's been quite obvious that we made the right decision to stay here at the hospital over the weekend.

9:35am... Off bypass. They patched the hole, and didn't have to go back and put a little hole in it. So,... good news! Hopefully, we'll get to talk to the surgeon soon.

10:20am... We're up in the CICU waiting area. The surgeon had come out around 10 to talk to us~ everything went well. The pressures were good after they took William off of bypass. We got to see William around 11:30. His color looked really good. I didn't realize how ashen he had been looking the last few weeks. Robert and I looked through the medical paperwork and saw a summary from the surgeon to the cardiologist. It said that William does have mild to moderate Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. *Thankfully, it is mild enough to not require any treatment to date.
Sept 25 Post op Braveheart
September 26~ They had to hook an external pacemaker up to William's heart last night. While he was sedated, his heart rate dropped to 90; they wanted it to be around 140. Gradually during the day, they began removing various lines and tubes. Started with the leads, then the chest tubes, followed by the stomach tube and the respirator. After he was off the respiratory, they shut off the pacemaker. William seemed so alert and stronger. He sucked so voraciously on his pacifier, the nurse gave him a bottle of breastmilk. He took 43cc's of it in record time. I was so tired, yet at the same time, I was screaming with joy inside. All the while I still held the fear that there would be an unexpected turn of events.
Sept 26 Mommy & William
On the 29th, he was discharged. After that, the visiting nurse came by a few times a week to weigh him. He was steadily gaining! Within 3 weeks, the right side of his heart had gone back to regular size. We met with our Early intervention team and set up a schedule. By Thanksgiving, William weighed 9lbs6oz... he was finally ON the growth chart.

Despite a rough beginning, William these days certainly doesn't seem like a child with heart defects. He still sees his cardiologist every 18 months to be sure everything is functioning as it should. He is in second grade this year, loves math and reading, and 2 weeks ago, just for fun, he learned all the planets in our solar system... in order!!! He loves to sing... it may be off-key most of the time, but he loves to sing! He can recite movie dialogs by heart. He says things that make us laugh, like "What do you think you're doing?" He makes us cry with joy when he says, out of the blue, "I love you".
After William was born, I found the quote by Einstein that is in my blog header. Words have never rung so clearly for me than those. Everything truly is a miracle.
Happy Heart Day William!
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vacation: Part Three

Rachel and Aaron wanted to share their favorite places with us on our vacation. For Day 3, we went to Snowbird.

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William, on the tram up to Hidden Peak

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going up to Hidden Peak in the tram.

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Aaron & Lucy

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From Hidden Peak

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Robert & William

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The Malone's & The Coleman's

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Sarah & Leah on the trail down to Peruvian Gulch

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Rachel, William & Robert on the trail down to Peruvian Gulch

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They were quite a bit ahead of us on the trail

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We'd walked down from way up there!

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Sarah & Leah on the lift going down.

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Aaron distracting William on the way down.

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William on the Bungee Trampoline... he loved it!

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He kept singing "We're all in this together" from High School Musical while he jumped!

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Leah does a flip on the bungee

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Sarah too!

What a wonderful day! Afterwards we headed back down the mountain and had dinner at Porcupine Pub & Grill. Yum!

More to come, but in the meantime, meet some of the children who sign in the upcoming Baby Signing Time volumes in Signing Time "Meet The Signers".