Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving trip to the South Fork

Troy here to tell the story of Grant's good-looking rainbow above (nicknamed "Phatipus") and about the rest of our trip.

Grant and I left the thanksgiving wind-down around 6 pm Thursday (strategically avoiding a good chunk of clean-up) and made the 3 hour drive to Tiffany's house in Rigby, Idaho.  Tiffany and Jason were up in Salmon with Jason's family, so we had the place to ourselves (thanks guys).  We slept great and were up at 6 a.m. Friday morning to hit the fish.  First, though, we had a big breakfast at "Me and Stan's" diner there in Rigby.  Grammar obviously is not so good at Me and Stan's, but the food was solid.

Our expectations for the day were humble enough.  Do a little exploring on the South Fork of the Snake and hopefully not go away empty-handed.  It is a big river, and without any experience there to speak of, we knew we needed to keep our eyes open and gather information where we could.  So we pulled over at the first sign of potential help: an old-timer gearing up at around 7:30 a.m. at one of the many turn-outs.  We chatted with him for a minute.  He said that it was real simple.   Commodity patterns, like pheasant tails and prince nymphs, were the order of the day this time of year.  Easy enough, right?  Oh, but you have to find the fish.  He suggested a turn-out a bit down the road with some fast runs and deep pools.  "It will be obvious enough what to do when you get there," he said.  We thanked him and jeeped our way down the gravel road.  

Unfortunately, the spot he directed us to was taken, but no problem.  The thing about this river is the abundance of gold medal water.  So we kept driving.  We found a promising looking enough place and went out to wet our lines.  But the air was chilly (33 degrees) and it was misty and the fish were definitely not awake.  On top of that, we were spending a lot of time with tangled lines.  The only action we saw was hooking into a white-fish, and (momentarily) a solitary rainbow.  Patience boys.  

Things finally warmed up a bit (ok, 35 degrees, but it was enough), and the mist lifted.  We ended up driving as far as this road would take us, and got out and trudged beside the river until we found another good-looking spot.  We knew things were turning up when we spotted fish actually rising periodically on this chilly day.  Excitedly, we put our lines in the water and started catching fish.  The technique that worked the best turned out to be just "walking the dog" down the bank (i.e., walking along with the current to give our flies a good long drift).  We would hook into a fish almost every time this way.  Most were fine-looking 14-15 inch browns of the type shown in the pictures below, with an intermittent rainbow.  And of course Grant's big, fat bow, which really made us work.  I went to a dry fly at one point with much less success, but did have a take on a tiny brown baetis emerger, and can still feel in my fingers the rod vibrating from the fly bouncing around in the mouth of that nice brown before it popped out.  Argh!

We wrapped up our day as the sun went behind the mountains, and we hiked back for the long drive ahead of us.  I was surprised as we drove along the river to see fish rising like crazy in the last bit of light of the day.  Not what I would have expected this time of year, but it was nice to see.  And reason enough to go back!

Day After

Cousin Whitney stayed on after Thanksgiving dinner and had a little sleep over with Morgan.  Mom and Kathryn came back over and we watched Jane Austin's Persuasion, not one of her better stories made for TV.  So we were left still looking for a romantic fix.  Twilight (good high school flick) started this needing a romantic fix, we were all excited for some romantic tension, but there was no tension or romance in it and that is why we loved the book.  So we are on a quest to find a good love story.  Any recommendations?

So the next morning, my dear friend Diane called to see if she and the kids could come over.  YEAH!  We love having them come over when ever they are in town.   The girls all played, the boys played and Diane and I just got to visit and visit and visit.  The kids all had some pumpkin pie for lunch.  Definitely a holiday around here.  The boys did have a pear before their pie.

  Right after they left Brady picked up Morgan and Whitney to go see Whitney's new hamsters.  So Ethan and I were just going to hang out when my mom and Kathryn walked in with another movie!  So we watched a BBC movie called North and South.  Tad long, but a good love story with tension building until the very end.  Cute main character too, he grows on you kind of like Darcy in the Kiara Pride and Prejudice movie.  Which is what Kathryn and I watched late last night.  I just haven't found a movie better than that.  Although I do like Emma, mmmm maybe tonight...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!  
Yesterday we got lights up in the trees out front, thanks for the lights mom.  Made the cranberry sauce and a chocolate cheesecake.  Finished cleaning the house this morning, Troy sure can get the kids to work.  Made mashed potatoes this morning and set the tables.  We were ready, we just needed friends and family to come!  And they did, yeah.  This is Jessie's cute family, Brady came with his girls and Mom, Dad and Kathryn came.  The food was yummy and we ate almost everything.  Good thing Dad brought extra Turkey and rolls so we can have sandwiches tomorrow.

Me with my chocolate cheesecake and Kathryn with her dessert.  My camera was set on a funny setting and everything is a little off.  I didn't even think to take any pictures until all the tables were cleared.

Alysa and Morgan eating Jessies yummy chocolate desserts.  Besides all these yummy desserts we're sure grateful for family and friends and the opportunity to spend a little time with them.  Happy Thanksgiving!
Everyone hung out for a while and the kids all got a long really well and played and played.  Everyone left as Troy began packing up his fishing gear.  He and Grant headed up to Tiff's so they can do some fishing tomorrow in Idaho.  They even ran to get some waders and boots for Grant this morning so he could stay close to Troy in the freezing river tomorrow.  I think we'll have some hot chocolate and watch a couple movies tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Schools Out

What to do when schools out?  Well, Troy and Grant are working on merit badges and today went to the court house, to sit in on some cases.  Hopefully Grant found it interesting, but if not he did get to go to lunch with Troy and ended up going to the office with him for a bit.  Maybe some good father/son bonding time happened.
Yesterday we had cousin Grayce come play and then she slept over.  She and Morgan were joined at the hip the entire 24 hours and even slept in Morgans double bed together.  So I don't know how this is the only picture we ended up with of the party.  

Today was spent running errands, hanging Christmas lights (just in the trees, we are to chicken to get on the roof), and cleaning house for tomorrows feast.  We are eating here with my parents, Brady's family, our family friend Jessie and her family and my baby sister Kathryn.  I like having a lot of people, the less food I have to prepare! Although, then we do have to clean house.  From the above pictures you can tell that the house needed a good cleaning after having kids home for the past 4 days.  I still have the kitchen left, but I'll do that tonight when I make dessert.  I was thinking of chocolate moose and a strawberry cheese cake, but I'm sort of in the mood for a chocolate cheese cake....  good thing we picked up pumpkin pies at Costco today, we'll at least have that for dessert.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Morning Hike

The kids are out of school all week for Thanksgiving.  So we decided to take advantage of the cool, but dry weather and go on a hike.  We headed up above our house to get a look at the Salt Lake Valley, but it was a bit hazy.  It was nice in the sun, but pretty cold in the shady parts of the trail, we were glad we picked the trail with the fewest trees so we were in the sun most of the time.  We headed off at 9: 20 and even though most of the trail was covered in frost, it was a beautiful day.  I guess winter is coming, maybe we'll have a white Christmas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Home Study before Twilight

We ended up having our home study done last night!  It seemed to go really well, McKay is great and she already has our paperwork all done and ready to submit!  We just need Troy to go on Monday and be fingerprinted again then we can turn everything over to Homeland Security for approval.  

So after a crazy day of trains and questions I headed off to see the 12:50 am showing of Twilight last night with some neighbors and friends (it was a totally packed theater, we counted three empty seats).  At 10:30 pm we went and had breakfast at Village Inn until 12:10.  The only other people in there during that time were women!  Pretty funny, everyone hanging out and eating wasting away time until we could go see Twilight.  Lorie was so afraid she would fall asleep, but she kept us all going.  She chatted with everyone and asked everyone we saw if they were for Edward or Jacob.  She was a riot.  She's also the one with the boys in pink who were selling Twilight shirts.  We wanted the pink shirts they had on that said, "Twilight girls are the sexiest" or something like that... I'll remember tomorrow after I have a good nights sleep... but they weren't selling those, just wearing them.  Grant's actually going to babysit for our neighbors tonight, all the babysitters are busy because everyone else is going tonight, at a reasonable hour (but probably not as much fun), to see Twilight.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Starting to look like Christmas!

These are my activity day girls, we only had about half come, but that ment more candy for those who came.  They had a great time and we planned a couple activities for the night we are in charge of the Relief Society Nursery.  

I have activity day girls coming over in a little bit to plan our upcoming baby sitting activity and then we are decorating cookie trains.  That is my favorite part of the Christmas Season, decorating cookie trains.  We love making them and the kids love delivering them (and eating the candy).  I think we are ready for the girls, I hope we have enough frosting!  The last few times I've had about 12 girls come, it's great and Morgan just loves having all the girls in our house.  Today will be a party.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Light Speed Travel

I wrote a short story called Light Speed Travel and posted it on my web site if you want to read it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Morgan's news

Who would have thought Morgan could get nervous over performing?  Shots and teeth cleaned yes, she has a little anxiety in those areas, but performing...  I didn't think it could happen.  Next Tuesday, the choir she is in at school is going to a recording studio to make a cd of all the Christmas songs they have learned this fall.  Every time she thinks about it she gets nervous.... I finally got her to talk about it.  She is afraid that she'll talk while they are recording and she'll ruin the entire cd!  That is a lot of pressure... to not talk out of turn for two whole hours!!  Funny girl.  If you want to scroll through hundreds of pics to see some of Morgan, this is a link to her choir blog.

Other exciting news for Morgan.  They aren't doing a play in December with their acting group, instead they are doing short scenes and a song from different musicals.  One of the songs/scenes is from Annie and Morgan gets to be Annie!  Well done Morgan!  I think this one is because you aren't afraid to talk!!  I'm trying to get her to color her hair red... she's not on board, yet.

My good news.  I got a copy of my birth certificate in the mail today so I can now go apply for a new passport.  Yeah me!  Had I mentioned that my birth certificate was in the folder with my passport?  Yep, the folder that got thrown away.  (yes, you can laugh with me)

Flash back Friday

I've had a bummer week and wasn't going to blog about it, but I have lots of sweet friends checking on us through our blog and I haven't posted since last Friday.  When one friend caught up with me and I shared my frustrations she said I still needed to post it, just because it is part of our adoption process.  So I'm flashing back to last Friday, when my world came tumbling down.  

We got all the papers to fill out for the adoption agency and home land security and as we were adding things up our total came to a bit more than what the agency had told us when we met with them and on top we don't qualify for the tax break so we were both a bit frustrated.  I being a women and feeling totally taken advantage of got frustrated and angry and started looking at other adoption agencies.  My sweet husband notes that it's a business for this guy and he's a salesman so we should talk to him about it.  So even though we've found two agencies that do adoptions out of the Ukraine and they are about 5-10,000 dollars less with travel and everything we are still looking at Yuri because he has an in with these orphanages and can hopefully get phones in to the kids, etc.  We really want and need a link with Marina so she'll stay and not go work for her aunt.  So, why am I feeling so taken advantage of?  I keep thinking I'm fine with it, but if I think about it I still get a little ticked off.  I guess I feel like our hands are tied and we have no other options, because we still want to go get the children...  which brings me back to why let it get to me the kids are more important than the agency we use.

So onto more comical items from the weekend.  Saturday we canceled our Christmas Trip to Belize.  Morgan and I were the only ones really, really sad about it.  It feels right and everyone we booked with was helpful in reimbursing most of our expenses : ) yeah!  Because all the contracts said after 30 or 45 days no reimbursement!  So I was worried about that, but we heard from the last place yesterday and it's good.  And for some reason that I can't figure out the boys are thrilled that Santa is now coming and I had to write and let Santa know he better get shopping, because we aren't going on a vacation for Christmas anymore.  Both boys have already written out their Christmas lists and I told them to circle one thing they really want and that will be it this year.  I was sooooo excited not to do any Christmas shopping this year, oh well maybe next year...

The final straw that broke is now funny for me but at the time I fell apart and cried.  I really cried because I don't know if I can do giddy, silly highs to frustrating, angry lows for 8 + months!  When I heard it would be a roller coaster ride this is not what I was envisioning.  So... I can't find my passport, for those who know me I have a thing about passports and getting them stamped.  Yes, Troy pointed out that if all this wasn't going on I probably wouldn't have looked for it until we were leaving for Belize and then I really would have been home crying while the family was off to the beach without me.  It would be me and Madona singing Isla Bonita through tears.  And yes, a passport is replaceable and all is well.  The funny part is that I'm pretty sure I threw it away!  Can you believe that!?!?! It was in the folder when we applied for the kids passports this summer and that folder made it's way to the trash.  (Bad experience with the Farmington Court house with the kids and passport applications).  I am laughing at those memories as I type... my kids had never seen me really mad - hey no cursing or yelling, but a little stomping and speaking my mind.  

So we are back on, I think.  We have our home study next Friday and McKay has been really helpful and patient with me.  I'm glad we can go ahead with that, so I feel like we are still moving forward.  I am worried that Marina will go work for her aunt and won't be there by the time we get out there.  I think that is my underlying stress and so I've probably made a bigger deal of things than needed to be.  So I've been really great since Wednesday and sent off a package for Ivan's birthday in a couple weeks.  We are trying to get a little Christmas package together to send next week.  We don't really know how long things take to get there.  Hopefully we'll have happier news these next few weeks.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday's field trip adventure

So I went on the field trip to the Natural History Museum at the U of U with Morgan's class on Friday.  What an adventure.  Now, always going with Grant's classes I of course ended up with groups of boys who are at times rowdy, but I got use to it and enjoyed going with the boys.  Last year I went on a couple with Morgan's class and had girls and really enjoyed that they roamed less than the boys and usually read about the things we were seeing and it was very pleasant.  In fact if anyone was roaming too far it was usually my own daughter (that is still a bit of a problem).  But yesterday....  I had one cute girl who hung out with me and helped answer the worksheet.  Yes, my own daughter was off a head of us the entire time, one girl kept disappearing to hang out with her friend in another group, one girl was pouty because we weren't going into the gift shop and hung behind us 15 feet playing her gameboy and the other girl ran circles around the other four asking when we got to leave because she was bored.   My only reprieve was that I had to put money in our meter every hour and so another mother hung out with my group and her group while I ran to the car.  She always breathed a sigh of relief when I came back.  She had a really sweet group that never left her side and they all helped fill out their worksheet.  So Morgan and I are going to have a little chat and I think I might request boys again.

Fishing in Oswego

Troy here.  This is my report from my fishing trip to northern New York with my brother Brett earlier this week. Overall, I would characterize it as a nice, manly break from office and domestic responsibilities.  The primal instincts re-charged, all that good, atavistic stuff.  

It all began several months ago with a suggestion from Brett about the fabulous runs of giant brown trout in the great lakes area this time of year.  We made plans with a guide he knew and locked the date into our calendars.  While it was touch and go there near the end when some work and family needs threatened to de-rail us, somehow the clouds parted and the way was paved for northern adventure.  I caught a flight after church Sunday and said a tearful goodbye to the family, including the kids from the Ukraine, who were themselves leaving the next morning.  Marina and Ivan insisted on riding with me to the airport, which I confess was pretty touching.  OK.  Enough sentiment for now.  

Timing worked out perfectly, as I landed in the Syracuse, NY airport within 10 minutes of Brett arriving via automobile after a long drive from his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut.  He picked me up at around 9:3o pm, and we were off to accomplish mission objective number 1: find me a local fishing license.  I had some scribbled directions to a local Wal-Mart that purported to be open 24 hours.  Brett scoffed at my low-tech approach and geared up both his car's navigation system and his iPhone.  Between the three devices, we somehow were able to arrive at the nearest Wal-Mart (which turned out to be less than 2 miles away from the airport and prominently situated on the only main road in the area).  A bit of a scare when we learned that the fishing-license-printing computer at the store was down, but a grizzled no-nonsense sporting department worker directed us to the next Wal-Mart a few stops down the highway.   There, we had success with the license.  As a bonus, Brett stumbled upon a small tire he'd been on the lookout for, to replace the spare on his trailor.  He seemed quite pleased with his find, and it sat in the back seat of his bmw for the remainder of the trip.  We frequently commented on the pleasant (really) smell it left in the car.  Hey, better than the smell of damp fishing boots.

Also, be sure to check out Brett's link in a few days.  He will be adding his report.

The mighty Oswego River.  It feeds into Lake Ontario about one mile in the opposite direction of this snapshot. Thousands of fish swim upstream until they run into these  barriers.  It was running a little high for this time of year, so Brett and I fished on local streams most of the time, but spent a few relatively productive hours here on Tuesday morning. 
Brett and I looking over the Oswego.  We primarily fished at the base of the waterfall you see in the distance, toward the right of the river.  The raging water honestly seemed a little scary to wade out into, but it wasn't as bad when you were in it.  Still, one wrong slip...  Our guide re-assured us that people hardly ever died when fishing this river.
King Salmon caught by Brett on Tuesday.  This was actually the last fish of the trip.  We stumbled on a little channel of the stream that was no wider than 6 feet across and maybe 60 feet long.  There must have been a dozen kings tooling around in there.  
My big fish of the trip.  Caught on a fly rod, egg pattern, 3X leader.  While we went hunting for browns, they were nowhere to be found.  We clearly missed the window.  Nonetheless, we caught a nice mix of king salmon and steelheads.  

This is a picture of the nice steelhead Brett landed on the Oswego.  Fine looking fish.  

The one that got away.  You will notice that this hook has been bent and broken off.  I fought a gorgeous steelhead for about 10 minutes, and then the line went slack.  Aargh.  I cursed for a moment at the universe.  Then when I drew in my line I noticed the hook had actually broken off.  Incredible.  The fish came out of the water twice right in front of me while I was fighting it.  It was similar to the one Brett had caught shown above (though I will say a good bit thicker--why not--hard to dispute now).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Save A Child concert

The concert turned out great.  The Brinton girls who performed on the piano (and their mother) were amazing.  And the Osmond boys got the crowd going.  They sang a wide variety of songs and Morgan and I got to rock out!  Loved it.  We sang the last song of the chorus to If You Believe.  Somehow our family ended up front and center and we never even tried to learn the song.  Opps, so we didn't give our best performance : )  But that is our little family hanging out on the stage.  

We've decided to go pick them up and adopt them.  Yes, we are crazy.  We've looked at it from every angle and talked and prayed about it and it's just right.  I'm sure it will be hard and crazy at times, but it will be really good too.  When we asked them, they were so excited, Ivan was out of his seat and saying yes before the translator could even finish.  Our kids gave us the ok, very excited ok, before we even talked to Marina, Ivan and Anya.  As we talked more they've been trying to stay together as a family and now they will be able to.  I was just giddy taking them to the airport yesterday.  Everyone was crying and I was so happy and laughing and I just kept telling them we would see them in a few months.  Now we've just got to figure out rooms.

Happy Halloween

This year for Halloween we had a punk rocker (Grant), Death (Ivan), a witch (Marina), a Vampire (Morgan), a princess (Anya) and a Jedi (ethan).  We went with some neighbors and their cousins and ended up in three different groups running around collecting candy.  It did end up raining a little bit and so we only had about 50 trick or treaters this year.  It was a slow night.
The next morning our sweet brother-in-law Brady snuck the kids into his office (with his own children) and did some spooky cleaning of the teeth.  Ivan was terrified in the beginning, but was the only one smiling through out.  It may have been that I bribed him.  I let him take my ipod if he went and he didn't have to share it with Anya.