Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Donut Falls

A couple weeks ago on a Friday, when Julia gets outs of school early, we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon to see if there was any fall color on it's way in. We went to Donut Falls to do a little hiking. As we were leaving to pick up Julia Grandpa Wheat showed up, so he joined us for the hike too.

Camden has two speeds, run and stop. This is stop.

 It was a good thing Grandpa joined us because there were a couple of tricky spots that he helped the kids on, like crossing the stream.

Julia with the Falls. You can't see it well from this angle, but the "Donut" is up at the top where the water falls into a rock with a large hole in it.

 Break at the end. It wasn't too long of a hike, but it was for their little legs.

 On our way back. Micah and Camden rotated who got to ride in the backpack (mostly Camden), and I held Micah's hand most of the way back so he wouldn't trip on the rocks. As we were coming up to the parking lot I let go and sure enough, just after I took this he tripped on a rock and fell and I had to carry him the last 100 yards.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Family Pictures

We figured it was time to get some updated pictures of the kids and all of us together, so yesterday we headed up to Little Cottonwood Canyon to take some family pictures. 

We couldn't have done it without Dad and Mom Wheat. Dad took the picture of our entire family. Mom acted as the entertainer to keep the kids attention on the camera and get them to smile.

 One more of the whole family.

The best blooper.

Monday, September 07, 2015

First Day of First Grade

Julia had her first day of first grade two and a half weeks ago. 

The night before she requested crepes with Nutella for dinner (same as her birthday breakfast). Camden and Micah "helped" me make them.

 She started at a new school this year because she is in a Chinese language immersion program. She is taught in English for half the day and in Mandarin Chinese for the second half of the day. We had signed her up for the lottery to get into the program last October. They had the lottery in January of all the kids who signed up, and she didn't make it. So she was put on a waiting list and the week before school started they called us and said they had a spot for her if we wanted to enroll her.

They also have Spanish programs and a French program in the district. My first choice was a Spanish program, but really you get what you get with the waiting list. Now I'm excited for her to be learning Chinese even though it wasn't my first choice, I'll just have to work with her during the summers on Spanish (if that doesn't confuse her too much).

Julia was nervous for school. Not because of the new school, new language, or full day. Because it was her first time eating lunch at school and she didn't know what to expect. She actually struggled with it a little at first because they have so many options for lunch and get to sit wherever they want in the lunchroom, so she was a little lost on the first week (even with a fourth grader assigned to help her). I think she is getting it now.

The kids all got literary shirts for back to school. Julia got Madeleine, Camden got Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus, and Micah got Where the Wild Things Are. I got a Madeleine one just like Julia's and I love it!

Julia's biggest concern after lunch has been making new friends. I thought for sure after the first day she would have some new friends. The whole first week she would come home and say, "I didn't make any new friends today." I felt really bad that we had taken her out of her old school and away from all her old friends and she still hadn't made any new friends. She has made friends now with a set of twin girls who are in a different class, but she plays with them every recess and sits with them at lunch now. That has helped her like school more. She used to say, "I hate school. It's too long and I get lost at lunch." I haven't heard that in a week.

She was pretty indifferent to the Chinese learning at first. She wasn't nervous about it, but she wasn't excited about it either. I think she is liking it more now after a couple weeks now that she has gotten time to get over the shock of only speaking Chinese half the day. She likes telling us the new words she learned and I think she likes that she knows things that we don't know. It's like her secret talent and that appeals to her. She sang a simple song in Chinese to Micah and he laughed and laughed because he thought she was being silly and making up words ;)

Friday, September 04, 2015

Vancouver Girls Trip- Museum of Anthropology and Wrapping Up the Trip

The forecast said rain for the entire weekend, but we had lucked out the day before and only gotten some rain in the morning. Saturday looked like it was going to be rainier though, so we planned on doing an indoor activity that day. We went to the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology! They have one of the best collections of Northwest Native American artifacts around, and also a good size international collection. 

Above, the Great Hall.

 The architecture of the building is supposed to mimic the openness and large supports of a big house (a large building where the First Nations people lived with their extended family). The room was full of large totem poles, canoes, potlatch dishes, and other First Nations carvings.
Potlatch dishes above and below.

Potlaches were large, elaborate feasts and celebrations that a family group would host on special occasions such as a birth, marriage, or death. The purpose of the potlatch though was to assert your family group's power, not by showing the other groups that you had the most wealth, but by showing the other groups that you could distribute the most wealth. Therefore, potlatch dishes were giant dishes to hold the large amounts of food needed to host an elaborate feast. The container above was only used for one potlach and held just sugar. Sometimes the hosts would also give gifts away, and sometimes they would destroy some of their possessions to show how much they possessed.

To us it seems a little counter-intuitive, but the potlatch served as an economic system in the First Nations that kept any one group from amassing too much wealth. Because they were constantly giving away, they all ended up being equal. Another important aspect of potlaches were that important titles that went along with certain artifacts -if you owned the artifact you owned the title-were passed along during potlaches.

In 1884 potlaches were made illegal in Canada because white lawmakers considered them wasteful. It was an unpopular and hard law to enforce however, and the law was repealed in 1951. Potlaches continue today, however in today's global economy the purpose of potlaches has changed from a wealth equalizer to a way to connect to culture and old traditions.

A carved interior post, a house post. Big houses were built with huge beams, and inside some of the wood would have been carved and painted.
With it's partner.

After we passed through the Great Hall we started looking at some of the smaller artifacts the museum has, and it has a ton. There were so much that they couldn't display them all in the cases and instead had drawers that you could pull out to see artifacts behind glass in the drawers. They had computers too so you could look up an artifact on the computer and then find it in the drawer or display case.

A lot of the museum's artifacts were collected in the 1950's when they were bought from the Native people. Many of them were traditionally used in ceremonies and ceremonial dances. Some of them were only supposed to be taken out and seen during these ceremonies. And some of the artifacts were the special objects that were associated with honorable titles that I mentioned before (if you own the object you own the title).

Recently the museum has gone back to the First Nations people and gathered input from the descendants of those who once owned the objects. The descendants wanted to make clear that these objects were ceremonial and were special, but they were also proud that they were included and preserved in the museum's collections. There were some objects that were covered to show that these objects were not for everyday view. And the people who had once held the titles associated with the objects had still been allowed to keep the title, even if the object is in the museum's collection.

After we saw the Northwest Peoples collection we wandered on to the international collection. They have objects from all over the world.

Wind Chimes. I should know where they are from but I don't remember, somewhere in Africa. We were allowed to gently tap each of these to show that each had it's own tone.

Owls of all sizes. Again, I forget the exact tribe, but it was a Southwest United States tribe.

Saw these paper figures from Veracruz, where my mom is from, that I had never seen before.

 I thought all the patterns were beautiful.

Then we went outside where they have a recreated 19th century Haida First Nations village complete with a mortuary house, big house, and totem poles.

The totem poles were traditionally raised at potlatches, for a special occasion, and would tell an important story or have important figures to the family. The totem poles were usually left standing out in the elements and would over the years eventually weather away and fall down. Then they would be replaced at another special event years.

Early in the 20th century anthropologists started asking permission to remove the totem poles to keep them preserved. That is where a lot of the totem poles in the Great Hall came from. There was a great quote from one of the anthropologists who helped remove them that showed how ambiguous the work was. It went something like (very paraphrased) "I fear that one day people will look back at this and think of it as a great folly." They wanted to preserve the totem poles, but every anthropologist is always afraid that their work will cause more harm than good to the culture because just by being there the anthropologist has disturbed or influenced the culture.

Standing in front of carved (supposed to be interior) house posts.

Afterwards we walked back to the bus stop and I noticed there were a lot of leaves and branches on the ground. Later we learned that it was really windy and rainy while we were in the museum and a lot of places had lost power. It eventually caught up to us because our plans for the evening, a street fair, ended up being cancelled because of the weather. Instead we met the sister missionaries on the train going to the street fair, and then met the elders on the way back after finding out it was cancelled, which convinced us we were supposed to go to church the next day.

Every time I'm in a crowded subway I always think of all the great Seinfeld episodes on the subway.

That night we went to the Canadian version of Denny's, White Spot, and had some blueberry pie based on a recommendation from our flight attendant from our flight into Vancouver. There was wifi in the restaurant so we called Lauren and shared our pie with her.

 And we had to get some poutine too since we were in Canada. This one was extra special with mushroom and bacon on top, along with the traditional gravy and cheese.

On Sunday we went to church in China, er, Richmond. The ward we went to was English, but the Chinese ward met right after.

After church we rushed off to the the airport and headed back to our separate hometowns. We also met a friendly bearded man in the airport in Phoenix ;) (It was Dad Wheat). One last great accomplishment was that I got to read an entire book on my flights that weekend.

After we got back I gave the kids some maple leaf shaped maple syrup suckers. I thought it tasted a little strong, but I guess they love sugar in any form because they ate them all. We've been slowly trying some more candy I've brought back and so far the Kinder Bueno bars are the winners. Yum!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Vancouver Girls Trip- Stanley Island, Gastown, Chinatown

This was our day of endless walking. We took public transportation wherever we went, and basically walked around Vancouver all day! But we felt like we had a good feel of the city after this day, the good and the bad.

We first headed to Stanley Park, but since the Skytrain station we got off on was right next to the Aquabus station (and there was no bathroom at the Skytrain station, but there was one at the Aquabus station...) we decided to take a pleasure ride on the Aquabus first.

Then we took a bus to Stanley Park, which is a giant 1,001 acre park on a peninsula in the middle of Vancouver. We walked around a lot, and didn't even see 1/3 of the park. The vegetation was beautiful. These flowers were of course planted and well maintained as part of the restaurant behind it (but I thought even the restaurant looked pretty). It inspired a comeback for the princess pose.

Then we saw the rose garden and read the names of the unique breeds of roses they have there.

Massive tree stump with a large tree growing our of it.

The natural rain forest vegetation was also beautiful. Much of Stanley park is just walking trails and forest.

They have a collection of First Nation Totem poles in the park. Viewing the art of the Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest was one of my favorite things about the trip.

More silly faces as a sister's totem pole, because we are just silly. The totem poles depict important events or figures to the extended family, the clan, that built the totem pole. So our totem pole represents our weekend of fun as sisters without the kids for a change!

 A view of Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver as we head over to the lighthouse.

I thought it was obvious where we were, here. But in case you were lost, now you knoww!

The lighthouse at Brockton Point. It was built in 1914 and was used as an active lighthouse until just recently.
After the lighthouse our plan was to go eat at The Fish House restaurant. It was on the edge of Stanley Park, so we walked all the way there and were famished, only to be told that the restaurant was closed for the afternoon for a private event! So we had to walk even farther to find something else for lunch. We ended up getting some pretty authentic Greek food from a Greek "fast food" (meaning, not a sit down) restaurant served by a Greek lady and what looked like her son. We saw over and over again that Vancouver has a very diverse population with a lot of international influence (Mediterranean and Asian especially. We ate Greek food, Chinese food, Mongolian BBQ, and had to go specifically looking for Canadian food-poutine- on the last night we were there.)

We stopped into a used bookstore that seemed to need a little more space with overflowing shelves and piles and piles of books everywhere, but they had a lot of cool books and had an organized system going despite the clutter!

Then we headed down to Gastown and Chinatown. What no one told us is that the area between Gastown and Chinatown is the druggy and homelessness area. It was the skid row of Vancouver, literally a street over from one of the most touristy areas with expensive stores and galleries. We just walked fast and avoided eye contact, but it's not someplace I would walk through at night.

Gate to Chinatown. This was the historic Chinatown of Vancouver,in the early 1900's a lot of Chinese immigrants settled here. But we felt like the current Chinatown was in Richmond where our hotel was. There were a ton of Asians there, and many signs and business names were written in Chinese.

In the real Chinatown we visited the beautiful Chinese scholar garden, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Stopped to relax our tired feet in the garden.

Then headed over to Gastown where we saw the famous steam clock. It is steam powered from steam under the city.

Thursday night we had walked by a Chinese restaurant, Shanghai River, on the way back to our hotel that was packed. On a Thursday night. So we went back there the next day because we figured it they were that busy on a Thursday night they have got to be good. Also, it was a Chinese restaurant and it was packed with Asians, and if the Asians all like it it must be good right? It was. It was delicious. And we were the only Caucasian group there the entire time we were there.

When we got back to the hotel we relaxed by going hot tubbing and did mud masks.