Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Big Mark

Despite the fact that Rocky has had some mixed results when it comes to finding the perfect Christmas tree in the Utah forests, this year we trusted him to lead us to the promised land and he delivered.

The outing started with breaking Ricker out and then a trip to Reed's Drive-In for the donut sized onion rings.

Three cousins getting their saturated fat for the day.

The kids got their snow stoke on.

Cute mittens.

Sara loves these kind of outings, but in her head she builds them up to be a picture perfect event, where you walk 5o maybe 100 yards in the beautiful snow and then suddenly spot the perfect tree. She was a little surprised to start out repelling down a snowy slope, then bushwhacking through winter foliage and finally crossing a frigid stream, but she was tough and thoroughly enjoyed the whole outing.

After hunting for quite a while we finally found the perfect tree. Sara thought it was too big. It didn't fit in the camera lens but I was sure it would fit in our house.
(Have I mentioned lately that my wife is hot?)

Bringing the trees back across the stream.
Those are the two Smart brothers who are smart enough to work a chain saw. Roman and Beetle went to cut down trees last year and got the saw running but couldn't figure out how to turn the safety off. Eventually they decided to take the blade off and rub it back and forth on the trunk of the tree. It was like combining lumberjack technology with caveman intellect. You can probably guess that the trees they ended up with looked more like sticks and the chain saw was never operational again. I'd say you could classify it an epic fail.

Danny was a workhorse pulling the trees back to the car.

600 miles later the tree was perfectly placed in our front room. It literally had only a few inches to spare. We measured it at 13'6". I named it Big Mark, after my all time favorite Utah Jazz player.

There is Big Mark in all of his glory.

Oh wait a second, there is Big Mark in all of his glory. This is one of my favorite christmas presents. Already in worship position, he really adds to this nativity scene. Next year I am going to get him into the local Creche Festival.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rigdon the Parkour Phenom.

This week Rig has been into parkour videos on youtube. He called me outside to see one of his tricks and I said "Let's just make your own video."

Some of Rigdon's inspiration:

Rigdon's first parkour video. (Many to follow.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy HalloWayne! (and Garth)

This year Sara and I were a pretty big hit at the ward Halloween party as Wayne and Garth. Everyone kept asking me "How do you come up with this stuff?" I admitted to most people that it was actually a stolen idea from my little brother and his wife.

What we all strive to be.

This was definitely my favorite costume combo of 2009. I could barely wait a year to copy it in 2010. (Michelle looks awesome.)

By the time we got pictures Sara's hair had died down a little bit. She has the extra challenge of four kids to get in their costumes and look after.

Jessica and Dave heard about our awesome costume idea and jumped on the band wagon. Jessica does have sweet Garth hair.

Our vehicle was not quite Garth's Gremlin, but it is definitely in the same family and if Lola had a stereo you can bet it would have been bumping a little Bohemian Rhapsody.

On our way home from the party we couldn't resist going to the mall to cruise the local strip a few times. If you saw Wayne and Garth rolling in a VW bus with a load full of kids wouldn't you be a little stoked? People were.

If you have a wife with blonde hair there is no easier couple costume that gets people more fired up than Wayne and Garth. Go for it 2011.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Caught in the act!

I soloed with the kids last weekend so my dear wife could travel across the country with her sisters. Upon her return I was flipping through the pictures on her camera when I found this.

Brace yourself.....

Gone for a mere five days and she is ready to run off with the first VW that is slightly more top heavy. Oh the shame. Hopefully I can keep this from Lola.

Though I have to admit they make a pretty good looking couple. Maybe Sara would be interested in a his and her combo.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An 8 cow woman.

No, I am not talking about Sara. (She is much more than an 8 cow wife.) I am talking about my second love, Lola.

When Lola first entered my life she made mine and Sara's relationship into a rather awkward love triangle. Sara used to put Lola down often with her version of "Mahana you ugly!" and one time in the heat of the moment she threatened me with "It's either me or her, you decide!" but Sara is finally warming up to her and sometimes she even shares the stoke of Lola.

Here are some highlights of our relationship.

First I gave her a make-over.


The makeover isn't finished yet, just on hold until the Lola fund is replenished.
(You can see Jilli has the Lola Stoke. She calls her Lolo or Lala. It is really cute.)

Rig and I took her camping with the scouts. It is the closest I have ever been to infidelity.

I loved winding through the canyon roads with Lola so much it felt like I was cheating on somebody.

Always Flirty.
Here I caught her peaking out from behind a pine.

We cooked dinner on her stove top.

First day of school party at sonic. (In California there are no seat-belt laws in the back-seat for cars older than 1972. So there is no limit to how many kids can ride in the back. In the Smart family we are taking back some of our personal freedoms and it feels great.)

The kids loaded up with their blankets for the drive-in.

In a matter of seconds the seat folds into a bed and the kids are viewing the movie in style.

Are you ready to buy a bus yet? You'll have to find your own, this one is not for sale.

The high ceilings and wood floors naturally lend themselves to basketball, so I installed this hoop. It was a lot of fun until Caroline air-balled a shot right out the window. Now we need a new ball.

Tailgating before the Rancho football games, you can always spot her in a parking lot.

Lola has made me the most popular guy in the ward as far as the primary goes. Everyday after church there is a party in the bus. Most of the primary kids flock to Lola and play car, house or basketball until I am ready to go. Then Lola and I drive home as many kids as want to come (usually 10-15) and their parents come and pick them up from our house.

She is a true treasure.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rig earns Man Status!

Leading up to this summer, I asked Rigdon if he could pick one thing to do during his summer what would it be. He said he wanted to climb Mt. Whitney. At 14,497 it is the highest peak in the 48 continuous states.

Then I hurt my knee and told Rig the trip might have to wait for another year. The more I thought about it, the less fair I thought it was that Rigdon would miss the highlight of his summer for my bad decision. So I decided I would have to man up and take him this year. If Rigdon was that eager to venture up Whitney I could risk the fact that my knee might not be 100% yet.

Rig is ready for action. I should have had him commandeer the mysterious boots in the picture because his Nikes became a major liability on the slippery snow.

We were lucky to be there for some fall foliage.

Still all smiles probably 2 miles in.

The logs were no doubt one of Rigdon's favorite parts of the hike.

Rigdon asked if I thought we could take home a Christmas tree.

"Dude, I know I'm already carrying gear and food for both of us on an injured leg but I do have my limits. Plus I think there might be a rule against that."

The hike was full of surreal scenery as you will see in the pictures to come.

The massive white granite walls never get old.

Rig is like a little Ansel Adams. He takes in all the beauty of the outdoors and loves every bit of it.

Most of the hike was under cloud cover and light sprinkles. This was the first time we saw the sun so we decided to take a picture.

Finally at high camp, 12,000 ft.

View from the tent.
Mt. Whitney was yet to show us her face. She hid it under a veil of clouds the whole day.

This is as the sun sat before a restless night of lightning and thunder that would scare the heck out of both of us. I had never been that close to lightning with only a tent as protection, it was at least a little disconcerting for me and I think may have brought some 9 year olds to tears. Luckily Rigdon wasn't one of them. We both laughed it off by morning when the sun came out.

Rig is looking about as well rested as I felt.
Luckily mom made us bring toothbrushes or we wouldn't have had anything to eat with.

The weather made for epic scenery in every direction.

This is the last place to pump water before the summit. The best thing about backpacking with a 9 year old is they beg to pump the water. (Notice Whitney still veiled in the background.)

Seriously, you couldn't photoshop more epic scenery.

Finally, just for a moment, Whitney unveiled her wretched face to try and intimidate the little guy.

As we approached 13,000 ft, it started to be a struggle for Rig. I hadn't gotten him to eat much of a breakfast off the toothbrush, neither of us slept much, and he was trying to go from 1400 ft that we live at to 14,000 ft. I was starting to wonder if I had gotten him in over his head. I began to doubt if he would make it.

It was a struggle but Rig made it to 13,500 and we got the view into Sequoia National Park. With 3 miles and the toughest 1000 ft left, Rig said he had a headache and felt like he might throw up (Altitude Sickness). I had someone take this picture of us together in case this was as close as we got to the summit. I asked Rig if he wanted to turn around and go back, but he said he wanted to keep going.

This was the last view we got before the weather turned almost instantly nasty.
(As a side note I have a picture of Rocky in front of this exact piece of scenery and Rocky looks much more worn than Rig.)

Snow started to fall and Rigdon's treadless Nikes put him at another disadvantage.

Rigdon slipped and stumbled up the increasingly rocky trail. He banged his knees and ankles over and over. It was painful to watch. I asked him if he wanted to turn around at least five more times, and a couple of the times I almost hoped he would actually take me up on it. But every time he told me he wanted to make it.

The conditions continued to deteriorate which just made things more miserable. The snow started to fall fast enough that it was hard to follow the footprints of the people who were just minutes ahead of us. My watch said we were getting close but with visibility at almost total whiteout conditions we didn't see the hut at the top until we were probably 20 yards away.

When we stepped inside the hut there were about 20 people already in there trying to warm up. When they saw tiny Rigdon had made it to the top they all applauded and cheered. My eyes swelled with tears I was so proud.

Unfortunately the hike was only half way over. It was still a struggle back down especially the next 3 miles until we got below the snow line that was getting deeper by the minute. As I watched Rigdon labor back through the rocky snow, banging his knees and ankles just as many times as he had on the trip up, I continued to be more impressed with what Rigdon had shown me that day. I'm sure other 9 year-olds could have made it look easier, but the fact that Rigdon struggled like he did and still wouldn't quit, spoke volumes to me. I couldn't help but remember earlier this summer when I had given Rigdon a hard time because he wouldn't do a flip off the side of the pool and Livi would. What a fool I felt like now as I had watched Rigdon display such courage and toughness. Because of some mixture of how proud I was of him and how foolish I felt for my comments earlier in the summer, I just hiked behind Rigdon in silence and cried like a little girl.

Rigdon made a believer out of me. I will never doubt his spirit again.

P.S. Don't tell Rigdon about the crying part, he thought I could have really carried a christmas tree out.